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  • Articles, Relationships, Tough Questions, TRENDING, Woman's History

    How To Be an LGBT+ Ally

    LGBTQ Ally


    If you’ve been on the internet lately, you might have noticed that June is LGBT+ Pride month. It’s a time of empowerment for queer people and a time to shed light on issues within the  LGBT+ community. If you’re straight, you may feel like you have no place talking about these issues. However, this is definitely not the case. Straight and cisgender people have a place in the LGBT+ community as allies.

    What is an ally?

    According to Wikipedia an ally is “a heterosexual or cisgender person who supports equal civil rights, gender equality, LGBT social movements, and challenges homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”

    How can I be an ally?

    1. Educate Yourself

    LGBT+ communities differ from straight communities in a lot of ways and, as an ally, it’s your job to be aware of these differences. For example, in LGBT+ communities, it’s probably more appropriate to use non-gendered language and ask for a person’s pronouns before assuming their gender identity. In addition to educating yourself on how to navigate LGBT+ social interactions, you should also make an effort to learn about current issues surrounding LGBT+ rights. Without knowing policies to fight against, it’s impossible to be an effective ally. Another very important thing to educate yourself on is the history of queer people in America (or whatever country you live in). Learning the history behind the issues that queer people deal with today will not only deepen your knowledge of the issues themselves, but enrich your understanding of LGBT+ people and their struggles.

    2. Stand up

    Allies should always be willing to stand up in defense LGBT+ rights. This doesn’t mean that every ally needs to be an activist. Standing up could be as simple as calling out a friend who makes a transphobic joke or choosing not to support businesses owned by people who are homophobic. If you see someone being bullied for their sexual orientation, don’t be afraid to intervene. You should always be outspoken in your support of LGBT+ rights.

    3. Listen

    Remember that you don’t know everything. Even the best ally makes mistakes or says the wrong thing sometimes. The difference between a good ally and a bad ally is the ability to listen. When someone criticizes you or calls you out for something, be open and ready to change. Don’t be proud and stubborn. A good ally also realizes their place. Even if you are a great ally, you can never truly understand the experience of a queer person. Always listen to what they have to say and make sure not to silence them. Allies should understand that it’s important for LGBT+ voices to be heard. There is a time for allies to speak up and there is a time for allies to listen. Be aware of this and stay mindful of how much space you’re taking up.

    The steps to being a good ally are straightforward but not easy. It takes a lot of effort to become an ally; it’s not just something that you can do for a month. Being an ally is something that you have to do 24/7. LGBT+ rights are human rights, and it’s important for everyone to do their part in defending them.

  • Book Review, Celebrities, GirlSpring.com, Shero, Woman's History

    Review: Becoming by Michelle Obama

    Book Review Michelle Obama

    Review: Becoming by Michelle Obama

    Although Becoming was released in November of 2018, it wasn’t until recently that I finally had the opportunity to read it. A memoir by former First Lady Michelle Obama, Becoming is organized into three sections, “Becoming Me,” “Becoming Us,” and “Becoming More,” that bring readers on Mrs. Obama’s journey through several key elements of her life, including her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, her marriage and life with Barack Obama and their daughters, and her experience as the First Lady of the United States of America. I have always loved hearing Michelle Obama speak, and that same strong, intelligent, and elegant voice is portrayed in her writing. I found Becoming to be a very engaging memoir, and there were many important takeaways I had from reading it.

    1.Be aware of your surroundings and any changes that may be occurring: Michelle Obama discusses how she was always a very observant and opinionated individual. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Mrs. Obama discusses that the area wasn’t always as Black-populated as it is now. When she was in elementary school, her class at Bryn Mawr Elementary School had a fair number of white students as well, but the number of non-black students dwindled significantly as the years passed because more and more white families were moving to the suburbs. Through her observations and awareness of the concept of race from a young age, Mrs. Obama was able to become a more thoughtful and societally-competent individual. She would take these experiences and ideas into the future as a law student and woman of great power.

    2. People with authority may not always be correct: When Michelle Obama was in her senior year of high school and applying to colleges, her school guidance counselor told her that she wasn’t “Princeton material.” Instead of taking this as a set-back, Mrs. Obama stayed confident and reached out to other individuals in her school and community to help support her through the process. She successfully gained admission to Princeton University, the school of her choice, proving to herself (and to her guidance counselor) that she was, in fact, Princeton material. Big takeaway: it’s important to always believe in yourself and not let one’s title intimidate you.

    3. Don’t underestimate yourself just because the people around you seem smarter. At Princeton, Michelle Obama found herself to be a definite minority, both as an African American student and as a woman. Princeton, primarily white and male, was intimidating at first and Mrs. Obama felt that she may not belong. However, as she immersed herself in her classes and participated in the discussions, she realized that although the other students may have had a stronger educational foundation than she did, that didn’t make them smarter than her. Michelle Obama realized that she was a valuable member of the classroom, and this helped her succeed as a student at Princeton.

    4. Do what makes you happy. Life may be shorter than you think. One of Michelle Obama’s closest friends at Princeton was a woman named Suzanne Alele. Joining college as a pre-med student to satisfy her parents’ wishes, Suzanne soon realized that it wasn’t the path for her. She was lighthearted and loved parties, and she did what made her happy. Suzanne decided to travel after her years at Princeton, and Michelle Obama initially thought Suzanne wasn’t making the best use of her Princeton education. However, when Suzanne lost her fight to cancer and died at a very young age, Mrs. Obama felt that it was good that Suzanne had spent her life being free-spirited and doing the things she loved. Life may be shorter than we think, so we should always work to live each day the way we want.

    5. It’s okay to not always have a plan: Michelle Obama discusses how she was always very keen on organization and having a plan. Describing her journey from Princeton to Harvard Law School to her job as a lawyer at the firm Sidley Austin, she tells readers that she compared her accomplishments to checking off boxes on big list of plans for her life. However, this changed after she met Barack Obama, who was spontaneous and chose to pursue his interests and take life as it came. Mrs. Obama realized that life didn’t always have to be so planned out, and sometimes success could be achieved by taking advantage of opportunities that came one’s way and through hard work.

    6. It’s okay to ask for help. The transition to the White House was understandably difficult. Through words of encouragement and support from her brother Craig, Michelle Obama made the decision to move to the White House with her husband and family. She requested her mother to help her take care of Malia and Sasha during this process, allowing her to ultimately take control of and adjust to the situation without feeling extremely overwhelmed and burned out. Receiving help can allow an individual sort out their life and can actually help them be more productive.

    Both an interesting and informative read, I learned many important life lessons from Becoming. This is a very empowering book, especially for young women. Becoming is definitely a must-read, and is a great book for the summer if you haven’t already read it!

    Find it here, https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Michelle-Obama/dp/1524763136

    Looking for more good books? Check out our other book reviews, like this one by @bella_the_book_fairy, https://www.girlspring.com/?s=book+thief

    Or, check out your local library where everything is free!

  • GirlSpring.com, STEM, Technology, Woman's History

    Women’s History Month Highlights STEM w/Three Inspiring Engineers!

    Women's History Month Highlights STEM

    Three Inspiring Women Engineers

    In the workforce, only 13% of engineers are women. However, it is an industry that is booming. In the past 5 years there has been a 54% increase in the number of women graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in engineering. When you are deciding what to study in college, engineering is an excellent career choice that is continually moving forward as technology advances. Just consider – you too can follow in the footsteps of some of the most inspiring women in engineering’s history.

    Paige Kassalen

    Paige Kassalen worked on the first ever solar powered plane, Solar Impulse II. She is an electrical engineer that was part of the ground crew. The plane itself flew all the way around the world without using any fossil fuel at all. It is this kind of engineering that will change the world and help the environment. In 2017, Kassalen was listed in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, as not only the youngest woman, but the only engineer. To get a career in electrical engineering, you need excellent skills in math and an understanding of how to apply this to the practical world. You can always improve your math skills by taking free courses and using flash cards before college. It could help you on your way to a very inspiring career.

    Katherine Johnson

    Katherine Johnson had a long and prestigious career with NASA, changing the opinions and attitudes of Americans in a very difficult period of history, where segregation was still the norm. As an African American woman, she paved the way for the next generation in engineering, proving that if you study hard, you can achieve greatness despite prejudice. You just need to watch the movie Hidden Figures to understand how important the work that she did was. Johnson calculated launch windows, trajectories and even back-up return paths for so many missions, including the 1969 Apollo 11 mission and Project Mercury. She is proof that if you have enough determination and passion, you can succeed.

    Victoria Drummond MBE

    Victoria Drummond was the very first British marine engineer. She served during WWII in the British Merchant Navy as Chief Engineer. In fact Drummond was even awarded the Lloyd’s War Medal for Bravery at Sea, following her bravery and sheer gumption whilst under fire. She inspired a younger generation of women to aspire to careers in naval engineering – a job that was previously considered to be off limits for women.

    Engineering is a future-proof career choice within so many different industries, from aeronautics to computing. When you are considering college, how about making engineering one of your options?

     

  • Woman's History

    Women in History to be Thankful For

    Women in History to be Thankful For

    by Sarah Vice, intern for GirlSpring

    I am thankful for women’s rights and for the women who stood up and spoke out in favor of those rights. You always hear people saying to give thanks for the veterans that defend our freedom, which I am thankful. I am eternally grateful to all people who stand up and fight for me. But this does not stop at war veterans. This includes the women in history and today who put their lives or livelihoods at risk just so that we can have equal rights.

    I wouldn’t be able to write this post if it were not for a long list of women who fought for freedom of speech, freedom of the press, women’s rights, and a strong sense of leadership. Some honorable mentions are below.

    Susan B. Anthony

    Some of these names might be familiar to you. That’s good. We can start with the earliest member of the list, Susan B. Anthony. Recently, the midterm elections led a flock of people to leave their “voting” stickers on her memorial stone.

    By the age of 17, Anthony was already involved with pushing anti-slavery petitions. She was young, but she knew what was right versus what was wrong. In 1863, she had nearly 400,000 people sign a petition to abolish slavery. In 1866, Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton created the American Equal Rights Association, which boasted freedom for both women and people of color. At the age of 46, Anthony began a newspaper in support of women’s rights.

    In 1872, Anthony was arrested for voting. Can you imagine the bravery it would take to risk remaining in jail the rest of your days so that you could have a single vote in an election? But that’s not all it was. It was not just a single vote. It was a vote for womankind and the demand for the right to have a voice. Because of her bravery, I received the right to vote from the legal age of 18. This is one reason why I vote. Because it was not a given, it was a battle to have that right.

    Harriet Tubman

    The next woman on the list that I am thankful for is Harriet Tubman. This woman was abused from a young age. She legally belonged to someone. If that sentence doesn’t break your heart and enrage you, then you do not deserve her bravery. Tubman broke free of her chains, and instead of moving on with her newfound freedom, she chose to keep coming back for those she loved and eventually other slaves. She didn’t find the time to pity herself. She was so busy saving as many people as she could through the Underground Railroad.

    Once the Civil War began, Tubman served as a spy for the United States Army. In doing so, I am sure countless lives were spared and brought free from their bonds. Her courage goes on into fighting for women’s rights. In response to the question of why women should be given the right to vote, Tubman exclaimed that her suffering gave her the right to it. She continued her life in support of women’s activist groups and the suffragist movement.

    Clara Barton

    The list continues to pattern women of strength and courage. Clara Barton was none too shy of showing the world what women are capable of. She brought the American Red Cross to America in 1864. After years of military nursing experience, it was time for Clara to begin heading a major organization that would later become the largest disaster relief in Northern America. Even now, the name is probably familiar with recent catastrophes or blood drives.

    Though Barton’s take on the American Red Cross was dismissed by the belief that her humanitarian efforts would drag the organization down—by a male-dominated board—she resumed trying to memorialize the brave women from the war. She would later create a new foundation that would aid in local relief. It was called the National First Aid Society.

    These three women are part of a long list of independent thinkers who found a way to give us a better present and future. The list will continue to grow as young girls like yourselves are inspired by the work of others. If something seems hard now, just consider what the reward will be for those who come after you. Be selfless and selfish all the same.

    So this holiday, as you are passing the turkey around and drooling over that sweet potato pie, remember to give thanks to those who have made improvements in your life and the lives of others.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Articles, Health, Woman's History

    Important Women in the Field of Mental Health

    May has just ended, and is mental health awareness month, which is why I want to celebrate the achievements of some of the many women who have made significant advancements in the field of mental health. Before we can get into that, here are some important mental health resources:

    Free online counseling: https://www.betterhelp.com/
    Birmingham Crisis Center Teen Hotline (call or text the following number): 205 328 5465

    Here are some of the most important ladies that have made some lasting impressions on the field of mental health.

    Dorothea Dix (1802-1887)
    Dix was an important activist on behalf of the mentally ill in the US. She helped establish the first generation of American mental asylums through a rigorous process of lobbying. Additionally, she helped change people’s perception of the mentally ill as being more human than animal in the US and in Europe.

    Eve Johnstone (1943- present)
    Johnstone has contributed a hefty amount of research to the clinical study of schizophrenia. She is most famous for her 1973 study that shows the differences in the brains of schizophrenic patients vs the control group. Additionally, she has written a total of 6 books on the topic of schizophrenia.

    Melanie Klein (1882-1960)
    Klein was a psychoanalyst that contributed knowledge and techniques that influenced child psychology and therapy. She thought that children’s play was their primary way of emotional communication, and attempted to decipher the specific meaning of child’s play.

    Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (1926-2004)
    Kubler-Ross was a pioneer in near death studies. Near death studies is a field of psychology and psychiatry that studies the after effects of near death experiences on individuals. She innovated the 5 stages of grief, which is known as the Kubler-Ross model. Her book On Death and Dying came out in 1969, and was groundbreaking for the time period.

    Sula Wolff (1924-2009)
    Wolff worked as a child psychiatrist in Britain with children who were mostly socially withdrawn and reclusive. She is the author of 2 different books on the topic of child psychology. Additionally, she was the first person to receive a grant from the Medical Research Council Grant to study child psychiatry. Her work emphasizes the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.

    Wolff also understood and pushed the importance of talking to and addressing children in a non stigmatizing way. In the end, her work became used as the basis for a lot of research being done today on Aspergers and autism.

    sources:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothea_Dix
    https://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/dorothea-lynde-dix
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoanalysis
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eve_Johnstone
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanie_Klein
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_K%C3%BCbler-Ross
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sula_Wolff
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near-death_studies
    https://www.goodtherapy.org/famous-psychologists/sula-wolff.html

  • GirlSpring.com, TRENDING, Woman's History

    Get to Know the Women from the 2018 Midterm Elections Who Made History

    Jeannette Rankin began breaking ground in 1917 as the first woman in history in the House of Representatives. She was also one of the key people in pushing the 19th Congressional Amendment, which allowed women to have equal voting rights. Now, thanks to her bravery and devotion to women’s rights, we have a record-breaking number of women recently elected to Congress.

     

     

    On November 6th, 2018, a remarkable number of women were elected to Congress, making the overall number of women representing the House more than 100. It doesn’t stop there, either. The 2018 midterm elections were followed by several firsts.

    Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the first Muslim women elected to Congress. Tlaib will be America’s first Palestinian-American congresswoman, and Omar will be the first Somali-American congresswoman. Rashida Tlaib is a lawyer and a politician. She previously served a full term as a Democratic member of Michigan’s House of Representatives.  She won the recent election with over 136,000 votes uncontested. She is a single mother of two sons. She once was removed from a venue where President Trump was being honored with an official Purple Heart. She claimed that he had not earned it. She stood her ground and was escorted respectfully.

    Ilhan Omar was the first non-white woman elected to Minnesota’s House of Representatives and is the first Muslin refugee to be elected. Omar won the election with more than 267,000 votes. Omar was once a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota and was nominated as a rising star in the Party’s Women’s Hall of Fame. She also lives happily with her husband and three children. She spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya in the early ‘90’s after the start of the war. After immigrating to the states in 1995, Omar was able to learn the English language in less than three months. She graduated with a degree in political science and international studies from the University of North Dakota in 2011.

    Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are the first Native American congresswomen. Davids is not only a member of the Native American Ho-Chunk nation, making congressional history, but she is also the first publicly declared lesbian in Congress and a former professional MMA fighter. Davids is a strong young woman who chose to leave MMA fighting in 2013 to follow her democratic political dreams in representing Kansas in Congress. She received her Juris Doctor—degree in Indian law—from Cornell Law School in 2009. She won over 164,000 votes in the midterm election.

    Deb Haaland is a member of the Laguna Pueblo people from New Mexico. She received a bachelors in English and continued onto graduate school to claim her Juris Doctor degree from the University of New Mexico Law School. Haaland is a single mother who enjoys running marathons and gourmet cooking.

    Marsha Blackburn is Tennessee’s first woman elected to Senate. Blackburn brandishes herself as a conservative Republican. She has been a member of Tennessee’s Senate, and a U.S. Representative for Tennessee’s 7th congressional district. She is a strong supporter of “traditional marriage,” pro-life, and non-government-controlled healthcare. She is a former member of the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board and is married with two children.

    Janet Mills is elected Maine’s first female governor. She ran as part of the democratic party and earned 318,000 votes in the election, winning by nearly 7%. She was an assistant attorney general and then the district attorney for three counties in Maine. She was the first woman elected to be Maine’s district attorney. She is the widowed mother of five stepdaughters and has three grandsons.

    Ayanna Pressley is the first black person elected into Massachusetts’s House of Representatives. She is the first female black women elected to Congress. Pressley was raised by her mother who worked incredibly hard to give her a better life. Pressley was a cheerleader in high school and did some voice-over work for Planned Parenthood advertisements. She supports the “take a knee” movement that gives recognition of the U.S.’s need for equality. Pressley is also a survivor of sexual crimes in which she fights against for herself and other young women. She believes that the states should defund the Immigration and Customs Enforcement laws as they endanger immigrant communities.

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman elected into Congress at age 29. She will be representing New York’s 14th Congressional district beginning January 2019. She ran as part of the democratic party. In high school, Ocasio-Cortez had a small asteroid named after her when she won second place for a research project on microbiology during the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. After facing financial struggles shortly after high school, she was awarded funds from Sunshine Bronx Business Incubator, which allowed her to start a small publishing firm. She went on to be an educator for the National Hispanic Institute, which is a non-profit organization. Ocasio-cortex supports free education for universities and colleges. She supports 100% renewable energy sources. She is for the impeachment of Trump and would like to the U.S. Customs and Enforcement agency to be abolished.

    Abbey Finkenauer is the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress. She is a member of the democratic party. She received her bachelor’s degree in Public Relations from Drake University in Iowa. She was endorsed by Barack Obama in her candidacy for this year’s midterms. She is the second youngest woman to be elected into Congress at age 30, following Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, age 29.

    Let these women represent everything that you can achieve in life. If someone says you can’t, or if the world feels like it’s against you, do not back down. Women in history have worked hard to get us to where we are today, and these newly elected women will help lead that venture. We are strong. We are smart. We are women.

  • Articles, Technology, Woman's History

    Hedy Lamarr: An Unknown Genius

    Hedy Lamarr: An Unknown Genius

    Hedy Lamarr. She was one of the most beautiful Hollywood stars in the 1940’s. She was well recognized for the roles she played in Hollywood hits Algiers and Sampson and Delilah. The fairy tale character Snow White was modeled after her in the 1937 cartoon. Hedy Lamarr was also the inspiration for the comic book character Catwoman. Lamarr’s beauty and glamour definitely did not go unnoticed in the film industry. However, her creative and intelligent mind was hidden from society. Not only was she a talented actress, she held a patent for frequency-hopping technology. This technology is now used for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Hedy Lamarr, was born as Hedy Kiesler in Austria in late 1910’s . In the documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Lamarr’s son tells of how Hedy took apart her toy music box and then put it back together at a young age. It was obvious she had a knack for inventing. Hedy’s father had helped her find that passion. He was in finance, but was very interested in technology. Furthermore, Hedy lived in a very cultured part of Austria. She would go to the opera, the theater, and she attended a prestigious school.

    Hedy had somewhat of an acting career, acting in small Viennese films. However, when she was on the boat the U.S. Normandie, she encountered Louis B. Mayer. He owned Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which was the company producing the big Hollywood movies. He offered her to be a Hollywood actress and she complied. In order to ensure a movie-star persona, Mayer gave her the name: Hedy Lamarr. Lamarr did have some trouble finding a movie to star in, when, one night at a party, she met a man named Charles Boyer. Boyer found her captivating and asked her to be in his movie, Algiers. After starring in that movie, she instantly became one of the most popular stars in Hollywood. However, her career did dwindle a little, but she gained success when she starred in Boom Town (1940). After that movie, she was constantly starring in well-known and well-written movies. The 40’s were when Hedy Lamarr’s acting career peaked. She was constantly working and in her free time, she would work on her inventions. She had a relationship with Howard Hughes, who was a famous expert on building planes. She had come up with ideas to help him improve planes he was building. Despite the exciting events that Hedy was a part of, the 40’s were a time of anxiety and turmoil since World War II was going on.

    After a shipload of 293 people sank due to German U-boats, Hedy decided she had to do something. She thought of a solution to combat Nazi submarines and decided a radio-controlled torpedo could solve the problem. This was where her idea of frequency-hopping technology came in. The torpedoes the US used had one transmit frequency communicating, making it easy for the signal to be jammed. Frequency-hopping technology would be able to prevent the jamming of radio signals. With the help of George Antheil, a renowned musician, Hedy come up with an outline to build radio-controlled torpedoes that used frequency-hopping technology. They showed their idea to the National Council of Inventors. One of the inventors, Charles Kettering, transferred them to Professor Sam S. Mackeown, who was a physicist at Caltech. Mackeown. He was responsible for designing the electronics of George and Hedy’s project. When the patent was issued, it was issued to George and Hedy. However, since the Navy was against using the device, George and Hedy did not get money at first. Hedy’s invention was not used until the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. However, at the time Hedy did not get paid. Finally, Hedy got some recognition through Forbes in 1990. By then, her technology was already being used in GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi technology, military satellites, and more. Hedy Lamarr died in 2000, leaving a legacy that will forever be remembered.

    To learn more about Hedy Lamarr’s story, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is a great documentary to watch. It is available on Netflix.

    Sources used: Field, Shivaune. “Hedy Lamarr: The Incredible Mind Behind Secure WiFi, GPS And Bluetooth.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 8 Mar. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/shivaunefield/2018/02/28/hedy-lamarr-the-incredible-mind-behind-secure-wi-fi-gps-bluetooth/#197f105541b7.
    Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. Dir. Alexandra Dean. Perf. Hedy Lamarr. Zeitgeist Films and Kino Lorber, 2017. Netflix. https://www.netflix.com/title/80189827
    Picture credits: “Hedy Lamarr.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Aug. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr.