The National Organization for Women (NOW) in Oakland County and Macomb County have merged, and the combined memberships are working hard to spread feminist ideas though SE Michigan.
One way the women are connecting is with a discussion series called “Love Your Mind,” which gives them a chance to talk about issues like self-image, equality, social justice and reproductive rights.
On Wednesday, January 25 the group will host a discussion on articles pertaining to Roe v. Wade, the landmark court case from 1973 that protected a woman’s right to have an abortion. “We’re going to look at a couple articles written in 1973 and compare them to articles written today,” said Oakland-Macomb NOW Media Committee Chair Cherie Rolfe. “It will be interesting to see how people talked about it then, and if things are any different today.”
“Women cannot have equal rights without the ability to control their own lives. Therefore, reproductive freedom is the key,” said Oakland-Macomb NOW President Kim Beebe. “Women are intelligent enough creatures to make their own life decisions. The new Michigan Legislature has introduced 29 anti-choice bills thus far. The attack on women’s rights at the state and local level is severe and many do not know this. Abortion is a human right for women. We should not be subject to cruel and unusual punishment just because we have a uterus.”
Beebe is a Ferndale resident and a fashion consultant who used to hold her own in what she calls “the tough man’s world” of construction management. While she enjoyed working on large building projects, her passion comes from helping women look and feel beautiful. Her journey into being an activist for women’s issues began when she was taking classes at Michigan State and made the choice to go into building.
“I took a class and loved it, but due to comments I received in the male dominated field I was very hesitant to pursue the degree. After a year of trying to find another major I was interested in and not succeeding, I decided to push forward with the degree and fight the battle,” she said. Beebe enjoyed her building career despite the “angry contractors,” “inappropriate comments,” and “trying to work honestly when there is a lot of old boys club mentality.” She is happier doing fashion, yet remains passionate about continuing to fight the battles necessary for women to get equal treatment and respect on the job. Beebe has been President of Oakland County NOW for about a year and helped facilitate the merger, which is expected to be finalized this month.
“Everything is set and has been approved, we’re just waiting on the national organization to change their listing on the website.”
Beebe explained that the NOW has a set of issues that they look at as priority women’s issues. Since its founding in 1966, NOW’s goal has been to take action to bring about equality for all women. According to their website, NOW “works to eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace, schools, the justice system, and all other sectors of society; secure abortion, birth control and reproductive rights for all women; end all forms of violence against women; eradicate racism, sexism and homophobia; and promote equality and justice in our society.”
The Love Your Mind discussion groups are open to everyone, and men are especially welcome to attend. “Men can be feminists too. They can be some of our strongest advocates,” Beebe said. “Men should not be afraid to be feminists. We’re not like a lot of men think. Just because I’m a feminist doesn’t mean I don’t want a man to open a door for me. It doesn’t mean I can’t wear make-up or look pretty. And we don’t hate men. No one is going to be castrated if they come to a meeting.”
The “Roe v. Wade: Then and Now” discussion takes place at the Coffee Beanery (28557 Woodward, Berkley) at 6:30 pm on Jan. 25. There is no cost to attend.
Oakland-Macomb NOW is also planning a larger abortion-understanding event. “It’s Not an Easy Choice” will be a comprehensive overview of the choice issue as told by real women who have been through the experience. It will be in May and will be held at the Birmingham Unitarian Church in Bloomfield Hills. They are looking for people to share their stories.