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Archive for the ‘women’s issues’ Category

Time to reassess. The Obama campaign to keep Plan B unavailable.

Posted by Charles II on May 7, 2013

Via Atrios, Irin Carmon at Salon

[District Court Judge Edward Korman] repeatedly slammed his hand down on the table for emphasis, interrupting the government counsel’s every other sentence with assertions like, “You’re just playing games here,” “You’re making an intellectually dishonest argument,” “You’re basically lying,” “This whole thing is a charade,” “I’m entitled to say this is a lot of nonsense, am I not?” and “Contrary to the baloney you were giving me …” He also accused the administration of hypocrisy for opposing voter ID laws but being engaged in the “suppression of the rights of women” with the ID requirement for the drug.

Judges saying things like this is unusual. The Department of Justice and the Obama Administration in general need to re-think how much they want to placate the right. On the Plan B story, at least, they simply look like fools.

Meanwhile, I’d like to buy Judge Korman a drink. After dealing with these liars, I’m sure he needs one.

Posted in Barack Obama, Justice Department, women's issues, wrong way to go about it | 3 Comments »

Justice is done. Maybe. (Tom DeLay sentenced). Also, Japan’s feminist hero: an American

Posted by Charles II on January 7, 2013

Via Avedon, former House Majority Leader Tom “The Hammer” DeLay earns himself 3 years in prison, assuming he doesn’t jump his ridiculously low bond, get the sentence overturned, or get a pardon from the Republican Governor. [Oops. My bad. The article is from 2011. Thanks, PW.]

Also via Avedon, we learn of Beate Gordon, who helped write gender equality into Japan’s Constitution. It has never fully become a reality (as it has not in the US), but what she did dramatically improved the lot of people who had been treated as property until then. Quite an accomplishment for a 22 year old.

Posted in Japan, Republicans, women's issues | 1 Comment »

I brought you into the world… (on midwifery)

Posted by Charles II on March 19, 2012

A fascinating segment on midwifery on DemocracyNow. US maternal death rates are worse than Puerto Rico. And death rates have risen substantially over the last few years.

Ina May Gaston claims to have been able to greatly reduce the rate of birth complications through natural birth methods. She notes that many maternal deaths areiatrogenic: in C-sections, the uterine artery can be nicked, for example. She says that she was able to avoid a C-section for her first 200 births. In the US, almost 1 in three births is by C-section!

As her story illustrates, those 60s hippies knew a thing or two.

Posted in saving the earth, science and medicine, women's issues | 2 Comments »

It’s time to shut down the taxpayer-funded, foreign-run Catholic Superpac

Posted by Charles II on February 9, 2012

(and tax-funded political activity by any other churches, too)

I have always believed that it’s important to listen seriously to one’s opponents. Either (a) they’re right, in which case I ought to change my mind, or (b) it equips me with what I need to defeat their arguments, usually using their own words. Sometimes, of course, there’s a compromise to be found, but less often than one would wish.

In the matter of the Bishops’ letter to their congregations promising to fight tooth and nail over the requirement that the insurance they provide their employees include contraception, a lot of the focus has been on the insurance.

Listen to the Bishops’ argument:
1. While the church itself is exempt from the requirement, its schools, hospitals, and charities are not.
2. The institutions are morally opposed to fulfilling the requirement
3. The insurance would include voluntary sterilization and “Ella”, which prevents implantation of a fertilized egg and the Church regards as abortion
4. Most Catholics and allies among Protestants are opposed to the requirement
5. Although a number of states, including New York, California, and Oregon already require the inclusion of contraception, the Church has been able to dodge this in many states and some don’t have any requirement at all.

Now, already there are some serious holes in this. It turns out that some states already require the provision of contraceptive services. It turns out that most Catholics support the inclusion of contraception in insurance. It turns out that that there is no connection to abortion, which is already covered by the Hyde Amendment. The specific naming of Ella is notably dishonest, since a number of methods prevent implantation. It turns out that many of the people who would be affected are not Catholics. It certainly doesn’t force any Catholic to use contraception. It’s all just a matter of who pays for those who choose to use contraception.

So, already the Bishops are pretty deep into lying. (see here and here and here for a general discussion; Seehere for a statement that DePaul and other Catholic institutions provide contraception through insurance). The Church has very pragmatically decided not to, say, excommunicate Catholics who use birth control, even though they regard inhibiting implantation as murder–and unconfessed murder at that. It’s difficult to take the moral high ground when one has already lost authority over one’s troops.

But as numerous as the flaws in the Bishops’ arguments are, only radio show host Norman Goldman identified the issue which absolutely kills those arguments. The employees of the Catholic Church receive an exemption from taxes in exchange for the agreement not to intervene in political contests. This legislation was crafted by then-Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1954.

According to radio host Norman Goldman, in Florida, priests specifically referred to “the Obama Administration” (although the bishops are careful to avoid naming the president). But even where the president was not named, it’s very clear that this is political. The Bishops have taken no steps to reach an amicable compromise, such as offering to give employees an amount sufficient to buy a supplemental policy if they wish, and not if it goes against their conscience. Surely the Administration would accept any arrangement that does not unduly burden the employee. So the Bishops are picking a political fight, and yet they expect the taxpayers to fund their political activities through the tax exemption!

The Bishops are in rebellion against the lawfully elected government. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the letter from military chaplain, which he was directed not to read(see here) . Different dioceses read different versions of the Bishops’ letter, and his is in no way unrepresentative. But he has a special duty as the Catholic representative who speaks especially to the troops. When he says, “It [the contraception mandate] is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle,” he is standing in rebellion. When he says, “We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law,” this is sedition. True, his chain of command is not to the president, but to Rome. But he has placed Catholic military chaplains, whose chain of command does run to the president in an impossible situation.

The Catholic Church has in many ways ceased to be a religious institution. The hierarchy, at least, amounts to a political institution–indeed, a foreign-runpolitical institution, while it’s the Catholics in the pews who do all the good works.

It is time to end the tax benefits this Catholic Superpac enjoys. Taxpayers should not be paying priests to act as ward heelers and lobbyists for special treatment for those secular institutions operated by the Catholic Church. There are many reasons to deride the Catholic Bishops dishonesty and hypocrisy on contraceptive insurance, but none as simple and unambiguous as our demand that taxpayer dollars not be used to subvert our government.

Posted in abortion, hypocrites, religion, women's issues | 2 Comments »

Dear General Mills…./updated again

Posted by Charles II on February 1, 2012

Dear General Mills:

As an investor in General Mills, I am disappointed that it has been silent regarding the decision of the Susan G. Komen Foundation to suspend its association with Planned Parenthood. Yoplait, a General Mills brand, is a major sustainer of the Komen Foundation. As a consumer, I was always willing to cut Yoplait a little slack even though I think it’s overpriced and not the best brand on the shelf because it had associated itself with doing good. As an investor, I believe that companies that consciously devote themselves to doing good end up with better governance and more profitable outcomes. So the fact that Yoplait has stood silent while the Komen Foundation has descended into playing politics is disappointing. The reality is that Komen is not nearly as effective as Planned Parenthood in preventing and treating breast cancer.

As an investor, I think that Yoplait should re-direct any donations to breast cancer detection and treatment by Planned Parenthood. At the very least, it should disassociate itself from Komen.

People should mark well: McCarthyism is not just politicians using their office to attack and silence opponents. Most tragically, it is the willingness of ordinary citizens and organizations to go along with it.

Planned Parenthood gets $100 extra dollars from me as a FTSGKF.
Update. Not all oil men are evil:

Amy and Lee Fikes said: “Our family is saddened that the far right has relentlessly and successfully pressured the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to cut funding for breast screening, referral, and education support to low-income women who, until now, have been able to depend on the partnership between Komen and Planned Parenthood for their health. In response to this disappointing news, our family foundation has granted $250,000 to establish a Breast Health Fund at Planned Parenthood, so that their health centers across the country can continue to put the real needs of women ahead of right wing ideology. We encourage others to join us in replacing the funds lost, so that no woman’s health is imperiled by Komen’s unfortunate decision.” (See below for full statement.)

Lee Fikes is the head of Bonanza Oil.
And Michael Bloomberg has offered a matching grant of $250,000

New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has entered the controversy over America’s largest breast cancer advocacy group’s cut in funding to Planned Parenthood by vowing to make up $250,000 of the missing funds out of his own pocket.

In a statement, Bloomberg said: “Politics have no place in health care. Breast cancer screening saves lives and hundreds of thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for access to care. We should be helping women access that care, not placing barriers in their way.”

Posted in abortion, Congress, women's issues | 8 Comments »

Is Tanya Rosenblit a new “Rosa Parks?”

Posted by Charles II on December 27, 2011

I had an interesting back-and-forth with Echidne on the case of Tanya Rosenblit, who was hassled on an Israeli bus because she refused a demand by an ultra-Orthodox Jew that she sit in the back. Revital Blumenfeld, Haaretz:

A woman passenger on a public bus from Ashdod to Jerusalem Friday was told by an ultra-Orthodox male passenger to move to the back of the bus. The man held the door of the bus open and would not allow it to move for approximately 30 minutes.

When other passengers began to complain about the delay, the driver called the police. The policeman who arrived on the scene spoke with the man and then also asked the woman, Tanya Rosenblit, to move to the back of the bus. When she refused, the man who had been holding the door alighted and the bus continued on its way.

This has caused an explosion of comparisons to Rosa Parks, which I said I thought was an overblown comparison. Parks’ action occurred in 1955, before the Civil Rights movement had gained substantial white support. Parks was arrested and booked. She lost her job and was forced to move. But in that era and that place, she could just as easily have been lynched. And, perhaps central to understanding the issue, Parks placed herself in resistance against an established system; Jim Crow was the law. Rosenblit was behaving lawfully, and the man who harassed her was acting as a radical disruptor of the established order.

Echidne pointed to a passage in what I think was an excerpt from DemocracyNow:

The act of defiance has sparked a national discussion in Israel on the issue of gender segregation. On Monday, the disagreement turned violent when ultra-Orthodox Jews in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh clashed with police. Hundreds of men in the ultra-Orthodox community took part in the unrest. Members of local news crews were reportedly hurt in the clashes, and at least six Beit Shemesh residents were arrested. An estimated 10,000 people are expected to turn out in the community today to protest the exclusion of women, as well as violence against girls and women by Haredi extremists.

and Echidne asked whether violence against women might not be a factor in Rosenblit’s resistance. I was not sure, so I said that if it were, it might make the comparison to Parks a little bit closer, but still: Parks couldn’t choose to become white, while ultra-Orthodox women can leave their communities, and it’s highly unlikely that an ultra-Orthodox woman could be assassinated for defiance. Echidne countered by asking whether it’s not true that women in ultra-Orthodox families are deliberately not educated in skills that would make it possible for them to leave. Good point. It’s obviously something to read up on.

And I found some fascinating things. Here’s the description by Oz Rosenberg, Nir Hasson, Revital Blumenfeld, Barak Ravid and Talila Nesher of Haaretz of the Beit Shemesh clashes:

About 10,000 people came to Beit Shemesh last night to protest against religious extremism in Israel in general and this Jerusalem-area city in particular. The issue came to a head publicly after television coverage last week showing ultra-Orthodox extremists harassing Na’ama Margolese, 8, the daughter of immigrants from North America. The rally took place next to her school, Orot Banot.

Margolese became a focus of attention after Channel 2 news broadcast a story Friday night showing her facing a gauntlet of abuse from Haredi men and boys as she walked to school.

This has forced Netanyahu to at least take verbal action. Herb Keinon, JPost:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu directed Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch Saturday to get the police to aggressively take action to combat violence by extremist haredim (ultra-Orthodox) against women.

Netanyahu phoned Aharonovitch following a Friday night Channel 2 report showing an eight-year old modern orthodox girl afraid to walk 300 meters to school because of harassment from some haredim because of her attire. The report interviewed a haredi man saying it was permissible to spit at even a school age girl if she was not dressed “properly.”

However, violence against women by the haredim is apparently a relatively recent phenomenon, one that I had been unaware of. Writing in YNET in 2009, Elana Sztokman says:

[T]his year, something has changed. There is something about trends in violence against women in Israel that make me feel truly unsafe. Violence against women has become part of the public display in parts of Israel. It has become acceptable in some areas, and legitimized. Women who are beaten, spat upon, thrown acid upon – all in public – are cast aside. The perpetrating men are heroes and the women are left to lick their wounds, in private, alone.

The reason why this is so frightening is precisely because it is so public. There is no fear – no fear of the law, no fear of retribution, and clearly no fear of women fighting back.

And it’s not clear how widespread Sztokman’s experience is. A Google News search shows only 38 results from 2008-10 for haredi violence women. There are 108 more in 2011 through December 15th. Switching to UltraOrthodox violence women increases the hits to 549 in 2011 through December 15th, but many or most have nothing to do with violence against women. This story from October, 2011, for example, talks about vandalism directed against stores, not against women (though one of the alleged motivations for the violence is “insufficiently modest” dress for women).

Finally, this blog says that the response to Rosenblit’s defiance is that the ultra-Orthodox are going to create their own, separate bus system. Like the formation of white-only private schools in the post-1964 era, this sort of solution delights me, amounting to a self-imposed fine on hatred.

In summary, I don’t think Tanya Rosenblit should be compared to Rosa Parks. Rosenblit is clearly courageous and violence is clearly a growing issue. But there the comparison ends. Israel is clearly facing a backlash against what had been progressive treatment of (Israeli) women, and the law is on Rosenblit’s side.

Still, Echidne raised important points to understanding the issue,challenging me to read up on things. That’s the value of online community: we’re able to query one another and inspire one another to actually learn a thing or two.

Posted in civil rights, israel, women's issues | 5 Comments »

On the allegations against Assange

Posted by Charles II on December 21, 2010

I posted this here, and think it’s worth preserving:

“…I think that everyone … is missing a very important point.

Until a court proceeding in a neutral court takes place, the allegations are just that: allegations. People take sides on this because they assume that one version of events or the other is correct. I’m sure that if it were proven that Assange coerced anyone to have sex, his defenders would say he should be punished under the law. I’m sure that if it were proven that the women conspired to exact revenge on Assange or even conspired before the encounters to falsely accuse him especially if that happened to be a machination to silence Wikileaks, those who are so vociferous in attacking him now would be ashamed of their virulent statements.

The issue is that a neutral judge has to allow for the presumption of innocence. That makes prosecuting allegations of this kind, involving degrees of consent in a private act, extraordinarily difficult. Where is the corroborating evidence of coercion? In most cases that come to trial, the evidence is indisputable: a record of violence by the defendant, bruises on the victim, a prompt visit by the victim to the police or emergency care, avoidance of the defendant, and so on. While what we know of this case are mere shadows of what will appear in the courtroom, so far, there is no corroborating evidence. The only reason that the allegations as we know them fit even minimum standards for prosecution is that there are two accusers.

And that, in itself, raises one’s eyebrows. Within a few days, two strangers encounter Assange and are so taken by him that they independently participate in sexual encounters which then turn into coercion, but are not so coerced that they even break off contact with him.

Ok, it might have happened that way. But any neutral judge will want to know more than we presently do know before reaching any conclusion that these encounters were not in some manner staged.”

I guess I am just not sure why it is so hard for people to suspend judgment. How much do we really, actually know? How much of the judgment that we have reached is based on our imaginations about either Assange or the plaintiffs?

Also, a separate matter is why the Swedish court, if it really wants to interview Assange, can’t send a delegation to depose him in the UK? Granted, it’s unusual, but if it wants to establish that the Swedish system is operating out of a genuine desire to do justice and not just to get Assange onto territory where he could be extradited by the US, that would seem to be a minimal step it could take. A better one would be to provide guarantees to re-extradite Assange only back to the UK whether he is found guilty or innocent. And, considering that part of the pressure being exerted on Assange is financial, to pay his plane ticket both ways.

There are ways to establish good faith. So far, Sweden has availed itself of none of them.

Posted in Wikileaks, women's issues | 10 Comments »

Solution to Congressional Gridlock: Replace Republicans with Women

Posted by Charles II on January 30, 2009

From the BBC, a report on the effect of women in Welsh politics:

The report’s lead researcher Professor Nickie Charles from the University of Warwick’s department of sociology said this gender balance had an effect on the style of interactions between politicians, both cross-party and within party.

“According to many AMs, women tend to do politics differently from men and this is often described as being more consensual than adversarial,” she said.

“The assembly is a new political institution associated with a consensual political style, an inclusive politics, and working arrangements which recognise the caring responsibilities of those working within it.”

The report quotes an anonymous male Labour AM who says: “It makes a difference to the culture in which group meetings are conducted, as I’ve said we have fierce disagreement in group meetings but it is conducted with the complete absence of chest thumping and table thumping.”

Granted, replacing Mitch McConnell with Ann Coulter or Tom Coburn with Michelle Malkin would not be an improvement. But replacing McConnell and Coburn with the average Republican woman would be a massive improvement.

Posted in Congress, women's issues | 1 Comment »

No, I Can’t Call Him ‘Uncle Ruckus’

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 28, 2009

Because as far as I know, Uncle Ruckus never harassed women the way Juan Williams apparently did and does.

From TAPPED (via Attackerman):

I’ve been rolling Juan Williams’ statement about Michelle Obama around like a wad of gum, trying to figure out why it bothers me so much. The first thing is that Juan is a genuinely nice guy, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of talking a few times. But the second, and the much bigger thing, is that I realized that I’ve never heard –and I don’t think I ever will hear — a rapper call Michelle Obama a bitch. But you don’t have to call a woman a bitch to treat her like one.


But Williams is one of the most vocal critics of Hip-hop; of what right-leaning black pundits refer to as “street-culture.” I see little that’s different in what Williams is saying about Michelle from what you might hear from Young Jeezy. This isn’t an isolated statement about something someone said last year, it fits into an established narrative of who black women are. Rather than being the hyper-sexualized Jezebel popular in rap music, she’s portrayed as the masculine ball-buster, the kind of women ignorant men write “why I don’t date black women” essays about, trying to convince themselves that there’s something rational about hating the kind of woman who gave birth to you. Williams’ statement makes me angry not because it’s about Michelle, but because it’s so manifestly not about her, but about black women in general.

TAPPED commenter Non Mous points out that Michelle Obama isn’t the only woman towards whom Williams has been accused of showing a rather ugly misogyny:

Whenever Juan Williams talks about women, remember he was disciplined by the WashPost for sexually harassing his female colleagues . A guy like that doesn’t just not give women their due, he makes their work life hell.


Posted in Fox Noise, Obama Administration, women's issues | 1 Comment »

Your Good News Dose Of The Day

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 20, 2008

You’re an impoverished, illiterate woman in India. You want to make your life better and more secure, without depending on centralized outside help. What do you do?

Well, one option is to go to the Barefoot College of Bunker Roy’s and get trained in things like installing and running solar power plants of various sizes — and the training doesn’t even have to be in your language for you to benefit from it:

Mr. ROY: In 1986, no one ever thought of solar electrification. It was far too expensive. But today we have 50 kilowatts of panels on our roofs. All our 20, 30 computers, electronic machines, telephone exchange — all work off solar.

DE SAM LAZARO: Today solar energy drives not just the equipment. This is a larger social experiment to improve the lives of some of the world’s poorest people. It begins in the classroom run by instructors who themselves have little or no formal education. Instruction is delivered with a mix of body language, a few essential terms in English, and lots of hands-on practice.

The students create an illustrated manual they’ll take home. It’s the closest thing to a diploma certifying their training as solar technicians. But just coming here is an unlikely achievement for students like 56-year-old Sarka Mussara, a widowed grandmother. She’d never attended school or even left her village in the West African nation of Mauritania.
Sarka Mussara

SARKA MUSSARA (Student, through translator): At first we did not even have a passport. We started little by little learning the solar energy system. Day by day and little by little we were able to put things together.


DE SAM LAZARO: And these women will have an income installing and maintaining solar systems. They are a common sight in villages near the Barefoot campus, where people have replaced lanterns that use dirtier and more expensive fuels.

Mr. ROY: We said they should pay as much as you pay today for kerosene, for wood, for batteries, for torches, for candles. Comes to about $5 a month. They’re willing to pay $5 a month for the use of a solar light.

DE SAM LAZARO: Solar has opened new opportunities for work and study, especially for girls. In both the majority Hindu and minority Muslim communities here girls have traditionally been restricted to household chores.

Mr. ROY: It is the girls who go and graze the cattle and graze the goats and the sheep. There is a feeling in the family that the boys should be getting better education — better education, whatever that means. So we started the night schools of Tilonia in 1975, purely from the point of view of attracting more girls who graze cattle in the morning to come to school at night.

The Barefoot College has to date solar-electrified some 350 villages in India and several dozen elsewhere in Asia, including parts of Afghanistan. It’s a way to empower villages and women.

Posted in education, energy, environment, Good Things, solar, sustainability, women's issues | 3 Comments »

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