Saturday, March 18, 2017

3 Things You Must Know In NOW News (Week of March 12-18)

Another week has gone by, and like previous weeks, so much has happened!  Here’s your recap on the three things you must know in NOW news.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Highlights from #TheIdesOfTrump

This March 15 wasn't just "The Ides of March."  Instead, one group of grassroots organizers took it upon themselves to dub March 15, 2017 "The Ides of Trump," in which people all over the world took a cue from the Women's March and sent a flood of postcards to The White House to express opposition to President Donald Trump's various policies since taking office.

Through the hashtag #TheIdesOfTrump, everyone got to see the diverse (and plentiful) amount of postcards that were being sent to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  In honor of this effort, we chose some of our favorite photos of #TheIdesOfTrump.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

3 Things You Must Know In NOW News (Week of March 5-11)

More than ever, the issues NOW stands for have been dominating the headlines.  Sometimes, it can be difficult to keep up with every piece of breaking news, but as part of a new weekly series, we’ll highlight three local/state/national news topics that we think every NOW member should know.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

5 Injustices That Fuel The Fight For Equality

By:  Erica Banas    

This Sunday (March 12), the Oakland/Macomb chapter of NOW, along with Jill Farber-Bramson, Reclaim, Northland Family Planning, AAUW Detroit Branch,, will be hosting a special screening of the documentary Equal Means Equal at the Maple Theatre in Bloomfield Twp.

Directed by Kamala Lopez, Equal Means Equal examines the injustice all women face in the United States today in a number of issues, from the wage gap to pregnancy discrimination and everywhere in between.  In honor of this screening, we look at five statistics that continue to fuel our fight for equality.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Progressive Women of MI Summit – A Call to Action

On Saturday, December 10th of 2016, I was one individual in a sold-out audience banded together by a common recognition: the need to organize.  This compulsion – fueled by the need for racial justice, for the progression of LGBTQ rights, for the long-overdue fight to end violence against women, for the need for congressional representation, for economic equality, or for the right to one’s own body (to name a few) – this compulsion took the form of a packed house in the Royal Oak Music Theatre.  Whatever the issue most important to those individuals or organizations who attended the Progressive Women of Michigan Summit (since changed to: Women Organize Michigan Summit), this feeling was inspired, or at least heightened by the huge step backwards our country took on election night.  In response to these feelings of disbelief and outrage, people pulled together and collaborated, creating this event of mourning, education and most importantly – ACTIVISM.

These summits seek to further the progressive causes most important to women through intersectionality, accessibility, inclusion, support and ACTION!

For those who could not attend (tickets sold out early and there are other summits in the works due this overwhelming response), let me share some observations.  It was a powerhouse of recognition and safety, a conversation of inspiring and needed accountability, and perhaps most importantly in our current society, individuals felt accepted and empowered to create change.  Check out the program:

Rev. Theresa Ines Soto, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Flint – Opening Words
Julia Pulver, Founder PWM – Welcome
Rashida Tlaib – Take on Hate
Gretchen Whitmer – What Next?
Lori Carpentier – Planned Parenthood
U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell
Rep. Christine Greig and Rep. Kristy Pagan – Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus Panel
Danielle Atkinson – Mothering Justice Panel
Beth Kelly and Suzanna Shkreli – Emerge Michigan
Rebecca Thompson – Run for Office
Nicole Bedi – Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Dana Nessel – Fair Michigan
U.S. Representative Brenda Lawrence
Terry Campbell, Detroit Regional Manager for U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow

All speakers were relevant; both building upon the seasoned activist’s agenda as well as informing new feminist participants of the historic struggles that still challenge us all.  Highlights included the summit Founder Julia Pulver’s passionate assertion that “the personal is political”, Rebecca Thompson’s devotion to changing the face of power in her community and at a larger global scale, and U.S. Representative Brenda Lawrence’s personal narrative of overcoming blatant discrimination in order to be a woman at the table.  There were plenty of amazing women in attendance, but I want to share two particular messages from two different yet intersecting organizations that are changing lives for women on a personal and political level.
Lori Carpentier of Planned Parenthood was a much needed storm on the stage.  Though Planned Parenthood is celebrating 100 years of healthcare for women, Lori provided a sobering look into the upcoming Trump/Pence administration and the systematic dismantling of women’s rights.  In the simplest terms – we are bracing for a fight.  With an expected anti-choice Supreme Court Justice nominee, we are expecting a woman’s body and personal health decisions to remain politicized in the hands of the patriarchy.  Furthermore, we are expecting further unjust targeting of Planned Parenthood – a devastating truth for the millions of women and men who depend on the organization for their healthcare.  Lori’s declaration that the President-elect’s administration plans to defund and potentially eradicate Planned Parenthood as soon as legally possible only further cements a woman’s second class citizenship in America (a leading healthcare provider in our country, approximately one in five women in the U.S. has visited a Planned Parenthood health center at least once in her life).  Though we as women are not unfamiliar with this role, we are over it.  Enough is enough, and in the words of the 2nd wave Feminists in America who remain on the front lines: I can’t believe we still need to protest this sh*t.  Likewise, in the words of this 3rd wave Feminist: Stop pushing your ideology on my rights and my body!
As I jot down the historical reference to feminist waves in our country, I must acknowledge the problem of inclusivity that often relabels the movement of sex/gender equality in the mainstream as “white feminism”.  I am not the right person to lead this discussion, because I am a white female.  My role in addressing this issue is simply – as the Mothering Justice panel said during the summit, “…to hold the door open”.
For me, one of the most essential sessions of the summit was listening to an informative discussion regarding racial justice intersecting with feminism, led by Danielle Atkinson of Mothering Justice.  Conversations like this one are critical because women are still not equal to men, and women of color are still not equal to white women.  It is an unfortunate truth that needs to be recognized before it is solved.  As the panel discussed in their Q&A, white allies only need to ask “How can I help you?” in order to be of assistance.  

Women need to empower other women, and to start, we just need to hold the door open.

To sum up the summit: women need to support women.  As a Feminist, as a woman, and as a human being, I cannot stress this enough: women need to stand up for women.  This is a call for action in your everyday life.  So call out injustice, speak up, and stand up.  Join an organization, suit up with facts and an agenda, make some noise and be an ally in the fight for equality.  Women’s rights are human rights, and we are all stronger together.

Written by: Aj Cooke, Social Media Chair, Oak/Mac MI NOW

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Modern Day Feminism

Many people think that the women’s suffrage in the United States was the end of the feminist movement. However, they are definitely mistaken because feminism is still an important movement today, all over the world. In developing countries, feminism saves lives. In many places, women still don’t have equal rights like being able to attend school, drive, or vote. Even in developed countries, women may not be paid the same for equal work or cannot determine their own reproductive rights.

Feminism is especially needed in places where women’s rights are not equivalent to human rights. For example, in Yemen, women cannot leave the house by themselves or seriously testify in court. There are many groups, such as Human Rights Watch, that are advocating for women’s right in Yemen. For now, Yemen remains the worst place in the world to live as a woman. Even without legislation against women, they still are unequal in some parts of the world. In developing countries, only 33% of girls are in school. This leads to an economic disparity that puts women at even more of a disadvantage, and doesn’t allow them to think for themselves and lead their own lives.

Even though the problems in developing countries seem much more pressing than anything that could possibly be affecting women in the United States and similar places, it’s crucial to understand that progress in women’s rights isn’t a subjective matter. In the United States, a country in which women have been able to vote in for 95 years, women still are paid an unequal amount (to men) for equal work. The U.S. stands at 20th in the world, in terms of equal pay, but women are still paid only 78% of what men are paid, for the same work. As mentioned earlier, women also still cannot determine their own reproductive rights. Legislation regarding abortion and contraception is led by a predominantly male congress, only 19.1% are women.

Most importantly the Equal Rights Amendment has never been ratified and women do not have constitutional protection.

It’s important to understand that feminism advocates for  political, social, and economic equality between the sexes. Until these things are achieved, feminism will remain a significant part of American culture. It’s crucial that feminism is 100% inclusive, it important to take note of third wave feminism, which includes women of color and LGBTQ+ women. Feminism will not become a vestige of the past until its goals are thoroughly achieved and all women are treated equally to men.

Written by: Prathusha Yeruva, Oakland/Macomb NOW Intern

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Note on Meninism

Meninism is defined as a semi-satirical gender equality and men's rights movement (it’s actually not defined in the dictionary-- partly because it isn’t a valid term or movement!). The most important word in that sentence was “semi-satirical”, while to some the movement refers to the “satirical” Twitter account, some people actually identify as men’s rights activists (MRA). This movement is partly so confounding because MRAs stand up for issues like stereotypes that women are fighting against (like the fact that the man shouldn’t have to be the primary money maker in a family situation), but choose to do so on a platform that ridicules feminism and straightforward things like the pay gap.

Movements like this one aren’t completely unheard of. There will always be something that some people find the need to rally around. When it comes down to it, the “meninist” movement essentially disparages women for no apparent reason. It is incredibly easy to hide behind the “just kidding” front, but there are many people who think that this movement is legitimate- and some of them are women. While there have always been women who have rejected the term feminism because they “don’t hate men” (just to clarify, feminism is not equal to misandry), it’s confusing that some women are embracing this movement. 

I have encountered meninism in my life as a high school student. The target age group for the meninism movement is high school and college aged boys. This population seems to always have ridiculed feminism, and even though they may not be serious, it is a little bit offensive to see students wearing meninist shirts at school. In my opinion, even though some people might think that meninism is simply a joke, I think it is important to cultivate a discussion around the subject. It’s interesting to observe how open people are to menists and men’s rights activists and why they are so reluctant to call themselves feminists.

There is also a group of people under the meninist umbrella that adopt a more positive interpretation of the movement. These people believe in “equality for all” and a woman’s right to choose, really just all the things that feminism stands for anyways. Although no one is really sure of what meninism stands for or what it has ever achieved, it can be quite entertaining to read some of the tweets that feminists have sent their way.

Written by: Prathusha Yeruva, Oakland/Macomb NOW Intern