Friday, August 31, 2007
1. Have y'all been following the "grey rape" discussion? I've tried to avoid really engaging because I don't think some things really warrant a discussion (i.e. the question of whether or not someone was raped if she was passed out and woke up to find a man having sex with, umm, raping, her). But I do want to throw out a brief position stolen from a button I got my freshman year of college: "If she says no, it's rape." And, oh yeah, if she's passed out, it's also rape.
2. Larry Craig's 15 minutes have lasted 15 minutes too long.
3. Unrelated to all our relevant issues, but how tragic is that many of the dogs that Michael Vick tortured and turned into monsters will likely now have to be put down because many are unrehabilitatable (word?)?
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Vision 20/20: is a website that mostly sells you GPS tools to track your children's movements (you can set an alarm to call you when your child roams "out of bounds" or outside the neighborhood):
daughter was on her way to the beach after hours.”
So, pretty creepy to begin with, sure, but their new free service takes it just one step further. A tool to map where people who have been convicted of sexual assault live. Then, once you do a search, you can call up individual mug shot/criminal record/address. I understand that all of this information is, in fact, public, but making criminal records immediately available and having your criminal record follow you for the rest of your life seems extreme to me. I understand the thinking behind it (protect your kids by scanning your neighbors for criminal records), and I don't support sexual assault, but it seems like we lose something important in a society where every past action becomes visible. And these things always start with the crimes related to sex (scarlet letter to now), because we're quicker to judge. Maybe I should start looking for some google map mash up of white collar crime?
I guess it boils down to: Which do I find more disturbing--the fact that this tool exists, or the fact the I tried it and was a little wowed by the beauty and sophistication of their maps?
Thanks for freaking me out, techcrunch. http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/08/25/sex-offenders-in-your-neighborhood/
1. Must we get our jollies by making fun of a teenage girl who really has done nothing wrong (i.e. cruel, immoral, illegal) except apparently be less educated (or articulate) than the "rest of us?"
2. Why are we surprised that a girl who has been clearly valued largely for her appearance may not have been encouraged to excel academically?
3. Why do we, in 2007, still live in a society where (some? many? most? all?) women are valued largely for their appearance and then tormented for living up to that imperative?
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
But something wonderful happened recently that makes me think that there is hope for our constitutional guarantees in my birthplace.
A three-judge panel of the 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals on Friday unanimously ruled that a Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region clinic does not have to provide all records of abortions given to women under 18 to lawyers of a family who is suing the clinic.
Seeing courts uphold the right to privacy, especially in places like Cincinnati, Ohio, give me reason to believe that we will prevail in our long struggle to uphold a woman's right to self-determination.
As Becki Brenner, president and CEO for PPSOR, said, "This [ruling] is a victory for patients and their right to medical privacy" (AP/Cincinnati Post, 8/24).
And it is, big time!
For more on this story, go here...
Monday, August 27, 2007
Yes, there is a phenomenon called "bystander syndrome" or the bystander effect where someone is less likely to help out in an emergency situation when other people are present. Presumably because everyone thinks that someone else is going to help. (An infamous examples isthe 1964 Genovese case where a woman named Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death in 1964 by a serial rapist and murderer on the streets of Queens.)
I dunno -- admittedly never having been in that situation, I can't say for certain that I wouldn't fall prey to the syndrome, but I still have a hard time believing that anyone could witness a woman being raped without at MINIMUM calling 911. Maybe next time, since tragically there will no doubt be a next time, everyone should assume that nobody is calling for help and therefore be the one to do it.
Imagine that poor woman just waiting for help that didn't come. I can't get it out of my head. Neither should the people who let her wait.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Interestingly enough, one of the two clinics does not even provide surgical abortions (or any other surgeries for that matter.) But the state is taking the position that the medication abortion that the clinic does provides somehow triggers the surgi-center licensing requirement.
The other clinic, in Columbia, Missouri, has been providing first trimester "surgical" abortions for many years. And, while the regulations for surgi-center licensing provides modified requirements for existing facilities -- requirements that the Columbia Center could meet -- Missouri is insisting that those "grandfathering" provisions are not available here, and that both clinics must comply with the specific and elaborate requirements applicable to new facilities.
As the PPKM CEO Peter Brownlie said “Forcing Planned Parenthood clinics in Columbia and Kansas City to close would not stop women in Missouri from getting abortions...Women would travel farther and spend more money at greater risk to their health to get abortions."
He adds that the the new law "should be declared unconstitutional because it is unreasonable, burdensome and discriminates against abortion providers."
I would agree and add that it also puts an undue burden on the women seeking an abortion who would face much greater obstacles in accessing care if the centers were forced to close due to an onerous, illogical and biased law.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Umm. Ok. I guess.
But the part that I find troubling is that the site sets up the relationships in power dynamics that appear frighteningly exploitable, explaining that a domestic discipline marriage is one in which one partner in the marriage is given authority over the other and has the means to back the authority, usually by spanking. But it's not one partner as in, umm, either partner.
It's partner as in the husband: "A Christian Domestic Discipline marriage is one that is set up according to Biblical standards; that is, the husband is the authority in the household. The wife is submissive to her husband as is fit in the Lord and her husband loves her as himself... It is the husband loving the wife enough to guide and teach her, and the wife loving the husband enough to follow his leadership."
In case any of this remained unclear, the non-debatable rules are succintly repeated: "The wife is to submit to her husband, and the husband is to love the wife... the husband has authority to spank the wife. The wife does not have authority to spank her husband."
Well, call me crazy, but while entering into the agreement may (may) be consensual, it doesn't sound all that easy to extricate oneself if one ultimately decides that subservience and discipline isn't quite what she fancies after all. I wonder if my concern is borne out by some of the womens' blogs, which include commentary about needing/deserving a spanking, trusting one's husband to know when they've been disobedient (and therefore need a spanking), listing household rules they may not break as well as general self-esteem issues pre-dating the relationship.
Again, what goes on in the privacy of a consensual bedroom is none of mine or anyone else's business, but... this just doesn't sound like consent to me. (Especially since the site also includes a disclaimer saying that: "Though we believe the Bible gives a husband the authority to use spanking as one tool in enforcing his authority in the home with or without his wife's permission, in today's world we recognize the legality that mandates that all CDD must be consensual....")
But, I dunno, maybe I'm just not the submissive type.
And thanks to Cara over at The Curvature for blogging about the absolutely horrific rape and assault of a woman and her 12 year old son in the Dunbar Village housing project in West Palm Beach, Florida last month. Both the woman and her 12-year-old son were attacked and beaten. The woman was repeatedly raped and sodomized by up to 10 men. At gun point, she was forced to perform oral sex on her son. Then both were doused in household cleaners. The attack lasted for 3 hours, and nobody came to their aid during or after.
I had not previously seen media coverage of this, seems there hasn't been much. MSNBC did write about the crime, including the neighbors' tragic "this is what it's like here" response.
For more, click here or here.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I know that the modeling industry imposes arbitrary (and impossible) standards of beauty upon women and upon the models themselves. And in a climate of rampant eating disorders and financing for plastic surgery, it can be refreshing to see moves that ideally would encourage healthier eating, such as the one by Spain officials to ban models with a body-mass index of under 18 from the city's Fashion Week. And it's next to impossible to support the rampant sexualization of young girls. And we all know that the models's pictures are retouched, sometimes heavily, making the impossible standard of beauty even MORE impossible.
The list goes on and on. So why did I watch three hours of America's Next Top Model last night? Maybe because it was raining. Maybe because there's still something appealing and, dare I say, rewarding about watching young women gain an opportunity they otherwise wouldn't have received -- it is, after all, their lives and while I have issues with the industry per se, who am I to judge what other women want for themeselves?
And finally, I can't help but admire host Tyra Banks who, in addition to motivating the young women by encouraging them to be self-confident and believe in themselves, has herself challenged the standards imposed by the industry by refusing to be adhere to them! She gained some weight, she wore a bikini anyway, she was photographed galore and, in that moment, she actually inspired women to embrace themselves for who they are. Tough thing to do her line of work -- in any line of work, really -- but if she helps young women make a career, trust in themselves and maybe challenge external standards, that sounds like something darn close to feminism to me.
What do you all think?
Monday, August 20, 2007
I don't, however, think this failure speaks to the death of women's radio as some right-wing rags have claimed or to a lack of women listeners. I think, rather, it suggests that the solution to increasing women's voices isn't to carve out a "room of one's own" -- comforting an idea as that may be -- but rather to demand and claim the stronger place we deserve in mass-market media.
Friday, August 17, 2007
The quiz author writes that :
“Vick's critics have been so unforgiving that a reporter in Pittsburgh went so far as to say that the player would have been "better off raping a woman." The reporter later apologized for his remarks but, based on people's vitriolic reactions, he may not have been so far off the mark.
It seems that Americans will tolerate certain things from their athletes—a sexual assault charge, stalking, the occasional domestic dispute—but they draw the line when it comes to their pooches. Does the public really value a pit bull over a woman? Radar has compiled a list of quotes to help you decide.”
The quotes included in the quiz generally support the author's thesis. Relatively forgiving quotes were directed at alleged rapists and abusers. After learning that the wife of alleged obsessive husband and Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Elijah Dukes had sought a restraining order, the team manager said "In visiting with him, I can see he's pretty much upset. I anticipated that, so I thought the wise thing to do would be to not start him tonight and more than likely play him tomorrow."
Meanwhile, vitriol was directed at the dog abuser -- Senator Robert Byrd took to the Senate floor in July and shook with fury as he denounced the fights as "barbaric" and "sadistic," and advocated death for its practitioners, saying that "I have seen one individual in my lifetime electrocuted in the electric chair. ... It is not a beautiful spectacle. So I can say I could witness another one if it involves this [business] ..."
Just, y’know, as examples.
While it’s obviously tricky to use handpicked quotes and reader votes as the be-all and end-all of social commentary, I do think it at minimum raises a point about still existing biases against women: her skirt was too short, she asked for it, why didn’t she leave (see Monday’s post).
Sadly and disturbingly, there are all sorts of excuses people use to justify why a woman was abused. It’s a lot harder to blame the victim when it’s a dog.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Step two: finding people who are "up in arms" over the ad. (That proved a bit harder to do as most people quoted seem pretty ok with the campaign, but hey.)
Step three: the repro rights and health groups, such as ourselves, support the ad because it helps raise awareness about growing restrictions on abortion rights.
And there you have it, your "controversy" du jour: The Catholic League is opposed to it, repro rights and health groups support it.
The upshot: thanks to the Catholic League, repro rights groups and -- of course, the AD the League so opposes -- are getting a ton of free publicity.
Couldn't have done a better job myself.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
May we suggest that all ire be directed not at the campaign -- which is true -- but at the Bush administration which is largely behind that shrinking right (if not necessarily the closet space)?
Elsewhere, our friends over at Jezebel share this juicy tidbit: "an unidentified Glamour editor shared 'Dos and Don'ts of Corporate Fashion' at a New York law firm via a slide show. First slide: an African American woman sporting an Afro. A real no-no, announced the 'Glamour' editor to the 40 or so lawyers in the room. As for dreadlocks: How truly dreadful! The style maven said it was 'shocking' that some people still think it 'appropriate' to wear those hairstyles at the office. 'No offense,' she sniffed, but those 'political' hairstyles really have to go."
Needless to say (or, at least, I hope needless to say), seems a managing partner sent out an email afterward pointing out "the stupidty of the Glamour editor..."
On a lighter note, does anyone want to share thoughts on Showtime's Monday premieres? Weeds and Californication?
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The analysis, which was published in the The British Medical Journal, covered 13 studies involving more than 15,000 young Americans and covered mostly school based programs for kids in grades five through eight. Compared to control programs, says the Times, abstinence-only programs had no significant effect in either decreasing or increasing sexual risk behavior (the studies also found that none of the programs made any significant difference in preventing pregnancy, reducing unprotected sex, or delaying sexual initiation).
Hmm. What should we do next? I know -- MORE money to abstinence only because clearly the problem was not enough funding for the programs!
Also, I'm going to verbatim quote Will Saletan from Slate because, well, you'll see why:
"Another Egyptian girl has died from female genital mutilation. This is the second death in three months. Six years ago, according to a survey, nearly every Egyptian woman of childbearing age had been subjected to the procedure. The usual lethal risks are hemhorraging, infection, and childbirth complications—did we mention the mutilation? This time the cause of death was apparently related to anasthesia. It's been nine years since the government officially banned the practice and two months since it issued a similar decree, but apparently it's not doing the job. Legislation is in the works to stiffen the penalties."
To help stop female genital mutilation, click here!
Monday, August 13, 2007
- Tumi MCCallum, strangled in Manhattan. The suspect: her boyfriend.
- Yvonne Rivera, shot dead in Staten Island. The suspect: her estranged boyfriend.
- Brenda Jones, a former domestic violence counselor, found dead in
her Brooklyn home. The suspect: her husband.
- Guiatree Hardat, shot dead in Queens by her police officer boyfriend.
- Claudette Marcellus, and her son Brian, knifed on a Brooklyn street. The suspect: her boyfriend, despite an existing order of protection against him.
That’s (at least) five women in the last three months murdered by their boyfriend or husband. I don’t know if this is statistically high or statistically low, but I do know that it’s five women too many. Andrea Peyser, in today’s NY Post, essentially slams the women for staying with the men. I suggest that we should be slamming the men for killing the women.
People tend to ask “Why did she stay?” And while studies and interviews show that there are a host of reasons why women, once in an abusive relationship, stay in abusive relationships, the most cost compelling is that she is more likely to be killed if she leaves or tries to leaves.
I suggest that is the wrong question. The question we need to ask -- and answer -- is why did he ever think it was ok to be violent?
If you are in a violent relationship, you are not alone. Organizations, such as Safe Horizon, can help you. For more information, click here or call 1-800-621-HOPE.
Friday, August 10, 2007
Including: Is abortion killing and, if so, what does that mean? Don't father's have rights? Does increase access to birth control really reduce abortions or does it actually increase them? If Roe falls, are states truly protected or can/will Congress simply outlaw it across the board?
I do think a large take-away that really underscores the movement's progress that repro health thought leaders have abandoned the "clump of cells"' argument and have adopted a more emotionally resonant way of talking about abortion that really takes into consideration the most important piece of the puzzle: the woman having the abortion.
To read the papers and learn more about the speakers click here.
I'd love thoughts and comments!
Thursday, August 9, 2007
I love steak (med rare, please) so this is a train I would easily board. However. At the end of the day, it seems the article suggests that, regardless of what women order, they are doing it with the end-goal of not, say, enjoying their meal but for presenting a particular posture to their male date.
Is it so much to ask that women (and men!) be able to do as the headline almost exhorts and be themselves?
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
I'm going to skip right over the debate on the ethics and legality of self-induced abortion and disposal of, umm, fetal remains and go straight on over to two other -- I would argue -- key issues.
First. Abortion is (still) safe and legal in this country. Anyone who is faced with an unwanted pregnancy and considering drastic steps should know this. In fact, everyone should know it in general.
Of course, there are legal date cut-offs to the procedure and we know that for reasons that may include depression, denial, irregular menstrual cycles, mental illness and weight issues, some women may not realize until relatively late in a pregnancy that they are, in fact, pregnant. That said, even if I can understand how a woman might somehow not know she was pregnant until the end of her second trimester the first time, how did that situation occur twice more? I would suggest that it might stand to reason that she'd pay more attention the next time her period was very late. (Also, it's useful to know that most states have "Save Haven" laws where a woman can safely and legally leave her infant, no questions asked, with a staff member at a hospital, emergency medical service, police station, or fire station. For specific state info click here.)
Truly, the entire tragic situation could have been avoided, safely and legally. Instead, among other things, she watched her baby drown.
Second. How did people not know what was going on? Statement after statement from friends, neighbors, loved ones: we had no idea, she would never do this. Can someone be that good at hiding a huge issue in her life? I personally cannot wince from a menstrual cramp or experience a 3 pound weight fluctuation without all of my friends noticing. I guess I may have especially observant friends or I'm particularly open about my goings on or both, but still. Three pregnancies -- one of which was twins -- no babies and nobody notices a thing?
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Speaking of words, seems the NY City Council has a problem with them. Shortly after voting to "ban" the N-word, several members are now seeking to ban "bitch."
Now, you won't catch me defending (or using even for example's sake) the N-word in any circumstance. BUT I do own an adorable little girl puppy that breeders non-pejoratively refer to as a bitch. So in some cases a cigar is just a cigar. But, admittedly, in other cases it isn't and hopefully most people are intelligent, considerate and informed enough to use discretion in those other cases. And honestly, if someone is going to call someone a nasty name in the first place, a ban on said word is unlikely to stop them.
So, courtesy, maybe? How about that?
* My one exception to the free speech rule would apply to a certain NY Sun columnist whose last name rhymes with Poland minus the D. Oh, and Ann Coulter.
Monday, August 6, 2007
This admonition reminds us of Justice Kennedy's conclusion in Planned Parenthood v. Gonzales that "while we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptional to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained. Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow."
I'm sorry, but if there's no RELIABLE DATA to measure the phenomenon, how can he possibly conclude that it exists at all, let alone enough to make it into a SCOTUS decision? Sadly, laws and language such as this only make it more difficult for women to access a legal, safe medical procedure.
I don't seek to discount the very real sorrow of the woman who may come to later regret a decision that she did her best with at the time, but I hardly think it means that ALL (or even most) women feel the same way. At the end of the day, abortion is a very private, personal decision and politicians really have no place interfering it. Makes me long for that rallying cry: Keep your laws off my body.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Denver has proposed a ballot measure that would define a fertilized egg, either inside or outside the womb, as a person. In addition to, umm, complicating abortion rights, has anyone thought through the practical implications of such a move? Let's just say that a woman was pregnant with a wanted pregnancy and there was a fetal abnormality that could possibly be treated through surgery but would cause grave risk to the woman. Would she now be required to have that surgery, potentially against her will, in order to save the other... person? Regardless of how one feels about abortion, it is simply impossible to consider a developing fetus independently of the woman.
And the biggest irony of all? I'm not quite sure WOMEN are defined as people... ERA anyone?
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Two things spring to mind. First, as Broadsheet points out, it isn't possible to to perform a paternity test until 11-20 weeks in pregnancy. Which means that a woman would have to wait longer to have an abortion. Oh, and never mind that performing the test in the first place is an invasive procedure on the woman...
Second, bill sponsor Rep. John Adams justifies the bill by saying that "In most cases, when a child is born the father has financial responsibility for that child, so he should have a say."
So... does that mean Mr. Adams would allow the father force the woman TO have an abortion if he didn't want to support the child?
Update on the child healthcare legislation I mentioned yesterday: the House DID pass the expansion of SCHIP by a vote of 225 to 204 (a little too close if you ask me). So thumbs up for health insurance, thumbs down for 204 representatives.
Finally, can we all pause for a moment to be appalled by the story out of Florida re: the woman behind a $3 million adoption scam who shackled and abused 11 or 12 (unclear) children for YEARS? Among other things, the kids told police they were never allowed to attend school, see a doctor or a dentist and were fed little more than noodles, rice and beans. Often, they weren't allowed to use the bathroom and had to urinate or defecate on themselves. Their guardian was formally charged yesterday with 10 felony counts, including abuse of a disabled person and witness tampering. If convicted on all the charges, she faces a maximum of 160 years in jail.
Clearly they should throw away the key (umm, if she's guilty I mean), but you gotta wonder -- how did nobody else know what was going on?
Oh wait, someone did. Seems a complaint was filed -- and dismissed -- eight years ago.
Those poor kids.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
This one blows me away (and kinda makes me wanna vomit).
A group of state reps in Ohio are pushing a bill that would ban women from seeking an abortion without written consent from the potential father of the fetus. If his identity is unknown, women would be required to submit a list of possible fathers. The physician would be forced to conduct a paternity test from the provided list and then seek paternal permission to abort (question: what if he doesn't want to submit to a paternity test? Is he tied down and forced? Or is she forced to give birth? Lots of forcing in this bill...). Also, claiming to not know the father's identity is not a viable excuse, according to the proposed legislation. Simply put: no father means no abortion.As a matter of law, this is already against it. Planned Parenthood v. Casey said that SPOUSAL consent posed an undue burden on a woman's right to choose abortion; now the state is trying to allow a one night stand to overrule a woman's personal decision about whether or not to have a child?
Not surprisingly, this bill has been greeted with outrage. In addition to eliminating a woman's right to make this most personal of decisions, it is clearly designed to embarrass and penalize women who have more than one sexual partner.
Contact Rep. John Adams, the bill's sponsor, and tell him what he can do with this legislation by clicking here.
In more promising news, Congress today is debating The State Children's Health Insurance Program, a bill that would -- gasp -- actually provide health insurance for millions of low-income children and adults.
It's unconscionable that, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, millions of children and their parents still have no health insurance. Imagine for a second how terrified you'd be if you were unable to bring your feverish child to the doctor and then tell Congress why you care by clicking here.