Friday, March 23, 2012

In the News

The past couple of weeks have seen me frothing at the mouth over some of the stupidly offensive and horrifyingly threatening moves that (male) politicians have been making against women in the U.S. This means that you all get treated to a listing of some of these stories while you're reading this compilation of news links, so strap into your rage-machines and be prepared to be infuriated!

We'll start off easy with a piece from Jezebel that reports that the Arizona representative responsible for the atrocious proposal that women (yes, women specifically) should have to report their contraceptive use to their bosses has finally seen a glimmer of light and is rewriting the bill. I'm grateful that the negative feedback around the bill has caused Representative Debbie Lesko to reconsider the violations of HIPAA that she wished to codify, but I'm still mad that she's rewriting the damn thing. It's illegal and inappropriate! It's none of my boss's business if I take pills or use other prescription contraceptives!

Although if I'm no better than a pig or a cow, as some legislators would believe, then I suppose my anger is simply the lowing of a herd animal spooked by the passage of clouds across the sun (or some equally simplistic dismissal of my experiences). Y'know, because animals are forced to carry their foetuses as long as their bodies choose, and get pregnant whenever a stud shares their pen, and die of pneumonia because Nature doesn't make penicillin in hay and OH WAIT A MINUTE. I'm SO sorry that calves and piglets are sometimes stillborn, but if you had an ounce of common sense (or a veterinarian on the premises), you'd know that sometimes animal pregnancies are terminated too! ESPECIALLY when the foetus is already dead! Not to mention the fact that the argument that we should have the same natural restrictions as animals is going to put your car, your house, your woven clothes, and your expensive and advanced medical care in a whole world of "not allowed" anymore because it doesn't happen naturally. I'd include something in here about being a human, and therefore not a cow, pig, or chicken, you sexist little f***, but I don't think you're listening to me to begin with. In case someone IS listening, though, Soraya Chemaly at HuffPo wrote a far more eloquent retort to the War on Vaginas and Their Assorted Internal Counterparts. I suggest you read it.

A wonderful guerrilla campaign has started in response to this war, however, which has me thrilled and empowered all at once. What is it? Knitted and crocheted vaginas, uteruses, and ovaries, all inundating the offices of the members of Congress and state legislatures that are committing the most vicious legal attacks on women's rights. How great is it for a representative or senator to be confronted by a cute and cuddly version of the very thing he's trying to kill? It makes me feel so happy to envision that scene. What a great way to express to Congress et. al. that they're often so obsessed with trying to determine foetal rights that they entirely forget the rights of the living, breathing, functioning, undeniably human women who already exist.

Yashur on The Current Science wrote a wonderful editorial looking at why so many people- men in particular- are so ready to dismiss sexism as being a real problem, even when they're falling all over themselves to change racism, economic inequality, or any other form of discrimination or injustice. The easy answer, of course, is that sexism is both universal and a social order that benefits a lot of people (again, men in particular). It goes further, however, especially in light of the pile ofScheiƟ that has been heaped on women in the U.S. this week.

Let me take a quick breath to gather my thoughts and cool my temper a little...
In good news, more executives from Susan G. Komen are resigning after last month's funding debacle. It's good news not only because their decision was boneheaded and deserved a shamefaced exit, but also because it demonstrates that popular movements can still have an impact on the forces shaping our country (and, hopefully, the world). We might not be getting very far with Congress, but at least we can teach corporations a thing or two.

After a sixteen-year-old committed suicide in Morocco because she was forced to marry the man who raped her, the country is reconsidering its forced marriage laws. While rape victims aren't necessarily forced into marriage by law in Morocco, the law does permit a rapist to use marriage as a form of exoneration. Let's be real: who wouldn't take that option when facing up to 20 years in prison? I for one stand behind the activists in Morocco who are advocating for an update to penal law in cases of rape.

A free new app is out called the "Circle of Six," which allows people to enter six friends into the app with prewritten texts such as "I need a distraction." The beauty of it? It was designed for a contest to create apps that can help prevent sexual assault. How does this prevent assault, you might say? It gives potential victims the opportunity to request bystander intervention before anything goes wrong. That person might not feel safe asking the potential attacker to stop or leave, but pushing a button to get a friend to come in and provide an easy excuse to get away might be a hell of a lot easier to accomplish. It's not perfect, of course; bystander intervention should also come from the friends of the potential attacker (see the Green Dot Project for ideas). I give this concept major kudos, however, for making it that much easier to intervene in a potentially dangerous situation.

My final piece of news is an article from my home state, New Hampshire, where a push to repeal same-sex marriage was defeated this week. New Hampshire has been the site of some impressive political stupidity recently, I must admit, but this leaves me feeling optimistic that at least some human rights aren't being trampled out of existence entirely. An extra note for fun is that one of the men in the 2010 photo is someone both Emily and I knew in high school, and it's wonderful to know that he and his husband will get to continue to share the benefits and privileges that marriage confers.

That's it for this week, readers. I'm off to cool my heels and knit some vaginas for the lovely folks of Congress.

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