INTERNATIONAL WOMAN’S DAY — SO WHAT?

INTERNATIONAL WOMAN’S DAY — SO WHAT?

I consider myself a proud feminist. Today is International Women’s Day. Facebook, Twitter and newsfeeds everywhere are filled with positive comments about the day. I should be thrilled, but I’m not. Personally, I am more than a little put off.

 

In the United States, we have a president who is an unqualified, inexperienced male chauvinist pig. He bragged about sexually assaulting women and was accused of raping a young girl. Despite all this, and much more, he was elected president over a highly qualified woman. He was elected by many of the people who today are “celebrating” International Women’s Day. Many of them held a woman candidate to a different standard than they held her male counterparts. So, I am having a hard time appreciating their recognition of this day.

 

Many companies and nonprofit organizations also are joining in the celebration of International Women’s Day. Yet, they still have boards of directors and corporate leadership that is dominated by men. Many of their female employees are paid less than their male counterparts for the same work. Their recognition of this day feels a little disingenuous.

 

 And, of course, our elected officials, who at virtually every level of government are overwhelmingly male, are also celebrating the day, while many of them work to undermine women’s rights. That is very offensive to me.

 

 So instead of posting platitudes about women one day a year, I hope everyone celebrating today will examine what they are really doing to make the world a better place to live, work and play for all women.

 Here’s some suggestions:

  • Give careful thought to who you vote for. Learn the issues. Support qualified women seeking office at all levels of government. Support them not just with words, but with a financial commitment and with your time. And hold male candidates to the same standard you hold female candidates.

 

  •  Understand all sides of political and legislative issues and hold your elected officials accountable for their decisions that affect women. Don’t let them treat women like second class citizens or endanger their health and well-being. Let them know it is unacceptable to harm any woman–citizen or not.

 

  • Call, write and meet with elected officials at all levels of government. If they are not available, meet with their staff. And when the next election comes, hold your elected representatives accountable for their actions. Don’t listen to their soundbites, don’t vote just along party lines. Look at how your representatives actually voted and cast your vote against them if they voted against women.

 

  •  When you see sexism or discrimination, speak out. That includes when you are walking down the street and you see a young woman being cat-called or harassed. Speak up and speak out against it. If you see a woman being harassed because of her religion, speak up and stand with her. If female work colleagues are not being given equal opportunity or equal treatment, speak up and demand change.

 

  •  Be aware of which companies actually have significant numbers of women in leadership roles and well represented on their boards of directors. For those that do, support them. For those that don’t, let them know that their lack of appropriate female representation has influenced your buying decisions. And, don’t settle for one or two women on the corporate board or in leadership. Women make up more than half the population and more than half the college graduates. It’s high-time that they represent a significant portion of corporate and charitable boards and leadership positions.

 

  •  Demand respect for women from everyone in your life. Sexist comments aren’t appropriate or funny anywhere or anytime. Don’t let people in your life get away with calling women names or demeaning their appearance because they disagree with a position a woman has taken or a comment she has made.

 

  •  Support women’s reproductive rights. If abortion or the use of birth control is against your religion, don’t have an abortion or don’t use birth control, but don’t force your religious beliefs on other women. Our Constitution guarantees a separation of Church and State – respect it. You want to be able to make your choice about having children. It’s your civil right.  Like it or not, the courts have ruled that reproductive choice is part of every woman’s civil rights. If you don’t want the government to tell you that you can’t have kids, then support other women in their choice of whether or not to have children, no matter what your religious beliefs. Don’t suppress their civil rights and don’t sentence them to the horrors of back alley abortionists. The choice to have children has a bigger impact on a woman’s financial independence and life direction than anything else. So it’s important that the choice belongs to the individual woman.

 

  •  Stop commenting on women’s clothes, hairstyles, shoes, make-up, etc. You probably don’t make similar comments about men and their attire or appearance, so don’t make them about women.  

 

  •  Stop holding women to a different standard than you do men.

 

  •  Be a proud feminist.

 

 #  #  #

 

A Campaign for Alderman

A Campaign for Alderman

In his last official speech to the nation, President Barack Obama said, “Change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged and come together to demand it.” 

I couldn’t agree more. Ever since sixth grade, I have been an active participant in our political process, have often volunteered on political campaigns, and have worked to influence government for the betterment of our community. I am a proud patriot and a firm believer in the fundamental principles of our Constitution, especially the equal application of rights and liberties to all people. Like many others, I was stunned by the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and I worry about the future direction of our great nation.

Although it wasn’t an easy decision, I am pleased to announce that I have decided to run for Alderman of Evanston’s 6th Ward. This is a decision that I have given a great deal of thought to and been talking to our current alderman, Mark Tendam, about for many months. Mark is running for Mayor and I hope to replace him as Alderman of the 6th Ward. I am honored to have his support and the support of many of my neighbors and community leaders.

As the founder of TREE (To Rescue Evanston Elms), I worked with the community and elected officials to help change the way Evanston cares for our elm trees. Today, rather than cutting-down our majestic elm trees, the City injects them as part of a program that has proven to be 98% effective in preventing Dutch elm disease. This has reduced the high cost associated with removing them. I have also been involved in the Perkins Woods Steering Committee, helped lead the effort to stop inappropriate development at the Presbyterian Homes and helped bring attention to the problems at the City’s animal shelter.

 If elected Alderman, I promise to be a proactive and responsive representative for the residents of the 6th Ward and the entire city. As I always have, I will get things done for our community.

 My priorities include:

 Responsible use of City resources

Responsive City government

 Sensible residential and commercial development

 Support for commercial districts

 Improved safety for all communities

 Active pest control where needed

 Active communication with residents

 Closer relations between city governments and schools

Evanston is a great place. I am proud to call this my home and to live in a vibrant, caring community where people regularly join together to find solutions that make Evanston a better place to live, work and play for everyone. I hope you will give me the opportunity to continue to do that as your alderman.

To learn more about my campaign and to stay up-to-date on the issues, please follow me on Facebook. I am listed under Virginia Mann for Alderman.  Here is a link to the page:

https://www.facebook.com/Virginia-Mann-for-Alderman-715022025329616/

vvmweb

D-DAY: WHY AMERICA IS GREAT

D-DAY:  WHY AMERICA IS GREAT

Today is the 72nd Anniversary of D-Day, one of the most important days in the history of mankind. Anyone who ever doubts the greatness of the United States of America, or isn’t clear about what makes this country great, need only look at a picture of the American Cemetery in Normandy France to understand.

On D-Day, tens of thousands of Americans joined together to literally save the world from the forces of evil and secure the freedom that this country and numerous other nations enjoy today. They did it knowing that there was a good chance that they were signing their own death sentence.

They fought together as Americans – working side-by-side for the betterment of the world without regard to race, religion, ethnic background or geographic domicile. Christians, Jews, Muslims and others didn’t care that their fellow soldiers might have different religious beliefs. Americans of British, German, Irish, Mexican and Italian decent, and those of virtually every other ethnic background imaginable, had no prejudice that day. Black, white or brown, skin color didn’t matter. What mattered was that they were fighting for the most fundamental human right – freedom. They were fighting for their own country and for other people’s countries as well.

10,000 American soldiers are buried at the American Cemetery at Normandy. It’s a cemetery that although is across a vast ocean, it is on American soil – land given to us by the grateful people of France. The deceased who gave their lives that day for our freedom are buried side-by-side under Crosses, Stars of David, and Crescent Moons. Just like when they sacrificed their lives, there is no concern about their race, ethnicity or religious beliefs. They lived and died, united, as Americans.

America is a great country. It was then, and it is even more so today. So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Those 10,000 Americans, and hundreds of thousands of others, gave their lives for freedom. They didn’t give it so that any of us could impose our religious beliefs on others. They didn’t do it so that any nationality or religion could be demonized. They surely didn’t do it so we could build walls to keep people from other nations out – many of them were first generation Americans, or themselves immigrants. They gave their lives for the most sacred gift we as Americans enjoy every day – freedom. It is a gift they gave not only to us, but to numerous other nations around the world.

Today, I hope you will join me in remembering those 10,000 soldiers buried at Normandy and the hundreds of thousands of others who over the relatively short history of our nation have given their lives so that we could be free. May God bless each and every one of them.

God Bless America.

A sad day for this Republican

A sad day for this Republican

Everyone who knows me well knows that I am a Republican. I have been a Republican since 6th grade when I first volunteered at the local Republican vvm + spencerheadquarters. This despite growing up in Chicago, in a household where my father, who worked for the city, always had to support the Democratic machine. So today, it was with an incredibly heavy heart that I asked for a Democratic ballot and cast my vote for Hillary Clinton.

 

In doing so, I can’t help but think of my great, great grandfather, James Robert Mann, who came to this country from Marholm, England in the early 1800s. Of course, I never met him, but thanks to newspaper accounts during his life I do know that he was an outspoken critic of slavery and a leader of the then new Republican Party. Like him, I believe in the equality of all people. I believe that government should have a minimal role in people’s lives. I believe in freedom.

 

Much to my dismay, the Republican Party today no longer represents those beliefs upon which it was founded. Instead, we have party leaders and candidates for President who want to restrict the rights of gays, Muslims, women and others. They don’t want government interference in common sense areas where it is desperately needed, such as gun control or environmental protection. Yet they think they should dictate who is worthy of marriage and control women’s reproductive decisions. In complete contrast to the letter and spirit of our Constitution and the fundamental principles of the Republican Party, they believe in freedom and equality – on their terms only.

 

Our first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, gave his life to bring our great country together. Today, the leadership of the Republican Party and the Republican candidates for President are obstructionists and demagogues who have created a frightening divide in our nation.

 

As I watched the Republican debates, I was sickened by the ridiculous discussions among the Republican candidates. Topics not worthy of most mature adults, let alone the people who want to lead this great nation. There was no depth, no mastery of important issues. No real plans or policies. Just soundbites they hoped would lead the 24-hour news cycle.  The latter was also true of Bernie Sanders. His plans don’t make sense. His numbers don’t add up. If he has his way, future generations of Americans will be bankrupt.

 

As I watched Hillary Clinton, I saw something I never expected. I was stunned at her depth of knowledge and her thoughtful, level-headed approach to many topics. Her serious, knowledgeable answers were so far removed from the hysteria, sound-bites and platitudes of the Republican candidates. Her positions on health care, trade and business were so much more sound than those of her “Socialist-Democrat” opponent. It became clear to me that she is far more equipped to be president than every one of the men still in the race.

 

I love this country and I have been proud to be an American every single day of my life. Our democracy has been the greatest and most successful experiment in freedom in the history of mankind. It is a promise that continues to attract people from all parts of the world.

Our capitalist economy is also something to be proud of. It attracted hard-working people like my grandmother, Mercedes Cervantes Contreras, who came here from Mexico. She didn’t come here for a handout (someone please tell Bernie that). She came her for an opportunity.  She was an amazingly strong and strong-willed woman who came to America and literally scrubbed toilets as a maid at a hotel in downtown Chicago so that her children and grandchildren could have a better life as Americans.

 

I never met James Robert Mann. He died decades before I was born. I don’t remember my grandmother, who died when I was still a baby.  But I know their stories and those of my own family. I know the history of the Republican Party and the many great Republicans who have served this country so well. And I know that not a single one of the Republican candidates today is worthy of the vote they sacrificed so much for. And that means they are not worthy of mine.