Friday, November 14, 2008

Kansas City Rocks!

We had an incredible experience yesterday in Kansas City. First we did a very interactive, intergenerational workshop over at University of Missouri-Kansas City where we met fascinating local women (many of them named Linda?!) from the YWCA, The American Association of University Women, the incredible UMKC Women's Center staff and board, and so many more.

One of the big insights that came up from that experience was a question:
When do we, as feminists, confront sexism directly and when do we deal with it indirectly instead?
It seemed like so many of the experiences and anecdotes that women of all generations brought to the table were focused on this difficult negotiation. In order to get the progress we so desire, do we swallow some of our ire when a sexist guy says something inane? Or is it our responsibility as loud and proud feminists to call him out regardless of the fall out?

As if that conversation wasn't rich enough, we still had the big event to come. Yesterday evening we had a panel in honor of Ruth Margolin, Founding Director of the UMKC Women's Center. There was a huge crowd (300+) in the absolutely beautiful Kansas City Public Library-Plaza Branch. After wine and cheese we migrated into the newly renovated auditorium and got to hear some wonderful words about Ruth Margolin's fiery character. Apparently she was never afraid of being a loud and proud feminist! It was so special to be having our dialogue in honor of her legacy.

The audience brought up a range of issues; everything from women in the military, pay equity, body image, abortion, Clinton's infidelity scandal, Sarah Palin, and racial tensions within feminism were a part of the conversation.

Thanks to all who contributed your insights and questions. And thanks to everyone at UMKC, especially Brenda Bethman, for making this really exquisite event and experience possible! And a special, special thanks to Maria Teresa Petersen, who stepped in for the much missed Deborah Siegel with grace and eloquence. Maria Teresa was fantastic. Check out her organization, Voto Latino, here.

*The Kansas City Star did a great write up of the event. So did The Pitch, Kansas City's weekly, but check out the title! "Meow Mix"? Come on people, this is exactly the point of our panel. When men disagree, it's called a disagreement. When women disagree, it's called a cat fight. Thank goodness we're reclaiming the frame!