Advancing justice for women and girls and promoting their spiritual growth

Rev. Marti Keller

End of Summer (feminist) Reads

summer-reading-006In our neck of the American woods (as a famous network meteorologist is want to say), it has been the hottest summer in at least 20 years, and dry to boot. The only consolation is that (1) my husband and I are off to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska for a week; (2) following this much anticipated and saved for vacation, I turn around for a long weekend at a high school reunion in Northern California, likely to be moderate, even cold in all that fog; and (3) school begins for the children in our town—and most of this Southern State—on August 1st, so we can pretend that fall is on its way rapidly.

So while some of you might be midway through the season, fall is around the corner in lots of ways where I live. Families with children are returning from beaches and mountain cottages. Summer camps are winding down. The summer reading campaign held annually by our local library ends in less than two weeks. Open to adults as well as kids, it encourages a variety of literary experiences, from conventional bound to audio books. There is always a common read.

Which reminded me that I had the intention of finally wading into the stack of books I have ordered or picked up through the year, and specifically the nonfiction ones that might inform and enrich the ministry I do on behalf of women and girls (and their male allies). Or fiction written by women, about the lives of women. That’s a mighty tall pile. Continue reading

Holding up the Mirror: Zika

squitoMy late father used to let mosquitoes feed on his arm. My brother remembers it was an uncharacteristically macho thing for our mild-mannered scientist parent to do. But, after all, he was a mosquito warrior, a microbiologist trained and ready to do battle with these insects that cause so much disease, misery, and death around the world.

As my father’s daughter, I have—metaphorically—mosquito-borne viruses in my blood. The consciousness of inequities around who has access to prevention and treatment is also a part of my legacy from him. With a special sensitivity because of my professional ministry with the UU Women’s Federation and also, more acutely, our recent UU statement of conscience to the intersection of race, class, and gender in reproductive rights and beyond to the full scope of reproductive justice. “Consciousness of inequity” is a term created by women of color in 1994 to, in their words, “center the experience of the most vulnerable… the inequality of opportunities they have to control their reproductive destiny.”

So I began following the growing stream of reports out of Brazil last year about a disease called Zika that has frankly preoccupied me—despite and perhaps especially in this most difficult year for defending access to basic reproductive health services. Continue reading

UUWF Advocacy Update: A Full Plate

advocacyThe UUWF issues survey, which was circulated last year, helps guide our social justice advocacy work on behalf of women and girls. We have continued to focus on reproductive justice, economic justice, ending domestic violence and sexual assault, and will be finding more ways to speak out on the impact of climate change. This is a full public policy plate.

Assaults on reproductive freedom have multiplied on the state level, including the most recent bill passed by the Oklahoma legislature that would have criminalized abortion providers. It was vetoed by the governor. But there is much to watch on the national front in this Presidential election year as well. Continue reading

Real Religious Freedom

harm-296x197In late March, almost exactly six years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law — as pointed out by Caroline Fredrickson from the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy — the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Zubik v Burwell. This case was based on  a  number of separate law suits filed by a group of religious non-profits who believe that even filing paperwork to exempt them from  covering birth control under their insurance plans is a “sin.” They argue that, by doing so, they “trigger” alternative means of providing this to employees directly through the government and its preventive health care insurance mandate. Continue reading

Taxing Periods

tampon taxPagan Kelly, who has written a book about world changing inventions, observes that since ancient times women have tinkered with pads and tampons to better contain their menstrual flow. Everything from papyrus to absorbent mosses, to repurposed cellulose bandages. Early in the 20th century, Lillian Gilbreth, one of the first female Ph.D. engineers, questioned thousands of women in her effort to discover what an ideal sanitary napkin would look and feel like. Even still, corporate manufacturers of these products, including Proctor and Gamble, clung to “brick-like sanitary pads,” long after female consumers nixed this chafing, bulky model. Continue reading

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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