Post Election Buzz: Women’s Funds Welcome New Reflective Democracy

Women, and particularly women of color, made historic gains in the 2018 elections.

How do you create better leadership? By electing quality leaders that reflect the values of the people. With the 2018 elections, Americans have elected more leaders than ever who share a vision to make the country more inclusive and safe,  particularly for women, minorities, and marginalized populations.

As feminist philanthropy leaders praise the outcome of the 2018 elections, they are also using this moment to continue advocating for the causes of women’s rights and reproductive freedom.  “Women’s Funding Network was created 30 years ago to increase women’s leadership in all arenas – media, corporate, policy, philanthropic. Progress is made every day,” tweeted Cynthia Nimmo, CEO of the Women’s Funding Network.  “Today, so proud to see a more inclusive democracy in America.”

“Thank you to those who took risks and those who found courage to push back against hate, racism, sexism and white supremacy,” tweeted Teresa Younger, CEO of the Ms. Foundation for women. “We are in this together and will continue to move forward. I am energized by what I continue to see and hear about our commitment to build power for good.”

Here in Rhode Island, where women are poorly represented in government and in danger of losing reproductive freedom, progressive women candidates made historic gains in political representation. Planned Parenthood Votes! Rhode Island (PPV!RI) reported that, along with growing the number of their endorsed candidates who got elected to 44, Rhode Island also elected a record 42 women to the state legislature, including 16 in the Senate and 26 in the House.

The Democrats’ regaining the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives was largely driven by women voters, who are being heralded as “pivotal” to the election’s results. And overall in Congress, at least 102 women will be sworn in early next year, up from 84 women currently serving in Congress.

Much of this change has to do with an intentional investment by progressive women donors in helping women learn about, prepare, and act on their goals of running for public office. Organizations like Vote, Run, Lead, EMERGE America, She Should Run, Running Start, and Higher Heights have been working for years to increase the number of women taking on the immense challenges of funding and winning political campaigns.

So it’s time to say thank you to the women donors who are thinking strategically, and who recognize the deep connection between political representation and progress for gender equality. Hopefully you feel validated for your efforts by this election’s outcomes, and will continue to expand your commitments to growing gender equality in government.

Related:

From Resistance to Renaissance: Women Must Embrace their Power for Funding Social Change

Interview with The Woman Project: “Reproductive Freedom is Essential”

Feminists Everywhere: Seattle Hosts WMM and WFN at Same Time

Kathy LeMay on Regenerating Courage as a Social Change Agent

Did You Vote? Do It Now, for the Sake of Reflective Democracy

Philanthropy Women publisher Kiersten Marek voted today in Rhode Island, and gave support to  local candidates running for city council, including Gail Harvey and Sarah Lee in Cranston.

It’s an election like no other, with record numbers of women running for office at the local, state, and national levels, and women everywhere becoming activist voters who want to see themselves represented in government.

It’s a great time to be publishing about women’s philanthropy, as more women take on funding nonprofits that are supporting gender equality, not only in the U.S. but also globally. So far this year we’ve seen significant growth in new organizations committing to addressing gender-based violence and education for girls worldwide, including Girls, Inc, the Obama Foundation, and the #MeToo Fund headed by Tarana Burke.

And yet so much more can happen to enlarge gender equality movements, and integrate new awarenesses into our daily lives about how we can treat others with less gender prejudice. Tomorrow, I’m excited to be sponsoring a Safe Conversations workshop for licensed mental health professionals at my offices in Cranston, Rhode Island. This is one way that I am trying to enlarge the gender equality practices that we all have the capacity to change — the ways that we speak to and support one another in our communities.

I will be holding subsequent workshops in Safe Conversations over the coming months. Please contact me if you are interested in enrolling in a future workshop.

Related:

Women Donors: Help RI Take Out Anti-Feminist State House Speaker

Built on Partnership: How This Power Couple Champions Gender Equality

Feminist Grantmaking’s Connection to the New Relational Culture

Happy Day for RI Progressives as Women Prevail in Primary Polls

UPDATE: Big Win for Progressives as RI Dems Rescind Endorsements

Giving For Good: Your Daily Round-Up of Feminist Philanthropy News

Support Journalism about Feminist Philanthropy by Subscribing to PW

Support Journalism about Feminist Philanthropy by Subscribing to PW

Please support journalism about feminist philanthropy by subscribing to Philanthropy Women.

Dear Readers,

I have good news: Philanthropy Women continues to flourish and gain momentum. Our readership continues to grow and our traffic is about 40% higher on average than it was a year ago. Our visibility is also growing, and our premium access subscriber base is beginning to generate income that allows us to expand what we are doing.

Now we are reaching out to you, dear readers, and asking for you to become premium access subscribers. Our ability to become sustainable in the long-term will depend on building a diverse subscriber base. By becoming a subscriber, you will help fund our work and the feminist community. You will have access to all of our content, including exclusive interviews with top funders and thought leaders in the gender equality philanthropy field. Your support will also be helping us sustain our mission of showcasing the exciting and evolving landscape of feminist philanthropy.

Visit Our Subscriber Page!

Whether we’re writing about how Promundo is engaging men as allies, or showing how the Harnisch Foundation’s Funny Girls is inspiring tween girls to become fierce leaders, or profiling the landscape of funders supporting sexual abuse prevention, here at Philanthropy Women, we are continuously exploring the terrain of feminist philanthropy from many different directions.

Publishing Philanthropy Women is a labor of love, but we can’t do it without help from the community. Your support will mean we can produce more high quality journalism on the evolving field of gender equality giving. With your support, we will be able to help grow feminist philanthropy’s influence on local, national, and even global social policy and culture.

By supporting Philanthropy Women, you are helping to make visible the unique work of progressive women donors who are accelerating social change in powerful ways. Here is a link to the subscription page at Philanthropy Women. Thanks for your help!

Feminist Grantmaking’s Connection to the New Relational Culture

Feminist Scholar Rebecca Walker is pictured here with Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix, after delivering a lecture at Southern Methodist University in October of 2017. Walker and Hunt were in town to discuss the history of feminism and ways to develop a more relational culture.

The recent Kavanaugh hearings resurfaced a very old story about gender, power, and the truth of experience.  When Dr. Christine Blasey Ford bravely testified, people everywhere had to grapple with the fact that early life relationships, and particularly sexual traumas, can drastically impact our lives.

In fact, while our dominant culture remains in denial about the prevalence and negative effects of sexual violence, thought leaders in feminist psychology and sociology have been calling attention to the problem for decades.  While sexual violence is an extreme form of domination and abuse, these thought leaders have demonstrated how gender-based violence is part of a continuum of control and exploitation that most women begin to experience more of as they hit adolescence.

As David Brooks wisely points out in his recent op-ed, Two Cheers for Feminism, “For thousands of years social thinking has been dominated by men — usually alpha men — who saw life as a place where warriors and traders went out and competed for wealth and power. These male writers were largely blind to the systems of care that undergirded everything else.” Brooks references Carol Gilligan, Niobe Way, Alisha Ali and Pedro Nuguero, in their new anthology called  “The Crisis of Connection,” for their ability to identify how the stereotypically masculine values of “self over relationships, individual success over the common good, the mind over the body, and thinking over feeling” have perpetuated harmful gender dynamics in relationships.

One way to reduce the harmful effects of gender inequality in our lives is by consciously practicing a different kind of being with our power — experiencing ourselves as having “power-with” other people, rather than “power-over” them. Despite growing social inequality, in our personal relationships, it is still possible to practice a “power-with” approach. One such approach is facilitated by a process called Safe Conversations.  

I recently attended a Safe Conversations training in New York, so that I could learn and teach others the skills to help people unpack the patriarchy and power dynamics in their personal lives. After decades of research and practice, Helen LaKelly Hunt and Harville Hendrix have come out with Safe Conversations, a new way to engage in relationships, that makes it possible for people to experience deeper empathy and understanding.

How Does Safe Conversations Work?

The training I attended in New York involved multiple practice sessions, during which we broke out into groups of three’s and practiced being both members and facilitators of the structured conversations.  Within an hour of beginning the training, we had begun to engage in conversations that went deeply into a space of emotional revelation.  Facial expressions softened as the groups tried out speaking to each other with new, unfamiliar sentence stems like, “Let me see if I’ve got that. You said…” and “Is that what you are feeling?” and then listened in new ways, with an ear toward being able to reflect back as much of what they heard as they could.

This wasn’t the first time I had practiced the techniques. I had attended an online workshop with my husband in February of 2017, and since then, had been introducing the technique in small ways in my private practice, with astonishing results. I had seen mothers and daughters reach new understandings of their longtime emotional struggle. I had seen couples practice the technique and come away with a renewed commitment to making their relationship work. Even as people sometimes felt awkward or resisted, I saw how speaking in this new way, using Safe Conversations, was impacting them positively.

Safe Conversations helps us identify ways in which we experienced early relational challenges, and how those challenges impact our identity, as well as our sense of hope and possibility about ourselves, our families, and the larger community. The process teaches us how to both share appreciation for people in our lives, and how to safely tell the story of our own emotional challenges. Built into the process of Safe Conversations is a feedback loop that fosters validating and empathizing with each other’s emotional struggles. Essentially, Safe Conversations teaches us that everyone needs to be part of the answer to a more gender equal and relational world, and gives us the skills to connect better with others.

A parallel process of sorts has been building momentum in philanthropy recently with a strategy called participatory grantmaking, which helps donors and grantees build stronger relationships. Participatory grantmaking invites donors and grantees to become partners, with the central premise that the grantee has the experience to lead the way toward solutions. Organizations like NCRP, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, and the Fund for Shared Insight, are adding to the chorus of philanthropy experts calling for more participatory grantmaking, with many large foundations joining the Fund for Shared Insight in the past year.

Three decades ago, Helen LaKelly Hunt was part of a small army of pioneering feminist founders of some of our country’s largest and most successful women’s foundations. By funding the start of these women’s funds, Hunt helped establish new community hubs for participatory grantmaking. Most women’s funds have been under-recognized practitioners of participatory grantmaking since inception, and these practices — of moving into relationship with the grantee, listening to and incorporating their feedback, and even of including grantees on boards and in the grantmaking process — have made women’s funds some of the most effective change agents in the philanthropic landscape.

In philanthropy, participatory grantmaking is teaching us to listen and value feedback in the donor-grantee relationship. This is a significant shift, but just as important are shifts that can take place in our own everyday relationships. With new techniques like Safe Conversations, we can all be stewards of stronger, more gender equal families and communities.

Editor’s Note: Kiersten Marek is trained as a Safe Conversations Leader and will be teaching her first Safe Conversations workshop on November 7, 2018. To learn more about future Safe Conversations workshops for both helping professionals and the general public, please email Kiersten at kiersten@philanthropywomen.org

Full disclosure: The Sister Fund (of which Helen LaKelly Hunt is co-founder) is a Lead Sponsor of Philanthropy Women. 

Related:

Women’s Funds Show Philanthropy the Way to Transparency, Diversity

Thought Leaders Discuss Origins of American Feminism, Parallels to Third Wave

Priscilla Chan and The Future of Inclusive Philanthropy

How to Reach Critical Mass for Gender Equality Movements

Women Donors: Help RI Take Out Anti-Feminist State House Speaker

The Woman Project, a grassroots coalition born in South County, Rhode Island, has called on both Speaker Mattiello and Rep. Keable to resign.

The Woman Project, a grassroots coalition of progressive women activists in Rhode Island, is calling on House Speaker Nick Mattiello and State Rep. Cale Keable to resign, in light of new evidence that Keable engaged in sexual harassment of Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian, and the House Speaker did little to address the problem.

The Woman Project noted that it is “unthinkable” that Speaker Nick Mattiello would “keep Representative Keable in a leadership role and take no formal action.”

Nick Mattiello is currently being challenged by Republican Steve Frias, who came very close to beating him in the last election, with only 85 votes making Mattiello the winner.

On October 29, Rep. Keable was suspended from his position as Judiciary Chair of the House of Representatives in Rhode Island.

The Woman Project further noted that Representative Keable’s power as Chair of the judiciary committee has prevented bills on reproductive freedom and sexual harassment from proceeding to the Rhode Island State House floor for full consideration by the legislature.

Because of Rhode Island’s size and political structure, the House Speaker has the power to “table” legislation and keep it from proceeding for a vote. In recent years, progressive women in Rhode Island have grown increasingly frustrated with the House Speaker’s stalling of legislation, particularly around women’s rights and gun control. Progressive women donors would do well to support the coalition of organizations coming together to defeat Mattiello in the upcoming election on November 6. Those organizations are the National Organization for Women, the Rhode Island Coalition against Gun Violence, and the Rhode Island Latino PAC. Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island also issued a statement calling on Rep. Keable to resign and criticizing the leadership of House Speaker Mattiello.

The Providence Journal provides an overview of the full story, including Mattiello’s side.

Here is the full statement from The Woman Project below:

Related:

Interview with The Woman Project: “Reproductive Freedom is Essential”

UPDATE: Big Win for Progressives as RI Dems Rescind Endorsements

Rebecca Traister Comes to Rhode Island for Women’s Fund Benefit

Women Donors: Rhode Island Women Candidates Need Your Help

$1,000 a Month: How These Grants Empower Women Entrepreneurs

Since 1998, Women’s Net has been providing grants to women entrepreneurs with no strings attached. This is an exceptionally successful model that could potentially be replicated in a world where women in business are rising.

One thing is for sure: there are not enough financial supports out there for women. As a woman myself developing the sustainability of my publishing work, I am always on the look-out for ways to get a stronger foothold in my own business/nonprofit niche, and I know many women who are in the same boat.  Banks and investors routinely discriminate against women entrepreneurs when giving small business loans and venture capital, so where can women entrepreneurs turn when they are angling to start successful small businesses?

Amid this hostile climate for women in business, one woman-owned enterprise is filling a niche with grant-giving that supports women entrepreneurs: WomensNet, which gives out Amber grants of $1,000 a month to women business owners. These grants are able to be made because each woman entrepreneur applying for a grant pays a $15 fee. With the accumulation of these $15 fees across 300-500 grant applicants a month, WomensNet is able to cover the costs of reviewing and choosing grantees, as well as the overhead costs to run their LLC business, and sometimes even has money left over to make multiple grants in a given month.

The three-woman board of WomensNet engages in a relatively straightforward process to choose its grantees. They read through every grant application and select a group of finalists, usually 5. Then they discuss each finalist in more detail and vote to determine a winner.

Recipients of Amber grants vary widely, and are easily perusable on their website. A few that jumped out at me include Imagiread, which fosters literacy for families in Houston, Texas, Yoga2Sleep, which offers yoga classes, corporate trainings, and a free online yoga video, and The Functional Pelvis, which provides physical and occupational therapy for people with pelvic floor dysfunction and complications.

An added perk of the Amber Grants: every monthly winner is eligible to receive a larger grant of $10,000 distributed yearly in December. This grants is chosen partially through online voting, so an element of public participation is engaged here, adding to the way that this for-profit business is engaging with the community.

With the growing need for funding opportunities for women, WomensNet is providing a critical public service by helping women build their businesses. It would be great to see larger funders for women consider models such as this one in order to expand their reach to women in business, or to expand nonprofit micro-grantmaking to women in communities. An organization like a state women’s fund, for example, might be a great place to set up a similar grant-funding structure since, with the support of marketing from the organization, they can help drive applicants’ fees which will then pay for the grants.

The downside of Amber Grants is that only 1 in 300 to 500 grant applicants receives a grant of $1,000, whereas many more could doubtlessly benefit from such a grant. But with added support from a foundation that could cover some of the costs of the grant’s administration, perhaps the odds of receiving a grant could be brought into the 1 in 100 or even 1 in 50 range. That would mean many more women would be able to receive a boosting grant that might make all the difference to their sustainability as a business, particularly in the start-up years.

You can learn more about Amber Grants here.

Related:

Priming the Pump: Exploring Ways to Grow Women’s Giving

This Social Enterprise Helps Women See Strategies for Giving Up-Close

WFN Launches New Resource and Community Hub for Women Entrepreneurs

NY Women’s Foundation Centers on Gender with New Justice Fund

The Justice Fund initiative was unveiled at a panel discussion titled A New Paradigm for Justice: Centering Women and Families presented by The New York Women’s Foundation and New York Philanthropy.

People who have been incarcerated face a number of barriers in reintegrating into society. For women, girls and transgender communities, the difficulties can be even steeper. Oftentimes, the effects of incarceration can worsen problems related to housing and employment, and can have a devastating impact on children.

To address these problems, particularly for women, The New York Women’s Foundation recently announced the creation of The Justice Fund, which will aim to do more to dismantle mass incarceration, particularly for women, girls, and transgender people.

This effort is part of a seven-year mobilization of funding to address issues related to incarceration. A press release announcing the initiative stated that,”The fund is the first of its kind in the country to engage in criminal justice reform through a lens of gender and racial equity.”

“Our initiative will create a new paradigm for justice that dismantles unfair and biased systems and creates new paths for stability and opportunity in the lives of New York City women, families, and communities,” said Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation, in a press release announcing the new initiative. Part of the goal of this initiative in New York City will be to close Rikers Island and find alternative ways to promote justice, safety, and well-being.

More from the press release:

The fund will harness financial and other resources of a diverse set of funders committed to justice reform for women, TGNC (transgender non-conforming) individuals, families, and communities in New York City.  Its framework for grantmaking will target organizations engaged in systems change and reform and community solutions and leadership.

Oliveira noted that insufficient attention has been paid to comprehensive policy and practice solutions that fully center issues of economic, racial and gender justice in their analysis and implementation.  When women are jailed, the impact is far reaching and destabilizes families and entire communities, yet gender-specific solutions and long-term solutions for women and families involved in the criminal justice system remain elusive.

While the focus will be on efforts targeted toward women, girls and TGNC individuals, it will also recognize that ending the effects of mass incarceration for them means ending mass incarceration for all.

Community-led expertise, input and solutions will be central to the initiative and will include the voices and visions of individuals with histories of criminal justice involvement, community leaders and community-based organizations, and leaders from academia and research.

Key strategies for implementation include grantmaking and philanthropic mobilization; thought leadership and outreach that supports reform efforts and disseminates best practices; and partnerships with policymakers and leaders at the city and state level in coordinated reform efforts.

Informed by the experiences of system-involved individuals, The Justice Fund will engage in a variety of reform efforts. These include: local and citywide grassroots organizing that supports closing Rikers, with a focus on closing the Rose M. Singer Center early; bail reform efforts; capacity building for the ecosystem of local community organizations engaging in reform efforts; investment in community solutions in the early stages of development in areas such as housing, mental health, and leadership development; and education and training for families.

The initiative was unveiled at a panel discussion titled A New Paradigm for Justice: Centering Women and Families presented by The New York Women’s Foundation and New York Philanthropy.  To watch the panel,  please visit here.

Related:

How Funny Girls is Growing Improv-Driven Leadership for Tweens

New #MeToo Funding Fuels Empathy and Justice for Survivors

LEAD Awards Go to Women’s Funds Supporting Young Women and Girls of Color

How is Walmart Doing with Supporting Women’s Funds and Women’s Empowerment?

Giving Circles Gain Infrastructure Support from Big Funders

Giving circle networks are getting anchor support from big funders including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in order to grow giving circle activity across America.

With the advent of new technologies to accelerate donating money and distributing grants, giving circles are the cutting edge of how many communities are finding and funding their causes. Now, a significant group of giving circles and funders are coming together to enhance the potential for giving circles to impact the philanthropy landscape.

This new partnership is led by five giving circles and collective giving networks, many of which bring unique social and cultural foci to the collaboration.  These five networks are coming together to “engage dozens of stakeholders across the philanthropic sector to design efficient and effective infrastructure to scale and strengthen the American giving circle movement.”

How are these giving circles finding the resources to grow the American giving circle movement? From some of the largest and most powerful funders in today’s philanthropy landscape. These funders include “Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Lodestar Foundation, Delores Barr Weaver, and Global Impact,” according to a press release announcing the project.

According to the Collective Giving Research Group, giving circles are a growing phenomenon in the United States, with the number of giving circles tripling over the past two decades to more than 1,500 in 2016. The research also shows that giving circles are responsible for as much as $1.29 billion in giving, and currently engage $150,000 people in the U.S.

The Five Giving Circles/Networks participating in this new collaboration are:

Amplifier:  Advisory Board Member Felicia Herman is leading her organization’s involvement in this new collaboration. Amplifier’s mission is to “grow the movement of intentional, collaborative giving by building and sustaining giving circles inspired by Jewish values.”

Asian Women Giving Circle & Faces of Giving:  Hali Lee is the contributing partner in this new collaboration. Asian Women Giving Circle is  “first and largest giving circle in the nation led by Asian American women.”  Lee is also a co-founder of Faces of Giving, which seeks to organize and empower giving in “minority, ethnic, immigrant and new American communities.” 

Catalist:  Catalist is the newly branded Women’s Collective Giving Grantmakers Network (WCGN).  Paula Liang, Vice-Chair of Catalist, will be representing Catalist in this new partnership. Catalist is a national network representing over 60 collective giving groups in the U.S. and Australia.

Community Investment Network: CIN is a national network of giving circles working to cultivate giving leadership in communities of color in order to influence mainstream philanthropy.  CIN Chair Marsha Morgan will be working with the new giving circle project.

Latino Giving Circle Network : Comprised of 18 giving circles, LGCN describes itself as “the largest network of Latino donors united by a shared sense of justice and generosity.” Sara Velten, Vice President of Philanthropy for LGCN, will be engaging with this initiative.

Bringing in the Big Funders 

Anchor funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for this initiative is a great indicator of how the large foundation may be pivoting further in the direction of feminist philanthropy. Readers of Philanthropy Women will recall that The Gates Foundation recently hosted both Women Moving Millions and the Women’s Funding Network in Seattle, in order to further explore and support strategies around gender-based giving. The Gates Foundation’s commitment to this new effort for giving circles suggests that the organization is being further influenced in the direction of democratizing philanthropy and making it part of the experience of more people. This new support also suggests that the Gates Foundation is funding multiple strategies to support giving by women. Research shows that giving circles are heavily female-dominated, with women leading 640 of the 706 giving circles surveyed by the University of Indiana in 2017.

Discovering and Capitalizing on Giving Circles

Donors, including large foundations, are discovering that starting a giving circle is a great way to infuse more money into the causes they care about.  Simultaneously, women’s philanthropy is growing in new directions, and one catalyst for this growth is women’s giving circles.

A prime example of a donor building out terrain in giving circles is Delores Barr Weaver, one of the funders of this new giving circle infrastructure-building project. Barr Weaver is one of five founders of the Women’s Giving Alliance of Jacksonville, a 473-member giving circle initiated by The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. Barr Weaver is also a Women Moving Millions member, and is invested in advancing rights for girls and young women in her community, particularly those at-risk because of juvenile justice or child protective issues.

Feminists Everywhere: Seattle Hosts WMM and WFN at Same Time

An Unusual Women’s Giving Circle in Boston Fuels Social Change Globally

Priming the Pump: Exploring Ways to Grow Women’s Giving

Continuing the Legacy of African American Giving: HERitage Giving Circle

New #MeToo Funding Fuels Empathy and Justice for Survivors

The Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies has provided $840,000 in grant funds to organizations across the country doing work to address gender-based violence.

Within the past year, the Women’s Media Center reports that coverage of #MeToo in the mainstream media has grown significantly. As awareness about the detrimental effects of sexual assault continues to grow in our culture, the New York Women’s Foundation is fostering real efforts to aid #MeToo survivors. In May of 2018, the foundation created the Fund for the Me Too Movement and Allies, and now that fund has made $840,000 in its first round of grant funding.  This is a collaborative effort, housed and managed by The New York Women’s Foundation, with the grantmaking decisions being made jointly with Tarana Burke, founder and leader of the #MeToo Movement. 

Ms. Burke announced the first recipients of grants from the Fund for The Me Too Movement and Allies. “The money we are awarding today will undoubtedly make an impact in the work to end sexual violence because all eight organizations are doing tremendous work,” said Burke, in a press release announcing the new grants. Burke noted that all chosen grantee organizations are not only helping survivors of sexual violence, they are also “combating deeply-rooted systemic issues that allow it to persist across all our communities.”

In keeping with the core feminist philanthropy principle of inclusion, the Fund prioritized organizations “led by and for communities of color that give voice to women, immigrants, and LGBTQ people.” The first grant recipients are:

Congratulations to the grantees, and to the new Fund for #MeToo and its intrepid leader, Tarana Burke. This kind of funding is doing essential work to address one of the big drivers of inequality between men and women: sexual harassment and abuse. Hopefully, more funders will become aware of the value of this work in challenging unhealthy gender norms and helping us all live healthier lives.

Related:

Giving For Good: Your Daily Round-Up of Feminist Philanthropy News

New York Women’s Foundation Announces Additional $4 Million in Grants for 2017

How the NFL’s $10 Million Investment in Ending Gender-Based Violence is Activating Youth

Praising the Deeds of Women: How Gender Equity and Reconciliation Can Change the World

NY Women’s Foundation Launches #MeToo Fund with $1 Million Start

Which Funders are Helping Young Women and Girls of Color Build Community Activism?

Rebecca Traister Comes to Rhode Island for Women’s Fund Benefit

Rebecca Traister, author of Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger, pictured with event hosts Emily and Robin Kall Homonoff. (Photo Credit: Little Lion Communication)

With the recent news that “rage giving” — philanthropic giving to offset the shrinking of civil society resulting from the election of Donald Trump — is primarily driven by progressive women donors, the timing could not be better for Rebecca Traister’s new book, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.  Particularly with the much-contested appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, progressive women’s rage appears to be reaching a new crescendo, and the resultant giving to charity and politics may set new records.

On October 15, Rebecca Traister came to a Richmond Street club called Alchemy in Providence, Rhode Island to read from her book and reflect on the many ways that rage has the potential to spur creativity and drive social change. Traister’s appearance in Rhode Island was not just a reading and celebration of her provocative new book. It was also a fundraiser for the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, a small but mighty feminist philanthropy hub doing powerful work to channel women’s rage into meaningful social change.

Traister convincingly makes the argument that women’s anger has often fueled progressive change in society, citing women’s suffrage as a prime example. Today, Traister views women’s anger as particularly consequential to political struggle, and remarked that it may be key to a better future for our world.

Traister sees women’s rage as an under-utilized force for good in liberal movements for change. She argues that, while social conditioning teaches us to view women’s fury is seen as a perversion of nature and social norms, that rage is actually a healthy response to our world today, and one that can help women and men become more equal.

Female candidates for office in Rhode Island (and one male ally candidate) made short speeches before Rebecca Traister’s appearance, giving testament to the fact that rage has helped activate them in politics. (Photo credit: Little Lion Communications)

The event began with some words from some of several local  progressive political women, including state-wide legislative candidates Rebecca Kislak, Bridget Valverde, and Teresa Tanzi. All gave testament to the fact that anger helps to fuel their action, with Tanzi getting some laughs when she remarked that she thought she was angry when she first got elected in 2010, but, after being sexually harassed by legislators and lobbyists at the statehouse and dealing with the regressive political climate in Rhode Island, now she is really angry. Tanzi has been on the frontlines of legislative efforts to better protect women from sexual assault and harassment, and continues to be a strong proponent for gender equality across the board in her legislative work.

Traister read from some particularly cogent sections in her book. One piece she read addressed the issue of control, and what the #MeToo era means for men’s control. She noted that while some men are complaining of the anxiety they are now experiencing about issues such as how to flirt appropriately, “these anxieties are the normal state for everyone else,” said Traister.  This kind of loss of control for men, says Traister, is the point for movements like #MeToo.  It’s the kind of loss of control that powerful men like Senator George Mitchell at the Anita Hill hearings insisted on keeping — their control of the social dynamic being played out. She writes in Good and Mad:

Yes, things were out of control. That was the point. Because control was when no one was able to report the story of Harvey Weinstein raping women; control was Donald Trump getting elected president, thanks to voter suppression and the electoral college systems designed to suppress, and thus better control, nonwhite populations. Control was the unchallenged reigns of Bill O'Reilly and Roget Ailes and Bill Cosby. Control was women being too terrified to defy Eric Schneiderman by telling of how he hit them. Control was ensuring that no one cared about the abuses sustained by Ford factory employees or flight attendants; control was all male presidents and vice presidents; control was only two black women senators and no black women governors in the history of the country; control was marital rape being legal to the seventies; control was slavery and locking women in unsafe shirtwaist factories. Control was Jordan Peterson's Taoist white serpent, thrust at us against our will. 

This was a powerful moment in the reading.  You could feel the audience’s deep response to Traister’s words — to her lining up the instances of how male control has silenced women’s anger in so many different ways.

I haven’t read the whole book yet, but am looking forward to it. To learn more about Good and Mad or get a copy for yourself, visit here. 

Related:

Small But Mighty: Women’s Fund of Rhode Island Makes New Round of Grants

The Many Faces of Love: Responses on Take the Lead Virtual Happy Hour

Women Donors: Rhode Island Women Candidates Need Your Help

Fighting for Democracy: Building Local Pro-Choice Campaigns for Legislative Wins

$10 Million to Train Women’s Health Leaders at UCLA Med School