September Teach In – Feminism 101

fem 101 graphic

As a part of the Education Committee’s programme for 2017, the Women’s Caucus general meeting on Sept 18 featured a teach-in entitled “Feminism 101” presented by Beatrix Newsome and Kate Van Dermark with consultation from Jen Brock. The teach-in began with a summary of each of the three waves of feminism and a review of the thematic concepts in each wave. Several pertinent acts of legislation were pinpointed to demonstrate the elevation of the status of women over the last 300 years.

A presentation with common gender studies terms scrolled in the background (see below) to provide the group with a working knowledge of feminist jargon. This was interspersed with inspiring quotes from famous women and feminists from Sojourner Truth and Mae Jemison to Gloria Steinem and Gloria Anzaldúa. It also included word cloud brainstorming session of what being a feminist means to each of the women present, and a discussion of current feminist discourse seeking the group’s deliberation on issues being asked in the movement today, such as:

  • Is a fourth wave emerging and what does that entail?
  • Should the movement consider rebranding away from the “F” word, and what may be problematic about that?
  • How can we include men in the movement while maintaining a safe space for women?
  • How can we recognize and address both interpersonal and institutionalized forms of oppression to make our movement more intersectional?

Resources from the event included a timeline with each wave’s characteristics, some important figures, and 5 key acts of legislation, statistics on the status of women, and suggestions for further learning and involvement (top image). There’s something for every level of interest with short youtube clips about the three waves to seminal books, and ways to get involved to documentation programs like the Hollaback project. The resources presented are available for download here — please check them out and use!

To learn more or to get involved you can email the education committee at education@womenscaucus.co.uk.


Hurricane Harvey appeal

All of us at DAUK WC send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. We mourn especially for those who lost their lives.

As we have seen with Hurricane Katrina, the relief effort will take years, not months. Organizations are scrambling to provide emergency shelter and food for tens of thousands of Texas and Louisiana residents, including their pets. The property damage alone is estimated to be in the billions. According to Quartz, 85% of homes in Harris County (which includes the city of Houston) have no flood insurance.

In these times of national tragedy, it is painful to hear such distressing stories and to worry about friends and family back home. Our fellow Americans need our compassion and generosity to get through this natural disaster.

Please consider supporting the listed charities in the Hurricane Harvey relief effort:


Reflections on anti-Semitism, at home and abroad

This spring, I took a long walk in a nature reserve near York with my husband.  As we approached the trailhead, I noticed an ugly yellow spray-painted swastika, marring a map depicting the protected area. I had never been under the illusion that the U.K., my expatriate home, was free from anti-Semitism – the rise of the far-right here and across Europe had made clear that the complex hatred surrounding white nationalism were alive and well in Britain.  But these seemed abstract, the stuff of Radio 4 debates and editorial commentary, not in bright yellow paint, staring me in the face.

I thought about that swastika a great deal over these past weeks. As we’ve all read, white nationalists in Charlottesville chanted “Jews will not replace us,” placing anti-Semitism at the heart of their ethnic ideology. Whether a part of a far-right political ideal, or just simple hatred, anti-Semitism has taken on new life – from Charlottesville to rural Yorkshire. White supremacists and their sympathizers have decided that Jews aren’t white, reminding us that our acceptance is always, always provisional.  Perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise, but this was nevertheless a disturbing realization for me: anti-Semitism feels like such an old-fashioned brand of hatred.

Swastika image

Nazi vandalism in Skipwith Common National Nature Reserve, York UK.

How can we challenge it?  We need progressive candidates who can move past the fractured “identity politics” which has been so soundly rejected by voters. We need candidates who can craft inclusive policies that speak to all of us; who find ourselves outside the boundaries of the racists’ white ethno-state, and to the many men and women who find their ideals detestable. After all, there are more of us out here, and we are stronger in our diversity.

TAKE ACTION: Visit the Southern Poverty Law Center for US anti-hate resources
https://www.splcenter.org/

About the author: Dr. Erin Maglaque is a resident of York and a Teaching Fellow in History at the University of St Andrews. She is a (proud!) Massachusetts voter. To learn about her academic research, visit www.erinmaglaque.com


Getting Involved with Grassroots Activism “At Home”

In 2012 I retired in London and told my British husband that I wanted to spend the two months of September and October at our new Florida apartment to work on the Obama campaign.  After 35 years in the UK,  I went to West Palm Beach, walked in the Obama campaign office and signed on.  It was a great experience meeting many local Democrats and promoting not just President Obama but also a friend, Lois Frankel, running for the House seat and other local candidates.  Palm Beach County has a plurality of registered Democrats and so the Democratic candidates swept the races.

Having had a taste of the importance of activism, I’ve continued to do part-time volunteering, in ’13 on outreach for the Affordable Care Act, in ’14 for the Governor’s race, and in ’16 as a Democratic party precinct leader.  Election night ’16 was as dreadful there as it was for Democrats around the country and across the world but returning in January was inspiring on several fronts:   the county Democratic Party organized immediately to rally members and voters to oppose the Trump agenda, thousands of Florida women had gone to the DC March, there were events supporting Planned Parenthood and several former Republicans were starting an Indivisible chapter.  I joined them all and marched on Trump’s first weekend at Mar-a-Lago, protesting the assault on the full range of human rights issues with 3,000 others from all the activist groups.

There are now over 6,000 Indivisible groups inspired by their guide, “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda”, available at www.indivisibleguide.com. Like the Women’s March local chapters (www.womensmarch.com), these groups are bringing in voters new to activism animated by key issues such as health care, immigration, racial justice, environmental protection, income inequality, etc.  They work together on events to inform voters and connect with politicians whether in town halls or community events.   And many are coming forward to run for local, state and federal seats!  The real win will be Democratic electoral victories in November ’18 to take back Congress and state legislatures.

Our members can find local events on websites and Facebook pages to join.  Members can also donate time when in town, spread the word on activism and donate money to support this work. Remember there are only (about) 465 days left until November 8th, 2018!

Guest Post by Carol Moore, Women’s Caucus Co-Chair.


July 2017 Monthly Meeting – Notes

Healthcare Highlight: Elizabeth Crocker delivered an important presentation on the current state of the healthcare battle.

Key elements:

  • The ACA is an imperfect bill that needs to be FIXED, NOT sabotaged
  • State of Play: Collins and Paul are opposing the bill for different reasons
  • Only 462 days to go until 2018 MIDTERMS
  • With your calls/open letters: push for REVISION, NOT REPEAL that causes market destabilization
  • Get the latest updates on ALL Healthcare Reform issues from:

Going Back and Connecting With Grassroots Activism with Carol Moore

  • 6,000 Indivisible groups nationwide now!
  • Focus not limited to swing states, but swing DISTRICTS within red/blue states

Committee Updates:

  • Legislative: This month’s scripts are focused on the continuing battle over #HealthcareForAll. Please share and engage with us with our #ActivistHappyHour hashtag. Get in touch at: legistlative@womenscaucus.co.uk

  • Events: The DAUK Annual Picnic was a great success! Our next event is Women in Politics & Technology in early October and we’re organizing a Book Club — stay tuned. Want to get involved? Email us: events@womenscaucus.co.uk

  • Recruiting: We’re looking to expand our membership from outside of London: if you live outside the Greater London area, help us get this underway. Email us at: recruitment@womenscaucus.co.uk

  • Media & Comms (meetings on 4th Monday of each month):
    Website: We are seeking more photos, stay tuned for a fresh layout.
    Newsletter: Deadline to submit info/content is the 3rd Friday of each month.
    Calendar: Have a Democrats or progressive women-relevant event you’d like us to help promote? Email us: comms@womenscaucus.co.uk
    Social media: We’re always looking for people to take over our social media accounts for a week! Email comms@womenscaucus.co.uk for more info.

  • Education: Our next teach in is entitled Feminism 101: Back to the Basics; it will be held during the September 18 General Meeting.  Email education@womenscaucus.co.uk to join an upcoming meeting.

Women and Minorities Save the New Foreign Service Class

Not long before I joined the Foreign Service women officers who married were required to resign. Colleagues told me of foreign service couples seeking to hide their marriage by honeymooning two continents away from their duty assignments only to receive a curt telegram informing the newly married wife that she was reported to be  in violation of regulation X in the personnel code and adding that her resignation was expected as soon as possible.

A decade later the larger public still referred to “Our Man in…” when they meant US representation. The idea that diplomats are always or usually men was so pervasive that following the first embassy bombing in Beirut on 18 April 1983 the American women diplomats  who served in Lebanon felt compelled to write a letter protesting news articles expressing sympathy for the Beirut diplomats but depicting them entirely as men in the process.  They pointed out that women had also lost their lives in the attack.

It is therefore with more than a sense of irony that a scholarship which seeks to encourage underrepresented groups into the Foreign Service has helped salvage some of the dwindling numbers at the State Department.  Citing the need for cuts in his department Secretary Tillerson suspended two classes of new Foreign Service  officers known as A 100 classes. However they have just been reinstated in part due to the injustice the cuts would have done to members of the class who were recipients of two scholarship programs Pickering and Rangel.  Both scholarships offer young people from underrepresented groups a shot at a foreign service career following a two year graduate degree. University leaders, congress and the scholars themselves raised an outcry over the suspension of the classes and now the hiring freeze has been rescinded for the entire cohort – not just the scholars. Decades ago the Foreign Service was reluctant to welcome women and minorities and now women and minorities have helped secure the future of the Foreign Service.

Learn more:

Guest post by Carol Graham, Recruitment Committee Chair.  Carol Graham was the first woman to run the US UK Fulbright Commission and now works in a number of international education roles.


June 2017 Monthly Meeting – Notes

Healthcare Highlight: Elizabeth Crocker delivered updates on the current state of the healthcare debate in Washington (including policy details comparing the ACA to the AHCA and the importance of calling our Senators).

Committee Updates:
  • Legislative: Activist Happy Hour will now take place monthly: please CALL and SHARE to amplify your impact! Share your activism with hashtag #ActivistHappyHour. New scripts are planned to be released the third Wednesday  of each month.

  • Events: We had a great table at the Annual DAUK Independence Day picnic. Thank you to all our volunteers and everyone who stopped by! Stay tuned for more event announcements from us in the near future.

  • Recruiting: The team is focusing on including members from outside of London and was a big presence at our Independence Day picnic.

  • Media & Comms: We’ve revamped our Twitter and Facebook feeds, please give us a “like”, “follow” or “share” and let us know what you think!  We’re highlighting new voices across our social media channels, so let us know if you’d like to take a week at the helm of our Twitter and Facebook. Newsletter will now be sent the first Monday of each month and the content deadline is the third Friday of each month.

  • Education: Exciting teach ins are scheduled for September and November – stay tuned for further announcements with details.

Teach In: 

  • Communication Techniques for Talking Across Party Lines. Jennifer Daniels gave a presentation on the theory behind constructive conversations (and why they’re so difficult). Victoria Shaskan facilitated an interactive theater exercise skillfully executed by Kate Von Dermark and Beatrix Newsom.
  • For those who missed it: Polarization, common bias in our thinking, lack of confidence in information used to form opinions and differing worldviews often make it very difficult for liberals and conservatives to have effective political conversations. To overcome these challenges and have more constructive discussions, research and experts suggest taking steps to be an active listener, set realistic expectations, don’t assume bad intent from the other, ask him/her to explain in detail the impact of their position and use a moral framing compatible with the other person’s worldview. Utilising these suggestions can be difficult, so experts suggest practicing with another person.


Legislative Committee: Paris Accord

Trump and Congressional Republicans have cheated our planet, our children and our future by turning their backs on the Paris Accord. We can’t wait four years for the next president to fix this. Luckily we don’t have to.

Where our national government has failed, we must demand that our states and cities lead the charge to protect the planet. Across the U.S., mayors and governors are able to enforce emissions restrictions, and enact legislation that supports clean energy, following, or even exceeding, the terms of the accord.

We urge you to show your support for the environment today by calling or emailing your governor (https://www.usa.gov/state-governor) and your mayor (http://www.mayors.org/meetmayors/mayorsatglance.asp) and ask that they make a stand and support the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement on behalf of the state and the city where you vote, and on behalf of the one world we call home.

Script:

Hello, My name is [name] and I am a constituent of [mayor/governor name] currently living in [city, county].

[If the Mayor/Governor supports the Paris Agreement] Thank you for your pledge to support the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement.  It is vital that our cities and states take the lead on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

[If the Mayor/Governor has no stance or supports withdrawal from Paris]  I am calling to urge the [mayor/governor] to pledge [his/her] support to the Paris climate agreement.  The actions of cities and states drive climate action in the US and can have a real impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Americans around the world are counting on our [city/state] government to take the lead on climate change now that the President has cheated our planet, our children, and our future.

Thank you.

Learn more:


Episode 7: Meanwhile, In the UK

In Episode 7: Meanwhile, In the UK, we look to the UK for advice on feminist organising.  We speak to RegisterHer to Vote (@RegistHERtoVote) about why it’s so essential that we as progressives register women to vote and Abortion Rights Scotland (@Abortion_RCScot) remind us to always move forward regarding reproductive rights.  Plus, Casey Calista looks back to the American Revolution for some lessons in democracy.