Women’s Spirituality: Discovering Wicca

wiccan-love-spells3Feminist Conversations is a regular series here at Feminists For Choice. We spotlight feminists to find out what feminism means to them. We’ve interviewed a variety of feminists in the series. In the next few weeks, I will be speaking to feminists from different modes of spirituality.

Today I’m talking to Lora Jackson Legare, an archaeologist and author who was first drawn to anthropology by an interest in religion and spirituality and how people express their spirituality in different cultures through time. She has been a practicing Wiccan since 1986 and high priestess of her coven since 2007.

1. What does spirituality mean to you?
Spirituality is our need to connect with the “ground of our existence,” as Joseph Campbell would say. Defining the ground of our existence is different for each of us, just as our connection with it is different.

2. How did you develop you own sense of spirituality? Have you always been a Wiccan?
Developing my own spirituality has been a very long process. I was raised in a very liberal Christian denomination (Disciples of Christ), and my father was a minister who was a civil right activist in the 60s. He encouraged me to ask questions. But most of my Christian elders preferred that questions were not asked. Questions like, why is God only seen as a man; Why not a woman; Why are women naturally sinful; Why can I be nothing more than a helpmate to a man, and never really his equal in the eyes of this God? I could not do that. I began to search and explored many different religions. I found Wicca in 1986.
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Is Beyonce a Feminist?

beyonce_super_bowl_2013_halftime_performance_show_new_orleans_main_18gueij-18guek9 A recent article in Salon.com features several pop culture icons who have said, “I’m not a feminist, but . . .” The list includes musicians such as Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. One female artist that this list does not include in Beyonce, who has very clearly stated that she is a feminist.

Beyonce’s performance at the 2013 Superbowl that literally blew out the stadium’s lights is clear evidence that Beyonce is a feminist. Her band consisted entirely of female musicians. The bulk of them are women of color. Many women in the music industry will tell you that this is very rare. Giving so many female musicians that kind of exposure is something I would classify as a feminist act. Moreover, Beyonce has stated over and over again that she believes in equality and helping girls realize their potential.

However, some people argue that Beyonce isn’t a feminist because she has taken her husband Jay-Z’s last name.
Beyonce had her baby Blue Ivy in January 2012.

“I feel like Mrs. Carter is who I am, but more bold and more fearless than I’ve ever been,” she said. “It comes from knowing my purpose and really meeting myself once I saw my child.

Really? If someone takes on their partner’s name they’re not a feminist? That’s the strongest argument you’ve got? What about Hillary Clinton? Hillary Clinton in an outspoken advocate for women’s rights. She took her husband’s last name. Hillary is the reason I claimed the feminist label in high school. I voted for both times that she ran for President, and I will always consider her a role model. If your only argument about claiming the feminist label has to do with changing your last name, you need to get a clue about what feminism means. [Read more...]

Notes From Pro-Choice Parenting

A few weeks ago, a friend and I were talking about the intersection of personal beliefs and independent thought. Specifically, she was wondering if buying a onesie that said, “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” for her infant son would be expressing her beliefs through her child’s clothing or if it would just be cute. (We agreed that it would be both.) I was reminded of this conversation recently, thanks to a situation that caught me totally off-guard.

As part of our seemingly endless quest to find reliable daycare for our child, my husband and I set up an appointment at a small, local center. I did some research on the facility before our meeting, and came across information that indicated that one of the directors worked at a crisis pregnancy center (CPC). Since it’s not uncommon for online searches to turn up misleading information, I decided to keep the appointment, and was impressed with the facility. Yet my concern lingered, and further conversation with the director revealed that she did, in fact, work at the CPC.

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Why being anti-porn does not mean you’re being pro-feminist

I have been aware of the “Anti-Porn Men Project” Movement for quite a while, but it wasn’t until I went to the UK National Feminist Conference FEM 11 that I actually sat through a discussion with its representative. And I have to say, what I heard was a little annoying, to put it mildly.

I understand that these guys mean well and they probably really believe their mission statement, by which making porn unavailable would result in “tackling both violence against women and wider gender inequality, as well as an important personal issue in the lives and relationships of many people.” However, my problem with being anti-porn stems from my strong allergic reaction to two things: patronizing adult people by “knowing what’s better for them” and discounting of women’s sexuality and its varied forms of expression which commonly results in a “I don’t believe there are women who actually enjoy it” attitude.

No one – man or woman – should be forced to any sexual act they do not want to perform and sex work should happen in safe conditions and be adequately remunerated. But I can see no problem whatsoever in adult females and males consenting to sexual acts which get filmed and distributed for money, if the participants are treated with dignity and respect. [Read more...]

Welcome, Maria!

Feminists for Choice is expanding our international reach, ya’ll. Please give a big welcome to our newest team member, Maria Pawlowska.

Maria M. Pawlowska is a healthcare analyst with a passion for reproductive health, gender and sexuality.  Her articles on all of these issues have appeared in RH Reality Check, HealthyPolicies, The European Pro-Choice Network  among others. She’s a regular contributor to Role/Reboot and The Good Men Project. Maria currently lives in London with her husband.

Click over to Maria’s bio page to read more about her. And please leave her some comment love on her first post. Welcome aboard, Maria!

Filmmaker Jodi Leib’s “Monday’s Child” Fights for Reproductive Freedom

Feminist Conversations is a weekly series at Feminists For Choice.  We spotlight activists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them. Jodi Leib is an artist and filmmaker currently working on “Monday’s Child”, a feature about reproductive freedom.  Her films have screened at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Screen Actors Guild, Wine Country Film Festival (Audience award, 1997), On the Lot, IFILM, Laemmle Theaters Sunset 5 and several other festivals and venues. 

1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? What inspired that decision?
I first had the feeling of a bias against women when I was in grade school and I made a bet with a boy and won, but he didn’t pay me what I was due. I subsequently had the feeling in several working environments that I was being treated unfairly based on my appearance and/or gender, and I was even sexually harassed in my early twenties.

I became a filmmaker in college, and as I began to write and direct, I realized that I only wanted to tell stories about women – that I had a driving desire to communicate my point of view and experience as a woman through my characters and stories. As I became more interested in reproductive rights and committed to making “Monday’s Child,” I became comfortable calling myself a feminist. [Read more...]

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...]

Can you be pro-choice if you wouldn’t choose abortion for yourself?

Last week I posted a discussion question and asked folks to define what it means to them to be pro-choice. The response that I got from people on Twitter and Facebook was overwhelming. Thanks to everyone who responded.

The diversity of answers people gave me shows that there is such a broad range of thought around what it means to be pro-choice. Most importantly, it’s OK to have a conflicted answer about what “pro-choice” means to you. Rather than getting ourselves trapped in binary frameworks (i.e. “you’re either with us, or against us”), it seems more productive to acknowledge that everyone has their own point of view. When you read on, you’ll get a good sense of why I think there’s a valuable place at the table for each of these opinions. [Read more...]

In Search of Feminist Parenting Skills

My niece recently joined our family. This little girl is almost 5 months old, and I have the honor of spending a lot of time with her, since I babysit her on a regular basis. Watching her grow and learn every day has been something else. I typically don’t like babies or small children – so you know my niece must be pretty special (imho) if she’s won over my sour heart.

In Feminism is for Everybody, bell hooks argues that:

One of the primary difficulties feminist thinkers faced when confronting sexism within families was that more often than not female parents were the transmitters of sexist thinking . . . most people assume that a woman raising children alone, especially sons, will fail to teach a male child how to become a patriarchal male. This is simply not the case.

In Women’s Studies classes past, the topic of parenting mostly revolved around criticizing the color pink and calling toy stores out for the way they divide up their aisles. Those critiques are legitimate, as is the criticism from hooks, but what I need now is practical advice for how to be a good feminist care giver (or parent) – not poop to throw around in a poop fight. (Notice my language is getting somewhat cleaner now that I have to monitor what I say with a baby in the house?) [Read more...]

An Ode to Hermione Granger: In Four Parts

Incredulously: “You’re Hermione Granger” – Yes, I think in a British accent that would work splendidly.  Hermione could easily be the star of Griffandor,  Hogwarts, and the wizarding community at large. But, her role as side kick and best bud to legend Harry Potter is not diminished by her lack of mythical world stardom because Hermione is a star, perhaps not to the wizarding community, but she is to her friends, her community and the real muggle world at large.

Hermione does not fit into the binary suppositions of brawn or brain as she demonstrates both deftly and defiantly throughout the series. This ode celebrates her brawn in a series of moments that provide insight and inspiration.

Part I: Punching Malfoy

Sometimes a wand is just too passé, and what you need is a good ole punch in the face. When Hermione turns and punches Malfoy’s lights out for gloating at the demise of Buckbeak (in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), everyone in the theater went crazy. Something about the sheer physicality of the action was thrilling and in the binary power struggle between the Death Eaters and the Order of the Phoenix, light versus dark, good versus evil, the brief  moment is one of triumph for our champions.  Gender is not an issue in this world of Harry, Ron and Hermione as the classic damsel in distress role is distinctly lacking from this trio.  [Read more...]