Ordinary People

September 8, 2006

I’m not easy to impress.

That sounds pissy and arrogant, I know. But it’s true. Celebrities don’t impress me (which is not to say that I wouldn’t shriek a little bit if I brushed sleeves with Josh Holloway, but that would be more because of his lickability than his impressive acting ability). I’ve encountered enough of them to know that they are usually shorter and uglier and far less pleasant in person than they appear onscreen. And in any case, the ability to stand in front of a camera and look surprised/scared/vague has never struck me as particularly impressive.

Sure, there are many talented and accomplished actors out there, as there are talented and accomplished musicians and athletes and comedians (um, Jon Stewart? Dave Chapelle?) and astrophysicists. Indeed, there are talented men and women in every field imaginable. But they are, still, just ordinary men and women and I’d need a bit more information about them before I could count myself well and truly impressed. Are they thoughtful? Intelligent? Passionate? Do they care about things other than themselves? Do they try to make a meaningful, considered difference in the world? (And no, driving a Prius doesn’t count here.) Are they good people, in the most nuanced and comprehensive sense of that word?

(I should note that I make special exceptions for people who make extraordinary contributions to their field or to world history. Picasso was an ass, Nietzsche was a clapped-out weirdo and Mother Teresa tended to excessive dogmatism – but to say that these individuals were merely impressive would be gross understatement.)

My sense is that the stock of impressiveness of most of the more famous people in the world wouldn’t hold up under such interrogation. But (and I assure you that this is not shameless ass-kissing) many of you ­– my bloggy friends – would. Which is one of the reasons why I’ve become so committed to our little corner of the blogosphere: it’s a space full of intelligent, literate people who love their children deeply and who are passionately committed to doing the best possible job raising those children and to doing what they can to make the world a better place for those children.

It’s revolutionary, as some have already said. And it’s impressive. You are impressive. Really impressive.

And you know what? Gloria Steinem thinks so, too.

She said so. On the telephone.

(I’ll wait while you pick yourselves up off the floor.)

(Oh. Wait. That’s me on the floor. S’cuse me…)

As part of an effort to promote a new media project (Greenstone Media: radio for women by women) that she is involved with, I was invited to participate in a conference call with Ms. Steinem and a handful of other bloggers. She said a number of amazing, insightful, and inspirational things (as one would expect from one of the founders of the contemporary feminist movement) – some of which I’ll try to address in posts over the coming week or two – and she totally knocked my socks off and made me want to be a better feminist.

And by far the coolest thing that she said was this: that she saw the women (and many of the men) of the blogosphere as being at the forefront of a new kind of revolutionary movement. A movement wherein we really talk to one another, and listen to one another. A movement wherein the highest premium is placed on telling the truth, and deriving inspiration and power from the truth. A movement that we further with every post that we write, with every supportive comment that we leave, with every empowering conversation that we spark and fuel and fan to a blaze. A movement that a big cool enterprise like Greenstone Media is committed to promoting. Our movement.

But she also said this: never forget that such a movement, based as it is on dialogue and debate, can only ever be a support for action. It cannot replace action. Don’t cocoon in your blogosphere, she said. Don’t mistake speaking or writing for acting. Don’t just talk: do.

So with that in mind, I have another (yes!) assignment for you: sometime this week, write a post about a cause that you are passionate about. Provide links and information and guidance for people to actually follow up on your post and take some sort of action: where can they make a donation? Sign a petition? Volunteer? How can they help promote your cause? Use this post as a catalyst for action – make it your mission to show, in whatever small way, how the blogosphere can support real action in support of real causes. It doesn’t have to be big – you don’t have a start a fundraising drive from your blog (although that would be cool), you just need to make a stab at showing how writing/speaking/blogging can support action. If you have already promoted a cause through your blog, or do so on an ongoing basis (as I know may of you do), simply provide me with some relevant links and a description of what you’ve been up to in the comments. Ditto if you know of someone else with a cause: do a post or post a comment with links and info. Then, as always, I’ll compile the posts, etc. etc. and we shall be a beacon of light, a chorus of voices – cue choir – and we will have Done Something and will be Doing Something in addition to All This Talk. And we’ll be even more impressive.

And Gloria will be proud.

So will WonderBaby. And she’s tougher to impress.

********

But wait! There’s more!

Gloria (yes, I call her Gloria now, ahem) has offered to answer one more question from me. In writing. And I, magnanimous lady that I am, have decided to give the question-asking opportunity to YOU. Post your question to Gloria – it can be on any topic – in my comments sometime today or tonight, and I’ll select one (am magnanimous dictator) to forward to her in the morning. I’ll post the question (with credit to person who provides it) and her response and an update on Assignment Take Action (above) early next week.

And you will be forever able to brag that You Asked Gloria Steinem a Question and She Answered You.

(I did it yesterday, and believe me, it’s worth the full caps.)

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    { 87 comments }

    L. September 11, 2006 at 2:33 pm

    OH DEAR GOD, I JUST POSTED THAT COMMENT ON THE WRONG BLOG!

    That will teach me to have too many little windows open.

    Oh well — it`s unrelated, but it`s a great post nonetheless. Sorry, HBM!

    Chantal September 11, 2006 at 2:46 pm

    Awesome idea. I am going to love reading each and every post in this assignment.

    I’m going to write about one of my bigger passions right now – women, girls specifically, in sports. Helping them achieve, grow and excel as athletes. As an athlete and Mom to 3 girls, this one is a biggie for me.

    Feminist Mom September 11, 2006 at 6:21 pm

    Great post!

    I would love to ask Gloria how to make the struggle for mother’s rights a more active part of the women’s movement.

    mamatulip September 11, 2006 at 7:21 pm

    I changed my mind at the last minute about the subject of my cause — I’m not sure if it’s what you were looking for, but here it is:

    http://www.mamatulip.com/?p=422

    Sober In the City September 11, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    Look at all these women who want to engage in their community. I’m so impressed with your readership! It was a pleasure sharing the call with you!

    slackermommy September 11, 2006 at 11:49 pm

    Here is my contribution. Thank you for doing this!

    http://slacker-moms-r-us.blogspot.com/2006/09/friends-of-kids-with-cancer.html

    mo-wo September 12, 2006 at 1:49 am

    Yes I love the potent force of the blogourhood to evoke truth. I noted that in recent weeks I have been much more up front in my IRL mamma exchanges and I thank blogging for that. I truly value the fealty and fidelity of the community so widely available for inumerable reasons.

    I also went out and bought a $100+ child carrier yesterday because it was mentioned three times and hyperlinked on blogs I read. sucker!

    ps. I will endeavour to post soon on my cause of choice. My obession and profession — free reading! Let your thunder lend some ears to the waning understanding we have about libraries in a free and critical society, particularly the libraries we offer to schoolchildren.

    Chantal September 12, 2006 at 8:06 am

    My post is all written, spiffed up full of links and ready to go!

    http://breadcrumbsinthebutter.typepad.com/bread_crumbs_in_the_butte/2006/09/passion.html

    Jozet September 12, 2006 at 9:57 am

    You are my idol!

    Here is my post

    http://yonkogirl.blogspot.com/2006/09/lactivists-anonymous.html

    with linkage on back to you.

    Jenny September 13, 2006 at 7:36 am

    What an amazing revolution we’re a part of.

    I have an old post that I’m pretty proud of that spurred on a few people to get help. click on my name for the link.

    You do such wonderful work.

    And Gloria! Eeeee! I can’t believe you actually communicated with her!

    lala September 13, 2006 at 10:39 am

    I live in an insulated, sorta lonely little world right now but this morning my focus was shifted to other people’s children and I decided to write about it. My entry is here

    momish September 13, 2006 at 11:40 am

    Hi! Thanks for the opportunity to do this! Here is a link to my post regarding animal rights.
    http://momish.squarespace.com/blog/2006/9/13/cause-i-care.html

    Jenny September 13, 2006 at 11:43 am

    Must’ve been karma. This morning I was hit in the face with inspiration. See my latest post.

    http://blogs.chron.com/mamadrama/archives/2006/09/how_a_can_of_ch.html

    scarbie doll September 13, 2006 at 12:03 pm

    Dear Ms. Gloria Steinem,

    Thank you for giving us feminism, however it’s making me tired. After endeavouring to raise a future productive global citizen, trying to be a good wife, attempting to have a clean and organized home, keeping track of the fact that we’re on the last roll of toilet paper, working to pay the bills, volunteering to help others and writing to feed my soul, dreaming and scheming of ways to fulfill my larger goals, I only have one question for you — when is a modern feminist mother supposed to sleep?

    Sincerely,

    Bags Under Her Eyes That Sephora Can’t Fix.

    crazymumma September 13, 2006 at 12:58 pm

    Here is my call to action. Thanks again for creating a good forum.

    http://crazymummasays.blogspot.com/2006/09/live-life-love-few-random-synapses.html

    jen September 13, 2006 at 3:50 pm

    Hey there Bad,

    Here’s my addition.
    http://droolstreet.blogspot.com/
    Cheers.

    Izzy September 14, 2006 at 8:22 am

    Feel free to count my war against Bratz padded bras for 6 yr olds as a call to action.

    Buttercup September 14, 2006 at 1:27 pm

    I found you through something blue and I’m inspired. I’ll be back.

    Glennia September 14, 2006 at 10:52 pm

    Hmm…interesting…I got similarly inspired a few months ago and wrote something about the late William Sloane Coffin, who was famous, but I actually did know him. It’s here:

    http://tinyurl.com/jf8tw

    As a result, I am running a fundraiser on my blog for schools in Louisiana that were affected by Hurricane Katrina through DonorsChoose. I went to this area last year right after the hurricane, and a year later people are still in need.

    http://tinyurl.com/krsdf

    One of the reasons I started blogging was to write about volunteering. Thanks for the reminder of what a great tool this is for raising awareness. Here’s to the revolution–let’s get the party started!

    I highly recommend Gloria Steinem’s book “Revolution from Within”–every woman should read it!

    crunchy carpets September 17, 2006 at 11:27 pm
    Lisa b September 18, 2006 at 3:09 pm
    Mommy off the Record September 19, 2006 at 3:47 am
    Kimmy September 19, 2006 at 11:50 am

    Great post… great idea!!! I stopped over from Bloggy Gossip after reading about your idea.

    My heart is full of a little girl I’ve never met. A little girl that touched my heart in such a way I seem to be living and fighting for her. And in turn I’m fighting for myself.

    Baylie is a little girl I “ran into” while surfing the web. I learned that she not only has two of the rare brain diseases I have, but she’s only 6 years old (now 7).

    Baylie has decided that she won’t stand for brain tumor like symptoms, the constant and terrible headaches or any other yucky symptom that rears its ugly little head. She instead decided to raise money for research. Research that is to date NONEXISTENT. (And I’ve been diagnosed for over 17 years!!!)
    She started coloring pictures and selling them at garage sales. She’s sold lemonade. She’s tried so many things. Now she makes bracelets. Little beaded bracelets that have earned nearly $100,000 toward research for Pseudotumor Cerebri and Arnold Chiari Malformation.
    Baylie has touched my heart so. Though I know my diseases are too far along for a cure… Baylie’s aren’t. She can live a normal and painfree life if a cure is found. And so can many others because of her efforts. My tiny little post about Baylie is nothing wonderful. It was written in a rush and a flood of emotions. It jumps around and is far from well written, but it’s from the heart. My post’s about a little girl with so much hope, a little girl with big arms who embraces so many… a little girl who deserves to know peace.

    Rose September 20, 2006 at 2:05 am

    Each month, my website todays-woman.net supports Hugs and Hope by sending happy mail to children battling a critical illness. More can be read about it at http://rosedesrochers.todays-woman.net/2006/06/24/volunteers-gives-sick-kids-reason-to-smile-hugs-and-hope/

    Dirty Birdie September 20, 2006 at 7:28 pm
    Dirty Birdie September 21, 2006 at 10:38 am

    So many blogs to read, so little time…I’ll defintaely try to get to as many as I can.

    mo-wo September 28, 2006 at 5:02 am

    Fashionably? late…

    I have finally got the post out

    http://motherwoman.blogspot.com/2006/09/raise-reader-or-not.html

    MysteriousLady October 2, 2006 at 12:46 pm

    Your post is just wonderful! Your challenge I will take to heart!

    Congrats on your PP award!

    MommaK October 2, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    You knew this was coming but I had no choice. This post knocked my argyle socks off. You rock woman!!

    Congrats on the PP award :)

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