Join Mass. NOW in Counter-Protesting Citizens for Life March!

19 09 2009

Got this in an email from Boston Now.  I know I will be there.  Will you?

“It’s time to once again gather our pro-choice posters, t-shirts, and rally cries to show that they’re not the only voice and that women must have a CHOICE – and we need YOU there!

Every year, Massachusetts Citizens for Life holds an anti-choice march.

Every year, Boston NOW organizes a counter-protest to represent a pro-choice voice and message to the public.

Please join us in showing your pro-choice pride. It is very important that all pro-choice people and organizations are out voicing their opposition to this march – especially now – as it becomes clear that reproductive freedom is being used as a bargaining chip in the national health care debate. We encourage you to invite colleagues, friends, and members, and to place this event on your organization’s calendar!

Date: Sunday, October 4, 2009

Time: 1:30 pm

Where: Meet on the corner of Charles St. and Beacon St.

(in front of Starbucks, across from Boston Common)

walk to the meeting spot from public transportation the Red line (Park St./Charles/MGH), Green line (Park St.), or Orange line (Downtown Crossing)

Who: Boston NOW, pro-choice supporters, and YOU!

Please email Boston NOW at to RSVP or for more information.”

Monday Blogaround

30 06 2009

There’s a lot we’ve missed lately… so here are some good reads to catch up with:

As Pride Month comes to an end, and as we reflect on Stonewall: Obama Commemorates Stonewall, Inequality in the Marriage Equality Movement and The Real Stonewall Legacy.

Eve Ensler’s op-ed in The Washington Post: A Broken UN Promise in Congo.

Gender is a social construction, so two feminist parents in Sweden are raising their child gender non-specific.

Triggering and heartbreaking – Violence against the trans community is still very persistent and pervasive: Transgender Woman Brutally Beaten in Queens Bias Attack – TLDEF Demands Full Investigation Into Hate Crime.

Recession Depression: Having a good work/life balance is ideal, but how realistically achievable is it especially in economic hard times?

This caught my eye because even though I am not a big Chipotle fan, many of my friends rave about it: Chipotle Injustice – Chipotle is the nation’s most rapidly growing fast food chain, but how socially responsible is it?

Prison rape is a widespread phenomenon and the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission just released a new report with suggestions and guidelines on how to end prison rape.

Reflections on Privilege, Guilt and Identity.

Some body to love – you are more than just your body.

Racist Thinking at the Supreme Court – Again.

The connection between reproductive rights and sexual violence – “He Thought a Baby Would Keep Me Forever”: When Partner Abuse Isn’t a Bruise but a Pregnant Belly.

Society is obsessed with parenting and children – Vanessa Richmond at Alternet explores this further.

Pregnancy is scary when you’re not “fit” to mother

16 06 2009

Via I Blame the Patriarchy, here is a misogynist billboard that Jill saw:


As Jill writes, pregnancy is scary if you are a vulnerable woman in a patriarchal society that hates women, especially pregnant women who get pregnant under the “wrong” circumstances.  What are some of these “wrong” circumstances?  They include situations where the pregnant woman is a teenager (OMG! Teenagers having sex?!!!!), single and not planning on getting married anytime soon (But the baby needs a father! / Well now you’re doomed to be a poor single mom forever), of color, low income, low income and unmarried and already with children (oh god, just another one of those welfare queens), a prostitute, and a drug abuser or addict.

Meanwhile, pregnancy is not scary when you fit the acceptable mold of motherhood.  Like if you are an upper class heterosexual white woman who is married.  This billboard reminds me of ads I used to see on the NYC subways which would show a glum and depressed looking young woman and the text would say something like “Abortion Alternatives”.  Of course they weren’t abortion alternatives.  They were anti-choice ads targeting vulnerable women, like teen moms or low income women of color.

This is the organization’s website.  If you are considering abortion, the website immediately warns you:

Abortion is not just a simple medical procedure. For many women, it is a life changing event with significant physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences. Most women who struggle with past abortions say that they wish they had been told all of the facts about abortion and its risks.

Later on the site goes on to warn you of the risk of abortions, like how abortion is associated with premature delivery if a woman chooses to have a baby in the future:

Women who undergo one or more induced abortions carry a significantly increased risk of delivering prematurely in the future. Premature delivery is associated with higher rates of cerebral palsy, as well as other complications of prematurity (brain, respiratory, bowel, and eye problems).

Another problem that abortion can cause is that it may potentially lead to breast cancer (an unfounded claim),  or it may deteriorate your emotional and psychological health:

There is evidence that abortion is associated with a decrease in both emotional and physical health.  For some women these negative emotions may be very strong, and can appear within days or after many years.  This psychological response is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

And of course, if you get an abortion there are spiritual consequences you must deal with:

People have different understandings of God. Whatever your present beliefs may be, there is a spiritual side to abortion that deserves to be considered. Having an abortion may affect more than just your body and your mind — it may have an impact on your relationship with God. What is God’s desire for you in this situation? How does God see your unborn child? These are important questions to consider.

I wish I had something more eloquent to say right now, but my only response to this, especially the “How does God see your unborn child?” part, is a big LOL.  The page ends with:

…real empowerment comes when you find the resources and inner strength necessary to make your best choice.  Here are some other options.

The other options include parenting, adoption, or going to a local pregnancy center for counseling.  Right…because women who choose to get abortions have absolutely no clue that they could’ve just had the baby or given it up for adoption.  By closing with these suggestions and the whole “real empowerment” schpeal, the site is obviously trying to dissuade women from getting abortions and trying to insinuate that women who are truly empowered don’t get abortions because they know of their “other options”.

I’m sick of billboards like this and ads and organizations who produce those ads who mask as helping pregnant women when what they’re doing is anti-choice work of using fear tactics to scare women out of getting abortions, even if that may be their best option and the choice they want to make.

Pastor Drake Prays for Obama’s Death on Fox News

11 06 2009

via Womanist Musings:

Alan Colmes: Well you say you are praying for the death of somebody using imprecatory prayers, I then asked for whom else are you praying you then said President Obama.  Are you praying for his death?

Drake: yes

Alan Colmes: So you are praying for the death of the president of the United States

Drake: Yes

Alan Colmes: Are you concerned by saying that you might find yourself on a secret service call or on some kind of FBI wanted list? Do you think it is appropriate to say something like that, or even pray for something like that?

Drake: I think it is appropriate to pray the word of God.  I’m not saying anything. What I am doing is repeating what God is saying and if that puts me on somebody’s list then I’ll just have to be on their list.

Alan Colmes: You would like the president of the United States to die?

Drake: If he does not turn to God and does not turn his life around, I am asking God to enforce imprecatory prayers that are through out the scripture, that would cause him death that is correct.

Regarding Dr. Tiller’s murder, Drake basically says that even though Tiller’s death was an answer to his prayers, he did not explicitly pray for Tiller to be murdered and therefore has no fault.  He argues that the murder was an inconvenient setback to the anti-choice (“pro-life”) movement and claims that Tiller’s killer was not in fact a “pro-life” Christian, but instead that “somebody in the Obama camp had this guy killed.”

He also says that Tiller went to Hell when he died but that he himself, on the other hand is guaranteed admittance to heaven.  Drake calmly states that he talks to God all the time and that God wanted Tiller dead and now wants President Obama to die.

Drake says he is using “imprecatory prayer,” a type of prayer in which words of judgements in the Psalms are prayed back to God.  He therefore argues that if anyone has problems with what he is saying, they should take it up with God because he is only echoing God’s word.

Although this guy is obviously a nutjob, it is infuriating that he can get away with openly promoting death for both Dr. Tiller and the President of the United States.  It is disgusting that he is using religion to condone violence and murder.  Drake seems to think that his opinion of God’s wishes is the only correct opinion, and he blatantly ignores all aspects of his religion that advocate peace and love.  Disguising his own hate and bigotry as religion is appalling and insulting.

Of course, it is Fox where we once again find this idiocy being broadcast.  Why is it that Fox News continues to give these people a platform to spread hate?

Wishing for someone’s death and preaching this hate to others IS a form of violence. Drake’s words fuel the fires of hate in this country and help give his fellow wackos a disguise for their actions behind religion and patriotism.  Absolutely infuriating.  And the fact that Drake was given a platform at Fox to spread this hate is not unexpected, but is infuriating as well.

Baby Heels are “Heelarious!”..or are they?

10 06 2009

Heelarious is a company that markets baby high heels.  Because marketing never fails to prove that children are never too young to be gender stereotyped.brookenew


For your child 0-6 months, these shoes are meant for babies who cannot yet walk.  The completely soft baby heels have been on the market for a year now, and are still popular!  They are quite expensive (just check out the site!).

Whereas some people have been offended by the shoes, claiming that they sexualize infants inappropriately, others think they are harmless and just “heelarious.”

Nevertheless, the shoes have become extremely popular, and were even put in the gift bags at the Emmy awards. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekend Reads

6 06 2009

It’s the first weekend of June…my, does time fly!  Here are good posts to check out this weekend:

The mainstream media has covered the opting out debate a whole lot.  But what’s missing from this coverage is that opting out, leaving one’s professional career to raise a family, is something that only women with privilege can truly do.  Ann Friedman has a piece out called  When Opting Out Isn’t an Option that discusses the need to shift the conversation about women and work.  She includes women who don’t have the luxury to opt out, the majority of women in this country, in the picture and discusses how the recession can be an opportunity to reframe the opting out debate.

There’s a great op-ed in the New York Times today about Ann Lohman, an English midwife who emigrated to New York and committed suicide in 1878 after years and years of anti-choice harassment.  She called herself Madame Restell, sold herbs and pills designed to end pregnancies, performed abortions if the herbs and pills did not work which she charged on a sliding scale depending on her patient’s ability to pay, taught sex education classes, provided shelter for pregnant women, delivered babies and set up an adoption service.  The op-ed examines Lohman’s legacy as a a champion for reproductive rights and illustrates how anti-choice violence continues to threaten those who do dedicate their lives to defending reproductive rights.

One of the reasons why people reject feminism is because it historically, and continues to, exclude certain marginalized bodies like the LGBTQ community and people of color.  Racism Review tackles this issue in Gloria Steinem, Where Are You Now? During Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign feminist activist Gloria Steinem wrote a piece in the NYTimes condemning the mainstream media’s sexist treatment of Clinton.  However, Sonia Sotomayor has been the target of countless racist and sexist attacks ever since her nomination but prominent white feminists who have publicly condemned sexism before, like Steinem, have been silent.  Why have none of them spoken up for Sotomayor?

Transphobia and violence against the trans community remains persistent throughout the world.  There have been many recent violent hate crimes against trans people in various countries: the U.S., Honduras, the Dominican Republic, India, Turkey, Canada, Serbia, Peru and Venezuela.  Bird of paradox reports that this year alone in Venezuela, there have been more than 20 trans people murdered so far.  This is deeply saddening and upsetting – launching violent assaults and murdering people are not appropriate or acceptable ways to treat the trans community.

Privilege is something that we continually think and write about.  But what exactly is privilege?  One way that people think of privilege is “You haven’t thought of these issues in the same way that I have because they don’t affect you in the same way.”  Another way to think about privilege is “You don’t have to think of these issues because they don’t affect you.”  Echidne of the Snakes has a post titled Thoughts on privilege (by Suzie) in which she discusses privilege and how it plays into our lives.

There’s a post on Womanist Musings about how an eight year old girl from Winnipeg showed up at school with her arms covered with white supremacist markings like swatstikas (which were “sun wheels that represented peace and love”) and “H.H.” for “Heil Hitler”.  Her parents taught her that Hitler was a “good man ‘for killing lots of people that didn’t belong there'”.  When a detective asked her for her parents’ thoughts on ethnic minorities, she responded that they felt that ethnic minorities “‘should be killed or go back to their country'”.  She also said “Some people from Pakistan carry AIDS and they could kill you”.  Remember that these insidious words are coming from the mouth of an eight year old.  Her parents clearly are not setting a good example in perpetuating their bigotry.

You were discriminated against and now have a smaller pension because of that? Gee, that sucks.

18 05 2009

The Supreme Court declared in 1976 in GE v. Gilbert that pregnancy discrimination by employers “was not a gender-based discrimination at all.”  Congress however overrode the Court’s interpretation and passed the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1979 which amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to outlaw pregnancy discrimination by employers.  The Pregnancy Discrimination Act stated that companies could not treat pregnancy leaves differently from other disability leaves, so maternity leaves are just disability leaves that are credited towards retirement.

But today, in a 7-2 decision the Court held that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act should not be applied retroactively and that AT&T is allowed to pay female employees lower pension benefits if they took maternity leave before the PDA was enacted.  Four AT&T female employees who had taken at least one maternity leave between 1968 and 1976 sued AT&T to get their leave time credited towards their pensions.  They lost between 67 and 261 days of uncredited leave.

AT&T lawyers argued that their pension plan was legal when the women took their pregnancy leaves so there’s no reason for them to recalculate their pensions now.  They also argued that the Pregnancy Discriminatory Act is not supposed to be retroactive and since the women took their leaves prior to its passage, they don’t deserve the extra money.  And seven Supreme Court Justices agreed with them.   This is a slap in the face for these four women, and countless other women who have been discriminated against because they were pregnant.

The women’s lawyers argued that even if the Pregnancy Discrimination Act is not retroactive, the preceding decision from Lorance v. AT&T Technologies should inform this current decision.  In that earlier case, the Court held that if a seniority system is discovered to be facially discriminatory, it “‘can be challenged at any time.'”  Furthermore, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 states that intentionally discriminatory seniority systems “when a person aggrieved is injured by the application of the seniority system” can be challenged.

The two dissenting opinions came from Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg Stephen Breyer.  In her dissent Ginsburg notes:

Today’s case presents a question of time. As the Court comprehends the PDA, even after the effective date of the Act, lower pension benefits perpetually can be paid to women whose pregnancy leaves predated the PDA. As to those women, the Court reasons, the disadvantageous treatment remains as Gilbert declared it to be: “facially nondiscriminatory,” and without “any gender-based discriminatory effect.”

There is another way to read the PDA, one better attuned to Congress’ “unambiguou[s] … disapproval of both the holding and the reasoning” in Gilbert. On this reading, the Act calls for an immediate end to any pretense that classification on the basis of pregnancy can be “facially nondiscriminatory.” While the PDA does not reach back to redress discrimination women encountered before Congress overruled Gilbert, the Act instructs employers forthwith to cease and desist: From and after the PDA’s effective date, classifications treating pregnancy disadvantageously must be recognized, “for all employment-related purposes,” including pension payments, as discriminatory both on their face and in their impact. So comprehended, the PDA requires AT&T to pay Noreen Hulteen and others similarly situated pension benefits untainted by pregnancy-based discrimination.

So the question essentially is, “Does paying a woman lower pension benefits than she would otherwise be entitled to constitute ongoing discrimination if the decision was initially made in the past?

The Supreme Court’s ruling on this issue is upsetting and will impact the lives of many women who took pregnancy leaves years and years ago and are now approaching retirement.  However, it is important to keep in mind that The Supreme Court is an interpretative body – it interprets the laws that Congress has written.  So while today’s decision is infuriating, the responsibility should be on Congress to remedy the legislation so that pregnancy discrimination is prohibited.