Leaping from Our Spheres
Labor Day has come and gone in 2017. What began as a nationwide day to recognize the contributions and trials of American workers has become, in most ways, the last three-day summer weekend consisting of cookouts and festivals and trips to school supply stores to fill carts with pencils, notebooks, and lunch boxes.
This year, Labor Day was also shadowed by the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey and the threat of an even more devastating category five storm making its way from Africa across the Atlantic, heading for the Caribbean, most likely Florida, and beyond. These climatic weather events — along with the news of a looming presidential announcement about the insecure future of thousands of young people in the DACA program — focused attention away from issues like the gender pay gap, family leave, and affordable childcare.
In the midst of the always-hyperactive news cycle there were, however, timely articles and op-ed pieces — notably in the New York Times — that lifted up the status of working women in this country. And the news is not favorable. Continue reading
Last Friday, I thanked John McCain on Facebook for voting with Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins against the “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, effectively killing the repeal effort. Soon after, I realized that many of my friends were posting outrage that the male senator was getting all the credit, while the two women who’ve been siding with Democrats for months were being ignored. Was I not also outraged about this blatant display of sexism?
There’s definitely truth to that. I am only one of millions of women who has had the experience of seeing a man get all the credit for something I’ve been doing for months. I’ve had my great ideas stolen by men, right before my eyes. I’ve felt the humiliation of not realizing what was happening until it was too late to advocate for myself. Sexism is real – it is not behind us, not by a long shot – and it hurts. Continue reading
A few years back, it was my privilege and pleasure to visit Washington D.C. during a stop on what All* Above All, a group of abortion rights advocates, called a Be Bold Road Trip. These advocates covered nearly 10,000 miles and 12 cities, taking their message across the country. They wanted legislators to lift bans on abortion coverage for low income women. Additionally, they would be asking members of Congress and others to sign a Be Bold Declaration in support of finally including insurance coverage for this legal medical procedure under Medicaid and other federal plans. Continue reading
As my colleague in ministry, Rev. Meg Barnhouse, declared last week, “Let the celebrations begin! We’re embarked on a chapter with our first elected woman president of the UUA.”
Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, minister of the Phoenix, Arizona congregation, will be our 9th president since the Unitarians and the Universalists joined together. She will serve as the leader of a progressive faith movement encompassing 1,000 congregations with 200,000 adults and children in the United States.
Immediately following the announcement of her victory on June 24, the last evening of our General Assembly in New Orleans, the UUWF posted on Facebook that “history was made tonight within Unitarian Universalism.”
As reported by the UU World, after having been named winner in a three-way race of woman-identified candidates Frederick-Gray said, “I want to be clear, right up front, I am not the first female president of the UUA.” She then turned to applaud the Rev. Sofia Betancourt, who had served three months as one of three co-presidents appointed to complete the term of President Peter Morales.
The UUWF conducted interviews with the presidential candidates and published the transcripts on our website prior to the election. Here are a few of the highlights of the conversation with Frederick-Gray:
How do you see the relationship between the UUA and the UUWF currently?
“I think the UUWF as a source of growing women’s leadership for the larger movement is really important … I think that one of the ways the Associate organizations can be in a stronger relationship with the UUA is through collaborative conversations about the future of our faith … How we imagine the next 25 years of Unitarian Universalism … needs to be informed by women’s voices. It needs to be informed by people of color. I think that’s a key thing.”
What do you feel is the most pressing issue for women within our denomination?
“I think we still have a lot of work to do in overcoming patriarchal structures. Overcoming patriarchy even in our own faith … [O]ne of the challenges is feeling like a perception (which has truth in it) … that half our ministry currently is women. That we have a long history of women’s leadership in our faith. But we haven’t really overcome all the obstacles to women and women’s voices shaping how we run our association. How we lead as a spiritual and moral faith community, and so probably one of the challenges is figuring out how to continue to move forward, to continue to encourage and push our association forward in collaborative and non-oppressive ways of being and leading.”
What are your pet projects or personal passions on behalf of UU women and girls?
“Healthcare for women and girls. Healthcare for mothers … [T]his is an issue where, across the board, whether it’s cuts to childcare stipends, cuts to food stamps, cuts to women’s health and reproductive care. These are all going to be incredibly damaging to families, to women, to their children.”
For our new president’s responses to questions about where gender fits within intersectionality within Unitarian Universalism; how she sees the UUA currently addressing issues surrounding women and girls and her leadership around them; the role of our movement in the future of trans women’s rights and safety, especially trans women of color; and how the UUA and UU congregations can improve the health and lives of women they employ; and more, see the entire interview on our website.
Many of us have spent the past 100+ days grappling with our priorities in the strange new country revealed to us in November. Though of course this is not truly a brave new world — for many of our sisters November was not a dramatic reveal so much as a sickening confirmation of truths they have known in their bones and in their experiences nearly every day of their lives. They did their best to warn us, and we failed to hear. Continue reading