Minnesota Feminists Speak Out!

The unofficial blog of Minnesota NOW

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By: Colette Hayward

Part I:

As a young feminist I have an interesting perspective on the world, women, LGBTQ rights, and anything that affects underprivileged, underappreciated, and underrepresented groups. The world right now is full of amazing men and women, many of whom think in a similar manner as me and are expressing those views largely through social media. I have never written
a blog about feminism, though I have actively discussed and regurgitated information I discovered around the internet. Blogging as a form of activism is tricky. It can be extremely beneficial for many reasons, one of which being that it is a personal collection of thoughts, reactions, rants, and perspectives on a variety of topics that can allow another individual the
opportunity to feel like they aren’t alone in the world. For my first blog as the Communications Intern at Minnesota NOW I would like to discuss the concept of “selfies” and how they are miraculously changing the world.

I would like to begin by saying that I am a twenty two-year-old female who doesn’t actively take selfies for the simple fact that I think they are annoying most of the time and not all that interesting. Thanks to cell phone apps like Instagram and SnapChat selfies are taking over the world. I didn’t realize how popular they were until I discovered that selfie was Oxford
Dictionaries Word of the Year in 2013. Hmm…apparently, I am not trendy enough to understand the purpose of taking hundreds of photos of myself and plastering them all over the internet. I am currently a women’s studies and anthropology double major and I honestly don’t know where people find the time to take twenty pictures in a row of themselves , hoping to find one good one to immediately post onto a social media site and looking for everyone to tell them how beautiful they are. Recently I saw articles about selfies causing a major lice epidemic due to people putting their heads together to get a shot of the group while one person awkwardly holds their
hand out to take the photo. Now this is worst-case scenario I realize, but it makes me think twice when bunches of people want to squeeze in for a photo together!

It should be common knowledge nowadays that social media sites can be dangerous for women and body image problems, but as with many women’s issues, it falls on deaf ears as far as attempting to fix the problem. Currently there is an IOS app called SkinneePix that promises to remove 5-15 pounds off your figure after you finish editing the selfie of your choice. They should just call it the YourFat app and see if that sells because that is what I thought of when I heard about it. I could preach all day long about how all women are beautiful and how important it is to be comfortable in your own skin, but I feel like the odds are against me when things like the SkinneePix app are created. It is Hollywood Photoshop for dummies and depressed is all I feel after investigating it further. Another report online discussed how selfies are causing mental illness now. Narcissism is the first thing that came to mind but alas it was actually about body dismorphic disorder. It sounds to me like the SkinneePix app is convincing women that they aren’t good enough, along with magazines, celebrities, and the rest of the popular media out there. I asked several of my selfie-obsessed friends how many photos they take before getting a good one and they all said quite a few, five being the smallest number.

Why are we evaluating ourselves so harshly and why are we concerned about a bad angle or a stray hair? I don’t have a solution to fix the selfie addiction that is spreading everywhere, but I do think women should rethink the way they evaluate themselves. Whether you are obsessed with taking selfies or completely repulsed by the concept, the reality is that they exist and in some cases have caused quite a few problems. Do me a favor and tell someone they are beautiful today. I have yet to find a person who dislikes hearing it and everyone is beautiful in their own way. Stop accepting society’s beauty standards as what you should expect from
yourself and see if it increases your own self-esteem. Remember what Aibileen Clark said in The Help, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”.


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We’re all feminists here

Originally posted by Minnesota NOW activist Ami on her blog Minneapolitan Mademoiselle.

Something that I often find frustrating yet awesome about the feminist movement in America is the variety of people and issues that the movement encompasses. Over the years, feminists have fought many battles, resulting in many advancements for women. But theses battles have never been easy, and have often involved internal strife within the feminist movement. During the struggle for women’s suffrage (yes, I consider this an early part of the feminist movement; hate me if you want to), different groups – the most well known being the National Women’s Party and the National American Woman Suffrage Association – were fighting to secure the right to vote for American women. Though their end goal was the same, leaders of the two groups held different beliefs on many things and used different tactics to try to achieve their goals.


Disagreement within the feminist movement is nothing new, and likely won’t be going away anytime soon. All feminists will never agree on what we as a movement should prioritize or what issues should be most important, because we’re all coming to the table with different lived experiences. While I engage in discussion and action around a number of feminist causes, violence against women is an issue that I believe is very important because of my experience working with victims/survivors. I blog and talk about VAW a lot. There are feminists out there who have different opinions, who think that other issues are more important. And I don’t get angry at them or tell them that the issues they care deeply about are less important than others. Why?

Because different issues are more important to different people because we’re different. Because all of the so-called little things add up to create a society and culture that requires us to still have a feminist movement. BECAUSE PEOPLE USE THIS ARGUMENT EVERY DAY TO SHUT FEMINISTS UP.

It usually goes something like this:

Feminist blogger writes a post about a topic of interest to them. People read the post. People leave comments like this: “Why do you complain about lyrics in a song that demean women when women are subject to honor killings in certain areas of the world?” or this: “There are more important issues in the world than the objectification of women in the media. Sex sells and that’s just the way it is.”
Or they try to change the topic of the conversation to something that THEY think is more important, which would be fine if you were writing your own post about something, but is generally considered an annoying way to de-rail a conversation.


I’d like to apply this to something that happened recently. In case you haven’t heard, President Obama found himself in an awkward situation after he commented on the appearance of California attorney general Kamala Harris. His remark has been getting ‘mixed reviews’; some thought the comment was harmless and others thought it was sexist. I personally think he shouldn’t have made such a comment in a public, professional context – and that his tendency to make such comments about both men and women is annoying. A lot of blog posts and other pieces have been written on the topic, with many folks disagreeing about the nature/intent/effect/sexism of the comment. Discussion and even disagreement is fine with me, but I’m troubled by the dismissive tone of some folks, responding with phrases like “who cares,” “it’s not a big deal” or “there are more important issues.” (Obviously not all of the folks making such comments consider themselves feminists, but I think we’re all guilty of doing this at some point).


I will admit to THINKING, ‘you’re overreacting’ in some situations, but I don’t police other feminists’ reactions or their choices to write about topics that interest/concern them because it’s not productive and it’s not really all that nice. Just my two cents…

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Gender essentialism and the feminist housewife

Cross-posted at Shannon’s blog The Radical Housewife.


Hi there!  My name is Shannon, and I am a feminist housewife.


This is me in my kitchen.  Behind my arm is –NO JOKE–a loaf of homemade gluten-free bread.  I am a housewife, and a damn good one!

Do you like my apron?  it’s from the HOTDISH Militia, a group that fundraises for abortion clinics with tasty casseroles–the acronym stands for Hand Over The Decision It Should (be) Hers.  I support affordable access to the full spectrum of women’s reproductive health services, including abortion on demand, without apology.  That’s feminist, baby!

Combine my job with my passion, et voilà: you get me, a feminist housewife!

I didn’t aspire to be a feminist housewife when I grew up.  As a child, I wanted to write books.  As a child, I assumed that writing books would magically make money appear.

Ha, ha.

Six-year-old Shannon can be blamed for her ignorance, but what excuse does Kelly Makino, a self-identified feminist, have?  From New York Magazine’s March 17, 2013 cover story “The Retro Wife”:

The maternal instinct is a real thing, Kelly argues: Girls play with dolls from childhood, so “women are raised from the get-go to raise children successfully. When we are moms, we have a better toolbox.” Women, she believes, are conditioned to be more patient with children, to be better multitaskers, to be more tolerant of the quotidian grind of playdates and temper tantrums; “women,” she says, “keep it together better than guys do.”

Oh Mrs. Makino!  You retrograde goofball, you.  In case you missed this lecture in Women’s Studies 101, let me break it down for you. Choosing your choice is feminist, sure!  But GENDER ESSENTIALISM IS NOT FEMINIST.

I can’t pick on only Kelly, though, for the author of the piece, Lisa Miller, makes some mind-boggling observations of her own:

I prepare our daughter’s lunch box every morning with ritualistic care, as if sending her off to school with a bologna sandwich made by me can work as an amulet against all the pain of my irregular, inevitable absences. I believe that I have a special gift for arranging playdates, pediatrician appointments, and piano lessons….



“The feminist revolution started in the workplace, and now it’s happening at home,” says Makino. “I feel like in today’s society, women who don’t work are bucking the convention we were raised with … Why can’t we just be girls? Why do we have to be boys and girls at the same time?”

Again, I must ask: what makes a girl a GIRL?  Is it a baby?  An apron?  A kickass banana bread recipe?  A Pinterest account?

What makes a boy a BOY?  A wife?

I made a choice to be my kids’ caregiver, but that choice wasn’t made in a vacuum.  My hubby and I had to weigh some very harsh realities.  Who made more money?  Who would probably ALWAYS make more money?  Who could count on consistent work for the next two decades?  If you guessed the BOY, you’re right!  You win a wife.*

Understanding how patriarchal capitalism works is feminist. GENDER ESSENTIALISM IS NOT FEMINIST.

For the record, I am terrible at arranging playdates.  My vag has nothing to do with it–I am not only forgetful, I hate using the telephone.  I’d rather bake you a rice-tapioca-soy flour loaf.  If you want our kids to hang out, you’d better have my e-mail–or better yet, Matt’s!

All of this is very funny in the echo chamber of the internets.  I really don’t care whether Kelly Makino, Lisa Miller, or hell, Sheryl Sandberg is a housewife or not.  I DO care when one pretty white New Yorker’s lifestyle is trotted out as “proof” that women are this or that and feminism is a failure blah blah blah, because you know that articles like these delight conservatives eager to push back on women’s rights,  especially reproductive rights.  Sen. Rand Paul, a 2016 presidential contender, has already said he’d support a fetal personhood bill that would outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception.  Without control over their fertility, women would be stuck in the kitchen making hotdish (and this is the important part) whether they want to or not.

It’s a future too horrible to contemplate.

Maybe I’ll cook a pie.  That would make me feel better.


*offer not valid for women


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Telling children the truth

By Andrea Sand, Affirmative Action Chair

After watching the immoral flood the capitol to protest equality, I feel it entirely appropriate to co-opt one of their signs:


Don’t lie to children.

Really.  DON’T LIE TO CHILDREN.  Stop the hypocrisy now.

If we were truly concerned with children not having two parents of opposing genders, single mothers and single fathers would not be left in charge of their children. If we were truly concerned with the sanctity of marriage, we would not even entertain the idea of divorce being legal.

We are not talking of currency that will lose value from inflation and being over-printed–we are talking about the quality of life for our fellow Americans.

This is to the little girl who testified that same-sex marriage would take one of her parents away:

I’m so, so sorry your parents have brainwashed you. We are not trying to say your family is any less valid because it’s one man, one woman, and one precious little life, and we are not trying to remove any of your parents from your life; what we are asking is that we have the right to form our own families. I hope you never grow up to feel left out, that you never feel alone. I hope your days are long and full of joy; truly, I do. However, there are people out there, men who love men and women who love women, and in between that is a whole broad, beautiful spectrum of adults who love one another. THAT IS THE TRUTH.  All we want is the chance to commit to one another for the rest of their lives in the same manner your parents did.

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The need of the majority to discriminate should not be allowed to trump the rights of the minority who simply want to be given the same chance at having that white picket fence, three car garage, and two and a half kids. There are enough children waiting to find homes, literally starving with the hope that one day, someone or a pair of someones will love them just for existing. These children are tired of looking in through the windows at the happy family sitting down to dinner by the fire; they deserve the right to be welcomed in out of the cold. How dare these falsely pious call themselves followers of God or Christ if they are comfortable allowing innocent children to suffer needlessly because they as adults cannot accept people who are different from them.

Marriage is not just the act of having a ceremony presided over by a holy man, it is the union of two individuals in the eyes of a greater, more earthly power: a court of law. We do not live by the holy code of Leviticus, and we do not live under Sharia law. We live under the Constitution and Bill of Rights. We live under the Declaration o f Independence, independent of religious law and in  the good graces of secularism. Nobody is going to force any religious institution to do something that violates their beliefs; just as no religion should be allowed to violate the rights of a person not of their belief. You can keep us away from the altar of the falsely pious, but you cannot keep us away from the altar of love.

We have come so far in nearly 400 years, and yet we seem to still be right where we were when we came here. Howdare we call ourselves a civilized nation when we treat our own so barbarically. How dare we.



TAKE ACTION TODAY!  Tell your legislators, your governor, and everyone in your community that the time for marriage equality is NOW!

 Do it for the children!

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A feminism of unity, not exclusion

By Andrea Sand, Affirmative Action Chair


I am a feminist, and I am a trans woman. I, unlike some, do not find these two parts of my identity in conflict. 

This is to Suzanne Moore, and her associate Julie Burchill, as well as a plethora of those first- and second-wave feminists who are regrettably stuck under a mountain of a rock and believe me to be a ‘man’, something I’ve never been in my entire life. I am not a “bed-wetter with a bad wig”, I am not a ‘dick in chicks’clothing’ and intersectionality is not stalling any arguments.

You’re staring HRT inthe face and not flinching? I didn’t flinch either when I started HRT almost two years ago; well, except when the needle goes in every week. You’ve experienced a lifetime of sexual harassment? So have I, interspersed with experiences of black eyes, broken noses, split lips,and bloody wrists. I am not bullying you, or am I? I may be, in the same way all those pesky gays are bullying straights for the right to marry, or how all us women are demanding to be treated as equals are bullying our male (and apparently female) oppressors.

It is pure audacity that Burchill and Moore consider themselves writers and thinkers, when a cursory Googling reveals that “cisgendered” is for people like them as “transgender” is for people like me. Cis and trans are terms we use from ancient times, it is not because it sounds like “cyst” or “cistern”; trans oppression of cis-gendered women is about as incensing as the Sandy Hook truthers, with about as much sense.

When I identify with ‘my people’, I cannot speak in terms of skin tone because those of my own skin color routinely persecute my people. I do not speak in terms of religion, because I was brought up in a religion that taught me my gender and sexuality were reprehensible. I do not speak in terms of sex, because the sex I was born in to routinely objectifies my people.

I do not speak in terms of anything other than gender, because I have never received hatred for who I am from those who buck the gender-binary, and they are who I align myself with in utter solidarity; what you say to my sisters and brothers is as good as saying it to me.

I fully agree with Vice President Joe Biden’s stance of my people’s discrimination being the civil rights issue of our generation. I’m not a punchline. I am not a joke. I am a person. I am sick of being marginalized and ignored, I am done being neglected by people who call themselves LGBT allies because that term was bandied around so much and so often with so little true understanding that nobody remembers the “BTQA~” that comes after “LG”.

LGBT equality is more than just about sexual equality, it is, at its basest form, true feminism: we are all equals on every level and should be treated with accorded respect and dignity.


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A New Year’s resolution to protect ALL children

By Andrea Persephone Sand

After the Sandy Hook tragedy, the NRA proposed armed guards and teachers in the school to prevent violence.  Really?  America would consider this, but we wouldn’t even entertain the thought of an inclusive bullying-protection policy?

We are more comfortable turning our schools in to something more akin to legitimate prisons where students are going to see guns and people looking at them suspiciously on a daily basis than we are with all students being protected from harassment and assault at the hands of their peers and authority figures?

Protecting children means creating a culture of tolerance, understanding and compassion, not arming everyone to the teeth.  In 2013, let’s resolve to do just that.

To adapt a phrase from the great leader for peace, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King: a threat to children anywhere is a threat to children everywhere.

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I wrote in late October that the East Aurora school board were cowardly and flopping about back and forth on the issue of protection for all of its queer students, not just the LG ones. A policy that was supposed to protect the safety of gender outlaw kids was vigorously opposed by the Illinois Family Institute, an organization deemed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center–and the bigots won.

The East Aurora School Board formed a committee to better assess the situation and try to find a good solution–but in the face of constant harassment from the IFI, it has now been dissolved.

I attended a Catholic high school. I have read the Old Testament and New Testament, and studied it in depth. Jesus never spoke out against the queer community, but had plenty of things to say about hypocrites and the falsely pious. In his own words, “What you do unto the least of my brothers, you do unto me.”

According to the Transgender Discrimination Survey by The Taskforce, in the K-12 setting alone, 78% of students who expressed a “transgender identity or gender non-conformity” were harassed, 35% were physically assaulted, and 12% were victims of sexual violence. This harassment and these assaults come not only from our peers, but from our teachers and principals. Six percent are expelled just for being themselves, or 1:17. Harassment is so awful that 15% will drop out, or about a sixth. Suicide attempt rates are nauseatingly high, somewhere around 1:2 or 1:3.


There are, quite literally, children’s lives on the line with this debate–and these children can be saved not with a weapon of violence (like the Bushmaster .223 rifle that Adam Lanza used to murder 26 people), but with words of peace and inclusion.

Words like these:

It is the District’s goal to ensure the safety, comfort, and healthy development of the transgender or gender nonconforming student while maximizing the student’s social integration and minimizing stigmatization of the student.

The above is what the Illinois Family Institute objected to.

Someone’s little girl has to go to school every day and use the wrong everything and hear all sorts of awful names thrown at her by her peers and potentially her teachers. She has to face the risk of her teachers and authority figures turning blind eyes to her suffering. She has to face the risk of growing up to be a drug dealer or prostitute (16%) to make ends meet, and she faces the risk of she herself being a drinker or drug user to cope with the harassment (32%). Someone’s little girl isn’t getting the same opportunity as everyone else’s little girl.

There are other gender non-conformists in the school district, but I remember when this all started over a little girl wanting some pee-ce.  She is the visible, un-seen face of the gender outlaws of East Aurora. Her plight, and her victory, will bring attention and a much larger victory to all her classmates just like her. It will be a hopeful, reassuring whisper of “You will overcome this” that has been long over-due and been much needed.

Please sign and pass on this Change.org petition asking the board to reinstate its commitment to protecting ALL children:



And please contact East Aurora School Board (boardofeducation@d131.org) members:

Ignacio Cervantes: icervantes@d131.org

Mary Anne Turza:  turza.mary@sbcglobal.net

Raymond Hull: raymondhull@comcast.net

Annette Johnson (President): ajohnson@ciprianispasta.com

Richard Leonard: rleonard@d131.org

Stella Gonzalez (Vice-President) slg081404@sbcglobal.net

Anita Lewis (Secretary) alewis4244@msn.com

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Love starts here!

This week, Minnesota made HISTORY by being the first state to vote down a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.  While this is not the complete victory toward equality that occurred in Maine, Maryland, and Washington state (where voters approved legal marriage between two adults, regardless of gender!) it’s an amazing first step.  This is a watershed moment towards a Minnesota united by love, not fear.  

Minnesota NOW was one of the first coalition partners in Minnesotans United for All Families, the group the spearheaded the amendment defeat, and we were proud to have Richard Carlbom, MN United’s Executive Director,  as one of the speakers at our 2012 State Conference.  We are so proud of the work that MN NOW members, coalition partners, and community friends put into this important election effort!  THANK YOU!

With LOVE as our inspiration, we’ve designed a gorgeous new T-shirt that we hope will inspire you to join our Feminist Action Network.  When you sign up to be a FAN, you pledge to contribute as little as $10 a month to ensure that our small but efficient organization works toward our feminist future–and you’ll get our new shirt as our thank you gift!  The shirts are 100% cotton, deep purple, with “Love starts here” on the front and “Love starts NOW” on the back.

Visit our donation page here to set up a secure online account, set up your “MN NOW FAN Payment” option, and get started!  If you have any questions, feel free to contact our office at info (at) mnnow (dot) org, or call 651-222-1605.


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Our friends need to hear from us, too!

If you’re like us, you’re subscribed to 7823863 different action alerts, all of which fill up your inbox with outraged calls to DEMAND one vote or another from legislators who need to be HELD ACCOUNTABLE for all kinds of HORRIBLE THINGS…..and you call and you e-mail and you vent accordingly.  But  in all our righteous fury, we tend to forget that our allies sometimes like to hear from us, too.  In fact, now is a critical time to give our support, encouragement, and to the Minnesota legislators who are speaking up so eloquently for equality.  They need to hear that Minnesota NOW members are watching, listening, and fighting right beside them in spirit.

Here’s a sampling of what’s being said at the Capitol, courtesy of The Uptake:

Sen. Ron Latz, speaking out against cutting Medicaid funding for women seeking abortions:

Sen. Barb Goodwin, wondering why the state is sticking its nose into other people’s private lives:

Sen. Linda Berglin, who points out that the poorest Minnesotans can’t afford the deductibles & copays proposed in new health care bills:

And the gone-viral superstar,  Sen. Steve Simon, who asked “how many gays does God have to make before we accept that he wants them around?”

It’s time to send words of gratitude to these four and the many, many others at the capitol who are fighting for justice for ALL Minnesotans at the capitol, bot just a lucky few.  You can search for these folks’ contact information via this link, where you can search by legislators’ names or by their districts: http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/geninfo.aspx.

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Women’s rights are not a partisan issue–MN NOW speaks out after HR 3 vote


May 5, 2010


Yesterday’s passage of H. R. 3 in the House of Representatives is an outrageous attack on women’s civil rights, says Minnesota NOW State President Shannon Drury.  “Minnesotans should be appalled that Representatives Michele Bachmann, Chip Cravaack, John Kline, and Collin Peterson co-sponsored this legislation, and that Rep. Eric Paulsen joined them to vote for a bill that neither creates jobs nor helps a single Minnesota family during the worst recession in modern times.”

The so-called No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act goes much further than its deceptive title suggests. It would codify and dramatically expand a collection of federal abortion funding restrictions referred to as the Hyde Amendment. As acknowledged by the late Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), the goal of instituting and broadening these restrictions has always been to effectively overturn Roe v. Wade; targeting low-income women was Hyde’s opportunistic start. Now conservative lawmakers’ goal is to deny women at all income levels access to insurance coverage for abortion care.

Drury warns against making this issue a partisan one.  “I have already seen a fundraising message from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that attacks Republicans for this vote,” she says, “but sixteen Democrats voted for the bill’s passage.  Here at home, the Minnesota DFL Party Platform supports women’s reproductive rights, yet DFLer Peterson was a co-sponsor of and a yes vote for this bill.  Women’s rights, it seems, are seen as an easy political target for both parties.”

Since its founding in 1971, Minnesota NOW has opposed any legislation that interferes with a woman’s right to reproductive health care, which includes abortion.  Minnesota NOW also opposes the economic injustice inherent in H.R. 3, which will have the effect of barring poor women from accessing legal medical care available to women of means.

For further information:




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Katie Stack, 2011 State Conference Speaker

Minnesota NOW is thrilled to welcome Katie Stack to our 40th anniversary conference.

Katie Stack, center, with Minnesota NOW members and friends in the State Capitol Rotunda at 2011 Pro-Choice Lobby Day.

Katie Stack is a graduate student in Gender & Women’s Studies who is a vocal supporter of reproductive freedom.  In December 2010, she appeared on the MTV documentary “No Easy Decision” and spoke with Dr. Drew Pinsky about choosing abortion when confronted with an unintended pregnancy.  The special was created in part to respond to MTV’s hit programs “16 & Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.”  As Pinsky says in his introduction to his interview, “having an abortion is not uncommon–but talking about it publicly really is.”

Since appearing on the program, Stack has remained a public voice for abortion rights.  Her blog, http://katiestack.com/, is popular with both pro-choice activists and anti-abortion folks, the latter arriving in droves with the intention of shaming Stack for being truthful about her experiences–but Stack’s ready for them, with wisdom that belies her young age.  As she wrote:

“…..abortion is deeply personal, but not necessarily because of the act of abortion itself. For me, the fear and confusion that I felt about the procedure, and the silence that followed, had nothing to do with the act of abortion. It had everything to do with the stigma associated with women who chose to abort. I was well aware that by making this decision I would come to embody a very violent political and social debate. Who wouldn’t be apprehensive about that?”

On March 28, 2011, Stack was awarded the Jan Yanehiro Speak Out for Choice Award from NARAL Pro-Choice America.  Her remarks from the awards ceremony can be viewed below.

Minnesota NOW members and friends are excited to hear from Katie Stack about how we call can Move Equality Forward!

REGISTER TODAY! http://www.mnnow.org/events/2011_conference.htm


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