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.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Don't Stop Believin'

So I don't know how this happened, but today I'm packing my suitcase and preparing to go speak at a rally in Washington DC with some really epic people at the We Are Woman Constitution Day Rally on Saturday the 13th.

Over the last few days, as many of us have been working to promote the rally and continue much needed fundraising, I've read a lot of comments, most of them very supportive and encouraging, some of them not. It's important that, as we move forward, we don't get caught up too much in the not.

There is a segment of the population whose only purpose in life is to be against things. The interwebs make this easy for them because anybody with a keyboard can find posts they disagree with and type words, no matter how badly spelled and grammatically incorrect.

Phyllis Schalfly and the women who agree with her should have the opportunity to be the kind of women they want to be. What they shouldn't have is the ability to impose their standards on the rest of us.

When one group decides based on their interpretation of one of the many religions that exist that we should all live according to their beliefs and it's apparently too much for them to deal with others making different choices, we have to let them know this is unacceptable.

It's the way in which we choose to make this known that's important.

I'm very excited about the We Are Woman rally and I'm so honored to have the opportunity to represent my state and my generation of women.

The best way you can support all the men and women involved in organizing and participating in this event, is to make a donation.
http://www.wearewoman.us/donate

Also, on Friday, Sept. 12th, the names of those who have pledged to vote for economic equality for all, the Equal Rights Amendment, and ballot access for all citizens will be delivered to our members of congress. Please make sure your name is on the list and that you ask your friends to add theirs too.
http://www.wearewoman.us/take-our-pledge

We will not be deterred. We will fight for the rights of our fellow citizens, even the ones we might not agree with sometimes. We won't blame others for our problems. We'll work for solutions.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Beyond Madison Kimrey

Some people like to voice an opinion that I'm "too young" to be involved in politics. Some like to criticize my makeup or fashion choices. Others like to assume I have no life or interests that are separate from the ones I write about. To them, it's all about me.

Well, it's not. This is about my fellow citizens and most importantly, my fellow young people. This is about a program that pre-registered over 160,000 16 and 17 year olds in my state being eliminated for no good reason. This is about a Governor who insults the young people of his state rather than encouraging them to get involved in the political process. This is about the LBGT community being discriminated against and denied their basic rights. This is about misogyny, rape culture, and slut shaming. This is about women not having equal protection under the Constitution. This about one of my fellow young people being shot 6 times, twice in the head, by police. This isn't about me. This is about all of us.

So if I can write some words that make people think, I'm going to do that. If one of my friends takes one of my photos and pairs it with some words that stood out from something I've said or written, I'm going to post it. If someone in the media wants to talk to me and I feel like their reason is because they want to bring attention to ideas, I'm going to talk to them.

What I'm not going to do is wait until I have permission to speak. I'm not going to sit back and do nothing when I can make a real difference in shaping the future I will inherit. I'm going to speak my truth and be true to myself.

The challenges we face require us to look beyond ourselves as individuals. They require that we reach out beyond ourselves to those who have different experiences and beliefs. Our challenges require us to be aware, passionate, charitable, and to actively campaign for justice.


Here's the moral to the story We don't do it for the glory We don't do it for the money We don't do it for the fame So all the critics who despise us Go ahead and criticize us It's your tyranny that drives us Adds the fire to our flames

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Broken Hearts and Bloody Hands

How long will we allow being a young black male to be an offense punishable by death in our country?

Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old, was shot and killed by a police officer outside of St. Louis.


Michael was to start college this week.

I'm sad and angry over Michael's death, but my feelings right now are not the same compared to what is being felt in the black community. I, as a white person, with the privilege I was born with simply because of the color of my skin, cannot personally relate to the daily prejudice other people feel because of the color of theirs.

If you are one of those white people who says they "don't see color," what the heck is wrong with you? Seeing color and acknowledging the fact there is discrimination and prejudice based on color is what has gotten us this far in securing basic rights for our fellow citizens. But we still have a long way to go.

Are we to be satisfied with basic rights? And by we, I'm talking right now to white people because WE are the ones responsible for Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and countless others. Yes, all of us, even those of us who consider ourselves progressive, inclusive, and justice-seeking. Right now our culture has two primary ways of categorizing people of color. Either they are the enemy, dangerous, lazy dependent "takers" or they are "no different" from us.

We desire a world in which racial prejudices don't exist, and sometimes we desire this so much that we either fail to recognize differences exist or try to convince ourselves we don't need to understand them. When we want to talk about people of another race, we struggle with what words to use. We're afraid to ask questions about even the simplest things like how our haircare routines are different because we're told it's not polite.

While many people don't ignore racist ideas, it's easy for us to ignore that uncomfortable feeling we get when we are confronted with choosing a word or dealing with our cultural differences. When a black person talks about being watched in a store or seeing someone veer off their path to avoid them, many of us automatically think, "That's terrible! I would never act like that."

And even if we, as individuals, think we would never act like that, we as a culture are very much acting like that. Not only is another young man dead, but when Michael's community gathered to seek justice and to mourn together not only the loss of one young man but to seek comfort with others in the face of yet another demonstration of extreme prejudice, they were viewed as an angry mob. Police showed up with guns and dogs.

We can't handle being different and the same at the same time. We think having Black History Month, a black President, and Oprah makes up for the fact our culture continues to revolve around us. We want diversity without all the hard stuff that comes with being diverse. We want to create a pretty picture without first looking at our true reflection in the mirror.

We have to shut up and listen. Confronting racist ideas is not enough. We have to confront everything within ourselves that makes us uncomfortable with diversity. We have to acknowledge our privilege because failing to do so is just another form of prejudice. We have to embrace the idea that equality doesn't mean people are all the same, but instead that they are treated with the same dignity  regardless of their differences.

Basic rights are not enough. Basic rights are not going to prevent more kids from dying at the hands of those who might have been the very ones who would react to a anecdote of racism with the thought, "I would never act that way." Basic rights are not going to prevent headlines that read "Missouri Crowd After Shooting: Kill the Police" to stories that report no violence, only demonstrators leaving rose petals and stuffed animals in memory of their community's lost son.

Blatant racism is not the only thing killing these kids. It's our refusal to deal with being uncomfortable. It's those moments in which our desire to be politically correct overcomes the desire to correct the political mistakes we've made that have led to an ingrained fear and distrust. It's our failure to trust others when they tell us they are indeed different from us because from the cradle to the grave their everyday experiences are different from ours that have led to so many being placed in the grave.

It's time for some affirmative action. The action we must take now is to listen and to avoid making excuses and pointing fingers elsewhere. There are no excuses. We all have blood on our hands today.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sustaining Quiet

Blogger Yochanan Gordon posted an op-ed on The Times of Israel entitled, "When Genocide is Permissible." I would love to be able to link to this piece, but it was very quickly taken down. Here is a screenshot:

He asks: "I mean, whoever heard of a timeout in war?"

He concludes with, "If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?"

If you have to question if genocide is permissible to defend a country that was established as a result of genocide, you have officially failed at life.

I took a look at some of the other op-eds written by Yochanan Gordon, including "Reflections of a Blogger" in which he says:

"It’s my fervent hope that you find favor in my words and that it should continue to arouse important introspective thought and dialogue amongst others and ultimately effect positive change in the world..."

Well, Mr. Gordon, the internet has not found favor with your words today.

I then checked out Mr. Gordon's Twitter feed, where I was greeted with this:





Searching Google for Yochanan Gordon led to a piece from 5 Towns Jewish Times, a website founded by his father, called "The Duplicitous Mr. Holmes" in which Mr. Gordon discusses the horrible tragedy in Aurora Colorado, saying :

"
If we are to succeed in protecting ourselves and our children from dangerous people, it’s important to distinguish between sincere and insincere people. There are those who couldn’t care less about their public image, and it’s easy for us to avoid them. But those who present a facade of innocence, studiousness, and righteousness yet don’t represent those ideals in their hearts—they pose the greatest risk to society."

Yochanan Gordon, having deleted both his Facebook and Twitter profiles, seems to be seeking the kind of "sustained quiet" he suggested could be achieved for Israel through genocide.

I mean, whoever heard of a timeout in war?

Update:
Mr. Gordon has apologized, proving that perhaps timeouts are effective after all.
http://5tjt.com/apology-from-yochanan-gordon/



Monday, June 30, 2014

Decisions, Decisions

Many people are angry today. Many are upset, and rightfully so.

Now let's talk about the way forward.

Before we go any further, if you are female, I want you to go look in the mirror. If you're not female, I want you to find a picture of a female you care about. It can be your mom, grandma, wife, girlfriend, friend, sister, teacher, any woman you care about. Now I want you to look at the image you see and repeat after me, "This person is not equal in the eyes of the law." Keep looking at the image, let it really sink in what these words mean, and repeat again, "This person is not equal in the eyes of the law."

Now I want you to do something about that.

This is the text of the Equal Rights Amendment that will grant ALL people, regardless of sex, full Constitutional equality.

The Equal Rights Amendment
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

We must get the ERA ratified and it is within our power to do so.

35 states ratified the ERA before the deadline imposed by congress expired in 1982. Only 3 more states are needed to get to the 38 needed to ratify the ERA. Then we have to make sure we have the congressional representatives who will remove the deadline on the ratification so that it can move forward.

So here is what you can do.

First pledge your support to doing what's necessary to get the ERA ratified.
http://www.wearewoman.us/take-our-pledge
VOTE
Help OTHERS register and vote

Support ONLY those candidates who show through deeds, not just words, that they support legal and economic equality for all, the Equal Rights Amendment and ballot access for all citizens


It's important to pay attention to who is representing you in both your state legislature and in Congress. Even if you're not old enough to vote, you can contact your representatives, register voters, volunteer to help on campaigns, and talk to others about the issues.

You can also donate or purchase items to help fund the We Are Woman Constitution Day Rally in Washington DC in September. And you can make plans to attend the rally on September 13th.

To move forward we have to make sure that when women look in the mirror, they can say, "I am equal in the eyes of the law." It is only then that we will be free from the fear of legislation and decisions that limit our access to healthcare and our control over ourselves and our bodies.