Three Female Submariners Earn their Dolphins & Break

April 12, 2013 § Leave a comment


In late March 2013, the U.S. Navy’s first female submariners earned their “dolphins.” The oldest of Navy’s warfare pins, Dolphins has been a longstanding tradition to honor officers who have qualified as an officer of the deck and an engineering officer of the watch. This entails having a high peer ranking, admirable leadership qualities, and passing a tough board. It took a rigorous year of training followed by a year at sea with a strategic deterrent patrol, but these amazing women were able to break the glass ceiling. These three women started with the cadre of 17 officers who began the sub force’s integration late last year. Lt. j.g. Jennifer Noonan and Lt. j.g. Amber Cowan, are crew members with the ballistic-missile sub Maine’s blue crew and received their insignia at a ceremony in Bangor, Wash., the Maine’s home port. “It is a monumental mark of the confidence my command and crew has in me,” said Cowan, whose dolphins were pinned on by her husband, Lt. Adam Cowan, a naval flight officer. “And earning that respect and acceptance is a feeling that I will hold with me for my entire life”.  This is just the first step of many towards gender equality in our nation’s military.

– Brandi S.



The Girl Scouts

February 18, 2013 § 1 Comment

If there is one thing that I would go back in time to do, it would probably be to join a local Girl Scout troop. I have met plenty of friends who were at some point Girl Scouts themselves and always wondered who they were, where they originated from, and what they did.  Of course, I would dismiss the idea of joining one because I wasn’t really educated enough about it. It never really occurred to me just how beneficial joining such a group is until I recently stumbled across an article about the origination of the Girl Scouts in celebration of their ‘National Girl Scout Cookie Day’ on February 8th.

The first Girls Scouts troop was founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low. The youth organization strives to instill lifelong values such as honesty, integrity, courage, sisterhood, and confidence with the purpose at empowering girls all over the country. These values are all taught through activities like community service, camping, and learning first aid, just to name a few. By successfully accomplishing these practical skills, girls are then rewarded by earning badges. Their achievements are then honored through special awards.

Today, The Girls Scouts is the largest education organization in the world with troops in more than 92 countries and over 2 million members between the ages of 5 to 17 years. This doesn’t include the 890,000 adult volunteers over 59 million alumnae. Among these alumnae stands women such as Hillary Clinton, Barbara Walters, Condoleezza Rice, and Sandra Day O’Connor. In fact, approximately seventy percent of all women serving in the U.S Senate were once members of the Girl Scouts.

So you ask why would I want to be a part of one of these organizations? Apart from learning the awesome practical skills, selling amazing cookies (Thin Mints are my absolute favorite), and earning badges for my achievements, I would be joining with girls and women all around the world some of who are among the successful leaders of America for the specific purpose of women empowerment. If that’s not promising, then I don’t know what is.

– Jennifer C.

Miss America: I may have judged too quickly

January 31, 2013 § Leave a comment

I was browsing a couple Saturdays ago looking to catchup on all of the shows I didn’t have time to watch during the week when I happend across the “What to Watch Tonight” section. That is where I discovered that the Miss America Pageant would be airing that very night. After a quick text to a friend who I knew would be just as excited as I was, it was decided that we would be grabbing some snacks and settling in for a nigmiss_america_picht of bad commentary and fake smiles.

The excitement I feel every year when the Miss America Pageant rolls around stems not from my fascination or real interest in the beauty pageant world but instead from the confidence boost it gives me. I may not be acing my Numerical Methods class, but at least I’m not saying stupid things on television or parading around in a bikini, right? I used to think that these women were all the same. They all say the same things, have the same talents, and seem to fit into a single mold. But this year, I started to think that maybe I had judged this whole thing a little too quickly. I was pleasantly surprised when I actually thought I might really like one of the contestants. Miss New York, Mallory Hagan seemed very down to earth compared to the other contestants and got me to thinking that maybe these women are not as shallow as they can come across. On the surface, a pageant is a pageant and yes there are women walking around in ridiculously skimpy swimsuits, putting on some really ugly evening dresses, and performing the same talents as all the other contestants, but Miss Hagan seemed not too take all that as seriously as some of the other woman. She was loud, funny, and even surprisingly intelligent in her question response. Instead of becoming flustered and making a  huge gaffe for the newspapers to ridicule as is usually  the case, she  responded intelligently to a tough question regarding gun control. All of this got me thinking that maybe, despite its questionable relationship with feminism, the pageant might not be ALL bad.

Yes, I admit that it might take “poise” and “beauty” to an extreme that can detract from the hard work woman have done to make us more than just something to make the office look nicer, but I realized that some of these woman might actually be able to balance that extreme with doing some good with the position. I realized that, if I looked behind all the pomp and ridiculous circumstance, the pageant might really be able to have an effect on these woman’s lives, and through the organization’s charity work, on the lives of others as well. Am I saying that beauty pageants are great and everyone should place as much importance on how a woman looks? Of course not, I for one do not have the body of a Miss America Pageant contestant and would like to think I still have something to contribute to this world. All I’m saying is that instead of scoffing and settling in for a night of laughs and judging evening gowns, perhaps pageants and things of this nature have some merit and I should admit that. After all, aren’t these women working toward something just the same as the rest of us? And isn’t that really what women want the freedom to do: to work toward something without our gender holding us back? So, despite my initial judgment of the pageant as nothing more than a boost to my own ego, I’ve realized that just because it isn’t my “thing,” doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily bad “thing.”

– Kim U.

The Gender of Valor

January 25, 2013 § 3 Comments

Women in CombatWar is hard. We shouldn’t be making it harder.

This is the attitude of many Americans on the newly lifted ban for woman in combat.  In 1994, Les Aspin (Defense Secretary under former President Bill Clinton) signed a policy memo that excluded women from assignments to units below the brigade level if the unit would be engaged in direct combat. Although the ban has now been lifted, not everyone is ready for women in combat. Jerry Boykin, retired Army Lieutenant General and Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council, argues that men should not be forced to fight alongside women because it will distract from the mission, specifically because it will make soldiers feel awkward to defecate in front of the opposite sex:

Societal norms are a reality, and their maintenance is important to most members of a society. It is humiliating enough to relieve yourself in front of your male comrades; one can only imagine the humiliation of being forced to relieve yourself in front of the opposite sex.

Was it not societal norm to discriminate against colored individuals in the military? Was it not societal norm to exclude women from the military? Was it not societal norm to exclude homosexuals in the military? Is it not societal norm to exclude transgendered individuals in the military today? Societal norm is constantly changing, and it is irrational to halt progress on this basis alone.

Leon E. Panetta stresses that “not everyone is going to be able to be a combat soldier, but everyone is entitled to a chance…We are renewing our commitment to the values our service men and women fight to defend.”

General Dempsey states that by lifting the ban, “we are acting to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.” Dempsey reassures that “we will extend opportunities to women in a way that maintains readiness, morale, and unit cohesion.”

Will this lifted ban help further the careers of women in the military? Dempsey stresses that “we will integrate women in a way that enhances opportunity for everyone…this means setting clear standards for all occupations based on what it actually takes to do the job.”  Many Americans are concerned that women are not physically “up to the challenge” of combat assignments. However, gender-neutral standards will ensure that if women can meet those standards, then they are similarly fit for the specified duties.

Is having women in direct combat such a radical idea?  Israeli Defense Forces are the only military forces in the world with a mandatory military service requirement for women. Since the Israeli state was founded in 1948, women have fought in their armed The reality on the ground...forces. The 2000 Equality amendment to their Military Service law states that “The right of women to serve in any role in the IDF is equal to the right of men.” Now, women comprise over half of all military positions in Israel. It is ironic that, for a country that stresses freedom and equality as much as we do, that we are over a decade behind that of Israel on the inclusion and equality of women in combat zones.

Have women not already proven that they are ready and willing to serve in combat?  More than 150 women have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and over 1000 wounded in recent wars, fighting for our rights so that we can sit here and read blogs about whether they should be allowed to or not. Now this change is expected to open 230,000 front-line positions to women.

Dempsey said it best…”we all wear the same uniform, fire the same weapon, and more importantly, take the same oath.” President Barack Obama considers this yet “another step toward fulfilling our nation’s founding ideals of fairness and equality.” Let us make our all-volunteer force an all inclusive one. If women are willing to volunteer to defend our country, let us give them the rights that they are fighting for. Valor knows no gender.

-Brandi S.

The Real Fixer

January 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

ABC's "Scandal" - Season Two

As a true TV fanatic, I have found several shows that have interested me over the years. I watch everything from drama to comedy, kid shows to adult shows. But there is one show that has completely caught my attention. ABC’s hit show Scandal has become one of my favorites.

Scandal is a show in which the main character, Olivia Pope, is a professional “fixer.” Clients, normally politicians or celebrities, come to her when they have a problem, such as a scandal, and then she fixes it. Pope opened her own firm for crisis management after she quit working in the White House with the president.  She has her own team, most of which have their own problems to deal with. You find that al

most everyone has their own secret/is caught up in their own scandal including Ms. Pope herself.

There are two main reasons why I truly enjoy this show. The first reason is Kerry Washington. Kerry Washington has become one of my favorite actresses. I started to somewhat follow her career after I saw her in The Fantastic Four. On Scandal, Washington plays a strong, powerful, beautiful woman. For me that combination is a rarity on TV, though,  I will admit to seeing some, but there are not that many. I have to commend her for her skills in playing this character. She portrays Olivia Pope very well. When I look at the show I see a woman who is confident, ready to help her clients, and knows what to do and when to do it. Washington’s character is not without her own faults which makes her a little bit more real. Olivia Pope is a woman who is strong, but can also be vulnerable especially where her love interest is concerned. She is someone who will show her support for others, but will also show you what is right and how things are supposed to be done. I do have drawbacks to the character where her scandal(s) are concerned but who wouldn’t.

I absolutely love Kerry Washington and she has totally made this show for me. When Kerry Washington is not playing Olivia Pope, I am still drawn to her. Though I do not know her personally, I like to believe that she is as nice and sweet as she appears in other settings. I can’t wait

to cont

inue to watch her career grow because I believe that she is going places.

The other reason this show is one of my favorites is because there is a real fixer like Olivia Pope that this show is based on. It has actually just recently come to my attention that there was someone out there who is known as a fixer. Her name is Judy Smith. Smith is now claimed as America’s number one crisis management expert. I am truly astounded by Ms. Smith. She is a true inspiration. Smith cliental includes Michael Vick, Monica Lewinsky, and so many more. She has been working as a consultant for her clients for over 25 years. Just doing this job alone is something to be proud of let alone for doing it for over 25 years. To me, Judy is a truly phenomenal woman.

I acknowledge both Kerry Washington and Judy Smith as true inspirations. If you haven’t heard of the show or would like to see it for yourself I encourage you to watch it. It ma

y not be your cup of tea but I think it’s worth the try.

For more info on Judy Smith you can visit:

Women in the Halls-Lobbying for a Better Standard of Living for Women

January 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

Women in the HallsThe Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Georgia has sponsored a special project called Women in the Halls, seeking to entice more women to the state Capitol during the annual legislative session (January-April). Women in the Halls holds lawmakers accountable to the women of Georgia for the decisions and policies that are made. Many of which, overlook the concerns and the disastrous affects these policies can have on women.

Every Wednesday during the legislative session Women in the Halls will join a lobby training hosted by progressive groups. Afraid that you will be too uniformed to effectively lobby? Do not fear, Women in the Halls is here. Everyone attending will be briefed on relevant legislation and how to lobby your elected officials. You will also be armed with talking points, facts sheets, and other important information you will need to convince the members of the General Assembly.

Want to get involved? Women in the Halls meets every WEDNESDAY during the legislative session at 9am in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building, Room 306 which is located across the street from the Capitol on Mitchell Street. Contact or 404.688.9305 ext. 310 for more details.

Together, we’ll fill the halls and fight for responsible legislation for women!

– Brandi S.


I <3 Tina Fey

January 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
Credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty

Last night I tuned into the Golden Globes. I was mostly looking forward to seeing all of the dressed up celebrities, the winning films, shows, and actors/actresses, and of course Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the evening, and to get some laughs out of the few hours. I have loved Tina Fey since she was on SNL and would tune in just to see her on Weekend Update. She was brilliant in Mean Girls, I thought her autobiography Bossypants was fantastic, and I catch her in 30 Rock nearly every week (as well as watching past seasons on Netflix). So I was really excited to see her on the Golden Globes, and was expecting nothing less than awesome from them. What I didn’t expect to get, however, was an increased respect for Tina Fey (and Amy Poehler).

We know that girls bullying other girls is a big problem in this country, and often that catty behavior transfers into adulthood and the workplace. I found a Scientific American article about a study that found women were “overwhelmingly compelled to retaliate by attacking the offender’s reputation, mostly through gossip.” Tina Fey famously and hilariously tackled that issue in Mean Girls; and in her own way, she stood up against the same issue last night at the Golden Globes.

This morning when I came into the WRC, I stumbled upon an article on the Huffington Post, recapping the Golden Globes, Jodie Foster’s speech following receiving the Cecil B DeMille award, and the witty method of Tina and Amy’s humor in hosting the event. They could have gone the way of many past hosts and been malicious in their humor, or cliché. They could have made fun of the other actresses and the stupid things that they had done. Instead, they were sympathetic in their jokes, laughing about the things they had gone through. For example, “They noted that Meryl Streep couldn’t attend because she had the flu … though they heard she was “amazing in it” — the flu, that is.”

What most impresses me about all of this, and what inspired me to therefore write a blog about it, was just how much Tina Fey seems to really “walk the walk,” not just “talk the talk.” I think she is a great role model, and someone that everyone, especially women, can look up to.

– Melissa G.

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