Welcome to Monday, friends!! I hope your week is off to a good start! In thinking about today’s motivational quotes, I almost thought about prefacing them with an apology — an apology for being repetitive and sounding like a broken record. And then, just as quickly as that thought came, I caught myself and said, “You know what? No, I will not apologize!” And I shouldn’t have to apologize either. Because when it comes to fighting for women’s rights, it is never the time to stay silent or calm or not rock the boat. With even more states passing dangerous abortion bans, we all need to rock this boat as hard and as loudly as we can! All of us. After all, if we don’t, who will? With that in mind, here are five quotes all about the importance of women’s rights…
Friends, we need to talk about something. I left a writing group for women writers last night after a mod messaged me about how people were annoyed by my “constant flood” of posts. I’ve been thinking about why this bothered me so much, and I think part of it goes back to how society views women who talk about their work.
Women must downplay their accomplishments or it will come off as bragging. In fact, sometimes I find myself consciously making sure I space out sharing my bylines on social media, and almost immediately, the fear and guilt sets in. Am I bragging too much? Will people think I’m conceited? It’s such a knee-jerk reaction in its intensity — one that women have had to deal with for centuries.
We’re taught to be humble, to be self-deprecating, to downplay our achievements. Any amount of pride we display borders on excessive. To say “Look, I did this and I’m proud of myself” is practically a sin. I’ve never liked the cult of competition that results from this. Because this whole writing thing isn’t a competition! There’s room for all our words, all our stories and all our voices. This business is cutthroat enough and we should be building each other up and cheering for each other every step of the way. I’m here to support other writers, not tear them down.
I’m definitely not trying to brag by posting my bylines. I share because I genuinely enjoy connecting with writers — to support, life up and help each other.
I personally LOVE it when other women writers are open, honest and transparent. I want to hear their stories. I want them to start lots of conversations about our profession. I want to see them succeed. The more we talk and share, the better! I’ve always hated the idea that writers are in competition with each other. So, WOMEN WRITERS, remember that we need all your voices. Please don’t hold back. I promise there’s enough space for all of us!!
I absolutely love being a freelance writer. It’s exciting and magical, but it’s also hard. People see the byline and shiny finished product, but they don’t see all the behind-the-scenes: The planning and pitching, the awful drafts, follow-ups, waiting, waiting. That’s sort of why I’m so open about the whole process — just like I’m open about suicide and life with a disability. To show the human side that people don’t always see and so other people aren’t afraid to talk about this freelance writing thing either.
So, PLEASE, I implore all the bad-ass women writers out there: Share your work. Toot your own horn. Shout your successes from the rooftops. Don’t. Hold. It. In. When one of us wins, we ALL win! Cheers to us!! I happen to think we’re pretty darn awesome, don’t you??
With that in mind, can you do me a favor? Can you share your favorite piece that you’ve read by a women writer lately?? I want to read and tweet the heck out of it! xoxo
Ooooh, it’s time to do some praising, friends!!! Have you seen this wonderful ad?? The famed razor brand Gillette asks men to challenge toxic masculinity and let me just say. It’s. About. Time. Because. We. Desperately. Need. It.
The video, which went live yesterday, sees the company put a socially conscious spin on its classic tagline (“The best a man can get“) by asking, “Is this the best a man can get?” It also shows a montage of various situations as examples of how men can have a positive impact instead of contributing to this dangerous culture of toxic masculinity. There are scenes about catcalling, scenes about mansplaining, scenes about aggression and — my favorite — a scene at the end that showed a father holding his young daughter and teaching her positive affirmations about herself.
In less than two minutes, Gillette was able to make a powerful statement and showed the world something so many of us have been saying for awhile: Men need to step up. Men need to DO BETTER.
Sadly, the video received its share of criticism, mostly from (surprise, surprise) MRA types who see any sort of call to action as a gut-punch condemnation. That is, they see it as a brutal attack that’s just not fair!
Here’s how the conversation usually goes when men are called out for their bad behavior…
Men: Women are overly emotional and triggered by every little thing!
Also men: Arghhhh, that Gillette ad is horrible!! It’s not fair!
Seriously, men, if you feel so threatened and enraged by an ad asking you to simply be a decent human being, maybe you’re the problem. Maybe it’s time you look in the mirror and ask yourself “What can I do to make my space better? How can I be part of the solution?”
We’re not asking men to move mountains. We’re not asking men to cure cancer. Heck, we’re not even asking men to bring about world peace. We’re merely asking you to commit to common decency and pledge to help more than harm. Men shouldn’t respond by getting angry. They should respond by joining women (and other men) who have been fighting the good fight for generations.
After all, that’s not asking too much, is it? The video ends with these thought-provoking words: “Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.”
Indeed, the next generation is watching, modeling, absorbing all these messages about what it means to “be a man.” Don’t we want to show them all the good things men can be?? Let’s get started, OK…?? At the very least, men out there, you can start with “I’m sorry…“
Last week’s changing of the guards in Congress had all the makings of a new beginning — more women, more diversity, more Democrats. It should have been the dawning of a new era and should have, finally, at long last, signaled a transformation in our nation’s capital. However, controversy over comments made by newly elected U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib tells a different, archaic story, and I’m sad to see that it’s still just business as usual. Archaic, slimy, disgusting business as usual.
That “business as usual“? Women being criticized for speaking up and refusing to be silenced.
In a speech at an event held by MoveOn.org, Tlaib told the crowd, “We’re going to impeach the motherf****r.” She, along with fellow Representative Ilhan Omar, is the first Muslim-American women to ever be elected.
UH-OH. Hold the phone! You’d think she’d just threatened to murder someone, at least based on the frenzied outcry that followed. People denounced her “controversial comments,” using words like uncivil, dishonorable and divisive. The man who inspired her words, Donald Trump, called her comments disgraceful and disrespectful.
Tlaib has since apologized for what the “distraction” that her remarks caused, but continues to stand behind the passion of her words…
“I understand that I am a member of Congress, and I don’t want anything that I do or say to distract us. And that’s the only thing that I apologize for – that it was a distraction…People like us never run for office and when we do, this is who we are…We’re as angry and upset as everybody else and passionate.”
I’ll be completely honest here: I can’t say I haven’t thought the same thing. What’s more, I won’t apologize for that. And Tlaib shouldn’t have to apologize for her words, either.
People are clutching their pearls over Tlaib’s comment. Meanwhile, we have someone in the highest office who brags about grabbing women. But, please, do tell me why women are the ultimate threat. Because they speak their mind? Because they don’t act ladylike or however they’re “supposed” to act? Because they’re not demure and silent?
The reaction to Rashida Tlaib is just one more perfect example of the blatantly sexist double standard that women face every single day, from the boss in the boardroom to the dude bro catcalling on the street. These same men are also the first in line to tell — no, to demand — that women say “I’m sorry…” for even the slightest transgression. For example, in what is the most rife with irony, ABC ran an op-ed by Matthew Dowd with the screaming headline saying that Tlaib should apologize for cursing out Trump.
Yes, you read that right. A man…telling a woman she needs to apologize. It also lends itself to the types of conversations we need to be having — around our knee-jerk reaction to forthright women who aren’t afraid to speak up. This kind of reaction is misguided and places the bulk of the blame, once again, on women without looking at the bigger picture and what led her to utter those words in the first place.
We are where we are, at least partially, because people have been silent. It’s sort of a double-edged sword, isn’t? It’s certainly one that you can have both ways — you can’t tell women to speak up and then criticize them for their word choice once they do use their voice.
In fact, all of this is a perfect reflection of how society condemns women of color for, as The Cut’s Amani Al-Khatahtbeh says, stepping out of line…
“The outrage over Tlaib’s comments is nothing new: It belongs to a long-standing American tradition of punishing people of color for their anger against their own oppression. In the eyes of her critics, Tlaib is an outsider. She should treat her new political power as an honor for which she should be grateful, rather than as a right that she earned to represent her people. History teaches us that there has never been an acceptable way for people of color to express dissent, no matter how peacefully or cuss-free. Even taking a knee can cost an athlete his career.”
There’s a time and a place for saying “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” Like when you separate families at the border. Like when you advocate for Muslim travel bans. Like when you openly mock a disabled reporter. But Tlaib’s statement of truth? That wasn’t one of those times. What if women just stopped? Stopped apologizing. Stopped justifying. Stopped explaining themselves. Just. Stopped.
You can say all you want that there’s no double standard, that people were just as outraged when Trump said his myriad of racist, misogynist and ableist comments, but here’s the thing: He’s still president. So I guess all that outrage was only temporary; I mean, they couldn’t have been that outrage, right?
In the end, things have been stalled for awhile now. Our government has literally shut down, which is the very definition of stalling. Perhaps Tlaib’s words will be the very spark to ignite some real change finally. Consider it a rally cry — a sign of, hopefully, some positive action. America desperately needs it.
Me? I’d rather have a woman speaking up, telling truth to power and standing behind her words any day, just like Rashida Tlaib. What about you, friends? Are you with me…?? xoxo
Ooooh, friends!!!! I’ve been wanting to do this post for ages now, and I’m so excited that TODAY is finally the day!! Do you remember Jessi? She’s a writer/blogger extraordinaire, and we became fast friends when I was her newspaper adviser many, many years ago! These days, she’s hard at work documenting her family history (fun fact: her ancestor Jacob Haish was an early inventor of barbed wire!) and plotting out her first book!! And speaking of books, Jessi is also sharing her love of books in the form of a Little Free Library!!!
Her Little Free Library lives right in her front yard and has gained quite the following, both in the form of people stopping by to grab a good book and other people dropping off books to add to the selection. It’s a beautiful reminder of the power of reading and the community that forms when people say, “Hey, have you read this book yet?” That’s why I was so glad when Jessi said she’d be game for an interview, so read on to learn more about Jessi’s Little Free Library and why reading is so important to her…
Why did you start your Little Free Library? What was the inspiration?
I had heard about the Little Free Library movement and I was patiently waiting to have one until I owned my own home. My husband and I quickly started putting together ideas for our library as soon as we bought our house! I’ve always loved reading, ever since I was a young girl. This seemed like a fun, easy way to trade and share books, while inspiring a younger generation to do the same.
What’s been the most rewarding about the experience?
I love the response from my neighborhood. A neighbor once posted on my library’s Facebook page and let me know that she and her young son had just finished reading a picture book they had borrowed from the library. Once they had finished it, the son told his mother… “let’s go get another one!” That story and that excitement will stick with me forever.
What books are most popular? What types of books do people drop off regularly?
Children’s books, especially the sturdy, durable “board books,” fly off the Little Free Library’s shelves. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of children and retirees, so kids books and adult books come and go fairly often. I’ve had a wide variety of books dropped off at the library, and incredibly generous donations made — I’ve come home to tubs full of donated books sitting on my front stoop.
You’ve always had a passion for books. Why is reading so important to you?
I’ve loved reading for as long as I can remember. Even in my teen years, sitting at home reading a book on a Friday night was much more intriguing than going out. That still hasn’t changed. I have fond memories of my mom reading to me when I was younger. Now, my dad and I talk about the books we’ve read. Reading encourages my creative side (I’m a writer!) and it fulfills the lifelong learner in me. It sounds cheesy, but I love to explore new worlds and learn new things. That’s what books can do for you.
What’s your favorite book of all time and why?
“The Outsiders” by SE Hinton has been my favorite book since middle school. I’m not even sure what drew me to that book originally, but I’ve read it dozens of times since. I feel a real connection to the characters (I love character development) and I love the story. It never gets old.
Do you have any tips for people who want to start a Little Free Library of their own?
Actually STARTING the library was the most daunting thing for me — constructing something that could hold books. After that, things really got going! First, find a good location, whether it’s your front yard or a public park. Then, figure out who your “clientele” is — that will determine what kind of books you should keep in stock. Something to consider in your design: if your library specializes in kids books, make sure it can accommodate them. I never truly realized how large some children’s pictures books can be! The Little Free Library’s official website has some tips for starting your own library, too. Most of all, just try it out and have fun! It’s so rewarding when you start to see people congregate at your library. It’s very fulfilling to be a Little Free Library steward.
Thank you for the inspiration, Jessi. Be sure to follow Jessi’s blog Our Midwest Diary, which celebrates all the cool spots she and her husband visit. And, don’t forget to follow her on Twitter and Instagram too! xoxo