Tag Archive for activism

Shelby Knox: The next Gloria Steinem – by Sophie Moura

Reposted from Marie Claire

Shelby Knox, 24, feminist organizer

Résumé: Despite roots in überconservative Lubbock, Texas, Shelby Knox is leading a new generation of feminists, traveling the U.S. campaigning for comprehensive sex education. At 15, she was plucked from obscurity by filmmakers who’d seen her quoted discussing teen pregnancy in a newspaper. The resulting documentary, The Education of Shelby Knox — about her transformation from Baptist good girl to sex-ed activist — premiered at Sundance in 2005.

Background check: “In high school, a friend got pregnant because her boyfriend told her she couldn’t if it was her first time having sex. I would have believed that, too. That’s when I started fighting for better sex ed.”

Big break: “An activist I’d met arranged for me to take care of Gloria Steinem’s pets while she was away. Gloria eventually let me live with her in New York for a couple of years while I figured out how to make it as an activist. She treated me as an equal. Now I can walk into a room and talk to anyone with confidence.”

Oh-my-God moment:
“At 20, I became the youngest person to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform during the first-ever congressional hearing on abstinence-only sex education. I was even mentioned on The Daily Show — the first time my brother showed any enthusiasm about my work!”

Shelby Knox also moderated Paradigm Shift’s “GUYLAND: THE PERILOUS WORLD WHERE BOYS BECOME MEN” Lecture & Discussion by Dr. Michael Kimmel.

A Letter Advocating for Disability Rights

by Laurens R. Hunt

I have been a long time feminist activist. As a person with a disability I have been working closely with disability rights groups to become more involved in feminism. I think that more people with disabilities being involved puts a different face on this movement. My inspiration came from the former National NOW (National Organization for Women) President Patricia Ireland. Ms. Ireland was among one of the first feminists to extensively focus on people with disabilities. My diagnosis is cerebral palsy.

Very often in past generations people with disabilities had not been discussed at all. Going forward I intend to broaden the involvement of women with disabilities. Having more women and men with disabilities involved in the feminist movement will add to strength in numbers for women. Also, having more women and men involved in politics who have disabilities can help shape a better health care system and more realistic portrayals of women who are not exceptionally tall and thin as depicted by countless advertisements. This is equally true of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Trans-Gender, and Queer Communities.

I am mentioning the LGBTQ Community because I try to educate them about the plight of people with disabilities. The most salient organization is PFLAG (Parents of Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays). PFLAG has been very active in promoting the Safer Schools Initiative. When I attend their support group meetings I mention the similarity about bullying people with disabilities. I speak with experience for generational reasons. Just 2 weeks ago I turned 37 years old.

Some of the most hostile and vile language was most accepted when I was attending grammar school. In June 1986 I completed the sixth grade. In those days it was considered fashionable and almost en vogue to refer to people with disabilities as “retarded” and “crippled,” but it did not stop there. It was common to refer to a student who wore glasses as “four eyes”. The joke for people with epilepsy was “hold my milk, I want a milkshake”. I experienced another layer of this.

A decade earlier I underwent a nearly life ending ear operation. In August 1976 when I turned 3 years old I had part of my right middle ear removed. The correct medical term is known as mastoid. It is easy to confuse a mastoid removal with tumor growth, which more than thankfully I did not have. Anyone seeing my right ear will know that this part is missing. I have known some students later on in high school refer to this as a car garage. Two years later was my left leg operation also during August in 1978 when I turned 5 years old.

My left heel chord had been lengthened. This was because I had been successfully walking as a toddler, but my left heel was a few inches off the ground. With much more sophisticated studies known over 30 years later the imbalances of ones weight on each leg leads to many kinds of hip and even back problems. Thankfully this was corrected early on when I was very young. Just like my right ear jokes had been made about the way I walk, and that was when I would hear “What are you a cripple (or retard)?” Again many of these epithets came during high school. In later years much of this same treatment emanated not so much from these harsh comments but more from abusive professional decisions.

Nowadays these words are not heard nearly as often. There is extensive outreach in the community of people with disabilities to stamp out the word retarded. I can say that use of the word “retarded” can be accurate when referring to Downs-Syndrome and similar diagnosis. What has become lost is that it is better to stop the use of certain words instead of training people with disabilities to be self-reliant. The job that I currently have working at the Hudson County Government is clerical and considered sheltered employment.

The belief is that people with disabilities cannot function and serve in management. The labor malpractice laws make words such as “retarded” and “cripple” considered as harassment because of their harshness. However, the thinking has changed very little. The people I see with disabilities have clerical and secretarial roles, not managerial and supervisory positions. The gist that I am getting at is that in lieu of the name calling is the job discrimination. I have been denied multiple promotions after having completed a dual MBA from the Baruch CUNY Zicklin School of Business in May 2006. The areas of studies were in Finance and Human Resources Management.

I have been unable to get any cooperation from my local union while being required to pay annual dues of 2 % of my salary. The job that I have has no advancement potential. There are vocational centers, but they are fixated on placing people with disabilities in clerical and secretarial roles. They focus more on promoting their agenda rather than helping place clients. The only exception I will make to some of these observations is that some of the counselors have had disabilities themselves. I did know one vocational worker nearly a decade ago who has cerebral palsy as I do. Still the senior management is operated by people without disabilities.

During this period the Lilly Ledbetter Act has been passed. Lead women’s groups have accurately complained that even now women make less than 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. In fact, in some professions women still make closer to 60 cents on the dollar. For people with disabilities, the percentage tends to often be closer to half of this 60 or 80 cents on the dollar. The rate of unemployment is the highest for people with disabilities during both economic recessions and expansions alike. During the 8 years of Bill Clinton’s Presidency the rate of employment for people with disabilities climaxed at only 25%, and this was considered a good reason to celebrate for many in the non-disabled community who were oblivious to this egregiously low percentage. As most of the voting citizenry knows, this was touted as the United States’ longest peacetime expansion ever.

Another major issue is the media portrayal of people with disabilities. Respective disability rights activists groups tend to be very isolated with low attendance. The issues hence receive less focus and attention, and therefore those of us who have disabilities get less positive and less frequent media coverage. The perception for many of the clients and members in these organizations is that we are feeble, uneducated, uneducable, and non-ambulatory. Therefore it is automatically accepted that we are in need of help and we can’t think for ourselves. This is just as slanderous as the bombardment of emaciated female model photos used in all forms of marketing media for a different set of reasons. This behavioral pattern creates a vicious cycle for two main reasons. Many of the vocational counselors without disabilities inexorably claim they are helping clients in their career goals but in fact are hindering them. What’s worse is that they get angry and defensive when those of us with the disabilities complain and point to the fact that we are being hurt, not helped by these actions.

In conclusion, name calling is always painful. The important life lesson is that actions always speak louder than words. Abusive language is never acceptable, but actions are what have the greatest and longest lasting impact. Because women, people with disabilities, the LBGTQ communities, and people of color know this all too well, we have to command respect and equitable treatment from our elected officials and service agencies. The same thing is true for media representation. Unfortunately this professionalism will not happen without insisting on it. Each one of us is a taxpayer and voter, and we cannot afford to forget that we pay for our public services and the outside media.

Happy Hour to Benefit Trust Women PAC

Come meet your favorite feminists and drink to benefit Trust Women PAC!

Tues, June 29th
6-9 PM
4th Ave Pub
76 4th Ave. bet Bergen St. & St. Marks Pl., Brooklyn, NY

Sliding fee scale starting at $15. Donations benefit Trust Women PAC, an organization that works to protect the rights of abortion providers and fights anti-choice legislation.

Buy your ticket here: http://www.actblue.com/page/trustwomenhappyhour

Meet Julie Burkhart, Executive Director of Trust Women PAC. She worked side by side with Dr. George Tiller for 8 years and was the Chief Executive Officer of ProKanDo, a pro-woman, pro-choice political organization founded by Dr. Tiller.

Special guests: Jessica Coen, Anna North, Jenna Sauers, Sadie Stein, and Dodai Stewart, Jezebel.com / Shelby Knox, ShelbyKnox.com / Chloe Angyal, Feministing.com / Nona Willis Aronowitz, author of Girl Drive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism / Amanda ReCupido, UnDomesticGoddess.com / Julie Klausner, author of “I Don’t Care About Your Band” / Doree Shafrir, contributing editor, New York magazine / Lynn Harris, author of “Death By Chick Lit.”

Subways: B/Q/2/3/4/5 (Atlantic Ave Station), D/M/R/N (Pacific St Station).

Questions? Comments? Contact hosts Steph (of IAmDrTiller.com and the AbortionGang.org) at sbherold@gmail.com or Irin (of Jezebel.com) at irincarmon@gmail.com.

To learn more about Trust Women PAC, visit http://www.trustwomenpac.org/

Back Up Your Birth Control NYC Day of Action 3/24 Wed- Join NARAL Pro-Choice New York

Back Up Your Birth Control NYC Day of Action!  Next Wednesday, March 24th NARAL Pro-Choice New York activists are hitting subway stations throughout the city to hand out condoms and information about emergency contraception and where to get it.

NARAL staff and interns are already planning to head out to 2 different subway stops and we would love for you to join us.  We will be at Union Square (14th st.) from 12-2 pm and Herald Square (34th and 6th) from 5-7 pm.  We’ve organized the materials and ordered the condoms, so all you need to do is let me know which time and stop works for you and I’ll sign you up!  Once I hear back from everyone, I will send out a final confirmation with the exact meet-up location for each stop.

Last year we had a lot of fun and handed out so many condoms and EC info that we ran out!  I really hope you can make it and please feel free to invite your friends, networks and colleagues.  All are welcome!

NARAL Pro-Choice New York is a political and advocacy reproductive rights organization that works at the state and local level to protect and advance access to the full range of reproductive health care to help men, women and teens stay healthy and safe.

We work to pass proactive, pro-choice legislation and to defeat anti-choice initiatives. Politically, we work to elect pro-choice officials and hold them accountable by ensuring they pass or defeat legislation consistent with our mission. At the community level, we provide educational resources and information while simultaneously engaging and empowering individuals to join us in working to achieve reproductive choice for all New Yorkers.

For information on upcoming events and activist opportunities, please visit our websitewww.ProChoiceNY.org and contact our Community Organizer, Lalena Howard atlhoward@prochoiceny.org or 646-520-3506.

“The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women” A Discussion with JESSICA VALENTI, Author & Feministing.com Founder/Editor

Paradigm Shift: NYC’s Feminist Community Proudly Present

“The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women”
A Discussion with

JESSICA VALENTI, Author & Feministing.com Founder/Editor



UPDATE- AS OF 2/18- tickets are almost sold out- please buy now!

Portion of the proceeds donated to Willie Mae Rock Camp For Girls
Buy Tickets Now- this event will sell out!
Network with your community before & after discussion

“This book is solidly researched, candidly personal, and smartly political. Valenti skewers sexism from abstinence campaigns to pop culture. Every young woman should read The Purity Myth – and it sure as hell would help if every young man read it as well!”
– Robin Morgan, Author and Activist

“It’s hard not to love Jessica Valenti. The Brooklyn-based founder of Feministing.com–the uncompromising, balls-out, feminist blog–is brilliant, beautiful, and not even 30 years old.”
BUST magazine

When: TUES, FEB. 23rd
Time: 7:00-10:00 pm

Where: In the heart of the Feminist District
The Tank- 354 West 45th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues).
Subway directions:
Take the A,C,E to 42nd Street/Time Square. Walk West.

Cost: $7 students/pre-paid, $10 at door

Partners include

Therese Shechter, Director of “How to Lose Your Virginity”
The American Virgin blog
The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership
Chicks Rock, a program of The Women’s Mosaic
NARAL Pro-Choice New York
Planned Parenthood of New York City Activist Council
Manhattan Young Democrats
New Yorkers Against Religion-Based Bigotry


BUY “The Purity Myth”- now out in paperback:

The United States is obsessed with virginity from the media to schools to government agencies. The Purity Myth is an important and timely critique of about why this is so, and why it’s problematic for girls and women. Analyzing cultural stereotypes and media messages, Jessica Valenti reveals the overt and hidden ways our society links a woman’s worth to her sexuality rather than to values like honesty, kindness, and altruism. Valenti takes on issues ranging from abstinence-only education to pornography and exposes the legal and social punishments that women who dare to have sex endure. Importantly, she also offers solutions that pave the way for a future without a damaging emphasis on virginity, including a call to rethink male sexuality and reframe the idea of “losing it.” With Valenti’s usual balance of intelligence and wit, The Purity Myth presents a powerful and revolutionary argument that valuing girls and women for their sexuality needs to stop–and outlines a new vision for how it can happen.

Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls is a non-profit music and mentoring program that empowers girls and women through music education and activities that foster self-respect, leadership skills, creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Feministing.com Interviews PShift Co-Founder & Director, Meredith Villano

Feministing.com Interview!

Feel free to comment!

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