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Feminist Camp Summer 2016 // Day Two: Igniting Passion to Exercise Power and Impact

June 8th, 2016

Feminist Camp Summer 2016 - 20160607-103945-smallEager to see different feminisms in action after our first day of camp, we first visited Women Moving Millions, where we learned of the organization’s mission to redirect resources and bolster female philanthropy. Topics of discussion included the lack of financial literacy learning opportunities for women and societal pressures to be quiet about spending. We found the intersection of class and gender to be not only pressing for lower class women; even with greater wealth, upper class women may not have knowledge of how to direct their financial resources or may be secondary to their husbands in financial matters. Executive Director Courtney Harvey shared that in issue to combatting such issues, Women Moving Millions creates community; Director of Community Engagement Chantal Bonitto encouraged us to create a supportive space for women wherever we go.

After lunching near the Seaport District, we talked with Symone New from the Doula Project, who described what it means to provide non-medical direct service and emotional support in birth, abortions, adoptions, and fetal loss. Reflection followed as we discussed the use of skill sets, interests, and access to resources to maximize the change we can effect.

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We then met with the Women and Justice Project, whose team, consisting of women who have experience with incarceration, believes the people most affected by issues possess unparalleled expertise that demands they be able to affect policy. In their goal to end mass incarceration of women, the project recognizes gender and feminism in the phenomenon. They also hope to end the criminalization of non-criminal issues, such as addiction, poverty, abuse, trauma, and mental health. Project members, including Associate Miyhosi Benton, discussed their dehumanizing and restrictive experiences while incarcerated, which included being shackled while being pregnant and facing barriers to raising their children. They encouraged us to be persistent in battling injustice and to realize our passions and subsequently fight for them.

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At the New York City Bar Association, we met lawyers Marie-Claude Jean Baptiste and Susan M. Kath of the Cy Vance Center for International Justice; their work includes getting private lawyers to do pro bono work. They discussed research on women’s imprisonment in Jamaica and Latin America, which reveals the legal system’s neglect of the circumstances related to survival and family preservation in cases and sentencing. Jean-Baptiste and Kath, who focus on international law and environmental law respectively, implored us to search for the linkages among different issues, such as motivations for “crime” and underlying systematic oppression.

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After a few hours of free time, during which campers explored pizza joints, Times Square, and Museum of Sex, we volunteered at the Sanctuary for Families Zero Tolerance Benefit Gala, where we sold raffle tickets. The excitement to help victims of gender violence inspired us for day 3: reproductive justice.