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Politics

Guest Posts, Patriotism, Politics

P is for President

July 3, 2017

By Lori D’Angelo

A is for Anita Hill
One of the formative events of my high school years was the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Specifically Anita Hill’s testimony. I was a freshman in high school and I was 14. I watched the hearings on my grandma’s old central-to-the-living-room TV, an appliance that always seemed to be on. I didn’t know what sexual harassment was and I had never seen a porn movie. My then Pennsylvania senator, Arlen Specter, was among the rat pack of White Men acting like Ms. Hill was out for something. I don’t know what. Public embarrassment? But I think Anita Hill accomplished something, even if it wasn’t the dismissal of one of the least qualified justices to ever be appointed to the bench. She accomplished awareness, and our national conversation about sexual harassment changed because of her.

B is for Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton was the crush of my youth, my high school and college years. The first president I ever voted for and the president I vocally and ardently supported before I was old enough to vote. Bill Clinton was smart. Bill Clinton was hot. Bill Clinton was mesmerizing. He was like a intellectual girl’s wet dream. In college, I had a life-sized Bill Clinton cutout that my apartmentmates got me for my 22nd birthday. It was a little alarming to walk in to our third-floor apartment and think, Hey, who’s that strange man, and realize Oh, it’s just Bill Clinton. I was around Monica Lewinsky’s age, a college student when the intern scandal broke. I remember disagreeing with our journalism school dean at the time. He thought the intern sex story was a legit thing that we should cover. The Starr Report was everywhere. I thought that going to office supplies stores and seeing it amid pencils and paper clips was one of the most horrifying things I had ever encountered. Did Bill Clinton have sex with that intern? I didn’t really care. If I was the intern, I likely would have done the same thing, and that’s the truth. But I hope now that I wouldn’t have because though Bill was the politician of my youth, his wife, Hillary, was the politician of my life.

C is for Class President
In 9th grade, I ran for class president. I lost to a girl who is now an attorney and an elected official in our shared hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her family was in politics. I didn’t know that then. The boy who came in second was Indian and had terrible skin condition. Not only did I lose, I really lost. I never ran for student council again. In ninth period freshman English, I held back tears as the girl in front of me, a pretty, popular girl told me: I voted for you. I wanted to get our school to do things like recycle more. I don’t think that was on everyone’s agenda. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Politics, Women

Toile

June 22, 2017
toile

By Jennifer D Munro

“Chanel freed women, and I empowered them.” –Yves Saint Laurent

* * *

I advanced efficiently through Yves Saint Laurent’s explosion of color, crammed into the Seattle Art Museum like Auntie Mame’s walk-in closet: A green Pop Art dress with a bold pink heart over the entire bodice. A hip-length vest made of orange raffia fringe. An ice-blue bow-bustle big enough to cover even my derriere, though nothing in this exhibit would fit me except the mustard-yellow cape of the type worn by heroines flinging themselves off cliffs, melancholy about looking seasick in that color. A Chinese-red jacket.  “Lichen green and moss green chiffon” (from the gallery guide, as if I could tell the difference between lichen and moss greens). And the grids of white and primary colors and bold black lines of the iconic Mondrian (I assumed this was a dead artist and not a Star Trek alien or type of porch column) cocktail dress plastered on Seattle billboards to advertise this unconventional art show.

I’d had no desire to see this haute couture collection, but my friend Irene, equally unconcerned with style—her go-to is Value Village, mine is Sears—had surprised me by urging me to go. Shortly after the U.S. presidential election, we’d joined a peaceable demonstration at the lake we’d spent nearly 30 years walking around together in sweatpants and untinted lip balm. Irene’s hair has been white for almost as long as I’ve known her, though she’s not much older than I. Irene had attended the fashion designer’s exhibit right after the election, because, she said, “I needed to be surrounded by beauty.” Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Politics

Still Gonna Do (#ShePersisted)

April 10, 2017
secretary

By Leigh Hopkins

When I was a literacy center director in Philadelphia, I worked with thirty after school programs run by neighbors who were doing their best to give kids what schools couldn’t get to. Programs held in abandoned dollar stores and storefront churches, or in homeless shelters run by activist nuns. Bodega reading circles. White-haired volunteers reading to kids in synagogues and mosques.

My nonprofit shared the program’s early successes with big foundations like Ford and Pew, and because our centers often worked in partnership with “faith-based organizations,” the Bush White House wanted to know about it.

Churches they understood.

White House staff visited our programs and invited us to Washington. When it came time for the final interview that we hoped would lead to funding, I spouted literacy and poverty statistics while stressing the need for the separation of church and state. I emphasized the importance of program quality, replicability and scale. After two hours of questioning, they began to wrap things up. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Making Shit Happen, Politics

Born To Run

April 7, 2017
office

By Andrea Askowitz

My mom has spent her entire adult life volunteering for the Democratic Party. She’s also an artist and was also very active in the women’s movement. She was the president of the local chapter of National Organization for Women and the head of the Miami Women’s History Coalition. She campaigned for equal pay for equal work and worked so hard for the Equal Rights Amendment that I can still recite the language: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. The amendment died in 1982. I was 14.

My brother and I grew up under women’s lib, which meant there were no distinctions between chores. There was setting the table and taking out the garbage. There were no boy colors or girl colors. I had a purple bicycle, my brother had yellow. There wasn’t even a distinction in clothes. My mom tells me that at three years old, I only wanted to wear my brother’s clothes, so in every picture from that era there I am in beige corduroys and a brown T-shirt that said, “Keep on Truckin’.”

My mom campaigned harder for Hillary Clinton than anyone I know. She campaigned harder than everyone I know, combined. She spends summers in New Hampshire and in the heat of June, July, August, and September, at 75 and with bad knees, she walked door-to-door. For Hillary’s win in New Hampshire, I credit my mom. Continue Reading…