Saturday, December 29, 2012

Can a Work Out be Anti-feminist?

I'm not sure if these workouts are anti-feminist, or if they just piss me off so much!

The Pole Dancing workout is so 2011. Perhaps you'd like to try the Stiletto Workout featured in the New York Times this Thursday?

 
Nothing could go wrong here! Who wouldn't want to get her sweat on "in a sexy way" jumping around in foot-deforming stilt-shoes?
 
 
Creator Nicole Damaris claims to have come up with the stiletto workout while watching New York women wobbling down the city streets in tottering heels. Girls, she's just trying to help us all walk pretty! We should be super-grateful.
 
Even if I lived in New York, I think I'd have to give that one a miss. Clearly, though, the Stiletto Workout is a minor, local phenomenon. Very few women are going to drop $25 a class to risk a broken ankle.

What really pisses me off is making women feel like worthless blobs for not looking like an emaciated celebrity, and then selling them a workout to get them to this unreasonable goal. Take the latest "health" product foisted upon us by Gwyneth Paltrow, her own trainer Tracy Anderson's Metamorphosis program, profiled last week in the New York Times.
 
Look, I have no idea whether this workout is effective. It probably is - if you move around, you get thinner. What drives me crazy is that Anderson is an active participant in slamming new mothers for gaining weight, while trying to peddle videos to get them "Teeny Tiny."
 
Moreover, Anderson's workouts are based on total gobbledygook.
I’m completely focused on how can I get forces to travel from opposing directions and end up creating a contraction in a muscle that’s going to then pull in. . . . And then as we lose the fat the muscular structure will be vibrating so well that it will have the connective tissues pull the skin back to it.
Yes, these are all words. Good job, TA!
Gary Diffee, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who examined some of her claims, said, “Like many things of this type, the science seems to be a mixture of true, kind of true, true but irrelevant to the point she is trying to make, and wrong.”  
No, she doesn't have a degree in exercise science, "I am so hard on myself with not deviating the amount of time that I have for research and development of the method.”

But she is endorsed by Gwyneth and Madonna, so we should all click right through and order those videos immediately. Even better, let's all book the $4,300 Hawaii Detox Week so we can work out and enjoy vegan smoothies with Tracy Anderson (diarrhea included, no extra charge)!

If you live in America, you know the shitstorm of criticism celebrity Jessica Simpson endured because of her pregnancy weight gain. First we were supposed to buy the magazine.


Then we should sign up with Weight Watchers, which gave her an endorsement deal for losing the baby weight immediately, like a good girl should.

 

Ladies, this game sucks, and we don't have to play it! We have to stop handing our credit cards over to people who just want to make a buck off of making us feel like crap.

For years I have exercised with Orthodox Jewish women, many of whom have several children. These ladies are not in there sweating week in and week out because they want to look like they've never had kids. They work out to take care of themselves and be healthy. We are grown women - we shouldn't think less of ourselves for not looking like teenagers. And we sure as hell shouldn't get manipulated into buying junk-science from a woman who thinks the best thing a mother can do is look like she isn't one.

Today's $5 is for the Women's Sports Foundation, which promotes sports for girls not so they can look "hot," but so they can be healthy for the rest of their lives.

And one more thing: If Gwyneth's doctor tells her to combat anemia and vitamin D deficiency by eating "no dairy, no eggs, no sugar, no shellfish, no deep-water fish, no wheat, no meat, no soy," then they're both full of crap! So don't buy her book.


Friday, December 28, 2012

Create Your Own Facts at Hobby Lobby

Isn't this the cutest baby ever?

Don't you feel the need to rush right out to Hobby Lobby for tiny needles to knit a wee pair of booties?

Yeah, me neither. Probably because this is not a baby. Or maybe because you're getting the distinct impression that Hobby Lobby is notsomuch with the Feminism.

The conservative family which owns Hobby Lobby and the Mardel chain of Christian bookstores is suing to block provisions of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) which require health insurance plans to cover emergency contraception. They claim that a fertilized egg is a baby, and drugs which block implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus cause abortion.

They also claim that Rubber Stamping is a craft, so consider the source.


Yesterday, mean ladyjudge Justice Sonya Sotomayor refused to stop the government from forcing Hobby Lobby to comply with this provision during its court case. She left intact a lower court's ruling that the owner's religious fervor did not make the company a religious institution which would be exempt from the contraceptive requirement.

More used to selling crap to ladies than taking orders from them, Hobby Lobby has stated its intention not to comply with the Court's order. Through the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Hobby Lobby's lawyer posted,
To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs. 
Could there be a stronger argument in favor of the Affordable Care Act than these twenty words? A man worth $4.5 billion will tell his 13,000 low-wage employees which medications they will be able to access through their health-care plan. And he will make these decisions based on his own religious principles, not medical science.

Let's not forget that IUDs, one of the most popular forms of birth control, also work by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg. So, forgive my skepticism when Hobby Lobby says the only birth control it objects to is Plan B because it "causes abortions."

Failure to comply with the contraceptive requirements of the Affordable Care Act could subject Hobby Lobby to fines of more than $1 million per day. Cry me a river.

Today's $5 goes to the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. Because employees' healthcare should not depend on employers' religion.




Monday, December 24, 2012

I'm a horndog, you're fired

Intellectually, I know that things are getting better for women in this country. But sometimes . . .

Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court held that a male dentist could fire his female assistant for being too attractive.

Yeah.

Dr. James Knight hired Melissa Nelson in 1999 when she was just 20 years old, and everyone agrees that Nelson was a good employee for ten years. Yes, her boss occasionally asked her to put on a lab coat because, "I don’t think it’s good for me to see her wearing things that accentuate her body." And there was that time when he said that she would know her clothes were too tight if his pants were bulging. But they had a good working relationship despite Knight's membership in the Iowa Taliban minor eccentricities, and the two often exchanged friendly texts.

Until Dr. Knight's wife discovered these texts and hauled her horndog husband into a meeting with the pastor. Luckily, the pastor set the good doctor straight and told him to put the blame where it belonged - on Melissa Nelson! Apparently, it's ridiculous to ask a middle-aged professional man to control himself around a pretty woman. So, Dr. Knight and his pastor called Ms. Nelson into the office, Knight read a prepared speech saying that their relationship was hurting his marriage, handed her envelope with one month's pay in cash, and fired her. Yes, humiliated, fired, and one crappy month's severance pay after ten years of employment - you stay classy, Doc!

So many things puzzle me about this story. Did Mrs. Knight spend weeks trying to get her husband to put the professional back in his professional relationship with Mrs. Nelson, or did she just insist that Nelson be terminated immediately? Is it common practice in Iowa to bring human resources decisions to your clergyman rather than, say, an employment lawyer? How much laughing gas did Dr. Knight consume before he told Mrs. Nelson's husband (in the presence of the pastor) that, "he feared he would try to have an affair with her down the road if he did not fire her?" Did these people not understand they were about to end up on in every news outlet in the country?

And the court found . . . for Dr. Knight. I know! WTF?

Here's the thing. I get how the court's decision fits within the rigid definition of the law. Nelson didn't sue for sexual harassment, since she loved her job and didn't consider it the "hostile work environment," the legal standard for harassment. She sued for wrongful termination, saying that she wouldn't have been fired "but for" the fact that she was a woman. Since all of the Dr. Knight's employees were women, and Nelson was replaced by a woman, this argument failed. Also, there is a lot of caselaw (legal precedent) that employees can be fired for having personal relationships with their employers or even, specifically, because the boss's wife is jealous of her husband's attractive employee. As the court pointed out,
Title VII [the federal Civil Rights Act] and the Iowa Civil Rights Act are not general fairness laws, and an employer does not violate them by treating an employee unfairly so long as the employer does not engage in discrimination based upon the employee’s protected status [as a member of a class which has traditionally suffered from discrimination].

Okay, fine. The Courts are not fairness police. But I think it's worth quoting the Iowa Court's summary of Nelson's three arguments in response to this, even in legalese.
First, she does not necessarily agree with Tenge [the precedential case with the most similar fact pattern]. She argues that any termination because of a boss’s physical interest in a subordinate amounts to sex discrimination: "Plaintiff’s sex is implicated by the very nature of the reason for termination." Second, she suggests that without some kind of employee misconduct requirement, Dr. Knight’s position becomes simply a way of enforcing stereotypes and permitting pretexts: The employer can justify a series of adverse employment actions against persons of one gender by claiming, "My spouse thought I was attracted to them." Third, she argues that if Dr. Knight would have been liable to Nelson for sexually harassing her, he should not be able to avoid liability for terminating her out of fear that he was going to harass her.
To summarize these arguments, of course it's discrimination for a boss to fire an employee because he's attracted to her. And of course allowing bosses to do that just permits an end-run around anti-discrimination laws: You're not getting canned for being a woman, you're getting canned because my wife is jealous of you, as a woman. And, if you can't get away with sexually harrassing women, you can't use fear of your own potential to harrass them as a legal basis to fire them.

The court admitted as much when it agreed that the doctor couldn't just use this reasoning to fire all his female employees.
Nelson raises a legitimate concern about a slippery slope. What if Dr. Knight had fired several female employees because he was concerned about being attracted to them? Or what if Ms. Knight demanded out of jealousy that her spouse terminate the employment of several women? The short answer is that those would be different cases. If an employer repeatedly took adverse employment actions against persons of a particular gender because of alleged personal relationship issues, it might well be possible to infer that gender and not the relationship was a motivating factor.
Kinda looks like this all-male court gave the doctor a freebie, no? Since they agreed he couldn't use his jealous wife as a justification to fire all the ladies in his employ, but just this once . . .

You know who else argues that women should dress modestly because men can't control their own desires? And you know who else says women should cover up or leave the workplace? And you know who else blames women when men use their uncontrollable desires to justify sexually harrassing, raping, firing or excluding women from the workplace?
This guy. The religious leader of Iran, the one who believes that women should be legally required to wear a head scarf.

Nice job, Iowa Supreme Court.

Today's $5 goes to the Iowa Women's Foundation, which makes grants to improve the lives of women and girls in Iowa. Because this . . . is bullshit.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We are not ashamed

I'm not "pro-abortion" in the same way that I am "pro-vaccination." It's not like I think everyone should have an abortion. But I do think that we have to start making the positive case for abortion and re-characterizing it as part of women's healthcare. This excerpt is from a speech by Amy Hagstrom Miller, an abortion provider in Texas, given at a dinner for the Lilith Fund, a Texas charity which promotes abortion access. Please forgive the lengthy quote.
I EXPERIENCE stigma all the time in my work; the hospital will not give privileges to our physicians, we can’t secure local back up doctors, we can’t get anyone to provide us with bottled water or replace our tile floors or replace our roof or resurface our parking lot. 
I HEAR stigma everywhere:
“Abortion should be rare”
“Abortion is a tragedy”
“Abortion is only 3% of our budget”
“I am pro-choice but I’d never have an abortion”
“I am not like those other women”
“I don’t believe in abortion as birth control”

You may have heard these statements. You may have said these words yourselves. You may have thought these thoughts.

The reality is, however, that without us there is no choice. Without providers, the right to abortion is just an idea – it is just something on paper that means nothing to women in actuality.

So, what does it take to keep 47 million women and their loved ones silent? You have to spend millions of dollars to shame them – to tell them they are murderers over and over until they believe it themselves. And you must threaten and intimidate and ultimately murder those who provide them this care. For over 35 years abortion providers have been the buffer between the anti-abortion movement and the women who have abortions. We have tried to protect women and shield them from the hostility of the antis as well as provide them with impeccable medical care. This is not working.

To me, eradicating stigma is the single most important thing we can do for abortion rights in this country and it is my life’s work.
Wow! That is exactly right. One in three American women has had an abortion, and yet we're allowing people who are radically opposed to the procedure to define it as something shameful. They make women feel horrible for choosing to have an abortion, then they turn around and claim that abortions make women feel horrible. So we don't talk about it. We treat it as a dirty secret, because the only ones talking tell us that it is so. There is no one saying, "You were right to choose to have a bright future for yourself over a bleak one for you and a child together."

If I had made that choice, I would tell you now. I can only tell you about taking a friend to have an abortion when we were in high school. She was sweet and insecure, with a lot of life lessons to learn before she could be a good parent. Her boyfriend was a lowlife who hit her and mercifully disappeared around the time she got pregnant. To save money, she chose the non-anaesthetic option, emerging pale and shaky, then throwing up in the car on the way home. A few months later, we graduated and left for college. It is preposterous to suggest that her life would have been better for having a child at 18. Of course, she did the right thing. She never regretted it.

In 1972, Ms. Magazine attempted to remove some of the stigma attached to this very common procedure by publishing a list of 53 prominent women who said they had had abortions. Sadly, it seems we're in need of a refresher.

We have to start talking about the reality of women's lives. One site is www.45millionvoices.org, where women post stories of their abortions. The accounts of scared teenagers trying to scrape up the $400 for an abortion and hide from their parents should be mandatory reading for all red-state legislators.

One brave woman is publishing a real-time account of her pharmaceutical abortion on Facebook under the name I'm Having an Abortion. Despite the mountains of vitriolic hatemail she is receiving from "well meaning" anti-choice strangers, this woman refuses to be ashamed or silenced. She's not sad or damaged, not duped or coerced. Just relieved and hopeful for the future. In short, she's just like us.

Today's $5 is for the Lilith Fund, to fight legislative "regulation" whose sole purpose is to put abortion providers out of business. Becase we are not ashamed.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Which comes first, the pizza or the crazy?

What is up with these crazy pizza guys? First we get Godfather's Pizza CEO and Presidential candidate Herman Cain with his "9-9-9" tax plan to raise taxes on poor people promote tax equity. Then John Schnatter of Papa John's threatens to make all employees part-time to avoid having to offer health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. And this week former Domino's CEO Tom Monaghan sues to block the Affordable Care Act's mandated insurance coverage of contraception, which he calls "gravely immoral."

Monaghan is super-concerned about morality. After selling Domino's to Bain Capital (of course) for $1 billion, Monaghan tried to build his own Catholic paradise in Florida. Who wouldn't want to live in a little town called Ave Maria, where birth control, pornography, and abortion were illegal? And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those pesky constitutionally protected civil liberties! I guess that's why the students at Ave Maria Law School scored worst in the state on the 2011 Florida Bar Exam. Sad face.

While we're on the subject of morality, can we talk about the pizza? Pizza is delicious - mmmmm, fat and carbs. Pizza is also really unhealthy. How unhealthy? Well, let's have a looksee at the Domino's nutrition information. Did your eyes glaze over when you figured out that the calorie information for the crust, sauce, cheese and toppings were each listed separately? Do you think they made this needlessly complicated so that you'd give up and just eat another slice?

Okay, for the sake of Feminism, I'll do some math. One slice of  a large Ultimate Pepperoni Pizza has:
  • 430 calories
  • 100 grams of fat (about 2 times US RDA)
  • 7 grams of saturated fat (about a third of US RDA)
  • 36 milligrams of cholesterol (only 10% of US RDA!)
  • 1125 milligrams of sodium (half of US RDA)
And how often do people stop at one slice? Never.

(Also, if fat has 9 calories per gram, I am not clear how a slice can have 100 grams of fat and clock in at 430 calories. But I'm taking Domino's numbers . . .)

According to the Harvard School of Public Health:
  • one in three adults is obese;
  • obesity-related healthcare costs between $147 and $190 billion per year,
  • which is 8.5% of Medicare, 11.8% of Medicaid, and 12.9% of private healthcare spending.
Where the hell do these pizza guys get off telling us about the morality of any aspect of our healthcare spending?

If you sell a product that kills 300,000 Americans a year, maybe you should not be offering your opinion on our nation's healthcare crisis. Forgive me being blunt, but a guy who made a billion dollars off of ruining people's health can Shut The F**k Up about his religious objection to women's reproductive care!

Cigarette and gun manufacturers are also invited to stay silent on this topic.

Scientists, however, give us helpful data. They tell us that covering contraception saves employers money by preventing unplanned pregnancies. And that deliberately spacing pregnancies contributes to better maternal and child health. And that teen mothers earn $3500 less per year and receive twice as much in Federal aid than those who delay childbearing until their 20s. Which seems way more convincing than, "Your healthcare is against my religion."

Today's $5 is for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which advocates for rational food policy. I know, that's not strictly a feminist cause. But did you see the nutrition numbers on the pizza? Yikes!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

California judge gives rapist light sentence because victim didn't resist enough

What the f*@#?!?!

A California judge is being publicly admonished by the California Commission on Judicial Performance for stating in 2008 that:
I'm not a gynecologist, but I can tell you something: If someone doesn't want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down. The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case.
Apparently, the victim didn't suffer enough physical damage, so Judge Derek Johnson only sentenced the rapist to six years. That's all the case was "worth."
"In the commission's view, the judge's remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual assault victims who do not 'put up a fight.' Such comments cannot help but diminish public confidence and trust in the impartiality of the judiciary," wrote Lawrence J. Simi, the commission's chairman.
Ya think? And how come it took them four years to figure that out?

Today's $5 is for the California Community Service Program for Sexual Assault Victim Services in Orange County.

Thanks for nothing, Justice Kennedy!

I should be writing about the crazy-ass anti-choice law rammed through the Michigan Senate during the lame duck session. But, I just can't. First, because it pisses me off too much. But also because I haven't done enough research to figure out which clauses are likely to survive a legal challenge.

I hope most people understand that American judges are bound both by law and precedent. (I refuse to believe the country is full of people as ignorant as the ones who use the comments section to rant about feminazis and abortionists.) And while Roe v. Wade is the iconic case which legalized abortion, it's really the cases which came after that shaped women's reproductive rights. So, when Michigan passes a law that bans abortions after twenty weeks, or outlaws tele-medical prescription of pharmaceutical abortion drugs, I think, "Thanks, Justice Kennedy. You really screwed us."

In 1973, the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion within the trimester framework. It held that women have a constitutionally protected right to control their own bodies during the first two trimesters of pregnancy. While the government may have some interest in protecting the potential life inside of her, it cannot assert that right until the third trimester. Any regulation before that should only be to protect the health of the mother.

Sounds like a workable system we could basically live with, right?

Cut to Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, when Justice Kennedy found that the state's interest in protecting a potential citizen begins at the moment of conception. And the state may enact legislation with the sole purpose of persuading women not to have an abortion.


Though the woman has a right to choose to terminate or continue her pregnancy before viability, it does not at all follow that the State is prohibited from taking steps to ensure that this choice is thoughtful and informed. Even in the earliest stages of pregnancy, the State may enact rules and regulations designed to encourage her to know that there are philosophic and social arguments of great weight that can be brought to bear in favor of continuing the pregnancy to full term and that there are procedures and institutions to allow adoption of unwanted children as well as a certain degree of state assistance if the mother chooses to raise the child herself.

There it is. The moment when it became A-OK to assume our ladybrains weren't smart enough to make decisions about our ladyparts without government help.

Oh, but don't worry, girls! Because the good Justice will protect you if the government gets too crazy while it's encouraging you to contemplate those "philosophical and social arguments" against abortion.


Numerous forms of state regulation might have the incidental effect of increasing the cost or decreasing the availability of medical care, whether for abortion or any other medical procedure. The fact that a law which serves a valid purpose, one not designed to strike at the right itself, has the incidental effect of making it more difficult or more expensive to procure an abortion cannot be enough to invalidate it. Only where state regulation imposes an undue burden on a woman’s ability to make this decision does the power of the State reach into the heart of the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause.

Well, that's settled then! The state can do anything it likes as long as it doesn't pose an "undue burden" on women seeking to exercise their constitutionally protected right to have an abortion. Problem solved.

Except for the little matter of defining what an "undue burden" might be.

And that's how we got to spend 20 years litigating whether a bunch of state laws unrelated to women's health placed an "undue burden" on their liberty. Hello transvaginal ultrasounds, mandatory waiting periods, and "fetal pain laws."

So, today's $5 goes to Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania who brought this case in 1992 and continues to fight for women today. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Trust Women to Choose Their Own Vanity Plates

There have to be cheaper ways of teaching civics to our legislators than through the court system. Just this week the North Carolina General Assmbly learned that you actually can't make laws that are unconstitutional. No, not even if you really hate abortion and so do your constituents.

In June, 2011, the North Carolina legislature passed a bill authorizing 80 new vanity plates, including this one.

Story Photo

For $25, citizens of North Carolina could offer friendly advice to other drivers on what to do with their uteruses. The state would keep $10, and $15 would go to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, an organization of crisis pregnancy centers. I'm not really down with crisis pregnancy centers (hint: they will tell egregious lies to keep women from choosing an abortion, but do very little to promote maternal health). And the statute's express prohibition on distributing the $15 to "any agency, organization, business or other entity that provides, promotes, counsels or refers to abortion" is pretty appalling. But, it's a free country.  People are entitled to express any opinion they like.

Except in North Carolina, if you would like to express your support for a woman's right to choose what to do with her own body. In that case, you are SOL. Although legislators offered six amendments to include license plates that said things like, "Trust Women: Respect Choice," the General Assembly went with no Pro-Choice option when they authorized the Choose Life plates.

This week, a Federal District Court Judge struck down the law for violating the First Amendment right to free speech. In a nutshell, if the governments grants one side a forum to engage in public speech while excluding the opposing position, it has unconstitutionally regulated speech. Which is all well and good, except that the exact same case was litigated in South Carolina in 2004. The illegality of the proposed statute was entirely clear, and yet the General Assembly still passed it.

Did the North Carolina politicians just say, "Hell, we know it won't stick, but let's pass it anyway. Our constituents will think we're doing them a favor, and we'll bleed the liberals of legal fees to enforce the law?" We may never know. However, we do know that the main proponent of the law, Representative Mitch Gillespie cares more about restricting other people's right to free speech than exercising his own. Asked if he'd support a law which allowed "Choose Life" and "Trust Women" plates, he responded, "I’d be willing to sacrifice this before I’d be willing to vote for that. Personally, I couldn’t do it .  . . My personal convictions on this are strong."

My personal convictions are also strong. I believe strongly that the State of North Carolina should have to pay the ACLU's legal fees, as South Carolina was forced to do for Planned Parenthood in 2004. But, since this case will probably take another two years to wind its way through the appeals process, I'll give today's $5 to the ACLU of North Carolina. Thanks for fighting the good fight.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hey, Seventeen: BMI is BS

You know one thing I hate? Fashion magazines. The even pages tell you how gross/fat/unfashionable you are. The odd pages tell you what to buy to fix yourself. Do I give a crap what Blake Lively wore on the red carpet? I do not.

You know another thing I hate? The Body Mass Index (BMI), a formula which estimates your body fat based on your height and weight. I'm as concerned about American obesity as anyone, but BMI is such a blunt instrument that it's kind of worthless. Weighing someone doesn't tell you if she eats a balanced diet, exercises regularly, or takes care of herself. I've been lifting weights for twenty years. I'm heavy as lead, but not fat. Lucky thing I'm a grown-up girl who can tap a doctor on the shoulder to look up from the chart before talking to me about the BMI nonsense. Mr. FiveDollar works out like a beast - he could do fifty push-ups with the doctor on his back, and he'd still have to listen to a lecture on BMI.

But suppose we weren't adults who could shrug off a formula that didn't evaluate us properly? Suppose we were teenage girls, constantly bombarded with a message that our weight was our worth? How crappy would it be for a magazine directed at kids to invite them to plug in their weight and evaluate themselves? It's not like American girls are making themselves crazy over this shit, right? Oh, they are?

So, it was particularly disappointing to see that Seventeen Magazine had published the BMI table on their website last week. (Yeah, seriously, Seventeen is still around! Who knew?) Worse, the table mischaracterized underweight girls as normal. Because, when you're inviting girls between 12 and 18 to reduce their entire worth to a single number, why bother to proofread? You can read the whole story here. Yes, the link was removed after thousands protested in an online petition. And, yes, Seventeen tries to combat eating disorders with their Body Peace Treaty and blog. But there's an inherent conflict in a magazine that uses images of emaciated celebrities to sell crap to impressionable kids and its pledge to promote healthy body image.

Let's take a look-see at what articles are trending right now on Seventeen.com.

Ah, yes. A veritable AP course in enlightenment, civic engagement, and self-esteem.

When I imagine my daughter as a teenager, I think of her racing down a field, accidentally/on purpose whacking another girl with a hockey stick. I imagine her yelling at me and stomping off to her room. I do not imagine her as a stick figure in stilletoes and a short, strapless dress. I guess we won't be subscribing to Seventeen magazine.

Today's $5 is for the National Eating Disorders Association. Because our girls deserve better.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pedestal Pushers

Yeah, I spend my days like a typical feminist. Wake up to Public Radio. Head into bathroom to pee standing up. Stub my toe and blame the patriarchy. Eat cornflakes in company of several cats in my tiny apartment. Head off to work in ponytail and sensible shoes. Feel superior to my male colleagues. Blame chauvinism when the computer crashes. Return home alone to frozen dinner. Rinse. Repeat.

Okay, not really. At the risk of giving this woman yet another chance to flog her book, I'm probably a lot like Suzanne Venker. We both spend most of our time taking care of kids, house and husband. The difference is, she thinks all you ladies should embrace this life as your biological destiny. And I think that's horsesh*t.

If I click through to a FoxNews.com article called "The War on Men," I expect a wild ride in the WayBack machine. Ms. Venker brings it.
In a nutshell, women are angry. They’re also defensive, though often unknowingly. That’s because they’ve been raised to think of men as the enemy. Armed with this new attitude, women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise) and climbed up to take what they were taught to believe was rightfully theirs.

Now the men have nowhere to go.

It is precisely this dynamic – women good/men bad – that has destroyed the relationship between the sexes. Yet somehow, men are still to blame when love goes awry. Heck, men have been to blame since feminists first took to the streets in the 1970s. 
Ah, the scales fall from my eyes! Before, I was unknowingly defensive. Now I see that my marital happiness rests on pedestals. And all these years I thought it was mutual respect and kindness. Suzanne, you've taught me the importance of preserving a man's sense of superiority.
Men want to love women, not compete with them. They want to provide for and protect their families – it’s in their DNA. But modern women won’t let them.
Why, it's all so simple!

Wait, I still feel kind of angry. I'm imagining someone telling my daughter that she shouldn't get a fancypants degree or a high-paying job because it will be threatening to her husband. I'm imagining her earning 74 cents for every dollar her male colleagues make. I'm thinking of someone teaching her that strength and independence are unfeminine.

NFW!!!

I guess you're right, Suzanne - I am angry. But not at men. I'm angry that women can't access emergency contraception over the counter. I'm angry that Sandra Fluke got called a slut for speaking out about birth control. I'm angry that female news anchors wear sleeveless dresses and heels when their male colleagues wear suits. And I'm angry that you and your aunt Phyllis Schlafly are still peddling this retrograde nonsense about the need for women to be subservient in marriage. ENOUGH. Did no one ever give you the Free to Be You and Me record when you were a kid? Here, have a listen.

Today's $5 is for the National Organization for Women. Because women's success does not mean men's failure.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Et tu, Elmo?

I know I just donated to PBS last week. But in the wake of news that Elmo-puppeteer Kevin Clash is resigning after a second allegation of statutory rape, and the likelihood that this will be used as yet another pretext to defund Public Broadcasting, I think I may have to support it again today.

What does PBS have to do with feminism? A lot. See if you can tell Goofus from Gallant.
  • PBS's mission is to educate, inform and inspire. Network television's purpose is to sell ads.
  • Barbara Walters interviews the Kardashians. PBS airs interviews with Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Katie Roiphe.
  • Fox News uses election night to showcase Megyn Kelly's legs, while PBS features Gwynn Ifill, Mark Kelly and David Brooks having an intelligent conversation.
  • Hannah Montana is a secret popstar. Abby Cadabby gets career advice from Sonia Sotomayor.
And that's just here in America. Overseas, Sesame Workshop purposefully promotes the idea that girls can and should become whatever they want. From the Sesame Workshop website:
Low expectations for women are perpetuated across society, including, crucially, by children themselves. But just as culture can close minds and doors, it also has the power to open them. Our educational programs around the world are aimed squarely at boosting ambitions and encouraging girls to dream big. It’s all about positive role models. On-screen images of girls pursuing academics and other fun, interesting activities help children — girls as well as boys — broaden their sense of women’s potential. Through the joyous example of some remarkable female Muppets, we’re giving girls permission to dream, discover, and imagine a future full of possibility.
Get a hanky before you click through to the "My Name is Khokha" video of the Egyptian muppet  singing about how she will go to school and even learn to count.

Without diminishing the horror of what Kevin Clash allegedly did, I hope that it won't be used to further the conservative promise to cut PBS's funding. Federal money for PBS accounted for 0.00012% of the budget in 2012. Cutting it will do absolutely nothing to help the deficit, and will do irreparable harm to the public discourse.

Today's $5 goes to PBS. This video says it all.




Monday, November 19, 2012

That's RUDE!

In Caitlin Moran's terrific book on modern feminism, How to Be a Woman, she approaches misogyny as she would any other uncivilized behavior.
Don't call it sexism. Call it "manners" instead . . . Because even the most rampant bigot on earth has no defense against a charge of being simply rude.
Which is exactly right, of course. We don't laugh at racist jokes, only to get pissed off about sexism. Feminism is about everyone being treated civilly.

In that vein, I'd like to call out two gentlemen for extreme rudeness last week.

First, Fox regular Brian Kilmeade joked about finding female anchors by looking through the Victoria's Secret catalog.
Such a kidder, that guy! In June he made his co-host Gretchen Carlson walk off the set during a live broadcast when he joked(?), "Women are everywhere. We're letting them play golf and tennis now. It's out of control."
 
That is really RUDE. And possibly actionable.
 
Strangely, I now find myself agreeing with a Fox Opinion piece. (Seriously, Mom, don't click through!) American Pie actor Jason Biggs recently posted obscene, personal comments to his Twitter feed about Janna Ryan and Anne Romney. Then he had the nerve to say, "I made a political tweet, so I got a little bit of heat from the right."
 
Biggs' tweets are not political commentary. They are just RUDE. And I agree with Fox's Dan Gainor, Nickelodeon ought to fire him from his job voicing the one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the animated children's movie.
 
Today's $5 goes to the Public Broadcasting Service, which is about the only place you can still go for news that is not RUDE.
 
 


Friday, November 16, 2012

Double Down

Let's say, hypothetically, that your political party had just lost big because you really pissed off women and minority voters. Would you, (a) try to figure out how to be less odious, or (b) double down? Even if you didn't care about women, just from a tactical perspective, what would you do?

Obviously, you'd continue to oppose reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, right?

I admit, it wasn't the first answer that popped into my mind, either. Why fight against a law that funds women's shelters, domestic violence prevention and legal assistance for victims? I mean, assuming you're not Phyllis Schlafly,
In its 17 years of operation, it has done little or no good for real victims of domestic violence, while its funds have been used to fill feminist coffers and to lobby for feminist objectives and laws. . . The feminists have so broadened the definition of domestic violence that it doesn't have to be violent and can usually be whatever a woman alleges. Definitions of domestic violence include vague and overbroad concepts such as emotional distress, harassment, annoyance or merely unpleasant speech.
And you thought your crazy granny was bad!

No, the real reason House Republicans are still blocking the Violence Against Women reauthorization is because the Senate passed a version adding protections for undocumented immigrants and LGBT couples.

I dislike House Leader John Boehner. A lot. But if he were getting beat up, I'd still want the police to come to his aid. Boehner and the House Republicans must really hate undocumented farm workers to threaten them with deportation for reporting domestic abuse. We know that Republicans get the vapors from "alternative lifestyles," but gay unions are being recognized in ten states. I hear the gays might even be raising children these days!

Please, Senator Sessions, tell me how this is all a stunt by the Democrats.
I favor the Violence Against Women Act and have supported it at various points over the years, but there are matters put on that bill that almost seem to invite opposition. You think that’s possible? You think they might have put things in there we couldn’t support that maybe then they could accuse you of not being supportive of fighting violence against women?
I respect your use of sarcasm, sir, but I still call bullshit. Let me summarize the House Republican position on this one: We care about preventing domestic violence. But we care more about hating illegal immigrants. And, if we have to protect those icky gay dudes, too, then Girls, you are on your own.

Today's $5 goes to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Here's hoping the House can stop playing politics with women's safety and pass this VAWA in the next session.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Who Remembered in November?

So, how's that War on Women thing working out as a political strategy?

Maybe, not so much with demonizing women for wanting to control their own bodies.

Is that message getting through to you, Rush?



In case the video link isn't working, here's Rush Limbaugh waking up November 7 to tell us that "Obama treats them like Vaginas, and they say, 'He's my man.'" He also blames Hispanics for Republican losses. Obviously, his insulting Sandra Fluke had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

Okay, then.

There will be five new women in the Senate come January. Tammy Baldwin, Heidi Heitkamp, Elizabeth Warren, Mazie Hirono and Deb Fischer will bring the number of female Senators to 20; women made huge gains in the House of Representatives; and women swept New Hampshire, where the Governor, Senators and Representatives will all be female.

Obviously, I'm not suggesting that women are inherently better at governing. I know Sheryl Crow thinks, "We could use a little female common sense on Pennsylvania Avenue." But really, isn't the point that women are keenly aware of the way that equal pay and women's health issues play out in the real world? It's a little harder to pretend that access to birth control isn't an issue effecting women's full participation in society, when you've been navigating between career and family your entire adult life.

I know that holding only 20% of the Senate won't end the nonsense about defunding Planned Parenthood. Yes, the House is full of nutjobs guaranteed re-election by gerrymandered districts. But we're finally getting to a point where women don't win because they're women, or in spite of the fact that they're women. They win because they run a better campaign. What else could a feminist ask for?

Today's $5 is for Emily's List, which works to elect progressive candidates who support issues relevant to women.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voter Moms

It's here! It's here! Election Day is finally here! Who else is maniacally trying to guess voter turnout by looking at photos of crowded polling places? Who else played the hard rock version of the Star Spangled Banner for the kids at breakfast? Who else is wondering what could possibly take the place of checking the PollTracker app fifty times a day?

Ladies, did this election season make you feel special? From the birth-control/Sandra Fluke episode, through the Personhood Amendments, right down to the Binders Full of Women, what a ride! I think these politicians may want our votes.

Might I make a modest request in return?

Can we please stop referring to all female voters as Moms?

I know, I am a mom. Yes, my kids actually play soccer. But we're not voting for president of the PTA, so please don't treat me as if my world is so provincial that I can only judge it through the window of my minivan.

I guess I should be grateful I'm not a "waitress mom," helpfully pigeonholed by the New York Times as "blue-collar white women who did not attend college." Although, "not all waitress moms are waitresses, of course, nor are they all mothers."

Well, as long as we have that one clear.

Okay, I understand talking about class and gender is kind of tricky. And no one would argue there isn't a huge gender gap in voting patterns. But the only group of men that is consistently referred to by their parenting status is "hipster dads." And that's not really meant in a nice way, either.

It's offensive to be treated as if women's lives revolve around reproduction and childcare. Wasn't the whole point of fighting for contraception and the ERA to make women full participants in society? No one pitches ads to my husband as if he'll vote for the guy who helps him get the kids fed before sports.

I suppose having stupid ads directed at us is better than no ads at all. But, still . . . Let's aim for a little better next cycle.

Today's $5 is for the League of Women Voters. I do love those ladies.

And DON'T FORGET, to do like the Lady Miss Kier says. (Google it if you aren't a child of the 90s.)






Monday, November 5, 2012

Just DON'T do it!

Sorry I haven't posted in a week. I've been busy checking the polls every 36 minutes. Come on, Tuesday!

Two things I have learned from obsessively hitting the refresh button this month:
  1. Republicans should never, ever talk about rape.
  2. Republicans cannot stop talking about rape.
And it might cost them control of the Senate.

First there was Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, telling us that, "If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down.”

Led Claire McCaskill by 11 points in August.

Ahead by 8 points today.
 

Then Indiana Senate hopful Richard Mourdock let us know that the Lord wants women to carry their rapists' babies, "I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen." He hastened to add that God wasn't causing the rape, just the pregnancy. Seems like Mourdock will have to content himself with being a theological savant, not a U.S. Senator.

Leading by 5 points in early October.
 
Now Donnelly is ahead by 3 points.
 
And I have high hopes that North Dakota senate candidate Rick Berg will be defeated, even in this deep red state. As a state Representative, Berg voted for a bill that would make abortion a felony punishable by life imprisonment. There was no exception in the law for cases where a woman became pregnant by rape or incest, or even if her life was jeopardized by the pregnancy. His opponent Heidi Heitkamp is hardly pro-choice, but at least she's not voting to send women to jail for exercising their legal right to abortion care.
 
Led by 9 points in July.
 
 
Running even today.
 
I am reminded of one of my lawschool professors who advised us to spill a glass of water if a judge asked a question we couldn't answer. Perhaps the leaky water bottle will become the hot new conservative accessory? Eighty-three percent of Americans favor legal abortions for women who have become pregnant as a result of rape. The Republican platform approved at their August convention opposes abortion without exception. Get ready to mop up a lot of spills.


Today's $15 (I haven't posted in a few days) goes to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, RAINN, which works to combat sexual violence. I've already indulged in my profanity-laced tirade against people who use women's bodies to score political points today - but you go right ahead. And then get ready to vote!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

PA Legislators send message to babies: Don't be born poor!

Pennsylvania's General Assembly brings the crazy this session! Wow.

A bipartisan group of State Representatives submitted House Bill 2719 to the Human Services Committee, presumably so they could serve newborn humans by punishing them for having parents who brought them into the world. Here are the relevant provisions.
  1. If you get pregnant while receiving TANF (f.k.a. welfare), your benefit does not go up.
    In determining the amount of assistance payments to a recipient family of benefits under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program, the department shall revise the schedule of benefits to be paid to the recipient family by eliminating the increment in benefits under the program for which that family would otherwise be eligible as a result of the birth of a child conceived during the period in which the family is eligible for benefits under the TANF Program . . .
  2. Lest you think these legislators have no heart, they have included an exception for mothers who conceive as a result of rape. But Ladies, you better bring a copy of the police report!
     Elimination of benefits under subsection (d) shall not apply to any child conceived as a result of rape or incest if the department: (1) receives a non-notarized, signed statement from the pregnant woman stating that she was a victim of rape or incest, as the case may be, and that she reported the crime, including the identity of the offender, if known, to a law enforcement agency having the requisite jurisdiction.
  3. Even if you are a child who has become pregnant as the result of incest, you still better bring papers. Yes, even if you are below the legal age of consent.
    In the case of incest where a pregnant minor is the victim, to the county child protective service agency and stating the name of the law enforcement agency or child protective service agency to which the report was made and the date such report was made.
Okay, PA. We get it. You really don't want to pay for poor women to have more children. But can we stop all the Reagan-era hyperventilation about "welfare queens" for five minutes and discuss the actual facts?

Welfare benefits that could support/"trap" a family in poverty disappeared when Bill Clinton was president, replaced by Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) which has a lifetime limit of five years and a work requirement of 30 hours per week.

The average benefit in Pennsylvania is $403 per month for a family of three, hardly enough to keep a family clothed and sheltered, even if they also receive food stamps.

Only 17% of Pennsylvania families with incomes below the poverty line actually receive any cash benefit under this program.

To be eligible for TANF in Pennsylvania, the total value of your assets other than your house must be less than $1,000.

I am so bloody tired of hearing about the "Culture of Dependence."  The American oil industry receives $7 billion in tax breaks per year. And we're teaching a new mother a lesson by withholding $50 from her newborn?

WTF?

Today's $5 goes to Pathways, PA, a charity that works with disadvantaged women and families to help them stay together and move toward self-sufficiency.

     
     
     
     

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Arizona and Indiana strive, but can't compete with Texas in the War on Women

Not that they aren't trying. They really do give it their all.

Forgive me for laying this out like I'm explaining it to my 8-year old - I just read the comments sections of the news articles on this story. Getting a headache from all the ignorance.

Medicaid is a federal program to subsidize healthcare for needy citizens in partnership with the states. The states take the money subject to federal regulations. One of these rules provides that,
Any individual eligible for medical assistance (including drugs) may obtain such assistance from any institution, agency, community pharmacy, or person, qualified to perform the service or services required . . . 42 U.S.C. § 1396a(a)(23)
Hmmm, sounds like Planned Parenthood, right? Because Planned Parenthood is qualified to dispense birth control and perform Pap smears. Among Medicaid recipients alone, 9,300 Hoosiers and 3,000 Arizonans received services at PP in 2010.

How are those Arizona and Indiana legislators going to show that they hate women abortions more than the next guy? How about passing a law that is totally unconstitutional? Yes, of course it will be overturned on appeal. But at least those heathen abortionists will have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to attack it.

Thus, these states have each enacted laws barring Medicaid reimbursements to any healthcare provider that performs abortions or is affilliated with an abortion care provider. This week, two separate federal appeals courts ruled that this was an illegal restriction, upholding the temporary stay that had been granted when the laws were enacted. Because providing abortions does not magically make a doctor unqualified to provide a breast exam.

(Dis)honorable mention for Oklahoma, who, "withdrew federal funding to three Planned Parenthood clinics in Tulsa that for 18 years has allowed them to provide food and nutritional counseling to low-income mothers." Nothing says respect for the sanctity of life like letting poor kids go hungry!

Texas, however . . . Wow! Those people are stone, cold crazy. They already said no, thanks to the federal Medicaid dollars, since taking the money would have forced them to reimburse Planned Parenthood. And if the fifth Circuit Court of Appeals forces them to include PP in the Texas Womens Health Care Program, they will shut the whole program down.

Arizona and Indiana may force providers into court to defend their rights. But Texas  will cut 115,000 women off from services altogether, rather than reimburse Planned Parenthood. That is an impressive level of hatred. Texas is king of the ladyhaters, no contest!

Today's $5 goes to Planned Parenthood, USA. I only wish they could afford to spend all of it on healthcare, not litigation.




Saturday, October 20, 2012

Yours In Scouting

Writing this blog sometimes sends me down the rabbit hole into the wacky Wonderland of the interwebs. Because I loaded and unloaded 59 cases of cookies for my daughter's Girl Scout Troop yesterday (ouch!), I googled "conservative case against girl scouts." There are some CRAZY people out there!

I'm not linking to them - it's just too stupid. I'll summarize their arguments for you.
  1. Teenagers should never be given any information on their dirty, dirty bodies. Sexuality is BAD. In a few instances, some older Scouts have been given information from Planned Parenthood which did not convey disapproval of premarital sex. Eeeeeek!!!!
  2. Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) has been taken over by "radical feminists" who promote gay rights, Title IX, access to contraception and safe abortion, universal healthcare, and the Equal Rights Amendment. (Oh, where are my smelling salts!)
  3. Girl Scouts USA is associated with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), which is associated with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). IPPF actually provides teenagers with honest information about sex. So ... GSUSA is pro-masturbation and abortion?
  4. WAGGGS has partnered with the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) to advocate on issues such as domestic violence and reproductive health. GSUSA is friends with WAGGGS, who is friends with YWCA. Oh, where does it stop?
  5. GSUSA has Michelle Obama as its Honorary President. (As was Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan . . .) Michelle Obama is "radically pro-abortion," a condition which is transmissible through Thin Mints.
I would be totally thrilled if my daughter could earn a Reproductive Health Badge as a teenager. How awesome would that be if she could get a patch for understanding how to take care of herself as a growing woman? But I'm happy enough that my little Brownie is learning to set goals, think independently, and advocate for herself as the equal of any boy. Which is, at bottom, the real case against Girl Scouts.

All the bullshit opposition boils down to one thing: if you actually acknowledge girls' ability and rights to make their own choices, well, they just might do it. And then, where would we be?!?! I can't wait to find out. Today's $5 is for the Girl Scouts. Thanks for believing in my kid.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

"If" you're going to have women in the workforce?

Remember when Barbara Bush went to visit Katrina refugees in Houston and said, "So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway. So, this, this is working very well for them." And we all thought, "Hmmmm. Maybe it's time to stop putting Grandma on a live mike without a script." Because she had no idea how racist and dismissive her comment sounded.

I was reminded of that during the debate on Tuesday when Romney said,
I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.
Forget about the "binders of women" for a minute. Can we just unpack this quote?

Bully for you, Governor, that you hired a female chief of staff. But was she the only person in the office with school-aged kids living at home? Seems unlikely. Seems like the underlying assumptions of this statement are:
  1. Women in the workforce is a more recent invention than the iPhone.
  2. Women bear sole responsibility for childcare.
  3. Men with small children require no accommodations for family time, because this is just not their department.
  4. Being female is an impairment to working which will require employers to make accommodations, as they do for persons with disabilities.
  5. These accommodations for family time are a gift from employers to employees, not something which should be enshrined as a legal right.
Gee, thanks.

Does he think he invented flex-time? Atlantic's piece by Anne-Marie Slaughter, Why Women Still Can't Have It All was the most clicked on story they've ever run. Work-life balance - it's even bigger than yoga, Mitt!

Does it even have to be said that men and women both bear responsibility for raising kids? That women will never reach professional parity if they are treated like oddballs who can't really pull their weight? That this attitude also stigmatizes men who want to take an active role in their children's lives?

Sadly, yes. Today's $5 is for the National Partnership for Women and Families.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Actually, I can handle the truth

No normal, decent person is one thing, okay? I've got some shit I'm conservative about, I've got some shit I'm liberal about. Crime, I'm conservative. Prostitution, I'm liberal!
--------- Chris Rock

This is exactly how I felt today reading a couple of articles in the New York Times.

The first reports a study from the Journal Pediatrics which demonstrates that vaccinating your daughter against HPV is not a short-cut to the land of clear heels and tramp-stamps.
Looking at a sample of nearly 1,400 girls, researchers found no evidence that those who were vaccinated beginning around age 11 went on to engage in more sexual activity than girls who were not vaccinated. 
I know some parents worry that, absent the threat of cervical cancer, girls won't keep their knees together. I guess these are the parents who tell their teenagers to drive without seatbelts, so they'll be extra careful and not make any mistakes behind the wheel. But my son wears a helmet to football, and I'll be getting the HPV vaccine for my kids.

So far, so liberal.

Then I read an article about hospitals ditching the formula samples they've given out forever in maternity wards, and I'm starting to feel a little like Ron Paul. Even though I was a walking cafeteria for years. Even though I know that breast milk is better for kids. Even though the smell of formula makes me nauseous. Even though I know that Enfamil just wanted to get me and my babies hooked on that easy meal before my milk came in.

Because breastfeeding is so damn hard. Because your baby will be just fine with formula. Because most mothers have to go back to work around the time that nursing becomes easy. Because it took three days for my milk to come in, by which time my first baby was starving. Because babies with jaundice often need supplementing with formula.

But most of all, because locking up the formula is like putting the cookies on a high shelf. Don't treat women giving birth like children. Mothers who bottle-feed aren't stupid or uninformed. They've made a perfectly legitimate decision and shouldn't be subjected to a walk of shame to get food for their babies. It's bad enough that Marisa Mayer is taking conference calls from the delivery room. Can we stop making new mothers feel like a failure before they even leave the hospital?

Oh, noes! Am I a libertarian?

Nah, I'm still a big government liberal. Never fear.

Today's $5 goes to the American Social Health Association. Because we're big girls, and we can handle the truth.
 

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Ladyparts Vote

Funny Somewhat Topical Ecard: Vote like your lady parts depend on it.

Have you seen this one?

It appeared briefly on the Obama campaign's Tumblr feed, but was removed within a few hours. Cue the conservative outrage that women are being reduced to voting vaginas. Which is rich, coming from groups trying to legislate what we ladies do with our nethers.

Last week, Romney told the editors of the Des Moines Register that, "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda." This means exactly nothing - I'm assuming the Governor is aware that the legislative branch has primary responsibility for drafting legislation.

Yes, he does claim to be contemplating some very specific abortion legislation.
I’ve said time and again that I’m a pro-life candidate and I’ll be a pro-life president. The actions I’ll take immediately is [sic] to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget. And also I’ve indicated that I will reverse the Mexico City position of the president. I will reinstate the Mexico City policy which keeps us from using foreign aid for abortions overseas.
And watching Reince Priebus trying to defend this to CNN's Soledad O'Brien is pretty funny.
But let's say that the difference between joking and lying is whether anyone believes you. Who believes that a President Romney would not pursue an anti-choice agenda? Such a kidder, that guy!

I don't think he's kidding about his intent to de-fund Planned Parenthood, though. Or his plan to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, aka Mexico City Policy, which bars funding for any overseas NGO that even mentions, much less performs abortion.

Anti-choice activists want to stop payments for gynecological or family planning care to Planned Parenthood and other women's healthcare non-profits because they believe that any money from the government frees up more private funding for abortion services. I do understand the fungibility argument. If my mom pays for my kid's art class, it's really a gift to me, since it frees up the tuition money for something else.

(Just like any support we give to Pakistan/Saudi Arabia/Egypt/Uganda allows their government to spend more money on schools that exclude girls and radicalize boys. Of course, no one is contemplating cutting foreign aid - only women's health is treated like a simplistic moral issue where no real world harm will come from taking a radical position.)

I guess it's just a question of priorities. If I pay for the art class myself, my family will still eat. If Planned Parenthood closes, and there's no replacement provider for pap smears, American women will die of cervical cancer. If the US government stands on principal and refuses to fund a program which provdes abortions, more women will go without birth control and give birth to children they cannot take care of.

Let's talk numbers. US International Family Planning Assistance is $610 million this year. According to the Guttmacher Institute, for every $10 million we cut:
  • 520,000 fewer women and couples would receive contraceptive services and supplies;
  • 150,000 more unintended pregnancies, including 70,000 more unplanned births, would occur;
  • 70,000 more abortions would take place (of which 50,000 would be unsafe);
  • 400 more maternal deaths would occur;
  • 50,000 more DALYs [healthy years of life] would be lost; and
  • 2,000 more children would lose their mothers.
Which all seems kind of bad, no? But those anti-choice politicians will certainly have made their point! Even if the numbers of abortions actually rise.

I will be voting like my lady parts depend on this election. Because they do. And I'll be sending today's $5 to Population Action International, which funds development programs based on positive outcomes, not politics and ideology.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

International Day of The Girl

Happy International Day of the Girl!

I love living in Maryland. Try not to be jealous that your governor isn't cool enough to sign this proclamation.

Recognition by the United Nations and the State of Maryland of International Day of the Girl is the culmination of efforts by the group School Girls Unite. SGU was founded in 2004 by a group of middle school girls in America who came to understand how fortunate they were compared to most girls their age in the developing world. The girls worked hard to fight against the lack of educational access and child marriage in the developing world, and particularly in Mali. As part of their campaign to raise money and awareness, they lobbied the UN to establish this, the first International Day of the Girl to promote
that empowerment of and investment in girls, which are critical for economic growth, the achievement of all Millennium Development Goals,including the eradication of poverty and extreme poverty, as well as the meaningful participation of girls in decisions that affect them, are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights, and recognizing also that empowering girls requires their active participation in decision-making processes and the activesupport and engagement of their parents, legal guardians, families and care providers, as well as boys and men and the wider community...

Their families must be so proud of them! Today's $5 is goes to School Girls Unite. I hope my daughter grows up to be as strong an advocate as these girls.