June 24, 2010 § 4 Comments
You might have heard about the Reproductive Health Act. In fact, I hope you have, because I’ve been writing about it incessantly since the beginning of this blog. It’s an awesome and necessary bill that I, personally, me, this person right here who is in high school and not a paid lobbyist, have been invested in for the past two years.
The bill will update New York State’s abortion law for the first time since Roe. It will remove abortion from the criminal code, where the right to choose is stated as an exception to homicide, and put it into the public health code where it belongs. Perhaps most importantly, the bill will permit late-term abortions not only if a woman’s life is in danger, but also in cases where her health is threatened. When the RHA is passed, New York’s women will no longer have to rely on federal legislation to protect our fundamental right to choose; no matter what happens on the national level, our rights will be covered.
People have been talking about the RHA a lot recently because the state legislative session is likely to end soon, as soon as the state budget is passed. (Once the session ends, the senators won’t come back to work until January.) Though the budget is top priority, the senators have been discussing and passing other legislation in the meantime, so it’s not unfeasible that the RHA might be introduced before the end of the session.
There’s another layer of complexity with this bill: different advocacy groups have different ideas about the most effective lobbying methods. Some groups, like NARAL Pro-Choice New York (which — full disclosure — I volunteer with and love), are calling for the bill to be introduced as soon as possible, even if it doesn’t get passed during this session. The idea behind this is that pro-choice organizations and voters will know where their representatives stand on choice issues, and hold accountable those who say they are pro-choice but vote otherwise. This is especially important because this fall is election season. Other groups, most notably Family Planning Advocates of New York State, would rather wait to introduce the bill until it is very likely to pass.
Interesting, yes! Very political, slightly exhausting, undeniably nuanced.
Nuance! It is great. Here is something that is not nuanced: the title of Nicholas Confessore’s New York Times City Room blog post on this issue.
Abortion Rights Supporters Squabble Over Bill.
Here, if you are wondering, is a reliable dictionary definition of that heinous word, squabble: “to engage in a disagreeable argument, usually over a trivial matter.” Fascinating! Because do you know what is not, in fact, a “trivial matter”? WOMEN’S AUTONOMY AND CONTROL OVER OUR OWN BODIES. And do you know who, in fact, might agree with me? MORE THAN HALF THE POPULATION OF THIS FINE STATE.
Fuck this shit.
The media loves to focus on “squabbling” women because it is so easy! It is so fucking easy to get a reader’s attention by writing “Hey! Look at these silly catfighting ladies!” instead of delving into complex political issues. That’s lazy journalism, and entrenched sexism. It’s part of a larger social pattern of framing conflicts between women as desperate and catty, while positioning male conflicts as stoic and totes serious. It’s part of a widespread attempt to delegitimize women’s extremely legitimate political frustrations.
I find this article absolutely hilarious. Because do you know who is actually squabbling? The fucking State Senate! You know, the people who we pay to get important shit done, like, you know, the budget for the entire state of New York. And who we rely on to keep their shit together, not, you know, act like “feuding junior high schoolers.” Have people forgotten about that outrageous, embarrassing, and illegal COUP that happened last June? I remember. I can’t forget.
New York’s women have waited long enough for the Reproductive Health Act. We’re not squabbling. We’re demanding what we deserve.
February 10, 2010 § 5 Comments
As many of you may know, Laura Chinchilla will become the first female president of Costa Rica this May. She won the title this Sunday by pretty much a landslide; Chinchilla won over 46.76% of voters, while the 2nd place politician received only about 25% of the popular vote.
President-elect Chinchilla will join “the tiny club of female president in Latin America” once she takes office, a group that currently encompasses Chile’s Michelle Bachelet and Christina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina. Panama and Nicaragua have had female chiefs-of-state in the past.
But here’s the thing. I want to be so, so happy for Chinchilla and the cracks that her victory has (hopefully) made in the Latin American and global glass ceiling. It’s wonderful that 46.76% of Costa Rican voters have faith in a woman politician — that is not all too common.
But when I turn my attention to Chinchilla’s actual politics, this happiness gets a little turned upside-down. She’s anti-choice. She doesn’t believe in emergency contraception. She doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage. And so a dilemma emerges; while I believe that Chinchilla’s presence in the office of the presidency will be inspiring to women in Costa Rica and elsewhere, I do not believe that her policies will help women reach a similar level of achievement.
And isn’t it just as sexist to celebrate a woman’s victory solely because she’s a woman, as it would be to celebrate a man’s victory because he’s a man?
What are your thoughts? Are you excited about this political development?
January 23, 2010 § 3 Comments
According to NARAL Pro-Choice New York, the bill:
- gives women control over their reproductive lives — including the right to choose or refuse birth control and the right to continue or end a pregnancy;
- amends the NY State health code to make abortion a matter of public health, not an exception to criminal law;
- states for the first time in state history that abortion must be seen as an option at any point during pregnancy if a woman’s health is in danger.
Apropos of yesterday’s Blog for Choice Day event, dedicating to dissecting what it means to “trust women” (especially in light of the 2009 murder of Dr. Tiller), NARAL-NY will be hosting an informational conference call about the RHA next Wednesday, January 27.
Join us for the Reproductive Health Act (Phone) Call to Action. We will educate our members and supporters on the bill and share opportunities for all pro-choice New Yorkers — from Buffalo to Staten Island — to get involved.
Wednesday, January 27
Call in toll-free from anywhere in New York State
RSVP to Lalena Howard at email@example.com or 646-520-3506 today. Conference call number, agenda and materials will be provided when you RSVP.
I plan to call in, and you should too!
January 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
is just bad-news-bears for us women. Here is why, in short, the new Senator-Elect from MA is not a woman’s best friend.
- His position on abortion is actually not as bad as they come, since he does not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, but his views still do not reflect true respect for our right to choose: he supports parental consent laws, opposes giving government money to abortion clinics, and thinks that hospitals and doctors that are strongly religious should be allowed to deny emergency contraception to women on ‘moral grounds’ and send them elsewhere. Even rape victims! I don’t need to tell you why this is royally fucked up- if a women needs Plan B, she needs it FAST. And if she happens to be poor and transportation beyond her nearest hospital is really hard for her….well, you get the picture. Doctors should be made to do their fucking jobs, even if it makes them uncomfortable. End of story.
- In 2001, he called the family situation of his opponent, lesbian politician Cheryl Jacques, “not normal” and referred to her parental duties as “alleged.” What?????
And I am personally not a huge fan of his other platforms: he supports the use of torture interrogation methods such as waterboarding, does not care about limiting the outrageous bonuses of Wall Street execs, and wants to deny immigrants who have yet to receive legal status driver’s licenses and public education. And perhaps most importantly, he will occupy the 41st Republican seat, which gives the Republican Party just enough votes to really shoot down any legislation that’s coming through.
January 6, 2010 § Leave a comment
You may have heard the news that Amanda Simpson, a trans woman, was recently appointed by President Obama as a senior technical adviser to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. The National Center for Transgender Equality points out:
“What is noteworthy about this appointment is not that a transgender person is serving this administration—many transgender people work for the federal government—the real story is that Amanda Simpson was selected based on her exemplary credentials and not because she is transgender,” commented Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Countless transgender people are overlooked every day for jobs they can do very well. When an employer does not discriminate based on gender identity, they have access to more highly qualified people. That’s what happened here.”
So Simpson’s apppointment is certainly a milestone.
Now for the requisite media transphobia and transmisogyny hate cocktail in response, courtesy of David Letterman.
Letterman: Well here’s something interesting. President Obama has appointed a transgender person, a transgender person, her name is Amanda Simpson and he has appointed her to be part of the Commerce Department. We have a photo, here she is right there. Yeah, that’s Amanda Simpson, and she’s a transgender…
Alan Kalter: WHAT? AMANDA? Amanda used to be a dude? OH MY GOD! (Runs away)
Letterman: (Laughing. To someone offscreen) Will you talk to him later for me?
LOLZ! Because trans women love to trick cis guys into sleeping with them!! (Also — why are you calling attention to the photo, Dave? Want to have proof for the audience that she looks “like a woman”?)
Sign this petition demanding that Letterman apologize.
January 5, 2010 § 2 Comments
I wrote last week about the Metro Transit Authority’s truly frightening proposal to cut funding for student MetroCards.
As I said before, this is an extreme act of classism and environmental racism that threatens to make each kid’s human right to education even less attainable than it already is for many children.
The proposal would also eliminate 2 subway lines and 21 bus routes, cut service on many other bus and subway lines, and phase out the Access-A-Ride program, a vital resource for many New Yorkers with disabilities.
Sign this online petition, sponsored by the New York City Council, to demand that the MTA continue to fund these important programs and implement a more transparent budget process.
January 4, 2010 § 1 Comment
The Times has an important article on the involvement of three US evangelicals in Uganda’s latest homophobic legislation.
The men — “Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including ‘7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child'; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads ‘healing seminars'; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is ‘mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality'” — spoke at a conference in Uganda last March. Now some suggest that their involvement encouraged supporters of one of the most homophobic pieces legislation that has ever been proposed.
For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”
Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.
One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.
The article is informative, but the photos that accompany it are of trans Ugandans, and their captions discuss plans for transitioning. Obviously trans people — all people — suffer in a homophobic environment, but nowhere else does the article mention the bill’s ramifications for trans people. Do we need another reminder that trans and gay should not be conflated?
December 14, 2009 § 13 Comments
I am one of 550,000 NYC students who currently has a free or discounted MetroCard for bus and subway access.
But this may change in the next few years. Because of budget troubles, the MTA is considering a plan that would force schoolkids to pay half fares next year, and full fares by 2011.
THIS SHIT IS FUCKED UP.
This would be a financial blow to my family, but truthfully, we would have it the easiest by far. We’re privileged; we have money for MetroCards. Many, many families don’t.
If the MTA cuts free student MetroCards, low-income kids will drop out of the “public” school system because they can’t afford the ride. This is not difficult to understand.
“It’s stupid,” said Brittney Rojas, 13, as she walked down Bushwick Ave., in Brooklyn, with her three sisters. “If you live far away it means you can’t afford to go to school.”
“Some kids just won’t go to school,” her sister Chelsea, 12, chimed in. “Or some might have to walk outside in the winter and get sick.”
…”It would be a catastrophe,” said Nateria Cannon, 17, an 11th-grader at Manhattan Village Academy who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “I think it’s crazy. Parents are losing their jobs and the fare went up. They would have to work overtime.”
Kids understand this intuitively. You’d think the city would, too.
I suppose I don’t need to mention the implicit environmental racism that’s also present in this plan: students who live in affluent neighborhoods that have great public schools don’t need a MetroCard to get to class. It’s the underprivileged students, who often live far from good schools (or, because of calculated zoning efforts, live just outside of a district with good schools), who rely on the subsidized rides.
November 30, 2009 § 1 Comment
Yeah, so. This is the Swiss chalet where Roman Polanski — an admitted, convicted, and escaped rapist — will be confined to house arrest after being released on bail.
From the LA Times:
A Swiss justice officials was quoted by AFP and Swiss news media as saying Polanski would be allowed to make unlimited phone calls and have full access to e-mail and the Internet. Although he cannot leave his house, he can invite friends over and throw parties at the tony chalet in the ski resort of Gstaad.
Hey Polanski, hope you can bear to stay inside your gorgeous, expensive house — while rape survivors and allies the world over gag at the apalling lack of justice your case has produced.