Tag Archives: feminism

Our Better Angels

I recently started a new job, and while there are some growing pains I’m finding it to be a generally fabulous experience. My new role has allowed me to look at some recent events in a lens that I haven’t exercised for a while.

I have been seeing so much in the news about the inflammatory behavior of Kathy Griffin, debates on NPR (which is where I get most of my news) about the place comedy has in the political landscape, and so much more. The theme I’m picking up – and I got this especially from a fabulous dialogue on NPR on my way home the other day – is that it really feels like a lot of folx out there are not appealing to their better sides. Jokes about children, the disabled, and other vulnerable populations are fair game. Behavior is designed to shock, and not in a good way. This is not a good thing, this is not okay, this is not normal.

We certainly can appeal to the best humanity has to offer. I think of the podcast I’ve started to listen to religiously – Stuff Mom Never Told You – and their recent episode on policing women’s speech (Mom, this is the one I was talking about the other day!). Bridget and Emilie talked about how women say “sorry” not just to apologize but also to express empathy. Maybe instead of apologizing about apologizing we should be saying to our male counterparts “Apologize more!” In this case, expressing empathy for our fellow human beings is a good thing.

CARING ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE IS A GOOD THING!

This is a short post, so I just want to conclude by encouraging you to be the best version of yourself. Because, if you’ve been reading me for a while (if you haven’t, welcome! I’m glad you’re here) you know how strongly I subscribe to the notion that “we all do better when we all do better.”

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Homeland is a Feminist Issue

If you have been reading for a while I’m about to confirm something you have probably noticed.

If you’re new here, welcome! I’m glad you’re here and I’m glad you’re about to learn something new about me.

Tackling current events is not something I normally do here, in a public space. It takes me so long to process them and come away with anything of substance that it doesn’t feel worthwhile. Here, in our 24-hour news cycle where tiny and insignificant details are rehashed at length and then forgotten.

But this time I must share something that I’m grappling with. I must so that I can make sense of it myself and hopefully so that you don’t feel alone if you’re grappling with the exact same thing.

What I’m talking about is not earth shattering. I know that. The fact that I am grappling with this is reflective of my extreme privilege.

I am talking about going to the theaters this evening, this weekend, maybe next week, to see Wonder Woman.

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For weeks, I have been thrilled that an action movie with a female lead was coming to theaters. I have been determined, in my small way, to show movie studios that films with female leads can succeed in a huge way. Representation matters, and while I know there are lots of white women on the screen they’re not kicking literal ass and taking names

So when I saw this article in my Facebook news feed damning women who don’t care that Gal Gadot is a Zionist I was alarmed. That those who don’t care aren’t “real feminists.”

Here’s what I know about Zionism. Zionism, at its core, is the belief that the Jewish people are deserving of a homeland. I do not believe that this is wrong. There is not a single thing with longing for home.

There is something wrong with terrorizing women, children, families who already live there. The means the Israeli government uses to claim their homeland is not okay.

I am not a diplomat, but I believe there must be a way to for both groups to peacefully have their homes.

Maybe I am naive, but Gal Gadot’s use of #stopterror and #coexist means she is committed to working toward peace.

What is a “real feminist” supposed to do in a situation like this? Should such a person support the glimmers of more representation on the silver screen? Or is the better thing to boycott the film in solidarity with the people of Palestine?

There are no easy answers – not for me. Maybe there are for you and if there are, I envy you. I will see Wonder Woman, and probably walk away feeling empowered. And I will also do what I can to advocate for a peaceful solution so that both the Israelis and Palestinians can have their homeland.

The Mommy Tax

There is a podcast I’ve been aware of for some time, Stuff Mom Never Told You, that is fabulous but I’ve never been what you might call a religious listener. The amount of fabulous content created by the creators of the podcast was so immense that I felt overwhelmed and never really dove in. But, the show has two new hosts so I thought this would be a good time to start tuning in.

The Mommy Tax, which “aired” on May 19, 2017, was just excellent and I wanted to respond at length so I felt that my weekly post would be the best way to do that. Emilie and Bridget  do a really excellent job of giving the perspective we need to understand that women have been penalized professionally for having children for a really long time. Either we couldn’t have careers because we had to care for the children, or we can have careers but it’s not “a good move.” But, having children is a really solid career move for men, who enjoy higher rates of promotions and more raises particularly when they are working hard to be involved dads.

I will stop for a second here to say that I am a white, cis-gendered woman pursuing a M.A.. My husband already has a graduate level degree. We both have really good jobs (him in county administration, me in higher education) and our children reap the benefits associated with having college educated parents. I am not down on anyone for getting a promotion or a raise. Nor am I particularly concerned about my financial well-being as a result of my lower societal status as a woman. This is a very privileged place to be.

This is a very privileged place to be.

More than anything, and why I think it’s important to advocate for equal pay for equal work, flexible work schedules, subsidized quality child care, and a whole host of other things is for my sisters who are single parents or parenting in a same-sex relationship.

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In the course of the podcast, and what I really wanted to talk about, is something Emilie asked. She asks, at one point, what would make the working day easier for working moms. I want to extend that to working parents, because increasingly we see new parents being more equal partners when it comes to parenting.

What would make my time as a working parent a whole lot easier in the short term would be a flexible working day. My dream day is six hours in the office, two hours at home. I bet you have some kind of combo that would make your day, or week, a lot easier. Something else that would make a ton of difference to me would be on-site daycare. I work at a university with an early childhood education program and it makes a whole lot of sense to me that we would capitalize (for lack of a better word) on that program to provide parents with child care and students with a required practicum experience. Heck, how awesome would it be if it was an option for parents who work there to pay for it through a payroll deduction? One less bill to have to worry about paying! Finally, what would help so much is if women who are already in those C-level positions and higher could let go of the mentality that because they got to where they were the hard way the rest of us have to as well. Women, support each other!

I just have to end by encouraging you to listen to Stuff Mom Never Told You. There is a lot of phenomenal content, you’ll learn something new and feel inspired with every episode.

The Essence of Femininity

I have crossed the horizon to find you

I know your name

I think it’s fair to say that “Moana” has supplanted “Frozen” as the film those of us with toddlers are watching ad nauseum.

But I’m not nauseated, and I’m glad to see many of my counterparts in the trenches are also not sick of Moana.

I love the entire movie, and I can give a pretty stirring rendition of almost every song at this point. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty good at faking it when I’m not sure of the words.

But that’s not why I want to talk about Moana today.

I would be remiss if I didn’t use this significant part of my life during Women’s History Month to talk about the essence of femininity.

Spoiler Alert

Moana and Maui have finally made it to Te Ka and are ready to do battle, to restore the heart of Te Fiti and remove the darkness from the land.

Te Ka is a lava monster, a destructive god.

After a hard fought battle, Moana makes it through to return the heart only to discover that what she’s looking for is not there.

She looks across the bay to Maui, fighting Te Ka with every ounce of his strength, and she sees where the heart needs to go. The spiral she is looking for is right in Te Ka.

Moana sees Te Ka for what she is. A woman who is hurt, who is damaged, who has become a scarred monster because her heart has been taken from her.

They may have stolen the heart from inside you

But this does not define you

This is not who you are

You know who you are

Moana restores the heart of Te Fiti and darkness is taken from the land.

As women, we all know someone like Maui who takes from us and is not sorry. I hope we also know someone who is like Maui at the end. Someone who has changed and is sorry for what he (or she) has done.

As women, we are all Te Fiti. We can give and nurture life, and this is true whether we can bear children or not. This ability is sacred.

We can also be Te Ka. Many of us have had so much taken from us. We need someone to remind us of our sacred ability.

We can be Moana. We can challenge our assumptions about someone and give them back their heart.

That’s the thing about love, we can share our heart with someone without being diminished ourselves.

That is the essence of femininity. This is something we can display regardless of our chromosomal makeup or presentation. We can all embrace the feminine and nurture the heart of others. Indeed, in these tumultuous times it is critical that we all embrace the ability we have to lift each other up.