Category Archives: women’s studies

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Monsanto Who?

“So I’m writing this story about Monsanto,” I said to my friend.

corn field, image credit: James Jordan

corn field, image credit: James Jordan

“Who?”

“Monsanto.”

“Never heard of them.”

My husband’s career in agriculture spans nearly 30 years. I take it as a given that everyone’s heard of Monsanto.

The company is one of the big dogs in farming and biotechnology. If you live in St. Louis, as I did for almost 13 years, you know Monsanto. If you eat food raised in the United States, it’s possible Monsanto has been involved in the production of that food in some way.

But I discovered from talking with my friend that there are people who don’t know Monsanto or what they do. And then there are a lot of people who only know what they’ve heard from activists and Food, Inc.

With that in mind and with the guidance from my editors at BlogHer, I tried to write a story that gives readers some context for what Monsanto does and communicates the thoughts of four women I interviewed who work there.

Please click over to read Listening to the Women of Monsanto on BlogHer. Your classy comments and shares are appreciated. 

Listening to the Women of Monsanto

Megan Brown & Janice Person at Monsanto Research Plot, image credit Janice Person

Click to read Listening to the Women of Monsanto. Megan Brown (L) and Janice Person (R) at a Monsanto research plot, image credit: Janice Person

Have a great weekend!

photo credit: James Jordan via photopin cc

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Filed under blogging, food & farm, women's studies

BlogHer Runs Women and Guns Story

Photo credit Marie Bowers2

click to read ‘How Gun Ownership Empowers Women’

Women and guns. Guns and women.

Will she ever stop writing about this? 

Yes, I have other things to say. Come back tomorrow.

Today I need a favor.

BlogHer published a new story I wrote. No matter what side you’re on, please go, read, comment, share. Our country deserves to hear many voices in the debate about Second Amendment rights. Post haste. Go now.

How Gun Ownership Empowers Women

I can lose my hard earned freedom if my fear defines my world.
One Girl Revolution
 by Superchick!

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Filed under America, women's studies

Women and Guns Photo Essay

photo credit: Windy Borders

photo credit: Windy Borders, pistolsandpumps.com

My research to write about women and guns has connected me with many thoughtful, intelligent, brave women gun owners and enthusiasts. It’s been an honor to hear their stories.

They’re a beautiful bunch.

Take a look at a dozen of the photos they sent me. They communicate a simple, yet profound message: the entire United States Constitution applies to all American citizens, male and female.

United States Constitution. Bill of Rights.

photo credit: Elisabeth Sitton

photo credit: Elisabeth Sitton

Second Amendment. Bearing Arms:

photo credit: Theresa Wegner

photo credit: Theresa Wegner

A WELL REGULATED MILITIA

photo credit: jldphotographyblog.com

photo credit: jldphotographyblog.com

BEING NECESSARY 

photo credit: Charla Balogh

photo credit: Charla Balogh

TO THE SECURITY 

photo credit: Christel Oliphant

photo credit: Christel Oliphant

OF A FREE STATE, 

photo credit: Val Wagner

photo credit: Val Wagner

THE RIGHT 

photo credit: Jesse Bussard

photo credit: Jesse Bussard

OF THE PEOPLE 

photo credit: Marie Bowers

photo credit: Marie Bowers

TO KEEP

photo credit Neena, hooeycritic.com

photo credit: Neena, hooeycritic.com

AND BEAR ARMS

Tiff with Gun

photo credit: Tiffany Nevil

SHALL NOT 

photo credit: Sallie Molina

photo credit: Sallie Molina

BE INFRINGED. 

Now hear this: One Woman Army by Kate Earl. A brilliant, new favorite. There’s a sweet twist at the end of the video, so watch the whole thing.

cwgcover

Chicks with Guns by Lindsay McCrum

If you liked this post, you’ll love Lindsay McCrum’s stunning book of photography, Chicks with Guns. Real women with the real guns they own.

You’ll also love The Debutante Hunters, a documentary short by Maria White. The film, featuring Lowcountry women who hunt, won the Audience Award in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The Debutante Hunters will be released on iTunes this spring.

Disclosure: I am not being compensated to promote Chicks with Guns, The Debutante Hunters, or the U.S. Constitution. 

If you’re a woman who owns a gun and would like to share your story, please email aimee (at) everyday epistle (dot) com.

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Filed under America, women's studies

Women Gun Owners Shoot Straight

Today my first story about American women gun owners was published on The Broad Side, an online women’s opinion magazine.

Photo credit Charla Balogh

click for Women Gun Owners Shoot Straight About Firearms, Violence, Second Amendment, photo credit: Charla Balogh

I’m grateful to the women gun owners and others who generously shared their personal stories for this post. Their impassioned narratives inspire me.

You know that Titanic feeling you get the moment you realize you may have hit the tip of an iceberg?

I’m astounded that my informal request to hear from women who own guns is still yielding heartfelt responses. It’s as if women gun owners haven’t been asked to comment on our country’s current gun debate. Or, if they have been asked, their perspectives have largely been ignored.

I don’t own a gun, but the research I’ve done so far about gun rights gives me pause. What if I want or need a gun in the future and can’t get one because the government says so?

What if, by not exercising my Second Amendment right to bear arms, I inadvertently jeopardize that right for my fellow citizens like the law-abiding women in my article, not to mention for myself, my son, and generations of Americans yet to come?

Our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) must be rolling over in their graves right about now.

Photo credit Marie Bowers

photo credit Marie Bowers

My head is spinning with story ideas to follow (including plans for a photo essay of all the wonderful pictures the women gun owners sent me). But for today, I ask you to click over to The Broad Side to read Women Gun Owners Shoot Straight About Firearms, Violence, Second Amendment. Whether you are pro-guns or pro-gun control, I’d appreciate your thoughtful and respectful comments, and I’d covet your shares of the post.

The Broad Side admittedly skews left. Publishing an article like this is a big step for them, and I admire their courage to do so. I hope you’ll join me in demonstrating how listening to different perspectives on controversial topics is one of the best ways to ensure the health of our republic.

Please read:

Women Gun Owners Shoot Straight About Firearms, Violence, Second Amendment

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Filed under America, women's studies

Championship Shopping

SHOPPING IS NOT A HOBBY,” read the pretentious bumper sticker.

up to 40% off

up to 40% off

That’s true. Shopping is not a hobby. It’s a sport.

Like the Olympics, there are many categories and events. Shoppers with higher incomes excel in Brands, Early Adoption (buy it before it hits the racks), Boutique, Custom, and Couture. Creative divas and penny pinchers make out like bandits in events like I-Got-This-At-Walmart-But-You-Can’t-Tell-Can-You?, DIY, Consignment, Thrift, and Yard Sale.

Me? I specialize in Bargain Hunting New Merchandise, with major wins in the Women’s and Children’s Clothing divisions.

Once I bought a floor-length Ralph Lauren evening gown for $9. Set a personal record. Wore it to my brother’s wedding. Alas, the victory was bittersweet since I got it at Lord & Taylor’s closing sale.

that's me in the $9 evening gown

that’s me in the $9 evening gown

Then there was the time I paid $5 for a wool pea coat for my son. A darling post-season triumph he wore with panache the next winter.

Before the big snow fell this year in Wichitawesome, I snagged a pair of leather and calf-hair, zebra-print gloves at Ann Taylor for $12.

Anything animal print counts as Big Game and earns extra points.

My aptitude is genetic, geographic, and circumstantial. My mother was a Bargainista before Bargainista was cool. I grew up in a textile manufacturing town. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend on clothes. Trained by example, opportunity, and necessity, I have the makings of one of Gladwell’s Outliers.

store full of bargains

store full of bargains

Mom was a pro. At true factory outlets—the kind located in tiny, dimly-lit rooms inside actually factories—she fished out overstocked nightgowns from big cardboard boxes for pennies per pound. She bought me a pair of pants with a small tear at the ankle for $2. Roll up those preppy chinos and no one knows the difference. She waded through piles of Esprit and Liz Claiborne 80 percent off at Dillard’s Clearance.

Full-court bargain shopping may be beneath some women, but that’s where champions are made. Take the Smith & Hawken store in Chicago. Had to reach for it. Bottom of the box. Linen sundress. $16. Nothing but net.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. Impulse buys that were just not right. Like the time I bought a candy pink sweatshirt with “PRINCESS” emblazoned in large, white letters across the front. It cost me less than $10, but I was 34.

“My daughter would love your shirt!” said a neighbor as I pushed my son past her in the stroller on our way to the park. That Sunday I promptly wrapped the sweatshirt in a nondescript, brown paper bag and slipped it to a man at church between praise songs.

“It’s for your 15-year-old,” I whispered. “I hope she enjoys it.”

I brake for designer fashion

I brake for designer fashion

The older I get, the more likely I am to pay full-price for a basic wardrobe piece of superior quality, fit, style, and color. Do the math. A bargain is only a bargain if you wear it. A $100 dress worn 20 times costs less per wear than a $10 dress worn once.

My husband reminds me the cost of my time also needs to figure into the equation. Shopping for sport, especially Bargain Hunting, burns a lot of hours.

But it’s like I tell him, practice makes perfect.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25 NLT

Madame Onassis got nothing on you.” You Wear It Well by Rod Stewart.

What’s your shopping story?

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Filed under humor, women's studies

Guest Post: Musing Momma Says Parenting Isn’t Black and White

When Aimee invited me to share a post about my family, I struggled with what I wanted to say. Any family is more than one story.

Musing MommaWe are each a million stories. Which one do I tell? Even narrowing it down to writing about my experience being in a multiracial family and what that has meant for me leaves so many possibilities to choose from. This is just one part of our experience.

I am a white woman married to a black man and the mother of two biracial children (two beautiful, amazing, radiant children, if I may say so). Being so intimately connected to two different cultures through my family and sorting through what that means for us is a blessing. It challenges me to look more deeply at my own attitudes. It pushes me to try my best to figure out what race means and what it doesn’t. And because of the implications for my children, I’m attuned to subtleties of racism that I may have remained oblivious to otherwise.

By virtue of my family, race has moved from a somewhat intellectual issue to a very personal and emotional one. I can’t speak for other mixed race families, but I have talked to many other white mommas of brown children and I believe that my experience—the eye-opening transition and becoming more sensitized to all the ways that racism manifests—is one that many of them share.

photo credit: Musing Momma

Over the past decade, I’ve wrestled with the knowledge that what others think and believe about me and about my family may be based more on skin color than on fact or fairness. People passing by may not think to themselves, “There’s a couple with graduate degrees and good jobs, who have been together for a rock-solid 14 years. Look at those sweet boys they’re working so hard to raise right.” Filtered through stereotypes and preconceived notions, their judgments may be, well, less flattering.

As someone who has always cared a little too much what others think and taken pride in her smart-girl, good-girl image, the idea of someone thinking poorly of me or my family was something I struggled with and sometimes still do. (Feel free to read more about that here.) But that struggle has pushed me to really think about how we all deserve to be treated with the utmost compassion and respect as we move through life, regardless of our back stories. It’s easy to pay lip service to that belief, but it’s another thing entirely to fully grasp and practice it.

photo credit: Musing Momma

photo credit: Musing Momma

In the four walls of our home, we don’t think much about race. We think about what we’re having for dinner and whether our kindergartener has done his homework. We wonder if we’re being too strict and then we wonder if we’re being too lenient. We snuggle up and read stories at bedtime. We give baths and we say “I love you” and we play trains on the living room floor. In short, we do what families do.

But there are concerns I have that, if my kids were white, wouldn’t even be on my radar screen.  There are things I do because I am always trying to make sure my boys have a strong, healthy sense of self, one that will fortify them against the racism they will inevitably experience.

I make sure they feel positive about being black and about their appearance as black children—their curly hair, their brown skin. Somewhere along the way society will tell them these features are less than desirable, and I want them to know that is a lie.  If you’ve ever gone to your local store to look for a black action figure for your child, you know that they’re not easy to find. I worry about what message this sends my children. With limited success, I look for children’s television shows and movies with African-American boys in lead roles because I know that “you can’t be what you can’t see.”

photo credit: Lubs Mary

photo credit: Lubs Mary

I worry about the impact of stereotypes they’ll be exposed to once they move beyond children’s programming. Research shows that media does affect how African-American children feel about themselves. I point out positive black role models everywhere I can—their father, the President, in a story on the news—hoping those examples prove to be a more powerful influence than limiting stereotypes.

I go out of my way to make sure my children’s teachers know that my husband and I are involved and invested in their education, because I worry that if the teachers don’t know us, they’ll expect less of my children than they do of their white peers. It’s a reasonable fear, because research has shown that teachers often expect less of black students, even if they don’t realize it.

I dread the day that my children are insulted or rejected on account of race because I know that they are loving, curious, imaginative, and downright amazing souls and the idea that anyone would not see that based simply on the color of their skin just breaks my heart. And I dread the day that another parent doesn’t want their child to date mine. And, chances are, that day will come. We’ve come a long way with the rise in interracial relationships in this country, but we still have a long way to go, especially with respect to feelings about black-white marriage. (Check out this 2012 Pew Research article summarizing U.S. Census statistics and attitudes toward interracial marriage.)

When I hear about someone not wanting their child to date a black person or be friends with a black classmate, I just want to grab them by the shoulders, look them in the eye and say, “What do you mean? Are you telling me that this boy I have loved and nurtured, just as you have loved and nurtured your child, is somehow not good enough? That my beautiful child is less than your beautiful child?” I wonder what they would say. Imagine someone telling you that your child is not good enough for theirs, not because of anything he or she has done, but simply because of the color of their skin.

photo credit: Werth Media

photo credit: Werth Media

I worry about racial profiling and how it will affect my boys. I consider that if my little one continues to be off-the-charts in height, he won’t just grow up to be a black man but he’ll grow up to be a big black man—and it scares me what that could mean for his safety as he moves out into the world. The death of Trayvon Martin shook me to my core, as it did so many parents of black children, because I realized that could be my child someday. I worry about what happens when they must step out of this bubble we’ve built around them and into the real world.

These are things I probably wouldn’t worry about if my children were white. This is how I know race still matters and in unfair ways. We have come a long way, but we still have a long ways to go before racial and cultural differences are pervasively seen as something to be celebrated and appreciated, rather than the basis for division and discrimination.

The beauty of raising young children is that they are a living example that race is a social construct, not a biological truth. I see how accepting my children are of people from different backgrounds, because no one has taught them otherwise and because my husband and I are doing all we can to ensure they hold onto that belief. They notice skin color, but without judgment or assumption.

Ellie of Musing Momma

Ellie of Musing Momma

We can’t change problems if we don’t recognize them. My family experience has pushed me to examine my own biases and being more aware means I can make more conscious choices over what I believe and what I feel.

If things are going to change, we have to open our hearts and be willing to learn. We need to seek out different perspectives and really try to understand the impact of our history on the present. For those of us who are white, we must be willing to examine our own biases and acknowledge where our skin color has afforded us privileges we may not deserve, and we have to be willing to do something about it.

Read more at Musing Momma about Ellie’s experiences from how her interracial relationship has shaped her identity to debating whether to change school districts to conversations with her sons about race. She also features other multiracial families who are gracious enough to share their experiences. Ellie highly recommend the online magazine Multicultural Familia and their list of favorite sites on race and culture as good places to learn more.

Thank you, Ellie, for sharing your story here!

photo credit: Lubs Mary. via photopin cc
photo credit: werthmedia via photopin cc

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Filed under America, family & friends, women's studies

Dresses and Dreams

Ladies, as a little girl did you ever dream of your wedding dress? 

Beane & Co Clara from Nice and Neutral Collection

Beane & Company Clara

My dream wedding dress was updated with every trend. I wanted a fur collar. Make that a 25-foot train like Princess Diana’s. Maybe fingerless lace gloves. White granny boots. A tiara.

My actual wedding was 17 years ago, and I find myself in an odd place now. As a MOB (mother of boy), it’s unlikely I’ll have a say in wedding dresses, much less fingerless lace gloves. There will be no trips with the bride to say yes to the dress, just a tinge of pain knowing I’ll never get to plan, er, help plan a wedding again.

Enter Pinterest. I’m like a sweet tooth set loose in a candy store with no money to buy the goods. So I started a board called “My Imaginary Pinterest Wedding Even Though I’m Already Married.” It eases my craving the same way my “Short Cuts” board consoles the occasional impulse for a pixie haircut.

It may look odd (the board, not the haircut). When a friend saw me pinning wedding dresses, she quipped, “Are you renewing your vows or something?”

Beane & Co Zelda and Leo Gatsby Collection

Beane & Company Zelda and Leo

Laugh all you want, sister. Your beautiful daughter practically guarantees you a subscription to Brides.

Instead of assembling wedding accoutrements on Pinterest where friends question your sanity, what if you could make them your business? What if you could design bridal regalia to your heart’s desire and your clients’ satisfaction?

My friend Jenna Lang does exactly that. Beane & Company, her Los Angeles studio, has created custom special occasion clothing for children since 2007.

Imagine the most darling flower girls and ring bearers EVER.

Beane & Co Grace from Gatsby Collection

Beane & Company Grace

“What makes us unique is that everything you purchase is made to order. Nothing is massed produced,” says Jenna.

“Our niche is that we can customize anything you see pictured in any color or fabric. It generally starts with an inquiry that goes something like this: ‘I love this dress. Can we do it in pink instead of white?’ Our answer is always ‘Yes!’”

Jenna credits her mother, a seamstress, with inspiring her appreciation for custom clothing. Jenna was a professional dancer and worked for many years designing theatre costumes. Her passion for design blossomed into a business with the births of her own children.

“I wanted my daughter to have a chest of beautiful keepsake clothing just like my mother had for me. The dresses I made began to pile up—way too many clothes for her to wear! So my business began as a natural progression of my love for all things theatrical married to my love for vintage children’s clothing. My daughter, and now my son, are still the inspiration for everything I do.”

Beane & Co Charlie from Gatsby Collection

Beane & Company Charlie

Custom is key in the wedding industry. “A bride can send us a swatch of the colors she’s using in her wedding and we can match it to make something that fits perfectly,” says Jenna. “The best part is there are no add-ons or upcharge for color or design changes. The price listed is the price you pay, regardless of the changes made.”

Beane & Co Ella from Something Blue Collection

Beane & Company Ella

What does Jenna love most about her work? “The thing I love most about what I do is the creative process,” she says. “There’s nothing like seeing a piece of fabric or a sketch on paper and making it come to life. I’m always amazed at what and where I find things that spark an idea. If you can imagine it, or you want us to imagine it—we can make it!” 

I like her passion. It’s what dresses and dreams are made of. 

Some of Beane & Company’s enchanting designs are featured in this post with photography by Katie Duda of Claire Alyse Photography. See more at Beane & Company, on Facebook, on Twitter @beaneandcompany, or contact Jenna (at) BeaneandCo (dot) com.

Beane & Co Lizzy from Something Beane

Beane & Company Lizzy

You have captured my heart,
my treasure, my bride.
You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes,
with a single jewel of your necklace. Song of Solomon 4:9 NLT

Marry Me by Train.

Happy Valentine’s Day!
So what’s your imaginary wedding dress look like?

Disclosure: I’m not being compensated to promote Beane & Company or Claire Alyse Photography in this post. 

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Filed under America, family & friends, women's studies