Using the F-Word: Feminism’s Positively Simple

I’ve always called myself a feminist. Well, almost always. When I was 6 or 7 (back in the 70s) a friend of my parents visited us in rural Nebraska. She’d graduated from law school and was job hunting. Over martinis, she shared with my parents how her law firm interviews were going. “Do you type?” firm interviewers would ask. She said, “yes, I f@*k too, but not for money.” Maybe I’m having a bit of a Brian Williams’ moment. Perhaps it didn’t go down exactly like that. But it is my first memory of hearing the F-bomb (f@*k) and the F-word (feminism), a rough day for my parents who had to explain both to me. Feminism, according to my parents, was about “Equality for everyone. Women and men must share power and responsibility equally.” Dad gave the example, “I do the cooking because we both work, we’re both equally responsible for this family.” That made good sense to my 6-or-7-year-old brain, that's what I wanted to be: feminist. But since Annie Lennox (my long-time idol) reported last fall that as she was receiving the (Barclays) Women of the Year Award she said from the podium, "I'm proud to be a feminist; let's everybody stand up"—and half of the room stayed seated—I began … [Read more...]

Halfway Through the ‘New News’ Challenge, Tolerance Grows & Patience Wans

On February 4th I issued the 8 Weeks to Optimum Tolerance ‘New News’ challenge. Half way through, I confess that it is harder than I expected, listening to more diverse perspectives than I usually do. Thus far, I’ve watched Bill O’Reilly lament the “Epidemic of Disrespect” in America while calling people I care deeply about, our nation’s public school teachers, “Pinheads.” I tried to find something to love about O’Reilly. I paid close attention to the Republican’s response to the State of the Union address, ripping off my blinders instead of shutting down (with envy) when I heard Marco Rubio had paid off his $100,000 in student loans debts in the short time he’d been in Congress. Instead of trying to get my head around why 22 male Senators voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, I reminded myself that these leaders (one of whom I worked for in the past), had been charged with carrying their party’s message. They may indeed be decent human beings. And, I celebrated when the House passed the Senate’s version of VAWA that expanded services to immigrant, Native, and LGBTQ women, also requiring that universities report on campus rapes. I even … [Read more...]

Women’s Work: Bright Spots for Main Street Women This Week

This week, the Oscars treated us to Seth McFarlene singing "We Saw Your Boobs" and the sequester cuts go into effect that will negatively impact women. But there were bright spots... VAWA PASSES AND MOVES TO PRES OBAMA'S DESK The VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT was finally reauthorized. The U.S. House of Representatives voted yesterday and passed the bipartisan Senate version, which included key protections for campus rape, Native and immigrant women, and LGBTQ women.  Representative Gwen Moore, Democrat of Wisconsin and a victim of domestic and sexual violence herself, spoke passionately about the need to pass the Senate’s bill. I pray that this body will do as the Senate has done and come together as one to protect all women from violence. As I think about the L.G.B.T. victims who are not here, the native women who are not here, the immigrants who aren’t in this bill, I would say, as Sojourner Truth would say, ‘Ain’t they women?’ ” Every Democratic and 87 Republicans voted for the Senate bill; 138 GOP members voting against it.  Among the nay votes was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).  The House's action means that VAWA will be reauthorized for another five years, … [Read more...]

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