Saturday, December 31, 2011

Oakland County NOW: Who we are


By Cherie W. Rolfe
Media Committee Chair


Year's end is a time for looking forward and looking back, like the Roman god Janus (left) who lends his name to the month of January.

While combing through our chapter's Gmail account, I found a couple of membership surveys sent out during the first quarter of this year, and then forgotten.

Upon review, a very small and anonymous sampling revealed the following "picture" of our membership:

  • A member of Oakland County NOW is a faithful one. She's been associated with the organization for over 10 years. If she can't attend a meeting or an event, it's due to work commitments or scheduling conflicts.
  • She is a white woman between the ages of 46-75. She identifies as "straight" and is well educated -- almost half of the respondents say they hold master's degrees.
  • She has never been married (39.4 percent) and is child-free with an annual income of $30-50,000.
  • She joined NOW "to support an important cause." Other reasons included "becoming politically active" and "staying informed about women's issues."
  • Prominent among those issues are reproductive rights (85 percent,) followed by Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)/Constitutional equality issues and violence against women.

Based on this very small sample, this is who we are. How do you see yourself in relationship to the makeup of the chapter?

How will this picture change in the coming year and beyond? How do we compare with other surrounding chapters? Interested? So am I. It sounds like I've found a project to work on.

Happy New Year to all.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kansas Governor, Brownback, Has Feelings Hurt By a Teenager

A teenager, Emma Sullivan, in Kansas went on a field trip to Kansas governor, Sam Brownback's (R) office. She then tweeted: “just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot.”
She did not, in actuality, do what she said she did. It was an inside joke among her and her teenage friends. Also a matter of opinion, really.
At the point that she tweeted, she had about sixty followers on twitter. Let me clarify this: about 60 people read her tweet.
And then Governor Brownback's staff, who comb social media outlets for insults against him, called her principal, demanding an apology. The principal of the school called Emma into his office and told her that she had to write a letter of apology.
I guess it's only okay to have free speech when you are a Republican, yes?

Like when Glenn Beck called President Obama a racist.

Or when Sarah Palin called President Obama a liar and terrorist.

No apology was demanded from them. The incident with Ms. Sullivan just shows that Gov. Brownback can not rise above childish insults. Yes, what Ms. Sullivan wrote was childish, but she has risen above the situation with grace and is making a stand for First Amendment rights. This incident has also exposed the practice of using taxpayer money to spy on social media sites.

Way to be mature, Gov. Brownback.

Sullivan: 1
Browndback: 0

Kari
A NOW intern

Friday, November 18, 2011

Breaking Dawn

Apparently, the new Twilight movie came out today. I know what you're thinking; "Oh god! Not another Twilight-is-destroying-feminism blog!"
I just want to say that it is perfectly fine to read Twilight. It is even perfectly fine to like Twilight. What is not perfectly fine is to ignore the things that Twilight is teaching to young girls.
I have come across many Twilight fans in the past few years, most of them are related to me. Each of them has asked me why I don't like Twilight. When I explain to them that the books and movies portray an abusive relationship and give the reasons that I believe the relationship is abusive, they shoot me down with "But he loves her!" This line is a classic domestic abuse excuse. It is almost always rationalized in the following way: "It's okay that (my partner) did this to me, because (my partner) loves me!"
No matter how much a person says they love you, it is not okay for them to abuse you. If they love you, they won't do things like that to you. It is not okay for them to do things like:
  • Abandon you in the woods
  • Say that they wanted to kill you
  • Stalk you
  • Tell you who you can see or talk to
  • Threaten to commit suicide unless you do something
Again, I don't think that it is wrong to read and enjoy books like the Twilight Saga. These books are romance novels. Romance novels are fiction. Although Twilight-mania has swept the globe, it doesn't mean that the books are something that you need to base your life on.

Kari
A NOW intern

If you or someone you know is being abused, you can help them by following the links below:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

What is a person?

What a joyous occasion on Monday! The "Personhood Amendment" in Mississippi was voted down. The amendment stated that life would begin at the moment of fertilization. It would effectively make a fertilized egg a person. This raises all sorts of questions from the practical to the silly. Some of the good ones I found are listed below.

  • Will hormonal birth control be illegalized?
  • Will miscarriages be tried as murder?
  • If the fetus kicks the mother while it's inside the womb, will that be considered assault?
  • Will the mother be able to charge rent?
  • Will a mother be charged with child negligence if she has a glass of wine or eats a shrimp cocktail?
  • Would the zygote have automatic U.S. citizenship? The current law states that people born in the U.S. have citizenship, zygotes haven't been born yet.
As ridiculous as some of these sound, they could pop up in court one day if an amendment like this passes. Do you have any questions that you can think of for this amendment?

Kari
A NOW intern

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Feminist's Guide to Youmacon

Hello everyone!
Kari here, and I just got back from an amazing time at Detroit's only anime convention: Youmacon! The panels were great, the celebrity guests were wonderful and the dances were great fun. That being said, I noticed a lot of women's costumes were overly sexualized. Don't get me wrong, anime in and of itself sexualizes women constantly, however, these costumes weren't already sexy anime characters. These costumes were male characters or fantasy animals that were sexualized. Most of these costumes were made by the wearers, for example:

Pikachu is a character from Pokemon, an anime and card game that has been popular with kids since I was in elementary school (I am 24 now). It is a kids' show. There is absolutely no reason that we should be sexualizing not only a fantasy pet, but a beloved character from a children's television show.






Pansy Parkinson is a (minor) character from the Harry Potter series. I understand that as the books and films grew up, so did the readers, but that is no excuse for someone to portray a school-age girl as someone's sexual fantasy.








Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were so cool, but as far as I remember they never wore short skirts. That's because they were fighting crime and eating pizza. They were not sexualized. Ever.










All in all, fun was had. I just think that we need to start letting women know that while it is fun to re-imagine our favourite characters, we need to realize that it needs to be for us, not for the people looking.


Kari
A NOW intern.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reproductive Lesson

Hello everyone! In case you haven't heard, there are some politicians who support an amendment to the Constitution of the United States that says life begins at conception. Mitt Romney went on Mike Huckabee's show and stated that he supports it. He also said it at an Iowa town hall meeting when asked about birth control. Obviously, he was mistaken as to how babies are made. That's why I'm writing this post, so that I can inform the uninformed!


First of all, both a sperm and an egg are already alive. To rephrase, they are already living cells. When they come together, this is called conception, they join to form a fertilized egg or zygote. They do not create new life, they become something else that is also living.




The zygote (pictured) then travels down the fallopian tubes and into the uterus. While the zygote is traveling, it divides into different cells. Once the zygote starts dividing, it is called an embryo.








When the embryo reaches the uterus, it implants in the uterine wall and starts to divide more rapidly.
Approximately 60% of embryos do not implant, and are flushed out during a woman's menstrual cycle.
When an embryo fails to reach the uterus but implants somewhere else, this is called an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies almost never get carried to full term because they are seriously dangerous to the mother's health.

Hormonal birth control works in several different ways. First, birth control can stop the production of eggs by a woman. Second, if that doesn't happen, the birth control thickens the mucus membrane around the cervix to make it difficult for the sperm to reach an egg. Third, if none of that works, the hormones from the pill/patch/IUD/ring/shot prohibit the embryo from implanting in the uterus, thereby not allowing the embryo to grow into a baby.

The reason that we need to know these things is because of what is going on in the government right now. An amendment that states that life begins at conception would outlaw all forms of hormonal birth control, which 98% of sexually active women have used or are using for one reason or another that don't necessarily have to do with not getting pregnant.

Making a fertilized egg a person, which is what Mitt Romney and other politicians want to do, will outlaw this birth control. This will force women who don't want children to remain celibate or use condoms. Not that either of these are horrible things, condoms are effective in preventing pregnancy 98% of the time when used correctly and they are the only form of contraception to prevent STDs. Celibacy is great if you wish to remain abstinent until marriage or just don't want to have sex. However, I think that women would like to have some form of input as to what they do with their bodies.

Kari
A NOW intern

Friday, October 21, 2011

Love Your Body



Wednesday was Love Your Body Day. It is very difficult for people to learn to love their bodies because we are told from birth that we could be perfect "...if you just fixed that one thing..."
I didn't learn to love my body until I realized I was a feminist. I asked myself who I was trying to be perfect for and I realized that it wasn't me. From that moment, I loved everything about me. I love the curve of my hips, the shape of my face, even things that people think are strange, like my wrists (which happen to be the boniest part of my body).
My body has played a huge part in shaping who I am as a person. Every part of my body connects me to one of my relatives. I have my dad's nose and eyes, my great grandmother's torso, my mom's hair. Everyone's body connects them to their past. Every body tells a story. It's hard to remember that sometimes.

What does your body say about you?

Kari

This post is part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Carnival

Image from PostSecret


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lady Popular

Alright, so you have probably guessed by now that one of the new interns is a huge nerd. I admit it. I (Kari) am. So imagine my surprise when I see a link on one of my favourite blogs that says "Finally, a video game for girls!"
Now I like video games. I'm more of an old school gamer, myself. I enjoy a rousing game of Sonic and Knuckles on my Sega Genesis. I'm not that into the new style (Wii) games. They are fun, mainly for shooting style games.
So, anyway, I clicked on this link and it took me to "Lady Popular." Feeling a bit adventurous, I clicked and played a few levels. It turns out that to level up, all you have to do is buy stuff and go to the club and join a gym. You aren't really playing a game, you are living a virtual life of things that you could do during the day. It's actually really boring stuff.
So I guess my question is this: Why does this insinuate that other video games are not for girls? I'm a girl (or woman, but I was a girl when I started playing video games), and I enjoy House of the Dead and Super Mario Brothers. Why are women given the worst roles/games/characters when it comes to animated computer games?

Kari
A NOW intern

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thank You for Being a Friend to Women, Betty!

We forget that we are submerged in sexist language that is just part of every day life.
"Hey, guys!"
"Old boys club."
"Grow some balls!"
If you're in college, like I am, these types of thing get spouted off a lot.

Well, Betty White (allegedly) brought attention to this in what is sure to be a widespread internet meme.




Thank you, Betty.

Kari

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Banned Books Week

Since Banned Books Week (one of my favourite weeks of the year) is wrapping up, I thought I may do a post on a banned author.
Judy Blume is the second most banned author in America (next to Stephen King). Her books have helped countless young people get through some very difficult times in their lives. From 1990 to 1999, five of her books were among those most challenged in schools and public libraries.

Other banned female authors include:
J.K. Rowling
Meg Cabot
Stephanie Myer
Ellen Hopkins
Lauren Myracle
and countless others.

Any time any author or book is banned, it's because they write something that makes people think. There are certain people in this country that don't like it when people think for themselves. Keep fighting the good fight, ladies. Our rights are important, don't let others take them from you.

Can you think of any books that were banned in your school or public library? What do you think of that decision?

~Kari~

Links:
Most Challenged Authors
Banned Books Week

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Problem With Magazine Covers


I'm not going to lie... I'm a Gleek. I adore Glee. So imagine my excitement when I saw Dianna Agron on this month's cover of Cosmopolitan. I was pumped. Then I looked at her body. It looks like they photoshopped her to high heaven.
Photoshopping has been a problem for a long time. On one hand, it can enhance and beautify a picture. On the other hand, you can end up with people whose waists are so tiny that it looks like they'll break in half if you poke them in the shoulder.
Have you seen any pictures that are so obviously photoshopped? Discussion is welcome in the comment section.

Kari
A NOW intern.

Source: Cosmopolitan Magazine

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Modeling Contest Winner Gets Title Taken Away

Too often we hear women criticizing the modeling industry for not showing models who reflect average sizes.

Enter American Apparel and their Next BIG Thing contest. It was a modeling contest for plus sized women. The winner would receive their own photo shoot and new clothes. The winner would be decided by online voters.

Enter Nancy Upton, a size 12 feminist who was offended by the terminology used in the contest's description (booty-ful was just one of the terms used). She decided to enter the contest with pictures of herself sexily posing with food. This was done as mockery, to make fun of the fact that plus size models are never shown with food and that eating is not "sexy."

The crazy thing? Nancy won.

But then American Apparel found out that she had entered as a critique of their contest, rather than a serious contestant. Then they took the prize away.

Wow.



Sources:
http://www.americanapparel.net/storefront/UGCStyle/ModelSearch2011/blank.asp
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/14/nancy-upton-wins-american_n_962472.html
http://extrawiggleroom.tumblr.com

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Women Helping Rebuild

Many blog posts today will be about the tragedy that happened ten years ago. I decided to write a post on rebuilding after the fact.
I was reading news articles about the anniversary of the terrorist attacks when I saw a news video titled The Hammer Girls of Ground Zero. Titling problems aside (none of the ladies are girls per se, and the link title is "chicks with hammers"), I find it refreshing that a news corporation is admitting that women actually partake in construction work and that they are good at it. These women are flourishing in professions that are traditionally male dominated. Josephina, a carpenter, claims that the work environment is "like a locker room..." where Patrice, an electrician, adds that "they [the men] try to test the waters to see what type of woman you are."
Leah, a sheet metal worker, recalls when she first started her job and there were only a handful of women working with her. One of her male coworkers told her that he didn't want her stealing his job and she replied "If I can take your job, you never deserved to have it."

These women are amazing. They own their lives. It's wonderful that they are tearing down the idea that in order to be a construction worker, you have to be a strong, muscular man.

Good job, ladies.

Kari
A NOW intern

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Politics and... Hairstyles?

I'm the kind of person who loves to talk about politics. I will talk about them from sun up to sun down, just because I find the topic interesting. That being said, I have one question. Why is it that when a woman runs for office, her looks and fashion sense are sometimes hotter topics than her ideologies and values. Take this recent article on Michelle Bachmann. I remember absolutely no talk of what designers the president wears. I don't see Joan Rivers asking Mitt Romney "who" he is wearing. So why women? There were several articles about Sarah Palin's wardrobe and make-up and now Michelle Bachmann's hair.

Don't get me wrong, I love fashion. It's creative and artful and fun, but I think that whether or not a person is trying to take away my right to decide what happens to my body or who I'm allowed to marry is a little more important than what designer they are wearing or whether they use blue-black or ultimate black hair dye.

It seems as though people are trying to distract us by saying "You may not agree with her politics... but look at her shoes!" This will not work. We need to stand firm in our education of politicians and not be swayed by their clothes or fantastic hairstyles. We will not be fooled by the pretty faces, we will listen to what they say and make our decisions based on our intellect and values as well as the politicians that we are comparing them against.

For the people who think otherwise, all I can say is you are dead wrong.

~Kari~
A new NOW intern.

Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm a feminist.

There's something so satisfying about a celebrity who's willing to come out of the feminist closet. Women in pop culture hold a unique position of power that allows them to push the movement further into the mainstream simply by owning the title "feminist." So many women (and men) are still hiding out in the feminist closest, afraid of becoming associated with the dreaded "f-word." But "out" feminist celebrities can put a friendly face on a concept that many people still inexplicably associate with bra-burning and man-hating. So, thanks ladies! You're helping push the movement forward one f-word at a time.

Here's a few quotes from women who have proudly (or maybe tentatively) owned up to being feminists...


"There are too many stupid girls in the media. Hermione's not scared to be clever. I think sometimes really smart girls dumb themselves down a bit, and that's bad...I'm a bit of a feminist, I'm very competitive and challenging...When I was 9 or 10, I would get really upset when they tried to make me look geeky, but now I absolutely love it. I find it's so much pressure to be beautiful. Hermione doesn't care what she looks like.”
-- Emma Watson (via Feministing)

"I am a feminist and I am totally pro-choice, but what's funny is when you say that people assume that you are pro-abortion. I don't love abortion but I want women to be able to choose and I don't want white dudes in an office being able to make laws on things like this. I mean what are we going to do – go back to clothes hangers?"
-- Ellen Page (via The Guardian)

"I think I am a feminist, in a way. It's not something I consciously decided I was going to be; perhaps it's because I grew up in a singing group with other women, and that was so helpful to me...I think we learn a lot from our female friends - female friendship is very, very important. It’s good to support each other and I do try to put that message in my music."
-- Beyonce Knowles (via Digital Spy)


-Kate

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Redefining Words: Sex Workers Are People Too



While reading the HelloGiggles Misogynist Soup blog post I found the last ingredient to the soup (the topping) to be very interesting. Blogger Filleosophy writes briefly about the Halifax non-profit organization, Stepping Stones, who focuses on sex work advocacy and their recent ad campaign. In response to recent media coverage of the brutalization of a prostitute and murdered women, Stepping Stones hopes to humanize sex workers with their new advertisements. The ads remind people that women, men, and transgender people who are sex workers are people too. They have families and friends, responsibilities, and issues in their lives. The last thing they need is to be dismissed or looked down on because of their work.

According to the National Post interview with Rene Ross, Stepping Stone's executive director, the ads don't promote sex work or prostitution. Ross says, "We're promoting people. We want to send the message that this is a campaign about people and...that these [sex workers] are in fact people with families and with lives and that they also deserve the same human rights and access to justice as the rest of the Canadian population."

Three ads make up the campaign. If you can't read them, the text over the ad of the grandmother reads "I'm proud of my tramp, raising two kids on her own" and in the lower corner it says "sex workers are daughters too." The text of the middle ad with the man on it reads "At my wedding, my younger hooker gave the funniest speech" and "sex workers are brothers too." And the last ad reads "I'm glad my prostitute made me finish school" and "sex workers are mothers too." By exchanging the words "mother," "daughter," and "brother" for terms that label sex workers the ads redefine the labels. Ross makes the point that words like "prostitute" or "hooker" are used in the media in such negative ways that people forget that sex workers are people too. These labels focus attention on the victim and victimize them in a way that suggest they are responsible for the violence against them; and it enforces that violence against women is okay if they are a sex worker, as if it were part of the job. Ross and Stepping Stone's argument is that such a thought process is not acceptable. Sex workers are human beings and their job should not be justification for violence against them.

Hopefully these ads will change the dehumanizing perception sex workers face in Canada and the US.

~Katie, Oakland County NOW intern

Friday, July 1, 2011

Planned Parenthood, All the Fun Facts.

In light of the recent news of Planned Parenthood (PP) locally and across the country, I thought it appropriate to have a little lesson about its origin and current action. Contrary to popular belief, PP does more then provide abortions. They are a medical organization focused on women’s and reproductive health. According to Nineteen Percent’s video less then 3% of Planned Parenthood’s provided services are abortions. “That means NINETY-SEVEN PERCENT of these services are NOT abortions. They’re things like: Birth Control and emergency contraception, STD testing and treatment, Cancer screenings, Pregnancy tests, Prenatal care and all manner of other important things that people need to maintain their health, reproductive and otherwise.”

(Thank you feministing.com for that brilliant video link).

Planned Parenthood in blogs:

Kansas Eliminating PP

Kansas Update

Victory for PP in South Dakota

Planned Parenthood Advocates (blog)


Brief History

Planned Parenthood Federation of America was founded in 1923 by Margaret Sanger who merged the Birth Control Clinic Bureau and the American Birth Control League, two organizations that she had previously founded. Their mission, as outlined on their webpage (click here!), is to provide comprehensive reproductive and health care services in settings that protect privacy and the rights of individuals; to advocate public policies that guarantee these rights and ensure access to services; to provide educational programs which enhance understanding of individual and societal implications of human sexuality; and to promote research and the advancement of technology in reproductive health care. (Thanks PP website).

Fun Facts (Planned Parenthood At A Glance):

PP is the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider.

84 independent local affiliates operate more than 800 health centers throughout the US.

PP provides various sexual and reproductive health care services to more then 5 MILLLION women, men, and adolescents worldwide each year.

79% of PP clients in the US are of the age 20 and older.

1 in 5 women in the US has visited a PP health center once in her life.

83% of PP clients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy.

PP services help prevent more than 612,000 unintended pregnancies each year.

PP provides nearly one million Pap tests and more than 830,000 breast exams each year. They also provide nearly 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

3% of all PP health services are abortion services.


Locally

Planned Parenthood has been attempting to open a health center in Auburn Hills, but is facing a great deal of backlash. There are currently no health centers in Oakland County; there are a total of 15 PP health centers in the state. Find one here!

In support of the Planned Parenthood of Auburn Hills a rally will be taking place outside the Crofoot in Pontiac on Saturday July 9th at 5pm. Following the rally, Lizz Winstead will be kicking off her Planned Parenthood, I Am Here For You tour at the Historic Eagle Theatre (next to the Crofoot).


“Join us in the fight for commonsense policies that foster the sexual and reproductive health and rights of individuals, families, and communities.” PP website

~Katie, Oakland County NOW intern

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bust(ed) Music

About a week ago, I finally received my copy of Bust Magazine. One I thoroughly enjoy reading for its DIY projects, recipes, feminist-friendly product advertisements, and its recommended books, movies, and music. As an admitted music addict (who has no intention of kicking her habit) I am constantly looking and listening for new music to add to my collection. I listen to a little bit of everything and Bust always provides a long list of new stimulating music from various genres and singers. Most of the songs on my iPod are considered “alternative rock.” Lot’s of things define a good song and/or band for me: the two most important things are the lyrics of the songs and the sound of the voice. I have to love both to love the band. Recently, I have been at a lost for most alternative music because there is a lack of diverse voices—I’m mostly disappointed that there still seems to be a lack of woman’s presences in rock music despite the Riot Grrrl movement. I have found Bust to provide many bands with women as the only members or the lead singers, thankfully restoring some of my faith in the alternative rock genre, one which is still ruled my men.

Here is a list of the many artists/albums in the most recent issue of Bust (Jun/Jul 2011). Every issue has the Bust Guide in it with paragraphs of descriptions of the albums.

Jun/Jul Bust Guide

Arctic Monkeys “Suck it and see”

**Art Brut “Brilliant! Tragic!”

Austra “Feel It Break”

***Le Butcherettes “Sin Sin Sin”

I don’t know how anyone couldn’t love Le Butcherettes with their alternative rock sound and frontwoman Teri Gender Bender’s strong swaggery voice. I loved this album so much I purchased it off of iTunes (I’m telling you I’m an addict). My favorite song off the album is “New York.” I get up and dance to it every time it comes up on my playlist. Bust writes, “…they’ve created an album that both lives up to the legend of the live performance and also informs it. Imagine the innovation of the Locust infused into pop songs that clock in past one minute with a frontwoman who doesn’t give a shit if you like her politics…Teri Gender Bender has something to say. You should listen.” (April Wolfe, Bust Jun/Jul 2011, pg. 75).

Bachelorette “Bachelorette”

Beastie Boys “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two”

Cat’s Eyes “Cat’s Eyes”

***Cults “Cults”

I love this album, which was just released on June 7th of this year.

Death Cab For Cutie “Codes and Keys”

Gang Gang Dance “Eye Contact”

***K.D. Lang and The Siss Boom Bang “Sing It Loud”

This album brings me peace. I find the KD Lang’s voice to be relaxing and the lyrics to be relatable. I belt out in song as I listen to this album; it’s hard to pick a favorite song….but I have to go with “A Sleep With No Dreaming.

Sondre Lerche “Sondra Lerche”

Making Friendz “Social Life”

**Metal Mother “Bonfire Diaries”

“I don’t like fluffy music,” says Tara Tati, the woman who records as Metal Mother. I enjoyed this album because of the depth its music held. As described in the linked blog by J. Poet for SOMA magazine, Tati’s music uses different elements much like the Earth, embracing the deep qualities that are within the Earth and all women. My favorite songs from the album are “In The Bones” and “Vices.”

Mia Doi Todd “Cosmic Ocean Ship”

Thurston Moore “Demolished Thoughts”

Planningtorock “W”

Anni Rossi “Heavy Meadow”

Seapony “Go With Me”

Yacht “Shangri-La”

Other bands/albums are advertised:

Girls In Trouble “Half You Half Me”

Moby “Destroyed”

Vetiver “The Errant Charm”

Boniner “Boniner”

Amy Klein “I Know What You Want”

Arron Dean “MPLs”

Explosions In The Sky “Take Care, Take Care, Take Care”

Matthew Cooper “Some days are better than others”

Young Widows “In and Out of Youth and Lightness”

Grails “Deep Politics”

Cass McCombs “Wit’s end”

Austra “Feel It Break”

Wild Beasts “Smother”

Junior Boys “It’s All True”

Katharine Whalen “Madly Love”

The Mountain Goats “All Eternals Deck”

Amor De Días “Street of the Love of Days”

Times New Viking “Dancer Equired”

Destroyer “Kaputt”

The Ladybug Transistor “Clutching Stems”

Telekinesis “12 Desperate Straight Lines”

The Rosebuds “Loud Planes Fly Low”

Bust online has even more albums on their music review page (200+). I haven’t had the chance to look through all of them yet, but I intend on doing so in my free time. Music is a form of expression (like books as discussed in a previous blog) and it’s important for women’s voices to be heard (literally) in song.


~Katie, Oakland County NOW Intern

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pregnancy From Rape and Flat Tires...They're the Same Thing...

Well, according to Rep. Pete DeGraaf they are. In mid-May Kansas legislator approved a ban on insurance coverage for abortions as part of general health plans. The only type of abortion that is covered is one in which case the woman's life is threatened. DeGraaf also wanted to ban abortions of rape pregnancies. When his notion was challenged he responded that women should be prepared for pregnancy from rape just like they're prepared for flat tires. The full article written by Peter Rugg for Pitch.com is here.

Kansas NOW raised $4000 to deliver spare tires to DeGraaf at the capital building, they were stopped by police, but their state coordinator may deliver the tires to his house. I would personally like to mail this man a tire--let him know that women up in Michigan are offended by his remark and want him to have a spare tire from the metro city just in case he ever needs it.

The question I would like to ask DeGraaf is exactly how should women be prepared for rape pregnancy? Wouldn't having the legal option, support, and insurance coverage of an abortion be considered preparation for such a horrifying incident? Thank you DeGraaf for blaming the victim of rape for her trauma and for telling her she should have been more prepared. Heaven forbid the man that rapes the woman is held responsible for his actions. No one would want to experience the violent violation of their body and when they're blamed for it you're hurting them more. Again, I beg the question, how can a woman be prepared for a pregnancy from rape? If DeGraaf has an answer I would very much like to hear it...but as of now he is remaining silent in Kansas, probably hoping everyone forgets what he said.

Katie, Oakland County NOW intern

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fashion for girls “too pretty to do math”

I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw this post on the About-Face blog. This tee shirt slogan goes right along with high heel shoes for babies and "spoiled" tee shirts. Just another way that society is telling girls their self worth rest with their appearance and not their opinions or emotions.



Fashion for girls “too pretty to do math”

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I love to read. I don’t know when I started enjoying reading because it was a skill that I did not develop until the late years of my elementary education, but I remember reading my way through high school with books of fiction that inspired me to be a strong, independent woman. Most of the stories that made my life manageable were ones that had strong female protagonists, who solved problems by thinking through them and still managed to have fun while over coming personal struggles. Because I was so caught up in my fictional stories, I did not like reading non-fiction, especially theory—until I went to college and I took my first theory focused course: feminist theory.

Reading feminist theory was like taking a breath of fresh air. I found comfort and peace of mind in theoretical pieces that revealed gender inequality—something that I had always felt, even experienced, in my life but didn’t understand or know how to name. I had heard of feminism, but never truly knew what it was. I was uneducated on social movements of the 1960-70s. My idea of feminism was of women not shaving their legs and burning bras so that they could have the same rights as men. Feminist theory for me was like glasses; suddenly the blurry unequal world around me made more sense. Suddenly, the world was clearer.

As my college career has continued my exposure to different types of feminist theory and books has increased. I also have taken an acute interest in sociological theory, specifically dealing with gender, power structures, and social psychology. Below, I have listed the books in my feminist library (on the shelf right next to my fiction library). I haven’t even managed to read all of them yet. I wanted to share these books with you because they are important to me. These books have helped me understand the world we live in, made college courses very interesting, and struck up intense conversations; they have inspired me to think differently about all people, to have an open mind for inclusion and diversity; they have influenced my own feminist work; and have kept me company in the late nights when I can’t sleep.

What I’m Reading Now:

Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards

Books I’ve Read:

City of Women: Sex and Class in New York 1789-1860 by Christine Stansell

Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism edited by Daisy Hernádez and Bushra Rehman

Different Wavelengths: Studies of the Contemporary Women’s Movement edited by Jo Reger

Diving Into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich

Feminist Methods In Social Research by Shulamit Reinharz

Flaunt It! Queers Organizing for Public Education and Justice by Therese Quinn and Erica R. Meiners

Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti

Gender Inequality: Feminist Theory and Politics by Judith Lorber

Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism by Alison Piepmeier

Listen Up: Voices From the Next Feminist Generation edited by Barbara Findlen

New Blood: Third-Wave Feminism and The Politics of Menstruation by Chris Bobel

The Commercialization of Intimate Life: Notes From Home and Work by Arlie Russell Hochschild

The Second Shift by Arlie Russell Hochschild

The Wages of Motherhood: Inequality in the Welfare State 1917-1942 by Gwendolyn Mink

The W Effect: Bush’s War On Women edited by Laura Flanders

To Be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism edited by Rebecca Walker

Books I Haven’t Read Yet:

Daring To Be Ourselves Interviews by Marianne Schnall

Feminist Theory From Margin to Center by bell hooks

Gendered Bodies: Feminist Perspectives by Judith Lorber

He’s A Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know by Jessica Valenti

No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and The Future of Women by Estelle B. Freedman

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies edited by Sandra Harding

The Newly Born Woman by Hélène Cixous and Catherine Clément

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

To me, the beauty of feminism is that it comes in so many forms—theory, text books, personal narratives, herstories, poetry, case studies, research, subjectivity, objectivity, experience, everyday activism, art, music, expression, zines, blogs, websites, DIY, scrapbooks, theater, film, conversation, marches, rallies, politics, mentoring…the list could go on. These forms of feminist expression allow women’s stories to be told and that’s important. Every woman has a story. Every story has value.

Muriel Rukeyser said “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.” My feminist expression is in books, theory and writing. What’s yours?

~Katie.

LGBTQ Pride

This weekend, June 3rd-5th, Detroit and Ferndale will be hosting Pride Festivals to celebrate and promote gay, lesbian, transsexual and queer pride. The festivals compose of many events, from rallies and marches to doggie drag shows and parades. The events are all peaceful with the simple intention of recognizing and accepting diversity in our world.

Pride events are planned each year in June to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion; On June 27, 1969 at a popular gay bar in New York, the Stonewall Inn, NYC police raided the bar to enforce an alcohol control law. Raids on Gay establishments were common at the time and were conducted with no resistance. But on this night, Lesbians and Gay men fought back against the police harassment for the first time. The violent resistance became known as the Stonewall Rebellion and served as a trigger for LGBTQ liberation movement today.

Michigan hosted it's first Gay and Lesbian march in Detroit in 1986, for two years the peaceful marches took place down Woodward Avenue. In 1989, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, the Gay and Lesbian march was moved to Lansing with the hope of creating more political awareness. The same year, the first official Gay and Lesbian Pride Festival was founding by the Detroit Area Gay/Lesiban Council and hosted in Dearborn. In 1990, the event's name was changed to PrideFest and was relocated to Royal Oak on the campus of Oakland Community College. Through the next decade, the event would be renamed twice and in 2003, with the new name of Motor City Pride, the event was moved to Ferndale. This year, Motor City Pride is being held in Detroit at Hart Plaza and has been made into a two day event--or a pride weekend.

Motor City Pride will feature many events over the course of the weekend on three live stages and an underground dance area. Some of the events include: Drag Shows, a doggie drag show, belly dancing performances, and live performances by artists such as Eva Soul, Kimberly Cole, Kerli, Alexis Jordan, and The Killer Flamingos.

To complement the events going on downtown, the city of Ferndale is hosting it's own Pride Festival over the weekend. The pride weekend will beginning Friday June 3rd with a "We Are Family" Parade stepping off at 7pm, followed by an evening of rallies, marches, strolls and patio parties. Non-profit organizations and local businesses have partnered up to sponsor the event. The highlighted events of the Ferndale Pride Festival will occur June 3rd and early June 4th before the Motor City Pride Festival has began at Hart Plaza. There will be a shuttle to transport people between the two festivals on Saturday June 4th only.

On June 4th, the Second Annual Southeat Michigan Dyke March will commence in Ferndale as part of the Ferndale Pride Festival. The Dyke March strives to promote inclusion and equality of all genders and sexual orientations; it is also a grass-roots response to large scale pride events that tend to be male centered.

For more information and complete schedules for either event visit http://www.ferndalepride.com/ or http://motorcitypride.org/

Come visit the Oakland County NOW booths at the Ferndale Pride Festival on Friday and the Dyke March on Saturday!! Have an awesome weekend supporting and celebrating LGBTQ diversity!

~Katie

Monday, May 30, 2011

Femorial Day

Over this long weekend the nation celebrated Memorial Day; cities gathered to celebrate with parades and picnics; families and friends joined together for bar-b-q-ing and pool parties; I hope that deep down we all remember the meaning of today and the lives that were given so that we can live in a free county. Memorial Day is meant to allow reflection and remembrance for those who have fallen in battle, from the Civil War when Memorial Day was first called Decoration day, to the wars in the Middle East. Please remember the men and women who fight for our country and our freedom.

Along with the soldiers who have died serving our country, I wanted to remember the women who have sacrificed their reputations, family and friends, and even lives for gender equality in America. I want to call today Femorial Day, not just Memorial Day, to honor the millions of women in the world who have the strength to face gender inequality every day of their lives; the women who came before us creating the first and second waves of feminism; the women who are paving the way through the third wave; the women who claim feminism as their own and define it in their everyday lives; and the women who may not identify as feminist but who get up everyday and fight for social justice and equality so that this world can truly be a better place.

The first women I would like to remember are those represented and named in Judy Chicago's piece "The Dinner Party." This piece depicts individualistic place settings for 39 mythical and historical women, while also including the names of 999 women on the ceramic floor of the artwork. "The Dinner Party" was created from 1974-9 and is on display at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City. The 1038 women represented all had an important influence on herstory, even if it was not feminist or they did not identify as feminist.

(Info on "The Dinner Party" http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/eascfa/dinner_party/index.php).

Next, I'd like to honor some famous and not so famous feminist: Abigail Adams, Carol Adams, Linda Martin Alcoff, Paula Gunn Allen, Susan B. Anthony, Gloria Anzaldua, Simone de Beauvoir, Clementina Black, Elizabeth Blackwell, Amelia Jenks Bloomer, Rita Mae Brown, Judith Butler, Marie Therese Forget Casgrain, Carrie Chapman Catt, Judy Chicago, Nancy Chodorow, Kate Chopin, Helene Cixous, Martha Layne Collins, Anna Julia Cooper, Mary Daly, Angela Y. Davis, Crystal Eastman, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Judith Fetterley, Barbara Findlen Betty Friedan, Diana Fuss, Carol Gilligan, Charlotte Gilman, Ruth Ginsburg, Emma Goldman, Sarah Grimke, Judith Halberstam, Donna Haraway, Sandra Harding, Heidi Hartmann, bell hooks, Karen Horney, Luce Irigaray, Mother Jones, Elizabeth Ann Kaplan, Evelyne Fox Keller, Ynestra King, Julia Kristeva, Aurdre Lorde, Maria C. Lugones, Catharine A. MacKinnon, Fatima Mernissi, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Laura Mulvey, Emily Murphy, Leonora O'Reily, Sherry Ortner, Emmeline Pankhurst, Elsie Worthington Clews Parsons, Alice Paul, Emma Perez, Judith Plaskow, Adrienne Rich, Gayle Rubin, Diana Russell, Margaret Sanger, Olive Schreiner, Valerie Solanas, Elizabeth V. Spelman, Barbara Smith, Gloria Steinem, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Nadine Strossen, Harriet Taylor, Sojourner Truth, Rebecca Walker, Riki Anne Wilchins, Monique Wittig, Mary Wollstonecraft and Mitsuye Yamada.

(Curious about them? http://www.univer.omsk.su/gender/famous_fem.html and http://www-scf.usc.edu/~swms301/fall2004/feminists.htm for more information on the women listed here).

I'd like to remember Geraldine Hoff Doyle, who was the inspiration for "Rosie the Riveter." Ms. Doyle was born and raised in Michigan, when she was seventeen, in 1942, she took a factory job in Ann Arbor but quit two weeks later because she feared injuring her hands (she was a cello player). During the time she was there a photographer from the United Press came to take pictures of women working in the factories. A picture of Ms. Doyle inspired the graphic artists J. Howard Miller to do a render, creating Rosie. Ms. Doyle passed away on December 26th 2010. She was 86 years old.

Finally, I'd like to honor and remember all of the strong women who are living feminism for themselves today. It is important to remember all the women who have made sacrifices for the feminist movement; it is important to remember our herstory.

Please, help me add to the list of important women to remember on Femorial Day if you feel I have left anyone out!

~Katie

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Being Raised Gender-less?

Earlier this week I came home from work to my Mother wanting me to read an article she had found on the internet, titled, “The baby who is neither boy nor girl: As gender experiment provokes outrage, what about the poor child’s future?” I was intrigued of course, and after reading through the article that revealed a progressive couples’ decisions to raise their third child as “gender-less” I thought the notion was awesome.

Here is the article regarding Storm Stocker, who is the gender-less baby.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1391772/Storm-Stocker-As-gender-experiment-provokes-outrage-poor-childs-future.html

I found this article rather offensive and negative concerning Storm’s parents' decision to raise their child as gender-less. It’s depressing to me that we live in a society that is so against difference; not open to the idea of multiplicities of people or identities, and specifically genders. The big quotes that appear through out the article reinforce the negative stigma related to gender deviant identities. The quote “To raise a child like this is creating a freak,” I found to be the most upsetting and proves that people are not very open-minded about gender play in society.

The idea of being raised gender-less has been briefly mentioned in my past women and gender studies education. Despite being raised gender-less, Storm Stocker will eventually be exposed to notions of gender in our society. The beauty of his/her parents’ decision to raise him/her as gender-less is that Storm has the free choice to become whoever s/he wants to. For Storm, the possibilities of identity are limitless. Stocker and Witterick's decision, while some find it to be bad-parenting, displays how gender norms do not allow for a multiplicity of masculinities and feminities to be expressed in society.

The uproar over Storm’s hidden sex reveals how much our society depends on gender norms to define an individual. Storm’s mother says in the article that they’re not keeping Storm’s sex a secret, rather they’re keeping it private. I loved this point, because she’s posing a very good question: why does the world have to know what kind of parts are between a baby’s legs? Why does knowing those parts determine what you think of the child, and how you treat the child? Would you treat a baby boy differently then you would treat a baby girl--they're both human beings, both people, why would you treat them differently based on their biology? Storm is a beautiful, blonde haired, blue eyed child—who looks happy and (I think) is well loved by his/her two brothers and parents—what else matters? And what business is it of the world?

The Today Show had a segment on Storm’s story. They interviewed the original journalist of the story Jayme Poisson and Dr. Harold Koplewicz, a child and adolescent psychiatrist. Here’s a link to the video of the interview:

http://www.parentdish.com/2011/05/26/genderless-baby/

While I don’t agree with everything that Dr. Koplewicz says, I think I understand what he means by Storm’s parents’ decision as “misguided.” He argues that raising a child in a gender-less environment can be harmful to the child because it could create confusion within the child about their own identity; established gender norms/roles within the child’s environment help the child develop a healthy since of their identity. I think this point is arguable. And even if established gender roles help a child develop a since of identity, society is still not very accepting of children, like Storm's eldest brother Jazz, who develop their gender identity contrary to their assigned gender. I applaud Kathy Witterick and David Stocker for their progressive parenting and bravery in challenging the gender norms that plague our society. Their praxis of raising their children in a gender neutral environment is encouraging and I hope will help change the way some people view gender.While I don't think they meant for their parenting style to attract to much media and controversial attention, it definitely brings to light questions of how gender influences the treatment, perceptions and equality of individuals.

~Katie, Oakland County NOW intern.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Journey to DC and the Stand up for Women's Health Rally

Last Wednesday, on a rainy Michigan evening, I joined about 100 other Planned Parenthood supporters from all around Michigan as we piled into 2 buses and made a 30+ hour pilgrimage out to DC. Our goal? Joining 5,000 other protesters for a day of lobbying and rallying against the ridiculous proposition of cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood and eliminating Title X as part of the Stand Up for Women's Health Rally. The buses collected men and women, college-aged and beyond, from stops in Grand Rapids, Lansing and Ann Arbor before chugging out of Michigan and hitting the open road for DC.

We arrived in DC the next morning after a mostly sleepless night on the bus to sunshine, green grass, and a few hours worth of traffic. Running a bit late (due to said traffic), we unloaded ourselves from the bus and hurried over to the Russell Senate building to do some lobbying before heading over to the actual rally. Planned Parenthood had graciously supplied each of us with a hot pink tee shirt sporting the statement: "I Stand With Planned Parenthood." As we approached the building in a sea of pink, we passed by a grand total of 3 anti-choice protesters flashing gruesome signs and yelling crazy accusations in our direction. We sailed by them, too giddy with the importance of our mission and the impressive spectacle we created to be bothered by their extremism.

Once inside the building, we filed into a room connected to Debbie Stabenow's office and waited patiently for the speakers to address us. We heard from representatives from Carl Levin and John Conyers' office who proclaimed their unwavering support for women's reproductive health and family planning services; Planned Parenthood leaders who promised that they were in this battle for the long haul; and finally Debbie Stabenow who escaped another meeting early to take the podium in front of us, give a rousing speech and do a little Q and A, before rushing off to another meeting.

We then exited the building and headed over to the National Mall to join thousands of other Planned Parenthood supporters for the Stand Up for Women's Health Rally. As we neared the rally, we collected big pink signs that Planned Parenthood volunteers were passing out containing statements like "Don't take away my birth control" or "Don't take away my cancer screenings." Speakers included Cecile Richards - president of Planned Parenthood, Nancy Keenan - president of NARAL, Anthony D. Romero - Executive Director of the ACLU, supportive congresspeople, and a few celebrities like Ed Harris and David Eigenberg (Steve from Sex and the City). Topics ranged from personal experiences with Planned Parenthood, to reiterating the dire importance of the manifold services that Planned Parenthood offers. It was an inspiring experience to listen to these people speaking so confidently and enthusiastically about refusing to allow our rights to be taken away, set against the backdrop of the Capitol building. It seemed impossible, with such a giant show of support, that Congress could even imagine cutting funding for Planned Parenthood.

Luckily, they didn't get away with it! I'd like to think that after seeing our efforts on the National Mall, some minds were changed, helping to get the the budget passed with no cuts to Planned Parenthood.

This fight is far from over though. There are still bill being introduced to defund Planned Parenthood in Congress as well as restrictive measures happening in many states across the country. Keep up the good work everyone! And make sure to stay updated on what you can do to support Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights by checking out their website.

To read more about the rally, check out the following sites:

I Stand with Planned Parenthood blog

NARAL Press Release


NARAL's Blog for Choice

For videos of some of the speakers, check out the NOW channel on Youtube

If anyone else was in attendance, I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

(Pictures to come soon)

-Kate

Monday, March 28, 2011

Remembering the riot grrrls

Earlier this month the Women's Resource Center at MSU put out a really great Women's History Month themed newsletter. You can view the entire newsletter here. But I also wanted to copy one of the stories here. Most of the time when we think about history, especially women's history, we mainly focus on people and events in the more distant past. What we often fail to realize is that women are constantly making history as we speak.

This article is about women from just a couple decades ago who made waves in the music scene during the 90s through a movement they liked to call riot grrrl. Below is the entire story copied straight from the MSU Women's Resource Center newsletter, but first, here's a little taste of what riot grrrl sounded like:



-Kate

------

the herstory of riot grrrl

BECAUSE I believe with my
wholeheartmindbody that girls
constitute a revolutionary soul
force that can, and will change the
world for real*

During the early to mid nineties riot grrrl changed music history and feminism forever. It was during this time that a revolutionary underground network of education and self awareness - through writing, art, the DIY ethic, activism, and women-centered community - was formed in Washington, Oregon, and much of the Pacific Northwest. This particular feminist culture evolved from zines (small circulation publications of original or appropriated text/images) and groups of women with no particular agenda wondering what might happen if a bunch of women just met. Male domination of the hardcore music scene pushed women to decide that they no longer wanted to assimilate to what was said to be good music, writing, etc. Feeling marginalized in the increasingly violent atmosphere, they decided to make their own waves. At the forefront of the underground movement were punk rock bands such as Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, and Heavens to Betsy.

Riot Grrrl music revolved around the complete empowerment of women. Unlike other aspects of the feminist movement focused on issues of economics, riot grrrl was all about what it meant to be creative and young. Lyrics honed in on complex issues of female empowerment, sexuality, domestic abuse, and rape. Take the following lyrics from the Bikini Kill song ‘Jigsaw Youth’:

We know there's not
One way, one light, one stupid truth
Don't fit your definitions
Don't need your demands
Not into
Win lose reality
Won't fit in with
Your plan

The scene started with a bang, but excitement diffused with unanticipated media attention that overwhelmed the movement and tore apart its community feeling. Many of the women associated with riot grrrl felt that their aesthetic was being misrepresented by the media. They weren’t looking to create one definitive group or statement but rather to open up a discourse and to eliminate labeling. Unsolicited media attention on particular individuals – for example, Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill – Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus created internal divides. A popularized view of feminists, the media portrayed participants as “man-haters”. However, riot grrl was strictly pro-woman rather than anti-man. At some shows men were charged more for admission (unless they wore a dress) or were asked to move to a venue’s outskirts so that women could be the ones at the front of the stage. All of this was not to devalue men, but to give women the opportunity to enjoy a scene that was made by and for them. There were also those who felt that riot grrrl included only a certain demographic of women (see: white, middle class). However, when Hanna speaks of the results she claims that whether or not [they] changed the world is not the point; small differences matter.

Regardless of misrepresentation, misinformation, and various critiques of the movement, one thing remains true: riot grrrl encapsulated a moment in time when a group of ladies took on the world in their own way, with no apologies or hesitations. Wouldn’t we all love that freedom of expression to be up on stage, churning out a hot lick on the guitar, and belting out mantras of empowerment in front of an enthusiastic crowd of women who love music and want to feel empowered too?

There is a little riot grrrl in all of us. Do you hesitate to speak/write/sing/scream your mind? Why? In honor of Women’s History Month, let her out for a minute, an hour, day, or until your throat gets sore from singing . . . Come on. Change the world for real.

Want to learn more?

Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution by Sara Marcus.


Riot Grrl: Revolution Girl Style Now! By Nadine Monem.


Girls Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings From The Girl Zine Revolution by Karen Green, Tristan Taormino, and Ann Magnuson.


Girl Power: The Nineties Revolution in Music by Marisa Meltzer.


Don’t Need You: Herstory of Riot Grrrl (DVD—Urban Cowgirl Productions).


*last line of the riot grrrl manifesto published in 1991 in the bikini kill
zine 2.

Submitted by Maria Mattson, contributing writer for the MSU Women’s Resource Center.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Everything you ever wanted to know about Title IX

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
-Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a law passed in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in all federally funded educational programs in schools. This includes equitable access to all academic programs, activities, athletics, course offerings, admissions, recruitment, and scholarships.

Who does Title IX protect?


The protections of Title IX apply to male and female students, faculty and staff. It protects against sexual harassment based upon sex, gender, gender identity and expression (real and perceived), and sexual orientation (real and perceived). Title IX also protects students in academic and non-academic activities because of pregnancy, birth, miscarriage, and abortion.

What can Title IX do for me?

Students have the right to file a complaint if their rights under Title IX are violated. The school’s response and all policies must be “prompt and equitable.” Title IX prohibits retaliation against those who file complaints. Each federally funded institution (school district) must designate a Title IX Coordinator to oversee compliance and grievance procedures. The contact information of the Title IX Coordinator must be made available to students, staff, and parents. Victims of sexual harassment may recover monetary damages under Title IX if the school shows deliberate indifference in dealing with the discrimination or related retaliation.

Why are we concerned about Title IX?

One major problem with how schools deal with Title IX is that they often conflate the terms bullying and harassment. If the sex/gender based harassment of students is deemed bullying, then parents may believe they are not entitled to Title IX protections. While in reality, under Title IX, parents can sue for monetary damages if their charges of sexual harassment are met with "deliberate indifference" on the part of schools.

Although school districts are responsible for upholding Title IX, some admitted their ignorance of the law and what it covers. Additionally, many districts are not in compliance with the federal mandate that they appoint, train, and make available to the public a Title IX coordinator to oversee compliance with the law, to deal with complaints (including those of sexual harassment), and to oversee reporting procedures.

Furthermore, superintendents (and other administrators) serving primarily in administrative roles are reported to be the Title IX coordinators in many districts. Michigan NOW believes that Title IX coordinators should be in positions of student advocacy for the majority of their job duties, and not in administrative roles in addition to Title IX responsibilities.

What’s the difference between bullying and harassment?

Bullying involves behavior repeated over time upon an individual which intentionally inflicts harm, whereas harassment involves biased behaviors, intentional or not, having negative impact on a target and/or environment (causing a hostile environment) based upon some distinguishing characteristic such as race, gender, sexuality, disability, etc.

What are we doing?

Oakland County NOW is working to make sure that every school district in Michigan is in full compliance with Title IX. We are in the process of sending out a survey to each school district in Michigan requesting information about their Title IX policies which will then help us determine which areas of compliance are most neglected.

What you can do:

We must hold school districts accountable to Title IX. You can help by calling your local school district, and asking for the name of their Title IX coordinator. If your district does not have a Title IX coordinator, ask that they comply with federal regulations.

Some other actions you can take:

1. Investigate whether your school (your child’s school) is equitable in terms of sports scheduling and facilities.
2. If you are experiencing gender based harassment, keep a log of times, dates, and specific experiences.
3. Tell your parents, as well as school personnel what is happening.
4. Find your district’s anti-harassment policy. If it does not enumerate protected categories (such as sex; gender; sexual orientation and gender identity, real and perceived) advocate for the inclusion of protected categories in the policy, as well as guidelines for prohibited behaviors, and an anti-retaliation statement.
5. See the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights “Letter to Colleagues” for more information about your rights to be free from harassment in school under Title IX and other anti-discrimination laws: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201010.pdf

Where can I get more info about Title IX?

Here and here!

-Kate
(Title IX info courtesy of Jennifer Martin)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fun facts about Planned Parenthood in MI

Lately, Planned Parenthood has increasingly been on my mind. Of course, the potential defunding of PP nationwide has got me in a mild state of panic, but on a smaller scale, I'm worried about the state of PP in my own community.

Just the other day, while I was at work (in Auburn Hills), I was confronted by two women who were visiting various businesses in the area and collecting signatures in opposition to the construction of a new Planned Parenthood site in Auburn Hills.

While trying to maintain a modicum of politeness (I was still on the clock) and also get them out of my store as quickly as possible, I bluntly told them, "No, I'm not going to sign that."

Looking a little shocked but not having yet given up on the promise of my signature, they tried to ply me with pamphlets and tell me that, if only I would educate myself a bit on the topic, I might change my mind.

Again, probably a hint ruder than I was aiming for, I shunned their pamphlets and declared that I was quite educated on the topic and would not be changing my mind any time soon.

This was the point at which they brought out the big guns. They pronounced that Planned Parenthood "lures young girls in" to try and force them to have abortions and began some diatribe about murder, before I could cut them off with a firm "NOPE," finally sending them on their way.

As wildly misinformed and downright nuts as many of these people are, they still hold a lot of political sway, and that really has me shaking in my boots lately. I recently discovered that the petition these women wanted me to sign allegedly contains 10,000 signatures and is being presented at a city council meeting tonight. The kicker here is that PP hasn't even announced whether or not abortions will even be offered at this site!

Please stand with Planned Parenthood in your own community. Let your city officials know that you want Planned Parenthood to be a part of your community.

Now for the fun facts I promised:
  • There are currently 28 Planned Parenthood health centers in Michigan
  • Only 4 of these centers actually provide abortions
  • There currently are no Planned Parenthood centers in Oakland County
  • 1 in 5 women will visit a Planned Parenthood in her lifetime
  • Planned Parenthood helps prevent 612,000 unintended pregnancies every year
  • Each year Planned Parenthood provides 1 million pap tests, 830,000 breast exams and nearly 4 million tests and treatments for STIs
  • 3% of all Planned Parenthood services are abortion services
(All statistics taken from plannedparenthood.org)

-Kate

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

White House report on the status of women: cliffnotes version

First things first: Happy Women’s History Month! Yesterday kicked off the first day of this month-long celebration of womens' achievements.

The White House helped ring in the first day of WHM by issuing a report titled, “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being,” the first of its kind to be created since 1963.

The five major areas of American women’s lives discussed in this report include: People, families and income; education; employment; health; and crime and violence.

In order to save you some time (the report is 97 pages long!), I picked out what I thought were some of the most important and interesting points made in the report (you can, however, read the full report here):

  • Marriage and childbirth are increasingly being put off (or avoided altogether) in favor of college and career for both men and women.
  • The rates of women attending and graduating college have dramatically increased in the past few decades, outpacing men in most areas aside from science and technology.
  • However, poverty is still more common among women than men.
  • Women have been less hard-hit than men by unemployment during the current recession.
  • In households in which both the man and woman are employed, women are still more likely than men to work a “second shift consisting of housekeeping, childcare, volunteer work, etc.
  • Women are more likely than men to suffer from chronic medical conditions including depression and mobility problems.
  • Homicide, rape and other nonfatal attacks against women (including those perpetrated by intimate partners) have decreased within the past 20 years.
-Kate