Author Archives: Kathleen

FLOCK TOGETHER with us!! Now Accepting New Members

Flying V

For the Birds is a feminist collective organizing in NYC since 2008. Over the years we have loved reinventing ourselves through the addition of new members, and it’s that time again! We are a member-driven group using consensus and inter-group support to engage with feminism together.


For the Birds is a NYC-based feminist collective working to combat social inequality and challenge all forms of oppression through an intersectional feminist analysis of power both within our collective and in our larger society.


As a collective we value collaboration, shared knowledge, self-expression, and meaningful communication. We seek to combat transphobia, sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, capitalism and other forms of oppression, and to reflect on our own privileges. Our activism emphasizes the need for accessibility, safer spaces, and support within our communities.

Interested in joining the flock and live in the NYC area? Take a look at our new member questionnaire to learn more about our collective and share some information about yourself!

Marissa Alexander Accepted a Plea Deal, What’s Next for the Movement?


Image created by Jennifer Kernica of Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Alexander.

On Monday November 24th, Marissa accepted a plea deal with the State of Florida, to serve 3 years in prison for 3 counts of aggravated assault.  Because the 1030 days she had already spent in prison could be applied to this sentence, she was taken into custody in November 2014 to serve the remaining 65 days.  The deal also carries two years of probation while serving house detention and wearing a monitor.

The plea offer came shortly after the judge agreed to allow testimony from several of Rico Gray’s exes, who each shared evidence that he was a serial abuser.  It is believed that this exposure of his pattern of abuse is what prompted the state to offer Marissa a plea deal that would drastically shorten her sentence.

At Marissa’s upcoming hearing on January 27th, there is a possibility that she will be sentenced to an additional 5 years in prison because the second count of aggravated assault remains “open.”  However, all parties have been instructed not to comment on the case until that hearing, so information on this has been scarce.

For the Birds was able to raise over $400 for Marissa’s legal expenses, in preparation for her expected trial.  However, Marissa will still need financial support in the years to come, as she has been prevented from working to support her 3 children.  We will continue to sell t-shirts as long as we have stock, and the Chicago Alliance to Free Marissa Now webstore remains open.

For the Birds stands firmly with other Marissa organizers to unequivocally support Marissa for making the decision she felt she needed to make to protect her life and her family from a looming 60 year jail sentence.  However, the sickness of the justice system is clear when survivors of domestic violence are forced to plead “guilty” to actions performed in self defense.

Alisa Bierria of the Free Marissa Now mobilization campaign said:  “The plea deal is a relief in some ways, but this is far from a victory. The deal will help Marissa and her family avoid yet another very expensive and emotionally exhausting trial that could have led to the devastating ruling of spending the rest of her life in prison….we have always believed that forcing Marissa to serve even one day in prison represents a profound and systemic attack on black women’s right to exist and all women’s right to self-defense.

We will not stop organizing until Marissa Alexander is free!” said Aleta Alston Toure, a Free Marissa Now lead organizer based in Jacksonville.  “During the next 65 days, we must continue to use the attention we’ve brought to Marissa’s case to highlight the broader ongoing crisis of mass incarceration, police violence, and prosecutorial abuse.  There are thousands of Marissa Alexanders still behind bars, still facing devastating prison sentences, and still being threatened in their own homes.  We must stay the course, spread the word, and change the system until all of our sisters are free.

As we join the national outcry against police and legal systems functioning under a clear “logic of anti-blackness”, we must acknowledge that the community building essential to the creation of a more just future have been going on for decades.  Consider donating to groups such as INCITE! Women Against Violence, Critical Resistance, or The Audre Lorde Project.  Get educated on the historical analysis of the relationship between the prison industrial complex and women of color (selected titles below).  If you are white, step up and have those tough conversations with your families, your friends, so that people of color don’t always have to be the teachers.  For the Birds will continue to engage in feminist struggles against racial injustice, in its many pervasive forms.

Reading List:

Locked Down, Locked Out by Maya Schenwar

Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women by Vikki Law

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

The Color of Violence: the INCITE! Anthology by the INCITE Women of Color Against Violence Collective

Checking In on Collective Process: An FTB Update

Over the past few months we’ve been in a period of exploration; looking inward to reconnect with each other and with our feminist selves.  We began with a wish to expand our focus through and beyond punk cultural feminism to create a more expansive praxis of our intersectional, social justice model of feminism.  But the needs are endless and the matrix of oppression feels ubiquitous.  The choice of what frontline* we can most effectively claim requires thorough examination of both ourselves (including our privileges) and of the circumstances in which we are organizing. It’s also required that we get real about our capacities and reconnect with our desires and feminist imaginations.

Within our current context of late neoliberal capitalism, marked by a relentless demand for the professionalization of Self, to always be improving oneself as a worker to compete for limited resources in a climate of precarity and extreme anxiety around financial survival and debt, we have become exhausted.  Our web presence has slowed within this context; as we’ve struggled with the imperative to produce online media content that is at once social and non-social; productive, and ephemeral.  We are grappling with the dual truths that important feminist dialogues are occurring over the internet every day and also that blogging is work (even a full time job for some of us).  We are looking for ways to engage in feminist process that feel more productive to us in this moment; to help bridge us to new forms of empowered community action.  We are learning how to care for ourselves both alongside of and as part of our vision of social justice, and this is no simple project in a patriarchal culture that seeks to silence our needs and constantly dehumanize us.

The Institute for Precarious Consciousness asserts that the dominant affect, or lived experience of these times is anxiety.  Anxiety paralyzes us into worry about “what ifs” and avoidance of risk at all costs to empowerment and autonomy.  Anxiety moves us even at times to dissociate and lose skill in being able to articulate our own traumas or to bear witness to the traumas of others.  Our collective has moved to focus inward, through longer, intimate discussions where authentic communication defines our project of trying to hold a safer space for each other.  This holding, for us, has been deeply regulating; producing security and trust in the face of destabilization.  Four members currently remain, and our survival as a feminist entity depends upon this process.  Print

Our web presence will likely remain less active as we embark on a larger journey of connection with other feminist groups and individuals; seeking to archive, understand, and make connections between other groups struggling to maintain momentum.  Through an analysis of the web of power that seeks to make us doubt ourselves, seeks to drain and demoralize us, and relies on our acceptance of cynical immobilization to keep us effectively policed and contained, we hope to uncover an updated logic of resistance.  A logic that speaks to where we are now and where we need to go.

Our website will remain as a bookmark to hold and display the work we’ve done so far.  Please get in touch if you have thoughts or would like to dialogue with us about similar struggles you’re having as an individual or in a group to build sustainable feminist networks; we’d love to hear from you.
*(For more about frontlines, check out the amazing zine Organizing Cools the Planet).

The Dirty 100: Get the Facts

birth controlMedia outlets from Colorlines to the National Organization for Women have been talking about the supreme court case which began today between Hobby Lobby and 99 other for-profit employers and the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers not restrict women’s access to birth control on religious grounds.  We’re also watching closely, because the decision on this case could have implications beyond just birth control access (think: STI treatment, HPV vaccines, mental health care, maternity leave, HIV treatments, and any other health care need that could be argued to conflict with an employer’s religious beliefs).

Check out the Guttmacher Institute analysis of the case and this Talking Points Memo which provides all the facts at a glance.  Protests are happening across the country. Here’s a list of ways to take action on this case, and also check out NOW’s #Iheartbc hashtag to stay updated and join the conversation.



UP YOURS Fest 2014:: All the Details

1509840_746677812026863_1164788360_nOur fabulous intern, Stephanie, attends SUNY Purchase and is throwing this amazing feminist music fest on February 22nd with FORTH (Feminists Organizing for Real Transformation Here) at The Stood in Purchase, NY from 5pm-midnight. We are SO excited to be presenting a short workshop on feminist organizing and communication, as well as tabling with our distro and networking with rad Purchase feminists:

“FORTH will put on a festival… that will utilize ART, MUSIC, WORKSHOPS, COMMUNICATION, and FUN to CELEBRATE female identifying // non cis male identifying folks. We strive for more inclusive, intersectional, and safer environments, and feel the use of ART, MUSIC, WORKSHOPS, and COLLABORATION will help to foster these safer environments, free of structural inequity and oppression.”

UP YOURS will feature music from:
Aye Nako
Downtown Boys
Nine of Swords
Evil Sword
Whatever, Dad
Jawbreaker Reunion
Vanessa Grasing

Workshops and/or Tabling from:
For The Birds Collective
Asbury Park Feminist Collective
The Alt Clinic
Boy Tears
Willie May Rock Camp for Girls
Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic
and more!

We love that this is a Safer Space event; here is their policy, adapted from Ladyfest Philly:

-Be mindful of your speech and actions and the effect they may have on others.
-Do not make assumptions about people’s identities in terms of gender, race, sexuality, abilities, class, or background.
-Respect people’s boundaries and always interact with others’ consent, be it physically, emotionally, or verbally.
-Carry these guidelines through all forms of communication, physical and non-physical: in person, by telephone, and on the Internet.

Get more details and music previews in their promotional video.  See you there!

Marissa Alexander Granted a New Trial. . .

marissa alexander. . .but will it be a fair trial?

Marissa Alexander, 32 year old mother of 3, has been serving a 20-year jail sentence for firing a warning shot into the wall in 2010 when her estranged abusive husband (against whom she had already filed a restraining order) entered the house where she was attempting to collect her belongings, and threatened her.  After a trial considered by many to be undermined by racist application of Florida’s “10-20-Life” laws, Marissa was convicted in 2012.

On September 26, 2013, Marissa’s legal team won an appeal asking for a retrial because the jury’s instructions on what was to be considered “self defense” were erroneous.  However, as she was denied the same immunity under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Laws that recently paved the way to George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the murder of Trayvon Martin, Marissa’s supporters are doubtful that a new trial by the same justice system will give her a fair chance to plead her case and are calling for charges against her to be dropped.

As detailed in this recent Colorlines interview with Mariame Kaba, who is working to free Marissa, tremendous doubt exists as to whether the racist American justice system (under which Marissa was convicted in the first place) will protect and acknowledge her inherent rights; both as a survivor of domestic violence and as a Black woman:

Kaba states: “My own personal sense of heartbreak has been around the notion, in this case, that Marissa couldn’t be afraid, that she couldn’t feel fear, and that the jury couldn’t believe that she was afraid. That’s deep. And that’s why having another trial feels to me like a recipe for disaster—because I don’t think her humanity is taken into account. I don’t think people think that black women can feel scared, or that we have the ability to feel pain.

If you’re interested, here is a petition you can sign in support of all charges against Marissa being dropped, or donate to help her with her legal fees.

Feminist Summer Roll Call!!

Feminists in NYC and surrounding areas: For the Birds is diving into planning summer events and we want to hear from you!!

What are you up to this summer?

What would you like to see, do, learn, and attend? (Think movie screenings, music, shows, workshops, skillshares, and discussions…)

What is your group working on and do you want to collaborate with us?

Can we help you publicize your event through our blog or newsletter?

Please get in touch with us at or leave a comment on this posting, on Facebook, or tweet us @forthebirdsnyc.

Brooklyn Weekend Zine Roundup!

This weekend For the Birds will tabling at the 2nd annual Brooklyn Zine Fest! Stop by and see us at Public Assembly [7 N. 6th St. in Williamsburg] from 11am-6pm.

From their website: “With more than 60 tablers and over 1,500 attendees our first year, the Brooklyn Zine Fest is NYC’s premiere zine event. The event has a festival atmosphere, like a craft fair but with printed matter.  Browse the tables, flip through some zines, meet the people behind them & discover something new!  ALL AGES and open to everyone, though you must be 21 to order a drink at the bar.”

Exciting new additions to our distro that we will have available include new zines by Lauren Denitzio and Cynthia Schemmer.

The Birdsong Collective will also be tabling at the fest with their amazing and long-running literary compilation zine, “Birdsong.”  Check out their Kickstarter campaign to help fund the printing of their 5-Year-Anniversary Issue!  There are still 10 days left to donate and they do amazing work to support independent artists and writers in the Brooklyn area.

See ya Sunday!

The Circle of 6 App: A Technological Helper for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

**Trigger warning for discussions of sexual assault and dating violence**

Call me late to the game on this one, but as a single woman going on blind dates with internet dudes in New York City, when I learned about the Circle of 6 app, I was elated.  Created in 2012, Circle of 6 seeks to “prevent violence before it happens” by using GPS and SMS group messaging to help friends stay in touch with each other.  It was born from the genius mind of filmmaker Nancy Schwartzman as a result of Vice President Biden’s Apps Against Abuse challenge for inventors to use the latest technological advances to help prevent dating violence on college campuses.

I had spent several years as an emergency department patient advocate for survivors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence.  Having also experienced both forms of abuse personally, I was entering the dating world already all too familiar with just how quickly my safety could be threatened.  Less tech savvy systems I used included placing a friend at a date location as a “plant” (often awkward and not always available), texting friends and family my location and “If you don’t hear from me by X time, please call me,” (cumbersome and if the dates went well, I usually forgot to check in, unnecessarily alarming my Dating Helpers), and of course, carrying my trusty pepper spray with me at all times.  But in reality, there is no substitute for being able to communicate effectively and quickly with 6 of my friends in the event that a situation becomes unsafe.  Just in time for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I thought I’d try to keep spreading the word about how this app works, and how it’s been faring in the hands of users.

This app allows you to choose four options that you can communicate to your friends in just two clicks; one to open the app and one to indicate which option you would like to choose: The “Car” icon signals to your circle “Come get me, I need help getting home safely” and uses GPS to provide a map of where you are.  The “Phone” icon requests an interruption phonecall from the circle, and the “Chat” icon sends a message that reads, “I’m looking up information about healthy relationships and respect. Just letting you know,” and provides links to and, thus keeping them informed but not asking for immediate response.  The “Exclamation point” icon links to national hotline numbers and a local number that each user can customize.  A more extensive video on how to use Circle of 6 can be found here.

Schwartzman, the app’s creator, states: “The essence of the app is meeting people where they are, no victim-blaming and no judgment. We were very careful every step of the way to check all the language, and in our statements to the media I never wanted it to be like, “Well, why would a girl put herself in that situation,” because that’s the rhetoric you hear so much around sexual assault with this age group, and frankly, any age group. Girls are out late. College students party. College students drink. And the bricks really fall down hard if a young woman is sexually assaulted under those conditions. And having been raped in a similar way, in a very college-y situation (it was someone I knew, we had been drinking a bit), that doesn’t take away that it was totally and utterly a rape. So much of risk reduction has this undertone of victim blaming, so we wanted to be very sensitive.

From Mother Jones: “The Circle of 6 app isn’t for everyone—you need an iPhone, for one, and some nice, supportive friends—but it could help teenagers and twentysomethings talk about abuse and sexual assault. According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the US have been raped at some point in their lives. More than half of female rape survivors of all ages reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40 percent by an acquaintance.

From Bitch Magazine: “Of course this app is far from perfect—it doesn’t make a direct connection to sexual assault prevention beyond providing hotline numbers, and I have a hard time imagining a college student (or anyone) sending a text message to friends that reads “I’m looking up information about healthy relationships and respect. Just letting you know.” However, it does reinforce the notion that sexual assault and violence prevention is a community effort (combine it with your Hollaback! app for maximum effectiveness), and the more we send that message, the better.

Feminspire notes: “Why is this app so important? Mace is for cases when you’re at a point when you need to cause temporary harm. Rape whistles only work when others are around to hear them. . . This app starts before. . . as soon as you start feeling unsafe in any situation, all you have to do is pretend to be fiddling with your phone, when really you’re planning your escape, a safe exit.

Key critiques of the app seem to be that it is, of course, only available to those with smartphones, and also does not allow you to enter less than 6 contacts.  Many people complain of not having 6 friends that they would feel comfortable reaching out to in an unsafe situation, but entering less than 6 contacts leaves the app inoperable.  (See the comments of this LifeHacker article for more venting about the app’s shortcomings).  Additionally, not everyone has a friend with a car who could offer a safe ride home; especially here in the city.   However, while the app may not be perfect, for those who are able and inclined to use it, it goes a very long way in both providing tangible support and creating dialogue around a very serious issue that can often be difficult to discuss.

The app is currently in version 1.2 and is available for iPhone 3G and later models (including iPhone 5), and Android (2.1 and up).

Open Call for Ladyfest Upstate Participants!

Check out the open call for artists and musicians to perform at Ladyfest Upstate from May 3-5, 2013 in Albany & Troy, NY.  Ladyfest is a community based, not-for-profit global music and arts festival for women identified, trans, genderqueer and gender nonconforming artists. The application deadline is February 1, 2013!

A note on submissions from the Ladyfest website: “While submissions do not have to be explicitly feminist, we ask that they contain themes that support, uplift and revere gender non-conforming, trans and women identified people.  That said any work that is exploring, commenting, expressing and/or narrating the experiences of these identities and how they interface with various oppressions will gladly be accepted.”  More info here.