Monday: Started out at Central Park for a brunch with Jennifer and Amy. We oriented ourselves with everyone and had to tell what our "Click" moment was. In other words, we had to say what was the experience that first led us to define ourselves as feminists. A lot of the women talked about how they have always felt like feminists but didn't have the words until college or after. Everyone has some pretty amazing stories, one girl's mother was the first female beer truck driver in her state. Another girl lived in Europe for a majority of her childhood. I tried to think of my "Click" moment, I'm still having one I think, I am unable to define exactly when I said to myself "Feminism is my thing". If you're interested in reading about other Feminist's click moments you can read "Click", it is by a lot of different authors. So google it.
After Central Park, we split up into small groups and traveled to two agencies that dealt with the sex trade. I went to the NOVO Foundation in Manhattan, we met with Pam Shiffman and Punja (she didn't say her last name). Pam is a very accomplished and interesting woman; she helped start the Parliament in South Africa after the Apartheid. She also worked with the UN and Equality Now. The goal of NOVO is not to outlaw prostitution, but to decriminalize it. If you're interested in their work; here is the website: www.novofoundation.org
After that; we went to Babeland in SoHo. Babeland is a pro-woman, sex positive sex toy store. I have nothing of interest to say about it, if you know me, you know my position on sex and sexuality. We'll leave it at that. Website: www.babeland.com
We all went to the International Women's Health Coalition in the afternoon. That was pretty good, and interesting to compare the view points of two different organizations that work with sex trade workers. IWHC was more liberal in their views, their motto is to secure every woman's right to a just and healthy life. They do a lot of work around the world with agencies that work with workers in the sex industry. They empower, advocate, mobilize, and inform. We met with Audacia Ray, her life has been so full and different than anything I could imagine. This woman graduated from Columbia University and entered the sex industry as an independent sex worker. Basically, she was able to choose her clients, name her price, and have freedom. She is also an award winning pornographer. If you are interested in reading more about International Women's Health Coalition: www.iwhc.org
That night for dinner, we had Chinese take-out in the hostel basement with Shelby Knox. Shelby, besides being incredibly awesome, started a movement in her small town in Texas to get comprehensive sexual education taught in the schools. Before, they would have a local pastor come in to the schools to teach the students about mostly being abstinent. There was a movie made about her while she was organizing in her town, it is called The Education of Shelby Knox you can find it on hulu.com for free, if you are interested.
Brief side note: I am starting to figure out the subway system, this makes me happy.
Tuesday: Another busy, busy day. Started out at National Advocates for Pregnant Women, we met with the whole office but the "leader" was Lynn Paltrow. She went through her whole life and work, another amazing woman with a history of general awesomeness. They try to bring justice to women who are being forced to have "emergency" C-sections, forced to go to hospitals to give birth, or have their children taken away because of past histories with drugs or alcohol. We also met with a woman who ran for office in Missouri because she did not like the way things were being run. She was inspiring as shit. I might run for a state office someday, watch out Ohio. Here is the NAFPW website: www.advocatesforpregnantwomen.org
After; went to the Thirdwave Foundation. Really liked it. They do grant writing for organizations who are working towards reproductive justice/rights for women. That really interested me, grant writing, i'd like to learn more about it because right now my knowledge is about 50%. Website: www.thirdwavefoundation.org (also on the Thirdwave website there is a video, it is a small documentary about the different agencies that are affected by Thirdwave's grants. It is definitely worth checking out)
Last for yesterday, my favorite agency, the Spence-Chapin Adoption Agency. So great. Pro-choice adoption agency. I need to devote another entry to how much I loved this agency, so another time. Here is their website: www.spence-chapin.org
I have missed so many other things, including meeting some new friends from Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, inviting a Lady-Gaga look-a-like waitress to our Feminist party at The Gallery Bar tonight, and getting lost in Soho with some fun people. I promise to write more, I hope this is enough for now. Today is "Media and Job Training Day"; learning about graduate schools and feminist jobs in the media. We are going to the Ms. Foundation, BUST Magazine, and meeting with The Feminist Press. Plus Soapbox Happy Hour tonight, I've invited a lot of strangers. That's just kind of the way New York City is.