I attended a forum with my city councilwoman, congressman and democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi yesterday. It’s evident that part of the Democratic Party election strategy for these midterm elections is to turn out women, but I did find much of the forum very compelling and inspiring despite knowing the underlying motive.
Each of these forums showcase women that speak to issues that have framed their lives–be it pay inequality, the lack of child care or the lack of benefits like paid medical and parenting leave and medical insurance. Enabling women to better participate in the economy is part of the policy initiatives to revive the struggling American Middle Class. The other pillars are to use Buy America Bonds to modernize infrastructure and reduce student loan interest rates to that paid by banks.
Single and minority women overwhelmingly vote Democratic. So do people with graduate degrees and nearly every minority. Chuck Todd, who is succeeding at keeping MTP at the bottom of the ratings, refers to this phenomenon as the Chick-Fil-A Nation vs. Starbucks Nation. But really, how do so many folks that are struggling to make ends meet fall into the category of Starbucks customers?
“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on Sunday described the 2014 midterm elections as a battle between “Starbucks nation” and “Chick-Fil-A country.”
He split the U.S. into the Democratic urban areas that drink Starbucks and the Republican rural areas that eat Chick-Fil-A.
According to Todd, there are a few Senate seats up for grabs in Chick-Fil-A-loving states like Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, giving Republicans the advantage. And he said that the major battlegrounds are Colorado and Iowa.
He said that Democrats will need to deploy major get-out-the-vote efforts in urban centers. Perhaps at Starbucks?
Much of the Democratic party base are those folks that are unlikely to get time off to vote. They are struggling with being underpaid and basically aren’t given paid time off for anything. And, there’s a whole lot of assholes on the internet that will tell them they are horrible people. But, guess what? Studies show that it’s internet trolls that are the horrible people. They test as sadists, sociopaths, and narcissists.
In this month’s issue of Personality and Individual Differences, a study was published that confirms what we all suspected: internet trolls are horrible people.Let’s start by getting our definitions straight. An internet troll is someone who comes into a discussion and posts comments designed to upset or disrupt the conversation. Often, it seems like there is no real purpose behind their comments except to upset everyone else involved. Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.
What kind of person would do this?
Canadian researchers decided to find out. They conducted two internet studies with over 1,200 people. They gave personality tests to each subject along with a survey about their internet commenting behavior. They were looking for evidence that linked trolling with the Dark Tetrad of personality:narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadistic personality.
[Edit to add: these are technical terms with formalized surveys to measure them. You can find lots more information about their formal definitions online]
They found that Dark Tetrad scores were highest among people who said trolling was their favorite internet activity.
The greatest thing that I found attending this forum was the number of young women who were truly committed feminists. Here’s a great speech given by the actress best known as the nerdy wizard girl of the Harry Potter Series. She’s a committed young feminist too.
Earlier this summer, fresh from college graduation, Emma Watson, was named a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador. Though the ripples of her involvement over the past six months can be seen online (crashing the U.N. website, using Twitter to denounce a sexist politician in Turkey or respond to the gender politics of the recent celebrity nude photo hack), Watson’s power in person is an entirely different matter.
The actress gave an impassioned speech on feminism and gender at the U.N. Headquarters in New York this weekend to launch the “HeForShe” campaignwhich aims to galvanize one billion men and boys as advocates for ending the inequalities that women and girls face globally.
I decided that I was a feminist. This seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminists. Apparently, [women’s expression is] seen as too strong, too aggressive, anti-men, unattractive.
Why has the word become such an unpopular one? I think it is right I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decisions that affect my life. I think it is right that socially, I am afforded the same respect as men.
Watson is pushing back against recent campaigns like Women Against Feminism. As Watson puts it elsewhere in her speech, these campaigns portray the feminist cause as “man-hating.” By involving both genders in the “HeForShe” campaign, Watson hopes to abolish the “us vs. them” mentality.
Watson is potentially in an even better position than many of her peers to do so. Her role as Hermione Granger, the universally-adored heroine of the Harry Potter series, gives her an automatic in with male and female Millenials. This is a rare case where an actor being conflated with their role might be a good thing. In this way, her wide-spread influence on young minds (still forming their opinions on gender roles and advocacy) is even stronger than other high-profile defenders of the f-word like Beyoncé.
But, the world has changed and not always for the better. Not only are there tales of women who get sick with no health care and no paid medical leave. There is the ever decreasing disrespect shown to teachers and the way universities are saving their money to pay their highest administrators by using professors as adjuncts. It’s not only home health care workers, fast food workers, and retail workers that can’t live on the wages paid.
You’ve probably heard the old stereotypes about professors in their ivory tower lecturing about Kafka while clad in a tweed jacket. But for many professors today, the reality is quite different: being so poorly paid and treated, that they’re more likely to be found bargain-hunting at day-old bread stores. This is academia in 2014.
“The most shocking thing is that many of us don’t even earn the federal minimum wage,” said Miranda Merklein, an adjunct professor from Santa Fe who started teaching in 2008. “Our students didn’t know that professors with PhDs aren’t even earning as much as an entry-level fast food worker. We’re not calling for the $15 minimum wage. We don’t even make minimum wage. And we have no benefits and no job security.”
Over three quarters of college professors are adjunct. Legally, adjunct positions are part-time, at-will employment. Universities pay adjunct professors by the course, anywhere between $1,000 to $5,000. So if a professor teaches three courses in both the fall and spring semesters at a rate of $3000 per course, they’ll make $18,000 dollars. The average full-time barista makes the same yearly wage. However, a full-time adjunct works more than 40 hours a week. They’re not paid for most of those hours.
“If it’s a three credit course, you’re paid for your time in the classroom only,” said Merklein. “So everything else you do is by donation. If you hold office hours, those you’re doing for free. Your grading you do for free. … Anything we do with the student where we sit down and explain what happened when the student was absent, that’s also free labor. Some would call it wage theft because these are things we have to do in order to keep our jobs. We have to do things we’re not getting paid for. It’s not optional.”
We have a long way to go before all of us achieve life, liberty, and happiness. This is especially true since a huge portion of one of the two parties is more interested in ideological grandstanding and magical thinking than governance.
Two occupations make up the home care aide profession: personal aides who provide clients with self-care and help them with everyday tasks, and home health aides who assist the disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired and may administer medication or check clients’ vial signs. Put together, about 2 million Americans hold these jobs. (The PHI estimates that there are likely hundreds of thousands of uncounted aides employed by individuals and families.)
The wages these workers earn are painfully low: the median salary for a personal care aide is $19,910 annually, or $9.57 an hour; a home health aide earns $20,820 or $10.01 per hour. As America’s population ages, these professions are expected to grow by 49% and 48%, respectively, from 2012 to 2022, eclipsing the average growth for all occupations: 11%. They are the second- and third-fastest growing occupations in the nation—behind only industrial-organizational psychologist, a job that brings in median annual wages of $83,750. On the BLS’s list of 30 fastest-growing jobs, personal and home care aides are the worst paid.
It’s no surprise, then, that the home care industry is plagued by high turnover rates, which the Institute for the Future of Aging Services pegged at between 40% and 60% for a home health aide who has been on the job for less than a year.
Take all these factors into account and you’ve got the makings of a public health crisis, says Ai-Jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, an advocacy group. “In light of the Age Wave—the Silver Tsunami—the high rates of burnout, and poverty wages that no one wants to work for—it’s not good for the general public,” she says.
Home care workers, who are employed by third-party agencies or by clients directly, have long been exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws. That will finally come to an end in January, when a Department of Labor regulatory change will grant most home care workers wages of at least $7.25 per hour and overtime.
The ramifications of the new rule illustrate, as Poo puts it, “the pattern and practice of discrimination” against home care workers. At the time of the rule’s announcement, it promised to give home care workers in 29 states minimum wage and overtime protections for the first time, according to the National Employment Law Project. Many of these states have minimum wage and overtime laws for other workers, of course, but some of them have over the course of their history carved out exemptions for in-home care providers. That means that in some states home care workers will earn the federally mandated $7.25 an hour for the first time in January, but if their state has a higher minimum wage that excludes in-home workers, they won’t be eligible for the higher rate. Alaska, for instance, enforces a minimum wage of $7.75 but it also has an exemption for “domestic service” employees, so most home care workers in that state will be subject to the federal $7.25 rate come January, not the state’s higher wage.
At the federal level, home health care workers aren’t covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which only covers “facility” workers, according to PHI. And anti-discrimination laws, such as the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, generally only cover employers with multiple employees, says the Economics Policy Institute, meaning some in-house workers are excluded.
Home health workers employed by individual households aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation, family and medical leave, and can’t enroll in a 401(k), PHI says.
In the hierarchy of workers, home health care workers are at the bottom, below even low-paid fast-food workers,whose recent strikes and protests have drummed up public empathy. This is by no means a new development.
It seems that these jobs really, really need unions. One woman who spoke from the audience said she was terminated after she asked to be removed from her contractor’s constant emails about who to vote for in upcoming elections. Evidently, they didn’t appreciate the fact she didn’t want to vote for the people who are making decisions that keep her from a living wage with benefits that ensure her well-being.
Here is another compelling story about a woman supporting her family at Burger King while attending university. She wrote an essay that went viral and has been turned into a book.
After the initial fuss, some journalists began muck-raking, trying to prove that you weren’t what you said you were. How did that feel?
I’m not going to recommend it as a lifestyle choice. I lost a ton of weight in three weeks. If you need a crash diet, go viral. Whatever it was I managed to capture had enough power truly to upset some people. A lot of them hoped I was a poor little rich girl, living in a McMansion. Emotionally, it would have been easier to deal with. But I’ve never claimed to be anything that I’m not. Guys, I called the thing “Why I make terrible decisions”.
So, I gave my welfare records to the Washington Post. Those things, and the teeth video, closed it down [in her essay, Tirado wrote that her teeth had rotted because she could not afford dental care, and that this made her unsuitable for working front-of-house in restaurants and offices; when this was disputed she posted a video online in which the ugly gaps in her teeth can clearly be seen].
The trouble is that a lot of people simply don’t understand the stratification in the lower classes. I wasn’t born in Appalachia with no running water. At Burger King I made $28,000 a year. Yes, you can survive on that money. But that’s not the point. It’s a 90-hour week. What is your life like while you’re surviving? Can you keep a family on it?
I have one more thing to ask you today besides begging you to vote for candidates that support the rights of all. It’s that time of year when we ask you to help us renew our domain name and gadgets that help us maintain the blog. Please click the donate button. Our bills are coming due for early October and we need help! Thanks so much!
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Tonight I have a special treat for you…a meatball recipe, my very own, but first let’s get to the evening news round-up.
First a couple of items on the Hoodie controversy going on lately. Today, in the House of Representatives, a bit of a protest got one member kicked out. Bobby Rush and the Hoodie of Doom – Esquire
Rep. Bobby Rush, still the only man to beat Barack Obama in an election, apparently offended against the dignity of the House Of Representatives this morning by wearing a hoodie onto the House floor in tribute to Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was shot to death by a trigger-happy police officer wannabe for the crime of carrying snack food in the wrong neighborhood:
A long prohibition has barred House members from wearing hats on the floor and Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), presiding over the floor as Rush delivered his remarks wearing the hood on this head, ruled his clothing out of order and gaveled his speech to a close. Rush was then escorted from the House floor.
Why do I believe that, in the extraordinarily unlikely event that the Cubs ever won a World Series, Rush could’ve worn his Cubs cap while introducing a resolution congratulating the team and Congressman Harper would’ve let that one slide?
The political cartoonists have been busy as well:
Which brings me to this scene from the movie Hot Fuzz…it seems hoodies have had a bum rap years before the Zimmerman killing of Trayvon Martin. Watch this clip from the movie Hot Fuzz (2007): The Neighborhood Watch – Video
The clip The Neighborhood Watch from Hot Fuzz (2007) with Edward Woodward, Jim Broadbent.
Well, well, well, I see we have visitors.
Nicholas, this is Tom Weaver.
Civilian liaison with the Neighborhood Watch Alliance.
You’ll find that we run a very tight ship here.
From this command center I can see what the whole village is up to.
I must say I was rather admiring your handiwork last night.
It’s a pity you didn’t do the same to those bloody hoodies.
Hanging around. Loitering. Sitting.
Actually, I did notice some minor graffiti on the fountain.
Graffiti? They’ve gotta be dealt with, Frank.
They’re nippers, Tom. They’ll come round.
Which reminds me,
our friend, The Living Statue, was here on Saturday.
11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00.
If we don’t come down hard on these clowns,
we are gonna be up to our balls in jugglers.
We’ll get right onto it, Tom.
We like to let them think they run the place.
It looks like the movies aren’t the only place where neighborhood watch folks “run the place.”
BAR has published some articles on the Trayvon Martin murder, and I have to say I was waiting for their comment on this.
I will link to the articles, and I encourage you to go read them…or at least bookmark them for later.
Police and their prey are locked in a dance – with the cops leading the morbid shuffle. In New Orleans, where the author hails from, a white officer who just this month shot a young Black man to death was found to have recorded a racist rant against Trayvon Martin, calling for the Florida teenager to “go to hell.” Meanwhile, New York cops travel to New Orleans to record the author’s speech at a film festival.
George Zimmerman, the watchdog of a gated community, “was upholding the time-honored tradition of white homeowners’ associations that protected white communities from dark interlopers.” His “lesser white status” as a person of partial Latino ancestry, “is part of what legitimized Zimmerman’s self-defense claim.”
Oh, and by the way, don’t miss this one either: Angela Davis Has Lost Her Mind Over Obama | Black Agenda Report
Let’s move on to some other news items, presented to you in a link dump of sorts.
First a series of articles on vaginas, birth control and the war on women:
Global Roundup: Catholic Church Opposes Women’s Health Care in the Philippines; Have Anti-Choice Extremists Invaded Britain? Yup they sure have, as Boston Boomer pointed out last week, Britain has their own problem with PLUBs. But they are not the only one…this article gives you the low down on what the global war on women looks like.
Vagina enters stage left — or is it right? -From CNN International, guess we have to go to the non US site to get some news about protest here in the US…
The Pill Makes Women Richer - Really? I bet it does…this MoJo article talks about the positive effects of birth control on the “gender wage gap.”
When birth control isn’t for birth control – I love this one…
In 1957, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first birth-control pills, it wasn’t for birth control. The contraceptives won approval as a treatment for severe menstrual disorders; temporary infertility was a side effect. Funny, women across the country suddenly started complaining in droves about severe menstrual disorders.
As religiously-affiliated organizations, such as Catholic hospitals and universities, continue to complain about federal policies that would require that health insurance cover family planning (President Obama worked out a compromise deal under which the insurance companies would absorb the cost, but the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops still sees this as undue interference), one issue hasn’t come up much: What about when birth control isn’t for birth control?
Why shouldn’t women who suffer from these very real ailments have access to appropriate medication? Not to mention women for whom pregnancy itself is medically dangerous?
The op/ed states that women will be forced into finding sympathetic doctors to prescribe their birth control…
… this takes us back to the early history of the pill in this country. Women who want to make their own choices about their reproductive futures will start claiming one of the related conditions.
You know, it is pretty sad state of affairs when the solution to the birth control mandate, getting a doctor to write the script for severe menstrual disorders, is something women had to do over 50 years ago to get birth control in the first place.
You may have heard about this next link: Ron Johnson Offers Women Contraception Advice: Google ‘What If I Can’t Afford Birth Control?’
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) weighed into the controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s birth control mandate this weekend, dismissing the concerns of women who cannot afford contraception.
“My wife actually went online here in Wisconsin and typed in, ‘what if I can’t afford birth control,’” the freshman Tea Party senator told ThinkProgress. “Came up, bam. If you can’t afford it, you can get birth control in this country.”
Video at the link…
A couple more links for you tonight, before we get to the food…
Veronica Olguin says she went to Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center in October of last year because her 3-month-old daughter Selena had a high fever she couldn’t break.
Selena stayed there for two days. Olguin says on the third day, as she was being released, a nurse was removing the tape that attached the IV.
“They were taking her IV off with scissors and she obviously wasn’t looking where she was cutting, so she cut off her finger,” Olguin recalled.
Veronica was holding her daughter and saw as the scissors cut into her, not realizing what she was seeing at first.
“I realized it because there was blood everywhere. It was all over her shirt, it was on my shirt. It was on my face. I held her face close to my chest. She was red, she was screaming,” Olguin continued.
About half of Selena’s pinky on her left hand was cut off.
Olguin is now suing Heart of Florida Regional Medical Center. Her attorney, Lou Pendas of Tampa, says the nurse and the hospital were negligent.
“The nurse threw the scissors used to sever the pinky in a panic. She rushed out of the room, screaming, and that’s when the doctors rushed back into the room,” Pendas said.
The finger was found on the floor and the infant was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital. But the nerves were too small, and the veins too little to reattach it.
And then we have this tidbit about Andrew Sullivan: Hillary Clinton Is Not A Real Feminist Have you heard about this? I completely missed it…
There are a lot of things that apparently disqualify women from being feminists these days. Wearing heels, putting on lipstick, and compromising for your spouse’s career. Falling into the third category won’t fly by Daily Beast blogger Andrew Sullivan, who said on Bill Maher’s HBO program late last week that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is “not a feminist” for “[subordinating] herself to her husband’s career in politics.”
First discussing former Britain Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Sullivan said the Iron Lady was “amazing” and a true feminist whereas former first lady Clinton used her significant other’s political status to advance her own career:
“Unlike Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher made her own political career, [and] didn’t latch on to her husband. That’s called real feminism…[W]hy did she subordinate herself to her husband’s career in politics? She made a choice to put a man ahead of her. That’s not a feminist.”
When Brown University associate professor Wendy Schiller argued that Clinton “was maligned and abused since the minute she stepped into public life with her husband,” Sullivan asked the academic to pull out “the world’s tiniest violin.” Nevertheless, Sullivan said that Thatcher had thicker skin than Clinton because the English female never played the victim.
What an asshole Sullivan is…but that is my own non-feminist opinion…at least according to Sullivan’s definition of feminism.
I don’t know…the article cites a post from the Daily Caller, did anyone hear about this happening on Bill Maher?
This next link is amazing: Face transplant man Richard Norris has ‘life restored’
You have to see the pictures of the before and after…
A puppy, so small it may qualify for the Guinness Book of World Records, had to be revived by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions when she was born.
The Grace Foundation, which takes in unwanted animals, said animal control picked up the puppy’s pregnant mother, and she gave birth to a litter of five on March 8.
The foundation, which has called the Dachshund mix Beyonce, said she would soon be ready for adoption.
It has submitted an application to the Guinness Book of World Records to see if Beyonce is the world’s smallest puppy.
So grab your coffee, tea or Diet Coke…and get ready to get down to business. I have an intense post for you this morning. I do hope it gets the conversation going.
First, let’s go straight to the head of the line…the one that is populated with all those fetus fanatics. A beginner’s guide to banning abortion, from the USA – Telegraph Blogs
How do you outlaw abortion in an age that is obsessed with sexual liberty? Given the hysterical response to Nadine Dorries’ modest proposal to reform the counselling given to women seeking a termination in the UK, it seems like an uphill struggle. But quietly, almost without anyone noticing, the Republican Party in the United States is showing how it can be done. It takes time and patience, but the results reflect well on what Dorries has accomplished so far. The best way to kill the abortion industry is not through religious moralising. It’s through red tape.
One thing though, the GOP not only uses the red tape to shackle these women to the PLUB fetus farm, they also use that good ol religion to get the defunding done.
Since the 2010 landslide, the prolifers have adopted a new strategy. Rather than shouting about a national ban and obsessing about picking the right presidential candidate, prolifers have refocused on making life uncomfortable for local abortion providers. Beneath the radar, state-by-state, they are starting to get the job done.
Take Kansas. In April 2011, Republican lawmakers introduced new regulations for the three remaining abortion clinics in the state. The regulations were dubbed “targeted regulation of abortion providers”, or TRAP laws. They specified everything from the size and temperature of counselling rooms to the appropriate number of janitorial closets. The regulations were issued after business hours on a Friday and clinics were given until Monday the next week to comply. Unsurprisingly, none of them were able to rebuild their premises in time. For a few hours it looked like Kansas would become the first state since 1973 to totally outlaw abortion.
Of course, as always happens in America, a judge intervened.
Your damn right, and check it out…this PLUB, author Dr. Tim Stanley, admits the agenda flat-out…
The genius of this strategy is that it has avoided the usual religious semantics by couching the prolife position in the language of “health and safety”. Republican lawmakers have insisted throughout that they are just trying to provide the best service for women seeking a termination. They don’t mean to restrict that service – it’s just that their standards happen to be very, very, very high.
Dr. Stanley, you can go shove that “genius strategy” up your anti-woman, anti-rights, christian right-wing extremist assssss.
There is a reason I posted this PLUB promoting crap, because the author makes one statement that is correct and true:
The strategy is starting to work in the US…
And this is the most frightening part of the PLUB agenda, it is working here in the US.
However, women’s reproductive rights are not the only rights we are still fighting for, what about that little thing called Equal Rights? The shocking contempt for women’s rights [The reply] – latimes.com
How far have American women come since winning the right to vote in 1920? Eve Weinbaum and Rachel Roth addressed this question in an Aug. 26 Op-Ed, “Beyond suffrage,” bringing up issues that elicited backlash on our discussion board. Surprised by the reaction — in, ahem, 2011 — they offer this reply.
When we wrote “Beyond suffrage,” we didn’t think it was particularly controversial. Our contribution was to point out that 91 years ago Crystal Eastman laid out an agenda for change that can still guide women and men working for equal rights today. We argued that women deserve equal pay for equal work, that the ability to decide whether and when to become parents is central to “freedom,” and that all forms of discrimination in the workplace and the public sphere should be challenged and dismantled.
The commentary this article received really proves that there’s a lot of jackasses out there who not only want to destroy a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body…they want to destroy women all together…they outright hate women.
…we were stunned by the vitriolic language from most of the commenters. Their posts seem to fit into a few major categories:
1. Women do not deserve equal rights. Roneida said simply, “If the Creator had wanted women to be equal to men, he would have made them the same.” Several readers argued that women’s natural role is to take care of children, and that women should embrace their “difference.” On the other hand, one argued that “low-income/low-intelligence women have used welfare in the past as a ‘gravy train’ as they bear more and more children.” These readers seem to argue that white, middle-class women should have children because it’s their “nature,” while lower-income women and women of color should do the opposite. One post says, “I’d suggest paying women of color $100,000 in exchange for becoming infertile.”
2. It’s women’s own fault that they are not treated equally. EdmundSingleton objects to women on television with “streaking dyed hair, greasy lips, piles of eye make-up, in what can only be called the new clownish look.” Others argue that women have all the choices they need: “Ladies, if you want to make as much as men, you have a few options. Don’t have children. If you do have children, find an employer that offers appropriate childcare…YOU choose whether or not to have children, YOU choose who your partner is, YOU choose how far to go in your career.” What these readers are missing is an understanding of structural change, instead focusing everything on individuals’ need to change themselves.
3. Women are bad, and women of color and Jewish women are worse. One reader objects to two Jewish women writing this piece, and another rails against “Jew broads” in the Senate and on the Supreme Court, along with “an illiterate Rican chick.” Obviously we find these sentiments abhorrent, but it is important not to ignore the fact that they persist.
4. Women should quit whining. One says, “Cries of ‘gender discrimination’ are just ways to explain away one’s personal shortcomings.” As touchdowntony said: “The women’s movement has done more than any other ideology to bring on the destruction of the family unit…Feminism has brought about the distenigration (sic) of a society.” Lillyloo2you says, “We have come a long way so quit whining.” And thanks to garryowen for this: “Blah, blah, blah. Women are their own worst enemy.” Many of the comments were personal (though none of the commenters knows anything about either author). For example, one reader wrote, “Judging by your writing, you’re most likely to be an unmarried, obese, lonely cat lady.” Others commented: “Just because you’re emotionally insecure in this big scary world, funding your life with a second rate job, doesn’t mean other women are just like you,” and “your whining duet makes me sick.” “You wanted equality, you got it, so stop crying poor pitiful me.”
After more than 55 readers had posted responses to our piece, one asked, “Why do I get the feeling of hatred in so many of the comments?” I can only speculate that we hit a nerve among readers of the Los Angeles Times, especially among men. As one of them says, “You are not the center of the universe.” Another complains, “I’s all about how we can better the lot of females, and females only.” Although none of them frames it in this way, these readers seem to be intent on holding onto male privilege — and white privilege — in any way possible. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they maintain that no changes are necessary — in politics, in the home, in the workplace or in the economy. Perhaps Eastman’s call to “arrange the world” to allow for real freedom is still too threatening.
Sick and utterly disgusting isn’t it? Well, I got something even more disturbing for you. It is difficult for me to understand how this mother and victim of domestic violence can find something hopeful in a recent human rights report: USA: Victim turned activist reflects on landmark domestic violence decision | Amnesty International
Local authorities in Castle Rock, Colorado knew that Lenahan, then Jessica Gonzales, and her daughters Leslie, Katheryn and Rebecca – aged 7, 8 and 10 – had long suffered domestic violence at the hands of her estranged husband Simon Gonzales.
But despite a court restraining order against Gonzales, police failed to respond to Lenahan’s repeated pleas for help – seven phone calls and a visit to the police station – after he arrived at their home unannounced on 22 June, 1999 and drove off with the girls.
Early the following morning, Gonzales drove to the Castle Rock police station and fired shots through the window, prompting a shoot-out with police that left him fatally wounded. After the gunfight ended, Leslie, Katheryn and Rebecca were found dead in the back of the truck.
Since then, US authorities from Castle Rock right up to the US Supreme Court have repeatedly denied Lenahan access to all the answers about how and when her daughters died, and she has never received any reparations for her suffering.
Lenahan tells Amnesty International that she wants to know the details of her daughter’s murders.
“I want them to tell me whose bullets actually killed my children, and where and when did they die?”
…While she feels that those questions may never be answered completely, the recent decision by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights gives her hope that she may finally see some positive change for others at risk of domestic violence.
In 2005 the US Supreme Court ruled that the police had no “constitutional duty” to enforce the restraining order against Lenahan’s estranged husband. With the encouragement of her lawyer, Lenahan took her case to the next level, by filing a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
In August 2011, the IACHR published its report on the case, finding that US authorities “did not duly investigate the complaints presented by Jessica Lenahan before the death of her daughters. [They] also failed to investigate the circumstances of their deaths once their bodies were found.”
The Commission’s decision recommends that the USA examine how it fails domestic violence victims and enact comprehensive reforms at the local, state and federal levels to ensure that victims receive adequate protection from their abusers.
It is being hailed as a victory for domestic violence victims.
The report goes on to say:
“Authorities tell us that it is difficult for them to prevent violence. In this case they could have acted to save the lives of three children but chose not to. Let’s hope such decisions to ignore cases of domestic violence will never happen again.”
“US authorities at all levels must take notice of the Commission’s findings to ensure women and girls who suffer domestic violence are given adequate protection and victims are offered help and reparations.”
Perhaps it is a victory for victims of domestic violence, but Lenahan puts it into perspective…
“For so many years, women who are the victims of domestic violence have had the burden of proof,” said Lenahan.
“I’m a little bitter, but optimistic that this decision might be a way to help others.”
In the West Central African country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Electoral Commission is trying to get women to run for office. The idea is this…the key for women gaining rights…they need to become members of parliament. IRIN Africa | DRC: Women politicians “key to promoting rights” | DRC | Gender Issues | Governance | Human Rights
KINSHASA, 2 September 2011 (IRIN) – Political parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo are struggling to recruit women into their ranks to run for parliament, despite a legal requirement to do so and a belief that greater numbers of female parliamentarians are critical to advancing women’s rights.
“We are going around meeting women, telling them to join our political party to represent us in the next parliamentary polls, but most of them are afraid,” Prince Bushiri, leader of the Citizen Alliance for Public Safety. “When we ask them what they fear, some will tell you, ‘I don’t like politics’, others will tell you, ‘I have to ask my husband’s opinion first’.”
Bushiri said only one out of 10 women invited to join the party accepted the invitation.
The Electoral Commission began registering candidates to contest for seats on 4 August. Parties that fail to persuade women to run for office on their ticket will be violating an electoral law designed to take gender representation into account when compiling a list of candidates. Small parties are especially concerned about their ability to comply.
However, even if those parties do not put women on the ticket, they still will be allowed to take part in the elections.
Many believe that an increase in the number of women in politics is crucial for the advancement of women’s rights in the country. Women in the DRC bear the brunt of ongoing conflict. A study prepared by the American Journal of Public Health in May 2011 found that 1.8 million women in the country had been raped during their lifetime, with 48 rapes recorded every hour during the study period from 2006 to 2007.
“Having more women in politics could reduce the suffering that women endure in areas marred by conflicts,” Gertrude Kitembo, DRC’s former Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, told IRIN. “A few years ago, President [Joseph] Kabila announced a zero tolerance policy against impunity, including crimes related to sexual violence, but it hasn’t changed anything so far besides a few cases of soldiers being prosecuted for violating women in eastern Congo. When there are more women in politics, especially positioned at the top of various institutions, they will use their influence to ensure that all those who commit sexual violence against women are brought to justice.”
But women who are speaking out against the sexual violence, are being targeted…
“A number of women have been raped for denouncing violence against women,” Justine Masika, coordinator of the organization, Synergies of Female Victims of Sexual Violence.
“A woman in our organization was raped on three occasions. The aggressors said that she was speaking out against violence against women when she herself had never been raped and that is why she should also be raped.”
How the hell can women in DRC fight this violence, or even aspire to become members of parliament when there is so much against them…
Educational barriers are also a hindrance; the new electoral law requires a candidate for a parliamentary seat to have a three-year university degree, which means many women do not meet the requirements.
The plan is to campaign for more women’s education opportunities and programs.
Perhaps a glimmer of hope can be found in the country next door to the DRC… Gretchen Wallace Empowers Women In Rwanda And Other Post-Conflict Societies (And just a note here, the tension, violence and distrust between Rwanda and the DR Congo, and vice versa, is still very much part of the cultural landscape. I am looking past that and seeing the situation in plain and simple terms. These victims of violence are all women, without basic human rights, no matter what their nationality or ethnicity is. )
When asked about her personal and professional inspirations, Gretchen Steidle Wallace names neither an A-list celebrity nor a political figure but, rather, an unemployed and barely educated South African woman.
In 2004, when Wallace was researching the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa, she befriended Zolecka Ntuli, a then-25-year-old woman who, despite having no job and virtually no access to funds, had launched a neighborhood support group to combat sexual violence in the area after a 12-year-old girl was assaulted by a group of teenage boys.
“Zolecka didn’t have the skills or the capacity to plan ahead for grants and funding, yet here she was, starting a dialogue about sexual violence against children in a region where [such matters were] still relatively taboo,” Wallace, 37, recalled. “I thought, ‘There must be women all over the world who have similar ideas for change. What if those women had more opportunities and resources?’”
Wallace formed a nonprofit organization called Global Grassroots, which helps support social change for women in Rwanda and other post-conflict societies.
Global Grassroots participants enroll in two-week-long programs where they are trained in what Wallace describes as “social entrepreneurship.” An additional 18-month work-study and apprenticeship component helps graduates gain “creative resourcing” skills — including designing a mission statement and how to “diagnose” a social issue — necessary to launching their own nonprofit operations on issues facing women and girls in their communities.
Since the organization’s 2004 founding, Wallace — who spends between two to four months each year in Rwanda — said about 300 “change agents” have completed Global Grassroots training programs, and some of them have since gone on to establish groups like Abanyamurava, or “Hard Workers.” Abanyamurava’s 19-member, all-female team helped start a clean water collection and delivery venture in Kigali, Rwanda, that is expected to soon reach 6,000 residents in an area where sexual violence is rampant.
Global Grassroots has a literacy program called “Let us build ourselves,” where they teach poor illiterate women how to read, write and manage money. Wallace states that this knowledge is key for women to be able to progress from poor farmers, to managers of their own nonprofit.
Also critical to Global Grassroots’ success is the fact that Wallace and her colleagues see themselves as partners, rather than as leaders within the participants’ communities. “We’re here to try and facilitate, but not lead, these grassroots-initiated ventures,” Wallace said. “One of our core values is the participatory development paradigm … we never impose our values or viewpoints on them.”
…”I feel really lucky to be working in a realm that has so many success stories of its own,” she said. “We measure our impact on more than just our numbers … we look for transformation within the individual … and their community.”
For more information on this organization: Global Grassroots – Conscious Social Change for Women
Well, I realize this morning’s reads is on the “thick” side…and a bit difficult to get through, like trying to climb up out of a pit of caramel and marshmallow sauce.
What sort of things are you reading about today? What do you think about Global Grassroots? Maybe the way to strengthen the social and cultural change for women in countries like Rwanda and DR Congo is through smaller programs and non-profits…that work to help the individual, just a few at a time, to achieve that paradigm shift.
Perhaps that is the same way to achieve women’s rights here in the US, and by that I mean full women’s rights…equal rights, reproductive rights, healthcare rights, victims rights, civil rights and human rights.
The days of the big women’s organizations…NOW seem to be a thing of the past. Maybe it is time for a local grassroots program of our own…a way to reach out and help other women, just a few at a time.
I’m sure that many of you are not ready to discuss the presidential race or are still torn between being a long time democrat sold out by a short-sighted DNC. Let’s look at some of the things we can do.
First, we can hold some hope out that something will happen between now and the convention in Denver. Remember, there are not enough pledged delegates for an outright winner. This means that the super delegates are ultimately making the decision. They can change their minds at anytime. We’ve all read the Rezko news as well as the interesting announcement that Jeremiah Wright has come off the back of the milk cartoon to return to the pulpit. Obama has some really bad karma out there. We never know how fast that is going to ripen. While the Bishop of Chicago has silenced the other lamb, there appear to be more of these things out there percolating to the top of the cess pool. Let’s just hope the nasty stinky stuff ripens before Denver.
Second, there are still folks down ticket that we can support. LOOK for them and sign up for their campaign. Also make sure that any Hillary supporter in your state is not punished or on the hate hit list of the Obamatrons. Many of Hillary’s black supporters are getting nasty emails and phone calls. We can flood them with love and support. We can flood them with dollars and volunteer time. Make sure that you stand behind the folks that stood behind Hillary; even if they forced into singing party unity now.
Third, support the issues Hillary supports. Donate to her charities and interests in her name. Send her a post card and thank her! Show her that you really appreciate all the hits she took for us.
Fourth, NEVER, EVER let your daughters, nieces, granddaughters, and any young men that you may be able to influence forget the role of sexism in this campaign. We need to turn this into a learning moment. I fought extremely hard for the Equal Rights Amendment. It failed. I tried to stop laws that stripped Roe v. Wade of its power. Many of these things failed. We now have the moment to rise. I’m inspired by the words of Maya Angelou who tells us to rise. We must let the folks we can inspire know that women should not be taken for granted and must be treated with respect. We must tell our tales so that those that come after us can carry forward the fight.
We must not let any forget Hillary’s example for us. We must fight for her legacy and for the future of all young women who aspire to be more. We must enable them to be more; just as our grandmother’s enabled us to vote and to have access to birth control. We must never let Hillary’s dream die.