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Monday, June 30, 2014




Tuesday | July 8 | 9:30 am
Kundalini Yoga with Ursula Scherrer
Kundalini Yoga is also called the Yoga of Awareness. It combines the physical practice of Asanas with Pranayama (breathing) and Meditation/Chanting – it targets the whole body system (nervous system, glands, mental faculties, chakras) to develop awareness and consciousness, strength and flexibility. Everybody is welcome, no previous knowledge of Yoga is necessary. Please bring a Yoga mat and possibly a blanket and a shawl. For more information please contact Ursula Scherrer at
Friday | July 11 | 7 pm
Reading: Love Comes Later by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar reads from Love Comes Later, one of the first English language novels set in Qatar, and banned from distribution inside the country.  A modern quest for the right to pursue love and happiness, even when it comes in an unconventional package, LOVE COMES LATER explores similarities between the South Asian and Arab cultures while exposing how cultural expectations affect both men and women. Identities are tested and boundaries questioned against the shifting backdrops of Doha, Qatar and London, England.
Sunday | July 13 | 2:30 pm
Feminist Book Club

The Feminist Book Club reads and discusses feminism. We make no claims to any particular feminist platform. We read theoretical texts, literature, and primary works. All are welcome inclusive of gender, political persuasion, and familiarity. We meet on the first Sunday of each month at 2:30 pm. This month’s book is Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Email for more info:
Monday | July 14 | 7 pm
#grow fierce series

#GrowFierce is a poetic showcase featuring New York-based emerging women poets. Springing from the Digging Deep, Facing Self writing course to light up the stage, these alumni women weave moving narratives of star dust, open veins, blossoming gardens, poetic switch blades, roller skates and prophetic tea leaves.
Tuesday | July 15 | 9:30 am
Kundalini Yoga with Ursula Scherrer

Kundalini Yoga is also called the Yoga of Awareness. It combines the physical practice of Asanas with Pranayama (breathing) and Meditation/Chanting – it targets the whole body system (nervous system, glands, mental faculties, chakras) to develop awareness and consciousness, strength and flexibility. Everybody is welcome, no previous knowledge of Yoga is necessary. Please bring a Yoga mat and possibly a blanket and a shawl. For more information please contact Ursula Scherrer at

Thursday, June 26, 2014


"I’m just being myself. There is not an ounce of me that believes any of that crap that they say. We can’t be feminine and be feminists and be successful? I want to be a f-ing feminist and wear a f-ing Peter Pan collar. So     f-ing what?” - 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014



On income inequality, gender pay differences and social policies

By Christine Tuaillon

When looking at gender pay difference, it is surprising to see that the US, with its very strong anti-discrimination laws, has one of the highest gender pay difference among developed countries. It also has one of the lowest spending for social policies, in % of GDP  and one of the highest income inequality in the world. Explaining gender pay differences is not simple, as it is the result of a complex web of causes. For example, factors such as parental leave, widespread union bargaining power, centralized government, woman supply vs demand in the job market and income inequality does affect gender pay differences. However, it seems that one of the strongest factor accounting for gender pay difference is an increase in wage inequality.  I pasted below excerpts of articles on the topic.

From Wealth, Income and Power, by William Domhoff, 2011 (2005)

“The degree of income inequality in the United States can be compared to that in other countries on the basis of the Gini coefficient, a mathematical ratio that allows economists to put all countries on a scale with values that range (hypothetically) from zero (everyone in the country has the same income) to 100 (one person in the country has all the income). On this widely used measure, the United States ends up 95th out of the 134 countries that have been studied.

In examining this table, remember that we are looking at the income distribution. A country can have a highly concentrated wealth distribution and still have a more equal distribution of income due to high taxes on top income earners and/or high minimum wages”.


From Understanding international differences in the gender gap pay, by Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn, 2001.


According to Blau and Khann (2001), “one interpretation of the findings for male prices is that wage-setting institutions such as collective bargaining contracts that call for high wage floors lower male inequality and the gender pay gap as well. Further, where women are scarce in relation to the demand for labor in industries that traditionally employ them, the gender pay gap will be lower. This finding could reflect basic supply and demand in the labor market or selectivity of the female labor force. But these interpretations can only be made subject to the usual caveat concerning cross-sectional differences across countries: there may be factors we cannot control for that influence male labor market prices and female net supply as well as the gender pay gap […] such as  institutions that are expected to affect wage inequality in general or the gender gap specifically [..] (These institutions) include collective bargaining coverage, minimum wage laws, unemployment insurance systems, and job protection, as well as parental leave entitlements.” One of the stronger factor for the decrease of a gender pay gap is collective bargaining: this is shown in “results for including collective bargaining coverage alone […] and with [..] original measures of wage compression and female net supply. With no covariates besides year dummies, collective bargaining coverage has a coefficient of -.0029 that is highly significant. This coefficient corresponds to a large impact of collective bargaining on the gender pay gap, implying that an increase in collective bargaining coverage from the 25 th to the 75 th percentile in our sample of 14 countries (i.e., going from 47 to 82 percent coverage) decreases the gender pay gap by .10 log points.”. In addition,  in countries where collective bargaining is strong, there are also strong social programs: “The results discussed above indicate that our findings for collective bargaining coverage are strong whether or not controls for other institutions are included. Further, […], it is centralizing wage-setting institutions that are primarily responsible for the growth of generous social programs in countries like Sweden. If this is the case, then our models can be viewed as reduced forms of such a process in which the prime mover is collective bargaining.[…] Another potential omitted variable would be social norms. For example, it is possible that a high degree of collective bargaining coverage, low male inequality, and a small gender gap all reflect an underlying social egalitarianism. While this is plausible, it seems unlikely to provide a full explanation for our findings [..]. While this is plausible, it seems unlikely to provide a full explanation for our findings: [..] there are the examples of countries like Austria and Italy that have highly centralized wage setting and relatively low male inequality and gender

differentials and yet show little evidence of favorable treatment of women as a group otherwise.”

One of the example cited in the study is Germany and Sweden, which  “are both highly unionized societies with 80-90% collective bargaining coverage, in contrast to the US, with its 18% coverage rate in 1990. Results  show that the male wage distribution is indeed much more compressed in these countries than in the US. Using data sets we employed in earlier work (Blau and Kahn 1996b and 2000), we find

that the male-female gap in actual experience in 1984 was about 6 years in the US and 5 years in

Sweden and Germany. While these figures are consistent with the idea that high wage floors

encourage female labor force commitment, in fact female relative labor force participation rates

among these three countries in the 1980s were highest in Sweden but higher in the US than in

West Germany. And the male-female experience gap in the US declined steadily over the

1980s (Blau and Kahn 1997). Further, US women are much more likely to work full-time than

women in these other countries (Blau and Kahn 1995). Thus, by the end of the 1980s, it is

possible that US women had higher relative experience levels than women in several more

highly unionized countries. It is therefore unlikely that a union effect on women's unmeasured

labor market qualifications is responsible for our basic findings. Even if it were, however, one

could still attribute an ultimate causal role to institutions of wage compression.


A 2013 article from the Huffington Post, explore some of the causes of the gender pay gap. From 13 countries that make America’s gender pay gap look embarrassing. September 4th 2013.


“Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy’s Equal Pay Act was signed into law with the express purpose of ensuring that women get paid equally for equal work. Yet half a century later, on Equal Pay Day, the gender pay gap in America not only persists, but is doing so to a much larger degree than in many other countries.

The U.S. -- where women make just four-fifths that of their male counterparts, according to a recent study -- lags behind a number of other countries where the gap is much smaller for women without children, according to a December analysis from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

That list includes Belgium, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, Mexico, France, Slovenia, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Australia and Ireland.

Why is the U.S. so far behind when it comes to ensuring working women are paid the same as their male colleagues? One reason has to do with pay disparity more broadly. In many European countries the difference in earnings between low-wage and high-wage workers is smaller than in the U.S., according to The New York Times.

American women also are more likely to hold low-wage jobs than men, and 27 percent of the wage gap can be explained by this phenomenon, according to the Center for American Progress. In other words, it’s not just that women aren’t being paid equally for equal work -- it’s that they’re doing different work that pays less.

The recession and recovery haven't helped. Public sector jobs, a common avenue for women looking to earn middle-income wages, were cut during the recession and even in the recovery. Those jobs often have been replaced by low-paying private sector jobs like retail and service, pushing female wages further down.”


But, as shown in this March 9th 2010 article from the NY times, The gender wage gap, around the world by Catherine Rampell, is the higher pay gap  due to the type of job held by women, or as previous articles mentioned, is it due to rising inequality and difference in social policies and in the  bargaining power of workers?

“In honor of International Women’s Day, which was Monday, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Factblog has been dissecting data on women’s role in the world.

Wages was one item examined. The chart below shows the percentage difference between the typical earnings of a  full-time male worker and his female counterpart: Across industrialized countries, men’s median, full-time earnings were 17.6 percent higher than women’s. The biggest gender wage gap was in South Korea and Japan, where men earn wages more than 30 percent higher than women, and was smallest in Belgium, where the gap is 9.3 percent.

In the United States, the typical full-time female worker earns 19 percent less than the typical full-time male worker.

Much of this gap can be explained by the types of jobs women choose to go into (or, perhaps, the types of jobs that are available to them).

 Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

As a summary, I created this table to summarize some of the data. Most of the data comes from OCDE data reports.

An international comparison of income inequality, gender pay differences and social policies

Country name
Income equality ranking and inequality ranking
(Gini coefficient)
Paycheck difference in % between male and female
(OCDE data)
Social policies:
Public spending as a % of GDP (OCDE data)
Paid entitlement of weeks of maternity leave with full pay [ ]
(% of 0-3 year old in formal childcare)
1 (23)
3.75 [0] * (49)
2 (25)
3.4 [9] (52)
8 (26)
2.95 [18] (20)
10 (27)
3.05 [12] (25)
17 (29)
3.9 [9] (65)
34 (32)
1.52 [18] (30)
35 (32.1)
1.51 [7] not available
37 (32.7)
4.0 [18] (49)
42 (33.7)
1.48 [11] not available
43 (34)
4.25 [11] (44)
93 (45)
1.25 [0] ** (45)

· *In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days (68 weeks) of maternity/paternity leave, but it is not paid with full pay. Therefore there are 0 days of fully paid maternity leave.

· **In the US each company decides on their own whether or not their employee will be entitled to PAID maternity/paternity leave. For example, NCC has 0 days of paid maternity leave (we use our sick leave).

As you can see, there is no neat one explanation. However, among the countries in the table, the US comes last when it comes to social policy spending, mandatory paid maternity leave, income inequality and gender pay equality.




Tuesday, June 24, 2014




06/29/2014 @ All Day

March with us in PRIDE!

pride rally 09Join NOW-NYC’s contingent in the annual PRIDE March! Wear purple and bring friends!
Please RSVP to find out our Section and Group numbers and line-up location. Parade begins at 36th St. & Fifth Ave and ends at Christopher & Greenwich Streets.
  • Expect a somewhat long day! As the march is huge and it’s impossible to know when we will march or exactly how long it will take.
  • A traditional moment of silence will be at 1 and 3pm, to honor those in the community we have lost to AIDS and other causes.
  • With rain anticipated, you may want to bring an umbrella and/or poncho.
  • Pack water and food. While we wait to march, bathrooms will be available at some businesses open nearby.




Monday, June 23, 2014



I felt vindicated recently when I read this interview with author Leah Hager Cohen and she said that Shel Silverstein’s children’s book The Giving Tree was the “worst book” she’s ever read.  Do you know the book I’m talking about?  It stinks!

Sure, the drawings are kind of sweet.

But here’s the story: the tree loves a kid.  The kid loves the tree at first, but he’s kind of bratty and so, to make him happy, the tree gives him her apples.  Then she gives him her branches.  Then she gives him her whole trunk.  And then, when she has nothing left to give, she offers to let him sit on her.  The kid never says “thanks,” or, “that’s such a nice offer, I couldn’t possibly,” or “You’re the best, tree!” 

I suppose some folks think this is about unconditional love and how parents, in particular, will give just about everything for their children. 

I have a couple of problems with this.

I realize it's a fable and all, but still, I think it idealizes a sick kind of relationship. Don't we want to teach our kids that reciprocity is important?  Once you start romanticizing relationships in which one person loves someone who does not love them back--but that's just fine with the first person!--, well, you get into all sorts of potentially sad, creepy, and/ or abusive and dangerous situations.  

And even though parents are often just crazy about their kids, healthy parent-child relationships are also reciprocal.  (Mildred Pierce, anyone?)  Ideally, parents would love and respect their children and vice versa.  Unconditional love, I think, means, “I love you even if you’re not perfect.”  Not, “I love you even if you mutilate and sit on me.  Your happiness is all that matters!”

The book idealizes the eternally self-sacrificing mother figure; the woman whose only happiness comes from giving to others and denying herself.  Thinking about this aspect of the story got me wondering how the book would be different if the genders were reversed.

I’ve taken the liberty of switching it up as an experiment.  Here’s an excerpt:


Time went by, and the girl grew older. And the tree was often alone. Then one day the girl came to the tree and the tree said:

"Come, Girl, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy."

"I am too big to climb and play," said the girl. "I want to buy thing and have fun. I want some money. Can you give me some money?"

"I'm sorry," said the tree, "but I have no money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples, Girl, and sell them in city. Then you will have money and you'll be happy."

And so the girl climbed up the tree and gathered his apples and carried them away. And the tree was happy...

But the girl stayed away for a long time and the tree was sad.

And then one day the girl came back and the tree shook with joy, and he said:

"Come, Girl come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy.”

“I am too busy to climb trees," said the girl. "I want a house to keep me warm," she said. "I want a husband and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?"

"I have no house," said the tree... "But you may cut off my branches and build a house. Then you will be happy."

And so the girl cut off his branches and carried them away to build a house. And the tree was happy.


The kid is a brat regardless, but I think switching the genders reveals that behavior that is unremarkable (if unattractive) when exhibited by a boy becomes almost monstrous when exhibited by a girl.  I wonder if others agree?  

And don’t even get me started talking about this from an ecocritical/ecofeminist perspective….