The International Women’s Health Coalition launched a 50-day online advocacy campaign calling on John Kerry, the State Department and the White House to continue to make women’s empowerment a U.S. foreign policy priority. While Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was a vocal advocate for the rights of women and girls worldwide, and we need to maintain that strong level of advocacy.
It looks like they are asking individuals to tweet with the hashtags #usa4girls and #usa4women. There are focus themes for each week - check out a calendar and sample tweets here.
I’m sure John Kerry cares about this issue, but Hillary Clinton was such an awesome voice for women’s empowerment. I think it’s really important that he takes notice and carries on the fight.

The International Women’s Health Coalition launched a 50-day online advocacy campaign calling on John Kerry, the State Department and the White House to continue to make women’s empowerment a U.S. foreign policy priority. While Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was a vocal advocate for the rights of women and girls worldwide, and we need to maintain that strong level of advocacy.

It looks like they are asking individuals to tweet with the hashtags #usa4girls and #usa4women. There are focus themes for each week - check out a calendar and sample tweets here.

I’m sure John Kerry cares about this issue, but Hillary Clinton was such an awesome voice for women’s empowerment. I think it’s really important that he takes notice and carries on the fight.

An Act of Political Malpractice

Ruth Marcus published a Washington Post editorial on Obama’s Kamala Harris debacle that summed up my thoughts perfectly.

Marcus states that she could easily write two very different columns about the situation. The first would be titled “Classic Feminist High Dudgeon”:

This column would discuss the continuing, albeit more subtle, discrimination against women in the workplace. It would explain how, even if unintentionally, Obama’s reference to Harris’s attractiveness is demeaning — that it serves, in the apologetic words of White House press secretary Jay Carney, “to diminish the attorney general’s professional accomplishments and her capabilities.”

The second, opposite column would be called “Contrarian Persnickety”:

…bemoaning the tyranny of political correctness in which male politicians and executives shy away from making even the most innocuous remarks (…) [Obama] didn’t concentrate solely on Harris’s looks — he remarked on them in the context of her overall capabilities.

“You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake,” the president said at the fundraiser heard round the world. “She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country.”

Here is the essence of what Marcus has to say, taking the complex middle ground rather than the outer edges of the spectrum described above:

While it is true — and an interesting insight into the premium the president places on physical appearance — that Obama routinely refers to male Cabinet secretaries and other officials as “good-looking guys,” it is also irrelevant. Such compliments, yes even in 2013, carry different resonance when applied to women.


Check out the editorial responses, too. Funny and sad all at once.

Silenced Voices: The Alligator Talks About Rape

The Alligator, resident newspaper on the University of Florida’s campus, recently published a feature story on local rape and sexual assault victims. The article is focused on Luis Pereira, a club promoter who was accused on two separate occasions of rape.

Pereira drugged and raped Danielle Ruiz in 2010, and raped Susan (name changed) and sexually assaulted her friend in 2008. The stories are long and complex, but the Alligator describes the end result:

Pereira received 15 years of probation, which he can serve in Puerto Rico with his probation officer’s permission. He can’t break any laws, drink alcohol or use drugs. He must complete 100 hours of community service within two years and meet 20 times with a therapist who specializes in sexual treatment. He can’t work as a promoter. He can’t stay out past 11 p.m.

But he did not receive any jail time.

I really appreciated the depth of this feature - it serves as a reminder of how complicated the crime of rape, and the legal aftermath, can be. Two-thirds of rapists know their victims personally, and 60% of rapes happen in private homes. Considering these parameters, it is difficult to collect hard evidence, so a legal case often comes down to the word of the victim against the word of the offender.

A crucial source of evidence is completion of a rape kit, but there are many restrictions surrounding rape kits. From the article:

Later that morning, Susan and her friend waited in a hospital room, each alone. They couldn’t visit each other because it would hurt the police’s case. They got together at the hospital, a defense attorney might argue, because they were cooking up a lie to nab Pereira. So Susan waited hours, she said she thinks, for a nurse to come in and collect evidence, to snap pictures and take swabs and check for DNA on Susan. It was as if she were a human crime scene.

Susan grew impatient, scared and tired. And she felt dirty. She wanted to take a shower. She sneaked out of her hospital room and crept to her friend’s.

The friend convinced Susan that “this is a waste of time, let’s get out of here.” They left, and although Susan went back later that day feeling guilty, the hospital would not collect evidence once she had initially left the premises.

It is alarming that rape can be brushed off so easily by society. A rape victim is scared and hurt - he/she needs support and guidance in the aftermath. To leave a young woman alone in a hospital room for hours does not seem right. I appreciate that the Alligator reported on these incidents in Gainesville, because while I was a student at UF rape was not discussed frequently.

(Read the article here)

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization filed for a preliminary injunction Wednesday to delay enforcement of the new law. Clinic officials say House Bill 1390, which was signed into law in April, imposes unnecessary guidelines and requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. The clinic’s doctors have been unable to gain those privileges.

"We’ve done everything we can to comply with this law and have been shut down at every juncture," said Diane Derzis, the clinic’s president and owner.

plannedparenthood

via plannedparenthood:

Do you believe every girl and woman deserves the opportunity to determine her future? Then check out this video from the Gates Foundation and take the pledge to support family planning for the millions who need and want it.

What a simple explanation for what shouldn’t be a complicated problem. Women deserve equality, including access to contraception so we can plan our own futures.

This was a slide in a powerpoint presentation that I saw over the weekend at a Women for Obama event. A local volunteer who is a retired health science professor gave the presentation, and I found this concept very compelling. 
Even women who want to have children will spend the majority of their “fertile” life avoiding pregnancy. And that is why contraception matters.

This was a slide in a powerpoint presentation that I saw over the weekend at a Women for Obama event. A local volunteer who is a retired health science professor gave the presentation, and I found this concept very compelling. 

Even women who want to have children will spend the majority of their “fertile” life avoiding pregnancy. And that is why contraception matters.

The Daily Mail ran an article titled The oh, oh, Ohhh-lympics! As record 150,000 condoms are handed out to a host of super-attractive athletes, could London 2012 be the raunchiest games ever? The article discusses the record number of free condoms distributed to Olympic athletes, the atmosphere of partying and sleeping around in Olympic Village, and the many attractive athletes participating in the games.

Admittedly, this is an intriguing topic to consider, as we watch these incredible people show off their physical prowess on our televisions all summer. 

My problem is not with the Mail’s topic of discussion, but with the photos used in the article. As you read about the vast number of condoms provided for athletes, you must scroll past photos displaying the bodies of Olympic athletes. The strange part is, the vast majority of the photos are of female athletes. Where are all the men? We see women in lingerie, bathing suits, track suits, costumes, and more, with just a few male swimmers thrown in at the end. 

To me, this represents society’s continual association of women as sex images. The women pictured are all identified by name, nationality and sport, although for all we know, none of them plan to have any sex at all in the 2012 Olympic Village. The association made by the Daily Mail is clear - it is these scantily clad female athletes who are behind all the sex. Look at them. They look like sex!

Call me oversensitive, call me a crazy feminist, whatever, but this portrayal of Olympic female athletes is demeaning and sexist. I have no problem with the idea of “athletes having sex”, but I definitely have a problem with women being indirectly accused of the practice over men.

He’s for states’ rights with regards to abortion, unless he isn’t. He’s for rape, incest and health exceptions, unless he’s not.

Irin Carmon for Salon, on Mitt Romney’s varied abortion stances.

If he isn’t pro-choice, it isn’t good enough. It may be impossible to tell what Mitt Romney’s  stance on abortion actually is, but at this point he definitely isn’t pro-choice.