Speak Out for Student MetroCards

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.

Sign now.

A Silver Lining to the Recession?

December 31, 2009 § Leave a comment

Is it just me, or have there been less guilt-inducing New Year’s Resolution ads than usual this holiday season? Usually, late December media is racked with advertisements and stories (aimed disproportionately at women, of course) that first try to convince us that we’re fat, unhappy, or somehow insufficient, and then tell us how a certain diet/dating service/car will fix all of our woes and help us reach our (read: their) goals for the New Year. But I have (happily!) noticed a deficit this year in these stupid, often sexist attempts to make people feel bad about themselves.

According to a piece at Sphere News, Resolutions for 2010 have been radically altered by the poor, poor state of the global economy. 10% more Americans than usual are pledging to change their ways in the new decade, a Marist poll suggests, but the nature of our promises has shifted; the same poll reports that most Resolutions this year are centered around saving/spending money more wisely, becoming more engaged in the political process, being patient as the world gets back on its financial feet, and keeping/getting employment. These more serious Resolutions definitely reflect the scary, sort of shitty times that we’re living in, but I’m definitely happy to see politics, work, and retirement prioritized over hitting the gym and landing a husband (not that love and health aren’t important- but we all know that gyms and dating sites don’t really give a shit). The recession has definitely made life harder for women and children, and that blows. But maybe the hardships will eventually refocus our priorities, and we’ll emerge from the crisis with a better understanding of what’s important to us a country. Maybe.

Have a great New Year’s Eve, and an even better 2010! I hope it brings you and all the people in your life empowerment, equality, and whatever else you may be looking for!

Women’s Work In The New Economy

March 31, 2009 § 5 Comments

Another guest post by Joel, cross-posted at Citizen Obie.

I’ve been thinking about the issue of women work trends since I saw an earlier post here a while back about how feminists were reacting to the stimulus package, and what they thought it offered to support industries with greater representation of women (social work, education, health.) My concern was not so much with the sectors the stimulus emphasized, I believe that fomenting green manufacturing, construction, transportation, and agriculture is going to be fundamental to getting ourselves out of this economic mess we’re in and moving us towards an era of sustainable prosperity and equity. But where do women fit in this agenda? Green-collar jobs, the premier jobs of the new economy, are in construction and manufacturing (and I pray also urban agriculture,) sectors with little female representation. I’m going to assume that construction and manufacturing will remain important and vibrant for years to come, in which case my concern is how do we promote gender equity in those fields? How do we make sure that women share in the vision of the new economy, how do we de-stratify the sectors with the greatest potential for growth?

I thought about it even more when the news got out that the White House vegetable garden is Michelle Obama’s initiative. I love Michelle Obama, I love organic vegetable gardens, and I love children’s health and nutrition, but I was intrigued by the historic association between first ladies and health (specifically children’s health) advocacy. I wouldn’t call it anything as strong as a major concern, but what does it mean for powerful, fiercely intelligent women (in Michelle Obama’s case, a lawyer) to be relegated to work with overtones of domesticity? On the other hand, maybe I ought to rethink my own gendered assumptions about what it means to work with children and health. Maybe it is my own male bias and set of assumptions that I imply above that children and health issues might be ‘beneath’ a fiercely intelligent woman. In this case, how will we encourage (assuming we want to) the disassociation of particular fields with the different genders? And if such associations remain tenacious, what opportunities are available to women in the revolutionary restructuring of the educational and health care systems, as called for in Barack Obama’s agenda? Energy, education, and health are the major focuses of Obama’s agenda. Is it okay for energy to be a primarily masculine field, with education and (to a lesser degree) health to be primarily feminine?

Finally, here are a few articles on the immediate effects of the recession on women’s economic lives. The first is on the likely increase of domestic disputes as a result of male unemployment. It suggests that recessions, with major job loss for male-bodied individuals, breeds resentment as males fail to fulfill their ‘breadwinner’ roles, compounding the other stresses of over-worked women struggling to fulfill their roles as double-time workers and mothers. The second is on women losing their jobs and moving into the sex entertainment industry. And here’s one on the unfortunate likelihood that pregnant women and new mothers may be more likely to face unemployment, despite the illegality of discriminating against mothers. Overall, it looks as though the recession and the vast restructuring of the economy (I hope) will have major effects on perceptions of domesticity and women’s work roles. I hope some of you are as interested in these broad trends as I am. I think they definitely point to a very particular landscape in the contemporary feminist movement.

Not to belabor the point…

February 11, 2009 § Leave a comment

But just in case you didn’t get it, women really love chocolate.

And I thought I was the only one with this fantasy. How could I forget that every member of the weaker sex is utterly susceptible to her senses. How do we get anything done?

Some Thoughts on the Stimulus Package

February 8, 2009 § 5 Comments

Hello! 

For my FIRST EVER POST ON WOMEN’S GLIB (wooohoooo), I wanted to get some information up about Obama’s $825 billion stimulus package and what it will do for us ladyfolk. I snooped around some blogs and newspapers, and here’s what I’ve come up with. Feel free to add anything you’ve noticed about the plan in a comment! 

Joan Entmacher, VP of family economic security at the National Women’s Law Center, says that the package will work on “Expanding health for them [women], child care, unemployment insurance, direct help in higher food stamps and energy assistance.” Additionally, the package “protects a lot of jobs for women in education, early education and social work services.” 

This all sounds pretty sweet, but I do have to wonder about the job protection detailed by Entmacher. Education and social work? Those sound like ‘typical woman’ jobs to me. I am all for protecting positions in these fields, but what about women with jobs closely tied to the manufacturing industries, agriculture, etc? Lindsay Beyerstein from the Washington Independent says that the stimulus is “expected to create or sustain significant numbers of jobs in female-dominated sectors of the economy, like teaching, nursing, and social work.” Again, that sounds really awesome, but what about women who already have a hard time in the work-force because they belong to male-dominated labor sectors? Will they be overlooked because they’re pursuing careers that aren’t considered feminine? 

My suspicions are somewhat confirmed by Linda Hirshman from the New York Times, who stated in an article that ran this past December that a package primarily aimed at building automatically excludes women because women make up such a small part of construction labor forces (9%, to be exact). To make the plan more woman-friendly, she suggested that it also include money for human capital jobs (social workers, educators, librarians, etc.), because these are the kinds of jobs that women are more likely to hold. Hirshman ends the article by saying that “maybe it would be a better world if more women became engineers and construction workers, but programs encouraging women to pursue engineering have existed for decades without having much success.”

For some reason, this seemingly pragmatic sentiment makes me really nervous and uncomfortable. I just don’t like the idea that we should give up on eradicating the idea that women, if they are working, must be doing something that is directly nurturing. And maybe all of the construction work proposed by Obama’s plan could help break down some of the barriers that women face in the manual labor industries!

In short, I’m glad that Hirshman got her wish and that Obama’s plan will protect woman-heavy industries, but I am worried about the women in the male-dominated sectors. And I’m worried about how this might all reinforce the idea that if a woman is ballsy enough to leave the home, she must be doing some sort of caretaking.

Stimulus?

February 2, 2009 § Leave a comment

President Obama’s stimulus package has been all over the news lately. There have been many debates about the plan, especially from the conservative side. One of the biggest issues that had many conservatives crazy was the family planning aid. This program did not become part of the package that passed the House last Wednesday with no Republican votes. Now the stimulus has made its way to the Senate, where it’s being debated over and poked and prodded by Republicans and Democrats. I’ve found myself somewhat lost in the midst of the media coverage of the stimulus package and I want to know how the stimulus package will affect young women. The family planning aid would probably have directly affected the lives of young women the most out of all the programs in the stimulus package. From what I understand about the stimulus, which, granted, is not a lot, I haven’t seen any other programs meant to directly affect the lives of young women.

The goal of the stimulus plan is to save and create jobs which are being lost rapidly, in fact, Obama predicts that about 3.7 million jobs will be created. However, the Republicans are finding fault with almost every single part of the stimulus plan. One major issue they see is that there is not enough attention being paid to the housing market. At this point it’s difficult to tell how the stimulus package will affect the lives of young women, but if programs as important as the family planning aid are not going to be included, we are going to be in trouble. I hope that as the Senators of both parties work on the stimulus package in the next couple of weeks, they think of groups whose interests seem to have fallen by the wayside.

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