Monday, October 28, 2013

A note to readers...

In the world of blogging you will never be able to satisfy everyone.

Someone will always be pissed because you spoke openly on an issue. Others will be pissed because you didn't. No matter how hard you try you won't be able to speak for all people, and even when you try you will be deemed not an expert on others' experiences (because it's impossible to be.)

My blog is my personal space to write about my life-- the good, the bad, and the ugly. When I want to talk about feminism in the context of the United States I seek out other platforms.

My life is not beautiful, free of violence, and cookie-cutter. My family members have been victims, and sometimes the perpetrators. The only way I can address that is by writing honestly about it.

Does that make me an expert on all Latino issues? No. I am only an expert of my life.

As a woman in science, a Latina born with light skin, an immigrant, and a heterosexual woman, my life is an amalgamation of all those titles. Sometimes they give me the platform to shine, sometimes they relegate me to the status of almost nothing.

I write about what matters to me, knowing very well that I won't and can't make everyone happy. When I mess up, I try to learn from it and move forward. And I work hard every single day of my life to be genuine and empathetic, to acknowledge my privilege, to speak up for myself, to work on my faults, and to remember to tell myself how much I love ME.  If I don't love myself and my achievements no one else will do it for me.

I welcome and listen to all critique, but it doesn't come at the expense of insulting me. If I say something that pisses you off so much you want to call me a whore and a bitch, you've lost the opportunity for dialogue.

If you don't find me interesting, radical, exciting, or worthy of praise...don't. Really, I am not looking for fans. If I wanted to excel at something I would be testing building materials in a lab, because I was really darn good at it! I don't aim to be amazing, I aim to be me.

If my life story speaks to you, I am here for you. If you can't relate to my life, that's ok! My feminism is not about "kumbaya, we are all sisters." We really aren't the same and if I attempt to equalize all women I would fail at the most important part of my feminism: acknowledging women's varied and complicated lives.

Friday, October 25, 2013

On Feminism and Faith

Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t call me a “radical feminist” and accuse me of trying to destroy religion and traditional values.
People on the Internet are both my biggest critics and my most enthusiastic supporters. But because of them, I have been forced to truly question my own beliefs on the compatibility of feminism and religion.
I think that they can coexist. Here’s why.
The thing about feminism is that it’s about empowering women — and that means all women – regardless of differences. And while I may personally find most religions inherently misogynist and oppressive, that does not give me the right to deter any other woman from finding spiritual nourishment in a religious community.
If feminism becomes synonymous with anti-religion, we risk alienating the women we seek to uplift and support.
If anything, feminism and religion are deeply connected because our views on gender are very much based in religious doctrines. And we cannot fight for equal rights by disenfranchising those who reconcile their religious beliefs with feminism.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Conference on Latin American and Caribbean Women Spotlights the Use of Technology for Gender Equity

This week the XII Regional Conference on Latin American and Caribbean Women (XII Conferencia Regional sobre la Mujer de América Latina y el Caribe) took place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The conference was put together by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe: CEPAL) in order to promote gender equity in the region.

The event was a great success in bringing together influential women such as Alicia Bárcena, Executive Director of CEPAL, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, and Alejandrina Germán, Head of the Ministry of Women in the Dominican Republic.

Monday, October 14, 2013

No, I Will Not Celebrate "Bartolomé Day"

This week The Oatmeal created a cartoon giving some insight into the bloody history of Christopher Columbus and how he captured the Americas and enslaved the inhabitants. It's all great information that I believe is not taught well enough. In fact, we know (or care) so little about the violent genocide of Indigenous peoples by colonizers that we have a federal holiday in honor of Christopher Columbus veiled as an Italian-American heritage celebration.

The second half of the cartoon suggests that instead of celebrating Columbus Day we celebrate Bartolomé Day.

Bartolomé de las Casas was a Spanish historian and one of the earliest European settlers in the Americas. He owned indigenous peoples and had an encomienda. An encomienda is a system in which European settlers were given indigenous peoples as slaves in return for their "protection" and with the understanding that they would be taught Spanish and immersed into the Catholic faith.

What differentiates Christopher Columbus from Bartolomé de las Casas is that Bartolomé had a change of heart.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Name is My Cultural Identity

When I read Jill Filipovic’s “Why should married women change their names? Let men change theirs,” I immediately felt that she was not talking to women like me. As much I embrace feminism and support dialogue that expands cultures, traditions, and races, once again some women were left out of the conversation. Had Jill Filipovic asked me what I think about a woman changing her last name upon marriage, she would have learned that as a fellow feminist, I have a completely different mindset on what a name means.Since I got engaged the question I get asked the most after “when is the wedding?” is “will you change your last name?” I know this is a question most women get when they announce an engagement, and it doesn’t bother me much. I do however feel that the conversation is very Anglo-centric. I am a Latina woman marrying an Arab man, and in both our cultures women do not change their names when they get married.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Interview for Nicole Clark Consulting's Women Making Moves Series

I was interviewed by Nicole Clark Consulting and wanted to share what I said to her. This interview was original posted on Nicole's website.
"There are plenty of girls in need of encouragement and eager to find a familiar face. Just seeing one Latina in a non-traditional field is enough to spark a light in a girl’s mind; a girl that perhaps never knew her potential." ~ Patricia
Women Making Moves highlights how women and girls of color are raising their voices to improve the health and lives of many in the areas of sexual/reproductive health, holistic wellness, feminism, activism, entrepreneurship, the arts and sciences, and more.
Meet Patricia Valoy, Women Making Moves spotlight for January 2013. Patricia Valoy is a Civil Engineer and an Assistant Project Manager at STV Inc., an architectural, engineering, planning, environmental and construction management firm based in New York City. She is an advocate for women and girls who wish to enter careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM.) Patricia is also a co-host of a weekly radio show called, Let Your Voice Be Heard! Radio. She has her own blog on feminist issues, Womanisms, and is an avid Tweeter under the handle Besito86.
What I enjoy most about Patricia is how she is succeeding in the traditionally male-dominated field of engineering and is showing young women that they too can step outside of the traditionally held belief that only men can dominate in the maths and sciences. Patricia is busting down the “math is for boys” stereotype, and is inspiring young women to feed their curiosities when it comes to non-traditional career fields, despite what their community may think.