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#StopShamingWomen

Journalism hit a new low Wednesday. The cover of this week’s issue of the Metro is a selfie of Jennifer Lawrence. A picture that was stolen from her personal property and posted on the internet without her permission.

First, let’s lay down the obvious. This isn’t a “sex scandal” or “leaked photos”. A criminal (or group of criminals) used sophisticated hacking techniques to steal data from the devices of hundreds of women in hopes of making a profit on selling their personal information. Experts believe this was not a one-time incident but that the data breach has been on-going and only recently released.  This is a sex crime and not a small incident to be brushed aside. These women were victimized and now being shamed for expressing their sexuality in the way that they chose in the privacy of their own homes.Media response to this news have been varied. Stolen photos popped up all over the internet. Twitter acted quickly and disabled accounts that were known to have posted stolen photos. Playboy – the original nude photo company – told it’s readers “You should not be looking at nude photos of women that were shared without their consent.”

However the Metro decided to take a different approach. They downloaded a copy of one of the stolen photos, added a filter and some text, and used it as the cover picture for their publication. They knew it was a stolen photo when they selected it. When asked via Facebook why this photo was used, the Metro responded “We focused on an event in the news to illustrate the problems of large scale data collection and storage.” When the poster followed up to point out that the photo was stolen and used without the consent of the person who legally owned the photo, the Metro did not respond. At minimum, the Metro obtained and used stolen property. But the problem is much deeper.

This is just one example of the misogyny that persists in our culture. These woman were targeted as victims because hackers believe these women’s bodies should be available to anyone who wants them. Criminals that steal personal photos do not see their victims as real human beings – to them women are in the world to be sexually objectified. When the Metro used that stolen picture, they gave these criminals legitimacy and told women like me that my body doesn’t belong to me.

I write this as a call to action. Let us stop shaming women and blaming the victims. Instead, shame the people who take advantage of us. The Metro used a stolen photo to their profit without regard of the victim of this deeply personal crime. This time they exploited a celebrity, but it could be any one of us. Jennifer Lawrence is not just a beautiful young actress. She is a person. And we should demand that our media treats each of us as human beings and not a means to make money.

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NLC-SV Advisory Board member Mia White is a Mills College MBA Candidate (’16) with a focus in socially responsible business. Views and opinions expressed are entirely her own. This blog post originally appeared on The Left Hook.

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angelica-equality-day.jpgIn 1996, my seventh grade social studies teacher Diana Murray read the beginning lines of the Declaration of Independence to the class. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal—’

She stopped.

“What does that mean?” she asked. “Who’s equal?”

Silence. Cautiously, I half-raised my hand. “Rich, white men?”

As a young Filipina-American born to parents who emigrated to avoid political oppression, my father taught me what privilege and prejudice looks like. It can be confusing.

When I reflect back on that day in class, it reminds me that meaningful change happens through a long process punctuated by sudden shifts in the collective conscience. For those in need of a quick history refresher:

  • The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress (read: not like our lame duck modern Congress) on July 4, 1776, announcing to the world that the 13 American colonies were no longer a part of the British Empire. In this document, America was born.
  • Nearly 72 years later, after decades of campaigning by staunch activists, the 19th Amendment was adopted into law on Aug. 26, 1920, thereafter prohibiting our government from denying anyone the right to vote based on gender.
  • 51 years after that, Congressmember Bella Abzug introduced a resolution asking Congress to commemorate that day thereafter as Women’s Equality Day.

August 26 marks a turning point in the history of the struggle for equal treatment of women and women’s rights, and it’s appropriate to ask this week: How far have we really come?

Every year, progressive women’s groups celebrate and observe Women’s Equality Day— not only to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment, but to also call attention to the ongoing movement toward full equality. This year, in particular, women’s organizations, elected officials and feminists — male and female — will focus on reviving the fight for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). At its core, the ERA declares that men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States.

Women matter. We make up more than half the electorate in our country, state, county and cities. Yet nearly 80 percent of our elected officials are men. The San Jose City Council has only two women among its eleven members (including the mayor), and there is a very real potential that San Jose will have only one female councilmember in January 2017. That’s quite a feat in what used to be known as the “Feminist Capital of the World,” the city that elected the first female mayor of any major American city.

Meanwhile, male lawmakers in state legislatures across the country are pushing bills that restrict women’s reproductive health, bodies, salaries and childcare decisions. When women’s advocacy groups bring policies to the table that could benefit society as a whole, their ideas are eviscerated. Yet repeated studies show that when women hold equal or majority control in a legislative body, the result is more progressive policy and more thoughtful governance.

While it is obviously a priority for women’s organizations to support and elect more women leaders, true equity will not exist until we as a society decide to be intentional about ending sexism and inequality.

In September, the Santa Clara Democratic Party Central Committee has the opportunity to adopt a resolution similar to the one Rep. Abzug wrote 43 years ago. Spearheaded by community leaders of all backgrounds and written and presented by Democratic Activists for Women Now (DAWN), the resolution calls on the county Democratic Party to create an executive board position dedicated to ensuring gender parity at all levels.

It may not be the ERA, but it’s an important step for our local political infrastructure, which so often objectifies and even demonizes women when it should be empowering them.

We call on our fellow women warriors — and male allies — to help this cause by speaking out, pushing back and refusing to stand idly by while a generation of future leaders is derailed by ignorance and arrogance.

 

Written by Angelica Ramos. This blog originally appeared on San Jose Inside.

Angelica Ramos is president of the Silicon Valley chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus and a Board Member of the New Leaders Council of Silicon Valley. She was honored to speak at the ERA rally alongside Congresswoman Jackie Speier on Women’s Equality Day this year.

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NLC is at a pivotal point, continuing to grow the number of institutes held across the nation and each year bringing hundreds more in to the NLC community. In 2015, we expect to have approximately 700 new Fellows go through the NLC Institute.

To better support our growing national community, we are launching the New Leaders Council Community Action Initiative (NLC4), as well as beginning our search for a new NLC Programs Director and an NLC Deputy Development Director.

NLC4 is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for the policy initiatives key to NLC’s community members. NLC4 will host a variety of issues based programs with the aim of educating, promoting, and networking promising leaders in the progressive community; conducting research and publicizing the results thereof; developing and advocating for programs, legislation, regulations, and other social action that will benefit the community.

NLC4 is still the initial stages of formation, and input from members of our community will be critical in the coming months. We approach this process with care and an eye for long-term sustainability, progressive values, and chapter involvement.

 

This blog was originally posted by the New Leaders Council.

 

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I could not be more proud of our New Leaders Council family.

This past weekend, we hosted our sixth annualNLC National Leadership Retreat, a two-day intensive session where NLC leadership, alumni, and Fellows gathered to plan the future of NLC and the progressive movement. Together, leaders from across the country focused on building progressive gains across America. These achievements span private sector advances that serve progressive goals, progress in state and local governments, and finally the incredible advance of NLC as we look to the next year of Institutes.

Anytime that you can get over 200 young progressive leaders in one room, you know the energy will be electric. When I reflect on the dedication I felt in that room, I know that NLC is the vehicle for change. And the members of the NLC community will be the ones to effect progressive change everywhere—from local schools and nonprofits all the way to breaking the paralysis in Washington.

Coming out of Sacramento, we now know that this is our moment.

National Chairman Chris Kelly

 

Read more from Chris about the National Retreat and see pictures from this exciting weekend in Sacramento on the NLC website.

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In the last seventy years, every decade or so, a new social movement emerged in the progressive community before heading to center stage in American politics. Those movements were often driven by young progressives.

Now, we must gear up for the next progressive battle, the one that will define young progressives such as me and potentially our nation for decades. Fortunately, many progressives are already fighting in the trenches on the issue. In fact, progressives have rallied around it time and again in American history. Some in our ranks refer to it as economic opportunity. Others call it income inequality and some wealth disparity.

President Obama agrees about its paramount importance. In December 2013, he remarked, “… Making sure our economy works for every working American … is the defining challenge of our time.”

To tackle this problem head on, we should return to ideas that have always served our progressive community and our larger nation. As we accomplished in California last year, we must raise the federal minimum wage. But this time, we could follow what San Jose voters approved in 2012 – indexing the minimum wage so it’s tied to inflation and thus increases regularly, just as ten other U.S. states currently do. That way, we avoid waging the same war every few years and manage the expectations of businesses so they can properly prepare.

Personally, I once briefly wrestled with the minimum wage issue. With an open mind, I listened to small business owners and economists who contend that a rise in the minimum wage could reduce the number of people employed. But this month, the Congressional Budget Office found that lifting the federal minimum wage to a level similar to San Jose’s would lift 900,000 workers above the poverty line.

When we read findings that 1 out of every 2 families of front-line fast-food workers are enrolled in at least one public assistance program costing nearly $7 billion a year, and when we hear the painful stories of those workers struggling to make ends meet, we know our system isn’t working. Recently, even our Republican peers in California, as well as major American companies such as Gap Inc., are coming around to the idea of a higher minimum wage.

To expand economic opportunity, we must consider other policies that aid workers, such as increasing paid parental leave. Sadly, America slumps alongside Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland as the only countries that do not offer this benefit to new parents. Speaking of families, Democrats and Republicans in this Valley agree that we need comprehensive immigration reform. To ensure both our middle and low-wage workers can live in this Valley as they climb up its ladder, we must also continue to explore affordable housing policies such as impact fees and inclusionary zoning.

My boss, Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager, joined his colleagues in directing County staff to explore an ordinance that would address the problem of wage theft – when employers take advantage of vulnerable workers by refusing to fairly pay them for their work. In addition, local and state governments must protect workers living from paycheck to paycheck by cracking down on predatory lenders who charge exorbitant rates while encouraging alternatives that build long-term credit, savings and financial security. While we should protect those in our workforce who are most vulnerable, we should also keep a watchful eye on those most powerful.

Many people are outraged by skyrocketing executive compensation, which has exemplified the Grand Canyon-like gap between the working class and those at the top. As President Obama cited, “Whereas in the past, the average CEO made about 20 to 30 times the income of the average worker, today’s CEO now makes 273 times more.” [Link] From 1979 to 2007, the income of the top 1 percent of Californians shot up almost 200 percent while every other Californian experienced only a 13 percent bump.

These trends cannot continue. It’s up to young progressives to be at the forefront of this fight by researching, debating and pursuing a mix of policies that maximize economic opportunity for all. Once again, the progress and success of our nation depend on it.

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Written by Alex Shoor, NLC Advisory Board and Class of 2013. 

 

Alex Shoor is a policy aide for Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager. He is also an advisory board member and 2013 fellow of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the New Leaders Council.

Originally posted on The Left Hook

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