Tag Archives: women empowerment

What Can You Do To Support Women? Save The Date April 28

24 Apr

Women across the nation are starting to wake up and upon waking up their first exclamation is WTF?!  What is going on in this country?  Why is everybody obsessing over women’s bodies and trying to dictate what women can and cannot do with their own bodies?  Why shouldn’t birth control be covered by insurance?  Why are women still being paid less than men?  Have we entered some strange women hating Twilight Zone?

Since many women were feeling this way, but unsure of what to do, 2 women took it upon themselves to start the rallying cry.  They created UniteWomen.Org  with the intention of uniting women nationwide.  The motivation is for equality amongst women and men.  Along with defending women from attacks on their reproductive health rights.

I come from a generation that has always had access to birth control and access to a safe abortion if needed.  Never did any of us think that this could possibly be taken away from us.  Other women had fought hard for my generation to have this access, to have autonomy of our bodies.

Maybe it was too naive to think these battles had been won.  To actually think that we as women have control over our own bodies.  To think that we could make decisions about our bodies without government intrusion.  To think that we were coming closer to being seen as equals.  Apparently we were being naive in our thinking.  Now the battles are starting again and it’s time to start fighting back.

Enough is Enough!  Women and men are tired of this ****!   Unite Women has organized marches and/or rallies to occur across the nation on April 28.  Almost every state will have an event.  You can check for your state’s event here.  I will be attending and volunteering at the Chicago event.

More information can be found here.  Sign up and come help to.  Be involved in your community.  Be a part of a change.  Let’s start supporting each other and refuse to be divided.

Remember, we aren’t little girls who need to be told what to do.  And not only is name calling not nice, it’s whole point is to put you down and make you afraid.  Don’t let anyone silence your voice.

Women’s History Month

1 Mar

~Adrienne Rich~

March is that time of year designated for celebrating how lovely women really can be.  Did you know it didn’t even exist until 1987?  Read more about it and this year’s theme Women’s Education-Women’s Empowerment here.

An Intro To Feminism

24 Feb

Since there may be some readers who are unsure of what a feminist is or maybe have heard only negative stereotypes of what a feminist is, we wanted to share with you our thoughts.  We are each going to tell how we define a feminist and how we came to identify as feminists ourselves.

When and why I became a feminist can’t be pointed down to a specific moment. This consciousness has been building my entire life, I’m pretty sure I did some awesome feminist-y things before I can even remember. You wanna know why? Because my gender/sex has affected my entire life. The moment I was born I was placed in this category of girl/female and from then on expected to follow the norms associated with how my body was marked. I’m pretty sure I didn’t like these impositions, at least I want to believe my rebel spirit always made me question and resist these gender prescriptions.my earliest memory of my contestational self is the moment when my dad told me i could not drive a jeep because i was a girl. i raised hell at his reasoning arguing with him, constantly, about how unfair he was for treating me different because i was a girl. i was nine. i never drove a jeep but i do have a bad ass black montero sport with really wide tires. my dad help me fix this car. i feel like i won that argument. Now, as a person in their late 20s reflecting on my feminism I am thankful for my own interest in Women’s Studies because it has given a lot of flesh to this identity. By this i mean that i have to talk about class and race if i talk about gender because they are inseparable. here’s why: the same way my gender was imposed on my body so was my race and all of my experiences are sifted through my class (my parents are working class immigrants, hence the car story). i have the darkest skin color in my family other than my father. that is in relation to my very fair skinned mother.(which means i’m not dark skinned at all, i’m tan at best. but that’s semantics) she has called me “negra,” as a term of endearment, of course,all my life, but “negra” is still a loaded term because it always made me different from my brother and the rest of my family. plus, it emphasizes the long history of racial discrimination and racism that we live with everyday. i am in no way saying that this is traumatizing, not all. it actually made me question the racism in my family too. these details about my life just show how i have been a gendered and racialized person my entire life. as such, i have always been a feminist. feminism during my BA (where I met the gals on this blog) has given me a language with which to talk about these imposed categories, a way to keep that rebel spark alive and going. that training fuels the fire of disobedience so necessary to transform our everyday lives, and i still have hope, the world.        ~maria~

Feminism to me? My belief is that feminism is equality for all in all institutions, the ability for you to be who you want to be without society passing judgment on you. There should be no enforcing of these judgments in policy in any institution. I believe that feminism celebrates women’s shared experiences as well as their differences. Feminism has an understanding that not all women experience life the same way and draw from those differences to improve our lives and society.

So when did I become a feminist? I’ve always felt in my heart that there was always some underlying sexism happening throughout my life and that it was total bullshit. I couldn’t put my finger on it though.  I recall sitting in freshman year PE class in high school having this conversation about how unfair it was that if a guy had multiple partners he was rewarded/celebrated while a girl was called a slut if she were to do the same. Fast-forward five years and it’s the first day of my intro to women’s studies class. We went over some basic ideas of feminism and that was when I had my “ah-ha!” moment. I finally had it! I was a feminist! So that’s what all those ideas came from, I was a big ol’ fucking feminist and there was no turning back. I’m glad. I’m thankful for that day and being a feminist.       ~vera~

To me a feminist means a person who believes everyone deserves equal human rights and life opportunities regardless of sex.  The differences between the sexes are appreciated and that one is not better than the other.  They are equal.  I prefer the term equalist, but I think it’s just a word I made up.

I think I was born a feminist.  I called my mother to confirm whether this was true or not.  I even ended up asking if my ideals were my own or if I just adopted hers and I needed to do some questioning.  As soon as I said that though and processed it I knew that it wasn’t true.  My ideals are similar to my mother’s, but that is because I have chosen them.  So, I can’t exactly blame my mom for turning me into a feminist, but this is how she influenced me:

  • She kept her last name when she married and gave it to me
  • She’s a social worker-she’s seen the awful stuff you read about in the news up close
  • She’s a single mom
  • She left a domestic abuse relationship
  • She taught me no one can make me do something I don’t want to-which backfired on her when I started skipping school, but a very valuable lesson for me
  • Always stand up for yourself even if it means you are standing alone
  • It’s about how smart you are, not how pretty or popular you are
  • She-Ra, CNN, & Disney.  Haha, ok I’m sure you’re wondering about these.  My mom believes these were all positive female role models in my life.  She-Ra was a fighter.  CNN has strong female reporting.  And Disney because when I was a kid that is when The Little Mermaid, Beauty &The Beast, and Aladdin all came out.  Ariel, Belle, and Jasmine were smart and strong, defiant characters.

I didn’t start actually calling myself a feminist until my last semester of my last year of college.  I took an upper level Sociology class Differences of The Sexes, or something like that.  That’s where I was exposed to feminism, but a very white feminism, such as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.  This class is what helped me to realize that what I want to do with my life is work for equality and you know, since I’m a female, I figured I’d focus on women’s rights since they seem to be lacking.  So, I graduated college.  I somehow procured a scholarship to attend any state school in Illinois, but it was only at the bachelor’s level.  Since I had graduated I didn’t know what I was going to do and had been looking at Master’s programs, but since I was still undecided and had this scholarship I decided to get a second bachelor’s.  In Women’s Studies.       ~Phaydra~

Do you have a story to share?  Did you think feminism was something different?

Who Says Pageant Queens Can’t Be Feminists? An Interview with Miss USA

5 Nov

Alyssa Campanella-Miss USA 2011

I was given the opportunity by the Chicago Blogger Network and Diamond Nexus to interview Miss USA.  Since I don’t keep up on the pageant world, except by watching Toddlers & Tiaras when I visit my mom’s,  I had to do some research. Alyssa seemed like an ok person and I was curious to know what she would say about the feminist question.

We meet at the Cheesecake Factory in the Schaumburg Mall.  I am not a mall person and almost had a panic attack upon entering this mall over 2 years ago, haha.  Food is a powerful motivator for me though and you don’t have to actually enter the mall to go to the Cheesecake Factory.

Alyssa was accompanied by Dena who works for the Miss Universe Organization and Kyle who works for Diamond Nexus, the maker of the crowns.  Everyone was very pleasant and personable.  It was a great conversation with great food.

Alyssa currently lives in an apartment in Central Park in New York City with Miss Universe.  She is hardly ever there because of all the fabulous places she “has” to travel to such as Chicago, Miami, the Bahamas, Los Angeles, Cannes and others.   Once her reign as Miss USA is over she wants to attend culinary school and has been doing some work with the Food Network to prepare.

Now for the interview:

  • Pageants receive criticism because they are seen as negative to young women because the focus is on appearance.  How do you think pageants can be empowering?

Part of my job is to travel around with charity organizations raising awareness about women’s issues.  I’m learning skills that I can apply to my future.  This work is not just about being a glamazon.  I help out organizations such Susan G. Komen For The Cure, Gilda’s Club, God’s Love We Deliver, and Project Sunshine.  I would rather put less make up on, wear jeans, and spread cheer.

  • Are you a feminist?

We are all human beings, so what if we have different body parts?  There are women presidents, not in the U.S. but soon.  There are women all over the world in positions of power doing a good job such as the Queen of Denmark and Brazil’s president.  In history, there is Margaret Thatcher England’s first female prime minister.  We don’t need only a man to do the job.  Let women have power. 

  • Have you had negative experiences that have helped to shape you into a better person?

I was bullied as a kid.  I became so upset about going to school I asked my mom to homeschool me.  I was bullied because of what I wore.  I liked to dress more mature, like my mom, so I was shopping at New York & Co. when I was 12.  I took school very seriously and was teased about that.  I never went to high school parties, so I wasn’t cool.  When I became Miss Teen New Jersey everyone wanted to be my friend, but I knew it wasn’t sincere and remained friends with the three people who always stuck by me.  I’m naturally thin and have always been teased about that.  Even at Miss Universe people were spreading rumors that I was anorexic.  I was stressed and eating a lot, but the weight wasn’t sticking.  

We commiserated over how it is socially acceptable to tell someone they are too thin and to eat a burger.  However, if you reverse that and tell an overweight person to eat a salad you are vilified.  What people need to know is that feelings are hurt in both scenarios.  And women shouldn’t be attacking each other’s weights out of insecurities and jealousies.

  • What are your best beauty and fashion tips?

For beauty I think the more natural the better.  A little moisturizer, mascara, and lipgloss is all you really need.  For fashion, I look for comfort and what is trendy.  I like to play around with color and have fun.

  • Do you enjoy watching movies for style inspiration?  Do you admire any old Hollywood actresses for their style or personality?

I love the clothes in Titanic, but there’s no way I could actually wear it.  I like corsets because they show off your feminine shape and fix your posture.  I adore Grace Kelly.  Her wedding gown is my favorite ever.  She had class and elegance and looked so regal.  She was a queen before she even met the prince.  I really liked Katharine Hepburn for her attitude.  She was feisty and spunky.  She got away with it and was loved for it.

  • Any favorite quotes?

My mom always said “You can’t make a difference in the world without knowing what’s going on in it.”  She would leave a newspaper on the table in the morning and I would read it while eating breakfast.  I still do this everyday and I feel weird if I don’t.

  • Any advice on how to stay motivated on the path to fulfilling one’s goals?

You aren’t a loser unless you give up.  If you don’t get what you want it’s because something else is on the horizon if you keep going.  That’s what happened with me.  I placed first runner up in a pageant, but I persisted and won Miss USA.

  • How would you describe your fashion style?

Forever 21 and H&M are my stores. I want teens to be able to look at my style and recreate it.  I want to be a trendsetter and a little outside of the box, but I want it to be affordable.

  • What is your favorite dessert?

In L.A. there is this bakery Nothing Bundt Cake.  You can get 18 mini bundt cakes with different flavors and cream cheese frosting.  I also love any dessert my mom makes.

  • What are your favorite things to do while in Chicago?

Eat deep dish pizza.  Go to Garrett’s Popcorn and get the Chicago Mix-caramel and cheddar.  The next time I come back I want to explore the artwork and Navy Pier.

Alyssa showing off her amazing heels

I actually didn’t notice that Alyssa had come into the restaurant until someone’s grandma leaned over to me and said “I don’t know how she walks in those heels.”  I looked up and was like oh, I think that’s the person I’m interviewing!  When I relayed the story to Alyssa she cracked up and promptly took her shoe off to show all of us.  What makes it so easy to walk in is the platform on the front.  These 5 inchers are by Chinese Laundry.

Who doesn’t love dessert?!  Yes, pageant queens also eat lots of dessert!

Thanks everyone!

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