I'm excited to welcome you to the first in Why I'm Political, a series of interviews with women from around the web who don't usually write about the political world -- but, when they dipped their toes in those waters, wrote some amazing essays! For those of us who spend time hanging around the web, it's not a surprise that women have found new empowerment through social media tools, including their blogs, to write about topics they might not have before. And while there aren't all that many women who write about politics as their main focus, women who are writing about their lives in powerful and passionate ways do find themselves weighing in on important issues.
As some of you might know, I recently wrote a book called Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America, which explores the rise of women's voices online and features essays from over 50 great writers. And starting this month, I'm going to interview some of those terrific contributors to get their thoughts on what prompted them to take the leap into those sometimes-dangerous waters, and how they're viewing the 2012 election season.
My first featured contributor is a wonderful writer you may know -- Shannon Lowe from Rocks in My Dryer. While she doesn't do as much blogging now as she used to, Shannon wrote two amazing posts that were included in Mothers of Intention -- "Why I'm Pro-Life" and "The Southern Girl's Guide to Proper Political Discourse: What Your Momma Should've Told You." Shannon's essay about how her thinking evolved on the issue of abortion is a powerful one, so I wanted to talk with her more about how she came to write it and what she's thinking about now as we head into the 2012 campaign season:
1. What motivated you to become political and/or go public with your political views? Were you afraid of what your readers would think? In hindsight, would you write these posts again?
I was never a political blogger -- I only wrote about politics publicly a handful of times. So yes, it was a bit of a personal leap for me jump straight into the hot topic of abortion. I don't regret doing it, though. I find it frustrating that there is so much "shouting" over this issue (on both sides). I wanted to speak my piece in a way that was reasoned and calm, and I think I accomplished that. At the time, I received some very kind feedback both from those who agreed and disagreed with me, thanking me for sharing my experience. For all the rancor that can appear in this debate at the public/political level, I think there's actually room for courteous, respectful dialogue at the more personal level -- at least, that's been my own experience.
2. What are the issues you most focused on now going into the 2012 campaign season? What energizes you? Drives you crazy? What issue do you think is important that the candidates aren't talking about?
Thankfully, I think most of the candidates are talking about the right issues -- like most Americans, I'm focused on economic issues in this election. I'm glad to see candidates tackling the hard questions such as how to offer incentives and freedom to small business owners and other entrepreneurs so that job creators can get back to creating jobs.
3. How do you connect your political views or activism with your role as a mother?
I want my kids to grow up to be adults who are responsible, self-disciplined, and innovative. And honestly, I hope they inherit a government that is also responsible, self-disciplined, and innovative!
4. Have you done any additional writing you'd call "political" since you wrote the essays about right to choose/right to life and political etiquette?
No, I haven't.
5. What, if anything, else have you done since the writing of those essays to embrace your political voice?
I have been trying to educate myself on basic economics. I have a degree in English -- an understanding of economics has generally eluded me in the past! But I've been asking questions of smart people, reading, and listening to podcasts (Planet Money on NPR is a favorite) to sharpen my grasp of the important economic issues facing our nation. If you're not inclined that way, it's way too easy to let your eyes glaze over when it comes to deficits, tax subsidies, European debt, etc. But if our generation is to be a part of the solution, we need to have a fundamental understanding of the problems.
6. How did your evolving view on abortion, that you wrote about, impact family discussions and/or relationships with friends?
It didn't impact any relationships. I'd say that a majority of the people close to me share my views on this subject, but not all of them do. As I said earlier, my experience has been that reasonable, courteous people can disagree on things (even this tough subject) and remain reasonable and courteous in their discussions!
7. Would you ever run for office? If so, which one?
No, definitely not. I'm president of our school's PTA this year, and that's about as high as I ever plan to go!
8. Who is not running for office that you wish was running?
I was one of the masses with heartfelt hopes that Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey would jump in the race -- I'm still pretty disappointed that didn't work out.
9. Who do you hope will be the first woman elected President of the United States? Why?
I've been a Condoleezza Rice admirer for years and I hope she'll enter the national political scene again in the near future. I think she'd make a great president!
10. What advice do you have for women online and other bloggers about how not to fear writing about important or controversial issues?
I'm probably not the best person to give advice on this, since I've never been a regular blogger of political/controversial issues. But I admire the women who are!
Thanks, Shannon, for taking the time to share your thoughts!
Shannon is not an active blogger at the moment, but she used to write at Rocks In My Dryer (www.rocksinmydryer.typepad.com). She has also written off-line for several books and Magazines, including Good Housekeeping, Parenting, The Social Cause Diet, and Scholastic's Parent and Child Magazine. In 2010 she co-authored TypePad For Dummies (Wiley Publishing). She blogged "Why I'm Pro-Life" for BlogHer in 2008.
Joanne Bamberger writes regularly about her take on politics at her place, PunditMom. She's the author of Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America (Bright Sky Press), which is available at Amazon.com, and is the founder/editor-in-chief of The Broad Side blog.
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