Chair, Global Women's Caucus

  • published Stuttgart Chapter News and Fall Events in News 2018-08-21 04:01:26 -0400

    Stuttgart Chapter News and Fall Events


    We salute our Volunteers!

    Thanks to all of you who turned out for the Political Pride Parade in Stuttgart last month. We made face-to-face contact with hundreds of people, had a blast, and really raised our profile.

    Thanks also to all our fabulous, hard-working volunteers scattered throughout Baden-Würtemberg. We are so lucky to have precinct captains, caucus leaders, event organizers, phonebanking champions, and so many others working on the frontlines and behind the scenes.

    We applaud your activism and your spirit!

    _________________________________________________

    Please take a look at what’s coming up next for our chapter and how you might become one of our wonderful volunteers:

    Be a Stay-At-Home Activist!

    As activists, we know how crucial the November 6th Mid-term election is.
    Every glance at the news brings new outrage and feelings of despair.
    We also know that the best way to combat that helpless feeling is to do something to fight back. That’s why we volunteer!

    But you don’t have to lead the whole parade to be an activist!
    Each of us can do our small part and we can start right now. Today!

    We can reach out to each other!

    Democrats Abroad Germany is making an extra push right now to have our members personally reach out to fellow members and remind them to register to vote. Some of our wonderful Stuttgart chapter volunteers have already made dozens of calls!

    You too can join our phonebanking initiative!

    DA uses an online system that lets you make no-cost calls from your computer. There is even an on-screen script for you to use.

    Please click here for a step-by-step guide on how to get started.

    Please do give it a try and help to power the blue wave that will transform Washington in November!

    _________________________________________________

    Activism starts with your own vote!

    If you still need to register, go to Votefromabroad.org today!
    If you are already registered, it doesn't hurt to check your registration at https://iwillvote.com/.

    This election is extremely important. Don’t miss it!

    _________________________________________________

    „Democrats Abroad Day” Celebration

    Friday, September 7th at 7:00 p.m.
    Paulaner am alten Postplatz
    Calwer Str. 45, 70173 Stuttgart

    Help us celebrate the first-ever worldwide Democrats Abroad Day!

    Our meeting will be dedicated to YOU, our members!
    We have marched and stood vigil together, call-stormed, phonebanked, registered voters, and participated in hundreds of virtual and in-person events. Let’s pause for a moment to show our pride, connect with each other, re-affirm what we stand for, pat ourselves on the back and have a little fun before we enter the election homestretch.

    Wear all your DA gear, T-shirts and Buttons! Do you still have your favorite march signs? Bring them! We will be taking lots of pics to post the next day for the official “Global Virtual Democrats Abroad Day Party” on September 8th!

    And we’d especially love to see some new faces! All curious Americans are welcome. Just stop by, have a drink, and get to know us.

    Please do RSVP here!

    See you there!!

    _________________________________________________

    Pub & Politics in Freiburg

    Wednesday, September 5th 8-10pm

    The Holy Taco Shack

    Barbarastraße 18, 79106 Freiburg im Breisgau

    Come for Margarita Mittwoch and stay for some good, quality conversation.

    This is your chance to meet other Americans in the Freiburg area, grab a drink together, and talk about all things politics!


    We also want to share news about upcoming DA events and hear your ideas for what other events Freiburg-Americans would like to participate in.

    You can RSVP here

    _________________________________________________

    Stuttgart Women’s Caucus goes to Berlin!

    Join us in Berlin for an all-day workshop that will help to re-focus, re-vitalize and re-empower us all for the fight ahead!

    The Women’s Caucus is for everyone who cares about equality.
    We want to see men and women working together at this event!

    Learn more about the event and RSVP here

    _________________________________________________

    Checking the Balance - Democracy, at what cost?

    Wednesday, October 17th at 7:00 p.m.

    Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum Stuttgart (DAZ)

    Charlottenplatz 17, 70173 Stuttgart

    Our DA Stuttgart chapter will be at DAZ for a discussion as part of their very popular “American Days” event.

    Let‘s talk about current issues in American politics and try to find answers to significant pending questions:

    · What policies and initiatives have emerged in this topsy-turvy election cycle?

    · How far does free speech extend?

    · How can we provide protections for our environment and assure safety in our lives?

    · Are our fundamental civil rights being chipped away?

    · How can we respond to these challenges and restore political equilibrium?


    Join us to share your views!

    _________________________________________________

    LOOKING AHEAD

    Watch for additional events each month, or changes which don't always make it into our newsletter by checking here on our Stuttgart Chapter website and Facebook page for the latest updates on events!

    I look forward to seeing you at one of our events.

    Democratically yours,

    Ann Hesse
    Chair, Stuttgart Chapter

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  • Meet Mary Barzee Flores, Florida Congressional Candidate

    Democrats Abroad will be talking online with Florida Congressional candidate Mary Barzee Flores on Tuesday August 28th at 1:30 p.m Eastern. RSVP for the call to get the link right here

    And read on to learn more about her! 

    by Clara Dessaint

    A Miami native and dedicated public servant, Mary Barzee Flores is running for Congress in Florida’s 25th District. As an economic opportunity promoter and pro-choice healthcare advocate, Mary is espousing an inclusive progressive platform, with priorities ranging from gun violence and criminal justice reform to immigration and education.

    Mary’s experience is as varied as her focus areas. After obtaining her Bachelors in music at the University of Miami, Mary pivoted to social justice, earning her JD at her alma mater’s School of Law. A brief stint in private practice then led to a 12-year career in Miami’s Federal Office of the Public Defender.

    In 2002, Mary ran for an open judgeship on the Florida Circuit Court and was elected without opposition. After an 8-year tenure, which saw her preside over more than 100 jury trials and a dozen bench trials, Mary retired from the court and returned to private practice.

    In 2015, President Obama nominated Mary to serve as federal district judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Despite having recommended her himself, Marco Rubio blocked Mary’s nomination and she was never even given a Senate hearing.

    A proven champion for South Florida working families, Mary lives in Coral Gables with her husband and their two children.

    Visit her website here


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  • published Finding the Final Stage of Political Grief: Hope in News 2018-08-13 04:03:20 -0400

    Finding the Final Stage of Political Grief: Hope

    By Clara Dessaint

    clara_2.jpg

    Being a Democrat Abroad since November 8th, 2016 has not been easy. In the oft-described time warp brought on by the Trump administration, the day Hillary Clinton came so very close to shattering the glass ceiling – one she had been steadfastly making fissures in for decades – feels like both yesterday and light years away.

    Much has happened in American politics since her magnanimous concession speech, most of it twisting the United States into a purveyor of discord rather than a bastion of freedom, acceptance and opportunity. Coming to terms with it all has been a true grieving progress but, fitting with our new distorted reality, the stages of grief have been anything but linear.

    Denial rolled in fast and, no doubt emboldened by distance, took months to recede, marrying itself nicely with bargaining. From “of course Jill Stein’s recount efforts will rectify this madness” to “the Electoral College will vote its conscience instead of its party” every possible, overly idealistic ‘out’ was nurtured.

    Anger and its partner-in-crime depression followed in unrelenting waves. When the Muslim ban was issued and then more recently ratified by the Supreme Court. When migrant children were heartlessly separated from their parents at the border and sent into a gratuitous and cruel bureaucratic limbo that has yet to be untangled. When the Trump administration attempted to water down a World Health Organization resolution on breastfeeding to benefit formula companies and now seems poised to further limit women’s choices over their bodies through another Supreme Court appointment…

    Emotional-tsunami-inducing CNN notifications are too many to list and too complex to neatly box into Kubler-Ross’ model for loss. Indeed, political grief is a no man’s land of its own, where fear, embarrassment and bewilderment co-mingle with the jumbled first four stages while the fifth – acceptance – oftentimes seems completely out of the question.

    Somehow though, even as each week in the Trump White House is deemed worse than the previous, hope – the message that brought President Obama to victory twice and which he recently reminded Democrats to espouse – is omnipresent.

    There is hope in the grassroots primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in the historically unparalleled number of women running for office, and in the slow but steady indictments emerging from Robert Mueller’s office. There is hope too in late-night hosts’ marked dedication to calling out, however humorously, Trump’s travesties as they occur and in the brilliantly biting words of NY Times columnist Charles Blow and Pod Save America host Jon Favreau, to name but a few. From the Women’s March to the March for Our Lives and the Families Belong Together rallies, there is hope in the international activism that most recently floated a Baby Trump above Parliament Square and thereby dissuaded the man himself from visiting London.

    Essentially, there is hope in the People’s ability – around the world and across all demographics – to speak truth to power, to take to the streets and phone lines alike to demand better. Let’s keep post offices abroad busy this November and vote out those who don’t listen.

    Photos taken at the London Women’s March on January 21st, 2017. 


  • The Women of DA: An Ode to the Women Who Have Shaped Me

    By Linda Gould

    I had a conversation recently that shook me to my core.

    It was a normal conversation about politics that progressed to a one-sided shouting match. I was the calm one but defended my criticisms of Trump and what I consider to be black-hearted conservative policies. Then, the person asked me, “Why do you even care? You don’t even live in America.”

    God, I wish I had $10,000 for every time I was asked that question. But I calmly answered. “Because I have kids who are going to have to live in the world we are creating, because my husband and I would like to move back to the US someday, and because I love my country and want what’s best for all Americans. Because I’m American.”

    “That’s debatable,” was the response from someone I know well (or thought I did) and respect, even though we disagree politically. From someone who I always thought respected me.

    It felt like an earthquake. Like when the ground that has always been there to support you suddenly jerks and jolts and knocks you off your feet and tosses you around.

    A few other hurtful insults were thrown at me, criticizing me for my liberal beliefs, with the result that I have spent significant time recently reflecting on how I developed from a Reagan-voting, military-loving, individualism-touting, bootstrap-raising, my-way-or-the-highway bullying, I-deserve-all-I have white woman to the compassionate and passionate liberal that I am today. I was raised conservative, but conservatism is as antithetical to me today as it was appealing when I was young. What changed me?

    The amazing women who have been part of my life.

    Of course it’s not that simple—no one who travels to foreign countries, attends university, reads extensively, has an astute partner, and lives abroad remains unchanged. But when I think about the moments that literally shifted my behavior or way of thinking, they were connected to some woman in my life:

    A boss, the first who cared about me as a person and not solely as an employee, who challenged my views on marriage and motherhood, and shared her feelings of loneliness as she grew older without a companion; my friend who showed me there was humor to be found in the frustration of raising kids, and if you didn’t tap into that humor, your children would suffer; another friend who was betrayed in the worst way but stood strong and fought for her future when it would have been so much easier to crumble; a colleague who pointed out my hypocrisy by asking a simple question, “How is your viewpoint less ideological?”; my female colleagues and now friends who supported each other when a misogynistic manager bullied and abused us while the male management did nothing; the role-model mothers in my community who patiently dealt with temper tantrums, unreasonable demands, and teenage snark; friends, family and colleagues who taught me how to be a friend, to open my mind to new possibilities, to listen, to understand that privilege is as much responsible for my success as my own efforts, and most importantly, to reflect on and challenge my own views, then to change them if they didn’t meet that challenge.

    None of these women were aware at the time that they were influencing me. They didn’t see themselves as models of human behavior with a mission to change someone’s worldview. Heck, I didn’t know how much they were influencing me. It took that face-slapping comment from a friend for me to reflect on and see how by simply being authentic and open, they helped mold a better human, a better citizen.

    When you look at history’s list of heroes, so few are women. We rarely get the glory for our accomplishments. Yet our influence reaches deep into our societies. We are accomplished in our own right and inspire others to achieve. So many of our reactions and conversations appear to be insignificant moments that drift into the ether, but they actually resonate years later in the behavior of our children, friends, strangers, and even ourselves. Our routine moments take on a life of their own when someone sees them as a way of coping with difficulties. Our day-to-day life is the ultimate example of soft power.

    But we also aspire to more. Some of us want to play a stronger role in our government and businesses. And because we are women, we are told by other women to support each other. Madeline Albright famously said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”

    Hell aside, we SHOULD be helping each other. It is unfathomable to me that it was a woman who stopped the Equal Rights Amendment. I’m still furious that women helped elect a misogynist racist to the highest political office. And it is women who are often the most vicious critics of female celebrities, politicians and neighbors. They are a minority, but their power has been accentuated because so many of us have NOT been politically engaged. Now we are. But marches and protests are not enough.

    We need more women in office. Run for office. Support a candidate. Vote.

    The conversation I experienced was like an earthquake. So, too, was the election of Donald Trump. But like after every earthquake, there is a time for rebuilding. For making what was destroyed better, stronger, more resilient.

    We need more women in office. Run for office. Support a candidate. Vote.

    There is a record number of women running for office this year. Not all deserve your vote (some are like Phyllis Schlafley who would take away our rights), but they all deserve your attention. I’m a Democrat and hope that every woman elected this year has a (D) after their name. But it is also important to keep in mind that it was two Republican women—Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski—who stood against their Party and voted to keep the Affordable Care Act, who are on record for being against overturning Roe v. Wade. Don’t support a woman candidate because she is a woman; support her because her actions will influence others to be strong, tolerant, compassionate, and engaged.

    Yes, we influence with our soft power. But we can have an even stronger influence on our families, fellow Americans and country.

    To do that, we need more women in office. Run for office. Support a candidate. Vote.

    Vote. Vote. Vote.

    Linda Gould

    Author ofThe Diamond Tree
    http://thediamondtreebook.weebly.com

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  • published The Women of DA: Thoughts on being a Dual Citizen in News 2018-07-23 03:54:43 -0400

    The Women of DA: Thoughts on being a Dual Citizen

    By Deborah Gorham

    I’ve lived in Canada—in Ottawa Ontario-- since 1965 and I’ve been a Canadian citizen since 1968. I’m now 81 years old and I’ve lived here most of my adult life. And yet, I find myself feeling more and more American. It’s not that I don’t like Canada. I respect Canada and enjoy many things about living here. But I miss the United States. I was born in New York City, in Manhattan, and, in 1956, came to Canada to attend McGill. After McGill, I ended up staying here, and I remained here even after my first husband and I split up. By then I had a position as a faculty member at Carleton University here in Ottawa, and I had received tenure. I enjoyed my Carleton career. I was a “pioneer “ in Women’s History and Women’s Studies. Hard work, but such fun.   

    So why do I feel more American than Canadian? Well, partly it’s New York itself. Manhattan is not a typical American place, but it is so special, and it is definitely my home. I tell myself the Manhattan of 1955 is what I miss, and that’s long gone. Still, every time I return for a visit, I love being there, even though the city is now overwhelming to me: noisy, crowded, even frightening. It’s exciting, in a way that Montreal and Toronto, great cities that they are, are not, at least not for me. Maybe it’s just that I am appalled by President Trump, in the way only an American can be? Maybe homesickness is just part of growing old?

    If I moved back to the United States, even to Manhattan, no doubt I would miss Canada!

    Candidates I’m concerned about? I vote from Wisconsin. I do hope that Senator Tammy Baldwin wins re-election.

    Deborah Gorham
    Distinguished Research professor
    Department of History
    Carleton University
    Ottawa, Canada


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  • published STOP BRET KAVANAUGH’S SUPREME COURT NOMINATION in News 2018-07-21 07:47:53 -0400

    STOP BRET KAVANAUGH’S SUPREME COURT NOMINATION

    In the midst of recent political shock waves, Donald Trump’s abhorrent choice of Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanaugh seems to have slipped way down in our priorities and is beginning to sound like a fait accompli. We can’t lower our guard!

    Kavanaugh is the enemy of everything we stand for as women (and men). And yet swing vote Republican Susan Collins – who knows better - says he’s “clearly qualified.” Kavanaugh’s record is disturbing: enemy of Roe v. Wade, unions, environment, affordable care, and against US presidents being subject to criminal investigation while in office.

    Trump should not be allowed to choose a Supreme Court justice until Mueller clears him.

    Tell this to your Senators and be sure to call Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), 202-224-6665 and Susan Collins (Maine) 202-224-2523 who could prevent the nomination from getting through the Senate. Both women Senators sound like they’re caving and need to be contacted.
    Keep saying No to this outrage.

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  • Women to watch: Katie Porter for California's 45th Congressional District!

    “In Congress, I will always protect a woman's right to choose and fight any efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

    Katie Porter is the Democratic candidate running against incumbent Republican Mimi Walters to represent CA's 45th District. This Orange County district voted for Clinton over Trump in 2016, and is considered competitive by pundits. WNDC members, this is a great chance to flip a Republican district!

    Porter is a consumer protection attorney and UC Irvine law professor who is endorsed by Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, among others. Her top priorities include Medicare for All, woman's right to choose, an assault weapons ban, and repealing the 2017 tax giveaway to corporations and the wealthy. She has extensive experience in state government, including obtaining relief for Orange County homeowners whose mortgages were underwater after the 2008 financial crisis. She has three young children, and serves as Cubmaster to her son's scout pack.

    Porter's opponent Walters is not moderate, but rather fully supports Trump's radical agenda. The Republicans will spend any amount to try to keep the 45th red. As a result, Porter will need our help to flip the 45th. We encourage you to learn about Porter at her campaign website

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  • posted about An Evening with Rebecca Solnit on Facebook 2018-07-05 09:21:41 -0400
    An Evening with Rebecca Solnit

    An Evening with Rebecca Solnit

    by Kelsey Mc Lendon

    In a crowded room at the Literaturhaus in Stuttgart, members of our  Democrats Abroad Women’s Caucus gathered with about 180 people to listen to Rebecca Solnit perform readings of her newest book, a collection of essays titled, The Mother of All Questions, and answer questions about literature, activism, and the future of American politics.

    Solnit’s book begins by challenging the notion that a woman’s capacity is limited solely to childbearing rather than creations of the mind. Recalling a talk she gave on Virginia Woolf, Solnit described how the line of questioning quickly turned to reasons for why Woolf didn’t procreate instead of focusing on what she did create—her exceptional written work. In fact, one of the things Woolf famously wrote about was dismantling expectations for women to be the “Angel in the House.” Nearly 90 years later, women continue fighting against this ideal, and Solnit’s book argues that we must refuse questions that attempt to define what it means to be a woman. Instead, Solnit says, we must reject simple answers and embrace the unknown.

    When reflecting on the literary canon, Solnit remarked that a book without a single woman in it is about humanity, but a book with a woman protagonist is a “woman’s book.” Knowing that we learn to imagine the world from the literature we read, it’s no wonder that straight, white men in particular often cannot imagine themselves as anyone else—they’ve never had to do so. In this way, diverse stories have never been more important because they provide us with different lenses through which to view the world and invite questions about whose stories are being told. Thanks to literary giants of the past like Woolf, James Baldwin, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, and so many others, we’ve seen an explosion of diverse literature in the past few decades that asks all readers to listen and reimagine the world.

    In conjunction with examining whose stories are told, Solnit’s book also prompts readers to consider silence—specifically, who has been silenced historically and currently. Perhaps the loudest breaking of that silence recently has been the #MeToo movement. While it seems like #MeToo was a sudden wave of unleashed stories, unprecedented support for those stories, and demands of accountability, Solnit reminds us that #MeToo was a culmination of previous, long-term efforts of women (often women of color) speaking out. As demonstrated in the #MeToo movement, stories grant the previously silenced the ability to be heard and grant everyone else opportunities to broaden their perspectives.

    Placing these notions of silence, stories, and listening in context with the larger political climate, Solnit urged the audience to remember that elections are the bedrock of democracy but daily actions are what preserve it. If we are to recover from the Trump presidency, it is imperative that we read about the past, listen to each other’s stories, and, as Rep. John Lewis has said, make “good trouble, necessary trouble.” November is still far off, and we must work every day to defend our basic rights and democratic values. Referencing an article in The Guardian, Solnit stated that historical studies suggest it only takes 3.5% of a country’s population (about 11 million people in the U.S.) to topple an unpopular regime through sustained nonviolent opposition.

    Solnit announced that an upcoming campaign to impeach Trump will be starting soon.

    The Women’s Caucus international book club, Books Abroad, will discuss The Mother of All Questions at our next meeting on Sunday, October 21. Please join in!

    Below is a list of readings that Solnit referenced throughout the evening:

    A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

    The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

    The writings of Subcomandante Marcos

    “Peculiar Benefits” by Roxana Gay

    Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into―and Out of―Violent Extremism by Michael Kimmel

    “It may only take 3.5% of the population to topple a dictator – with civil resistance” by Erica Chenoweth

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  • published An Evening with Rebecca Solnit in News 2018-07-05 09:18:19 -0400

    An Evening with Rebecca Solnit

    by Kelsey Mc Lendon

    In a crowded room at the Literaturhaus in Stuttgart, Germany, members of the Democrats Abroad Women’s Caucus gathered with about 180 people to listen to Rebecca Solnit perform readings of her newest book, a collection of essays titled, The Mother of All Questions, and answer questions about literature, activism, and the future of American politics.

    Solnit’s book begins by challenging the notion that a woman’s capacity is limited solely to childbearing rather than creations of the mind. Recalling a talk she gave on Virginia Woolf, Solnit described how the line of questioning quickly turned to reasons for why Woolf didn’t procreate instead of focusing on what she did create—her exceptional written work. In fact, one of the things Woolf famously wrote about was dismantling expectations for women to be the “Angel in the House.” Nearly 90 years later, women continue fighting against this ideal, and Solnit’s book argues that we must refuse questions that attempt to define what it means to be a woman. Instead, Solnit says, we must reject simple answers and embrace the unknown.

    When reflecting on the literary canon, Solnit remarked that a book without a single woman in it is about humanity, but a book with a woman protagonist is a “woman’s book.” Knowing that we learn to imagine the world from the literature we read, it’s no wonder that straight, white men in particular often cannot imagine themselves as anyone else—they’ve never had to do so. In this way, diverse stories have never been more important because they provide us with different lenses through which to view the world and invite questions about whose stories are being told. Thanks to literary giants of the past like Woolf, James Baldwin, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, and so many others, we’ve seen an explosion of diverse literature in the past few decades that asks all readers to listen and reimagine the world.

    In conjunction with examining whose stories are told, Solnit’s book also prompts readers to consider silence—specifically, who has been silenced historically and currently. Perhaps the loudest breaking of that silence recently has been the #MeToo movement. While it seems like #MeToo was a sudden wave of unleashed stories, unprecedented support for those stories, and demands of accountability, Solnit reminds us that #MeToo was a culmination of previous, long-term efforts of women (often women of color) speaking out. As demonstrated in the #MeToo movement, stories grant the previously silenced the ability to be heard and grant everyone else opportunities to broaden their perspectives.

    Placing these notions of silence, stories, and listening in context with the larger political climate, Solnit urged the audience to remember that elections are the bedrock of democracy but daily actions are what preserve it. If we are to recover from the Trump presidency, it is imperative that we read about the past, listen to each other’s stories, and, as Rep. John Lewis has said, make “good trouble, necessary trouble.” November is still far off, and we must work every day to defend our basic rights and democratic values. Referencing an article in The Guardian, Solnit stated that historical studies suggest it only takes 3.5% of a country’s population (about 11 million people in the U.S.) to topple an unpopular regime through sustained nonviolent opposition.

    Solnit announced that an upcoming campaign to impeach Trump will be starting soon.

    The Women’s Caucus international book club, Books Abroad, will discuss The Mother of All Questions at our next meeting on Sunday, October 21. Please join in!

    Below is a list of readings that Solnit referenced throughout the evening:

    A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

    The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

    The writings of Subcomandante Marcos

    “Peculiar Benefits” by Roxana Gay

    Healing from Hate: How Young Men Get Into―and Out of―Violent Extremism by Michael Kimmel

    “It may only take 3.5% of the population to topple a dictator – with civil resistance” by Erica Chenoweth

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  • posted about Families Belong Together! on Facebook 2018-06-20 12:22:27 -0400
    Families Belong Together!

    Families Belong Together!

    The Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus (DA GWC) - as women and mothers- and human beings are appalled and revolted by the current Administration’s policy of separating children from their immigrant parents. It is abhorrent and a blatant violation of human rights. All of us in our Country Chapters and our Women’s Caucuses are organizing events to protest this inhuman policy. Please make your voices heard. And do visit the Democrats Abroad link on this issue at http://www.democratsabroad.org/keep_families_together

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  • published WHEN WOMEN WIN ELECTIONS, WOMEN WIN in News 2018-06-06 13:42:46 -0400

    WHEN WOMEN WIN ELECTIONS, WOMEN WIN

    By: Meghan Feeks

    May was a huge month for Democratic women. Primaries in 11 states and a runoff in Texas advanced women to the general election throughout the country, bringing the total number of female Democratic nominees for Senate, House and governor so far to 67 (Republicans have nominated another 11).

    With an unprecedented number of women running for national office this year — and many more still running for state and local office — women candidates (particularly Democrats) are on track to smash records in 2018. But it’s not just the number of women that’s making history: in Georgia, Stacey Abrams became America’s first-ever black, female nominee for governor. In Kentucky’s 6thdistrict, Democrats handed the congressional nomination to Amy McGrath, the first female marine to fly an F-18 fighter jet in combat.

    Meanwhile, Texas Democrats nominated two women who could also make history: if elected, Gina Ortiz Jones would become the first woman, lesbian, Iraq war veteran and Filipina-American to represent her state’s 23rd district in Congress. And Lupe Valdez, the Democratic nominee for governor, could become the first openly gay, Latina governor of the Lone Star State.

    An urgent need

    With hundreds of Democratic women still in the running for national and state office, the number of women on the ballot in November is set to continue growing. But just as May brought hope of seeing greater and more diverse representation of women in government, it also brought painful reminders of how urgently it’s needed.

    As we celebrated Mother’s Day, American moms still faced zero guarantee of maternity leave, while earning just 71 cents on the dollar of working dads.

    As Ireland voted to overturn its constitutional abortion ban, the Trump administration announced a domestic “gag rule” that would cut funding for any healthcare provider that offers abortions — or even information about how and where to obtain one.

    In Santa Fe and Noblesville, two school shootings (the 22nd and 23rd school shootings this year) once again laid bare America’s gun violence problem — an issue that disproportionately affects women and particularly women of color.

    In New York City, the arrest of film director Harvey Weinstein on rape charges represented one baby step on a long and grueling path to justice for the 1-in-6 American women who have survived sexual assault, and the 81% of women who have experienced sexual harassment.

    Heading into Pride Month, we recognize the significant obstacles still facing the LGBTQ community following its deadliest year ever in the US, with transgender women accounting for 72% of anti-LGBTQ homicides.

    And on the heels of Memorial Day, as we remember the American ideals our fallen heroes died defending, we also remember that it’s up to all of us — regardless of gender, race, class or creed — to fight, every day, to ensure their sacrifice was not in vain.

    Putting women in their place

    These are just a handful of the reasons we need more women in government, especially in a Congress where men still outnumber women 4-to-1. For when women win elections, all women win: research shows that women politicians push much harder for policies that support women and children or address issues like education, health, poverty and civil rights. Women are also much more likely to support gun control, and when it comes to working across the aisle, they also tend to be more collaborative and bipartisan.

    With many women Democratic nominees facing tough odds in their races this fall, the DAUK Women’s Caucus is determined to help as many as possible make it over the finish line. To this end, we will be working with the Global Women’s Caucus to highlight and mobilize support for Democratic women who are heading to the general election.

    We invite women (and likeminded allies) everywhere to join our cause — for behind every powerful woman, there must be a whole tribe of other powerful women who have her back.

    Early support is critical to ensure these candidates can put their funding and resources to the best possible use, so we urge you to find the female candidate you like best, and get behind her in any way that you can — whether it’s through donations, phone-banking, postcard-writing or simply talking to your friends and family about why you support her.

    For real-time status updates on all women candidates running for US Congress and statewide elected executive, check out the summary and complete list maintained by Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics.

    To learn more about and support pro-choice female candidates, visit EMILY’s List.

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  • published Global Women's Caucus in Tokyo in News 2018-06-03 14:04:46 -0400

    Global Women's Caucus in Tokyo

    Caucuses Are Good For What Ails You!


    by Connie Borde

    Feeling lonely? Thinking no one hears? No one cares? Well, join a caucus! The Global Women’s Caucus interacts with women around the world and gives them a platform to DO something about issues that concern them.

    At the DPCA meeting in Tokyo several caucuses presented their programs and showed what they can do to make the Democratic Party sit up and take notice.

    The Global Women’s Caucus works together to promote the interests of women: candidates (information sheets and webex calls with them), women’s rights (we avidly support the Equal Right Amendment, back on the table again after lying dormant for a few decades), marches and demonstrations – over 30 this year - (against Trump, against gun violence, for choice, #metoo…), and most important, we we work on real projects together.

    We knit pussy hats, we make a fundraising Women’s Calendar every year (raised $6000 for the DPCA in 2018), we share ideas with LBGTQ women, with Black women, we discuss intersectionality and ways we can help each other. We are definitely not hermetic.

    Where else could a mother of 5 who home-schools her children in Canada, a young feminist activist in Germany, and two over-70 translators from Paris put their literary interest to the test and form a global book club entitled Books Abroad?

    That’s us and more: a 2-way road that we’re taking to make America blue, us to you and you to us.


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  • published 11 ways U.S. expats can help rock the midterms in News 2018-05-03 05:45:22 -0400

    11 ways U.S. expats can help rock the midterms

    11 ways U.S. expats can help rock the midterms

    By Meghan Feeks

    It ain’t easy being “blue” these days, but things are definitely looking up. Special and state elections have brought Democrats to power in key states, and the latest polls have Democrats holding a double-digit lead over Republicans for the 2018 midterms.

    Also encouraging, a record number of women (mostly Democrats) are running for Congress this year — more than twice as many as in 2016. And having turned out in force to flip GOP seats in recent elections, women are also taking the lead in grassroots movements around the country to engage voters, promote progressive candidates and turn anger into impact when we go to the polls this November.

    These gains feel good after more than a year of hard knocks. But with the midterms still several months off, Democrats still have much at stake, and nothing must be taken for granted. The good news is there’s a lot that the 9 million US expats who make up the “51st state” can do to make a difference when America votes this fall. Here are 11 ways we can help:

    1. Vote — and make sure you register to vote in time. This should be obvious, but the sad fact is, only 12% of Americans abroad vote in presidential elections and even fewer in midterm, state and local elections. Fortunately, it’s now possible for all US citizens to obtain and in many cases submit absentee ballots electronically. But this is important: you need to request one every year. Just because you voted in the 2016 general election, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get your ballot in 2017 and beyond. To register to vote in 2018 online, visit VoteFromAbroad.org, or access the site through the ‘vote’ menu on the Democrats Abroad website. For more information on voting from overseas, including links to helpful resources, see the State Department’s handy guide.

    2. Help register fellow expats to vote. Once again, Democrats Abroad is planning voter registration events around the world, but relies on volunteers to give voters the information they need to obtain and submit their ballots. To learn more about becoming a voter registration volunteer, click here or contact your local chapter of Democrats Abroad.

    3. Vote in the 2018 Democratic primaries. As a registered Democrat, you’re entitled to vote in House and Senate primaries, which will unfold over the coming months. This is a great opportunity to advance Democratic candidates that support your values and have a positive vision for the party’s future. To get the 411 on primaries in the state where you’re registered to vote, check out this overview on Ballotpedia.org.

    4. Support Democratic candidates in key national races. This fall, candidates will compete for all 435 seats in the House and 34 seats in the Senate (23 of which are currently held by Democrats). All these contests are important, and no seat should be considered “safe.” However, the battle for control of Congress will likely boil down to a few key races in the House and Senate. Support Democratic candidates in these elections, regardless of where you’re registered to vote. Visit EMILY’s List to learn more about pro-choice, female candidates, or if you prefer to stick closer to your hometown, visit SwingLeft.org to find nearby swing districts that need your help most. Pro tip: to maximize your donation’s impact, contribute directly to your favorite candidate’s campaign, rather than through party organizations that support them (Senator Kirsten Gillibrand shared this nugget at a recent fundraiser in London, noting that individual candidates can take out ads for half of what, say, the DCCC would pay).

    5. Don’t forget state and local elections. Down-ballot, state and local elections may not sound that sexy, but taking a lead from the Tea Party, progressive, grassroots movements are increasingly targeting them to make America bluer from the bottom up. Many states allow US expats to vote in these contests, but even if yours doesn’t, there are still ways you can help. To learn more, check out the Sister DistrictProject, Flippable.org, RunForSomething.net and Indivisible.org. To connect with fellow expats from your state, join a Facebook State Group here.

    6. Ensure all voices are heard. Last year’s elections were good not just for Democrats, but also for diversity: around the country, women, people of color and LGBTQ candidates became the first to win elections in their respective contests. Help our party represent the interests of all its members by supporting candidates with diverse and intersectional profiles. Click on the links here to learn more about black women, Muslim women, Latinas, Native Americans, LGBTQ candidates and other people of color who are running for office in 2018.

    7. Engage with voters. So we can’t go from door-to-door, but there are still lots of ways we can engage voters from afar. Volunteer to phone-bank for Democratic candidates, either directly or through grassroots organizations that support them. Postcard campaigns throughPostcardsToVoters.org are another cool and quirky way to connect with fellow Democrats and encourage them to vote. Get your American expat friends on board to have more fun, increase your impact and hold each other accountable.

    8. Organize or attend a political fundraiser or “action party.” US expats can independently organize political fundraisers or “action parties” to support specific candidates and Democratic organizations. Contact your favorite candidate to coordinate a house party with a video or Skype link, and circulate the appropriate contribution link and compliance form. Note that all expenses must be reported and contributions can only be received from US citizens or permanent residents (it’s the law). For those who wish to contribute their time and energy (either instead of or in addition to a financial donation), set a clear call to action. To stay informed about fundraisers being held in your country, join the Americans Abroad Facebook Group and keep an eye on your local Democrats Abroad newsletter. To hear from Democratic candidates and politicians directly (and at Europe-friendly times), sign up for the fantastic phone-call series organized by fellow expat Mark Bergman.

    9. Stand for something. Anger with the Trump administration may get people to the polls, but it’s no substitute for a long-term strategy. Call on Democratic officials and candidates to define a clear and positive vision for the party and set concrete policy goals to support it. Do your part to promote this vision in your families, communities and social networks. For every expression of outrage you see or share on social media, post something positive that points to a solution.

    10. Take action to improve election security and combat fake news. The midterms are under serious threat of foreign interference, but — surprise, surprise — the Trump administration is doing nothing about it. Call on Congress to pass the Election Security Act and demand to know what your elected officials are doing to secure elections in your district. Be on alert for fake news and call out misinformation when you see it. Equally important, support real news by buying a subscription to a reputable news source. Established, big-name outlets such as the Washington Post are always a good bet, but don’t forget about cash-strapped local papers, which play a critical role in holding local governments accountable.

    11. Share your international perspectives. As an American living abroad, you have a unique point of view. Talk to friends and family members in the US about how the country you live in approaches issues such as healthcare, education, reproductive rights, gun control and family leave. Discuss the implications of US policies outside its borders and how the Trump administration is affecting America’s image in the world. To spread the word further, consider sharing these thoughts in an op-ed in your hometown or college newspaper.

    The midterms are a critical milestone that require our laser focus, but there are plenty of other things US expats can do every day to support our democracy — and they needn’t take much time! For more ideas, sign up for Democrats Abroad’s “Tiny Actions” newsletter, or check out the HuffPost article I wrote on the subject last year. Have more ideas on how to rock the midterms and stay politically active from overseas? Please share in the comments!

    Meghan Feeks is living in London and loving it, but always a New Yorker at heart. Communicator by day, writer by night, tango dancer by midnight.

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  • signed up on Tiny Actions Signup 2018-04-22 06:20:08 -0400

  • published Science March Rally 2018 in News 2018-04-18 06:38:24 -0400

    Science March Rally 2018

    The weather was warm, the mood was celebratory as hundreds gathered in the middle of Stuttgart to stand up for Science and listen to distinguished scientists from our region’s many Universities discuss the future of research. Speakers included rectors from both of Stuttgart’s Universities, as well as representatives from Karlsruhe Tech, and Heidelberg. Dr. Radhika Puttagunta, American scientist and Democrats Abroad Stuttgart chapter member, was there to share her perspective, and even gave a shout out to our valiant DA voter registration team, pointing out how important it is to vote in defense of science! Dr Puttagunta is the group leader in experimental paraplegiology and Neuroregeneration at the University of Heidelberg Clinic.

    Here are her remarks:

    “Standing here in Stuttgart, the city known for the invention of the automobile, we do not need to sell you on innovation or science. Germany leads the world in recycling and renewable energy because you take climate change seriously and want to preserve the environment. Here in Germany, I have worked at the University of Tuebingen where Noble prize winning developmental biologist Prof. Dr. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard can be found alongside the location of the first isolation of DNA by Johann Friedrich Miescher in the castle laboratory. I now work at Germany’s oldest and most renowned university, the University of Heidelberg, where I believe that Germans understand the benefits of science and innovation, however we are not here only to support that claim but to also see where we can do better.

    You may ask why did I myself decide to become a scientist. I can tell you for certain it was most definitely not for money or fame. I am a scientist because I am curious and want to know how the world works around me, how the human body functions, what happens when it no longer functions as intended and how I can address those problems and add to our knowledge base. Classically trained as a geneticist I now work on understanding how to get nerves to grow again after damage from a spinal cord injury. Not an easy task but incredibly fascinating. Such intense curiosity as my own is common in our young children. Think of that baby that keeps dropping things on the floor and wondering why it falls, rediscovering gravity over and over again, especially later on with their own bodies. Or at a playground, children discovering centripetal forces differ from the center of the merry-go-round to the outer edge where more force is needed to keep you from falling off. Or the enthusiasm of kids involved in planting seeds and realizing what it takes for that seed to germinate and grow. Children are just born curious, it is how they explore their world, and some cultures are better at cultivating this curiosity and turning out amazing scientists. Both my home, the United States, and my adopted home, Germany, do a wonderful job with young children, letting them be little explorers and scientists. However, as the amount of knowledge and information we have access to grows over time we seem to move away from learning how and why things work and move further toward extensive testing on this newly acquired information. By doing so the schools are pulling us away from pursuing that curiosity we are naturally born with. By the time I see students at the University the only question I get asked is usually if this is on the exam or part of their grade. We cannot raise the next generation of scientists if we do not instill in them this desire to know more, to discover, to question, to tinker, to build, to fail and to succeed. We need to let that curiosity spread through our schools, train our teachers to foster this desire and stop overloading with excessive testing. We as parents at home need to encourage our kids to dream big, be creative and imaginative, build, question and read everything they can get their hands on to answer those questions of why and how thus stimulating new ideas. At the University level, we as lecturers need to push our students to think, to question, to solve, to further our understanding, not to just recite and pass exams. Innovation comes from pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, questioning our understanding or limits of knowledge and discovering the unknown. The key here is that culture and society is often driving discovery through their desires of how to educate the next generation. This means that you have a greater influence on science than you probably imagined. This also rings true for the type of science that is found to be worth funding. Your voice matters when you vote, you influence the future. For my fellow Americans out there, I urge you to go the booth we have set up here and register to vote this year. Your voice not only impacts the US, it has an impact on the world and there is no greater time than now to have your voice heard.

    If we speak on a global scale, the current world population is made up of 50% women, however many scientific fields remain dominated by males. There is nothing wrong with that, but what is to say that is the best we can do? We are ignoring the input from half of our population! How do we know that together we would not do better? In fact we already know that diversity in science is essential, studies from various fields show that diverse groups are consistently more successful than groups of the “best” people who are virtually identical. There is no single test to find who is the best for problem solving but we do know that we work better in groups and science is not an independent sport, it is most definitely done best collaboratively. Published studies that have more collaborators tend to be more cited by other scientists, indicating they are of more value to the field. So if we want success in science and we want to push discovery and innovation forward than we must embrace diversity. It is not a matter of who is better but that when we put our collective heads together we are stronger than any one group alone. Here I am referring to diversity not only of gender but also ethnicity, sexual identity and orientation, immigration and family status. Each person’s experiences make up not only their life story but their unique intellectual and working perspective. Be this from experiencing motherhood, being an immigrant or dealing with homophobia. Once upon a time the US understood this and took in so many scientists from all walks of life from all over the world and those scientists went on to become the Noble prize-winning immigrants such as Einstein, Werner von Braun and Günter Blobel (signal peptides). Nearly 40% of Noble prizes awarded to the US are to immigrants. Why is that? Not only does the US encourage independence and creativity but by encouraging immigration they have let different perspectives and approaches come in to solve and innovate. So they have an environment that encourages the formation of diverse groups and these groups go on to do amazing things. Germany once lead the scientific world 150 to 100 years ago, until unfortunately they limited diversity but today Germany is embracing its role as a world leader and understands a diverse nation is a better nation, economically, scientifically and socially. Today’s choices will reflect in what Germany produces scientifically in the coming decades. I can say from personal experience at work where I am surrounded by people trained in fields very different from my own and with personal backgrounds equally different from mine that I am a better scientist because of a diverse environment and those around me also benefit from my unique perspective. “ R.P.

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  • posted about International Women's Day Remarks on Facebook 2018-03-08 08:53:54 -0500
    International Women's Day Remarks

    International Women's Day Remarks

    International Chair Julia Bryan issued the following remarks for International Women’s Day 2018:

    Before I flew to Washington this week I hugged my daughter and said, “Stay strong, work hard, and treat your brother the way you’d like him to treat you.”

    Caroline’s fourteen, and already an ardent activist. In 2016, she saw Hillary Clinton’s candidacy as an “of course” moment. Of course there would be a woman president. Her world seemed equal, the past’s prejudices disappearing as the generations shifted.

    When Clinton lost the election, my daughter realized, as so many of us did, that we still had a lot of work to do.

    Today on International Women’s Day, I remember the numerous times women have been reminded that equality is not as near as we might believe. Think of Abigail Adams writing her husband in 1776, asking him to “remember the ladies” when he created our new nation’s code of laws. We know how well that turned out.

    And even Women’s Day, launched in 1909 to celebrate women and push for greater equality: It’s a bittersweet day as we reflect 109 years later that we still have a ways to go on that goal.

    So our “of course” moment has not yet arrived. Women must often work harder than men to earn less and run farther to get to the same place.

    But some things have changed. After Hillary’s loss in 2016, women didn’t just sit down again. They rose up and launched the persistence movement. This year thousands of women are running for office at all levels of government. Kathleen Matthews, chair of Maryland state party, says that women are both tremendously motivated to run and that organizations and parties are deliberately finding women candidates to run. The results are evident in every state election this midterm.

    That’s heartening news and a reminder that history is not a straight line. As President Obama said, it zigs and it zags.

    This is also true of our story. Today, as we remember the many zigs and zags of women’s empowerment in the US and around the world, I ask all of you who have joined the persistence movement to stay strong, work hard, and, as I told Caroline, treat your brother (and sister) the way you’d like to be treated yourself.

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  • published March for our Lives in News 2018-03-05 11:57:47 -0500

    March for our Lives


    The Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus fully supports the hundreds of March For Our Lives events taking place around the world on March 24th, in solidarity with the youth and families of March For Our Lives who will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end this epidemic of mass school shootings.

    As women, we cannot tolerate the gross negligence of the American government which permits horrific mass murders of our nation's children in schools, simply because Congress refuses to pass sensible laws restricting the purchase of assault weapons to keep them out of the hands of those who should not have them.

    The Global Women's Caucus also recognizes and reminds everyone that the gun violence epidemic affects women very specifically. Domestic violence and gun ownership overlap in the US where 40% of American households own guns. 80% of those killed by gun violence at the hands of an intimate partner are women. And American women are 11 times more likely to die from gun violence than women of any other country. As former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford put it at the 2015 Domestic Violence Awareness Summit:

    “dangerous people with guns are a threat to women. Criminals with guns. Abusers with guns. Stalkers with guns. That makes gun violence a women’s issue. For mothers, for families, for me and you”.

    We urge all members of Democrats Abroad and the Global Women’s Caucus to change this paradigm by joining, supporting or hosting an event, by registering to vote and getting friends and family to register to vote and by making sure to VOTE out the NRA and the GOP in 2018.

    Americans overseas can use: http://www. votefromabroad.org to get all you need register/request a ballot, and vote. DO IT NOW!

    For all information on the March 24 rallies, marches and other events in your country, please check with your Country Committee Chair or, you don’t have a Country Committee, check with your Regional Vice Chairs. We also invite you to visit the GWC caucus page on the Democrats Abroad website: http://www.democratsabroad.org/wc_events as we will be posting events as we receive them from our members.
    If you have any questions, please contact the GWC Co Chairs, Ann Hesse and Salli Swartz at: womenscaucus@democratsabroad.org



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  • published Celebrate Women's History Month in News 2018-03-01 05:25:43 -0500

    Celebrate Women's History Month

    "We are celebrating women's history month by highlighting historical
    brave, bold and breakthrough women. We are also featuring many of the
    faces in the Black women's community who have done so much to build our
    nation. These women, many of them lesser known, offered their lives to
    the improvement of humanity and to improving the conditions of women. We
    can be proud to stand on the foundation that they have built. I have
    learned so much from their stories."
    Christina Skovsgaard, Oslo


    CAROLINE F. WARE

    Caroline “Lina” Ware, was born and raised in Brookline, Massachusetts into a prominent, generous family in 1899. She received her education at Vassar, Radcliff and Harvard (PhD), in 1925.

    She was one of the most innovative historians of her day, she astonished the profession when her PhD dissertation won a $10,000 prize. She had demonstrated that the early cotton mills of New England set the pattern for the future industrial development of the country and changed the nature of rural life, especially for young women. Ware's dissertation became a well-reviewed book, yet the only satisfactory job she could find was back at Vassar, where she was soon recognized as a master teacher. Ware moved to New York in 1931 in order to join her husband, Gardiner Means. During this time, Ware worked on a community study of Greenwich Village. She published her research in a groundbreaking book titled, “Greenwich Village”. She found a job in the Department of Agriculture and soon became "the person to call". Ware became involved in President Roosevelt’s New Deal, specifically creating a new field called “consumer affairs”.

    When the war started there was less interest in the problems of consumers. She was already teaching constitutional history at Howard, the nation's preeminent black university. When Pauli Murray, a second-year law student, asked to audit her class, the two women became good friends. As a two-person civil-rights movement, they organized Howard students for marches and sit-ins and integrated two restaurants. They also set a personal example of ignoring color in their social lives. Ware remained at Howard until 1961.

    Her 70-acre farm was a favorite haunt of young New Dealers setting out to change the world. Visitors included diplomats and leaders of all sorts of causes, any of whom might be put to work as what Ware labeled IBUL: "intelligent but unskilled labor”.

    President Roosevelt appointed Ware to be deputy to Harriet Elliott, the consumer representative of a National Defense Advisory Commission. After resigning from her position in the National Defense Advisory Commission, Ware joined the Office of Price Administration consumer advisory group.

    In 1963 President John F. Kennedy selected Caroline Ware to be a member of the President's Commission on the Status of Women.

    She and her husband, Gardiner Means, donated the seventy acres of land as a public park. They were also environmentalists before there was such a term. She died in 1990.

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  • published Power, Sex and #metoo: Now What? in News 2018-02-21 14:52:29 -0500

    Power, Sex and #metoo: Now What?


    A GWC Panel Discussion

    by Jessica Craig, DA Women's Caucus Barcelona

    The Global Women’s Caucus kicked off the EMEA Regional Meeting in Madrid (9th – 11th February) with a timely and provocative panel discussion about “Power, Sex and #MeToo: Now what?”. The informal and fun atmosphere of New Orleans-style restaurant, Gumbo, helped create a feeling of warmth and closeness between the diverse panellists and audience. For those of us Democrats Abroad who have only been following the outrageous stories about Weinstein, etc in social media and in the press, and who are living in countries that have not yet been as impacted by #MeToo and #TimesUp as the US (and to a lesser extent the UK), this was a welcome opportunity to step back from the hashtags and headlines and to discuss with fellow Americans the underlying social and political issues, as well as to assess the potential for lasting change.

    Anne Hesse, Co-Chair of Global Women’s Caucus warmed up the room by raising key issues and questions. In recent history, we seem to have moved through three stages in the US, socially and politically. And, the Democratic party has not always made the best choices:

    With Anita Hill, came a new definition of Sexual Harassment. Senator Biden could have come to her defense, backed her up, but he didn’t. What is our liability as Democrats now?

    Then came the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” era of President Clinton. Will we finally address this? Or remain vulnerable to all the "yeah-but-isms from the other side?

    We have now arrived in a tough “Zero Tolerance Zone” Are some, like Senator Franken having to pay extra because we looked the other way with Clinton?

    How well do we understand the concept of intersectionality? Do we understand that some women face layers and layers of oppression? Do we understand that privilege is not just about skin color? That class. education, sexual orientation, disabilities, all play a role?

    Is a simple thing like grammar undermining us? When we say "John beat Jane", John is the subject. And we all ask “what the hell is wrong with John?” But when we say “Jane was beaten….. by John”, “or worse, “Jane is a battered woman,” then the problem belongs to Jane. What’s wrong with Jane? Or, What did Jane do wrong? What about John? Where’s John? How do we make this about John’s problem?

    And what about the Enablers? There are 3 actors on this stage: The Perpetrator, The Victim, and The Bystanders: The friends, co-workers, teammates, supporters, fans, spouses. How can we, as bystanders do a better job of supporting the victim…and isolating the perpetrator?

    There is bound to be confusion, gray areas, and push-back as we transition. It’s exactly these gray areas we need to explore. Let’s explore these questions and more today in an atmosphere of equality, empathy and trust: As men and women simply trying to live together in peace. As Democrats trying to win a crucial election And as Democrats Abroad, trying to engage our far-flung, And very diverse voters.

    The first question from GWC Co-chair Salli Swartz to the panel was “Is #MeToo going to change anything?” And the panellists overall were cautiously optimistic. Anne Bagamery, an independent journalist based in Paris and former senior editor of the International Herald Tribune/International New York Times, said she is impressed and encouraged by the sheer numbers – so many stories, so many areas of economy and culture, and so many parts of the world that are paying attention. She believes this movement has “critical mass”, especially because so many young people are involved. Ronda Zelezny-Green, an African-American mobile technologist, educator and researcher based in London, also commented on the extraordinary numbers powering this movement. “Between 2010-2017 there were 96 million tweets relating to sexual harassment and there has not been any other hashtag used as much as #MeToo.” Ronda also thinks the movement has become more influential and “intersectional” after the incursion of “popular white women” helped publicize the movement that was founded in 2006 by a black woman, Tarana Burke. The youngest of the panellists, Laura Downer, a student at University of Wisconsin – Madison, feels excited that #MeToo is the first big push for change in her lifetime, and that for millennials it now feels like “our turn” to push forward. The only note of ambivalence on the panel was from Leselle Marie Hatcher, a multi-racial daughter of an immigrant, and a musician and writer from NYC currently based in Madrid. Leselle agreed with the comments of the previous panellists, but pointed out that “a hashtag in of itself is not change and will not effect legal change”, and we absolutely must not rest on our laurels.

    Michael Elias, the one man on the panel, contributed his perspective as a high-level and long-term writer, director and producer of major film and tv in Hollywood. He reminded us that even with all the dirt flying around about Weinstein and others, behaviour in Hollywood has changed since the 1970s and it has become a more “careful” and “respectful” place. But clearly there was an industry-wide blindspot about Weinstein. Michael said “When I would talk to producers or agents about working with him, they would say ‘he’s a thief’, ‘a monster’, ‘a bully’. But they would never say he was a sexual predator.” And there has been a double-standard among men when it comes to actresses. “I dealt with a lot of powerful women – executives and producers – they had power and no one messed with them. But actresses took the brunt of this because they want to work…”

    The most powerful response to the next question “How can change be effectuated and how can Democrats get behind this movement?” was from Liselle: “#MeToo has taken away the element of shame for women, and places [sexual abuse] on a global platform, and does away with the silencing. The law is an important tool, but there needs to be change in people on the ground. Police need to start believing women, especially black women and black-trans-women, and all women who say they are feminists need to start believing each other because we have not been so good at that until now.”

    Anne added to this her perspective as a veteran journalist, saying while we should applaud the courage of the media, particularly the New York Times and New Yorker, for backing the Weinstein story, the media is also part of the problem in perpetuating stereotypes of women. And the mainstream media is still not giving enough attention to the plight of the trans or LGBT community, nor to people of color. What journalists are supposed to do is, “to shine light into dark corners” and “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” We should start looking more closely at “the people who we reward and what they (mostly men) have done – societally we need to change what we view as a successful person.”

    A big part of the confusion around #MeToo is over definitions. How much can we complain about what is sexual abuse or what is sexual harassment? How much culture can go into drawing a line? Liselle’s direct response drew the first laughter mixed with applause from the audience, “No one’s trying stop anyone from getting laid! That’s not what this is about…But sex is more complicated than we want to think…” And in the US, the legacy of the puritans has given us extra obstacles in talking about sex. (So to those anti-#MeToo people in France who misunderstand the #MeToo movement and decry it for imposing American puritanism over libertine sexual relations, isn’t it really about freeing ourselves from puritanism which would have us be silent about sex?) Ronda thinks “We’ve placed far too much responsibility on drawing lines.” As an educator she is always aware that “change starts at home.” And “what are we doing to educate our men and boys, our women and girls?”

    So how can we get more men involved in this conversation? Leselle says she tells her male friends, “When you go out, whenever you see something inappropriate, CALL OUT YOUR BOYS!” Both Anne and Michael (the one male panellist), and both representing the 50+ generation, think that younger people have a much better handle on this. There is a more “fluid structure” in their lives, and a “more open conversation going on” between women and men. Ronda thinks we need to find authentic male feminist voices for the cause, men who are interested in more than just likes and tweets. As a society we need to identify and create male champions for women. And again, this kind of change starts at home. Michael had a slightly different perspective, he seemed to doubt that men could be effective as feminists or to believe that women should continue taking the lead with the feminist movement. He said he would tell his sons to get involved in a different issue that still impacts the lives of women, such as to “fight as hard as hell against the NRA”.

    One of the last questions for the panel was about an issue central to the Global Women’s Caucus: “Will the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) change our lives?” Most of the panel thought it would be a positive step forward for women, with the one dissenting opinion from Leselle. As a black+latino woman, she reminded us that her people have seen their constitutional rights constantly violated, and so she thinks the ERA would be a “nice gesture at best”. Laura, the youngest panellist, thinks it’s “dumb” we don’t have it in the constitution yet. And that passing it would be an important, not an empty, gesture. It would show incoming generations that women’s rights matter.

    Two questions from men in the mostly female audience showed how uncomfortable even Democrat men are in responding to the #MeToo movement. One wanted to know “How can Democrats speak about these issues without pushing away 50% of Americans?” The best response to this was from Leselle: “The Democratic party needs to decide what kind of party it wants to be. I have trouble using the pronoun ‘we’ when I talk about Democrats because I don’t feel it represents me. We need to inspire. We need to more than just ‘not Republican’.” And the final question, awkwardly phrased from a man in the audience, revealed how personal these issues fundamentally are to men as well as to women, and how difficult it is for men to find the best words to describe communication with a woman. We heard in action one of the key questions raised in the intro to the event: “Is a simple thing like grammar undermining us?” Ultimately the man’s question was “How can men and women improve communication?” And just when it seemed like the panel would stay silent unless a psychotherapist appeared in the room, Anne, the journalist, came up with a great answer that reminded us how much the personal and sexual are now thanks to #MeToo inextricably linked to the political. “This is also a political problem and the only way male and female communication will improve is if more men and women are working together in the same room.” We just need to take one look at the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives to see how hard we Democrats need to work to bring this improvement about starting in 2018! And even while Democrats are more receptive than Republicans to taking action to address the issues raised by #MeToo, even when it brings up accusations against powerful men in our own party, we still have a lot of deeper listening and learning and changing to do, and this kind of change needs to be happening from the ground up - in our homes, our workplace, and in our own relationships.

    The final questions Anne Hesse raised to “warm-up the room” at the start of the event are good to use as further questions we should keep discussing in the Global Women’s Caucus, in our local DA chapters, and in future DA conferences:

    What kinds of questions should we as Democrats be asking?

    Are we over-punishing our own legislators?

    Is it fair to judge yesterday's conduct by today’s new rules?

    Could a “zero-tolerance” climate result in keeping even more good, qualified people from running for office?

    How do we uphold the “BELIEVE WOMEN” principle without falling prey to politically motivated, or even false accusations?

    Is the Speier-Gillibrandt #METOO legislation adequate?

    Do we need a South Africa-style “TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION” for our party?

    The answers may not come today, but at least we will have begun the conversation. Many thanks to the Global Women’s Caucus for bringing together the topics, questions, and panellists that will help focus and guide us!

    Jessica Craig

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  • published Women's March 2018 in News 2018-01-29 03:50:35 -0500

    Women's March 2018

    Stuttgart marched for women’s rights!

    Despite pouring rain and icy cold, a group of roughly 30 hearty DA Stuttgart members, together with our precinct members from Freiburg and Tübingen joined a crowd of 500 activists to march in Heidelberg for women’s rights.

    We were welcomed by DA Heidelberg chair Nancy Schimkat who was on hand with her team to help any and all Americans with their voter registration.

    I was pleased to be able to share a few remarks at the end of the march highlighting some of this year’s successes for women. It wasn’t all bad news this year!

    Soaking wet, freezing cold and exhausted by the end of the day, we “nevertheless” could not help but feel a bit proud of ourselves to have been in the company of such amazing, dedicated and ”persistent” activists!

    Let us all resolve to keep on marching to the ballot box!

    If you haven’t done it already, now is a great time to request your absentee ballot for the mid-terms. 
    Remember, Americans living abroad do have to re-register every year!

    But then you’ll be all set for a year’s worth of primaries, special elections and the all-important mid-terms on November 6th when 33 senate seats, all 435 seats in the house of representatives,14 Governorships and countless local offices will be UP FOR GRABS

    Our own Democrats Abroad Stuttgart chapter is doing everything in our power to reach out to fellow Americans in our area, and help them claim their right to vote at home. Our primary project for this year is getting out the vote.
    We work hard, but we really do have fun! And we need your help! 

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