April 29, 2009

Women Funding Women

Beverly Guy-Sheptall, founding director of the Women's Research and Resource Center of Spellman College, states in the Winter 2009 edition of Ms. Magazine, "Don't forget the poor." She argues that "the most urgent problem facing women and girls here and around the globe is poverty and its dire consequences: poor health, dying young, illiteracy, violence, HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, dependency, bleak futures. Women continue to be unsafe in their homes, their work-places, refuge camps and in war-torn spots around the world. Their families, not just middle-class families, need the president's ear" (pg. 37).

It is no secret that when women are provided with sufficient resources, entire communities are not only taken care of but thrive. As Ms. Magazine set out to accomplish with its special inagural issue article, "Visions for Change," women have the power to change the world. A crucial aspect of this change is ensuring that donations and contributions intended for women's causes and development actually reach the intended group. Malaika Durban of World Pulse magazine states, “The majority of women’s groups worldwide are so small they are often not on most funders’ radars.” She also writes that "[i]t’s a tragic paradox. Experts agree that the most effective way to solve global problems is to invest in women, but social initiatives that focus on women actually receive less than 7% of all philanthropic funding worldwide." Check out this article, "10 Ways to Give to Women and Girls," to get detailed information and education on ways to give to better the lives of women and girls around the world. You can also visit organizations online such as Women's Funding Network and Kiva Micro Loans for more information.

April 28, 2009

WCC Question and Answer

We received a question regarding the use of reusable menstrual pads. Now, keep in mind we here at the WCC are no experts, just advocates of providing you with information. You can contact one of many experts at Luna Pads, however here is the question we received and an answer from a member of our WCC community.

I have a question for you.

When I do menstruate (which is maybe three times in the last four years including miscarriages), I use tampons. I don't really feel bad about it since there is no plastic involved and the tampons will biodegrade. But some part of me wants to use reusable products whenever possible.

Yet although cloth diapering is not in the last bit gross to me, cloth menstrual pads actually nauseate me a little. Perhaps it's the idea of the blood? I'm not sure why: poop is no less disgusting in principle, but blood stains seem harder to remove from other clothing if I put them together in the laundry.

So my question is, how do you deal with the pads? Do you pre-soak them like you'd pre-soak cloth diapers? How many pads do you own? How does the whole process work? I doubt I'll be able to get past the scariness of the blood in with my regular laundry.

Learning to Love Re-Usable Pads

Dear Learning to Love,

Good question, glad you asked, and thanks for your honesty!
First, let's discuss the blood. Like poop (which I happen to think is a LOT more nauseating, to be honest), blood is natural and comes from our bodies. In an odd way, I have come to honor and embrace my menstrual blood. Am I smearing it on my face and doing ritual dances? No, but I have come to terms with it thanks to Inga Muscio's book Cunt.

Ok, so first I ordered a starter kit. I also bought Bac-out (check out the bi-o-kleen site) for odor and stain remover (also good when your pet or potty-learning toddler pees on the carpet ;) ) and a waterproof bag to store the used pads in, like this one. You can also call and ask the folks at Luna Pads questions; they are really helpful! After I am done using the pad (which is very comfy and secures well into your underwear) I rinse the pad with cold water in the sink. If at home, I soak the pads in the sink or in a bucket (like reusable diapers) with Bac-out and water. I don't like having pads hanging around in standing water (and neither does my husband). So after an hour or so, I rinse them and either throw them in the wash or let them dry and then throw them in with the rest of my laundry. So, really there are not globs of blood anywhere.

I find it to be a very easy process and one that I actually enjoy. I feel like I am honoring and taking care of myself and the earth. A few thoughts/tips: I ordered darker colored pads just because I thought that "seeing" old but clean blood stains would be less appealing to use. Also, in the summer (although I am not a big tampon user) the Luna pads are fairly warm, but you can supplement with non-bleached chemical tampons, sea sponge, or diva cup.
In summary - it is doable once you get a routine going and not much blood in the laundry if you pre-clean! :)

Happy Learning!

April 22, 2009

And by Green We Also Mean...

being green "down there!" Happy earth day 2009!

To continue the discussion of women's empowerment through knowledge of our body, in particular our genitalia, sexuality, identity and politics; I thought I would add to the conversation by sharing this wonderful blog post from Kris Carr's FABULOUS website/blog Crazy, Sexy, Life.

Heather O'Neil editor-in-chief of Eco to the People, wrote a very detailed post (which is linked here and I urge you to read) about the ways in which we women can consider taking a look at not only the foods we eat, make-up we wear, cars we drive, or lightbulbs we use that impact our mamma-earth, but female-specific products as well. Examining the products we use for our daily (and monthly) female self-care, sheds light on not only our health but global environment as well.

Ms. O'Neil runs down a list of 7 products that will make your vulva eco-friendly and save the earth! One of our favorite products are Luna Pads (re-usable menstrual pads) and we love their blog too! Now, you may be thinking "forget it, I am not even reading any further!" Well, just hang on and hear us out as to why we think a simple idea of re-usable menstrual pads have a lot to teach us about our bodies and our world.

As women living in a developed society, we have been conditioned to understand our periods as something that is gross, dirty and disposable. Well, maybe we should reconsider that notion. Our periods are something to be celebrated! Check out this great new book My Little Red Book edited by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff and accompanying website FILLED with great resources!

Also consider this - girls in Africa when menstruating are often forced to stay at home and miss valuable time at school because they do not have an effective way to manage their periods. Well, programs such as Pads4Girls and Protecting Our Future (although this creates waste and environmental problems) is working for and within the community to create change. For more information about other organizations participating in the same mission such as Pads4Girls, please check out Luna Pads website.

Always Tampax - Protecting Futures

Happy Earth Day Mamma!

April 19, 2009

Our Sister from Another Mother

I recently discovered the website of The Red Tent Women's Project located in Brooklyn, NY. Their mission statement states that:

The Red Tent Women’s Project is a diverse and dynamic community of women who are catalysts for social change. By creating safe and empowered spaces we facilitate community building, information and resource exchange, and personal growth for women and girls.

As explained on the Red Tent Women's Project website, a red tent [i]n many cultures, such as Chinese, some African cultures, and the Romany culture, red is a symbolic color of strength or female power. The tent itself is rooted in an ancient Judeo-Christian-Islamic history of women’s gathering spaces. Women used to go to the red tent while they were giving birth or menstruating—they had to because the men in their communities feared contamination from these biological processes. Yet in the end, the red tents became community spaces where women went to learn from one another, to be in community, and above all, to celebrate life. We draw upon these numerous rich traditions when we call the project a Red Tent.

The Women's Collaborative Circle is also committed to providing women in our greater Philadelphia community and on the web a space for refuge, information and empowerment. If you are in New York City or on the web, visit the Red Tent Women's Project social networking site and community center for groups. If you are in the Philadelphia area and are interested in seeing events, workshops or groups offered to women in our area, please contact us with suggestions and offer your skills to facilitate them!

Locally and globally we need to come together to create change!

April 18, 2009

We are Never Too Young to Care

Even the youngest girls in our world have a lot to fight for!

The physical, cultural, political and spiritual home of the Tibetan people has been in jeopardy for the past 50 years. In 1949, the People's Liberation Army of China invaded Tibet with the hopes of occupying the region. The 14th Dalai Lama, the political and spiritual leader of Tibet, was forced to flee his country in 1959 and live in exile in Dharamsala, India followed by over 100, 000 Tibetans. Since the invasion and occupation of Tibet, over one million Tibetans have been killed and six thousand monasteries, temples and nunneries have been destroyed, leaving thousands more people to be imprisoned and tortured.
Today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; continues his steadfast dedication towards non-violent methods in reclaiming his home and culture. Not only am I in constant awe of his dedication and wisdom in his non-violent approach towards resolving the conflict, genocide and return home, but he has inspired millions of people to live a more awakened life.
Awareness of our global surroundings, as well as our personal sufferings has been a constant message of the Dalai Lama. You need not be Tibetan or even Buddhist to take away a message of peace and loving-kindness that he offers. Therefore, I offer this brief post about the plight of the Tibetan people to shed light on the suffering of a nation, as well as inspire you to realize that you can take action in a peaceful, enlightened and powerful way toward your own personal and global struggles.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the tress and the stars. In the noisy confusion of the world, keep peace in your heart - Max Ehrmann
For more information about Tibet or His Holiness the 14th Dalia Lama you can check out the following links: http://www.freetibet.org/, http://www.tibethouse.org/, and http://www.dalailama.com/.

April 10, 2009

Vibrators for All

I am aware that we live in a sexually repressed society. I am even more aware of the fact that we live in a society where women's sexuality is not valued, validated or showcased in a positive way. However, I watched an episode of Oprah today that was truly enlightening. No, it was more like shock and awe!

First, let me say that I applaud Oprah for her work with Dr. Laura Berman in a series of episodes featuring topics around sex and sexuality for women in an empowering, educating and entertaining way. I was not entirely shocked to discover that women are uncomfortable discussing the topic of sex with their children. BUT... to hear comments from grown women that suggest that sexual feelings or desires should be something that should not necessarily always be "indulged," or that educating our daughters and girls about their bodies and natural sexual feelings may somehow cause more harm than good, are actually perpetuating many of societies ills and damaging social constructions about women! Simply not acknowledging our sexual identities, we are denying girls and women crucial opportunities and information to be empowered, confident, pleasured, happy, self-loving women!

Please, do not misunderstand me, I am not judging the women who bravely and candidly spoke up on this show (Oprah 4/9/09 - How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex with Dr. Laura Berman). This is a wake up call that we as women have A LOT more work to do! If there is any hope for women to - break the cycle of low-self esteem, self-hatred, depression, eating disorders, and most importantly interpersonal and sexual violence - it is imperative that we educate ourselves, our daughters, and all the girls and women we know about our bodies and minds! I believe that if we as women can honestly, safely and in a confident mindset understand our bodies, know that our genitals are called vulvas and our clitoris provides pleasure with or without a partner and that our sexuality holds a lot of POWER; we are better able to choose how, when, where and with whom we share our sexuality, making the world we live a better place.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT THE ABOVE LINKS or contact us with your questions!

April 09, 2009

Cracked Not Broken - A Must See!

Take some time to watch, think and share! This is a simple yet powerful documentary of a woman struggling with addiction and trying to be true to herself.

Please visit the filmaker Paul Perrier's site www.crackednotbroken.com.