Carolyn Milazzo

17 posts

‘What’s for dinner?’ It’s a question that causes #RBG and this writer to reflect on the related stereotypes.

It was a sold-out theater for Connecticut NOW’s advance screening of “On the Basis of Sex” last night.

By CAROLYN MILAZZO MURPHY

The “kids” are still home from college, so a few of our son’s friends and their families gathered the other night to catch up.

It was a low-key affair on a weeknight to accommodate everyone’s schedule. Our host’s Christmas tree and decorations were still up and a fire burned in the family room fireplace, lending a cozy feel to the evening. A cat perched on a sofa arm, and wine was consumed before and during dinner. So much for the January Experiment, a new book advocating abstaining from alcohol during the month of January.

So nothing that extraordinary except one thing: the main course was prepared entirely by my son’s friend, a college senior. Let me clarify that. When the dinner was slated for a Monday night and his mom had to work all day, he also shopped and prepped the meal too.

I have college-age nieces who love to cook and food shop, or “source” as they say, and have been turning out incredible meals for years. But the boys? Not so much. And though I’ve over-parented my son in many areas, I’ve failed miserably in the cooking department.

He expects me to cook every night. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is. Breaking down gender-specific roles like cooking and care-taking was at the core of the early women’s rights movement. The new movie “On the Basis of Sex”  spotlights the issue, telling the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s fight to change a tax law that prohibited a man from taking a caretaker’s tax credit.

The case ultimately resulted in overturning 178 laws that discriminated on the basis of sex and were declared unconstitutional.

While prepping the landmark case with her husband Marty, Ginsburg notes that the tax law is antiquated and discriminatory because it assumes only women are caretakers and eligible for the deduction.

“Our client is a man. We can’t lose sight of that. Men are also harmed by these stereotypes,” Marty tells Ruth. “Boys are told they’re not supposed to be nurses, or teachers . . . ”

“Or cook for their families,” Ruth says.

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                          A rare sight: my son grinding spices for the Thanksgiving turkey.

I’m not sure what RBG would think of my parenting skills when it comes to raising a modern man, but I suspect she wouldn’t be pleased. She divided household and parenting chores with Marty in the mid-50s when most women stayed home and raised families while their husbands went off to work. She’d probably be shocked that in 2019, some boys (and men) still expect and assume women will do all the cooking.

I know I could have done a better job, and I hope it’s not too late. In about 18 months, my son will graduate from college and will probably (hopefully) be living on his own. He needs to know how to cook. Everyone needs to know this important life skill.

I bounced this off some women I know with older children. They said I should chill out, noting cooking is something kids tend to gravitate to like any other hobby. Some also said they enjoy being the sole cook in their household, noting they enjoy having control of meal planning and what they eat.

They have a point, I suppose, but it’s nice to have a meal prepared for you once in awhile, and not have the burden of cooking every day. It’s nice when other people pick up the slack, freeing you up to do other things in the early evening.

I started out with the best of intentions. When my son was little, he sat on a kitchen stool or counter and “helped” me. One of our favorite annual traditions was making homemade sugar cookies, cutting them into different shapes for Christmas. After they cooled, we covered them in colorful frosting and doused them in various shades of sprinkles.

But our kitchen time diminished as he grew up and became interested in sports and video games (I know. X-Box was another huge mistake). He wasn’t interested in cooking, so we didn’t do it. I forgot that like a lot of things in life, such as cleaning and laundry, it’s important for parents to lead the way and demand participation.

A little background:

When we first got married, my husband cooked. He was 30, and had been living on his own for about seven years. He knew how to cook a limited menu – chili, tacos,  hotdogs, Shake & Bake chicken and spaghetti with sauce – and cooked a few times a week. We were both working full time, so it made sense and was fair to divide cooking chores.

Things changed when he went to law school, and began commuting an hour to and from campus. He had less time and inclination to cook and was swamped with studying, so I picked up the slack. Eventually, I began doing most of the cooking, which was OK because I was a better cook. In exchange, he did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen. It seemed like an even exchange because I hate cleaning the kitchen.

Cooking fell entirely on me when I decided to stay home with my kids about 20 years ago. Splitting household chores becomes impractical when one person is working at least 60 hours a week and carrying the full burden of the family’s finances. It wasn’t practical for him to cook when he was arriving home between 7 and 7:30 every night.

My evolution into chief cook was gradual, sort of like the weight that accumulates around your hips after age 50. Slowly and steadily, I took on the role of primary cook while he became the main breadwinner. I remained a freelance writer, but my “career” was not how I’d envisioned things back at my liberal arts women’s college.

I take comfort in the fact that some of my most liberal and full-time working friends are also the primary, um only, cooks in their house. Their husbands wait until they walk in the door late at night and ask, “What’s for dinner?” too. But I hoped I’d do better with my son, raising a guy who knows his way around the kitchen.

I didn’t realize my oversight until my friend’s son cooked steak and roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts, even asking everyone how we’d like our steak cooked. When I suggested that my son make a similar meal for us, he waved me off.

“He just threw a couple of steaks on the grill,” he said. “What’s the big deal?”

You could say I spoiled my kids, but that doesn’t fully explain it. Our 17-year-old daughter cooks and bakes, and has been doing so for years. Some of it is necessity: she’s the most finicky eater I’ve ever met, and often doesn’t want to eat what I’m making. But sometimes she thrills me and makes enough zucchini noodles and sauce for all of us, and it’s such a relief to have a night off.

Our son has no interest in cooking, unless ramen noodles, canned soup and microwave popcorn count. He’s never been terribly interested in food, even as a baby. I used to call my mom in tears when I’d make and throw out 21 meals every week during his first two years of life. I’m not entirely sure how he’s gotten to be the size he is, but I guess he got some nutrients along the way.

It’s only with hindsight that I realize I dropped the ball. If I could do things over, I’d spend less time at my son’s tennis matches, and more time with him in the kitchen. I’d teach him knife skills, how to marinate meat, how to make a hearty soup and how to bake a potato so it doesn’t come out like a rock. I’d teach him how to pick out eggplants (always pick the lightest ones for the fewest seeds), how to grill fish and how to bake and frost cupcakes.

Fortunately, it’s not too late. He’s only a college junior, so I still have time to show him the ropes. And somehow, I think RBG would approve.

Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is a regular contributor to the Connecticut NOW blog.

 

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Sneak Peek: On the Basis of Sex


UPDATE at 1:40 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10: We are sold out!

By CAROLYN MILAZZO MURPHY

I apparently have a lot of friends who want to go to the movies with me.

After I posted “Alone Time” https://thegsandwich.wordpress.com/ about my first foray to the movies by myself to see A Star Is Born, some friends lamented that I didn’t invite them to join me.

“The next time you’re going to the movies, call me. I love to go to movies and I’ll go with you,” a friend told me last night. Other friends indicated disappointment that I didn’t call them before heading out on my own.

So just in case anyone’s interested, I’m going to see a sneak preview of On the Basis of Sex Thursday evening at the Cinemark North Haven. The Connecticut chapter of the National Organization of Women bought out a 50-seat theater, and some tickets are still available. The $22 cost covers your ticket and a small donation to NOW. The film starts at 6:45 p.m.

If you want to come, please join us. There are still seats, but they’re going fast.

The film portrays a period in Ginsburg’s life where she juggled Harvard Law School with parenting her 3-year-old daughter and caring for her cancer-stricken husband. It stars Felicity Jones as Ginsburg and Armie Hammer as her loving husband Marty, who was also in Harvard Law at the time.

I saw a preview before The Mule, and it looks as intriguing as you’d expect. RBG is a trailblazer and a woman before her time, staking out a career in the 1950s in the male dominated field of law. She became the second woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court when named by President Clinton in 1993.

I’m eager to see this movie, particularly with a group of women who are advocates for women’s rights. Ginsburg paved the way for all of us, and remains an inspiration today at age 85.

Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is a freelance writer and contributor to the Connecticut chapter of NOW’s blog.

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Wraps Comfort Domestic Violence Victims

Just a few days after the launch of the With-You Wrap, this beautiful wrap arrived at Connecticut NOW chapter president Cindy Wolfe Boynton’s home.

By CAROLYN MILAZZO MURPHY

I’m the world’s worst knitter, and don’t even get me started on crocheting.

I admire women who knit at their kids’ basketball games or boring municipal meetings, expertly looping yarn over their knitting needles, but it’s Greek to me. My crafty mom tried to teach me to knit when I was about 13 and I just couldn’t get it. This was hard to accept for someone who prides herself on having excellent hand-eye coordination.

Knitting and crocheting are skills to be treasured and shared. Besides being able to make afghans, sweaters, scarves and mittens to provide warmth, handmade creations reflect a personal touch and creative spirit missing in today’s world of mass produced everything.

An article in Handmade Business summed it up this way:

“When you make something, you leave a part of yourself in it. When you are finished creating, you take pride in the work partly because you see yourself in it. When you buy something someone else made, you yourself are reflected in that purchase. Whether it’s the color, the texture, the shape, or just the mood you happen to be in, an item that has been crafted as an expression of the creative spirit person who made it is treasured and valued far beyond an item that was made for worldly mass consumption.”

The Connecticut chapter of NOW is calling on all knitters and crocheters, hoping their creations can infuse comfort, support and hope into the growing number of women and kids who are victims of domestic violence. The chapter has launched the “With-You Wrap,” a project to provide shawls to domestic violence victims so they never feel alone.

Just four days after the official Jan. 1st launch, the first wrap arrived on chapter president Cindy Boynton’s doorstep. Organizers hope to provide wraps to about 1,200 domestic violence victims in shelters across the state.

I love this project for a few reasons. It shows domestic violence victims, who often feel alone, afraid and abandoned, that someone is thinking about them. It also underscores the importance of the personal touch – one woman reaching out to another to provide comfort and hope for better days.

The number of women and children affected by domestic abuse in Connecticut is staggering. An estimated 38,000 victims of domestic violence turned to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) and its 18 member organizations for counseling, shelter, court-based advocacy, and other essential services in 2018.

Boynton, who is an avid knitter, came up with the idea for the project. Inspired in part by prayer shawls worn by the sick, Cindy thought wraps would be a way of showing victims that someone cares. The project launched on Jan. 1, and already is gaining momentum from some knitting groups around the state.

Knitters and crocheters can be as creative as they wish, but are being asked to follow a few basic guidelines. The first is to create a rectangular shawl with some kind of purple yarn. The second is to include “3” into your design, whether it be that you use 3 different colors of yarn, cast on stitches that are a multiple of 3, or something different. (For a complete set of guidelines, click here http://now-ct.org/get-involved/knit-or-crochet-a-with-you-wrap/?fbclid=IwAR2Z7gM2aUXIs9gKOLf7qutlaVL9G-KTOfnGbnggIE1cOdHucUASgVG0UyM.

This project reminds me of a homemade cookie program I participated in during a vacation to Hilton Head Island, S.C., last spring. After listening to a representative of the Kairos Prison Project explain he needed about 30,000 homemade cookies for an upcoming weekend in South Carolina’s prisons, my family decided to do our part.

I liked the idea because in addition to making the cookies, you were asked to pray that your efforts would make a difference in the lives of inmates and everyone who came in contact with them, including their families and prison officials. Our three-dozen cookies didn’t look like much, but you never know the impact that one tiny gesture will have on another person.

I rode my bike with our cookies in my wire basket and dropped them off in the church vestibule. I admit I was a bit disheartened when I noticed some people had tossed Oreos and Chips Ahoy into the donation bin. That wasn’t exactly what the organizers had in mind.

I have no idea if the cookies helped a prisoner, but they helped us. We made them as a family with good intentions. Sometimes, the only thing that we can possibly do for other people is show them that we care, and that they’re not alone in this world. 

Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is a freelance writer and a blog contributor to the Connecticut chapter of NOW.

 

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Women Key To Stopping Gun Violence

Mary Ann Jacob, left, listens as Carolyn Vermont dicusses gun violence at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, CT.

Note by regular Connecticut NOW blogger Carolyn Milazzo Murphy: I have a friend who has an adorable 3-year-old son in preschool. Shortly after the Florida school shooting in February that claimed 17 lives, she expressed her growing anxiety about sending her son off to preschool every day. “I want to do something, but I have no idea what to do,” she said. “What can I do?” It turns out, a lot. The night before, I sat in an audience at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport and listened to Mary Ann Jacob, one of the survivors of the Sandy Hook School shooting in Newtown five years ago. As a gunman entered the school and began his killing spree, Jacob led 20 children to safety, hiding with them in a storage closet. Now an outspoken advocate for gun safety, Jacob wrote the following essay in response to my question: “What can the average woman do to help protect her children from gun violence?”

By MARY ANN JACOB

While the epidemic of gun violence in this country causes a ripple effect through families and communities, it affects women particularly hard. Domestic violence, mass shootings, day to day gun violence and suicide rip families apart every day, and women are most often the ones left to pick up the pieces of their families’ lives.

I know this personally, because on Dec.14, 2012, a gunman shot his way into Sandy Hook School while I was working in the library. As the gunman blasted his way through the hallway killing our principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung and our school psychologist Mary Sherlach, then two classrooms where he killed 20 first graders and four more educators, the rest of the staff was frantically hiding and protecting the children in their care.
When those of us who survived went home later that day, the first thing we had to do was be strong for our own children, several of whom also survived the shooting that day, and many of whom were school-aged children in other community schools. I can remember walking up to my front door, putting my hand on the doorknob and thinking, “Pull yourself together, you are about to see your two sons,” before I turned the handle. Within hours of surviving one of the worst mass shootings this country has ever seen, we had no choice but to put aside our own grief and trauma to take care of those around us.

Don’t be fooled, this is not a partisan political issue but a public health crisis like this country hasn’t seen since the outbreak of AIDS.

When the time came to return to school a few weeks later, we were faced with the choice of whether to take care of ourselves or others. The school district floated the idea of bringing in substitute teachers if we were not up to returning, but not one staff member thought the kids should return to a school full of strangers. Without exception, the staff at Sandy Hook School chose to be there to greet the surviving children as they returned to an unfamiliar school in a neighboring town. We held each other up as the days and weeks wore on so we could be there day in and day out for the students…because that’s what women do.
As time progressed and we grew stronger, many of us chose to add our voices to those calling for an end to the gun violence assaulting our schools, churches, offices and homes. We could no longer stand by while more children died day after day.
Eighteen months after the shooting at our school, I reached my own personal tipping point. I watched on TV as the horror unfolded after the shooting in Isla Vista, CA. I was shaken to my core as I watched Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was killed in that shooting, give his impassioned plea “Not One More” person be taken by gun violence. And I knew then it was my time to stand up and speak out.
I joined Everytown for Gun Safety and learned about the many issues surrounding gun violence in our country today:
+ 96 Americans are killed by guns every day.
+ Black men are 13 times more likely to be shot and killed with a gun than white men.
+ Over 50 women are shot to death by an intimate partner every month.
Who picks up the pieces of these families? Women.
So it’s no surprise that the effort to end gun violence has galvanized women across the country into action. Since the Sandy Hook School shooting millions of people – many of them women, have joined Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – an organization started by Shannon Watts in her kitchen following the shooting. We have almost as many members as the NRA and they’ve been around for over 100 years longer than we have.
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Following the Feb. 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland, FL., students have taken control of the conversation and infused the movement with new energy. More than 150,000 people have signed up to be volunteers with Moms Demand Action since the Parkland shooting and our movement is only growing stronger.
As I travel around speaking with groups about this epidemic of gun violence, many people thank me and ask me what they can do to help. Women especially, who are tired of seeing their children cry as they board the school bus, or afraid their children will be shot walking home from school in their neighborhood streets, have had enough.
We are marching, calling our elected officials, writing letters, educating others and running for office. This is a grassroots effort that has a place for each and every woman who is willing to take a stand. In 2018, more than 79 women are exploring runs for governor, more than double a record set in 1994. The women challenging incumbents in the US House of Representatives is roughly 350% higher than in 2016. Expect us – we are coming!

                 Women . . . have had enough.

Seven children and teens are killed with guns on an average day and many are the result of adults leaving loaded weapons around where children can find them. The BeSmart campaign teaches families about safe storage in their own homes. Women can lead the way by spreading the word, supporting the program and simply asking if guns are in the homes they visit. PTAs can be instrumental in supporting the effort in individual communities. Women physicians are spreading the word as they meet with families and children in their practices every day. Talking about gun sense should be as routine as pool safety, wearing a helmet on a bicycle and wearing a seatbelt.
Nearly 62% of the firearms deaths in the U.S. are suicides. Suicide is often an impulsive act and survivors rarely make a second attempt. But firearms are the most lethal means of committing suicide and individuals rarely survive the attempt to get treatment. As mothers, sisters and children we have firsthand knowledge of how suicide affects families for generations. Ensuring that our loved ones who may pose a danger to themselves don’t have access to guns is an effective way to reduce these numbers.
Background checks should be required for 100% of gun purchases in all states. We know that over 3,000,000 gun sales to dangerous people have been stopped by them. We can work with our representatives locally and in Washington to ensure that a criminal background check is made on all gun sales. They are the single most effective tool to keep guns out of the hands of people with dangerous mental illnesses. And please, when confronted with the ridiculous argument that criminals don’t follow laws, ask why it is we have any laws at all? We know that car safety has increased because of a comprehensive package of laws that include air bags, graduated licensing laws, stricter DUI enforcement, driver education and speed limits. Do people still speed? Of course, but many lives are saved nonetheless.
In addition to running for office, we as women can research and support candidates who reflect our values. Don’t be fooled, this is not a partisan political issue but a public health crisis like this country hasn’t seen since the outbreak of AIDS. We have the power to choose how we respond every day, and who we choose to represent us at a local, state and national level. Ask each and every candidate who wants your support what their positions are. And if those holding elected office or running for office put the interests of the gun lobby before the safety of our families, it’s time to vote them out. Click here if you’d like to support those efforts: https://everytown.org/throwthemout/
We have learned from the students in Parkland that we don’t need traditional media to keep the conversation going, just our smartphones and some pointed social media work. Corporations are beginning to jump on board one by one and refusing to do business with companies that manufacture guns or support their distribution. You can help drive more change by choosing who you do business with, where you invest your money and where you bank. Let the companies that are doing it right know you support them with your purchases, and for the ones who are getting it wrong, they will learn the hard way.
Finally, pick up your phone and text the word JOIN to 64433. Join us at Everytown for Gun Safety today. We will keep you informed about the issues facing your community as well as nationally. We cannot expect our leaders to change unless we are willing to do the heavy lifting. We know what to do, so let’s get to work. We are women – we can and will do this.

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‘Harvey’s Phallus’ Explores Weinstein Scandal

                Katie Beavan of Southport.

By CAROLYN MILAZZO MURPHY

Have you ever been in a class where someone’s work is so great that yours pales by comparison every time?

Katie Beavan of Southport is that classmate. With her proper English accent and poetic mastery of the English language, Katie managed to churn out mini-masterpieces during our class “Journey of Women Through Writing” at the Westport Writers’ Workshop.

Our class was by no means a competition, but Katie brought a unique twist to our assignments written during a three-hour block every Tuesday morning. She clearly hails from the land of Chaucer and Shakespeare, creating pieces with rich texture and layers in a voice that is uniquely her own.

Given her talent to write eloquently on subjects ranging from anorexia to sexism in a 15-minute time frame, I can’t wait to see her one-woman play “Harvey’s Phallus, Where’s My Pussy Hat?” inspired by the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal. The play is at 7 p.m. May 11 at the Wien Experimental Theatre at the Quick Centre for the Arts at Fairfield University.

Auto/ethnographic performance is a both a method of critical qualitative inquiry and a stage performance. The scholar-performer uses her body as a cultural text to critically inquire, write, and present to audiences, hoping to invoke in turn, their personal, critical and embodied reflections.

Katie works as a feminist practitioner-scholar, using her experiences as a long-term executive and 21st century woman leading a multi-faceted 24/7 life as raw data. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of West of England. Her research focuses on how to (un)do gender in hyper-masculine cultures and accelerate the current slow pace of progress towards gender parity.

Her 2017 piece “Sleepless and Inchoate in Boston” explores the scenes and emotions of a senior executive woman in Boston for a dinner event and engaged in a heated e-mail dispute with her bosses. The play explores power at work, women at work, shame, anger, empathy, and agency.

Katie’s 2018 piece ‘Harvey’s Phallus, Where Is My Pussy Hat? is a performance of fragments. In this piece, she is engaging with powerful emotions and vulnerable and painful, personal memories of sexual harassment evoked by the unfolding Harvey Weinstein story. It also explores wider cultural issues of misogyny, power and control of women’s bodies, political agency and exploring the potential for women’s solidarity.
The play is free and open to the public. Oh and wear a pink pussy hat if you have one.

Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is blog editor for CT-NOW.

 

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Choice Coalition Seeks Support

By Lauren Pizzoferrato

HB 5210 has gained importance and urgency. The current presidential administration continues to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, only in more administrative ways. Here is more information regarding a nationwide attempt by some states to combat this: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/03/08/591909106/a-health-plan-down-payment-is-one-way-states-try-retooling-individual-mandate.
A bill similar to HB5210 did not pass last year, and with this year’s shortened legislative session ending in just three weeks, we need to push for passage of this bill.
As a reminder HB5210 puts the insurance coverage the Affordable Care Act mandated into law in Connecticut, should the ACA be repealed on the Federal level.
This particular bill has the added benefits of requiring coverage of at least one type of all birth control methods and allowing patients to get 12 months of birth control pills at once.
This bill does not have a scheduled vote date yet but I will update you once there is one.
In the meantime, the Connecticut Coalition for Choice is looking for volunteers for this event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1537618586349322/
For those who don’t use Facebook, this Health Care Action Day is hosted by Protect Our Care CT. It is at Emanuel Lutheran Church, 311 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT. There will be a briefing at 2:30pm and then everyone will go across the street to the Legislative Office Building.
The coalition is looking for individuals willing to speak with legislators about the importance of HB 5210. If interested, you can get in touch with me at LAPizzoferrato@gmail.com and I will refer you to an organizer.

 

Lauren Pizzoferrato is CT NOW representative for the CT Coalition for Choice.

 

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Lazy Investigation Leads to Flawed Editorial

By Nichole Berklas

The editorial published April 12, 2018 in the Hartford Courant regarding the paid family leave bill currently being reviewed by the Connecticut legislature was patently false in its analysis.
The Editorial notes that while there are “humane reasons to support the paid family leave bill in the legislature” the overwhelming reason not to is that the “state is broke.” It then spends a number of paragraphs detailing how expensive the paid family leave bill will be for the State. This analysis fails to note one simple and important point: THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT WOULD NOT PAY FOR PAID FAMILY LEAVE.
The proposal includes a very small tax taken from each worker’s check, which is then put into a reserve to fund future paid leave requests. In fact, employees will not be able to access the funds for a year after the tax begins, so that the reserve accumulates to insure sufficient funds to cover not only the requested leaves but also the additional State workers required to administer the program. How do we know this simple fact? An actuarial analysis was commissioned by the legislature in 2015 that determined whether such a program would be sustainable (https://fmli.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/implementation-study.pdf). Moreover, we have actual real life proof in the long standing programs in both California and New Jersey.
Contrary to the conclusion made in the Editorial, paid family and medical leave is a clear solution to some of Connecticut’s fiscal struggles. With our neighboring states either now offering paid family and medical leave or on the eve of passing such a program, our lack of this clear and necessary program creates another reason for young people to take their educations and leave the State. No one should have to choose between their job and their family or health, and when our neighbors do not require young, mobile future leaders to make such a choice, Connecticut becomes the clear loser.
Moreover, as the Editorial itself notes, this is the “humane” decision. Unlike the alternative proposal discussed in the Editorial in which business owners would be given a tax credit for providing paid leave to their workers . . . the current option neither requires a payment on the part of the employers nor does it remove the tax revenue from that State. This really is a proposal that should easily garner support as it allows the State to do the right thing by giving workers an opportunity to address the reality of family and medical needs, while not asking either employers or the State to foot the bill.
It is one thing to disagree with the analysis that has been prepared, or even have concerns over the value of such a program, but it is just laziness on the part of the Editorial Staff to not investigate the actual proposal for paid family leave and the supporting analysis for the bill. I urge you to take two minutes and review the real facts on paid family and medical leave found on the Connecticut Campaign for Paid Family Leave website or Facebook page.
Nichole Berklas is CT NOW representative for Campaign for Paid Family Leave.

 

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Sandy Hook Victims Want Help

By Carolyn Milazzo Murphy

Sandy Hook School shooting survivor Mary Ann Jacob, left, with Bill Sherlach, whose wife Mary was killed in the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting.

You might expect Mary Ann Jacob to be discouraged about gun control.

Five years after surviving the Sandy Hook School shooting massacre by locking herself and 18 children in a storage closet, Jacob is dismayed by the number of school shootings, but believes history will show Sandy Hook was a major turning point in the gun control fight.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Jacobs said. “It’s going to take awhile, because we have to change a whole culture and its way of thinking. But I think when we look back in a generation, we’re going to see that Sandy Hook was the major turning point.”

Jacobs attended a screening of the acclaimed 2016 documentary Newtown Wednesday night at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport to highlight the importance of citizens, particularly women, in the gun control fight. The event was co-sponsored by the HHC journalism department and NOW’s Connecticut chapter.

I fixed my eyes on Jacobs, a library aide at Sandy Hook at the time of the shooting, as she fielded audience questions after the film. Dressed stylishly in a teal blouse, black sweater and slacks, and composed, she shows no outward signs of surviving the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.  

She has no medals to show her bravery, no purple heart to show the deep psychological wounds she suffered when 20-year-old Adam Lanza burst into the school on Dec. 14, 2014, killing 20 first-grade students and six staff members before killing himself.

But like her hometown, Jacobs was forever changed that day. She’s a survivor and a hero, shepherding 18 children to safety. And after walking around for months shell-shocked and just trying to get through the day, she and other Newtown survivors, relatives and friends emerged with a mission: tougher gun laws to prevent future tragedies.

Jacobs and other Newtown teachers and staff didn’t think they could return after the shooting, and hiring substitute teachers and aides was considered. But they decided if parents could put kids on the bus and kids could come to school, they could return too. And they did, setting up a makeshift school in the next town. Jacob said not much learning took place for about three months after the shooting, noting everyone just tried to get through each day.

She noted a rough winter blessedly led to many snow days, sparing the school from regimented weeks. Ordered, regular schedules were the last thing the kids or staff needed. They just needed to be together and heal as best they could.

“There wasn’t one week until about May where we had five days of school in a row, and that was such a relief because I don’t think we could have survived five consecutive days of school,” she said.

Though mounting gun violence makes us feel helpless and afraid, Jacob said we can and must do more. In the wake of the Parkland, FL., school shooting, three times as many calls supporting the NRA are coming into lawmakers as those supporting gun control. If you want to make a difference, Jacobs said, you’ve got to speak up and make your voice heard. You can’t expect others to do it for you.

“Don’t be a slacktivist, someone who doesn’t do anything,” she said. “This problem is not going to disappear. If there’s going to be change, it’s going to have to be a grassroots, bottom-up effort.”

It’s true. Connecticut chapter NOW president Cindy Wolfe Boynton was expecting a standing room only crowd given the timing of the screening. Just weeks after gun control rallies in Washington, D.C., and around the country mobilized the movement, Boynton expected to build momentum, particularly among women.

But about half the seats were empty, evidence of good intentions, but complacency. When I asked if a friend who had indicated she was attending was there, Boynton shook her head. “Not here,” she said. “Everyone always says they’re coming, but . . .”

Though Newtown is heartbreaking with its stories of lost children, shattered families and beautiful community crushed by a crazed gunman, you’re struck by the love and resilience of the community. Parents like Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley of the Sandy Hook Promise, who work tirelessly for tougher gun laws. Loved ones like Bill Sherlach, whose wife Mary, the school psychologist at Sandy Hook, was one of the victims.

Co-founder of the Sandy Hook Promise, Sherlach said he’ll never stop fighting for tougher gun laws because he owes it to his wife, who worked at the school for 18 years and loved the kids. Though progress is slow, he said he’s heartened by a Sandy Hook Promise program in schools that teaches children and teachers to look for signs of potential problems in students – alienation, isolation, poor communication and socializing skills – prevent potential disasters.

“We’ve got to look out for each other, and we’re teaching kids and teachers to notice signs,” he said. “I know of at least three shootings that were thwarted because of this program.”

All positive signs, but not nearly enough. I dreaded watching Newtown, but I’m glad I did because it’s motivated me to get more involved in the gun control movement. I’ve been as big a slacktivist as anyone else. It’s not only time to get involved, it’s long overdue.

Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is blog editor.

 

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Briefly

It’s a busy week. Here are just a few things on our radar:

LESSONS OF NEWTOWN: Join Connecticut chapter-NOW President Cindy Wolfe Boynton and journalism students at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport for a free screening and panel discussion of the documentary Newtown from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday. The screening and panel discussion will be held in the Events Center on the 2nd floor of Beacon Hall, 900 Lafayette Blvd., Bridgeport. Ample free parking is available in HCC’s garage.

FUNNY BONE: Check out the Queer Queens of Qomedy’s show at 4 p.m. April 15th (Sunday) at the Hartford Funny Bone, 194 Buckland Hills Drive, Manchester. The show features comedians Poppy Champlin, New York comedian Kathy Arnold, and Boston comedian Chloe Cunha. A Rhode Island-based comedian for 30 years, Champlin calls the show feminist comedy. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $40 for VIP admission, which includes a meet and greet before the show, wine and cheese and preferred seating. More info: www.queerqueensofqomedy.com.

LOBBY FOR PAID LEAVE: Join the 4-week fight for paid leave. Weekly lobby days every WEDNESDAY beginning 4/11 and ending 5/2. Each week highlights a different aspect of paid leave and why it’s so critical for Connecticut workers, families and businesses. RSVP and you’ll get additional details. More info: http://bit.ly/PaidLeaveLobby.

STEINEM SPEAKS: Legendary feminist Gloria Steinem is the keynote speaker for the Hartford YMCA’s In the Company of Women Luncheon Thursday at the Connecticut Convention Center, 100 Columbus Blvd., Hartford. The event starts at 11, with lunch and program from 12:30-2 p.m.

CT-NOW ON ESTY: CT-Now President Cindy Wolfe Boynton shared her thoughts on the scandal surrounding U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty on WFSB-Channel 3’s Face the State. If you missed it, click here: http://www.wfsb.com/clip/14251613/congresswoman-esty-at-center-of-scandal.

 

Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is blog editor.

 

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Do Business & Friendship Mix?

By Carolyn Milazzo Murphy

Have you ever started a new career or business, and been disappointed when your friends – the ones you thought would be your biggest supporters – didn’t quite meet your expectations?

This came up during a recent discussion with a friend. One of her close friends launched a new business, and has approached her several times seeking her financial support. My friend isn’t in a position to support her friend’s business, but isn’t sure how to get her point across without hurting her feelings.

This is straining their friendship. Her friend was counting on her support. But should you feel obligated to buy something you don’t want or need to keep your friendship intact? How do you say no to a friend without hurting her feelings? Has this happened to you, and how do you handle it?

This comes up a lot in my circle because I’ve been mostly a stay-at-home mom for the past 20 years. Once the kids get older and are in school all day, lots of moms try to re-enter the workforce. The problem is many employers don’t want anything to do with us because they think we’ve been sitting home doing nothing all day. We have that dreaded hole in our resume, and nothing will make it go away.

Many of my friends are whip smart and left lucrative careers to raise their kids, but shift careers and trajectories to relaunch. We think (hope) that our friends will support our new endeavors, assuming they’re as eager for us to thrive as we are. When they don’t, it can lead to disappointment, rejection and anger.

This happened to me when I launched my own yoga business. Many friends and acquaintances assured me that they’d support me and attend my classes, but few did. They had no obligation to attend my classes. After all, they pointed out, there are so many exercise classes out there and so little time.

But it stung. A lot. I took it personally, and felt very let down. I had counted on a cadre of people – the ones who seemed so supportive when I was newly certified – to support me. What really hurt was when I’d see their yoga mat in the back of their cars. I knew they were going to class, just not mine.

Of course, it’s business, and some people are better at handling rejection than others. I realized I’m not cut out to teach yoga. I love going to classes, but teaching it? That’s a very different story and maybe the best lesson I took away from the whole experience.

Everyone has her own talents and gifts. Teaching yoga isn’t one of mine. I don’t know why we have such unrealistic expectations of our friends when it comes to business or jobs, but we do. When our friends don’t support us, we feel like they’ve abandoned us and want us to fail. Perhaps a little more understanding, grace and honesty on everyone’s part is needed. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Carolyn Milazzo Murphy is CT-NOW blog editor.

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