Monday, June 1, 2015

Young Volcanoes

It's no secret that Republicans in the NC legislature and Governor Pat McCrory have not made NC public schools a priority. Teachers and students all over the state are feeling the results of the lack of needed funds and the cuts to education while corporations and the wealthiest citizens are given priority by some lawmakers.

Check out this video from TWC's Capital Tonight, where you can watch Senator Josh Stein prove once again he is a champion for NC's young people in a discussion with Senator Bob Rucho. The discussion starts about 9 minutes into the video.
http://www.twcnews.com/nc/triangle-sandhills/capital-tonight-show/2015/05/28/capital-tonight-may-28--sens--rucho-and-stein-on-budget.html

You might remember that Senator Rucho was the one who said voter pre-registration was too confusing for NC's teenagers when he led the effort to eliminate that opportunity and the education programs in NC schools that went along with it. In his appearance on Capital Tonight, Senator Rucho mentions putting money back into the classroom but spends a good part of the interview defending cuts to education. Senator Rucho is himself confused, it seems.

People all over the state have been contacting their lawmakers and showing up at Moral Mondays and other events throughout the state to show their support for public education.

Something else we can do to support education is show support for the students who are not sitting by silently but instead using their voices to fight for better policies and taking an active role in trying to influence the policies that directly affect them.

I'd like to invite everyone to sign and share the following petition, created by a 13 year old NC student. When our young people use their voices in an effort to help create a better future for our state, we should support them and it is the duty and obligation of our elected representatives to listen and respond.

https://www.change.org/p/general-assembly-give-funds-back-to-public-schools-to-give-kids-a-better-education

Certain representatives in the NC legislature aren't supporting NC students with their deeds, but each of us has the opportunity now to to show them, and especially one NC student trying to make a difference, that the citizens support our students by taking one simple action.

Jacob of Raleigh, this one's for you. Forward together.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

I'm With Hillary



I’ve been excited for Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the office of President of the United States since the early days of Ready for Hillary. I’ve been a fan of Hillary Clinton since 2008, when I was 7 years old. I have a book that contains speeches by historic Americans that I’ve had since I was a little girl and still use as inspiration when I write my own speeches. In that book is Hillary Clinton’s speech to the United Nations at the 4th World Conference on Women back in 1995, where she said, “We need to understand there is no one formula for how women should lead our lives. That is why we must respect the choices that each woman makes for herself and her family.” You may notice that when I write and speak about feminism and about the issues that affect women in America today, this sentiment is reflected in my own attitudes.

Secretary Clinton’s leadership and inspiration has played, and continues to play, a large part in why I’m active in trying to shape a bright future for my country and why I feel empowered to do so. She is a role model for me, both politically and personally.

Hillary’s experience as a lawyer, campaign worker, committee and board member, First Lady both to a state Governor and a President, Senator, and Secretary of State, is exactly the kind of varied experience I consider valuable in a future President. I have confidence that she has the diplomacy skills, the broad spectrum of knowledge, and the track record necessary to continue to move America in a positive direction despite the many obstacles we will continue to face.

The majority of this country, despite what you might think if you engage in political discourse on the Internet, is not far left or far right. The majority of Americans, like myself, are more centrist in their positions. Hillary Clinton will represent my Progressive values with common sense in a manner that will appeal to voters and advocate policies to strengthen the middle class that can make it though Congress and onto her desk to sign. She’ll be able to compromise in order to get things done and she’ll be able to weather the storms and keep pushing for what’s right and beneficial to mainstream America despite having to make decisions that will not always be popular.

I won’t be able to vote in the primaries or in the 2016 Presidential election, but I am proud to give my endorsement to the candidate who has given so much to me over the years and who is the candidate I feel will give the most to all Americans.  It is my sincere hope that I get to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton’s re-election to the office of President of the United States in 2020.

Yesterday, with the greatest of thanks to my friend Susan Smith, President of the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council, I had the opportunity to hear Hillary Clinton speak at the SCDW’s Day in Blue event and to meet and speak briefly with Secretary Clinton.

I asked her if she was elected, or even if she wasn’t, if she would support the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. She told me she thought it was a long road of action, but she would definitely support it. This answer showed me she is familiar with the issue and understands the challenges we will have to meet to get the ERA ratified. She also talked in the speech she gave about issues impacting women’s equality like equal pay, pay transparency, and the fact many of the jobs that don’t pay a living wage are held by women. These are all issues that while we continue to fight for the big picture, full Constitutional equality, we have a chance to solve through legislation.

I also asked her what advice she would give to young people who want to get involved in politics. Her answer: Volunteer. She told me about how she got started was volunteering for campaigns and that seeking out internships would be a good idea for me in the future. I’ll also add here that all policy and pomp and circumstance aside, she is incredibly cool and we could totally hang at Chipotle and maybe go for a Starbucks after. Anything you hear about her having trouble connecting with average middle class voters or young voters is ridiculousness.

In her speech, Secretary Clinton talked about the 2008 primary and the way in which discourse can sometimes not reflect the best examples of citizenship during campaign season. She said,
“We should show more respect toward each other, and we should remember why we’re doing this; because we love our country and we want it to be the country of hope and potential for our children and grandchildren.”

I hope that no matter which candidate you support for the office of President of the United States, you feel as passionate about your candidate as I do mine. No matter which candidate wins this primary season, we must, as Progressives, come together and help elect that candidate in order to preserve the progress we’ve made and protect our country against the policies and attitudes that will drive us backwards.

No matter which candidate you support, I hope you will both recognize and let your actions reflect the fact Hillary Clinton has dedicated her life to public service, has helped move our country forward throughout her career, and has inspired and empowered young women to walk the long road of action.

Volunteer. It’s an easy word to say, but can sometimes be hard for people to do, especially when they don’t see others like themselves getting involved. I’m thankful that Secretary Clinton has served as my role model over the course of my lifetime. Both her public remarks and personal remarks to me embody the values I want to see reflected in the highest office of our government.

If you would like to join me in volunteering to help elect Hillary Clinton to the office of President of the United States, you can sign up here:
https://www.hillaryclinton.com/volunteer/

Someone recently shared a song with me, and I would like to dedicate this song to Hillary. It’s because of her paving the way that I can, because of her example that I am, and because of her leadership and the policies she’s fighting for that I will. 


Friday, May 22, 2015

Too Many Rape Apologists and Counting

The Internet today is overflowing with the message "boys will be boys." I'm speaking, of course, about reactions to the recent news that Josh Duggar inappropriately fondled the breasts and genitalia of girls, at least one of whom was asleep, twelve years ago.

Some people, it seems, feel this poster boy for Conservative "family values" should be absolved of responsibility and excused for his actions because he was only 14 and had teenage boy hormones. In other words, this sexual assault wasn't "legitimate" enough for them.


Well, excuse me, but what the hell has to happen in order for a sexual assault to be legitimate enough for these people? If I was attacked in a dark alley between the church and the gun show by a black, gay, atheist Democrat who works at an abortion clinic, would that be legitimate enough for people not to defend my rapist?


Let me point out here that although we don't know a lot about the victims, as well we shouldn't to protect their privacy, it's likely that these girls were doing everything right according to the most patriarchal standards of society. They probably didn't dress provocatively like, you know, showing their shoulders, backs, stomachs, or other sex organs. There probably weren't any traces of uncle sugar in their systems. (Oh and speaking of uncle sugar, Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee came out in support of Josh Duggar getting off scott free, because nothing says leader of the free world like aligning your positions with a sex offender.) Still, despite the fact they most likely did everything they were told as not to appear to be asking for it, these girls were sexually assaulted.


Since Josh Duggar got a "stern talking to" from a friend of daddy Jim Bob who just happened to be a law enforcement officer and has apologized for his habitually assaulting the young girls, everybody needs to just suck it up now. I mean, how much more sincere can you get than this part of what Josh Duggar said in his issued statement published on Facebook: "I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life." Whew! I'm so glad that he took the time to think about himself and his life because that is absolutely what someone who seeks to gratify their sexual urges at the expense of a sleeping girl needs to do more of. 


TLC, the network that airs the Duggar's reality show, pulled upcoming episodes off the air. They are still trying to decide what their long term plans for the show are. That has to be a really tough decision, trying to figure out if you care enough to stop producing a show that features a sex offender and the people who conveniently arranged things so he wouldn't face any real consequences. 

The reactions to this incident reflect the fact that a large part of American culture is infected with misogyny. We have a sex education problem. We have a problem with abuses of power and lack of justice. But perhaps the most significant problem we have is people ultimately failing as functional human beings and resorting to a mentality that Steve Marmel so eloquently summed up on Twitter: "He hates who I hate so I don't care what he does."





Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Take Action to Help Give America's Youth a Voice

The Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council needs your help. House Joint Resolution 47 is currently in committee, which would establish a Presidential Youth Council to advise Congress and the President on matters and policies important to the youth of our nation and to its future. 

In order to move this bill to the floor and encourage our Representatives to pass it, as many people as possible need to contact their Representatives and voice their support for this bi-partisan, youth-led council made up of young people ages 16-24. Next week, starting on Monday, May 18th, the organization is hosting a national outreach initiative. You can join in this event by visiting the following link:

You can follow this link to take just a moment of your time to send an email to your Representative:

You can easily find your Representative in the House to follow up your email with a phone call by following this link:

Let me tell you why this initiative is important to me. 

The current state of partisan bickering in the political realm often steamrolls over our young people and makes increasing numbers of them less likely to get involved or even vote. When the future leaders of this country are not participating, or when they try to participate are treated as props or propaganda to fuel the divisiveness that impedes a political process that's beneficial to our country as a whole, this puts the foundation of this nation on shaky ground. 

It's important that our young people know our leaders value their research, input, and contributions. Our  current leaders should be modeling and encouraging our future leaders to work across party lines to meet the challenges we face. It's imperative that our young people have the opportunity to see others like themselves engaged and working across party lines to build the future in which we will lead. 

Those of us who are too young to vote or hold office deserve representation in the political process to ensure that the blessings of liberty are secured for ourselves and our posterity. We deserve to have our concerns, our hopes, and our dreams for this nation recognized as pertinent and valuable. 

I urge you to support this measure to create a Presidential Youth Council in order to help move this country forward. 

If you don't know what to say when you call or email, you can keep it simple and just say that you support House Joint Resolution 47 to create a Presidential Youth Council. The important thing is that you take just a moment of your time to help support America's youth and show us by your example that individual engagement is important to a government of, by, and for the people. 

Be sure to share information on The Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council and follow the campaign on both Facebook and Twitter

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Unsocial Media

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and some of his followers think that when gay people share photos on Facebook, it is persecuting their religion.

Maybe they don't understand that on Facebook, you choose the people you are friends with and the pages you follow. If Tony Perkins is seeing photos of gay people on his Facebook feed, he must be friends with them or following their pages. His recommended reaction to seeing photos of gay people on Facebook is to say, "I don't want this on my Facebook page, I don't want this, I don't want to see this, look, do whatever you want to do but don't involve me in that," and of course pray for whoever posted the photo because he considers them his "enemies." 

I'm an atheist, in case anyone forgot or didn't know. I just took a quick scroll down my Facebook feed and counted nine posts from Christians posting about Christian things. Sometimes, when I see Christian things, I scroll by them. Sometimes, I click on them to get a better idea of the perspectives of people who are not like me. I don't report them to Facebook or ask them to stop posting Christian things because by doing so they are, "involving me in that." Unless they are demanding that atheists should be burned at the stake or something, they have not made themselves my enemies simply by posting about their own beliefs any more than people who post pictures of hot dogs are my enemies because I don't like to eat hot dogs. 


I also have friends on Facebook of various races and genders. They post pictures of themselves all the time and despite my seeing many of these pictures, I'm still a white female. 


Every now and then, I do come across a post on Facebook that's persecutory in nature. If someone, for example, is making posts that encourage denying equal rights to other human beings simply because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, I'd most likely choose to no longer be friends with or follow that person on social media. I may even choose to say something, but by doing that, I am making the conscious choice to involve myself. 


It's time for Tony Perkins to learn how to play well with others. If his religion demands he not look at pictures of gay people, he shouldn't be looking at pictures of gay people instead of demanding that the entire Internet be run on his own personal terms of service. Maybe he could set up his own parental controls since he's evidently not grown-up enough to keep his online behaviors in accordance with the teachings of whatever religion he has chosen to practice. 



Thursday, October 23, 2014

#ThisIsWhatAFeministLooksLike

It should not be surprising to anyone why more young women are not taking an interest in or becoming active in feminism. I've noticed an increasing and disturbing trend in which young women are placed in either/or, do or die situations, made to feel as if they have no place in the political conversation. A Fox News personality recently expressed her opinion that young women shouldn't vote because they are, "healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world," and that they should stick to Tinder and Match.com instead. Because we all know that young women can't be politically active and active on Tinder at the same time.

Even little girls are not safe from the assault on their choices. A mom recently got a store to pull girly police and firefighter costumes from the shelves saying they were "sexualized." Instead of appealing to the store to provide more choices for girls, she instead chose to limit the choices of others. In the process she taught her own kids that the way to react to clothing we personally find is not in our taste is to slut shame. Is it any wonder why a little girl would grow up wondering if a sexual assault was her fault because her skirt was too short? 

Every time I post a picture or a video making a political statement, random people of the interwebs comment about my makeup or my fashion choices. I'm lucky in that I figured out early on that my self-defined femininity and feminism wasn't an either/or choice. But many young women haven't figured this out yet and while they want things like equal pay and access to healthcare, they don't see their place in participating in achieving these things.

When young women aren't able to find their place in the conversation, it keeps even more young women out of the conversation. Celebrities like Beyonce and Emma Watson have done a great deal in getting more young women to investigate feminism but the average girl can't talk to Beyonce. It's like arriving at a party where you don't know anyone. If you feel like you don't belong, you're going to leave.

This is why it's important that as feminists, we uphold the idea that all women have the equal opportunity to make choices and should be seeking to expand those choices, not limit them based on our own ideas of femininity or on our own personal lifestyles and preferences. Our collective power is increased by using the power we have as individuals to reach out to others like us, but we diminish that power when we exclude those who aren't instead of helping them find their place.

I'm not going to play the role of Phyllis Schlafly and fight against others who are trying to expand choices for my fellow women. I'm not going to play the role of a Fox News commentator and discourage ANY woman from voting, no matter how she plans on voting, because I know how hard women fought for that right.

I'm not going to play queen of the world as a young, white, cisgender, middle class girl and dictate the needs and preferences of other women. I'm going to shut up and listen and support the policies that help my fellow human beings. I'm going to be there for those girls who enjoy reading fashion magazines, listening to pop music, and dating when they start to investigate feminism and help them understand that feminism is about them and every woman having the opportunity to be the women they want to be and not be treated unequally based on their gender.

I'm going to be a big sister to kids like these http://samuel-warde.com/2014/10/potty-mouthed-princesses-drops-f-bomb/ who at their ages know exactly what it is they are saying and are part of the new generation of suffragists. I want these kids fighting beside me for equality, not against me when the message they get is that they aren't welcome in the conversation because some people don't like princess costumes or a word they used or think they are incapable of intelligent thought and understanding complex ideas.

Some feminists wear conservative clothing and don't use salty language. Some feminists wear short skirts and might say "shit" if they drop something. Some feminists dress up as princesses and drop F bombs.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Call of Duty

Young people, WAKE UP!

Hopefully, you are paying attention to what's going on right now in Colorado. What you might not know is that the efforts to control curriculum in Colorado are backed by Americans For Prosperity, a Conservative think-tank that is funded by the Koch Brothers.

Our access to comprehensive sex-education is under attack. Here in my state of North Carolina, the Conservative-controlled legislature has taken away the opportunity for 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote, ended the tax deduction for 529 College Savings Plans, and made cuts to public education affecting both teachers and students.

Our environment is in dire need of protection and our President just addressed the United Nations saying, “We cannot condemn our children and their children to a future that is beyond their capacity to repair."

The Koch Brothers and their friends, through organizations like Americans for Prosperity and ALEC, come up with policies and model legislation and then these policies go on tour. This means that what you've seen happening in Colorado and with curriculum materials in Texas could soon be coming to a school near you. It means voting rights and opportunities in your state could be coming under attack if they are not already. It means that you could have a better chance of seeing fracking in your state than policies to protect your environment.

The Koch Brothers and their friends are counting on your continued complacency. They are counting on you being too absorbed in your new iPhone or the latest video game to bother to register a single voter. They are counting on you not talking to others about the issues and the candidates you support. They are counting on you to think calling out the absurd and crazy ideas some of their candidates support is "negativity" and they are counting on you to feel powerless, helpless, and hopeless in the face of our challenges.

The future of our nation is counting on you to stand up, speak up, and take action. Your fellow citizens are counting on you to fulfill the promise of the leaders who came before us. We are part of the vision they had for our country and we have the responsibility to honor their legacy.

From now through the upcoming midterms and beyond, we must be engaged. Our challenges will not be met in one election cycle. We must remain vigilant and active to send a clear message to the Koch Brothers and their friends that the future of the United States can not be bought and that young people will not be discouraged by their messages that disparage and attempt to dissuade us.

There is no challenge we face that we cannot overcome through the power of the people at the polls. It has always been the young people of this country who have helped move us forward. If we stop, progress stops. This is our choice. This is our charge. This is the real call of duty.