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Filtering by Tag: motherhood

When We Hated Mom

Jerin

There is a popular myth that feminists hate stay-at-home moms and all tasks assigned to female gender roles.  To the contrary, feminism is about celebrating choices - whether that means supporting a woman who chooses to be a construction worker or a homemaker.  The NY Times piece below mentions some of the historical facts about the myth of feminists hating motherhood, and the real misogyny behind the decreased esteem of mothers in our society.

A feminist who adores her mom,
N. Jerin Arifa
National NOW Board of Directors
National NOW Young Feminist Task Force, Chair
NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force, Chair
National Organization for Women (NOW)

The New York Times
By STEPHANIE COONTZ Published: May 7, 2011 An Excerpt:
ONE of the most enduring myths about feminism is that 50 years ago women who stayed home full time with their children enjoyed higher social status and more satisfying lives than they do today. All this changed, the story goes, when Betty Friedan (founder of NOW) published her 1963 best seller, “The Feminine Mystique,” which denigrated stay-at-home mothers. Ever since, their standing in society has steadily diminished. That myth — repeated in Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly’s new book, “The Flipside of Feminism” — reflects a misreading of American history. There was indeed a time when full-time mothers were held in great esteem. But it was not the 1950s or early 1960s. It was 150 years ago. In the 19th century, women had even fewer rights than in the 1950s, but society at least put them on a pedestal, and popular culture was filled with paeans to their self-sacrifice and virtue...

...Stay-at-home mothers were often portrayed as an even bigger menace to society than career women. In 1942, in his best-selling “Generation of Vipers,” Philip Wylie coined the term “momism” to describe what he claimed was an epidemic of mothers who kept their sons tied to their apron strings, boasted incessantly of their worth and demanded that politicians heed their moralizing.

Momism became seen as a threat to the moral fiber of America on a par with communism. In 1945, the psychiatrist Edward Strecher argued that the 2.5 million men rejected or discharged from the Army as unfit during World War II were the product of overly protective mothers.
In the same year, an information education officer in the Army Air Forces conjectured that the insidious dependency of the American man on “ ‘Mom’ and her pies” had “killed as many men as a thousand German machine guns.” According to the 1947 best seller “Modern Woman: The Lost Sex,” two-thirds of Americans were neurotic, most of them made so by their mothers.
Typical of the invective against homemakers in the 1950s and 1960s was a 1957 best seller, “The Crack in the Picture Window,” which described suburban America as a “matriarchal society,” with the average husband “a woman-bossed, inadequate, money-terrified neuter” and the average wife a “nagging slob.”...

12th & Delaware

genfem.com

Posted by: Michelle Haimoff

Cross posted on genfem.com

On Monday night I watched the premiere of the HBO documentary “12th & Delaware“ with some members of NOW’s Young Feminist Task Force (YFTF).

To summarize the movie in a sentence: Passively pro-choice (or generally indifferent) people don’t realize the severity of the pro-life movement.

Namely, they might not realize the following:

In the United States there are 4,000 Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs). CPCs are fake abortion clinics.

These fake abortion clinics intentionally present themselves as real abortion clinics (of which there are only 816 nationwide). When a woman calls and asks if they perform abortions, the clinic operators don’t say no, instead they get the woman to come in, separate her from whoever came with her, show her gory images of bloody fetuses, do an unnecessary ultrasound, refer to the baby as “him” (sex can be seen at earliest 12-16 weeks, and many of the women who come in are less than 12 weeks pregnant), and cite fake medical statistics about the correlation between depression, breast cancer and abortion. CPC workers also lie to women about how far along they are until it’s too late for them to get legal abortions (and then the pro-life movement pushes legislation against late term abortions).

This documentary focuses on one CPC, which sprouted up directly across from a safe, legitimate abortion clinic, which is regularly terrorized by clinic protestors. When women park in the real abortion clinic’s parking lot, they are often confused by the CPC’s back entrance and go there instead. CPC workers are trained not to let these women leave until they are bullied into continuing their unwanted pregnancies.

The people who run Crisis Pregnancy Centers and the people who harass patients of legitimate abortion clinics think that they’re on a mission from God to save lives. It’s not surprising, they’re religious fanatics. But they say things like, “This is life or death we’re dealing with here.” And the most extreme of them see themselves as assassins on God’s behalf, with an end that justifies any means, including arson and murder.

But after seeing this documentary, that wasn’t the most horrifying thing about all of this. The most horrifying thing about all of this, even beyond the fetus dolls that the CPC workers force women to hold, is how much these people romanticize babies but don’t care at all about children (or women).

At one point a tearful gang of young men and women beg a woman with six children not to get an abortion, promising her money, food and clothing for her child (apparently they promise everything, but never deliver). And yet if this woman was not on her way into the abortion clinic they wouldn’t help her. They have no interest in dirtying their hands with actual people out there in the world - actual women, actual children - they only care about the cute little babies they think that they’re saving (a CPC worker actually said something to the effect of, “for all you know the babychanges your abusive boyfriend,” to get a woman to go through with her pregnancy).

I wish there existed a vocal anti-personal abortion, pro-political choice movement that offered a safe haven to women who find themselves unintentionally pregnant; women who would never get abortions personally but leave God to deal with the women that do, the way they leave God to deal with any “evil” thing that people get away with.

If there was a group like that, with a presence, that could reason with the religious fanatics that try to manipulate women and intimidate doctors, I can pretty much guarantee that the pro-choice groups would do whatever they could to help them. And the net effect would be that more women would be helped, more children would be helped and more lives would be saved. Women wouldn’t be dying from illegal, unsafe back alley abortions, which they do when abortion is illegal.

Those people, the ones that would be there to help women, not judge them, would be the truly righteous souls. Especially if they could get pro-lifers to donate their time and money (and power) to the millions of children around the world with nothing. It’s shocking to me that abortion clinic protestors strut around everyday with picket signs when their energy and attention is obviously better served helping real live people on this planet right now.

It’s that kind of cherry-picked value system that makes me question if pro-lifers care about human lives at all, or if they just get off on yanking women back into patriarchal servitude.

Two of us from the Task Force had the same idea to raise money to send these clinic protestors and CPC workers to conflict regions where women and children suffer from unspeakable human rights abuses daily. Just drop them off in the middle of the Congo with supplies and their passion to save human lives. They’d be helping people a lot more there than they are here, manipulating and lying to the desperate women in this country.

Global Maternal Health Gets 2nd Big Checkup

YoungFeminists

Womens eNews
Covering Women's Issues -
Changing Women's Lives

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Global Maternal Health Gets 2nd Big Checkup
By Linda Kramer
WeNews correspondent
Thursday, June 10, 2010
A second major global gathering on women's maternal health wrapped up in Washington, D.C., June 9. Participants celebrated progress and a huge new funding infusion and focused pressure on the G-8 summit in Canada later this month.
Women Deliver 2010 press conferenceWASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)--More than 3,500 women from 146 countries converged on the nation's capital this week for a second major conference on maternal mortality.
They celebrated benchmark achievements in reducing maternal and infant mortality and faced stubborn failures at the same time.
The gathering, organized by the global advocacy group Women Deliver, was able to savor success stories in countries such as Sri Lanka and Malawi, where maternal deaths have been significantly lowered since the first conference was held in London in 2007.
But the Women Deliver conference also offered a forum for tales of women still dying preventable childbirth deaths and of inadequate access to family planning services for 215 million women worldwide.
"We must fight for women's health with all our resources all the time," pledged U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon at the opening session on June 7.
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Melinda Gates, a major philanthropist in this field, followed later that morning to announce $1.5 billion in new support from the Gates Foundation, based in Seattle, for programs targeting women's health. She said she hoped that donation would spur the G-8 summit in Canada on June 25, where leaders of eight of the world's most industrialized nations will meet, to step up in a similar fashion.
Gates pointed out that 350,000 women still die every year giving birth and that 3 million newborns die annually.
"Women and children have finally moved up on the global agenda, and I'm here to tell you that's where they are going to stay," she said.
The mother of three added that she "cannot imagine being denied access to the tools" to plan her family and the "basic right to decide how many children to have."

Integrated Approach

Gates emphasized a theme that emerged in several sessions throughout the three-day conference: the need for a more integrated approach to global family planning efforts that doesn't address one disease or problem at a time, but instead focuses on caring for the total human being.
"I'm making women and children's health my personal priority as co-chair of the Gates Foundation," she said.
The group's agenda calls for another $12 billion a year to achieve the millennium development goals for combating maternal and newborn mortality--MDGs 4 and 5. In September, the U.N. will host a review session for progress on the MDGs--a set of international promises to fight world poverty--as part of the annual General Assembly.
The conference ranged from panels featuring major players on the world stage--including former-Chilean President Michelle Batchelet, former-Irish President Mary Robinson and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Veveer--to those featuring health care workers and nongovernmental organization staffers working on the ground in developing nations.
Only a handful of the conference's 140 panels focused on access to safe abortion.
"We are going to have great differences of opinion on abortion. That is the reality in our society," Veveer told one panel titled "A Better Life for the World's Women." "But this is something we can agree on. We know family planning reduces abortion. We know it reduces maternal mortality. We know it improves the life of the mother."

Abortion Study in the Conference Bag

The sidestepping of abortion was noted in some media reports, but Jill Sheffield, founder of Women Deliver, told Women's eNews that a report by the Guttmacher Institute, the New York-based research group, on abortion was purposely included in the conference bags for all attendees.
"The answer is that access to safe services when women need them is really really important. The Guttmacher report was in the conference bag because we need to find a common ground to talk about this and do something about it, and I think the way that is going to happen is through evidence, and their documents are full of evidence," she said.
The conference brought together some 80 parliamentarians from various countries, nearly 50 ministers of different kinds and the first ladies of several African nations.
Sheffield has hoped first lady Michelle Obama would play a role. "We need all the political power we can get," she said.
While the conference looked outward, to other parts of the globe, maternal mortality remains a significant problem in its host country.
Amnesty International reported that two women die every day in the United States from complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
"I think the U.S. was shocked by what they read and the fact that we are one of the few Northern industrialized relatively rich countries where maternal mortality is going up, at least in pockets it's going up," said Sheffield.
Countdown 2015, an initiative of governments, international agencies and others working toward the MDGs, released a report at the conference tracking 68 developing countries where over 95 percent of maternal and newborn deaths occur. It found pockets of progress but concluded that most countries are not on course to meet the goal of MDG5, which aims to cut maternal deaths by 75 percent from 1990 to 2015 and achieve universal access to reproductive health.

Some Good News

Women Deliver 2010 opening plenaryThe good news included countries like Mozambique and Malawi, where over 90 percent of C-sections in rural areas are now performed by trained surgical technicians. In Nepal, where unsafe abortions had contributed to a soaring maternal mortality rate, liberalization of the country's abortion law in 2002 helped cut in half maternal mortality. In Sri Lanka, a concerted government effort has cut maternal mortality to one of the lowest rates in the developing world.
However, the Countdown report found that overall funding for family planning programs has declined over the past two decades. In addition, it said Africa alone needs 1.5 million more health workers if mothers and children are going to receive the care they need to survive.
Conference participants repeatedly referred to the need to customize programs based on cultural differences among countries.
"Every culture has a stew and its different ingredients," said Sheffield. "We need to honor their preferences and how they respond to different things."
Sheffield said Women Deliver was timed to build momentum for the G-8 summit in Canada later this month, followed by the meeting this summer of African heads of state and the U.N. General Assembly in September.
"Everybody agrees that women have been delivering for the world and now it's time for the world to step up to the plate and deliver for women," she said.
"The value of the conference is reemphasizing for everybody that safe motherhood is a fundamental human right," said Dr. Pamela Lynam, who came to the conference from Kenya, where she is the country director for Jhpiego, an international health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "If every woman in the world only had children when she wanted to, we'd have a whole new world. That's the kind of revolution we need."
Linda Kramer is a Washington-based reporter and professor of journalism at Georgetown University.
Subscribe

For more information:

Women Deliver:
http://www.womendeliver.org/

GOOD NEWS: Lactation Breaks, Always Commendable, Are Now Law

Jerin


Womens eNews
Covering Women's Issues -
Changing Women's Lives

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

TODAY'S UPDATE

Lactation Breaks, Always Commendable, Are Now Law
By Molly M. Ginty
WeNews correspondent
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Working Mother magazine's "Best Companies for Hourly Workers" all support employees who want to pump breast milk on the job, something health reform will start requiring of companies with more than 50 employees.
Working Mother's Carol Evans(WOMENSENEWS)--Jenny Aguilar and her baby met their goal.
"When I had my son Luke in January 2009, my aim was to feed him nothing but breast milk for a year," says Aguilar, 27, a child-care program administrator in Folsom, Calif. "I knew this would be healthiest for both of us, but I knew many companies discourage breast pumping on the job. Luckily, my boss was not only cooperative, but let me use her office to express my milk whenever needed."
Aguilar's employer, Children's Creative Learning Centers, ranks No. 1 on Working Mother magazine's first "Best Companies for Hourly Workers," a list released in April. It won this honor in part because it encourages employees to breastfeed, which lowers a woman's risk of diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer while protecting her infant from infections, obesity and diabetes.
Since recent health-reform legislation requires companies to permit lactation breaks for U.S. workers, other firms may soon follow suit and establish the same practices that Working Mother has singled out for special praise.
Sixty-one percent of hourly workers such as Aguilar are female, reports the U.S. Department of Labor. And as Working Mother noted when it published its first "Best Companies for Hourly Workers" last month, these wage-earners often have poor benefits, unpredictable shifts and difficulty maintaining work-life balance. Working Mother's list of winners took benefits, training, advancement programs, child care, flexibility programs and paid time off into account.
New health-reform legislation requires companies with more than 50 employees to give hourly-wage workers unpaid lactation breaks on the job.
Passed by Congress in March and signed into law by President Obama in April, the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," the formal name for health-reform legislation, requires companies to provide "reasonable break times" for pumping breast milk, a private place other than a bathroom in which to do this, and a sink and clean water with which women can wash their hands and breast pumps afterward. The date of implementation depends on the Department of Labor, which must first issue guidelines to clarify certain aspects of the law.

'Work Can Be a Major Hurdle'

"Returning to work can be a major hurdle for new mothers struggling to balance working and breastfeeding without the simple support measures that this law ensures," says Joan Young Meek, M.D., chair of the Washington-based United States Breastfeeding Committee.
Only 33 percent of mothers who work outside the home continue to breastfeed their children at six months, versus 42 percent of stay-at-home mothers, found a 2007 poll by HealthyWomen, a health-information service based in Red Bank, N.J.
The Department of Health and Human Services has set a goal of having 50 percent of women still breastfeeding infants at six months.
"Many women find it impossible to express breast milk on the job," says Loretta McCallister, a spokeswoman for La Leche League International, a breastfeeding advocacy group based in Schaumburg, Ill. "If you're in a crowded bathroom, stuck in a cramped stall and in unsanitary conditions, you won't be relaxed enough for your body to release milk from the upper breast ducts to the lower ducts so your milk can be pumped."
When a nursing woman can't breastfeed or pump milk regularly, her body stops producing milk for her baby.
"Hourly workers are especially in danger of this happening," says Carol Evans, founder and president of Working Mother Media. "They usually don't have fixed schedules, and if they aren't allowed lactation breaks, they either won't be able to breastfeed or they won't be able to go back to work when their children are small."

Winners Provide Private Rooms

Five of the six winners on Working Mother's "Best Companies for Hourly Workers" list offer breastfeeding education to employees and private rooms with locks where they can express breast milk.
Luke AguilarHalf of the winners offer their workers breast pumps, lactation hotlines, breastfeeding education materials, and on-the-job lactation consultants.
"Since our organization is 95-percent female, since the majority of our employees are ages 25 to 35, and since our mission is to help working families, it makes ideological sense for us to do all this," says Melinda Rogers, vice president of human resources for the list-topping Creative Children's Learning Centers, based in Portland, Ore. "It also benefits us as a company because our employees have high attendance, high satisfaction and low turnover rates."
Marriott International of Bethesda, Md., comes second on the list. It launched a special program last summer to train the managers of its hourly employees about the health benefits of breastfeeding. Workers at the company's 3,400 hotels can also call a 24-hour health hotline and receive additional information and assistance.
Other winners also have policies that are friendly to working mothers. McDonald's USA, based in Oak Brook, Ill., offers free physicals to employees' new babies. Sodexo, of Gaithersburg, Md., provides employees with a free child-care referral hotline. The University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, in Madison, allows 26 partially-paid weeks of maternity leave. And the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, in Albuquerque, gives free vaccinations to employees' infants.
Advocating for "best practices" like these is part of Working Mother's mission. For 25 years, the magazine has published a general "Working Mother 100 Best Companies" list. Its editors have produced white papers on lactation rights and lobbied Congress to pass laws that support breastfeeding. The magazine in 2008 produced a scale-model replica of an ideal nursing room.

New Bill Promotes Change

Twenty-four states already have rules that protect breastfeeding in the workplace, reports the Washington-based National Conference of State Legislatures. Without weakening these provisions, the new health-reform bill will strengthen the laws in other states.
The Department of Labor must define a "reasonable break time" before the new law can be enforced. Several women's rights groups recommend that women be given a 30-minute breast pumping break for every four hours of work.
That's what Jenny Aguilar did at the childcare center where she works. That's what's required by law in her employer's home state of Oregon. And that's what the United States Breastfeeding Committee defines as a "good match between natural breastfeeding cycles and the rhythms of the workday."
Breastfeeding advocates say generous breaks would not only benefit female workers and their children, but help companies, too. "The Business Case for Breastfeeding," a 2008 report by the Department of Health and Human Services, found companies that provide lactation support have lower-than-average health-care costs and higher-than-average productivity, with a $3 return for every $1 invested in lactation support.
Some business-industry groups are nonetheless balking.
"Every additional mandated rule further burdens employers who are struggling to keep jobs afloat," Neil Trautwein, vice president of the Washington-based National Retail Federation, reportedly said after the health-care bill passed.
Breast-feeding advocates say working women--especially hourly wage-earners--have long known how to battle such prejudice.
"When it comes to breast pumping on the job, women have always had to gather health and legal information and show it to their employers," says McCallister of La Leche League. "Women have always had to stand up for this right, but thanks to the new health-reform legislation, they will have more legal enforcement behind them."
Molly M. Ginty (http://mollymaureenginty.wordpress.com) is a freelance writer based in New York City.

For more information:

United States Breastfeeding Committee
"Health Care Reform Boosts Support for Employed Breastfeeding Mothers":
http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/Workplace/WorkplaceSupport/WorkplaceSupportinHealthCareReform/tabid/175/Default.aspx

Mother's Day: Stand up for mothers abused by fathers & the system

Jerin


This Mother's Day, fellow NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force members Micah Bochart and Esty Stein will join me in DC to stand up for mothers abused by both their partners and our so-called justice system, that willingly and knowingly give custody of the kids to the physically and or sexually abusive partners.  I do not want to leave my wonderful feminist mom on Mother's Day, but feel compelled to stand up for moms who are unable to give their children the love my mom gave me growing up and continues to provide.  Please join us on a bus from Albany, NJ or downstate NY.

In Solidarity,

Jerin Alam
Co-Chair
National NOW Young Feminist Task Force
NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force 
National Organization for Women (NOW)


IF YOU CANNOT ATTEND, PLEASE E-MAIL, FAX OR SEND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE OR SENATOR A LETTER OF SUPPORT for the Silent Vigil & Proclomation, and telling your story:
https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

To petition Congress, go to http://www.petition2congress.com/2/2386/stop-court-ordered-child-abuse

Information on the Vigil:
Peaceful silent vigil at the White House in Washington DC
Sunday May 9, 2010, from 11:00 am until at least 3:00 pm.

Mothers of Lost Children and our supporters are gathering at Lafayette Park, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington DC in front of the White House at 11:00 am for a silent vigil to protest the grotesque human rights abuses against children by family courts. We will have a Proclamation asking the President to help stop the systematic removal and oppression of our children by family court.

A few suggestions for posterboard signs to bring with you to hold:

  • Children are taken from safe mothers and forced to live with abusers. Why?
  • I gave birth to a beloved daughter: Her batterer has custody.
  • I gave birth to a cherished son: His identified molester has custody.
  • I gave birth to three precious children: Our violator has custody.
  • I fear judicial retaliation: What country IS this? (if a scarf is over your face)
  • Mr. President, please stop the children’s suffering.

Send a NOW Mother's Day E-card!

Jerin

The National Organization for Women
NOW has long held that every mother is a working mother. And it's long been time
for this country to recognize and acknowledge the work, the value and the importance
of mothers and caregivers. These dedicated individuals provide invaluable contributions
for our economy and our quality of life.
On this Mother's Day, show the working mothers, wild women and all activists in your
life that mothers matter and caregivers count. Send a NOW e-card.
Sending a card is very easy, just follow the steps below.
1. Click on the image that you want to send.
2. Fill in the form that appears. Make sure that you get the recipient's email address
correct!
3. Send it!
Over the years, NOW has worked on bills like
  • the Healthy Families Act, 
  • the Family Medical Leave Act 
and many others that advocate for employers to recognize and support a 
healthy work-life balance. And we're not done. So, in honor of the mothers and caregivers in your life and in support of NOW,
please send them an e-card.
Happy Mother's Day,
Terry
Terry O'Neill
NOW President








Battered Women Take Custody Battles to White House

YoungFeminists

Fellow NOW - NY State Young Feminist Task Force members Micah Bochart and Esty Stein will join me at the following rally.

In Solidarity,
Jerin Alam


Womens eNews
Covering Women's Issues -
Changing Women's Lives

Friday, May 7, 2010

TODAY'S UPDATE

Battered mothers often shy away from publicity. But this year, in a sign of their growing organization, some plan to spend Mother's Day in Washington in a White House vigil to draw attention to a court system that often gives custody to abusers, Mary Darcy reports today.

 

Battered Women Take Custody Battles to White House

By Mary Darcy
WeNews correspondent
Friday, May 7, 2010
Battered mothers often shy away from publicity. But this year, in a sign of their growing organization, some plan to spend Mother's Day in Washington in a White House vigil to draw attention to a court system that often gives custody to abusers.
A quilt made by protective parents. Each panel represents a child or family lost to or being fought for in the court system.(WOMENSENEWS)--On Mother's Day, busloads of battered moms and advocates for abused children will roll into Washington, D.C.
They'll hold a vigil outside the White House in an effort to persuade President Obama to take up their cause of reforming a family court system that they say all too often puts children into the hands of abusive parents.
For some it marks a new and somewhat frightening degree of public exposure. Some of the protesters will be shrouded in scarves, hiding from their abusers or a court system they fear will punish them for speaking out.
"They're whistleblowers," said vigil organizer Connie Valentine, policy director for The California Protective Custody Association, based in Sacramento. "The system doesn't look kindly on whistleblowers. It's a difficult situation because we have seen enormous judicial retaliation against mothers who step up in front of the problem."
Efforts to quantify the problem are just beginning but protective parents claim it is widespread. A study done by the Williamsburg, Va.-based American Judges Foundation in the early 1990s showed that in 70 percent of challenged cases, battering parents involved in custody battles persuaded authorities the victimized parent was unfit for sole custody, according to a spokesperson from the foundation.
Valentine and other advocates for protective parents call the family courts broken and corrupt and say the system not only puts children into the hands of abusive parents, it also bankrupts and punishes the protective parents who fight for them. At the same time, they say it's hard to reform the system because the people it hurts are hiding from abusers and anxious to avoid publicity.

Shifting Ground

But Valentine feels the ground shifting. "I think we're in the early stages of a civil rights movement for protecting children from physical and sexual abuse."
She said the Internet is helping battered mothers come together. "E-mail has helped. It's a good part of the reason for all of the advocacy," Valentine said. "Women are beginning to see that it's not their fault and that they are just pawns in the game."
Mo Hannah, psychology professor at Siena College, near Albany, N.Y., used the Internet to organize the first annual conference for battered women seeking custody in 2004, after her own difficult custody battle.
This past January marked the seventh gathering, which meets annually in Albany and is the major organizing and networking event of the year for protective parents.
"The first conference was about getting people to talk and validate their experiences," Hannah said. "But as the conferences continued it became very clear that we needed a national movement. Now the conference is just sort of an umbrella or structure that encourages people to share with each other."
Over the seven years, women have met at the conference and formed smaller groups, such as the Massachusetts Protective Mothers for Custodial Justice.
"Mass Moms," as it has come to be known, brings together women who have gone through custody battles with those currently in the throes. Volunteers accompany women to court and on lawyer visits and play a general shepherding role.
"We stand next to a woman who is fighting for her children while she pleads and receives orders," one Mass Mom told Women's eNews at January's Battered Mothers Custody Conference.
These volunteers have all been through their own custody battles and declined to be named for fear of retribution from their ex-husbands or the court system. Many have gag orders associated with their own cases. It is this type of fear of retribution that has helped keep the protective parents movement under the radar.

Fear Stands in the Way

The California Protective Custody Association's Valentine understands the fear that keeps women from protesting and fighting the bigger battles.
"I waited until my own children were grown so we weren't affected by the family court system," she said.
Valentine says advocates and organizers need to study and replicate the successful civil rights campaigns of the past.
"Slavery was ended with a good law but slavery wasn't ended because a good law happened to come about. The law happened because huge masses of people put their lives on the line and fought for it," Valentine said.
This year "Mass Moms" is preparing to add some more public activism to their advocacy with a demonstration taking place in Boston on a date to be announced soon. In what they're planning to call "Confetti," the moms will symbolically shred court-appointed guardian reports--which they feel are particularly unfair to protective parents--into little bits and toss them at the statehouse to call attention to the plight of protective mothers fighting for custody of their children.
In New York City, a group called V.O.W., or Voices of Women, has been working within the court system to try to provide legal counsel and one-on-one help for women. On a wider scale its mission is to "promote long-term systemic change by documenting institutional failures, testifying at hearings, creating position papers and meeting with local and state officials."
Both Valentine and Hannah say this is the right time to take the movement to the next level.
"The new president is a fatherless man with a good wife and they will hear us," said Valentine. "And if they don't hear us, Vice President Joe Biden worked on the violence against women act and he will hear us. And if they don't hear us we will keep going until they do hear us."
Mary Darcy is a multimedia producer/host and documentary filmmaker. She's a two time Gracie Award winner for her work with Kate Mulgrew on Herstory and The Sounds of Progress, public radio series about great women in science. Darcy is a co-owner in Uptown/Downtown Media, producers of Alloveralbany.com.

For more information:

Battered Mothers Custody Conference
http://www.batteredmotherscustodyconference.org/
Battered Mothers Custody Conference California Protective Parents Association http://www.protectiveparents.com/research.html

This Mother's Day, RATIFY WOMEN!: Ask your Senators to support CEDAW today

YoungFeminists


Ratify Women
Tell the Senate to RATIFY WOMEN this Mother's Day

Act NOW!
For 30 years women around the world have waited for our country to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). This women's rights treaty has been used around the globe to help women claim property rights, address systemic sexual violence and increase our representation in both private and public leadership. The United States is the only industrialized country in the world not to have yet ratified CEDAW.
Recently NOW activists delivered nearly 5,000 signatures to President Obama demanding he prioritize ratification of a clean CEDAW and to do so without disabling Restrictions, Understandings and Declarations (RUDs). This Mother's Day we are now calling upon you to hold the Senate, including majority leadership and the Foreign Relations Committee, accountable to RATIFY WOMEN!
Tell your Senators to RATIFY WOMEN! without restrictions and no more delay.
Background:
We know that women and girls around the world face violence and discrimination daily. We also know that CEDAW, the Women's Treaty, helps women and girls attend school, own and inherit property, take part in public life, and fight violence and oppression. We need Senate action on the CEDAW Treaty to give the U.S. greater clout to help women worldwide claim these basic rights.
This Mother's Day, NOW is working with dozens of national partners to ensure that we RATIFY WOMEN! now. Please ask your Senators to celebrate Mother's Day by showing their support for the CEDAW Treaty.
While we celebrate our own mothers and grandmothers today, let's stand together for women and girls around the world. Ask your Senators to support CEDAW today.

Why Don’t All Women Want Kids?

genfem.com

Posted by: Michelle Haimoff

Cross-posted on genfem.com

In college when a friend of mine used to say that she didn’t want kids, it sounded outrageous to me. Of course she wanted kids. All women want kids. I figured she was just in her own college headspace and would grow out of it when she got older.

Then then she got older and I got older and I’m the one that grew out of my limited notions about what a woman’s role should be.

Of course all women don’t want kids. The same way all men don’t want high-powered jobs. We’ve been so socialized to think that stereotypical gender roles (male breadwinner, female homemaker) are the natural order of things that we think something is unnatural about not fitting into those roles.

It doesn’t help that we see these messages everywhere. The example I always use is that you never see an ad for a household cleaning product with a man in it. Seriously. It’s always a woman. Usually white. If you see one with a man in it, send it to me (and Mr. Clean doesn’t count. He’s a supervisor).

The revolutionary thing happening in our generation is that we’re realizing that the difference between individuals is more significant than the difference between genders. There are Type A women and Type A men. Straight women who can’t keep homes clean and straight men who do the holiday gift wrapping. And gay men and women that make their own rules entirely.

Popular culture has yet to catch up. Shows like Arrested Development and 30 Rock are a good start because they make fun of convention, but the humor is in the weirdness of a quirky character like a Liz Lemon who does not act like the married woman she should.

At this transitional point in our culture, it is important to go against the grain, despite the messages everywhere warning us otherwise. Being a woman that doesn’t want kids or doesn’t want kids yet isn’t unnatural, it’s unconventional. And unfortunately we live in a society where convention and nature get confused.

As an aside, I really want kids. It’s something I’ve felt strongly about for as long as I can remember. To me, that only confirms the diversity of women’s aspirations. We all don’t want the same thing. Of course we don’t. Neither do men.

Writers Advise High-Tech Supermoms to Power Down

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

TODAY'S UPDATE

Letterman and Polanski are in different quandaries, but Sandra Kobrin says they both benefit from Hollywood's allegiance to letting powerful men get away with exploiting younger women.

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Writers Advise High-Tech Supermoms to Power Down

By Sarah Seltzer
WeNews correspondent
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
A new book, "Too Close for Comfort," about mothers and older daughters revisits age-old themes and offers updated cautions for the era of the electronic "supermoms."
Mother and daughter(WOMENSENEWS)--Mothers and daughters should be close but not best friends, argue Linda Gordon and Susan Morris Shaffer, authors of "Too Close for Comfort," which was published in September by Berkley Books.
"Too Close" is one of many recent books about a new era in parenting, one in which moms and dads share cultural and social interests with their children, technology allows them to stay ever-involved in their offsprings' lives and the pressure to be a perfect parent is overwhelming.

For mothers and daughters these social changes can be fraught with both pleasure and peril, say Gordon and Shaffer in the course of their book, which contains anecdotes, quizzes and lists to help its
readers. Gordon, a therapist, and Shaffer, a teacher and parenting activist, have partnered
on three previous parenting books, focusing on boys, girls and 20-somethings respectively.
They believe that social expectations on women to be perfect looking, high achievers at work and great mothers or homemakers, combined with the blurring of lines between each generation's place in the pop cultural world, can lead to the "too close for comfort" scenario for mothers and daughters. Gordon and Shaffer's book is meant to help women of the "supermom" era negotiate roles with their grown up daughters.
The writers believe that the mother-daughter relationship is a particularly close--and potentially thorny one--or several reasons. The first is that issues of identity and codependence tend to be (although not always) more intense between children and parents of the same gender.

Daughters Separate From Moms

As an example, Shaffer and Gordon relate stories of daughters who have extreme reactions to their mothers' tastes or choices, as though a mother's decision to choose a hairstyle or household product somehow reflects on the daughter.
"Boys know that they're not their mothers," Gordon tells Women's eNews. "Daughters might think it's cute when their dads wear a ridiculous shirt. But it's much more psychologically loaded the other way around. The daughter is trying to separate herself from her mother."

Deborah Tannen's 2006 bestseller, "You're Wearing That? Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation," explored some of the language cues mothers and daughters take from each other that can be so enraging--including the titular phrase and others.
"Women often use talk as way of working things out," said Gordon. "But that puts mothers and daughters in a place where right away, the daughter knows her mother hates her hair."
Compounding these intimate boundary issues, they say, are the shared pressures that affect all women. Whether body image and diet or work-life balance, the authors say a media-saturated society produces feelings of shame and anxiety that are directly linked to the condition of modern womanhood. And that's one more thing that moms and daughters have in common, but not necessarily a positive one.
"This is an important area that moms and daughters share," said Gordon. "We're all affected by a culture of perfection. For mothers it's a struggle because we need to model healthy behaviors for our daughters, but we may not be feeling secure ourselves." These insecurities or worries can be passed back and forth between moms and daughters, say Gordon and Shaffer.

Blending of Generations

"Our generation and our parents' generation had a pronounced ideological and social gap between them," write Gordon and Shaffer, both members of the baby boomer generation.
The same holds true for generations of parents subsequent to the boomers. But today a shared culture of music, fashion, TV and technology blends the generations.
While young women growing up in previous eras may have had screaming matches with their mothers over rock music, long hair and edgy fashion styles, the universality of today's pop culture has eliminated the bitter edge to many of these common generational struggles. Feminism has also enabled moms and daughters to bond--and compete--over shared experiences in the professional world.
"Unlike previous generations, today's culture provides more opportunities for friendship and enjoyment of common interests between mothers and daughters," said Gordon. "They also share the experience of work. Previously, women were not in the work force in the same numbers. Furthermore, mothers in their 50s and 60s are more physically fit and have a youthful orientation. If you look at a 50-year-old woman or 60-year-old woman, she's wearing some of same things as her daughter, assuming her daughter's not dressing like Britney Spears."
This phenomenon, said Gordron, is something she calls "generation overlap." While it brings mothers and their daughters closer together, it also creates the chance for both friction and codependence. "It's almost as though you're living in close quarters," she said, adding that cell phones and the Internet mean even more contact and communication.
These similarities can lead to the unhealthy best-friendship-type relationships Gordon and Shaffer witnessed--where mothers and daughters did everything together and consulted each other constantly--which led them to write the book.

Supermom Potentially Problematic

"The term 'supermom' was coined for our generation," Shaffer and Gordon write. This describes mothers who are there for every appointment and parent-teacher conference and skinned knee, advocating for and nurturing their kids 24-7 right through college applications and beyond.
But that over-involved role can cause problems as daughters grow up, they say, leading to daughters who feel they can't live up to their moms' standards or a difficulty separating on both ends.
"The most important question to ask yourself is: What can I do to empower my daughter to take care of herself while maintaining a good relationship?" they write.

Another book released this year, Ayelet Waldman's "Bad Mother" (Knopf, 2009), is a similar reaction to the culture of super-momdom. Through essays and personal stories, Waldman joins Gordon and Shaffer in telling mothers that sometimes the best way to parent is to let go, step away from the pressure and celebrate imperfections.
Waldman, wife of novelist Michael Chabon, has come under fire for her honest journalism about parenting, including a column about how her love for her husband was stronger than her maternal love.
"The reaction to her was so extreme," said Gordon of Waldman. "Mothers are supposed to only have pearls coming out of our mouths and everything we're supposed to say is positive."
Gordon and Shaffer argue for a new standard--the "perfectly imperfect" mother--who does her best but takes time for herself and allows her daughter to navigate life's hurdles with more independence.
Sarah Seltzer is a freelance writer in New York City. Her work is available at www.sarahmseltzer.com.
Women's eNews welcomes your comments. E-mail us at editors@womensenews.org.


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