October 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
Planned Parenthood of New York City will soon host its annual Fall Training Institute, a series of free and low-cost training sessions “for health professionals and anyone who wants to learn and remain knowledgeable on sexual and reproductive health issues.” Selected topic titles include Public Insurance & Reproductive Health Care; Empowering and Supporting Our Transgender Youth — Taking Lessons from the Film Gun Hill Road; Don’t Forget the Pleasure in Sex Education; and Talking About Abortion With Confidence.
For more information and to sign up for a training, visit the website here.
April 4, 2011 § Leave a comment
Late Tuesday night, on March 29, 2011, Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) handed down an amendment to Delegate Terry’s Kilgore’s HB 2434 bill, which directed the Commonwealth to establish a health exchange in accordance with the federal health care legislation. The Governor’s amendment will restrict Virginia’s health insurance exchange from covering abortion services, except in the cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother.
Abortion is part of basic health care for women. For some that may seem like an odd thing to say. Abortion has become such a hotly contested issue in this country that we’ve lost sight of the role abortion plays in women’s lives. But if you stop and think about it, every woman’s situation is different and many things can go wrong in a pregnancy. Every woman deserves the opportunity to make the best decision for her circumstances, whether her decision is raising a child, adoption or abortion. No woman plans to have an abortion, but if she needs one, insurance should cover the procedure just as it covers all other pregnancy related care.
Unfortunately, some politicians have introduced legislation that would make it harder for women to access the health care they need. These measures have been proposed throughout the country, including here in Virginia, to prevent insurance companies from covering abortion care. By introducing the amendment to HB 2434, the Governor reopens the debate on an issue that has already been addressed in the General Assembly. HB 2147 and SB 1202, bills to ban abortion coverage in health insurance plans, were introduced at the start of session and received hearings. Both bills were defeated in the Senate Education and Health committee. These measures would have taken, and the amendment to HB 2434 could take away insurance coverage that millions of women currently have and make it difficult if not impossible for many women to take care of themselves and their families.
March 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
…are endlessly amusing. At least to me in the midst of the fresh hell that is Winter Quarter finals week? Behold the following email exchange between my friend and her mother:
Sent: Sun, March 13, 2011 12:22 AM
Subject: I’m sorry to seem needy
but can you send me a little bit of money? Pwease?
LUH YOU SOSOSOSOSO MUCH!
Sent: Sun, March 13, 2011 10:13:26 AM
Subject: Re: I’m sorry to seem needy
Good morning. I will be happy to send you a little money, but do you realize that the message you just sent seems to fit squarely within a submissive female stereotype that reminds me of movies from the 1930s-50s? Please explain.
August 3, 2010 § 12 Comments
by KATIE E.
Dear Stephanie Hallett,
Just stop. Really.
Stop the moral panic. Stop calling yourself a feminist unless you decide you want to support all women. And please, stop promoting the epic fallacy that if we don’t provide maternity clothes at a store aimed at women under thirty, pregnant teenagers will suddenly disappear.
“How about information on pregnancy options, counselling and pre- and post-natal care? Not trendy clothes.”
You know, that’s lovely and all, and I really do support it, but I believe pregnant people are still required by law to be clothed during all that counselling and prenatal care.
And somehow, I don’t think that F21 selling (I kid you not, this is the entire “line”) two modest dresses, two plain shirts, two gray cardigans, two pairs of neutral leggings, one of those belly supporters, and a chiffon thing that I don’t quite understand but is floral and quite unexciting in maternity sizes is going to suddenly end all help for pregnant people who want/need it. And, even in my capacity as a non-fashionista, I’d hardly call that “trendy.” Nice looking, affordable, okay for some jobs and parties, but pretty bland for F21. With the way she phrases it, I was expecting bubble mini-dresses with I AM THE COOLEST PREGNANT TEENAGER EVER emblazoned on the front in rhinestones or something. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, but it sounds much more like something of the traditional F21 cannon.
Furthermore, why shouldn’t pregnant teenagers have trendy clothes? If you are pregnant before society says it’s okay, does that mean you should feel too much shame to dress the way you like?
“Linda Chang, Forever 21′s senior marketing manager, can claim they’re simply trying to appeal to a new demographic, and not exploiting the outrageously high number of teen moms with little money in the U.S., but the point is that a 20-something model in maternity clothes isn’t even shocking anymore. It’s an integral part of the “raw-capitalism-as-spectacle-a-go-go” model that F21 has founded its business on. It doesn’t matter who’s shopping, only that they’re buying.”
I get that Forever 21 is infamous for the whole “fast fashion” phenomenon, but the whole “raw-capitalism-as-spectacle-a-go-go” you’re describing here just sounds a lot like…capitalism. I’m no fan, but the idea of discovering you have a market (young women who’ve always loved fast and cheap clothes who coincidentally become pregnant) and making a product that will appeal to that market (fast, cheap maternity clothes) is hundreds of years old
And exploitive? Really? Please go talk to one of the millions of pregnant people who couldn’t afford maternity clothes and as them if a twelve dollar, slightly less than flawless quality dress makes them feel exploited. Frankly, only someone from a place of privilege could believe pregnant people are exploited by cheap maternity clothes.
Why should a 20-something model in maternity clothes be a shock, anyway? The average age of a first time mom is now 25, and it’s only gone up in the past forty years. Besides, I thought you only wanted to shame pregnant teenagers here. Is it just the phenomenon of pregnancy in general that makes you so mad?
“But as a company whose audience is made up mostly of girls under 24, Forever 21 has the option to behave responsibly and not perpetuate a very destructive norm.”
Is the fact that most (65%) of F21’s customers are under the age of 24 supposed to make me panic or something? This may shock you, but 18-23-year-olds are women. Adult women. And 65%, while a definite majority, is not a radically high figure.
Not that any of that should matter. I would think that a feminist would recognize how extremely problematic referring to anyone who’s pregnant as “a destructive norm” is. Isn’t it Anti-Kyriarchy 101 that there is nothing wrong with anyone who is keeping a pregnancy, and any problems that arise from it are the fault of our racist, sizeist, ageist, sexist, cissexist, classist, heterosexist society?
“How about we offer proper sex ed to American youth?”
Excellent idea, but I fail to see how this will completely erase pregnant people and the need for them to have proper clothes.
“How about we talk about what it’s really like to be a mom–the money it takes, the time it takes, the effects on a young woman’s body–instead of making teen pregnancy a mere fact of life in the US with shows like 16 and Pregnant?”
Here we go with the “pregnant teenagers are silly and don’t know that babies cost money and can change your body!” meme. I happen to know that Women’s Glib, being Women’s Glib, has a high readership of people who are currently teenagers, so I’ll invite all of them to answer this question:
You know being pregnant costs money and time and changes your body, right?
It wouldn’t be a classic teen pregnancy shame fest without a reference to 16 and Pregnant. Really, how many people do you know who watch 16 and Pregnant who have not done all of the following:
1. Called any of the girls “slutty” or something similar.
2. Doubted the girl’s intelligence.
3. Referred to the couple that gave the baby up for adoption as being the only one’s who were smart, responsible, and/or mature.
4. Insisted that it is a great way to prevent teenaged girls from having sex and keeping pregnancies.
16 and Pregnant is hardly “acceptance” or “normalization” of teenaged pregnancy.
As much as it clearly pains you, Ms. Hallett, teen pregnancy is a mere fact of life, and it always has been and always will be. Some teens use contraception and it fails. Some teens can’t afford contraception. Some don’t know how to use it. Some are raped. Some are victimized be reproductive coercion. Some plan pregnancies. Many will choose or be forced into carrying the pregnancy to full-term. All deserve our respect and support. And that includes affordable, nice clothes that they can wear.
Ms. Hallett, what you’ve written here is one of the major reasons why mainstream feminism frequently disappoints me. A feminist should support all women and girls, but I see less and less realizing how much our society fails pregnant people and mothers who don’t fit the kyriarchal norm. Pregnant teens and teenaged parents are not a tragedy or destructive, but society (including you) is set on continuing to perpetuate conditions and ideas that make it seem that way.
July 31, 2010 § 5 Comments
One of the ways in which people frequently judge women is regarding parenting. Women are judged by whether or not they have children, how many children they have, how they raise and take care of said children, and there seems to be quite a few rules and regulations that must be followed in order to be a Good Mother. And, as posts like Mai’a’s views on “child-free spaces” show, feminists can be just as judgemental about how parents (especially mothers) raise their children.
I think a lot of people have a difficult time when they are in the same space as a child is misbehaving, and don’t know when it is appropriate to say something to a parent whose child is acting out/misbehaving/otherwise acting like a child in a room full of adults.
I think this “I don’t want to be impolite, so I can’t say anything” impulse can be harmful during times when a child isn’t just being fussy, but genuinely in harm’s way.
About a month ago, I was hanging out at a friend’s house, which she rents with several other roommates. We were on the porch, when we noticed something disturbing going on at the next door neighbors house: A little boy ways trying to climb out of a first-floor window, and we didn’t see anyone come over to pull him back in. My friend (who is majoring in social work) went over to say “Go inside” in an attempt to coax him back in. She then knocked on the front door, and after a while, someone answered. She explained that the window was open, and that the boy was trying to climb out of it. After walking back to the porch, we saw the little boy attempt to climb out of the window, again. When she said that she was going to call Child Protective Services the next day, she asked us “Is that okay? Am I doing the right thing?” We all responded that yes, calling CPS was the right thing because it didn’t seem like anyone was supervising the boy, and if we had not noticed what was going on, he could’ve gotten hurt, or ran off without anyone knowing, and that whoever was at the house didn’t seem to notice/care that something was wrong. And she, as a social work student, had the best understanding about when living situations can be harmful to children.
I get annoyed when people freak out about how Angelina Jolie is raising her children. (Do I have some mixed feelings about how she can “magically” change a child’s life by adopting them? Yes. Do I think this makes her a bad mother? No.) I’m also annoyed when people assume that when a child is crying in a public space, the mother of that child is bad/stupid/selfish/should’ve gotten a sitter. There are times when I’ve gotten annoyed with the children around me (airplanes are one of those times, though a dingbat honeymoon couple who wouldn’t stop whining about a flight delay takes the cake for me, and for every crying child in a theatre, there has also been the adult who blithely uses flash photography, even when the house manager tells them not to). However, most of those times, the children were not causing any harm to themselves or others, and the parents were trying their best to calm down their children.
We have to ask ourselves: Is this child going to harm themselves or others? Do the parents intervene to prevent that from happening? Are the children being abused (physically/sexually/emotionally)? Are the children abusing others? And in those situations where outside interference comes from a response to a dangerous situation, we should not have to apologize for our actions.
July 27, 2010 § 10 Comments
by KATIE E.
I’m afraid it’s true. You don’t have a right to demand a public space without kids anymore than I have a right to demand a public space without women. Or people of color. Or trans* people. Or…anyone. I would think that as social justice minded individuals we would collectively realize how seriously screwed up the notion that we can exclude a group of people from the public sphere is.
You know what else you don’t have a right to? You don’t have a right to demand parents to “control” children in public, as if they are animals or objects. You don’t get to police parenting techniques, and you don’t get to demand that kids don’t demonstrate age-appropriate behavior.
If you are going to call out misogynists, racists, ableists, trans/fat/lesbo/bi/homophobes or anyone else contributing to the kyriarchy, but you are completely open about the fact that you just hate children, you are a hypocrite.
Also, Jezebel? I have HUGE problems with your site, particularly the way you brand feminism, but now you’ve officially lost a reader. It features what I’ve often heard called the “oppression olympics” (Racism and sexism are much worse than child-hate!), and polices a woman’s choice not to call herself a feminist, which, if you read the feministe comment thread, she clearly has good reasons for.
The Jezebel thread is even worse, and includes very thinly veiled racist attacks on mai’a. (Making fun of her daughter’s name and the like.)
If Mai’a or anyone else who agrees with her is reading this, good for you and I’m so sorry you have to deal with all of these horrible comments. If you’re one of the other “feminists” I saw exhibiting ageist, child-hating behavior, you’ve made me pretty ashamed to be a feminist and normal fan of feministe today.
Things You Should Read on This:
April 16, 2010 § 2 Comments
Ruth‘s mom, a lactation consultant, passed along this fascinating article on breastfeeding and gender equality.
Breastfeeding, like any practice that involves women’s bodies, is highly political. The simple act of feeding your child is prey to a whole host of issues. Class prevents many women from breastfeeding, because it often requires a carefully planned schedule for feeding and pumping milk; for some women who work full-time, taking breaks to pump milk is not an option. Further, cultural biases sometimes dictate that women who can’t or don’t breastfeed their children are bad moms. On the flip side, another stigma maintains that women using their breasts for any purpose other than men’s visual pleasure is absurd and disgusting.
So yet again, we see many conflicting cultural standards and ideals — and policing women’s bodies is the mechanism we use to hash through them. Just like the Stupak amendment, women’s lives and livelihoods are irrelevent: it wasn’t abortion that was a problem, but healthcare reform overall. Yet again, women are the playing cards, and rarely do we win a hand.
Dr. Paige Hall Smith, Director of the University of North Carolina Greensboro’s Center for Women’s Health and Wellness and Founder/Co-Director of the annual Breastfeeding & Feminism Symposia (a partnership between UNC Greensboro and UNC Chapel Hill) says that although breastfeeding is seen as a “lifestyle choice” oftentimes, making some women out to be the “better mothers” and others made to feel guilty for their choices, in truth, “these choices are made within a constrained environment.” Smith says, instead, that we need to look not just “at the decisions made but the constraints and structures in society that shape women’s decisions” in order to understand more about why women do or don’t breastfeed for extended periods of time.
My own mother breastfed me exclusively for many months, and after that supplemented my regular diet with breastmilk until I was three years old. And she was very privileged. She was only 26, just starting her career, whereas my dad was 40 and had a great, stable job, which meant that she took more than a year off from work to stay home with me. She loved breastfeeding; she felt proud that she was able to offer me the healthiest feeding option, and the act of feeding brought us physically closer in my first months of life.
I too plan to breastfeed when I have kids. I look forward to the shared experience we’ll have. But I absolutely do not expect all women to do the same — nor do I bemoan the choices that they make about their own bodies. That’s a fundamental part of being pro-choice.
Dr. Smith says, “We need to give women control…That’s the bottom line. We must create structures in society that give women more control over their bodies. Women who have control over their lives, body, time and space [and I'm talking about private, public and work space] are more likely to breastfeed than those who don’t have that same kind of control.”
It’s the feminist answer — work towards equality and justice and we’ll allow women to make decisions they feel are right for themselves.