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The 112th Congress’ Worst Moments for Women

7 Aug 2012

By now we are all well aware that the 112th Congress left a lot to be desired in terms of actual legislating and leadership.  By last count, the 112th sent only 54 bills to the President, 14 of which were to rename post offices (the latter of which is ironic since one of the many items this Congress failed to do was come up with a plan to restructure the struggling U.S. Postal Service). They also failed to take any action on the economy (despite having the President’s proposed jobs plan in their laps since last year) and failed to come up with a federal response plan to the worst drought this nation has seen since the Dust Bowl.

So what did the 112th Congress spend their time doing?  Three things, actually: trying to block the Affordable Care Act, obsessing about birth control coverage, and trying to limit abortion rights.  And on those three items, the 112th was very busy.  How busy? Check out our list of this Congress’ 10 Worst Actions for American Woman and judge for yourself.

The all-male birth control panel at a House hearing earlier this year. (Photo Courtesy ThinkProgress.org)

  1. The All-Male Birth Control Panel. – Who can forget this? It was the picture that summarized the War on Women for many of us: the so-called panel of “experts” called in to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s hearings on the health care birth control mandate.  Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) invited only male members of clergy to testify as to the mandate’s implications (and refused a request from the Democrats to include Georgetown student Sandra Fluke) in February 2012.  Democratic female lawmakers called foul. Some even walked out of the hearings in protest. Photos of the hearing went viral, enraging women from coast to coast and sending political tongues wagging. For advocates of reproductive rights, the panel was visceral proof that Congress wanted to make laws governing the reproductive options available to women…without regard for or input from women.  For their part, Rep. Issa and his House GOP colleagues seemed surprised that anyone would see anything wrong with holding a hearing about female contraceptives and leaving out females.  Perhaps they lack the insight of Senator Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) sixteen year old grandson, who saw the now-infamous photo of the panel and instantly sussed out the problem: “It’s all dudes.”
  1. The House strips down VAWA, leading to a Congressional stalemate on the bill. – Question: When did protecting women from domestic violence become a partisan issue? Answer: In 2012. The 112th Congress managed to take one of the few non-partisan legislative issues of the past twenty years, an Act that passed Congress overwhelmingly in 1994, and was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005, and turn into a partisan mess that revealed a shocking lack of concern for the women facing domestic violence. In April, female Republican Senators joined with Senate Democrats to pass S. 1925, a bill which reauthorized the Act and expanded its protections to include immigrants, LGBT persons, and Native American women. No-brainers, right? Wrong.  After a highly charged debate throughout which there was much finger pointing as to just which party hated women more, the House passed a bill that reauthorized VAWA without the Senate’s expansions. In a contentious election year, wherein both parties typically don’t see past the end of the news cycle, reconciliation of the two bills was doomed and Congress set about passing more pressing legislation, namely renaming post offices.
  1. Rep. Mike Kelly compares mandatory birth control coverage to Pearl Harbor and 9/11. – In a moment of stunning short-sightedness, Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA) declared that August 1, 2012, the first day that insurers were required to cover birth control for American woman, would be remembered as an “attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy,” along with December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001.  We realize that Rep. Kelly is a little past the demographic for Sesame Street but is it too much to hope that a sitting member of the U.S. Congress has grasped the concept of the “one of these things is not like the others” game?  Evidently not.  Senator (and World War II Vet) Daniel Inouye (D-HI) later scolded Kelly’s comparison as “complete nonsense.”  We could not agree more.
  1. House holds 33 symbolic votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. –  The American people have been demanding that Congress do something – anything – about the economy, about jobs, about infrastructure, about the financial services industry, about a whole lot of urgent issues facing the country today. So what did they do? Well, in the case of the GOP-led House of Representatives, they voted 33 times to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act over the past year and half. Even though none of bills repealing the law would go anywhere in the Senate and would certainly be vetoed by the President. Even though the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Act in July 2012. Even though the Act is designed to provide coverage for 30 million uninsured Americans. Even though the Act ends certain egregious insurance industry practices such as charging higher premiums to women and refusing to cover pre-existing conditions.  Several polls have shown that public opinion has shifted on the Affordable Care Act, with the majority of Americans now supporting government role in providing access to health care coverage. Does that shift mean that these legislators will give up their mission to repeal the ACA? Not likely according to Rep. Marsha Blackmun (R-TN), who said, after the latest symbolic vote, “We’re going to keep at it until we get this legislation off the books.”
  1. The Blunt Amendment tries to mix contraception coverage with highway funding, at women’s expense. When we said that the 112th Congress obsessed about birth control, we’re not exaggerating. Republicans in the 112th found a way to voice their displeasure at mandatory contraception coverage in the unlikeliest of legislative conversations, even highway construction. In February 2012, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) added an amendment to a highway bill that would have not only allowed all employers to block contraception coverage for employees due to moral objections but would them to block coverage of any health service required by the 2010 health-care law. Pandora’s Box much, Senator?  The vote to kill the amendment ultimately succeeded but the vote was a terrifyingly close 51-48, largely along party lines, though three Democrats supported the amendment, and one Republican voted against it. It should be noted that the sole Republican who voted against the Blunt Amendment was Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who is retiring from the Senate.
  1. Senate blocks advancement of the Paycheck Fairness Act. – We’ve heard it time and time again; American women earn, on average, 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Minority women earn even less. And despite the insistence of some that this is discrepancy is solely due to all that time women take off to raise babies, the real statistics tell a different story. The fact is gender discrimination is still a major factor in the wage gap. The Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced in 2011 in both houses of Congress would have required employers to demonstrate that salary differences between men and women doing the same work are not gender-related. it would also haves prohibited employers from retaliating against workers who compare salary information with their coworkers for comparison.  Opponents of the bill argued that the existing Equal Pay and Civil Rights Acts adequately protected women from gender wage discrimination and that the Paycheck Fairness Act would only result in “unnecessary litigation.” The Paycheck Fairness Act failed to gather the necessary votes to advance. All Senate Republicans, including female Republican Senators who had supported early drafts of the bill, voted against it. That made us wonder, what would happen if American taxpayers tried to pay female lawmakers 77% of what male lawmakers make? Would they support paycheck fairness then?
  1. Senator Mike Lee adds D.C. anti-abortion amendment to cyber-security bill.  Just hours after a similar bill restricting abortions in the District of Columbia failed to pass in the House, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) resurrected the proposal and attached it to a completely unrelated cyber-security bill in the Senate. The proposal, which aimed to ban abortions in D.C. after the 20th week of pregnancy without providing exceptions for the health of the mother, is based a now-disputed study on fetal pain.  Abortion opponents won’t let go of the study, especially after having success in passing statewide bans such as one in Arizona. In fact, the House version of the bill was backed by PReNDA author Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), who has vowed to bring up the bill again in the next session of Congress.  As for the cyber-security bill, like most bills branded with abortion regulations, it proved radioactive and failed to pass, adding one more item to the list of issues the 112th failed to resolve.
  1. Senator Rand Paul plays anti-abortion politics with flood relief bill. – In what is perhaps the clearest example of why Congress spends a great deal of time getting nothing done, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is apparently trying to build his career by stalling legislation. In June 2012, Paul attempted to derail flood insurance legislation that was expected to pass the Senate easily (on the eve of flood and hurricane season, no less) by demanding that the Senate vote on whether life began at conception as part of the bill’s review. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) called the request ridiculous, and postponed the vote on the bill, rather than accede to Paul’s demand.  The Senate was eventually able to negotiate a resolution to the flood insurance bill by combining it with student loan legislation but Paul is undeterred. His other obstructions include attaching anti-union clauses and gun rights provisions to foreign policy legislation and trying to force in an amendment repealing the contraception insurance coverage requirement by inserting it into federal highway legislation.   Other lawmakers are beginning to emulate these tactics, increasing the number of instances where politicians try to earn their political  bona fides by preventing Congress from getting anything done.
  1. Denny Rehberg vs. Women’s Healthcare. – In a Congress where flip-flopping and shifting allegiances can be the rule and not the exception, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) stands out as remarkably consistent. Unfortunately for us, he’s consistent on blocking women’s access to affordable health services. For two years in a row, in his role as Chair of the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, Rehberg submitted a budget that eliminates funding to Planned Parenthood and to the Title X family planning programs that provide health care access to nearly five million low-income women every year. Do we have to say yet again that federal law already prevents taxpayer funds from funding abortion services?  So in cutting funds to these programs, Rehberg is really advocating eliminating badly needed preventative health care, such as cancer screenings, to low-income women? In the 2013 budget, Rehberg added provision that would let all employers block contraception coverage from employees for “moral objections” even though the birth control mandate already allows this exemption for religious organizations. Basically, this is Rehberg doing a mulligan on the failed Blunt Amendment (see Item 5 on this list).
  1. Rep. Trent Franks pushes unenforceable PReNDA. – In May 2012, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), one of the House’s most prominent anti-abortion legislators, introduced the Prenatal Discrimination Act, to ban “sex-selective abortions” – the practice wherein women choose to terminate pregnancies because they are carrying female fetuses.  Call us cynical but we could not help but be perplexed when Franks and his House GOP colleagues touted this bill as civil rights legislation, given the party’s typical insistence that not only are existing civil rights laws more than adequate, but that liberals should not be so quick to assume that gender discrimination is widespread. Indeed, they argued that gender discrimination in U.S. abortions was widespread, a claim not backed up by fact.  Put simply, PReNDA was designed to put more legal obstacles between women and abortion services. Under the law medical professionals would be required to report “suspected” discriminatory abortions or face possible criminal charges. The legislation would also allow a woman’s partner or parents to sue an abortion provider if they suspect she got an abortion because of the fetus’ gender. The vagueness of the law would have resulted in any woman terminating the pregnancy where the fetus turned out to be female to be suspect. The chilling effect of the law on women’s health service providers would have been immeasurable. Women’s rights groups including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights joined with  medical associations and civil rights groups in opposing this bill, which failed to get the required two-thirds majority to pass.  It only fell short by 30 votes, though, something voters who support reproductive rights need to remember when they go to the polls this November.


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Fat Tony and the Right to Privacy

Originally posted
2 Aug 2012

You may have seen our recent post of the riveting video of Justice Scalia’s appearance on Fox News.  I’m not going to get started on what totally sucks about a Supreme Court Justice going out in the press and opining on the issues of the day, many of which are likely to come before him at some point very soon.  I have faith that you all are smart enough to put that together.  But let’s talk for a minute about what totally sucks about what he actually said.

I’m not a lawyer, nor a constitutional scholar.  I make no claims to being either.  I am just a Vagina-American that knows how to read and draw some basic conclusions about justice in America.  This country has a problem that we as women are struggling with right now with regard to the draconian, invasive laws that mostly right-wing legislators are pushing on us.  The idea of a woman making decisions about her private reproductive life and health without their knowledge and interference has suddenly become a lightning rod again.  When taken alongside other legislation being pushed and/or passed, like CISPA and so on, it spells trouble for women, surely, but for everyone else too, because it challenges the very notion of Americans’ having a right to privacy.

Scalia decided to run his mouth on, among other things, the subject of Griswold v. Connecticut.  For those who may not know, this was a 1965 Supreme Court decision which struck down a Connecticut law banning birth control, even for married couples.  The Court’s decision was 7-2, and the majority cited a number of different rationales for striking the law down including its unenforceability (would they send the brute squad to search the homes of married couples to see if they had any pills stashed under the floorboards?), but the primary reason was that the Connecticut law violated “marital privacy.”  But apparently, the 7-2 majority decided wrongly in this case.  Did you know that?  I didn’t.

The reason Justice Scalia gives for why this decision was terribly wrong is that the Constitution does not explicitly enumerate a right to privacy, THEREFORE, WE DO NOT HAVE ONE.  Let that sink in for a minute.  Now, he is technically correct.  The Constitution enumerates some very specific things about very specific privacies; for example, you do not have to quarter a British solider in your house.  You do not have to be subjected to unreasonable search & seizure.  Outside the confines of the constitution, most states have privacy laws concerning your healthcare records and the like.  However, nowhere in the Constitution does there exist a specifically worded general right to privacy.  That’s true.  The Constitution also doesn’t specifically enumerate in so many words that we have the right to breathe air.  Honestly, if your home is your castle and your body is your temple, doesn’t it sort of defy decency that the right to privacy is not constitutionally protected?

Apparently, more than a few Justices had decided as much, and had done so for many years prior to Griswold.  The Griswold decision that people had a right to marital privacy didn’t come from nowhere.  Why?  Because for one thing, the 9th Amendment states that the “enumeration of certain rights” in the Bill of Rights “shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.”  Now, as with certain other Amendments (the second, for example) the language leaves gaps large enough to drive a semi through, but there were a number of judges (including Justice Goldberg in his Griswold concurrence) who had in a number of cases many years prior to Griswold, decided that this part of the 9th Amendment could and should be read broadly enough protect privacy.  You know, that whole human decency thing.

Not only that but for at least 40 years before Griswold, judges had also been using the due process clause in the 14th Amendment to protect privacy rights, since a 1920 case called Meyer v. Nebraska, in which the court determined that the state could not infringe on the private academic and religious education decisions a family wanted to make regarding their child.  What we’re getting at here is, there’s lots of precedent for the idea that the Constitution can be read in order to provide for the basic human right of privacy.  Judges and lawyers like precedent, because it makes them feel that they aren’t biased and just making shit up.

The thing is, to some extent, they are.  People would like to live in the magical world of John Roberts’ imagining, where Justices are umpires, calling balls and strikes, delivering completely unbiased rulings based on the letter and spirit of the law, which are always perfectly concurrent.  Except, they aren’t.  The law is often vague, sometimes intentionally so, in order to allow for interpretation so that it can broadly applied to a variety of individual situations.  And as some who claim to be “originalists” would even admit, applying only the letter of the law will sometimes yield a result that is unfair even if it is technically just.  George Will (the guy you call when you want to hear something stupid said with excellent diction) once snidely remarked that the Earl Warren Court that was overly concerned with whether the law was “nice.”  But Judges have been doing this for ages, ruling in accordance with their own attitudes and biases, and with a string of decisions both before and after Griswold they appear to have done so with distinction when it comes to the issue of personal privacy.  It is not, nor should it be, a partisan issue.  There are nearly 100 years of precedent to justify the idea that a right to privacy exists because so many courts under so many different circumstances have upheld it.  At this point, the much-maligned judicial activism would seem to come in the form of overturning that precedent.

Again, the trend in many of the laws that Congress is pushing, from women’s rights issues to internet privacy (SOPA, PIPA, CISPA), seems to be trying to strip that away legislatively.  And Justice Scalia has now sent a message to the troops that he’s there to defend that effort if and when those pieces of garbage legislation come to be challenged before the Supreme Court.


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You Hear Me, Hillbilly Boy? This Ain’t Over By A Damn Sight.

Originally posted
3 Jul 2012

Well, the story broke on a couple of blogs this morning and is now working its way up into the “respectable” media.  Joe Walsh, the Congressman from the great state of Illinois, is on record as having attacked his opponent, Tammy Duckworth, an army Colonel who lost both of her legs in an attack while she was piloting a helicopter in Iraq, as being “not a hero,” because she talks about her service and her sacrifice as part of her campaign.  The story is gaining traction and appears to be getting picked up by more and more news outlets which are broadcasting the appropriate level of outrage for such comments.  If they do nothing else well, the mainstream media does do outrage well.

But before we get too confident and start assuming that Walsh has signed his own pink slip with this douchebaggery, I think it’s worth pointing out to everyone that has any stake at all in this election that… This is what Republicans do.  We generally avoid partisanship on this page to the extent that we possibly can, but in my adult life, I have only seen this tactic employed by chickenhawk Republicans.  When they are running against an opponent who is a decorated veteran with proven evidence of sacrifice for country, and said chickenhawk has nothing in their record that shows a similar capacity for bravery and self-sacrifice… This is what they do.  They try to smear their opponent’s record.  They attack their service.

Is it an outrageously ballsy, sleazy gambit?  Absolutely.  However, there’s a simple reason they keep doing it.  It works.

Karl Rove did it John McCain in 2000.  Employed a whisper campaign on behalf of George W. Bush, suggesting that because McCain endured unimaginable torture in Vietnam, that he might have snakes in his brain and therefore be unfit to lead.  Remember Max Cleland, the Senator from Georgia?  The triple-amputee who lost his limbs in Vietnam?  And need we remind anyone about the sorry spectacle that was the swift-boating of John Kerry?  They do it because it works.

It used to be that a person’s military service was sacrosanct in America.  An untouchable thing.  While we as a nation are probably closer to the late Roman empire (fat, decadent, wealthy, I’m not going to go on here), we still like to think of ourselves as rugged Spartans warriors.  We like to lionize soldiers, or pretend we do, while we play “Call of Duty 3” or whatever.  And the fact is, that the percentage of active duty military in America is much lower than during most of our previous wars.  We lack the visceral connection to war and combat that previous generations have had.  So, it’s actually not that big a surprise that someone with the balls to attack someone’s military service somehow, perversely, benefits from doing so.

So, as we head into the Fourth of July, a holiday about patriotism, please remember who the real patriots are… Hint: it’s not the guy who was dodging child support while his opponent was getting her legs blown off in Iraq.  But more importantly, don’t let anyone you know forget it.  This country has a disconnect with the brutal realities of what war requires of a person.  We can’t allow that disconnect to be exploited by the cynical, the craven, the phony patriots among us. That means you, Joe Walsh.  You’re not getting away with it, chickenhawk.

Happy Fourth of July!


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Kiss Me, I’m Feminish: A Word on Women’s Rites

15 Jun 2012

Before I write another  word, I want to start by saying, I like most of the Christians I know.  They’re mostly nice people.  This is for the ones that are trying to fuck it up for everyone.  They know who they are.

Anyway,  I’ve put it all together.  I have the solution for all the scary bullshit going on in America that is all coming from the fundamentalist Christians and eagerly abetted by the craven,  vote-grubbing politicians who worship them.  And it’s so simple, I don’t know why it hasn’t been done yet.

It came to me after watching a few moments of video of that “radio host,” Caiden Cowger.  For those of you who missed out on the phenomenon, I’ll try to sum up without trashing him too hard.  After all, it’s unseemly for an adult to pick on a 14-year-old boy, even if he is a 14 year old Glenn Beck impersonator spewing hate and homophobia.  And even if he, for some reason, has been given a megaphone for his hate and homophobia in the form of a radio show and an inexplicably popular YouTube channel which both get subsequently shut down for hate speech.  Because, Caiden, sweetie pie, that’s what they call it when you go on rage-filled rants against  gay people and say insane things like “President Obama is making kids gay.”

Anyhow, so many of the pages I follow were posting about this kid, that I felt obliged to at least watch a few highlights to see if it was really all that.  And, it was.  <shiver>   But anyway, he said something in one of his rants, and it was like a bolt of lightning to the side of my head.  He said, “Homosexuality is a perverted belief.”

Now, we’re not going to pick on poor Caiden and deconstruct that statement to show what’s stupid about it (hint: everything).  But it hit me:  Homosexuality is a belief?  That’s what Caiden said, and he would know, right?  Then, why not simply go the extra half-mile and enshrine it into a religion, with a church and the whole nine?  Then suddenly gays could simply cry “religious persecution” just like all these right-wing Christian whiners bitching about taking America back (to 300 B.C.)!

Now, I’m not talking about gay churches.  Those exist already, and are mostly unloved by both Christians and gays.  I’m talking about Gay as A Religion.  The First Church of Gay.  Our Lady of DeGeneres!  St. Leah of DeLaria!  Elton John could dust off a few of those old sequined capes and be the Gay Pope!  The Holy Trinity?  RuPaul, Carson Kressley, and Harvey Fierstein!   They could steal all the gays that it took to put on John Paul II’s funeral extravaganza, and then *every* Sunday could be like that!

If you’re smart, you know where I’m going with this.  Yes, that’s right.  We feminists clearly just need to make our own church.  Or, temple, if you like.  We’ll let the gays riff on Catholicism, since the line is so blurry anyhow.  Temple Beth Fallopia is what I’ve got on my mind.  Lose the star of David and place a giant golden uterus over the door.  At Temple Beth Fallopia, paid maternity leave is a divine commandment, freedom to leave an abusive marriage is a god-given right, the ingestion of the Pill is a holy ritual, and abortion is a mitzvah!  What?  You want to defund Planned Parenthood!?  You fuckers are infringing on my religious freedom.  What do I mean, my religious freedom?  I’m Feminish!  That’s right, byotches.  Feminish.  There’s my temple.    We get together on Saturdays and read off of a scroll in a language that you won’t understand because we use words like “reproductive freedom”, “available contraception”, and “equal pay for equal work.”   You want to pay me less than a man?  Yeah, uh, sorry, but my God says you can’t do that.  It infringes on the free practice of my religion.

So go ahead, North Dakota and Texas.  Bring on those religious exemption laws.  We will just make churches for every goddamned thing.  Then who’s going to be laughing?  The pharmacist who tried to deny me a  prescription because he “thinks” it “might” cause an abortion?  Or me, because the asshole pharmacist is infringing on my sacred practice of a highly revered religious rite?

I’ll hand it to you, you fundamentalist psychopaths, you’re ballsy, and getting ballsier.  This is a side effect of you being batshit crazy.  But we’re crazier.  And we’ve had it with your shit.  Sit the fuck down, and shut the fuck up, or there will be a Temple Beth Fallopia on every goddamn corner.  And a First Church of Gay.  Hey, immigrants?  Pot smokers?  Any of you guys want in?

So, what are you going to do, angry Christians? You want to make our governments into religious-exemption pez dispensers and then duke it out in court over every last case of who’s infringing upon whom?  Let’s do it!  I’m serious. Maybe it will finally make you appreciate what religious freedom actually means.  And, for that matter, freedom in general.  Remember: your freedoms to swing your fist around wildly…?  Yeah.  Ends when it smashes into my nose.   My freedoms are precious to me.  So back the hell up or I will be forced to make them holy.  It’s your call.


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Science, When You Feel Like It

Originally posted
7 Jun 2012

We ran that piece recently talking about how more people support abortion rights than who currently identify as “pro-choice.”  It seems really obvious, but let’s just lay it all out for a minute, as it bears repeating, as we’re seeing (unfortunately) lots of stories about this subject these days.

The attitudes on the pro-choice side can range from “abortion on demand, no apologies” to “I don’t like it but it needs to be available.”  We on that “pro-choice” side are mostly armed with legalistic-sounding arguments about “rights” and “choice”, at least until you burrow down into the awful human stories that have resulted from lack of access.  The so-called “pro-lifers”?  Well, they have the fetus in the jar.  They win.

But here’s the thing.  Pro-choice vs. pro-life is a false dichotomy.  Time and time again, the polls show that most people who support abortion rights aren’t necessarily going to be running out to grab abortions in between their trip to Bloomies and their Starbucks pit stop.  For most, it’s not something done casually.  I’ve spent some time lately in a mostly fruitless effort to understand the mind of the conservative antichoice woman, and in my travels I stumbled upon Feminists For Life.  There’s a lot of claims to dispute on their site, and I’m probably going to write more in depth about them at some point because they are both fascinating and confounding, but there’s one thing that they’re not wrong about, which is that a woman who’s having an abortion doesn’t necessarily want to be there; it’s just that she feels it’s the best option out of an array of shitty ones.

That’s right.  Calling yourself “pro-life” implies that your opponents are “pro-death,” which by and large, we aren’t (really, who is “pro-death”?  Have you met this person?).  And neither are most of the people who support abortion rights.  But the anti-choicers, they’ve got the fetus in the jar.  So we have been gradually losing the message war when it comes to the phrase “pro-choice.”   A term that initially sounded good because it moved the argument away from “pro-life” vs. “pro-death” has been muddied.  They’ve taken it and made it about us dehumanizing the life growing inside a woman’s uterus and reducing it to a “choice” instead of a “child.”

This is clearly a falsehood.  The anti-abortion crowd draws a simple, bright line and says that life starts at conception.  We accept that what is growing inside of a woman is a future human being, a future child, and by rights, terminating that process is a sad thing.  A woman’s biology attests to that, as many women who had no desire whatever for a child and no particular moral feelings regarding abortion have reported having a short period of depression following their own abortions, because their bodies were gearing up to do something that they didn’t complete and now those hormones had nowhere to go.  That’s biology.  Know what else is biology?  A fertilized egg is not a person.  That’s biology. A zygote is not a person.  Biology, baby.   We look at the same pictures of a small clump of cells and say, “That’s not a person.  Yet.”  At some point, a fetus is arguably a person, but you’d have to look pretty hard to find someone who is unbothered with terminating it at that point.

It’s sort of amusing that most of those on Team Fetus are using Science as a prop to back up their claims of fetal personhood, trotting out the ultrasound images and yes, the fetus in the jar, since most of those folks are also highly religious types.  You know, the ones who are all too ready to reject science when it comes to things like evolution and the age of the earth.

For example, we ran a piece from the Times today explaining that the way that the Plan B pill works has actually nothing to do with preventing implantation, but rather preventing fertilization in the first place by delaying ovulation., and that a number of scientists are pressing the FDA to remove language on its label that mentions preventing implantation as a possible effect of the pill.  Because there is a growing body of actual clinical evidence that refutes that idea.  The article mentions towards the end that Jonathan Imbody, vice president of government relations for the Christian Medical Association, raises questions about “whether ideological considerations are driving these decisions.”  Science when we like it, Jesus when we don’t.  Aren’t you as surprised as I am?

It’s always harder to be on the side that doesn’t claim to have black and white answers:  Life begins at conception.  God is a man.  The earth is 5,000 years old.  It’s always harder to be on the side that admits to living in a gray area and tries to make the case that that’s not only OK, but necessary.  That you can stake out a place for yourself in that gray, and leave room for others to do the same even if it’s not the same place as yours.

And if that sounds too mushy and relativist, know that we have our own bright line and it rests here: you cannot tell us what to do with our bodies, ever.  You cannot accept science when it suits you and then force your interpretation of it on us.  We can hold that abortion is a sadness without it being a murder.  That said, there are some narrow areas on which we might agree; that perhaps we need to make the world, or at least our country, more hospitable to women who would be mothers, to make this country a place where a woman’s life and future do not get flushed away if she has a child before she’s ready to do so.  But that’s something else that needs to be talked about in more depth another time.  Right now, I’m here to do one thing, and one thing only, and that is to remind anyone who supports a woman’s right to make her own choices, even unhappy ones, that they are indeed pro-choice.  And that, well… that’s a damned good thing.

– by Jen


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What’s REALLY The Matter With Kansas and How (Maybe) to Fix It

29 May 2012

We currently have three administrators here at Women: Rise Up Now. My two partners live in the Northeast; I’ve spent my life in the Southwest (Arizona) and, primarily, the Midwest (Illinois).

My beloved father hails from Kansas. My paternal grandparents were born and raised in Kansas, and I have family there still. A huge source of pride for me is that one of my great-uncles, William Rockhill Nelson, co-founded the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper that is now called the Kansas City Star. When Katharine Lee Bates wrote about “amber waves of grain,” she was remembering the wheat fields of Kansas – part of America’s beauty, indeed! I myself have written hundreds of pages of fiction set in Kansas, simply because Emporia seemed the perfect home for my kind, earnest, hard-working characters.

In short, I love the place. Kansas, you occupy my heart.

I think that until the 1990’s, most Americans thought that Kansas was just a black-and-white setting. You know, the land that Dorothy left in order to find Technicolor? Until, of course, she realized she’d rather return to black-and-white than stay in the magical land where she just might get to ride around in bubbles with her eyes dyed to match her gown. Yup, she decided to leave that colorful place, where she could have friends, where she was competent and important, where she was more than just a girl who needed to shut the hell up and do as she was told. She decided to leave the land where she’d proven herself strong enough and worthy enough to keep – get ready for it – a yapping terrier. Because back in Kansas, that dog was scheduled for execution.

Sure, after Dorothy clicked her heels and woke up in bed, they all acted happy and thankful that the tornado didn’t kill her – but I bet the next day, they turned Toto over to the sheriff to have his little brains blown out. Oh, and speaking of the tornado? Although Auntie Em cried out for Dorothy, they all wound up leaving the kid to fend off death alone.
“She got herself into this mess, what with being irresponsible and all; she’ll survive it or she won’t, Em, so getcher ass into this dark hole with us men straight-away!”

I have hidden in basements, I’ve run through blinding rain and golfball-sized hail to reach a storm cellar; no way in hell did I ever, or would I ever, leave someone behind. I would never have said, “Ah, it’s her own damn fault, and I don’t feel like taking any risks for her sake.” I would have found her and helped her – her and her little dog, too.

Kansas is a bunch of adjectives I feel silly using – beautiful, bountiful, haunting. Longtime Kansans are tough, stoic, quick-witted, suspicious people who find themselves saying, “I and the other guy did thus-and-so,” rather than “the other guy and I did thus-and-so,” because Kansans know that the most important element of any personal story is the person telling it.

In the 1990’s, the rest of the country slowly became aware of Fred Phelps. (I’d known about him for a few years already, because he used to preach on the quad at the university I attended; nasty stuff that I’ll write about some other time.) So along with seeing Kansas as a black-and-white state, folks now saw it as the land of queer-hating, funeral-protesting nutbars.

Unless one lived in Arizona. I moved there in the mid-90’s, and Kansas was the go-to place for abortions that even Arizona wouldn’t allow. Honestly, my first day in Arizona, I flipped through my local phone book and was stunned at the ads for abortion services. I’d never seen such a thing in my home state of Illinois! Illinois allows first-trimester abortions only, and the protestors outside abortion clinics are – get this – polite. Those I’ve seen are, anyway. If a woman is on the fence about having an abortion, I bet those rude scary protestors frighten her into running inside the clinic and getting the thing done. The polite protesters in Illinois, on the other hand, just might have stopped a few abortions for women who weren’t really sure that abortion was the right choice for them. Could it be that screaming “baby killer” at a worn-out pregnant person isn’t the way to win her over? Hmmmm.
OK, so, back to Kansas. What’s happening there now is that unless they want to become pregnant, women and girls cannot choose any sexual activity except for masturbation, or sex with other females, or sex with sterile men. Druggists are permitted to be on the lookout for women and girls who want sex but not babies. They are legally allowed to say, “NO, I won’t fill your prescription! My preacher says NO! I’m pretty sure that God says NO! So, NO! And I’m not transferring this prescription order to another pharmacist, because I don’t have to. Ha ha on YOU, you bad, bad girl….”

What is going on in Kansas? When did the land of John Brown, the land of butting out if it’s nunya, become the land that is all up in every Kansas woman’s nether regions? I gave birth, and getting that kid’s head out of my vagina was agony. No way is there room for the state of Kansas in there. I assume that is the case for Kansas women as well. From what I know of my grandmother, they aren’t a different species from the rest of us or anything. They just tend to be quieter. And they say, “I and the other guy.”

So, maybe the solution is for true Kansans to fight that ingrained urge to be stoic and quiet, and instead be all about “I and the other guy.” The most important part of any personal story is the person telling it, right? All true Kansans know this.

Kansans, I am begging you to be… well… not quiet. Just for now. You can be quiet later. I know it’s not easy for you to speak up and complain; you are proud people, rightfully so. But for now, please speak up. You don’t have to agree with my politics, or even agree with me about abortion. But if you are a Kansan, I know you. And I know that people bossing other people chaps your proud, stoic, Kansan ass.

~by Erin


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Entrenched Gender Role Warfare on Two Fronts

Originally posted
7 May 2012

We support gay marriage. In case it hasn’t been clear where the admins of Women: Rise Up Now stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, there it is. We believe marriage is a human right, not a hetero-sexual privilege. We hold strong feelings on a number of issues that aren’t always front and center on this page simply because our aim was to build an online community dedicated to legislative action for women’s rights. As editors, we try to stay focused on our mission.

Right now, though, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate our work on our core issues from everything else going on in the political realm. One of the main reasons is that the common arguments against same sex marriage and rationalizations about institutional sexism seem to be coming from the same place: deeply entrenched gender roles in American society.

On women’s rights side the entrenchment is most clear in gender pay gap, brought into national conversation by the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Act and Wisconsin Governor Scott’s repeal of the state’s equal pay law. Though Walker said he signed the repeal to protect the state’s legal system from “frivolous” lawsuits, that the repeal was influenced by gender role assumptions was made public by Wisconsin lawmaker Glenn Grothman’s defense of his vote. Grothman blamed the pay gap, not on discrimination, but on the fact (as he sees it) that “money is more important for men.” Grothman’s logic seems more suited as a line of dialogue from the show “Mad Men” than a speech from a U.S. lawmaker in 2012.

The full quote from Grothman is even more revealing:

“You could argue that money is more important for men. I think a guy in their first job, maybe because they expect to be a breadwinner someday, may be a little more money-conscious. To attribute everything to a so-called bias in the workplace is just not true.”

Only men expect to be the breadwinner? Despite our obsession with all things “Mad Men,” it is not 1965 and women are the primary or co-breadwinners in two thirds of American families.

Yet there is still a belief among some that women “should” earn less because they drop out of careers to care for children, work fewer hours, take less demanding jobs, etc. Republican strategist Alex Castellanos argued as much on CNN in a discussion with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. But Maddow countered with facts that CNN later backed up with research: even when you remove variables such as job level, number of hours worked, etc, men still earn more than women for doing the same jobs. Even when men take jobs traditionally filled by women such as nursing and teaching, they earn more than their female counterparts.

Castellanos’ statement that women work fewer hours is not borne out in facts. It’s an assumption, based on traditional beliefs about gender roles. Women work fewer hours because they’re home with kids, because that’s what they’ve always done, right? Not necessarily. What about the women who don’t have children by choice, work the same hours, in jobs traditionally staffed by men? Statistics show that they will still earn, on average, 77% of what men earn. Even female CEOs, those who have risen to the highest levels in their fields, earn 69 cents for every dollar male CEOs earn.

In the 1990s, fathers began dropping out of the workforce in larger numbers to offset child care costs while their female partners worked. It’s too early to tell how their incomes will suffer for these career interruptions but this shift certainly has not had an impact on the wage gap data yet. That shift also did not seem to have an impact on gender role expectations. Stay-at-home fathers report being being asked repeatedly by strangers if they were “baby-sitting for the day” rather than being their children’s primary care givers. In politics and the workplace, child care is still perceived as a “women’s issue.” As late as 2001, you were hard-pressed to find men’s rooms with baby changing tables in public buildings. Did we really have to wait for the 21st century for the innovation of the family restroom? Apparently it took that long for our gender role assumptions to catch up with parenting behavior, at least when it came to diaper changes.

It’s not as easy to pinpoint a year or even an era where views opposing gay marriage are stuck in, as there are always been gay people in this country and it’s fair to say they have always faced levels of discrimination and been treated as “less than” their fellow citizens. What is clear is that there has been a rapid evolution in the demand for equal recognition of gay relationships over the last 20 to 30 years, culminating in the current national movement for gay marriage. In my lifetime, we’ve gone from the words “longtime companion” being said in hushed tones on television to legalized gay marriage in eight states.

But spend anytime listening to the anti-gay marriage rhetoric and you have to wonder just what they are trying to preserve: the institution of marriage or their ideals of masculinity and femininity? Setting aside the religious anti-gay marriage rhetoric in favor of the more applicable social arguments, the most common assails against gay marriage sound like this:

“Same sex marriages confuse children.”
“Marriage should be between a man and a women for the purpose of pro-creation.”
“Children need both male and female role models in their homes.”
“Same sex marriage will undermine society.”

Now, try to separate even one of these from an underlying assumption about gender roles. You can’t do it. All four are deeply rooted in the idea that there are masculine and feminine roles and the must be reinforced to preserve…what? Order? A power structure? Separate standards of behavior? What exactly, beyond the roles themselves?

Far from contributing to the downfall of marriage, early studies of homosexual couples joined in the first legally recognized American gay marriages are giving psychologists insights to how all marriages can function better, once freed from gender stereotypes. One such study is detailed in a 2008 article in the New York Times:

“One of the most common stereotypes in heterosexual marriages is the ‘demand-withdraw’ interaction, in which the woman tends to be unhappy and to make demands for change, while the man reacts by withdrawing from the conflict. But …new research shows that same-sex couples also exhibit the pattern, contradicting the notion that the behavior is rooted in gender, according to an abstract presented at the 2006 meeting of the Association for Psychological Science by Sarah R. Holley, a psychology researcher at Berkeley.”

Of course, appreciating that these insights might be valuable to heterosexual marriages assumes the ability to see marriage as something that unites human beings, not simply sorts them into their predetermined roles.

Roles assigned to racial, ethnic, and gender group have not been static through the history of human civilizations and there’s no reason to believe they need to stay static in ours. In every era, though various authorities said that these roles needed to remain static because they were as “nature/the gods/the universe/society” intended. These so-called authorities were often proven wrong. But even when proven wrong, they didn’t given up their power and assumptions without a fight. Now we are again in a battle, on at least two fronts. And once again, we know that winning this battle will not be easy.

by – Pattie


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We Are People

Originally posted
4 May 2012

While feminists are repeatedly accused of being man-haters, one-issue voters, and the wagers of false wars, we continue to support legislation that proves the exact opposite. Our support of the LGBT-protection provisions in the Violence Against Women Act is proof that we stand with our brothers AND with our sisters. We all have a right to equal protection under the law. Gender and sexual orientation are, in this case, absolutely irrelevant. We. Are. People.
Michelle Garcia at Advocate.com, citing Sharon Stapel of the Anti-Violence Project, states that “25%-35% of same-sex relationships are marred by domestic violence and abuse, which is about the same rate as other relationships.” I guess rage is an equal-opportunity emotion.
Garcia continues citing Stapel, stating that “LGBT domestic violence victims have few support services, and they often face discrimination when seeking help.” Not only do they face discrimination, they face authority figures (medical professionals, police officers) who are glad that they were victimized, who think they deserve what they got, who sometimes want to make the trauma even worse.
Does anyone remember the pathetic, broken young man in the film Boys Don’t Cry, who was forced by police to admit that his sometime-roommates raped him in his vagina? Does anyone remember that Boys Don’t Cry was based on a true story, and that after being gang-raped, the young man really WAS forced to admit to having a vagina, and to being vaginally raped by his supposed friends? Apparently, the police didn’t find rape to be enough punishment for a life of struggling with gender identity; apparently, the police needed to further humiliate this young person. Oh, and let’s don’t forget that the rapists tracked him down and murdered him not long after. It’s not just a movie….
RIP.
And does anyone remember the child – naked, drugged, injured, and terrified – who ran from Jeffery Dahmer, begged for help, and was RETURNED to Dahmer by laughing police officers? Golly, they figured it was just a gay-boy sex game gone wrong. That was the last time that child ever ran – to a cop or to anyone else.
RIP.
Those two examples received national and international attention. What of the examples that take place every minute of every day, in our neighborhoods, in the homes of our co-workers and even our friends?
This one is a paraphrase of what a lesbian told me over the phone: “I thought he was my best friend. When I came out to him, he freaked. He held me down. Yeah, he raped me. Don’t tell anyone it was me that happened to, OK?”  [No worries. I won’t.]
This is a paraphrase of what a transgendered teen said while sobbing in my living room: “Why do they do this to me? They push me against a wall and stick their hands up my shirt and start feeling me and laughing. I want to DIE, right now, I want to DIE.” [This child left home and started a new life nearly 2000 miles away after high school graduation.]
This one haunted my family for years, no paraphrase, just what happened: One of my daughter’s handful of close friends came out to us the night before his 16th birthday and said he was coming out to his parents the next day. He asked if he could move in with us if the coming-out at home didn‘t go well. We said yes. The next day, he disappeared. His parents told us never to phone their house again. His guidance counselor had no idea where he was. And the police didn‘t care. Years later, this young man found us and told us what had happened to him – his father had beaten him, taken him to Los Angeles, and left him on a beach near the Santa Monica Pier.
Domestic violence takes place between spouses, roommates, lovers, friends, and family members. It includes – but is not limited to – hitting, kicking, pushing, punching, raping, and the sort of emotional abuse that causes a victim to be hyper-vigilant, to live in constant fear. It leaves victims with PTSD. Those victims are young, old, male, female, homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual; some of them aren’t sure what the hell they believe about their own gender and/or sexuality. And they all deserve equal protection under the law.
Again, I say: We. Are. People. Support the LGBT provisions in the Violence Against Women Act.
~by Erin


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The Marching Type

(originally posted on Friday, 27 April 2012)

When I was a teenager, I thought I wasn’t a feminist.  I had this sense of it being an old-school thing, something that had mostly happened before I was born.  Feminism was for my mom’s generation and was about something kind of vague and foreign to me; burning your bra, not shaving your legs, and yeah, the Equal Rights Amendment (“um, they passed that, didn’t they?”).  Blurry black and white photographs of women marching, holding signs.   By the time I started to have any awareness of feminism, I had already made some assumptions.  Guys were still pigs and jerks and so on (a view that has evolved a great deal since then), but we all pretty much had the same rights … right?  The whole time I spent growing up, I had been hearing that I could be anything, do anything that I wanted, and be just as good at it as a guy.   And well, if some employer thought they were going to be paying ME any less for it, they just had another think coming.

Besides, at the time, I was wrapped up in another “rights” movement.  When I was 16, I came out as a lesbian and fell painfully, desperately in love with a girl I knew.  The same way a lot of girls do at 16, I immediately began imagining our life together and dreaming about our wedding.  And as I navigated the waters of being an openly gay kid on Long Island, I found gay and lesbian friends my age, and found that we all did that.  That was when I began to work toward the goal of gay marriage in New York State.  I called our Republican state senate majority leader’s office, wrote letters, distributed literature, and yes, marched.  I did all those things that were available to us as junior wonk/activists back in the early 90s, before it became easy and commonplace to rally people for causes online.  Even though I wound up surprising everyone else years later by up and marrying a man, and having children, I didn’t feel any differently about whether marriage ought to have been a right for any couple who wanted to make a life together.  Funny, but that sick, soaring, dizzy, desperate in love feeling was just the same.   I can’t lie and say that when New York passed their gay marriage law last year, that my eyes didn’t well up.  A battle that I had thrown in with 20 years ago had just finally been won.

So, no.   I’m not exactly a stranger to political activism.

When you’re young, you plan your life based upon the floor beneath your feet, on the bedrock of The Way Things Are, maybe imagining carving some new paths if you’re the bold or dreaming type.  When you’re an adult, you’ve been walking on that floor long enough that you damn well expect it to be there every goddamned morning when you get out of bed.  And, then as now, I’ve been realizing, I’ve got a bunch of people I don’t know and have never met, deciding without my consent what kind of plans I could or could not make for my life.  A bunch of people telling me that, no, actually, I cannot have the rights that I thought were inalienable, that were fought for and gifted to us by those women in blurry black and white photographs in the pages of “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”  A bunch of people trying to take away the floor under my feet.

The work that WRUN does online is enormously satisfying.  It’s an incredible experience to be reaching out to so many people and having them respond.  But it’s not the same as marching.  Most of us don’t have time to do it all the time, especially those of us with jobs and children.  But there’s nothing else like it.  My first time marching for anything was scary and exhilarating; not everyone is comfortable with or accustomed to putting themselves out there.

You’re not sure if you’re the marching type?  You should be!   Not just for the message it sends.  Not just for making your voice heard.  Not just for the effect you hope it has, externally.  But for the effect it has on you, internally.  No, you’re not crazy.  Yes, you believe in something.  You are standing up for something.  Shoulder to shoulder with others who share your belief and purpose.  I’m not going to lie, it can be hard getting emotionally involved in something that in the end, you don’t really have control over.  You just have to make as much noise as you can, and hope for the best.  And if it doesn’t go your way, you have to look at the problem, hold it up to the light, spin it around, and come at it from another direction.  But win or lose, there’s value in the fight, either way.  The simple act of standing up makes you see yourself differently.  It changes your perspective on who you are, what your place is, your role and significance in society and the world.  Whether you win or lose on the issue, you win something by claiming legitimacy for your own voice.  For some of us, that’s no different than every day… but for a lot of us, a lot of you reading this who aren’t sure if you’re “the  marching type” … it might be a radical change.  Maybe one that you need.

So … See you tomorrow?

~Jen


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Milk and Cookies for Trolls, or What I Think About Men’s Rights

(originally posted Saturday, 21 April 2012)

We got hit with a wave of trolls today.  All male.  All apparently really, really angry.  And nearly all seemed to be most enraged by the photo of the man holding up a sign proclaiming his support for women’s rights.  It’s my favorite part of the afternoon, really:  a pedi, a fro-yo and a dose of being called a murderous whore or being told to shut my filthy mouth (is it just me or is there something a little creepily porn-ish about that demand?).  The best comment was informing us that “real war is about blood and sacrifice, which women can’t possibly understand.”  OK.  Let that one sink in for a minute.  We don’t know anything about blood.  Or sacrifice.

Internalized that?  OK, let’s move on.

In spite of such stupidity, I don’t hate men.  I really don’t.  I’m married to one terrific one.  I’m raising two more.  Incredibly, I even encounter men in my daily life outside the home.  Surprising, I know.   Here’s the truth: if anyone had an excuse to hate men, I certainly do.  I’m a survivor of sexual abuse by a stepfather who also hit my mother and once beat my sister so badly we had to take her to the ER after having him dragged away by the cops.  I have been up close and personal in the sex industry and gotten to know prostitutes and strippers, and have seen the nastiest, sleaziest sides of themselves that men have to offer.  But I still don’t hate men as a monolithic group.  So, to a few self-important trolls who think they’re going to … what?  Enlighten me?  Shut me up?  I’m not impressed.  You don’t represent “men” … you just represent assholes.

We, the women at WRUN, are lucky enough to be married to some pretty great guys who are supportive of the cause.  And actually, in general, our personal experiences have shown us a majority of the men our age and younger are in favor of equality under the law when it comes to things like fair pay, protection from domestic abuse, and control of our reproductive decisions.   Yet our audience is more than 85% female.  There’s a feeling, I think, even among the men who support these things in concept, that this fight that we are fighting now against the wave of regression (and repression) is sort of a YP.  “Hey, sorry about the whole government-sanctioned rape thing, wish I could help you.”  I’m not talking to you guys that are already supporters of our page and cause, of course.  But the rest of you… you know who you are.  Or you would if you were reading this.  Which you aren’t, because you’re not subscribed to this page, because this whole “government up in my vajayjay” thing is my problem, not yours.

Ooops, another troll.  This is fun.  It’s like whack a mole!

Again, it’s on the picture of the man holding up the sign.  That one really makes them mad.  The idea that we might like for men to support our rights, and the idea that lots of them do… The effrontery!  This troll identified himself as a men’s rights activist, called me a hypocrite, and demanded that we support mens’ rights.

I think what’s making some of these guys mad, really, is that they view rights as a zero-sum kind of game.  Some things in life ARE like that: if you have a box of Thin Mints (and who doesn’t love Thin Mints?) and your husband eats, say, half the box, well… yes.  That’s fewer Thin Mints for you.  But rights aren’t cookies (although it may be that cookies are a right!  Here’s a glass of milk and a tautology!)

We don’t much get into the kind of cultural analysis that you find in a lot of other womens’ rights pages.  If you’re looking for a takedown of that dreadful new men’s rights anthem that makes us want to jam pencils into our ears till they bleed, or that scathing essay that Ashley Judd wrote about sexism in the media, this isn’t the place you’re going to find it.  We keep things here mostly about legislation (and on occasion, the behavior of legislators) partly because this is a labor of love for us as working moms and we don’t want to try to wrestle more than we can handle, but also because we feel equality in the eyes of the law is the first and most important step to changing a lot of the other things that need to happen between men and women in our culture.  Will legislation fix everything?  Probably not, and neither did the civil rights legislation of the 60s.  There’s still racism and inequality.  That’s going to take a long time to fix.  But it was an important start.

Maybe you’ll want to beat my ass for this (which if you were married to me, and we lived in Topeka, would be legal.  Really.) but I do think that there are burdens in our society that men have to deal with that are unfair, and they go beyond the old “if a robber breaks into the house, who’s supposed to go out there with the baseball bat” question.  Men do in fact die younger and have a higher suicide rate than women.  I think maybe this is partly due to men not seeking the care they should, be it medical or psychological.  (I’ll tell the truth, I base this loose theory mostly on anecdotal evidence from women I know whose husbands resist going to the damn doctor.)  Also, I do believe that there are things about family law and divorce law that are tilted against men in a way that might have been appropriate or understandable 30 years ago but not so much now.  There are important conversations that we need to have about equality under the law as society and its norms and gender roles evolve over the years.  We are ready, able and willing to share a load that has been mostly yours for millennia, chaps.  You should try letting go of it.  That’s included on the list of your rights now.

So guys, we don’t hate you.  That’s not what this is about.  We love you.  We want you to be part of the world that is moving inexorably forward and becoming something new and different all the time.  We want you on that trip.  As men and women, like it or not, we’re bound together.  Not just as two halves of a heterosexual marriage or partnership, but as two halves of a whole society, a whole culture.  More rights and freedoms for us don’t take away your rights and freedoms:  on the whole, they increase them.  We are living “with” you, not “against” you.  We are growing and evolving together every day in surprising ways,… now we just need to help the law catch up.

~by Jen