NYCers: Elect Pro-Choice Candidates on November 3rd!

October 19, 2009 § Leave a comment

The New York City elections for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough presidents, and city council representatives are Tuesday November 3rd. Join NARAL Pro-Choice New York as we call voters, empowering them to vote pro-choice.

Pro-Choice Election Phone Banks

Tuesday, October 27th
Wednesday, October 28th
Thursday, October 29th
Monday, November 2nd

All phone banks run from 6pm-9pm.

Join us as we make calls to ensure that New Yorkers vote pro-choice up and down the ballot this November 3rd! You can either join us in our NYC office or make calls from home using our web-based system. To make calls from home all you need is a computer with high-speed internet access and a phone. Laptops and cell phones are okay! You will receive all the log-in information when you RSVP.

Training is provided for everyone and dinner is provided for those joining us in the office. Our office is located at 470 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor in NYC. Space is wheelchair accessible.

To RSVP, please contact Lalena Howard at lhoward@prochoiceny.org or 646-520-3506.

Check out more opportunities to volunteer on NARAL’s Community Events Calendar.

Calling All NYC Pro-Choice Activists!

September 1, 2009 § 1 Comment

NARAL Pro-Choice New York is hands-down one of my favorite progressive nonprofits. They’re on the political, legislative, and community fronts working to secure safe and legal abortions for all women who want them. They also publish key resources like a pro-choice voter guide (here’s the one for September’s primaries); the Book of Choices, a comprehensive state-wide list of options for women facing unplanned pregnancies (in English and Spanish); a city-wide resource guide for free and low-cost reproductive health care; and a list of open-minded, pro-choice doctors who specialize in adolescent health (again, in English and Spanish).

That’s why I’m thrilled that they are seeking new members aplenty for their Activist Leadership Circle, a group of volunteers that Shira and I have been a part of since January.

We’ve written quite a bit about our work with NARAL, which has included calling voters directly during group phonebanks, distributing condoms and information about emergency contraception, rallying support for the Reproductive Health Act, and getting pissed when our efforts were essentially derailed by the childish behavior rampant in the New York state senate. We’ve also covered their fabulous Choices event series (though I’m sad to say I couldn’t make it to any of those three lectures).

Please consider donating your skills and pro-choice passion to this incredible organization. Here’s what’s involved in joining the Activist Leadership Circle…

Wednesday, 9/9/09, 6:00-8:30 pm: Welcome & NARAL Pro-Choice New York 101

Saturday, 9/12/09, time and location TBD: Pro-Choice Election Day of Action

Wednesday, 9/16/09, 6:00-8:00 pm: How to Talk About the Issues and Take Action

Wednesday, 9/23/09, 6:00-8:00 pm: Graduation and Welcome Party

All events (except the day of action) will take place at the NARAL Offices, 470 Park Avenue South, 7th Floor (you’ll need ID!).

And here’s what to expect when you join…

The Circle has three Action Groups that allow members to get involved in the work that is most exciting to them.

After attending our four-part series of new member trainings, you’ll be able to join one of three Action Groups:

Outreach Action Group: The Outreach Action Group is responsible for getting more people involved in NARAL Pro-Choice New York’s activist efforts and disseminating life-saving resources and information through tabling at events, street canvassing, and on-line event posting.

Political and Legislative Action Group: The Political and Legislative Action Group participates in efforts to elect pro-choice candidates such as election phone banks, disseminating voter guides, and representing NARAL Pro-Choice New York in campaign offices. Members will also help pass pro-active, pro-choice legislation by participating in legislation phone banks, petitioning, and lobbying efforts.

Reproductive Health Education Group: The Reproductive Health Education Group’s current project is researching the issue of Crisis Pregnancy Centers in New York State in order to develop a strategic advocacy plan. The Reproductive Health Education Group will also be a space to discuss emerging reproductive health issues and develop new initiatives to address them.

You can read more about the project details here and here.

If you are interested in joining the Activist Leadership Circle, contact NARAL’s community organizer Lalena Howard at lhoward@prochoiceny.org or 646-520-3506. Feel free to email me at womensglib@gmail.com if you have any questions about the structure or current projects of the circle.

Cross-posted at Deeply Problematic.

Praxis. (Part One?)

August 25, 2009 § 3 Comments

Cannot will myself to sleep, amidst my summer of supposed ‘relaxation and teenage antics.’ In fact, though I have wordlessly skimped on Women’s Glib, I am just re-situating with a computer now, my old pixilated comrade.

My summer has required me to find so many different facets for talking about women’s liberation. Now close to 4 am, my sister’s contented sighs from her dreams just reaching my ears, I turn to you, Women’s Glib!

I entered summer a few months ago by crewing for an old sloop activist-with-a-banjo Pete Seeger had erected 40 years ago to teach water education while sailing the Hudson River. Boat hierarchies are some of the strictest political systems, and I, as an apprentice, was on the lowest rung. Above me was the deckhand, the bosun, (or the handy person), the engineer, the second mate, the chief mate, and the captain.

Old sailing lore told of boats sinking and crew getting scurvy as a result of women being on a boat, let alone crewing for one. Yet years later, on a boat modeled off of mid 1800s cargo ships, both apprentices, the education intern, one of the educators, the deckhand, the bosun, the second mate, the chief mate, AND one of the alternating captains were all female. And holy shit, these women could sail.

In the month I lived on the vessel, I labored along side them as we worked 15 hour days through thunderstorms, maneuvered off and onto docks, and used power tools I hadn’t even touched before. Not only was I nearly keeled over at their work ethic and assertiveness, but they were some of the most kind and healthiest people I’ve met. It is so refreshing to be able to shy away completely from glossy magazines and primping and preening. These girls ate very full meals (I should know, I cooked a few of them) and never once suggested doing anything for means of image control/manipulation. (We were, arguably, hauling up a 3000 pound mainsail a few times a day).

In fact, I was able to engage in a phenomenon that continued as a trend into my summer. I had never before realized how often I saw my own reflection, be it in mirrors or even the glass facades of New York buildings. On the boat there were none, (or perhaps a tiny one?) so that we were all consistently as beautiful as we felt. So often I should look ABSOLUTELY RADIANT, because my stomach and heart are both practically lifted to my throat, (which would obviously enable flying); yet when I look in the mirror I am greeted with a different face, neck and shoulders completely. There was no battle to compare how well I felt to the archetype ‘good looking white female’ that encroaches every space I’ve found, spitting gender binaries out at me from rooftop ads and conversations. It was so nice to just assume that the way I looked synched with the way I felt. Ultimate liberation for me at this point was living with kickass female role models, and having a shape-shifter body, where I became my feelings. Has that ever happened to you? If so, how? Oops, digression!

Our State Senators, the “Feuding Junior High Schoolers”

June 26, 2009 § 3 Comments

It’s been two and a half weeks since the feud in the New York State Senate began up in Albany. The Times broke the news on June 8:

Republicans apparently seized control of the New York State Senate on Monday, in a stunning and sudden reversal of fortunes for the Democratic Party, which controlled the chamber for barely five months.

A raucous leadership fight erupted on the floor of the Senate around 3 p.m., with two Democrats, Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens, joining the 30 Senate Republicans in a motion that would displace Democrats as the party in control.

The quite possibly illegal coup has had ramifications for many legislation, including a proposed bill to legalize same-sex marriage that has been stalled indefinitely. It has also suspended a vote on the Reproductive Health Act, a bill that will codify Roe v. Wade into New York state law and establish political standards for reproductive health legislation.

Kelli Conlin, president of NARAL Pro-Choice NY and the National Institute for Reproductive Health, writes:

With passage of this legislation, every woman in New York would have been assured that her fundamental right to choose abortion would be protected. Critically, the Reproductive Health Act would also have clarified that a woman would be allowed to have an abortion if her health or life was endangered. The bill, which has been loudly debated for three years, was going to be voted on quietly and respectfully so that each senator could fully vote his or her conscience.

But two days earlier, the Republicans — with the help of Sen. Pedro Espada and Sen. Hiram Monserrate, both Democrats, ostensibly — engineered a coup that took down the pro-choice Senate leadership and attempted to reinstate the same anti-choice Republicans who’ve been blocking pro-choice legislation for 40 years.

This maneuver appears to have effectively derailed the bill — ironically, as both Monserrate and Espada are co-sponsors of the Reproductive Health Act.

One would think that Monserrate, of all people, might want to make women’s issues a priority. One would think Espada, whose health center serves low-income women, might want to make women’s health a priority. One would think that Sen. Dean Skelos, who really ought to be noticing the national trend away from Bush-era extremism, might want to make women’s issues a priority.

Women’s health and rights matter in New York. Polls have repeatedly shown that nearly three quarters of New Yorkers (across all party lines and demographics) support the Reproductive Health Act.

Yet the anti-choice Republican leadership has maintained a stranglehold on the Senate, kowtowing to fringe interests.

The RHA is near and dear to my heart. In fact, as part of my volunteer work with NARAL over the past year and a half, I’ve been collecting petition signatures in support of the bill at street fairs and calling voters to transfer them directly to their district representatives. The week before this free-for-all began, I walked over to my state senator’s district office to hand-deliver almost a hundred petitions from my district alone. Soon after, he signed on as a co-sponsor.

I have been working to make this bill a law because it’s fun, it’s empowering, and it will have incredible consequences for New York’s women. But my commitment to action and dialogue has been completely silenced, while the people we’ve elected to represent us get paid to act like children.

New York did not have one State Senate on Tuesday [June 23]. It had two.

Democrats sneaked into the Senate chamber shortly after noon, seizing control of the rostrum and locking Republicans out of the room. Republicans were finally allowed to enter about 2:30 p.m., but when they tried to station one of their own members on the dais they were blocked by the sergeants-at-arms.

So then something extraordinary — and rather embarrassing — happened.

The two sides, like feuding junior high schoolers refusing to acknowledge each other, began holding separate legislative sessions at the same time. Side by side, the parties, each asserting that it rightfully controls the Senate, talked and sometimes shouted over one another, gaveling through votes that are certain to be disputed. There were two Senate presidents, two gavels, two sets of bills being voted on.

…and again just a few days later:

This feckless bunch in Albany, a k a your state senators, can’t even scuffle properly. Just when you thought they couldn’t embarrass themselves any further, they reduced themselves this week to “my gavel is bigger than yours” gamesmanship and to nyah-nyah name-calling.

“You’re out of order,” cried George H. Winner Jr., a Republican senator. No, shouted back Ruth Hassell-Thompson, a Democrat, “you’re out of order.”

And people think high school students are immature?

My 64 Words

June 21, 2009 § Leave a comment

aung san suu kyiVia Cara, the story of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate. June 19th was her 64th birthday, and she spent it in prison. Her supporters have launched an online campaign to garner attention and respect for this brave leader by calling for submissions of 64-word messages. From the site:

Aung San Suu Kyi…symbolises the struggle of Burma’s people to be free. She has been detained for over 13 years by the Burmese regime for campaigning for human rights and democracy in Burma.

She is currently facing trial in Burma. She was on arrested on May 14th and is now being held in Insein Prison, a prison notorious for its terrible conditions and horrific treatment of prisoners. Aung San Suu Kyi is being tried for breaking the terms of her house arrest, which forbids visitors, after an American man, John Yettaw, swam across Inya Lake and refused to leave her house. Her trial began on 18th May.

Aung San Suu Kyi has committed no crime, she is the victim of crime, yet is currently facing a sentence of 3-5 years. The United Nations has ruled that Aung San Suu Kyi’s detention is illegal under international law, and also under Burmese law. The United Nations Security Council has also told the dictatorship that they must release Aung San Suu Kyi.

Political prisoners in Burma are routinely subjected to torture and often denied medical treatment. There are serious concerns for Aung San Suu Kyi’s health in these conditions, particularly as she has recently been seriously ill.

Here are my 64 words:

I believe that freedom, peace, siblinghood, and love are the most beautiful things our human race can create together. Do not let any government convince you otherwise. Aung San Suu Kyi, you are an inspiration to all of us on this earth who believe in justice. We thank you for your incredible strength. I hope you have no more birthdays in this cruel imprisonment.

Add yours here; learn more from Yoko Ono’s link roundup here.

He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut…

May 11, 2009 § Leave a comment

Jessica Valenti, an incredible author on dissecting gender binaries and current day feminism, is doing a reading at Bluestockings, (172 Allen st), this Sunday. This will be a great night, I hope to see some of you there!

INFO:
Sunday, May 17th @ 7PM – Free
Reading: Jessica Valenti “The Purity Myth”
American culture is plagued with concerns about the sexual purity of young women. Please join Jessica Valenti in a reading and discussion of her new book “The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women,” in which she brings the full powers of her wit and intelligence to a critique of the problematic cultural appraisal of girls and women based on their sexual worth. Valenti is also the author of “Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters” and “He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut…and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know.”

Bluestockings is my favorite place in New York. Here is their mission statement, taken from their website:

Bluestockings is a radical bookstore, fair trade cafe, and activist center in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Through words, art, food, activism, education, and community, we strive to create a space that welcomes and empowers all people. We actively support movements that challenge hierarchy and all systems of oppression, including but not limited to patriarchy, heterosexism, the gender binary, white supremacy and classism, within society as well as our own movements. We seek to make our space and resources available to such movements for meetings, events, and research. Additionally, we offer educational programming that promotes centered, strategic, and visionary thinking, towards the realization of a society that is infinitely creative, truly democratic, equitable, ecological, and free.

Love Kyla

End Abstinence-Only Sex Education Once and For All!

May 8, 2009 § Leave a comment

Exciting news! President Obama has just submitted a budget proposal that includes ABSOLUTELY NO FUNDING for the slut-shaming, ‘purity’-loving, factually inaccurate abstinence-only sexual education programs that plague this country.

But now the tricky part comes: the budget needs to make its way through Congress without getting attacked by whack amendments and caveats that might enable abstinence-only programs. Tell your representatives (via email- yay green petitioning!) that you support our president’s budget JUST THE WAY IT IS.

And happy Friday! It’s nice to be posting again.

New Yorkers: Support the Reproductive Health Act!

May 6, 2009 § 3 Comments

Lalena Howard of NARAL Pro-Choice NY was kind enough to speak at yesterday’s meeting of the school club Shira and I run, Feminist Focus. She told us about NARAL’s campaign to get people to send personalized letters in support of the Reproductive Health Act. These kinds of letters can have serious impact, since politicians really don’t get them too often.

I wrote mine today, following NARAL’s tips:

  1. Use our website to look up the names and contact information for both your State Assemblymember and State Senator.
  2. Always tell your legislators you live in their district! Legislators want to represent the interests of their constituents, especially if they know your vote depends on it!
  3. When drafting your letter, refer to our resources to get an idea of what others are saying.
  4. Share your unique perspective on why your legislator should support the Act. Are you a parent who wants to ensure your daughter’s rights are protected? Are you a doctor, nurse, teacher or social worker who works with women facing unplanned pregnancies every day? Tell your legislator about your unique perspective and how it has led you to support the Reproductive Health Act.
  5. State clearly that you would like your legislator to vote in support of the Reproductive Health Act. Make sure that he or she hears what you are asking loud and clear.
  6. Include your contact information (especially your home address, so that they know you live in the district). Be open to continued communication and updates.
  7. Encourage your friends to write letters of their own. The New York State Legislature needs to hear from pro-choice voices throughout the state to pass the Reproductive Health Act. It’s up to all of us!

My own letter is after the jump.
« Read the rest of this entry »

The Night Belongs to Us

April 8, 2009 § Leave a comment

Next Thursday, NYC’s own Barnard and Columbia will have a Take Back the Night rally, march, and speakout. I truly wish I could be there – it’s public school holiday and I’m traveling with my family – but I encourage everyone who can to go.

COLUMBIA/BARNARD TAKE BACK THE NIGHT

April 16th, 2009
March starts at 9pm, Barnard Gates (117th & Broadway, NYC)
Speakout starts at 11pm, LeFrak Gym, Barnard College

“Tonight is a night of survival, in the most active sense of the word”

The mission of Take Back the Night March and Speakout is to break the silence about sexual violence by inviting the Morningside Heights community to gather together, as survivors, allies, family, friends, neighbors and strangers, to support each other and protest the violence that affects all of us. The march is an opportunity to re-claim the streets of New York City, the neighborhood of Morningside Heights, and the Columbia campus as safe spaces. After the march, we host a Speakout, during which community members speak anonymously about their experiences. The march is wheelchair accessible. Free childcare will be provided. ASL signer will be present during pre-march rally.

For more information contact TBTN.at.Columbia@gmail.com.

I have never been physically harmed by a partner – but more than one in ten of my peers has. I have never known the shame of being pressured into oral sex or intercourse – but one in four of my classmates has. I am not a victim of rape – but one in six of my sisters is.

The battle is ours to win, and the night is ours to take.

Via Feministe.

Day of Silence Coming Up…

April 3, 2009 § 1 Comment

Hey everybody! It’s April, which means that this year’s Day of Silence (April 17th) is coming up. In case you’re unaware, the Day of Silence is a day organized by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network and students across America in which a vow of silence is taken in order to bring attention to the constant verbal abuse that GLBT students face in school.

I’ve participated in it each year since eighth grade, and it’s always been an extremely positive experience. If you don’t think you can refrain from speaking for an entire day, at least be an ally to the cause and support those who do.

For more information on the Day of Silence, visit this website and if you have any unanswered questions, definitely check their FAQ section.

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