I’m still in newborn land so playing an oldie but goodie in honor of Olivia Newton John and this weekend’s Summer Hoot with Olivia super fan and musician Gail Ann Dorsey and Hoot founder and musician Ruth Ungar Merenda. These interviews originally aired in January 2018 when Shana and I were hosting together. It was our second episode! I could listen to these women speak for days…
We also heard these songs today: My Baby Drinks Water by the Mammals, 2Gether by Naiika Sings, Good Things by Olivia K and the Parkers, La Belleza by Lau Noah, Magic Powers by Liana Gabel, If You Could Hear Me Know by the Mammals. Check out the playlist to listen!
Karen Ranney taught Early Grade Science, Kindergarten, and Pre-K for more than 20 years. She now maintains a little woods in the Hudson Valley. She gardens, photographs and writes for children every day. She thanks all the young children who observe nature, show curiosity, ask questions, and inspire everyone in their world. She’s written All About Leaves and My Hear Your Heart under her pen name Lea Utsira.
Today we learn about and visit Karen’s garden, and she shares about how and why she’s cultivating pollinator plants, how’s she’s bringing her yard back into a more native state, how she manages critters and poison ivy, and the two books she’s authored for young (and old) readers. If you want to reach out to Karen and talk gardening or pollinators, you can find her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s the return of Therese Shechter, Founder of Trixie Films, Author, Speaker and Director of the compelling documentary film, My So-Called Selfish Life, and she’s brought with her LeNora Faye, a childfree lifestyle advocate, speaker, and moderator who creates global platforms, both public and private, for people who are choosing not to have, birth, or raise children. She is a co-host of the international podcast and web series, Childfree Girls and a co-founder of Childfree Convention, where she serves as PR manager and co-moderator.
The Childfree Convention is a free, two-day virtual event to connect childfree people all over the world, where childfree people and their allies can expand their knowledge about the childfree lifestyle and explore important topics in the childfree community.
The convention is FREE to watch and open to all who want to be part of the childfree conversation.
The panels will explore topics of interest to the childfree community such as the childfree experience in different world cultures, Pronatalism, Antinatalism, Defining Family, Childfree Guys, Childfree LGBTQ+, Sterilization, Childfree F.I.R.E. (Financial Independence Retire Early), Childfree 60+, and more.
The Childfree Convention is happening July 30-31 and August 1st is International Child Free Day so we’re celebrating with them and sharing their good work with you. Whether you identify as Child Free, Child Less or none of the above, this is an important conversation in changing the narrative on womanhood and disempowering the patriarchy.
“So not every female human being is necessarily a woman; she must take part in this mysterious and endangered reality known as femininity. Is femininity secreted by the ovaries? Is it enshrined in a Platonic heaven? Is a frilly petticoat enough to bring it down to earth? Although some women zealously strive to embody it, the model has never been patented.” Simone de Beauvoir.
This seems like a good place to start. It may not be where we end because this is a big subject. One that has been studied and debated by many scholars and will continue to evolve as we evolve as humans and our society evolves as the collective of we humans. This discussion is not meant to reinvent the wheel or suggest that I have the answer that someone else hasn’t already shared. It’s not meant to suggest that this is the one and only definition of female, and that there can be no others. No, it’s really about establishing where my head is at so that you know where I’m coming from, so that we’re working from the same foundation in how we define the words that shape the work and the thoughts here.
Let’s start with some of the easier points. For our purposes, female is essentially the embodiment of the feminine. We’re using it as an adverb, not a noun. It does not mean gender although many women tend to embody female “characteristics” well, not always, but often. However, we all have the potential for embodying both feminine and masculine qualities and many of us already do. Yes, let’s look for opportunities to recognize and honor the embodiment of the feminine in a male body hoping that one day, there will be no need to distinguish between the two. So for the purposes of this work, this philosophy, this opinion, female is the feminine regardless of what it looks like or what shape it comes in.
But what does it look like? How do we know it when we see it? This is the real work. This is where things get difficult and confusing, gender lines get blurred and challenged and emotions get triggered when identity is challenged or perceived to be judged. So let’s start with something less personal, the female in nature. From a Chinese perspective, the female is yin, and yin is described as earth, passive, docile, slow, dark, cold, soft, moist, and consuming while the male is Yang and represents the opposite. In Chinese mythology, it is believed that the world went from being formless chaos to what it is today because Yin and Yang at one point became balanced with one another allowing for creation to take form. Today, Yin is always dancing with Yang, sometimes they are balanced and in equilibrium while at other times there is more of one than the other.
While women and men may embody many of their respective Yin or Yang qualities, it’s more complex than that because of this dance between Yin and Yang within everything, even ourselves and how that interacts with our actions and interactions as humans. When we think of the feminine as embodied in human form it is receptive, it welcomes with open arms, it is inclusive, it is nurturing and it is love. It is community, it is the great Mother, it is the greater good over the individual, it is peace. When we see the feminine in action, we see a bountiful existence for all. We see equality for all. We see life.
Being feminine means being gentle but not necessarily weak. Being feminine means taking care of oneself in order to best serve her needs and not just the needs of others or the corporation. Being feminine means tuning into all wisdom not just that of the analytical thinking brain. Being feminine means living in harmony with our surroundings recognizing that we are all one sharing in this planet and not extracting from these surroundings in an imbalanced way. Being feminine means being capable of empathizing in order to prevent the mutual damage of otherizing. Being feminine is creating, tapping into that creative flow, in all it’s many forms.
As the Tao suggests, it’s not Yin or Yang, black or white, feminine or masculine? It’s questionable that we should even be using the words feminine and masculine because of their origin. They grew out of a need to describe the traits that were generally observed to be embodied by each respective gender or even imposed on each gender. As the world changes and the concepts of gender are becoming challenged and possibly even obsolete, we may serve ourselves better if we understand the characteristics that were once assumed to be gender specific to be gender neutral and therefore requiring of new terminology. Maybe that’s the best way forward after all. Until that time, I’ll still be talking femininity.
On today’s show I share my very real conversation with Isis Benitez, a 22 year old woman who is struggling with loving her body for how it looks. She has struggled time and time again with thinking that she is “fat” (a term she uses). Benitez’s biggest struggle is when she tries to love herself so much but thinks her stomach is the problem. She sees herself as being a big girl, and therefore she made the Instagram account called @_im.worthy_ to help her in this process. She wants to be able to be her 100% authentic self and not be ashamed of her body. With the body image struggle, Benitez also struggles with the fear of saying “No” to others and letting other people down. A lot of this has to do with how society sees Women in America and the expectations and pressure to have to look and act a certain way. Now Isis Benitez is able to speak out on what is truly affecting her with loving herself and loving being a woman.
Today the show begins with a conversation with Annette Simmons, a keynote speaker, consultant, and author of four books, including The Story Factor, which is listed in The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. She received a business degree from Louisiana State University, went on to spend ten years in Australia in international business, then received an M.Ed. from North Carolina State University, before founded Group Process Consulting in 1996. Her latest book is titled, Drinking from a Different Well: How Women’s Stories Change What Power Means in Action. Learn more at her book’s website. Today Annette shares her thoughts on the different narrative men and women have around power, how women can come to trust their own instinct, how to resist gaslighting, how women can insist on their own narrative and stick to it, why moral emotions are so important and lots more. I read her book cover to cover in about 1 DAY, so I highly recommend!
In the second half of the show I get to speak with Areva Martin, an award-winning civil rights attorney, advocate, social issues commentator, talk show host, and producer. A CNN legal analyst and Harvard Law School graduate, Martin founded Martin & Martin, LLP, a Los Angeles-based civil rights firm, and is the CEO of Butterflly Health, Inc., a mental health technology company. A best-selling author, Martin has dedicated her fourth book, Awakening: Ladies, Leadership, and the Lies We’ve Been Told, to helping women worldwide recognize, own, and assert their limitless power. Today Areva shares some of her own personal story as it relates to gender inequality, what she’s learned by listening to the stories of other women, the lies that women have been told that have held them back, and how to beat a system that’s (still) rigged against women.
Today I have the ultimate honor to share my conversation with June Millington, a Filipino American guitarist, songwriter, producer, educator, actress and writer. She was the co-founder and lead guitarist of the all-female rock band Fanny, which was active from 1970 to 1974. After leaving the band, June went in pursuit of her spiritual path, continued to make music, collaborate, act, write and is the co-founder and artistic director of the Institute for the Musical Arts (IMA) aka the “Magical Queendom” in Goshen, Massachusetts.
The Institute for the Musical Arts was co-founded with partner Ann Hackler in Northern California in 1986 and received its nonprofit status in 1987. It operated its studio and programs from Bodega, California’s historic Old Creamery until 2001 when property was purchased in Western Massachusetts for a permanent facility. The institute’s nonprofit mission is to support women and girls in music and music-related businesses. Rooted in the legacy of progressive equal rights movements, IMA’s development is guided by the visions, needs and concerns of women from a diversity of backgrounds and has grown from the need to nourish ourselves and each other. In addition to its summer programs for girls, IMA offers concerts and workshops year-round in support of its nonprofit mission which, unless otherwise noted, are open to the public.
Today June shares about how they are supporting girls at IMA, leaving Fanny, feminism, foremothers, Buddhism, cancer, life lessons and what’s she’s got on the horizon.
On today’s show I share my conversation with Therese Shechter, award-winning filmmaker and writer, and the founder of the feminist production company Trixie Films. Her work fuses humor, activism, and personal storytelling to disrupt what’s considered most sacred about womanhood. She is a Canada Council for the Arts grantee for her documentary My So-Called Selfish Life which is having its World Premier this week at the Woodstock Film Festival. The film examines what it means to say no to motherhood in a society that assumes all women want children, and exposes what’s at stake when women are denied the right to control their own reproductive lives. It is the third part of a trilogy which includes her films “How To Lose Your Virginity” (2013) and “I Was A Teenage Feminist” (2005). These documentaries have screened from Rio de Janeiro to Istanbul to Seoul, and her work is in the collections of over 300 universities, non-profits, and libraries. I had the opportunity of a sneak peak at her film and it’s fascinating, thought provoking, informative and entertaining… and this is coming from someone who has struggled to have children yet is STILL trying!
Woodstock Film Festival Showtimes and Locations:
World Premiere: Thursday, September 30 [4:45] PM at Bearsville Theater, Woodstock, NY
Encore Screening: Friday, October 1 [11:00] AM at Orpheum Theatre, Saugerties NY
Virtual Screenings: September 29-Oct 10 streaming online
Today’s guest is the profoundly talented Nina Isabelle. She is a process based artist working with perception, action, language, and phenomena. Her practice is a method to sort and solve the inconsistencies of language, memory, and form, and she makes paintings, drawings, photographs, video, sculpture, sound, performance and writing as inquiry into how sensory perception functions as the impetus for action, reaction, response, and choice making in art and life.
Her work has been presented at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City, The Queens Museum as part of Emergency Index Documentation Discussion, Judson Memorial Church, Grace Exhibition Space, and ABC No Rio in Exile at Bullet Space in NYC with Feminist Art Group, as well as at Para//el Performance Space and The Ear in Brooklyn, NY. Internationally her projects have been presented at Czong Institute for Contemporary Art in Gimpo, South Korea, The Unstitute in Catalunya, Spain, Bangkok Underground Film Festival in Thailand, and NA Gallery in South Korea. Nationally her work has been shown at The San Diego Art Institute, The New School’s exhibition at The Bushwick Collective, Roman Susan in Chicago, IL, and CX Silver Gallery in Brattleboro VT, among others.
In 2018 she founded Three Phase Center for Collaborative Art Research & Building in Stone Ridge, NY where she facilitates, collaborates with, and documents the work of process based conceptual and performance artists. She’s continually motivated to work, present projects, facilitate, and collaborate with artists and idea people of any sort.
Today we talk about her upbringing be tossed in the air lots by acrobats and gymnasts and how her childhood set her up for being unmotivated by external validation or approval. This made for challenges in school, but seems to allowed for a vibrant life where she is guided by what is fun and fulfilling. We discuss some of the pursuits of her art in solving inconsistencies in language, memory and form, how perception is imperfect and malleable and several intersections between her work and thought processes and quantum physics. I try to keep up!
Silvia Federici is an Italian and American scholar, teacher, and activist from the radical autonomist feminist Marxist and anarchist tradition. She is a professor emerita and Teaching Fellow at Hofstra University, where she was a social science professor, and she has also worked as a teacher in Nigeria. She was co-founder of the International Feminist Collective, and an organizer with the wages for housework campaign. In 1973, she helped start Wages for Housework groups in the US. In 1975 she published Wages Against Housework, the book most commonly associated with the wages for housework movement. Silvia also co-founded the Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa (CAFA), and was involved with the Midnight Notes Collective. In 1995, she co-founded the Radical Philosophy Association (RPA) anti-death penalty project. She is the author of several important texts including Caliban and the Witch, which we read and discussed during this past month of March. I am truly grateful for her generosity in time to be here with us on today’s show.
Following our reading of Caliban and the Witch, Rakel and I are honored to be able to continue the conversation with the one and only Silvia Federici. She shares generously her thoughts on why this book is still relevant today — because the events are still happening around the globe — and where the movement needs to go — grassroots organization and cooperation of activist groups to force the change to happen. There’s so much richness and value in this conversation. Let us know what you think!