Friday, August 31, 2012

August Donation - American Civil Liberties Union Foundation

I decided to make my August donation to the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation. The ACLU was formed in 1920, and they have been fighting for human rights for the past 92 years. I donated $150 to the ACLU so they can help women and other underrepresented groups attain justice. I hope that my small donation will make a difference. The following information from the ACLU website describes their purpose:

The American Civil Liberties Union is our nation's guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country. The ACLU also works to extend rights to segments of our population that have traditionally been denied their rights, including people of color; women; lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people; prisoners; and people with disabilities.

The ACLU works to ensure that all women, especially the most marginalized, have equal access to employment free from gender discrimination, sexual harassment in the workplace, pregnancy and parenting discrimination, and unsafe and unfair work conditions.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Woman of the Week - Susan Sarandon

Susan Sarandon has been working in movies and television for over forty years. Her break-up with Tim Robbins was splashed all over the tabloids in 2009 after their 23-year relationship ended. Sarandon will turn 66 in October, and she has recently been spotted with her 33-year-old boyfriend. Normally, I don't pay attention to celebrity gossip, but this is one story that grabbed my attention. I love that Sarandon is dating a man half her age. I always hear about men who date women half their age, but it's not as common to hear about women dating younger men.

I won't go on about Sarandon's love life because she has accomplished so much during her remarkable career. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1995 for her role in Dead Man Walking. Sarandon was also nominated for four other Academy Awards for Best Actress, including her role in Thelma & Louise. I remember watching Thelma & Louise in my college dormitory with some friends. I shouted with delight when the two women blew up that truck driver's 18-wheeler.

Susan Sarandon is known for her activism and support of nonprofit organizations. She has made several donations to Emily's List, which is an organization that helps pro-choice Democratic female candidates. In 2003, Sarandon appeared in the "Love is Love is Love" commercial, which promoted the acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals. She also served on the advisory committee for the 2004 Racism Watch. I remember seeing her at the 2004 March for Women's Lives in DC. She was one of the guest speakers there, and I remember being surprised to see her. I had no idea at the time that she was so supportive of feminist organizations. Susan Sarandon is an amazing woman, and I love that she is making the most of her life. I am looking forward to seeing what she does next!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Woman of the Week - Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice was appointed as the first female National Security Secretary Adviser in 2001, and then she served as the 66th United States Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009. She is a role model for so many women, and she was most recently recognized in the news because she was one of two women to be admitted to the Augusta National Golf Club. This is supposed to be a huge honor because the Augusta National Golf Club has not allowed female members for 79 years.

Women's groups and activists have pressured the Augusta National Golf Club for years, trying to get them to admit women. The club endured a lot of scrutiny in April when they failed to admit IBM’s CEO, Ginny Rometty. Back in April, President Obama said that he believed women should be admitted to the club. It was just a matter of time before the Augusta National Golf Club gave in and allowed women to become members. It's about damn time!

Condoleezza has always been an accomplished person. At the age of three, she began to learn French, figure skating, ballet, and music. Rice is an accomplished pianist, and she played Mozart with the Denver Symphony when she was 15 years old. She earned her master’s degrees in political science from the University of Notre Dame, and then she received a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Denver. She was a professor at Stanford for several years until she got involved in politics. She is so hard working, and she deserves all her success. I hope she enjoys playing golf with all those men down in Augusta!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Woman of the Week - Ursula Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin is a science fiction and fantasy writer who uses sociology and psychology in all of her books.  Her writings focus mostly on gender and race. She writes novels, children’s books, and short stories. She is influenced by feminist writers as well as writers from the Eastern Traditions. She has won several science fiction awards, and she was one of three finalists up for a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1997 for her collection of short stories called Unlocking the Air and Other Stories.

I love that Le Guin is so creative, and she's not afraid to write exactly what she thinks. She doesn't worry about fitting into a certain genre. She has feminist themes in her writing, and I love the way she describes feminism. She once said, "My feminism is, I suppose, a persuasion that the differences between the genders are not a sound basis for society to use in prescribing or proscribing any activity or proclivity."

What a wonderful way to describe feminism! I am looking forward to reading more of Le Guin's work. There are feminist themes in The Left Hand of Darkness, which is next on my reading list. Ursula Le Guin has published 21 novels, and I can't wait to work my way through the list!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Woman of the Week - Aly Raisman

My heart went out to Aly Raisman when she did not receive a medal even though she tied for third place in the women's gymnastics all-around competition in this year's Olympics. She tied Russian gymnast Aliya Mustafina with a total score of 59.566, but the tiebreaker was determined by dropping both gymnast's lowest scores and averaging the remaining three scores. Aly lost the tiebreaker by less than sixth tenths of a point. Aly handled the let-down with maturity and grace. I was very proud of her for staying positive, but I know that it must have been difficult for her.

Ironically, a few days later, Aly tied another gymnast for third place on the balance beam finals. To determine who would win the tiebreaker, the judges said the winner would be determined by which gymnast had a higher degree of difficulty. Luckily, Aly's routine had a higher starting value, so she won the bronze medal. It was wonderful to see her win that medal after she did not get a medal in the all-around.

Aly’s attitude is what impressed me the most. She faltered under pressure in the all-around competition, but she didn't get upset about it. She corrected her routines, and she was able to bring home two medals in the individual apparatus competition. I just watched Aly perform her gold-medal performance on the floor exercise. She executed everything perfectly, and she won the gold medal by four tenths of a point (a huge margin for an individual score).

It is obvious why Aly Raisman was chosen as the caption of the 2012 Olympic team. I am glad she was part of the “Fab Five” gymnastics team. She is a remarkable young woman, and I hope to see her perform at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Woman of the Week - Jordyn Wieber

Can you imagine what it must feel like to work your entire life to achieve one goal, and then you realize, while the whole world is watching, that your dream is not going to come true? That is exactly what happened to Jordyn Wieber last Sunday. She is the reigning world champion in women's gymnastics, and she was counting on competing in the individual all-around competition in the 2012 Olympics. Wieber competed very well on Sunday, but two of her teammates received better scores. Because of a new rule that only allows two gymnasts from each country to compete in the individual all-around, Wieber will not be a part of the individual all-around. This rule has now been dubbed The Wieber Rule.

When she realized that she would not be part of the individual all-around, Wieber broke down and cried. Obviously, she was devastated, and she really did not want to be on camera at that moment. Of course, the cameras zoomed in on her face, and they wouldn't let her get away. As the gymnasts were leaving the arena, Wieber tried to make a discreet exit, but "the powers that be" wouldn't let her leave. They made her do a live interview with a reporter right after her dreams were crushed. I know that NBC has to get their interviews, but I think it is plain cruel to make the competitors give interviews when they are distraught.

I applaud Jordyn for her open display of emotions. I am sure she was trying to hold back the tears, but people shouldn't be ashamed of crying. She did an amazing job, and she worked hard to get to the Olympics. She was one of the favorites going into the competition, and it must have been a tough blow to not make it into the individual all-around. I think Jordyn Wieber handled her disappointment extremely well because her tears were honest. She was being genuine, and I admire her gumption. Even though she did not make it to the all-around, I will be rooting for Jordyn Wieber in the individual apparatus competition.