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Welcome to the Dearborn, MI Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW)!

AAUW advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. Founded in 1881, AAUW is open to graduates with an associate or higher degree from an accredited college or university, as well as students currently enrolled in college.  Dues support the operations of the Dearborn-Michigan branch, founded in 1933, as well as the state and national organizations.

Today: National Voter Registration Day

images-1National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan-nationwide effort to register tens of thousands of voters. Groups such as Rock the Vote, the League of Women Voters, and the Bus Federation Civic Fund are doing this for the third year in a row.

AAUW is committed to registering voters for the critical-midterm elections. Sadly, young women are less likely to vote in midterm elections. Perhaps they simply do not understand how high the stakes are.

Candidates on November’s ballot will enjoy a significant say on issues such as equal pay, college affordability, jobs and minimum wage, violence against women, and health-care issues, voting rights, and more.

 

  • Make sure your voter registration is current, especially if you moved recently, changed your name or have not voted recently.
  • Double check at  www.canivote.org  .
  • Use social media to encourage others such as friends, family, neighbors and colleagues to register.

 

Math — Not Myth

images-1Lisa M. Maatz,  Vice President of Government Relations for AAUW, writes to say we live in disheartening times. I have abbreviated her remarks in the interest of space:

Six days ago, 73 senators from both parties voted to have a debate on the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would help close the gender pay gap. 

Last night, nearly 20 of them blocked the bill from moving out of the debate phase and onto a final up-or-down vote.

It’s the same partisan bickering and abuse of procedural rules that we’ve seen time and time again. This gridlock stings more than usual because we’re just two days away from the U.S. Census Bureau releasing new data about the gender pay gap. The pay gap has held steady for the last decade and shows little sign of going away.
We need the Paycheck Fairness Act to bring the Equal Pay Act of 1963 into the 21st century. The Senate’s failure to end Mad-men era policies has significant, real-world implications for millions of American women and their families. Today women face a gender pay gap at every education level and in every occupation. The gap is worse for mothers and women of color.

Even when comparing “apples to apples” and controlling for all factors known to affect earnings, AAUW researchers still found a 7 percent pay gap between men and women just one year out of college.

Gender pay discrimination isn’t a myth; it’s math. The wage gap represents dollars that translate into less money for food, gas, housing, education, and child care.

All workers deserve the chance to succeed with equal pay. It’s not a partisan issue. It is simply the right thing to do.

100 10″ X 10″ canvases — only $50 each!

d9d88338-f979-4c27-89d5-8293ba7c8756Opening reception 6-8 p.m. Thursday, September 11, 2014

Don’t miss out on seeing what 100 artists have created on small canvases. Own an original work of art for the bargain-basement price of $50! All proceeds benefit the Dearborn Community Arts Council’s goal to update the gallery.

Well-known artists (Mohamad Bazzi, Jerry Vile, Melanie Manos, Kevin Castile, Windy Weber, Joseph Marks, Ash Nowak) have generously donated works for this show.

The opening reception is this Thursday, September 11, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Your $5 ticket provides a twenty percent discount on art, a silent auction, food, drinks, prizes and entertainment!  Such a deal! You simply can’t go wrong!!

Also included is a retrospective “Wall” of the gallery’s history.

If you can’t make it to the reception, the show opens free to the public on Friday, September 12, 2014, and closes September 26, 2014.  Hours are Tuesday through Friday from noon to 6:00 p.m.

For information, phone 313-043-3095.

Corporations Have Bolted While America Has Molted

MS192_HumanNeedsNotCorporateGreedEver wonder why you feel taxed to death?

Corporate profits have hit all-time highs, while average citizens have been left to sigh and even cry.

After WWII, nearly 30% of federal revenue was paid by corporate taxes. Now corporate taxes contribute less than 10% of federal revenue. It has dropped, in some recent years, to as little as 6.6%. Today corporate-income-tax revenue equates to about 2% of America’s gross-domestic product.

Why the change? A globalized economy. Subsidies. Tax credits. Highly effective lobbyists.

It appears we have forgotten the idealism behind the immortal words enshrined in the fabric of this nation: “of the people, for the people, by the people.”

 

One Teacher’s Risk Taking

martha-cothrenimagesA few years ago, Martha Cothren, social studies teacher at Robinson H.S. in Little Rock did something unusual on the first day of school.

She removed all the desks from her classroom. When the first students of the day arrived, they discovered there was no place to sit, other than the floor. Ms. Cothren challenged them. “You can’t have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to sit at a desk.”

The kids offered ideas: Their grades? Their behavior? Their homework? Assessment tests? As succeeding classes arrived and departed, the answer eluded the students. After lunch, news crews arrived to report about the wacky instructor who had removed her students’ desks.

During the final period on that first day of instruction as puzzled students sat on the floor, Ms, Cothren stated, “Throughout the day, no one has been able to tell me just what he or she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.”

She went to the classroom door and opened it.

Twenty-seven U.S. Veterans marched into that social studies classroom. Each was carrying a student desk. The vets arranged them in precise rows and then stood alongside the wall. It began to dawn on the students that those vets had earned rights they had not even imagined.

Ms. Cothren clarified, “You didn’t earn the right to sit at these desks. These heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. Now, it’s up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be good students, to be good citizens. These vets paid the price so that you could have the freedom to get an education. Don’t ever forget it.”

A year later Ms. Cothren was awarded Teacher of the Year in Arkansas. Her father had been a prisoner of war in WWII which clearly shaped her teaching of the history of that conflict, as well as the Vietnam War. She wrote her own textbook for the course.

At her high school, students organized a Vietnam Veterans Recognition Week which included an official “Thank You Ceremony” to honor those who have served our nation. During that week-long event, vets from WWII and the Korean War participated as well. As vets shared their memories, students created a videotape archive to preserve their singular stories. Students continue to send care packages and write letters to military personnel.

As I revisited this story today, I was reminded of Lisa Lark, teacher at Edsel Ford High School, who made such an interesting presentation on Vietnam vets when Beverly Reiter served as our branch-program vice president.

I also was reminded of how much we will miss having Laura Marko as a member of our branch. Sadly for Dearborn, this summer she and her husband made the choice to move out of state for economic reasons. Laura was vital to our growing understanding of sexual assaults in the military and other veterans’ issues as well.

As another-new school year begins, we can only hope that in the Dearborn Public Schools there are similarly vital teachers taking risks in classrooms. Long-term memory is embedded in the brain’s limbic system. The limbic system becomes the brain’s most efficient repository of memory via the power of emotional impact!

Happy Anniversary!

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Today is the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. That’s the one that granted women the right to vote. Suffrage, the right to vote in public elections, is the word that sums it up.

Women finally had their say. Women finally had official voices. Women finally had a say in the direction of public matters. Women had been enfranchised!

With the power of the ballot, women could more effectively try to shape the outcome of referendums. Many still felt torn by duty to spouse and family, but they could finally help decide things via the ballot box.

The march of women through American history is still fraught. A survey of 18 American history textbooks found that only 10% of the individuals studied are women. America has 2,400 national-historic landmarks. Less than 8% deal with the accomplishments of women. Among the 217 statues in the nation’s Capitol Building, 13 represent women.

Little wonder that the scholar, Carolyn Heilbrun believes, “Women in the past have a dreadful tendency to disappear in a cloud of anonymity and silence.”

In 1919, after years of contentious battles and maneuvering, the House of Representatives finally passed the 19th Amendment by a vote of 304 to 89. The Senate followed with a vote of 56 to 25.

Thirty-six states were then needed to ratify. Happily, the stolid Midwest provided the first three states to do so, specifically Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin. In August of 1920, Tennessee, the 36th state, came through! On August 26, 1920, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the adoption of the Amendment.

Other states agreed to ratify as the years and decades passed. The last state to ratify was Mississippi. It did so on March 22, 1984! Better late than never?

 

 

Social and Sexual Contexts

images-2images-1Taking risks is complex. The risks of sharing sexually transmitted diseases has been thoroughly documented. Now studies have investigated how sexually adventurous women are affected socially, emotionally and mentally.

 
Women who engaged in risky sexual behavior while traveling told a researcher that they felt freed from a sexual double standard at home, and hoped to “feel like a man by having a one-night stand — no emotional strings attached.” For others, “sexual activity has to be related to feelings and some degree of attachment,” says Liza Berdychevsky, assistant professor at the University of Illinois. She has interviewed women to gain understanding of their perceptions and motivations for sexual experimentation.  Some tourist destinations and experiences promote “an altered sense of reality … while minimizing perceptions of risk and long-term consequences. Sometimes that introspection leads to beneficial experiences. Some learn a lesson, how to reject, how to be more empowered, how to be more vocal or how to insist on contraception.”

 
Although the immortality and invincibility that young people experience often leads to ignoring consequences, senior citizens have adopted simular experimental behaviors, especially within retirement communities. During the last decade, AIDS cases among senior citizens have soared. Due to Viagra and similar drugs, older Americans are increasingly sexually active. Sadly, many older women who’ve passed menopause don’t use protection because they know they can’t get pregnant. They do get STDs in large numbers though.

 

Poor Women & Their Kids Suffer Inequalities

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The number of families living on less than $2 per person/per day has doubled since 1996. Sadly, it has tripled for families headed by a lone woman! (source: National Poverty Center)

Women are more likely than men to have a minimum-wage job, and women are more likely to be raising a family alone.

After measuring factors such as education, health and material well-being, UNICEF found the United States ranked 23 out of 24 nations in the deleterious effects poverty has upon the nation’s neediest children when compared to children in median income homes.

 

Most American Women

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This excerpt is  lifted directly from a review that appeared in The New York Times:
The breast milk of the writer Florence Williams contains a striking level of perchlorate, a key component of rocket fuel. Her mammary glands are no different from those of most American women. Breast-feeding still passes many good things from mother to baby:  vitamins, minerals and “a solid hedge of extras to help ward off a lifetime of diseases.”   But the practice also typically transfers “paint thinners, dry-cleaning fluids, wood preservatives, toilet deodorizers, cosmetic additives, gasoline by-products, rocket fuel, termite poisons, fungicides” and varieties of flame retardants, one of which, Penta-BDE, was banned by the European Union because of its chronic toxicity to humans.

Consider reading: BREASTS: A Natural and Unnatural History  by Florence Williams,
W. W. Norton & Company. $25.95.