Friday, July 30, 2010
Senator Barbara Boxer was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1982 and to the Senate in 1992. During her tenure, Senator Boxer has been a tireless advocate for women’s rights, writing and pushing legislation through the Senate that has benefited women. Senator Boxer has been the leader on women’s issues, and has worked on a wide range of women’s issues. In 2004 she authored the Freedom of Choice Act, and she was a champion in the floor fight for the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. She was also a strong critic of the Stupak Amendment. Also, while in the House Boxer authored the original Violence Against Women Act. Amazing!!!
Boxer is the first female chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee and she is the first senator to ever preside over two committees simultaneously (she also presides over the Select Committee on Ethics). She is also the second Jewish female Senator (first being Feinstein, California *challah*!).
Boxer has been a long time champion of women's rights in the House and in the Senate. If you're in the California area, I personally recommend you get involved in her campaign. She's an asset to the women's movement and will be sorely missed if she loses this race!
The Feminist Majority Foundation has been working on a Campaign for Afghan Women & Girls since 2002. FMF works to raise awareness on college campuses through our Choices Campus Leadership Program, supports Afghan and Pakistani women to pursue higher education in the United States through scholarships, engages in policy research and strategy development with leaders of the United States Congress and the White House, and also provides direct assistance to NGOs in Afghanistan.
Ellie has been fighting for women's equality locally, nationally, and internationally for over 50 years. Since becoming involved with the civil rights movement as a student at Duke University, she has been at the forefront of almost every major battle for political, social, and economic rights for all people. I encourage you all to check out more of Ellie's biography, from her remarkable tenure as the president of the National Organization for Women in the 1970s and 80s and her extensive travels in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, to her cofounding of the Feminist Majority Foundation and her leadership of the pro-choice movement. Her achievements are numerous, and to look at a list of legislation in which she has had a hand boggles the mind.
No one knows politics and feminism better than Ellie Smeal. Ellie lives and breathes this fight every day. She never pauses, never rests. I once heard Ellie described as a "lioness." It's a fitting description. She knows to grab a megaphone and head into the streets, but she also trusts her instincts and will go to the bargaining table when the time is right.
It is because of her extraordinary achievements and experiences that Ellie believes in the power of young people. Ellie is no curmudgeon, disparaging the contributions of the countless young activists around the world. Rather, she is counting on us to innovate and get active and lead this movement. So get involved with the feminist movement on your campus and in your community. Start a feminist group. Run for office on a feminist platform. As Ellie says, "Do what you love." It is the best gift you could give her.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
|Photo by Flickr user: smiteme|
- "Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History" by Laurel Ulrich
- "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body" by Courtney E. Martin
- "Sappho's Leap" by Erica Jong
- "Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center" by bell hooks
- "The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World" by Michelle Goldberg
- "The Shock Doctrine" by Noemi Klein
- "Woman: Intimate Geography" by Natalie Angier
- "Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape" edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti
- "Impossible Motherhood" by Irene Vilar
- "Gender Trouble" by Judith Butler
- "Cunt" by Inga Muscio
- "Reclaiming the F-Word" by Catherine Redfern and Kristin Aune
- "Yentl's Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism"by Danya Ruttenberg
- "Click" edited by J. Courtney Sullivan and Courtney E. Martin
|Picture by Tumblr user: prettykooky|
We are excited to announce that we are adding a new weekly series of blog posts known as "Thank You Thursday!" Our "Thank You Thursday" posts will include a list of people who have done or said something pro-woman that we appreciate. We hope you enjoy seeing who is doing positive work!
This Thursday, we would like to thank:
- U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton for blocking several key passages of Arizona's new immigration law SB 1070
- Memphis City Council Member Janis Fullilove for supporting a proposed LGBT antidiscrimination policy even when faced with death threats
- ESPN Reporter Erin Andrews for advocating for the STALKERS Act
- Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for their efforts to get the Dream Act passed
- and a special thanks to everyone who help with the Pro-Choice Clinic Defense in Charlotte, North Carolina, last week!!!
Campus Organizing Toolkit: Liberal Universities
For this final installment of my part of the series, I've focused on Liberal College Campuses. I interviewed some interns that go to some traditionally liberal/radical campuses (including UC Berkeley, hence the photo) to find out some of the organizing issues they face trying to do feminist organizing on a campus that already seems pretty down. Read the tips and let me know if there's any nuggets you'd like to add.
1. Combat Apathy- If your campus is already liberal, what else is there left to do? Plenty! On a liberal campus, folks tend to get apathetic about politics because they think things are as good as they can get. Bring awareness to your campus about issues that people have not heard about before to energize folks to take action.
2. Defeat Fractionalization- Put aside your differences with other progressive groups and collaborate if there is an issue that you can agree on. You can even use this as an opportunity to highlight key differences in your opinions, while still maximizing your resources. See if you can work together on a big event during “Welcome Week”, rather than scheduling simultaneous events and competing for attendees.
3. Think Bigger- When you’ve got the support of your campus under control, try expanding your efforts towards a larger audience. Take on issues in your city, or bring awareness to global issues.
4. Keep Up a Dialogue- Sometimes it feels like you’re singing to the choir at a liberal university. Make sure you keep up a dialogue with those with opposing views, even if they are in the minority. This will prepare you for when and if you move away from your liberal haven, and it will keep people cognizant of the fact that there is opposition to progress.
5. Raise Consciousness About Gender Inequalities in Liberal Politics- Just because a group is liberal or progressive does not mean that they’re perfect on gender equality. Raise awareness on campus and in progressive communities and engage them in thinking critically about the gender dynamics in their community.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
This morning, just hours before Arizona’s now infamous (and blatantly racist) immigration law, SB 1070, was set to go into effect, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton blocked several of the key passages of the law.
· The ruling blocked the SB1070 provision that mandated police officers to check the immigration status of a person detained, stopped, or arrested so long as the police officer had a reasonable suspicion the detainee might be undocumented.
· It is no longer a crime in Arizona to fail to apply for or carry immigrant registration papers.
· In addition, the ruling also delayed parts of the law that would have made it illegal for undocumented workers "to solicit, apply for, or perform work.”
· Lastly, the ruling blocked the (BLATANTLY unconstitutional) passage that “authorized the warrantless arrest of a person” without any reasonable suspicion that the person might be subject to deportation.
Charges were filed against SB1070 by the U.S. Justice Department, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Coalition of Latino Clergy, the Christian Leaders League of United Latin American Citizens, and several Arizona state police officers.
Judge Bolton heard a variety of arguments ranging from unconstitutional racial profiling, the inability to effectively enforce the law, and the preemption of federal supremacy on immigration. In front of a packed courthouse, ACLU attorney Karen Tumlin boldly stated: “[SB1070] treats people of color as suspectes first, rather than citizens.” Although many people in Arizona can rest easier tonight, the fight is by no means over. Many provisions of this law will go into effect at midnight tonight and SB1070 still remains the toughest immigration law on the books.
I'm sure that by now you have all heard the drama that is Shirley Sherrod's forced resignation. A video excerpt of a speech Sherrod gave at a 2010 NAACP event was posted by conservative blogger, Andrew Breitbart, to his website. Almost immediately following the posting, the NAACP condemned her statements, while the White House and the U.S. Department of Agriculture heavily called for her resignation; Sherrod resigned, forcefully.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Within minutes I found an article which supported her claims and made me really excited! Finally some progress is being made! It is true, scientists have reported that there is a new gel that has proved capable of preventing the AIDS virus!
The gel would be a helpful tool in protecting women whose partners won't use condoms. It would have an even greater impact in African countries which have the highest incidence of rape and child rape. The long-lived belief in the so called “Virgin Cure” make young African girls especially vulnerable to rape and infection. In places like the Congo where girls as young as 2 and women as old as 80 are raped such protection is vital!
The new vagina gel is the first women-initiated and controlled HIV prevention and if confirmed it would help end the AIDS epidemic. Thirty three million people are infected today and over twenty five million people have died due to this disease. The AIDS epidemic is a global issue and it has to stop. I personally have lost someone to AIDS and I look forward to the day when people no longer have to suffer. Though we still do not have a cure for AIDS science has brought women some more options for protection and this is progress!
After suddenly laying off over 1,800 workers from two local factories (ie. sweatshops) in Honduras, Nike agreed to create a $1.54 million “workers relief fund” this past week. The money from this fund will be used to provide unemployed workers with vocational training while also guaranteeing these workers priority hiring when the next factory opens. Oh my God- a multinational corporation (MNC) following through on a promise to workers?! Not quite. First, the actual payment should have been over $2 million according to Honduran labor laws and standards. Before we get all sentimental about this supposedly altruistic $1.54 million donation, we also have to realize this amount (although seemingly infinite to a starving college student) is quite literally small change to Nike. Nike reported over $19 billion in revenues just last year. Lastly, an active reader has to question why Nike suddenly closed down the factory in the first place. Chances are, they found another subcontractor that promises cheaper costs through more “efficient” production means. By “efficient” production, they mean paying the workers less money to do the same work. Come on Nike- are we really supposed to be impressed with this?
Having said that, Nike’s actions brings hope to several workers rights activists. Scott Nova, director of the Workers Rights Consortium, argues that Nike’s actions “will give labor advocates a stronger basis in the future. They can point to this precedent now and say that no less a brand than Nike agreed that companies have an obligation to do more than just cajole these factories.” In addition, students in universities rallied to demand fair severance payments from Nike for the Honduran workers. Groups like United Students Against Sweatshops, chanted “Just Pay It” in front of Nike stores all over the country. Although Nike’s actions establish a cautiously hopeful precedent, we cannot become complacent and passive to this phenomenon.
Sweatshops (although MNC's would like them to seem like an inevitable part of globalization) are not just a problem for third world countries. Learn about sweatshops in Los Angeles and what you can do about them.
FMF's National Clinic Access Project (NCAP) began shortly after FMF was founded and provides a great gamut of assistance to women's health care providers targeted by anti-abortion extremists. Just to give you an idea of what we do - NCAP specializes in tracking anti-abortion extremists, works with federal, state and local law enforcement to protect abortion providers, provides grass-roots organizing support for clinics, recruits pro-bono legal help for clinics under siege, and even makes emergency grants to targeted clinics to improve security measures. So when the National Clinic Access Project heard Operation Rescue/Operation Save America announce a national siege of Charlotte-area abortion providers in July, NCAP immediately began to organize to protect the clinics, their workers, physicians and patients in advance of the OR/OSA week of harassment.
That's where I come in. As part of my internship, I traveled to Charlotte as part of the NCAP team to work with FMF national organizer, campus organizer, legal coordinator and two other interns to help organize clinic defense, grass roots trainings, legal observing and escorting, but most of my efforts focused on clinic defense. Clinic defense is literally about mobilizing a ton of pro-choice peeps to create a human buffer zone between anti-abortion zealots and clinic staff and patients. Clinic defense is also critical to helping maintain access to clinic driveways and entrances while sending a critical message of support to the clinic.
Also, what I learned is that clinic defense can also provide a distraction for anti-abortion protesters so that they don't bother the patients. If OR/OSA is too busy yelling at a clinic defender, they don't tent to notice a car pulling into the drive way with a patient. Although clinic defenders create a buffer zone and often take the focus of the anti's attention, we (as clinic defenders) must not cause problems for the clinic -- or the police, which is why NCAP strictly enforces a non-engagement policy. No witty comebacks, no arguing, no general conversation with the anti's. You have to be completely stone-faced. Which frustrates them even more so they get caught up in "breaking" you and forget about patients (win).
This principle of non-engagement is covered meticulously in clinic defense trainings -- along with a pledge of non-violence. On the last training before the siege, the NCAP clinic defense team, along with ProChoice Charlotte and the UNCC Feminist Union, met with an eager group of activists who were ready to face Operation Save America. A few had done escorting in the past, but most were new to the clinic defense scene. We had everyone introduce themselves and explain why they were there and then gave some general information about the non-engagement policy and what should be expected throughout the week. We emphasized that we are the guests of the clinic and that we must abide by what the clinic wants, and engaging with anti-choice protesters would not be tolerated. We then all got up and practiced linking arms in a line and also how to create a buffer around a patient (you can never be too prepared, plus it's also just good to know). After getting the basic linking down, we then took a stab at practicing our non-engagement faces. We formed two lines and stood facing each other. We then started yelling insults at each other, one side pretending to be anti-choice protesters. Then one side pretended to be anti's while the other completely ignored them so we could get a feel of just how reserved we would need to be.
We also mentioned as clinic defense it's important to be aware of any information relevant to helping the clinic. This included alerting law enforcement when there was a problem, and notifying NCAP leaders if OR/OSA was trespassing or violating city ordinances.
Despite OR/OSA running amuck in the city, the pro-choice community of Charlotte was amazing. The NCAP team was welcomed with wide open arms. My campus organizer and I stayed with a professor from Davidson College that I had never met before, and he went out of his way to make sure we were as happy as could be. We were welcome in everyone's home, even those who weren't connected to the clinics at all. Pro-Choice Charlotte, Charlotte NOW, Planned Parenthood, UNCC Feminist Union, and many unaffiliated individuals who worked alongside NCAP created a dazzling web of pro-choice support and grassroots activism that would eventually lead to the first harassment-free day at a local clinic in eight years. Even local law enforcement which had been reluctant to help in the past took a new turn in supporting the clinics. It also lead to the creation of new alliances, friendships, and overall feminist fuzzy feelings between everyone there. My convictions were reaffirmed, and even strengthened by facing the extremist opposition. While draining emotionally and physically, and at times just ridiculous, I wouldn't trade this experience for anything.
Photo: Chalk message outside a local Charlotte clinic Friday, July 16th
Cross-posted at Ode to Patriarchy
Monday, July 26, 2010
Like a lot of kids her age, Phoebe Prince was a swan, always beautiful and
sometimes awkward. Last fall, she moved from Ireland into western Massachusetts, a new town, a new country, a new culture. She was 15, when all that matters is being liked and wearing the right clothes and just fitting in.
As an FMF intern, I have the opportunity to write toolkits regarding campus activism and organizing. In this first installment (the others will be coming over the course of this week and the next!) I will be discussing different strategies to organizing on an affluent or apathetic college campus. If you have any other tips, feel free to chime in in the comments section!
- Build Community—Oftentimes at smaller, more affluent or apathetic college campuses, it is extremely hard to unify the student body around a common cause. Build community by reaching out to various groups to identify the commonalities between them. Host events and invite various student groups to them that may be related in some way to the event or are simply interested in the event. It may be beneficial for your organization to have a mentoring program to incoming first-years. This acclimates them to the campus climate while opening them up to the opportunities of your organization; it also helps to build bridges between upper and lower class years.
- i.e. At Colgate University we often have Vision meetings, which are meetings held with all student leaders discussing upcoming events for the semester as well as ways that each of us can get involved in one another’s activities.
- Breaking Bread at Colgate University is a program that allows two or more student groups that have not formerly worked together to prepare a meal and discuss an action plan for collaboration within the coming semester to begin working together on a regular basis.
- Reach Out—At more affluent college campuses there is a problem of building bridges. Student of color groups should reach out to Greek life and Greek Life should do the same. It is important to find allies in all groups so that your organizing can become more effective and efficient.
- Know your resources and utilize them—It is important to know that you have many resources available to you on your college campus that can aid you in organizing amongst an affluent and/or apathetic student body. Your biggest resources may be your allies in the administration who can work with you to channel some of their departmental funding (it is there!) into your organization so that you may develop programming that will incite students on your campus to rally around change. In your student handbook should be a directory of all departments on campus, look at which ones would be interested in your mission and connect with them. Many campuses also have student activity fairs throughout the year, reach out to new students in that way—show them the work that you have done and continue to do.
- Develop programming that everyone can get involved in—Once a common cause is found, it becomes easier for students—of all socioeconomic backgrounds and ideals—to rally around it. Take, for example, sexual assault at
. Once all students understood to the magnitude of sexual assault, it was easier for student leaders and campus organizers to mobilize students around that cause effectively. Colgate University
- Infiltrate your student government and Greek Life—At small apathetic and affluent college campuses, a lot of students actually look up to leaders in their student government or those who are in Greek Life. If you can infiltrate those two sectors, you will secure some more people to mobilize. Being in these positions that people respect allows you to mobilize and organize a lot more efficiently.
- Make your cause one that is taught in classrooms—Simply put, if a teacher discusses your issue in a class where students have to at least partially care, it can introduce them to your cause and/or mission. In that way, you have reached a new set of people which is what organizers should always seek to do.
- Utilize word of mouth and social media—The best way to organize on a small, affluent campus is to utilize word of mouth. If a friend is going to an event, you’re bound to join them in some form or fashion. Even if they aren’t, they will probably tell you about that event when it is over, which may motivate you to attend another one of those events. Social media is a powerful thing that has proven effective for many organizers. Knowing how to properly utilize Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Digg, and other social media networking sites can allow you, as an organizer, to maximize your base and your potential on your college campus. Have someone in your organization who is dedicated to spreading your cause among these social networking sites and organizing will become an easy feat in no time!
The Chinese government is working to reduce corruption and other economic crimes. Police are taking action and have made arrests within the human trafficking ring. I believe the issue can not simply be solved through these arrests however, it is also necessary for the Chinese to change their view of women. The chaos caused by the imbalanced sex ratio should be an indicator to the Chinese people that sustaining a female population is vital. It is quite simple, without women there are no babies, no female babies, no male babies! Yes, China is overpopulated but a country that is exclusively male just can’t work!
I’d like to see China’s perspective of women change for the better. Perhaps when women are valued, human trafficking, sex selective abortion and many of the other social issues will go away.
Friday, July 23, 2010
This Friday's Feminist Legislator Spotlight is on Congresswoman Donna Edwards (4-MD). Edwards is an incredible public speaker who gave an inspiring speech at the DC interns hill briefing. She is definitely on the rise in Washington, DC so I figured I ought to give y'all the scoop, that way you'll be well informed when she gains wider recognition.
Edwards was a longtime community activist and lawyer before she became the first African-American woman to represent Maryland in the United States House of Representatives. Edwards co-founded the National Network to End Domestic Violence and advocated for the passage of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act.
This lady is so down for her causes, she was arrested last year outside of the Sudan embassy with 5 other Representatives, protesting the nation's blocking of aid to genocide survivors in Darfur.
Edwards should be incredibly inspiring to young women involved in the feminist movement that have ambitions of running for office. She has proven that having connections with women's rights organizations will not make your election impossible. In fact, it is that community centered experience that Edwards' constituents value.
To find out more about Congresswoman Donna Edwards, check out her website.
It seems that over and over we see a new way people want to control bodies, and more specifically women's bodies. In Cameroon, mother's are ironing the breasts (here, here) of their young (as young as 9 years old) daughters in order to delay development and "protect" them from early pregnancy and rape. About a quarter of girls nationwide undergo this procedure. Their mothers take a hot stone or something similar, and press them on the barely developed breasts while twisting, which is not only physically painful, but probably also causes psychological and long term physical damage.
They do this to stop their bodies from attracting men and save them from early teen pregnancy, which is very high in Cameroon. Once a girl becomes pregnant, they never finish school.
What we have here is yet another example of not only controlling women's bodies, but of victim blaming. By placing the blame of rape on her breast development, it becomes the girl's fault for her rape. And so her body is changed, deformed, made to accommodate the current rape culture, instead of teaching those who rape that the simple existence of breasts is not excuse, reason, or invitation for anything.
In a video from CurrentTV, an anthropologist says that many mothers think, "Maybe if I remove the signs of sexuality on the body, then that body will attract nobody for some time". This kind of thinking reduces a woman, not just to men but to themselves, as only a body, that ultimately will only be good for sex.
If we still aren't convinced that comprehensive sex education is a necessity, then I don't know what else to show you.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
On Wednesday July 21, the Feminist Majority Foundation DC summer interns hosted an intern hill briefing and congressional visit day entitled “Empowering Women, Ending Violence, Ensuring Reproductive Rights: Connecting Reproductive Health and the Global Fight for Gender Equality”.
The briefing began with a welcome address by FMF intern Dena Robinson, followed by an introduction by FMF President Eleanor Smeal. A panel discussion on domestic and international women’s rights was then led by FMF intern Rebecca Klein, with Kate Vlatch, a policy associate at NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation; Anushay Hossain, director of global programs at FMF; Daphne Jayasignhe, director of women’s human rights advocacy at Amnesty International; and June Zeitlin, director of the CEDAW Education Project.
Congresswomen Caroline Maloney (D-NY), Donna Edwards (D-MD), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) spoke at event about the need for more young women to enter politics and commit their lives to the fight for women’s rights.
FMF intern Laurel Keyes commented on the event, saying, “I though it was a great success because young feminists from all different fields came together, learned something new, and were motivated to continue fighting for women’s rights on all fronts.”
- a young woman with quite the spray-on tan
- two middle-aged women, one blonde and one brunette
- an older woman with gray hair swept into an updo
Would we just be 'uglier' or would we adapt and say this is what people look like? Would it somehow become more okay for women to age?
Is this a silly question? The cynic in me says little would change, and the 'beauty' industry would continue to find ways to devalue my intellect and appearance. Those of us who are non-white and/or fat and/or disabled would continue to be invisible in mass media.
Leave a comment and let us know what you think! Bonus points if you leave a comment answering my questions with a question.
Photo: thinkpanama on Flickr
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles and the prestigious Pictures of the Year International (POYi) annual photojournalism competition recently teamed up to present "The Year," an amazing collection of the best documentary photographs of 2009. Their shared goal of "informing, inspiring, and connecting the public to the human experience through powerful imagery and stories" allowed them to display a truly powerful collection of photographs.
The gallery displays 80 photographs from the competition and also plays a "Behind the Lens" video showcasing some of the winning photojournalists and their commentary. Winning images were selected from over 45,000 entries submitted by photographers from various countries across the globe. (Here is the complete Winners List as well as the Winners Gallery).
Many of the photographs are categorized under four main themes: The U.S.: War and the Economy, Reflecting the Human Experience, Ecologies and Economics, and The Globe. Among those themes there are several incredibly striking images that make one seriously think about the situations in which the subjects are living.
A number of the photographers document through photojournalism issues relevant to women all around the world. For example, there is a series of images by Stephanie Sinclair, a photojournalist for National Geographic, called "Polygamy in America." She documents the lives of the members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint (FLDS), a Mormon sect notorious for its practice of polygamy. There is also an image by photographer Preston Gannaway for the Virginian-Pilot of a newly sober pregnant woman talking with her also-pregnant 17-year old daughter, explaining what to expect with her pregnancy. Other pictures include a group of homeless teens gathering for an annual festival, children soldiers, and a powerful Feature Story - Multimedia entry about a student who finally faced her struggle with gender dysphoria and changed from a male to a female.
It's also very inspiring to see how many of the winning photojournalists are women, who bring their skills and distinct perspective and sensitivity to the subjects they document. One photojournalist for the Los Angeles Times, Barbara Davidson, speaks in the "Behind the Lens" video about her experiences and her approach to taking powerful pictures in challenging situations. Davidson has worked for numerous newspapers and, along with seven staffworkers, she also won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography after shooting the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. She uses her compassion to talk to the subjects of her photography and explains how it's necessary for her to shoot their situations in order to bring awareness and inform the public on issues similar to their own.
If you get a chance you should really check out this exhibit before it closes on October 10! The photos are amazing and extremely representative of the chaos and hardships that faced the world in 2009.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I was in a recent argument with a male friend about why the world still needs feminism. At the time I was tired and didn’t feel like arguing, but now in the comfort of the Feminist Majority Foundation office, I think I will rebut with this list of reasons why feminism is still relevant. Feel free to add to it!
-Studies show women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn. This pay equity imbalance is currently being addressed by the United States Senate as a result of pressure from feminist groups.
-Even though women have some legal protections on their equality, the equal rights and protection of women is not defined in the Constitution. Feminists are still pushing for an Equal Rights Amendment.
-Though women make up more than half of this nation’s population, they are still underrepresented in all elected and judicial positions of national and state governments.
-Many states are whacking away at women’s reproductive rights. Oklahoma now mandates that all women must look at an ultrasound (they are not legally allowed to CLOSE THEIR EYES!) and be given a pamphlet that says life begins at conception (an issue that is more philosophical than scientific, given the guise of truth because it is handed to her by the doctor).
-Women have a lower body image than men. In many industries, companies can fire (and hire) women based on their physical appearance. More than 9 million women a year have some form of elective cosmetic surgery to enhance their physical appearance. However, this does nothing to correct the psychological issues that cause this intense body hatred (that in fact is rarely addressed in our society). Cosmetic surgery is a multi-billion dollar a year industry that profits from the societal importance of women’s appearance. Men can be considered attractive because of power and wealth while much of women’s attractiveness is defined only by their physical appearance.
-In the US, a woman is raped every six minutes (according to Amnesty USA). A woman is battered every 15 seconds. This is WAY TOO MUCH! Like, no arguing. And what is anyone doing to really change this? The hyper-sexualization of women and violent masculinization of men is enforced by the media in many ways. Positive heterosexual relationships (and also positive gay relationships) need to be provided as the ideal.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Well, this Canadian super long running series is based on junior high and high school students that attend the Degrassi community school, and the constant stream of drama that ensues. Americans can watch this show on a cable network called The N, which plays a bunch of "hip" shows for kids. One summer I got hooked to the show when they did a marathon of every episode EVER, but there was one important episode missing that I think deserves a little feminist shout-out.
In Season 3, trouble brews in Degrassi as Craig cheats on his girlfriend Ashley with a younger girl named Manny. In the episode "Accident Will Happen", Manny discovers that she's pregnant...and decides to get an abortion. She says to Craig, "Someday, you'll make a great dad. And hopefully someday, I'll be a mom. But now... now isn't someday yet."
WOW. How amazing is that?! On a lot of other shows, like "16 and Pregnant" or "The Secret Life of American Teens", abortion is either completely not mentioned as an option or quickly ruled out. But this is a piece of pop culture we can reference with a young girl making a decision that reflects her maturity and her acknowledgment of her immaturity. I think that's a really important example for young girls to see.
Unfortunately, this episode was not originally aired in the U.S.! The N was not going to air it, but then fans of the show made a 6,000 signature petition to get it shown (more info here).
I really recommend that everyone watch this two part episode, even if you've never seen Degrassi before. On so many shows that deal with teen pregnancy, the option of abortion is quickly ruled out. On Degrassi, a main character has an abortion and afterwords does not feel overcome with regret or remorse; she is confident that this was the right decision for her (and another character who was on the original series and had a baby in high school tells Manny how much she regretted NOT having an abortion!).
So yeah, way to go Degrassi, paving the way for the secret feminism of our youth.
If anyone knows of a site that hosts this episode, please comment with the link!
Friday, July 16, 2010
While women won big with health care reform, we took a hard blow when it came to comprehensive reproductive health care, and we are doing so again. However, this time there are no trade-offs.
As soon as next month, transitory health-insurance pools for those with pre-existing conditions will become available. Yesterday the NARAL released a statement that said the new temporary health care plans for high-risk individuals will not include comprehensive reproductive health care. It seems the White House Administration has put a total ban on abortion coverage (with the exception of cases of rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is endangered) even though there is not a single thing in the federal law that restricts the use of federal or state money for abortion coverage within the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans (PCIPs).
This ban is in essence the same as the Stupak amendment which was defeated months ago. With the enforcement of this ban there is no way women will be able to purchase abortion coverage within the PCIP system even with their own private funds. Because these women fall in the high-risk category, they will not have options outside the PCIP system to find insurance coverage for abortion. That's why they are participating in the PCIP system to begin with, because they can't get coverage anywhere else! So in the end the government is completely denying these women of any possible coverage for abortion period!!
We did not work so hard to defeat the Stupak amendment, to so quickly and without any reason find a Stupak ban enforced now! As the Center for Reproductive Rights stated: "Healthcare reform was a tightly bargained piece of legislation - and with this, the White House is threatening to renege on a fundamental part of its bargain with American women and families who truly need coverage."
Join me in speaking out by telling President Obama that this abortion-coverage ban was not part of the agreement on health reform and that abortion coverage should not be excluded from the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plans!