Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation

Advancing justice for women and girls and promoting their spiritual growth

Leaping from Our Spheres

-- The Blog of UUWF's Affiliated Minister

Crashing Waves

DeCrowKarenA week ago, feminist activist and civil rights lawyer Karen DeCrow, who led the National Organization for Women (NOW) in the 1970s, died. She was 76 years old.

A longtime friend described her as the “perfect model for the women’s movement.” In addition to her unflagging advocacy work, DeCrow had been a journalist and prolific writer. While a law student at Syracuse University she ran for mayor of the town, a first in the state of New York.

DeCrow campaigned for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, passed by Congress in 1972, but eventually falling short of the necessary legislative approval at the state level. There were crushing disappointments which she saw as backward turning losses. Continue reading

UUWF: Biting Back

newspaperI spent just as much if not more time in the newsroom of the campus newspaper as I did attending classes at the University of California in Berkeley. Having discovered it in the first few weeks of my freshman year: an activity, a purpose, a refuge, a community, a training ground for a vocation I have never really given up. The clunky typewriters (yes that ages me), the scarred oak desks, the stacks of cheap brown half sheets we were expected to compose our stories on: stories of Black Power protests, ROTC protests, anti-war protests, People’s Park protests — a lot of unrest — and also the rich cultural offerings of that day, “The Day.”

In the midst of all the tumult and the tear gas volleys, I got to see and write about Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Crosby, Stills and Nash, French noir films, Ingrid Bergman movie festivals, the early third wave women poets. Continue reading

A week in the life of women



This past week, a disturbed young man in California stabbed and shot both women and men — killing six, wounding 13 — and then committed suicide. Left behind in social media were his plans, especially a YouTube posting documenting his intentions to murder three people in his apartment building and then attack a sorority house in Isla Vista near UC Santa Barbara. It is the same college community where my own daughter lived during the time she attended nearby Santa Barbara City College. Once his rampage began, he settled on attacking passersby, including two female students.

In his video and an online manifesto he published just before what one journalist has called his “spasm of violence,” the killer talked about his War on Women. “I will punish all females for the crime of depriving me of sex,” he announced. While he could not “kill every single female on earth,” he said, he could “deliver a devastating blow that will shake all of them to the core of their wicked hearts.”

His writings — his rantings — also declared that women are like a plague, needing to be contained in concentration camps, starved to death. Continue reading

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

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