Friday, January 29, 2010
So I have decided to start a new series here on the feminist blog titled Feminist Who?! Obviously. My goal is to profile awesome women and men every week who identify as feminist, who are doing great work in the feminist world, and can help us paint a picture of the different people making up the feminist landscape.
For my first interview I have selected my friend Sammi. She is an awesome videographer and photographer, and I have the pleasure of working with her on SHETV's G.I.R.L.
Occupation: Photographer/Graphics Artist
1. Why do you identify as a feminist?
I identify myself as a feminist because I truly believe in the progression of women’s rights, specifically regarding women in the entertainment industry. There still to this day a sexist and stereotypical label on women who work in the industry, and I’m doing my art to break that.
2. What kind of feminist issue interest you?
All and the above. I can relate to being degraded because I am a women, and that all I’m good for is the housewife duties... when in reality, it's me that is independent and standing strong to keeping my head above water doing what I love and being recognized as a stronger person for it.
3. what kind of work do you do in your field of interest?
I'm a photographer / graphic designer / web designer / and production manager. I like to wear many hats - I can't just pick one!
4. Who are your feminist heroes?
I wouldn't say I have many heroes, more so people I admire. It's not necessarily a "feminist" person that I admire, but more of a bunch of strong willed ladies who have sacrificed a lot to get to where they are, and are successful at what they do. That is more inspiring to me than a person herself. To name a few, artists and musicians in particular, Elizabeth Mcgrath, Izzy Hale, Amy Lee, Fiona Apple, Shania Twain and Alanis Morissette.
5. If you could say one thing to all the women and girls in the world what would it be?
Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't do something. Anything is achievable if you have the means and the will to make it happen for yourself.
If you would like to be profiled here please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
But is this really that surprising?
There have been signs of this increase was occurring in the past few years:
1) Sex in the media is on the rise. In the past 5 years, there has been a large presence and acceptableness of sexual activity in movies, on TV, in advertisements, etc. Many contribute this increase to the sexual revolution that is currently going on in our country. Compared to the revolution of the 60s and 70s, it is not as radical and therefore not as noticeable, but it is as influential just the same.
In 2008, Time had an article about how sex on TV influences teen pregnancy rates. "They found that teens exposed to the most sexual content on TV are twice as likely as teens watching less of this material to become pregnant before they reach age 20." TV shows such as Beverly Hills 90210 and Gossip Girl contain frequent sexual activity and influence teens to start being sexual active at an earlier age. A lot of the actors on the shows are a lot older than the characters they are playing, which causes them to act more mature and skew the realistic-ness of the content. Movies such as Juno and Knocked up glamorize pregnancy but do not show the harsh reality of what happens when you have a young child.
People are quick to assume that this raise in pregnancy rates is a direct result to the absence of good sex education. While this is probably one attributing factor, the Guttemacher Institute has found no clear connection between abstinence-only education and high rates of teenage pregnancy.
photo courtesy of kelsey.borsa via flicker
Smeal said, “Defense efforts to establish that Roeder’s actions were justifiable failed miserably. The jury saw Roeder’s actions for what they were: cold-blooded murder.”
Spillar stated, “Roeder’s own words on the stand revealed that his ‘sidewalk counseling’ outside the clinic was a cover for his surveillance of Dr. Tiller’s ‘comings and goings’ and an opportunity to determine Tiller’s and the clinic’s vulnerabilities.” She continued, “Roeder’s testimony, during questioning by District Attorney Nola Foulston, opened the door wide for the Department of Justice to establish that there was a broader conspiracy to murder Dr. Tiller and other abortion providers. Now it is time for the federal Department of Justice to act.”
The Feminist Majority Foundation runs the National Clinic Access Project, which is the oldest and largest national clinic defense project in the nation. Executive Vice President Spillar attended the trial of Scott Roeder in Wichita, Kansas, and leads the project.
Roeder faces 25 years to life in prison, and prosecutor Nola Foulston asked the judge for a sentence of prison without chance of parole until he's served 50 years. Roeder's sentencing date is March 9, 2010.
Lee Thompson and Dan Monnat, Dr. George Tiller's attorneys, issued the following statement today at the request of Mrs. Jeanne Tiller and the Tiller family:
"The family of Dr. George Tiller would like to thank the jury, District Attorney Nola Foulston and her office and law enforcement for their service in this difficult matter. Once again, a Sedgwick County jury has reached a just verdict. We also want to thank George's countless friends and supporters in Wichita and around the country who have offered their comfort.
At this time we hope that George can be remembered for his legacy of service to women, the help he provided for those who needed it and the love and happiness he provided us as a husband, father and grandfather."
Photo credit: Wichita Eagle gallery
Every so often, a feminist may find herself in a committed relationship, which may then necessitate the occasional date. And Valentine's Day is fast approaching, for better or worse.
As a particularly humorless feminist, I take to heart the motto that the personal is political. So I thought I would submit for your reading pleasure some ways to add feminist overtones to your love life. DC, watch out.
You are what you eat
Look up woman-owned restaurants in your area. If they serve organic/local/vegan fare, even better. I recently went to Johnny's Half Shell, a seafood joint in DC started by Ann Cashion. Cashion, who won a James Beard award for Best Chef in the MidAtlantic in 2004, regularly receives critical praise and is a self-described feminist. The oysters and shrimp were good, the atmosphere and live music fun. My only quibble was I felt rushed by the wait-staff, which was off-putting.
Observe the Bechdel test
I am constantly searching for feminist films to round out my weekends, but want something that won't totally bore BF. He's feminist but likes ye olde action thriller as much as the next guy. What's a feminist breeder to do? After much hair pulling and stomping around my video store, I was relieved to rediscover the Bechdel test, which eased my moviegoing anxiety.
This rule originated in the comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, written by Alison Bechdel. In the 1985 strip The Rule, one of the characters selects films to watch based on three criteria: 1) At least two women are in it, who 2) talk to each other, about 3) something other than a man. Remarkably few films pass this criteria. Poke around your local indie video store, ask the staff for recommendations, or visit your small local theater (See also: FMF staff reviews of Whip It!, 500 Days of Summer, and Vera Drake).
I recently watched Revolutionary Road, which stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as a stifled fifties couple who plot their escape to Paris. This film narrowly passes The Rule, though Kate Winslet and Kathy Bates don't discuss much of substance. Still, the film does portray abortion as a viable option for women in the pre-Roe era facing unintended pregnancies. This is a far sight better than the way abortion has been dismissed in Juno, Knocked Up, and other pregnancy-related comedies.
Sing it, sister!
Live performances are a good solution for most things, particularly feminist dates. I'm pretty pumped for the Girls Rock! DC benefit show this Saturday afternoon at Comet Ping Pong. Woman-fronted local bands and artists are raising money and promoting this feminist rock camp, so what's not to love? Bonus points: Comet and its fancier neighbor Buck's Fishing & Camping are run by Chef Carole Greenwood, who draws on local ingredients.
Nothing say erudite like a trip to the theatre, and this can appeal whether you are bourgie or broke. If you love Russia, try the Constellation Theatre Company's production of Chekhov's Three Sisters, directed by the company's founding artistic director Allison Arkell Stockman. DC theatergoers should also be sure to catch one of Molly Smith's Arena Stage plays. I have yet to be disappointed by the feminist-friendly fare they offer.
So there you are. I'm sure you, fellow feminist, have no shortage of weekend plans too. Would love to hear what feminist recreational (legal) activities you get up to! Comment below with your recommendations and reviews, and have a fab Friday!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Ruth Proskauer Smith, a longtime women's and human rights activist, passed away last Friday at the impressive age of 102. Smith co-founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, which later became the National Abortion Rights Action League and is today known as NARAL Pro-Choice America.
I wrote a full appreciation of Smith for Jewesses with Attitude, head over there to learn more about this remarkable woman.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Daily Kos published a great piece on anti-abortion extremism and violence, called "The Other Terrorism". While you may be familiar with anti-abortion activities, extremism and violence - whether you've been following the trial of Scott Roeder for the murder of women's health care provider Dr. George Tiller, or have had to push your way through protesters when trying to get birth control at your local clinic, or have even seen anti-abortion displays on your campus - you may not have considered the anti-abortion movement's link to terrorism.
Yes, terrorism. No, not international terrorism, or Islamic terrorism - not the type of terrorism our politicians, news pundits and society just can't talk enough about. I'm talking about domestic terrorism.
To paraphrase, the term "domestic terrorism" encompasses activities that violate U.S. criminal law and intend to coerce or intimidate a population or change policy or law through coercion and intimidation.
The Daily Kos article critically examines the activities associated with the anti-abortion movement: from misinformation, propaganda and scare tactics, to death threats, bombings and murders. It all seems to fit the mold. So why don't we talk about anti-abortion extremism in terms of the terrorist network that it is?
The article reads:
"...the violence is condemned, but always with the qualification that these are 'difficult issues.'
What's so difficult? What makes this kind of terrorism different from the terrorism some think we can't talk about enough? When discussing international terrorism or "Islamic" terrorism, there is no equivocation. There is no acknowledgment of the "difficulty" of the issue. There is no consideration for the different "sides" and "feelings" in this "debate." You want to affect policy by killing and terrorizing people? You're a terrorist.
But if you want to affect abortion policy by killing and terrorizing people? Well, then, the most blatant acts of violence are to be condemned, of course, but always with the caveat that it's complicated."
I highly recommend reading "The Other Terrorism" and giving it some thought. In the days to come, with the trial of Scott Roeder for the murder of Dr. George Tiller underway you can expect to read a lot more on this topic here and at www.feminist.org.
Consequently, I felt compelled to revisit the classic Schoolhouse Rock animated video I'm Just a Bill, which describes the policy process to children. While poking around online, I was delighted to discover Schoolhouse Rock produced feminist videos too! Sufferin' 'til Suffrage provides a manic overview of the American women's suffrage movement, which of course culminates in winning the right to vote in 1920 with passage of the 19th Amendment.
Want to see more feminist cartoons? The Sewall-Belmont House was the historic Capitol Hill base for Alice Paul's National Woman's Party during the original Equal Rights Amendment fight. In addition to ERA exhibits, the house has a terrific collection of Nina Allender political cartoons supporting the struggle for voting rights that preceded the ERA. Allender's powerful images contributed to the push for women's equality, so check 'em out at the Sewall-Belmont House in person or online.
The Sewall-Belmont House has early feminist march banners, Susan B. Anthony's desk, and many more inspiring artifacts from pioneering women's rights advocates. It is chilling to walk the halls of a home steeped in the movement, where bold women plotted legislative strategies to win progress for American women. Your campus activism will write the next chapter of women's history, so join us at the conference in DC this March as we continue agitating for equality!
Correction: The initial post incorrectly cited the Sewall-Belmont House as the headquarters of the women's suffrage movement. It was actually the headquarters of the Equal Rights Amendment effort headed by the National Woman's Party. Thanks to former FMF intern Caroline Sellars for the tip-off!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Kim Gandy, FMF's new Vice President (and former President of NOW), writes:
Even as the trial continues for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, CBS is planning to air an anti-abortion ad during this weekend's Super Bowl game.
Tell CBS that this is no time to feed the anger and hatred of anti-abortion extremists.
CBS has a stated policy to reject all ads it deems controversial, including ads from MoveOn.org, PETA, and even the United Church of Christ, which dared to suggest that their church would model tolerance ("Jesus Didn't Turn People Away. Neither Do We").
In fact, CBS execs told the United Church of Christ that CBS rejects any ad that "touches on and/or takes a position on one side of a current controversial issue of public importance."
Although the ad itself is secret, Focus on the Family's own publicity indicates that it will "take a position on one side of a current controversial issue." The ad reportedly focuses on quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, alleging that Tebow's mother was urged to have an abortion for medical reasons but did not. The implicit suggestion that pregnant women whose health is at risk shouldn't worry because nothing bad will happen is downright dangerous, even if the story is true.
The Super Bowl audience, one of the largest of any event, spans all ages and political positions, and should not be used to promote an anti-abortion message.
And why would CBS promote a clearly controversial message from Focus on the Family? That organization uses their millions to promote discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs - they even ran a campaign before the 2008 elections equating the U.S. with Nazi Germany!
Tell CBS that using the public airwaves to promote an anti-abortion message will lose the network both respect and business.
First off, as a feminist, you have probably heard of Sarah Haskins from Current T.V. Right? Ok Sarah is my hero, calling out sexist advertising when needed.(ALL THE TIME) Sarah’s witty commentary on commercials relating women’s vaginas to out of control bushes or commenting on the newest 'beauty contraptions,' is a breath of fresh side splitting air that makes watching TV much more bearable and entertaining. Now when a Carl's Jr. ad comes on I won’t sink into hopeless despair for mankind, but remember that Sarah has my back and smile.
*** note: as I was writing this I was told her show in no longer on. Sad News...but we will always have her videos
Next I have to share Amy Poehler. I know her and Tina Fey are obviously and probably the most famous funny ladies, however I want to share a Poehler project you may have not heard about. Smart Girls at the Party is Amy's new show showcasing girls doing awesome things. I love Amy Poehler, have been a fan since UCB, but this show is amazing. Not only does Amy lend her name to a great show focusing on young girls doing cool things, but this show has a
feminist lean. Any somewhat mainstream show telling girls to be themselves and have cool hobbies is revolutionary in my eyes. This show is just what we need to help change the lives of girls and comedy.
Besides these online shows doing great work, I also want to highlight women in stand up. Often women go unseen in this comedic medium, but here is proof that that is no longer the case.
Pretty Funny Women is a great comedy tour of female stand-ups. I had the pleasure of seeing these ladies and had a blast. If you check out their site you will see profiles of 20 women paving the way for women in comedy. What is even greater is that these women offer classes to pull out your pretty funny woman. Not only are these women changing the landscape of stand-up, but they are working to fill it with more funny women.
Maria Bamford, who is part of Pretty Funny Women, is a great 'underground' female comic. Maria ,who has actually been around for years, performs with the likes of Zach Galifianakis, Patton Oswald, and Brian Posehn (considered to be changing and revolutionizing stand-up). Maria is so so rad. She doesn't do stereotypical 'female' comedy,(i.e. PMS- although funny)
in fact her humor is very gender neutral. Her sets include voices, impersonations, and songs. Love her!
Lastly, many of you have probably noticed comedians mixing music and jokes together. Some funny females to check out in this style are Garfunkel and Oates, Charlyne Yi, and the well know Sara Silverman. These women are mixing two great artistic mediums together and bringing a female face to the comedy table.
After gathering this list for you, I can't help but feel hopeful that the comedy landscape is changing. These women are amazing, funny, smart, and just what we need to change woman's place in entertainment. Watch, share, and spread the laughter.
|The Sarah Silverman Program|
|Preview - The Baby Penis in Your Mind|
The victim was raped 8 months ago by a man who regularly eve-teased her on her way to school. She knew who her attacker was but was too ashamed to report him. She was married off soon after the attack but a month into the marriage it was revealed that she was seven months pregnant and her husband quickly divorced her. Upon returning to her father's house, the local elders were informed of the situation and decided that she should be punished by 101 lashes fatwa (religious edict). Her father was also charged a fine that he had to pay or someone else in his family would receive a lashing. The accused attacker received no punishment or even an investigation.
This is a situation that makes me wonder how people can believe in post-feminism. This is blatant sexism. Not to mention extreme injustice. What did she do wrong that she should be punished for? Having sex out of wedlock? Because that was her fault? Sounds to me like she's being punished for having a functioning womb that fertilized her attackers seed?
Isn't the rape and the unwanted pregnancy enough punishment? Even if they feel like it was her fault, 101 lashes?! The article said that she passed out during the lashing and did not regain consciousness for 2 hours.
And what about her attacker? Apparently because she didn't file a formal complaint, they aren't going to pursue this guy. Did anyone file a complaint about her? If she's being lashed for being a slut he should be lashed for being a terrible person.
Not only did her attacker cause her suffering from her punishment, but he has ruined her entire life. He ruined her marriage and any other future chances at marriage she had, not to mention her emotional state. This poor girl "just wants justice" but is being punished for both getting raped in the first place and keeping her mouth shut.
Fortunately, there is a human rights advocate group that allows victims to file separate cases against their attackers outside of their local governments. Hopefully, this will bring some justice but justice can only do so much for this girl after she has already lost so much.
photo courtesy of oomo via flickr
I am slightly ashamed to admit that I am guilty of being ignorant of the lyrics because my judgment is clouded by the catchy-ness of it. After a couple of run-throughs of the album, the feminist in me starts pointing out all of the things wrong with her lyrics. Part of the appeal of Ke$ha's music is that she is bold enough to write songs some of these songs without worrying about who she's offending. It is the shock and awe mentality. This audacity can sometimes be a good thing, but a lot of the time it can be shocking in a bad way.
Blah Blah Blah is one of her songs in particular that I've been trying to decide whether it is okay or not. I had kind of lost steam in on my inter-cranial debate until I saw Feministing, The Sexist, and bitchmedia's commentary on the song.
Ke$ha is basically telling a guy to stop talking and just have sex with her:
A surprising switch in gender roles. Most of the time we assume that guys want to avoid the talking and get down the business but Ke$ha is turning the tables. It is good to see females breaking out of the docile, prude mold and showing they can be openly sexual. Ke$ha's music gives females a role model who shows them it is okay to be loud and say whatever outrageous things they want to say. Now is Ke$ha a good influence for young girls who are listening to her lyrics about drinking, partying, and having casual sex? Probably not, but that's a whole other debate.
"Don’t be a little bitch with your chit chat...Meet me in the back with the Jack and the jukebox
Just show me where your dick’s at.
So cut to the chase kid
Cuz I know you don’t care what my middle name is
I wanna be naked but you’re wasted.
While she is showing the public that women can break the stereotype, she hints at non consensual sexual activity, which is not something we want males or females doing. A lot of people will make the argument that she is not being serious and she is not actually an advocate of date-rape, but why is it okay that she's joking about it? Date-rape affects both males and females in a very non-humorous way so why is it funny to make a joke out of their experiences?
If a man wrote a song with the same lyrics, feminists would pounce on him in an instant, but because Ke$ha is a female does that make it okay?
Thoughts on whether or not Ke$ha's song is acceptable or not?
Comment or email me at email@example.com
photo courtesy of Edo Peltier via Flickr
I’d like to share with you a relatively unique experience I had with FMF. I attended the Stop Stupak Coalition Meeting and Lobby Day on January 20. There were 2 other FMF interns in attendance, and a group of FMF staff members led the way into my first experience in the world of lobbying.
The day began with a collective meeting of a variety of women’s rights groups, including Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women and many others. There were several keynote speakers who reminded us of our goals that day.
Then everyone was released. Some went to appointments they had scheduled with state representatives, while others simply dropped by their offices in hopes of catching the politicians or their aids. I found out legislative assistants do quite a bit of work in the political process. Sure, the representatives themselves are who we see in televised meetings on C-SPAN, many of them middle-aged, white men. But their legislative assistants are the ones who do much of the “dirty work” and handle a great deal of the politics behind large, wooden, closed doors. And these people are generally in their mid to late 20s, many of them women.
I was with Government Relations Director Norma Gattsek and National Campus Organizer Danielle Geong. FMF has campus ties with schools in many districts, so we came to represent the students who could not attend to voice their ideas.
Sadly, two of the three reps we hoped to speak to (and by that, I mean the aid to the rep) were simply unavailable when we stopped by. Not to mention, lobbyists are not on many people’s list of favorites.
Finally, Danielle and I caught a few (and I do mean few) minutes of Dan Farmer’s time. He is the assistant to Ohio Representative Zack Space. We hoped to change Space’s opinion about the Stupak Amendment, which he had voted in favor of. Sadly, his aid seemed more anxious to get on with his day than to discuss any of his boss’s ideas, and we left the meeting feeling unfulfilled.
However, I will not let this phase me. I never thought I would be given the opportunity to lobby, nor do I plan to do it for a living. But I look forward to trying it again, with my mentors here at FMF. And I’m determined to accomplish more and come better prepared next time. And if you feel hesitant about trying it, my advice is not to over-think it. The idea is to demonstrate that you are informed and passionate, in a diplomatic manner. Another goal is to listen. Keep these ideas in mind and remember that every effort counts. So I encourage everyone to try it.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Today, I got the opportunity to march in front of the Supreme Court Building to celebrate the 37th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Court Decision. Unfortunately, this anniversary is also the date when anti-choice groups decide to flood the National Mall for the March for Life and protest the landmark abortion decision. We knew that we would be out numbered so keeping this in mind, we just wanted to make our presence known.
This was my first time participating in a march like this and it was quite a unique experience. Prior to the march, I was warned that anti-choice demonstrators would try to get in my face and how many of these demonstrators would be young, high school teenagers. This made me a little anxious but I assured myself that if I did not respond to their taunting, they would give up and move onto the next person.
When we walked up to the building and began marching in a circle with our pro-choice signs and chants, dozens of 13-year-olds descended upon us with blue and pink face paint, "I love babies" written on their faces, and red duct tape inscribed with "LIFE" covering their mouths. I really wish I had gotten a picture because it was quite humorous. For these teens, this march was just a fun field trip for which they got to play dress up, hang out with their friends, and yell about things they knew nothing about.
At one point, we were chanting "Stupak has got to go, when you're pregnant let us know" (one of my personal favorites because many of these teens may very well have abortions later on in their teen-years) and many of them ran up to their friends and asked "What is Tupak? Why are they chanting about Tupac?" This just made me shake my head because you would think that if you were really passionate about a cause and were willing to attend a march to speak about your beliefs that you would be educated about your cause. But no, these children are given no valuable information about what they're marching about. All they are told is pro-choice advocates love killing babies and that is what they believe. Sigh.
Thankfully nobody got up in my face, but I may or may not have shouldered a couple of teenagers that tried to get in my way. I had a blast and my new raspy voice is evidence that I chanted to my fullest.
Above is a picture of FMF interns, Khatera, Mariel, and Elena at the march.
I would like to start off with a response to the Newsweek blogpost in The Gaggle about this years Roe v. Wade Anniversary March. I'm slightly offended by some of the assumptions they made.
For example, this years march is shorter and is earlier in the day than in previous years. There could be many reasons for this alteration, but the blogger thought the only clear choice was that "the organizers are getting older, and it’s more difficult for them to walk a long distance". Excuse me? Just because a lot of the protesters are some of the original participants in the abortion movement are over 60, does not mean that they have difficulty walking.
The Gaggle also assumes that there is going to be a lack of young feminists because “older generations had friends and family members who died of complications or found themselves sterilized because of abortion. Young women today don’t have that personal connection.” While we may not have a connection to the past, the current threats to abortion rights are direct threats to our bodies. Abortion laws may not affect our past, but they affect our future so it is our responsibility more than anyone else's to make sure our rights aren't threatened.
Younger feminists are criticized for not being as out there as past generations of feminists. Because of new technologies that allow us to stay home and still reach thousands of people through blogging, we receive a lot of slack for not knowing how to protest. Well I would like you all to know that today I am going to blog and protest. So take that Newsweek! Maybe we are a little physically inactive, but we are able to spread our feminist voice in other methods. You just need to trust us.
This brings me to this year's Blog for Choice Day Question is: What does "Trust Women" mean to you? This is in honor of Dr. George Tiller's famous tag line and button that he frequently wore.
I think that "Trust Women" is one of the more powerful pro-choice statements. It is concise and manages to tell people to stay out of everybody else's business without being offensive. Simply, just trust women and the decisions they want to make about their body and their lives.
Everyone is constantly telling women what to do, what to think, who to be, what to wear. Why is it that people think they have a say in our lives? They say they are trying to protect us from the big bad world, but is it really because they see us as incompetent girls who are unable to decide what is right for us? You don't know me, how could you possibly know what's right for me? Get out of my life and away from my uterus! TRUST ME! You need to trust all women because believe it or not, they are people to.
To see more blog posts about trusting women go to NARAL's Blog for Choice
Friday was the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that re-legalized abortion in the United States. This is a day we feminist activists are supposed to be celebrating, but when looking at all of the barriers to obtaining safe, legal abortion, it’s difficult to celebrate.
There are more barriers to a woman’s right to choose today then there have been for decades. Many states have parental consent laws and mandatory delays. Add to that the lack of abortion providers and the harassment they face, and one can see how truly a woman’s right to choose is in jeopardy. That’s why on this anniversary, I think it’s important to remember a quote by Mother Jones, a labor activist, who once said, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”
Before Roe, women died because they were unable to find safe abortion providers, and 37 years later we are still fighting to keep abortion safe and legal. That’s why we as pro-choice activists need to redouble our efforts to protect a woman’s right to choose, so that hopefully we can work to break down many of the barriers to choice that now exist. For this anniversary, I thought of ten things we all can do to support the pro-choice movement.
1. Online Activism: Everyone has a Facebook or a Myspace or a Twitter account. Use yours to support choice. Post pro-choice articles, make your status a pro-choice message, join pro-choice groups and become a fan of pro-choice organizations.
2. Join a group: There are many great pro-choice organizations out there from FMLAs on campus to local NOW chapters. Become involved in these organizations and work with others to make a difference.
3. Donate: Give what you can to organizations that support abortion rights. Organizations like the Feminist Majority, Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation do amazing things. Giving just a little to these organizations can make a big difference.
4. Expose Fake Clinics and other anti-choice organizations: Many people are unaware that Crisis Pregnancy Centers do not refer for or perform abortions. It’s important to educate people on campus and in the community about this, so that people are aware and can make educated choices on where to go for reproductive health care.
5. Come Out: Come out as being pro-choice, discuss the issue with your friends and family, put a pro-choice bumper sticker on your car, wear a pro-choice shirt or button and be proud that you support a woman’s right to choose.
6. Volunteer: Many abortion providers need volunteers and there are many different ways one can. Clinic escorting is just one way to volunteer; this is where people walk patients and their support people through anti-choice protesters into the clinic. To find out how to help, call your local abortion provider and ask how you can help out.
7. VOTE: Becoming politically involved is one of the most important things we can do. Why not join a campaign, sign a petition or run for office. Being politically involved will ensure that future generations will still have the right to choose.
8. Educate Others: Organize an event on campus or do a presentation for a class on a woman’s right to choose. This is a great way to help others become more aware of important issues and to help more people get involved.
9. Advocate for others: Not everyone feels comfortable standing up for their own rights so it’s important for those of us who feel comfortable to speak up. Find out where your campus health center refers students who face an unintended pregnancy. If they don’t give students all of their options, speak up and fight for change.
10. Support All Choices: Last but not least, we need to remember that being pro-choice isn’t just about abortion, it’s about supporting self-determination. Over the last several decades the social safety net in our country has been eroded and it has become harder and harder for women who choose to become parents and adoption is a complicated process. We as feminist need to support women who choose to become parents and women who choose adoption as well.
Photo credit: KU FMLA
Thanks for weighing in, Jesse! If you would like to showcase your feminist group's activism around Roe v. Wade and abortion rights, send your 350 word post to campusteam (at) feminist (dot) org :D
Friday, January 22, 2010
One of the goals of the Feminist Majority Foundation is to see more women in leadership. At the Feminist Majority, we support progressive female candidates, with goals of furthering women’s rights. Awesome right? Right! So when I heard that Australia named 2010 the year for women in local government I jumped for joy, literally, and decided to cover exactly what they are doing.
You can check out their website here, but basically they are creating an initiative that would fund scholarships, programs, and research to advance women in local government. They are conducting research to further their understanding of why women make up smaller portions of local government.
While this is obviously a fantastic move for women in Australia, and hopefully an influential example for us here, some have spotted flaws in their efforts. Feministing has pointed out that:
I am always somewhat weary of initiatives with the main objective to ‘raise awareness’, with no radical plans for change. We can see throughout women’s history past fantastic initiatives ignored by government.(i.e. National Womens Conference )
However, I think Australia is covering more ground then just awareness. While they are putting money toward developing studies and strategies with the end goal of more women in office (which is rad on its own), they are also awarding scholarships, and creating gender checks and balances for their local councils and workplaces.
The Government's commitment includes: via feministing
- $250,000 for a three-year 50:50 Vision: Councils for Gender Equity program which will audit councils and shires
to determine the status and role of women in leadership roles as well as their participation in the workplace
- $100,000 in scholarship funding to enable senior women in local government to participate in the new Executive
Leadership Program being developed by the Australian Center of Excellence for Local Government and the Australia
and New Zealand School of Government
- $100,000 to improve the collection of data and reporting on the status of women in the local government sector
- $40,000 to the Local Government Managers Australia for their 2010 Management Challenge, which will involve around
130 councils identifying strategies to promote gender equity in their councils.
Altogether I think this is fantastic. Any step toward a more equal world for women is always an A+ in my book, and while all initiatives have flaws, I think this will be a great year for women in Australia.
Yesterday, West Coast Organizer Jacqueline, new FMF intern Laura Garnett and myself attended an event called "Pro-Choice is Our Choice Too...Roe v. Wade at 37". It was put together by the National Council of Jewish Women in Los Angeles, along with the Hollywood chapter of NOW and local Planned Parenthood chapters.
The awesome, super-pro-choice speakers included: Rebecca Iaacs, the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocacy Project Los Angeles; Dr. Arthur Fleisher, an OB/GYN who has been practicing medicine since the 50's and performing abortion since BEFORE Roe v. Wade (because abortion became legal in California in 1970); Professor Laurie Levenson of Loyola Law School; and Abbe Land, former Mayor of West Hollywood, current West Hollywood City Councilmember, Co-CEO of the Los Angeles Free Clinic and a past FMF staff member!
The message I would like to convey to you (in case you didn't know) is: OUR RIGHTS ARE NOT SAFE! Roe v. Wade basically ruled that abortion can't be entirely outlawed, but it can be regulated to death - and the anti-choice movement is sure taking advantage! From the Hyde Amendment, to state funding restrictions, to parental notification and consent, biased counseling requirements, mandatory delays, ultrasound requirements, reporting requirements, and more - when it all boils down, abortion is accessible for women with means, and for everyone else, it is not. In fact, 87% of counties in the U.S. do not have a single abortion provider.
In addition to having hugely negative consequences on women's ability to exercise their legal right to abortion, these types of anti-choice tactics are slowly chipping away at the legality of the right itself. Personhood amendments in particular, which we are seeing increasingly (several states had them on the ballot in 2008, state legislatures have considered them and North Dakota's House has even passed one, and we can expect to see them on the 2010 ballots in CA, NV, AK and CO, if not in more states) aim to directly challenge Roe v. Wade.
The North Dakota bill which has passed in the ND House (but has yet to pass in the Senate or be passed into law) defines "personhood" as beginning "at the moment of conception". Of course, the meaning of "moment of conception" is up for debate, but nevertheless, this bill's sole purpose is not only to ban abortion, emergency contraception, and even some forms of birth control in North Dakota, but to make its way to the Supreme Court and overturn Roe v Wade.
And as Laurie Levenson stated yesterday, "We are one vote away from overturning Roe v. Wade". We don't know how Justice Sotomayor will vote on the issue of choice. We know that the two most pro-choice Supreme Court justices, Ginsburg and Stevens, are also the oldest and most likely to retire. So, if Roe v. Wade gets overturned, what next? Well, 15 states actually have unenforceable abortion bans on the books, that would immediately go into effect should Roe be overturned. Oy!
Furthermore, the anti-choice movement has been very successful at making "abortion" a dirty word and making people feel it is a procedure they should be ashamed of. The constant messaging that "abortion is murder" and increased messaging about the connection between fetal/embyronic "life" and "personhood" surely serves their goals well as people internalize these messages like they're a McDonald's marketing campaign.
The reality is that 1 in 3 American women will terminate a pregnancy at some point in their lives. Abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures performed. So why is it so stigmatized?!
Today, on the 37th anniversary of Roe, please treat it not as a celebration, but a call to action! Make sure young people realize the very real and constant threat our rights are under. Raise awareness about abortion - the procedure itself, how common and safe it is, and encourage people to speak up and speak out for our rights!
If you're a California resident, please call TODAY (votes are set to happen on Monday):
Speaker Karen Bass at 916-319-2047
Speaker-Elect John A Perez at 916-319-2046
"Hi, my name is ____________ and I live in [city in California]. I'm calling to urge the (Speaker/Speaker-Elect) to protect family planning services. The Governor's proposed cut to Family PACT is bad for the budget and bad for women's health. Can I count on her/him to reject cuts to family planning?"
Spread the word to everyone you know!
Thurgood Marshall, late supreme court justice and one of the most influential judicators on the Brown v. Topeka case as well as the Roe v. Wade case... BLACKLISTED!!!!!
In a recent facebook post, entitled "Marching for a Beautiful Life," Palin makes claims like the one I just mentioned, but also that overturning Roe will actually give women more options, and that CPCs are, in fact "helpful pregnancy resource centers." As interesting, upsetting, maddening, and sometimes hilarious some of her claims are, I would really like to comment on one of her facebook supporters comment, Sharla, who posted the following.
"The ironic thing about the pro-choice movement is that most women don't feel they have a choice. They are pressured into having an abortion by the boyfriend/husband, a parent or a friend. You are right when you say that pro-life is pro-woman!"
Obviously, women never make their own decisions, we must have our boyfriends and husbands do it for us; we are incapable of making a decision about our futures. This woman's claim that women have no agency is the most anti-woman accusation. Furthermore, by accusing the anti-choice movement of actually providing no choices at all is nothing short of ludicrous, which is probably why Palin agreed and posted something similar.
Palin urges us to not buy into the pro-choice rhetoric because, in fact, "the culture of life empowers women by offering them real choices."Apparently, women are offered more opportunities and choices for the future if they 'choose life.' So.....by offering women fewer options, you are in fact offering them more? That makes about as much sense and is about as correct as Palin's explanation of the Bush Doctrine. The reality is that the pro-choice movement gives women 100% control over their bodies; they can choose between life, abortion, adoption but more than that, they can make choices about their future, as a mother, as a student, as a worker.
As so off base as the majority of her post was, Sarah Palin was correct in saying that a woman who chooses life when her situation is less than ideal is strong; it absolutely takes a strong woman to do that. But it takes a strong woman to choose abortion too; pregnancy decisions are not for the weak. By taking the option of abortion away, it is taking away a personal strength that all women are capable of. It is taking away a right to OUR life. It forever implies that we lack agency and are incapable of making the right decision, and so the decision must be made for us.
Similarly, what the anti-choice movement fails to do, is recognize women as individuals rather than one large group that all want the same thing. Each and every one of us have different life experiences, different living situations, different dreams, and different aspirations. To overturn Roe would make the claim that despite all of these differences, all women are the same; all women want to be mothers, all women want the same future.
Losing the right to choose is losing the right and freedom to be a woman, to be an individual, to be a human being. Anti-choice is not pro-woman. Pro-woman means allowing women 100% control over her body, her life, her future. Not her husband or her boyfriend or her baby daddy, not her government, not her church and certainly not Sarah Palin, but her.
So here is to THIRTY SEVEN amazing years of pro-woman, pro-choice Roe v. Wade.
Check out Jezebel's open letter to Sarah Palin in response to her Facebook post!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
In my last post I discussed television and its representation of teen parenting. For this post I was eager to look for progressive groups, people, and shows that are paving the way for teen sexuality. While there are many feminist sites obviously pro-sex education, I wanted to highlight some awesome groups working specifically in the area of sex education for teens.
Midwest Teen Sex Show- A hilarious comedy troop creating web-episodes that center on a theme. Past themes have been prom, vaginas, hook ups, and condoms. What I love about this show is how they make the information easy to understand and enjoyable. Sex information can sometimes come across as hard to grasp (often becoming a biology class) and sometimes leaves teens with questions they are too shy to ask. This show makes room for these questions and makes them accessible. This show has helped the sex-ed movement move on to the laptops of the curious teens who need it the most (the Midwest- where abstinence-only runs deep)
ScarletTeen- Ok I have to say that I am so down with this site. First of all the plethora of information they give is amazing. Their topics include: coming out of the closet, knowing what is best for yourself sexually at any age, how to shave your genitals, advice boards on sexual health, sexuality, and relationships, how to masturbate, consent and knowing your line, information on all types of birth control, and general info on sexual health questions. I love this site because they treat everyone as smart confident decision makers. They do not talk down to teens or adults who may not know this info and really need it. They cover the personal relationships that come with sex, and don’t treat it as just sex (because it’s not!) They allow you text questions, pose questions on their message boards, and contribute to their blog. In my opinion this site is revolutionary in the pro sex-ed movement.
The New York Times has also showcased a program in North Carolina where teens can anonymously text their sex questions, such as “If you take a shower before you have sex, are you less likely to get pregnant?” and “Does a normal penis have wrinkles?” What this article shows us is the need for sites like Scarleteen and The Midwest Teen Sex Show.
These are just a few of many people working to make sex education accessible for teens. Without groups like these teens would be left to understand their sexuality through health class taught by P.E. teachers. I am excited to see these programs above thriving. People, especially teens are very complex and we need programs that help them understand their feelings and desires in relation to their sexuality, and the groups above are at the forefront of creating that environment.
Because they were both made at the Golden Globes, which are one of the most viewed awards ceremonies on TV, they resonated far and wide. While both messages are important in their own way, one of them is clearly more necessary and serious. Unfortunately, the less serious of the two statements may have received more attention.
First of all, during her acceptance speech, the actress, who played the role of an abuse mother, states: "For every person who's ever been touched [inappropriately], it's time to tell." The movie itself brought issues of incest and sexual abuse into the eyes of the public and her statement allowed the awareness to be carried even further.
In addition to her statement empowering victims to speak up, she herself was speaking up about standards of beauty. Even though she was wearing a floor length gown, Mo'Nique did not try to hide her leg hair from the world to see. By not being ashamed of her long locks, she sent a message to women that you can embrace your natural state and still be beautiful. The actress has stated in the past, "I must show America what a real leg looks like . . . because it's too much in the morning, every morning, to shave, to cut, you got Band-aids baby." Since the advent of leg shaving, god knows when, women have been made to feel dirty and gross for not fully eliminating their leg hair. There is no physical benefit for hairy or hairless legs so it could should be the woman's choice whether or not she wants to shave. No matter what the reaction to Mo'Nique's leg hair, whether outrage or kudos, the publicity her leg hair received brought the issue to the public's eye.
Now whether or not Mo'Nique's leg hair may have overshadowed her victim's empowerment message is up for debate but I give her props for having the audacity to make both powerful statements.
Even since it's release in November, Precious has received a lot of both positive and negative commentary. The issues discussed (race, gender, class, etc.) intersect with each other which makes for interesting debate.
photos courtesy of beastandbest via Flickr and nydailynews.com
Friday, January 15, 2010
Losing the battle to a 5-4 verdict, it has been concluded that the court, which currently supports more conservative values, favored the defendants because allowing video coverage would jeopardize the lives of the people on the stand who support banning same sex marriage. To this I must ask, “What about the lives of people in America who are at risk on a daily basis for being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender?”
For those that are currently following the case online I offer this link as a guide to updated information about the current trial: The Prop 8 Trial Tracker. Created by the Courage Campaign this trial tracker helps specify word for word the effort of Proposition 8 opponents to repeal the gay marriage ban in California. Clearly favoring the defendants in the case the Protect Marriage website offers its viewers bias commentary.
Excited about the recent decision by the court to deny any video broadcasting of the trial the Protect Marriage blog states that, “Basing their decision in part on the well-established record of death threats, hostile phone calls and e-mail messages, lost jobs, Internet blacklists, boycotts, vandalism and physical violence that supporters have faced from anti-Prop 8 extremists, the high court recognized the harm that could come to our witnesses and supporters of traditional marriage as a result of broadcasting their testimony about their political and religious beliefs.”
Without mentioning the other side to the story this blogger has failed to mention that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people have faced almost as much if not more violence since the passage of Proposition 8 and have endured homophobia for years. While neither side can claim purity and innocence it should be noted that each side has received multiple levels of discrimination since the initiatives proposal.
In a recent post to the Courage Campaign website Richard Jacobs, chair of the Courage Campaign, publicly displays a letter sent to him regarding the website logo for the Prop 8 tracker. In the letter John M. Skeriotis, “intellectual property council for protectmarriage.com,” states that the usage of the logo is copyright infringement and “demands” that the Courage Campaign “immediately cease and desist the use of the ProtectMarriage Mark.” With all the discussion about harassment via emails and phone calls one would think that Anti Marriage Equality extremists would lay low since they won the appeal to hide what happens in the courtroom but I guess this isn’t so. The logo is unimportant to the proceedings but still it causes disruption between the Same Sex Marriage supporters and the Protect Marriage group. While this letter may read as an educated form of discrimination and hatred it is still a small reminder that homophobia still exists.
I can’t help but feel somewhat stoked that there are shows discussing teen pregnancy, but I somehow feel like they are rooting for some team other than mine. I am of course progressively pro-choice and pro sex-ed, but these shows don’t seem to tackle any of those things. In fact it seems to be creating a whole different side, a side that capitalizes on and glamorizes teen mommies! Oy!
These shows, which are centered on young women making ‘choices’ about their lives and families, don’t discuss abortion or even highlight it as an option. They show girls either keeping their babies or opting for adoption.
Note: they seem to portray adoption as a choice you will eventually feel incredibly regretful of. Hmm…
Furthermore, I feel like these shows should look at why these girls got pregnant in the first place, and why they decided to keep it. For instance, maybe teen A didn’t know about contraception, or maybe teen B didn’t have a clinic or a parent to turn to. I think these factors would make the show be and mean something more than another teen drama.
You know, I would like to see an undercover show where they expose abstinence-only education or the anti-choice rhetoric as a culprit in the teen mom scenario, or at the very least MTV can give Abstinence-only the moon man it deserves.
So after reading my clearly unbiased bit, do you think this is a step forward or backward for the pro-choice/sex-ed platform? Do you think these issues belong together? What do you think?
If you have any ideas or questions for me you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The main issue is that men are able to distinguish prostitutes from "real women". Because these women are willing to do things other women would not, they must be lesser humans because they must have something wrong with them. These women are doing them a favor by performing sexual acts that others would not, but instead of being thankful, men lose respect for them.
Men see sex as something they're taking from women so they should be left with less than they started with. "I don't want them to get any pleasure. I am paying for it and it is her job to give me pleasure. If she enjoys it I would feel cheated." Just because you're paying her doesn't mean she can't enjoy it at the same time. That's like saying people shouldn't get paid if they enjoy their job.
Lastly, men see prostitution as an alternative to rape. They make it seem as if it's one or the other so we should be thankful they chose to have sex with someone who's "willing". You can hardly say that these women are "willing", especially when most of them have been sold either into sex trafficking or exploited by their pimp. Many of the men interviewed admitted that they knew that the prostitute was not there on her own will, but didn't think they should do anything about it and still had sex with the women/girls.
Hey guys, do us a favor. Save your money and make the effort to find somebody who actually wants to have sex with you. Oh, and by the way, before treating these women like scum remember each and every one of them is someone's daughter.
More at Jezebel
Photo by Adam Crowe via Flickr