Welcome to the conversation!

Welcome to the conversation!

Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.

The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.

The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate

This blog will expand the reach of these community conversations to the online audience. Add your posts and comments to keep the conversation going! Commit to action by clicking HERE to stay up to date on Salon and social justice news.

For updates on Stowe Center programs and events, sign up for our enews at http://harrietbeecherstowe.org/email.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

#SalonsAtStowe: Writing about Race with Dr. Jelani Cobb @jelani9

On Thursday, April 30th, the Stowe Center will welcome Dr. Jelani Cobb of the University of Connecticut for a Salon at Stowe program to discuss his recent work surrounding Ferguson, Baltimore, and contemporary racial politics. This Salon serves as a prelude to the 2015 Stowe Prize Jubilee and public program with Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic. Learn more about Dr. Cobb below!

Dr. William Jelani Cobb is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Africana Studies Institute at University of Connecticut where he specializes in post-Civil War African American history, 20th century American politics and the history of the Cold War.

Dr. Cobb is the author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama & the Paradox of Progress (Bloomsbury 2010) and To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic (NYU Press 2007) which was a finalist for the National Award for Arts Writing. His collection The Devil & Dave Chappelle and Other Essays (Thunder’s Mouth Press) was also published in 2007. He is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker where he rights about contemporary racial politics. Dr. Cobb recently received the Hillman Foundation Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.  

The Salon begins at 5:00 PM with a social half hour and the program begins at 5:30 PM. 

Check out Dr. Cobb's pieces, including his most recent, "Baltimore and the State of American  Cities" and join in on the discussion!  

How can journalism bring attention to issues of systemic racism, police brutality, and racial equity? How can we integrate writing, a long used tool for social consciousness, with activism? Do writers have the responsibility to raise awareness on issues or events? What do you think? What will you ask Dr. Cobb? Let us know in the comments! 

Friday, April 24, 2015

#StandAgainstRacism with @HBStoweCenter @YWCAUSA

From Friday, April 24 to Sunday April, 26 the Stowe Center will be partnering with the YWCA to participate in the annual Stand Against Racism campaign. The campaign works to build community with those who work for racial justice and recognize the negative impact of interpersonal, systemic, and institutional racism.


Join us as together we raise awareness of the interpersonal, social, political, and economic effects of racism and devise action steps to counter racism in our communities. Enjoy the new Stowe House experience tour that connects the past to the present and includes a facilitated conversation on contemporary issues surrounding race and discrimination.

Stowe House tours: On the bottom of the hour

Child's Tour at 1:30 PM Saturday and Sunday -- Reservations suggested: 860-522-9258, ext. 317.

How has racism evolved since Stowe’s time? How can we continue the work of Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and other abolitionists today? How can we combat racism on an interpersonal level, but also on a structural and institutional level? Come to the Stowe Center and share your thoughts!  


April 23rd marks World Book and Copyright Day, an annual celebration highlighting the power of books to change thoughts, lives, and communities at large. World Book and Copyright Day is sponsored by the United National Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). UNESCO recognizes both the personal and political power of the book as a force to spread cultural awareness, shared history, and new ideas. UNESCO writes:

As global symbols of social progress, books – learning and reading -- have become targets for those who denigrate culture and education, who reject dialogue and tolerance. In recent months, we have seen attacks on children at school and the public burning of books. In this context, our duty is clear – we must redouble efforts to promote the book, the pen, the computer, along with all forms of reading and writing, in order to fight illiteracy and poverty, to build sustainable societies, to strengthen the foundations of peace. 

Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin changed the ways in which white Americans viewed slavery and galvanized a generation to join the abolition movement.  Uncle Tom's Cabin serves as an example of the potential books have to alter the discourse around certain issues and motivate individuals to action. 

What books have changed your mind on an issue? What books do you regards as being socially and politically important? What power do you think books hold? Let us know!

Monday, April 20, 2015

#SalonsAtStowe Recap: Ways to Get Involved and Continue the Conversation

Unlearning Unconscious Bias

On Thursday, April 16th, the Stowe Center hosted Unlearning Unconscious Bias, a Salon at Stowe on the implications and nature of implicit, or unconscious, bias. Featured guests included Maureen Price-Boreland, Executive Director of Community Partners in Action, Andrew Clark, Director of the Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy at Central Connecticut State University, and guest moderator Deb Ullman, CEO of the YWCA. 

More Information and Ways YOU Can Take Action 
Community Partners in Action 

Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy 

YWCA Hartford Region 

National Conference for Community and Justice 

Implicit Association Tests 


Kali Holloway, AlterNet 

Chris Mooney, Mother Jones  

Chris Mooney, The Washington Post

Brittany Cooper, Salon 

Theodore R. Johnson, The Atlantic 

Jamelle Bouie, Slate

Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker  

Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times  

Action Steps 
-Have a willingness to have conversations on implicit bias and continue the conversation after the program ends
-Think about impact of language and action; Intent is often different than impact
-Combat "boot-straps" theory; Instead of criticizing individuals, critique institutional and structural inequities
-Embrace, instead of tolerate, diversity
-Educate yourself on biases against all identities; Understand, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, ageism etc. 
-Small actions build momentum- go into own community and be an "ambassador" for change
-Critically examine media
-Recognize race is a social construct, but that it still has social, political, and economic implications
-Check our own biases and privileges
-Take a Stand Against Racism with the YWCA 

What will you do to recognize and combat bias? What are you already doing? Let us know! 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

#SalonsatStowe: Meet the featured guests!

This Thursday, the Stowe Center will present "Unlearning Unconscious Bias," a Salon at Stowe program on the ways in which unconscious bias, often called implicit bias, impacts interpersonal interactions, thoughts, and public policies. Specific attention will be paid to the implications of implicit bias on the criminal justice system. Leading the program will be Deborah Ullman (facilitator), Maureen Price-Boreland, and Andrew Clark. Learn more about the featured guests below!

Deborah Ullman
Chief Executive Officer, YWCA, Facilitator

Deborah Ullman is the Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Hartford Region, a position she has held since 2005. Her commitment to the association’s mission is evident by her leadership, her vision and her continued dedication to quality childcare, supportive housing, financial empowerment and her sound financial stewardship of the organization. Through Deb’s unwavering commitment to every woman, she has brought renewed energy to the mission.

Deb, a life-long resident of Hartford, had a long and varied career in senior management in the insurance and financial services industry, including more than 20 years at Aetna. She sat on numerous insurance and securities industry committees and holds several financial services designations. Deb is a graduate of Lafayette College and lives in West Hartford with her husband, son and a golden retriever. In her spare time, Deb is a fiber artist including knitting and weaving. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the YWCA Retirement Fund, and as Vice President of the Board of Directors of Connecticut Association of Nonprofits. She was also appointed to serve on Council on Developmental Services for the State of CT Department of Developmental Services.

Executive Director, Community Partners in Action

Maureen Price-Boreland is the Executive Director of Community Partners in Action and is a twenty nine year criminal justice professional who holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Connecticut School Of Law.

Ms. Price-Boreland believes that it is critical that we invest in resources and opportunities for those people involved in the criminal justice system as a means of making our community safer. It is short sighted to not offer better planning for the incarcerated population as 96% of them will return to communities eventually. To that end, Ms. Price-Boreland has worked with many partners at the legislative, municipal, community agencies and grassroots level to advocate for improved and more intelligent services for the criminal justice population.

Ms. Price-Boreland serves as an adjunct Professor at Central Connecticut State University teaching criminal procedure and diversity in criminal justice. She currently serves in the CT Sentencing Commission and the Governor’s Non-Profit Cabinet. She also serves as a Board Member on the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Association of Non-Profits.

Director of Institute for Municipal and Regional Policy (IMRP) at Central Connecticut State University

As Director of IMRP, Andrew Clark works to facilitate efficient and effective solutions to critical issues facing Connecticut policymakers. The IMRP brings together a dedicated team of CCSU faculty, staff, and students with state and national experts to provide immediate and long-range policy solutions.

Mr. Clark is currently head of the IMRP project team administering competitive grants that aim to provide positive interventions for children of incarcerated parents. In addition, Mr. Clark is Acting Executive Director of the recently established Connecticut Sentencing Commission which seeks to review current and proposed legislation affecting sentencing policies and practices in Connecticut to promote affective, balanced and responsible criminal sentencing. He is also project director for a grant from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration that is being utilized to implement the state' s Alvin W. Penn Racial Profiling law.

Prior to coming to CCSU in 2005, Mr. Clark served as clerk of the Connecticut General Assembly's Appropriations Committee and aide to House Chair William Dyson for 5 years, where he assisted in the development and passage of significant criminal justice system reform legislation. He also served as clerk of the Transportation Committee for one year, and deputy clerk of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee for one session.

Will you be attending the Salon? What do you plan to ask? Let us know below!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

#CivilWar150 and the Continued Fight for Equity

April 9th, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the end of the U.S. Civil War. On this day in 1865, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Lt. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Georgia thereby ending major fighting and issuing the start of the post-war reconstruction process.

And though the Civil War ended on that day, the issues, that prompted and prolonged the war-slavery, conceptions of equality and democracy, and race relations, perhaps did not. David W. Blight of The Atlantic explores this topic in the recently released article "The Civil War Isn't Over." 

Blight writes:

Much has changed in the fifty years since the crises of 1963—in law, in schooling, in scholarship, in race relations. But whatever the engines of history actually are, what seems apparent is that the legacies of the American Civil War have tended to subside and reemerge in a never-ending succession of revolutions and counter-revolutions.

He continues, highlighting the ebbs and flows of history and divisions that continue in contemporary politics. 

American society seems to surge forward one moment, and then in the next sink back into polarization over race and ethnicity, over the advent of the nation’s first black president, over the rights of immigrants, over religious tolerance and birthright citizenship, over reproductive freedom, over the use of basic science to understand climate change, over the extent and protection of voting rights, over civil rights based on sexual preference, and over endless and incompatible claims of “liberty” about the possession and use of firearms, taxation, environmental protection, or the right to health insurance...In short, despite enormous changes of heart, head and law, Americans still struggle every day to discern and enact that society of equality that the Civil War at least made imaginable.

What do you think of Blight's piece? Is the Civil War ongoing? How do we enact the "society of equality" that the end of the Civil War suggested? Harriet Beecher Stowe helped galvanize the abolitionist movement with Uncle Tom's Cabin and as a result President Lincoln dubbed her "the little woman who started the Great War." What do you think Stowe's conceptions of the "Great War" were? What would she think today, 150 years after the war?  

If you are interested in more Civil War discussion, check out this podcast with Dr. Jelani Cobb and scholar Eric Foner on The Legacy of Reconstruction. On April 30th, the Stowe Center will present Writing about Race with Dr. Jelani Cobb from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.      

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

#CTPlacesMatter: Rally at the State Capitol

Today, advocates and supporters of Connecticut cultural and historic institutions gathered at the State Capitol to rally in support of critical funding for the humanities.  


Connecticut's proposed state budget eliminates long-time state funding for many cultural and historic institutions, including Stowe Center education programming. Stowe Center Executive Director Katherine Kane spoke at the rally about the importance of heritage organizations as economic and quality-of-life drivers for cities and states.

Why are museums and cultural organizations important to you? What do they provide in terms of education, economic, and cultural opportunities? What role do they play in the quality and vitality of our state? Let you representatives know you care about saving critical funding by contacting them via email or phone. Let your voice be heard! 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

#SalonsatStowe Recap: Women's Rights = Human Rights?

Women's Rights = Human Rights? 

March 26, 2015
Transcript of program

Katherine Kane, Executive Director Stowe Center:
Hello everyone and welcome to the Salon program. Salons at Stowe is an ongoing series about contemporary issues. We don’t just talk about the issues, we find ways to solve them.
And tonight we will be focusing on the question- "Women's Rights = Human Rights?"

Before we begin, we have a series of upcoming programs that we hope you will join us for.

Our next Salon is April 16th at 5:00 pm entitled Unlearning Unconscious Bias. Then on April 30th we have another Salon program- Writing about Race with Dr. Jelani Cobb.
And on June 4th we will have the Stowe Prize honoring writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. The Stowe Prize will feature both a ticketed event and a public program with Ta-Nehisi Coates and WNPR's John Dankosky.

And now for tonight's discussion. Helping facilitate tonight's discussion will be Susan Campbell,  Stowe Center trustee and award-winning author of Dating Jesus, and the biography, Tempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker. For more than a quarter-century, she was a columnist at the Hartford Courant, where her work was recognized by the National Women's Political Caucus, New England Associated Press News Executives, the Society for Professional Journalists, the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the Sunday Magazine Editors Association. Her column about the shootings at lottery headquarters in March 1998 was part of The Courant's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage.

Susan Campbell, Stowe Center Trustee and Author:
I love conversations like this. And ones that involve a lot of people. Let me begin by introducing our guests.

Kyle Turner is freelance writer, editor, and full time student. He's the chief editor of Movie Mezzanine's blog, The Balcony. He began writing on the internet in 2007 with his blog The Movie Scene. Since then, he has contributed to TheBlackMaria.org, Film School Rejects, Under the Radar, and IndieWire's /Bent. He is studying cinema at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.

Carolyn Treiss is the Executive Director of the CT Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. As Executive Director, Carolyn is responsible for administration, major strategic initiatives, budgeting, and mandate compliance, and is the Commission’s main liaison to other State agencies and branches of government. Treiss, who holds a J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law, an M.S.W. from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and a B.A. in political science and Russian from Bates College, brings to the PCSW a background in public policy, social services and grassroots advocacy. Her passion for women’s rights activism was sparked after college as a volunteer for NARAL Pro-Choice CT, and her commitment to women’s rights issues grew during a graduate school internship in which she advocated in the Connecticut General Assembly for victims of sexual assault. Since then, Treiss has served as director of NARAL Pro-Choice CT, Chief of Staff at the Office of Health Care Access, Legislative Program Manager for the Department of Social Services, and most recently as Policy Director for the Connecticut Senate Democratic Caucus. Believing in public service to her community, she has served on both her local Town Council and Board of Education. As a mother of two school-aged sons, she is committed to teaching her boys about the breadth and depth of women’s roles at home, in the workplace and in the community.

Kyle Turner, Student, University of Hartford 
Thank you so much for having me. In regards to the topic of feminism, I have vacillated back and forth between being a feminist and a feminist ally. I’m conscious of not encroaching on people’s spaces. I think it’s interesting and a little sad that even though I go to a liberal arts college in CT, there is still opposition to people identifying as feminists. Someone on campus the other day used the term “feminazi..”I like talking to my friends about their experiences and learning from them. 

Carolyn Treiss, Executive Director of the CT Permanent Commission on the Status of Women
First, I am honored to be here. If you told me that I would be here 10 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. I thought I would tell you a little bit about myself and how I found my feminist consciousness. I grew up in a conservative feminist household in CT. When I went to college, it was really when I became a feminist. I can pinpoint the moment. I went to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. I took a Political Theory 101 class and there were typical people on the syllabus..Plato, Machiavelli..Then there was this book [holds us Audre Lorde's Sister Outsider]. And I try to keep it in good condition. It is Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde.
[Reads passage from "Transformation of Silence into Language and Action]

And where the words of women are crying to be heard, we must each of us recognize our responsibility to seek those words out, to read them and share them and examine them in their pertinence to our lives.That we not hide behind the mockeries of separations that have been imposed upon us and which so often we accepts our own.

I went in thinking that what does this person, who identifies as a black, feminist, lesbian, have to say to me? But I read that and it literally changed my life. The exact prejudices that I walked into while reading this book were laid out for me. There is real power in not looking at the differences between us, but what is the same. I read that when I was 18 and now I am here. 

Susan Campbell: 
At PCSW, you do a great deal of work on important issues in CT that impact many women, both young and old. Now is there a such thing as a women's issue or are they just human issues? 

Carolyn Treiss:
I'm not sure if I can answer that. A problem we run into is that sometimes people will say “you should work on this, it is a women’s issue” or “why are you working on that it’s not a women’s issues.”…If everything is a women’s issue, then nothing is a women’s issues. There are issues that disproportionately affect women. It is important not to marginalize issues...I'm not sure if I have an answer to that question.  

Is there a resistance to identify as a feminist?

There does seem to be a reservation. We have wonderful faculty who want to ignite these conversations, but very few people want to engage. In one of my film classes we watched Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Very few people wanted to engage with the idea of the director's portrayal of the female character. 

Audience member:
You especially see this in the online community. Certain people are resistant to the idea that they take part in something larger than themselves. There is constantly a defense point when someone acknowledges sexism, racism, etc. Online I’m often the only one talking about feminism, sexism..
People are dismissed online, receive hatred, violent remarks just for speaking up about these issues. 

It's important to recognize the need for other people's voices. I had the idea of a film school that admitted 75% women, queer people, or people from marginalized communities and the other 25% (straight, white male) would have to write an essay on the hyper-masculinity of their favorite film. This did not go over well. [laughs]

Have older feminists done something wrong? Is there something we could have done differently to take away some of the sting of misconceptions about feminism?

I would say no. I do think certain ways the feminist movement has had their issues are being rectified. In terms of heterosexism, not being inclusive to people of color..

Audience member:
I think in some ways that woule be yes. It got lumped with the counter culture movement, the left-wing of the democratic party, which hurt the movement.

Audience: Is there some type of denial where people think we are in a “post feminist” era?

Or is it something that younger women think that those problems don’t exist anymore? Do some think, "Why do we even need to use that word anymore? We have a woman running for President…"So I just wonder if it is almost generational. 

Audience member:
Even in my [older] generation people won’t identify. 

How do we define feminism? I think I sometime get into to much quality control, “well she’s not a feminist”... Really how do you define feminism?

Audience member:
I think you can define feminism from when people say “I’m not a feminist but” what ever is after the but is feminism.

But I’m for equal pay, but I'm for choice...

Audience member:
My memory goes back a long way. There is certainly a hangover [from the original iterations of the feminist movement]. The media is quick to pounce on moments a radical movement make.  For example, bra burning, and those images make people scared and resistant. 

Audience member:
Back when I was in school, they would make sure we had our bras on because of that. 

Audience member:
There were systemic problems, and above all there was a backlash and Rush Limbaugh spreading around Feminazi... 

Audience member:
It is so subtle that sometimes young people don't pick up on it. When talking about Hillary Clinton's email scandal, people kept commenting on how she was “wearing pink”... 

To some degree, there may be a little bit of hope. You see it in online communities. When I signed up for Twitter, I started learning about different perspectives. There are so many people you can follow on twitter and tumblr are they are a safe space. People can start writing on these sites and can move on to bigger spaces like The Atlantic and Time

Kyle you said you go back and forth about identifying as a feminist. Why the vacillation?

It’s about space. I don’t want to encroach on anyone’s space. I’m more comfortable with amplyifying people’s voices.

Susan: Can men be feminists?

Kyle: I think so. I think they can have feminist ideals, but I think they can shut down other people’s voices too. It is never a good idea to block out other people’s experiences or voices. Know your place and understand the privileges you have and that other people don’t have.

Carolyn, you mentioned that republicans can be feminists. Is that true? I just think Dick Cheney and his openly gay daughter and how she was treated and it just seems like a contradiction. 

Now I’m in really dangerous territory [laughs]. In all seriousness, my mother was a Republican and a feminist, but she never would have called herself a feminist. She was a nurse, went to Columbia, was a nurse pre-Roe. She was 100% pro-choice. She raised me to speak my voice, which got me into a lot of trouble with my dad. She encouraged me to follow your dreams. When I said I wanted to President, she said you can President. And she was a Reublican. There is a caveat though- she did vote for President Obama. I think it is possible to be a Republican and a feminist…Honestly, I don’t know what the negation process is like because my political beliefs, they jive. So I can’t speak to having a dissonance. I know people that are registered Republican, but believe in the things I believe in, and I don’t know how they reconcile that in the voting booth. I think the party has moved to such an extreme that it is difficult now to see Republicans as feminism. 

Audience member:
I’m not sure if it is that useful to talk in feminism in terms of political parties. I recently went to Twain to the lecture they held with trans writers. They came out and they started to talk and my first thought was that I don’t like this and I wanted to leave. I couldn’t categorize these people, almost like a fear thing, but as each of them spoke and introduced themselves, I felt differently. I was really glad I was there. It’s pretty amazing how much we attach to what people look like, what gender they are, what political party they are, but it matters when you get to know people. It is kind of like a xenophobia, what we do. 

I wonder if that works with feminism today. I did a speech today and I got a standing ovation when I announced that I was a feminist. I didn’t think that was revolutionary.

Isn’t that what happens in the gay movement today? You get people who say “my brother is gay” “my best friend is gay” that changes people’s minds. 

Audience member:
When I was growing up you couldn’t speak about that. People would say I don't get involved in that [politics]..

In Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, she argues that being a feminist is a fluid-being. She says bad feminist specifically because she is a flawed person.We can be flawed and still identify as a feminist or have feminist ideals.

I want to go back to topic of women's rights as human rights. Hillary Clinton is talking about 1% and 99% and I think about that and the pay gap between men and women.

I hope Hillary brings the conversation to wealth and income inequality. It would be fabulous if she could talk about the gender pay gap.

Audience member:
I would guess that she is being advised not to do that. If she’s too focused in that it will seem self-serving.

I think income inequality is a women’s issues. We are looking very seriously about income inequality in low-wage jobs. Not one answer to the problem-it is not an easy thing to explain. In CT we are at .78 cents on the dollar, which is actually not very good. Some say it’s because women self segregate into lower wage jobs. Which I have a big problem with, because it is victim blaming. Waitresses, nurses etc...Nurses make a lot more now, and that’s because men started becoming nurses. And male nurses still make more money. We still found that in those lower wage jobs, men make more. There is systemic and institutional discrimination going on to this day.

Audience member:
And in Hollywood too. Sony hack should us that men are making more. 

The CEO said that men were making more because women will work for less and should walk away [when they are paid less than their worth]. The problem is some other actress will come in and take the job [at a low pay rate] if another walks away. 

Audience member:
On equal pay, women doctors are starting to be paid more. But you're right hairdressing, cooking, men going in, wages go up. Another point on the Republican party…Lilith, Adam’s first wife, who was created just like Adam, is so often forgotten. God created Eve out of Adam’s rib and thus all women are born from man, I think that is basically a conservative story. And as for women rights as human rights? Human rights aren’t that respected around the world. We had Eleanor Roosevelt, but many governments don’t respect human rights around the world today.

Women in those countries, get treated the worst. 

I don’t know, can we just pass the ERA [Equal Rights Amendment]? Back when I was younger and the original talks of the ERA were happening,I sat in a church pew in Joplin, MI and someone was saying women are going to have to shower with men [if the ERA gets passed]. I was there thinking this is horse shit. 

Just look at pay inequity. We had a well respected DC think tank crunch numbers. Fact of the that matter is that pay inequity exists, but there are people who don’t believe it exists. There are people in our state legislature that you really have to convince that sexism exists, discrimination exists, that there is a pay gap. I'm not that surpsied that the ERA doesn’t exist.

Christine Palm who does communications at PCSW and is wonderful at getting your message across said recently to a group of men: “you all have mothers, sisters, some may date a women. This [pay inequity] affects all women. Some day you may share a house with a women, and that woman earning less that affects your household income."

Audience member:
Women are the ones that live longer too.

And we have less assets in our old age.

And then we go on public assistance and you pay for it. That’s a great system.

Kyle: I do hope we reach a point where men, cis-men, can get to a point where women, outside of their own relationships, are seen as powerful and worthy of equity. 

Audience member:
It is also a faith issue. There is power in the faith community. There are many in the faith community who have issues with gay people, we haven’t gotten there in the faith community. In the conservative right, still a lot of emphasis of men being in control over women. It’s still appealing to go to a conservative church because they [say] have all the answers. I do honestly believe in talking about the power, we do have, but there are parts of Christendom that aren’t doing any favors. I grew up in a pastor’s family. I grew up in a community with no black people and one Jewish family. I believe our faith based institutions should be growing too...We got a lot of work today.

I can say from my own church background, which was very conservative, there is movement to talk more about women’s roles but it is glacial. There is huge movement among the Church of Christ, people saying this [sexism, inequity] can’t be right.. I mean it’s glacial, but faith groups can play an outsized role.

I think the figure is 26% of all voters are fundamentalist. I'm thinking about Hillary there will be a primary in Iowa, South Carolina, New Hampshire. That guarantees that religion will play a role. 

Katherine Kane:
I have a question and a comment: perhaps there is someone here that identifies as a Republican and I hope that they would feel comfortable in speaking out. A lot of the issues about whether you are a feminist, or how sexist you are a lot of it comes from fear, fear of change. It resonated what you [directed at an audience member] said about the event with trans writers. If you don’t know people who are different from you, there is fear, fear that people will be different, will have different thoughts.

How do you talk to people who are fearful?

I do this foolish thing, and I am also a queer person, where I engage with people who disagree. And I try to be egalitarian, but they don’t get it. A lot of the fear does ignite thought, ignite discussion, and sometimes we do get a little headway. All you can hope for is for them to consider your perspective while you consider theirs. Sometimes things get heated, personal and you end up filing a claim against them...

Audience member:
Depending on the person, you can bring up other person’s marginalized experience. I didn’t get it, the whole feminism thing until I took a class with Dr. Matacin (University of Hartford), and she brought up race. You can bring up commonality of oppression and that sometimes helps. 

It doesn't surprise me that the ERA isn’t passed. You don’t see a lot of articles on safety gaps. It is not safe a lot of time for women to bring up certain issues. I was in Florida and we were talking with women who are Muslim and they expressed that it is dangerous to go into a voting poll if dressed in certain, identifiably Muslim clothing. We are not addressing a hierarcy of means; ultimately if I don't feel safe that would matter more than other issues. 

Audience member:
I recently read a book called A Sister to Honor by Lucy Ferris. I picked it up and could not put that book down. Brought you into the life of a woman in Pakistan. I think we are talking about empowerment and disempowerment. Whenever any women feels disempowered you are paralyzed, you can’t act on anything that you believe.

Dr. Mala Matacin, Associate Professor and Director of the Undergraduate Program in Psychology, University of Hartford:
This conversation reminds me of a conference with Angela Davis. We were talking about large scale change on a political level and saying how it probably won’t even come from the U.S. Have to look globally, change probably isn’t going to come from here. And yet we still have to do our work. And it may be 50 years til we see the results of our struggle.

Look at Norwary, Sweden, countries that have parental leave...they are the leaders on issues like these. 

I wanted to talk about the safety issues as a human rights issues. This has come up very recently, the issue had to do with campus sexual assault. Women do spend a good part of their life feeling unsafe which is a very different experience that most men. I had an event last night at the Capitol. I parked just across the street and a man comes up walking in another direction, so I slowed way down, got my key out, and I thought my husband wouldn’t have done that. It is hard to feel that you’re a powerful person when you can’t feel safe, that your body is the domain of someone else..Man, women, Republican, Democrat, you can have bodily integrity. Campus sexual assault is what I’m concerned about now at this moment and it is a human rights issue. 

Audience member:
Some people would rather have us not say anything, and I will say it is 2015 and I’m not going to give into someone who says that we shouldn't talk about these issues. There are other people who don’t feel comfortable with gay issues, I don’t want to stand down, people have to listen. 

We are winding down and we want to make sure we look at what we can do.

We can all become engaged, and encourage others to be engaged.  Pay issues, paid leave, these are the things that happen in legislatures. We can hold them accountable.

Holding people in power accountable. Emails, calls, all matter.  

How do we build safety?

It angers me that I have to think I have to have an escort. But having an escort doesn’t address systemic issues.

Encourage men to stop terrorizing women. We do all these things, holding keys in our hand, not walking alone at night, and it has to be allies to help.

Audience member:
I think that disempowerment vs empowerment is important to recognize. Change will come quickly if we act on it. Change can come so quickly, it just has to be right thing to trigger it. 

Audience member:
Before coming here tonight, I re-read about Harriet Beecher Stowe. With no voting rights, property rights, but with a simple newspaper series she gave push to abolitionist movement and the Civil War. I think about the tools we have today and what we can do. She drew from her experience and she wrote about them in such a way that resonated with people.It’s about having a vision and standing up and taking a stand. She stuck her head out above the crowd.

Dr. Matacin:
I would like to add to this to be conscious about your language. Using women instead of girls, be more gender neutral.. You don’t know someone’s gender by looking them. I think about language and safety and how we talk to women. We tell women "walk with your keys in your hand, don't wear certain things," but why don't we tell men to "not rape"? 

Audience member:
We can check individual privilege and intersectionalize all forms of identity. Checking privilege can be empowering.

I like to encourage people to raise voices through art. There is a visibility problem, so few female directors, so few women in those positions. I want to encourage women, queer people to apply to those programs and find your voice there would make a great change. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

#SalonsatStowe: April 16th and April 30th

Join us this month for not one, but two Salon at Stowe programs! On April 16th, the Stowe Center will present "Unlearning Unconscious Bias," a program exploring implicit bias and its implications on the criminal justice system. On April 30th, the Stowe Center will present "Writing about Race" with Dr. Jelani Cobb of UConn.  

Both programs are designed to promote thoughtful and critical dialogue that prompts deliberate social and political action. What would you like to know about implicit bias? Anything you would like to ask Dr. Cobb? Let us know!

All programs are free and open to the public. The Salons begin at 5:00 pm with a social half hour and conclude at 7:00 pm. See you there! 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

#SalonsatStowe Recap: Ways to Get Involved and Continue the Conversation

Women's Rights = Human Rights?

Last Thursday, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center presented "Women's Rights = Human Rights?", a Salon program focused on the ways in which we can work together, across genders, communities, and political affiliations, to create gender equity.

Featured guests included Kyle Turner, Student at the University of Hartford, and Carolyn Treiss, Executive Director of the CT Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.

More Information and Ways YOU Can Take Action

Women for Change, University of Hartford

YWCA Hartford Region

National Organization for Women


Feminists don’t hate men. But it wouldn’t matter if we did
Jessica Valenti, The Guardian U.S.

Why feminism needs men
Rebecca Solnit, The Nation

Black America’s hidden tax: Why this feminist of color is going on strike
Brittany Cooper, Salon

Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In
bell hooks, The Feminist Wire

Zerlina Maxwell: “I’m making a pitch for more public male allies”
Sarah Galo, The Guardian U.S.  

So you want to be a male feminist? Maybe don’t. 
Kat Stoeffel, NY Mag

Emma Watson? Jennifer Lawrence? These aren’t the feminists you’re looking for
Roxane Gay, The Guardian U.S.  

Action Steps
-Learn about feminism and the experiences of women; expose yourself to other voices-social media is a great tool for learning from and connecting with those that are different from you
-"Plug in the mic" and speak your mind when you see or hear injustice around you
-Take risks to ignite conversations about gender, gender roles, feminism, and allyship
-Work to pass the Equal Rights Amendment
-Encourage others to be engaged on issues of gender equity
-Hold policy makers, who vote on issues regarding equal pay, maternity leave, and scores of other issues, accountable; Email and call state lawmakers
-Encourage men to stand up to other men on issues of gender based violence and gender equity;  Encourage men to stand up for women
-Use your skills and tools you possess to make a positive change- whether that is film, art, music, writing, politics etc.
-Be clear and intentional about language use; use preferred pronouns, educate yourself on the affects of language
-Check individual privilege in matters of gender, race, sexuality, ability, location etc.  

What will you do to promote gender equity? What are you already doing? Let us know!