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a road trip, a blog, a book

One Nation: pre-party on Thursday!

September 10th, 2010 · 3 Comments

Has everyone heard of One Nation, the march on October 2 that plans to bring progressive, lefty-thinking people from across the country together in one place? Well, if not, kindly carve out space in your schedule for it. And read up on the march while you’re at it.

It’s going to encompass a lot of things–a call for jobs, health care, civil rights. It’s meant to, as my girl Sadye puts it, “remind our people of the hope and change we voted for in 2008.” It’s to balance out the voices of Tea Party activists and other rightwing conservatives. It’s to re-energize the lefties, who seem to have become quite complacent as of late. (And for the last few decades, but that’s another story.)

As a preview for the event, I am co-sponsoring a party in NYC this Thursday. The details are here:

When: 6-10 p.m. Thursday, September 16
Where: Gallery Bar, 120 Orchard Street, Manhattan
Who else: Bill DeBlasio and Scott Stringer at 6:30 pm, Iron Solomon at 8 pm, NSR deejaying

See you there!

→ 3 CommentsTags: Girldrive News · Grass Routes · Politics

This is what a young feminist looks like

August 31st, 2010 · No Comments

Note: The blog Fair and Feminist held a “This is What a Young Feminist Looks Like Blog Carnival” last Friday. The carnival was in response to a recent New York Times article by Gail Collins in which she said that middle-aged women she talks with wonder, “where are the young feminists?” I was a flake and didn’t get this blog post up until today, but that doesn’t mean it holds any less weight! Holly Kearl, in her second guest post, breaks it down:

As I wrote in my first guest post for Girl-Drive, I am very grateful for the concept of feminism because it has allowed me to not have my life path dictated by my gender. I self identify as a feminist and at this moment, I’m still fairly young.  So I am what a young feminist looks like.

There are thousands of us who self identify as feminist and not only take on the title, but take on the mission. As a women’s studies major, employee at a women’s equity nonprofit organization, and an online feminist activist on issues like street harassment, I am surrounded by strong women and men who are fighting for the rights of women. And many of them are young. It is a shame when the work we do every day is negated or made invisible because people with power and a voice (such as New York Times writers) wonder why we don’t exist.

In addition to the negation of the work of young feminists, I am frustrated by the obsession with rumination about whether or not people use the term feminist. Does it really matter if someone calls themselves a feminist if they support and actively work for women’s rights? Why waste time squabbling about titles when we have the same goals? [Read more →]

→ No CommentsTags: Generations · Girls with Drive · Guest Blogger · Stop chastising young people

Real quick: Girldrive discussed on Firedoglake

August 31st, 2010 · No Comments

Last Sunday, I participated in a book salon at Firedoglake, which back in March invited me to host a discussion about Anne Kornblut’s book, Notes from the Cracked Ceiling. The shoe was on the other foot Sunday, though: Girldrive was in the spotlight. It was a great discussion, particularly because the host, 18-year-old blogger wunderkind Cassie Frequelz, asked such great questions. The readers of Firedoglake skew older, too, so it was a good intergenerational discussion.

→ No CommentsTags: Generations · Girldrive News

Yes, Sally Draper.

August 23rd, 2010 · No Comments

That is all:

→ No CommentsTags: Stop chastising young people

Guest post: Holly Kearl

August 20th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Note: This is Part 1 of a 3-part guest series by Holly Kearl, a feminist activist, blogger and author. Below is a little intro to Holly and her work. Got a great idea for a guest series? Email me at

My older sister was born with severe disabilities and because of her, my parents raised me to be sensitive to the needs of those who are discriminated against and treated unfairly and to not be afraid to stand up for human rights.

It took me a while to realize that I was part of a group that faces discrimination, too: sex discrimination.

I was raised in a Mormon household. When I was growing up, a high-ranking church leader declared feminists to be one of the three biggest threats to the church (and to families). While my parents were in many ways open-minded for Mormons, the anti-feminist beliefs of our religion were still part of the context for my upbringing. For example, I was not given a middle name because I was supposed to marry, take my husband’s last name, and turn my birth last name into a middle one. I was expected to have children, probably not work outside the home unless circumstances required it, and obey my husband.

Fortunately, I was raised in various states outside the Mormon stronghold of Utah, so I saw other ways to live. By my early teenage years, I was questioning the gender roles and restrictions I was increasingly being forced into. I did not delve into feminism, however, until I chose to leave the religion at age 17.

For me, feminism has come to mean that women can and should have the same opportunities to live and thrive that men have (though of course both women and men can face other forms of oppression that prevent this). Feminism means people should not have their life stifled or dictated by their gender or sex.  Women and men are equally intelligent, capable, and worthy of respect and so the laws, societal attitudes and customs, and division of labor should reflect this.

For several years I thought my life’s mission would focus on helping persons with disabilities, but my older sister’s death has left me emotionally incapable of this; I miss her too much. In high school I thought I would become an architect and in college, an historian. But then during college, volunteer work with domestic violence centers, summer internships with women’s nonprofits, and women’s studies classes led me to another path.

Today I work as a program manager for AAUW, one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the country. I volunteer with RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. And I spend a lot of my free time addressing women’s unequal access to public spaces through my website and blog Stop Street Harassment (you can share your story for inclusion on the blog). This month my first book Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women, is available.

I’m 27 and I have most of my career ahead of me. I don’t know if I always will devote my full time to feminist causes. But I do know that feminism helped save my life by opening up the number of paths I could take and ensuring that my sex would not determine my destiny. And for that I am grateful.

→ 1 CommentTags: Disability and Feminism · Girls with Drive · Guest Blogger

Now for (another) road trip…

August 12th, 2010 · No Comments

Just wanted to let all Girldrivers know about the incredibly exciting, much-needed project I’ll be working on for the next few months. The project is the brainchild of Farai Chideya, an accomplished journalist, author of several books, and innovative mediamaker, who got American Public Media and WNYC to partner with her on a multimedia radio series. The project, connected with Farai’s blog-turned-production company Pop + Politics, will report on the changing political landscape leading up to the 2010 midterm elections. We’ll be specifically focusing on narratives of race and the economy–investigating Arizona, Florida, and parts of California. You can read more about the project here.

The moment I read about this project, I thought of Girldrive. It’s a way to let people speak for themselves, and to treat geography as a character all its own. It’s meant to really get the stories of the local people and activists on the ground–as Farai puts it, it’s not “your typical horserace reporting.” And by including voices that people don’t normally hear on public radio, the project seeks to expand radio to a younger, more diverse audience.

I’ll post updates as I go along…more soon!

→ No CommentsTags: Politics · Roadtripping

Feminism and Anti-capitalism: A Love Story

August 3rd, 2010 · 3 Comments

Cross-posted at Feministe

This past Saturday, I participated in Chicago’s Bughouse Square Debates, an annual event where authors, thinkers, and activists stand on literal soapboxes and, amid heckling crowds, argue a point in 15 minutes. My topic was, “Is there such a thing as a conservative feminist?” tied to Sarah Palin’s heartsinking claiming of the F word in recent months.* I went into the event pretty sure of my nuanced point of view–that people can be personally anti-abortion, anti-gay-marriage, anti-premarital sex, etc. but there’s no reason they can’t be feminists if they don’t actively impose their personal views on anyone else through legislation or policy.**

At one point, though, my “nuanced view” went to shit.

I came prepared to tell the story of Lauren, whom we met on Girldrive, a midwife who was determined to give power back to the woman in the birthing process, but who was vehemently anti-abortion and, at 23, was saving herself for marriage. Or the story of Katharine, who was a nun-to-be, and who called nuns the “ultimate feminists” because they shunned trivial materialism and devoted their lives to altruism.

I was all set to say that feminism is a negotiation, a constant struggle between the personal and the political, between convention and the future, and between universal human rights and partisan positions. That it was fucked up to leave conservative women out of the conversation, especially if they felt torn between their family’s traditions and their own reality. And then I was going to add a simple caveat: that capitalism needs to be humanized, that business needed to be regulated, in order to break down structural sexism.

I was a few minutes into the debate when a heckler cried, “But what if Lauren votes? What if Katharine gives money to a pro-business Republican’s campaign? What then?”


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→ 3 CommentsTags: Politics · Redefining Feminism

Girldrive: Southern edition (a guest post)

August 2nd, 2010 · 3 Comments

Note: This is a guest post by Katie Rice, who was inspired by Girldrive to go on her own Southern version. Got a great idea for a guest series? Email me at

When I came home to St. Louis for Thanksgiving break last fall, I found my sister’s copy of GirlDrive sitting on the coffee table in the living room.  I flipped through a few pages and quickly got hooked on the idea of traveling, woman-focused journalism —marauding through the country in search of women’s stories.

I was living in Arkansas at the time, in a house with eight fellow students – all young women.  One of them, Ashley, was in my Gender and Sexuality in American Politics class.  We’d spent all our free time that semester sitting around the house, discussing our readings and asking our roommates all sorts of brazen questions about womanhood, femininity, sexuality, love, faith, self-esteem, and sex.  Inspired by the book and by our roommates’ openness, Ashley and I decided to take on our own GirlDrive: Southern Edition for two weeks in January.

I sent out a flurry of Facebook messages to friends from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee, asking for connections.  Although Ashley and I called our plan the “Southern Feminist Road Trip,” we didn’t seek out feminists.  In fact, our only qualification was that the person be a woman raised in the South who was willing to talk with us.  And with little more than the promise of a free hot beverage and a thoughtful conversation, more than a dozen women in ten cities and towns across the South agreed to meet with us.  We started in New Orleans’ famous Café du Monde and ended in a series of Starbucks, with a few local coffee shops in between.

My classmates had warned me that Southern women are famously prudish and private; they’d make my Missouri upbringing seem like a beacon of liberalism.  In a way, the friends were right.  I was blown away by the sexual and social conservatism of many of the women we met with.  But the interviewees were generally receptive to the broad range of personal questions we posed.  The women were also strong, independent, thoughtful, open, and likeable.  Most were deeply, deeply religious, and although their faith unsettled me, I felt connected to each of them by the time our conversations ended. [Read more →]

→ 3 CommentsTags: Girldrive Goes Global · Girls with Drive · Grass Routes · Guest Blogger · Roadtripping · Southern Series

The Bughouse Square Debates are tomorrow!

July 30th, 2010 · No Comments

I’m really excited for my 15 minutes of fame tomorrow at the 25th annual Bughouse Square Soapbox Debates in Chicago. It’s a cool idea:  a bunch of Chicago writers, thinkers, activists and authors come together for a competition and state their case in just a few minutes. It’s meant to commemorate Bughouse Square’s legacy from the first part of the century, where the venue in Washington Square Park held heckler-laden soapbox speeches. The best part is that hecklers are still encouraged. Read more about the history and who will be speaking over at the Tribune.

I’ll be speaking at around 2:45 p.m. on whether or not a conservative woman can be a feminist. I’ve thought a lot about this topic since Emma and I went on Girldrive–what used to be a kneejerk reaction (no!!!) has become a very complex answer for me, especially after meeting an activist midwife who worked at a Crisis Pregnancy Center, or a nun-to-be who claimed the word feminism, or a 19-year-old entrepreneur and bible college student. I’ll get more into it at the debate (as much as you can get into something in 15 minutes), but the bottom line is this: Feminism leaves room for lots of personal struggles, contradictions, and negotiations–that’s to be expected, and to me, feminism needn’t have a laundry list of requirements. But actively working on policy and legislation that roll back women’s rights, and putting forth distortions and lies about contemporary feminism, is IMO fundamentally unfeminist. Here we have a very important distinction between the personal and the political, between tradition and the future, and between universal human rights and partisan positions. That’s all I’m giving away for now…but I’ll be sure to post a transcript after the event. Details are below:

When: Saturday, July 31

Time: Debates start at 2:30 p.m.; mine goes on at 2:45 on Soapbox 1

Where: Washington Square Park, across the street from the Newberry Library, Walton between Dearborn and Clark, Chicago

→ No CommentsTags: Uncategorized

Summer break…

July 9th, 2010 · No Comments

Things have been quiet around these parts for the last 10 days, and they’re gonna be for another week or so. I’m not exactly on vacation so much as in a major life transition. So I’m gonna take a little while to concentrate on my now-permanent home…never fear, though, I’ll be guest-blogging for Feministe in late July and will definitely cross-post.

→ No CommentsTags: Girldrive News