Friday, July 31, 2009

Italy Approves "Abortion Pill"

Italy's drug administration body has approved the use of RU-486, or "medical abortion," up until the seventh week of pregnancy. It has specified, however, that the drug will not be available in pharmacies and may only be provided by doctors.

Not surprisingly, the Vatican has protested this decision, stating that it will excommunicate any doctors who provide the drug and any women who use it. In any case, the BBC states that %70 of doctors in Italy refuse to perform abortions under a conscience clause.

We talk a lot in the US about how much influence the conservative christian movement has in the debate over abortion, birth control, and sex ed. I had never really given much thought to how this works in a country where the dominant church plays such a large role in the moral culture of the state. For some comparison, in the UK, only about %40 of doctors refuse to perform abortions. In countries like Ireland and Poland, Mifepristone still has not been approved for use, while in the US the FDA approved it for use in September of 2000.

The US still has quite a far way to come, especially compared to many countries that have been making both surgical and medical abortions widely available to women for many years. It's interesting, though, to take a view on what women in some other countries must still experience, especially in countries (Ireland and Italy) that are considered leaders in technology and development. Just more proof that women's rights are generally an afterthought.

Why So Few Women in Museums?

Looking through the galleries of an art museum, whether it is LACMA, the national gallery, or the Louvre, you are unlikely to find more than a handful of female artists. This is not due to a lack of talented women, it is because women were not allowed in art academies or to apprentice under mentors. Art was seen as a distraction from a woman's true work- taking care of her family.

Those women who did learn to paint were most often related to male artists who would sign their work and claim it as their own. Judith Leyster, the only well known female artist of the Dutch Baroque, was often passed off as her male contemporary Franz Hals by art dealers trying to get a higher price. Art Historians suspect that some of Jan Van Eyk's greatest masterpieces were painted by his sister.

Thanks to feminist art historians, female artists throughout history are beginning to get notice. While women still may be scarce in museums, the internet is a great resource for finding out more about female artists.
This awesome website highlights the work of women throughout the centuries and provides links to other websites that tell the story of women in art.

photo courtesy of www.flickr.com


Thursday, July 30, 2009

More to Not Love

I, like my colleague Emily, have a somewhat vexed relationship with reality TV. Some days, there's nothing more enjoyable than collapsing on the futon and flipping to Bravo to watch mindless, ridiculous (and often staged) drama unfold.

However, I'd like to think I have my standards. You know, certain lines in the sand that I draw with the crappy-tv-world. When I first heard about FOX's new show, More to Love, I had suspicions that this would, tragically, be one of those series that crosses said line. Unfortunately, my suspicions were realized when I sat down to watch the first episode on Tuesday evening. Check out a trailer/clip below:



For those not familiar, here's the description of this new gem from FOX's website:
MORE TO LOVE, the new dating competition show from Mike Fleiss ("The Bachelor"), follows one regular guy's search for love among a group of real women determined to prove that love comes in all shapes and sizes.
The tragic part is that this sounds like it could be okay. If I put aside my general disdain for dating shows, it seems like this could be a step in the right direction - breaking open the definition of what the public sees as desirable and even "normal." The show's trailers frequently made mention of the fact that the average American woman is a size 14, as opposed to the size 2 stars of most reality TV. But the issue here is that More to Love seems to fall prey to the binary standards of acceptance and tolerance it (hopefully?) sought to debunk. Here's a few examples:

1) Whenever the women are speaking solo (both introducing themselves and commenting on their experience) the caption beneath them states their name, age, occupation, hometown, and - get this - their height and weight. Now, in my experience, the best way to reify a concept of 'normalcy' is to shore up an 'other'. Excuse the dusty women's studies vocab, but I have trouble thinking of any other reason for the women's height and weight to be included other than to make sure that the audience knows that these folks don't fit the social standards of your "normal" bachelorettes.

2) The introductions were the most painful. Primarily because, with a few self-assured exceptions, the women introduced themselves by way of heartwrenching stories of unrequited love, failed relationships, and prom night agonies. All of this, of course, on account of their size.

Okay. As mentioned before, I really don't like dating shows in general - they seem to feature women as a) utterly weak and pathetic or b) extremely cutthroat. Also, these shows equate a relationship with happiness - ignoring the reality of both extraordinarily unhappy relationships and perfectly happy single people.

I'm starting to think, maybe I was giving this genre of TV and FOX itself too much credit here, with the assumption that by producing this show they would be carrying the message that "it's possible to be happy and to be greater than a size 2." Throughout the show, I was disappointed that most of the women spoke about their size and love lives with such disgust and sadness. If we're really trying to increase personal and social acceptance, it makes me cringe to see women giving credence to a flawed, arbitrary concept of normal and in fact blaming their lack of compliance for their misery. Isn't this just another way of underscoring the notion that living within a socially constructed norm equates with happiness, while everything outside of that will mean a life of unfulfilled misery? Awesome.

3) Also, I struggle with the choice of bachelor and emphasis placed upon his also-greater-than-"normal" size. With terrible euphemisms related to the size of both bachelor Luke and the women competing for his attentions, the show describes itself. "This brawny prince is searching for one curvy Cinderella to take on the romantic adventure of a lifetime." (Thank you, FOX, for your clever usage of a thesaurus and deliberate avoidance of the descriptor "fat.")

This gives me qualms. I am totally for increasing size acceptance for both men and women alike, but I'm struggling a little bit with the connotation here. Are viewers to take away the message that the only way a fat woman can be happy is if she's in a relationship with a fat man?

It seems to me that if we did the same for any other physical attribute, it'd be at best, silly, and at worst, extremely offensive. If I suggested a show where only black women competed for the affections of a black man, I'd be thrown to the dogs - and rightly so. What if we restricted the field of bachelors/bachelorettes based on ability? Or ethnicity? Hair color? And is it any better to restrict based on the trait of fatness than it was for the other reality shows to (tacitly) restrict the pool based on thinness?

Like I said, I'm a little torn over this one. Overall, obviously not impressed with More to Love. I'm disappointed because I wanted to believe it would exceed my expectations, and I'm anxious because I worry about the message it sends to viewers and to society. What are your thoughts?

Rape survivors forced to pay for their own exams

I know this is an uncharacteristic second blog post for me in one day, but this issue needs all the press-time it can get if we are going to make a difference. Did you know that some states make rape survivors pay for their exams? Wait. Let me say that again in case you missed it. Some states make rape survivors pay for their exams. Okay. Got it?

WHAT?! Honestly, society, what are we doing? Evidently there are “loopholes” in the Violence Against Women Act that allow for such an injustice to occur. After telling other individuals in the office about my shock, I found out that some women in the office already knew about this. Then I wondered why I had not known about it. Then I wondered what we can do about it.

The tests can cost the rape survivor up to $1,200. It sickens me to think that anyone profits from rape. In some states, the rape survivor’s health insurance (if she or he has it) is charged only if she or he does not submit a police report. In other states, the loopholes are a bit hazier. What can we do right now? Write to your representatives in Congress and tell them that we need to cut the loopholes from the Violence Against Women Act to make sure that no future rape survivors are charged for the crimes against them.

Please contact campusteam@feminist.org with any questions or comments.
Photo courtesy of www.flickr.com

New Feminist TV show on HBO

While I might get harassed for calling Sex in the City one of the greatest feminist TV shows of our time, HBO is setting in motion a new show about modern day feminists. Diane Keaton will star as the comedic feminist who puts together "a sexually explicit magazine for women."

Keaton will co-produce the show with Marti Noxon and Dawn Parouse Olmstead from Grady Twins production company, otherwise known for their work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Of course I am excited to see a TV show starring a strong, feminist, intellect, who is more or less playing Gloria Steinem, but naturally, there are negative connotations that come along with it. Producer Olmstead has said, "There seems to be a new evolution of what women are sexually. Women are acting more like men sexually." Or, like Jessica at feministing.com has said, "it's acting like women who like sex." Why a woman has to act like a man to like sex is ridiculous. Yes, we are more open about sex in our culture than in others (although comparatively to European cultures we are years behind), but a woman can still be feminine and like sex. It doesn't make a woman "manly" to want to have sex, nor does it make her more feminine either.

Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs is a great book if this topic interests you, as it discusses how women treat one another and differ from one another through sexuality, positions of power, and so on (you are welcome for the shameless plug). If you haven't read it yet, I would definitely ad it to your summer list.

I think this show sounds promising, as Diane Keaton is fabulous. Supporting feminist programs is always important, and if HBO has picked it up, I am sure it will be great.

Photo courtesy of regardsdefemmes

National Breast Cancer Coalition - Emerging Leaders

FMF friend and alum, Bree Romero, currently works with the National Breast Cancer Coaltion (NBCC) as the Field Operations Manager. As one of the organizers for NBCC's upcoming Emerging Leaders program, Bree wanted to be sure that we got the message out to the Feminist Campus community about this exciting event.

Here's what the NBCC has to say:

EL Application Deadline Extended to September 10th!
Today, one in eight American women are diagnosed with breast cancer. The National Breast Cancer Coalition believes you can help change those statistics for your generation. We invite you to join the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s new Emerging Leaders program to eradicate breast cancer and to attend its inaugural meeting on October 18-19, 2009 in Washington, DC.

To change the systems that impact all of us and fight back against breast cancer, we need you to get involved and be a part of breast cancer activism and health care reform. When you join Emerging Leaders, you will be connected with other people across the country just like yourself.

In EL, you will be trained to be advocates for issues that affect both your state and the nation. You will be taught how to lobby effectively for breast cancer legislation needed to ensure that the right research is pursued and that the health care system works for all of us.

Please join us on October 18-19 in Washington, DC as we launch the Emerging Leaders Initiative. We invite you to take part in a day of workshops with leaders in the field and young leaders like yourself to discuss current legislation and policy concerning breast cancer, spend time on Capitol Hill and help shape this new and exciting branch of the National Breast Cancer Coalition. For additional information and to register, click here. Remember to make your hotel reservations. Contact Sharon Ford Watkins at sfwatkins@stopbreastcancer.org for more information.

Green Day fan rocks!

When you conjure up an image of a Green Day fan, what comes to mind? You are probably thinking of some guy wearing a lot of black clothing with an overall alternative style. Aside from their atypically slow, mainstream song “Good Riddance,” I will admit that I do not know much of their music. Imagine my shock, and delight, to see a video on Jezebel of a young woman taking the stage to play guitar alongside Billie Joe Armstrong.

No, she is not the regular guitarist; she is an audience member who seriously got her money’s worth out of her concert ticket. As of late, Green Day specializes in interactive concerts. Armstrong starts a dialogue with his audience between songs, and then he selects an individual (who claims to have the ability to play Green Day’s music on an instrument) to join him on stage.

Armstrong skeptically invited a young woman on stage to play guitar on Monday at the Green Day concert at Madison Square Garden. She did not disappoint. In fact, she rocked. You should definitely watch the video. This young woman accomplished something incredible that night, as she showed the fans at the concert (and now hopefully millions of people all over the web) that woman can rock, too.

Please feel free to email campusteam@feminist.org with any questions or comments!
Photo courtesy of www.flickr.com

Scary threat to choice

There's a growing threat to reproductive rights and freedom in the United States, and it's a group who are pushing to extend personhood rights to fetuses (check out the creepy video). They are trying to pass legislation that gives fetuses full rights. That means that a crime could be committed against, or by, a fetus and it deserves all due process of the law. Personhood USA is arguing that our government is denying a group of people, fetuses, their rights in our country.

While they are extremely concerned with giving rights to fetuses, they do not care at all about taking away womens' rights. This legislation completely denies women the right to choose and the right to have control over her own body. It is insulting to women, who are capable of making decisions, and deservedly have the agency to make a choice in our country.

I do not think that this group, or any group, should get off uncriticized for spouting claims of love and freedom for all when they are working tirelessly to put women into a second-class position based on their biological capacity. Women are not just vessels for children, we are people with our own lives, and by extending personhood rights to fetuses our governement would be reversing decades of legislative and social change that has worked to destroy the biological essentialism that has been so entrenched in our society.

I would also like to point out, that I am certainly not the only person with this opinion. The vote on Colorado's Prop. 48, which would have extended personhood rights, was defeated with 72% voting against the proposition. That's a whole lot of people who also think that this is an extreme measure.

However, despite this seemingly overwhelming opposition, the "personhood" movement still believes that they can get this legislation passed. They believe in it so much that they feel the need to not follow the letter of the law. If I were in their shoes, the fact that I need to falsify information and spread lies in order to get try to convince people to support me would indicate that 1) people don't agree with and 2) my position makes no sense.

You really have to wonder, how much resistance and failure you have to face before you stop?
Photo courtesy www.flickr/djcurly

The IUC - Is It Right For Me?

Contraception can be overwhelming...There are so many options available with various side effects, costs and efficacy rates that it is challenging to really understand the spectrum of options available. As a result, I imagine many young college women use the pill by default: its often subsidized by student health plans, its heavily marketed to our age group and many of our friends select this method, so why stray from the pack (pun intended)? But really, do we know what other options are out there?

While I feel the pill is a phenomenal option for many women and I'm thrilled that its available on most campuses at lower costs, it doesn't always work for everyone and sometimes has its challenges. While we are busy rocking this world as powerful feminists, sometimes we miss a pill or sometimes we forget to pick up the next pack in time to start the new month. These simple mishaps can cause stress and worry and distract us from doing the incredible work we do. So what other options exist out there for young women?

I'd like to introduce...the IUC (previously known as the "IUD")! IUC stands for Intrauterine Contraception which does exactly what it sounds - its a 1 inch "T" shaped object inserted into the uterus by a gynecologist that interferes with the implantation of an egg on the uterine wall so it cannot be fertilized.

The IUC is a fantastic, safe and easy method for busy young women with a 99% efficacy rating! There is no daily, weekly or even monthly remembering to do and it is a method that can be kept private from a partner or family member if this is important to you. Furthermore, it is a one time investment rather than monthly bills and it is often covered by health insurance.

There are two kinds of IUCs, the ParaGaurd® and the Mirena®. The ParaGaurd® works for 10 years of continuous contraception coverage and the Mirena® last for up to five; however, both methods can be taken out by your gynecologist at any time to restore fertility. Slate just published a great article on young women and the IUC.

An IUC only prevents pregnancy and therefore will not provide any protection from sexually transmitted infections or HIV, but a barrier method such as a condom or dental dam can provide protection when used properly.

The IUC has gotten a bad rep in the past - ask anyone from our mothers' generation and they will probably be terrified that you are considering this option. Unfortunately, this is from a ton of bad press and negative coverage on the Dalkon Shield, a method with faulty manufacturing that was pulled from the market in 1975 but lingering negativity around IUCs remain.

Sadly, people seem to continue to focus on the negative and ignore the extensive positive research on the safety and efficacy of the IUC. The IUCs on the market today have completely different design and manufacturing than the problematic IUCs of the 1970s.

So if you're looking for a method that is safe, easy and completely reversible - talk to your health care provider about IUCs, it just might be a method that works for you!

For more information on contraception options, check out this awesome interactive tool from ARHP.

photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon on Flickr.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Go Mystics!



Just for a little mid week break, here are some pictures from our trip to see the Washington Mystics play last Thursday at the Verizon Center in D.C. Almost all the interns and staff, including Ellie, cheered on the Mystics to beat the Chicago Sky 75 to 64! We were acknowledged on the megatron and even a few lucky interns and staff (Tania, Erin, and Danielle Smith) flashed across the screen wearing their "This is what a feminist looks like" t-shirt while doing the YMCA! It was a great night and fun was had by all!

In traveling teams, girls finish first

It seems like whenever we talk about sports the discussion is always about how there is less attendence at women's events, less revenue, and they are taken less seriously, which is why I was surprised to read a New York Times article about how traveling girls sports teams have greater attendence.

The article talks about how girls teams stimulate tourism because families are more likely to travel to watch their daughters play. That's awesome right? Of course it is.

What's really interesting is that these families are more likely to travel to watch daughters because they are more protective of them. One women is quoted as saying that she would let her son go off for days unaccompanied, but she would never let her daughter do it.

Why is that? Are parents more worried about daughters because they think their daughters are more likely to get in trouble? Or is it because of a heightened awareness of violence/crime against young women and girls? I don't really have any sort of personal insight into this because I am one of four girls, but it would be interesting to hear what any of you have to say about it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Equality Amendment Reintroduced

Last week, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney re-introduced the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). It is one of the simplest bills ever, stating:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

Pretty straightforward and a no brainer right?

After all, nowhere in the constitution does it state that women have the same rights as men. The ERA would affirm that the constitution also applies to and guarantees equal rights for women. These rights would then be preserved in the constitution, therefore Congress would not be able to amend them without amending the constitution. Also, the ERA would guarantee equal federal resources for women's health and education, and eliminate sex discrimination in the armed forces.

However, since its introduction more than 80 years ago, it has failed to pass.

First introduced by Alice Paul in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment passed through Congress in 1972 but unfortunately fell just three states short of the 38 needed for ratification in 1982.

The ERA is long overdue, and now is the time to ensure it passes.

The ERA is another step that needs to be taken to assure full equality for women under the law, and confirm that the basic principles of our democracy, such as "all men are created equal" do in fact apply to women.

Newsday Tuesday: July 28 Edition

Hello fellow feminists! Can you believe that July is almost over? This month has certainly flown by. Several of our interns are even leaving to go back home this Friday. But that doesn't mean that our work stops here, we still need to catch up with this week's edition of Newsday Tuesday!


DC was definitely a hopping place last week for excitement! One event was last Tuesday when the Equal Rights Amendment was reintroduced in the House of Representatives. I was lucky enough to attend the press conference that was lead by representatives Carolyn Maloney, Judy Biggert, and more than 50 co-sponsors.

Another exciting event that occurred last Saturday was the a Global Day of Action. The event was planned by United for Iran to highlight international support for the people of Iran amid the nation's continuing political unrest. Rallies were held in over 80 cities around the world, including here in DC.

In Memory

Gerald H F Gardner, a feminist, mathematician, geophysicist, and activist in the National Organization for Women for over 40 years died of leukemia Saturday at the age of 83. Gardner was the brilliant mathematician behind the Pittsburgh Press want ads case that successfully challenged male-only and female-only job listings in the classified newspaper ads nationwide.

National

The Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled Wednesday that the New York City Fire Department uses discriminatory hiring practices against black and Hispanic applicants.

Preliminary hearings for Scott Roeder, the alleged murderer of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller, are set to begin today. Roeder has been charged with first degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. He faces life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.

Thursday, House Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Tim Ryan introduced a bill called the "Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act" that would increase the accessibility of reproductive health care for women. The bill would provide funding to minimize unintended pregnancies, supports increased access to contraception and comprehensive sex education.

Last Tuesday, the US Senate passed several controversial amendments to the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The most contentious amendment, SA 1615, authorizes use of the death penalty in some fatal hate crimes.

Media commentators have made inappropriate criticisms this week of President Barack Obama's nominee for Surgeon General's, Regina Benjamin, weight. Critics have been arguing that Benjamin's weight disqualifies her from the job of Surgeon General.

Last Tuesday, the US House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation to support comprehensive sex education, adding the Healthy Teen Initiative amendment to the proposed health care reform bill. The amendment is intended to expand on the more limited teen pregnancy initiative outlined in President Obama's first budget request.

Global

Gaza Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul-Raouf Halabi released an edict Monday mandating that female lawyers must wear long dark clothing under their robes and scarves to cover their hair when they appear in court. The Hamas-appointed judge issued the order to keep women compliant with Islamic law.

UK government officials are reconsidering a ban on paying egg and sperm donors. This is due to the significant drop in the number of women who used donated eggs and sperm and the rise in the number of couples are going abroad for fertility treatment.

The Muslim conservative court of the Republic of Maldives sentenced nearly 150 women to public flogging for having extra-marital relationships.

The Mexican City government has launched a free Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination campaign to reduce cervical cancer rates. Cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer among Mexican women, with an annual mortality rate of approximately 5,775 Mexican women.

Last Tuesday, New Delhi's Supreme Court overturned a lower court's decision, ruling against terminating the pregnancy of a nineteen-year-old mentally handicapped rape victim. The lower court ordered an abortion in the case last week due to the medical and psychological risks the pregnancy would incur on the victim.

FemNews: the Operation Rescue Counter Protest

Hello, everyone! So, as you saw yesterday, some of the FMF interns were planning to go to an Operation Rescue protest at the Capitol, and have a peaceful counter-protest. Well, we did it! It wasn't exactly what we expected it to be, but I think we did a good job of getting our message out! Check out the video!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Anti-Women "Pence Amendment" Defeated

Amid the chaos surrounding health care reform, feminists can take some comfort in Friday's defeat of the Pence Amendment. A press release from Planned Parenthood explains the importance of this victory: "The amendment, if passed, would have denied family planning services to millions of women, men and teens by restricting Title X federal family planning funds from going to Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers."

A comfortable majority, 247-183, rejected this threat to women's health. Help keep this pro-woman momentum going by joining FMF interns tomorrow in a counter-protest to Operation Rescue's demonstration!

Photo credit goes to Stacy Lynn Baum's flickr.

Calling All Feminists! Counter-Protest to Operation Rescue Demonstration

Calling all feminists!

Join Feminist Majority Foundation interns in a non-confrontational counter-protest, tomorrow July 28 at 10:45 A.M., outside Cannon House Office Building. Troy Newman and Operation Rescue are planning to bring their “abortion is not health care” campaign to the Capitol and we will be there to offer a pro-women, pro-choice perspective!


Here are the details:
What: Counter-Protest to Operation Rescue Demonstration
When: Tuesday, July 28th at 10:45 A.M.
Where: Cannon HOB (Corner of Independence and New Jersey Ave.)

Join us and help to fight for reproductive rights to be included in the health care legislation!

Questions call 703-522-2214 and ask to speak with Laura Ponchick or Sarah Hejma.

Just say no to ab-only education

As you've probably heard, Gen X and Gen Y slackers will be the death of newspapers. And rightfully so. Jon Stewart and The Onion are entertaining, trustworthy news sources. Linda Greenhouse? Not so much.

So when I read The Onion's coverage of the failure of abstinence-only lunch programs, high school memories came rushing back to me.

Abstinence-only lunches were an integral part of my moral, spiritual, and gastrointestinal upbringing. I knew that if I wanted to snag a husband, I would have to count calories. It wasn't easy, and I was often tempted by the lure of cheap, convenient Easy Mac.

But I persevered. I chose margarine and red meat, because my teacher said butter and eggs didn't work anyway.

Some of my friends got into trouble. They ate in the back row of movie theaters. They ate in their cars, and on unsupervised class trips. And you know what happened to them?

NOTHING. Big, fat, nothing.

---

[For more on abstinence-only curricula, check out FMF's toolkit here.]

Photo credit: pwbaker on Flickr

You will explode (it's that cool)

Friends, family, and feminists, the Feminist Majority Foundation has the beta site of their new website up and running! If you've been looking at the old one, let me just say, welcome to the 2009. The last website was soooo 1995. No seriously.

This new website is so cool, your brain will probably explode in excitement and joy. You'll still find all of the things you were used to on the old site, like the leading feminist news source on the internet, tons of information about FMF campaigns and issues, and the feminist job search engine. All of that is just as awesome as it always was, just much sleeker and sophisticated.

In addition to all of that, there is a sweet new blog, Majority Speaks. If you like this blog, be prepared. If you think the people writing on here are interesting and great, just wait because this blog features pieces written by the likes of FMF president Eleanor Smeal (people who really know their stuff). The best part of it is though, you can write pieces and submit them and they could be posted on the blog! Point is, check it out!

Birth Control: Pills, Patches, and Rings- Oh My!

Let’s face it: if you’re heterosexual, sexually active, and don’t want to get pregnant, a method of birth control is pretty much a necessity. It’s definitely the safe, smart choice. The average person choosing a method, however, may easily be overwhelmed by all of the options available at doctors' offices and clinics. I’ve been fascinated by/obsessed with said options since FMF’s Medical Director, Dr. Beth Jordan, gave the interns a lecture about modern birth control methods and how they work!

When choosing a method of birth control, there are several factors to consider: frequency, cost, percentage of effectiveness, reaction to hormones, etc. Fear of needles, memory, and a desire to have a menstrual period are also important when consulting your health care provider and making the decision.

I think it’s amazing that there seems to be an option for almost everyone. If you don’t have a good memory or have a problem with needles, you could consider the birth control injection. If you do have a good memory and want to stop taking birth control at your discretion, then the daily pill would be worth exploring. If you want a method with less maintenance and don’t mind inserting or monitoring something on your own, then the birth control ring or patch are potentially great choices.

Planned Parenthood has a fun, short quiz that you can take to figure out what method(s) may be good for you. It is in no way prescribing medical advice, but just allows you to find some options to consider before you consult a health care provider about a method!
If you’re looking for a method, take the quiz now….I might have already taken it five times.

*photo compliments of tellthemsc, flickr

Fall Feminist Internships -- DC Deadline Extended!

Want to take your feminism to the next level? Love the blogs from our great summer interns and want to join our team?

Then what are you waiting for?! Intern with the Feminist Majority Foundation this Fall in our DC or LA office! Join our team and contribute to our work by organizing events, researching information, attending rallies, monitoring press conferences, and more!

FMF seeks highly motivated undergraduate students with a passion for feminist issues and an interest in public policy and political science. All who are interested are encouraged to apply.

Part-time internships begin this September and the DC office has just extended the application deadline to Friday, August 7. To join in on the feminist fun submit a cover letter, resume, and brief writing sample to internship@feminist.org (DC office) or sgilligan@feminist.org (LA office). For more information about FMF's Internship Program, projects, and testimonials from past interns visit www.feminist.org/intern today!

The ball's rolling against DADT

Many people were angered by President Obama's recent lack of action against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". If you're like me, you've probably been following the DADT dialogue and the struggle of Lt. Dan Choi. Lt. Choi was discharged from the Army after he announced that he was gay. Since then, he has been challenging DADT.

Frankly, it makes me incredibly frustrated that someone who is talented (Lt. Choi speaks Arabic) and has the desire to serve her/his country in the armed forces, should be denied the opportunity because of her/his sexuality. If our country is trying to have a military comprised of dedicated and skilled people, if that truly is the goal, why refuse people because of sexuality?

I think it reinforces the same ridiculous stereotypes that it relies on. I am pretty sure a gay man is just as capable of doing his duty as a straight man. We don't assume that a straight man in the Army is going to fail in his duty because of his sexuality. It just seems really illogical and unfair to me, and to Senator Gillibrand, which is fortunate since she has a bigger direct influence on policy than I do at the moment....

Because of her work on this issue, the Senate Armed Services Committee is going to have hearings on DADT this coming fall. This will be the first time DADT has been evaluated since it's creation in the Clinton administration. Hopefully, the result will be a change in policy that will allow people to be open about their sexuality without fear of reprisal.
Photo courtesy of www.flickr/bearmancartoons

Friday, July 24, 2009

Movie Time: Summer is Feminist!

SPOILER ALERT!

I love the movies. All movies. Even completely unfeminist "chick flicks" that are convinced women can only be happy when men find them attractive and men can only be happy with women who are incredibly and conventionally beautiful.

Tired stereotypes and old cliches still seem to make studios the most comfortable and rightfully so as movies like The Proposal and He's Just Not That Into You are consistent box office hits. While I admittedly see these movies and enjoy the experience of the theater and the Junior Mints I purchase, I can never rid myself of the nagging sense that the experiences being lived out on the screen are just not real.

Growing up in a US where the divorce rate seems to rise by the minute and my young The Little Mermaid viewings were immediately followed by lectures from my wonderful feminist mother about the unrealistic nature of Ariel and Eric's story, I am unable to accept the fairytale love that summer romances try to convince us exists.

Thankfully, our generation proved with the success of unconventional movies like Juno that young people today accept less escapist/romantic fairy tales and want more realistic versions of young love.

Hollywood has responded with the charming (500) Days of Summer.

(500) Days of Summer announces from the get go that "THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY". The basic premise is Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt 10 Things I Hate About You) meets Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) and is convinced he has found THE ONE. From the beginning the idea that men hide from commitment while women run to it is turned on its head with the commitment phobic personality of Summer and the one true love mantra of Tom.

Summer's character is everything women in most romantic comedies are not. Her top priority is not her love life. She does not go through some sort of makeover transformation. She does not swoon when men fight over her. She makes the first move without thinking twice. She does not engage in woman on woman competition or embrace jealously. She does not have to chose between her romance and her career, smarts, friends, or family.

Finally, my personally favorite, Summer does what no women of summer romances are ever allowed to do...She breaks up with the boyfriend and does not regret it (even Kathrine Heigl was not allowed to break up with the ridiculous Seth Rogan in Knocked Up). Summer is the first female lead I have seen who ends the relationship with the male lead and is not ultimately portrayed as the villain (ie Slut, bitch, uptight, too career driven...).

(500) Days of Summer explores a realistic and relatable relationship. Summer and Tom both turn stereotypes and cliches for "rom-coms" on their heads without being pretentious. While the film is not perfect and holds a fair amount of anti-woman rhetoric (Tom's little sister advises him "not to be a pussy" when interacting with Summer... REALLY? a little girl would relate acting like a girl to acting stupidly? I don't think so...) overall the movie is on point and a very enjoyable watch.

(500) Days of Summer is a truly refreshing take on the typical summer romantic comedy and definitely worth a trip to the movies (with a box of Junior Mints of course). Also get ready for an amazing dance number involving Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a cartoon bird, and Hall and Oates's "You Make My Dreams Come True" (I swear!). I will definitely be seeing this movie two or three more times just to dance in the isle with fellow movie goers... an inevitable side affect of the film and Gordon-Levitt's amazing dance moves.

picture courtsy of Flickr.com

Joss Whedon is My Hero

Hello feminists of the blogosphere! I have been a very strong supporter of cyber-activsm and blogging as tools for the feminist movement. Yes, I guess that makes me sort of a computer nerd, but I've come to terms with that. Anyways, I regularly keep my own personal blog for self-reflection, journaling, and general musings on the world. I wrote a post this morning for my blog, Writing With Lipstick, on a really great video and post that I saw on a fellow feminist bloggers blog, the fbomb. I think the rest of my original post explains why this video is so awesome.

For any of you who know me personally, I am a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. Always will, always have. Even though True Blood comes in a close second in the "favorite TV show about vampires" category, nothing will top Buffy.

While perusing the feminist blogs this morning looking for new blog post to feature on Majority Speaks, I came across a speech given my the creator of Buffy and several other TV shows, Joss Whedon. He gave this speech back in 2006 an an Equality Now banquet in which he was honored for his excellence in writing and promoting equality among men and women.

This article and video were originally posted on the fbomb, which is quickly becoming one of my most favorite blogs to read.

Joss Whedon is the creator of such shows as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Dollhouse. He’s also awesome. I’m not too familiar with his work, but I’ve always admired him as a feminist icon, as I know that he publically identifies as a feminist and tries to make a point of having strong female characters in his writing. His female characters are not strong because he’s pandering to female audiences; they’re strong because, like some men, some women can absolutely kick ass, yet you so rarely see female characters who kick ass and are still genuine.

Whedon made a speech at for Equality Now in 2006 after receiving an award from them. While his speech is a little over two years old now, it’s definitely still relevant. Watch and see why.

Let’s look at the kind of female characters we see on TV now. Are there more strong female characters now than there were in 2006? If there are, I definitely don’t see them. If anything has changed, it’s that there’s less strong female characters. Most women I’ve seen on TV nowadays seem to be written to be superficial, nagging or weak–the personification of stereotypes. And I can guarantee you that the writers for any shows who do have strong female characters are still being asked why they write women like that.

I have to hand it to Joss. As long as strong female characters are still seen as strange, we need people like him to make those characters exist.

While I do not go out at night and slay vampires and have super-human strength, I still find Buffy very identifiable. She is a strong, confident, independent woman who, despite all of that, still has human flaws and qualities that make her unique and beautiful, just like every woman. Joss eloquently explains why I have always been enthralled in watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I wish more people saw it this way.

Women: Still on the Defense

Last night, the interns and staff of FMF's DC office had a fabulous night out at the Washington Mystics game. The Mystics are Washington's WNBA team, and they were wonderful, beating the Chicago Sky 75-64. Of course, when it comes to the WNBA and women's sports in general, there's always fodder for the feminist blog.

For instance, yesterday it was relayed to me by a fellow intern that the WNBA capped the salaries for its teams (reduced from 13 to 11 players) at $900,000 in 2009. The salary cap for an NBA team? $57.7 million. No small wonder that much of the young talent in women's basketball is flocking to Europe to play.

The argument is that the NBA makes more money from the men's teams; critics insist that the WNBA has yet to even become profitable to the NBA, its "parent team." However, how can you expect the league to become profitable when its players are forced to spend their off months playing in Europe to subsidize their salaries and must shrink the size of their team roster just to make ends meet? The WNBA has only been around since 1997--why don't we give them some more time to build up a following and give them a chance to become profitable by giving them the tools to succeed on par with the men before concluding that they are a drain on the league?

When the subject is women's sports, there really is a whole smörgasbord of inequity to choose from, and salary differences are really just the start (I won't go into all the lovely sexual fetishism in which ESPN website commentators indulge when discussing the WNBA.) When you have a women's basketball league that exists as a tiny subset of the national league--a monetary investment that basically amounts to a rounding error of the NBA's total finances--you further the idea that women's sports are an afterthought. Men, once again, are the standard. And after all the initial outrage, my question is this: why aren't more people talking about this?

My suspicion: this kind of treatment has become the norm.

Picture courtesy of Ellen Saliares.

Take a look at this

Here at FMF, we appreciate art (especially those of us with very little artistic talent), and so in that spirit, I wanted to share an woman artist who I think is really interesting.

Before I get to that, I just wanted to share that before I went off to college I spend 6 weeks canoeing up in Nunavut, Canada and we ended our trip at an Inuit town called Baker Lake (which is pictured here).

Ever since that trip, I've been really interested in what has been going on with the Inuit, especially since the Arctic is undergoing some enormous changes due to climate change. Ok, that being said, the woman that I thought you all should hear about is Annie Pootoogook.

The New York Times has a review today of Ms. Pootoogook's work that I thought was really interesting. First off, she's from a family of women artists. Secondly, her work shows the ways that Inuit culture and lifestyle interacts and clashes with American and Canadian culture. The review says that her work is largely autobiographical, and portrays the social issues and problems facing Inuit people today. I mean, how much do you know about Nunavut or the Inuit?

I think it is incredibly important to have women artists who can express the issues and feelings women deal with every day. It is also incredibly important that there are artists who represent their culture and tell the stories of a group of people that not every one knows about.
Photo courtesy of Ellen Saliares

Pregnant Women Exposed to Pesticide Drift

Insecticides such as Assail 70 WP and Fujimite 5EC have been shown to cause miscarriage, preterm delivery, and severe birth defects. So what they are doing in the bodies of two pregnant women?

Workers at an organic farm in Tehachapi, including Julia Rojads Sabino and another pregnant woman, were exposed to these pesticides when a neighboring farmer sprayed his orchard while they were in the field harvesting onions. The workers experienced effects of the chemicals almost immediately. When the effects worsened, their supervisor was forced to seek medical assistance.

Despite the fact that pesticides drift when they are sprayed, the law does not require any buffer zones or communication between neighboring farms when a spraying is scheduled. Pesticide drift can continue to spread over large areas for hours, days, and even weeks.

Take Action at the United Farm Workers website and ask officials to strengthen laws on pesticide use.

The naked truth: Minors legally strip in Rhode Island

I have heard of some pretty dumb laws in my day; in fact, there are whole websites devoted to dumb, outdated and otherwise absurd laws. For instance, it is illegal to play Dominoes on Sunday in Alabama. In that same state, it is illegal to wear a fake moustache in church if the moustache may provoke laughter. The list of dumb laws goes on and on... Today, however, I learned of one of the absolute dumbest: It is legal for 16-year-old individuals in Rhode Island to work as strippers—even in strip clubs where patrons can touch the strippers.

If this does not provoke a huge, “WHAT?!” from you, then I would advise you to have your sanity-level checked. The only provisions are that the strippers must have a work permit, and they must be home by 11:30. You know-- before curfew and bedtime.

There are some sane individuals in the Rhode Island government who are working tirelessly to put an end to this. The General Assembly is not in session right now, but they cannot push this legislation through quick enough if you ask me. Regardless of how you feel about stripping (which is another blog posts for another day), I think that you would be hard-pressed to make a case for allowing minors to take their clothes off in front of a crowd of adults.

Feel free to contact campusteam@feminist.org with any questions or comments!
Photo courtesy of flickr.com

Show solidarity with Iranian people this weekend!

On July 25th, major human rights organizations are coordinating a Global Day of Action for Human Rights in Iran. This global event is so that people can show their solidarity and demand respect for the rights of Iranian people. It's time that the wishes and rights of the Iranian people are respected, and the government is able resolve issues without violence.

Events are being held in several major US cities:
-San Diego: July 24, 6-8pm at Balboa Park (1900 Park Blvd, San Diego)

-San Francsico: July 25, 12-4pm at City Hall
-Chicago: July 25, noon at Federal Plaza at Dearborn and Adams St.

-New York City: July 25, 12:30pm. There's a march starting at Times Square (41st and 7th Ave.)

-D.C.: July 25. At 4pm there's a demonstration at the UN office (corner of 18th and K). A march begins at 5:15 to the Constitutional Gardens. Then, there's a rally at the Gardens (19th and Constitution) with several notable speakers.

This looks like an amazing opportunity for us to show our support of the courageous Iranian women and men who have been fighting so hard for their rights. If you want more information, go to http://www.united4iran.org/.
Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr/fhashemi

Burger King continues its offensive advertisement...


Burger King continues its saga of offensive advertisements. You might remember our feminist friend Emily Miller's blog posted on June 25th about the sexually offensive advertisements of Burger King.

This advertisement that is in Spanish has the Hindu Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi, sitting on top of a Hamburger. The problem with this advertisement is that in Hinduism, the cow is considered a sacred animal and often worshiped on many occasions, and in relation to this fact, many sects of Hinduism are practice vegetarianism. This advertisement says "the snack is sacred". Given the fact that there is no relation between the Hindu Goddess Laxmi and the hamburger, the only reason this advertisement is there is to offend Hindu people and earn negative publicity. But the way a religion is targeted in this cheap manner is very offensive and I am outraged by it.

According to ABC news, when the Burger King head office was contacted for response guess what? No Response!!!! This cannot continue... the outrageously offensive advertising practices of Burger King need to stop right away and the person responsible for approving these ads should be FIRED immediately!!! We all need to act now and call the Burger King Office at 305-378-3535 or write a letter to Burger King Corporate office and let them know that it is NOT OK to play with people's emotions and faith.

Join my group Protest Burger King and Its Commercials on my Facebook page.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Midwives make huge difference

The Feminist Majority Foundation has worked for years to help Afghan women on the issues that are important to them. Those include increasing girls' access to education, supporting women's groups in Afghanistan, and promoting women's health and security.

Maternal mortality is shockingly high in Afghanistan, and is certainly one of the biggest issues facing women in that country. One of the ways to help Afghan women receive safe maternal healthcare is to train women to be midwives. CNN has an article today about just how needed and effective it is to have women helping other women.

Healthcare is lacking in many regions, and according to the article, many men refuse to have their wives see male physicians for cultural reasons. Having midwives not only solves that issue, but it also provides women with a valuable job in their society.

Trained midwives are helping pregnant women who face numerous difficulties survive. If we want to decrease the devastatingly high maternal mortality rates in the world, one answer lies in training women in communities to be midwives. If you're looking for a valuable way to help women survive and live safer lives in Afghanistan, you should check out FMF's Afghan Women's Health Campaign.
Photo courtesy of www.flickr/advocacy_project

Ageism in Hollywood is getting old

Women in Hollywood are subjected to some pretty terrible stuff, but did you know that “Hollywood death” for a female celebrity happens around 35-years-old? Sure, they may still find work playing lesser parts or playing the mother to the lead, but we will not see these women on the cover of any magazines.

Thanks to a great video posted on Feministing (which I highly recommend that you watch) we are finally shedding some light on this issue: Ageism in Hollywood. Some of the funniest women in Hollywood sit down in this video to discuss what it means to get older in Hollywood.

At 48-years-old, Julia Louis-Dreyfus said, “Well [age is] not an issue for me, but I think that it is an issue for the entertainment business.” Amy Poehler, age 37, said, “I was eight years older than Rachel McAdams when I played her mother in Mean Girls. Eight years older.”

We need to put an end to this. Each year, it seems like the stars get younger and younger. Miley Cyrus is just 16-years-old. A little over a year ago she posed topless in Vanity Fair at age 15. I think that it is about time that we ask ourselves, as a society, why we have allowed this to happen. When did 15 become the new 30? When did 35 become the new 60? Down with ageism in Hollywood! Let's let the teenagers grow into adulthood before throwing them to the wolves of Hollywood, and let the adults play the sought-after roles that they have worked so hard to earn.

Feel free to contact campusteam@feminist.org with any questions or comments!

HPV Vaccine Does More than Bargained For

I'm a fan of preventing cancer. Most people are. I got the three Gardasil shots a year or so ago. It wasn't really a big deal. Three shots=no HPV, didn't seem like a huge decision. I was reading the Huffington Post and saw this piece about the vaccine and there were a few things that I was a little surprised about.

For example (and this may only illustrate how little I know), I didn't realize how easily HPV can be spread. It could be just skin-to-skin contact. Also, according to the author, there's evidence that the vaccine may prevent not only cervical, vaginal, anal and vulvar cancer, but also other forms of cancer, like some oral and throat types.That's pretty impressive.


Not to mention that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. Let's face it. Rates of cancer and STIs are pretty high. The fact is both are extremely destructive and can cause serious problems. It's scary how little most women know or understand about their own bodies and their reproductive health, myself included.

Reproductive health is an important part of our lives, which is part of why abstinence-only education is so destructive. I checked out the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals website to see what they had to say about HPV and the vaccine. The site also has a lot of information about every aspect of reproductive health, I'd recommend it. Let's empower ourselves by understanding our bodies and taking care of them!
Photo Courtesy of www. flickr/kimonomania