Tag Archives: activism

Add Contacts, Congressional Edition – #PhoneYourRep

As you might expect (or know already, if we’re FB or Twitter friends), I have a lot of feelings about Tuesday’s election and its subsequent results. And maybe, eventually, I’ll be able to organize them coherently and present them in essay form.

For now, I’m trying to focus on concrete actions I and you can take to prepare ourselves for a long few years. Much of this will require getting in direct touch with our representatives in congress. Per this piece, by a former congressional staffer, the best way to do that is via phone.

Well, guess what. We all carry our phones with us 24/7. So if we have their numbers in our phones, we are already better prepared to engage our reps across congress in conversations about the issues that matter.

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The leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Bernie Sanders and others, including Schumer, Warren, Reid and Booker, as well as the CWA, have endorsed Rep. Keith Ellison for the position of new DNC chair.

I’m starting with my own senators (Chuck Schumer and Kristin Gillibrand, both D-NY) and my House Rep (a republican who I have to look up again – see how much time I’d have saved if I’d whacked him into my phone the first time I called his office?) and the leadership of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. If you finish with those and want to keep going, think about adding regional DNC information as well.

So ask yourself, are you more likely to call your rep if you can just say, “Okay Google, dial Charles Schumer” and get a direct line to his office? Or if you have to go online, look up the number, and call from there?

If the answer is #1, and you want to help effect positive change in America, then take five minutes and put these numbers and more into your phone. Right now. Seriously. Cut and paste is your friend.

And remember, you can look up your reps and senators (links below), but think about looking up other reps and senators, as well. All of congress works for you. Your tax dollars contribute to all their salaries. You have a right to call and demand representation from any and all of them to address your rights and concerns, and you should do so.

And for Non-NYers:
Look up your Senator’s contact info here
Look up your Rep’s contact info here

Edit: Things are getting fun! A friend of mine has issued a #PhoneYourRep challenge to the internet! Once you’ve added your rep’s number to your phone, head to Dave’s Facebook and leave screenshot evidence – if we can get over 100 people to do it, he’ll be on the hook for a $500 donation to the Sierra Club (and given the person who’s in charge of their transition team, they’re gonna need it)!

Getting better at representative government AND saving the planet? Take part in this challenge and you’re basically a superhero. 😀

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Feminism on Valentine’s Day

2013-02-14 14.20.25A year or six ago, when I was studying in London, another single friend and I decided we’d take Valentine’s Day off and travel to Bath. We visited the Roman Spas and the Jane Austen museum – but that’s a blog for another day.

This year, I went to the One Billion Rising demonstration in Washington Square Park.

What’s One Billion Rising, you ask? Here’s a link to their site: http://onebillionrising.org/ – but in short, they’re an offshoot of playwright Eve Ensler’s V-Day Foundation, and work as an organization to demand an end to violence against women around the world. For the last year, they’ve been working to get out the word around the world and stage a women’s strike on February 14, 2014. ‘

More recently, they organized a way for women around the world to express themselves in solidarity with one another against violence: a worldwide dance.

And I do mean worldwide. Check out the organization’s website and the twitter tags #1billionrising and #reasontorise/#reasonstorise to see what’s being said about the action.

Here’s a video of today’s demo in Washington Square Park, NYC.

The 99 Report: Gun Discussion

http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductDetails/p220-carry.aspx

From http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProductDetails/p220-carry.aspx.

Just finished up a discussion with the ever-delightful Allie McNeil (@watergatesummer) over on her podcast/internet radio show, “The 99 Report.”  Check it out if you have the time – I call in about 8 minutes into the broadcast and we chat for the full show.

There’s a brief technical mishap midway through, but we got things back up and running within a few minutes, so don’t let that put you off the rest of the show.

Take a listen – we discuss gun violence, Gabby Giffords and her new SuperPAC, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Breaking Bad, Columbine, my award-winning first play (1999’s POST), connections between art and violence, conversations on twitter and more.

Public Action/Performance: Reading The #VaginaBlogs in Union Square Monday Night

It’s been a week since I first heard about Vaginagate; just four days days since one of my personal heroes performed her groundbreaking and award-winning play The Vagina Monologues in Michigan, in theatrical protest of the censure of two women representatives on the floor of the State House.

Over the weekend and through the day on Monday, I organized a solidarity action with a group of women in New York City; internet participants contributed links to their own #VaginaBlogs, speaking out about what had happened and how it related to women’s health and women’s issues in America today.

I arrived in Union Square with a colleague who had volunteered to come along, though she didn’t intend to read. There, we eventually found @ItsMeMarisol and her daughter, as well as @gavechase, @storygirlsarah, and one of the editors of The Veillee Blog. It was about twenty minutes past six on Monday night in Union Square – a bustling, busy time – and we didn’t have signs and we didn’t have an amplifier. Plenty of people had shown interest in the event, and we weren’t sure how to find them. There was one woman standing and looking around near the corner I’d tweeted we’d be waiting at, and the group sent me over to see if she was looking for us.

About five steps away from her, I suddenly jerked to a stop when I heard:

“VAGINA! VAGINA! VAGINA!”

The girl looked up – but she wasn’t the only one. Heading back to the group, we quickly decided the shout made for the perfect punctuation; we’d shout the chant three times, then we’d head into the first blog entry. Then we’d shout again. Then we’d read some more.

We stood in Union Square and read out the blogs that had been written: blogs by mothers, by clergy, by straight white guys, by poets, and by other – well, Ensler called them “Sheroes” during her speech on the State steps (thanks to the commenter who left a link on my previous VaginaBlogs post).

As we read, a crowd gathered. As one woman observed to me afterwards, it was mostly men who were stopping and listening – but they were listening, not leering or heckling. And the women who stopped were smiling and nodding and staying, too. From the crowd, a young woman walked up to us wearing a white t-shirt that read: “I <3 MICHIGAN VAGINAS!” She looked thrilled. I asked her if she’d like to join us; she accepted immediately, grabbed a blog entry, and jumped into line.

Once I finished reading Vagina Vagina Vagina, we shouted our chant again and moved on to  @ItsMeMarisol’s daughter. Then @ItsMeMarisol herself; this was when something amazing happened: another woman in the audience walked up to me and asked what we were doing. I explained, mentioning Eve Ensler’s performance. At the mention of Ensler’s name, the woman looked shocked. They knew each other. I was shocked; talk about a sign. (And yes, before you ask, when I got home I did my homework – she was legit.)

As we read, a crowd gathered. People approached us, asked questions. One man stood seriously for several minutes, reading to himself from Sare Liz Gordy’s blog on the idea of the Universal Feminine Painbody.

We read for about 45 minutes. It was an amazing experience. Due to noise issues, recording video didn’t work too well – but I’ll try to grab some captures from the one video that did survive and post them some time soon.

@ItsMeMarisol and I have discussed having another action in NYC, and several more bloggers have posted #vaginablogs in response to the call for work. If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to check out the blogs that have already posted, and if you wish, to contribute yourself.

Thank you to everyone who contributed, everyone who’s read, and everyone still to post #vaginablogs. Let’s keep this conversation going.

Photos of the event from @gavechase: bit.ly/11LVtiI

The Vagina Blogs: NYC #Vaginagate #Solidarity Event

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to every single one of the (as of initial writing) nearly 1K people who have visited, read, or reposted/tumbled “Vagina Vagina Vagina.”

Things are happening. This Monday, playwright Eve Ensler will be reading her groundbreaking play, THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES on the steps of the capitol in Michigan. Multiple state senators are involved. This story is receiving attention from the MI Democratic Party, which is involved in setting up the event, as well as the Huffington Post.

I Want To Show Support, But I’m Not In Michigan. What Can I Do?

Live in New York City? Tomorrow night, some friends (both old and new) and I are going to meet up in Union Square. We’re going to peacefully show show solidarity with women around the country. Don’t live in NYC? You can do this in your city or town, too. How?

The Vagina Blogs.

Write a blog, tumblr, comment, or other piece, preferably (but not required to be) 400-500 words long. Tag it as #VaginaBlogs, wherever you post it, and link back to this post so we can register a trackback link. Don’t have a vagina, but have a problem with this conversation not being over yet? WE WELCOME YOUR SUPPORT. Join us.

A Vagina Blog can be about your vagina. It can be about how you and your vagina feel about the continued national assault on our right to stop being asked whether No Means No. How do you feel about the national conversation? How do the women in your life feel about having to constantly repeat that No Means No? How do you feel about how, nationally, time and energy are consistently being wasted by people who really should have better things to worry about legislating? It can be funny, it can be personal, it can be serious. There are as many different kinds of #VaginaBlogs as there are women who have #vaginas and men who support our right to have ownership over them.

We will be in Union Square reading out people’s blogs, tweets and more for as long as can be sustained. Join us, either here or in your own city, by using the hashtag #VaginaBlogs and contributing your thoughts.


SIMPLE SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS: 

1. Write 400-500 words (it can be more or less, these are just suggestions) about Vaginagate and the national conversation on women’s reproductive rights.

2. Include the hashtag #VaginaBlogs.

3. Post it on your blog, tumblr, twitter or facebook. (If you don’t a safe place to post your entry, submit it in the comments below.)

4. Submit a link where we can find your post in the comments below.

 THAT’S ALL IT TAKES.

Also, consider emailing your blog to the Michigan House Speaker: JamesBolger@house.mi.gov. You can find information on your own national representatives via http://www.opencongress.org/.

We’ll start reading in Union Square as soon as we gather.

Join us.

And if you don’t like reading or talking in public, come anyway. You don’t have to read, and your presence makes a difference.

Check back for updates, because we’re going to try to livestream our readings. If you’re in another city and you want to do something similar, please leave a comment with your location and a spot that works.

We’ll read until we can’t read anymore, whether we run out of material or the park closes or we’re all tired and some of us have to go back home to sleep before going to our jobs in the morning. We’ll read peacefully and we’ll read with love.

And maybe we’ll keep reading on Tuesday.

What actions are happening in your city? Link to this post in order to get a trackback link and spread the word. Check back here for updates. And as one commenter on Vagina Vagina Vagina put it: VAGINA HUGS! 

UPDATE: 12:51pm: Just got off the phone with Eve Ensler’s team. While there won’t be a livestream of the event in MI, they are filming it and will post excerpts online after the fact. We are also changing the hash tag to #VaginaBlogs to respect Ms. Ensler’s copyright. I’ve changed everything but the URL to this post, because that had already been distributed. Please act respectfully.

During the phone call, Ensler’s team drew my attention to her piece OVER IT, written last year.

This line in particular stood out to me: I am over people not understanding that rape is not a joke and I am over being told I don’t have a sense of humor, and women don’t have a sense of humor, when most women I know (and I know a lot) are reallyfucking funny. We just don’t think that uninvited penises up our anus, or our vagina is a laugh riot.”

If writing a Vagina Blog isn’t your thing, take inspiration from OVER IT. What are you over? What are you fed up with? Tag your entry #VaginaBlog and link back to it here. 

UPDATE 6/19/2012: 
Our gathering in Union Square was amazing; will update further soon. Till then, thank you to everyone who contributed, whether it was by showing up or posting in the comments below. We definitely plan to keep #VaginaBlogs alive, and may do further public readings, so please continue to reference, track back, comment, etc. back to this post. Hoping to be able to post some video in the next few days, provided Qik Vid worked.

 

Vagina Vagina Vagina.

UPDATE, 6/17, 11:57am:
Check out my next blog post for information on solidarity events taking place in NYC – and hopefully elsewhere – Monday night.

How many times does a woman need to say “No” before the person she’s speaking to takes her seriously?

Last night, I started seeing internet chatter about Reps. Byrum and Brown of Michigan, who were barred from speaking on the house floor due to speaking out of turn. Both are women, and the debate they were barred from speaking in was one on yet another anti-abortion-access bill: HB5711, which Speaker Bolger (@SpeakerBolger on twitter, if you’d like to let him know your thoughts) described via tweet as protecting “women from dangerous practices/unsafe facilities for abortions, requires proper handling of child’s remains.”

The quote that started #Vaginagate? Essentially, “I’m glad you’re so interested in my vagina, Mr. Speaker, but No Means No.”

Sexual Violence: Not A Joke

While I agree with tweeters who say that joking about sexual violence doesn’t help advance equality for women, this doesn’t play as a joke to me – nor does it play as an inaccurate analogy.

In recent months, multiple states have passed laws which prevent women from fully exercising control over our biological processes. Rape is not the only form of sexual violence. Intimidation, badgering and barraging us with bills that call into question our right to determine the treatment of our own bodies are also forms of sexual violence.

How many times do we have to say “No” before lawmakers respect us enough to listen – and stop wasting everyone’s time and money with these debates?

While @SpeakerBolger may have gotten a response that was not as respectful as he wished, neither is his or his party’s commitment to making women spend time and energy repeatedly defending access to our hoo-hahs respectful.

A Sustained Attack On Women’s Mental & Physical Health

From Planned Parenthood bombings to excommunicated nuns to legislative manipulation, I feel like a battering ram is being used against the women of this country. Stop it, every person without a vagina who thinks they have a say in what happens to mine. Stop it, every person with a vagina that isn’t mine. Stop making me repeat myself. Stop making me spend my time and energy fending off this degrading mental and ideological abuse.

It’s not moral or ethical to batter another person with the same question over and over and over in different phrasings, breaking them down to the point of exhaustion – then act against their oft-expressed wishes the moment they can no longer defend themselves. That’s not the behavior of someone who should be making laws. It’s the behavior of a spoiled child.

But that’s what’s going on with women and our bodies and these bills and laws. (And with a number of other civil liberty issues: PIPA/SOPA/CISPA, anyone?)

So what can we do about it?

Late last night, I tweeted the author of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler,  and asked a question: would she be willing to support a round-the-clock reading of her play outside the Michigan State Legislature?

This morning, she tweeted me back.

BREAKING EDIT: 7:23PM EST 

“@EveEnsler has just tweeted the following:
Vaginas Take Back Michigan Capitol. I’m be there w Sen Reps activists & thousands to perform Vagina Mono on steps @ 6pm. COME SAY THE WORD”

If you can’t be in Michigan, be online and vocal. 6pm Monday night.

UPDATE: 8:01PM
Just had an email from @EveEnsler’s team; things are getting crazy and this is getting huge. I will be in NYC promoting the hell out of it any which way I can.

UPDATE: 9:01PM (every hour on the hour?)
Interest is being expressed in a New York based solidarity event Monday night. Please let me know if you’d be interested in participating; leave a comment or tweet me at @girl_onthego. 

Check out the hash tags #ConnectTheLeft and #WarOnWomen for access to broader conversations on this issue.

UPDATE: 6/16/2012, 6:51pm
If you’re in Michigan and planning to go to this event, please let me know either here or on Twitter.

Event page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/268583796582574/
I’ve just set up a paper.li twice-daily paper which will update using a search for #VaginaBlogs and #VaginaGate – so again, make sure you use the hash tag when you post on Twitter – you might see your story on paper.li! http://paper.li/girl_onthego/1339985196#

Planning your own action? Drop me a line and I’ll retweet/publicize as best I can. Check back for details as the NYC #Solidarity event takes shape.

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Upcoming Public Appearances & Signings

Public appearances are tricky for a writer. We’re naturally introverted folks, we like keeping ourselves to ourselves. Nonetheless, I’ve learned over the years that the ability to get in front of an audience and have a discussion about your work is an invaluable experience, both  in terms of public speaking ability and the role it plays in everyday life, and because it offers a chance for more personalized exposure than just an @reply on Twitter.

As an independent writer/artist, too, public appearances are practically a requirement. They help access new audiences and – equally important – get writers out of our garrets and into the real world.

All of which is my long way of announcing that the Cornelia Street Cafe, in New York City’s West Village, will be hosting a reading, discussion and signing for Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change on May 17th at 6pm.

Not only is this exciting for me because of – well, the obvious reasons, I suppose – but also because as a venue, the Cornelia Street Cafe has a long and illustrious history of supporting new writing.

We’ll have four of the five HOT MESS authors on hand, each giving a short reading from their work. After a short discussion with the audience about ways in which climate change is affecting us today, we’ll move onto a book signing.

Doors open at 5:45pm and reservations are encouraged – all the info is on the Cornelia Street Cafe website. If you’re available, please try to come – and make sure to say hi afterwards!