10 Gifts You Should Get Your Daughter This Christmas

Photo: Mother and daughter shopping, © michaeljung /

Photo: Mother and daughter shopping, © michaeljung /

The first part of 2012 was rough for the ladies. Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C.

Any response? Any backlash? Oh right, the election. In the 113th Congress, there will be 20 women in the Senate. When I was a teenager, I read Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate. That book is obsolete, and it makes me so happy. Though, I hate that we have to count how many women are in leadership (go to 2:35), we are making strides. It should just be so ingrained in our minds that we shouldn’t have to describe them as “the third woman CEO,” but just “CEO.”

In 2013, the entire congressional delegation from New Hampshire will be women. Their governor will be a woman. It’s awesome. So maybe the last quarter of 2012 (and beyond) will be a glorious time to be a woman. But what does the last quarter of the year really mean? CHRISTMAS!! 

Last year, I wrote a blog post called, “The Top 10 Worst Toys to Give Your Daughter This Christmas.” Not to brag or anything, but it was pretty awesome (in the worst way possible). But you know what? It’s time to give a shout out to the toys that are positive for girls. Let’s lift up some good examples. Let’s never be surprised that a girl says “I want to be an astronaut” or “I want to be president.” And that dream can start with a toy. But let’s face it, it’s hard to find toys that are geared towards girls without stereotyping, or just a boy’s toy that’s painted pink.

So, here it is — the Top 10 Gifts You Should Get Your Daughter This Christmas.

Faith Means a Lot of Waiting Around

Oil lamp, KJBevan /

Oil lamp, KJBevan /

“Long Time Gone” is David Crosby’s anthem of hope in jeopardy. He wrote it the night Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. 

“I believed in him because he said he wanted to make some positive changes in America, and he hadn’t been bought and sold like Johnson and Nixon – cats who made their deals years ago with the special interests in this country in order to gain power,” Crosby wrote in the liner notes of the 1991 CSN boxed set. “I thought Bobby, like his brother, was a leader who had not made those deals. I was already angry about Jack Kennedy getting killed and it boiled over into this song when they got his brother, too.”

In the ‘60s, the Kennedys represented hope for change: racial equality, economic justice, and abolishing the death penalty, for example. Five decades later, you still don’t see many long-haired politicians, but that hardly seems the matter of dire culture import that it apparently was in 1968. And now we have a black president. Still, on the whole, Crosby’s words seem prescient, rather than anachronistic. 

Almost 50 years later, we’re still giving legal benefits to some couples but denying them to others, not to mention that we fill our prisons with brown-skinned people, too many women are still ashamed to report rape or domestic violence, greedy people hoard resources while others go hungry, and the president who campaigned on hope hasn’t been able to bring any real change in our unjust economy.

Bullying: This Is My Story

Twenty-five cents was all it took. It was like magic. The punches stopped and for the first time in a long time I felt what it feels like to be normal — to be safe, to be lovable, to live without a target on my back.

But even the transaction was not a guarantee of love.

Though I continued to bring quarters that fed the monster’s craving every day, after a while even their magic stopped working. 

The torture started again on the playground after school. 

I walked across the schoolyard and headed home, which was only a half-block away from the school. Suddenly I was surrounded by Alice and her goons. She taunted me and pushed me, then punched me. It didn’t stop. It became a ritual. 

Soon, every day, armed with only my book bag, I would duck my head and make a beeline for my house and Miss Burton (the babysitter). And every day Alice and her bulldogs would hunt me down and taunt me and push me and punch me as I walked the looooong half-block home. 

Mom asked one day what I was doing with all those quarters. When I told her, she marched up to the school and had it out with Miss Williams and then my principal. I was only in that school for one year.

Alice wasn’t the last bully I had to survive. There were others. There was Tracy in the fifth grade and two white girls whose names I’ve blocked out in eighth grade. For a long time I thought I must have an invisible target attached to my back.

Adventists Call Female Ordinations 'Serious Mistake'

RNS photo by Edwin Manuel Garcia/courtesy Adventist News Network

Leaders count ballots. RNS photo by Edwin Manuel Garcia/courtesy Adventist News Network

Leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on Tuesday said recent decisions by two regional bodies to allow ordained female pastors were "serious mistakes," and women who are ordained won't be recognized — at least for now.

“They directly challenge two world Church decisions on the matter of ordination,” reads a statement, passed by a 264-25 vote during the Annual Council meeting in Silver Spring, Md. “They create doubts about the importance of collective decision-making as a basic feature of denominational life.”

The decisions by the Maryland-based Columbia Union Conference and the California-based Pacific Union Conference came as the worldwide church is in the midst of a broad study of the “theology of ordination” that is expected to be considered at the denomination’s 2015 General Conference Session.

White Man: 'We Built This Country.' Really?

Mount Rushmore, fstockfoto /

Mount Rushmore, fstockfoto /

The Wild Goose Festival was awesome as expected this weekend in Corvalis, Ore. About 1,000 folks gathered for the first-ever west coast version of the event started in North Carolina. There were artists, theologians, pastors, hippies, activists, poets, and any number of other curious observers, navigating the landscape to better understand where this movement might be headed.

I offered a workshop on Saturday with Brian Ammons and Bruce Reyes Chow on masculinity and male identity. Folks gathered in the small animal arena on the fairgrounds where the event was held to hear about, and respond to, male identity from three fairly distinct perspectives. It was a rich conversation and pretty fun, at least until one question came toward the end, from a guy in the back row.

I suppose we should have seen it coming, but we had gotten a little too comfortable. The following is a paraphrase of what he said, but the essence is the same.

Sub-Human: A Justification of Exploitation

Declaration of Independence language, Frank Chang /

Declaration of Independence language, Frank Chang /

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness (The Declaration of Independence, 1776)."

These words are some of the most familiar and beloved in the English language, as they offer a moral vision for humanity, and a standard to which the United States of America should strive. 

While such expressions of freedom should indeed be cherished, we often forget the harsh reality that many contributors of the Declaration of Independence were also active participants in the brutal act of slavery. As the English abolitionist Thomas Day wrote in 1776: “If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature, it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves.” 

In addition to racial inequality, while Abigail Adams reminded her husband John to “remember the ladies” during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, her warnings were mostly disregarded, and as a result, women were also marginalized, and they were relegated as dependents of men, without the power to own property, make contracts, or vote. In other words, John Adams’ reply to Abigail’s challenge was far from considerate: “As to your extraordinary code of laws, I cannot but laugh …”

Michigan Legislator Silenced

NPR reports that Michigan state representative Lisa Brown was not allowed speak on other legislation yesterday after she made a speech against a bill restricting abortion in which she used the word "vagina." A Republican spokesperson said Brown had violated the "decorum of the House."

"Brown called a press conference, today," the Detroit Free Press reports. "She defended her use of the word "vagina," saying it is the "anatomically medically correct term."

"If they are going to legislate my anatomy, I see no reason why I cannot mention it," she said according to the Free Press.

"Regardless of their reasoning, this is a violation of my First Amendment rights and directly impedes my ability to serve the people who elected me into office," Brown added in a statement released by her office.

Read more here

From “Mad Men” to “Girls” – The Evolution of Sexism

Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

New York premiere of HBO's 'Girls' at the School of Visual Arts Theater on April 4. Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Two things leap off the screen while watching the debut of “Mad Men;” first, everyone drinks and smokes. All the time. Second, women are treated like so much property, and though they seem complicit in their subjugate role, they also have a racket of their own going, using their feminine wiles to work their way up alongside the mean of greatest means and power to enjoy both by association.

It’s hard to believe only two generations ago that an executive was within his purview to suggest to his secretary that she hike up the hem of her skirt a bit and fetch him some fresh ice for cocktails with the boys.

Or is it?

The Top 10 Worst Toys to Give Your Daughter This Christmas

My Cleaning Trolley. Labeled "Girls Only" on the box.

My Cleaning Trolley. Labeled "Girls Only" on the box.

Everyone out there, let’s try giving our girls something positive this Christmas.

One gift at a time, we can foster their intellect.

One gift at a time, we can affirm their worth as contributors and not just bystanders.

We can give them value beyond their curls and big brown eyes, which are beautiful, yes, but what about giving them a book that doesn’t have a princess as the main character?

What about that science kit that you were looking at for your nephew? Would your niece like it too?