Minnesota Feminists Speak Out!

The unofficial blog of Minnesota NOW


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Registration open for our 40th Anniversary State Conference!

SATURDAY, APRIL 16, 2011

OAK RIDGE HOTEL & CONFERENCE CENTER, CHASKA, MN


Minnesota NOW welcomes members, friends, and all in the feminist community to join us as we celebrate forty years as a local National Organization for Women chapter.  The 2011 State Conference, titled Moving Equality Forward, will feature dynamic speakers that include Katie Stack, star of MTV’s “No Easy Decision,” Sen. Al Franken, Rep. Tim Walz, Nancy Gruver, founder and CEO of New Moon Girl Media, and more to be announced!  Watch this space for profiles of all our speakers.

Registrations can be entered securely at www.mnnow.org/events, where you can also find out more about reserving a discounted hotel room at our conference site, the Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center in Chaska.  The fee for the conference is $45, which includes a buffet lunch.  Current NOW members may pay on a sliding scale, with a minimum of $15 requested for lunch.

We hope you’ll join us to move equality forward!


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The good, the bad, and the ugly: A small taste of 2011 Minnesota House Legislation

We know very well that the dire budget situation, lack of stable well-paying employment, access to affordable education, transportation, food security, personal and community safety, and so much more are critical to our State’s future, our families’ futures, and women.  Are they “women’s issues”?  YES.  EVERYTHING IS.

Today, though, let’s look at a “good”, and – based on how you choose to view it – a “bad” and/or “ugly” piece of legislation moving through the Minnesota House…and of significant note is that only the “good” DOES NOT have a Senate companion (huh?).  We’re working on that with our Senators…call your Senator, too.

GOOD

House File 556 (H.F. 556)

  • Summary: Juvenile prostitutes in need of protection or services provisions amended, sexually exploited youth defined, prostitution crime penalty assessments increased, and distribution of the assessment amended; prostitution laws provisions clarified and recodified, and definitions modified; money appropriated to the commissioner of public safety to develop a statewide victim services model.  Basically, juveniles who are trafficked and prostituted are VICTIMS, not criminals, and this bill will ensure they are treated as such and are protected.  There is there is far more child and teen prostitution and trafficking in MN than people realize.
  • Passed out of a previous committee, and today was heard in the Judiciary Policy and Finance Committee [click here for links to watch the testimony/hearing and testimony on related bills – worth your time; Heather Boyum is amazingly brave] and PASSED.
  • Bill sponsored by Steve Smith (R-Mound) with 19 bi-partisan co-sponsors.
  • Again, there is NO SENATE COMPANION (several NOW members have approached their Senators to introduce).
  • Good non-House discussion on the bill: MPR’s Midmorning with guest host Cathy Wurzer aired “Sex trafficking on the rise in Minnesota” at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, March 8 with guests Suzanne Koepplinger, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center and Jeff Bauer, Director of public policy for the Family Partnership.  Find it online and listen in. It is valuable for Minnesota.

BAD and UGLY

Abortion bills

  • H.F. 201 and H.F. 391 [sponsored by Peggy Scott, R-Andover]: – Summary: State-sponsored health program abortion funding limited. [essentially will overturn Doe v. Gomez, which is the law in Minnesota]. 
    • H.F. 0201 has a total of 28 sponsors (including Rep. Scott).
    • H.F. 0391 has a total of 35 sponsors (including Rep. Scott).
    • Surprise!  Late this afternoon, the House decided to add H.F. 201 to their list of bills to receive a hearing, leaving little or no time for action by those who may want to testify or protest this action.  Click here for the schedule of today’s bill hearings in the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Reform Committee.
    • DFLers co-sponsoring (one on 201; three on 391):
      • Gene Pelowski Jr. (31A, Winona) [H.F. 0201]
      • Larry Hosch (14B, St. Joseph) [H.F. 0391]
      • Lyle Koenen (20B, Clara City) [H.F. 0391]
      • Mary Murphy (6B, Hermantown) [H.F. 0391]
  • H.F. 936 and H.F. 1042 [sponsored by Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville]: Summary: Abortions at or after 20 weeks gestational age prohibited unless exceptions apply, and civil and criminal penalties provided.
    • Hearing: The bill will be heard on Wednesday, March 16 in the Health and Human Services Reform Committee at 2:30 p.m., Room 200.  Can you be there?  Will you call your Representative?
    • DFLer co-sponsoring: John Ward (12A, Brainerd)
    • We must fight this “fetal pain” (personhood) bill!

Pay Equity bills

  • H.F. 519 and H.F. 698 [sponsored by Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa]: Summary:  Local government comparable worth requirements repealed.
    • This will undo the public employee pay equity standards that have been in place (and WORKING!) since 1984.  Minnesota’s pay equity laws ensure jobs performed by women are not consistently paid less than jobs performed by men of comparable work value.
    • Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota (PECOM) and the Minnesota Women’s Consortium are very much against these bills and the Senate companions introduced by Michael Jungbauer (R-East Bethel).   MN NOW is signed on with PECOM as a supporter of pay equity, and a group that opposes repealing pay equity laws.
    • So far, there are no co-sponsors to the House or Senate Bills.
    • Senator Ray Vandeveer (R-Forest Lake) will hold an informational hearing on the comparable worth bills on Wednesday, March 23 at 1 p.m. in Room 112.

Now…make those calls!  Schedule those visits!  Write those letters!  And if your Representative or Senator did something you like, don’t forget to personally thank her or him and explain what precisely it is that pleased you and why (encouragement is powerful).

For equality and with gratitude for all you do,

Jessica K. Trites Rolle, MN NOW Legislative Coordinator


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Great Feminist Reads with the Uptown NOW Book Club!

At the start of the new year, our Twin Cities-based Uptown NOW chapter reorganized around a monthly book club.  February’s selection was Gail Collins’ When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present.”  On Thursday, March 10, the group will meet at Hosmer Public Library in Minneapolis to discuss “The Worst of Times” by Patricia G. Miller, an oral history of how illegal abortion affected women, their families, and their communities.  Here’s the link to the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=119029984834996 . Everyone, even non-members, is welcome!

Members at the March meeting will choose the titles for May, and attendees of our State Conference in April will likely choose the book for June.  To whet your appetite for a good feminist read, here is a list of books recommended by Minnesota NOW fans on our Facebook page.  We’ll continually update the list, so please add your favorites!

Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman, editors

In the Company of Women: Voices from the Women’s Movement, Bonnie Watkins and Nina Rothchild

Personal Politics: The Roots of Women’s Liberation in the Civil Rights Movement & the New Left, Sara Evans.

To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer

Middlemarch, George Eliot

A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen

Fear of Flying, Erica Jong

The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler

The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood & Marriage, Cathi Hanauer, editor

Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women, Susan Faludi

Fantasy & sci-fi novels of Mercedes Lackey

Justice, Gender and the Family, Susan Moller Okin

The Women’s Movement: Dynamics of Change in Social Movement Ideology and Activism, Barbara Ryan

Feminism is for Everybody, bell hooks

Abortion & Life, Jennifer Baumgardner

The Feminine Mystique, Betty Friedan

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood


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Minnesota NOW members speak out for safe schools!

Below are the remarks made by Minnesota NOW member Laurie Olmon at the latest meeting of the Anoka-Hennepin School Board.  The board has been in the news lately for refusing to toughen sanctions against bullying of LGBT youth and for its ban on discussing issues of sexual orientation on campus–this despite the suicides of three district LGBT students in 2010.  Olmon is a parent of a child who attended Anoka-Hennepin schools and is a member of the Nowthen City Council.

“From one elected official to another, I hope you will consider this an opportunity to learn about student oppression, the effects it has on our children and what we as community leaders must to do to create a supportive culture for our youth. I was intimidated and harassed as a student in the Cambridge Isanti School District because of my epilepsy. I know what it’s like to dread going to school, hiding between classes and desperately needing to disappear altogether. I am now a parent, our son attended Anoka High School, my husband and I chose Anoka area schools because of the good programs and education he would receive. We are deeply disappointed by the discrimination of our communities’ children and angered by A-H School District for allowing it to continue.

As a community leader, an elected official, a parent and MN NOW member I cannot remain neutral on this. This oppression, known as bullying, is the same as adult stalking, harassment, mental and physical abuse and there are laws protecting adults from that kind of abuse. The current gag policy regarding a student’s welfare is stagnating and bias. It does not reward good behavior and, worse yet, inadvertently permits bad behavior. Neighboring school districts like Forest Lake are creating supportive learning conditions and policies for their students and staff. Their school boards are not allowing themselves to be held hostage by outside sources, but instead, have put aside their differences on behalf of their youth. I call on all community leaders in the Anoka Hennepin School District to stand with us in creating a safe, harassment free, educational setting for all.”
“A right delayed is a right denied” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.