Live Free or Die: And by that youmean, ‘Live in Fear & Forget the Truth, or don’t get what the Supreme Court has already granted you as rights.’

Standard

Ya know, this whole “I’m the government so I can put forth all this legislation to regulate, regulate, regulate” is getting pretty FREAKING old. ESPECIALLY, when these old, white men are trying to regulate my uterus. Every day there’s a new law being passed or proposed in a different state about reduce use of birth control, mandates for women to reveal medical information to employers (yea, Arizona, I’m talking about you), and scare-tactics to reduce abortions. I honestly can’t keep up with the blog because there are so many laws being thrown out there I don’t even know where to focus my rage. But today, I read this headline: “Abortion Causes Breast Cancer, New Hampshire House Declares,” and I could not pass up this opportunity to blog. Why? Well, for starters I was born and raised in New Hampshire. Secondly, my mother is a breast cancer survivor and I get to start having yearly mammograms in two years to make sure I do not also have cancer. I am extremely offended that my HOMESTATE is declaring a blatant lie about an extremely serious and deadly cancer to jump on the bandwagon against women’s rights. Oh and don’t try and counter that it’s a lie because the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society concede that there is no link between the procedure and the cancer. I think they know a thing or two about this stuff. Just saying.

Shame on you, New Hampshire.

Image

Remember our motto: LIVE FREE OR DIE. Well ya should because it’s on our license plate, the ‘welcome’ signs as you enter the state, and championed by the Free Staters that frequent Murphy’s in Manchester with their guns on their hips.

So not only are you trying to infringe upon my uterus and the freedoms that the Supreme Court has granted me to choose what to do with the functions of my uterus, including bringing a child to full-term, but you are trying to do so through fraud and coercion.

Wait, what’s that you say? Joe Brind, PhD says there is a link? No, actually what he says is that the earlier you have your first child (i.e. bring a child into this world through a full-term pregnancy), the less likely you are to have breast cancer. If your first pregnancy results in an abortion, your risks of breast cancer goes up. See this graph. Well, Mr. Brind, you didn’t actually prove there’s a link between breast cancer and abortions. What you did was confirm what science has already told us: breast cancer incidences increase with age. See this graph (by the American Cancer Society).You know what else you’ve done? You’ve advocated for teen-age pregnancy.

So let’s recap. Republican Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), the representative that sponsored this bill, does not believe in freedom. Republican Jeanine Notter does not believe in evidence-based research. Republican Jeanine Notter does not value her rights to her uterus. Oh and Republican Jeanine Notter supports teen-age pregancy if it means our daughters, sisters, and mothers are not going to be at risk for breast cancer. Lastly, Republic Jeanine Notter does not believe in the truth. So while this paints a pretty accurate profile of the GOP these days, I’m not going to sit by and watch my uterus be controlled by you people. I have faith in Gov. Lynch to highlight the pure insanity demonstrated by this bill proposal, but I have very little faith in the Republican Party to respect me and my rights.

Post-Women’s Movement: Are we moving backwards?

Standard

Today I had the absolute pleasure of attending a talk by Ms. Francis Fox Piven, a professor of political science and sociology at the Graduate Center, University of New York. She has combined academic work with political action for decades. She has contributed greatly to the scholarship on protests and mass mobilization as mechanisms for impacting change. She spoke today about the historical context of protests and movements and related them to the Occupy Movement that we all know. As a graduate student of social work, I have read several pieces by Piven and her late husband, Richard Cloward, so it was exciting to listen to her speak at the young age of 79, especially on International Women’s Day.
Following her talk, I proceeded to my final political processes class of the quarter. My professor was at the talk by Dr. Piven as well and we have read a few excerpts from Regulating the Poor and Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America. One of the things Dr. Piven talked about was that all movements in history began to subside once they won something — they never end in ultimate triumph. But then, over time, the business and political elites start to take back what they gave to the movement through reform. An example of this would be how government decided to roll back welfare after the protests at the NWRO.  Today in class, the question was posed to brainstorm other examples of this cycle and regression. My professor noted that she had a counter-example, meaning she can think of a movement that has not yet regressed backward — the women’s movement. As she said this, I cringed a little in my chair. As a disclaimer, I often get frustrated with the fact that I attend an extremely well-known and top social work school yet topics of women’s issues very rarely come up, and when they do, they are either brushed aside or not given the attention or scholarship that they should. Read on.

A student raised her hand and said she’d like to disagree a little bit and specifically gave the example of “Rick Santorum’s attempts at having religious rights trump women’s rights.” I refrained from entering the conversation (which now I regret, thus I”m writing the post to voice my opinions), but it must be pointed out that this is not just Rick Santorum. Rick Santorum, who was elected into the House of Representatives in 1990 and then to the Senate in 1994 (Philadelphia) until he lost his re-election in 2006. Yes, Santorum holds these beliefs, and furthermore is against birth control all together. But it’s not just him and he is not in any position to make any decisions as of yet (and hopefully never). Just today, New Hampshire — my dear home state — sent the proposed legislation to the Senate after a 196-150 vote in the House to essentially appeal the mandate that was passed in 1999 that all insurers must cover contraception. They did not just appeal this mandate to say insurers don’t have to do that across the board — which would be debatable as there is a debate to be had about the pros and cons of employer based healthcare. But instead, the exemption is for employers who have religious objection to providing birth control. This same debate is happening in Congress as well. But the Obama administration believes that a woman’s health should be between her and her doctor, not her and her boss. Amen, Obama. But the fact that this debate is even happening and women’s healthcare is being compromised on behalf of religious institutions is absurd and in my opinion, somewhat of a step back. There are religious women who use birth control and they’re going to suffer just like the rest of the women who work for these institutions.

Secondly, a student raised her hand and mentioned the protests and attacks on Planned Parenthood lately. And I’ll take that one step further and throw in the absurdity going on in states regarding abortions. I talked about Texas in my last post. Now Kansas is trying to pass a bill that further regulates abortions in that any woman seeking an abortion will be taxed, including rape victims. Among other provisions in this proposed bill:

…measures allowing doctors to withhold from patients medical information that might encourage them to seek an abortion and prohibiting malpractice suits if the woman or the child suffers a health complication as a result of information being withheld. A wrongful death lawsuit could be filed if the mother dies. The bill also would require doctors to tell women that abortion causes breast cancer and would prohibit state employees from performing abortions on the job.

Though these amendments are unlikely to pass in the hearing committee, it should be concerning that they are even being brought up. Roe v. Wade was a decision to respect and support the woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy under her right to privacy. The laws that states are drafting intentionally and politically attempt to influence her decision based on a bias, not on rational, factual information. Between placing barriers on women getting birth control and now placing women in traumatizing situations and creating barriers to abortion, I’d say we are taking a step back.

My professor looked at these two things as just events, nothing pushing us back. Perhaps that is because they are still being decided upon. But after spending 1.5 years studying the political agenda and agenda setting, it is horrifying that these issues have even made it to the chopping block. We should be concerned. We should be offended. And we should be scared. I know I am.

With that, Happy International Women’s Day everyone!

 

War Against Women: Really, 2012?

Standard

I am a little confused. Dumbfounded actually with a really large dose of rage mixed in too. Why do State and Federal governments suddenly feel as though it is okay to regulate a women’s uterus and ovaries Not only regulate but violate and traumatize? Why is this okay?

Texas. Really? I mean, I know you’re Texas and all but, C’MON! Good ol’ Governor Rick Perry left the Presidential candidate trail and returned to pass a law that mandates that any woman that wants to have an abortion must first endure an ultrasound probe inserted into her vagina, proceeded by an audio soundbyte of her fetus’ heartbeat while she watches the fetus on the screen. During all of this, the doctor must explain all of the body parts and internal organs of the fetus as she watches on the screen. After this, she must sign a form stating she understands everything that she just learned — no wait, a fetus has organs? and a heartbeat? ya don’t say? — and then wait 24 hours until she can have an abortion. Not only is this RAPE because she is being forced and coerced to have a probe stuck up her vagina, but it is traumatizing and unnecessary.

Yes, Texas, we know that a fetus heartbeat develops in the first few weeks. Yes, organs too. Oh wait, no your women didn’t know that? Not even your teenage moms? Oh that’s right, because you don’t give them comprehensive sex education to teach them these things! So instead, you wait until they have an unplanned pregnancy and then you rape them to give them that comprehensive sex education. Oh and then you hope you succeed in traumatizing her just enough so she does not come back and instead decides to go through with her pregnancy. But then you just leave her out to dry… minimal to no family planning is offered. In fact, last year Mr. Governor, your cut family planning funding by 66%.

What’s even worse about this situation — if that’s even possible to fathom — is that the law was passed last year but was challenged via law suit by the Center for Productive Rights. Judge Parks from the Federal District Court perceived the law as an attempt to “discourage women from exercising their constitutional rights.” You’d think that’d be the nail in the coffin, but nope, the court upheld the law and it went into effect last week.

Oh, but don’t worry if a woman became pregnant because she was a victim of rape, incest, or the fetus has abnormalities, the woman will not be mandated to be raped again or bear witness to her “abnormal” fetus. Thank you, Federal Court, you’re pretty awesome. But let’s consider the reality, shall we? The small proportion of women who do not use contraception are the ones making up the majority of abortions in this country.What’s that, Limbaugh? You support women having to pay exorbitant amounts of money for their birth control? What’s that, Santorum? You don’t want insurance companies to provide birth control?Oh and you don’t want to help people living in poverty who cannot afford to feed themselves and their children, let alone birth control.

No really, the logic among politicians these days is crystal clear: White men whose sperm count is decreasing as they age and therefore don’t have to worry about knockin’ up their wives or any woman for that matter think they can regulate a woman through state sanctions leading to humiliation and trauma because well, they’re a politician, duh.

Well Mr. Perry, Mr. Santorum, and all you other pretentious white men sticking your probes where they absolutely do not belong, YOU CANT HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO.

Rush Limbaugh, you’re an idiot.

Standard

No Rush Limbaugh, the LEFT aren’t the ones pissed off at you calling Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for asking insurance companies to pay for her contraception. WOMEN are pissed off, and quite frankly, guys should be too. For those who did not have the pleasure of listening to Limbaugh’s idiocy in his crude, unfounded remarks:

“The reaction that they are having to what I said yesterday about Susan Fluke — or Sandra Fluke, whatever her name is — the Georgetown student who went before a congressional committee and said she’s having so much sex, she’s going broke buying contraceptives and wants us to buy them. I said, “Well, what would you call someone who wants us to pay for her to have sex? What would you call that woman? You’d call ’em a slut, a prostitute or whatever.” – Limbaugh on March 1 responding to the uproar over his remarks. 

 

Insurance companies are not paying her to have sex. Just as my employer is not paying me to have sex as I use my earned income to pay my co-pay on my birth control.Man, Limbaugh, talk about a slippery slope argument. Let’s also consider that birth control is not just used as contraceptive. It also helps regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle, reduces the excruciating pain she experiences from her period — ya men, you don’t have to feel that, it helps treat ovarian cysts, and in cases of IUDs, it reduces the risk of ovarian cancer because research has shown that ovarian cancer develops where the egg is dropped and when women have an IUD, they do not get their period and therefore do not drop an egg. So it’s a public health benefit, too!

I know what you’re all thinking — why are you even taking this on, he’s an idiot! I am taking it on because society doesn’t hold him accountable for being a rude, disrespectful idiot. He continues to be on the air. And people listen to him! So yes, we need to seriously address what he says because people are listening to him and someone in their car nodded in agreement when he made these remarks.

Slut shaming. Really? We’re still doing it, huh? Right, because women who take birth control are doing it to have as much sex as they want and that’s a bad thing. But guys can have as much sex as they want and they don’t have to reap any consequences. Don’t believe me? Look at the rate of single-parent homes in this country and the poverty and inequality that these women face. I am sick and tired of society judging women based on how much sex she is having as you bros high five and compare the number of people you’ve slept with. At 61, Mr. Limbaugh, I’m sure you’ve had plenty of sex in your lifetime but no one’s talking about that or calling you out on it… ya know why, because it doesn’t matter!

And prostitute. Really? You’re THAT uneducated and absurd that you’d compare a woman that wants her PRESCRIPTION DRUG to be covered by her insurance company to a woman in prostitution? No, sir. A woman in prostitution is often forced or coerced into the sex industry, rarely sees the money that johns pay for her to have sex with them, experiences violence at high rates including physical and sexual violence, and is forced to take drugs. THAT, Mr. Limbaugh, is the reality of prostitution. Still think Sandra Fluke is a woman in prostitution? Well, ya probably do because you’re an idiot, but I hope the rest of society doesn’t believe your non-sense.

Honestly, as long as white, powerful men want to regulate my uterus, they can care for the child. You’ve made you bed, Congressman, now sleep in it.

Feminist.

Standard

I have volunteered as an advocate in two rape crisis centers in New Hampshire, I have accompanied women and children to the hospital for a rape kit, I have sat with worried parents while their son or daughter was in the next room for his/her forensic interview. I have supervised amazingly inspirational advocates. I have written for other blogs that write on the issues of sexual violence. I have been an intern at the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation since October, where I have created materials to educate the community on the pervasive nature of human trafficking and sexual exploitation on our own soil. I consider myself decently well-read on the nature of sexual violence.

This is how I respond, in some way, shape or form, when someone asks the all-to-common question: “so what do you do?” Many times, when I am speaking to a guy, I can almost read his mind and know he’s thinking “Why did I ask?” but what he says outloud is, “oh. so you’re a feminist.” I immediately realize that if I want to be productive in this conversation and educate him even remotely on the issue of sexual violence, I need to not listen to my instinct toslap him across the face — I need to keep his attention, while simultaneously making him feel like a slight idiot. I mean, I just told you I work with extremely vulnerable and traumatized women and girls and all you got is “oh. so you’re a feminist.” and all you’re thinking is “where is the exit?”

So I ultimately respond with “I prefer human rights activist.” See what I did there? I took the issue of sexual violence out of the “radical feminist” “women’s movement” “man-hating” realm that he had placed it in when he judgmentally asked if I was a feminist. Instead, I re-framed it as a human rights problem. Sexually violating a woman, stripping her of all dignity and control, being violent to her, and not respecting her voice is undeniably a human rights violation and I strive to focus on that. If we continue to allow society to strictly see it as a feminist issue, then all those people who shutter at the sound of the F-word and refuse to define their belief in equality and human rights protections as the F-word are lost in the dialogue about how to eliminate sexual violence. This is undoubtedly a travesty.

Women and girls are constantly considered unequal, inferior, and incapable alongside our male counterparts. Women and girls are too often portrayed as sexualized beings, viewed as commodities, judged based on our bra size and shape of our ass, and illustrated as a victim in a romanticized, tolerated manner (e.g. Eminem, Chris Brown, advertising). One in four women will be sexually assaulted before graduating college. One million women will be the victim of rape this year in the United States. So I’m sorry, but this is not a feminist issue nor is it a woman’s issue… it is an issue plaguing our society perpetrated by men the majority of the time. It is nothing short of a human rights violation and an endemic that men should be front and center screaming about as their mothers, sisters, daughters, granddaughters, aunts, etc. are sexually assaulted and sexually harassed.