Today was the War on Women Rally. Jessica made a good point that it was a little anti-climactic. Unfortunately I too have been to a lot of these rallies and I had urges to leave early several times at this event. It was great to see SO MANY people out and from so many parts of Texas, but when you live in Austin and go to these rallies all the time it is kind of... same ol' same ol'. (I'm THRILLED so many people got involved. I can only hope that they will trek to the polls to make their voices heard where it REALLY COUNTS!) Anyway, there are ALWAYS great signs to be had, I got a picture with Dawnna Dukes, I signed some people up for Planned Parenthood's mailing list, did some voter registration, and signed a petition against new outrageous abortion reporting in Texas, so I'd still say it was a success!
Voices for Reproductive Justice hosted our first social event last night! The Get Yourself Tested Pub Crawl consisted of food, drinks, condoms, and spreading the word on getting yourself tested. We had tons of fun, and sincerely appreciate everyone's participation!
Haley making SWAG BAGS before the event.
SWAG BAG (minus the condoms we passed out)!
me, Dru, Haley: before the event... I get too excited sometimes.
Pizza from East Side Pies- delish.
Lots of Healthy Sexuality Peer Educators, Texas Freedom Networkers, Public Health students, and Social Work students in this group!
Walking to Rio Rita
Hanging out at Rio Rita
Rio Rita made VRJ a special ginger cocktail called "The Second Thought"- YUM!
Social Workers! Alexa, me, Haley, Candace
VRJ Exec Board: Liz, Haley, me, Megan
Special thanks to MEGAN for getting Rio Rita, Cheer Up Charlies, and Volstead on board. We couldn't have done it without you!
Be on the look out for more VRJ events in the near future!
Before you go...
THE WAR ON WOMEN RALLY IS UPON US! IT'S TODAY AT 4PM ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE CAPITOL. GET OFF THE INTERNET; I'LL MEET YOU IN THE STREET!
So, this is probably the coolest thing that has happened to me so far in my life. IT IS A SIGNED LETTER FROM CECILE RICHARDS! HOLY SHIT! It took me awhile to receive it because it got mailed to Liz's house. Anyway, I was pretty stoked.
African American Culture Committee (AACC)
I met someone named Iriel from AACC when VRJ was tabling on West Mall last Tuesday. She was pubbing for a lecture by Brian White titled "Navigating the Business of Success: How to Build a Career of Value," and somehow we got to talking about VRJ tabling at the event. Iriel invited me to the AACC meeting to further discuss the opportunity and register their committee members to vote.
On Wednesday at 5pm in SAC 2.120 I did just that! Unfortunately VRJ will not be able to table at the event, but I registered two people to vote and am considering myself a new member of their student org. THE MEETING WAS SO FUN. Let's go together next Wednesday.
After the AACC meeting (we're going next week, right?) I went to FACE AIDS: Condom Couture.
VRJ tabling: me, Megan
Dominique from C.A.R.E Program doing a female condom demo.
These aren't all of the models (dangit) but here are the ones I got a picture of.
On Thursday, HSPEs helped host the free STI testing at UT. If you didn't get tested last Thursday, there is still time! Come to the SSB Glen Maloney Room on Thursday, April 26 from 10am-4pm. IT'S FREE, Y'ALL.
Come hang out with VRJ this Friday night from 8pm-11pm. We will be passing out condoms and literature on getting tested, and drinking. I don't know what else someone could ask for in a Friday night, for real. (Must be 21+ to attend.)
This morning, bright and early, Social Work Council volunteered at the Austin 10/20 marathon. Our group helped unpack medals for the runners at the finish line. I only got to stay for about an hour and a half, but I did see the first 10 runners cross the finish line. Pretty exciting! I think Social Work Council should sign up for a race and train together (okay, maybe I just want/NEED a workout buddy/something to work out for.) COME ON, SWC!
TFN Leadership Training
I left volunteering at the marathon to go to The Texas Freedom Network's Leadership Training. I only got to stay for the first half, but it was extremely informative. They also provided binders full of information about civic engagement that I look forward to reading. THANK YOU, TFN!
Austin Chapter and Texas State Chapter Presidents
Lilith Fund Bowl-a-Thon
I left the TFN training early to attend the Lilith Fund's Bowl-a-Thon! This was the big event I have been fundraising for the past several weeks. Thank you to everyone who donated. We had a rock star fundraiser on our team, but I am still inspired that I was able to raise $500 with your help! Thank you so much. (Our team raised over $3,500!)
This event was a blast. I got to chat with my favorite blogger, I met some of my thus far anonomyous Twitter friends, and I caught up with the Social Worker from Whole Woman's Health. Plus, I broke 100 when I bowled, woo hoo! I also left this event early to finish a paper, but I still had a great time!
Team OCCUPY BALL STREET
Part of the participants in the Lilith Fund Bowl-a-Thon Fundraiser
After Work Activism
Later in the evening I attended a focus group for some of my classmates Social Justice project. Their idea was to create an "After Work Activism" group for students who work and cannot participate in many activist events because of conflicts in their schedule.
We talked about some of our interests: the two that were repeated consistently were women's rights and education.
I'm so happy there was group consensus to focus our efforts on education. While I am very passionate about women's rights and reproductive health, I have been yearning to learn about a new social justice issue.
At the TFN training, I learned about the State Board of Education, an organization I'm still not very familiar with. All I know for sure is that they are a small group that holds a lot of unbalanced and unchecked authority- and that the 10 year re-election of this board is upcoming.
And so that's the group. We will pursue knowledge about the candidates for the board and help spread awareness. Because it is an After Work Activism group, the main goal will simply be to spread awareness through social media.
I am hoping to have the time to do enough research to write an op-ed on this topic, and of course share it here.
I am hoping to do more ground work on this issue with TFN, but if you don't have time for that, please heavily consider joining the new community group that can easily be worked into a busy schedule. The main focus is awareness, so even if you can't contribute, you should still join to learn and help make a positive change in your community (and state... and nation! REALLY!) just by being informed and VOTING. SBOE District Map Texas Tribune SBOE Election Bracket
Feminists don't have a sense of humor Feminists just want to be alone (boo-hoo) Feminists spread vicious lies and rumor They have a tumor on their funny bone
They say child molestation isn't funny Rape and degradation's just a crime (lighten up, ladies) Rampant prostitution, sex for money (what's wrong with that) Can't these chicks do anything but whine
Dance break Woo-hoo (Take it off)
They say cheap objectification isn't witty, it's hot Equal work and wages worth the fight (sing us a new one) On demand abortion, every city (okay, but no gun control) Won't these women ever get a life
Feminists don't have a sense of humor (poor Hilary) Feminists and vegetarians Feminists spread vicious lies and rumor They're far too sensitive to ever be a ham That's why these feminists just need to find a man
Of course linked from my favorite blogger and with a beautifully written preface:
"The story below is important. It's real. It's painful and beautiful and strong and necessary. Because we aren't talking about an abstract person out in the interwebs somewhere but rather my friend, someone I love and for whom I care, I am going to be incredibly strict about what comments make it onto this post. NOTHING that remotely attacks, shames, or criticizes the person in this post for the choice they made (the legal choice they made) will even be considered. So,if you are here to attack, shame, or criticize, just turn around and leave. Also, fuck you."
And here is an excerpt from the story:
"Because, you really do have to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you know what they are going through. Offer compassion before judgment. Instead, regarding terminations, some people say that you must endure, even if you have been raped. Or if your partner is abusive. Or your life is in danger (mentally or physically). Or your much-wanted baby is dying. You must continue to be a living coffin. You must listen to the heartbeat that you have already listened to every month. You must look at your fetus that you tried so hard for, that you wanted, that you were excited about, that you told the whole world about, before you go through with the already impossible decision to try to save your own sanity, and your own life."
KRLU Studio 6A, where the White House Summit took place
Meg and me at the summit
I applied and was accepted to be an audience member of the White House Young America Series. The WHYAS is occurring at seventeen colleges across the nation.
The first segment of the event consisted of several TED style talks, and they were FANTASTIC. We have so many talented students at UT. And honestly, the most impressive part to me was that all of these students were from different colleges, but they were talking about social justice issues: sustainability, education, the achievement gap, and immigration to name a few.
After these talks, we were invited to the stage to announce topics we would like to talk about in a two and a half hour break out session. After about ten people, I didn't hear reproductive justice issues, so Megan and I decided I needed to go up there (plus, chance to plug Voices for Reproductive Justice!). Texas Freedom Network asked for a group about sex ed, and then the last group asked for was health care. We decided to make one large group together. (Other groups that convened were on topics such as entrepreneurship, poverty, education, access to healthy food/community gardens, fine arts, and sensible drug policy.)
I always enjoy conversation about reproductive health/justice, but in retrospect I wish I would have engaged with some other groups where I could have learned more. However, I came out of this healthy discussion with a couple of points I would like to stress.
1. I think it is dangerous to shift the debate of accessible, affordable birth control strictly to female ailments like unbearable cramps, ovarian cysts, and infertility treatment. While birth control can be used as treatment for the aforementioned medical reasons, why can't we just want it because IT PREVENTS PREGNANCY? Women like myself don't need birth control for any medical reason except to prevent pregnancy. Why should I be marginalized because I am making a responsible and reasonable choice to control my fertility?
2. I also think it is dangerous to shift the debate of birth control to reducing the number of abortions. This was brought up as an "argument to appeal to our opponents." This argument further stigmatizes abortion. All of the birth control in the world won't eliminate the need for SAFE LEGAL ABORTION. Condoms break, and contraceptives fail. (The pill's effectiveness is at 99.7%, meaning that 3 in every 1000 women will become pregnant even if she uses her birth control consistently and correctly.) In this same vein, I heard some of my peers say no one is pro-abortion. Um, this girl right here is. GOOD WOMEN HAVE ABORTIONS. NO ONE DESERVES TO BE MARGINALIZED.
And on that note:
Lilith Fund Bowl-a-Thon Fundraiser
I HIT $500 IN DONATIONS TO HELP FUND ABORTIONS IN TEXAS! You still have time to donate to help Texas women. Please consider making a donation. DONATE HERE.
Here's a little more about Lilith - the fund has been around for 10 years. Its first challenge was to raise $10,000 to begin assisting low-income folks with abortion funding. Last year, Lilith gave away $80,000 to over 1,000 patients - so the average grant is around $75. Once clients have an appointment with a clinic and know how much money they need, they call the hotline. A volunteer responds to their call, provides financial counseling, and ultimately determines the amount of money they can grant to the client. They work with clinics across Texas from El Paso to Beaumont, as far north as Killeen and south into the RGV. TheTEA Fund is Lilith's "sister" fund for North Texas.