Weekly Feminist Smorgasbord: Remembering the Ms. Revolution, the History of ‘Personhood’, and Umbrellas

The first cover of Ms. magazine, Spring 1972.

  • In honor of its 40th birthday, a fabulous tribute to Ms. magazine at NY Mag. My favorite tid-bit: some of the proposed titles for Ms. included Everywoman, Sisters, Lilith, Sojourner, Female, A Woman’s Place, The First Sex, and The Majority. Plus the article is structured as an oral history, with insights from the pioneers themselves. From Mary Peacock, one of the founding editors:

When Ms. started, you couldn’t pick up the phone and say, “Ms. Magazine,” because what people heard was “Mmzzz” and they’d ask, “What are you saying?” This would happen 25 times a day. So when we picked up the phone, we said each letter separately: “M-S magazine.” But gradually something changed—I could shoot myself that I can’t remember when it changed, because it was a huge watershed: Suddenly you could say “Ms.,” and everybody knew what you were talking about.

  • And also at NY Magthe feminist blogosphere! Holllllaaaa! Emily Nussbaum uses blogs to show how far the movement has come since the days of Ms.:

Subjects recurred from early feminism, including outrage at sexual violence. But there were also striking differences: While seventies feminists had little truck with matrimony, feminist bloggers lobbied for gay marriage. There were deconstructions of modern media sexism, including skeptical responses to the “concern-trolling” of older women who made a living denouncing the “hookup epidemic.” There was new terminology: “slut-shaming,” “body-snarking,” “cisgender.” And there were other cultural shifts as well: an acceptance (and sometimes a celebration) of porn, an interest in fashion, and the rise of the transgendered-rights movement, once seen as a threat, now viewed as a crucial part of sexual diversity.

  • Barbara Ehrenreich on OWS and homelessness–reminding us that the messy conditions faced by protesters are a daily reality for many Americans. She asks, why aren’t our cities legally required to find accomodations for homeless folks? It is a deeply troubling contradiction:

LA’s Skid Row endures constant police harassment, for example, but when it rained, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had ponchos distributed to nearby Occupy LA.

  • Also, Nick Kristof breaks it all down and builds it back up with his defense of birth control and family planning in the NY Times. Here’s something to tattoo on yourself: “Contraceptives no more cause sex than umbrellas cause rain.” BOOM.
  • House Democrats have filed an amicus brief against the anti-LGBT rights Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), arguing that DOMA undermines the stable family structure that children need to thrive by denying married gay and lesbian couples federal marriage benefits. Hell yeah–but it’s not just for the kids’ sake, right Dems?
  • “I’ve been protesting what’s been going on on Wall Street for a long time.” -Elizabeth Warren showing her support for the OWS movement at a speech in Brockton, MA, Wednesday evening. Watch this video and read about how she eloquently handled some Tea Party b.s. during the speech. [Favorite part: As the Tea Party dude is leaving, members of crowd shout, “Thanks for coming!” as others boo.]

Of course men’s liberation is tied up in women’s. Men, particularly those operating within a traditional Western context, have missed out on some of the most exhilarating parts of being human for far too long—authentic expression of emotion, the joys of being a present parent, intimate relationships with other men in which they can show up as their whole, vulnerable selves. Likewise, they have suffered from tremendous pressure to make money, to appear eternally strong, to wedge their diverse interests, passions, and reactions into the narrow box of socially acceptable masculinity.

Interview with NARAL Pro-Choice New York

The mission of NARAL Pro-Choice New York is to protect safe, legal abortion and expand the full range of reproductive rights for women regardless of age, race or income. To learn more or get involved, please visit www.prochoiceny.org.

Our editors conducted the following interview with David Benzaquen who is the Political & Legislative Action Coordinator for NARAL Pro-Choice New York.

RE/VISIONIST: What is your relationship with New York’s state legislature?  Do you have many strong allies in Albany?

David Benzaquen: NARAL Pro-Choice New York works to support the election of pro-choice candidates and this helps us build and maintain strong relationships with pro-choice officials. Every year during election season, NARAL Pro-Choice New York endorses a slate of candidates who show their unwavering commitment to reproductive rights issues. We are non-partisan and only endorse candidates who are 100% pro-choice, so we are proud to encourage all of our members to support these candidates and their campaigns in any way they can.

R/V: At the federal level, how would you rate the performance of US Senators and Representatives from New York in terms of their level of pro-choice or anti-choice support?

DB: Senators Gillibrand and Schumer are strong pro-choice allies. We thank Senator Gillibrand, in particular, for her recent strong opposition to anti-choice legislation being advanced by Speaker of the House John Boehner. The Congressional delegation from New York is largely pro-choice and includes some tremendous heroes of women’s rights like Representative Jerrold Nadler. Unfortunately there are also several anti-choice members who are even now trying to defund Planned Parenthood and would allow emergency rooms to deny a woman an abortion even if her life was in imminent danger. Continue reading

Interview with National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH)

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) is an organization that focuses on abortion access, reproductive health disparities and immigration reform. You can find out more by visiting their website.

Our editors conducted the following interview with Maria Elena Perez, Director of Community Mobilization.


RE/VISIONIST: In what ways does NLIRH specifically address the Latina community?

Maria Elena Perez: The mission of NLIRH is to ensure the fundamental human right to reproductive health and justice for Latinas, their families and their communities through community mobilization, policy advocacy and research. Our priority areas are abortion access, immigration reform, and reproductive health disparities. Within community mobilization, which is the area I oversee, we cultivate the leadership of a diverse group of Latinas across the country through our Latinas Organizing for Leadership and Advocacy (LOLA) Trainings, which give birth to our Latina Advocacy Networks (LANs). The LANs organize and engage in grassroots advocacy efforts on both local/state based and national issues that directly impact their communities. And when I say diverse, our base is truly reflective of the diversity within our community with respect to country of origin, language, urban vs. rural communities, class, education, etc.

R/V: Do you strive to build coalitions with other groups that are also organizing for reproductive justice?

MEP: The reproductive justice framework holds as a core tenet the concept of intersectionality, which maintains that reproductive oppression is a result of multiple, intersecting oppressions like racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, etc. To achieve reproductive justice we must therefore, take into account the intersecting social justice issues. So, while we at NLIRH strive to build coalitions with other reproductive health, rights and justice groups, we also prioritize building alliances with Latino/immigrant civil rights groups and other social justice groups to integrate a reproductive justice analysis and agenda into their work. Continue reading

“The Pill” Turns 50

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the FDA’s approval of birth control. When I saw this pop up in my Washington Post newsfeed I couldn’t help but think “what a strange coincidence that birth control’s 50th anniversary falls on Mother’s Day.”

On Friday CNN online posted a collection of essays written by Nell Painter, African American Studies historian and author of the #1 book on my summer reading list The History of White People, Letty Cottin Pogrebin founding editor of Ms. Magazine and the founder of National Women’s Political Caucus, Claudia Goldin economic historian and director of the Development of the American Economy program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and feminist writer – lecturer  Rebecca Walker, who happens to be the daughter of SLC alum Alice Walker, among others.

Check out the CNN article here. It’s a fascinating read that offers different perspectives from women and men (one man to be exact) about the affect “The Pill” has had on American society and culture.

- Nydia Swaby