I Am Woman, Hear me Roar

pp-visor-partial-croppedIn July 1978, I boarded a bus in Cleveland for the overnight trek to Washington, D.C., to join the herd of feminists marching to get the Equal Rights Amendment off the dime. In November 1989, I showed up there again to protest state and federal legislative attempts to undercut a woman’s right to an abortion. Did we send powerful messages? I think so.

Many of you will not remember the early 1970s or Helen Reddy’s feminist anthem “I Am Woman” (“hear me roar … in numbers too big to ignore”), but it strikes me that her lyrics still ring true today.

Just as throngs of protesting American women made waves in the ’70s and ’80s, now masses of women marching elsewhere on the planet are setting an example for us.

Witness what is happening around the world …

Poland "Black Monday" protest. Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images

Poland “Black Monday” protest. Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images

Thirty-six hours, that’s how long it took the Polish Parliament to reject a proposed near total ban on abortion last week.

Parliament had, apparently, been “taught humility” by women across the country, who brought the eyes of the world onto the streets of Poland when tens of thousands thronged the streets in a mass strike clad all in black, for their self-styled “Black Monday” protest.

The Government’s swift and grovelling change of heart, was a resounding victory for people power that will go down in the history books.

The New Statesman, October 10, 2016

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Post-Election News Rundown

hangers-croppedIt would be an understatement to simply say we’re all reeling from last week’s election.

Ironically, in a nation where only 1.2 percent of the population are actual “real Americans” who are natives to this country, a swath of angry, non-native voters, with the intention of “taking their country back” (from whom is still a mystery) chose to pull the proverbial lever for a self-serving, authoritarian, demagogic, misogynistic, race-baiting, ego-maniacal, predatory, pathological liar.


Thanks to the 46,000 (and counting!) folks donating to Planned Parenthood in Mike Pence’s name.


The fact that hate speech and fear-mongering triumphed is truly frightening and demoralizing.

Most disappointing to many of us is the stunning betrayal we are realizing has been perpetrated by white female voters — 53 percent of whom voted for Donald Trump. #InsertFrownyFaceEmojiHere

Sorry to shatter your dream of a sisterhood! White ladies decided not to support a woman who has a long and storied history of advocating for children, affordable health care, equal pay, family leave, and women’s health and reproductive rights. Sadly, a majority of white women proved they would rather cast a vote for an openly cruel and vindictive man who doesn’t care about consent or gender equality, and publicly assigns and strips women of their value and humanity solely based on their appearance, and bullies female journalists and other women in the public sphere for his own entertainment.

Oh, and he blatantly and outlandishly lies about abortion. A procedure that one in three women has undergone.

Fairly certainly from a statistical standpoint, many of them were Trump voters.

I guess his statement that women who have abortions should be “punished” didn’t bother them.

In other harrowing news: Continue reading

October 11 Is the Day of the Girl

hannah

Photo courtesy Hannah Hildebolt

October 11 is the International Day of the Girl Child, a United Nations observance begun in 2011. The day draws attention to the state of girls in the world, which is often a grim picture. Perhaps most important, it also involves girls directly in the work of making change.

In this country, the observance is called the Day of the Girl, and is a movement led by girls. Their website lists their central beliefs:

  • Girls are the experts on issues that affect girls. The solutions to these issues must come from girls. Their voices need to be centralized and elevated in social justice conversations.
  • Girls from marginalized communities must be central in conversations about social justice issues involving those communities.Truly effective social change cannot come without girls’ leadership.
  • Girls’ issues are intersectional. We must intentionally include people who are different from ourselves in our social change work. Otherwise we will not be able to make a meaningful impact — in fact, we could even do damage to huge populations of girls.

This list impressed me as I began my research, and I was curious to meet these girls who understood so clearly a process many of us are still learning. So I contacted them and asked if someone on their Action Team would be interested in doing an interview with me for the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona blog. I quickly got a reply from someone who said she would bring my request to their planning meeting.

A week later, I got the news that Hannah Hildebolt, age 17, of the Day of the Girl Action Team would talk with me. We made our arrangements, and I am happy to present that interview here.

How did you get involved with activism, particularly the Day of the Girl (DOTG)?

My activism stems from two things: my AP World History class and the camp I used to attend, the Center for Talented Youth (CTY). CTY is a very liberal community, and many of the attendees are activists, so I picked up a lot of interest in social justice while I was at camp. During the school year, this interest was heightened because I was taking a world history course over two years, and the teacher was quite clearly interested in axes of oppression and activism in general. You could say that CTY gave me the modern context for my activism and the history class gave me the historical one. In late 2015, one of my CTY friends recommended that I join DOTG as a way of turning my social justice interests into action. After checking out DOTG’s media, I applied and was chosen for an interview. The rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading

This Saturday: Stand With Planned Parenthood Arizona!

Saturday, August 22, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Uncle SamAs part of a coordinated attack on women, opponents of reproductive health are staging a protest this Saturday in front of Planned Parenthood Arizona’s new headquarters. These extremists oppose access to reproductive health care and basic health education, and are rallying nationwide from the local level all the way to Capitol Hill.

We have word that Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ, 6th District) will be attending, and intends to shut down 15th Street in front of our new office to make way for the demonstration.

In the wake of manipulatively edited “sting” videos, the Republican Party has intensified their attacks on the services that Planned Parenthood provides — and, by extension, they have intensified their attacks on the patients and families that Planned Parenthood serves. While the attempt to defund Planned Parenthood failed on the federal level, several states have already voted to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, and, if history is any guide, the assaults won’t stop there.

Opponents of reproductive health care have targeted Planned Parenthood health centers for decades — and, in that tradition, they will attempt to twist our new Arizona headquarters into a battleground in the fight for reproductive justice. You can help show the rest of Arizona what Planned Parenthood really is: a site for reproductive health care and education.

To counter this Saturday’s vicious attack on women’s autonomy and everyone’s access to health care, please join us to celebrate reproductive justice and sexual health! Starting at 8 a.m., we will have coffee and doughnuts outside of our NEW headquarters at 4751 N. 15th Street in Phoenix, at the corner of 15th Street and Pierson Street. PPAZ will be opening our covered parking lot to our supporters, so we can rally comfortably in the shade! Please bring a photo ID, your pink attire, and positive spirits!

Please Stand With PPAZ by showing up in pink at our RALLY WITH PPAZ! 

Helpful hints:

  • Wear pink if you have it! Feel free to get creative!
  • Bring signs in support of Planned Parenthood Arizona
  • Tweet support using #StandWithPPAZ and #StandWithPP
  • Park along 14th Street, as 15th Street and others will likely be closed
  • Bring water, umbrellas, and other items to keep cool — it’s gonna get hot!

Please circulate this announcement to your lists and alert your folks! Let’s turn out and Stand With PPAZ this Saturday!

Where the Revolution Continues: Inside the Second Annual Body Love Conference

A speaker at the 2014 Body Love Conference. Photo: Body Love Conference

A speaker at the 2014 Body Love Conference. Photo: Body Love Conference

The Body Love Conference debuted last year, riding on Tucsonan Jes Baker’s breakthrough success in body-positive blogging. Baker’s dating woes — and how they affected the way she saw herself in the mirror — sent her on a personal journey of body acceptance. Before long, the personal became political as she launched a blog called The Militant Baker, a place where could share with others what she had learned on her own journey. The Militant Baker soon reached a readership of about 20,000 — and then nearly a million as some of her content went viral.


We are maligned for wanting control over our bodies.


But Baker, along with a team of like-minded advocates and volunteers, knew that the movement needed something else as well: a safe but more public space for seeing, feeling, and asserting body love, where empowering words could translate into empowering actions. The Body Love Conference was their brainchild, and their months of preparation to make it happen paid off on April 5, 2014, with an event that drew more than 400 people.

The momentum continued this year with the second annual Body Love Conference, held at the Pima Community College West Campus on June 6. The message was the same, but a lot of things were different this year. Baker passed the torch to the other BLC volunteers so that she could turn her attention to her first book, slated for release on October 27. Meanwhile, the BLC team decided on a smaller, regional conference, so that they, too, could focus on something further out: a national “headliner” conference in 2016. Continue reading

Selenis Leyva: What Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Cover Sparked for Me as Sister of Trans Woman

Our 2015 I Stand emcee, Selenis Leyva, wrote about her own personal story in light of Caitlyn Jenner’s debut. Her original post was in Latin@ Magazine, but the Huffington Post has pics with her beautiful sister. Simply, a wonderful story on the still-common struggle of our trans brothers, sisters, and siblings.

Caitlyn, Marizol, and many folks just like me are the next wave of civil rights seekers.

Know hope.

What Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Cover Sparked For Me As Sister of Trans Woman
by Selenis Leyva, via Huffington Post

Selenis_LeyvaYou may know me as Gloria Mendoza, the no-nonsense, badass head of the Latina crew on Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black.” Oh, did I mention my killer eyebrow game? Yup, that’s me. My name is Selenis Leyva, and I am a true New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx. I’ve been chasing the dream of being a professional actress for 20 years, and here I am!

Granted, “Orange” is not my first gig. I have worked on numerous television shows, including all the “Law & Orders,” “The Sopranos,” “Girls, “Veep” … you get the idea. And a couple of films. I started out in the theater and built a strong foundation for hard work. But yes, “Orange Is The New Black” has changed my life. I am a mother, a daughter and a sister who goes in hard for those she loves and harder for what she believes in. Continue reading

Jon Tells Us Why He Interned With Planned Parenthood

The following post comes to us via Jon Brown, a journalism student, aspiring voice actor, and current Planned Parenthood Arizona intern.

JonMy name is Jon Brown. I’m a student at Arizona State University. I chose to intern at Planned Parenthood because, quite simply, I believe in what they do (yes, guys support Planned Parenthood too). From campaigning for women’s rights during the era of suffrage to pushing uncomfortable yet necessary conversations (such as STD testing) into public focus, I have stood by their beliefs and I admire them for having the courage to stand up on controversial issues when no one else will.


I expected more of a passive role when I first started working here. I couldn’t have been more wrong.


Planned Parenthood doesn’t only focus on women’s issues, they tackle any social issue that they feel needs addressing. At a recent luncheon called I Stand with Planned Parenthood, they brought on guest speaker Ashley Spillane, who is the president of Rock the Vote, an organization dedicated to increasing the youth involvement in politics.

So, you know I like the organization, but I absolutely love the part of it that I interned with directly. The department head for whom I interned and everyone at the organization I encountered have been wonderful. They made me feel welcome, and instead of handing me a list of responsibilities they asked me what I wanted to get out of this internship. I’m a journalism major and I was looking for public relations experience, so I worked on the social media aspects of this organization. Continue reading