Yearly Archives: 2017

37 posts

Scouts Honor: It’s Wrong To Discriminate Against Girls

If I’m remembering correctly, this determined young woman who started the petition drive to allow girls to become Boy Scouts attended NOW’s 2016 national conference in Washington, DC — CT NOW President Cindy Wolfe Boynton. Check her out!

A statement of national NOW President Toni Van Pelt:

Washington, DC – That old glass ceiling continues to break, but the cracks don’t run deep enough.

NOW welcomes the news that the Boy Scouts of America have once again admitted to their long history of discrimination, this time against girls, and are taking steps to correct it.

For more than a century, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts have been an integral part of our society. But girls have been left to wonder, why were they left on the sidelines when boys got to earn badges, participate in scouting activities and be Eagle Scouts?

But there’s an even bigger question that remains unanswered. Why are Girl Scouts not afforded the same level of financial support on the federal, state and local levels and recognition for their fine work in supporting and providing opportunity? The fact the Eagle Scouts award is considered by some as more prestigious that the Girl Scout Gold Award speaks to this financial discrimination.

Are the Boy Scouts of America truly going co-ed, or are they setting up a parallel scouting experience that defined as​​ “separate but equal?” ​even as​ we know the practice usually plays out as separate and unequal in quality and opportunity.​

If this decision means that the Boy Scouts will be offering segregated activities and providing girls with fewer opportunities, or activities of lesser quality, there’s much more trailblazing needed from the Boy Scouts of America. We’d rather see​ a cultural shift of​ more respect and ​funding for the Girl Scouts as is their due.​

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NOW calls on the Academy to Revoke Harvey Weinstein’s Membership

A statement from national NOW President Toni Van Pelt:

Washington, DC – NOW is calling for sexual predator Harvey Weinstein to be removed from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. After decades of abusing his power to prey on women, the last place he should be is in Hollywood’s most powerful club.

This week the New York Times reported that Weinstein silenced numerous women who accused him of sexual harassment–and many more came forward after the article’s publication, including actors Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie.

We are witnessing the downfall of a powerful man at the hands of empowered women. It took tremendous courage for these survivors to come forward, in spite of the looming threat of personal and legal retribution from Weinstein, and the fierce shame that so many survivors experience. I am deeply grateful to these women. Their bravery has inspired others to share their story–squelching the toxic culture of silence around sexual assault, and potentially sparing other women the same fate.

Weinstein has proven himself to be the worst kind of workplace monster: powerful and predatory. This week’s reports reveal Weinstein’s cold, calculated pattern of sexual harassment and assault–with his own employees used as pawns to manipulate women. Taken together, these accounts illustrate a disgusting abuse of power, wielded by Weinstein as an individual and with the weight of his company.

A sexual predator doesn’t deserve the privilege of an Academy membership–and all the opportunities to wield outsize power that come with it. If Weinstein has power in Hollywood, women are at risk. Stripping his membership is the obvious next step toward achieving justice.

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‘What are they asking for? Trouble.’

Last night before I fell asleep, I read Donna Karan’s remarks on the sexual harassment claims levied against Harvey Weinstein. I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t shocked. I didn’t think or feel anything was out of the ordinary.

This morning I read her comments again, and I was enraged.

Why the change of emotion? Because last night I was tired. I had spent my day being assaulted by all of the micro aggressions our society allows the powerful to lob at girls and women on a continual basis. Last night, I just thought to myself “another woman coming to the aide and defense of a powerful man.” No, actually. I thought “another white woman doing the bidding and heavy lifting of a rich and powerful white man in an attempt to stay in his good graces and bathe in his golden light and privilege. What’s new?”

I see and hear this behavior in all of the spaces I occupy. I see and hear it on television when women make derogatory remarks about the appearance and dress of girls and other women. I see and hear it in the dress codes and standards that girls and women are expected to adhere to, while boys and men are not shamed and policed for their bodies and dress style.

I see it and hear it when women confront sexual harassment and sexual assault, and they are immediately grilled on what they were wearing, doing, saying, and thinking when they think they were unjustly assaulted.

I see and hear it in all of the self-described “liberal” and “enlightened” spaces that I frequent.

It’s common to have a man attempt to insert himself into a conversation and then drive it to his desired location, which is most always a white male-centered destination fueled by the emotional labor of the women in the conversation. When women push back, the men attempt to end the conversation on their terms, making statements intended to silence any and all critics and then declaring “this conversation is over.”

Routinely, a woman will come into the conversation and tone-police the women who called out the man or men who inserted themselves into the conversation, demanded free emotional labor, and attempted to reframe it in a white male-centered perspective.

She will talk about how nice this guy is, or how she likes to hear his comments because they are always so enlightening and impactful. She will make excuses for his behavior and attempt to remove any ownership or accountability the man needs to take for his words, actions or micro-aggressions that created a hostile environment for women. She will then try to shame the women that pushed back by stating that the other women were mean to him; that this is supposed to be a “safe place” for all voices; that we need to respect the man; and that we need to focus on “unity” and the common goal.

This woman is asking the aggrieved women to sacrifice their own sense of well being and safety for the brass ring.

It is routinely women doing the heavy lifting of blaming and shaming other women for pushing back against the patriarchy. Why? Because that requires emotional labor, and women are experts at providing free emotional labor on demand.

We call this internalized misogyny. The woman that is doing this doesn’t understand that she is doing unpaid work for the patriarchy.

She doesn’t realize that she isn’t garnering any additional points or affection from the men when she treats other women this way. She is simply another another tool for the misogynistic, white male-centered culture to use and abuse at their whim. She won’t receive the extra protection and privilege that she thinks she is going to earn by standing up against other women who are fighting to dismantle the patriarchal systems that hold all of us subservient and vulnerable in society.

This internalized misogyny is apparent in every economic and social class in America. Maybe we simply nod our heads in acceptance when we see and hear it from a woman with low economic and social status, as we acknowledge her challenges to simply exist in that space without the power that wealth and social privilege provide other women.

But do we call it out when we see it from women like Donna Karan?

A multi-millionaire in her own right with the privilege and power that comes from creating and running a successful apparel empire that clothed the wealthy, powerful, and beautiful for 30+ years. A woman who made her fortune by creating clothing designed to empower women, while enhancing their sensuality and sexuality in professional and personal environments. A woman who routinely dressed 14-year-old girls in the revealing gowns, lingerie, high heels, makeup, and fragrance designed for adult women to attract and retain the wealthiest and most powerful male gaze. She then took their photos, marched them up and down runways, and projected images of those sexually, and sensually, empowered 14-year-old girls all over the globe, peddling her wares and funding the lifestyle that allowed her to socialize with the likes of Harvey Weinstein and other men like him.

Donna Karan made her fortune dressing many of the women that Harvey Weinstein victimized. Donna Karan made her fortune on the backs of the troublesome girls and women she now blames for Harvey Weinstein’s downfall.

What happened when we called Donna Karan out?

Her first response was to blame the victims, blame society, and then attempt to obfuscate the issue. Only when she started to receive an enormous amount of criticism did she backpedal and provide clarifying statements. But when you read her apology, she’s not actually apologizing for her words and attitude. She merely blamed others for taking her words out of context and apologized if she offended anyone. She then stated that sexual harassment is not acceptable. That is not the apology she needed to make. Of course

This internalized misogyny is apparent in every economic and social class in America. Maybe we simply nod our heads in acceptance when we see and hear it from a woman with low economic and social status, as we acknowledge her challenges to simply exist in that space without the power that wealth and social privilege provide other women.

sexual harassment is not acceptable. Her throwaway comment at the end condemning sexual harassment doesn’t change the fact that she is operating without any ownership or accountability for her words and actions.

Karan’s apology is the textbook apology we hear from so many privileged and powerful men when they want to make a public statement to absolve themselves from the stain of bad press, but don’t want to actually acknowledge the harm they created and the pain they inflicted on the people they exploited. How are we ever going to end sexual harassment if women like Donna Karan — self-professed feminists and allies — are merely well-paid, well-dressed, more-privileged agents of the patriarchy?

Before I sat down to write this, I spent some time putting my 9-year-old son’s socks and pajamas into his dresser. I stared down at his Star Wars underwear and his Snoopy pajamas. I wondered when his clothing choices and behaviors would become troublesome and signal that he was deserving of sexual harassment. Will it happen in five years when he is 14 and wants to look like older teenagers and be a cool kid? Will it be in ten years when he is in college and desperately wants to attract the attention of the young women around him? Is there anything my son can wear, or ways he can present his body, based on traditionally acceptable, white male-centered mores that will message that he is fair game for sexual harassment? That his body and soul are open season for abuse? Of course not. That burden is placed solely on the backs of girls and women with the most impactful policing and enforcement provided by women to include the likes of the Donna Karans of our society.

Kate Hamilton Moser is vice president of Legislative Action for the Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women. Email her at katehamiltonmoser@gmail.com or find her via CT NOW’s Facebook page.

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CT NOW to host screening of documentary Birthright: A War Story


The CT chapter of the National Organization for Women, in partnership with Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, will host a screening of:

BIRTHRIGHT: A WAR STORY
Wednesday, Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m.
Avon Theatre Film Center 272 Bedford St., Stamford, CT 06901

This feature-length documentary examines how women are being jailed, physically violated and even put at risk of dying as a radical movement tightens its grip across America. The film tells the story of women who have become collateral damage in the aggressive campaign to take control of reproductive health care and to allow states, courts and religious doctrine to govern whether, when and how women will bear children. The documentary explores the accelerating gains of the crusade to control pregnant women and the fallout that is creating a public health crisis, turning pregnant women into criminals and challenging the constitutional protections of every woman in America.

A post-film Q&A with filmmaker Luchina Fisher and Ruth Shaber, M.D. — moderated by CT NOW President Cindy Wolfe Boynton — will follow. Tickets are $7, which you can purchase below. Your tickets will be held for you at the theater and available the night of the event. Questions? Email president@now-ct.org

Pay Now

 

 

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Hailey Gesler Gives CT Some Pride

Hailey Gesler and her mother Alexis Wilson

Thirteen-year-old Hailey Gesler and her mother Alexis Wilson have made Connecticut history by planning and executing Fairfield County’s first ever Pride parade! The idea was Hailey’s, who is a seventh grader at Bethel Middle School.

Initially, Hailey and her friend Marcella Antunes were assigned a project. The focus of it: a social awareness issue. Hailey had also been wanting to have a parade in Bethel, so this was the perfect thing to do for her assignment.

Having a Pride parade is “hard at first,” Hailey recounts. But eventually, her and her mother “got the hang of it.” At first, the project had minimal publicity until a local coffeeshop shared the event on Facebook. Then, seemingly overnight, it blew up, and the two of them gained lots of supporters.

Bethel, Connecticut is not the best place to be LGBTQ+, with minimal resources, organizations, and groups for non-straight or transgender individuals to go to for help or fun activities. But, Alexis found that the community was “very welcoming” to the event. “Bethel needed it,” she says, as the only LGBTQ+ focused things in town take place at the high school’s GSA, and the middle school doesn’t even have a Gay-Straight Alliance that Hailey could be involved in.

So, when Hailey told her mom she wanted to have a parade, Alexis figured they’d gather some friends, walk down the street, and “make a stance” on the issue. Little did she know that it would actually have a huge turnout and a plethora of eager people ready to volunteer from around the county. In fact, everything in the process was smooth sailing. The Parks and Recreation department were “so amazing,” she says, and the only hiccup that came up was when a drag queen who was planning on coming pulled out at the last minute.

The parade electrified the town of Bethel. Colorful pride flags were on every corner, and joy was all around. On Sunday, April 24th, with hundreds of people in downtown Bethel, the community saw a vibrant side of the town that had no opportunity to show itself before.

Hailey Gesler and Marcella Antunes

As for the future, the mother-daughter duo intend on starting a Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) chapter in the Bethel area by September. They also talked to the advisers of the high school’s GSA about creating a middle school club to bring more awareness to parents and kids about LGBTQ+ people and issues. Hailey and Alexis intends to make being LGBTQ+ more common, de-stigmatized, and less of a big deal.

Hailey’s parting words: “be yourself,” and have pride! Don’t be afraid to hold hands with the person you love as you walk down the street, “hold their hand.”

Her mother’s advice to other people who want to organize events like Pride: utilize all the volunteers you have. “You never have too many,” she says. Also, talk to your town and work with them, especially people like the Parks and Recreation Department and the town police. Use your resources!

Alexis and Hailey are already planning Bethel Pride for next year! We look forward to seeing more from this awesome team.

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By Joely Feder

Joely is a high school intern for Connecticut NOW. Her interests include intersectional feminism, women’s literature, YouTube, and documentaries such as, “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry.” Joely also runs CT NOW’s Twitter and Instagram.

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How Writing Novels Taught Me I was a Feminist

By Heather Webb

I’m new to the CT NOW blog, and have been looking forward to contributing, but I must admit, I stared at a blank screen every time I sat down to write this piece. How could I contribute to such a dynamic, inspiring group in an original way? At last, I got my answer. I need to start at the beginning.

I have to talk about the word feminism.

Feminism was a dirty word when I was growing up. It was synonymous with those women who didn’t believe those “girlie” things like makeup, dresses, or staying home with their kids held value. Being a feminist meant you didn’t participate in any sort of activity that perpetuated classic gender roles. It meant you hated men and saw little value in what men contributed to the world, at least not on an emotional or spiritual level. It meant you couldn’t fawn over ball gowns or take care with your appearance. This is what I thought it meant to be a feminist growing up. As it turns out, I was wrong.

My parents were very supportive and pushed me to achieve, so when I look back at my ideas surrounding feminism, I wonder where I picked up this meaning. It certainly wasn’t from them. Was it through television or radio? Ads and magazines? Society at large? I suspect, like all great movements, there is progress—and there is backlash. When progress for the feminist movement was made in the 1920s and 30s, there was backlash to contain it in the 1950s. The same thing happened in the 1960s and 1970s—major progress. Yet by the time I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, the message had clearly changed. I had become a victim of the next wave of backlash.

I continued to follow my own path, discover my voice, and help other women around me do the same in any way I could as a young teacher and coach, friend and mother, but I never uttered the words:  I am a feminist. I didn’t want to be ridiculed or categorized with those “feminazis,” as I’d heard were particularly distasteful all those years.

Then one day I awoke from a rough night’s sleep. I’d had this dream several nights in a row and though it wasn’t a bad one, I couldn’t seem to shake it. Oddly enough, it was about Josephine Bonaparte, daughter of a struggling sugar plantation owner turned empress of France. (Strange, yes?) Needless to say, I began reading about her and fell in love with her bravery and sacrifice and suddenly knew to my very core that I had to write a novel.

When reviews poured in for this first book, or I chatted with readers, I kept hearing things like: “I really like the way your characters are interesting women who struggle to find their strength.” This made me happy, of course, because struggle and growth are key to a good character story. But I left it there, in my mind. I write for women, primarily, yet I still hadn’t assigned that word to my books—or to myself.

The revelation came, as revelations often do, like a clap of thunder during an ordinary moment. I was working on a new idea for a novel, so I picked up the phone to discuss it with my agent. We got to talking and at one point she said these words: “I think this is an excellent idea, especially since your books have a feminist slant. You should write what speaks to your heart.”

That was it. That moment. I paused, struck by her words. Did my books have a feminist slant? I chose stories that spoke to me, about extraordinary women doing extraordinary things to surmount their circumstances. That was all. They weren’t feminist, were they?

In that moment, I looked back at my life and realized how hard I had strived to help girls and women speak up for themselves and be confident. How often I lent a hand, offered a word of praise, bolstered spirits because I truly love people, and truly love to help them feel good about themselves. I had done this because I believe we are all equals, striving for the same things. And that somehow, my womanhood was tied to this very strong need inside me to help others become their greatest selves.

In that moment, I realized I was very much a feminist and always had been.

The idea that I had once been afraid to call myself a feminist, that I was afraid to be called a “feminazi” enraged me. I realized then, the deep level of shame associated with calling yourself an activist, a feminist, and that “feminazi” was a word used to control us, to stamp out our voices. I became enraged by this horrible shame perpetuated in the media—and the world at large. I knew then, we must continue to fight to eradicate it, and to speak our truths out loud, with open hearts.

The word feminist signifies strength, and hope, and power. It is synonymous with self-love. It is a textured word that encompasses a long history of every hard-fought win, every struggle women have endured through the centuries to be respected and admired. It’s a word I love.

Now I am a writer, a stay-home mom, a baker, a wearer of red lipstick and heels and nail polish, and I am an ass-kicking feminist who fights for what she believes in. I am all of these things, and I am proud.

CT NOW member Heather Webb is the author of historical novels BECOMING JOSEPHINE and RODIN’S LOVER, which have sold in six countries and have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Elle, France Magazine, and more, as well as received national starred reviews. RODIN’S LOVER was a Goodreads Top Pick in 2015. Up and coming, LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS, an epistolary love story set during WWI will release October 3, 2017 from HarperCollins. Heather is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend. Find her on Twitter at @msheatherwebb and on Facebook by clicking here.

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SOLD OUT!! >> CT NOW hosting advance screening of Wonder Woman on June 1!

As of May 27, our Wonder Woman screening is sold out!!

Join CT NOW for a private screening of the new “Wonder Woman” movie the day before it opens nationwide AND help raise funds for CT NOW’s scholarship fund, which each summer pays the FULL TUITION for two Connecticut women to attend the Women’s Campaign School at Yale.

  • Thursday, June 1
  • 6:30 p.m.
  • Cinemark North Haven, 550 Universal Drive N, North Haven

Tickets ARE SOLD OUT as of May 27. Cost of $25 per person includes admission, small popcorn, drink, and you seeing Wonder Woman a day before everyone else, PLUS the great feeling of knowing that your purchase will help increase the number and influence of Connecticut women in politics.

Be a superhero and celebrate the Wonder Woman inside of you! We’re looking forward to a great night!

Email questions to president@now-ct.org.

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Travel with CT NOW to the Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington on June 11

The Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women is organizing three buses to the national Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington, D.C., which will take place on Sunday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please consider traveling with us to this important event to remind our administration that, as Lin Manuel Miranda said, love is love is love is love …

All the buses are Skeddaddle buses, meaning the more people who ride each bus, the cheaper the cost of each seat. The three buses will leave Connecticut at 1 a.m. June 11 and arrive home at roughly 1 a.m. June 12.

Ample parking is available at each bus departure site, which will be:

THESE ARE THE CORRECT DEPARTURE SITES, even if they are not what are currently listed on the links. Skeddadle is in the process of making needed corrections. Please spread the word and reserve your spot today! Your credit card will not be charged until 48 hours before departure.

Details about the march will be shared via CT NOW’s Facebook page as they become available https://www.facebook.com/CTNOWChapter/.

Questions? Please contact CT NOW volunteer extraordinaire and Protest March Coordinator Sarah Aaron-Bromley at seabromley1@yahoo.com

 

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Voters Will Remember Who Took Their Health Care Away

A statement from national NOW President Terry O’Neill:

Today’s narrow vote for a disastrous health care bill will come back to haunt House Republicans. The members of Congress who voted for this bill have sealed their fate with the electorate. Billionaires and conservative superPACs may have bought their vote today, but they can’t buy a blindfold big enough to keep voters from seeing the truth.

Getty Images

The truth is that this bill will take health insurance away from tens of millions of people, many of whom are already living at the margins. The bill encourages mean-spirited Republican governors to opt out of the essential health benefits that are a lifeline to so many, and to allow insurance companies to deny benefits to tens of thousands of people with pre-existing conditions.

Under the AHCA, surviving sexual assault or domestic violence, battling postpartum depression, or having a cesarean section would all be considered pre-existing conditions–at a staggering cost to women. Black women are at a disproportionate risk for breast cancer than other racial and ethnic groups, and breast cancer survivors would see their premiums shoot up by over $28,000.

Now, it’s up to voters to deny their bought-and-paid for members of Congress another term in office. We will make it our top priority to unseat everyone who voted for this extremist attack on our health care rights today

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Thank you, Sen. Blumenthal, for calling on Trump to stop and reverse his anti-woman agenda

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal: You are a hero and a champion for women.

The Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women applauds and thanks you for leading the effort in which 31 Senate Democrats sent a letter today to President Trump, calling on him to reverse his harmful anti-woman agenda and, instead, prioritize women’s access to health care, employment opportunities, and education domestically and around the world.

The senators reminded Trump that the ongoing threat his administration poses to reproductive rights and economic security has motivated women and men nationwide, and warned him that he can no longer ignore this groundswell.

“During the relatively short time since your inauguration, women and their families have been under a constant and unprecedented attack,” wrote the Senators. “While women have succeeded in fighting back against key aspects of your agenda thus far, there is no question that your leadership threatens to roll back decades of progress on women’s health and rights, as you have taken even standard Republican policies to a new and devastating extreme.”

In the letter, the Senators called it unacceptable that the Trump administration has caved to the most extreme anti-women’s health special interests by supporting defunding Planned Parenthood, including provisions in the Republican plan to repeal the ACA that harm women and their families specifically, reinstating an expanded version of the harmful global gag rule, working to fill the government with anti-choice voices, nominating to the Supreme Court a justice who could put Roe v. Wade at risk, signing a resolution eliminating important protections in the Title X family planning program, and much more.

“If your administration began to listen to the people it represents, you would reverse your harmful agenda and start to prioritize women’s access to health care, employment opportunities, and education domestically and around the world,” concluded the Senators. “We call on your Administration to do just that, and put the lives of women and working families ahead of ideological and partisan attacks.”

Click here to read the letter in its entirety, and please share this post if you agree!

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