All posts tagged: feminism

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The Women’s March on Washington: 5 Lessons in Feminism for My Son

For most of 14 hours on Saturday, my son and I were on our feet in Washington D.C., unwilling to be comfortable and refusing to be silent. As I saw it, the educational possibilities justified skipping a day of school, even when the learning opportunities at the march included Henry reading a sign and asking loudly, “What’s an orgasm?”At that moment, I faced one of few occasions when I’ve replied: “Ask your father.” Though I bypassed that teachable moment to keep us on task, the Women’s March on Washington served my mothering well. Together with my son, who is privileged enough to live a life in which his privilege is so fundamental as to render it mostly invisible, we marched to experience some basic lessons in responsible, active citizenship. Here are the lessons I hope he and other kids at marches around the globe might have experienced: 1. Humanity and decency are not political. We might vehemently disagree with the political ideologies of the new administration, but standing up and marching with millions of people around the world was less of a political statement than it …

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Five Feminist Resolutions for 2017

2017 has already proven to be a tough year for feminists. And we can expect to be tried and tested for the many months to come. As we look to the coming battles, here are five feminist New Year’s resolutions: 1. Show up After more than four million feminists showed up for the Women’s March on Washington and the 300+ sister marches globally, it is safe to say we are getting good at this one. But, it is crucial we continue to show up for what we believe in. Whether that be to continue marching, or to meet other feminists in your city, or to support feminist films, books, and concerts. While social media is an incredibly powerful tool to link the global community, cultivating a physical community is equally important and special. In 2017, let’s make sure we are there for our fellow females, and remember that together we are stronger. 2. Volunteer Alongside showing up for events, protests, and meet-ups, we must continue to support the incredible work of Planned Parenthood, ACLU, National …

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The Women Marched. Now What?

London. Miami. Nairobi. New York. Tokyo. All over the world, women (and men!) took over the streets of their cities to join in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington, which took place on the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. 21 January 2017 It was a day when history was made. My social media and news feeds were flooded with articles, pictures, videos and comments about the women’s marches around the world. It’s impressive the reach that these marches had – literally on every continent – and I truly believe this fact cannot be belittled or ignored. The marches brought together people from different age groups and backgrounds, although the fact remains that some indigenous, women of color and other minorities felt left out and divided from the white majority that attended the marches. Important issues of the intersection between gender, race, class and religion were brought up during the marches, which amplifies their significance and relevance. However, for the goals of the marches to become reality and …

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This is What a Feminist Looks Like

An interview with Henry Sawyer.  This Friday, I’m letting my sixth grader skip school. We’re making the long drive from Massachusetts to D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington, an event that has become, at least in this mom’s mind, an ethical parenting imperative in teaching about justice, kindness, and citizenship. With feminism at the core of my  mothering a son towards an inclusive concept of manhood, we’ll join the protest chorus with his tween voice and the fire that’s been in my throat since November 8. In this two-part blog post, we’ll publish our pre-march interview on Henry’s thoughts about what it means to be a boy joining the March followed by our experience among hundreds of thousands of people descending on Washington. The morning of Martin Luther King Day, we sat down on the couch, where this mom interviewed her 12-year-old son about the election, the March, and what it means to be a middle school feminist boy. How would you describe yourself? I don’t want to sound braggish. It’s okay to be confident in what you think …

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Speak Out: A Million Women’s Voices

As we welcome in the new year, we also welcome a new family to the White House. On January 20th Donald Trump will be inaugurated the 45th President of the United States and it is scary. Throughout the campaign season and the weeks since the election, feminist communities around the nation have rallied together in a collective outcry against Donald Trump. In the past eighteen months we have seen him call women fat, ugly, pigs, dogs, losers, slobs, disgusting animals, and pieces of ass. We have seen him poke fun at menstruation and support lawmakers who want to take away our rights to our bodies. But we have not been silent. From blogs to Planned Parenthood donations, from art installations to painful conversations, we are building community. And for many Americans, that means joining the January 21st Women’s March on Washington where millions of women and allies will take to the streets in protest against the rhetoric of misogyny, homophobia, racism, and xenophobia perpetuated by our current President Elect. But what about the millions of …

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Abortion Rights in Poland: From Legalization in 1959 to Czarny Protest in 2016

In 1989, Polish women stood at a crossroads. With the fall of the Soviet Union, women were re-introduced to the concepts of Western second-wave feminism. Like in other post-soviet states, the effects of communism resulted in the fierce emancipation of women in both family and work. Now, looking at the current debate in Poland around abortion and women’s autonomy over their bodies, one cannot help but ask, why now? Why is it that almost thirty years after the fall of the Communist Government in Poland, is women’s right to abortion being questioned? For those answers one must take a good hard look at Poland’s history, which more often than not is caught between Western ideals, the Catholic Church, and the country’s history of communism. Under the Communist state, both women and men were expected to work which resulted in a massive increase of women entering both industrial and agricultural fields. A popular slogan even arise during this time, “Kobiety na Traktory”(“Women to the Tractor”). In 1956, a good twenty years before the United States and France, …

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Climbing Bravely Above Expectations

We were above the clouds, pushing through the most technical part of the climb (appropriately named Disappointment Cleaver) up Washington’s Mt. Rainier. The rope running out from my own harness was linked to one in front and one behind. Together, my rope team of three scrambled through rock and ice. In front of me was my guide, Pasang Sherpa, who moved with the ease of being at home in the mountains. I did my best to emulate her effortless movements up through feet of fresh snow, following her lead as professional climber and mountaineering guide. P asang is Sherpa, a particular people group of the Himalayas of Nepal so well known for their climbing abilities that people often associate the word “Sherpa” with a porter who carries gear up peaks for foreign climbers. But not all Sherpa people are climbers. Rather, for many Sherpa women, the expectation is not to live up to the same expectation as for Sherpa men to be incredible high altitude climbers. In Pasang’s Sherpa community, like much of Nepal where …

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ALUTA CONTINUA: Securing a Healthy Future for Girls and Women

Women’s health news continues to dominate, inform, and affect our lives and imaginations. Ahead of the Women Deliver Conference, I highlight some of the most influential advances in young women’s sexual and reproductive health of this past few decades and their potential to promote women’s sexual and reproductive rights in multiple ways. As I boarded my flight on Saturday to from Nairobi destined for Denmark to attend the Women Deliver Conference, I reflected on the journey ahead: security checks, somewhat long layover at Doha airport, change in temperature and eventual time difference from my own country. Up to this point, I had done the due diligence preparation for travel processes which include visa application and logistical arrangements. Upon further reflection, this process lay particular significance and meaning to the Conference ahead and the journey to secure girls’ and women’s rights in health. A Moment in History When it comes to contraception, life today has meant a variety of choices available for the young woman. It is difficult to imagine that about sixty years ago, the …

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Empowerment as a Luxury Item

‘Empowerment’ has become a buzzword in feminist circles, a rallying cry to improve the lives of women in rural developing countries as well as those trying to shatter glass ceilings in Fortune 500 companies. Four syllables capture the very abstract, but vital goal that feminists and organizations worldwide are trying to accomplish. Like anything that has gained traction in the public consciousness, many have capitalized on ’empowerment’. A search for ‘feminist products’ will bring up novelty items like a mug with the words ‘male tears’ emblazoned on it, and Etsy has multiple pages worth of accessories and apparel dedicated to wearing feminism, quite literally, on your sleeve. This isn’t a problem in and of itself, but it encapsulates the increasingly cosmetic standard of the word. This doesn’t just redirect our attention to how we’re using feminism to make ourselves look, rather than think. It spills over into a bigger phenomenon of a superficial feminism, one that steers clear of the messy, unattractive and painful problems beneath it. For example, Hilary Clinton should be a resounding victory for feminism, as a …

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The Quest for Gender Equality: Get Angry About the Present and Keep Going!

I can’t forget the day I met Gloria Steinem. Having barely recovered from the flu, I rolled out of bed too late to wash my hair. Behind on a work deadline, I was preoccupied by Everything-I-Had-To-Do later in the day. The babysitter had to leave earlier than originally planned, which meant that either my partner or I would be rushing out of the event early. As I downed my cough medicine and blew my nose I had second thoughts about going. Still, I went. Realizing I would have the opportunity to speak with Gloria, I planned to tell her about my work as an activist for girls and women. But when I actually stood next to her, I surprised myself by thanking her for her own tireless work that spans decades. “Gratitude,” Gloria once said, “never radicalized anybody. I don’t care if they recognize the past, I just want them to get angry about the present and keep going.” This quote ran through my mind as I spoke to the feminist icon who said it. …