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Moms On Issues

with Sara and Veronica

We're two moms with different backgrounds, jobs and points of view, writing about our opinions on the political and social issues affecting working moms. We'll also keep our eye on the media and the celebrity mom world to highlight issues that are relevant to your life.

Check out our personal blogs: Veronica's Blog and Sara's Blog

Open letter to Michelle Obama: Mama to Mama

Categories: celebrities, feminism, moms in the news

3 Comments

First I have to say I agree that you should be upset that Ty is trying to use your daughters for a fast buck. The fact that they are trying to convince us that the dolls aren’t your daughters is laughable. The quotes in their press release pretty much says they are the girls. But know that I’m right there with you over the exploitation and the aging of the girls into teens for the dolls. And that changing the name of those dolls doesn’t diminish what they did.

BUT…I will selfishly ask you to not shelter the girls away too much during your stay in the White House. Our kids need your girls.

In the Fall 2008 issue of the Girl Scouts LEADER magazine, I was asked how we as loving parents deal with celebrity worship. One of my suggestions that did not get in print (the interview was done in the spring) was to focus on the positive celebrity starlets out there. I was thinking of any girl celeb who hadn’t been caught drinking, clubbing, or without panties on. If asked that question today, I would say that we should point to Malia and Sasha.

You and the President have done a remarkable job raising the girls. You can tell how happy they are just by looking at them and that tells me they come from a happy & loving home. I never felt that the girls were accessories to the campaign, but rather girls trying to spend time with their busy parents. And as a busy mama myself, I found great solace in that.

My 5-year-old daughter swoons over your daughters, as I suspect many other kids are doing. My husband, daughter & I have watched the “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration Concert at Lincoln Memorial” half a dozen times. Each time chills go up my husband & my spines as
we listen to U2 sing. I cry each time “This Land is Your Land” is sung. My daughter squeals “The girls!” each time one of your daughters is on screen. Yes, I’ve done a fairly good job shielding her from entertainment that I think is geared towards older children, but she knows the Hannah Montanas of the world. But none have elicited a squeal or the beam of pride & awe that my daughter gives your two.

I also agree that the release of dolls resembling the First Daughters is yet another progressive step in our country’s discussion about race. While my family is of Mexican descent, I am overjoyed to think that thousands of non-African American girls would be playing with dolls that aren’t blond and blue-eyed. I get teary-eyed when I think of all the African-American girls in this country who have what could be said the ultimate role models in your daughters. Then to have them in doll form? Oh my, what a moment! But of course, the dolls should be produced under the guidance of the family, especially the girls themselves. I do admit to hoping for a full First Family doll set for my squealing daughter.

Yet, as a mom of a young girl and the watcher of too many documentaries on the Drew Barrymores of the world, I know the pitfalls of early celebrity and can only imagine the weight of being role models to a nation. You have said that the girls will still make their own beds - a clear sign that you want to keep them grounded. But as I said earlier, I am being selfish.

I see the world around our daughters getting more and more toxic, pushing them to grow up far too fast, sexualizing them with music, movies, clothing and spa treatments and the demands of school. Then there are us parents having almost no control over what they are exposed to. I know where our girls are headed, they will soon have their school books and walls covered in Teen Beat posters of the latest Hollywood star just as Michael J. Fox covered my walls. The fact that my daughter took your family picture from Parade magazine and put it up on her wall, well, that moves me beyond words.

I know we are asking a lot of your family. We hope your husband cleans up eight years of mess domestically and internationally. We look to you as not just a fashion plate, but also a strong woman who is proud to be call herself a mom first. And yes, I have pointed to your daughters and told mine, “The girls have to keep their room clean too!”

I hope that you are able to find that crazy balance one needs to raise a child in today’s media spotlight. I know that you need to keep the girls from prying eyes. But I hope you also know that the world needs your girls too. Our sons & daughters who need to see two intelligent girls doing amazing things. Don’t think less of us when we cling to the glimpses you allow us to take into your family’s life. For me it’s not about celebrity, but rather about wanting to share in the beautiful love that I see when I see your family. Thanks.

Thoughts on gift giving and saying no

Categories: feminism, raising baby

8 Comments

As a vocal feminist mom, I often get questions about what books or toys to buy for children, especially girls. Many moms are leery of all the stuff that’s available and want help navigating the pitfalls. Last year I put together a list of online gifts & non-gifts for budding feminists. But we all know that the smallest of our children are expecting Santa, Hanukkah Harry or Solstice Sabrina (yeah, I just made her up) to bring some actual toys.

While moms are hailing the possibility that this is our last holiday season with Bratz dollz, it doesn’t mean that we are free from dolls that wear stripper wear. Obviously some parents are buying these dolls for their daughters. Why don’t I like them? Well, their attire is my #1 reason. There’s a vicious cycle that I want to see us break that might mean a return to allowing our girls to reclaim their childhood. Clothing in the stores for young girls (pre-school to tween) are sometimes inappropriate. I don’t want my 5-year-old wearing the same clothes my 16-year-old niece wears. That just pushes the 16-year-old to think, “I don’t want to wear baby clothes” and she shops in the college girl section…On and on. If you want to buy a doll, a traditional Barbie is fine. Yes, this feminist says buy the Barbie, as long as she’s dressed appropriately.

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If the position doesn’t pay, does it command respect?

Categories: career, feminism, moms in the news, politics

6 Comments

No, this isn’t another “don’t blog for free” treatise, but close. One of the electoral victories for women is that the New Hampshire Senate now has a women majority.

New Hampshire’s state Senate will carve history for the Granite State in January when the legislative body convenes with women in 13 of the 24 seats forming the country’s first female majority.

Women will also factor in key positions of leadership: the Senate is presided over by its president, Sylvia Larson, and president pro-tem, Maggie Hassan, while Martha Fuller Clark continues her role as majority whip.

This is certainly significant as New Hampshire would be the experiment we have been waiting for to see if you do put women in charge if things would end up any differently, specifically in a better place. But one thing has put this experiment in some doubt – pay.

States such as New Hampshire and New Mexico, whose elected officials receive no compensation, tend to have a higher percentage of female representatives, says Ziegler, because the sessions are less time-consuming and the expectations and compensation are such that the people who serve think of themselves as public servants rather than professional politicians.

Ziegler goes on to parallel the New Hampshire and New Mexico legislatures to PTAs because of the no pay and smaller time commitments.

The PTA? Is that a correct parallel? My daughter is in kindergarten and I haven’t been snagged by one of the many committees at her school and based on a very unpopular question I asked at a parent meeting, I doubt I will be. But I don’t see the PTA as something that is not time consuming. Yes, less time consuming than being State Senator, but still pretty darn tough when you’re working and raising a family.

But back to this no pay thing…Would you be an elected official if there wasn’t any pay associated? The debate in freelance circles are “exposure” writers versus “pay-only” writers and then a huge group of writers in the middle. Are there gigs that might “pay for itself” in exposure? Yeah, I think so. Can being a State Senator of New Hampshire pay for itself in exposure? Incoming U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen [video link] is evidence that it can.

The debate occurring on blogs and listservs is whether or not the fact that women are the majority of New Hampshire’s Senate is a direct result of the non-pay AND if this means that being a state senator is less respected than in other states. Of course in my woman-head, I think that it shows more character to be a state senator for no money than to see people wrestle over a seat that pays a lot of money – Not knowing if they are in it for the service or for the pay. Maybe New Hampshire has cultivated a culture that commands respect for service, especially volunteer service.

Loyal readers…Would you run for an office for no pay? Anyone from New Hampshire who can shed a light on this amazing piece of history?

Michelle Obama and the working mom struggle

Categories: career, feminism, mommy wars, moms in the news

4 Comments

When I was a kid my parents worked weekends. My dad at his second job and my mom worked nights in a hospital. They worked their schedules out so that every other weekend my two younger sisters and I spent the weekend with my grandma. This allowed my grandmother to have a lot of influence on me. She tried to convince my younger sister and I that our beloved cousins in San Antonio never fought; unlike us who held championship matches almost every day. But the one lesson that stuck with me, even if I didn’t live it, was this – Boys can wait, education first, get a job, and then find a boyfriend.

Michelle Obama certainly lead her life with this mantra, that is until she met Barack. “Michelle was full of plans that day, on the fast track, with no time, she told me, for distractions — especially men.” He has freely admitted that Michelle is the one who put her career on a mommy-track (not that her career looks anything like the typical mommy-track, mind you, just next to Barack’s career) for the kids sake, for his career sake. And now she is to be the next First Lady.

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How did women fare in Election 2008?

Categories: feminism, politics

1 Comment

It’s been a week since voters spoke and rightfully so the media has been focused on what President-elect Obama will do, but how did women fare? Don’t worry, I’ll get to Sarah Palin at the end of the stats…

First of all, Obama won the Presidency with 56% of the women’s vote, including 70% of unmarried women. Ruth Rosen has more on the effect of the women’s vote.

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VOTE

Categories: feminism, politics

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VOTE No punditry here today mamas. Just a simple message to remind you to vote on Tuesday. I am overwhelmed by the images of people standing in lines hours long to early vote as well as the forecast that people may have to do the same on Tuesday. This is democracy in action. I think we’ve all seen the photos and video clips from elections in other countries, where people walk from their villages miles away just to vote. Now we have similar lines.

I am hopeful that we will have record numbers of voters this year, record young people, Latinos, African-Americans, heck, everyone. I’m still trying to figure out my election night plans. But I know we’ll be watching the returns with our daughter.

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Are motherhood politics the right decision?

Categories: feminism, politics

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Stanton and childSarah Palin did not invent motherhood politics. She stands on the shoulders of many women before her in this regard. In fact I’m writing the entry for the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Motherhood on suffrage and motherhood as I find much of inspiration for my feminist motherhood from Elizabeth Cady Stanton (pictured here_, whom I named my daughter after. So while we have Stanton, Rodham Clinton, Pelosi, and countless other moms who have entered the rough & tumble world of politics, is it proper for moms to use motherhood as their primary focus of their politics?

MomsRising is only one of the latest movements to use motherhood as a reason for women to get involved in politics.

Our members are bringing important motherhood and family issues to the forefront of the country’s awareness. We are working to create both cultural and legislative change. It is time to break the logjam that has been holding back family-friendly legislation for decades and to advance workplace policies that will support families.

Bottom line? Moms need to be active in politics because of our families. I often fall back on this logic when talking to moms who claim not to be political. Anyone who has children of school age is political. We have to evaluate our local school, decide if that’s what we want, and if we have the ability, chose to go in another direction. I’ve rarely met moms who say they didn’t even look at the public school before deciding on private or home-schooling. They chose not to put their kids in public school because of the system and frankly, that’s one of the most radical and political actions I can even imagine.

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Does the chauvinist pig next to you make more because he’s sexist?

Categories: career, caregiving, feminism

3 Comments

A shocking, to some, study [pdf] came out last month in the Journal of Applied Psychology concluding that men who hold sexist ideals make more money than anyone else. So what does this mean to us working girls and the good guys out there?

For one it says that the workforce is still rewarding men for outdated attitudes. It is an indicator that the outdated model our workforce operates under rewards those who play the game according to the rules. This report also proves that wage gaps are not just an outcome for women’s poor decisions. You know, taking time off to care for children or other such frivolous things that signal to supervisors that you aren’t serious about your job. It puts a nail in the coffin of meritocracy. Yes, we should all continue to work our hardest, but never again should we allow someone (paging Senator McCain) tell us that hard work and being the best is the way that people rise to the top.

But most importantly this report tells us that legislation like the Equal Pay Act will only take us so far in the quest for equality and fairness.

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On NOW PAC’s endorsement of Obama/Biden

Categories: feminism, politics

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Last week the National Organization for Women PAC along with other feminist organizations announced that they were endorsing Obama for President. Normally feminist endorsements don’t make many waves as the media ignores feminism. When NOW PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton in spring 2007 you had to know to look for the story. Believe me, I wanted to blog it and link to a media piece. But this endorsement got some media attention and not for the right reasons.

Oddly anti-feminists and feminists saw this as an anti-Palin statement rather than a pro-Obama statement.

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Why Sarah Palin is good for feminism

Categories: feminism, moms in the news, politics

46 Comments

It was the tweet heard around the world. Sarah Palin is John McCain’s pick for his running mate. Ah, sweet irony.

Palin is now the second woman to ever be chosen for the vice-presidential position on a major party ticket. This is a major milestone for women in this country. It was a generation ago, 1984, that Geraldine Ferraro was the running mate for Walter Mondale. The college students I work with on a daily basis weren’t even born then. Think about that.

That said, I think that Palin may be the best thing for feminism since Alice Paul went on a hunger strike. Stay with me…

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