Meet Kali

Photo of Kali Nelson
Photo of the author

By Kali Nelson

Most of my life has been uneventful. My life has also been easy, to be honest. I have faced no obstacle other than the fact I am a woman. I have been set up to do well, I’m White, middle class, and I have my parents. Sure, I’ve had tragedies but nothing too terrible that would cause my life to become an uphill climb. I am, in all honesty, a boring person. I do well in school, I have a good family that supports most of what I do.  I first learned about Feminism from the internet and it is from there that I became the political liberal that I am today.

I spent the first sixteen years of my life in southern Idaho and about three years ago, my dad moved my younger siblings and me to Washington. I enjoy knitting, crocheting, reading, learning new things, and playing Quidditch. Yes, I play the sport from the Harry Potter books. Which is funny, because I don’t even like sports that much. I did swim some in high school and I did manage the track team for my school, but I didn’t compete. I believe that I spend too much time on Netflix watching crime shows and documentaries.

I am studying Journalism and Environmental Science so that one day, I could be an Environmental Journalist. The environment has always played a big part in my life and I blame my dad for that. It’s because of him that I can name at least one tree name in Latin (in case you were curious which one, Pinus Ponderosa is the Latin name of the Ponderosa Pine.) One of my best friends is my dog, Prince. He is a Grand Pyrenees and we like to say that he adopted us because he showed up one day to help watch our sheep and never left. At one time, I also had a pet goat named Billie. She was bottle fed and one time she got hungry and got through the fence and walked herself to the house, crying the whole time.

I am invested in women’s issues and it’s not just because I am a woman. It is because I believe that everyone deserves an equal chance to do whatever it is that they want.  While I don’t have much experience in topics such as gender and LGBTQ  issues, I will try to learn all that I can and write about it as accurately as I can. I will ask for your help, if I should get something wrong, please tell me. I’m still learning and nobody is perfect.

 

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9 thoughts on “Meet Kali

  1. How do you think that being a woman has been a personal obstacle for you? I’ve never found it to be an obstacle for myself…..I’ve chosen a profession I love, I’ve chosen many things in life. I think that something is only an obstacle if you choose to make it so.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my article and deciding to respond. I really appreciate it. I know that being a woman is an obstacle for me. Because of my sex, I will be paid less than my male counterparts. On average, a female journalist with up to five years’ experience is paid about 13.5% less than a male journalist with the same amount of experience (source cited at the end of my response). This already sets me up to make less than a man for the same, if not more work. Women also have to pay more on body care products such as pads, makeup, razors, and clothes, thanks to the “pink tax”. My life essentials cost more because they have a pretty design on them. My right to control my body is being fought over by men who do not ever have to deal with things like menstruation or pregnancy. So I make less and I have to pay more for my essentials. Great. Another obstacle that I have to overcome is if I want to start a family. If I leave my field, I risk losing all of the progress I made when I started. Maternity leave is expensive, and not guaranteed. But even if I don’t decide to have a child of my own, and adopt, I would still likely face problems. Women are often shamed for not having a partner to help them raise their children, and are also shamed for working when they have kids. Even if they decide to be a stay-at-home mom, women are frequently looked down upon. Women are called bossy and told that “that’s for boys” when they show interest in something ‘masculine”. We have been ridiculed and teased for not knowing how to change a tire or the oil in a car, but when we ask to learn we are told that that is a ‘man’s job’.

      Yes, my gender could be an obstacle, even if I “make it,” as we are living in a world set up by men for men. Just look at the election: Hillary Clinton was a highly qualified woman. She has served the public for over 30 years. She had plans and knew what she wanted for America and she lost votes because many voters believed that women are not capable of leading the country. Other countries have elected women and they haven’t destroyed themselves yet. We chose a man who wants to get rid of millions of people’s health insurance, whose EPA nominee doesn’t believe in climate change. This is a clear example of the glass ceiling, and it is a very real obstacle. We can make choices, more so than we could’ve years ago, but we cannot live our lives how we want to without being ridiculed for it and having deliberate roadblocks put in our way.

      Don’t get me wrong here, I love the things I study. I believe that I’m going to enjoy my job. But I’m being realistic; I will face challenges because of my gender. However, People of Color (PoC) endure even greater challenges. I can hide my womanhood behind my Whiteness–they cannot. But things are not an obstacle just because I decide they are. Women everywhere will be judged simply because of who they are.

      Washington Post article about journalist’s pay

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  2. I would like to comment on a few points you made:

    “Because of my sex, I will be paid less than my male counterparts.”

    This is innacurate. I know plenty of successful women who make more than their husbands. If you feel you are not being paid enough for your job, it is your responsibility to ask for more money or choose to work somewhere else where you are valued for your skills.

    “Women also have to pay more on body care products such as pads, makeup, razors, and clothes, thanks to the “pink tax”. My life essentials cost more because they have a pretty design on them.”

    Makeup is not a life essential, it’s a luxury. (And some men wear it, too!)
    Feminine care products have come a long way. You can easily make your own pads or buy reusable ones or a menstrual cup.
    I buy “men’s” razors and clothing for myself. No one is stopping us from buying these things just because they are marketed for men.
    Also, my husband is not allowed to grow a beard because of his job. Is this sexist because only men grow beards? No. It’s a safety issue. If he doesn’t like it, he has the choice to work elsewhere.

    “My right to control my body is being fought over by men who do not ever have to deal with things like menstruation or pregnancy.”

    Use your right as an adult to vote on these issues.

    “If I want to start a family. If I leave my field, I risk losing all of the progress I made when I started. Maternity leave is expensive, and not guaranteed. But even if I don’t decide to have a child of my own, and adopt, I would still likely face problems. Women are often shamed for not having a partner to help them raise their children, and are also shamed for working when they have kids. Even if they decide to be a stay-at-home mom, women are frequently looked down upon.”

    Having children is a choice. Men face some of the same issues along with some of their own. Do you know how hard it is to get paternity leave? My husband got zero. 3 children and no paternity leave. Maternity/paternity leave is an issue with who you work for and should be considered before you decide to have children.
    Every choice you make in life has the possibility to he ridiculed. The only solution for that is to be confident in your choices and immune to critisism.
    I have received plenty of critisism for being a stay at home mother. None of it matters because I know it is the best decision for my family.

    “Women are called bossy and told that “that’s for boys” when they show interest in something ‘masculine”. We have been ridiculed and teased for not knowing how to change a tire or the oil in a car, but when we ask to learn we are told that that is a ‘man’s job’.”

    This starts at home. My step-dad taught me how to change a tire and check the oil. (I don’t know how to change oil, but I do know I could learn if I wanted to.)
    My parents never once told me I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. My mother showed me girls are completely capable of persuing their dreams.
    It is a parents responsibility to give their children a strong foundation. Later in life when the world tells them they can’t do something they will know it’s untrue.

    “We cannot live our lives how we want to without being ridiculed for it.”

    Who lives their life without ridicule? This is not a woman specific problem. Ignore it or use it as fuel to be more successful.

    It is important to have passion about things in life. However, I feel most people just point out and focus on problems. Change starts with yourself, in your own home, whether you have children or not.

    A personal mantra I heard recently that I love is, “I am my only problem. I am also my only solution.”

    The only limits we have in life are the ones we impose upon ourselves.

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    1. Natasha,

      You make some good points here, and I am pleased to read that for you and many that you know, being female has not resulted in inequities.

      I would like to argue, however, that according to data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) that women still make 20% less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is significant wage data. Though it may be true that some women earn more than their direct male counterparts research shows that this is not true nationally. You can read more about this inequality here.

      On average, Gender Pricing is very real. The same razor that a man pays, say a dollar for, might cost a female two. I agree that as women we can choose to buy the less expensive product, foregoing the pink or prettier product, but the point is not about that choice, the point I believe Kali is trying to make is that there is an unfairness about manufacturers producing a similar product, marketing it to women, and charging more for it. And there is. Why should I have to pay more for a pink razor than my partner has to pay for his blue one? What if I simply want pink? A study in Florida in 2012 found that women’s deodorants cost 30 cents more than men’s despite the fact that the only difference was the scent. Last year, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs reviewed nearly 800 products in the city — from toys to clothing to health care products — and found that, overall, women’s products cost 7 percent more than men’s. Personal care products, like shampoo and shaving cream, cost a whopping 13 percent more.

      I would like to talk more in depth about the right to choose what happens to women’s bodies, but I feel like that might need a bigger platform than this. I do not believe that anyone, male or female, should dictate what happens to my body, but I am particularly wary of the male who signs into legislation anything that makes law regulating what does or does not happen to my body.

      I do agree with you that both men and women have difficulty securing enough time for parenting with a newborn. In a perfect world, both parents would have precious time at home with their children without the fear of losing wages or progress they have made within their job. The 2015 report “Pregnancy and Maternity Related Discrimination and Disadvantage” reveals that:

      – 10% of women said they were treated worse by their employer after returning to work after having a baby
      – one in five new mothers – as many as 100,000 mothers a year – experienced harassment or negative comments from colleagues, employer or manager when pregnant or returning from maternity leave
      – 7% said they were put under pressure to hand in their notice
      – One in 20 reported receiving a cut in pay or bonus after returning to their job
      – Even when mothers were given the chance to work flexibly on their return to work, around half said it cut their work opportunities and they felt their opinion was less valued.

      Staggering facts considering that men do not face these same problems.

      Kali has done her homework and knows that research backs her feelings about inequality. Her passion is about the change she wants to see, and through her writing, and activism she is not limiting herself, but sharing her personal concerns and views with a larger audience.

      Overall, Natasha, I think that you are very lucky to have been raised in a family where you had both parents, one who taught you self-sufficiency, both who encouraged you to be whatever you dreamed of, but that is not reality for many women today. I believe, in fact, if you feel strongly about women being able to take care of themselves and being self-sufficient that you could dedicate some of your time to others who have not had this experience.

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      1. cmariefuhrman,

        The overall tone of your response suggests that you think I am privileged along with everyone I know. I am well aware of every privilege I have and I use them to promote things that I love and care about.

        In my opinion, researching all these facts trying to prove inequality is a waste of time. I’m doing my part by raising my daughter the same way I was raised and by mentoring young women close to me.

        I will show my daughter women can be successful, just like my grandmother and mother showed me. I choose to work in a female dominated industry.

        Are all women’s issues my cross to bear? No. Have I faced specific issues because I am a women? Yes. Will my daughter? Absolutely. But I am also raising 2 young men with their own specific set of needs. I am an advocate for these children every day.

        I respect Kali for sharing her thoughts, but I disagree with many of them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for your response Kali. My own life experience has taught me some lessons I’d like to share with you. I’m still wondering, also, what you have PERSONALLY experienced as an obstacle just because you are a woman.

    In my own profession, education, male/female has no bearing on our wages. We are paid based on education and experience. If a person thinks they are not being treated fairly, we have the freedom in our country to choose another employer or another profession. There is no obstacle to do thing this, man or woman.

    Having children is a choice. It is also a SACRIFICE. Parenting is not a self-centered choice. Time, money, and yes even climbing up the ladder are sacrifices made by parents, both moms and dads. As a parent you realize that the gift of a child is much more important than material things in this world. It’s a privilege to be given a child, whether by pregnancy or adoption. Your own mother is a good example of this. She always put her children first, above making money, even above health choices she made for herself.

    You talk about shame. Others may THINK they have control over us because they use words or actions to try to shame individuals. They do not. I am responsible for how I view myself. I do not base my self-esteem on what others think. For me, I base my self-worth on the fact that I am a child of God. I am of value because of the love that created and sustains me. I do not need to prove myself to anyone. Sure, I will make mistakes, I will make bad choices. That’s all part of how we grow. I will listen to others’ opinions, consider them, and weigh the information against the values that I know to be true – Honesty, loyalty, love, respect, trustworthiness, fairness, and integrity.

    For me, a woman such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a much better example of leadership than Hilary Clinton. Mother Teresa did not lust for power, but just the opposite. She sought to serve, rather than be served. She was not concerned with wealth, but with the needs of others. THAT is a model I hope that my children and grandchildren will look to when examining their own life choices.

    I disagree that “obstacles” are just there and we are defined by them. Women will be judged as we all are judged, by how we live our lives especially by how we treat others.

    I’m glad you are blogging, Kali. A blog is meant to elicit conversation, and that is happening!

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  4. Kali, thank you for sharing your honest experience and journey. I just want you to know I support and admire you in that. It takes a lot of courage to share on a public space exactly where you are right now. The world needs more of that vulnerability. Thank you! I look forward to reading your blog posts this semester.

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  5. Kali, Thank you for your clear, well-written post. Reading it, I was struck by your humility and openness to learning. In my opinion, too many blog posts reflect writers’ certainty that their perceptions of their own experiences are the only truths. Your post shows an ability to look past yourself to researched facts and the experiences of other people and animals and the earth, and a willingness to speak out when you see something that isn’t right. I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.

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  6. Thank you to everyone who has commented. Sorry I did not respond to each of you but I was not reviving notifications about it. I will be checking my post more regularly in the future so that I can avoid this mistake. I look foeward to your comments.

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