Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Then I began to think that perhaps legal methods were best. Look at civil rights. Though there’s still work to be done, the various pieces of civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s did help. Using the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution, political leaders were able to make not hiring African Americans or serving them as customers illegal. (Please note that link's not Wikipedia. It's dKosopedia - a project of the Daily Kos.) It doesn’t mean African American workers are treated fairly or that practically every store clerk in America isn’t on heightened alert when an African American male teen comes in. It just means that legally people of color cannot be excluded from commerce.
Perhaps women could benefit from the same process. The Lilly Ledbetter Act, which would give women more latitude to sue their employers for violating the 1963 Equal Pay Act, would be a step in the right direction. Reinvigorating the campaign for the Equal Rights Amendment, a project of the Alice Paul Institute, would give legal teeth to various fights women face.
So I became a bigger advocate of legislation as a feminist battle until…
I found myself again disillusioned with the legislative process. I’m terrified of a McCain administration. Yet I believe a single-payer healthcare system, which would require the government, is best. What to do?
I now believe, in true Aristotelian fashion, that a combination plan is best. We need both legislative measures in place, and we need to work outside the established system to change people’s lives. How about you? Which do you favor? Why?
Monday, October 13, 2008
One of the people who applied sent me a sample with a story I hadn’t heard about before now. I was surprised actually. Not only is it an interesting feminist story, but it happened in Atlanta. I grew up in Georgia. I did my undergraduate work at Mercer University in Macon and was in graduate school at the University of Georgia. So I tend to keep up with what’s going on there.
But I digress.
The link was about Cynthia Good, the owner of PINK magazine. The magazine is headquartered in Atlanta, and Good pointed out to the city council that using “Men Working” on road signs is sexist. I recall vaguely this issue coming up elsewhere a few years ago, and I’m pretty sure some states now use a generic “people working” or “city workers on the job” or something similar. So Good’s idea wasn’t news to me.
According to the press release on PINK's website, the suggestion has been in effect since 1978 for road workers, and many states use people, workers, or flaggers.
The story did make me rethink how much we, as feminists, should care about semantics. I’ve read a number of essays recently suggesting that we shouldn’t care. A women's issues editor on a site I visit recently explained that using gender-specific pronouns isn’t a problem. We just shouldn’t give a damn if something says “he” instead of “one” or “he or she.” We shouldn’t care if something says “manned” instead of “staffed.” We shouldn’t care if an essays says “mankind” instead of “people” or “humanity.”
But you know what? We should care! It is important.
When we read, we internalize what we’re hearing or reading. We either actively oppose it, or we accept it. Studies on viewing violent pornography, for example, show that men who watch it internalize the message and become desensitized to violence against women even if the men at the beginning of such studies indicate an opposition to violence against women. Children playing video games do the same. They come not to care about the violence they’re experiencing the game and don’t react to it.
So, why wouldn’t the same be true for non-violent reading and watching? If you’re reading “he” all the time in a text about doctors, doesn’t that suggest to you – if only subconsciously – that “he” and not “she” goes with “doctor”?
Why do people think using gender-neutral language is so offensive? If you don’t have a problem with saying “men working,” you’re entitled not to care. But why get up in arms when someone else does care? If it doesn’t matter, then why not keep quiet and let the change take place? Of all the money the city of Atlanta spends every year, I don’t think buying a few new road signs is going to break the city’s budget.
A compromise would be to replace signs with new ones saying “people working” or to put gender-neutral language on the digital signs lining the interstates around the city. The digital signs are changed as traffic conditions change, so using gender-neutral language costs nothing.
Changing the signs does have benefits, though. It empowers girls and women who may consider a career in construction. It recognizes the contributions of the women who work in the field already. And it moves us one step closer to equality.
Words matter. It's time we stop backing down from that fundamental truth.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
This weekend when I went to a library sale, I found a first-edition copy of Marilyn French's The War Against Women. I've read only excerpts of it and those were years ago. Marilyn French is my very favorite feminist author. In fact, I commented last week on my love of The Women's Room. I'm stoked over this find. I know I wondered around with a goofy grin after I found it, and I couldn't want to get home to share!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I’m not sure what planet Mandell’s on to suggest that Palin supports women’s rights. She has not done anything to deal with rape and sexual assault (the rape kit controversy notwithstanding) in Alaska, which has the highest number of rapes in the country. She is opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. She supports the McCain healthcare initiative, which will leave 20 million more people without health insurance, many of whom will be women.
Mandell also said earlier in the speech that she’s not there as a representative of NOW, but as an individual.
That, my feminist friends, is a joke. Someone in such a high-profile position cannot represent only herself. She is taking a clear stand against the national group’s position. Kim Gandy has been stumping for Obama-Biden for the past month, and here comes the leader of one of the largest chapters of NOW saying that she’s supporting the other ticket. As an individual she’s free to support the candidate she likes, but she should not use her title as the leader of LA NOW to support Palin.
Beyond that, for the McCain-Palin strategists to present Mandell as an individual is disingenuous. They used her precisely because of her affiliation with NOW. If not, then why choose her? Why not choose one of the millions of other people in the country who support Palin?
Patty Bellasalma, President of California NOW, issued a statement explaining that the chapter’s support is not the same as Mandell’s support. I’m not sure how much good Bellasalma’s statement will be, but I hope it will work and that on-the-border feminists will understand that Mandell’s position is in conflict with NOW.
What's your favorite feminist novel?
Leave a comment and the commenter with the most inspiring entry will receive a copy of Katie Willard's novel Raising Hope about 2 women who end up, by odd circumstances, raising a daughter together. The deadline for comments for the contest is October 20.
Friday, October 3, 2008
She failed to answer a single question related to the debate topics. When asked very pointed questions – such as which poses the greater threat: Iran or Pakistan – she couldn’t even answer that.
She wouldn’t touch McCain’s healthcare “initiative” that’s going to tax benefits. Experts estimate that taxation will put about 20 million more Americans without healthcare because employers won’t be able to shoulder the burden. So, no, Palin wouldn’t touch it. Why should she? The policy only shows how much the McCain-Palin administration would harm the average citizen.
It really pisses me off anyway that female candidates are so polarized. Hillary had to be the best all. The. Time. She had to be far better than everyone else to be taken seriously. Palin has to show up without a run in her hose and she’s good.
We’ve come a long way. I’ll give my feminist predecessors that. But there’s still a helluva lot of road to go before we’re equal.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Quite a few feminist bloggers – and some non-feminist ones, too – have posted in the past week about John LaBruzzo, a Republican (now, there’s a shocker!) representative from Metairie. In a meeting of Louisiana lawmakers, he suggested offering women a $1,000 incentive to have their tubes tied.
Wait, allow me to clarify.
He suggested offering poor women the incentive.
I have so many issues with what LaBruzzo is saying, some more relevant than others, that I’m not even sure where to begin. Let’s get started.
* The opposite, and more egregious to me, side of the LaBruzzo suggestion is that the state offer incentives for wealthy people to have more children. LaBruzzo and his attorney wife have only one child, the irony of which just blows me away.
* When pressed'>pressed on CNN about the fact that the poverty rate is higher in Louisiana among families without children than those with children, suggesting LaBruzzo’s idea isn’t about poverty at all, he can’t answer. He goes on some rant about “the media” because he has no answer for his obvious racism.
* And the fact that he’s smiling during the entire segment just pisses me off.
* If birth control were more readily available or if insurance were more affordable or universal or if parents living in poverty had other options available to them, then we wouldn’t need this “incentive.” There would be no need to pay people to have major surgery because they would be more in control of their lives anyway.
* Generational poverty isn’t the issue. He talks about how people are living on welfare forever and ever. In case LaBruzzo hasn’t noticed, all manor of restriction now exists for how long one can stay on various forms of welfare. And besides that, have you ever tried to live off the subsidies welfare provides? No one’s living the high life on it. People gaming the system may be, but the honest mom trying to raise three children with no help isn’t driving a brand-new SUV and eating shrimp. She can’t afford it!
* Besides that, find out why people stayed behind during Katrina. Many of them were hard-working, blue-collar folks who had to stay if the boss stayed or risk losing their jobs. Those deadbeats!
I have a long-standing desire to live in New Orleans, a city for which I have a strong fondness. When Katrina hit, all hope of my husband agreeing to that move vanished. When I read things like this – Metarie is just outside New Orleans – it makes me want to renew my efforts at home. There are jackass politicians everywhere, but Louisiana seems rife for them right now given the climate there since Katrina.
I hope LaBruzzo’s constituents will vote him out of office. It’s not because I believe this idea will become law. I don’t think it will get close. It’s more because he’s wasting his time and taxpayers’ money on this absurd discussion about paying for tubal ligations. It won’t happen, so cut the crap and spend some time doing something that could benefit Louisianans.