Rising Through the Ashes of Life

medium_2934252475When I picked up a book about a group of women struggling to navigate the tragedy of becoming widows, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Obviously, this is one of the worst things that can happen to a young woman or mother. She has the rest of her life planned out, and all of sudden everything changes. Everything, because your husband is gone. This is not something I have experienced, at all. It’s hard for me to imagine what that must even be like.

But as I dove into the Saturday Night Widows, I realized that while becoming a widow may not be something I can relate to, the true story I found in this book was actually about finding a way to start over when life has pulled the rug out from underneath you and doing it with friends.

These are things I can relate too… Read more


Feminism: Time to Stand Together

I recently read an article in the Nation that sparked a heated discussion over on MOMocrats and then later on Twitter. And though all the ladies involved certainly remained respectful and kind while discussing the topic, it still left me thinking about it all day. And now here I am at almost midnight writing about it.

The women’s movement, or feminism, or whatever you want to label it, has to be the most frustrating battle ever fought in the history of the world. Why? Because it should be over by now. It’s 2009. We should not have to STILL be fighting for equal pay. We shouldn’t just NOW be writing laws to offer better maternity care and leave. Domestic violence is the dirty little epidemic that should have been drug out from beneath the rug long ago. And in 2009, we should not have to be explaining to women in other countries why being tortured and raped on a regular basis is not how life is supposed to be.

And we certainly shouldn’t have to be screaming at the top of our lungs to ensure we see a third female Supreme Court justice. I mean really, even if it does turn out to be a woman (which it better) it’s still going to be infuriating. We’re celebrating only the third, in 200 years? Give me a break.

So why do I think that this battle has not been won? Because the women’s movement has never really been able to mobilize as one group. The closest we saw was the women’s suffrage movement and they were a force to be reckoned with. When all of them finally stood together as one voice, they were unstoppable.

They stood up and said, We are moms, we are young single women, we are daughters, grandmas, and sisters. We are women. And we deserve the right to vote, and you’re going to give it to us.

And they did.

That is why now, more than any other time in history, is it important for us as women to embrace the labels we wear. So what if you don’t get the mommy thing. You want your career instead. Great. But you want equal pay to do it too, right? You want the same opportunities that are given to your male counterparts so you can climb just as high on the corporate or political ladder as the guys, right? Of course you do.

And moms. You’re a mom. You want maternity leave, health care, and the ability to work and raise your child, or stay home. You want to breastfeed in public without worrying, or maybe you want to formula feed without ridicule. You want to make sure your children have a good education and are healthy. Right?

Well, these are ALL of our goals. We’re all in this together. But instead of getting that, people have to divide up by sides and create this divide that doesn’t need to exist. And that’s why the women’s movement still has so many struggles to fight, because we can’t rise up together.

What we, as women, need to do is break the barriers in between us. The barriers of race, of social status, family status, career status, and stand as women. We are seeking the same thing here. The failures and wins of each feminist are the failures and wins of women everywhere.

The time for talk is over ladies. We’ve talked ourselves to death. The time has come for us to stand together once again, like the suffrage movement. And tell the world that we are here and we are not going anywhere. And we are in it together.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton once said, “Men say we are ever cruel to each other. Let us end this ignoble record and henceforth stand by womanhood.”

Amen, sister.

Old Stereotypes Die Hard

In honor of Women’s History Month, a lot of publications and websites have come out with articles about the history of the women’s movement and how far we’ve come. And though in some areas that might be true, many women feel we’ve got a long way to go to truly reach gender equality here in the United States and especially in other parts of the world. The current women’s movement is not just about laws and fair pay but about changing a biased attitude that has been around far too long.

Attitudes like the ones expressed in an article in the Vatican’s newspaper titled, “The washing machine and the emancipation of women: put in the powder, close the lid and relax ” examine how the washing machine has done more for the women’s movement than any other invention in recent history. The article also tells the tale of how the increase of women in the workplace was in large part due to the washing machine. Once we had help with the laundry, we could go to work elsewhere. It was a small step, but an important one.

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, keep in mind the gender biases that still exist. As well as the reasons why a Presidential Commission on Women is so vital not just for protecting and preserving our rights, but about helping to change the stereotypes that still run so strong.

Let the world know that we are not here because of washing machines. We are here because we are strong enough and smart enough to be here.

Defining Women and the Enigma of Sarah Palin

It seems odd that only last week I wrote a piece for the WomenCount blog about America’s first woman governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross. I was truly inspired by her story, her time as governor, and all that she did afterward.

Now, less then a week after reading about this first woman Governor, I hear the announcement that one of our seven current governors is resigning. Sarah Palin announced Friday that not only would she not be running for a second term as Governor of Alaska but that she would not even be finishing out her current term. On July 26 she will step down as Governor and turn over the reins to Alaska’s lieutenant governor.

Sarah Palin has been somewhat of an enigma since the day she was announced as John McCains Vice Presidential pick for the 2008 presidential election. With Hillary out of the running, Sarah Palin was quickly thrown into the role of being the voice of women across the country. The only problem is, she wasn’t.

She simply became the only voice. With so few women in office, a magnifying glass is placed on the few that are. Especially politicians such as Palin who manage to stay at the very top of the news cycle.  But the media are not the only ones who have been putting Palin under the magnifying glass.

Every mistake and quirky personality trait has been constantly analyzed and either been trashed or hailed as gospel by women from both sides of the feminist divide. In fact, Palin’s rise to the top of the political spectrum was almost like drawing a line in the sand between liberal and conservative feminists.  A divide that other female politicians have been trying to close, not widen.

The bottom line is Sarah Palin does not define what it means to be a woman. But for as long as she is the only one out there, people will mistakenly think she does. The solution is simple. If we have more women in office the definition of a woman would no longer be limited to the oddities of Sarah Palin and her political career choices.

We are women. We are old, we are young, we are black, and we are white and every color in between. We are single, married, and divorced. We are gay, we are straight we are moms and we are successful career women. We work from home, we work on farms, and we work in skyscrapers. We are as far right and as far left as they come. We are women. Now is our time to stand up and define ourselves.

By increasing the number of women in office the media will be forced to stop defining women by just one person. Maybe even be forced to stop trying to define women at all and simply let us get to the task at hand, making the world a better place.