PSAs for Mormon Men

In response to the WAVE Women’s Service Mission post PSA Campaigns for Men, Modern Mormon Men and WAVE got together for a collaboration.

The LDS community has its own peculiar flavor of rape culture, bolstered by modesty rhetoric taught by church leaders which can run the risk of young people assuming that how a young woman is dressed can lead to sexual assault. You may remember the story coming out of BYU where a male student scolded a female student for what she was wearing on campus. Now, thanks to Modern Mormon Men and Scott Heff, there’s an meme for that!

This series of memes emphasize that “no matter what a woman is wearing, males have the responsibility to control their thoughts, words and actions.”


These memes are now available to be uploaded and shared on facebook, twitter and pinterest (maybe even used in youth lessons??) so that this message can be promoted within the LDS community. For links to other PSAs and memes, see the WAVE Women’s Service Mission post.

Inspired by these memes? Why not make your own? Submit your Mormon modesty memes to

Cross Post: When You Punish Nursing, You Hurt Women: A Doula’s Perspective

With breastfeeding in the Mormon spotlight this last week with the following newscoverage, the topic of breastfeeding in the Mormon culture has taken off.

Fox 13 News: Breastfeeing in LDS Church creates controversy

Salt Lake Tribune, Peggy Fletcher Stack: Battles break-out over breastfeeding at Mormon meetings

Salt Lake Tribune, Robert Kirby: Find breast-feeding in church scandalous? Get over it. 

Like this post from Katherine Anderson shows, breastfeeding support is a women’s health concern that requires public policies to support and protect the future health of both mother and baby.

Utah lactivist and mother of three, Katherine Anderson authored the following article in the name of mothers and their children worldwide. This post is crossposted from Latter-day Lactivism

In my years as a mother, I have seen quite a bit of the lactivist movement. I have a daughter that nursed until she was four, and a pair of twin boys that are still exclusively nursing. I have nursed them proudly, as a woman called to motherhood. I accepted that calling despite being a young woman with little resources.

To be a mother is the greatest gift God has ever given me. I struggled with secondary infertility, and to be able to trust in my body to provide my children with the milk that is their birthright has healed my soul after two miscarriages.

Something that I have found troubling for some time is how much responsibility we ask of a nursing mother. She must educate herself so that she understands how it is done, as few women ever see the mother and baby nursing dyad. She must make sure her care providers do the best they can to support the baby latching in the first hour after birth, when the newborn is most alert and responsive. She must ensure that the pediatrician she entrusts with her child’s health and well-being is dedicated and knowledgeable in clinical lactation management. She must resist the pressure to use formula- the ads, the free samples, the hospital provided bags of gifts and booklets and diaper bags, full of their particular brand–all of which claim to provide the best to the mother’s milk (next to breastmilk, of course–in fine print).

To ask this of a woman who has just borne a child is unconscionable. Society should support breastfeeding as a parenting choice equal to that of formula feeding. While there is an undeniable increase of health risks associated with baby milk substitutes as chemical substances, there should be no such comparison between how or what a mother chooses to feed her children. There are many valid reasons why mothers choose to formula feed, and very few of them choose to refuse to try. Many want to very much. They reach out for help, and with a few exceptions, they get nothing but discouragement and admonishment that it’s too hard and to stop trying to be perfect.

It troubles me because in many movements for better support for women, of which lactivism is but a small part, we make it the mother’s job. Something she has to fight for. Somehow, it’s HER job to make sure she has a doctor who is supportive of breastfeeding- not the doctor to educate himself. It’s HER job to make sure the medication is safe for breastfeeding or not- not the doctor’s, or the pharmacist’s, or the drug companies’ to do the research so that mothers can access the medication they need. It’s HER job to argue with insurance over whether or not they cover breastpumps and lactation consultants- not their job to provide her with them in order to minimize the risk of illness. It’s HER job to risk her job fighting for her right to pump- not her employer to follow the law.
It’s HER job to stand up to people who try to infringe on her right to nurse in public- not the public’s job to accept women and children.

It’s dishonest to say that everyone can do it in the face of that kind of opposition, and to put all of the responsibility and blame on the mother for not trying hard enough without trying to change the obstacles that are in place against it at every single turn.

There are so many women who want to breastfeed, without having been duped, guilted, or manipulated into doing so, and they face enormous difficulties. That they have failed is not a personal flaw. It is impossible for many women to try any harder and that is no reason for guilt, shame, or judgement.

They deserve the things that all people deserve from the medical community- to have the most current knowledge, the most current research, and the most comprehensive support possible in order to meet their goals successfully. They deserve evidence-based care and they deserve good medical treatment and good medical advice. They deserve respect and validation. Advancing that is not anti-feminist. It is not anti-woman. It is not trying to place restrictions on what women do with their bodies- it gives them the best possible chance of getting to do what they want to with their bodies and their babies and their breasts.

If society as a whole had their way, no one would breastfeed, no one would nurse in public, no one would hold nurse-ins or speak up about lactivism. We’d all just shut up and keep our heads down and follow the status quo, which is to put in a token effort to breastfeed. That is all society deems necessary, and then gives up on women and conclude our bodies are broken. No one would talk about how bad pediatric care in this country is and why we’re so higher than other countries in infant mortality. Not to mention the fact American Academy of Pediatrics is so deep in bed with formula companies, or that we’re the only country in the Western world without paid maternal leave.

But no one wants to hear that, because it would mean we’re doing something wrong, and that we need to change things. And nobody but nobody likes change.

Get over it.

Katherine Anderson is the mother of three children, a birth and breastfeeding counselor, and aspiring IBCLC. Passionate about women, children, and other endeavors, she enjoys writing, horseback riding, and dedicating her talents to support mothers in the community.

She is currently available by email for breastfeeding or birth related consultations. To contact, please email

For more information on the importance of human milk for human babies:
Utah Breastfeeding Coalition
United States Breastfeeding Committee
Stop Nestlé

Furthering Women’s Health Through Feminism

Jenni Brighton is a childbirth educator, graduate student in psychology and mother of three active boys, and several angel babies. She is c0-founder of The Amethyst Network and author of an article featuring her stories of miscarriage and pregnancy loss in the Winter 2012 issue of Sunstone magazine. 

I think it is time we talk about women’s health, particularly as relates to reproductive health, but not completely limited to that.

One of the major things that second wave feminism did was to bring focus and research to the fact that women’s bodies are not the same as men’s (shocker!). They are the ones behind the recommendations for regular mammograms and pap smears. They are also the ones behind the now well-known information that women’s heart attacks have very different symptoms from men’s.

This has been a good start. As a childbirth educator though, I still see SERIOUS discrepanciesbetween what the research shows and what is happening in typical practice in prenatal, birth, and postpartum care. (For example c-section rates in the USA are triple what the World Health Organization recommends). Unfortunately, individual women often not do not have the education, resources, or sometimes even feel like they have the RIGHT to disagree with what a medical professional may say.

There are some specific issues in this category that I want to bring up, but first I want to state for the record that this is not about there being a “right” or “wrong” way to choose a healthcare provider, or have a baby, or deal with depression, or any of those things. This is not a mommy wars issue. What this IS is a discussion of some simple facts:

  1. medical practice needs to catch up with the research (this is especially prevalent in obstetric care)
  2. women need to have information
  3. women need to be empowered to have a say in their own health and care

Issue 1–birth trauma.

Do you know who is at high risk for a traumatic birth?
Every woman who has been sexually abused (1 in 3).
Every woman who has experienced pregnancy/infant loss (1 in 4).
Every woman with a prior traumatic birth experience (1 in 4).

These risk factors are well documented as are the numbers of women who experience them. Inother words, half or more of childbearing women are at high risk for having a traumatic birth experience…and yet nobody is doing research on prevention of the trauma. The risk factors are known, and there is plenty written about treatment for the depression, anxiety, or even PTSD that many women experience after giving birth. But nobody is addressing that middle step of
prevention. This is an issue that I am actively involved in trying to correct. It’s why I am certifying as a childbirth educator, and why I am getting a masters degree in psychology. Part of my class will be addressing these risk factors, and working to help the women process their experiences and make empowered choices for their birth so as to lower the likelihood of having a traumatic experience. (For example, an abuse victim might chose an epidural over a non-medicated birth, so as to avoid having the out-of-control birthing sensations trigger flashbacks to abuse

As I increase my study in this area, I am also working on putting together a booklet that I am hoping that other childbirth educators can use to enhance their classes. And if all goes as I’m hoping it will, I will be part of a team in a birth education organization working to make traumaprevention a part of their actual curriculum.

Issue 2–breast cancer, effective screenings, and treatments

For decades now we have raised copious amounts of money for research, and still we have…nothing. We have really not made any advances in breast cancer information, prevention, or treatment. We still have mixed information about the safety or usefulness of mammograms. There are some people who feel that the mammogram waves may actually cause cancer, especially if you are getting them annually. Even the medical associations have admitted that this may
be a possibility, and have adjusted their recommendations to a later age for starting routine mammograms (unless you are high risk), and recommend a less frequent schedule too.

It is my understanding that regular self breast exams are still the best way to know when something is amiss, and then a mammogram can validate or invalidate the concern. So feel yourself up, but then let’s get to work.

And my heart tells me that there have to be better treatment possibilities out there. Chemotherapy and radiation are both very intense treatments, but little funding is being spent to research alternatives.

One in eight women experience breast cancer. I’m betting that everyone reading this knows at least one person who has been through it. I’m betting some of you are survivors. You know better than anyone how much this matters.

Issue 3–miscarriage

This one is personal for me, as I’ve had 7 miscarriages (and only 2 live births). I started a nonprofit for miscarriage support, education, and advocacy in fact. I saw several different doctors/midwives in dealing with my miscarriages. Most were not very empathetic or helpful. 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in loss, so one would think that prenatal care
providers would try to learn how to help those mothers! But no, in fact, the first thing that was offered to us (after the second late-term loss in a year) was to do an infertility workup.


I do not want to discount infertility at all (that’s the next issue!) but difficulty conceiving should not be confused with difficulty carrying to term. Loss happens a lot. I’d like to see more research on how to prevent it if possible, support the
mothers (and fathers) when it does happen, and educate everybody about it so that it’s not so taboo to tell people that in my heart I have more kids than the ones you see standing here.

Issue 4–infertility

This one has not been my struggle, and I am admittedly not that educated on it. But it matters, and in many cases it affects the woman more than the man (in terms of procedures she goes through, and social stigmas that seem to assume that infertility always lies with her, even though it doesn’t). Just as the survivors of abuse and loss need safe places to tell their stories and be validated in their experiences, so do those who experience infertility.

Issue 5–sexual abuse and rape

Every single person who is subjected to forced sexual activities needs to have access to sympathetic medical personnel, rape kits, and morning after pills. These women (and sometimes men) need and deserve ongoing support (emotional, psychological, and physical). They need recognition that these experiences may negatively affect their future sex or reproductive experiences, and they need support in working through that. Not to mention stuff like prosecuting perpetrators…but that’s not the health side of it.

Issue 6–thyroid issues, adrenal fatigue, and hormone imbalances

These are common. They are WAY more common than I think most of us realize–even among apparently healthy women. These kinds of things can totally screw up a woman’s body and essentially make her sick or dysfunctional (or both) all the time. And it’s not her fault, but society doesn’t recognize that. Or, when they do, they often misdiagnose it as depression, and treat it with antidepressants. Depression is real, but it is completely separate, and Zoloft does not help an underactive thyroid or fatigued adrenals or low estrogen.

There are treatments for these issues, but there is not awareness. My neighbor had thyroid cancer and they had to remove her thyroid, so when she is lethargic she knows why. My mother started having symptoms and saw doctors, but it still took over a decade before they got her a proper diagnosis (a specific thyroid condition), and were finally able to get her on the right medications to treat the condition.

A DECADE!!! I’m not ok with that!

At one point, I thought I was depressed, I thought I had low vitamin D from years of pregnancies and breastfeeding and from living in the arctic…it turns out those things were true, but I also had severe adrenal fatigue. I was weak, lethargic, depressed, no libido, had constant infections (yeast and other illnesses), and my teeth were getting cavities at an outrageous rate in spite of having maintained my oral care… and then we finally realized it was adrenal fatigue. (The thyroid is one part of it, but in my case the thyroid tests were normal so the doctor said nope not that.) When I
started a program to treat my adrenal system as a whole, I started feeling better.

Within a Mormon paradigm, these issues may be more common than we realize, because having a lot of kids and/or having them close together can really do a number on your adrenals. Your body does best if it has several years to recover between pregnancies, but many women do not give it that break.

Furthermore, if a woman’s adrenals are fatigued, and she gets pregnant, her body will actually pull from the child’s adrenal system as it comes online during the second trimester. This can make mother feel better, but it can lead to the child having poorer adrenal health (including weakened immune systems and really bad teeth). So adrenal health isn’t just a for-yourself thing. If you’re having kids, it affects them too!

As a closing note, there are also doctors (and other providers) of both sexes who buy into the idea that “the doctor always knows best” and that the client or patient should shut up and follow orders. Yes, these providers went to medical school, and I do not discount that. However, in spite of the best intentions, few professionals are able to stay truly on top of all the research being done. And many are so busy treating people that they really are not current on the research at all.

There needs to be respect in BOTH directions. And when a medical professional ignores a woman’s concerns, or pushes her around, or abuses her (mentally, physically, sexually, emotionally) then it NEEDS to matter. I, personally, am troubled by how litigation-happy many people seem to be (and by the fact that high malpractice insurance costs are driving good people out of the field, and driving up medical costs), but there does need to be SOME way of addressing these abuses.

Heeding the Call to Promote Family Friendly Workplaces

Guest Post

Kaylie Astin is the founder of  the organization Family Friendly Work and lives in Northern Utah with her husband and children. 

I have always believed (and still do) that the work of mothers matters.

When I became a mother myself, I quit everything, because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. Motherhood would fill me up from my head down to my toes. I was going to live vicariously through my children, and helping them succeed would be enough.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize that though I’d always dreamed of raising a family, something was missing. I had other dreams and interests, and these dreams hadn’t died when I became a mother. At first, when I compared myself to other LDS women who loved staying home, I felt guilty and unfeminine because in my mind, family was supposed to be all I wanted.

I tried to fill the void in my life. I needed something, I knew, but nothing felt right, and I became increasingly desperate. I tried a variety of at-home ventures. I considered going back to work, but couldn’t find a part-time job that paid more than minimum wage. Wasn’t there a way for women like me to combine ambition with family instead of choosing one or the other?

In the midst of my angst, a General Conference address by Quentin L. Cook seemed to be exactly what I needed. He said, “I would hope that Latter-day Saints would be at the forefront in creating an environment in the workplace that is more receptive and accommodating to both women and men in their responsibilities as parents.” His words invited people of our faith to fight for families in the workplace.

And suddenly, I knew I had to do just that.

The pieces fell into place. My struggles were not just meaningless misery, but a path leading me to help other parents. The more I read, the more I realized I wasn’t alone. What person with a family doesn’t struggle with these issues?

And, for LDS people, with family being so important to our faith (and with so many LDS mothers who work), what better way to show what matters to us than to advocate for families in our workplaces and schools?

Surprisingly, though, there were very few resources to help LDS people navigate work and family issues. I’m not sure why this is. We’ve seen many efforts lately where Church members have gotten involved in legislation dealing with marriage laws. But I haven’t seen as strong of a push for measures promoting family-friendly work policies, such as parental leave or sick leave.

Is it because we think women should stay home with the children? Many Church leaders recognize that’s not very realistic in many areas of the world, and especially in recent times. Julie Beck said,

One of the questions that I get frequently is, “Is it okay if I work outside of my home or I don’t work outside of my home?” You have to know that as an international, global, Relief Society president, that question isn’t always appropriate in all of the world’s countries. There are many, many places where if our women don’t work, they don’t eat. So of course they have to work. The question of whether or not to work is the wrong question. The question is, “Am I aligned with the Lord’s vision of me and what He needs me to become, and the roles and responsibilities He gave me in heaven that are not negotiable?

Is it because we think employers and employees should make their own decisions about work/family balance and leave politics out of it? From what I’ve read, our leaders promote the exact opposite. M. Russell Ballard said, “We call upon government and political leaders to put the needs of children and parents first and to think in terms of family impact in all legislation and policy making.”

And even though, ideally, it would make sense for employers to encourage a family-friendly work environment, most employers and employees don’t implement the policies that would help most. Though studies have shown, time and again, that work/life strategies save much more than they cost, not all employers take advantage of them. Though we know that employees work better when they can accommodate their personal lives, many employees don’t ask for schedule changes or parental leaves because they’re afraid of losing their jobs or paying a professional penalty.

That’s why I favor a multi-pronged approach. If laws are passed that require employers to provide time and a place for breastfeeding mothers to pump, I cheer. If companies make bold new moves to compete for national workplace flexibility awards, I’m thrilled. If an employee goes out of his or her way to negotiate a job share, that’s amazing. If several employees band together to discuss how their workplace can better support employees with elderly parents, it’s exciting. I hope that my site,, can promote any action that helps things change, whether that’s on an individual, company, or national level.

Most importantly, though, I want to create some discussion. Many of us struggle to find a way to balance work, school, and family (or sometimes all three at the same time!). We shouldn’t have to struggle alone, particularly in the LDS community, where family is so highly valued. It’s not just the logistical details of how to find a sitter or what to do when your child is sick, though those are real issues. It’s the emotion that comes along with it—the almost crippling guilt, the worry of being second best to SAHMs, the lack of sleep that makes it nearly impossible to function, or the fear created by the need to provide for a family when unprepared to do so. Along with the site, I began a Facebook group to help working parents discuss their situations, whether that’s offering advice or just a listening ear.

Most of the parents I talk with seek some kind of balance in their lives. I still believe that mothers matter, and that’s exactly why family-friendly workplaces are so important.

Do you enjoy a flexible work environment? What have been your experiences negotiating work share, paid maternity/paternity leave, flextime, etc.? What organizations or resources have been the most helpful for you when setting up your flexible work schedule? Do you know of any other Latter-day Saints who have heeded the General Authorities’ call to promote family friendly workplace accomodations?


PSA Campaigns for Men

Feminists know, that at the end of the day, efforts to protect women from abuse ultimately lay in the hands of the men who choose to abuse, rape, assault or beat women. No amount of telling a woman to dress differently, avoid certain places or at certain times is going to prevent a woman from being the target of an abuser. Currently the stats stand at 1 in 3 American women experience some form of physical abuse in their lifetime and 1 in 4 experience rape.

More and more, the focus is turning away from women attempting to sheild themselves from the advances of or to avoid men who would exploit or abuse, as people realize that its not effective, its not realistic and its not fair to women. Instead campaigns are popping up targeting men which emphasize their responsibility to control their actions and behaviors and to be good examples for other men in their lives.

This post is a compilation of some of those media campaigns.

The following are from the organization Men Can Stop Rape (


Young Men of Strength Campaign

Campaigns such as these can be talking points in conversations with young men in church settings, especially the Young Men of Strength campaign (YMOST). Materials such as these can supplement statements by church leaders denoucing abuse and violence towards women. Mormon specific materials would be an important addition, especially to combat cultural sayings such as Modest is Hottest or anonymous modesty letters.

Other organizations framing domestic violence, and sexual assault as men’s issues include: MenWorks, Inc., Men Stopping Violence, The Good Men Project, A Call to Men and The National Organization for Men Against Sexism. Earlier this month, a number of organizations came together to host the Healthy Masculinity Summit.

These efforts all share the goal of transforming rape culture in Western civilization. While targeting men directly through campaigns such as those highlighted here, many of these organizations also emphasize the importance of media literacy and call for media to reduce content that normalizing sexism, disrespect and violence against women.

Call to Action: Please share these campaigns and organizations with men that you know and start conversations with them about addressing the role that men have in stopping violence against women. If you are feeling especially creative, please design some Mormon directed PSAs for the men of the church and share them here. 

Pioneers in Sustainability

The most recent issue of Sunstone magazine focuses on Mormon concepts of sustainability and stewardship over the earth. Housewife, Rachel Mabey Whipple, writes on being frugal and wise in a way that also coincides with principles of sustainability and eco-friendliness. Drawing on historical perspectives and the scriptures, Rachel clearly describes church teachings regarding consumerism and self-suficiency. A classic essay from Hugh Nibley also draws on words from latter-day prophets emphasizing the duty of church members to protect and care for the earth. Nibley asserts that humankind’s dominion is a call to service.

In his essay, Mark Thomas describes this opportunity to serve by discussing models of sustainability employed by organizations of similar scale to the church. He highlights some of the programs already in place within in the church, such as building LEED certified chapels and university buildings on the BYU campus. Thomas suggests many additional ways that the church can institute expanded sustainability efforts throughout the church so that Latter-day Saints can join with this generation as the pioneers of environmental stewardship on a large scale.

Am independent sustainability advisory board is in the process of being formed led by author Mark Thomas and Edwin Firmage, Jr with the intent to assess LDS institutional progress towards best practices in sustainability. They are seeking other interested individuals to be a part of the initiative. If you are interested, contact Mark at mdthomas @ cliftonusa DOT com.

Immediate Call to Action: Join USNC-UN Women 2nd Annual Call-in campaign

U.S. National Committee for UN Women

Speak Up for Women Worldwide – join USNC-UN Women today, in letting Congress know that more financial support is needed for UN Women!


Gender equality is not only a basic human right, but its achievement has enormous socio-economic ramifications. Empowering women fuels thriving economies, strengthens democracies, and increases the likelihood for sustainable peace.  As a symbol of the growing recognition of the role that women play in overall development, UN Women was created in 2010 to be the global champion for women and girls. Its innovative and groundbreaking programs work from the bottom up and from the top down to ensure that not only do legal and constitutional frameworks spell out women’s rights but that these rights are realized and enforced.


UN Women is making an incredible difference with limited resources but the US can give more.  President Obama requested $7.5 million dollars for UN Women in the budget. While we all understand the tremendous requests for funding, UN Women is asking for a modest increase to $10 million dollars for FY 2013.  Every dollar given to UN Women is maximized locally in developing countries through education and violence prevention projects and economic empowerment programs.  Click here for instructions and a script for making a call to your elected representative.  In doing so, you will be joining the growing chorus of Americans who support women’s rights.


Investing in women is not only the smart thing to do but the right thing to do.  Thank you very much for your support.


Facebook Nurse-In Press Release

This was shared by WAVE supporter, Heather Farley blogger at The Exponent and Its All About the Hat. For that last few years, she has been working to change the facebook policy of deleting photos of mothers breastfeeding from facebook. Read below for more of the story.

World wide protests to call on Facebook to leave breastfeeding photos alone

– Daily image deletions and account suspensions continue
– Facebook has removed 257,000 supporters from the official petition group
– Protests planned at Facebook offices around the globe
The  Facebook v. breastfeeding showdown continues with moms around the globe planning to protest at Facebook offices February 6th. After once again having her account suspended over posting a breastfeeding image, Canadian breastfeeding activist Emma Kwasnica said she couldn’t accept the company’s apology until they truly fix the problem. Kwasnica spoke with Facebook staff last week and said despite some accommodations, the bottom line is Facebook says they cannot prevent breastfeeding images and account suspensions from continuing. Wednesday January 31, 2012, Facebook removed 257,000 supporters from the “Hey Facebook! Breastfeeding is Not Obscene” official petition group, which has been active since 2007. In a statement after her meeting Kwasnica expressed her frustration: “It is obvious to me now that Facebook really has lost control of their network, especially when their written policy clearly states they support the sharing of breastfeeding images, yet they say they cannot control the actions of their employees who keep removing breastfeeding images and who block accounts of the users who post them – usually “in error.” This is exasperating to me.” Kwasnica says Facebook must simply leave all breastfeeding images alone. Late last week the Wall Street Journal reported Facebook is about to launch an IPO which would value the company at between $70 and $100B. Facebook’s advertising revenues last year topped $3B. Facebook offers advertisers the ability to carefully target audiences. The so-called “influential mom” demographic is highly sought after. Some of the influential mom demographic is planning to flex their muscles by telling their friends and family on Facebook, and by telling the world at protests around the globe, they want Facebook to stop harassing breastfeeding mothers. Nurse-ins are planned Feb 6 at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California and at Facebook offices in other US cities including Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Prineville, Oregon, and Seattle. Similar protests are planned around the globe in Amsterdam, Dublin, London, Paris, Toronto, and Sydney. For more information contact:
Emma Kwasnica
Jodine Chase
Link to blog post with daily updates since Emma’s account went down Jan 8th. It includes recent images that have been deleted, screen snapshots showing the membership numbers in the official petition site before Facebook removed members, and more:

If you are local to the Bay Area, you can email Heather (hrfarley at gmail dot com). She is willing to talk to the press about her part in organizing this nurse-in. If you want to participate, she can get information to you about a carpool leaving Alameda and other information about gathering in Menlo Park, CA.


WAVE goes to the Cinema

Last week, a week-long screen event of the documentary film Miss Representation came to the Seattle area. Word went out to the Seattle area WAVE discussion group (which you can find on  facebook and request to join) and we got a small group to attend together.

View the Miss Representation Extended Trailer

The take home message I got out of the documentary is that it is not enough for concerned citizens to boycott or complain to media outlets regarding inappropriate or inadequate portrayals of women in media, but it is necessary to flood the media with media projects do appropriately portray women and increase the number of women in leadership roles of media projects, outlets and in the public sphere.

The screening that I attended was cosponsored by the non-profit organizations Reel Grrls which provides after school programs to girls where they learn to make their own films and discuss aspects of media literacy. The organization is working to create the next generation of female film makers who tell their own and the stories of women in a realistic way (rather than the way we are typically portrayed in media). I would like to see more stories in the media that show the authentic relationships between women, and them interacting in loving and supportive ways. Recently, the WAVE facebook page hosted a conversation where page members listed their favorite examples of books and film portraying healthy female relationships. Make the click and scroll down to find the topic.

A number of the attendees at the Miss Representation screening were graduates or current enrolles of the program and afterwards, in a brief moderated discussion, were able to express their appreciation of what they learned and how important women’s voices and presence are in the media.

The film, and the moderators of the discussion, challenged attendees to determine ways that they will go beyond the boycott and complaints and take a more active roll in media and the public sphere. I was struck by how many people in the audience agreed with the premise that more women should be involved in media production and public policy, especially government leadership but only spoke encouragement to other women. There seemed to be a glib agreement that its up to other women to fill these roles and the rest of us are supposed to encourage those who do choose to fill these roles.

For myself, I came away feeling like I need to stop selling myself short and I need to be more involved in public policy and prepare myself for a future in law-making. I’ve considered that at some point, I’ll run for the City Council or something in my local community and I would do it after my children were a little older or when I knew I was done having children. But I am influenced by photos such as these:


The film briefly touched on societal reforms that would make public office and virtually all employment more parenting and mothering friendly but at the same time affirmed that women cannot wait for these policies to be enacted to take their place in the public sphere. Indeed, those policies will likely never be adopted until women are more equally represented in public office.

So here I am now thinking of a day where I may run for the state legislature and put my education and experience with public policy from a woman’s perspective to work. I haven’t rejected the idea of someday, after gaining some legislature experience, running for Congressional Senator of my state. However, I cannot see myself running for President so don’t look for me there. By then,the United States better have had some female presidents!

As Mormon women, we have some excellent examples of sisters who have gotten involved in public policy and lawmaking. Martha Hughes Cannon was the first woman to be elected to the Utah State Senate, in 1896. Last year, featured Mia Love, mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah in one of their “I’m a Mormon” videos. There’s at least one other profile of a Mormon woman mayor named Cathy.

If anything, the limited call to women extended by the film Miss Represenation can be critiqued. What are all the women out there who don’t feel drawn to business, media, media production or public policy supposed to do? The website ( offers opportunites to be representatives for the documentary with as little of 5 hours of your time.

The most substantial critique I have of the documentary is the number of times that a sexist comment made by a woman was included. The comments appeared to be placed here and there for a little comedic relief, and elicted laughs from the audience, but for the most part, I was uncomfortable with the reverse sexism. Another warning for the film is the amount of footage used to describe what is wrong with the portrayals of women in media. Obviously, there was a point in highlighting the problem and a degree of it cannot be avoided.  You can see from the trailer what I mean by that and determine if it is too much inappropriate content to prevent you from seeing the film.

Screenings of the documentary are continuing across the country. Check out their website to see where and when it is being offered near you and if its not, you can work with them to organize a screening in your area. I am certain that when the DVD comes out, I will be sure to purchase it and host a screening of it at my house for local friends, church members and WAVErs. If you are involved in a local book club or WAVE discussion group, please consider doing the same in your community.

A Day of Thanksgiving?

Did you know that each year while Anglo Americans celebrate Thanksgiving that Native peoples gather in Plymouth Massachusetts to observe a day of mourning?

Since I learned that I will never be able to think of Thanksgiving the same way. I learned this from a children’s book called “1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving” which tells the historically accurate version of the impromptu  feast celebrating a sucessful hunting trip on which we model our current celebrations.

Turns out, actually, that the original Thanksgiving feast with the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag nation was not in November of 1621. More accurately, that communal celebration was held around August or September–the traditional time of harvest for northern latitudes. In that case, if Americans want to honor that celebration, it would be more appropriate for them to celebrate the harvest at the traditional harvest celebration known as Mabon.

However, it is still troubling to observe a celebration that turned into 3 centuries of heartache for one of the parties. Within 17 years of the harvest feast between the settlers of the Mayflower and the Wampanoag tribe, relations deteriorated to such an extent that the Wampanoag lost their political independence and much of their homeland. By 1676, their chief had been killed and his son and many other Natives were sold into slavery. Today, the Thanksgiving holiday is a reminder of bloodshed and betrayal, which is why each year they gather around the statue of their fallen chief and hold a vigil in the memory of their ancestor’s struggles and the loss of their land.

The day of Thanksgiving was set by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 when he declared two Thanksgivings that year: one commemorating the Battle of Gettysberh and the other in November, a national day of thanksgiving for all blessings in general. The feast shared between the Mayflower settlers and the Wampanoag people was then conflated as a precedent and became the model for our modern celebrations.

It is still valid to observe a day of Thanksgiving the way that President Lincoln intended. Just as we recognize the praiseworthiness of President Obama’s National Day of Service, we can recognize that a national day of thanksgiving instituted by a U.S. president 150 years ago. At the same time, the heartache of the native peoples cannot be ignored. Our celebrations, once we have gained the awareness, will be changed by that knowledge.

This year, and I hope each year after, part of my Thanksgiving observance will be a memorial for the unjust wars, genocides and violence committed against various groups by imperialism and patriarchy.  For me, Thanksgiving will become a day of awareness of bigotry and intolerance wherever it exists, a somber day or memoriam for the genocides that have been and continue to be throughout the world. Because of the heaviness of that realization, and how it overshadows a day of thanksgiving, I’m really feeling the need for transmuting thanksgiving to the autumnal equinox.

The historical account of European settlers taking over Native American lands in Massachusetts is an isolated example of injustices that have occurred throughout time. Where is the day that remembers all of it together? The Holocaust, the Crusades, the Trail of Tears, Tiananmen Square, the Cambodian killing fields, Darfur, Rwanda, the desaparecidos of South America, the September 11th attacks, international sex trafficking, and  the millions of girls who are aborted or left to die because they were born female are all stories that fill our history and our current events with the sobering realization that all is not well with the world.

In Mother Wove the Morning (p. 22), Carol Lynn Pearson chronicles what it means to be female in some parts of the world:  “The historical preference for males over females has left an amazing disparity in the statistics of a recently completed census in developing countries.  Sixty million women are missing — because of female infanticide, selective abortion, little girls not being given the same food or medical treatment as their brothers.  And the estimate is worldwide — more than one hundred million gone because they were born or about to be born female.  Well, we are still rightly horrified that just decades ago six million were killed because they were Jewish.  What can our minds even do with these numbers?”

The monument at the gates of Dachau, the former Holocaust concentration camp

We could join with the people of Dachau in saying “Never Again” to the injustices perpetuated throughout the world. By never forgetting what has happened and by being aware of what is happening, we can be apart of doing what we can to stand against injustice, to mourn with those who mourn and as a member of our global community insist to leaders everywhere they that too stop the atrocities that are occurring in their jurisdictions.

In order to accomplish these goals, we start small. A day of awareness, even just an evening, an hour or a minute, is a good place to start. This November 24, consider taking a minute to share in the vigil of the Wampanoag tribe. Light a candle and say a prayer for the people of the world.

Other ideas to observe the American Thanksgiving as a Day of Genocide Awareness:

  1. Place a candle in your window sill in remembrance.
  2. After your Thanksgiving meal, take a walk through your neighborhood with family and friends while carrying lit candles.
  3. Instead of a large feast, prepare a simple meal to share with family and friends and donate the remainder of what you would have spent to a any number of organizations that are working on human rights issues.
  4. Each year, choose an organization or effort to which you can donate or volunteer around the Thanksgiving holiday. Invite children, family and friends to join with you in these efforts.
  5. Organize a vigil in your community or neighborhood during the week of Thanksgiving.
  6. Blog, tweet and facebook about the true story of Thanksgiving and what you do to remember societal injustice.
  7. Instead of Black Friday deals at major retailers, shop local and free trade to ensure that your purchases are not produced by exploitation of laborers, or check out the WAVE Holiday Shopping Guide for online shopping options.