Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Modern Day Feminism

Many people think that the women’s suffrage in the United States was the end of the feminist movement. However, they are definitely mistaken because feminism is still an important movement today, all over the world. In developing countries, feminism saves lives. In many places, women still don’t have equal rights like being able to attend school, drive, or vote. Even in developed countries, women may not be paid the same for equal work or cannot determine their own reproductive rights.

Feminism is especially needed in places where women’s rights are not equivalent to human rights. For example, in Yemen, women cannot leave the house by themselves or seriously testify in court. There are many groups, such as Human Rights Watch, that are advocating for women’s right in Yemen. For now, Yemen remains the worst place in the world to live as a woman. Even without legislation against women, they still are unequal in some parts of the world. In developing countries, only 33% of girls are in school. This leads to an economic disparity that puts women at even more of a disadvantage, and doesn’t allow them to think for themselves and lead their own lives.

Even though the problems in developing countries seem much more pressing than anything that could possibly be affecting women in the United States and similar places, it’s crucial to understand that progress in women’s rights isn’t a subjective matter. In the United States, a country in which women have been able to vote in for 95 years, women still are paid an unequal amount (to men) for equal work. The U.S. stands at 20th in the world, in terms of equal pay, but women are still paid only 78% of what men are paid, for the same work. As mentioned earlier, women also still cannot determine their own reproductive rights. Legislation regarding abortion and contraception is led by a predominantly male congress, only 19.1% are women.

Most importantly the Equal Rights Amendment has never been ratified and women do not have constitutional protection.


It’s important to understand that feminism advocates for  political, social, and economic equality between the sexes. Until these things are achieved, feminism will remain a significant part of American culture. It’s crucial that feminism is 100% inclusive, it important to take note of third wave feminism, which includes women of color and LGBTQ+ women. Feminism will not become a vestige of the past until its goals are thoroughly achieved and all women are treated equally to men.

Written by: Prathusha Yeruva, Oakland/Macomb NOW Intern

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Note on Meninism

Meninism is defined as a semi-satirical gender equality and men's rights movement (it’s actually not defined in the dictionary-- partly because it isn’t a valid term or movement!). The most important word in that sentence was “semi-satirical”, while to some the movement refers to the “satirical” Twitter account, some people actually identify as men’s rights activists (MRA). This movement is partly so confounding because MRAs stand up for issues like stereotypes that women are fighting against (like the fact that the man shouldn’t have to be the primary money maker in a family situation), but choose to do so on a platform that ridicules feminism and straightforward things like the pay gap.

Movements like this one aren’t completely unheard of. There will always be something that some people find the need to rally around. When it comes down to it, the “meninist” movement essentially disparages women for no apparent reason. It is incredibly easy to hide behind the “just kidding” front, but there are many people who think that this movement is legitimate- and some of them are women. While there have always been women who have rejected the term feminism because they “don’t hate men” (just to clarify, feminism is not equal to misandry), it’s confusing that some women are embracing this movement. 

I have encountered meninism in my life as a high school student. The target age group for the meninism movement is high school and college aged boys. This population seems to always have ridiculed feminism, and even though they may not be serious, it is a little bit offensive to see students wearing meninist shirts at school. In my opinion, even though some people might think that meninism is simply a joke, I think it is important to cultivate a discussion around the subject. It’s interesting to observe how open people are to menists and men’s rights activists and why they are so reluctant to call themselves feminists.

There is also a group of people under the meninist umbrella that adopt a more positive interpretation of the movement. These people believe in “equality for all” and a woman’s right to choose, really just all the things that feminism stands for anyways. Although no one is really sure of what meninism stands for or what it has ever achieved, it can be quite entertaining to read some of the tweets that feminists have sent their way.


Written by: Prathusha Yeruva, Oakland/Macomb NOW Intern

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Importance of Equal Pay Day

Equal Pay Day this year is Tuesday, April 12, 2016.  The National Committee on Pay Equity started this day to act as a constant reminder of how women are still victims of wage inequality.  It is very important to remember how women are still discriminated against, and that the pay gap still exists.  Equal Pay Day is always on a Tuesday because it represents, “how far into the next work week women must work to earn what men earned the previous week”. 

Many women who work the same hours as men are paid less, and are forced to work longer hours to have a substantial income. 

In 2010, women were making only 77 cents on average for every dollar men made, and the wage gap is even more severe for women of color.  

On average a woman working full time all year round is underpaid $10,876 in comparison to her male counterpart.  Women should not have to work longer hours than men just to make the same amount as them.  The gap also severely effects families that might rely on a woman’s income, especially if the woman in the family is the sole income earner.

The mere fact that women are being paid less than men for the same work is unjust. The wage gap has been around too long and there needs to be an end in sight.  

Being a champion for pay equality is a paramount issue that needs widespread attention. 

We all need to take action and make strides to ensure women can receive fair and equal compensation for the work they perform.

The past Equal Pay Days have augmented heightened awareness regarding wage inequality:
  • In 2007, former Senator Hillary Clinton, who co-sponsored the Paycheck Fairness Act, addressed a rally in DC, as did former Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, who both co-sponsored the Fair Pay Act.
  • Each year, from 2010 to 2013, President Obama issued an “Equal Pay Day Proclamation” to the public.
  • In Minnesota, on Equal Pay Day 2013, the Pay Equity Coalition celebrated the State Employees Pay Equity Act of 1982, which accomplished pay equality for Minnesota’s largest work force.  

This year, in Lansing, Michigan on April 12th there will be many activities such as rallies, legislative briefings, and an issues briefing all aimed at educating and ending wage discrimination. Attendees are encouraged to wear red to show how women are still “in the red.” Together, we can work towards wage equality for all.

For more information regarding Equal Pay Day please visit:


Written by: Marissa Thomas, Oakland/Macomb NOW intern

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Young Women & Hillary Clinton

     I have always shied away from the term “millennial” (mostly because of the way that it seems to undermine the struggles of growing up with the economy of the early 2000s and how it generalizes an entire generation of people), but it’s important to discuss Hillary Clinton’s relationship with “millennial” aged women voters. Clinton is a candidate who has claimed that she has been an advocate of women’s rights for her entire adult life, and that is certainly true (see: Fourth Women’s Conference in Beijing (1995)), so then why are millennial aged women so hesitant to embrace her? 
     Nearly 61% of women from the ages of 18-29 have supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election. This statistic is quite startling when considering that young women have consistently polled that their biggest concerns are things like defeating police brutality, closing the wage gap, and more preventative gun control measures (all issues that Clinton generally does well with). Feminist icons like Gloria Steinem have reasoned that young women are realizing that “the boys are with Bernie” and choosing not to back Clinton for that reason. As a young feminist, it was really important for me to condemn Steinem’s statement (however, she has apologized and I’ve been able to recognize that apology). My interpretation of feminism is all about giving women the ability to choose what they want for themselves, even when that means supporting Bernie over Hillary. 
     The generational split between feminists has manifested in the political divide between Sanders supporters and Clinton supporters. As a young woman who supports Hillary Clinton, I’ve been able to see this divide firsthand. Few of my peers, even those who identify as feminists, support Hillary Clinton. Many of them are sick of the “political insider” backstory or have just found Bernie’s health care plan (something I find to be vague and unrealistic) more appealing than Clinton’s proposed legislation. 
     Women aged 40+ support Clinton in overwhelming numbers, with polls often reported numbers upward of 55%. This generational split presents itself with differences in each age group’s “sense of urgency”. Although both groups of women hope to see a woman as President at sometime in their life, that timeline is a lot shorter for older women. These women, usually 40+, have been working for their entire lives to make things better for American women. They have lived through years and years of misogyny and a lack of supportive government legislation. They’ve spent nearly a lifetime trying to make the road a little easier for younger women. These young women haven’t had to live through these types of struggles and have now prioritized choosing a president who has advocated for the “youth voice” over one who has paved the path and broken the glass ceilings necessary for young women to be able to reach their fullest potential. Regardless of whether one supports Clinton or Sanders in this primary, feminism will not be as productive until this generational gap is repaired and women unite under the message of fighting for a woman’s right to choose what she wants for herself. 

Written by: Prathusha Yeruva, Oakland/Macomb MI NOW intern 

Monday, January 25, 2016

My Experience with Sexism

Having attended an all-girls' school for over half of my life, I thought I would be immune to sexism at school and in my activities until I reached college. I have been fortunate that I don’t have to deal with sex discrimination on a daily basis when it comes to my studies and in the classroom like most girls do both in school and on the athletic field. Much to my dismay, I began experiencing gender inequality during my work with Model United Nations, which is a club that thrives on collaboration of peers and being cooperative.

 For those who are not familiar with Model United Nations, it is a club that acts like the real United Nations. Every student is a delegate from a country and the delegates work together in a committee to solve international problems.  Most of the boys in my competitions are not sexist but the few who are make it exceptionally difficult for girls to win awards, work with others, etc.  The sexism has been a significant obstacle for my friends and me to be able to work together and participate as part of the is team since some of the male delegates will simply ignore our presence and important contributions and ideas.

On many occasions when I have stood up to speak and eloquently stated detailed solutions for the problem at hand, I have been met with some of my male colleagues making disparaging remarks under their breath or rolling their eyes. Often one of my male counterparts will restate what I just said, and he will be commended and praised for his idea. It is almost as if I am invisible and what I just said was completely negligible. Then when I fight for credit for ideas that I brought up, I am seen as “too aggressive” or “crazy.”

This scenario happens to me during every simulation, and it’s something very relatable for other girls who participate in Model United Nations. One of my friends was ignored while stating her stance and possible solutions.  A male then took her ideas and actually won an award for his contributions, while giving her no credit. Another time the same thing happened to another female delegate and when she confronted the boy about it, he completely denied it. In addition, when she was working on a resolution paper and did the majority of the work she was removed from the author list.  Other times female delegates like myself will get talked over or interrupted by boys, which is plain disrespectful and rude, especially in the business-like setting we are put in.

  In another instance a female delegate was  listening to a discussion trying to solve the problem at hand, and as she walked away, she heard a boy  comment about the height of her heels. This male delegate felt the right to make a very inappropriate judgment based on her heel height, not on how effective her resolutions were, etc.

All of this is immensely frustrating, and the sad thing is, for us girls, this is something we will have to suffer the rest of our lives. The infamous “boys club” of various professions, and the male superiority complex of many future bosses and co-workers, proves just how far we are from reaching gender equality, and that women will have to fight for things handed to some males. Many of my female Model United Nations counterparts and I agree that facing this prejudice now, is a good learning tool, so when we become older we will know how to make sure we are heard.


Written by: Marissa Thomas, Oakland/Macomb MI NOW Intern

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

ACTION ALERT: "Yes Means Yes" Legislation

We're writing to share a legislative update concerning gender-based violence prevention in Michigan.

The Bills: Bills have been introduced into the Michigan House (H.B. 4903) and Senate (S.B. 512) that would require information regarding what would constitute consent to be included in sex education curriculum. This would teach students that consent must be an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It clarifies that silence or lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, consent can be revoked at any time, and the existence of a dating relationship or of past sexual relations does not imply consent. Including this information in sex education is necessary and important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified sexual violence as a serious public health problem and recommends prevention begin at an early age while behavior is modifiable and before students start their first dating relationships.

Call to Action: H.B. 4903 was introduced by Representative Tom Cochran (D–Mason) and S.B. 512 was introduced by Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D–East Lansing/Meridian Twp.) in September 2015. The bills were co-sponsored by over 35 other legislators but are still currently in the House and Senate Committee on Education. It is important that those on the Committee on Education, especially Committee Chairs Representative Amanda Price and Senator Phil Pavlov, hear from us. We need as many constituents as possible to ask them to support this legislation. If you have any questions please contact Michele Sedlak at oakmacnow@gmail.com.

Legislators to Call and Email

House Education Committee

Amanda Price (R-Park Township), Committee Chair - AmandaPrice@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0838 

Daniela Garcia (R-Holland,) Majority Vice-Chair - DanielaGarcia@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0830 

Mike Callton (R-Nashville) - MikeCallton@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0842 

Tom Hooker (R-Byron Center) - ThomasHooker@house.mi.gov (517)-373-2277 

Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R-Alto), Co-sponsor H.B. 4903 - LisaLyons@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0846 

Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) - EdMcBroom@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0156 

Patrick Somerville (R-New Boston) - PatSomerville@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0855 

Ken Yonker (R-Caledonia) - KenYonker@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0840 

Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Twp) - TimKelly@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0837 

Lee Chatfield (R-Levering) - LeeChatfield@house.mi.gov (517)-373-2629 

Jim Tedder (R-Waterford Twp.) - JimTedder@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0615 

Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor), Minority V-Chair, Co-sponsor H.B. 4903 - adamzemke@house.mi.gov (517)-373-1792

Harvey Santana (D-Detroit) - harveysantana@house.mi.gov (517)-373-6990 

Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), Co-Sponsor of H.B. 4903 - winniebrinks@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0822 

Andy Schor (D-Lansing), Co-Sponsor of H.B. 4903 - andyschor@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0826 

Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), Co-Sponsor of H.B. 4903 - stephaniechang@house.mi.gov (517)-373-0823 

Christine Greig (D-Farmington Hills), Co-Sponsor of H.B. 4903 - christinegreig@house.mi.gov (517)-373-1793 

   
 Senate Education Committee

Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township), Committee Chair  - http://www.senatorphilpavlov.com/contact/ (517)-373-7708


Darwin L Booher (R-Evart) - SenDBooher@senate.michigan.gov (517)-373-1725 

Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton) - SenPColbeck@senate.michigan.gov (517)-373-7350 

David Knezek (D-Drbn Hts), Min. V-Chair, Co-Spsr of S.B. 512 - sendknezek@senate.michigan.gov (855)-347-8005


Talking Points for Calls
  • I am calling to ask you to support H.B. 4903/S.B. 512, which is currently in the Committee on Education. This bill would require information regarding what would constitute consent to be included as part of sex education curriculum. This would teach students that consent must be an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It clarifies that silence or lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, consent can be revoked at any time, and the existence of a dating relationship or of past sexual relations does not imply consent.(1,2)
  • Including this information in sex education is important and necessary. A CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) study found 10.5% of high school girls and 4.2% of high school boys have been forced to have sexual intercourse.(3)
  • 48% of students grades 7-12 experienced sexual harassment at school during the school year. (AAUW,4)
  • The CDC has identified sexual violence as a serious public health problem and recommends that sexual violence prevention begin at an early age before adolescents have started their first dating relationships, while behavior is modifiable. The CDC supports the widespread adoption of teen dating violence prevention programs.(5)
  • Sexual violence costs the U.S. $127 billion per year, the highest yearly cost of any crime. This includes $7.5 billion in medical care/ambulance costs, mental health care, police service, social/victims services, and property loss/damage; and $119 billion in cost to quality of life. (National Institute of Justice, 6) 
  • According to the CDC Foundation, violence against women and children is a serious global health problem.(7) Sexual violence is everyone's issue, and we need Michigan to be a leader in taking on this epidemic! 


References:
  1. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/billintroduced/House/pdf/2015-HIB-4903.pdf
  2. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/billintroduced/Senate/pdf/2015-SIB-0512.pdf
  3. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6304.pdf
  4. http://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/Crossing-the-Line-Sexual-Harassment-at-School.pdf
  5. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6308.pdf
  6. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/victcost.pdf
  7. http://www.cdcfoundation.org/FY2012/Violence-Prevention


Sample Email Letter to Senator/Representative

Subject: Protect Our Children from Sexual Violence: Support H.B. 4903 and S.B. 512.

Dear [Legislator's Name]:

I am writing to urge you to support H.B. 4903 and S.B. 512, which are currently in the Committee on Education. This legislation which would require information regarding what would constitute consent to be included as part of sex education curriculum. This would teach students that consent must be an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It clarifies that silence or lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, consent can be revoked at any time, and the existence of a dating relationship or of past sexual relations does not imply consent.(1,2) Including this information in sex education is important and necessary.

Our children are not safe because there is a culture of silence surrounding the issue of sexual violence in the United States. No one wants to believe that sexual violence could happen to our children, but the reality is that this is occurring at a rate of epidemic proportions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation, violence against women and children is a global epidemic.(3)

  • A CDC study found 10.5% of high school girls and 4.2% of high school boys have been forced to have sexual intercourse.(4)
  • 48% of students grades 7-12 experienced sexual harassment at school during the school year. (AAUW,5)
  • The CDC has identified sexual violence as a serious public health problem , and recommends that sexual violence prevention begin at an early age before adolescents have started their first dating relationships, while behavior is modifiable. The CDC supports the widespread adoption of teen dating violence prevention programs.(6) 
  • Sexual violence costs the U.S. $127 billion per year, the highest yearly cost of any crime. This includes $7.5 billion in medical care/ambulance costs, mental health care, police service, social/victims services, and property loss/damage; and $119 billion in cost to quality of life. (National Institute of Justice, 7).  

Sexual violence is at epidemic levels, and we need to institute prevention efforts like we would for any other public health epidemic. The CDC recommends that sexual violence prevention begin at an early age before adolescents have started their first dating relationships, and supports the widespread adoption of teen dating violence prevention programs. To make this type of education accessible for every student, we will need a law to implement it. Sexual violence is everyone's issue, and we need Michigan to be a leader in taking on this epidemic!  For this reason, I strongly urge you to support H.B. 4903 and S.B. 512.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Address]



References:
  1. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/billintroduced/House/pdf/2015-HIB-4903.pdf
  2. http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2015-2016/billintroduced/Senate/pdf/2015-SIB-0512.pdf
  3. http://www.cdcfoundation.org/FY2012/Violence-Prevention
  4. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6304.pdf
  5. http://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/Crossing-the-Line-Sexual-Harassment-at-School.pdf
  6. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6308.pdf
  7. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/victcost.pdf

Written by: Michele Sedlak, Oakland/Macomb MI NOW Vice President