Monthly Archives: February 2014

A feminist legend inspires in Raleigh! Ellie Smeal

Feminist legend Ellie Smeal was the guest speaker and panel moderator at WomenNC’s 2014 Fellowship Dinner. Smeal gave a very inspiring summary of where the movement has been, and where it’s going. She talked about how the name of her organization, Feminist Majority came about. She told us how she loves statistics, and how she has used them.

Smeal moderated a panel discussion between the 6 student ‘fellows’ who have done research with WomenNC on topics from sexual abuse among teenagers (middle and high school) to maternal health/supporting new mothers, to structural causes of gender inequality. Some surprising statistics they quoted:

• 1 in 3 teens has been in an abusive dating relationship.
• Women in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) programs make 33% more than women not in STEM programs. But the really surprising statistic Sara quoted was “90% of women’s income goes back to the family. Men contribute 35% of their income to the family.”
• Maternal health is a game changer – need to bring resources to women’s communities, to help women in their communities. In 2010 alone, “In 2010, 287,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Almost all of these deaths occurred in low-resource settings, and most could have been prevented.” (Fellow quoted the 287,000 stat, but I found clarification at World Health Organization at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs348/en/)

The fellows are heading to NYC in March to present their work at the United Nations Commission for the Status of Women. WomenNC has trained and motivated university students to do and present research at the CSW since 2009.

Smeal inspired the students and audience. She said she named her organization Feminist Majority, based on popularity of feminism in polls. She said that the latest polling by Celinda Lake in 2012 exit polls showed the following results.
• Democratic Women – > 70% feminists!
• Independents -> over half are feminists!
• Republican Women -> 49% are feminists!!!
The last was the most surprising to me, but great news!

Smeal ended with ‘as long as the message for equality is so popular, we’re going to win in the end!’

Make a difference with your presence, and the written word!

NC NOW members pose at Moral Monday Fayetteville rally 2/17/14

NC NOW members pose at Moral Monday Fayetteville rally on 2/17/14

The NC chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) is a grass roots organization with chapters around state. We are always trying to get attention to problems in NC – willing to rally or protest when necessary! We were a partner at the Historic Thousands Moral March on Feb 8, 2014 – and we ALL really made history with the size of that march – maybe 100,000 people! Definitely over 80,000 people.

We have huge appreciation for the NC-NAACP for making the Historic Thousands on Jones St happen, and for the many well run and well attended Moral Mondays, and press conferences around the state. Many Fayetteville NOW members traveled on the NC-NAACP bus again this year to the HK on J. HKs and MMs are great way to give a constructive and safe protest outlet for people’s outrage. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery as we see MM ideas are taking off in other southern states.

Our Moral March had people fill the streets, fill the sidewalks, filling the parking structure in that first block. We were a sight to see, and our protest was covered in local and national news!

Talking about the news– let’s think about the power of the written word (as well as videoed spoken word). Just in the past month, there are some great articles NOW members have written, reaching a wider audience. After trying to appeal to Governor McCrory through calls and emails myself, I finally gave up on the idea of him being a moderate politician who would listen.

I love to write, and I love to read others points of view. Raleigh NOW member Margaret Weeber wrote an excellent letter to editor in response to one of mine, which was about how a governor needs to be rated on the good or damage he or she does – and McCrory has done a lot of damage – by refusing to expand Medicaid, by slashing unemployment insurance, and by his bad choices in leadership – most clearly seen at Dept of Health and Human Services.

Margaret Weeber wrote “NC is FIRST in the War on Women” in response to one I had written. Margaret wrote: “This year has been a nightmare for women and families in N.C., thanks to McCrory and his choice in leadership” was a powerful statement attesting to the Legislature and the Governor’s war on women and families. Ironically, this war on women and families has crowned N.C. with many draconian and backward-leaning ‘Firsts’ in the country, other than ‘First in Flight’. See the following examples:
• North Carolina was the first State in the Nation to reduce Unemployment Benefits; thereby, intentionally, disqualifying itself from the Unemployment Benefits Extension Program. This action hurt women and families.
• North Carolina was the first State in the Nation to abolish Teacher Tenure. This action hurt women and families by removing appeals process for job security.
• North Carolina was the first State in the Nation to abolish higher Teacher pay for Advanced Degrees. This action hurt women and families.
• North Carolina was the first State in the Nation to establish a “Hunger Games’ style competition for piddling merit pay increases. This action hurt women and families.
I guess our new license plates should say–‘Happy Hunger Games, may the odds be ever in your favor’.

Margaret Weeber

Jan’s article:
Second article I’ll share was written by Jan Allen: Women Must Make Own Decisions. Jan Allen is an integral part of NC NOW, as well as other women’s organizations. In fact she is the co-founder of one of those organizations, Lillian’s List. Jan wrote “What must be challenged is why women’s life decisions can be legislated.”
The very thoughtful Jan. 26 column “Law vs. peace on abortion divide” by [N&O Editor] Ned Barnett made some excellent points.

I am not, however, optimistic about achieving peace anytime soon. He [Barnett] did say that it will require changing attitudes and mutual respect. This may take a while.

Lawmakers passing these restrictions on access to abortion, and now birth control, apparently regard women as incompetent in making their own health care decisions. These mostly male legislators have very little understanding of these decisions. One congressman, when asked whether he had ever asked a woman why she was seeking an abortion, replied, “No, I never have.” He was at the time attempting to ban abortions. Judging from recent statements, they don’t understand family planning or birth control, either.

It’s going to take more than mutual respect. What must be challenged is why women’s life decisions can be legislated. If a woman cannot control when and whether she has a child, she cannot control her own life. Women must be able to make their own health decisions. As long as lawmakers continue passing laws to regulate and control women’s most personal health decisions, there will be no peace.

Jan Allen

These words really capture how bad NC has become as a massive testing ground for pure conservative ideology, as Zachary Roth wrote for MSNBC 11/29/13 (updated 1/30/14).

Margaret Weeber’s article – at NC NOW facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/NC-NOW-National-Organization-for-Women/180024368705304?ref=hl, date 2/1/14.
Jan Allen’s article – http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/02/08/3600576/jan-allen-women-must-make-own.html
Zachary Roth article – http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/north-carolilna-hard-right-shift-hits-roadblock