Friday, October 30, 2009

Looking to intern with Ms. magazine?

Hello feminists! Ms. magazine is looking for Spring and Summer interns in their West Coast Office.

Ms. Editorial Internship
West Coast: L.A. Office

Open to highly motivated undergraduates, recent graduates and graduate students. We're looking for bright, energetic, resourceful people with excellent research and writing skills. Applicants with background in both journalism and feminist activism will be given priority. Our interns help gather and fact-check information, work on specific office projects, and participate in creating the magazine's National News section. This is a great opportunity to learn how the editorial side of a non-profit magazine operates -- from the inception of an idea to the final printed product -- and a great place to gain new feminist perspectives. We¹re currently looking for applications for Spring (Feb­-May; apps due by Nov 10) and Summer (May-July; rolling deadline).

To apply, mail or e-mail a cover letter, resume, writing sample (journalistic writing preferred), and two letters of recommendation or two references to:

Jessica Stites
Ms./Feminist Majority Foundation
433 S. Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
phone: 310. 556.2500
fax: 310. 556.2509

Good Luck!

Support Maine Equality! Vote No on 1!

On November 3rd, Maine voters will decide whether to repeal Maine's new same sex marriage law. According to CommonDreams, both sides are close in the polls.

The marriage fight in Maine is shaping up to be similar to the Prop. 8 fight in California. The "THEY WILL TEACH GAY TO THE CHILDREN!" rhetoric came out in full force. Ads like these have started to run in Maine:

Give Me A Break from Stand for Marriage Maine on Vimeo.

Apparently, children will be explicitly taught that gay sex involves HUGGING and (gasp!) KISSING!

Protect Maine Equality has raised $1.4 million more than its opponent. However, advocates for equality are far from complacent. Protect Maine Equality's Jesse Connoley says "We have every reason to think this will be a razor-thin election."

If you're a Maine voter, make sure to vote on November 3rd or earlier!

Don't Get Tricked, Get Treated - A Musical Interlude!

The east coast campus organizers are really excited about the Exposing Fake Clinics Week of Action VIDEO CONTEST! So, we decided to compose a little ditty and put together a video - we can't wait to see what you've come up with!

Check out our amusing attempt below:

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, CPCs are spooky
They’re all together ooky, they lie to you and me

Their clinic’s a museum, where women go to see em
They really make you scream, they lie to you and me

But we believe in choices, so raise up your voices
You need to come and join us, we’re exposing CPCs

Happy Halloween from the Feminist Majority Foundation!

Click here to send an e-card to your friends about CPCs!

Click here for information about our video contest!

Happy Halloween from the DC Campus Team!

You may have remembered our sweet dance moves from last Christmas. Well hang on to your pumpkins folks, the DC Campus Team is at it again for Halloween. Check out these SCARY dance moves. Enjoy!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Girls Now! Conference

via Feminist Perspectives:

Because being a girl shouldn't be so hard.

This is the message behind a group in
Austin called the Girls Empowerment Network, or GENaustin. They believe many of the problems facing young girls, like bullying, poor body image, and teen pregnancy, all stem from an epidemic of low self-esteem. On November 14th, GENaustin will tackle this issue with their Girls Now! Conference by connecting girls and adults who have questions with experts and resources who have answers.

This one day conference created specifically for 5th-12th grade girls will explore the issues of "Bullying, Body Image, & Being a Girl," and will also contain programming for parents, educators, and social workers. It will include dynamic, interactive workshops focused on issues such as cyber bulling, self-image, dating, diversity, media literacy, parent-daughter relationships, and physical health and wellness. Not to mention, the keynote speaker will be Alexis Jones, "Survivor" Reality Star and Founder of "i am that girl."

Want to get involved? Here's what you can do:
- Register to attend
- Sponsor a girl who can't afford a ticket for $20
- Spread the message about the conference through facebook, twitter, and your personal blogs.

Movie Review: Playground.

Where does child prostitution happen? Why does child prostitution happen? Is it a problem Americans have to worry about?

The majority of Americans would probably not like to think about child prostitution as an issue that we have to worry about; we would prefer to maintain the ideas that it happens in other countries, that the only people who have to worry about their children being kidnapped for exploitation are those who are poor or come from impoverished families. But, as the new documentary "The Playground" points out, not only are they wrong, but the mindset of cheerful ignorance helps fuel the robust domestic child prostitution trade.

"The Playground" demonstrates that children in every city are being forced into prostitution and pornography across the nation, from every class and racial demographic. It interviews law enforcement officers, social workers, victims of trafficking, committed sex offenders, and investigators and through their testimonies uncovers startling facts about the domestic child sex trade.

Children as young as 11 are being forced into the sex trade--being arrested for being part of a trade that was forced on them while the "john" that rapes them goes free. (Think about it: if she weren't a prostitute, her rapist would be deemed a pedophile and would be prosecuted as such.)

The Sex Offender registry is so bloated (in some states 6-year olds are being registered as sex offenders) that actual dangerous sex offenders AREN'T LISTED, and can get away with crimes.

By looking at tragic statistics, the viewer must re-examine their understanding of the American legal system, its foster care system, and the American culture--which various interviewees claimed promoted the child sex trade on account of its sexualization of women and children.

For more about the documentary, check out
For more about child sex trafficking, check out

Photo Credit: striatic on

A Woman's Worth

When you work in the global reproductive health and rights movement, it can be frustrating having to constantly explain how the life of a woman, especially her health, is linked to the progress and prosperity of her family, her community, and her country.

The following video by the White Ribbon Alliance, gives us an overview of the most critical maternal mortality statistics, but most importantly it reminds us that these deaths are preventable. Investing in women's health holds the answers to many of the greatest predicaments we face in the field of development today.

Watch the video and always remember that when it comes to saving women's lives, we already have the cure:

OMG! Breasts on TV!

Don’t get your panties in a twist just yet. We’re not replaying Janet Jackson’s ‘accidental’ over exposure during the Superbowl. WJLA ABC 7 aired a news segment called “Touch of Life” which was aimed at educating women on the importance of self-breast exams and how to do them. Breast Cancer is one of the leading killers among women and ABC 7 has set out to inform women on how to fight it, in a “full frontal” news report.

A portion of the segment was dedicated to instructional footage of a woman, partially nude, doing a self-breast exam. The segment was done “tastefully, very clinically… everything is instructional” according to reporter Gail Pennybacker. However, the news report was not without criticism.

Critics of the news report claim that it is “exploiting women to exploit the audience.” Give me a break! I’m with reporter Julie Parker on this one: ““There’s nothing sexy about this, it’s a self-breast exam.” Other critics find that this was more-or-less an attempt to boost ratings at the beginning of “Sweeps” month, a period when news channels air their most eye catching reports in order to increase ratings and, thus, attract more advertisements. WJLA’s General Manager Bill Lord responded to these comments by saying that “Yes, this is an attention-getting story, but it's also an important story.” (Washington Post)

Important indeed. Surprisingly enough, most women don’t know how to do a self breast exam. In order to effectively educate women, WJLA decided to “bare all.” General Manager Bill Lord said that after consulting with medical experts, WJLA decided that news reports on breast-cancer detection “haven't offered enough detail” to be an effective educational tool.

Health Insurance doesn’t cover routine mammograms until the age of 40 and so for those in their 20s and 30s, self-exams are absolutely vital; breast cancer knows no age. Those who are criticizing WJLA for his report need to take a step back and think about what the message of this report is. This was not a distasteful attempt to increase ratings, it was purely an attempt to educate and inform. I’m proud of ABC 7 for airing this report and realizing how important it is to be educated and truly understand Breast Cancer and how we can prevent it. Furthermore, ABC 7 plans to air the remaining segments of the report; Lord says that “"The public benefits of this will outweigh any criticism."

If you're like most women and do not know how to do a self-breast exam, click here to watch the segment and get educated! Warning, this video contains adult content. View discretion is advised.

What Happens When Eggs are Classified as People: Eyes on Mexico.

Back in 2007, when Mexico City legalized abortions during the first 12 weeks, many people, both pro-choice and anti-choice, thought that this law would spread to the rest of the country.

Instead, Mexico has seen a backlash, and many states have introduced stricter laws on abortion, even including egg-as-person laws (kind of what like many US states are trying to do, only so far no US state has passed one of these laws.)

The passage of personhood laws in Mexico allows us a grim opportunity to see what could happen in the US if such laws are passed here.

The Atlantic reported various consequences of egg-as-person laws:

  • Jalisco: punishment for induced abortion is four to 12 months in prison if she doesn't have a "bad reputation," had her abortion in the first 5 months, successfully hid her pregnancy, or became pregnant in an illegitmate union. If she fails one of these requirements, the term DOUBLES; if she fails two, it TRIPLES. Oh, and if a judge says she deserves medical treatment instead of jail time, a counselor will help her reorient herself towards "family values."

  • Quintana Roo: A woman was imprisoned for "homocide" because she had an abortion

  • Access to the abortion pill is limited, resulting in shoddy street versions that may endanger a woman's life; plus, when doctors discover use of abortion pill, they send their patients away in handcuffs.

    Pro-choice activists are fighting back, and Opinion polls show that 62 percent of Mexicans think the government shouldn't intervene in a woman's right to chose. Until public policy reflects public opinion, however, strict legal restrictions on abortion will continue to put women at risk.

    Photo Credit: Petezin on
  • Thursday, October 29, 2009

    Making the Grade in Sex Ed: Go Gamecocks!

    Congratulations to my alma mater The University of South Carolina and fellow Gamecocks for ranking numero uno in sexual health education! Woo hoo!

    Carolina earned a 3.43 "sexual health GPA" according to this year's Trojan Sexual Health Report Card survey of 141 NCAA colleges and universities. The survey analyzed access and availability of information and resources to students based on the following categories:

    1. Student opinion of health center
    2. Health center hours of operation
    3. Availability of patient drop-in vs. appointment only
    4. Availability of separate sexual awareness program
    5. Contraceptive availability and cost
    6. Condom availability and cost
    7. HIV testing, cost and locality (on- vs. off-campus)
    8. Other STI testing, cost and locality (on- vs. off-campus)
    9. Availability of anonymous advice via email / newspaper column
    10. Existence of lecture / outreach programs
    11. Existence of student peer groups
    12. Availability of sexual assault programs
    13. Website usability and functionality

    Through events like Project Condom and "Sex and the College Student" for first-year students, the Sexual Health and Violence Prevention Office has been an active and visible presence on campus (and ally of FMLA at USC). Snaps and claps to all the top ten schools, including Stanford, UConn, Columbia, Florida Atlantic, UGA, Michigan State, Cornell, Brown and Duke. And kudos to Trojan for highlighting the need for comprehensive sexual health information and access to these services on ALL campuses.

    Oh, and go 'cocks! :)

    Photo credit: Flickr by Radar Communication

    New Study Challenges Stereotypes on Teen Parents

    According to a study (see PDF) published by the not-for-profit research organization Child Trends, most teen parents come from two-parent households that are over the poverty line.

    Here's the breakdown of the research findings:
  • 39% of those who have either given birth or fathered a child were living with both biological or adoptive parents before the birth
  • 19% reported living with one biological/adoptive and one step-parent, meaning
  • 58% of teens that have either given birth or fathered a child came from a two-parent household, while
  • 30% of teens who have either given birth or fathered a child came from a single-parent household.

    As for the poverty line,
  • 41% of those who have either given birth or fathered a child lived in families whose income level was either 200% or above the federal poverty line;
  • 31% came from families between 100% to 200% of the federal poverty line, meaning a full
  • 72% of teen parents have come from families with incomes above the federal poverty line, while only
  • 28% came from families living below the federal poverty line.

    Child Trends also examined adult's perceptions about teen births--though what was somewhat frustrating was that their questions were about "teen mothers," not "teen parents." (Sure go place all the blame on the woman, geez.)

    Questions and responses:
    "In your opinion, do you think that most teen mothers are from homes below the federal poverty level or above the federal povery level?"
    Adult responses:
  • Below the Poverty Level: 67%
  • Above the Poverty Level: 20%
  • Don't Know: 12%
  • Refused to Answer: 1%

    "In your opinion, do most teen mothers come from two-parent homes or single-parent homes?"
    Adult responses:
  • Single-parent homes: 70%
  • Two-parent homes: 15%
  • Don't Know: 14%
  • Refused to Answer: 1%

    The study does admit that disproportionately high percentages of teens from single-parent homes and under-the-poverty line homes are becoming parents; but they do not consist of the majority.

    Congrats to research dispelling stereotypes!

    Photo Credit: freeparking on
  • Conference Countdown! Last Chance for Low Rates!

    The Feminist Majority Foundation's Western Regional Feminist Campus Leadership Conference is only 8 days away! Will we see you November 6-7 at Santa Monica College in Los Angeles? Don't forget to register now!

    We're working hard to make sure this is one conference you won't forget!

    On Friday, Nov. 6 from 12:00 - 1:30pm come to Santa Monica College Quad for a Feminist Speak OUT! The event is free and open to the public so come have your voice heard! Then stick around for our Action Training, Networking Event and Pizza Party from 6:00 - 8:00pm.

    And ATTENTION FMLA ALUMNI! On Saturday, Nov. 7 from 7:45 - 10:00pm, don't miss our Feminist Mixer at Damon and Pythias in Westwood (1061 Broxton Ave). We hope to see you there.

    Early Bird Registration has been EXTENDED through Monday, November 2, so register now to lock in these discount rates!

    Remember, register today to get the reduced rate of $15 for individuals and $12 for groups.

    See you next weekend!

    For Equality,

    Jacqueline, Allie, and duVergne
    The West Coast Campus Team

    P.S. Don't forget to check out our conference website for more info on hotels, room board, ride board, fundraising tips, and more!

    No Dignity For NBC

    Michele Kort, Senior Editor of Ms. Magazine recently posted about the recent Law and Order episode "Dignity," based on Dr. Tiller. The original post is here

    By Michele Kort, Senior Editor

    Anyone who’s watched the long-running NBC series Law and Order—the original, not the spinoffs—knows that its stories are often “ripped from the headlines.” So it wasn’t all that surprising that the October 23 episode, entitled “Dignity,” was obviously inspired by the murder this past spring of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in his church.

    What was shocking, though, was how the screenwriters used Tiller’s assassination as a jumping-off point to debate whether it could be considered a “justifiable” homicide and whether Roe v. Wade has somehow become outmoded. Although the murderer of the fictional doctor is ultimately judged guilty, the final verdict of the teleplay is probably expressed best when one of the district attorneys says, “Roe v. Wade could stand another look.” Thus the whole legal doctrine, which serves as the basis in the U.S. for women’s rights to birth control as well as abortion, is thrown into question.

    We expect that Law and Order will tackle controversy, and use its characters as mouthpieces for competing viewpoints. One cop takes a pro-choice line, the other an anti-abortion stance. A similar pro-con occurs in the district attorney’s office as they plan their prosecution. One nurse defends the doctor’s work, while another quits her job over a fictionalized late abortion case in which that fetus is born alive, then euthanized.

    But we’re never allowed to develop any real understanding of the need for late abortion or the circumstances that confront women. While the screenwriters include exposition that explains the most common reasons for late abortion—catastrophic fetal anomalies, pregnancies as the result of rape of children, life-threatening conditions for the pregnant woman—they choose to focus on a case about a fetus with a serious but survivable skin condition. That serves to trivialize the preponderance of late abortion cases, where it’s far more likely that the brain or other vital organs are missing.

    Indeed, the murdered doctor is branded a fanatic and a murderer himself, rather than a brave and compassionate human being. When a fellow doctor stands up for him vigorously in court testimony and says that abortion providers won’t be stopped from their work, the district attorney concludes, “So now we know there are fanatics in both camps.”

    Anyone who knew George Tiller, as a friend or coworker or patient, must have been appalled by this second assassination, even if it was only of the character variety.

    Perhaps most alarmingly, the judge in the case allows a “justifiable homicide” defense—which has never been allowed in a U.S. court—and so the extremist rhetoric that links abortion to murder is allowed to get quite an airing on the show. These arguments themselves are given “dignity” since they’re expressed by someone identified as not being an extremist fanatic. The screenwriters thus fail to recognize that such a rationale can be just the “license to kill” that extremists need to justify their murderous actions against abortion providers and their staff: Nine have been killed since 1993.

    Yes, it was just television, constructed for maximum dramatic conflict. But this episode of Law and Order was not only insensitive to the recent grief over Dr. Tiller’s death and the reality of his compassionate treatment of his patients, but it was dangerous in offering such a large public platform to anti-abortion rhetoric and distortions of medical facts. By equating the arguments on both sides, the show has failed to understand how false but vehement arguments are a precursor to unrelenting harassment and even brutal violence.

    If you want to express your displeasure over this episode, write to the executive producer of Law and Order, Rene Balcer, at 100 University City Plaza, University City, CA 91608.

    And if you want to read the truth about the life, work and dignity of George Tiller, read an excerpt from “A Man who Trusted Women” in the Summer 2009 issue of Ms.

    Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes from

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Zombies for Health Insurance Reform

    Zombies aren't just craving brains. They want a public option, too. From Massachusetts Jobs with Justice comes this creative protest (oh, how I wish I still lived in Boston!):

    The dead are rising to walk the streets of Boston once more, hungry for revenge against those who put them in the grave- insurance companies! Whether it was denied claims for medical care, rescinded service upon contracting serious illnesses, or payments delayed by miles of insurance paperwork and bureaucracy, these undead insurance customers are back to stop insurance company crimes, and they don’t care whose brains they have to eat to make health care reform happen. Take a stand against big insurance! No more insurance crime zombies!

    The details:

    5pm (4:30pm for zombies, please!), Thursday, October 29

    Blue Cross Blue Shield
    Landmark Center, 401 Park Drive, Boston

    For more information, contact

    Image via Laughing Squid

    Gender (In)Equality Around the Globe

    As Anushay already mentioned, the stats are out on gender equality around the globe, and the US doesn't have much room to thumb its nose at anyone! Here's what the Feminist Majority Foundation Newswire had to say about the recent report...

    Iceland has the highest gender equality index of 134 countries analyzed, according to a study released by the World Economic Forum Tuesday. The US ranked 31st on the list and fell four places this year. The US ranking fell due to overall labor force participation of women falling from 70 percent to 69 percent and stagnation in the political empowerment index, while other countries have improved.

    The World Economic Forum's "Global Gender Gap Report 2009"(see PDF) determined each country's rank by examining how that country has reduced gender gaps in educational attainment, health and survival, economic participation and opportunity, and political empowerment. Their measurements were independent of the nation's level of development, and focused on outcomes rather than on inputs.

    Melanne Verveer, the United State's first Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues, said at the report's launch, "Obviously I think every country wants to do better. It's worth pointing out that no country has equality between men and women so we have a long road to go no matter where we live," according to Reuters.

    eBay will NOT host auction for alleged murderer

    Ebay announced yesterday that it will block an online auction planned to support the legal defense of Scott Roeder, the alleged murderer of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller, MD. According to the Los Angeles Times, eBay said, "Based on the details we know about the anticipated listings, we believe these would violate our policy regarding offensive material." The company intends to remove any listings that are posted due to policies that bar listings promoting or glorifying violence or hatred.

    After plans for the auction were announced, Kathy Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation told the Kansas City Star that "the network of extremists promoting and defending the murder of doctors is contributing to escalating threats against clinics and doctors across the country." Items Roeder's associates planned to sell included an Army of God manual, an autographed protest bullhorn, and a prison cookbook written by Shelley Shannon, who shot Dr. Tiller five times in 1993.

    The trial for Roeder has been postponed until January 2010. Roeder's trial for first degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault had originally been set to begin in September of this year. If convicted of all charges, Roeder faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

    Dr. Tiller, who was medical director of the Women's Health Care Services clinic in Wichita, Kansas, was killed in May at his church. The Department of Justice opened an investigation in June to look into possible federal crimes associated with the murder. The federal government also convened a meeting of the National Task Force on Violence Against Reproductive Health Care Providers in the days following the murder and Attorney General Eric Holder deployed US Marshals to protect highly threatened clinics and staff.

    Image credit: liewcf on

    Global Economic Downturn Fuels Child Sex Trade

    Poverty leads to vulnerability leads to child sexual exploitation--its not a direct correlation or a direct equation, but most studies would agree that those facing poverty are at a much higher risk for sexual exploitation.

    With the Global Economic Recession, more people have been pushed into poverty, and more children being sexually exploited. According to the Global Post, approximately 1.8 million children are sexually exploited every year.

    Its a pattern familiar to many countries. The recession forced the closure of many work establishments, government services are cut, children have to quit school either because their parents can't afford it or because they have to help earn money, living conditions deteriorate--and as part of these conditions, children become more vulnerable to exploitation. Whether it be through the promise of quick money, the nice words of a stranger, children are increasingly being "recruited" into this multi-billion dollar industry at startling rates every year.

    Photo Credit: Yan Pritzker on

    Iceland Tops Global Gender Gap

    The World Economic Forum (WEF) just released its report on the WEF's 2009 Global Gender Gap. Saadia Zahidi, director of Women Leaders and Gender at the World Economic Forum, talks with Bloomberg's Margaret Brennan, my college roommate, about the report's findings. Check out the video and watch Zahidi speak about how around the world, wage gap still remains wide.

    Image credit: Sudhamshu on

    The Gates Show Us Living Proof

    Here at the Feminist Majority Foundation, we think every day of how to make issues of global health accessible, relatable and probably most difficult, human for our student groups across the country. Usually people think there is nothing they can do to make a difference. Even if the connection is made between how important US investments to global health are, more often than not, we never see the human faces US sponsored programs impact on the ground.

    Well, the Gates are trying to change all that. Bill and Melinda Gates have just launched "The Living Proof Project: U.S. Investments In Global Health Are Working." Take a few minutes and watch their "Why We Are Impatient Optimists" webcast. Join the global health movement today, and as Gandhi would say, start being the change you want to see in the world.

    Ellie Smeal on the Daily Show!

    Ok, while it would be WAY cooler if she were actually interviewd by Jon Stewart, it's still pretty awesome that Ellie made her way onto last night's Daily Show...

    She makes her cameo around 0:22 - but don't blink or you might miss her! :)

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Whole Foods Boycott
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

    Egg = Person, Seriously?

    Last year, FMF's Get Out HER Vote campaign worked with you to get out the feminist vote and work for equal rights for all people around the issues of marriage equality, affirmative action, and reproductive rights. One of the key states we focused in on, Colorado, had a little bit of everything...not the least of which was a "fetal personhood" amendment.

    Evidently, after the people of Colorado REJECTED (by 73%, I might add) this outrageous attempt to take us back to the days of back-alley abortions and criminalized birth control, someone, somewhere thought it would be a good idea to try again.

    According to the Colorado Independent, the "new" version of last year's defeated amendment would "move the legal definition of a person further back into the reproductive cycle, granting cells the full spectrum of citizen rights."

    Just for a second, let's consider what would happen if this passed, became law, and spread throughout the country (which is the whole point of these types of initiatives)...
    1. In-vitro Fertilization as we know it would cease to exist;
    2. Embryonic stem cell research would come to a hault;
    3. ALL birth control would become illegal - no matter its intended use (i.e. treating endometriosis, cramps, acne);
    4. ALL abortofacient forms of contraception would become illegal (i.e. the IUD Plan B);
    5. ALL abortion procedures - with complete disregard for the life of the mother, as well as cases of rape and incest - would become illegal.
    Beyond this, it's not hard to imagine a dramatic increase in unintended pregnancies and a reemergence of dangerous, secret, illegal back-alley abortion facilities.

    It is 2009, not 1909. We've been there. We've done that to women. We've seen the horrendous results. THIS IS NOT AN OPTION FOR RATIONAL ADULTS!

    At the end of the day, we keep on working, we keep on fighting for equality, and evidently, we keep our eyes on Colorado.

    Image credit: House of Sims on

    Has Ira Glass wire-tapped the FMF headquaters?

    While on my morning commute, ( which still involves zoning out to Ira Glass.) I noticed that he and the show have, yet again, picked a show subject that matches up perfectly with my life at FMF.

    Yesterday I talked about the documentary Hell House and critiqued the moral-based Haunted House on its extreme scare tactics used to convert it's "Hell bound" visitors to the other side.

    Today, I discovered that the PRI radio show This American Life had interview the film's director and Hell House's actors for this weeks show!

    For a real Halloween spook tale, you can listen to the show here.
    photo credit: sean dreilinger from

    Check out our new web page!

    Well, the verdict is in, and the campus web team - Val , Emily, Courtney and Alysse - has done it again! Check out the dramatically revitalized!

    Obviously, we'll be tweaking the finer details of the new site for a while, but we want to know your thoughts. Email us at

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    Exposing Fake Clinics Action Series: National Sex-Ed Call in Day

    Have you heard of the Hatch Amendment??

    It is a recent amendment to the health care reform bill passed by Senate Finance Committee that would reinstate $50 million/year to abstinence-only programs. GAHH!

    I don't need to tell you that abstinence-only programs don't work. They do not lower the rates of unintended pregnancies or the spread of STIs including HIV. But I should tell you that this federal funding would also go to fund Crisis Pregnancy Centers.

    Let's not forget that this week is “Don’t Get Tricked, Get Treated” national week of action to expose “fake clinics.” I have a great action idea for you and everyone you know!

    Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 28th is National Sex Ed Call-In Day. Please call your US Senators and let them know that reinstating $50 million to failed abstinence-only programs is unacceptable.

    1. Call 1-800-423-5983 where you will be connected to the Capitol Switchboard

    2. Tell them what state you are in and that you would like to speak to one of your Senators

    3. Ask to speak to the lead aide on health and tell them why you think your senator needs to support comprehensive sex education and reject the Hatch Amendment that would reinstate $50 millions to abstinence-only education

    4. Once you call one Senator, call the switchboard back and ask to be connected to your other State Senator.

    5. When you are tabling and holding events this week for "Don't Get Tricked, Get Treated," have everyone you talk to take a second and do the same!

    We have been making great progress at finally putting an end to abstinence-only education, and we must not let the Hatch Amendment undue our hard work!

    On Wednesday October 28th, call your Senators at 1-888-423-5983 and urge them to put a stop to the harmful Hatch Amendment and abstinence-only-before- marriage programs!

    For more ideas on how to take action during "Don't Get Tricked, Get Treated," check out our action series

    Ditch the candy, this Halloween sign yourself up for some good ol' fashion fear mongering!

    Everyone has their own Halloween traditions. In his documentary Hell House, director/ producer George Radliff shows the not-so-common Halloween traditions of a town on the outskirts of Dallas, where the production of "Hell House" is annually held.

    Hell House is a haunted house-style play focused on decisions that will exempt a person from the pearly gates. Teens and parents alike try out in large numbers, hoping to play "rave master" or"school shooting kid."

    During Halloween season, "those who dare enter" watch a series of five-minute skits, showing what each character did to get in Hell. There's the boy who "chose the gay lifestyle" and became HIV positive; the woman who cheats on her abusive, alcoholic husband; the girl who took the abortion pill and died from blood loss, the boy who was so fed up with teasing that he commits suicide in front of his class and (can't forget this one!) the girl who goes to a rave, gets drugged and raped and commits suicide because of her guilt!

    After seeing the characters tortured and burned in the final "Hell" scene, the audience is taken to calm room. Here, a person asks the group if they know where they would go if they were to die that night. Those who would like to go to heaven are offered entrance into a room where they can pray with church members.

    This is where I sat on my couch, watching and thinking "WHAAAAAT! WAY TO BLAME THE VICTIM!"
    This movie put things in the most disgusting terms: It's not the rapist who goes to hell, its the poor survivor. It's not the abuser or the mean students, it's the abused and the taunted.
    It's time to identify this as what it is: fear mongering! They are showing extreme situations as scare tactics to sway their audience towards their unrealistic cause. To find out more about Hell House, rent it!

    "Fixing the Liberal Bias" the Bible?

    Ever thought the Bible had a liberal Bias? Me neither. But Andy Schafly, son of anti-ERA activist Phyllis Schafly and inventor of Conservapedia, thinks it does and is working to "correct" its "emasculating" messages, Alternet reports.

    The Conservative Bible Project will take place in wiki format, slowly making changes to the King James Bible. Some of the proposed changes include replacing various instances of the term "young girl" with the words "bimbo," "floozy," or "temptress;" renaming Pharisees "liberals," and adjusting passages to look like Jesus praised the "free market."

    The proposed Conservative Bible would also eliminate passages that were supposedly penned in by rabid liberals after the original bible was made, such as the passage when Jesus saved a woman from stoning, or the passage in which Jesus asks G-d to forgive his prosecutors because they didn't know what they were doing. (Hm, he picked the two passages my religion teachers always pointed out as the point of caring about religion in the first place. Interesting.)

    Many consider the whole thing a joke; after all, Schafly proclaims that one of the problems with the King James bible is that it was mistranslated, but he will not going back to the original texts to write his new version. He didn't even know that the bible was originally written in more than one language, but insists that the bible is currently "dumbed down" to the seventh-grade level. (And those intellectual liberal elites whose titles he wants to superimpose on the Pharisees are responsible for the dumbing down. The ocassional dose of logic doesn't kill people, btw.)

    Personally I think I would find reading the Lolcat Bible to be less sacreligious.

    What's your opinion?

    Photo Credit: Wonderlane on

    Exposing Face Clinics: WEEK OF ACTION

    It's Day 2 of the Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics' Don't Get Tricked, Get Treated Week of Action, and there's still time to get involved!

    Teach students on your campus the truth about creepy Crisis Pregnancy Centers by:
    • Getting the word out with "Trick or Truth Treats".
    • Screening our investigative videos.
    • Having students sign our petition to stop deceptive advertising and federal funding of fake clinics.
    • Creating a Haunted Clinic on your campus to show how scary fake facilities really are.
    • Participating in the Video Contest to Expose Fake Clinics on Your Campus! Click here for guidelines. Get creative and submit your video!
    • Check out our Action Series for more ideas. Submit pictures and reports of your campus group's efforts this week and you could be featured here on the blog or in an upcoming eZine.
    Don't let the ghouls and goblins of fake clinics deceive students on your campus! Join FMF and campuses across the nation as we expose something REALLY frightening…FAKE CLINICS!

    image credit: on flickr

    Artificial Virginity Kit Angers Egyptian Conservatives

    A controversial new product called the Artificial Virginity Hymen Kit has recently gone on the market in the Middle East, and conservative members of the Egyptian Parliament have already taken strict measures to ban the product in their own country. The kit, which is marketed and sold by the Chinese mail-order company Gigimo, contains a pouch that secretes a blood-like liquid when it is inserted into the vagina and broken during sex. Designed to trick the bride’s new husband into believing that he has scored himself a virgin, the device enables a woman to create an illusion of chastity on her wedding night and outsmart traditional Muslim laws that seek to punish practices of premarital sex. “With this product, you can have your first night back anytime,” claims the advertisement. “Add in a few moans and groans, you will pass through undetectable.”

    Although women have been having illegal hymen-repairing operations in Egypt for years, members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, who possess 20% of the country’s parliament seats, say “a product like that can make it easier and tempting for girls who don't have strong wills to commit such a sin. It will be a crying shame and a blot on the government if they allow the selling of this product in our markets." According to the conservatives, the product, which sells for around $30, would encourage a greater number of Egyptian women to become promiscuous.

    But as the high demand for hymen-repairing operations proves, many Egyptian women are not afraid to violate the law if it protects them from lifelong ostracization or in the worst cases, becoming the victims of gruesome honor killings. While many in Egypt condemn the Kit and vow that it will lead to a disintegration of the country’s Muslim integrity, many women see it is a tool of empowerment, especially in difficult economic times, when many couples are choosing to delay marriage until they can afford it.

    Photo courtesy of

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Feminists Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock with Bike-Powered Eco Feminism Stage at Golden Gate Park Concert

    More than 50,000 people flooded Speedway Meadow in Golden Gate park for "West Fest", a concert commemorating the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. The concert featured such legendary Woodstock original acts as Jefferson Starship, Country Joe McDonald, Ray Manzarek (from The Doors) and many more.

    The California
    and San Francisco chapters of N.O.W. (National Organization for Women) concurrently ran a lower key, family-friendly stage in a nearby meadow. "Our eco-feminism bike-powered stage brings attention to the relationship between feminism and the earth," explains Mona Lisa Wallace, president of San Francisco N.O.W. Pamela Parker and the N.O.W. organization in collaboration with West Fest, Green Zone Productions and Rock the Bike presented a family friendly stage with world-class acts, an off-the-grid, eco-friendly bike-powered stage, amenities for children such as a napping tent, free facepainting, a crafting tent, and much more.

    Aileen Hernandez, legendary feminist leader, spoke for N.O.W. in front of a crowd of more than fifty thousand. During the time of Woodstock she served as N.O.W.'s second president and on the first EEOC Commission. Artists performing include; Pamela Parker Band featuring the release of her latest CD “Beautiful Day,” Aradhana Silvermoon, *bernadette* featuring WomenROCK, Oona, Fossil Fool, Soul Medic, Michael Morrow & the 21stCenturians and starting the whole thing off were crowd drawing beats by the Druid Sisters' Tea Party "opening the space" with dancers and priestesses of the Temple of Isis.

    Patty Bellasalma, President of the California chapter of NOW, spoke of the event, "We [N.O.W.] were born out of the Woodstock generation and it is a wonderful honor to take part in this truly joyful celebration of 40 amazing years for feminism."

    photo courtesy of bitzi at

    UN takes a stance on defining gender, expands trans' travel rights

    These past months have lead to some interesting gains and losses for civil rights based on gender-identification, due to the seemingly unrelated debate on travel and border security.

    On August 15th, the transgendered community and its allies felt pushed aside when the Transportation Security Administration put out new travelling requirements that required passengers to provide full name, date of birth and gender when booking flights. Transgendered people found themselves in an uncomfortable situation, having categorize themselves in concrete terms without any options directly applicable to them. It's disgusting how this either/ or policy oozes with a lack of sympathy. It does not take into consideration the difficulties and uneasiness a person goes through trying to match past federal documents with current self-identification.

    A couple of months later, strides have been made. The UN and Rapporteur Martin Scheinin made their opinion known in the recent "Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism" report. The UN made sure to take a conscious, sensitive and realistic approach by defining the security issues without being biased in religion, race, sexuality and gender. The report contained this purposefully vague definition of gender:

    "Gender is not synonymous with women but rather encompasses the social constructions that underlie how women's and men's roles, functions and responsibilities, including in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, are defined and understood. This report will therefore identify the gendered impact of counter-terrorism measures both on women and men, as well as the rights of persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. As a social construct, gender is also informed by, and intersects with, various other means by which roles, functions and responsibilities are perceived and practiced, such as race, ethnicity, culture, religion and class. Consequently, gender is not static; it is changeable over time and across contexts.Understanding gender as a social and shifting construct rather than as a biological and fixed category is important because it helps to identify the complex and inter-related gender-based human rights violations caused by counter terrorism measures; to understand the underlying causes of these violations; and to design strategies for countering terrorism that are truly non-discriminatory and inclusive of all actors."
    Thankfully, the UN has exposed the usually hushed gender-travel links and their disproportionately effects to a person's safety. The studies reveal the disgusting scrutiny innocent transgendered people face when crossing boarders. Many transwomen are subject to tougher indentity documentation clearances and face harassment due to a history of men dressing up as women to attempt to escape a heavy bomb/weapon search.

    Critics, like that of Fox News, say that the UN over analysed political correctness and minorities' security (those of women, gay, trans, intersex, etc...) by unnecessarily forcing a progressive definition of gender on the public.

    However, here at FMF, we know far too well the reality of humiliation and harassment that "minority" populations face due to security policy. Those least protected under the law are (shock!) those who are most vulnerable to civil rights violations at checkpoints.

    We are so proud that the UN could look past previous gender-biases and honestly work towards ensuring safe travel for ALL.
    photocredit: transguyjay from

    Anti-choice extremists to hold eBay auction for Scott Roeder

    Keep your eyes peeled on November 1st. According to McClatchy, the extremist group Army of God is holding an eBay auction to raise funds for Scott Roeder's defense fund. The items on sale will be an Army of God manual, a prison cookbook, an autographed megaphone, and three drawings by Scott Roeder.

    eBay has made a statement that "EBay does not allow listings that promote or glorify violence, hate, racial or religious intolerance, or items that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity."

    Scott Roeder murdered Dr. George Tiller on May 31st, 2009. This auction is one of many way anti-choice extremists promote and defend the murder of doctors.

    If you see any of the above items on sale, you can either click the "Report item" link near the top of the listing page, or go to eBay's File a Report page. You can also contact eBay directly through their Contact Us page.

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Verdict: Anti-Choice and Disappointing

    I have been a big fan of the television show "Law and Order" since high school, but I haven't been watching the new episodes recently. I've been sort of feeling nostalgic about the whole show, so imagine my feelings when I read the article on Salon today about the most recent episode that appeared to take the tragedy of Dr. Tiller's death and turn it into an anti-choice supporting episode.

    How do you do that? By fabricating events that make the murdered abortion provider seem like a bad person, instead of someone who is performing a legal service that saves the lives of women. Gee, that strategy sure sounds like something the anti-choice movement would do.....

    So, why did "Law and Order" do it?
    Photo courtesy of

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    Are YOU a pre-existing condition?

    Great new campaign ad from the National Women's Law Center (found via Jezebel) around the healthcare debate...

    Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai

    Hey all! The forecast for this weekend predicts thunderstorms, so if you’re hanging out and looking for a good movie, check out Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai. I recently saw the film as part of the American University Human Rights Film Festival and thought it was incredibly well done.

    Some background- Wangari Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her political and environmental activism in Kenya. The film depicts her journey as an advocate and the beginning of the revolutionary Green Belt Movement, as well as the stories of the women she empowers along the way.

    Wangari is a woman whose husband divorced her because she was too “self-sufficient” and “strong-minded,” leaving her to raise their children alone AND inspire and create some of the most significant environmental and political change Kenya has ever seen. She was beaten, slandered, and detained by the Kenyan government, and not once did she give in. I could go on for days about how amazing she is and what her work has done to change the lives of so many, not just those in Kenya, but I’ll let you find out for yourselves.


    Some can't afford to be SICK of the health care debate...

    Saw this compelling video on feministing and thought, how many more of these stories is it going to take?!

    HPV For Boys

    The CDC gave Gardasil, the vaccine against HPV, a "permissive" recommendation for men and young boys. This means that the vaccine is okay to sell, but it isn't recommended for all men.

    Why? A CDC economist argued that it would be more cost-effective to improve accessibility for young women rather than extend the vaccine to young men.

    The argument is that if girls are vaccinated, boys won't have anything to catch or transmit. Why should men bear any responsibility when women can do it for them? It's not like women have any obstacles to obtaining health care.

    Furthemore, Dan Savage makes a decent point when he says:
    "But if you want to vaccinate gay men against HPV—because women can't do it for us—you have to vaccinate gay men well before we become sexually active, same as girls. Age 11, remember? And since we don't know at age 11 which boys are going to be gay when they grow up, you have to vaccinate all boys against HPV in order to protect the ones who are going to be gay when they grow up. It seems like a no-brainer and a win-win: vaccinating all boys against HPV will protect the gays ones—gay men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer as adults—and help protect girls and women from the deadlier strains of HPV. It would also offer some protection to girls whose parents denied them the vaccine for... religious reasons. That's a win-win-win."
    More broadly, any man that doesn't have sex exclusively with HPV-vaccinated women is at risk. It's ridiculous that the CDC didn't let this fact influence their decision.

    Image courtesy of:

    Rape: A Pre-Existing Condition

    Several years ago, Chris Turner was denied health insurance because she had sought treatment for rape. Health insurance agencies told Turner that the anti-AIDS medication her physician had prescribed her and the counseling she took made her uninsurable, even though she tested HIV-negative, The National Women's Law Center reports. She was told to come back in three years, if she was still HIV-free.

    The Huffington Post Investigative Fund’s citizen journalism project has uncovered many similar stories, indicating that Turner's situation is not an isolated case. Women have been denied health coverage for conditions resulting from rape, such as sexually transmitted disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, and mental health care that their doctors said was critical for recovery. In one case, a woman received treatment for rape, but was later discovered the insurance company would not pay because they looked through her record and discovered she "had been raped before".

    "Insurance discrimination against rape victims will only further discourage them from coming forward to law enforcement and seeking medical help," Sandra Park, staff attorney at the Women's Rights Project with the American Civil Liberties Union told the Huffington Post

    This is what gets me," Turner said in a statement (see PDF), "There are so many rape survivors who can't or don't get the help that they need--they have to push down their suffering and pain and just try to survive. I feel like I did the right thing by going on medication and getting counseling. And yet I was punished for doing the right thing to take care of myself and my livelihood."

    Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes on

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Exposing Fake Clinics Action Series: Trick or TRUTH!

    Over at FMLA of the Claremont Colleges, we’re gearing up for the Don't Get Tricked, Get Treated week of action to try and get the word out to students about CPCs—and we’ve engaged chocolate to help us out.

    In my opinion, no one can resist free candy. So in keeping with the “Don’t Get Tricked, Get Treated!” Halloween theme, we decided to set up our own version of “trick or treat.” We’re calling it “Trick or Truth.” On slips of paper, we wrote examples of the kinds of falsehoods that CPCs perpetuate, and then wrote the TRUTH about those false claims. We came up with several of these, and are stapling them to Halloween candy we bought in bulk at Costco.

    Here's what we wrote on our "Trick or Truth" treats:

    TRICK: CPCs say that abortion causes breast cancer.

    TRUTH: Scientists disagree. Organizations such as the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, and the American Cancer Society ALL say that no such link exists.

    TRICK: CPCs say that abortion leads to suicide.

    TRUTH: An eleven-year longitudinal study of 13,000 women found that women who give birth have the same rate of need for psychological treatment as women who have abortions.

    We’re hoping that these little snapshots of CPC scare tactics make students as angry as they make us, and that they help get the word out about the dangers of CPCs. And since we’re pretty strapped for funds at the moment, we needed a way to attract students to the tables we will be setting up in front of dining halls. Chocolate is a pretty powerful (and cheap!) tool.

    In addition to using chocolate to get the word out, we also made handy (and informative!) table tents (pictured here) to place on all of the dining hall tables. The table tents identify the CPCs near our campus and warn students about what types of so-called "services" they might receive there.

    Lastly, we'll be holding two screenings of the FMF's Investigative Videos, followed by discussion sessions.

    I hope you've got a lot of cool plans in store! If you don't, grab some candy, paper and a stapler and get the word out!