Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Men, would you take birth control pills if they were available?

I ask because it sounds like scientists could be just a couple years away from making birth control pills for men a reality. Here's how they work, according to this article in the Telegraph: The pill "removes a vital protein in sperm that is required for a woman to conceive. So while sperm still get through to the uterus they are unable to fertilise an egg." Scientists think this pill will be 100 percent effective. 

And I have to say, this pill sound like a walk in the park compared to what many women taking BC go through. There are no hormones involved, there are no side effects (as of right now, anyway), and the pill only has to be taken either once a month or once every three months, depending on what dosage you take.

If this pill gets approved and works as advertised, this could be big news. If you're a man looking to avoid having children, what are your options right now? Condoms*, a vasectomy, or finding a woman who is taking birth control of some sort (pill, IUD, etc.), right? Or abstinence or pulling out, or, I suppose, the rhythm method? Some of these options are obviously good and fine, but some are not convenient or always possible or reliable. I think putting the possibility of preventing pregnancy into the hands of individual men and women would be a great thing, as it can help everyone with family planning.

So men, what do you think? Assuming this pill gets FDA approval in this country and all that jazz, would you consider it? Women, what are your thoughts on this pill? Would it help you in your lives and in your family planning? Any concerns, anyone? Do you think the worst of the anti-choicers would target this pill as they do today's birth control pills? (And is anyone else thinking about if this scientist could develop a side-effect-free-100-percent-effective-once-a-month-pill for women??)

This article has a few more scientific details on how this pill would work.

*Condoms, of course are so important in preventing STDs! Use them!

Monday, June 28, 2010

TV alert: ABC Family's "Huge" premieres tonight

A new show is premiering tonight at 9 p.m. EST on ABC Family, called "Huge." I haven't seen anything more than a one-minute promo for this show (below), and I don't know if it's going to be good, but I think it will be worth watching just for the premise and to see how it's handled. (Plus, one of the executive producers is Winnie Holzman, who wrote and was co-executive producer of "My So-Called Life," which is one of my most favorite TV shows ever in the history of TV. Also, every episode of that show is available on Hulu, and if you've never seen it go now and watch it. Forget the rest of this blog post. Seriously, go now, go.)

Here is the description of "Huge" from the show's site:
Funny, heartbreaking and provocative, Huge follows the lives of seven teens and the staff at a weight-loss camp, as they look beneath the surface to discover their true selves and the truth about each other.

In Huge, Nikki Blonsky will portray Willamina, a teen whose sardonic and rebellious nature make her a menace to some and revolutionary to others. Additional cast include Zander Eckhouse as George, Harvey Guillen as Alistair, Ari Stidham as Ian, Ashley Holliday as Chloe and Hayley Hasselhoff as Amber.

Huge, based on author Sasha Paley's book of the same name from Alloy Entertainment, is being developed by Winnie Holzman (Wicked, My So-Called Life, Once & Again) and daughter Savannah Dooley. Holzman will serve as executive producer as will Kim Rozenfeld (American High), while Dooley will serve as producer on the series. Alloy Entertainment’s Leslie Morgenstein and Bob Levy (Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries), will also serve as executive producers; Robin Schiff (Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion and ABC Family’s 10 Things I Hate About You) will serve as a consulting producer.
I'm very curious to see how the show handles body image and weight loss and (possibly?) eating disorders on top of the "regular" things about being young. I know the idea that they're at "fat camp" might seem like too much. Like, of course they're at fat camp, because every person who is deemed as overweight has to lose weight, because that's what society says, and the only way we can have plus-size people on TV is if they are shown to be working toward losing weight. I realize that could be problematic, but I have faith that the team making this show is going to get more right than they will wrong. Also, I have not read the book this is based on, has anyone else? Thoughts on it?

TV Guide has an interview with Holzman; I love these two answers from her:
TVGuide.com: How much did you base the characters on real-life experiences?
Holzman:
It couldn't be more personal. Just like My So-Called Life, people would say, "Is this personal?" and I would say, "Yeah," but it wasn't like that was me and that was my mother. It wasn't that literal, but there were emotions that I was very much drudging up and there were ways that those characters were personal to me and it's the same thing here. Weight has been an issue for me my entire life, and for Savannah in different ways. I don't think we're identical in the ways it's been an issue, but weight and body image and self-image have been — I don't think we're alone in this — a huge issue for both of us.

TVGuide.com: Were you nervous about doing a show featuring a predominantly overweight cast?
Holzman: For me, being a writer, you want to communicate with people, but if your goal is that every person is going to love what you do then you're always going to be disappointed. You don't need to be fat or have a weight issue to relate to it. It's just not like that because it's so much about the people and friendship and what it's like to get past the blocks we put up against intimacy. Fat and weight is just one element of that. It's about being an outsider and struggling to make some kind of peace with who you are, to figure out who you were. I try not to focus too much on who's going to find this interesting, we focus on what we find interesting. That's what I've always done.
For more on the show, check out these articles:
  • New York Times: "A Close-Knit Team on a Plus-Size Show."
  • CNN: "Nikky Blonsky: It doesn't matter that I'm plus-size" (by Jessica Wakeman)
  • Jess Weiner: "ABC Family’s “HUGE” May Look Extreme – But That Could Be A Good Thing!" (This is really great, do read it.)
And the promo:


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Suggested Sunday reading (6/27/10)

Just a quick reminder, you can submit links for this column via e-mail at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com, and you can catch up with Spare Candy on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr as well. Or! Leave a link in the comments! Self-promotion is perfectly acceptable here.

Big news in Australia this week: Julia Gillard was sworn in as the new prime minister on June 24, the first woman to hold that position. (Australians, how do you feel about this? Would love to hear from people in the country.) Read more here, here and here, and check out this list ABC News put together of the first woman leaders of countries who have had them. Wonder when the United States will make the list ...

In other news:
  • Hello Ladies: "Al Gore Accused of Sexual Assault." Great take on the reactions to this story.
  • The Lady Doth Protest Too Much: "On being the feminist who can't take a joke." Some good points in the comments, too.
  • Yes Means Yes: "'Ugly': The Last Refuge Of The Lazy," addressing how feminists get labeled as being ugly, looks-wise.
  • San Francisco Chronicle: "The rise of hugely insufferable women." There is a LOT I agree with in this column. And it's an interesting companion piece to:
  • New York Times: "Now, Dad Feels as Stressed as Mom." Interesting stuff toward the end about perceptions.
  • No Homonationalism: "Judith Butler refuses Berlin Pride Civil Courage Prize 2010." Good for her.
  • The Guardian: "Suits you, madam! The clothes designed for butch lesbians," about Shaz Riley, who just launched the Butch Clothing Company.
  • Jezebel: "South Africa's Lesbian Soccer Team Has World Cup Fever." Great story, minus the way lesbians are treated there.
  • Change.org: "Subsidized Menstrual Pads: Good for Girls, Bad for the Planet." Interesting story.
  • Ms. blog: "Iran’s New Repression Tactic: Make Husbands Inform on Activist Wives."
  • Global Post: "Men join fight against domestic violence."
  • Womenstake.org: "Health Reform Status Check: Our New Patient’s Bill of Rights."
  • New York Times: "Hockey Hall of Fame Set to Induct Its First Two Women." Very cool.
  • Towelroad: "Chicago Blackhawks to March Stanley Cup in Gay Pride Parade." Also very cool. (The parade is today, by the way.)
  • Pandagon: "I’ll feign surprise and call that an altercation," about language the media uses in domestic violence coverage. Good read.
  • Gender Across Borders: "Victory for Trans People in Ireland," on getting accurate birth certificates.
  • Feministe: "on language, and body, and fear." It's about exactly what the title says.
  • New York Times: "No, Sexual Violence Is Not 'Cultural,'" about the Congo. This raises some good points.
  • Broadsheet: "Soccer player slaps female reporter." Secondary headline: "And FIFA does nothing -- not that we're surprised, given its track record on anti-female behavior."
  • CNN: "Burned girl a symbol of Roma hate and hope." If you're not aware, Roma are often referred to as gypsies.
  • A Continuous Lean: "WWII-Era WAVES in Chambray." WAVES is Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, during World War II. The photos are fantastic.

Abortion/pregnancy:
  • BBC: "'More and more rules' on pregnancy," discussing how recommendations are often made with little evidence to back them up. Also check out The Curvature's post, "UK Health Group Wants to Test All Pregnant Women for Smoking."
  • Huffington Post: "Lawmakers Should Be at Least as Thoughtful About Abortion as Women Are." If only!
  • And speaking of, there's this story out of South Carolina: "Lawmakers say take 24 hours to think over an abortion."
  • Medical News Today: "Changes In Military Reproductive Health Policies Aim To Improve Access."
  • Ms. magazine: "Kentucky Supreme Court Rules Fetus Cannot Be Considered Separate Person." Good news from Kentucky, of all places.
  • Washington Post: "UK doctors: fetus can't feel pain before 24 weeks."
  • Claims Journal: "Louisiana Legislature: No Malpractice Coverage for Elective Abortions." Umm, what?

Film/pop culture
  • Nobody Passes, Darling: "Thoughts after a preview screening of 'We Were Here: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco' (a work-in-progress)."
  • ABC: "Nurse in iconic 'Times Square Kiss' photo dies."
  • Bitch: "Snarky's Cinemachine: Dede Allen, The Coolest Woman in Film You've Never Heard Of!" In case you haven't actually heard of her.
  • Roger Ebert raves about Tilda Swinton and her latest film, called "I Am Love."
  • Sci Fi Wire: "X-Men producer begs DC Comics: Let me do Wonder Woman." That producer would be Lauren Shuler Donner.
  • Jezebel: "The Easy A Script Gives Us A Glimpse Into The Life Of Olive Penderghast." This makes me really want to see this movie.

Friday, June 25, 2010

15 Things You Should Know About Caffeine

You may come across more graphics like these in the future here on Spare Candy. This one is highly relevant to my interests, as they say. (I might be drinking coffee at this very minute!) Also, if you click on the link under it, you should be taken to a bigger image.

15 Things Your Should Know about Caffeine
Via: Homeowners Insurance

In History: Sarah Winnemucca

This is the 31th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Sarah Winnemucca (1844–1891) was a member of the Paiute tribe born in what would later become the state of Nevada. She was the daughter of the Chief Winnemucca and granddaughter of Chief Truckee. Her Paiute name was Thocmetony (or Tocmetoni), which means “shellflower”; it is not known why or when she took the name Sarah. Having a great facility with languages, she served as an interpreter and negotiator between her people and the U.S. Army. In 1878 when the Bannock Indians revolted and were being pursued by the U.S. Army under General Oliver Howard’s command, Sarah volunteered for a dangerous mission. Locating her father’s band being forcibly held by the Bannocks, she secretly led them away to army protection in a three-day ride over 230 miles of rugged terrain with little food or rest.

As a spokesperson for her people, she gave over 300 speeches to win support for them, and she met with President Rutherford B. Hayes and Secretary of the Interior Carl Schurz in 1880. Her 1883 autobiography, Life among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims, was the first book written by a Native American woman. She started a school for Native Americans, where she taught children both in their native language and in English. She was married at least twice, first to Lieutenant Edward C. Bartlett and later to Lewis H. Hopkins. Sarah Winnemucca died in 1891. (via)
Read more about this amazing woman here or here, and you can read (most of?) the book "Sarah Winnemucca" by Sally Zanjani at Google Books. Also check out her statue in the National Statuary Hall Collection.

Image source

Thursday, June 24, 2010

These women are ANGRY! Angry, I say!

Actually, it's Church Hill (Tenn.) Police Chief Mark Johnson who is saying these women are "angry," a phrase the Associated Press is apparently all too happy to repeat and repeat again.

You see, a woman in a changing room discovered a peeping tom. She dropped something, bent down, and discovered an eye looking through a hole in the wall. And THEN -- brace yourselves -- women at the store got "ANGRY!" And! They DETAINED the guy at the store! Until the police showed up! Seriously, the AP version of this story is four paragraphs long. It has a whopping five sentences. And including the headline, it uses the phrase "angry women" three times. The headline:

'Angry women' detain accused changing room peeper

OF COURSE THEY ARE ANGRY. THEY JUST CAUGHT A PEEPING TOM. Yes, I know the police chief is quoted as saying the women were "angry." THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO KEEP REPEATING IT. Does the headline really lose its punch if it just says

Women detain accused changing room peeper

Really, it could even say "Customers detain accused changing room peeper." But no. Let's make sure everyone knows these are ANGRY WOMEN, by god. I mean, the nerve of them! To get angry! The headline on the story from the local newspaper where this incident occurred, the Kingsport Times-News, is slightly better only because it doesn't emphasize the angry women as much as the AP story. Their headline is "Peeping Tom suspect detained by 10 angry women at Church Hill thrift store." Again, could easily lose the "angry."

Anyway. Looks like this guy will charged with a couple misdemeanor crimes. If found guilty, he could spend some time in jail and/or pay a fine, but will not end up on a sex offenders list.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Getting out the word about Title IX and what it means

The National Women's Law Center has put out a new guide full of information about Title IX and what it means for education. The great part is it includes information past sports, which is what most people associated Title IX with. Check it out if you get a chance; here's a link to the PDF of the guide. Here's the release:
Women and girls have made great strides at all levels of education since Title IX, the landmark law that bans sex discrimination in education, was passed 38 years ago. But the fact is that sex discrimination in education still persists and many students, parents, and teachers may not realize that there are steps they can take to help students get equal opportunities in education.

That’s why the National Women’s Law Center is excited to announce the release of its new guide, It’s Your Education: How Title IX Protections Can Help You. This easy-to-use tool provides information to students at all levels of education about their rights under Title IX to ensure that male and female students receive the education they deserve. It’s Your Education lays out the key protections under Title IX and provides tips for students on what to do if they suspect that they are experiencing discrimination in school. 

Please pass this information on to a student, parent, or teacher in your life, because everyone deserves a fair chance to achieve their dreams.
Also! Today is the 38th anniversary of the passage of Title IX. Consider this: "Before Title IX’s passage, fewer than 300,000 high school girls played competitive sports. And now, over 3 million do." Read more about it at Womenstake.org.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Anti-choicers, just stop with the "taxpayer funded abortions" lies already

Recently a report was issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) about how much money the government had given, from 2002-2009, specifically to the following six groups: Advocates for Youth, the Guttmacher Institute, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Population Council, and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. The report was requested by a number of (Republican) politicians in Congress; to see the complete list of who, check page 12 of the actual report (PDF). I can't tell you for sure what those politicians were hoping to find with this report, but I can guess: Proof! Finally! Taxpayers' money pays for awful evil abortions!

Except, it doesn't. Because we have a law in the United States that says that no federal funds can be used to pay for abortion services. It's called the Hyde Amendment. It's been part of our legislation since 1976, and the only times federal funds (such as Medicaid) can be used to pay for abortion services are in cases of rape/incest or if the life of the mother is in danger. That's it. Federal employees, military personnel and their families, people who use Medicaid, federal prisoners, Indian Health Services clients and Peace Corps volunteers all have to pay for abortions out of their own pockets, because their health care is provided by the government.

And it is the same for the groups targeted with this report. They get money from the government, yes. According to the report, these groups received a total of about $1 billion from 2002-2009. But they cannot use that money to provide abortions, no matter how many times anti-choicers say they do, and no matter how many different ways they word it. Just look at some of the headlines on stories about this report:
And they go on and on, all saying essentially the same thing, all lying. (Speaking of headlines, funny how there isn't a single one from any established news organization on this story. I promise you that if the federal government spent $1B on abortions and the GAO confirmed that fact, every single news organization would be reporting it. But they aren't! Because that's not what happened!)

Take this article in the New American, with the headline "Over $1 Billion in Federal Funding to Pro-Abortion Groups Since 2002." Now, we can argue over whether these groups are "pro-abortion," but generally speaking, the headline seems accurate-ish. Then the story says:
A recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative and auditing arm of the U.S. Congress, has revealed that between 2002 and 2009 over $1 billion in federal funds were given to organizations that promote and perform abortions.
Well, some of the organizations perform abortions. I don't think any of them "promote" abortion. But, again, generally speaking, this is accurate-ish. The story goes on to say (emphasis mine):
While none of the money was apparently used to fund abortions, Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council pointed out that receiving federal money for other "family planning" projects allowed groups that perform abortions to use more of their private dollars for killing pre-born babies. "By funding Planned Parenthood and their allies, we are unwittingly supporting an abortion organization and everything they do," said Blackwell. "When taxpayer money goes to abortion groups for any reason, it supports the work of the abortion industry."
First of all, last I checked, unless you are lucky enough to have an insurance plan that covers abortion, you have to pay out of pocket for an abortion. And if you do have insurance that covers abortion, the insurance company is paying for the abortion. So I have no idea what "using more of their private dollars" for abortions means. It's not like Planned Parenthood is handing out free abortions (though anti-choicers seem to think that). Secondly, let's go over the "everything they do" part of this quote, pertaining just to Planned Parenthood. Here is the breakdown of the 10.9 million total services Planned Parenthood provided in 2007-2008, based on the organization's annual report (PDF):
  • Contraception: 36 percent
  • STD testing and treatment: 31 percent
  • Cancer screening and prevention: 17 percent
  • Other women's health services: 11 percent
  • Abortion services: 3 percent
  • Other health services: 2 percent
So, yeah, that is what "we" are supporting. I mean, how awful is that?! Accessible STD testing and treatment? Enough of that nonsense already! And cancer screening, shmancer shcreening. Completely unnecessary.

In a statement about the GAO report, Rep. John Boehner said "Nearly $660 million of this taxpayer funding has gone to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. This is an indefensible expenditure of taxpayer funds." I double-dog dare Rep. John Boehner to go to any of the Planned Parenthood facilities nearest his district. I dare him to go and talk to people who actually use Planned Parenthood services, and to find out what services they are there for and why. I will even save him some work and offer this link, where he can type in 45069, his hometown zip code, to find the 20 nearest clinics. But oehner, I will warn you of this: of those 20 clinics, only one actually offers abortion services. So if you want to rail against abortion, you're going to have to go to that one! That one, out of 20 clinics.

Also, let's say Planned Parenthood is the nation's largest abortion provider. Then consider this: In 2005, there were 1.21 million abortions were performed in the United States. That same year, Planned Parenthood performed 264,943 abortion. That sure is a LOT of abortions NOT being provided by Planned Parenthood! (See how fun facts are!)

I am somewhat digressing, so let me get back to the "taxpayers paying for abortions" nonsense. Last year, Rep. Mike Pence introduced an amendment to take away all Title X funding from Planned Parenthood. His proposed amendment says this (PDF):
AMENDMENT TO H.R. llll, AS REPORTED
(LABOR, HHS, EDUCATION APPROPRIATIONS)
OFFERED BY MR. PENCE OF INDIANA
At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert
the following:
1 SEC. 5ll. None of the funds made available under
2 this Act shall be available to Planned Parenthood for any
3 purpose under title X of the Public Health Services Act.
You can also read Pence's statement made on the House floor here. If passed, this would obviously hinder Planned Parenthood's funding, 34 percent of which comes from government grants (according to the 2007-2008 report mentioned above), though I don't know if all of that is from Title X funding. Pence has also introduced the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which presumably extends beyond Planned Parenthood. (Neither of these seem to be going anywhere at the moment, as far as I can tell.) He is calling for that to be passed in light of this GAO report. So I extend my double-dog dare to Pence, as well. Maybe he and Boehner can take a trip together? Because here's the thing: TAXPAYERS AREN'T FUNDING ABORTIONS. And! PEOPLE NEED THE SERVICES OFFERED AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD. Especially since politicians such as yourselves don't want people to have accessible health care!

One more note to consider about taxpayers' money: Did you know that during the entirety of Bush's presidency, $10.6 BILLION was given to faith-based organizations? Where is the GAO report on that money?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cornell University and clitoroplasty

I've been sitting on this story since I first heard about it last week, trying to figure out what it's all about and how one even writes about it. After reading multiple articles on the topic, this is the best I can figure: A doctor at Cornell University has been performing a procedure called clitoroplasty (specifically, "nerve sparing ventral clitoroplasty"), which involves removing part of the clitoris, on girls* and women* ages 4 months to 24 years. And then, to see how the procedure went, the doctor and his team tested the girls' and women's clitorises to find out if they could feel sensation. The tests involved a cotton-tip applicator and "vibratory sensory testing." On young girls, just so we're clear.

Those are the facts, so to speak. But this has raised a lot of questions: is this surgery is even necessary in the first place; will it even "work" in the long term; the impact of the surgery and resulting testing on the patient's well-being; how does such a study get approved; etc.

As best as I can tell, this procedure was performed on girls and women who have enlarged clitorises, or clitorises that are bigger than "normal," as determined by the doctor. I am no expert on this, of course, so I don't know how one determines that, say, a 4-month-old has a too-big clitoris. Here is what Alice Dreger and Ellen K. Feder say in their article at Bioethics Forum (I recommend reading the whole thing):
... With parental consent, these girls’ clitorises have been cut down in size after the physician deemed these clitorises too big.

For over a decade, many people (including us) have criticized this surgical practice. Critics in medicine, bioethics, and patient advocacy have questioned the surgery’s necessity, safety, and efficacy. We still know of no evidence that a large clitoris increases psychological risk (so is the surgery even necessary?), and we do know of substantial anecdotal evidence that it does not increase risk. Importantly, there also seems to be evidence that clitoroplasties performed in infancy do increase risk – of harm to physical and sexual functioning, as well as psychosocial harm.
And then there is this, from Feministing, which is so important:
While Dreger and Feder refer to Poppas' patients as female, I kept asking myself the question of whether he was "treating" non-intersex girls with larger clitorises, intersex children, or both? While the practice is abhorrent either way, what I ended up finding via Bird of Paradox is much worth noting: Alice Dreger has received severe criticism from the intersex community and trans community, most notably for seeking to replace the term, "intersex" with "disorders of sexual development" or DSD. (Which is obviously pathologizing and super problematic.)
So did Dreger intentionally not use the term, "intersex" in her report on Poppas although many, if not all, of these children may actually be intersex? Because this surgical procedure and others like it intending to "normalize" genitals is hardly new, and has been conducted for quite some time on intersex children.

While I would believe that there may also be girls who aren't intersex being treated by Poppas for simply having a larger clitoris, we have to make sure that we include all of the children being affected here who are at risk of physical and extreme psychological harm.
Yeah, I really don't know what to do with this. I mean, "first do no harm," what does that mean here? I can't imagine there is no harm. But, I figured the least I can do is pass it on and make people aware that this happened. If you can stomach more, read Dreger's follow-up article on Psychology Today, check out Dan Savage's article on The Stranger, and see a PDF of the study here. Also, Shakesville has an open discussion thread on the topic.

**I have referred to the patients as girls and women as the study itself has, but I cannot say with any certainty that those terms are correct. If anyone has more detailed information about that, please let me know.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Suggested Sunday reading (6/20/10)

Just a quick reminder, you can submit links for this column via e-mail at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com, and you can catch up with Spare Candy on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr as well. Or! Leave a link in the comments! Self-promotion is perfectly acceptable here.

  • From Austin to A&M: "It's summer. Time for the slut-shaming!" Yes, yes and YES to everything in this. And I'll warn you, if you read the editorial that this post is responding to, you will want to either throw your computer, bang your head against a wall, or both. It is that bad.
  • New York Times: "A Poor Nation, With a Health Plan." This is about Rwanda, which has a national health insurance program. Among its benefits: Women giving birth at medical facilities instead of at home.
  • Toronto Star: "G20 Girls, Brazil: Abortion fight for raped girl, 9." The Star has a series of articles about girls in all the G20 countries; you can find links to them on the left side of the page.
  • Ms. Blog: "Guess What Friday Is? Abortion Blackout Day!" Yep. Anti-choicers wore black this past Friday.
  • Fannie's Room: "Florida Gunman Targets Only Women, Media Fails to Ask Why." Great read here.
  • Helsinki Times: "Centre elects (Mari) Kiviniemi as party chair and Finland's prime minister." Now Finland's president and prime minister both are women. Their president is Tarja Halonen.
  • Gender Across Borders: "A Woman’s Worth is Measured by Her Cup Size: The Gender Policing of Delphine Ravisé-Giard." This is about a trans woman in France who has been told by the government she needs to have bigger breasts in order for her to be legally identified as a woman. Because that's what makes one a woman. Big breasts. Sigh.
  • New York Times: "Panel Recommends Approval of After-Sex Pill to Prevent Pregnancy." The drug in question works better than Plan B, and works up to five days after sex. Be prepared for anti-choicers' "this kills babies" propaganda.
  • Jezebel: "Louisiana Passes Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Requirement." The latest state to join in the compulsory ultrasound legislation craze. And no exceptions for rape/incest victims, of course. Also see this story about Michigan's law.
  • Native Appropriations: "But Why Can't I Wear a Hipster Headdress?" This blog post is from April, but I just happened to come across it recently and I think everyone should read it.
  • Slate: "Why Do Dads Lie on Surveys About Fatherhood?" Interesting article. I think this point is probably spot-on: "But this puts men at about where women were 30 years ago—new to the work-life-balance issue and unsure how to square all their identities."
  • Change.org: "The Recession Wiped Out Decades of Progress on Child Poverty." Not good news, at all.
  • New York magazine: "The Housewife’s Moment of Truth." The magazine's article from 1971 previewing Ms. magazine. Definitely worth a read.
  • PopcornBiz: "'Criminal Minds' Cutting Loose Female Cast Members. Isn’t That Kinda Wrong?" An ongoing problem in TV and movies.
  • CommonDreams.org: "Gender Apartheid Online." All about how women's news is othered by the press, both print and online. Excellent article.
  • FWD/Forward: "Open Post: Helen Keller Mythbusting Blogswarm Day!" Please do read the comments, an important point was raised that deserves attention. It was also addressed at Womanist Musings in the post "Why I AM Not Celebrating Helen Keller Mythbusting Blogswarm Day!" Feministe also has more about Helen Keller.
  • The Oklahoman: "First black woman elected to Oklahoma House dies." Hannah Atkins was 86 years old.
  • BBC News: "Male menopause is 'rare' but it is not a myth." I had not heard of this before. Interesting.

Friday, June 18, 2010

In History: Mary Eliza Mahoney

This is the 30th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first black woman to be a professional nurse in the United States. (If you're curious, Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler, who I wrote about last week, was the first black woman to be a doctor.) Mahoney graduated in 1879; there were black women before her who were nurses (such as Crumpler!), but professional training was not required to be a nurse.

Mahoney co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses in 1908, and she was one of the first black members of the American Nursing Association. Before her formal training, she worked at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. After, she was a private care nurse and served as director of the Howard Orphan Asylum for black children in Long Island, N.Y.

Mahoney was a staunch supporter and advocate for women’s rights, equality, and the right to vote. In 1920, she was among the first women in Boston to register to vote. In 1926, she died at age 80. After her death she received many honors. The NACGN established the Mary Mahoney Award in 1936. The NACGN merged with the American Nurses Association in 1951, and the award was continued. The award is still bestowed biennially by the ANA in recognition of significant contributions in advancing equal opportunities in nursing for members of minority groups. In 1976, Mahoney was inducted into the ANA's Hall of Fame, and in 1993, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Congress passed a resolution honoring her in 2006.

Read more about Mahoney at BlackPast.org.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Say it with me: Rape is not sex

This happens time and time again: the words "rape" and "sex" used interchangeably. Offenders include every kind of media, every kind of blogger, every kind of person. The latest comes from Inforum, a news site in North Dakota, in the story "Fargo man receives 18-year sentence in rape case" (emphasis mine):
FARGO -A 38-year-old convicted of rape in a jury trial in Cass County District Court in February was sentenced Monday to 18 years in prison.

Tate Pederson of Fargo was found guilty of sexual assault and gross sexual imposition in the five-day trial. He had sex with the victim, who was between the ages of 13 years old and 15 years old, on a regular basis for two years, court records say.
No, he did not have sex on a regular basis for two years. He raped for two years. See how the headline says "rape case" and the lead of the story says "convicted of rape"? According to North Dakota law, it is a crime for an adult to have sex with a person under the age of 15. They do not refer to it in legal terms as rape; there, the legal charge is gross sexual imposition. Either way, it is not sex. (This is a common theme with this story, by the way.) Really, at the least, stories like this need to explain the issue of consent. In this particular case, the victim could not legally consent to having sex. It might be assumed that readers would know that, but explanation never hurts.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hey Baby, come play this video game

Recently, a new first-person shooter video game was released called Hey Baby, The game, developed by Suyin Looui, can be played for free at the site, or you can buy a version to play. You can see a trailer for the game here. The game's description, from the site:
Ever had one of those seemingly endless days? All you want to do is to get home... You're the last one out of the office. Its getting dark outside...

You walk down the streets and realize the streetlights are burnt out. There's no one around. You hear a footstep behind you. The light flickers. You turn and he says, "I wanna lick you all over....."

And then you remember, you’re packing a 3' long .80 caliber machine gun that’s locked and loaded.

Ladies, are you sick and tired of catcalling, hollering, obnoxious one-liners and creepy street encounters? Tired of changing your route home to avoid uncomfortable situations?

IT'S PAYBACK TIME, BOYS.....
Essentially, the main character (a woman) can shoot men who harass her on the street. The comments from the men in the game range from the seemingly innocent comments on looks to threats of sexual violence.

The reactions to the game have been all across the board. There's the typical "feminists and their 'reverse sexism' suck" reaction (note how this person never once addresses street harassment) and there is the (understandable) "I'm not so sure about this" reaction.

But. There are also people who get it. And there are men who get it. And they are writing about it, trying to help others understand. That makes me happy, because this game isn't about making any one man feel bad about having told a woman walking down the street that she's pretty. It's about showing what women deal with when they step out their front door, and that can include that one guy saying she's pretty -- along with other guys' commenting on looks/clothes/body parts, and yes, making threatening comments, name-calling, etc. (Admittedly, the game doesn't show everything. My understanding is there are no negative comments about how the woman looks, and those happen all the time, too.) It's about how exasperating it can be to deal with these comments and situations, because they are uninvited and tiresome and often degrading. These kinds of comments can violate personal safety. You're walking along, everything's fine, suddenly some guy says something, and now you don't feel safe. Even, in some cases, if that comment is just a "you're pretty" comment. And just like the comments are exasperating, so is the game -- because it never ends, like the comments.

I strongly recommend reading the following articles:
  • Feministe: "Hey Baby Hey Baby Hey," by Sarah, who makes an apt comparison in the article to chivalry.
  • New York Times: "A Woman With the Firepower to Silence Those Street Wolves," by Seth Schiesel, who reviewed the game and concludes "I found myself throwing up my hands and thinking, 'Well what am I supposed to do?” Which is, of course, what countless women think every day,'" and "I doubt any noninteractive art form could have given me as visceral an appreciation for what many women go through as part of their day-to-day lives."
  • New Statesman: "Hey Baby's not big or clever, but boy is it cathartic, by Laurie Penny, who says "All human beings have ugly thoughts, and the disjunction between everyday transgressive fantasy and the type of violent, premeditated hate that obtains a real weapon and goes on a real murder spree is enormous. And contemporary cultural production sees plenty of use in exploring men’s violent impulses, often to the point of insensitivity. But what about women’s dark, secret fantasies?"
  • Rock, Paper, Shotgun: "The Proposition: So, Hey Baby Then…," by Kieron Gillen, offering this fantastic statement: "That your passing desire means you get to derail a woman’s life whenever you feel like it is the absolute definition of male privilege."
  • NPR: "Video Game Lets Women Fight Back," an informative interview with the game creator and with Emily May of Holla Back.
And, if you want to learn more about street harassment and what you can do about it, check out Holla Back and Stop Street Harassment.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Suggested Sunday reading (6/13/10)

Just a quick reminder, you can submit links for this column via e-mail at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com, and you can catch up with Spare Candy on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr as well. Or! Leave a link in the comments! Self-promotion is perfectly acceptable here.

  • US News and World Report: "Kids With Lesbian Parents Do Just Fine." Something many of us already know, but I guess it's a good thing to see it "confirmed"?
  • New York magazine: "Transgender Protection Bill Defeated in State Senate." Awful news from the state of New York regarding the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. I hope this isn't the end of the legislation.
  • CNN: "Surgery no longer a requirement for changing gender on passport." Good news!
  • Pigtail Pals: "What The Hell Happened To Summer Camp?" There are definitely some questionable summer camps programs out there; this is among the worst I've seen. (Though I have no doubt that many 4-year-old girls would love this.) But speaking of summer camps, this one for transgender children sounds great: "Camp Aranu'tiq -- A Summer Camp Of Our Own," at Transgriot.
  • Fem2.0: "A week of important news for women." (Thanks for including Spare Candy!)
  • Slate: "A Short History of 'Feminist' Anti-Feminists."
  • Pandagon: "Why don’t women cook as much as they used to?" Good stuff here.
  • USA Today: "FDA panel to mull 'morning-after pill' effective 5 days after sex." This is already available in Europe and is said to be more effective than Plan B.
  • Feministing: "Just When You Thought American Apparel Couldn't Fail Any Harder..." Yes, I will always let people know what a horrible company this is.
  • New York Times: "In Sweden, the Men Can Have It All." Like 13-month parental leave from work! This is part of a series "examining where women stand in the early 21st century." There are links to other stories from this one.
  • Change.org: "Equal Pay Act, 47 Years Later." Still not equal. Do think it ever will be?
  • New York Times: "The Animal-Cruelty Syndrome." Discusses how animal cruelty is also associated with other crimes like domestic violence.
  • Newsweek has a big series on marriage, with stories like "I Don't: The case against marriage, "I Do. Here’s Why," and "I Do, Too," here, here and here. (There are also other stories.)
  • This review of the movie "Splice" is making its way around the internet, but I wanted to include in case anyone is thinking about seeing the movie and might want to know about some triggering plot points of the movie. It's full of spoilers, but worth reading, even with the all-caps writing style.
  • Chicago Tribune: "Going undercover: A mother wrestles with her daughter's decision to wear a hijab." Good first-person piece.
  • Jezebel: "When Your Breast Shape Goes Out Of Style." Yeah, did you know that can happen? You can thank Playboy for letting us know what kind of breasts are "fashionable." Like breasts are shoes, or something.
  • Reuters: "UN committee moves to keep out gay-lesbian NGO." Sigh.
  • New York Times: "Gay Couples Gain Under Violence Against Women Act." The headline is poorly worded, I think, given the subject matter, but ultimately this is a good thing.
  • The Sexist: "Sexist Beatdown: The Chat They Didn’t Want You to Read! Edition." About leaked celebrity sex tapes.
  • Feministe: "Girl hospitalized after self-inducing abortion" She is 13 years old. Her "boyfriend" is 30 years old.
  • NBC Miami: "Crist Vetoes Ultrasound Abortion Bill." This is good news.

Rape and Rape Culture
  • Daily Kos: "Outrage: Republican Senator blames 16-year-old rape victim!" This involves Nevada state Sen. Dennis Nolan, who said "he feels 'compelled to believe the sex was consensual' because the 16-year-old victim had been 'very sexually active' prior to the rape," among other things.
  • Feministing: "New teen sex study erases sexual assault."
  • The Pursuit of Harpyness: "High school students silenced after attempting to raise sexual abuse awareness." Ugh.
  • AWID: "Mexico: Supreme Court Protects Rape Victims." Says all women rape victims should have access to emergency contraception and abortion services. What a concept!
  • The Curvature: "Rape, Male Victims, and Why We Need to Care."

The Department of Labor Women's Bureau turns 90

The U.S. Department of Labor Women's Bureau turned 90 years old on June 11. (Did you know we had a Women's Bureau? Me either.) It was created in 1920, the year women got the right to vote.

The bureau's mission is to "formulate standards and policies which shall promote the welfare of wage-earning women, improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment." That's a jarring statement (what about non-wage-earners?) until you consider it's part of the Department of Labor. So, as you might imagine, the bureau has a big focus on jobs and job-related issues, including equal pay. Take a look around the bureau's website some time; it looks like they're doing good things for working women. It's lead by Sara Manzano-Díaz, who was just appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in February.

Here is the presidential proclamation marking the bureau's 90th anniversary:
Throughout our history, American women have played a vital role in the growth and vitality of our Nation's economy. They have tirelessly balanced responsibilities to work, family, and community, strengthening our economic leadership and enriching our national life. Today, there are more women in America's workforce than ever before, yet they still face significant obstacles to equal economic opportunity and advancement.

Recognizing the challenges women confronted in the workforce, the Congress established the Women's Bureau in the Department of Labor on June 5, 1920, 2 months before women gained the right to vote. For the past 90 years, the Women's Bureau has been a champion for working women nationwide through its commitment to advancing employment opportunities, improving their working conditions, and helping them achieve economic security.

As women surged into the labor force, the Women's Bureau tackled the barriers to their economic advancement. Early in its history, the Women's Bureau advocated for the successful inclusion of women under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, establishing minimum wages and maximum working hours. The Bureau also played an instrumental role in the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963. And the first law that I signed as President -- the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act --builds upon these vital protections to ensure people subjected to discrimination have better access to a remedy.

Equal economic opportunity and wage parity are not simply women's issues -- they are American issues. As a Nation, we must recommit to the enduring vision of the Women's Bureau and work to support all wage-earning women. With the hard-fought progress of the past as a foundation, we can build a better and brighter tomorrow, one in which our daughters have an equal right and opportunity to pursue the American Dream.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 11, 2010, as the 90th Anniversary of the Department of Labor Women's Bureau. I call upon all Americans to observe this anniversary with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that honor the Bureau's history, accomplishments, and contributions to working women.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

BARACK OBAMA

Friday, June 11, 2010

In History: Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler

This is the 29th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

Rebecca Davis Lee Crumpler was the first black woman to become a doctor in the United States. She was born in Delaware in 1831 and later moved to Massachusetts, where she was a nurse. Crumpler graduated from the New England Female Medical College in 1864, the only black woman to ever do so. (For some perspective, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1862-63.) Her degree was actually a "doctress of medicine."

Crumpler eventually moved to Virginia, working in communities with large black populations, where she cared for freed slaves. She said of her choice to move to Virginia: "a proper field for real missionary work, and one that would present ample opportunities to become acquainted with the diseases of women and children. During my stay there nearly every hour was improved in that sphere of labor. The last quarter of the year 1866, I was enabled ... to have access each day to a very large number of the indigent, and others of different classes, in a population of over 30,000 colored." Crumpler was involved in the Freedmen's Bureau, and missionary and community groups.

In 1883, Crumpler published "A Book of Medical Discourses in Two Parts," one of the first books about medicine by a black author. According to this article, the book "offered women a reference on how to provide medical care for themselves and their children." And according to Wikipedia, "No photos or other images survive of Crumpler, and what little is known of her comes from the introduction to her book."

More reading: Time, Women Heroes

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Here's the thing about Helen Thomas

If you haven't heard the news yet, White House reporter and columnist Helen Thomas has announced her resignation, effective immediately. This is in response to comments she made about Jews getting out of Palestine; you can hear the comment straight from her mouth here. I'm not going to spend much time on her comment except to say I think it speaks for itself and I don't necessarily agree with it, but I think she had a point to be made, even if it is one that not all would agree with, and she made it poorly. She also apologized. The reaction to her comment has mostly been a collective of outrage, and I think we can all understand why.

But in that collective outrage is a lot of sexist, ageist crap. And here's the thing about Helen Thomas: She has been hearing that sexist crap her entire career (and I would venture to say even before that), and she has been hearing the ageist crap for probably two decades now, and she still showed up to work and went about her business of being Helen Thomas. (Who thinks being Helen Thomas has been easy? Anyone?) Thomas has been vilified for years just for her looks alone, let alone for her opinions. And in this story about her comment, no one seems to talk about Thomas' work, which one might think would be relevant in this discussion. Does she do good work? Has she done good work? Who knows? Who cares? Apparently no one criticizing her for what she said. Look at this column, the author of which says that Thomas is a "nasty piece of work and has been a nasty piece of work for decades" .... and then offers one piddly example to back up such an outrageous claim. Surely if she's so "nasty" there would be all sorts of examples of how and why? Then I see people talking about how she's a reporter and she can't be biased and be a reporter (like the video link above says) ... except she's been a columnist for what, a decade now, give or take? Columnists are not reporters. Columnists get paid for their opinions. Just so we're clear. (Also? This business about complaining about her front row seat? You all sound like petulant children. Except worse.)

Here's how I'm seeing this right about now: one hateful comment basically gets Thomas fired. Many, many hateful comments lead to millions of dollars and contract after contract for Beck, Limbaugh, Savage, Hannity, Buchanan, etc. Why is that? What is the difference between saying the Jews should get out of Palestine and saying the (black) President of the United States is akin to Hitler? Is it who's saying it? Is it who it offends?

In any case, I do hope that we can all pay tribute to Thomas' Career Before the Comment, because it is a career worth celebrating. In her career, which started almost 70 years ago, Thomas:
  • Served for fifty-seven years as a correspondent
  • Was White House bureau chief for United Press International for more than 25 years
  • Thomas covered every president of the United States since the later years of the Eisenhower administration
  • Was the first female officer of the National Press Club
  • Was the first female member and president of the White House Correspondents Association
  • Was the first female member of the Gridiron Club
  • Has written five books
  • Was the only female print journalist to travel to China with President Richard Nixon during his historic trip in 1972.
Those are just some of the highlights. There is absolutely no question that she helped pave the way for a number of woman journalists, and I don't want us to forget that.

More reading:
  • Glenn Greenwald: "Our hard-core, adversarial press corps."
  • The Washington Post has a photo gallery of Thomas' career.
  • The War Room: "The right's Helen Thomas hypocrisy." (This is excellent)
  • The Moderate Voice: "Helen Thomas to retire," a round-up of reactions.
  • Media Matters: "Time for Pat Buchanan to retire, too." This is a new article, but not new news in that people have been calling for this for a while. Rightfully so.
  • Media Matters: "So when is Ari Fleischer going to call for the firing of Limbaugh and Beck?"
  • Broadsheet: "Helen Thomas: Our heroes are human."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Suggested Sunday reading (6/6/10)

Just a quick reminder, you can submit links for this column via e-mail at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com, and you can catch up with Spare Candy on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr as well. Or! Leave a link in the comments! Self-promotion is perfectly acceptable here.

Louise Bourgeois, the famed artist, died on Monday at age 98. Here is the New York Times obituary, which also has a slide show of her work. Artist Tracey Emin talked to the BBC about Bourgeois. ArtNet has an appreciation piece, as does Bitch magazine. There are tons of other stories about her and her life and her art, and I promise she is someone worth knowing about. (Pictured is Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1982 portrait of her. She is 71 years old in this picture, carrying a sculpture of a giant penis.)
  • New York Times: "In Camouflage or Veil, a Fragile Bond," about women in the Marines who are part of "female engagement teams," teams that try to connect with women in Afghanistan. They're made up of women because "Afghan women are culturally off limits to American men." They have run into a number of problems, but despite that this seems like a Good Thing to me.
  • Miami Herald: "Kamla Persad-Bissessar to be sworn in as Trinidad prime minister." She is the first woman prime minister there.
  • Change.org: "No Woman (or Groupie) Deserves a Beating." About Kat Stacks, who was assaulted on video.
  • Los Angeles Times: "Booster Shot: More women are refused healthcare due to hospital ideology, report says." This infuriates me to no end. At what point do we say "If you're not going to provide care of all kinds to women, you don't get to be a hospital"?
  • New York Times: "Japan's 'Knuckle Princess' Arrives in U.S.," about Eri Yoshida, a woman playing professional baseball.
  • Chicago Tribune: "Women leave their stamp in manufacturing." According to the article, "Roughly three of four automotive manufacturing jobs are held by men, ... and as of 2006, women made up only 17.7 percent of all officials and managers in automotive manufacturing."
  • Gender Across Borders: "An Interview with Eleanor Bergstein: On Dirty Dancing, Feminism and the Film Industry." Even if you're not a fan of the movie, this is worth reading.
  • Jezebel: "Reality Bites: In Which The Girl Never Has To Play Dumb." About the movie. (I love this movie.)
  • The Guardian: "Why is there so much movie violence against women?" I have not heard of the movie being prominently discussed here, but this question is always worth asking.
  • USA Today: "Marriages more mixed than ever," at 15 percent of all marriages.

Rape and rape culture:
  • The Sexist: "Vintage Victim-Blaming: Feminism Causes Rape, and Other Crime Prevention Tips." If this doesn't sum things up, I don't know what does: "But 33 years later, the solution for reducing sexual assaults against women hasn’t changed: Tell them to stop moving about the world freely, and then blame them when they do."
  • Also at The Sexist: "Come for the Pizza, Stay for the Deconstruction of Masculinity." About one of the ways the organization Men Can Stop Rape are trying to do just that.
  • New York Times: "It's up to you, Mr. Holder," an editorial about stopping rape in prison.
  • Concord Monitor: "Police: Girl raped, then relocated." This is about the girl who was raped and then forced to stand in front of her fellow church-goers and apologize for it, among the other things that happened to her.
  • Pandagon: "No, really, the word “no” isn’t that confusing." More response to the Kendra Wilkinson sex tape story.
  • The SAFER blog: "Beyond the Campus: Week 9," a roundup of sexual assault and rape-related news. (And thanks to them for linking to this blog.)

Abortion and reproductive rights:
  • Politico: "Free birth control under health care?" Sounds too good to be true to me, but I would fully support this!
  • Women Make News: "Selling Eggs: The Untold Risks of Donation and Fertility Treatments and Need for Tracking."
  • I Blame The Patriarchy: "MRAs on parade: chumpass motherfucker declares ownership of girlfriend’s uterus." The headline is self-explanatory. Salon has a different take on the story, "A man's right to choose an abortion."
  • The Nation: "When Teen Pregnancy Is No Accident." Important topic and discussion here.
  • The Times (UK): "Women in Italy to be offered €4,500 to not have abortions." Yep. This is happening.
  • Change.org: "Senate Votes to Repeal Ban on Abortions for Military Women." Technically it was voted on in committee, but yes, can we please make this happen?
  • Adelaide Now: "Abortion not used as birth control," a new study confirms.
  • Feministing: "The Impact of the Abortion Ban in Brazil." The story says "A recent study found that one in five women receive illegal abortions and at least 200,000 women are hospitalized each year because of complications related to abortion."
  • Newsdesk.org: "HIV-positive women sue Namibian government over forced sterilization."

Friday, June 4, 2010

In History: Laura Richards, Maud Elliott, Florence Hall and Julia Ward Howe

This is the 28th post in a weekly feature here at Spare Candy, called "In History." Some posts might be little more than a photo, others full on features. If you have any suggestions for a person or event that should be featured, or would like to submit a guest post or cross post, e-mail me at rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com. 

On June 4, 1917, Laura Richards, Maud Elliott and Florence Hall were named the recipients of the first Pulitzer Prize for biography for their book "Julia Ward Howe 1819-1910." (Technically, Richards and Elliot authored the book and Hall assisted.) This was the first year for the Pulitzers; the other awards given that year are listed here.

This is truly a rich story. Richards, Elliot and Hall were sisters, born in Boston. Richards wrote more than 90 books in her life, some of which can be found here. Elliot also authored a number of books, and you can find some of her writing here. Hall, in addition to being an author, was also president of the New Jersey Suffrage Association, according to her obituary (PDF). And here's the thing: All three of these women were the daughters of Julia Ward Howe, the subject of their award-winning book.

Julia Ward Howe is best known for writing The Battle Hymn of the Republic, but she was also an abolitionist, suffragist and author. She edited the Woman's Journal for seven years, which was a women's rights publication, and she wrote the famed Mother's Day Proclamation (If you haven't read it before, go!) Howe was the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters; she was inducted posthumously into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970; and she was honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a 15¢ Great Americans series postage stamp issued in 1987, among other things. Howe accomplished a lot in her life; her daughters are far from the only people to write books about her.

From her Mother's Day Proclamation:
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

P.S. Also on June 4, this time in 1919: The U.S. Congress approves the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees suffrage to women, and sends it to the U.S. states for ratification.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Legislation to support: The Defense STRONG Act

I write about pieces of legislation often. I recognize it can be tiring, as well as an endless alphabet soup (DOMA, ENDA, CEDAW, etc.). But I think it's important to know about these types of legislation, and I think it's especially telling that these kinds of bills often get introduced and then ... nothing, which is why I always urge people to contact their representatives in Congress and ask them to support or vote for said legislation. Today is no different.

At the end of April/early May, U.S. Sen. John Kerry and U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas introduced the Defense Sexual Trauma Response, Oversight and Good Governance Act (The Defense STRONG Act). This is so important. This legislation deals specifically with sexual assault in the military, and if you're unfamiliar with how big of a problem that is, consider this: "surveys of women veterans indicate that as many as 1 in 3 women leaving military service have been sexually assaulted." (For more reading: The Department of Defense released a study in March about sexual assault in the military, which you can see here, but I'll warn you it's a big PDF file. 500-plus pages. The New York Times has an article about the report here.) The sexual assaults alone aren't the only problem; the reporting process and the ensuing (if any) prosecution are also problematic in that confidentiality can be compromised, among other things (more on that here).

According to Kerry's and Tsongas' press releases:
The Defense STRONG Act strengthens the systems in place to prevent sexual assaults and provide support and guidance for victims that do report an incident. The bill enables victims to access a military lawyer so that they understand their legal options. Conversations with Victim Advocates would also be made confidential and immune from discovery if the case goes to court, as they typically are in the civilian world.

The Defense STRONG Act also standardizes the training of service members, commanding officers, Victim Advocates, and Sexual Assault Response Coordinators around prevention and response. It requires that all service members are trained as they move up in the military structure, and prohibits DOD contractors from fulfilling the Victim Advocate and Sexual Assault Response Coordinator roles.
Ultimately, of course, we would all want a world free of rape and sexual assault, civilian and military. But at the least, women and men in the military who are sexually assaulted should have every right and every resource to report and deal with what happened to them. And this legislation could play a role in that. Let your representatives know they should support the Defense STRONG Act.

More reading:

photo source

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"The Rape of Mr. Smith," still relevant today

This is old (been around since 1975), but to this day it continues to be a great example of problems in the justice system that are unique to rape survivors, namely victim blaming. It is from “The Legal Bias Against Rape Victims (The Rape of Mr. Smith),” by Connie K. Borkenhagen in the American Bar Association Journal. April, 1975. (via this PDF) Sharing it for anyone who has never read it:

In the following situation, a holdup victim is asked questions by a lawyer.
Laywer: “Mr. Smith, you were held up at gunpoint on the corner of First and Main?”
Mr. Smith: “Yes”
Laywer: “Did you struggle with the robber?”
Mr. Smith: “No.”
Laywer: “Why not?”
Mr. Smith: “He was armed.”
Laywer: “Then you made a conscious decision to comply with his demands rather than resist?”
Mr. Smith: “Yes.”
Laywer: “Did you scream? Cry out?”
Mr. Smith: “No, I was afraid.”
Laywer: “I see. Have you ever been held up before?”
Mr. Smith: “No.”
Laywer: “Have you ever GIVEN money away?”
Mr. Smith: “Yes, of course.”
Laywer: “And you did so willingly?”
Mr. Smith: “What are you getting at?”
Laywer: “Well, let’s put it like this, Mr. Smith. You’ve given money away in the past. In fact, you have quite a reputation for philanthropy. How can we be sure that you weren’t CONTRIVING to have your money taken from you by force?”
Mr. Smith: “Listen, if I wanted –“
Laywer: “Never mind. What time did this holdup take place, Mr. Smith?”
Mr. Smith: “About 11:00 P.M..”
Laywer: “You were out on the street at 11:00 P.M.? Doing what?”
Mr. Smith: “Just walking.”
Laywer: “Just walking? You know that it’s dangerous being out on the street that late at night. Weren’t you aware that you could have been held up?”
Mr. Smith: “I hadn’t thought about it.”
Laywer: “What were you wearing at the time, Mr. Smith?”
Mr. Smith: “Let’s see … a suit. Yes, a suit.”
Laywer: “An EXPENSIVE suit?”
Mr. Smith: “Well – yes. I’m a successful lawyer, you know.”
Laywer: “In other words, Mr. Smith, you were walking around the streets late at night in a suit that practically advertised the fact that you might be good target for some easy money, isn’t that so? I mean, if we didn’t know better, Mr. Smith, we might even think that you were ASKING for this to happen, mightn’t we?”

The worst part? This is from 35 years ago. What has changed since then? If you wanted to, you could find examples of victim blaming in some court room every single day. Like, say, this one. "She didn't say no," one of the accused men said. "She didn't say, 'No, get off me'. She didn't do anything. She just lay there." Another accuser "told police while he had not had any conversation with the girl, he was 'certain' she had agreed to his participation, but in a second interview said he was not sure what she said but recalled 'she didn't say no'."

Do you hear this? 

For the gazillionth billionth time: If you see a woman (or teenage girl, in this instance) drunk to the point that she is going in and out of consciousness and/or throwing up, and you think you should "have sex" with her, DO NOT DO IT. That is RAPE. If she is passed out, you are raping her. Also: Just because she didn't say no doesn't mean she said yes. Those are not the same thing, especially in these cases. Furthermore? If you want someone to consent to having sex with you, having a conversation would help.

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