Monday, August 27, 2012

Why Romney Shouldn’t be Allowed to Shake the Rape Issue

Early this week, Missouri Representative, Todd Akin, made headlines when he “enlightened” the American people on the concept of “legitimate rape.” According to Akin, women who are legitimately raped are not subject to the risk of pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try and shut the whole thing down.” Aside from demonstrating a clear need to increase health and science education funding- two subject areas in which several Republicans seem to have limited knowledge- many media adjuncts have dubbed these heinous comments as the nail in the coffin for the presumed Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, in his efforts to rally a strong female voter base.

Over the past several months, women’s rights issues have been brought to the political forefront on the campaign trail. There is more than one reason for the sudden emphasis placed on women’s issues, but arguably the most palpable explanation is the strong role that the female demographic will play in determining the outcome of the upcoming election. According to an article posted by the National Journal, a relatively small number of young female voters who are disengaged from politics will be the deciding factor in a handful of critical states this November. As a result, each campaign and their allies will be spending an astronomical sum of at least $2.5 billion dollars in an attempt to persuade these political novices.

Both candidates have worked hard to be perceived as the stronger female advocate. The Obama Administration has highlighted their dedication to women by lowering female health care costs through the passage of the Affordable Care Act and pointing to the President’s support of Planned Parenthood and LGBT marriage rights. Meanwhile, Romney has attempted to win women over from a purely economic perspective. According to Romney, women have been hardest hit financially as a result of President Obama’s economic policies. Regardless of whether or not there is actually merit to these claims, it is evident that Romney also sees the need to court the female vote.
In light of this, the Romney campaign has found itself scrambling in the wake of Representative Adkin’s horrendous rape comments. Romney rebuked Akin’s statements calling them “insulting, inexcusable and frankly, wrong.” He did not, however, request that Akin step down from running for reelection. In addition, Romney’s spokeswoman assured voters that victims of rape would be allowed access to abortion under the Romney-Ryan administration.
Presumably, the GOP base considered this apology and reassurance enough to sever any link that the public has made between Akin’s chauvinistic faux pas and the Romney campaign. However, the negligent remarks still leave a bad taste in the mouths of many. For one, it reinforces Romney’s well-deserved reputation as a flip-flopper. While he has been fairly consistent in his view on abortion with regard to rape and incest, one can’t help but scratch their head when looking at his reaction to Akin’s comment and inspecting Romney’s selection for a running mate, Representative Paul Ryan.
It is important to note that Ryan has not condoned Akin’s remarks; however, his track record during his 14 years in Congress certainly seems to echo Akin’s sentiments. Ryan has an irrefutable pro-life voting record and has been revered by the National Right to Life Committee for having voted in accordance with their agenda on 59 key pieces of abortion legislation. Ryan also co-sponsored a controversial bill, which if passed, would give fetuses “all legal and constitutional attributes and privileges.” This "personhood" legislation would fundamentally ban abortion care- including cases involving incest or rape. Luckily, this bill never went up for a vote.
In all fairness, it is safe to say that the Romney campaign assumed they would not have to spend insurmountable amounts of time smoothing over Paul Ryan’s archaic perspective on women’s rights. The Representative was obviously selected for his well-known conservative solutions to fixing the American economy- Romney’s presumed “golden-ticket” to winning the Presidency. However, the Romney campaign’s tunnel vision with regard to selecting a running mate shows just how out of touch the candidate is with the concerns of women in America. While Romney may not agree with Ryan’s outlook on women’s issues, choosing him as Vice President seems to say that the blatant legislative attack Representative Ryan has led against female autonomy is not worth addressing. In reality, this could not be further from the truth; the Akin’s incident has made that clear.
In this day and age, it is baffling that these discussions even need to take place. To promote an anti-abortion agenda by claiming that one form of rape is less serious than another is egregious. Forcing a woman to engage in a sexual act should never be a partisan issue. A rapist does not ask a woman if she is a registered Republican or Democrat or if she plans on carrying a possible pregnancy to term. It is an act based on the rapist’s desire to overpower a woman both physically and emotionally. The effects of rape on a female’s body and mind are incredibly serious and to downplay the aftermath is on par with condoning the action itself. There is simply no room for that kind of mentality in a democratic society and certainly not in public office.

Shannon Salk

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The War on Women

 By Paige Moody

           As I was approached to take part in this blog about feminism and youth, I found myself struggling to determine a topic. However, the longer I stirred on the matter; I began thinking of one controversial issue, healthcare for women. Although I am still a young woman at the age of 18, I find that annual visits to the doctor’s office are something of which I consider to be important. Early detection and other vital testing would, and has been proven to assist in saving the lives of women. Other issues in regards to the pro-life and pro-choice debate have been helpful as well. For example, Planned Parenthood has been providing reproductive health care to women and men for years. Although as of late, this organization has been attacked for providing care to women seeking abortions, especially as the presidential debate is currently occurring. State governments have become increasingly more designated as liberal or conservative, creating disturbances in the work that places like Planned Parenthood, have tried so hard to do. Many organizations have shut down, and in some states have left only one standing. Luckily, for those in my area, we still have numerous organizations that can help educate those who may be seeking it. Not only is education offered, but contraceptives are issued, and health services are provided to those with STDs. Abortion referrals do occur, although they are not the only things offered at such organizations. 
Automatically, it is the controversial issue of pro-choice and life that is thought of. Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion on abortion. Frankly, I am pro-choice. I believe women deserve the right to make decisions in regards to their bodies. Although I completely comprehend not everyone may feel the same way, I do not find it appropriate individuals, and other groups of people penalize those organizations that provide other types of health services, including but not limited to abortion.
            It is taught that Church and State are separated here in the Unites States. However, I am beginning to think otherwise. Religion has aided in defining some laws, notably in states that have begun eliminating clinics solely based on abortion. Why have they done this? They claim it is for budgetary issues. I find that it is a philosophic struggle between morals and ethics of which these states base from religion. Releasing clinics from their duties, is removing other products and information from those that could benefit from them. I prefer to keep religion and state separated, allowing me to make the appropriate decisions I see fit for my body.
            To some, in the above situations, I may be lucky to have several clinics near me. Those who fight for these organizations to be closed down do not begin to see the strength of an individual for seeking help. With the stigma that can occur for making such a decision, one may be ostracized. I am not even sure if it is something I would be able to handle in my town. If these licensed places are to be closed, some women will look for other ways to gain the information or be provided such procedures. Illegal clinics are around, and provide false information to those in a vulnerable state. These places and disgusting acts can result in even further damage to our bodies. We should support women in their choice of healthcare and abortion. I have the right to express my concerns about my body and self. My body is simply that, mine. I urge all who read this editorial to stand up for our rights and support these organizations.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Are Today's Pop Princesses Proper Role Models?

By: Anjelica Dudek

Today, a friend said to me on Facebook that "Lady Gaga contradicts feminism." 

     As soon as I read the comment, I literally gasped. Almost everyone who knows me knows that I am a proud "Little Monster" who adores almost everything that comes out of Lady Gaga's mouth. I've been preparing for her Detroit concert for months and she hasn't even announced the dates for the U.S. leg of her "Born This Way Ball" tour. Her style, her music, her words are what I love about her. She oozes self-confidence and strength without being cocky. It is because of that alone that she is one of my role models.

     This did however get me thinking, if Lady Gaga apparently doesn't fit a feminist role model, is there anyone "similar" to her who could do the job? As far as today's "cool" pop princesses go, this generation has Katy Perry, Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj… are they qualified enough to be the proper role models for young women?

     Since she got her break with her controversial song "I Kissed A Girl", Katy can quickly become the talk of the town in an instant. Outside of obvious events in her life (like her marriage and divorce to British comedian, Russell Brand), it seems as though her breasts draw a lot of controversy, specifically in two of her music videos, where whip cream (1) were shot out of her chest. Was this an ode to Gaga (2), quite possibly, but why??? I understand the symbolism behind the firework one, but I don't understand the reason to add even more sexual references to California Gurls. So for about a year or so, I've had this love-hate relationship with Katy Perry. She seems to display the qualities of a proper role model for young women; however, she does feed into the negative double standards by over-sexualizing herself in her music videos. Nevertheless, when I went to go see her documentary "Katy Perry: Part of Me", my previous negative thoughts about her completely changed. Thanks to that movie, Katy has gained my full respect!

     Beyoncé Knowles has ALWAYS been a smart, strong and independent woman who has NEVER presented herself in a bad manner. Since Destiny's Child, Beyoncé's music is clearly feminist and there is RARLY any feminist jokes said about her. Without question, Beyoncé is probably the best role feminist role model for our generation.

     Unfortunately, for Nicki Minaj, it's a different story. Yes, she is also a strong, beautiful and independent woman. However, her language is at times FAR from radio-friendly and it often disses other women. But she is one of the only successful women in "the game" of hip-hop, so what can you expect? Yes, I will admit, I was also SUPER annoyed with her for a VERY long time. But, after watching this YouTube video (3), I have been reminded of her circumstances and her struggles of being a female rapper. Even my brother (who is a strong-opinionated fifteen-year old boy) completely understands and agrees with what Nicki is saying. 

     Comparing these women and how they deal with (and sometimes feed into) the double standard really made me see how hard fame can be on anyone, especially a woman. Unfortunately at one point in their careers, all of these women have had to play along with the sexist games (like the too-sexy clothing) before they were given the opportunity to show their true selves to the world. Yes, my friend was referring to Lady Gaga's (sometimes lack of) clothing. As much as I never really liked her practically naked habit, I've looked beyond that and focused on who Lady Gaga truly is: a smart, strong, independent woman who encourages all of her "Little Monsters" to stand up, be who they are and accept others for who they are. If that's not even sniffing what feminism is, then I don't think I know what feminism is anymore.