Evolution of a MOMocrat

Apr 14, 2008 by

If I can change the subject from Barack Obama and the meaning of the word “bitter” for a bit, I’d like to talk about MOMocrats and what it’s done for me.

Growing up I learned there are three things you don’t discuss in polite conversation: sex, money, and politics.  Now, of course, if everyone followed the rules about sex and politics I think conversation would cease altogether.

Nevertheless, I took “the rules” to heart and rarely discussed my political views. Instead I clandestinely wrote letters to the editor in high school and read The Washington Post in the school library.

Then I went to law school.

Law school was a freeing experience because we were expected, no required, to discuss political and constitutional issues every day.  And to back our discussions up with legal arguments. “The rules” went out the window.

Attending law school in Washington, D.C. was like crack to a political junkie.  I could walk to the Capitol Building instead of watching C-Span. Supreme Court oral arguments were just a few miles away. I got excited about sighting politicians instead of celebrities. It was heaven.

Still, the realities of $100,000 in law school loans led me to a private law firm instead of the public sector.  Rather than become the international human rights lawyer I envisioned, I negotiated and litigated contracts between large corporations. I still followed politics, of course.

I still snuck in some C-Span and took camera phone shots of senators in the airport and political pundits in restaurants.  In fact, when I once attended a wedding with Clarence Thomas I had to restrain myself from attempting to argue with him.  But I had lost my drive to become involved, to make politics personal.  When we moved from the D.C. area to Chesapeake, in Southeast Virginia, it seemed my days of dreaming about political involvement were over.

Then this election cycle came around.

I’ve always spouted off about my liberal political viewpoints on my blog, but this election was personal to me.  I had supported John Edwards in the presidential primary in 2004 and was thrilled when he declared he was running again.  Finally, I felt like a presidential candidate was taking my concerns about health careIraqpoverty, and the concerns of the working class (and below) seriously.

Then I heard about MOMocrats.

GlenniaStefania, and Beth had started this wonderful blog supporting John Edwards for president, with the ultimate goal of seeing a Democrat take the White House in the presidential election.  One of my favorite political bloggers, Joanne, had already signed up and it took me about 2.5 seconds to respond to Beth’s email and beg to ask if I could join.

Slowly, we’ve grown and I am constantly amazed by the thoughtful, intelligent and well researched posts that come out of these women.  We have journalists, lawyers, free lance writers, techies, advertising gurus, social media entrepreneurs, and more.  Several of the women here will be delegates at their state Democratic conventions and at least one will be a national delegate.

The MOMocrats have helped me find my passion for politics again.  If I see protesters on the side of the road, I pull over and introduce myself.  I listen to their concerns and sometimes I even get involved. I’ve started to become involved in the Democratic party in my new home.  The MOMocrats inspired me to apply to be a delegate to the Virginia Democratic Convention and a delegate at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

Politics is personal once again.

Thank you, MOMocrats.

Stephanie also posts the personal at her blog Lawyer Mama.

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How is Breastfeeding Related to Politics?

Nov 27, 2007 by

Dsc01287Did you hear about the flap in the Blogosphere when Facebook removed photos of women breastfeeding from their site and then banned one woman who continued to post them?  How about the recent nationwide breast-in at Applebee’srestaurants? How about when Bill Maher compared breastfeeding in public to masturbating in public?

Breastfeeding in public continues to be a hot button subject in our society.  Everyone seems to agree that “breast is best,” the American Academy of Pediatrics, theAmerican Medical Association, the World Health Organization, even our Department of Health and Human Services.  But breastfeeding rates in the U.S. are abysmal.  Why?  Because no one wants to see mothers actually doing it and our government, employers, and fellow citizens aren’t willing to give mothers the time and the respect they need to successfully breastfeed.

Apparently we’re supposed to lock ourselves in our homes for 12 months and never emerge.  Never visit the doctor, or the dentist, go the grocery store, the mall, or a playground.  And heaven forbid a breastfeeding mother enters a restaurant and actually attempts to feed her child.  She’s likely to be the subject of stares, recrimination, and discrimination.

Breastfeeding is protected by statute in one way or another in the majority of states in this country.  Despite this, discrimination against breastfeeding mothers continues to happen.  In response to this, The League of Maternal Justice formed to support mothers.  The women of The LofMJ created a lovely breastfeeding montage in response to Facebook’s banning of breastfeeding photos.  They put it on You Tube, where it became one of the most watched videos.

YouTube banned it, stating that it was “inappropriate.”  No further explanation.  Here’s the press release from The LofMJ:

For immediate release 11/27/07

Youtube Bans Protest Video
Video Depicted Breastfeeding Moms
A mom-produced internet protest video attacking Facebook’s banning of breastfeeding pictures was itself banned by the popular video sharing service Youtube after gaining recognition as the top-five most discussed of its day.  The email from Youtube stated that it was due to the video’s inappropriate content/inappropriate nature.  A group of moms called Youtube’s action hypocritical and harmful, and pointed to dozens of sexually explicit and harmful videos currently allowed on the service.  The moms also pointed to a number of state laws specifically stating that public breastfeeding was not inappropriate.

You can view the video, the press release, and contact information in full on The LofMJ if you want to see what all the flap is about.

Now you’re wondering: How the heck is breastfeeding related to politics?

It’s simple.  Attitudes towards breastfeeding mothers and mothers in general are a symptom of something wrong with our society.  We don’t value motherhood.  Not really.  If we did, paid maternity leave would be a no brainer.  Mothers would have more guaranteed time with their children after birth.

John Edwards has some wonderful ideas for making the U.S. more family friendly.   He has proposed universal health care coverage, affordable child care for those who need it and expanding FMLA to provide 8 weeks of paid family and medical leave.

The U.S. fails to fund the minimum of six weeks of maternal leave recommended by doctors for both mothers and newborn children. Many parents must rush back to work, leaving their newborn babies in suboptimal or ad hoc care. In many states, day care centers are prohibited from accepting children that young due to the risk of infection. By not guaranteeing any mothers paid leave, America departs with a worldwide consensus of 169 countries to stand with only five countries including Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland. [ACOG, 2007; NPWF, 2003; IHSP, 2007]

None of these steps will individually change how mothers, and the essential role that they play in our society, are viewed.  But to change attitudes we need new policies, popular or not.  I believe that John Edwards is the candidate who will work hardest for mothers.  Maybe in 10 years women breastfeeding in public will be applauded instead of vilified.

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