WE RISE TO RESIST:

VOICES FROM A NEW ERA IN WOMEN'S POLITICAL ACTION

Discussion Guide

These questions are designed to stimulate discussion around the topics covered in this book.  Users are encouraged to choose the ones that are most interesting and relevant to their particular group or situation, and then enjoy a lively and stimulating discussion.


INTRODUCTION

* What was your reaction to the outcome of the 2016 presidential election?  What are your concerns going forward?  Have you discovered anything positive in this election outcome? 

* What does the term "resist" mean to you?  Is it a public statement, a personal action, both, or none of these?

CHAPTER ONE - UNITED WE STAND AND TOGETHER WE MARCH

* Did you participate in the January 21, 2017 women's march?  If so, what prompted you to do it?  How did the experience affect you?  If a similar opportunity arose again, would you show up? 

* Did you find that joining with other women in support of a cause you all believe in a spiritual endeavor?

CHAPTER TWO - INDIVISIBLE, WE MARCH ON: A NEW WOMEN'S  POLITICAL MOVEMENT ARISES

* At the time it occurred, did you realize that the January 21, 2017 women's march marked the beginning of a new women's political movement?  Did you join in believing you could make a difference or did you take a pass because you believed the possibilities of change were too slim?  How has your decision changed you? 

* Do you believe the new movement has staying power or are you skeptical about its ability to effect permanent social and political change?  Are you surprised by how much the movement has increased in strength, size and effectiveness?

CHAPTER THREE - THE RIGHT TO PROTEST: WARHORSE ACTIVISTS REPORT FOR DUTY - AGAIN

* The right to protest is under siege in many states.  What are your views on this attack on a fundamental right that preserves our democracy? 

* Does it seem as though women's rights are always fair game in the political arena and that women have to keep fighting for the same things again and again?  Are we making any headway at all?

* Warhorse activists often express concerns that the younger generation doesn't understand how hard previous generations of women fought for the rights today's women take for granted. Do you think this is true?  What would you say to young women today who are concerned enough about the direction their country is going to take up the fight?

CHAPTER FOUR - ALTERNATIVE FACTS: DONALD TRUMP OFF THE RAILS

* Do you think President Obama should have released the letter he received from the three women psychiatrists who questioned Donald Trump's mental fitness to serve?  Should the goal of a peaceful transition of power superseded the benefits of of releasing these concerns to the public?  What would those benefits have been? How do you think partisan politics played into the decision? 

* Should these three women physicians, with stellar credentials in the mental health field, have released the letter themselves?  Should they have written the letter sooner and/or made their concerns public prior to the election? 

* What do you see as the long-term effects of having elected a misogynist bully as President of the United States?  Has this changed the collective American psyche?  How can women combat these issues?

CHAPTER FIVE - AMERICA GOES DARK

* What was your reaction to the Charlottesville incident?  How did you view President Trump's response?  Do you agree that there was "blame on both sides"? 

* Because ​it is necessary to protect everyone's First Amendment rights, how does one best handle the issue of opposing viewpoints? 

* Do you believe President Trump recognizes the depth and complexities of diversity in America?  Do most people? 

* What is your view of the legislative actions described in Ruth Burgess Thompson's essay? Is Iowa not a good place for women of reproductive age to reside?

CHAPTER SIX - CLIMATE REIGNS OVER ALL: FIGHTING PIPELINES, SEEKING JUSTICE, SAVING THE PLANET

* Do you believe environmental justice is possible, or are there too many competing interests surrounding natural resource development to make justice for all possible?

* Is climate change real, a theoretical construct or a political issue without any solid basis in scientific fact? 

* What is your view regarding the U. S. government's "eminent domain" philosophy regarding claiming Native American land for commercial purposes?

CHAPTER SEVEN - SICK IN THE USA: WHEN THE PERSONAL BECOMES POLITICAL

* Is access to affordable healthcare a fundamental human right?  Does the fact that health care is a political issue in America and not in other countries reflect a national moral failure or is it an acceptable consequence of profit-motive insurance companies entering the healthcare industry? 

* In order for women to have control over their lives, they must have control over their reproductive choices and decisions.  With this in mind, how do you feel about men making decisions about women's reproductive and other health care?  What role (if any) does religion have in the public discussion? 

* Should the same HIPPA privacy laws apply to patients with serious mental health issues as apply to other patients?

CHAPTER EIGHT - THE LAMP BESIDE THE GOLDEN DOOR GROWS DIM: IMMIGRATION IN 2017 AMERICA

* What does "strength in our diversity" mean to you?

* America is a nation built on the strengths of an open-door immigration policy. What is your view on immigration and allowing refugees into the U.S.? Is our historically welcoming philosophy toward the less fortunate in conflict with the new "Make American Great Again" policy orientation? Will it hold up over time?

CHAPTER NINE - SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW: AMERICA'S GENDER ANXIETY

* Bowdler and Gorman's essay begins with a quote from lesbian activist and writer Barbara Deming.  Deming wrote this quote over 30 years ago.  Has her message stood the test of time?  Does it resonate with effective activism in our current political climate? 

* The LGBTQ community is not monolithic. There are many concerns individuals may want to focus their activism on: marriage rights, employment discrimination, the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, targeted hate crimes, and so on.  Will the LGBTQ community be strengthened or splintered by having to deal with so many issues at once?  

* Becca Gorman describes the shame and bullying she experienced as a young child, which she felt was resolved as she got older and the political climate embraced her family.  What can LGBTQ parents say to their children now, in the current political environment? Is there any message of hope for them to cling to?

CHAPTER TEN - WHEN BLIND JUSTICE ISN'T BLIND: WOMEN FACE THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

* What is your position on legalizing prostitution?  Would it benefit or exploit women further? What should the conditions for legalizing prostitution be? In what other ways does the law discriminate against women?  Would having more female judges and district attorneys who decide whether to prosecute crimes help solve this problem?   

* How many untested rape kits exist in your state?  What needs to occur to bring political pressure to bear on this issue? 

* In December, 2017 Time Magazine named "The Silence Breakers" as their Person of the Year, applauding victims who came forward to speak about their own victimization.  Is speaking out and sharing one's personal story how change occurs?  Are we witnessing a tipping point regarding how sexual assault and sexual harassment will be addressed going forward?  Will holding perpetrators accountable extend to current and future occupants of the Oval Office?

CHAPTER ELEVEN - SAVING PUBLIC EDUCATION ONE TEACHER AND ONE SCHOOL AT A TIME

* Abigail Swetz speaks about bringing politics and Donald Trump into her classroom during the 2016 presidential election.  Do you agree that the 2016 election represented an unprecedented time in American politics and that this needed to happen - or was it just  politics as usual, involving an unusually flamboyant candidate? Do political discussions ever belong in a classroom?

* What is your view of charter schools?  Should they be supported with public dollars or should this money go toward making existing neighborhood schools, particularly in poor areas, better?  Do you believe city or state governments should take control away from citizen-elected school boards when schools are failing?

CHAPTER TWELVE - WHEN THEY GO LOW, WE GO HIGH - SWIMMING IN THE DEEP RIVERS OF RACISM

* Is resistance mostly hard, unrewarding work, or do you see beauty in the effort?  Can you describe it in your own words? Can you identify with the concept of beauty as Erica Gerald Mason describes it? 

* Have you ever been on the receiving end of bullying or a racial, ethnic, or gender-based slur?  How did it feel?  If you have not been subjected to this experience, how do you imagine others feel when it happens to them?  How would you react if this happened to you, or to someone you loved? 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN - WHEN WE FIGHT, WE WIN: UNITED WE MOVE FORWARD

* What does "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" mean?  Can you identify with the fear Kathy Steffen describes she had to overcome in stepping forward for a cause she believes in?  How have you dealt with similar fears? 

* What actions have you taken in your own life to be the change you want to see occur?  What sacrifices have you made to do it?  Was the result worth the effort it took? 

* Can the new women's movement succeed over time without men's active support?  How have you responded to men who don't support the movement or actively oppose it?

* Women have come a long way since Suffrage but, on several levels, we still don't have equal status with men.  Why do you think this is?  Will it ever happen?  If so, what is it going to take to make it happen?

FINALLY, Will women, and this new political action movement they have created, overcome all opposition and win?  



photo credit: Pam Kidd