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January 23, 2007

Why My Activist Home is a Women's Peace Organization

Strange Adventures in Google Searching

I know I should be using Good Search and having all my searches count towards the Jane Addams Peace Association account - WILPF's sister 501(c)3. I just don't always do it.

Right, so I googled this blog and found another blog that quoted a long tract from this blog.

Here's the post on Jewesses With Attitude that quotes me. Sorta trippy that I never knew it before now. Also strange, because I stumbled across JWABlog's parent site and it provided me with the inspiration for the original name of this blog, Chicken Foot Stew.

Odd thing is, I just wrote an email on the same topic - why I do my activism within a women's group. I sent the email to the US Social Forum Women's Working Group. Here's what I wrote:

I'm 28. I went to a women's college. And I still had to figure out why to do my activism with a women's focus. Part of this stems from thinking it was enough to go to a women's college. But mostly, I've learned it from popular culture: I was born in 78, so by the time I came of age, the battles had been won. Women were working, they had college degrees, and the wage gap was either a figment of radicals' imagination or due to the choice women make to leave the workforce for long periods of time to have kids. Since my identity is not wrapped up in my ability to procreate, and since my thoughts on gender identity go far beyond the dichotomous norm, I really had a hard time understanding why I'd ever choose to do my activism through a women's lens. (For awhile, I researched creating an independent major in Gender Studies b/c I was convinced Women's Studies was too archaic for what I wanted to do. I ended up with a degree in Peace & Justice Studies.)

And yet, I joined WILPF during my senior year of college. I came to the realization that the only way to create a space in mainstream society for all gender identities is to stand up and be counted as a female activist. Similarly, I realize that every problem in the world can be helped by including a gender perspective in analysis and solution-creation. I believe that a women's focus is the first step towards gender-mainstreaming. Because for me, this is about more than just women's issues or national issues from a women's perspective.

Examples from my personal life that prove that we still need a women's focus: This is about the fact that the public face of a progressive organization here in Cali was entirely male until I volunteered to blog for them (Courage Campaign has two full-time female staffers, but the volunteer bloggers were all male). It's about the lack of national healthcare that forces my sister to go back to work 8 weeks after giving birth, not because her family needs the money, but because they need her health insurance. It's about the lack of real childcare choices my sister has for when she goes back to work. It's about being scared that no one mentioned until this week that the new birth control on the market has double the rate of not working than the older pills. It's about wanting to make this country a friendly place to be a mother before I become one. And its about supporting my sisters who have suffered from gendered discrimination & gendered violence.

I stand on the backs of the women of the first and second waves of feminism and I reach out to my sisters in the third wave. And I wonder (to paraphrase WILPF's nuclear disarmament project) - how can we reach a critical mass of political will for gender-mainstreaming?

Posted by cj at January 23, 2007 11:23 PM


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