Activist Mommy

Six black students at Jena High School in Central Louisiana were arrested last December after a school fight in which a white student was beaten and suffered a concussion and multiple bruises. The six black students were charged with attempted murder and conspiracy. They face up to 100 years in prison without parole. The fight took place amid mounting racial tension after a black student sat under a tree in the schoolyard where only white students sat. The next day three nooses were hanging from the tree. Read more>>>

Why is this not on the news? Why is CNN not covering it? Why am I hearing more about dog fighting than I am about 6 young men being railroaded because they were born black? And where the hell are the people in power who should be stepping in and stopping this?

If you care make phone calls. call your local news stations, your local news papers, polititians and lawyers and anyone with a hint of power. Talk about it on your blogs, take up a collection, sign the petition, and make it news. Make people listen, make people see this, make people care.

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Two interesting and unintentionally connected pieces of info came across my inbox today thanks to Google. The first was a plea from Jill of Feministe to stop obsessing about what women wear.

Women’s bodies are politicized enough as it is. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s awfully sick of women’s clothing choices being used as a bat to beat other women over the head with.

Interesting she should say that. Because the next thing across my inbox was a news story out of Africa. Women protest against pants ban. In the ultimate show of policing what women wear the male residents of Umlazi T-section have created a rule that no woman can wear pants in that area. Women have been stripped naked, their clothing burned, and their homes destroyed for it. For daring to wear pants. I hunted around and found and older article about the same topic, Women: Don’t dare wear trousers in Umlazi.

“There seems to be a conflict of values here, where it’s the old versus the new. If one looks at South African societies, they are all patriarchal and it is difficult for people who assume authoritative roles in homes to adjust to women assuming their own roles and status within society.”

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{July 24, 2007}   Hey you! You’re a feminist!

I get google alerts to my email for certain keywords I’ve selected. Feminism is one of these words, something that always brings me great information. This morning it brought me this post. It is a great posst by a woman trying to work out being a feminist without the negative assumptions that comes with it. And you know there are so many negative assumptions, and some flat out absurdities, floating around about feminists. Like Hilary Duff thinking that feminists automatically are lesbians. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa. But not all feminists are man-hating, lesbians who don’t shave their legs and wear flannel shirts.

A rant on this has actually been building for a bit. Ever since I ran across some blogs, written by women, themed as women who are against feminism. The very idea makes me laugh and cry. You are a woman, voicing your opinion, as if you are equal and your opinion on anything is worth hearing, and yet you are against feminism. Am I the only one seeing the irony and hypocrisy?

Man HatersMaybe it’s just that some people have a different view of feminism than I do? To some they hear “feminism” and imagine angry women   who want to destroy families, enslave men, and burn down the very fabric of civilization. I, on the other hand, imagine a woman who is free to choose as she please, who is equal to any other person despite what is between her legs, who can enjoy the same rights and privledges as everyone else. I imagine a woman capable of making her own choices, whatever those choices may be, and able to voice her opinion on her choices.

Think that is in part why I feel that those women spending time online preaching the horrors of feminism is such a hypocricy. Here are women, voicing their opinion, putting themselves in a place where they feel that their ideas and opinions are important. And they are doing so to preach that they dislike being equal enough to voice their opinions. Isn’t stepping up into a place of authority and voicing your opinion an act of feminism in and of itself? Even if you claim you’re not a feminist you are still using the benefits fought for by feminists. It’s like disagreeing  with the politics of American and saying “I’m not an American.” even though you still live here and enjoy the rights that you get from such. Voting, using birth control, getting equal pay, or just enjoy the right to tell your husband no when you’re not in the mood you are benefiting from feminism.

Ashley Judd This is What a Feminist Looks LikeLike birches5354 says in her post:

At it’s root, I believe feminism is about women acknowledging their own power and not being afraid to make decisions for themselves.

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Woman cookingI was lead to this intersting blog post called The Feminist in My Kitchen. For the most part it is a great post about how choosing to eat local food can be harder for mothers who work long hours outside the home. I admit that while I was still employed, even though I worked where my then only child could be right beside me, all I wanted to do after work was swing through the earest take-out and throw that down on the table to eat. And yes, more times than I’d like to admit we did just that. I would try to make healthy choices, but there is only so far you can go when dealing with fast food. I am certainly lucky now in that I have most of the day to decide, prepare, and cook a meal. I also have a partner who is pretty good in the kitchen himself, even more so on the grill. But there is a part of this post that just bugs me.

If eating local is still a challenge for me, what about women who, voluntarily or not, log 8 to 10 hours a day, five or six days a week, in an office or hospital or courtroom? What about women who, in addition to working long hours and commuting back and forth, also have children at home who need love and affection and help with homework? What about women who, in addition to work and kids and a significant other, also think it might be nice to hit the gym two or three times a week? Or have a social life? Or read a book or take a judo class or become a better photographer?
How do those women get it all done?

How does the laundry get washed and folded? How do books get read and dental appointments made? How on earth do these same women have time to plan balanced meals, let alone meals composed of organic, in-season ingredients… grown locally?

I wonder. I wonder if the slow-organic-local food movement is truly sustainable for and friendly to the larger community of women.

Why is the default setting that women do all of this? Why aren’t we talking about partners, husbands and wives, equally taking responsibility? If she is working 8 hours a day then comes home and has to plan the meals, do the shopping, wash and fold the laundry, make the apointments, and so on and so on what is the other person doing? I realise that for many single mothers who have no help they are doing this all on their own, and they certainly get my respect for it all. But the majority of this post, and call me on it if I’m wrong here, is dealing with women who have partners. So what are they doing?

Can we call ourselves feminists (simply defined here as people who desire the equality of all women, everywhere) and still suggest that an ideal dinner consists of handmade ravioli and slow-simmered marinara from vine-ripened, hand-picked tomatoes and a salad composed of vegetables that (let’s be honest) are Not Available at Safeway?

I say yes, most certainly. I have to wonder if I can call myself a feminist and still run around the kitchen in a pink apron whipping up dinner while my partner sits on the couch watching the ball game and belching for another beer. Because let me tell you, that wouldn’t happen in this household. We are equal, and that means inside the family as well. Some nights i’m in the kitchn by myself whipping up a healthy homemade meal. While my partner is caring for the kids, or folding the laundry, or cleaning the table. Some night he’s in the kitchen while I am taking care of the other household chores. Most of the time he does the grocery shopping because he is better at find deals and I have no patience for crowds. I make the appointments because he is on the phone often at work and doesn’t want to touch it when he’s home. We are equals, we take equal responsibility, we have an equal share in the home and our family.

Do I expect most nights will be a healthy, homemade meal on the table? Yes. With local and organic foods, no less. That is something that we have decided is important to us. Does my vagina automatically mean I’ll be the one doing it all? Oh hell no.

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{June 29, 2007}   Feminist and humanist

Joyce Carol OatesJoyce Carol Oates has been named the 2007 Humanist of the Year by the American Humanist Association. Oates is an author with more than 70 novels, short story collections, literary criticism, essays, poetry volumes and plays in her belt.  She also is associate editor of the literary magazine, The Ontario Review, and has taught in Princeton’s creative writing program since 1978.

“Ms. Oates has strong humanist credentials,” Speckhardt continued. “In particular, she has been outspoken in her feminism, often pointing out the bias in society against women and bringing attention to the challenges female writers face. She serves as an inspiration to all who struggle to be appreciated on their individual worth, rather than their sex.” Oates Named Humanist of the Year

Robin MorganShe was honored along side Robin Morgan, who was awarded the 2007 Humanist Heroine Award. Morgan is a former child actor that grew into a powerful feminist activist, writer, poet, and editor of Sisterhood is Powerful and Ms. Magazine. During the 1960s, she participated in the civil rights and anti-war movements; in the late 1960s she was a founding member of radical feminist organizations such as New York Radical Women and W.I.T.C.H.. She also founded the Womens Media Center.

“Morgan embodies all the qualities of a Humanist Heroine,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the Association. “She has worked tirelessly for feminist causes, both in the United States and internationally, and her classic Sisterhood anthologies represent a significant contribution to the feminist canon.”

I love these two strong, powerful, feminist women out in the spotlight. Women’s rights are human rights, the two go hand in hand. How can we raise a nation of empowered people when they grow up under mothers who are seen as less than? It seems impossible. I found a blog post from last year that explains it far better than I ever could. Shakespear’s Sister‘s post Feminism is Humanism.

“If men were smart, they wouldn’t fight against feminism. They would embrace it for what it really is: Humanism. (And stop fretting over whether the term “feminism” is exclusory; its principles aren’t.) They would incorporate the principles of all civil rights movements and collaborate with their proponents on the genesis of a vast humanist movement. Instead of feeling threatened by or put upon by these movements, instead of feeling they somehow denigrate straight, white men’s lives or their ability to be who they are, men would apply these ideas in an effort to improve their own lives, along with everyone else’s. What we need to do is confer all the rights and privileges that these men have traditionally enjoyed upon everyone else, and then, once we’ve done that, we can start thinking about what new rights, obligations, responsibilities we can confer on everyone, in order to make our society a more egalitarian and fair place to live.”

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et cetera