Discover more from Other Feminisms
Your Recommendations for Charities
The organizations you admire for fostering a culture of interdependence
Just a reminder, I’ll be speaking as part of a panel on “Illiberal Feminism” tonight that’s co-sponsored by Plough and draws on my essay on vulnerability from their Family issue. I’ve been excited seeing some of the questions submitted ahead of time by attendees, including:
I've noticed a tendency for people who I would consider misogynistic, or at least who are generally unsympathetic to concerns about misogyny, to be positive about intellectual discussions of household economics, rejection of autonomy, etc. They seem to perceive these movements as a way of getting women back "in their place," so to speak. How do you view these sorts of "fellow travelers," and what is the best way to respond to them?
Luce Irigaray and Tina Beattie have recently called attention to the Virgin Mary as a religious icon of feminine subjectivity. How would you envisage Marian veneration for a post-liberal feminist theory and practice?
MG offered several recommendations for charities, including Crescent Cove in Minnesota. It’s the third children’s hospice in the country. The New York Times had a very moving feature on Crescent Cove’s work—they really put the dignity of children and their family first, and everything else is ordered to that mission.
In January, Nathalia Hawley, a terminally ill 15-year-old with metastatic bone cancer, entered Crescent Cove for the first time. Though she had been reluctant initially, uncertain about what the place was, she liked it so much that she stayed for two weeks. What she found especially meaningful was doing art projects with the staff. When we spoke a few weeks before her death this April, she paused every two to three words to regain her breath. She was astounded, she said, by “the people, the way they do things, the way they treat patients.” Her mother and younger sister stayed there, too, and they binge-watched “Jane the Virgin” together. Nathalia found solace in knowing that the place had the “security of a hospital.” In her soft voice, she told me, “I could see that my mom really believed in Crescent Cove.” Nathalia had always planned on dying at home, which is where she ended up passing, but after her time at the hospice house, she contemplated going there instead if she was too uncomfortable in her last days. “It really feels like a home where you want to be in,” she said.
Meg Conley pointed to Struggle of Love: a Colorado-based group that provides year-round support to underprivileged youths and families. It’s not a flashy program—they offer backpacks of school supplies, Thanksgiving dinners, and mentorship. It’s the sustained support needed to cover the gaps.
In my own community, I’ve set up a recurring donation to my town’s Mutual Aid society to help cover rent assistance and groceries for neighbors.
Several people pointed to Liz Bruenig’s piece in the NYT highlighting the work of RIP Medical Debt—an organization that buys and forgives medical debt. Bruenig admires the work of churches that free people from debt, but she doesn’t see this work as a feel-good story.
In just societies, these debts do not exist. But in our society, charity must stand in for justice so long as the latter is in short supply.
The reason RIP Medical Debt can buy $100 of debt to forgive for just a dollar is because the creditors know the debtors can’t come up with the money. Still, they remain on the hook for the whole, impossible debt absent RIP Medical Debt’s intervention.
There’s a notable contrast in the recommendations between charities—some, like the children’s hospice, address a natural evil, but others, like RIP Medical Debt, ameliorate a problem that doesn’t have to exist.
Mostly I keep my advocacy donations as slightly separate from my charity donations. But one notable exception for me is the Brooklyn Bail Fund. I count their work to reform cash bail as an investment in putting themselves out of business. They don’t want to keep paying bails, even though they do good work. They want to eliminate the problem they’re addressing.
Do you have groups you support that straddle this divide?
And don’t forget, next Thursday I’ll be sharing highlights from our discussion of what positive changes have happened in the topsy-turviness of the pandemic—what shifts have been more humane that we want to hold onto?