Thursday, December 30, 2010

Boycott American Women campaign hits Female Impersonator

An American man has decided that he's had enough of American Women and he's been sending in comments to this blog to encourage American men to join him in his boycott of American women.

Of course, none of this comments have appeared on this blog. And they never will.

But this was written about on Jezebel, so I thought I'd let our readers know of the nonsense that I've been getting in my comment moderation queue.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Muslim Women in U.S. Gain Higher Profile

A recent New York Times article explores the role of Muslim women in the U.S. The article maintains an overall positive tilt, emphasizing how successful Muslim women in America are. The author does a pretty good job of alluding to the discrimination Muslim women face in America and the discrepancies between their empowerment and some of their religion's doctrine. However, the hardships these women must face is perhaps understated in the overall celebratory tone. I am including an excerpt below, but I would love to hear thoughts and impressions from people who have had a chance to read the whole thing.

These [American Muslim] women have achieved a level of success and visibility unmatched elsewhere. They say they are molded by the freedoms of the United States — indeed, many unabashedly sing its praises — and by the intellectual ferment stirred when American-born and immigrant Muslims mix.

“What we’re seeing now in America is what has been sort of a quiet or informal empowerment of women,” said Shireen Zaman, executive director of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a nonprofit research institute founded after the 2001 attacks to provide research on American Muslims. “In many of our home countries, socially or politically it would’ve been harder for Muslim women to take a leadership role. It’s actually quite empowering to be Muslim in America.”

As Najah Bazzy, a American-born nurse and founder of several charities in Michigan, put it: “Yeah I’m Arab, yeah I’m very American, and yeah I’m very Islamic, but you put those things in the blender and I’m no longer just a thing. I’m a new thing.”

It is not always easy. Several of the Muslim women interviewed for this article said they had been the object of abusive letters, e-mails or blog posts.

Yet in their quest to break stereotypes, America’s Muslim women have advantages. They are better educated than counterparts in Western Europe, and also than the average American, according to a Gallup survey in March 2009. In contrast to their sisters in countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, they are just as likely as their menfolk to attend religious services, which equates to greater influence. And Gallup found that Muslim American women, often entrepreneurial, come closer than women of any other faith to earning what their menfolk do.

“Muslims coming to North America are often seeking an egalitarian version of Islam,” said Ebrahim Moosa, an associate professor of Islamic studies at Duke University. “That forces women onto the agenda and makes them much more visible than, say, in Western Europe.”
Via Racialicious

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Access to Emergency Abortion Care Threatened

A recent case highlights the importance of emergency abortion care and the threat religiously affiliated hospitals can pose to providing women with this necessary service:

"...A hospital in Phoenix, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, provided a life-saving abortion to a young mother of four children who was dying from pulmonary hypertension and was 11 weeks pregnant...Last week, the Bishop in Phoenix threatened to strip St. Joseph’s of its status as an official Catholic hospital unless St. Joseph’s agreed to sign a written pledge that it would not perform another life-saving abortion. The diocese made good on that threat yesterday, and stripped St. Joseph’s of its endorsement after the hospital defended its actions. As Amie Newman of RH Reality Check discussed last night, St. Joseph’s refused to agree to allow their patients to die. The hospital said, “Morally, ethically, and legally we simply cannot stand by and let someone die whose life we might be able to save.”

St. Joseph’s did the right thing by standing up for women’s health. But the Phoenix bishop’s actions send a chilling message to other Catholic hospitals in the country: if they save women’s lives by providing emergency abortion care, there will be consequences. This could have a profound impact on women's health care throughout the country, especially given that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also recently reaffirmed that even life-saving abortions cannot be performed in Catholic hospitals across the country.

To learn more about how individuals and institutions may deny patients health care on ideological grounds, click here. To tell the Obama administration that you want this issue to be made a priority, click here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Female Authors 2010

It is no secret that modern literary culture favors men, but in 2010 women might have finally made major publications do something about their bias.

It started when Jodi Picoult (followed by Jennifer Weiner) took to twitter, complaining about the fact that female authors are given significantly less notice by prominent critics. Subsequent research found that the numbers confirm Picoult's charge- Times Book Review does give far less space to novels written by women than to those by their male counterparts.

After being so publicly called on their sexism, influential review publications have taken note of the female authors they have ignored for so long in their best of 2010 lists. Times' and Salon's lists prominently featured books written by women, and the National Book Awards had four female finalists out of five.

Thoughts? Have you read any 2010 publications written by women that you would recommend? I myself am currently making my way through Courtney E. Martin's Do it Anyway: The New Generation of Activists. Martin's book explores the causes and biographies of eight young activists in a reverent, but still critical way. If you get the chance to read it it is definitely worth your time.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Senate repeals Don't Ask Don't Tell

The United States Senate voted 65-31 in favor of repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell today.

I am smiling.

(via Shakesville)

EDIT: And Obama signed the appeal.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Update on My Life (Because I Know You Were Wondering)

Just writing to apologize for how little I have posted lately. Finals are starting over here and I probably won't be able to post regularly again for a little over a week. Just know that I miss my impersonated community very much. Hopefully you and I will be comforted with some posts from my lovely co-bloggers in the meantime.

To tide you over until my return to the blogosphere, here are some of the things that I have been reading to procrastinate studying that you might find worthy of procrastinating with as well:

Jessica Valenti on the
Assange case

thoughts on Glee

Latest from NYT's "Women at Arms" series

December 6th was the anniversary of the
Montreal Massacre (thanks to my roommate for reminding me about this)

First two openly trans judges in the U.S.
were appointed last month

And another amazing feminist friend of mine just brought
this piece by Andrea Gibson to my attention.

LGBT books vandalized with urine

Around 40 books about same sex marriage and gay and lesbian issues were found to be vandalized with what appears to be urine in Lamont Library at Harvard University. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
Marco Chan '11, co-chair of the Harvard College Queer frustrating" and "disconcerting," and said that it represents a Students and Allies, called the incident "extremely concern not only for the LGBT community, but for the Harvard community at large.

"I am very outraged. It is hard to conceive this as a coincidence when there are 40 books on the same subject," Chan said. "The message that this incident sent to me is that we need more resources not only for the LGBT community but also targeted towards other people."

Chan suggested workshops on homosexual, bisexual, and transsexual issues—similar to the mandatory freshman orientation event Sex Signals—as one possible way to respond to the bias evidenced by the incident.
(via Feministing)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Civil union bill passes IL House and Senate

Good news from my home state today.

The Illinois House and Senate have both passed SB1716, the "Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act" which would give gay couples similar rights and legal status to other married couples. It is now up to Governor Pat Quinn to sign the bill into law.

For more, read here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Feminist Break-Ups

My roommate from this summer/one of my favorite feminists just brought to my attention this really sweet article about how to deal with a break up while feminist. I would summarize, but I will let the author win you over herself with the below excerpt:

How To Get Through the Feeling Betrayed / Feeling Sorry for Yourself / "My Life Sucks And Nobody Has Ever Been In As Much Pain As I Have" Phase:

In this garbage dump of a situation, I realized I have an AMAZING group of friends. ...They made me laugh, they let me cry. Which made me realize how important the feminist value of sisterhood's so important to have a close group of girl friends that will get you through to the other end and keep you on track no matter how trivial the problem you're dealing with seems in the scheme of things.

My Relationship with my Mom/Other Female Role Model
Strong women role models – in this case, my Mommy – helped me (and can help you) remember that even when other people act in ways that are pretty low, you can still hold yourself to a higher standard and rise above them.

How To Move On To Empowerment

Set Yourself Aside and Focus on Other People

Settle Your Karmic Score

I realized that while I was hurting, I had hurt other people. Without going into it, freshman year my two best friends and I had a huge fight. Stupid freshman that I was I walked away thinking that I was the only one who had been hurt. It took nearly 3 years and some heartbreak to figure out I may have hurt them, too. I began to realize the people I had designated "good" and the people I had designated "bad" were turning out to all be in the wrong categories and set out to fix it.

Now. Maybe I didn't react to this experience in the most feminist way. Maybe instead of focusing so much on this one incident I should have channeled that energy into rallying for a more important cause. Instead of curling up in the fetal position, I probably should have volunteered for Planned Parenthood or something. And maybe this advice isn't even the most feminist guide ever. But sometimes life, emotions and just being a freakin' teenager interfere with perfect feminist theory. And when that happens, this is what I have learned: be a kind human being. Treat others the way you want to be treated. When you slip up and do something bad to somebody else, own up to it and make it right. When somebody does something bad to you, try to maintain your integrity and look inwards toward your own strength and outwards towards a future where you are a stronger person for the pain. Because in the end, that's essentially what feminism is.

I highly recommend you read her full article, which elaborates on all of her advice and details her own recent break-up experience.

Please share your own feminist break up advice (for any or all genders) in comments.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Setback for Paycheck Fairness

Apparently our senate is not making wage discrimination a priority:

A bill aimed at stamping out wage discrimination was blocked Wednesday as too few senators voted to move forward with the legislation, the Wall Street Journal reported Nov. 17. The Paycheck Fairness Act was short by two votes.

The bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives last year and would have amended the Equal Pay Act to limit the defense that employers can use to respond to charges of wage discrimination based on sex, among other actions. In a press statement, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said she would continue fighting for the legislation so "women are not treated as second class citizens by employers who refuse to compensate them in a fair and equitable manner."

You know what to do, contact your senator and tell them that you want them to stand up for equal pay.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Today is International Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today, please remember to memorialize trans people who been murdered because of prejudice. For more information and to learn about steps you can take to stop hate crimes against trans men and women, click here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Feminism and Men

Tired of hearing how advances for women can only mean an impending "End of Men"? Well, so is Hugo Schwyzer at the Guardian. He wrote a great article about what feminist advances may mean for men, my favorite bit of which can be found below.

Traditionalists warn that women who exercise "too much" sovereignty over their bodies (by utilising contraception, availing themselves of abortion or new reproductive technologies) risk making men irrelevant. And men who feel irrelevant will behave like perpetual teenagers, refusing to make lasting commitments, cheerful in the certainty that whatever happens sexually, a "woman will take care of things".

We socialise women to be afraid of one thing more than anything else: being alone. The anti-feminist opponents of progress are masters at exploiting that fear, urging women to resist the siren song of technologically assisted autonomy lest they find themselves growing old without a man. The anecdotal evidence that a great many men in Britain and the US do seem stuck in what the scholar Michael Kimmel calls "Guyland" – an enduring adolescence that seems to last decades – seems to legitimate the shrill jeremiads of the traditionalists.

But the opponents of progress are wrong.

Leaving aside their wrongness on the larger questions of women's autonomy and reproductive ethics, they're wrong about men. They're wrong in their insistence that with female vulnerability, men will rise to responsibility, while without it, men will invariably sink down to drifting, predatory fecklessness. While it is absolutely true that we've raised men to believe that their worth is contingent on how well they take of vulnerable women, it's also undeniably true that traditional gender roles have exacted an enormous cost from men.

Male privilege is not a guarantor of either happiness or health, and trying desperately to play the part of protector and provider has robbed generations of men of both. Feminism, in concert with these many new and exciting reproductive and contraceptive technologies, offers men a chance to rethink and re-evaluate their worth and their purpose. It offers them an opportunity to be intimate allies with their female partners, to forge relationships based on more than duty and dependency. It gives men a chance to be loved for the wholeness of who we are, rather than solely for what we can provide.

I am so glad that there are voices against the outdated "traditionalist" thinking Hugo cites. To read more about traditionalism and why it is short-sighted, read the full article here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fitness is Not Necessarily Thinness

Morning Gloria over at Jezebel wrote a great piece railing against America's obsession with weight as a measure of fitness, something I have complained about (in a less articulate way) in the past.

There are lots of great parts of the piece which I suggest you read in its entirety, but you can get the jist through the below summary.

I bought a women's fitness magazine the other day and almost every page equated fitness with losing weight. Get bikini ready in seven days! Lose 12 pounds by tomorrow by doing these three exercises! Hungry? Eat seven almonds! Fuck that.

Your body was made for so much more than being looked at, deprived of food, and enjoyed by others. Your body was made for kicking some ass.


Discussing exercise or athleticism is tricky in the context of body acceptance; we're told the only reason we'd possibly want to exercise is to have a sexy body or to be smaller or more in line with what society has determined is an acceptable size.


You guys. This is bullshit. Physical fitness doesn't have to be about anyone else but you or about anything else but becoming stronger. It's time we stopped associated exercise with a form of conformity and surrender, because do so is to deprive yourself of the potential that your body offers you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Women Underrepresented in Management

According to a government report, the number of women in managing positions only increased a lousy one percent (from 39 to 40 percent) between 2000 and 2007. This is especially ridiculous considering that women are now the majority in colleges and universities and comprise 46.8% of the labor force.

Nanette Fondas at the Ms. Magazine blog has a fitting acronym to explain why: W.O.M.E.N.

W- "Work-family spillover"

O-"lack of Open, flexible work options"

M-"Masculine model of the 'ideal' worker"

E-"Evaluations of performance punish use of flexible work policies"

N-"No time for activism"

To learn more about the meaning behind the acronym, read Nanette's full post

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I Heart Tina Fey

Tina Fey, on the occasion of winning the Mark Twain award for comedy, took on the myth that having any women in politics is good regardless of whether they enact anti-woman policies.

Right-wing women, said Tina Fey last night, are great for all women, "unless you don't want to pay for your own rape kit...[or] you're a lesbian who wants to get married to your partner of 20 years."

I know there has been some criticism of Ms. Fey in the feminist blogosphere lately- but I think we can all agree that this comment is badass.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Positive Results of the Midterm Election

Okay, so I have spent a good amount of time since the midterm elections bemoaning some of the douchebags who made it in to office. However, in this post I would like to focus on the positive for the sake of both my sanity and the sanity of all my fellow feminists out there.

First of all, "
a historic 106 openly gay candidates have been elected to office this year." Yay for political views, not homophobia, dictating how people vote!

Secondly, Colarado luckily
voted down "the so-called 'personhood' amendment, which would define 'personhood' as beginning at 'biological development' in an underhanded attempt to restrict women’s access to safe abortion services and reduce their reproductive agency." Yay Colarado for standing up for a woman's right to choose!

Please leave more positive results of the midterm election in comments.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Obama on Gay Rights

Given my recent post on President Obama's It Gets Better video and the thoughtful opinions voiced in the comments section, I have started thinking more about Obama on gay rights. He made a lot of promises that convinced a lot of the gay community and straight allies to vote his way in 2008 that he has yet to follow through on. The most obvious example of this is, of course, Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT). Obama promised to do away with this outdated and homophobic military policy. However, in 2010 he is still dragging his feet about it despite a federal judge's order to stop enforcing DADT and the fact that 78% of Americans are actually in favor of repealing it.

But recently Obama has
implied that he might be adopting more gay-friendly policies:

"I have been to this point unwilling to sign on to same-sex marriage primarily because of my understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage. But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine," Obama said in response to a question from Joe Subday of Americablog.

"I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships. I have staff members who are in committed, monogamous relationships, who are raising children, who are wonderful parents. And I care about them deeply," Obama continued. "And so while I’m not prepared to reverse myself here, sitting in the Roosevelt Room at 3:30 in the afternoon, I think it’s fair to say that it’s something that I think a lot about. That’s probably the best you’ll do out of me today."

Later, Obama seemed to suggest that legalization of gay marriage is inevitable. "The one thing I will say today is I think it’s pretty clear where the trend lines are going," he added.

My first reaction is to be hopeful that Obama is becoming the stand-up guy I always wished he would be. On the other hand, the cynical side of me is thinking that midterm elections are coming up and he might just be trying to tease the gay community into voting his way on November 2nd.

What do you think? Do Obama's recent comments reveal a change for the better for gay community or a just more false promises?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Obama Makes "It Gets Better" Video

I have been compulsively watching "It Gets Better" videos, and am super excited that President Obama made one.

Thoughts on what Obama says or doesn't say here? Do you have a favorite "It Gets Better" video?

My personal favorite is Tim Gunn's (and not just because I watch too much Project Runway).

To learn more about the It Gets Better Project and watch some videos click

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dan Savage advice: "total shit"

**Trigger warning: sexual assault and victim-blaming **

Dan Savage, who writes a nationally syndicated advice column on sexuality and sex, makes me wonder, what the hell was he thinking?

A woman in an open marriage wrote in to Savage explaining that five months ago a former partner had sexually assaulted her and since then she has found herself unable to be intimate with her husband, saying that his attempts to initiate sex made her "skin crawl". At the same time, however, she has not been having any trouble being intimate with her boyfriend, and even said that sex with him "is amazing and leaves [her] feeling loved and whole and wonderful."

The woman said that this situation left her husband feeling "depressed" and "angry" and that he told her to stop sleeping with her boyfriend until their marriage was "back to normal." This woman expressed hesitation about leaving her boyfriend, saying it pained her "to think about cutting out the one positive relationship remaining."

Savage responded, among other things:

"You're being a total shit."

That is a direct quote.

via Deeky at Shakesville, whose post I suggest everyone read as well.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gloria Steinem Defends Young Feminists

Despite the fact that the interviewer was obviously trying to make Gloria say a disparaging remark about young feminism, in this interview she says she respects young feminists and that we are not all apathetic "bimbos."

It feels so good to get recognition from such an iconic 2nd wave feminist, particularly when I constantly see the media saying people my age don't care about women's rights.

My favorite Steinem quote from the interview: "I am something of a hopeaholic." So great.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Victim-Blaming Travesty of the Day

**Trigger warning for description of sexual assault**

As we have written before, victim-blaming in cases of sexual assault is an all too common practice. And this bullshit is even worse than usual.

High school football star Rakheem Bolton and two others were indicted for sexual assault of a child–identified only as H.S.–at a post-game party in 2008. According to H.S.–a fellow student and cheerleader at Silsbee High–Bolton, football player Christian Rountree and another juvenile male forced her into a room, locked the door, held her down and sexually assaulted her. When other party-goers tried to get into the room, two of the men fled through an open window, including Bolton, who left clothing behind. Bolton allegedly threatened to shoot the occupants of the house when the homeowner refused to return his clothes.

In September 2010, Bolton pled guilty to a lesser charge of Class A Assault and was sentenced to one year in prison, a sentence that was suspended by the judge in lieu of two years probation, a $2,500 fine, community service and an anger management course.

Silsbee school officials had two responses to the incident. First, they urged H.S. to keep a low profile, such as avoiding the school cafeteria and not taking part in homecoming activities. With the support of her family, she refused to do so, rejecting the notion that she had anything to be ashamed of. Secondly, school officials kicked her off the cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer for Bolton. No kidding.

Bolton had been allowed back on campus during a brief period when one grand jury withdrew the charges before another grand jury reinstated them. During a basketball game, H.S. cheered for the entire team but refused to cheer “Rakheem” during his free-throws, so she was off the squad.

H.S.’s parents sued the school for violating her right to free speech, but an appeals court dismissed her case earlier this month.

Please get angry about this and contact the school superintendent and principle.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Top Ten Bestselling Books by Men (Again)

From a feminist perspective, there are very few good things to say about the Twilight series. However, one of them is that Stephanie Meyer was a rare female presence on the bestseller lists. Now, the top ten books are once again all written by men.

So let's take this opportunity to promote some contemporary female authors we like. My personal favorite?
Sarah Dessen.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kick Ass Woman of the Day

This article about Ingrid Bengis-Palei is worth reading all the way through.  In the 1970's she wrote a book called Combat in the Erogenous Zone which "detail[ed] her efforts to come to grips with feminism and the sexual revolution, exploring “man hating,” lesbianism and love."  Now she is the owner of Ingrid Bengis Seafood.   

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Study: No Mental Health Problems in Teens who Terminate Pregnancy

Contrary to what the anti-choicers want you to think, a recent study shows that teens who decide to terminate their pregnancy are no more likely to have mental health problems than teens who do not choose abortion.

In a study conducted by Jocelyn T. Warren of Oregon State University et al., young women who have abortions are no more likely than teenagers who do not end their pregnancies to have low self-esteem or become depressed during their pregnancy or five years later. This study is available online (PDF) and will also be in the December issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. This nationwide study is the first to examine the potential outcome of depression and low self-esteem in a representative sample of teens who have induced abortions.


Currently, 34 states (PDF) require women receive counseling before an abortion is performed. Seven states require women be warned of the possible negative psychological consequences resulting from induced abortions. The authors of the study suggest possible harm resulting from a counseling requirement:

Paradoxically laws mandating that women considering abortion be advised of its psychological risks may jeopardize women’s health by adding unnecessary anxiety and undermining women’s right to informed consent.

Now that the supposed mental health risks of having an abortion have been debunked for women and teenagers, states should act to lift any requirements of sharing inaccurate information before obtaining abortion care.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Who is Responsible for Preventing Assault?

On Wednesday a young woman from Austin, Texas was standing at a bus stop.  While she waited for the school bus a man approached her from behind and grabbed her.  When the young woman screamed the man ran away.  The young woman's school then sent a letter home to parents encouraging them to speak to their children about safe practices including walking in groups, not speaking to strangers and informing adults if a stranger approaches. 

Now I am all for telling young people to be aware of their surroundings and encouraging them to be safe.  What bothers me about the advice in the school's letter is that it implies the young woman was somehow to blame for the man assaulting her.  If only she hadn't been standing at that bus stop alone.  If only she had done this, if only she had done that, this would never have happened to her.  

We need to stop blaming women for what men choose to do.  The conversation really needs to be about how we can teach men to respect women and their bodily autonomy.  We need to be encouraging men to take responsibility for their actions rather than blaming women for standing at a bus stop alone.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Feminist Crush of the Day

This woman is everything I want to be.

Robinson and her family were riding back from Cardiff when a group of drunk football fans started yelling "sexist chants" at another woman. When Robinson complained, she says, "their chanting became directly to me and it became sexist and quite obscene." She asked the train's driver to call the police, but he refused, so she got off the train and onto the track, where she remained until the police were called and train service was terminated. Robinson says, "This is my community, this is my village. We're not going to be bullied and certainly for women and families, they should be able to travel on the train in peace and quiet and go about their business without being bullied like that."

The British Transport Police they are investigating the incident and may punish the football fans. And, says MP Wayne David, "No member of the public should be subject to abuse of this kind and it must never happen again."

Monday, October 4, 2010

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Cancer is the second most common cause of death for women in the U.S. October has been designated as a month to raise awareness about a particularly deadly form of cancer that is overwhelmingly seen in women- breast cancer.

You can learn more about breast cancer, including common myths about it and how to detect it early, here.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Awesome Poet to Know

So I was youtubing slam poetry and found this amazing work. Please watch it and fall in love with Katie Makkai like I did.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill That Prohibited Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners

This is outrageous.  If you are pregnant and in a California jail, you just might be shackled when you are transported between facilities.  AB1900 would have ended this practice.  In fact it faced no opposition and passed the Legislature without a single no vote.  According to Governor Schwarzenegger, the bill was outside the scope of the duties of the Corrections Standards Authority (CSA)Schwarzenegger said:
CSA's mission is to regulate and develop standards for correctional facilities, not establish policies on transportation issues to and from other locations.

It seems that transporting prisoners would be a part of operating a correctional facility and by extension would be a necessary aspect of the regulations and standards they develop.  In any case I have never understood the logic of this practice.  It seems unreasonable to assume that a pregnant woman will just magically escape her guards. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Women in the Labor Movement

Last week I attended a press conference at the Albuquerque, New Mexico office of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.  From my seat I had a great view of a beautiful mural and it got me thinking about the labor movement. 

You may have heard of César Chávez co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW).  If you do not recognize his name, I know you’ve heard his slogan: "Sí, se puede.” 

Who you may not have heard of is Dolores Huerta, Chavez’s co-founder. 

Huerta was born Dolores Clara Fernandez, on April 10, 1930 in northern New Mexico.  Her father, Juan Fernández, was a farm worker, miner and union activist who would be elected to the New Mexico legislature in 1938.  In the mid-1930s Juan and Dolores’ mother Alicia Fernández divorced.   Huerta then moved with her mother and siblings to Stockton, in northern California's San Joaquin Valley.

In 1955, Dolores co-founded the Stockton chapter of the Community Service OrganizationThrough her work she met CSO Executive Director, Cesar Chavez.  The two soon realized that they shared a common vision:  to organize farm workers.

In the spring of 1962, César and Dolores resigned from the CSO and launched the National Farm Workers Association.  Dolores’ organizing skills were invaluable to the development of the organization.  Despite her hard work, the obstacles she faced as a woman did not go unnoticed.  In a letter to Chavez she joked…”Being a now (ahem) experienced lobbyist, I am able to speak on a man-to-man basis with other lobbyists.”

In 1965 Huerta directed the United Farm Workers’ national grape boycott, which launched her into a fast-paced period of negotiating contracts, lobbying, organizing boycotts and strikes and spearheading farmworker political activities.

She now serves as President of the Dolores Huerta FoundationYou can read more about her organizing work here and you can find out more about women in the labor movement here.

The Latest in Transphobia

I am really upset whenever I hear someone was a victim of transphobia, but it especially saddens me when they are so young and are being marginalized by supposed grown-ups who are supposed to care about them.

A Michigan teen was voted homecoming king by his classmates, but his school then stripped him of the title. Their rationale: he's still registered as a girl.

According to Wood TV, Mona Shores High School in Muskegon, Michigan had in some ways accepted seventeen-year-old Oakleigh "Oak" Reed as a boy. Says Reed, "They let me wear a male tux for band uniform, and they're going to let me wear the male robe and cap for graduation." Teachers, he adds, "call me Oak, and they say, he, him, his." And when he campaigned for homecoming king (by simply posting the message "Vote for me for homecoming king" on Facebook), he won. But then he was summoned to the principal's office. Says Reed, "They told me that they took me off because they had to invalidate all of my votes because I'm enrolled at Mona Shores as a female."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

NYTimes Highlights First Openly Gay Minister

Before reading today's article in the NYT about Rev. James Stoll, one of the first openly gay ministers, I had never heard of him. His story is an inspiring one. It is also a reminder that a lot of people who devote their lives to making the world a little fairer are forgotten and/or not appreciated enough in their lifetimes.

So please, take a moment to read the story. Then take a moment to thank someone in your life who is working to make the world better.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


My name is Kyle and Amelia has graciously invited me to contribute to Female Impersonator. Before I post anything substantive I wanted to introduce myself and make a note about privilege.

I know you are wondering because our culture teaches us to categorize people. So yes, I am female. And you do pronounce my name like the boy's name. Now that we have that out of the way, I can give you some background about me!

I am a Michigander and I attended the University of Michigan for undergrad. After graduation I moved as far away from snow as I could get. I spent the next five amazing years in Austin, Texas where I earned my law degree. And just recently I moved to New Mexico which definitely deserves its nickname: The Land of Enchantment.

I've helped organize productions of The Vagina Monologues, served on the board of directors of an abortion fund, and co-founded a chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice.

The opportunity to attend college and grad school, not to mention participate in all the activities listed above, are just some indicators of the unearned privilege I have in our society. I am a white, cisgender, middle class, presently able-bodied, American citizen by birth. This means I will make privilege-induced mistakes. It also means I welcome correction and criticism even though I know it isn't anyone else's responsibility to educate me.

I am quite excited to contribute to the discussion on this blog and I hope you all enjoy reading my musings.

Cheers for now!

Awesome Women Testify to End Archaic Definition of Rape

Rape is a famously underreported crime. This is for many reasons, but one of them can be easily fixed: the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) definition of rape("the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will") only applies to very specific instances of rape. This means that even when someone reports their sexual assault it may not be counted in rape statistics because it does not fit into this particular category.

Luckily, some awesome people
have testafied before a Senate subcommittee in an effort to make the UCR definition all-encompassing.

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, testified today before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs at its hearing "Rape in the United States: The Chronic Failure to Report and Investigate Rape Cases" and called for national reform in the reporting and investigating of rape crimes. Moreover, Smeal advocated the adoption of new federal policies to encourage the recruitment of law enforcement personnel with specialized education and skills in dealing with sexual assault and the recruitment and retention of more women in law enforcement.

"Yesterday, the federal government once again released a report citing a decrease in the incidence of rape. But American women should not be fooled," explained Smeal. "The narrow and out-dated definition of rape ("the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will") in the Uniform Crime Report, first adopted in 1927, results in a significant undercounting of the actual number of rapes that are reported."

"The upshot of this narrow, archaic definition," continued Smeal, "is that many rapes are excluded from the Uniform Crime Report statistics - including forced anal sex and/or oral sex, vaginal or anal fisting, rape with an object (even if serious injuries result), and other injurious and degrading sexual assaults that would be considered rape by any rational adult." It also excludes statutory rape and omits rape by men against men and any rape by a woman. Moreover, this out-dated definition of rape excludes the use of drugs or alcohol to subdue a victim, a common tactic used today.

The National Crime Victimization Survey of the Bureau of Justice Statistics also significantly underreports rape. Although the NCVS definition is somewhat broader, it excludes rapes committed against victims under the age of 12, which some experts believe to be about 25% of all rapes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Report: LGBTQ students face harassment, but we can help

A recent study revealed some unsurprising, but nonetheless saddening data showing what hardships LGBTQ students must deal with.

...Nine of 10 [LGBTQ middle and high school students] reported experiencing harassment at their school within the past year based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and two-thirds said they felt unsafe at school because of who they are. Nearly one-third skipped at least one day of school within the previous month because of concerns for their safety. Perhaps not surprisingly, locker rooms and bathrooms were locations of particular worry for LGBT students. Surely we as a country can and must do a better job of protecting these students and ensuring their rights to a first-class education free of fear of discrimination and harassment.

The report also included a list of factors in schools that have been shown to lead to better educational outcomes for LGBT students, as well as reductions in harassment, including the presence of supportive student clubs like GSAs, inclusive curriculum (a discussion of important LGBT figures in history, like Harvey Milk, for example), and supportive educators.

Despite the fact that LGBT students remain a particularly vulnerable population in schools, there is no explicit federal prohibition against discrimination and harassment of students based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Similar protections already exist for students based on race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin, and it is long overdue for Congress to act to protect LGBT students.

Fortunately, there is legislation currently pending in Congress — the Student Non-Discrimination Act — that would protect students from discrimination and harassment in public schools based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity and would provide victims with legal remedies. And the bill includes protections against anti-LGBT harassment, which is particularly important in light of the findings in the latest National School Climate Survey.

To find out more info as well as how to contact your member of Congress to encourage her or him to support the Student Non-Discrimination Act, click here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Feminism is International

First of all, I apologize for my lack of posting. I have been preparing to go abroad, then going abroad, and am now in Europe with internet and will resume posting.

In honor of my European adventures, I am encouraging our readers to get informed about some
feminist legislation that could have a global impact.

This fall, the International Violence Against Women Act of 2010 (I-VAWA) is before Congress. This legislation is groundbreaking and needs our efforts to pass.

I-VAWA presents a critical opportunity for the United States government to aid other nations in protecting, defending and empowering the world’s women. As we feminist-minded social justice activists know, it is often the case that other nations’ sociopolitical climates have been influenced by some past or present U.S. policy or action. Call it reparations, call it consciousness-raising–I-VAWA is a ray of hope for certain parts of the globe.

The law would integrate violence prevention into U.S. foreign policy and support international in-country programs. As is the cases of Haiti, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Pakistan, incidents of extreme violence against women and girls in Guatemala goes largely unpunished.

To encourage your representative to support I-VAWA, click here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quick Blog Note


Just wanted to stop by and leave a quick note explaining that school has once again begun for me. It's my senior year at Knox College, and that means lots of 300-level classes and lots of hours of work to save up money to pay off impending student loans.

In addition to all that, I'll be working on several feminist projects on my campus all year. I may not be able to write as frequently as I have in the past, but I will be behind the scenes moderating comments and the like. And don't give up! You may very well hear from some of my other amazing co-bloggers.

And I already have a few post ideas brewing in my head, so maybe I will get those written sometime in the near future. Check back!

Lastly: If you're interested in blogging here, whether it's a one-time deal or a more permanent position, let me know [amelia(dot)impersonator(at)gmail(dot)com]. I would love to include more voices in this space, so if you have the time and the desire to contribute, we'd love to have you on board.

I wish the best to all our readers!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Federal court rules "Don't ask, don't tell" unconstitutional

"Don't ask, don't tell," a policy that bars gays and lesbians from openly serving in the American military, was found unconstitutional by a federal court in California.

Via CNN:

"Plaintiff has demonstrated it is entitled to the relief sought on behalf of its members, a judicial declaration that the don't ask, don't tell act violates the Fifth and First Amendments, and a permanent injunction barring its enforcement," concluded U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips, a 1999 Clinton appointee.
"The act discriminates based on the content of the speech being regulated," Phillips wrote. "It distinguishes between speech regarding sexual orientation, and inevitably, family relationships and daily activities, by and about gay and lesbian servicemembers, which is banned, and speech on those subjects by and about heterosexual servicemembers, which is permitted."

While this ruling is likely to be in the appeal process for a while, Congress is still in a position to repeal DADT and make this ruling a reality in the military.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Alaska's Parental Notification Law

This story has been making the rounds in the feminist blogosphere for awhile now, but I somehow missed it until my sister brought it to my attention a few days ago.

Apparently, in Alaska, if a woman is under the age of 18 she does not have the right to her own uterus.
The state [Alaska] also became the 35th state to require some kind of parental notification or consent for a minor to obtain an abortion. As Alex Gutierrez reported from the state itself, this measure was controversial. The total expenditures to fight and promote the measure combined totaled more than $1 million —that’s more than $2 per registered voter in the state.


Parental consent and notification laws are one of those things that are politically popular among conservative — and even moderate — voters. What I find dangerous about the law is that it taps into a stereotypical parental protective instinct, sort of a mom- or dad-knows-best mentality. Fundamentally, though this simply isn’t practical or good policy.

In some instances, girls and young women seek abortions because they have been sexually abused by one of their parents. A law that requires both parents to consent could potentially put a minor in an abusive relationship in danger. Opponents of the new Alaska law fear the new law cause confusion and teens seeking an abortion might see the restriction a straight-up ban. For some teens, seeking an abortion is terrifying enough without piling on restrictions. Furthermore, Alaska is an extremely remote place — getting to another state with better abortion access might be particularly difficult and expensive.

It seems to me that if advocates of this law were truly concerned about young women having someone be aware of the procedure in the event of complications, then they should require that she have an emergency contact person (not necessarily a parent). What this law is really saying is that a woman under the age of 18 does not have the mental capacity to decide to terminate her pregnancy on her own and therefore has to clear it with her guardian first. This is not only problematic for the reasons above, but because a woman has the right to choose whether or not she is ready to carry a child to term and she has the right to make that decision any way she chooses- which means with or without the go ahead from her parents.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dean Loses Job for Marrying Partner

This is so infuriating.

According to, Christine Judd was athletic director and dean at Cathedral High School in Springfield, Massachusetts — until she married her partner last month. At that point the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield gave her a choice — quit or be fired. Says diocese spokesman Mark Dupont,

Without being specific to this matter, it should be clear that all employees of our Catholic schools are made aware of our policies and regulations. This includes language that clearly states that whenever by public example, an employee engages in or espouses conduct which contravenes the doctrine and teaching of the Catholic Church, that employee may be subject to disciplinary action. To do otherwise would be in contradiction to the values we believe in and are teaching in these same schools. So while we certainly want to be compassionate and understanding, we must be true to who we are.

Judd says that she's "still exploring her legal options," and that "she questions if there are lay persons who work for the Catholic diocese who divorce and remarry without an annulment, or employees who use birth control, or men who have had vasectomies, or individuals who are pro-choice on abortion."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Denver Women's Correctional Facility Abuse

**Trigger Warning for abuse of female prisoners**

Yuck. Female prisoners in Colorado are now expected to lift their outer labia while "officers search for contraband–sometimes with a flashlight, with faces only inches away from their genitals." This is not only worse than most strip search policies in the U.S., but women who were not suspected of carrying contraband have been submitted to this search. According to prisoners who have been forced to undergo the procedure, they have been "forced to sit or stand in front of an officer and lift their outer labia and clitoral hoods to prove an absence of contraband." These "labia lifts" are especially ridiculous because thorough cavity search policies were already in place before this policy was instated.

Luckily, the ACLU is
on it. They have sent a letter to the Colorado Department of Corrections citing the unconstitutionality of the practice as well as the potential for the searches to produce trauma. Trauma is especially likely to occur among women in prison as approximately 80 percent of incarcerated women survived domestic violence and physical abuse before their conviction.

Monday, August 30, 2010

I Heart Jane Lynch

This is irrelevant, but I love Jane Lych and I loved her acceptance speech so am posting it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yay! Good News for Trans People in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is finally recognizing peoples' gender identity on their driver's liscenses.

The department and Equality Pennsylvania announced a settlement Wednesday that allows people to change the gender on their licenses if they are living full-time in their new gender and it can be verified by a licensed medical or psychological caregiver.

The previous policy only allowed changes in gender for drivers who could prove they had sexual reassignment surgery. PennDot said about half the states already have adopted a similar policy. The policy takes effect immediately.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Invisible Young Feminists

Apparently it has once again been stated that young feminists don't exist. I know I talked about my frustration with this a little in response to Eve Ensler's new book of monologues, but given this recent article I think it bears repeating. In a conversation in the NY Times between Gail Collins and Stacy Schiff the subject of young feminists came up. Here is what they had to say:

Gail Collins: Every time I go on a speaking tour I get questions from sad middle-aged women who want to know why their daughters all insist they aren’t feminists. They might be planning to devote their lives to healing fistula victims in Somalia, but they won’t let anyone call them feminists because they think it means being anti-man, or wearing unattractive shoes.

Stacy Schiff: Partly the word has been deliberately sullied, like “liberal” and “progressive.” It spells man-hating, militant, and, especially, no Manolos.

If it makes you feel better, I just texted my 17-year-old to ask if she considered herself a feminist. “If by feminism, you mean equality,” she answers, “then yes.” It’s not a word that appeals, because her generation thinks the work has been done. They’ve been reading articles about the End of Men. Somehow the news that men who work full-time make on average 23 percent more than women do seems to have escaped them.

Well, I am aware of the inequalities between men and women, am 20 years old, and I call myself a feminist. Apparently Female Impersonator and the rest of the lively young femnist blogosphere escaped their attention. It is really annoying that myself and so many other young women are feminist activists online and outside cyberspace but have yet to be recognized by the 2nd wave feminists that we admire so much.

That being said, I acknowledge the frustration over some (but nearly as many as was implied by Gail and Stacy) young women my age who are feminists, do feminist work, but refuse the name. One of my friends once told me that she didn't want to identify as a feminist because she didn't want to associate with anything like a political party. So yes, misunderstandings about feminism exist in my generation. However, I don't think it is fair to point this out without acknowledging how many young women do identify as feminists and how many young feminists are working to end all those misunderstandings about it. The purpose of Jessica Valenti's book
Full Frontal Feminism was to erase any bad connotations with the feminist movement that other young women might have.

So anyway, in response to this article, Shelly B has called for young women to post the link to their feminist blog in the comments section of
her blog post and to include the above image on their blog. If nothing else, the comments on her post have given me a great list of new blogs to take a look at. We encourage you to include your feminist blog on her site, but also in the comments of this post. We want to know what you're writing!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today is the 90th Anniversary of Women Gaining the Right to Vote

It is really discouraging to do feminist work sometimes. It seems like there are a thousand people working against equality for every person working towards it. When I talk to my peers, it becomes obvious that a lot of people have accepted sexism as a fact of life. But looking back on important milestones in feminist history helps. It helps to know that despite the fact that a lot of bigoted policies are still out there, the feminist movement has made huge advances in the last 100 years. A woman nearly won the democratic nomination for president, we now head two-thirds of American families, and we have a female Speaker of the House.

Speaking of which, Nancy Pelosi wrote an article today celebrating this anniversary while urging women to vote. I did a lot of voter registration work this summer and I can attest that not nearly enough women (particularly young women) vote in off-year elections. So celebrate this anniversary by voting and reading the below Susan B. Anthony quotes which I included out of hero worship.

"It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union."

"The fact is, women are in chains, and their servitude is all the more debasing because they do not realize it."

"[T]here never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers."

"I can't say that the college-bred woman is the most contented woman. The broader her mind the more she understands the unequal conditions between men and women, the more she shafes under a government that tolerates it."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When Capitalism and Feminism Meet

So I have been looking at feminist merchandise all morning and fell in love with this T-shirt. I also might have become infatuated with this bumper sticker and this blogger-loving T.

So post your favorite pieces of feminist merchandise in comments and we can shop while working to end patriarchy together.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Equal Opportunity Public Toplessness

I found Lori's post on feministing about public shirtlessness very thought-provoking. I didn't really take the issue that seriously at first, but then I started thinking about women breast-feeding. Breast feeding isn't obscene, but the sexualization of this pretty utilitarian part of us is what makes it so mothers can't post pictures of themselves nursing their infants on Facebook.

What are your thoughts on the issue? Should feminists take seriously the equal opportunity public toplessness issue since "it's small things like these where big gains can be made"? Or is it just a little too small of an issue to be worthy of our attention?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Study: Behavioral Differences Between the Sexes Not Hard-wired

Thank God! Finally science is showing what feminists already suspected for years:

...There are no major neurological differences between the sexes, says Cordelia Fine in her book Delusions of Gender, which will be published by Icon next month. There may be slight variations in the brains of women and men, added Fine, a researcher at Melbourne University, but the wiring is soft, not hard. "It is flexible, malleable and changeable," she said.

In short, our intellects are not prisoners of our genders or our genes and those who claim otherwise are merely coating old-fashioned stereotypes with a veneer of scientific credibility. It is a case backed by Lise Eliot, an associate professor based at the Chicago Medical School. "All the mounting evidence indicates these ideas about hard-wired differences between male and female brains are wrong," she told the Observer.

"Yes, there are basic behavioural differences between the sexes, but we should note that these differences increase with age because our children's intellectual biases are being exaggerated and intensified by our gendered culture. Children don't inherit intellectual differences. They learn them. They are a result of what we expect a boy or a girl to be."

Thus boys develop improved spatial skills not because of an innate superiority but because they are expected and are encouraged to be strong at sport, which requires expertise at catching and throwing. Similarly, it is anticipated that girls will be more emotional and talkative, and so their verbal skills are emphasised by teachers and parents.