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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.

Just stand up!

thAn Ellen S. Daniels recently had this to say in a letter to the editor of the New York Times:

First, she described how Rachel Maddow from MSNBC succeeded in being heard on Bill Maher’s raucous show recently when a male guest on the program kept talking right over her remarks.

“Rather than shout back, Ms. Maddow humorously raised her hand, as if she were in school asking for permission to speak. When that didn’t work, she finally just stood up. Her tactic stopped the man cold. And then Ms. Maddow made her point.

Women do need to ‘lean in.’ Women do need to firmly say, ‘I’m speaking now, you’ll get your turn.’ And yes, sometimes women do need to just stand up.”

Ninth Grade Student at Dearborn High Wins Speech Trek

20150154bfd76c6c657Scout Greimel, a ninth-grade student at Dearborn High School, has won the AAUW-Dearborn Speech-Trek contest! This year’s topic was: “How to be a Change Maker Against Bullying, Sexual Harassment, and Violence in School”

Participants in this formal-speech competition were judged upon their abilities to express how these issues have affected their lives and the lives of those around them. Judges included retired educators Beverly Reiter and Jonelle Robinson as well as the Communications Coordinator for the Dearborn Public Schools, David Mustonen.

The first-place winner is Scout Greimel, a ninth-grade student who attends Dearborn High School. (The photograph pictures her with her mother, Suzanne Greimel). Scout won $300 from the Dearborn branch; and she now advances to the state-wide competition via a DVD presentation. The winner at the AAUW-Michigan level will earn an additional $500 and a chaperoned trip to Escanaba, Michigan to present the winning speech to attendees at the AAUW-MI state convention. Scout’s DVD presentation will be available on the AAUW-Dearborn and Michigan websites later this spring.

The mission of AAUW-Dearborn is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy, and research in order to empower women and girls to reach their highest potential. AAUW-Dearborn president, Anne Gautreau, commented, “To watch an adolescent stand up and speak with confidence and conviction is to watch a new world emerge. Finding your own voice is the key to integrity and accomplishment.”

Second place, $100, went to Kristianna Ballnik , a senior from Dearborn High School. Third place, $75, was awarded to Fatima Taj, a ninth-grade student at Fordson High School. Freshman Reem Alshareef, also from Fordson, earned an Honorable Mention.

Rosa Scaramucci, Speech-Trek II liaison for the Dearborn branch, added, “It was evident that all of these young women were passionate about these prevalent issues, and they also offered  viable solutions to foster change in attitudes and actions. This is why we feel so strongly about bringing this educational opportunity to the community.”

He reflected our mission!

Martin-Luther-King2Martin Luther King, Jr. said much that reflects the relevancy of the mission of AAUW as we advance equity through education, research, advocacy and philanthropy. So on this national holiday that honors his many accomplishments, let us consider a few of his observations because, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

Re: EDUCATION

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.

Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.

Re: RESEARCH

To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction. 

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Re: ADVOCACY

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Re: PHILANTHROPY

The time is always right to do what is right.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable…. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

Great Minds Think Alike!

th-1In regard to the presentation entitled, “Human Trafficking in Detroit,” at the University of Michigan-Dearborn on Wednesday, January 28, 2015,
Betsy Cushman, president of the Dearborn League of Women Voters, just shared this national position on same:  STATEMENT OF POSITION ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING –As adopted at the LWVUS 2014, National Convention–
The League of Women Voters opposes all forms of domestic and international human trafficking of adults and children, including sex trafficking and labor trafficking. We consider human trafficking to be a form of modern day slavery and believe that every measure should be taken and every effort should be made through legislation and changes in public policy to prevent human trafficking. Prosecution and penalization of traffickers and abusers should be established, and existing laws should be strictly enforced. Extensive essential services for victims should be applied where needed. Education and awareness programs on human trafficking should be established in our communities and in our schools.
One great way you can begin the education-and-awareness part in this community is to attend the presentation. See you there!

Gender AbNORMing

gender-stereotypesI was delighted that AAUW-Downriver branch got a break in the weather and had a solid turn-out for the screening of “Miss Representation” in Trenton yesterday. I invited a middle-school student from Stout Junior High to accompany me, and I am glad I did. The number of the film’s stats, as well as shifts in perception, that remained lodged firmly in her brain as we ate dinner and chatted later amazed and delighted me. So I am compelled to revisit some of the key issues from the film here for those of you who couldn’t attend the screening.

Teens in this country spend 10-plus hours each day riffling through electronic media! Many of the media messages they receive objectify women and distort body-image reality. Photoshopped models are typical! This sexual objectification of their bodies effectively lowers self-confidence, ambition and grade-point averages among girls. Surprised that so many young people today suffer eating disorders, cutting and mood disorders? An estimated 65% of women and girls in America have an eating disorder!

In a time when our nation’s student debt exceeds $1.2 trillion, consider that American
women spend more money in pursuit of beauty than education! So when a young woman, whose brain is not fully developed, is repeatedly force-fed the notion that her value lies in youth, beauty and sexuality, is it any surprise that her goals narrow and shrink from intellectual pursuits?

Story is the primary act of mind and bonding among human beings. Today our former, largely personal, communication has been subsumed by media-conglomerates.  They provide endless doses of reality-show, catty-vindictive housewives; YouTube, “chick flicks”, pornographic pop-ups, celebrity-focused magazines, advertising masquerading as talk shows, sexuality-plotted sitcoms, and commercials for the beauty industry. Is it any surprise that cosmetic surgery among insecure teens is now a growth industry in America?

News stories about women are dominated by acts of violence, submission and victimization. Typically, the women in widely covered news stories are skinny-white heterosexuals. Meanwhile males are taught how to be controlling, unfeeling, in charge, and even violent toward this other, clearly lesser gender. Is it any surprise that a quarter of women suffer abuse at the hands of their partners or that one-in-six women is a survivor of rape or attempted rape?

Far too few women CEOs and political leaders are working in this country. What may be even more significant is how few women hold positions of power in the media: advertising, entertainment, Internet, publishing, motion pictures and television. Script writers and directors alone could upend many of these gratuitous perceptions about “the weaker sex.”

Until women VOICE these issues loudly, clearly and persistently, little will change. Do yourself a favor, watch “Miss Representation” with teens and let them discuss the film fully. They need a different message to begin the necessary-fundamental change toward securing a better life for all in this country.

Inking Cartoons in Blood

cartoonsarahmcintyreAs a retired English teacher, I must declare myself to be a fervent believer in the First Amendment. With a whimsical and figurative rhetorical flourish, I have often told others that I am a First Amendment junkie. As a reader and writer, I hold that particular amendment obsessively dear. I am dependent upon it.  As a teacher, it was my compulsive habit to declare my addiction to more than one high-school principal running scared from whack-job parents objecting to their children learning to read, interpret and think. The most egregious example that comes to mind is an ignorant married couple who were determined to remove Shakespeare’s Macbeth from the twelfth-grade syllabus. The reason behind their campaign? Macbeth has witches in its cast! Their religion felt threatened by witchcraft, apparently whether real or imagined! Charlie Brown would have moaned, “Good grief!”

And that brings us to the bleak-horrific news from Paris yesterday–
the slaughter of a dozen human beings bled out like meat creatures in an abbatoir at Charlie Hebdo, a publication named in honor of Charlie Brown. Hebdo simply means “weekly.” Islamic fanatics felt compelled to annihilate human beings for having had senses of humor and enough wit to satirize human foibles. One commentator lamented their grotesque deed with an ironic bite, “What kind of human beings believe they have to protect God? Doesn’t he have plenty of power to look after himself?”

Ironically, my beloved First Amendment protects both religious freedom as well as freedom of speech and the press. Yesterday, those freedoms embraced one another in a sick-twisted-perverse duet of death.

“Je suis Charlie. Nous somme Charlie.” I am Charlie. We are Charlie. So much for security, so much for safety, so much for intelligence! The zealots are now taking their zeal to the streets of the world’s greatest cities where civilization and barbarity don’t typically mix. I am shocked. I am revulsed. I am horrified. But I am determined to be one small voice calling for freedoms to be protected, coddled and loved. If I had the talent to be a cartoonist, I think I would ink one in my own blood tonight as a small act of solidarity.

DON’T MISS “Miss Representation”

miss-representation Rosie pic

Sunday, January 11, 2015, at 2:00 p.m., AAUW-Downriver will present Miss Representation at the Trenton Village Theatre, 2447 W. Jefferson Avenue.

This award-winning documentary  explores how television, motion pictures, magazines, music, online media and electronic games emphasize youth, beauty and sexuality over brains and ability. These depictions deter many young women from  pursuing aspirations toward STEAM education and leadership roles. Concurrently, perceptions of female competency diminish. Lack of media support for strong-women leaders also creates a shortage of positive-role models. Such distorted media bias can damage teen behavior and lead to depression, bullying, cutting, and bulimia.

Condoleezza Rice, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Rachel Maddow, Margaret Cho, Rosario Dawson and Gloria Steinem are featured!  Since it explores issues affecting wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and nieces, both genders can clearly benefit from seeing and discussing this film. Please encourage friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances and members of other organizations to attend!

A mill-around featuring locally-catered “Teas and Treats” will follow in the lobby. Sponsors include Chartreuse Tea, A Serendipity Cakery, Carlo & Joes, TV Diner and more.

Open to the public,  the suggested donation for both the movie and mill-around is a mere $5.00. A fifty-fifty raffle will help cover expenses.

For additional information, visit  http://www.womensmediacenter.com/pages/about-us

The Queen of She-Wop

She inspires teens who struggle with bullying and body image.megan-trainor-435

She’s determined to “break the chains of absurd standards of thinness” in America’s obsessive fashion industry.

Her father explained that she “thought she was one of the chubby girls who would never be an artist.”

Publications have called her “the poster girl for the larger woman” and “pop’s emblem for self-acceptance.”

She has penned lyrics that reflect 21st-century womanhood and self-empowerment.

She believes that “Everyone is born to be different, but that’s the thing that makes us all the same.”

She is described as feisty, spunky and sassy.

She dropped out of the Berklee College of Music because of creative differences with students and professors.
She doesn’t label herself a feminist, but she seeks an opportunity to say something meaningful to the world. “If you asked me, ‘What do you want to say?’ it would be, ‘Love yourself more.'”

She is still very young, having been born December 22, 1993

Meghan Trainor is an American singer-songwriter and record producer, whose “All About That Bass” reached number-one in 58 countries and became one-of-the-best-selling singles of-all-time.

She’s in our heads. Her refrain, “It’s all about that bass” haunts our days.

For explorers in Antarctica, it’s all about the base.

For wine connoisseurs, it’s all about the case.

For portrait artists, it’s all about the face.

For Leonardo, it’s all about the gaze.

For those in Bejing, it’s all about the haze.

For those of us recovering from holiday excess, it’s all about the laze.

For the puzzled, it’s all about the maze.

For the sinus sufferers, it all about the nase.

For writers, it’s all about the page.

For populists, it’s all about the rage.

For meditators, it’s all about the sage.

For actors, it’s all about the stage.

For cops, it’s all about the taze.

For florists, it’s all about the vase.

For dieters, it’s all about the weighs.

And that brings us back to me wishing you a Happy New Year and effective resolutions! Be safe. Be well. Be good this year.

Caution: Homophonous Confusion–Read this one aloud!

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This entry is intended to honor Jane Stockton, our hard-working editor of the LEGACY, the monthly newsletter of AAUW-Dearborn:

Candidate for a Pullet Surprise
   –Dr. Jerrold H. Zar and Mark Eckman

I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it,
Your sure reel glad two no.
Its vary polished in it’s weigh.
My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a bless sing,
It freeze yew lodes of thyme.
It helps me right awl stiles two reed,
And aides me when eye rime.

Each frays come posed up on my screen
Eye trussed too bee a joule.
The checker pours o’er every word
To checque sum spelling rule.

Bee fore a veiling checker’s
Hour spelling mite decline,
And if we’re lacks oar have a laps,
We wood bee maid too wine.

Butt now bee cause my spelling
Is checked with such grate flare,
Their are know fault’s with in my cite,
Of nun eye am a wear.

Now spelling does knot phase me,
It does knot bring a tier.
My pay purrs awl due glad den
With wrapped word’s fare as hear.

To rite with care is quite a feet
Of witch won should bee proud,
And wee mussed dew the best wee can,
Sew flaw’s are knot aloud.

Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays
Such soft wear four pea seas,
And why eye brake in two averse
Buy righting want too pleas.