#WhyIMarch: 5 Reasons I’m Marching on Washington This Weekend

Mackie
January 15, 2017

Greetings, Good Millennials!

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? A lot has changed since I last posted – the site got a facelift, there’s new Gilmore Girls and a new Star Wars, a fascist demagogue is now the President-Elect. You know, the usual.

I’m back because I wanted to share with you my excitement about the upcoming Women’s March on Washington on January 21st. I am outraged and deeply concerned about the future of our country under President Trump. The precedents his administration has already set (or, more accurately, broken) are scary, unsettling, and truly dangerous for us as citizens and the future of our country.

Plus, as many of you probably know, I was an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton. This election and her loss (ahem 3 million more votes ahem) hit me very hard. I was emotionally wiped after election day, falling into anxiety rabbit holes and having a hard time controlling my anger and feelings of deep loss and betrayal.

It took me a while to recover (still haven’t listened to Fight Song since election day tbh), but I and my community soon rallied. Throwing myself head first into helping and reaching out to others, particularly other women, really helped. Then I discovered the Women’s March.

CREDIT: ELIZABETH AZEN THISISDYNASTY.COM @THISISDYNASTY

The mission of the march is to “join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore”. Led by a diverse and intersectional committee of women, the march is on track to draw some 200,000 people to DC the day after Trump’s inauguration. For more info on the organizers, you can check out this great article from Vogue or interviews on Pod Save America and Call Your Girlfriend, among many other podcasts.

There are about 55 million reasons to join the march (or a sister march in town near you) but because the internet waits for no woman, I’ve narrowed it down to 5. Feel free to share your own below or on the socials with the hashtags #WhyIMarch and #WomensMarch. And take a look at the march’s Unity Principles, an explanation of why we’re marching and who we’re marching for. (PS. The following artwork is brought to you for free by females and nonbinary people from all over the world via the amazing Amplifier Foundation.)

#WhyIMarch

1. I believe women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.

Women are STILL not equal to men under the law and in our society. While we’ve made great strides, women still face discrimination in almost every facet of our government, our healthcare and education systems, our economic structure, and in our culture. I march because this daily, violent struggle is unacceptable.

2. I want to protect reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy.

Of the many progressive issues I care about, reproductive health and abortion access are perhaps what I am most passionate about. I believe in the right to choose my own medical care, the right to have that care be safe and affordable, the right to honest and clear information about my health (particularly my sexual and reproductive health), and the right to a legal and safe abortion — these beliefs are held somewhere deep inside of me, and when they are challenged, I feel a tidal wave of rage and fear takeover. I march because it’s my body, my choice. (If you’d like to know more about this fight, I recommend reading Pro by Katha Politt.)

3. I need to be involved. 

I have always considered myself a politically engaged person, but like many progressives during and after this election season, I felt that I could have done more. So after the election, I doubled down on any and all of my activism efforts. For Christmas this year, I donated to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and other local charities in my friends’ names. I became involved with a few women’s health volunteer organizations here in the city. I make calls to my representatives in Congress and keep up to date with daily action alerts. I recommitted myself to female friendships and building bonds within (and outside) my community. I march because it is just the beginning of what I can do.

4. I want to be connected with other feminists and progressives. 

I only remember a few specific moments when I have felt totally and exceptionally alone. One was the evening of November 8, 2016, as I watched in horror as Chuck Todd explained how the math just wasn’t adding up. A deep and hollow hole began to grow in the pit of my stomach and the grotesquely cool and prickly ripple of anxiety raced up the back of my neck, down my shoulders, and made a home in my chest: it was over. I looked around the room at my friends, they too in disbelief, and I realized tears were streaming down my face. It didn’t seem real. I woke up the next morning, yearning to isolate myself from the whole world, wishing I could hole up at my friend’s apartment and never come out. “No one will ever understand this,” I thought (rather dramatically). I reached for my phone and saw texts, tweets, missed phone calls, messages from former classmates, roommates, family, friends, teachers — all asking if I was ok, sending me strength, sending me love. It was incredible. They lifted me up that day, and since then I have committed to paying that forward in action and activism. I march to connect with my community, the deep well from which I draw my strength, my commitment to action and my hope for a better world.


5. As a white cis woman of privilege, it is my duty to be an ally to my sisters and brothers of color, those in the LGBT community, immigrants, refugees, those living near or under the poverty line, elders, the differently abled, the imprisoned, and the many other people who continue to face discrimination and abuse from their government and communities.

The incoming administration and their policies systematically attack marginalized people. The rhetoric during the campaign is now becoming law, and that is due in part to the 53% of white women voters who voted for Trump. While in theory this number may be surprising to someone like me, it is not for the generations of people who have watched only white feminism become mainstream. As Gloria Steinem says, it’s not feminism unless it’s intersectional. I believe it’s my duty to stand beside all those who are yet to be truly free in America; their fight is my fight.

 

If you’d like to know more, including how to get to the march, how to attend a sister march, and more, please visit the Women’s March website. If you’re attending the DC march, please RSVP so they can have enough amenities and space for those attending and please reach out to me! I would love to march with you. The rise of the woman = the rise of a nation. Let’s rise.

 

International Women’s Day 2016

To honor International Women’s Day, Good Millennial has compiled a list of ways to celebrate and get involved. All information is via International Women’s Day campaign – check their website for much more here. Start a conversation that matters today!

Find an event

You can find an event held today or this week anywhere in the world through this link! Get out and meet other incredible women in your area. Or you can hold your own event in your school or community!

Watch International Women’s Day videos

Groups around the world have made International Women’s Day videos to explain their support in helping to accelerate gender parity. You can also YouTube other important speeches by women, like Hillary Clinton’s famous “Women’s rights are human rights” speech at the fourth Women’s Conference in China in 1995.

Donate to a female-focused charity

If you are in the green giving mood this week, consider donating to a charity that directly supports women in your town or throughout the world. The International Women’s Day’s official charity is the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. We also love ZanaAfrica, a foundation that provides period supplies for girls who otherwise couldn’t do work or attend school while on their periods. A $40 donation provides four girls with supplies for A WHOLE YEAR.

Share your support on social media and with others

Use hashtags #InternationalWomensDay and #PledgeforParity to bring friends and loved ones to the celebration! Encourage them to continue to act and learn all year long.

Make the #PledgeforParity

Via this website, you can pledge to combat gender differences in your everyday life. Make sure you share the pledge with friends and start a conversation!

Read pledges from other global leaders

Read how CEOs, heads of state, and other leaders around the world are pledging to fight for female causes. Get inspired!

How are you honoring International Women’s Day? Share with us on the socials or in a comment below!

Listen Up! Good Millennial’s Podcast Picks 2016

Mackie
March 7, 2016

Hello, Good Millennials! How are you? Doing okay? Drinking enough water? Did you watch the Downton Abbey finale? Good. I’m happy you’re here.

Over the past year, I have really gotten into the podcast life. Interviews with famous people, comedians telling jokes, friends telling stories – I am all about a good, engaging podcast. Now that I live in NYC and take the subway everywhere (and when I’m on tour and spending endless hours in the van), I rely on podcasts even more. What is a podcast, you ask? It’s an on demand radio in your pocket or on your computer! I use them to keep up with pop culture, listen to the news, and just relax with hosts who now feel like old friends. With the help of some trusty pals, I’ve listed some favorite podcasts below. All are available on the podcast app or on their respective websites. Happy Listening!

1. Call Your Girlfriend

         Style: Discussion/Interview – Females in creative/tech industries

In the “podcast for long distance besties everywhere”, BFFs Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow call each other from their respective closets to discuss anything and everything related to womanhood. Election coverage with a feminist lens? They’ve got you. Need advice on diva cups in their segment This Week In Menstruation? Look no further. Call Your Girlfriend is the podcast for millennial feminists who want to be a part of a global discussion on pop culture and current events. Plus these very intelligent and extremely fun ladies also talk with fascinating guests from various fields (tech, journalism, arts, and MORE!) with their Phone-A-Friend episodes. This is my favorite podcast. Ann and Amina plz be my BFFs thank u!!!! Plus sign up for their newsletter!

 

2. Another Round

Style: Discussion/Interview – Academic/Creative/Celeb/Issues-based

Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton host this booze-enhanced podcast that covers everything from race to gender to pop culture (and squirrels… always squirrels). They lead listeners through a fascinating and funny listening experience, utilizing clever segments and meaningful conversation. They also talk candidly and lovingly about mental health and self care, and I feel like I’m listening to wise mentors when Another Round comes on. This podcast has a cocktail party vibe without any of the schmoozing or inevitable mansplaining. I always look forward to this podcast each week and I learn a lot, too. Plus, they interviewed Hillary Clinton! Legit! For more, read this great piece by the Guardian. 

 

3. Women of the Hour

Style: NPR-esque radio program, interview/discussion component

Lena Dunham hosts this podcast miniseries highlighting various aspects of female life. Each one of the 5 full episodes (there are some mini-episodes thrown in, too) focuses on a different part of what it means to be female in 2016 – love, sex, work, friends, body, and the big picture. Lena and her team interview incredible women of all ages and types, allowing them to tell their stories in a way that is honest, funny, and often very moving. This podcast specifically highlights women of color and women in the LGBT community, and the production quality is spectacular and totally engaging. I cannot recommend this enough. Even if you “don’t like Lena Dunham”, you WILL like this podcast!!! Seriously!!!!

 

4. With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus

Style: Comedy/Improv

Comedian and actor Lauren Lapkus hosts this totally improvised podcast that makes me laugh outloud on my train rides home. The premise is each week Lauren brings on a special guest who plays the host of a fictional radio show. That host then introduces Lauren who is playing the guest on the fictional show. The best part is the show is 100% made up and sometimes Lauren doesn’t even know who she’ll be playing when the show starts. Cue the shenanigans. It’s also on the Earwolf Podcast Network, and they host A LOT of really great podcasts for your listening pleasure. My favorite episodes are with Paul F. Thompkins as Santa Claus. Let that sink in.

 

5. Womp It Up

Style: Comedy/Improv – Weird and Goofy

Actors, improvisers, and all around hilarious creative people Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham host this improvised podcast as their character alter egos: Marissa Wompler and Charlotte Lissler. The premise is Marissa is a senior at Marina Del Ray Public High School and this podcast is her senior project. She is lead by her teacher and mentor Charlotte Listler (who also happens to be a former sniper) and they have guests from the school come on the show (i.e. Jessica and Lennon’s improv pals from UCB, your fave tv shows and more!). Make sure you start this podcast back at the beginning, because there are so many callbacks and relationships established each episode that I am always amazed this show is improvised. My favorite improvised podcast. Also love Comedy Bang Bang!

 

6. Girl On Guy with Aisha Tyler

Style: Interview – Artists, Comedians, Authors, Celebs

Maybe you know Aisha Tyler from… well, everything. She’s a host of the daytime tv series The Talk, guest stars on Criminal Minds, does standup, writes, hosts panels, and also finds time for this podcast. She’s one of the hardest working people in show business and uses this podcast to connect and unwind. She has a breadth of knowledge and seems to be able to connect with literally anyone. Her interview style is conversational and personal, and she truly cares about her podcast community and loves connecting with her fans. Because she’s so busy she has scaled back her podcast production, but with her app you can listen to the over 200 podcasts in the Girl on Guy vault. I always feel smarter and calmer after listening to Aisha and her guests. My fave episodes are with author Kelly Carlin, George Carlin’s daughter, and Amber Tamblyn.

 

7. Dear Sugar Radio

Style: Advice

Created by authors Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed (yes, THAT Cheryl Strayed), Dear Sugar takes the advice column to the airwaves and answers your most burning questions about life and love. According to their website, Sugar “fields all your questions — no matter how deep or dark — and offers radical empathy in return.” Strayed is an active feminist, and she and Almond make a great pair. Together they create the engaging advice persona Sugar, and they tell the stories of their listeners with heart. Plus you can read Strayed’s essays as Sugar in her book “Tiny Beautiful Things”.

 

8. She Does Podcast

Style: Interview/Conversation – Media/culture

I am a new fan of the She Does Podcast, so I will let their their website do the talking for me. It’s a super accurate statement.

She Does podcast features creative minds working in media. Each episode centers around an intimate conversation yet digs deeper into each woman’s background, philosophy and process through artful audio documentaries soundtracked by music made by women. The show is hosted and created by Elaine Sheldon and Sarah Ginsburg, documentary makers who are interested in how their guests got to where they are today. Whether up and coming or well-established, She Does features notable women of all generations, working at the intersection of media, film, journalism, art and technology. We bring you stories of what makes these women tick, their beginnings, their roadblocks, and the delightful bits in between.

 

Special Mention: FiveThirtyEight Elections Podcast

Style: Interview/Discussion – Politics/Polling

I wanted to highlight podcasts specifically created and/or hosted by females, but I gotta give a shoutout to Nate Silver and the team at FiveThirtyEight. This election season is giving me an ulcer, but the pollsters at FiveThirtyEight keep me sane. Their blog uses statistical analysis to tell stories about sports, politics, and news, but their big thing is compiling historical numbers and all legitimate polling data to create some pretty accurate polling about almost anything related to politics. I mostly listen to their Elections podcast because they utilize lots of math/science and lots of smart/talented people to explain polling data, delegate counts, and everything in between. If you are a political junkie or want accurate data and interesting discussion, listen up!

 

Do you have a favorite podcast left off the list? Let us know on the socials or in a comment below!

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week *GUEST POST*

Mackie
February 25, 2016

It’s a special day here at Good Millennial because we have a GUEST POST! This week’s guest post is from the lovely, formidable butterfly that is Abigail Oldham.

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Eating disorders affect over 20 million women in the United States, and many of these cases go unreported and untreated.

I knew I wanted to highlight #NEDAwareness Week on the blog, and I immediately thought of Abigail. She has been sharing her recovery experience for over two years and her effort, strength, forgiveness, and compassion never cease to amaze me. I’m so honored she shared her story with us.


12733449_10208629298473205_5266293663989719391_nOver the past two years in recovery, I’ve surely been known to use my social media platform to promote openness, honesty, and self-discovery through the recovery of my eating disorder. When NEDA’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Week rolls around, I take the opportunity to share even more posts to celebrate my recovery and the gift awareness brings.

I come from a world where calorie and nutrition facts quantitatively measured my worth, and now I live in a world where faith trumps fear and a number can’t define the many intangible parts of who I am. How that did that happen? It started with me knowing I was bulimic. Though I had exemplified every behavior trait of someone suffering from bulimia for the past 7 years, I sat at the group table during my first day of therapy with tears streaming down my face explaining, “I’m just not one of you.”

It’s never us, until it is. It’s never real until the reality is our own staring us back in the mirror. I really was one of them, and I was in a battle that I was refusing to know. One night while in treatment but denying my diagnosis, I innocently walked to the kitchen on the phone to get a drink of water. Impulsively, I dropped the phone, opened the freezer door, and dug into 2 gallons of ice cream, a pizza, and then the porcelain god for the following 3 hours. I laid on the couch until the sun rose with one thought, “I cannot live like this another day.”

12744152_10208631865537380_1146735826687877813_nI often refer to this as my “Come to Jesus” moment. The next day, I brought my beloved scale to treatment to smash and vowed it would no longer ruin another night of my life as it did the night before. That is the day I decided to go on the long and treacherous road to recovery from my eating disorder.

To celebrate this week, I originally thought about just telling you facts you might not know about an eating disorder, like an eating disorder is not just physical but very mental, it looks different on everyone, and how you talking bad about your body and “diet talk” triggers everyone around you struggling with an eating disorder.

However, what I want you to know is that recovery is hard. It is the most unpredictable process: one minute you’re doing well and the next you’re back in treatment for a relapse in behaviors. It is learning to love what you’ve defined as unlovable because you only know conditional love. It’s learning to silence the “Who do you think you are?” and “I am not enough.” For I really am just enough.

I hope this week you will commit to being aware, because I promise you we’re all in recovery from something. Of course, I am passionate about eating disorder recovery because it is my battle to fight, but we are all fighting a battle every day. I beg you to be kind, loving, and full of grace to those around you.

Awareness is our greatest agent of change. Share some love this week on someone else’s recovery journey.

 


 

If you or someone you know is struggling with food or exercise issues, please visit nedawareness.org. NEDA can help you get screened, find recovery centers near you, and help you begin or continue your recovery process. Get Screened. Get Help. Get Healthy.

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Abigail is a St. Louis native currently studying Acting at Ball State University. A BodyPeace activist, she is a contributing writer to the Faith column and a video blogger for recovery in mental health for Libero Network.

Gloria Steinem’s Christmas List

Mackie
December 18, 2015

For over half a century, women the world over have looked to Gloria Steinem for guidance, wisdom, and truth. She is outspoken, extremely intelligent, and, even now at age 81, still extremely dedicated to the cause that shaped her life. As a feminist, I owe Gloria Steinem a lot. But as a woman and a citizen of our country, I owe her even more. I am eagerly awaiting her book, which is currently on my Christmas list. This is her Christmas list, as told to an audience at The Betty Effect holiday show and posted on her Facebook page.

 

Ms. Steinem writes:

Thanks to my dear friends, BETTY, for giving me the opportunity to share my Top Ten Things I Want For Christmas at their holiday show (to support their wonderful organization The BETTY Effect. Donate here:http://www.thebettyeffect.org/). Thought you might like to see them as well.

10. An abject apology from Donald Trump for being a Birther; anti-immigrant; a builder of buildings that look like big Dunhill cigarette lighters; the world’s most punishing source of Green Cards for women who marry him to get one; daring to rate women as no longer Tens when he himself has never been a One, going bankrupt multiple times in order to stick other people with his bad-judgment debt; pretending he ever hit a home run when actually, he was born on Third Base – and oh, yes, setting the hair weave industry all the way back to Rogaine.

9). If Trump doesn’t apologize, I wish us all the gift of remembering that Hitler was democratically elected — in a low voter turnout. (Hard to explain short, but Hitler wasn’t elected personally, he headed the party that won a plurality of seats and a power-sharing deal.)

8) I would like state legislatures to stop building prisons with money that once went to universities, thus keeping way too many people in prison and way too many people in lifetime debt. This would not happen if Americans gave ourselves the gift of knowing and caring who our state legislators are.

7) I’m glad we’ve begun to raise our daughters more like our sons – but it will never work until we raise our sons more like our daughters.

6) I want people to know that the great gift of Black Lives Matter was created by 3 young black women: Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors – and that has led to 3 great organizing guidelines:

1) Lead with love
2) Low ego, high impact
3) Move at the speed of trust

Gives you faith in the future, doesn’t it?

5) I want Uber to stop charging for the weather – nobody, not even airlines, charge for the weather! – and I want Uber to stop refusing people with disabilities, and now, with 30,000 unregulated Uber cars in New York City, driving wheelchair accessible taxis out of business. Don’t let Uber become uber alles.

4) I would like us all to send a nice Christmas thank you to President Obama – for surviving ultra-right-wingers who, if they had cancer, and Obama had the cure, wouldn’t accept it.

3) I want any young men who buy a gun to be treated like young women who seek an abortion. Think about it: a mandatory 48-hours waiting period, written permission from a parent or a judge, a note from a doctor proving that he understands what he is about to do, time spent watching a video on individual and mass murders, traveling hundreds of miles at his own expense to the nearest gun shop, and walking through protestors holding photos of loved ones killed by guns, protestor who call him a murderer.

After all, it makes more sense to do this for young men seeking guns than for young women seeking an abortion. No young woman needing reproductive freedom has ever murdered a roomful of strangers. (This riff is not mine, it’s on the Internet – I thank whoever gave us all this present.)

2) I want the three magical women of BETTY to have everything they need to spread the BETTY EFFECT around the world. They are such a gift. They organize with music and by their own irresistible examples.

1) Finally, I want to make it to 100 — because I don’t want to leave, I love it here. You in this room are the biggest gift of all.

xxx

Merry Christmas from Gloria Steinem and Good Millennial! May we see her wishes come true as soon as damn well possible.


Featured image credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-U9-15739, frame 18]

Happy Birthday, Hillary!

Today is October 26, 2015! And you know what that means…

It’s Hillary Clinton’s 68th birthday!!!!!

While my last birthday was spent eating cake off paper plates and Skyping with my mom, Secretary Clinton got down to Demi Lovato at her birthday bash/campaign fundraiser event last night in NYC. And while my birthday wishes can’t really compare to the dulcet tones of John Legend (yup, he was there, too), I do want to say how grateful I am that HRC was born on this day back in 1947. Aaaaaand here’s some reasons why!

She’s always fought for women

From her groundbreaking speech at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women to making women a central part of her turn as Secretary of State, Hills has spent her career fighting for women. Recently she has stood with victims of sexual assault and made reproductive rights central to her presidential campaign. See a timeline of her inspiring life here and watch the speech that cemented her global presence below:

She’s a trailblazer

How many times can we put “first” in front of Secretary Clinton’s name? Let’s see…

She was the first First Lady to hold an advanced degree, the first First Lady to hold public office, the first female senator from New York, the first woman to win a Presidential primary, the first First Lady to be directly involved with public policy, the first female partner at Rose Law Firm in Arkansas, the first female politician to win a Grammy (really!), and first student commencement speaker at Wellesley College. She is also the most-traveled Secretary of State, logging almost one million miles traveling around the world. (Not to mention, she also lead the fight for universal health care 20 years before Obamacare.) Being the first person to achieve so many things does come with a price, but Secretary Clinton’s resilience and courage in the face of speculation and ridicule are a large part of what makes her exceptional. [Crossing our fingers for another first in 2016… #madampresident]

She’s hilarious

You’ve seen her on SNL. You’ve read her emails about Parks and Rec and The Good Wife. (Also this interview is gold.) She’s gotten a lot of flack for being cold and calculated, but when she’s at her best (#DemDebate, amiright?), Hillary is pretty funny. See below:

She’s dealt with some shit

As if you haven’t heard.

Yes, yes Benghazi, her private email server, Benghazi, the Clinton Foundation money, BENGHAZI. And that’s just from this election cycle. Whitewater, Troopergate, and of course Monica Lewinsky (whose TED Talk changed my life) are scandals that many media outlets and political commentators said would ruin the Clintons forever.

Hillary Clinton has been especially eviscerated by the press and the public for nearly her entire career, either getting lumped into her husband’s issues or dealing with her own. How often has this decorated public figure been publicly called a bitch? Her physical appearance as well as her mental capacity have been called into question. First she’s too feminist, then not feminist enough. She’s the subject of damning books, even a video game app that lets the player slap the former First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State in the face. In this fascinating piece from The New Yorker, Frank Rich breaks down the Clinton enemy’s obsession with sex and “how frequently [Hillary Clinton is] the victim of drive-by character assassination” in almost any political or personal instance. Most recently, her public record has come into question, when Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina asked Democrats to find one thing Hillary Clinton has accomplished.

They managed to name a few.

And yet Hillary and President Bill Clinton have not only survived, but thrived. Is this a Frank Underwood of House of Cards situation, where everyone else takes the fall while the power couple who orchestrated it all climbs to the top of the DC ladder?

I guess it’s possible.

But I think what’s even more possible is this: The bigger the public platform, the bigger the risk – in policy, personal lives, and especially in the press. The more responsibility you have, the greater the consequences. Are the Clintons perfect? I don’t think so. But I also believe they have been the victims of some of the most intense public scrutiny we have ever seen. Secretary Clinton has been affected by intense sexism and misogyny, an issue that creates and augments political scandals, detracts from her astonishing public service career, and affects the rhetoric around her as a candidate and person to this day. And that’s on us.

Hillary Clinton is smart, passionate, aggressive, and vigilant. She continues to work tirelessly for the betterment of others despite near constant attacks on her record and her character. But time and time again, she’s come out on top. And that is pretty remarkable.

Cheers to the lady of many firsts who continues to inspire women, men, and children all over the world. Happy 68th Birthday, Hills.

Keep it up. We’re with you.

 

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Betty Friedan

Mackie
March 30, 2015

Betty Friedan was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1921. She attended Smith College and spent time in New York as a reporter before marrying her husband in 1947.  After having her first child, Friedan found herself becoming restless at home. She wrote The Feminine Mystique, which became a huge hit. It is said to have created “a social revolution by dispelling the myth that all women wanted to be happy homemakers, and marking the start of what would become Friedan’s incredibly significant role in the women’s rights movement. The work is also credited with spurring second-wave feminism in the United States.” She co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966 and served as its first president. Friedan also helped found National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now known as NARAL Pro-Choice America) in 1969 and the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971.

For a woman who was expected to be ‘just a housewife’, Betty Friedan sure made her mark. Here is an excerpt from her groundbreaking book, The Feminine Mystique:

“The problem lay buried, unspoken, for many years in the minds of American women. It was a strange stirring, a sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night — she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question — “Is this all?”

For over fifteen years there was no word of this yearning in the millions of words written about women, for women, in all the columns, books and articles by experts telling women their role was to seek fulfillment as wives and mothers. Over and over women heard in voices of tradition and of Freudian sophistication that they could desire no greater destiny than to glory in their own femininity. Experts told them how to catch a man and keep him, how to breastfeed children and handle their toilet training, how to cope with sibling rivalry and adolescent rebellion; how to buy a dishwasher, bake bread, cook gourmet snails, and build a swimming pool with their own hands; how to dress, look, and act more feminine and make marriage more exciting; how to keep their husbands from dying young and their sons from growing into delinquents.

If a woman had a problem in the 1950’s and 1960’s, she knew that something must be wrong with her marriage, or with herself. Other women were satisfied with their lives, she thought. What kind of a woman was she if she did not feel this mysterious fulfillment waxing the kitchen floor? She was so ashamed to admit her dissatisfaction that she never knew how many other women shared it. If she tried to tell her husband, he didn’t understand what she was talking about. She did not really understand it herself. …

If I am right, the problem that has no name stirring in the minds of so many American women today is not a matter of loss of femininity or too much education, or the demands of domesticity. It is far more important than anyone recognizes. It is the key to these other new and old problems which have been torturing women and their husbands and children, and puzzling their doctors and educators for years. It may well be the key to our future as a nation and a culture. We can no longer ignore that voice within women that says: “I want something more than my husband and my children and my home.”

 

And here’s a letter to Friedan from 1963:

23 April 1963 Leicester, Mass.

“For the last few years, I have been on the “old housekeeping merry-go round.” …I cleaned and cleaned…and then I cleaned some more! All day—every day. My mother had returned to teaching school when I was twelve, and I had resented it, and consequently vowed that when I married and had children I would make it my vocation. I was quite convinced that I was very happy with my role in life as we had our own home and my husband is a good husband and father and a very sufficient provider. However, one night last November, all Hell broke loose in my psyche. I was sitting calmly reading when I became overwhelmed with waves of anxiety. I couldn’t imagine what was happening… I visited my family doctor. He put me on tranquilizers and diagnosed it as a mild state of anxiety. However there was no explanation…I chose security over everything else…I felt I had something about it…I now have a goal and no longer feel like a vegetable.”

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Celebrating Women’s History Month: Margaret Sanger

Mackie
March 24, 2015

“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.”

Margaret Sanger was a birth control and sex activist throughout the first half of the 20th century who helped legalize contraception in the United States.  She is also credited with creating the organizations that eventually became Planned Parenthood. Sanger believed that in order for women to lead safer, healthier lives and to regain their rights within a marriage and society, they first needed to have the right to decide when they could become mothers. She wished to protect women from unsafe abortions (since abortion was illegal), as well as from spousal abuse, poverty, and the dangers of intentional miscarriage. While she is sometimes criticized for her interest in eugenics, she still worked hand in hand with African American leaders to protect women in all communities. She was also a strong supporter of sexual expression and sexual freedom, believing that sex should be discussed with openness and candor.

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Here are some of her most profound statements:

“Against the State, against the Church, against the silence of the medical profession, against the whole machinery of dead institutions of the past, the woman of today arises.”

 

“Woman must have her freedom, the fundamental freedom of choosing whether or not she will be a mother and how many children she will have. Regardless of what man’s attitude may be, that problem is hers — and before it can be his, it is hers alone. She goes through the vale of death alone, each time a babe is born. As it is the right neither of man nor the state to coerce her into this ordeal, so it is her right to decide whether she will endure it.”

 

“Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.”

 

“Eugenists imply or insist that a woman’s first duty is to the state; we contend that her duty to herself is her first duty to the state. We maintain that a woman possessing an adequate knowledge of her reproductive functions is the best judge of the time and conditions under which her child should be brought into the world. We further maintain that it is her right, regardless of all other considerations, to determine whether she shall bear children or not, and how many children she shall bear if she chooses to become a mother.”

 

For more on Margaret Sanger, check out some of these new books and their authors’ interviews on NPR’s Fresh Air!

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Celebrating Women’s History Month: Dolores Huerta

Mackie
March 19, 2015

Dolores Huerta is 84 years old. In 1930 she was born in the mining town of Dawson, New Mexico. In 2011, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work as a labor leader and activist, having spent her life working for immigrant rights, workers’ rights, and women’s rights. She was a very early member of the United Farm Workers and is a role model among the Latino community.

Here she is interviewed in 2011 when she was awarded the Medal of Freedom.

 

Below is a moving excerpt from a 2013 interview with Huerta from Frontline. Read the full interview here:

To somebody who knows nothing about the problems of sexual assault among female farmworkers, how did you become aware of it?

I became aware of it as a young woman, and my mother would never let me work in the fields. She would tell me, “You can work in the packing sheds,” and at first I didn’t know why.

And then when I actually did go out and work in the fields, then, like all of the other women, I saw the foreman coming and hovering around you. And of course that was something that made you very nervous, because you didn’t know if they were just looking at your work or if they were looking at you.

Then eventually talking to other farmworker women that were working out there, [I found out] that this was part of the job, so to speak, that you had to kind of be careful, because somebody in that field would come and try to invite you, or they would start looking at you, making these advances. And of course it was bothersome to a woman to know.

Many of the women, of course, that work out in the fields, they wear these bandanas, as you know, to keep the sun off their faces, but also it’s kind of a protection in many ways from trying to keep the foreman from looking at them.

You mean hide yourself?

It’s kind of a way of hiding yourself, right. So this has been one of those hazards of the job of being a farmworker, because the way that farmworker women are treated, they are looked at as sex objects, actually, when they are out there in the field.

Is this in your experience something that is tolerated by management? Is it part of the landscape?

One of the issues that you have with farmworkers generally is that the employers do not take direct responsibility for their workers. Over the years it’s become more of a common practice that employers will hire labor contractors. They outsource the work, so to speak.

And these labor contractors that they hire, many of them are former farmworkers themselves, and they’ve never been trained in human resources or human relations management, so the type of tactics that they use to manage their workers are pretty [far] back in the 19th century. What they use to manage their workers is fear: fear of losing your job.

Of course this then comes to [the surface] when a women is a victim of sexual advances. Then what she’s worried about is not only losing her job; she’s worried that her husband will lose his job, or her brother or her boyfriend or somebody in the family. It might even be a cousin, because many of these families work together. So the whole family can get fired if a woman complains that she’s being sexually harassed.

When you were starting the [United] Farm Workers union early on, was this a priority to deal with this issue?

It really wasn’t, I have to say, … except let me just say this: toilets. There were no toilets in the fields, so women literally, when they had to do their business, they would have to go together. They would have to get sheets or towels to cover themselves. There were no toilets.

… It did not become a national law until 1985 that farmworkers had to have toilets in the fields. Before that time, especially for women workers, it was extremely embarrassing for them, because you have some places where you had row crops — asparagus, tomatoes, daikon, lettuce, all of these types. There was no place that a woman could go to the bathroom. So this was part of it. This was demeaning [for] a farmworker generally but demeaning [for] the women in particular.

So the issue of sexual assault or violence at the workplace, that wasn’t something you could address if you didn’t even have a toilet yet.

That’s true. And I think at this point, when we started organizing  farmworkers, Cesar Chavez and myself, farmworkers were getting paid like 70 cents an hour, 70 cents to 90 cents an hour. I remember that Lyndon Johnson, as the head of the Senate, refused to pass a bill that gave farmworkers a minimum wage of 50 cents an hour.

So the big pressing issues were feeding the family. This is what people talked about: How do we earn enough money to feed our families? …

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Celebrate Women’s History Month: Susan B. Anthony

Mackie
March 12, 2015

Susan B. Anthony was a revolutionary abolitionist, social reformer, and feminist who played a substantial role in the women’s suffrage movement. In what Time Magazine calls one of the top ten greatest speeches of all time, Susan B. Anthony’s passion and anger pours out through the page. She had just been fined $100 for casting an illegal ballot (“illegal” meaning she was a woman and therefore broke the law by voting) and she went out on a tour speaking about women’s rights. Time notes Anthony was fined in 1872 and the 19th amendment passed in 1920– Anthony never paid her fine.

Women’s Rights to Suffrage

by Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)

1873

Friends and Fellow Citizens: I stand before you tonight under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime, but, instead, simply exercised my citizen’s rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any State to deny.

The preamble of the Federal Constitution says:

“We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people–women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government–the ballot.

For any State to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people is to pass a bill of attainder, or an ex post facto law, and is therefore a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it the blessings of liberty are for ever withheld from women and their female posterity. To them this government has no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the right govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured; but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters of every household–which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord and rebellion into every home of the nation.

Webster, Worcester and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office.

The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no State has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several States is today null and void, precisely as in every one against Negroes.

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Susan B. Anthony’s speech appears as found here.