CONTENTS: WORKSHOP REPORTS BY OUR CHAPTER MEMBERS, RESOLUTIONS BY OUR CHAPTER MEMBERS, PERSONAL NOTES BY NATALIE ANDRE
WORKSHOP REPORTS BY OUR CHAPTER MEMBERS
Birth Strike! New Directions In The Reproductive Rights Fight, By Adele & Manny Guadalupe
Given by Hazel Levy, Jenny Brown and Candi Churchill
Two of the presenters had 1 child each. They explained why they’ve decided not to have any more. They told of the inequities in their marriages and in the workplace. They believe that universal healthcare is very much need if America is to bring up our birthrate. It has been steadily dropping.
Jenny Brown, who has written a book called BIRTH STRIKE, The Hidden Fight over Women’s Work, covered the history of birth control. Abortions were legal until the late 1800’s. Abortion rights were finally legalized again some 50 years ago, only to have them taken away again, if we don’t fight like hell to prevent politicians from ruling our lives. The book was available at the workshop.
Hazel Levy said that choice shifts power and that’s why so many men are against it. She claims that many politicians use abortion only to sway votes, but most of them are not sincere in this belief. Many women have to choose between career and motherhood. For some it’s impossible to do both because of the inequities. In this country there is both unreliable childcare and healthcare. Many Corporations resist parental leave , making bearing and raising children an even harder choice. Mother’s work is unpaid and expected of women thereby forcing them to become the lesser of earners.
We were advised to fight against capitalism, sexism, and white supremacy as all these hinder women in their fight for equality.
Then 5 women in the audience gave testimonials about why they have or haven’t had children. It was very interesting.
Radical Sexuality, by Janet Clark, Treasurer of PBC NOW
The rise of the #METOO movement has started conversations about the history of the pervasiveness of oppressive sexual politics, with public shaming exacting harsh penalties on the offenders. Professor Woodill spoke about moving these conversations in a more progressive direction.
- We’ve clung to old traditional ways of thinking about males and females. Is it based on fact that females have 200-300 eggs while men have millions of sperm, so women must be selective? Woman can have sex easier/longer than men and men’s fertility decreases with age.
- The fragile female – feeling that women have to be preserved; conflation of the injuries while other areas of abuse are being missed
- The emotional female – the field is saturated with #metoo stories. In fact, only one person in the workshop did NOT have a #metoo story. We’ve made female sexuality so sacred (i.e. why don’t boys fighting matter as much?)
- Single female – do marriage and motherhood need to continue being the predominant plan for women? Women should be independent of parenthood thinking; reinvent marriage and motherhood.
- Sex Ideology – Pornography is taboo; Hierarchical – only certain relationships are sanctified as in 2 married people while prostitution is illegal. DE sanctify sex by assuming there is no bad sex.
Microaggressions in Everyday Life, by Janet Clark, Treasurer of PBC NOW
Examined brief, subtle insults that send demeaning messages to individuals because of their group membership.
- Microaggressions are insults to socially marginalized people. The dominant person can be subtly, subconsciously abusive. Insults can be verbal, non-verbal, visual and they create inequities.
- Way to combat microaggressions is to make them visible; tactfully bring them to the attention of dominant person.
- Examples are:
- Alien in one’s land – Where are you from? Makes them feels like outsiders
- Assigning intelligence – especially to women and people of color
- Color blindness remark – “When I see you, I don’t see color”.
- Assumption of criminal status – white person waits for next elevator
- Using sexist/heterosexual language – he instead of he/she. Says male experience is universal while female is meaningless.
- Denial of individual racism and sexism.
Pay Inequity and Her Political Pursuits, by Natalie Andre, Communications Chair of PBC NOW
Explored how pay inequity impacts women’s representation and in turn our active voice within the political structure, especially when running against a money-machine operation.
One of the presenters, Keisha Bell, is an attorney who ran for Florida State House in 2018. (I came late due to other work I had to attend to and missed her introduction). She spoke of how pay inequity affects Black women throughout their lives, but that they vote more than any other racial or gender group.
Another of the presenters, Liv Coleman, ran for Florida State House in 2018 and was endorsed by the Florida NOW PAC. She connected the lower pay of women to their financial disadvantage when running for office. She also listed the priorities of different groups when considering pay inequity: In order of priority, Black women rated pay equity at 29%, while whites in general consider it much lower.
Wesley Begg, the third presenter, ran for Sarasota County Commissioner in 2018. She spoke of how financially disadvantaged the millennials are (born 1980 -1996), earning 20% less than baby boomers, not affording health insurance; many live with their parents. The Great Recession of 2008 affected them substantially, and this will reverberate throughout their lives.
Sexual Abuse, Human Trafficking & Survivor Initiatives, by Adele & Manny Guadalupe
This workshop was given by Linda Guillotti and Shanika Ampah.
Sexual trafficking is described as forced prostitution, pornography, fake massage businesses, strip clubs and escort services.
Labor trafficking exists in domestic work, traveling sales crews, agriculture, restaurants, and begging rings.
The elements of Force, Fraud and Coercion were gone over.
Reasons for human trafficking were political instability, poverty, racism, gender inequality, addictions, mental health, gang involvement, online vulnerability, homelessness, and natural disasters.
Linda’s story was very riveting and explained how sexual child abuse can happen and be ignored. How it totally crippled her for most of her life and how she overcame it. She is a real survivor. Linda told her personal horror story of being sexually abused since the age of 6, what she went through for many years , her recovery and transformation.
TRANSGENDER: Issues and Politics and the Treatment of TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists), by Arlene Ustin, NOWPBC Vice President & Program Chair
Presented by Melina Rayna Svanhild Farley-Barratt
When Melina Farley-Barratt, a disabled trans woman, was in high school, she was an outspoken advocate for gay rights and State/Church separation. Since 2017 she has been Chapter Leader of the Trans Rights Action Committee based in Gainesville. Her session was excellent and we were provided with a comprehensive handout with definitions, references, and resources. In particular, we learned how the struggle for inclusion has unexpected detractors such as TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) who coop, confuse and impede the quest for the civli rights of trans. TERFs also known as FARTs (Feminism Appropriating Radical Transphobes) “… is in some ways self-explanatory. However, the term alone doesn’t explain the reasons behind the beliefs, or where this sect of radical feminism falls within the wider feminist umbrella. The Trans Advocate defines TERFs as “individuals who sympathize with and support a brand of ‘radical feminism’ that is so rooted in sex essentialism and its resulting biologism, it actively campaigns against the existence, equality, and/or inclusion of trans people.”(RationalWiki). For example, Farley-Barratt reported how Janice Raymond caused removal of trans healthcare; trans are subjected to ‘doxing’ (which originated with anti-abortion groups) is the posting of personal information such as addresses, phone numbers, places of employment so that trans can be harassed. They advocate for Planned Parenthood to be defunded because they don’t force trans men to identify as women, and more.
Personally, I appreciated Farley-Barratt’s opening statement: “Women are oppressed because they are women. NO. They are oppressed because they are not men.”
RESOLUTIONS BY OUR CHAPTER MEMBERS
Arlene Ustin presented a resolution from the Housing Workshop. Once it was amended (in great part thanks to Joan Waitkevicz) it passed unanimously:
A CATASTROPHIC HOUSING CRISIS EXISTS IN FLORIDA AND NEEDS TO BE ELIMINATED
WHEREAS, basic human needs, such as housing, is unattainable for 3.4 million Floridians and the National Organization for Women (NOW) advocates for the care and quality of life for women, children and families; and
WHEREAS, we can no longer deny the devastating impact on, but not limited to, women, children, African-Americans, Latinx, Asians, elderly, LGBTQIA+, immigrants, returning citizens, persons with disabilities, and otherwise marginalized populations; and
WHEREAS, NOW understands the multigenerational cycle that perpetuates historic and current oppression; and
WHEREAS, NOW recognizes that housing that is safe, secure, habitable, affordable, free from random eviction, free from redlining, free from discrimination is a human right;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that FL NOW recognizes that fair housing is a women’s issue, and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that FL NOW encourages chapters to form alliances with local housing activists, for our members’ education and for the benefit of all Floridians.
Submitted by the Workshop HOUSING CRISIS TODAY – Moderator: Cha Cha Davis
Drafted by Christine Hanavan, Kim Porteus, Cynthia Harris, Roblin Harris, and Arlene Ustin
Resolution Presented by Adele Guadalupe and Natalie Andre; passed unanimously
RESOLUTION FOR PROVIDING MANDATORY ELECTRONIC RECORDING OF PROCEEDINGS IN FAMILY COURT CUSTODY CASES
WHEREAS, family court hearings routinely involve child custody and timesharing decisions which significantly impact a child’s life well beyond age 18; and
WHEREAS, divorce is stressful enough for children who have to adapt to the physical and emotional adjustment related to the back and forth between each parent’s residence; and
WHEREAS, court reporters and transcripts are very costly and many parents just can’t afford them; and
WHEREAS, a common problem in high conflict cases is the lack of transcripts due to absence of recording, which can result in emotional, physical and economic devastation; and
WHEREAS, the ability to appeal such an important decision is limited, if not impossible, without a record or a transcript of the proceedings; and
WHEREAS, by having these court recordings readily available, should there be a change in judges during the litigation process, an undisputed record exists saving time for judges, litigants and attorneys, thus reducing costs for all and insuring fairer and more reasonable decisions; and
WHEREAS, ensuring a child’s civil right to access to both parents (providing neither parent is a danger to the child) helps the child adjust to the difficulties of a break-up or divorce, lessening the trauma and stress;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that Florida NOW will emphasize the importance and need for action to change the inequities in Family Court; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Florida NOW will lobby to change existing laws and attitudes; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that Florida NOW will support legislation mandating electronic recording of proceedings in Family Court Custody cases.
Submitted by: Adele Guadalupe, VP
Natalie Andre, President
Families Against Court Travesties, Inc. (PBC NOW)
PERSONAL NOTES BY NATALIE ANDRE
Adele and I pulled together the resolution, which passed unanimously with one word change! Because of this, I could only attend one workshop, and even had to arrive late. However, it was worth it, because we kept the issue of the dysfunctional Family Court system in people’s consciousness. Adele has been working on this issue tirelessly—read the resolution to understand what this is about and raise your awareness just as we raised those of the conference attendees.
Jan asked how relevant these resolutions are, since basically they get filed away; and I, myself, often wonder how relevant conferences are in general. To that, I reply (to her, to myself, and, now to anyone bothering to read this) that they are the rechargers of our activism—they remind us of what we consider important, and refresh (or inform) us of other issues which might not be on our radar.
Two personal experiences: Jan and I met a woman named Cynthia Harris, and talked our FACTS’ issues with her. She is a former DCF worker, now running her own business involving advice to people applying for governmental aid (disability, etc.); she is also a Black woman running for office. During the first workshop, on Pay Equity and Political Pursuits, which tied pay inequity to women candidates’ financial disadvantages, I got the brainstorm to do what I had observed others doing over the years: suggest people attending the workshop donate to her campaign. Because I wasn’t in the time-limited queue for asking questions, I held up a $20 bill which got their attention, and they let me make my 2 sentence pitch to contribute to Cynthia. Later I gave Cynthia the donation, and now have her thank you card. Unfortunately, she wasn’t at that workshop, so I am not sure if it resulted in any other funds for her, but she did get acknowledged at the luncheon and 2nd plenary.
The other experience was the involvement of a deaf male NOW member. A sign language interpreter had been hired, but was a no show. The organizers worked around this, with text messages and hand-written messages, so all was not lost. The most difficult part was his attempt to participate in the resolutions. For those unfamiliar with that process—resolutions either come out of workshops, or they are prepared by individuals and signed by a % minimum of attendees. Then, on Sunday, they are displayed on a screen and edited, then voted on. The deaf member suggested a change, and had to write it up under the stress of time, while we waited. It made me realize how much deaf language is different from written English, more so than spoken English. Participles are left out, syntax is different, etc. So, we were puzzled by what he meant, but everyone was patient and, after about 10 minutes, we thought we had what he wanted and meant. But he persisted some more, wanting to change the second part of his proposed inserted clauses, and actually got it clarified well—again, it was the stress of trying to write proper English quickly, but he succeeded, and the resolution was very satisfactory and accepted.