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In this issue: Page



Leaping into GirlSpring

Jane Stephens Comer


The ―Mother-Daughter‖ Divide: Lady Gaga!

Robynn James


Meet the GirlSpring Board of Directors


Inspired by My Time with GirlSpring

Toren Anderson


Not so very long ago…

Housekeeping Monthly, May 13, 1955


GirlSpring News

Around the world


GirlSpring Events Update

GirlSpring ―Rocks‖ is the e-newsletter of GirlSpring, Inc, Edited by Executive Director Robynn James. If you have comments or suggestions, please call 866-444-8940.

Feministing ―Growing Up Digital‖ is not something that comes naturally to anyone over 20. Those of us at GirlSpring who are over 20, and especially over 40, are trying to keep up with the aggressive digital age and continue our feminist activities while learning how to become digitally enlightened. When I was 8 years old, televisions, air conditioners, cell phones, computers, cocaine, meth, and breast implants were virtually unheard of, and we‘ve managed to make those hurdles, so we will tighten our belts and pursue this tech age to the best of our ability. Feministing, founded in 2004, now attracts more readers than Ms. Magazine had subscribers in its heyday. ―There are still a lot of people who think that unless you‘re out in the street with a picket sign, you‘re not a real activist,‖ says Jessica Valenti, Feministing founder. ―They‘re not taking into account the fact that online campaigns have changed legislation, culture. The last big pro-choice march in Washington, in 2004, was very much organized by text message, e-mail and the Internet, and a third of the people who showed up were under 25.‖ My generation got our information from the radio, newspaper and snail mail. Now, it‘s instant messaging, information radiating from YouTube, videos, the Internet, FaceBook, blogs, IPhones, IPads, traveling at the speed of light. GirlSpring intends to have a state of the art web site. That will be the infrastructure of our organization so that women and girls can access sites which will take them to a better place. Our Program Development will result in collaboration with other women‘s and girl‘s organizations, and foundations across the nation, so that all information is in one place. We will offer information on volunteerism, philanthropic potentials, career possibilities, videos, links and more. It will be a safe haven for women and girls, and a place where expression is expected. We are excited about getting it up and running. Digital It Is! Check it out jane

In late October, GirlSpring conducted its first series of focus groups on issues affecting women and girls. Two groups came together on two successive days, and were asked to take a short survey and discuss their answers to questions about how different generations of women perceive the world. The women in our groups were divided roughly by ―waves,‖ a term of art used to describe activist generations in the feminist movement. This ―first wave‖ is represented by Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and later, Alice Paul. The emergence of the ―second wave,‖ came with the publication of books like The Second Sex, by Simone de Beauvoir, and The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Freidan—along with Gloria Steinem‘s editorial journalism in Ms. Magazine. The Second Wave‘s crowning achievement being the SCOTUS decision in of Roe v. Wade –and so the demarcation point is 1973. Rounding up, we divided our groups according to whether they had attained a 40th birthday. A full report on the Focus Groups will be available in December. But one fascinating glimpse into the generational divide became absolutely clear when each group was asked to choose a woman who has had ―an important impact on your life.‖ The ―over 40‖ group gave a variety of answers: Gloria Steinem, Betty Freidan, Susan B. Anthony. But the ―under 40‖ group unilaterally settled on one woman: Lady Gaga! Hmmm…what does this say about the new feminism? The Gloria Steinem of a new generation? GirlSpringers say, Lady Gaga speaks for young women and girls.

Join the GirlSpring Community Page on FaceBook to learn about upcoming events, get media links and contribute to discussions!

Introducing…. The GirlSpring Board of Directors Jane Stephens Comer, Founder & President

Jane is a long-time feminist activist, respected philanthropist, and the visionary behind GirlSpring. As an entrepreneur in 1987, she incorporated The Elegant Earth, Inc. She has served on the Board of the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham. She was recently recognized with the Ms. Foundation’s “Woman of Vision” Award. Founder of ArtPlay, an innovative arts education program for kids.

Dianne Mooney, Vice-President

Dianne is founder and retired editor of Southern Living at Home. She has started many initiatives to serve women, including Cut it Out! Which trains hairstylists to recognize the signs of domestic abuse. In addition to serving as Vice-President, Dianne is the Co-Chairwoman of GirlSpring‘s Marketing and Communications Committee.

Anne Epstein, Secretary

Project Manager for Clarus Consulting Group and former assistant encyclopedia editor, Anne knows ―lots of random facts about even more random subjects.‖ About GirlSpring, she says, ―I‘m looking forward to watching GirlSpring start exciting, meaningful conversations with interesting, diverse women, girls, and their allies across generations.‖ In addition to serving as Secretary, Anne is Co-Chairwoman of the Marketing and Communications Committee.

Tommie Cummings, Treasurer

Tommie Cummings is a Partner in the tax department and serves on the Executive Committee at FCTG. She has over 30 years of public accounting experience. She has served on many nonprofit boards and has been instrumental in forming GirlSpring and other organizations.

Lois Shindelbower, Director

Lois has practiced Landscape Architecture, a profession dominated by men in the southeast for 30 years providing design for many Fortune 500 companies. She attributes her opportunities and success to her mother as her generation faced difficulties in business that she took for granted. ―I joined the Girl Spring board to collaborate with other non profits to mentor girls and young women that want professions in their future. They face their own challenges today, different from ours and our mothers, but with a foundation of trust and shear determination we can achieve our goals and our dreams.‖

Renee Kemp-Rotan, Director

Director of Capital Projects for the City of Birmingham. As an architect and urban designer, Renee is a master planner with a passion for quantitative results oriented programs. ―I want women to identify their dreams, place a value on their dreams, create the necessary structures to protect their dreams before, during and after implementation.‖

Virginia Sweet, Director

Author, counselor, and political activist who has led a number of important women‘s organizations, including the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, where she led the community in developing social change initiatives to address issues that disproportionately affect women and girls, primarily poverty and violence

Kristina Scott, Director

Executive director of the Alabama Poverty Project, which mobilizes Alabamians to eliminate poverty, and the vice chair of the Alabama Commission to Reduce Poverty. She graduated from the University of Florida and the Emory University School of Law. ―As a member of the program development committee, I am looking forward to creating innovative ways to impact the lives of women and girls by through meaningful relationships.‖

Interested in serving on a GirlSpring Committee? Volunteers needed to help with Program Development, Events and Outreach, Communications and Marketing, and Fundraising. Call Robynn at 866-444-8940 for more information or talk to a GirlSpring Board Member!

Inspired by my time with GirlSpring… By Toren Anderson

After visiting Birmingham and speaking to the Girlspring Gathering at the Cantina in October, I happened to meet a young friend in the grocery store. We chatted about GirlSpring in the produce section with her mom and dad. She is 13 and loves to cook. She is having a time in school as most middle-schoolers are. I asked what her passion was; it is cooking. I asked if she wanted to go cook with a client at his restaurant tomorrow and learn about ways to help the needy with her culinary passion. She sent me a message on Facebook within an hour and we made a plan to meet at Vingenzo's the next day.

When we met at the restaurant, my friend the Chef (who is also the head of a Culinary Program here) chatted with her about ways to serve. She loved it! I felt so great to be the connector between a young girl, who had clearly been having a difficult time, and a passion she can now pursue with the guidance of an expert in the field. My niece will join us at the restaurant and see what we can stir up here. They want to do something over the holidays. We are trying to make it real, helpful and hoping it will catch on. Get it? Springing into action!

Girl Talk

While I was on Facebook I visited the girl's “wall”, which for those of you who don’t frequent Facebook is the area where users make postings responding to questions like, “What is on your mind?” She has the most distressing posts and so dirty. I know she probably does not have an idea how they reflect. I hope that through GirlSpring we can help to teach girls about perception and appearances.

Toren with next generation GirlSpringer, Ms. Annabella Daisy

NEWS & POLITICS (from Alternet) By Adele M. Stan Sarah Palin's Brand of 'Feminism' More Popular With Men Than Women Palin peddles a shallow narcissism dressed in 'empowering' feminist language. November 26, 2010 | Listen up, all you champions of women's rights, Sarah Palin has a message for you. All that stuff about equal pay, controlling your own body, putting an end to domestic violence and rape: that's a whole lotta tired old hooey. There's a new feminism afoot, a feminism that's moved beyond the issues of economic justice and your right not to be beaten and violated, and it's all about Sarah. In her new book, America By Heart, Palin takes aim at feminists who blazed the trail to political agency that Palin now walks, accusing Hillary Clinton of "bra-burning militancy" and Gloria Steinem and second-wave feminists of obsession with domestic violence and rape. Perhaps that's why, overall, Palin appears to be more popular with men than with women. A recent CNN poll found that while, in a hypothetical 2012 matchup against President Barack Obama, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee threatens to siphon off Obama's former constituency of independent women voters, a contest against Palin does not. Among women, the CNN poll found, Obama led Huckabee only by 2 percent, according to The Hill, while he trounced Palin by 15 percent. Other polls reported by the Hill confirm the trend by women away from Palin.

How to Buck Up the Science Ladies An easy way to boost women's scores in physics. By Amanda Schaffer Posted Monday, Nov. 29, 2010, at 3:58 PM ET What are the threats of stereotypes? Last week, researchers at the University of Colorado published a psych experiment that seems almost too good to be true. They showed that two 15-minute writing exercises, administered to an intro physics class early in the semester, could substantially boost the scores of female students. Even more curious: the exercises had nothing to do with physics. Instead, students were asked to write about things that mattered to them, like creativity or relationships with family and friends. How could a few paragraphs on personal values translate into enduring better mastery of pulleys and frictionless planes?

Check out the entire article at When it comes to math and science classes, women can be subtly hampered by negative stereotypes about their gender. This is the idea of stereotype threat, advanced by psychologists Joshua Aronson and Claude Steele, and now solidly established. Stereotype threat can roar into action when members of any stereotyped group are primed to think about belonging to it—in other words, when women focus on being female or African-Americans on being black. It causes performance problems, but stereotype threat can also be countered, often in simple ways. As the Colorado writing exercises show, getting women to focus on things they care about can buck them up. The lesson is that small doses of affirmation can do a lot of good.

A Woman. A Prostitute. A Slave. By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOFPublished: November 27, 2010 Americans tend to associate “modern slavery” with illiterate girls in India or Cambodia. Yet there I was the other day, interviewing a college graduate who says she spent three years terrorized by pimps in a brothel in Midtown Manhattan. Those who think that commercial sex in this country is invariably voluntary — and especially men who pay for sex — should listen to her story. The men buying her services all mistakenly assumed that she was working of her own volition, she says. Yumi Li (a nickname) grew up in a Korean area of northeastern China. After university, she became an accountant, but, restless and ambitious, she yearned to go abroad. So she accepted an offer from a female jobs agent to be smuggled to New York and take up a job using her accounting skills and paying $5,000 a month. Yumi‘s relatives had to sign documents pledging their homes as collateral if she did not pay back the $50,000 smugglers‘ fee from her earnings. Yumi set off for America with a fake South Korean passport. On arrival in New York, however, Yumi was ordered to work in a brothel. ―When they first mentioned prostitution, I thought I would go crazy,‖ Yumi told me. ―I was thinking, ‗how can this happen to someone like me who is college-educated?‘ ‖ Her voice trailed off, and she added: ―I wanted to die.‖ She says that the four men who ran the smuggling operation — all Chinese or South Koreans — took her into their office on 36th Street in Midtown Manhattan. They beat her with their fists (but did not hit her in the face, for that might damage her commercial value), gang-raped her and videotaped her naked in humiliating poses. For extra intimidation, they held a gun to her head. If she continued to resist working as a prostitute, she says they told her, the video would be sent to her relatives and acquaintances back home. Relatives would be told that Yumi was a prostitute, and several of them would lose their homes as well. Yumi caved. For the next three years, she says, she was one of about 20 Asian prostitutes working out of the office on 36th Street. Some of them worked voluntarily, she says, but others were forced and received no share in the money. Yumi played her role robotically. On one occasion, Yumi was arrested for prostitution, and she says the police asked her if she had been trafficked. ―I said no,‖ she recalled. ―I was really afraid that if I hinted that I was a victim, the gang would send the video to my family.‖ Then one day Yumi‘s closest friend in the brothel was handcuffed by a customer, abused and strangled almost to death. Yumi rescued her and took her to the hospital. She said that in her rage, she then confronted the pimps and threatened to go public. At that point, the gang hurriedly moved offices and changed phone numbers. The pimps never mailed the video or claimed the homes in China; those may have been bluffs all along. As for Yumi and her friend, they found help with Restore NYC, a nonprofit that helps human trafficking victims in the city.

NYC Tests Brakes on Crisis Pregnancy Centers By Rita Henley Jensen WeNews editor in chief Monday, November 29, 2010

New York City is considering following Baltimore in regulating what anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers can say in their ads and window signs. A recent hearing gave those opposed a chance to make their negative reaction clear. NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)--I was the last to testify.It was 6:40 p.m. and for more than five hours the women's issues committee of the New York City Council had listened to testimony about a proposed local law--similar to the one passed in Baltimore last year--regulating crisis pregnancy centers. Crisis pregnancy centers--or CPCs, as everyone was calling them--are sites run by Christian organizations in the United States and around the world. Depending on your point of view, the centers either browbeat and trick teens and women into maintaining unwanted pregnancies or they offer vulnerable and frightened teens and women kindness, support and loving care. (Read the whole story at

Our October Gathering at Cantina at Pepper Place was a hit! About 50 women and girls gathered over margaritas and guacamole and heard talks by GirlSpringers Toren Anderson, on “the Unmentored Life;” Renee Kemp-Rotan on “Rebuilding Haiti;” and Virginia Sweet on Domestic Violence. Robynn James, GirlSpring Executive Director talked about the progress the organization is making and the issues facing young girls today. Videos from ―SPARK a Revolution,‖ The GirlEffect, and Dove‘s RealBeauty Campaign were shared to spur activism and educate the group on international efforts to advance girls and body image in the media.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR! The next GirlSpring event will be on

Monday, February 1, 2011 From 6:30 to 9:00 At ArtPlay 1006 19th Street South Birmingham, Alabama For information contact Robynn at 866-444-8940.

Assuming you love what we are trying to do here at GirlSpring, or at least that you hope for our success—then NOW is a great time to get in on the ground floor as a supporter! We are lean and making plans to build a program that all of us can be proud of in the future, but even now, a few short months after GirlSpring came into existence, we have succeeded in bringing women together around a common vision of making the world a better place. In 2011, we are planning to roll out new programs that provide support for activist women, bring young women and girls together with experienced women in projects that support women‘s rights, and keep bringing you news and opportunities to meet dynamic women from all over the country who are making a difference. We need your help! Please consider a donation* of $50, $100, $500 or more to keep us going and growing into the new year. Mail your contribution to: GirlSpring, PO Box 147, Traverse City, MI 49685. Thank you, and happy holidays!

*GirlSpring is an Alabama nonprofit corporation with IRS nonprofit status pending. Donations to GirlSpring are not tax-deductible from your federal taxes at this time.

GirlSpring Newsletter December 2011  

GirlSpring Newsletter December 2011

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