Minnesota Feminists Speak Out!

The unofficial blog of Minnesota NOW


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Announcing the Minnesota NOW 2013 State Conference!

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN! Visit our website and register securely online!  You can still get the early bird rate of $50, which includes morning coffee and lunch.

Don’t forget to make plans to join our pre-conference Feminist Fun Friday, featuring Kato Karaoke and a fundraiser for CADA, an organization providing services and support to those experiencing domestic violence in southern Minnesota.

See you in Mankato in May….when the spring will be here and the snow will be melted…we hope…

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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:

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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.

 

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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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Wonder women rising

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

 

Whatever your feelings about the obnoxious commercialization of Valentine’s Day, put them aside and consider the goals of today’s OTHER big campaign, One Billion Rising.

 

…and whatever your feelings about the largely symbolic nature of the One Billion Rising movement (and I share them, believe me), consider that Katie Couric, hardly a radfem, just Tweeted“1in3 women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her life.”  Anything that gets that TRUTH spoken more often in public is, to my mind, a step in the right direction.

Do you remember the first time you heard that statistic?  I do.  I couldn’t believe it–and really didn’t believe it until a friend told me what happened to her.  Then another friend told me her story.  Then another and another and another.  As a member of the randomly lucky two out of three, I was changed forever.

I am changed every time I hear the truth.  Are you?

I hope to attend tonight’s Minneapolis event, a rally, meal, and dance dedicated to the memory of Jyoti Singh Pandey, but it’s possible that I’ll be worn out after  my usual Thursday duties: volunteering for a local organization that provides services to women and children experiencing domestic violence.

As a dedicated binary rejector, I tell you this not to imply that one (direct service) is better than another (dancing at Powderhorn Park).  Each complements the other.  In fact, survivors of violence and those who work in the field are the ones who need to dance most of all!

My hope is that those who come to dance  are equally moved to put their hearts, hands and wallets to work towards domestic violence education and prevention, as well as ensuring that resources are readily available to survivors who need them.  Many of today’s dancers know where to buy a Wonder Woman outfit but remain unaware of their own power to be advocates for REAL wonder women in their own neighborhoods.

 

 

To DANCE in your community: http://www.onebillionrising.org/page/event/search_simple

To SERVE in your community: http://www.ncadv.org/

To LOBBY for reuathorization of the Violence Against Women Act: http://4vawa.org/

 


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Join Us at Pro-Choice Lobby Day 2013!

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The 2012 election brought some positive shifts to the Capitol, moving us from a solidly anti-choice House and Senate to a slim pro-choice majority in the Senate–though the House retained its anti-choice majority. With these changes we can look forward to advancing women’s reproductive healthcare while, at the same time, defending our reproductive rights from the repeated anti-choice attacks on the horizon.

PRO-CHOICE LOBBY DAY is an incredible opportunity to talk with your legislators about the plans for the new Healthcare Exchange which will bring essential coverage to thousands of Minnesotans.  The Healthcare Exchange will also provide the opportunity to increase reproductive healthcare options and access to Minnesotans!

Family planning, birth control, abortion procedures, wellness visits and many other services must be included in this debate, and we need you to help make this happen!

Please join us on February 20th and share your thoughts on reproductive healthcare with your Legislators as we stand together to move Minnesota’s women forward!

RSVP for this FREE event here: http://www.prochoicelobbyday.org/

SEE YOU THERE!

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What’s at stake when women’s bodies are “evidence”

***Trigger warning for sexual assault, victim blaming***

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Barbara Kruger created this famous poster for a women’s rights march on Washington in 1989.  That the message remains chillingly relevant is a testament both to Kruger’s talent and to the continuous, relentless attacks on women’s bodily autonomy….and just when you think you can’t be MORE shocked, MORE disgusted, or MORE outraged, you are.

A Minnesota NOW friend who wishes to remain anonymous wrote us this powerful account of her reaction to the news that a New Mexico legislator would criminalize abortions after rape on the grounds that it would be “tampering with evidence.”

No, your eyes didn’t just explode–that’s actually what Rep. Cathrynn Brown suggested in a bill she introduced on January 24.

From our friend:

At age 17 I was raped by a young man I knew, at age 24 I was raped by two men I knew.  At age 17 I had an abortion, at age 24 I was escaping a violent marriage. Unfortunately I had a miscarriage 5 months later in my parent’s bathroom. I had no idea I was pregnant, and was told she probably died at 3 months because of the beatings I took from my ex-husband.

A bill has been introduced that rape victims carry their rapists’ child as evidence.

If I had to carry my rapist’s child (my ex-husband would not have been named a rapist) his friend may have…. what would I have told my son, 18 months old.  What would I have told him about his sibling especially if it wasn’t his father’s? What would I have told my son about his sibling while I went to court? What would I have told my son about his sibling if my rapist wanted joint custody and his father didn’t? What would happen when my husband adopts my son, but isn’t allowed to adopt my rapist’s child because a rapist has more rights than my husband?

For the men introducing these bills on behalf of the religious organizations that supported you and the other pro-life organizations that endorsed you, I know you have been asked what if this happened to your daughter. Well that doesn’t matter because all of you can afford the back room abortions, while people like me, would have had to rely on a shop vac, coat hanger, or many other life threatening devices.

If I had to give my rights to my rapists, I tell you right now, I would have dropped my son off at my parents and drove out to the country and shot myself in the head. I would not have put my parents and my son through the blind, bogus, bigoted, treatment, which you decided to enact.

Rep. Brown has since attempted to clarify that the bill would charge the rapist with a third-degree felony for evidence tampering, not the impregnated rape victim herself, though this flip-flopping most likely reflects her embarrassment at being in the middle of a national news story, not a serious change of heart.

The War on Women is real.  Your body is a battleground.  We can’t stop fighting.

TAKE ACTION!

Contact Rep. Cathrynn Brown via the New Mexico state legislature (she has removed her direct contact information–gee, I wonder why?!): http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/contactus.aspx

Sign a petition demanding her resignation here: http://signon.org/sign/cathrynn-brown-should.fb23?source=c.fb&r_by=6899454

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