Gabriela Seattle, led by the truly wonderful Jill Mangaliman, and Green Bodies are organizing a rally and march on Saturday, March 8, to celebrate International Women's Day. It's a musical brigade, it's a social justice movement, it's a party!
Luzviminda Uzuri Carpenter of Green Bodies says:
The idea of the Women’s Musical Brigade is for a celebration and rejoicing in our survival, struggle, resistance, and continued resilience through song, dance, spoken word, speeches, theater, and much more.
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, the Fandango Project, and local emcee Rogue Pinay will all be making appearances. Get your ass out there!
When Arunachalam Muruganantham realized his wife was using old, dirty rags when she got her period each month, he started working on an idea that might help poor and rural women get access to hygenic menstrual products.
"It all started with my wife," he says. In 1998 he was newly married and his world revolved around his wife, Shanthi, and his widowed mother. One day he saw Shanthi was hiding something from him. He was shocked to discover what it was - rags, "nasty cloths" which she used during menstruation.
"I will be honest," says Muruganantham. "I would not even use it to clean my scooter." When he asked her why she didn't use sanitary pads, she pointed out that if she bought them for the women in the family, she wouldn't be able to afford to buy milk or run the household.
Muruganantham worked for years to develop a cheap way to produce maxi pads. When he had a hard time finding women to help with his research in the conservative area where he lives, he strapped on a soccer ball full of goat's blood and tested the products himself:
He created a "uterus" from a football bladder by punching a couple of holes in it, and filling it with goat's blood. A former classmate, a butcher, would ring his bicycle bell outside the house whenever he was going to kill a goat. Muruganantham would collect the blood and mix in an additive he got from another friend at a blood bank to prevent it clotting too quickly - but it didn't stop the smell.
He walked, cycled and ran with the football bladder under his traditional clothes, constantly pumping blood out to test his sanitary pad's absorption rates. Everyone thought he'd gone mad.
After creating his simple machine, he went into business with NGOs and women to keep production going, and completely changed the lives of Indian women:
Women choose their own brand-name for their range of sanitary pads, so there is no over-arching brand - it is "by the women, for the women, and to the women". Muruganantham also works with schools - 23% of girls drop out of education once they start menstruating. Now school girls make their own pads. "Why wait till they are women? Why not empower girls?"
This story is incredible and so, so cool.
We've got this commercialized, Western dominated ideal when it comes to periods—you're allowed to have them, but only if you beat them into submission and never let anyone know you have one and still do jumping jacks in white pants the entire time—so it's easy to forget that a lot of women in the world don't even have access to stuff that makes rivers of blood* flowing out of your body more comfortable. It would have been so easy for Muruganantham to give up or sell out, but he kept going like a fucking champion.
*I know it's only like a few tablespoons a day but it feels like gallons and have YOU ever had your period even? HOW WOULD YOU KNOW! JESUS!
Seattle-area Filipina girls and women are ready to dance for justice as part of the One Million Rising campaign to end violence against women.
Vagina Monologues creator Eve Ensler started One Billion Rising last year as a “a call to survivors to break the silence and release their stories – politically, spiritually, outrageously – through art, dance, marches, ritual, song, spoken word, testimonies and whatever way feels right." According to the United Nations, one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime, totaling about one billion. Over 200 countries participated in the events, and this year they're expecting many more to join in.
Claudia Paras of Gabriela Seattle (formerly Pin@y sa Seattle), a collective that works to build a community in the Seattle area invested in educating, defending, and advocating for the human rights of Filipinas globally, says:
We are dancing again this year because it brings a serious issue to a highly visible platform to raise awareness on a global scale. We know dancing isn’t the solution. The solution is in the direct action we take to tackle the root causes, question the system that enables violence in our everyday lives, and we know we can’t do it alone. As a survivor, organizer, and ally I feel empowered and inspired to be with others here and internationally rising together on VDay.
In addition to tonight's event, Gabriela Seattle is committed to educating their communities about the root causes of violence impacting women and children, including issues of human and labor trafficking, forced migration, wage theft, accessibility to healthcare, and enforced disappearances.
If you feel like dancing along or supporting the cause, head to the Southcenter Mall in Tukwila tonight from 6:30pm-7:30pm.
When Seattle hosts the big AWP conference in a couple weeks, writers will be all over the place: Talking with writers, talking with readers, talking with publishers. They'll be talking about writing and talking about not writing. They'll be at bars and clubs all over the city, drinking and reading and having fun. But here's something to keep in mind during AWP: Amy Silbergeld at HTMLGiant performed an informal survey of one thousand writers, and she discovered that the literary world has a long way to go before women are on equal ground, there.
Women feel less comfortable than men do in their literary communities.
Women’s rankings of their comfort levels had both a mean and median of five. The vast majority of female-identified writers who selected five or lower cited sexism as the primary source of their discomfort.
You should go read her whole report, which features some individual survey responses. Sexism is a huge problem in literature, and if we don't talk about it, it's never going to get any better. I wrote earlier this year about my own contributions to inequality between male and female writers, and why that matters. So let's all agree that if we see public displays of sexism at AWP after-parties this year, we should call them out for what they are. I expect better from the literary world.
Susan Patton, human resources consultant, Princeton mom, and spewer of copious amounts of misogynist garbage, is back. A year after she posted her concern-trolling letter to the women of Princeton, urging them to find a husband before they become washed-up 22-year olds with no prospects of ever getting married, she's now taking her "advice" to the Wall Street Journal. It's the same message in a new outfit—stop being unadulterated hussies, burn your degree, sweep out your fucking vagina, and get married already:
Despite all of the focus on professional advancement, for most of you the cornerstone of your future happiness will be the man you marry. But chances are that you haven't been investing nearly as much energy in planning for your personal happiness as you are planning for your next promotion at work. What are you waiting for? You're not getting any younger, but the competition for the men you'd be interested in marrying most definitely is.
Think about it: If you spend the first 10 years out of college focused entirely on building your career, when you finally get around to looking for a husband you'll be in your 30s, competing with women in their 20s. That's not a competition in which you're likely to fare well. If you want to have children, your biological clock will be ticking loud enough to ward off any potential suitors. Don't let it get to that point.
I am both a happily married person and I have a couple of degrees, and I can tell you with certainty that one doesn't have anything to do with the other. The best advice my grandmother ever gave me was, "Don't marry the first guy you have sex with, always make your own money, and for god's sake get a fucking education," so I called her to ask what she thought of advice like this:
An extraordinary education is the greatest gift you can give yourself. But if you are a young woman who has had that blessing, the task of finding a life partner who shares your intellectual curiosity and potential for success is difficult. Those men who are as well-educated as you are often interested in younger, less challenging women.
My 81-year old grandma said: "Fuck 'em—who the hell wants to end up with a man that doesn't want you because you're smart? Don't date dummies and you won't have a problem."
The question here isn't about whether or not Susan Patton has any idea what she's talking about or if we should take her seriously, but how much salve she needs to apply to her skin on a daily basis to combat the damage done when someone dug her up out of her cave.
The United Nations laid out a plan 20 years ago to address population growth by giving women better access to reproductive rights, and we did it! WE FUCKING DID IT, the global fertility rate is dropping, and the world is a much better place for women, uterus owners, and anyone who doesn't want childbirth to kill them or make their lives suck exponentially. But hold on to your high-fivin' hands—this is pretty much only the case if you're filthy fucking rich.
In poor countries, indicators of women's well-being (maternal death, child marriage, educational access) has seen little progress in the last 20 years.
The gains were most striking in education. In a majority of countries, there was gender parity in primary education, though there were abiding gaps in secondary schools and college. Maternal mortality fell by 47 percent over the last 20 years, though, the report pointed out, 800 women continue to die every day while giving birth. Global fertility rates fell by 23 percent between 1990 and 2010, reflecting rising education, life expectancy and access to contraception.
The report concluded: “Progress has been unequal and fragmented."
Well, it can't be THAT terri—oh, shit:
“In conditions of structural poverty,” the report said, “the threats to women’s survival are especially acute, due to the lack of access to health services, particularly sexual and reproductive health services, and the extreme physical burdens of food production, water supply and unpaid labor that fall disproportionately on poor women.”
The structural and economic inequality that women experience seems to be tied to our larger cultural issue of wealth, namely that less than 1% of adults control over 40% of the wealth. Some of the richest nations—the United States, Brazil,China—have archaic or oppressive attitudes towards reproductive health, and 17 of the 20 wealthiest people in the world are men.
One of the largest indicators of poverty for women is childbirth, and family planning works. But over 215 miilion women who want to use birth control have no access to it, and constantly having babies greatly impacts their ability to work, get an education, or address poverty in a lasting way. A lot of people blame the problem on meritocracy, but it's really difficult to pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you don't own any boots and there's a 10lb. baby hanging from your tits.
I encourage you to read Noelle Stevenson's autobiographical comic strip about what it's like to be a woman in a comic book store. And then I'd like to direct you to Heidi MacDonald's post about Stevenson's strip at The Beat, which also links to some first-person accounts of what it's like to be a woman visiting a comic book store. Here's someone visiting Kevin Smith's comic store, Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash, in New Jersey:
NOT friendly to women. The guys behind the counter openly ogle and discuss female customers, often loudly enough to be overheard. ...Openly mocked an out Lesbian and Gay man while I was in store. Then they started to mock my weight and hair. Until they realized I could hear them.
I just don't understand how a business can exclude fifty percent of the population and expect to succeed—but then many comics shops, with their dim lighting, their apparent fear of windows, and their awful interior design, are off-putting to people who aren't already acclimated to the environment. You can read more comics-buying accounts written by women, both positive and negative, at Hater Free Wednesdays.
When I go to my comic book store, Phoenix Comics, on Wednesdays to pick up my new comics, I often see a nice mix of men and women in the store, browsing around. I love watching all sorts of people being nerdy in a pleasant environment. The two Seattle-area stores on the Hater Free Wednesdays master list are Golden Age Collectibles and Comics Dungeon, but I've also seen women treated like actual human customers at most of Seattle's comics shops—Arcane Comics, Zanadu Comics, and so on. If you're a woman with a good or bad Seattle-area comics-buying experience, I'd urge you to send your accounts to Hater Free Wednesdays. This problem isn't going to be solved if women keep quiet about it.
Last night I watched The Avengers and came away with a simple love for the comical, no-nonsense Hulk, who just wants to smash. It's worth noting that the movie doesn't account in any way for the fact that during the first half of the film, Hulk tries to kill everybody in his way, whereas later he will only kill the evil creatures and then he goes all huggy and becomes cute-dinosaury in the end, but whatever. The fact is that, even though I did wake up this weekend from a terrible, it-came-out-of-nowhere-except-the-everyday-experience-of-being-female rape nightmare, I personally can afford a simple love for the Hulk because I don't have real-life Hulks in my life.
But then I started thinking about Michael Sam and the NFL, and Jason Collins falling in the NBA ranks as punishment for coming out, and I realize that I'm still surrounded by macho men who have the power to destroy people's lives.
Folks talking about whether the NFL is "ready" for Michael Sam miss the fact that the NFL is a horror-show mainstream macho power structure—despite how you feel about the game of football itself—and all horror-show mainstream power structures, like, say, the enslavement of certain people and the decision to keep others from gaining the vote, do not get ready for a damn thing.
Michael Sam's assertion in itself is a blow. A gay man simply asserting his existence is an act of strength that threatens the weak strength of the NFL (what's that saying about how macho men have the weakest kind of strength?).
Because the NFL is driven by dudes who fear, more than anything, feeling the way women feel, as Coates explains:
When black soldiers joined the Union Army they were not merely confronting prejudice—they were pushing the boundaries of manhood. And when the Night Witches flew over German lines, they were confronting something more—the boundaries of humanity itself. Groups define themselves by what they are and what they are not: Niggers are never men, ladies are never soldiers, and faggots don't play football. When Michael Sam steps on a football field, he likely will not merely be playing for his career but, in some sense, for his people.
In that sense he will be challenging a deep and discrepant mythology of who is capable of inflicting violence and who isn't.
Another player (I'm sure he's very important in the NFL but I don't care enough even to write his name here) recently trotted out that old fear of taking a shower with a gay man, Coates writes:
What undergirds this logic is a fear of being made into a woman, which is to say a fear of being regarded sexually by someone who is as strong as, or stronger than, you. Implicit to the fear is the gay player's ability to do violence. It exists right alongside a belief that the gay player is a "sissy." ("Grown men should not have female tendencies. Period," Vilma once tweeted.) The logic is kin to the old Confederate belief that Southern slaves were so loyal and cowardly yet they must never be given guns.
Let's be clear: Gay men are not sexual violators. But that brainless stereotype might actually have a benefit (as long as it doesn't mean gay athletes in locker rooms and on fields are bullied and beaten by a fearful mob majority). If physically powerful pro-athlete gay men standing up for themselves forces macho straight guys into empathy, then that stereotype will have helped to dismantle a whole world of men who have never felt—and in their ignorance, are both terrified and terrifying—the firsthand, implicit threat of sexual violation, the way most women have at some point in their lives. I can't even imagine how different that world would be.
Furthermore, and maybe this sounds too radical, but the day is coming when anybody who watches the NFL and NBA and NHL and hates homophobia is going to have to start demanding that players like Collins and Sam aren't discriminated against athletically for who they are. I'm angry in advance of the draft. I want to smash the NFL.
This is the first thing I read on Sunday morning...
I wonder if @fakedansavage has ever Googled "Gay Bowel Syndrome"
— Lisa Graas (@CatholicLisa) February 9, 2014
.@CatholicLisa I wonder about Catholics who spend Sunday morning tweeting at gay men about their asses. Shouldn't you be at mass? @Pontifex
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) February 9, 2014
Yes, I ran to the Pope and tattled on Catholic Lisa. I thought Francis should know that Catholic Lisa wasn't in church on Sunday morning, where she belonged, but online, concern trolling a gay dude about his asshole. (Which, for the record, is just fine. Also for the record: "gay bowel syndrome" is bullshit—unlike, say, "rapist priest syndrome.") Me and Catholic Lisa, who I'd never had the pleasure of meeting before, proceeded to get into a little twitter spat. In all honesty, Slog, I let her have it. I figured if this woman wanted to spend her Sunday morning talking about gay assholes, I was going give her all the gay asshole she could handle.
To my gay male followers: @CatholicLisa is very concerned about our assholes. Write her and let her know your asshole is fine, okay?
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) February 9, 2014
.@catholiclisa is the @SarahMcLachlan of gay men's assholes.
— Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) February 9, 2014
The next thing I knew I was tweeting back and forth about my asshole with Catholic Lisa (who insists she not homophobic, it's just that gay people are disgusting and we make her vomit), other gay men were jumping in about their assholes, then I was debating Catholic Lisa's assholery with Catholic Joel Connelly. We were at full-blown twitter war! It continued through breakfast and raged on even after I got my ass to gay church, a.k.a. the gym, with Episcopalian Terry, my gay husband. (His asshole, for the record, is more than fine.) Terry was getting annoyed about how Catholic Lisa was distracting me from my spotting duties. Which lead to this exchange between Catholic Lisa and Episcopalian Terry:
I'd like to thank @fakedansavage 's minions for donating their reactions toward an increase in my @klout score.
— Lisa Graas (@CatholicLisa) February 9, 2014
@CatholicLisa @fakedansavage @klout I Every time I see Lisa tweet at Dan I am going to make a donation in her name to @PPact!
— Terry Miller (@fakedanshusband) February 9, 2014
When Catholic Lisa tweeted at me again, Terry donated $50 to Planned Parenthood in Catholic Lisa's name and tweeted her a picture of the receipt. She tweeted at me again, Terry donated again in Catholic Lisa's name. She tweeted at me again, Terry donated again. Catholic Lisa kept on tweeting at us. She claimed that she was being bullied and posted my high school graduation picture as proof. Then Terry asked his followers to donate to Planned Parenthood, I asked mine to donate to Planned Parenthood, and before the afternoon was over we had raised more than $3,000 for Planned Parenthood—all in Catholic Lisa's name. And this was the first tweet I read this morning:
Was a huge fan of @fakedansavage to begin with - love him even more for turning a hateful tweet into an outpouring of support for @PPact!
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) February 10, 2014
So my Monday got off to a much better start than my Sunday. Catholic Lisa, for her part, sees our twitter spat like this:
#WhatILearnedToday "Gay rights" activists threaten to pay to kill babies in the womb if Christians tweet their views. #tolerance
— Lisa Graas (@CatholicLisa) February 9, 2014
Wrong. Catholic Lisa is free to express her views. No one really gives a shit about her views. We spent the day raising money for Planned Parenthood because Catholic Lisa wouldn't stop blowing up our twitter feed. And Catholic Lisa is wrong about what Planned Parenthood does:
By providing women with contraception—35% of what they do—Planned Parenthood helps to bring down the abortion rate. That's what access to contraception does. And here's the proof. The abortion rate is lower now than it has been at any time since Roe v. Wade thanks to greater access to contraception. So by making contraception services available to women, Planned Parenthood drives down the abortion rate. People like Catholic Lisa—people who oppose abortion—should thank everyone at Planned Parenthood for all that they've done and all that they continue to do to prevent unplanned pregnancies and abortions.
And finally: it's not too late to participate in our impromptu fundraiser for Planned Parenthood! Click here to donate!
One last exchange... after the jump...
If you never met a woman and were trying to figure out what we're like purely from looking at stock photos, you'd think most of us were salad loving, mostly naked, power suit-wearing idiots. Thankfully, Jessica Bennett and her team at Lean In are partnering with Getty Images to combat this insipid form of institutional sexism and make stock images less sexist.
Born out of the memoir of the same name by Facebook's chief operating officer, the non-profit has partnered with Getty Images to create a stock-photo library of 2,500 pictures that portray women in a positive light. Those will be available to Getty customers like corporations seeking an image for their website, creative directors at ad agencies and photo editors at media outlets.
The notion behind the partnership is that a sizable share of results that come up in routine stock-photo queries for terms like "businesswoman" and "career woman" are "completely sexualized or just really cheesy," said Jessica Bennett, Lean In's contributing editor who works on editorial partnerships for the organization.
She pointed to photos of women in boxing gloves and women gleefully ascending ladders in their high heels, a trend that New York Magazine recently documented.
"There's so much terrible stock imagery out there, so we wanted to put something out that felt really authentic and empowering," she said.
It will be nice to look up "feminism" on a stock photo site and not see a woman threatening a man with a gun or an iron anymore.
You can see Deborah Faye Lawrence's collages at ArtsWest. They're a cross between ransom notes, Hieronymous Bosches, and public service announcements. As in, don't let your sister, mother, girlfriend, fiancee, wife, or even your sex worker get cut in half like this. Face women whole.
Now we return you to your regularly scheduled programming. See more recommended art shows right here.
Earlier today the Reproductive Parity Act (RPA), which would protect access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare in Washington by requiring that insurance companies that cover maternity care also cover abortion, passed with a 54-44 vote. Rachel Berkson, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, said she was grateful to allies in the House for supporting the Reproductive Parity Act, and:
"We’ve heard from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner that at least two plans through the state exchange don’t cover elective abortion, and there’s confusion surrounding more. This is what happens without the RPA in place to protect access to care. We appreciate that our representatives in the House stand with women, and we urge the Senate to show that they do too."
From NARAL's press release:
Passing commonsense legislation like the RPA is crucial in ensuring that women in Washington State maintain access to the care that they need, and as attacks on women’s health escalate nationwide, Washington must lead with nation with strong legislation that protects women’s health.
Well, Senate, now it's up to you.
The abortion rate in the United States dropped to its lowest point since the Supreme Court legalized the procedure in all 50 states, according to a study suggesting that new, long-acting contraceptive methods are having a significant impact in reducing unwanted pregnancies. There were fewer than 17 abortions for every 1,000 women in 2011, the latest year for which figures were available, according a paper published Monday from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion-rights think tank. That is down 13 percent from 2008 and a little higher than the rate in 1973, when the Supreme Court handed down its landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Some pro-lifers are crediting the wave of restrictive legislation passed since 2011, but the data only go up to 2011! And besides, the drop has been going on for more than twenty years now, in a huge success for the pro-life movement, and for the pro-choice movement. Which makes this moment such a telling one. The rate is now roughly where it was in 1973, when Roe went into effect. So without getting rid of the legal regime for abortion, rates are now almost where they were before it came into effect. It seems to me that this somewhat brutally undermines the case for a policy of coercion and criminality going forward. If we can halve the rate of abortion under Roe, and effectively make its impact neutral on abortion rates, without criminalizing abortion, don’t we have a win-win?
So... the abortion rate is now where it was before abortion was legalized. And if we continue to back contraception—by, say, including contraception coverage in the health insurance policies that people are obligated to purchase under Obamacare—we could conceivably drive the abortion rate down further. To pre-Roe levels. Unfortunately American conservatives and anti-abortion crusaders are waging a war on contraception and access to contraception. Because what they oppose is sex. And female sexuality. It's women having sex in the absence of potentially dire or life-altering/life-threatening consequences that drives them mad. That's why they oppose abortion and the one thing that has been proven to bring down the abortion rate: greater access to contraception.
And the fact that we're talking about driving abortion rates down to pre-Roe levels is evidence of something that we should be talking about more: legal or illegal, women will still get abortions. So the debate isn't, "Shall we have abortions in this country or not?", but rather, "What kind of abortions are we going to have? Safe and legal? Or Unsafe and illegal?"
That anti-choicers will choose "unsafe and illegal" gives away the game: It's not about "ending abortion," it's about punishing a woman for the crime of having sex when she wasn't trying to make a baby.
All five abortion clinics operating in Louisiana are set to close thanks to the new, super sneaky laws, emergency measures, and blood test requirements that drastically decrease the window for getting the procedure done within the 20-week cut off.
Zoe Carpenter at The Nation reports that none of the existing clinics can meet the new, seemingly arbitrary space requirements (and convoluted staffing requirements) outlined in the "new abortion rules" that went into effect in November. Traveling to another state for the procedure is often impossible, since it's really goddamn expensive and most patients can't afford the cost. Also problematic is that the law is asking for a mandatory 30-day waiting period to be put into effect via blood testing—doctors often do blood tests when you're pregnant, but there's no medical rationale for the waiting period. New Orleans attorney Ellie Schilling is calling this entire shitshow a "back door abortion ban":
“What it amounts to is a back door abortion ban. The way the [Department of Health and Hospitals] went about passing these regulations was in a secretive and undemocratic way. The public definitely doesn’t know what’s going on.”
There was a public hearing this morning that may have been canceled due to weather, and it's not clear if there will be another one scheduled before the end of the comment period. This is so frustratingly shady.
Is it just me, or has Patty Murray been extra awesome lately?
Nineteen Democratic senators, including Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and four other women, are filing an amicus brief Tuesday in support of the Obama administration’s contraception mandate under the Affordable Care Act.
The provision is being challenged by Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts retailer that is arguing that the mandate violates the company’s religious freedoms under the First Amendment, according to Yahoo News.
This Hobby Lobby contraception mandate debate is one of those things that simply shouldn't happen in America. When did it become okay for corporations to provide a benefit for their employees and then tell those employees how they can and can't use the benefit? What business is it of Hobby Lobby's how their employees spend their time? Why are conservatives supporting this, beyond their instinctual fear and loathing of vaginas? This story alternates between nightmarish and simply baffling.
The Seattle Women's Convention held Thursday night was epic. It was astoundingly well-attended, drawing artists old and young, from gilded to tough backgrounds, classical realist painters to performance artists—and almost every woman in attendance spoke at some point. We're talking more than a hundred women.
Young artists spoke of being afraid to sign their first names to their works for fear of being immediately categorized as a "woman artist." Older artists gave encouragement, asked-for advice and life stories. An original Guerrilla Grrl took the opportunity to finally come out of the closet. Her name is Ann Leda Shapiro, and she lives on Vashon.
Among the subjects of conversation: the debate over labels versus freedom and context; the different politics in different parts of the art world (the classical realist world versus the museum world, for instance); how women of color and white women often approach feminism differently (feeling part of it, not feeling part of it); how to make feminism into a creative project of reimagining gender and sexuality; the overconfidence of male art students and the underconfidence of female art students; painting big; gender and the pseudonymous internet; the way perfectionism separates women from each other and themselves; which works of art you've seen recently that have made you able to see more value and depth in the women around you; whether there's more pressure to make art that's ambiguous in subject matter or pointedly about "women's issues"; whether women are "allowed" to critique sexism in their lives if they don't address it directly in their works; the way that men see themselves as simply "the universal human subject."
A particularly honest section of the night happened when women described their differing direct experiences with patriarchy, varying from being raised in religious seclusion in an abusive patriarchal household to an acclaimed artist and MFA professor advising his female students not to have boyfriends or husbands if they want to be serious while not similarly advising his male students.
Several questions and ideas were posed by women beforehand, and those suggestions were posted on the walls of the Hedreen in advance, as in Davida Ingram's, "If you could wave a magic wand and turn any artist into an avowed feminist, who would you pick? And why?"
The night lasted three hours but somehow passed quickly. It wasn't just more rehashed talk. By the end, I felt like I actually knew these women, and the art being made every day in this city, more deeply. I have to call that out, because it's rare. Thanks to everyone who was there, and to Manitach and Veltkamp for organizing.
Among the artists in attendance were Crystal Barbre, Davida Ingram, Sherry Markovitz, Tariqa Waters, Sharon Arnold, Deborah Lawrence, Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Cristin Miller, Kathy Liao, Kelly Lyles, Tracy Boyd, Grace Weston, Ellie Dicola, Anne Blackburn, and Kate Protage. Look them up, check out their work (and please leave any other names and links in comments, as I'm missing a ton). Melissa Monosmith was also present; she has just taken over from her husband at LTD. Gallery on Capitol Hill.
To follow the future activities of the Seattle Women's Convention, you can join the Facebook group.
Rejoice, womb warriors! The train of misguided, misinformed, rich, old male politicians rolls on, this time adding a Rand Paul performance to the Huckabee Parade of Bullshittery. Rand Paul knows two successful women, so the war on women is over:
This whole sort of war on women thing, I’m scratching my head because if there was a war on women, I think they won. You know, the women in my family are incredibly successful. I have a niece at Cornell vet school, and 85% of the young people there are women. In law school, 60% are women; in med school, 55%. My younger sister’s an ob-gyn with six kids and doing great. You know, I don’t see so much that women are downtrodden; I see women rising up and doing great things. And, in fact, I worry about our young men sometimes because I think the women really are out-competing the men in our world.
This new Republican approach to feminism is sort of ingenious in a Kaiser Soze sort of way—instead of working to address the myriad ways they're working to keep women oppressed, including but not limited to their own party's disgusting views on rape, they're just trying to persuade women into thinking everything is totally cool. See, those two privileged ladies have rights, so quit yer bitchin'! When in doubt, use deflection.
Working in an office with Dan Savage has done nothing to melt my prudish heart, and these torture device vibrators over at Styleite are making me want to sew my vagina shut for-goddamn-ever. But which one is the worst vibrator of all?
Seems like Mike Huckabee is pretty proud of himself for finding a new phrasing that he thinks will entice women to join the Republican Party. Aaron Blake at the Washington Post says:
“I think it’s time Republicans no longer accept listening to the Democrats talk about a 'war on women,'" Huckabee said during a speech at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting in Washington. "The fact is the Republicans don’t have a war on women, they have a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender.”
Huckabee said Democrats rely on women believing they are weaker than men and in need of government handouts, including the contraception mandate in Obamacare.
Huckabee's description of the way he thinks Democrats view women—"helpless" and unable to "control their libido"—is incredibly condescending. It's clear that his perception of the Democrats is cut-and-pasted, wholesale, from conservative blogs and bears no relation to reality. Which makes Huckabee's statement especially sad. It's Mitt Romney's 47 percent commentary with a little stereotyping thrown on top. This is not a winning argument, and this is not how you convince people to join your party.
Huckabee's first step, if he really wanted to do outreach, should have been to talk to actual, human women about their opinions and concerns. Instead, he's just spouting some bullshit at a friendly room that loves it and eats it up. That's exactly how Republicans lost the last two presidential elections.
By now you have already seen the upcoming, much-remarked-upon New York Times Magazine cover depicting, bizarrely, Hillary Rodham Clinton as
moon/cancer patient "Planet Hillary."
...but it was rejected because "the land mass making up the hair felt forced." To the polls!
While such comparisons are suspect, it turns out kicking antidepressants is extremely difficult, especially for women.
Also, they are overprescribed (especially for women), and long-term use is becoming more and more common (especially for women), and "no real exit strategy exists" (for women and everyone else).
One expert says, "No one cares about what happens to the brain when you go on these drugs," and, furthermore, "Experts disagree about what exactly happens to the brain when people come off these types of drugs."
And long-term studies of long-term SSRI use still do not exist.
Woman Takes Short Half-Hour Break from Being Feminist to Enjoy TV Show
PORTLAND, OR—Saying that she just wanted a little time to relax and “not even think about” confining gender stereotypes, local health care industry consultant Natalie Jenkins reportedly took a 30-minute break from being a feminist last night to kick back and enjoy a television program.
Jenkins, 29, told reporters that after a long and tiring day at her office, all she wanted to do was return home, sit down on her couch, turn on an episode of the TLC reality show Say Yes To The Dress, and treat herself to a brief half hour in which she could look past all the various and near constant ways popular culture undermines the progress of women.
“Every once in a while, it’s nice to watch a little television without worrying about how frequently the mainstream media perpetuates traditional gender roles,” Jenkins said before putting her feet up on her coffee table and tuning in to the popular program that follows women as they shop for wedding gowns. “No mentally cataloging all the times women are subtly mocked or shamed for not living up to an unrealistic body image, no examining how women are depicted as superficial and irrationally emotional, and no thinking about how these shows reinforce the belief that women should simply aspire to find a man and get married—none of that. Not tonight. I’m just watching an episode of Say Yes To The Dress and enjoying it for what it is.”
Women who suffer the horror of rape sometimes decide to keep a child that was conceived during the attack, and sometimes the rapist wants custody of the child, and that is the grossest thing I've ever typed. It's a fucking travesty that rapists are able to keep assaulting their victims this way, but there are a few states that have no legislation preventing it—including Washington.
In a press release received yesterday, Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles is trying to make the world a little more tolerable for Washington women by introducing SB 6364, a bill that would give some power back to women who decide to raise children who are the result of rape and strengthen the legal rights for survivors of rape.
I was shocked to find out that Washington is one of a minority of states that does not have a clear legal process for survivors of rape to limit or eliminate co-parenting rights with their rapist. Survivors of such crimes deserve the opportunity to do what is best for themselves and their children.
Yeeesh. I'm glad the senator introduced this, but why did it take so long for someone to introduce this?
Today is the day I celebrate another year of being less punished than I could have been for the circumstance of having been born with a uterus. Hooray! (Next up: tampon subsidies and period leave.) In honor of the day, I'd like to remind everyone of a few basic statistics about abortion from the Guttmacher Institute:
• More than half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and about four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion.
• At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, and, at current rates, one in 10 women will have an abortion by age 20, one in four by age 30 and three in 10 by age 45.
• 37% of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28% as Catholic.
• About 61% of abortions are obtained by women who have one or more children.
• 54% of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method (usually the condom or the pill) during the month they became pregnant.
The Obama White House released a statement this morning, saying "We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom."
And our own Washington senator Patty Murray, who we fucking love for a million reasons, released her own statement this morning as well, reminding everyone that this right is under attack more than ever. Last year, she points out, was "yet another record-breaking year of state legislatures passing restrictive legislation barring women’s access to abortion services." She continued: "In fact, in the past three years, the United States has enacted more of these restrictions than in the previous ten years combined." You can read her entire statement below the jump.
Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, right-to-life activists are marching on the Supreme Court in frigid temperatures that have forced them to shorten or cancel some of their planned activities. And as we all know, terrible weather is God's way of saying He doesn't approve of what you're doing. Listen to His divine will, anti-choicers! Turn away from your evil ways!
The Federal National Council of the United Arab Emirates just passed a law requiring mothers to breastfeed. Who cares if you have to work! Your country needs your boobs for the children, so the women attached to them aren't really a priority.
If you couple this with the Texas law forcing a woman to be kept alive to incubate a baby against her family's wishes, it looks like women's rights are really taking a turn for the completely fucking awful. Women are in the midst of a dystopian sci-fi future we never actually wanted, and Soylent Green is made out of us.
By now, you know: On February 21, 2012, five women in colorful dresses and masks entered the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow to stage a "punk prayer." Three of the women were arrested, tried, and sentenced to two years in prison. Russian prison.
I kept careful tabs on the events (one of my first Stranger pieces was on Pussy Riot), but still craved information. These faraway stories and sterile news reports were so disconnected from what I really wanted to know. Who are these women? Masha Gessen's Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot wastes no time in answering that question, intimately detailing the rise of Pussy Riot by profiling each member and the events that led to their crusade.
Pussy Riot's founder, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Nadya), was an obsessively studious child. Her somewhat immature father, Andrei—who tells Gessen things like "I am an expert in the upbringing of girls"—encouraged her to be more rebellious. Teenage Nadya took up radical activism in university, like when five couples videotaped themselves having sex in the Biology Museum (Nadya was nine months pregnant at the time; her daughter Gera was born four days later).
A rabbi, a priest, and a woman who somehow equated abortion to Martin Luther King, Jr. went to the House Health Care & Wellness Committee hearing yesterday to debate House Bill 2148, the Reproductive Parity Act, which is back on the docket for the third year in a row. Currently, all Washington state insurers that cover maternity care also cover abortions, and the Reproductive Parity Act would ensure that would still be the case with our new healthcare legislation. There were arguments for and against the bill, but misinformation seems to be an inherent problem with this bill.
The primary concern among the bill’s detractors seems to be insurance carrier transparency, and how difficult it is to find the right plan if you don’t want to pay for any abortion services at all. Some health care providers do have refusal clauses, but it’s really hard to wade through the language and figure out which ones they are. I called the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner to see if they could help, and their advice was to literally call every single insurance plan to find out their individual policies.
Ma'Lik Richmond, one of the two Steubenville students convicted of raping a 16-year old girl, was released from juvenile detention after serving 9 months of his one-year sentence.
His attorney, Walter Madison, issued a statement saying the youth is "braced for the balance of his life" and that he and his family are requesting privacy.
"While away, Ma'Lik has reflected, learned, matured, and grown in many ways," he said in the statement. "He is a better, stronger person and looks forward to school, life, and spending time with family."
Richmond was sentenced to one year in March 2013. A judge convicted him and fellow Steubenville High School student athlete Trent Mays of raping the West Virginia girl in August 2012. Mays also was convicted of using his phone to take a naked picture of the underage girl. He was sentenced to two years.
Asked for comment, the attorney for the girl, Bob Fitzsimmons, said in a statement today it was "disheartening" that there was no mention of her or her family in the statement made on Richmond's behalf.
"One would expect to see the defendant publicly apologize for all the pain he caused rather than make statements about himself," Fitzsimmons said. "Rape is about victims, not defendants."
I don't know what "braced for the balance of his life" means, but I hope it involves automatic monthly donations to rape crisis centers.
The Guttmacher Institute released some end-of-the-year statistics about the horrifying state of abortion rights. Well, horrifying if you own a uterus or know someone that does, or you care at all about autonomy and personal rights.
If you can get past the staggering revelation that there were "more abortion restrictions enacted in 2011-2013 than in the entire previous decade," there are more nuggets of information that will make your eyes scab over and your heart slam shut! State support of abortion rights are decreasing, restrictive licensing requirements are popping up left and right, private health plans fuck with the right to have an abortion unless you are dying, bans on abortion access for county and municipal employees are real things that exist, and a smorgasbord of restrictions like increased waiting periods, clinic shutdowns, forced ultrasounds, mandatory parental consent, and flat-out denying emergency contraception have been put into effect. USA! USA! USA!
Washington State falls in the supportive of abortion rights category, and as of 2010 has 287 publicly and Title X-funded clinics serving over 400,000 people (they say women, but not everyone with a uterus identifies as a woman). Maybe we can let the rest of the country know that The Handmaid's Tale is not an instruction manual.
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