August 8, 2016

A most remarkable book

The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution.

By journalist Jonathan Eig.

Wow. So very very very good. This book tells “the extraordinary story of one of the most far-reaching scientific breakthroughs known to mankind…. This is a grand story of radical feminist politics, scientific ingenuity, establishment opposition, and, ultimately, a sea change in social attitudes.”

Other books by Eig:

  • Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season
  • Get Capone: The Secret Plot that Captured America’s Most Wanted Gangster
  • Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig
June 20, 2016

To mother…days after Mother’s Day

From Gloria Steinem’s Facebook post on Sunday, May 8, 2016, Mother’s Day…..

        I’ve been thinking about Mother’s Day, and why I and others, who are not mothers, identify with this day just as much as if we were.
        Of course, it’s partly because we all owe our lives to our own mothers — which would be enough — but I think there is another reason. Even if we are not mothers, the noun, we may be mothering, the verb. Indeed, unless mothering is a verb, it is not an action in the world.
        Think about it: As a noun, mother is limited to half the human race, and also to the accident of fertility and age and intention. In some societies, motherhood is honored only in women who are married, or who have sons.  In most societies, a woman is more encouraged to give birth to another person than she is to give birth to herself.
        As a noun, mother may be good or bad, willing or unwilling, on welfare or rich, worshipped or blamed, dominating or nurturing, accidental or chosen.
        Perhaps that’s why the word mother is so much used in profanity; in war, as in “the Mother of All Bombs;” or by war-makers who honor Hero Mothers who give birth to soldiers.
        But when mother is a verb – as in to be mothered and to mother — ah, then the very best of human possibilities come into our imaginations. And we are all able to mother, whatever our sex or our age or our abilities.
  • To mother is to care about the welfare of another person as much as one’s own.
  • To mother depends on empathy and thoughtfulness, noticing and caring.
  • To mother creates the only pairing in which the older and the younger, the stronger and the weaker, are perfectly matched.
        It is also about free will. One can be forced to become a mother, but one cannot be forced to mother.
        What Julia Ward Howe had in mind in 1870 when she invented Mother’s Day was a day on which we oppose war and advance peace. In other words, it was not Mother’s Day, but a Mothering Day.
        It reminds us all, whether we are young or old, male or female, of the possibilities that lie within us and that we cherish in others.
        I thank Julia. On this day and forever more, we will be reminded that peace is not just the absence of war. It is the presence of mothering.
Thank you, friend and activist pal, Marcia. Thank you for sharing this. And everyone, you must read Gloria’s marvelous book My Life on the Road.
May 3, 2016


Excellent article about electing women and people of color.

“What I want to know from my Democratic Party is, when will the voices of people of color, when will the voices of women, when will the voices of labor, when will the voices of black women, when will our voices be effective, legitimate equal leaders in a big-tent party?” Asked Representative Donna Edwards.

And the op-ed author, Jill Filipovic, concludes by commenting: “Right now, ‘the woman card’ and ‘the race card’ are broadly seen as cynical tactics. Democrats should make them central components of a winning hand.”

When will this change? How long must we wait? How much harder must we fight around the world – and yes, even in the U.S. of A. We’re #72 in the global ranking of women’s representation in the lower house. Australia is 45. Canada is 48. Sweden is #5. Rwanda is #1.

When will this change? How long must we wait? Because actually, research repeatedly finds that women are better than men as leaders in so very many ways and in so very many instances.



Filed under: Social Commentary

March 12, 2016

Gender bias…alive and well and you don’t even know it…

I’m so angry I could…..

This is one of the best pieces I’ve ever read about gender bias.

Sady Doyle is in a job interview. “We’re a progressive site,” the man across the table begins, “And our readership, as with most progressive sites, is mostly men. You’ve focused a lot on women’s issues. Would you be comfortable writing something that men would be able to read?”

Does he not even realize what he’s saying? Progressive men wouldn’t want to read anything about women? Most progressives are men? Really? Then why is there still so much gender bias and racial bias and homophobia and and and ….

Sady writes more in her tumblr article, Progressive: A young white man says, “Support Hillary Clinton all you like, but don’t confuse that with opposing actual power.”

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (WTF?!#!*) Actual power? Yes. White over black. Men over women. Straight over LGBTQ.

So then Sady asks: “Is feminism part of the left? Is it non-negotiable, central? Or is [feminism] a side issue, something that cane written off, discounted at will…”

Honestly, I’m not feeling the love from the left. Or from those progressive men.

Read Sady Doyle’s marvelous piece. Because it just gets better and better. And share it with men you know and love. And other women. And with the lefties and socialists, too. Share Sady’s article everywhere.

And….. Beth Ann of Vancouver just sent this marvelous article from Esquire: “Things About Being A Woman That Women Won’t Tell You.”  Things like fear and sex and clothes and abortion and…  I was laughing and crying. And yelling. Thank you, journalist Caitlin Moran.

I’m so angry I could….



Filed under: Social Commentary

March 10, 2016

Making you afraid

One of my favorite movies is The American President with Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, Michael J. Fox, and Martin Sheen. (And Martin Sheen then moved on to The West Wing. My most favorite television show ever. I would get confused about reality and The West Wing. I’d talk with friends as if what was happening in The West Wing was actually happening in the other West Wing.

Anyway, back to The American President. President Andrew Shepherd makes the most marvelously exceptionally swell speech about problems and solutions and fear and blame. I wish someone would recite this speech in the U.S. Congress right now. Maybe President Obama could channel President Shepherd. (President Shepherd even talked about gun control. And 20 years after that movie, this country allows the shooting of kids on college campuses, in downtown streets, in elementary schools, in homes…)

But I digress………

The point of this blog was Andy Shepherd’s statement: “Making you afraid. And telling you who to blame.” There’s a problem. People who talk about the problem (so many elected officials – and presidential candidates) arouse fear. Intentionally. And then tell us who to blame.

Let me say that again: Making you afraid of “it.” And telling you who to blame.

Do you play that game? Do you make others afraid and tell them who to blame? Does your organization? Do your elected officials do that? Does your government do that?

Maybe we need different elected officials. Maybe we need to radically change our governments and the people therein. Maybe we need to take a deep breath and stop the fear-mongering and the hate speech and blame game.

I want Jed Bartlett and Andrew Shepherd as president. Well, actually, I want Hillary Clinton.

By the way:  Wikipedia tells me that The American President is #75 on the American Film Institute‘s list of America’s Greatest Love Stories. Some of the other films on the list are: Casablanca (#1). Gone with the Wind (#2). West Side Story (#3). An Affair to Remember (#5). Pretty Woman (#21). When Harry Met Sally (#25.) An Officer and a Gentleman (#29). Titanic (#37). A Star is Born (#43). The English Patient (#56). Coming Home (#78). The Princess Bridge (#88). Dirty Dancing (#93). To name just a few! And I really enjoyed all of these.

P.S. And for those who don’t know, Aaron Sorkin wrote The American President and The West Wing. And the Newsroom, too. I wish that were still on.

Filed under: Social Commentary

February 15, 2016

Electing a woman

I always used to say that I’d pick a progressive, feminist man over a conservative, anti-feminist woman. And I still would do that.

But when I read Katha Pollitt’s column…… I realized I must be careful.

And then I read Madeleine Albright’s op-ed about her “special place in hell for women who don’t support women.” Read it. Don’t just criticize Ms. Albright!

Please… All you women out there… Think about the status of women in the U.S. of A. Not good. Not good at all. The U.S. ranks 98th in the world for the % of women elected to the federal government. That’s down from 59th in 1998.

And then I read another article about progress and women and Hillary.

Please read Katha Pollitt‘s column, “Why Have I (Almost) Always Voted for the Male Candidate?”

It’s time — past time — to elect a woman president in the U.S. of A.

P.S. I believe in democratic socialism – like universal healthcare and universal childcare and so much of what European governments have…and Canada, too. But I believe in the expertise and experience and battles for healthcare and gender equity and and … displayed by the woman running for president right now.

Filed under: Social Commentary

February 5, 2016

Electing a black president…Electing a woman president…

The US of A elected a black man for president. Amazing. Wonderful. And, honestly, I’m very proud. (Although I don’t believe this is a post racial society. I believe we are still a racist country. And it’s sad that we have to have another movement to end racism, Black Lives Matter. But I’m glad that some people continue the fight against racism.)

The US of A has the chance to elect a woman president. Amazing. Wonderful. And, honestly, I’d be very proud. But the sexism – obvious and apparent sexism and blind and unaware sexism – are as rampant as racism. (Maybe more rampant. Shirley Chisholm thought sexism was deeper than racism. She said: “As a black person, I am no stranger to race prejudice. But the truth is that in the political world I have been far oftener discriminated against because I am a woman than because I am black.”

I’m a big fan of Michael Moore and his work. Amazing. Wonderful. But honestly, I’m disappointed. Check out this insightful article about Moore and the way he talks about supporting Bernie Sanders. Michael Moore…justice activist…political lefty. Yippee – and I mean that honestly. But I’m very concerned – very very very concerned – about his “casual chauvinism.”

Read the entire article. Just to give you a taste, a couple statements from the article:

  • “I wouldn’t expect Moore to back Clinton or even say anything particularly nice about her. But he can’t even acknowledge to female readers that this great progressive sees that having a woman president would be on its own terms a salutary thing?”
  • “I obviously have no idea whether Moore contemplated such a sentence and rejected it or it just never occurred to him. Either way, it tells us something. To a lot of men, even men of the left, the woman-president thing just isn’t important.”

Even progressive men don’t seem to think the woman-president thing is that important. What an indictment. And I fear it’s true. Mr. Moore, how could you not mention the importance of electing a woman president in this country? You can still endorse Bernie. But you could recognize and acknowledge the gender bias in this country and mention “the first black man” and “the first woman” as equally important.

Let’s not be naive. Sexism is alive and well worldwide. And YES, in the US of A, too. Just like racism is. Research proves it. The UN documents it. And the references below are just the tip of a very big gender bias iceberg in the US of A.

And the sexism is so institutionalized in the US of A that women running for any office are at a disadvantage. Media bias against women. Societal bias against women. Yes. All true. And the references below are just the tip of a that same big iceberg.

So back to the beginning of this morning’s rant…. I want Michael Moore – a progressive – to recognize that electing a woman president is just as important as electing a black president. And more important than electing a Catholic president or a divorced president or….

Filed under: Social Commentary

January 20, 2016

I believe that silence is consent.

So I take risks because I can. I have these social commentary blogs. Yes. I know that social commentary on my business website might cause some potential clients to turn away. That’s okay. With my privilege, I can take risks that others can’t.

I sure love that Seth Godin. Check out these two social justice blogs of his: Getting ahead versus doing well and read Hiding, too.

Paul Krugman is my kind of economist. Check out this op-ed. And Thomas Piketty is my kind, too, I suspect. I bought his book and must read it soon. Although the situation will only make me angrier. So I have to spread out my anger.

Check out this interview with Robert Reich… “A vicious cycle of wealth and power threatens capitalism.

If you’re interested in justice, subscribe to this compilation service...very justice oriented.

Also read the Transformation newsletter at OpenDemocracy. Justice activist Mike Edwards is the founder.

I hope you’re able to speak out. I hope that doesn’t put you at too much risk.

And here’s a shout out. To the gentleman sitting on the aisle next to me on Southwest airlines flying to Chicago on Sunday, 01-10. He asked me what I was writing on my laptop. And off I went into my love of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector … and then I began ranting about justice… my white privilege and that I could wear a hoodie without fear. He can’t. He’s a football coach at URI. He helps develop young men. Cool.



Filed under: Social Commentary

December 7, 2015

Gender bias, equity, and women

Sometimes someone is, actually, consciously biased against others, for example, women. Years ago, a board member of one of my clients told me: “I’m entering my church’s seminary. I’ll study the role of women to ensure that they stay in their proper place in the church and in society.”

He was very intentional, aggressive, and in my space. (We had previously had conversations about welcoming diversity, justice, etc. He didn’t like it that I brought up these issues and always told me how inappropriate I was.)

We’re all unconsciously biased. That’s the way our brains work – and sometimes that’s good. Read Shankar Vedanta’s book The Hidden Brain: How Our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars, and Save Our Lives. This is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. And I consider it a major book for leaders of any type in any field.

But sometimes our unconscious bias is bad, very very very bad. To counter our own unconscious bias, we must embrace conscious thinking. We must work hard against our unconscious. And we must speak out, too.

Take a look at this issue of The Agitator: “Stop driving women out of fundraising.” Agitator Roger Craver asks this question:  “… [T]here is a single question that I keep asking myself. ‘Have we failed to take the effective action we should be taking because, like so many other sectors, we’ve given short shrift to women who are the majority of our profession?'”

I once heard a human resources professional share the following concept: Jobs that aren’t considered particularly important in a business are typically held by women.

Over and over, what is acceptable when said or done by a man is not acceptable when said or done by a woman. Assertive men speaking out are considered leaders. Women assertively speaking out are often labeled inappropriate and aggressive.

Check out this amusing – and unfortunately too true – article about men and women speaking at meetings.

Please. Let’s talk. Let’s have meaningful conversations about tough issues.

Please, please, please. Understand that equity for women means equity for men, too.

  • It’s past time to look askance at a father who chooses to be the primary caregiver of his children. And his wife is the wage earner.
  • It’s time to deny these descriptions of being male, found in research with young men: Don’t cry. Don’t ask questions. Sex whenever I want it. (Research from the 80s. But I wander how different it is today.)
  • And one of the most horrifying pieces of research (from the 80s), some 30% of boys said they’d kill themselves if they woke up as a girl. (Do you remember the movie Big, where the little boy wakes up as an adult, Tom Hanks?)

Gender bias is a big problem – for both women and men and our society and our communities. It’s past time to fix this. Yes, throughout our society and communities. 

But how about starting in your organization………


November 25, 2015

Webinar: Violence Against Women & the Role of Men & Masculinity

This webinar sounds amazing! Tuesday, December 1, 2015. Presented by icn/RCC. Time: 12 – 1:o0 EDT (Eastern Daylight Time).

The Inter-Council Network is a coalition of 8 provision and regional councils for international cooperation.

I wish that I could participate but I have back-to-back appointments. I hope the organization posts this so I can access it later.

Thank you, dear Canadian colleague Christina Hemens, for forwarding this to me.

Filed under: Social Commentary

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