Advancing justice for women and girls and promoting their spiritual growth

Rev. Marti Keller

Emily’s Genius

Emily Dickenson - from Wikipedia

From the daguerreotype taken at Mount Holyoke, December 1846 or early 1847. The only authenticated portrait of Emily Dickinson later than childhood, the original is held by the Archives and Special Collections at Amherst College.[1] – Wikipedia

Last Saturday, I checked off an experience on my ever-changing bucket list: attending a One Day University. This “extraordinary day of learning” which I had long read about in full page ads in the New York Times features popular college and university professors: shrinking a semester’s worth of lecturing into 75 minute sessions. It had finally come to my neck of the woods. I didn’t have to spring for an airline ticket and hotel room to register for and enjoy the four presentations I selected. And as the introduction to the program reminded me — there was no homework, no exams, and “best of all, no stress.”

Well not exactly. I had ended up picking classes taught by male professors (there were a couple led by women, with topics not as compelling to me). And as engaging and personable as they all were, they couldn’t seem to come up with examples of women as objects (the biology and psychology of resilience) or women as subjects (Geniuses). The latter session was led by Craig Wright, a professor of music at Yale University, where he teaches a course on The Nature of Genius: scanning Western History for figures like Mozart, Leonardo da Vinci and Einstein.

The definition of Genius: Continue reading

Mamas and Diapers

Baby sleepingIt looked like a pantry. It was the size of a double closet, with lots of shelves, kept locked day and night. The key to it was held by the director of this emergency shelter for women and their children, a very temporary home for families who had been referred to us by the umbrella task force on homelessness, or through local churches or social workers. It was not a domestic violence safe space: nonetheless the former youth hostel had no identifying signage, nothing to indicate who was living there, or indeed if anyone was living there at all on a street with a number of law offices and other businesses.

The residents arrived often with only what they could fit in large plastic garbage bags, or loose, crammed in the trunks of their aging cars. They came to us with children of all ages; in fact we were the only shelter in the entire metro area that allowed more than four minors in a family unit and older boys. We provided them with the basics: a cold breakfast, a volunteer provided dinner; bedding, towels, toiletries. Continue reading

War on Poor: War on Women

grocery shoppingLast week the focus was on a new law in Tennessee calling for felony penalties against pregnant women who test positive for illegal narcotics. Just this week, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill requiring drug testing — at their own expense — of some applicants for food stamps and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). An applicant would be forced to be tested on the basis of either missed appointments or her “demeanor “as determined by a state worker, a vague and dangerous version of profiling.

Georgia would be the first state to require this of food stamp (SNAP) seekers, something currently not permitted under federal law. While the Georgia law can’t go into effect until a change in federal law, the House has already passed a measure to lift the ban on states adding their own conditions to food stamp eligibility. If the Senate passes its own version, then it opens the door more quickly for states to jump on board. Continue reading

Assault

baby's feetThe passage of the study action initiative on reproductive justice a couple of years back by the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) — of which we are an associate organization — challenged us to look at issues of human sexuality, pregnancy, and gender identity in different ways than our prior focus on legal rights and access to care. The four-year period dedicated to education and discernment allows us to ponder and respond to questions such as:

  • How do power structures limit individuals’ access to reproductive justice?
  • How do sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse contribute to unintended pregnancies later in life?
  • How can eliminating racism, classism and sexism reduce the need for abortion and enable families to care for the children they do have?
  • How are pregnant women who use drugs stigmatized, and what are the real dangers and solutions? Continue reading

Equal Pay at the Altar? (and the war of statistics)

EQUAL PAY DAY

(thanks to NOWNYC.org)

My thoughtful feminist husband first told me about it: the latest salvo in the defensive battle being waged against equal pay for equal work by women. It was the grenade tossed by Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the so-called “pro family” organization Eagle Forum. As she wrote in a Christian Post op-ed published earlier this week and reported on ironically in Huff Post, it is her opinion that “providing women with equal pay for equal work would deter their chances for finding a suitable mate.”

Schlafly argued that since women prefer to marry men who make more money than they do, decreasing the gender gap would leave a woman tragically unable to snag a husband. She names this “fact” hypergamy, which she says means that not only do women instinctively prefer higher paying mates but that men also generally prefer being the higher earner in a relationship.

So if somehow the pay gap between men and women ever is eliminated, she reasons, using what she admits is simple arithmetic, half of all women would be unable to find a husband. Which is a very bad thing, worse than being poorer and less valued. Continue reading

Leaping From Our Spheres

Rev. Marti KellerDon’t miss the “little gems full of both passion and facts” in the Blog of UUWF’s Affiliated Minister, Rev. Marti Keller.

UUWF’s Affiliated Ministry