Have We Graduated from Feminism?

Since I co-founded Feminist Friends with two friends from graduate school last year, we’ve started to make a name for ourselves by gathering a nice following on Twitter (@FeministFriends), writing and creating a variety of feminist workshops on social media, reproductive justice and leadership for feminist activists.  Our latest adventure was presenting a workshop/discussion at the National Conference of College Women Student Leaders, held at the University of Maryland in College Park on May 31. It’s safe to say that it was a success! Check it out below.

On May 31, Feminist Friends asked young women student leaders at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders in College Park, Maryland, to talk about the intersections of feminism and women’s leadership. Here’s a small sample of the discussion!

  1. We started the discussion off by asking participants what they think of when they hear the word “feminism.”
  2. Feminism is about what you’re doing and not only what you’re saying. #femgrad #NCCWSL2013
  3. Feminism is taking away the limits of what it means to be women & men and to recognize full humanity. #femgrad #NCCWSL2013
  4. Then the conversation turned to the importance of identifying yourself as a feminist.
  5. #youngfems are the NOW of the feminist movement!
  6. Woot! RT @FeministFriends: The now of feminism & women’s leadership is here in the room at University of MD. #youngfems #femgrad @NCCWSL
  7. One student leader talking now about Feminist Coming Out Day on her campus – what a great idea! #femgrad #NCCWSL2013
  8. Standing room only!
  9. Our #femgrad circle takes up the entire room! Awesome discussion! #NCCWSL2013 pic.twitter.com/NmSzKANoFw
  10. @NCCWSL Have We Graduated From Feminism with @FeministFriends was an amazing experience! #femgrad
  11. Thanks to all who came and made an amazing discussion!

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Making ‘women’s issues’ community news at Want2Dish.com

I recently began writing for Want2Dish.com, a hyper-local online news magazine in Frederick County, Maryland. My plan is to write about women’s issues and relate them to the community, so keep checking the site for new stories.

My first article about a new birthing community, “Sacred Roots Birth Community Seeks to Empower Women during Pregnancy,” ran yesterday. It was refreshing to meet the women behind this birthing community and to know that their mission is to empower pregnant women in making the best decisions for themselves when it comes to birthing. They’re non-judgemental too, which is an attitude that is desperately needed, considering the scrutiny and judgement that pregnant women are constantly subjected to.

Check out the article and share!

I support a woman’s right to an abortion.


This post is a part of NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Blog for Choice Day 2013

I’ve been thinking this morning, on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, about the phrase “pro-choice.” There are conflicting views within the feminist community on the value of the “pro-choice” label and that’s a good thing. We need to have those discussions about what it means to support abortion rights for all women and not only for those who can access it the most, because then the choice to have an abortion is easy for some and extremely difficult for many.

Does the label fit me anymore, knowing that my views and understanding of abortion have shifted and expanded from a purely reproductive rights standpoint to one that embraces reproductive justice? Not exactly. But I still believe it’s a simple, useful phrase in theory because it implies that women decide if or when to become a mother. That women are in control of their bodies and fates. Forty years after Roe, this idea is still powerful and radical when so much of our culture and conservative politics dictate the opposite.

As a teenager, I came into reproductive rights activism through pro-choice organizations like NARAL, Planned Parenthood and Feminist Majority. In the spirit of sharing our stories in this blog carnival, and in honor of my pro-choice beginnings in reproductive rights, here is why I will always support abortion rights:


  • Without the right to a legal abortion, I lack personhood, autonomy and citizenship. The right to privacy as enshrined in the Constitution (the legal bedrock of abortion rights) means that I have the ability to decide my reproductive future and control my own body.


  •  Listening to the women and girls who call the DC Abortion Fund hotline. Their personal stories turn from fear to anxiety, relief and gratitude as they tell me about their struggle to find a clinic near their home, schedule a convenient time for the procedure, find transportation to the clinic and childcare while they’re gone, and pay for an abortion. In other words, the hurdles they need to overcome to exercise their right to a safe and legal abortion. I support abortion rights because I know that I could be one of them.


  • My exposure as a teenager to conservative, right-to-life Catholicism that is anti-woman. There is no justification for male clergy of any religion (or religion) to dictate women’s reproductive choices. Religious extremism is inextricably bound to misogyny.


  •  I trust women. There is no better reason to support abortion access and rights than this.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day


So you want to run for office in Maryland? Just do it.

There are many reasons why I love living in Maryland, and the state’s Democratic politics is one of them. If you’re a progressive, how can you not love it? In 2012, we affirmed marriage equality, passed our version of the Dream Act and banned arsenic in agriculture, to name a few high-profile accomplishments. Our sights are now set on repealing the death penalty this year.

But there’s one more reason why Maryland politics is exciting to follow – its female leaders, present and future. I fully realized this when I attended a women’s Candidate, Campaign & Leadership Training, hosted by the Democratic Women’s PAC of Maryland and the Young Democrats of Maryland’s Women Caucus on Jan. 12. The daylong conference was designed to give Democratic women the tools, tips and strategies to run for local and state-wide offices, from campaign 101 to fundraising, online strategies, field operations and public speaking.

One look around the packed lecture hall at UMBC, and it was clear that the room was full of women of different ages, races and backgrounds from across the state. More important was the enthusiasm, tone and energy of the conference. Women (elected to public office or not) were helping other women by respectfully sharing their knowledge and experiences in the field and doing so with a good dose of humor and encouragement. Rep. Donna Edwards (D), Delegates Susan Lee, Ariana Kelly, Mary Washington; Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin and Cambridge Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley were some of the elected women who offered advice and encouraged several women eyeing public office to keep in touch after the conference.

Underlying this energy was a feeling of working together, not against one another, to increase the number of women in public office in Maryland. The supportive attitude and energy of women mentoring women for leadership positions is what will make the difference in increasing our numbers in statewide and Congressional offices. As women, we have a responsibility to grow new political leadership networks on local, state and federal levels, or else we won’t be heard.

Numbers from the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University gives us an idea of where Maryland is in terms of female representation and how far it still has to go. According to the Center for American Women in Politics, Maryland ranks 8th among state legislatures for the proportion of women. Out of 188 legislators in the Maryland House and Senate, only 57 are women. Women are 30 percent of the state legislature. We have one female U.S. Senator (Barbara Mikulski), one Congresswoman (Rep. Donna Edwards), and no women in executive positions. (This could change if Del. Heather Mizeur, a strong feminist, runs for governor and wins!)

Although Maryland’s numbers are better than women’s representation in the U.S. House and Senate (18 percent), I think we can do better and set an example for the rest of the country. The Candidate, Campaign & Leadership Training is a step in the right direction and I’m already keeping an eye on a few women here in Frederick County who could run for office. I hope they do. Ultimately, I want to see Maryland women make up 50 percent of the state legislature and more. If Saturday’s training was any indication, I’d say that we can do it.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Community: Let’s Take a Stand Against Rape

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Community: Let’s Take a Stand Against Rape

My Feminist Friends partner, Rachel Piazza, wrote a great blog post about rape in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community in Washington D.C. The rape, which happened on New Year’s Eve, was captured on a parking garage surveillance video and hasn’t received much attention from traditional and social media.

Check out her piece! She’s a BJJ purple belt and one of a handful of women in this community.

2012 year-in-review for Feminist Conscience

Thanks to WordPress, I have some nifty blogging stats for 2012!

Thanks to all of my subscribers and visitors for following and reading Feminist Conscience.

I hope 2013 brings you nothing but success. And good feminist blogging, of course. 🙂

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Record Number of Women Sworn in to 113th Congress

Let’s start the new year off with some good news!

Newly elected members of the 113th Congress will be sworn in today, including a record number of 20 women Senators. In fact, the new Congress is the most diverse in history, in terms of race, gender, sexuality and religion. This infographic from Think Progress highlights the diversity within the new Congress. (It also serves as a good reminder that our socially constructed identities of race, gender, sexual orientation, age and faith aren’t mutually exclusive. After all, the category of “women” includes all of the above, and vice versa.)

Also check out this Washington Post photo series of our newly elected female Senators.

Happy New Year 2013!

How many more Americans have to die from gun violence?

Today’s mass killing of 20 children and 8 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, is now the second deadliest shooting in U.S. history. I find it chilling that I learned of today’s news after walking out of a movie theater – the same type of building that the last mass killing of Americans happened in Aurora, Colorado. (Aside from this past week’s shooting in a mall near Portland, Oregon.)

So tell me. Have we had enough? How many more times do we have to say what a tragedy it was, how we’re praying for the victims and their families? Because I’m angry and I’m tired of hearing how everyone’s praying but no one wants to deal with the problem of gun violence and gun culture. I mean really deal with it. Get off your knees, get righteously angry and act. The answer is not only stricter gun laws but the hard work of changing our culture of violence and making it easier for people to access mental health services than guns. As someone said on Twitter today, “Only in America can gun ownership be a right and healthcare be a privilege.”

Please, please throw away the usual, tired lines when mass killings in schools, houses of worship, malls, movie theaters and workplaces happen. They don’t get us anywhere. We should know by now that unspeakable acts of horror and domestic terrorism can happen in pristine, family-friendly, suburban towns and not only in inner cities where the victims of gun violence usually go unnoticed. I’ve realized this since 1999 when I was a sophomore in high school and Columbine happened. What have we been doing since then?

In a New York Times op-ed, Gregory Gibson, a parent who lost a child 20 years ago today in a shooting rampage at a Massachusetts college, raised a painful truth in our complicity and willingness to endure mass killing after mass killing. After years of advocating for gun control, he gave up, because he realized that,

…in essence, this is the way we in America want things to be. We want our freedom, and we want our firearms, and if we have to endure the occasional school shooting, so be it. A terrible shame, but hey — didn’t some guy in China just do the same thing with a knife?

Gibson goes on to write,

More horrible still — to me at least — is the inevitable lament, “How could we have let this happen?”

It is a horrible question because the answer is so simple. Make it easy for people to get guns and things like this will happen. Children will continue to pay for a freedom their elders enjoy.

As long as our country is willing to cling to guns and defend the Second Amendment at all costs, including our children’s lives, we’ll keep asking this question. We’ll keep saying what a horrible tragedy it was. We’ll wonder how someone can kill at random again. Hug your kids tight, everyone says. Pray for the victims and the families. But nothing will change. Doesn’t that make you angry?

So, I ask again. How many more innocent children and adults have to die from gun violence before we really do something about it?

Rape Culture and Glenn Beck Doesn’t Like Me

I had the privilege of seeing comedian and Citizen Radio co-host Jamie Kilstein perform this critique of rape culture in Philadelphia in November. He totally rocked it. I love a male comedian who’s not afraid of speaking out! Check it out, and listen to Citizen Radio (wearecitizenradio.com)!