The Day of the Girl

Today is the first annual International Day of the Girl. Its mission: to highlight, celebrate, discuss, and advance girls’ lives and opportunities across the globe. And it’s come not a moment too soon. On Tuesday, fourteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, a National Peace Award winner, was shot by Pakistani Taliban for daring to stand up for a girl’s right to receive an education. Yes, tragically, you read that right. The Taliban, having warned Ms. Yousafzai to stop her advocacy work on behalf of her gender, sent two armed gunmen to her school bus and shot her in the head.

On Wednesday, surgeons removed the bullet, and doctors are hopeful that there has been no brain damage and that she will ultimately return to school. Of that, Fazal Moula Zahid, a close family friend, is certain: “She will never, never drop out of school. She will go to the last.”

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Feminists for Choice Fundraiser in NYC

On September 7, 2012, Feminists for Choice will celebrate New York’s historic role in protecting women’s reproductive rights at a happy hour fundraiser for the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF). With the Republican National Committee drafting what committee member Russ Walker boasts is “the most conservative platform in modern history”–a document that promises more rights to a zygote in a petri dish than to the living, breathing, thinking woman who might hope to carry that zygote to term–there’s no better time to support the grass roots efforts of the NYAAF to ensure that New York remains the safe haven for women it has been for generations.

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Amy McCarthy Describes the Potential of Online Activism

This month we’ve been spotlighting the Feminists for Choice writers as part of our Feminist Conversations series. I’m personally very grateful for all of the awesome feminists who make up our team. Amy McCarthy has been especially helpful when it comes to our social media presence. Amy helped us figure out how to make our Facebook page more interactive – and she’s always good for some snark on the Twitter.

Find out more about this fabulous Texan and how she has integrated online tools into her feminist activism.

1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? And what influenced that decision?
I think in college. I was on the debate team and hanging out with a bunch of crazy hippies and took a women’s studies class. I really didn’t get more actively interested in feminist causes until I started blogging here, actually. It’s all your fault, Feminists For Choice! When I got involved with social media it became clear that I wanted to use those channels to talk about feminism and issues that affected women. I’ve met a lot of amazing feminists and a lot of terrible trolls through social, but it really has been for the best.

2. How did you get started doing social media work?
Accidentally, actually. I was a nanny and hated my life and nannying and I responded to an ad for a “social media writer” at a local nonprofit. It didn’t pay well, but I learned a lot and got to do some good work. I was sad to leave. I languished at a couple of pretty terrible “social media” jobs for about a year, and then finally started editing/doing social for an online parenting publication. It’s excellent – I get to be 100% pro-woman and pro-child without being political in any way. [Read more...]

Life Choices: The Teachings of Abortion

This month at Feminists for Choice we’ve been making a conscious effort to count our blessings and consider all we have to be thankful for. I can’t help but think I have the universe to thank for bringing Linda Weber, a pioneer feminist with over forty years of abortion counseling experience, and her book, Life Choices: The Teachings of Abortion, into my life at this particular time to help me recognize mine. Weber has a gift for making the most profound matters of human existence seem approachable, even debatable, without making them seem any less profound from the discussing.

Much of this comes from the fact that she is fearless where others might turn away–or wish away–or never face in the first place. I absolutely believe in a woman’s right to have an abortion, so I was surprised by my initial reaction to the book’s subtitle. But there it was. Uncomfortably. “The Teachings of Abortion?” “Teachings?” Didn’t that seem too … upbeat? Too celebratory?  It wasn’t until I had started reading that I realized I had made exactly the sort of judgment Weber avoids. (And exactly the sort of judgment abortion opponents are counting on.) Where I was feeling there was either good or bad, Weber illustrates patiently, time and again, that there is only experience, and it is rarely uncomplicated. (And rarely, is it communicated with precision like this: “The moral position of most women in the abortion decision is neither pro-life nor pro-choice.”) [Read more...]

Nancy Pitts of Women Have Options Describes the Rewards of Pro-Choice Activism

This month’s focus on gratitude would be totally incomplete without a conversation with Nancy Pitts from Women Have Options in Ohio. I met Nancy at the 2011 National Network of Abortions Funds summit. Nancy has been an incredible mentor – and she has helped the Abortion Access Network of Arizona get started.

Find out how Nancy got involved with pro-choice activism, and what drives her work today. And be sure to check out the WHOO Facebook page – you’re guaranteed to receive a daily dose of inspiration if you do.

1. How did you first get involved in the pro-choice movement? And what motivates you to stay involved?
My serious commitment to the movement began just a few years back, when I learned of Women Have Options, Ohio’s statewide abortion fund. Something had been missing in my life: passion, purpose, drive. So I started getting connected with the pro-choice movement. As with many things in life, a chain of introductions and meetings and connections turned into something I could not have foreseen at the outset: joining the board of Women Have Options.

When I first met with the board’s founder and chair, I had never heard of an abortion fund. I was profoundly moved by the discussion. When I had my abortion 15 years ago, I was terrified about being pregnant. But I didn’t worry about how to pay for my abortion. Today, through my work with Women Have Options, I’m paying back my good fortune, because if a woman can’t afford her choice, she doesn’t really have one. [Read more...]

Learning to Love My Body

This month’s focus on gratitude has made me shift my focus to an unlikely source: my body. I am a sexual assault survivor and a former anorexic. Like many women, I hate my body. A big part of that is a very common response to sexual assault. When I was in therapy, my therapist had me do an exercise where I focused on a part of my body that I could say I loved, and I would express gratitude for that part of my body. I have never worked my way up past my toes.

Eating disordered behavior was also a response to the sexual abuse I experienced as a child. When I was a teenager, my goal in life was simply to disappear. Fortunately, I made some good friends in high school who helped me discover feminism and come out of my shell. Feminism has helped me learn to love my intellect, my sense of humor, and my passion for activism. But I am still learning to love my body. [Read more...]

Graditude for My Mother

In light of our recent focus on gratitude, I’ve given a lot of thought to the people and things I’m most grateful for. I’m very blessed to have my health, a loving family, my husband, and friends who would do anything for me.  But when I really sit and think about gratitude, my mom floats to the top of the pile.

My mother has done so much for — and with — me these past 30 years. She mastered the art of parenting while remaining one of my closest confidants, even during those rocky adolescent years, which is a skill I still admire to this day. From indulging my teenaged obsession with Kurt Cobain (dyed pink hair included), to comforting me during my first heartbreak and nurturing my inner feminist, my mom was, and still is, my biggest cheerleader.

She also taught me a crap load, whether I realized it at the time or not. While it would be impossible to catalog everything she has taught me, I’ve jotted down the top 10 lessons she imparted to her youngest child (me!). In no particular order (well, except for #1):
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Kimberly Smith Unravels the Feminist Label

Feminist Conversations is a regular feature at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to different activists to find out what feminism means to them. This month we’re spotlighting the Feminists for Choice writing team as a way of showing our gratitude for such amazing team members.

Kimberly Smith joined our team in the Fall of 2010. In addition to blogging here are Feminists for Choice, Kim has her own blog called Feminist Lab, where she analyzes a variety of topics from a feminist lens. Kim started law school this Fall, so her writing has slowed down a bit. But we’re so grateful to have her on our team.

1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? What inspired that decision?
My mother is a very strong feminist, so I’ve probably been a feminist all my life, but I’m not really sure when I first applied the label to myself. I took a women’s studies class in the course of attaining my Master’s degree and that class really sparked my interest in feminist theory, which ultimately led me to start my own blog, and then to Feminists For Choice. Being a theory buff I distrust labels and, particularly in light of people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman calling themselves feminists. That is to say I don’t detract from the ideas of feminism, but labels get tricky.
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Jodi Lustig is a Loud-Mouthed Feminist, and Proud of It

Feminist Conversations is a regular feature at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to different activists to find out what feminism means to them. This month we’re spotlighting the Feminists for Choice writing team as a way of showing our gratitude for such amazing team members.

Jodi Lustig joined our writing team in 2010. She is a freelance writer from New York who brings a very special brand of sass to our writing team. (That’s us fighting the patriarchy together in The Village.) I just love Jodi’s attitude. She is currently working on a screenplay about poet Mary Robinson. Find out how she gets her inspiration to write, and what keeps her going when she hits the dreaded writers’ block.

1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? What inspired that decision?
I’m not sure I knew enough to call myself a feminist in fourth grade, but I knew I couldn’t believe that women had just won the right to vote when my grandparents were little. That wasn’t just ancient history. By the time I was thirteen and found out our temple didn’t let women face the open ark, I knew I was a feminist. And not a very quiet one. [Read more...]

Sarah Erdreich Interviews Generation Roe

Feminist Conversations is a regular feature at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to different activists to find out what feminism means to them. This month we’re spotlighting the Feminists for Choice writing team as a way of showing our gratitude for such amazing team members.

Sarah Erdreich joined the Feminists for Choice writing team in the Fall of 2010. (That’s her adorable pooch Hugo in the photo.) Sarah reached out to us after she read an article in the New York Times that examined the perceived generational gap in the feminist movement. When she’s not busy blogging, Sarah is putting the finishing touches on her book Generation Roe.

1.  When did you first call yourself a feminist?  What influenced your decision?
Pretty much from the time that I knew what a feminist was, I called myself one. My family definitely influenced my decision –my parents were, and still are, socially and politically progressive, and they weren’t shy about sharing their beliefs with my sister and me. I remember a button that my mom had when I was a kid, that said “Pro-Family, Pro-Child, Pro-Choice,” and just thinking yeah, that makes sense. I guess to me, being a feminist was just so natural, I never gave it a second thought. [Read more...]