Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekly news roundup

  • What do we even mean when we talk about "real women"?? It's time to kill that phrase.
  • And if this isn't the most ridiculous piece of news you've seen all week, please share what else you've been reading!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trust women

In honor of the first ever Trust Women Week that is currently taking place via a giant virtual march (91,912 "marchers" and counting as I write this!), I thought I'd give you all some stats on abortion and contraceptive use to whip out if case anyone dares to ask you, "Why should I care about about women and their reproductive rights?"

- Virtually all American women aged 15–44 who are sexually experienced have at some point used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning (99%). This is also true of Catholic women, 98% of whom have used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning

- Most women who use the pill do so to prevent pregnancy; however, more than half also identify noncontraceptive health benefits, such as treatment for excessive menstrual bleeding, menstrual pain and acne, as reasons for use.

- Seven in 10 women of reproductive age (43 million women) are sexually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they and their partners fail to use a contraceptive method

- Among just those women who are sexually active and able to become pregnant but do not want to become pregnant, 11% are not using contraceptives. That number is much higher among teens aged 15–19 (19%) and lower among older women aged 40–44 (8%).

- About half (49%) of the 6.7 million pregnancies in the United States each year (3.2 million) are unintended 

- In 2006, 43% of unintended pregnancies ended in abortion and 48% ended in birth. This was a shift from 2001, when 47% ended in abortion and 46% ended in a birth.

- In 2006, two-thirds (64%) of the 1.6 million births resulting from unintended pregnancies were paid for by public insurance programs, primarily Medicaid. In comparison, 48% of births overall and 35% of births resulting from intended pregnancies were funded by these programs.

- A broad cross section of U.S. women have abortions:
  • 58% are in their 20s;
  • 61% have one or more children;
  • 56% are unmarried and not cohabiting;
  • 69% are economically disadvantaged; and
  • 73% report a religious affiliation.
( All statistics taken directly from The Guttmacher Institute)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekly news roundup

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!  Read any good news lately?
  • Transgender people are now legally protected from discrimination with new Massachusetts law.  Awesome!
  • New Guttmacher study shows that abortion rates around the world are no longer declining as was the previous trend, coinciding with a lower focus on contraceptive use (duh).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Awesome activist of the week: Jessica Ahlquist

Has anyone else been following the events surrounding Jessica Ahlquist?  This brave 16 year old rightly called out a religious poster (pictured here) hung in her Rhode Island public high school which contained a school prayer.  After a lengthy legal battle between the school and the ACLU in which Ahlquist served as the plaintiff, the school has finally been ordered to take the prayer poster down (though as of now the poster has just been covered with a different banner and not actually removed).  Obviously, this kind of institutional religious endorsement is unconstitutional, so when she began the complaints against the poster and finally won the legal case, it shouldn’t have been a big deal, right?  Wrong. TONS of people in her school and community have been attacking her over the course of these events, and now that she won the case, the discrimination is getting even worse.  Here are just a few sickening examples of the harassment she’s receiving:

-        State Representative Peter Polombo called her "an evil little thing," a "clapping seal" and a "pawn star.”  This guy probably needs a few emails ( or phone calls ((401) 785-2882) reminding him that grown men/elected officials should refrain from bullying teenagers.
-        Freedom from Religion Foundation attempted to send Jessica a dozen roses, but every Florist in Rhode Island refused to fill the order.  Stay classy Rhode Island.
-       But the scariest part of all is the huge number of people harassing her over the internet and issuing actual threats against her.  Below are just a few examples of what people are saying online, there’s an even more extensive (though not complete) list here.  But be warned, they are truly awful and hateful.  
“We can make so many jokes about this dumb bitch, but who cares #thatbitchisgointohell and Satan is gonna rape her.”
“Let’s all jump that girl who did the banner #fuckthatho”
“hail Mary full of grace @jessicaahlquist is gonna get punched in the face”
So far all I can find is that the school district has disciplined ONE student – and they only received detention.  These comments have come from many different people; mildly disciplining one of them is NOT sufficient.  Police, however, are in the process of investigating possible threats.

Through all of this torment, however, Jessica has impressively come out with a positive outlook.  She says, the entire debacle was “worth it” and it even caused her to become more confident in herself and allowed her to find a community of support through like-minded individuals and secular organizations.  Kudos to you Jessica!  You are an impressive and brave individual! 

You can read more about her reactions to the events on her blog

If you want to support Jessica, please consider donating to this scholarship fund for her.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weekly news roundup

Starting today, every Sunday we'll be posting the most intriguing, outrageous, awesome, or annoying news from the week.  Let's start with some fantastic local news!

Did we miss any stories you thought were important from this past week?  Tell us about them in the comments!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Local author wants women to mentor girls

January is National Mentoring Month

By Cherie W. Rolfe
Media Committee Chair

Paula Dirkes knows that the concept of being a “mentor” is scary for many people, but she also knows first-hand that it can be the basis for a fulfilling and meaningful relationship that can change lives – especially for women and girls. 

Dirkes has written a book, out this week, titled “Mentor Me! The Complete Guide for Women who want to Mentor Girls.” Her coauthor is her mentee of over a decade, Chelsea McKinney, who is now 22 years old and a student at Michigan Career Technical Institute.

What she hopes to convey is that it doesn’t take a superhero to be a mentor, and it’s something that can be accomplished within the constraints of a busy life.

Dirkes was matched with McKinney through Oakland County Youth Assistance when McKinney was a fifth grader.  When their relationship first began, “I thought I had to be the solver of all problems, it freaked me out,” Dirkes said.

But she soon came to discover, “You’re not the fixer or the changer, “you’re just there.  You’re a partner, in some cases a listener, a buddy, a friend.”

What young women mentees want, Dirkes says, is someone who will “show up on a regular basis and listen.”

They might view a mentor as “an adult friend that’s supportive and reliable, dependable and respects what you have to say.”

Dirkes wants to encourage other women to take up the mentoring torch.  She wrote the book as a guide for her target audience, “busy women,” like herself.  Dirkes is the owner of Solid Pathways Consulting, LLC  based in Berkley, Mich.  

“I want to invite the busy women of the world to take on the task of mentoring a girl, and the whole idea is that you incorporate that child into your existing routine,” Dirkes said.

After all, she says, “If you want something done, give it to a busy woman.”

In conjunction with her book launch, Dirkes will host a mentoring appreciation event Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012  from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Unity Church, 11200 E. Eleven Mile Road in Warren, Mich.  The event is free and will include networking, mentor/mentee success stories, giveaways, light refreshments, mentoring resources and book signing.  To RSVP, e mail by Monday, Jan. 16.

Paula Dirkes talks about the importance of mentoring girls, how to get involved, and how she incorporated mentoring into her busy life: