Women in HerStory

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MamaBlogger365 – A MAY ZING 2011 by Amy Simon

Three Shows, Three Days, Two Cities, Three Venues – No Roadies

Amy Simon’s been kind enough to share her May journal entries with us – the travel! the shows! Mama Expo! and more! Want to find out more about her work? Visit ShesHistory.com and watch for part two next Sunday!

Sunday, May 22nd

My Sunday morning audience:  Eighty beautifully dressed, red-hatted, well-fed, fifty years and older lovely ladies of The Red Hat Society. I booked this gig at Sze Chwan – a Chinese Restaurant in the Los Angeles suburb of Canoga Park before I was asked to perform two shows two days later in New York City – my hometown – at the Mama Expo on May 24th.  So.  Sunday morning, I load up the car, journey to “the valley,” pull up, unload, am surrounded by a sea of red hats, set up, wait for lunch to be over, do the show (which went really well), strike the set which includes the slide projector, speakers, costumes, props, et cetera, get paid, load up and jump in the car – grab a sandwich and head home.  Unpack, re-pack for the New York shows and get it together.

Monday,  May 23rd

Wake up at 4:00AM – get to the airport at 6AM – for a 7:20AM flight – on which I get stuck in the middle seat.  Torture. But.  I am bringing my show to New York.  Wow.  Schlep, schlep, schlep, the projector, speakers, laptop and few personal items that filled to the max the one carry-on bag and one personal item allowed (could not, would not, did not risk checking my bags).  The plan is to arrive at 4:00PM – go straight to the theater for tech rehearsal.  I am sharing the show night and the rehearsal with another play that follows mine, and we’re both on another show’s set.

For the uninformed, tech rehearsals are traditionally hell and this one did not disappoint.  Months of planning, negotiating and scheduling had gone into this one tech rehearsal. I had shipped my suitcase of props and costumes ahead to my friend Tom who kindly agreed to meet me at the theater with my show in a suitcase.

After my $55 cab ride from JFK, I checked in to the Excelsior hotel on West 81st Street (one street down from the apartment I had lived in for 10 years as a struggling actress!) and immediately lugged my suitcase to the Drilling Company Theater on West 78th.  Two long, long flights up I enter the really sweet “intimate” theater.  It is perfect. There’s Tom!  Yay!  There’s my suitcase with the cables and adapters and costumes and props.  I begin setting up and spend an inordinate amount of time figuring out where the screen goes which determines where everything else on the stage goes – including me!

The blessing and curse of running my own show is I am technologically empowered, do not have to train – or pay – anyone – to run the show, which includes about 100 slides.  There are lots of transitions, cues and music, which I run with my remote from the stage – it is truly a one-woman show.

After a very arduous and typically trying tech, we get the screen set up – the stage set up – am finally happy and immediately strike, pack up and schlep the TWO suitcases down the two flights of stairs and back to the hotel.  I am wiped out.  Dead.  And starving.  I need a glass of wine and some carbs.

The concierge suggests an Italian restaurant and after walking around trying to find a less swanky one, I go in and order my wine and pasta and – I am a new woman!  Back to the hotel – call home and get the girls on the phone.  They are three hours behind.  I was concerned because my 18-year-old, Rose, was working at Banana Republic and I hated my 14-year-old Ruby eating and being alone on a school night.  I have never left my girls alone for this long before and although I knew my “village” was right there – I still felt guilty.  Ahh, the curse of the working mother.  But turns out Rose’s shift was changed and they were together. I am so relieved.

I re-organize all the suitcases for tomorrow’s double-header – the first show is at 11AM at the conference.  What is MamaExpo?

MAMA Expo & M.O.M. Conference: Modern Ambassador for Maternal Advancement. Raising Awareness the Museum Of Motherhood (M.O.M.) and Women, (M)others and Families Everywhere. Empowered by Mamapalooza & hosted by Marymount Manhattan University, New York Parks Dept.  The conference is organized by a magnificent magnet of all things mothers and marvelous – Joy Rose, the founder of Mamapalooza and The Museum of Motherhood.

“Just get here, I’ll do the rest.” Joy told me back in January, when she asked me to bring SHE’S HISTORY! to the conference.  So there I was – a “presenter” at the three day Conference – right smack in the middle of all these really fascinating and accomplished and cool cool cool women.

AND she got me an evening show the same night.  I got TWO slots at the conference.

About Amy Simon and She’s History: Using theater, history, multi-media, lots of audience interaction, treats, and good old-fashioned story telling, She’s History! is chock full of stories, scenes and revelations; true tales of fabulous females, then and now. Going back and forth from the past to the present, poignantly and comically (her trademark) our Modern Mom, Amy Simon, finds the funny as she struggles with raising girls in today’s challenging world. Visit She’sHistory.com to learn more!

MamaBlogger365 needs you! Tell us how you’re re-framing motherhood and help the Museum of Motherhood secure a permanent home in 2011!

“A Brief Tribute to Motherhood Icon, Sara Ruddick” by *Dr Mama, Amber Kinser

Though yesterday I was of many words, today I am of few.  I was onstage just minutes before delivering a Women’s

Sara Ruddick

History Month lecture called “The Truth about Motherhood and Feminism” when I looked briefly at my phone for emails.  There I saw the announcement from the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI) that a maternal studies icon had passed:  “Sara Ruddick—philosopher, writer, peace activist, mothering theorist and legend, dies at 76.”  (Here are two sites that MIRCI offered to learn more about Ruddick; one from a feminist philosophers blog and one from yesterday’s New York Times article.)  When I got to the part in my lecture about how feminists have worked to reconceptualize our ideas about family and women’s “nature,” I had to fight to keep from tearing up because Ruddick’s contributions to rethinking these ideas have been so wholly significant to motherhood studies and to me; I really don’t know where we’d be without her.  She took a core concept like “maternal instinct” and developed an entirely new way of thinking about and talking about mother knowledge and wit.  Certainly it’s the case that mothers typically know what their children need and how to care for them, how to motivate them, how to anticipate their needs, how to help them, how to foster their preservation, their growth, and their social acceptability, to use Ruddick’s terms. But Ruddick didn’t buy that all that comes naturally to women.  She didn’t buy that knowing all that comes from some internal, biological place—a place that might be likened to where our body’s automatic urge to blink or pursue a flight-or-fight response comes from.  It comes, she said, from women’s engagement in the “discipline” of mothering—mindful, thought-full, investigative, observant learning, effort, and practices that are meticulously crafted through day-to-day interactions with children. Women learn to think about their children and respond to their children according to that knowledge, and this is not captured in the idea of “instinct.”   So she developed the idea over time of “maternal thinking,” first in her 1980 article by the same name in the academic journal Feminist Studies, then in her full-length book Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace. Maternal thinking captures the work and effort, and the connected and engaged practice, of mothering that explains how mothers come to know what they know.

Anyone who can effectively upend as firmly entrenched and reductive an idea as “maternal instinct” is an icon, I say.  And I’m not the only one.

The idea of maternal thinking helped us to figure out how women have different kinds and amounts of mother knowledge, allowed us to seriously grasp that men can be as capable of nurturing care of children as are women, and, importantly, provided a framework for giving women the credit they have more than earned for the training and disciplined practice they undergo as mothers and for the difficult and daily work that this implies.  She also argued that the influence between mothers and children is not unilateral, transferring from the mother to the child, but that the influence is reciprocal.  That the mother changes in interaction with the child, that the mother becomes a differently thinking, acting person through mothering.  That the kind of thinking and acting that emerges from mother knowledge is antithetical to war and violence, and that therefore mothers have much to teach the broader social world about living in peace.

Sara Ruddick’s contribution to mothering and motherhood studies was extensive and went worlds beyond these ideas.  For me, right now, I’d like to offer up a most impassioned and humble ‘thank you, Sara,’ for radically changing the way we think about motherwork, mother knowledge and wit, and the role of biology in it.  You rocked our world.

BIO:  Dr. Mama (Amber Kinser) is a writer, feminist mother, professor, and speaker who lives in Tennessee.  Follow her on Twitter @DrMamaWit, check her out on Facebook, and see her webpage.

Kinser writes for the MamaBlogger365 series each Thursday at the Museum Of Motherhood, Mamapalooza and Mamazina Magazine.

International Women’s Day – 100 Years Of Achievements

When: Tuesday 8 March 2011
Where: Everywhere
What: International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday.
Why: Suffragettes campaigned for women’s right to vote. The word ‘Suffragette’ is derived from the word “suffrage” meaning the right to vote. International Women’s Day honours the work of the Suffragettes, celebrates women’s success, and reminds of inequities still to be redressed. The first International Women’s Day event was run in 1911. 2011 is the Global Centenary Year. Let’s reinvent opportunity for working women and all womenInternational Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900′s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women’s oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

n 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named a Clara Zetkin (Leader of the ‘Women’s Office’ for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women’s Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day – a Women’s Day – to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women’s clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin’s suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women’s Day was the result.

Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women’s Day (IWD) was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on 25 March, the tragic ‘Triangle Fire’ in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women’s Day events. 1911 also saw women’s ‘Bread and Roses‘ campaign.

On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women’s Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Wommen’s Day ever since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women’s solidarity.

On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for “bread and peace” in response to the death over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. Opposed by political leaders the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women’s strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.

1918 – 1999
Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women’s Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women’s rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as ‘International Women’s Year‘ by the United Nations. Women’s organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women’s advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women’s equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.

2000 and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.

The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970′s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.

Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on 8 March search engine and media giant Google some years even changes its logo on its global search pages. Year on year IWD is certainly increasing in status. The United States even designates the whole month of March as ‘Women’s History Month’.

So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women’s Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.

The internationalwomensday.com website was created and is managed by Australian entrepreneur and women’s campaigner Glenda Stone as a global hub of IWD events and information.

Information taken from International Women’s Day.com

Ms Stone says “A decade ago International Women’s Day was disappearing. Activity in Europe, where International Women’s Day actually began, was very low. Providing a global online platform helped sustain and accelerate momentum for this important day. Holding only a handful of events ten years ago, the United Kingdom has now become the global leader for International Women’s Day activity, followed sharply by Canada, United States and Australia. 2011 will see thousands of events globally for the first time.”

Also check out International Women’s Day.org

MamaBlogger365 – Writing Motherhood, by Jennifer Flaten

How exactly does a mother of three end up a writer?  Well, I entered a contest and won!

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran a contest-the prize was the opportunity to write a monthly column.  It is amazing that I won because normally I dont a)read that section of the paper b) enter contests.

Something about that contest intrigued me.  I snapped off my two sample columns.  I was nervous about being judged, feared what they would think of my writing.  Yet, I sent my samples off.  It must be the whole animous attitude of email.

Imagine my suprise when they called to tell me I had won.  In fact, I had given up on them, the month they were supposed to announce the winners came and went.  I was getting miffed that they hadn’t sent an email informing us the contest was closed.

So then I found myself writing and getting paid-a small amount, but still….I was loving it.  Then I thought HEY -if the paper will pay me to write maybe someone else will too.

So far, I have had some success.  I have written an article for a medical website.  I also have three articles pending with another website.

I love the whole process.  I love getting the topic and I love researching-yeah I know GEEKY.  The part where I actually sit down and write…well that can be tricky.  Sometimes I get interrupted-alot.  The worst is having the kids reading over my shoulder.

Like other aspiring writers, I have to squeeze writing in between everything else I do.  Because maintaining the house and herding the kids isn’t enough excitement (kidding) I work at an audio visual company two days a week.

The kids are a huge encouragement (no really) they love that I have my picture and articles in the paper.  When I show them a website where my work is they get all excited.  They are just starting to read, so it is cool to hear them sounding out words that I wrote…okay maybe not so cool, if they are reading what I am writing as I am writing it.  Very hard to keep your train of thought.

Writing is easy now that is winter, how I am going to keep up with writing in summer.  I love the outside and so do the kids.  I have my eye on a laptop…we’ll see.

BIO: Jennifer Flaten is a Wisconsin based writer with three small children who understands the delicate balance between home and work. She knows having a healthy, happy family is a priority, and with that in mind, she has a special interest in health, family and technology. Her works have been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and at various online journals.

MamaBlogger 365 is ‘reframing motherhood’, engaging bloggers, (m)others, feminists, business-women, activists, artists and everyday gals in discussions about contemporary motherhood, with a twist. How do mothers maintain their health, balance and sanity? What are the issues facing mothers today? When work and home collide, how do people find ways to nurture themselves and stay strong? This is not your mother’s mother’s blog. We’re ‘waking up motherhood’, and opening to our highest awareness. We are not selling you stuff away and we’re not using you as a marketing ploy – We’re sharing heart and soul -information and encouragement, to assist you in our authentic, passionate and empowered journey! Thank you for helping us raise awareness about the Museum Of Motherhood, and if you’d like to contribute a blog, send your story about ‘reframing motherhood’ to: MamazinaMagazine@gmail.com.

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