Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Guest Post: Good Will Hunting

By: Danielle Vermeer

Danielle writes at from two to one about the intersection of marriage, faith, and feminism.  She also has a healthy obsession with vintage dresses, thrift store shopping, and extreme couponing. 

How thrift stores can save you money and save others’ dignity
The average American woman spends between $1,000 and $2,000 every year on clothing, but wears just 20% to 30% of what’s in her closet.  That means that every item in a crowded closet has less than a one in three chance of actually being worn, thereby becoming a waste of space and money.  But the real amount spent on clothing is actually much higher than a couple thousand dollars.  It ignores the price of the stolen childhood of the underage laborer in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan, the pain of the sexual assault survivor in the clothing sweatshop, and the deprivation of liberty of far too many factory workers making our beloved smart phones and e-readers.

In these tough economic times, I propose a solution I’ve abided by for over ten years: thrift store shopping.  Local thrift stores such as Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Village Discount not only offer new and even designer labels for rock-bottom prices, but your money often goes to a great cause in the community.  Buying second-hand clothing at thrift, consignment, and resale stores is also environmentally conscious and does not contribute to the steady supply of clothing made under slave or slave-like conditions.  If that isn’t enough to convince you, then maybe my and Yuka Yoneda’s stories will.

Buying Nothing New
At almost two months into 2012, I can proudly say that I have not bought anything new and that my modest expenses at thrift stores have been long-term investments: a wrap dress for work, a designer dress shirt for the hubby, and an organic cotton onesie for the little one sometime in the future.  Total spent: $5.00.  Compared to regular prices even at discount retailers like Target, I’m still saving 75-90%.  I am actually attempting to buy nothing new this entire year.

But it’s more than just saving big bucks.  It’s about understanding our consequences of our choices, however informed or ignorant those choices may be.  For those who identify and sympathize with a feminist outlook on life, buying secondhand clothes is a no-brainer.  But sometimes, that’s the problem: we don’t think about it, even if we know intuitively that it’s better for us and for our little world. 

Take Yuka Yoneda, for example.  While she is now known for Clossette, a DIY and personal style blog of solely repurposed and “re-loved” clothing, Yuka was not always so keen on wearing pre-owned clothing:

“I was a shopaholic.  Then I learned about where the clothes I was buying came from and how they were affecting and hurting other people, particularly women and children, around the globe.  The idea that these crimes against women, pollution and chemicals going into our water and bodies, and just shear waste were all happening because I wanted a new top or jeans really made me feel ashamed.

I know that for some people, buying clothes that someone else has already worn may sound gross or weird.  But did you know that the shirts, sweaters, skirts, and shoes you’ve been buying at major retailers might be made at factories where sexual assaults are normal occurrences?  I don’t know about you, but that disgusts me way more than the thought of another girl having owned the pair of jeans I’m wearing now.  And I sure as heck am not going to support it.”

Now she is spreading the message one closet at a time until we reach a “thought revolution” full of compassion, dignity, and ethical style.  My vintage dresses and I are all for it.

Catholic Nuns File Brief Supporting Affordable Care Act

Photo by Dev Carr
Madeleine Albright once said, "There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." And Catholic nuns must believe it, because they recently filed a brief with the Supreme Court declaring their support for the Affordable Care Act.

In their brief, which conflicts with the opposition from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the sisters cite their extensive work with the poor. They write:
The work by Amici [the group that represents women's religious orders in the U.S.] gives them a unique perspective on the unmet healthcare needs of the poor, as well as on the positive impact that will result from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. . . .

Amici have witnessed firsthand the national crisis that prompted Congress to pass the ACA. In particular, Amici have seen the devastating impact of the lack of affordable health insurance and healthcare on women, children, and other vulnerable members of society.
I can't find any explicit mention of birth control in their brief, which deals mostly with issues of Medicaid. But the message behind the brief seems clear: The Affordable Care Act helps the poor, and they're not going to let politics derail it. They also hint at the fact that they're the ones actually working with the poor, not the bishops.

Amici have filed briefs with the Supreme Court in support of the Affordable Care Act before, so this isn't really anything new. But it seems that, in light of the USCCB's recent outrage, their newest brief says, "The USCCB doesn't speak for us."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Weekend Links

Judge rules pharmacists can refuse to even carry emergency contraception.
My home state of Texas, which has the highest number of uninsured people in the country, is threatening to reject federal funding because they don't want any of it to go to Planned Parenthood. Obama says Texas is breaking the law, but Texas says, "Screw you!" to the federal government and to the 130,000 women who might lose access to reproductive health care (including cancer screenings and contraception).

Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control

The French bid adieu to "Mademoiselle." I think it is time we said goodbye to Miss and Mrs. as well!

A Virginia law requiring women to have a transvaginal ultrasound before having an abortion passed the Virginia Senate, but was vetoed by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) after protests. He says he'll review the bill, which probably means women will be forced to have a regular, over-the-belly ultrasound. While not as invasive as a transvaginal ultrasound, we should still be upset that women have to have an ultrasound at all before undergoing a perfectly legal medical procedure. Also, as someone whose step-daddy sells ultrasounds, I grew up with a dining room stocked full of vaginal probes. And there is NO WAY IN HELL the government should ever have a law requiring women to be penetrated with one of those for no medical reason. If you don't know what a transvaginal ultrasound is, there is a NSFW example here.

Obama for America is selling iphone cases! If my iphone wasn't ancient, I would totally be getting one!

And just for fun, 20 ways to rationalize your Pinterest addiction.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Northern Lights

I spotted this video over on Hither and Thither and couldn't resist sharing it. It is a slight departure from the norm here on The Feminist Mystique, but seriously - how amazingly beautiful?!

The Aurora from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

Have you ever seen the northern lights? I've only seen them once, while on a nighttime horseback ride on an Ojibwa reservation in North Dakota. While not as spectacular as the lights in the video, they were incredibly beautiful. Combined with the crisp summer night air, the stars, and the sound of horse hooves as we galloped across the plains, it made for a most magical night.

Apparently, the northern lights will peak in 2013, so start planning your vacation to Alaska!

P.S. B$ - This made me think of you. I hope you have a great (long) day! xoxo.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How To: Make Your Own Sugar Scrub

Every winter, around this time of year, my skin gets super dry and itchy. Over the years, I've found that the only thing that can cure the dry, lizard skin you get during a New England winter is a really good exfoliating scrub. But since sugar scrubs can be expensive and are often loaded with chemicals (yuck!), this year I decided to make my own. Making a homemade sugar scrub was cheap, easy, and left my skin super soft and silky.

Here's how you can make your own!

1. Get a jar. I used an 8 oz. mason jar because I had it on hand, but a smaller one would work too.

 2. Fill the jar halfway with brown sugar.

3. Fill the jar the rest of the way with white sugar.

4. Use a spoon to stir the sugars together. 

4. Pour in olive oil until it saturates half the sugar mix. I poured a little in, then added it slowly tablespoon by tablespoon. If you want a wetter sugar scrub, add more olive oil. You can really control the olive oil to make it whatever consistency you like. And while I used olive oil, I'm dying to try this with coconut oil. It's great for your skin and I think it might make the whole thing smell even better.

5. Add a teaspoon or two of vanilla or almond extract.

6. Use a spoon to mix it all together.

7. Tie a cute bow on your jar, and glue a label like this one to the top.

 8. Tear off your clothes and take a long shower with your new sugar scrub!

I love, love, love my homemade sugar scrub. I can't imagine buying sugar scrub again. They also make great gifts!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Out of the Mouth of Babes

My amazing friend Lyvonne has been working this past year as an adviser at a high school in Bridgeport, CT. For those of you who don't know much about Bridgeport, it has one of the highest income and achievement gaps in the country. The per capita income is around $16,000 and approximately 18 percent of the population live below the poverty line.
But these stats are really just a little background info. Because the real story here today is a 15-year-old girl, Wenefred, who noticed that her history class is really just a history class about white men. On not seeing her heritage reflected in her history class, she remarked:
I was pissed! I watched "The Greater Debaters" and learned about Langston Hughes, so I started to read more about him. Why wasn't he in that book? That's not history? Picking cotton isn't history? Being whipped isn't history? Being kidnapped from your country is not history? How you gonna tell me to go back to Africa and YOU kidnapped ME?! You see, you gotta be educated.
Way to go, Wenefred! What powerful words! I hope you work to educate them, and get them to change the history curriculum to reflect America's real history, which is about much more than a bunch of white men.


The Feminist Mystique quoted in a post by BlogHer's Jenna Hatfield.

The Feminist Mystique's Occupy the Church: The 98 Percent re-posted on Feministing!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Wellesley Women: Women Who Will....Make Memes

By now, you've probably seen this feminist meme somewhere on the internet:

But have you seen this one?! 

This is the original meme, from the 1909 Wellesley College yearbook. Wellesley women are such trendsetters!

Monday Motivation

I love quotes! I always keep a journal full of quotes I come across and like, I have some framed on my desk, and I have a growing board of them on Pinterest. My favorite kind of quotes inspire me and give me energy to tackle the day, a project, or a paper. And since we all need a little motivation on Mondays, I'm going to start off every week with a quote I love. I hope they inspire you too!

Source: dearinspirationblog.blogspot.com via Shannon on Pinterest

 P.S. What is your favorite quote?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Nun Admits Catholic Anger Over Birth Control Mandate Has Everything To Do With Sexual Politics

In the above video, which is meant to support the idea that the birth control mandate violates religious freedom, Sister Sharon argues that the Catholic response has nothing to do with healthcare and everything to do with having sex and protecting "true femininity."

Sister Sharon starts off by saying that "contraception isn't healthcare." She also claims that it is a carcinogen and linked to breast cancer. What she fails to mention is that compared to other reproductive and lifestyle factors that affect breast cancer risk, the increase in risk associated with the oral contraceptive is very small, and that oral contraceptives have been proven to reduce rates of endometrial and ovarian cancer by 50% or more.

She then goes on to say that "any drug that we as women are taking that is actually promoting sterility and suppressing our fertility is not healthcare, it is actually us as women not understanding what it means to be a woman and to be truly free... When we as women understand how God made our bodies and what it means to be truly feminine, it gives us the power to give ourselves as a gift to those we're married to. It helps me understand who I am as a woman, what it means to be a woman, what it truly means to be a maternal woman" (emphasis mine).

According to Sister Sharon, the purpose of the birth control mandate is part of a larger agenda to promote sexually irresponsible behavior. And for her, sexually irresponsible behavior means having sex without intent to procreate. She goes on to say that, "This is about having sex. It isn't about healthcare. If people want to have sex, and misuse their gift of sexuality, and want to rely on a chemical component to stop them from getting pregnant and separate sex from marriage and sex from babies, of course bad things are going to happen."

The video is worth watching because it is a good example of some of the rhetoric going on inside the Church re: the birth control mandate. It shows the roots of the outrage and the gendered theology that surrounds contraception. It is also proof that feminists have been right all along; this has nothing to do with healthcare, and everything to do with women's sexuality.

Straight from the horse's mouth folks.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Republicans Decide People with a Uterus Should Have No Say on Issues of Birth Control and Religious Freedom

Yesterday, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform assembled a panel to discuss the birth control mandate (which I've written about here, here, and here). The goal of the panel was to determine whether or not the mandate violates religious freedom.

Since I last wrote about the birth control mandate, the Obama administration has offered a compromise to help protect people who, for religious reasons, think birth control is evil. Instead of requiring religious employers to subsidize the cost of of birth control, the insurance companies providing the institution's health care plan will have to subsidize the cost. But even with this compromise, religious extremists, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, are unhappy and feel that Obama has declared war on religion.

I think many feminists knew all along that the outrage over the mandate had nothing to do with religious freedom, and had everything to do with controlling women. Religious extremists, including the USCCB, think it is bad and dangerous that women have the ability to have sex without getting pregnant, to have fewer children, or to delay having children, even if they're married. And many believe that taking hormonal birth control is the equivalent of having an abortion, despite that thing called science which tells us otherwise. Jill over at Feministe writes:
So fine, compromise time: Catholic organizations, even those that are not really all that religious and instead serve the public, won’t have to pay for contraception. Instead, insurance companies will have to cover contraception. Bam, women are covered, and no one is forced to violate their strong moral opposition to birth control by covering it for their employees. Good, right? Everyone’s happy?
Nope! Because, wait, this is just about a handful of celibate men wanting to control women’s reproductive freedoms? And it’s not really about religious freedom at all? It’s just about hostility to women having the ability to prevent pregnancy? Oh. Who could have possibly seen that coming?
So despite the fact that no religious employer even has to subsidize the cost of contraception, a panel was organized to see if the fact that women have access to contraception at all interferes with religious freedom (newsflash: it doesn't).

California Republican Darrell Issa was in charge of the panel, and he rejected requests to have women on the panel saying, "the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception." Instead, he composed a panel of five men from various religious traditions. Not only did he decide that it was silly to include people who have a uterus or actually take birth control, he also decided that women don't have religious consciences. He could have included one of the 98% of Catholic women who use contraception. But apparently their religious conscience doesn't count. It is the religious conscience of the celibate men we should be worried about! Their religious freedom matters, not women's.

This video shows Representatives arguing against the panel because it only includes people who disagree with the mandate and only represents a small portion of religious institutions (for example, Catholic charities that support the mandate were not invited. Neither was Catholics for Choice). They also argue that it does not include women, who will be primarily affected if the mandate is overruled. They literally plead to allow a woman to participate. Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Eleanor Holmes Martin walked out in protest. As Maya over at Feministing writes, "This is democracy in action ladies and gentlemen: Women actively barred from speaking about an issue that directly affects us, our health, and our lives." I'd also like to add that if this is actually a legal issue about separation of church and state, where are the legal scholars? None of the people on this panel have any great legal knowledge.

If this isn't enough, in Issa's opening statement he said that "a man's conscience" should guide laws in America (emphasis mine). Then Bishop William Lori compared insurance companies subsidizing the cost of contraception to Jewish delis being forced to serve pork. Does he know that not eating pork isn't exactly a public health issue, or that not having access to pork doesn't mean you'll wind up pregnant? Does he know that Jewish delis, or Jewish hospitals/schools for that matter, don't run around actively trying to bar other Jews, and especially non-Jews, from eating pork. They're not upset that some of their hard-earned tax money might end up supporting pig farmers or the meat industry, thus violating their conscience. In addition to being a ridiculous analogy (although not as ridiculous as an analogy I heard from another Catholic man, who said the birth control mandate is the same as telling Catholic doctors that they have to shoot their patients), comparing bacon to birth control and women's health is incredibly demeaning and insulting. Erin Gloria Ryan, from Jezebel, writes, "The comparison of birth control to cooked pig parts was effective in one way, though— it showed that the Church utterly devalues women, and views their health care as a recreational afterthought. Want to have some honey glazed ham? Wanna keep from getting pregnant? Same thing!"

The fact that access to birth control is compared to access to bacon is infuriating. The fact that no one on the panel was a woman, supported the mandate, or had a background in law or medicine is infuriating. But the most infuriating thing is that in 2012, we're actually having congressional hearings about access to birth control.

Picture from the Congressional Hearing. Where are the women?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Planned Parenthood Tries to Get Kids Hooked On Sex

This hilarious video, spotted on Jezebel, lets us all see how terrible Planned Parenthood really is.

I'm sure you'll all be as shocked as I was to learn that Planned Parenthood shows teenagers actual pictures of genitalia in their sex ed. Or that they describe what an orgasm is, and say that all sexual orientations are perfectly normal. They even teach about dental dams! Ah, the horror.

I'm really glad the American Life League made such an educational video, because we all know that kids shouldn't know what genitalia look like. That is like showing them pornography. And we know that kids shouldn't have positive body messages. They should be ashamed of their sexuality. Women, especially, should feel bad about the lust their bodies inspire in men, and not enjoy their sexuality. We absolutely shouldn't teach kids that sex can be fun and pleasureful, because it is strictly about making babies.

In fact, teenagers shouldn't know anything about sex except that it is bad and dangerous. Otherwise, they might be tempted to do it. So skip sex ed! They can learn all about it on their wedding night.

And if the government forces us to corrupt our teens with some form of sex education, it should look more like this, without the demonic condoms passed out at the end.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In honor of Valentine's Day

...I thought I'd share with you a favorite poem of mine.

Sonnet XVII 
By Pablo Neruda

I don't love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn't bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don't know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close. 

Happy Valentine's Day B$!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day isn't one of my favorite holidays. After the fun of Christmas and winter vacations, it seems kind of forced, cheap, and dominated by consumerism. I mean, I love pink more than most, but even I almost turned and ran when I walked into CVS on Sunday and was greeted by a ridiculous sea of pink and red hearts and balloons.

SCARY! Source: Sociological Images

That being said, I do celebrate Valentine's Day. It never hurts to take some time and celebrate love, right?! As long as you show your significant other that you love them every day of the year, and not just on this random day in February.

So how does a feminist celebrate Valentine's Day while still staying true to her principles? 

1. Make a gift - don't buy one!
2. Stay in and try out a new recipe.
3. Do something fun together.

Make a gift!  My boyfriend and I have never bought each other Valentine's Day gifts. Every year, I make him his favorite dessert, a cheesecake with some kind of fruit topping. And every year he has made me some amazingly thoughtful gift. One year, he made a comic book about me, another time he wrote me a poem. These gifts mean the world to me because he put so much thought, time, and effort into them. Something purchased just wouldn't be the same! And making something that expresses both who you are and your love for someone special has to be a feminist act. As a bonus, these things usually cost a lot less than buying something, which is great if money is tight or if you just want more money to go to the important stuff, like paying off your student loans faster or donating to charity.

Recipe here!

Stay in and try out a new recipe. This year, B and I are staying in and trying our hand at gourmet grilled cheeses. I'm so excited! Cooking together is one of my favorite things to do as a couple, and I can't wait to eat some fancy cheese and drink wine together. Eating at a restaurant on Valentine's Day can be expensive, and I always find the experience kind of awkward because every person around you is a couple trying to make the dinner the most romantic experience of the year. And eating in saves you time and money!

Do something fun together. Last year, B and I celebrated Valentine's Day with a weekend trip to DC and spent the day at the Natural History Museum. Another year we went to a Laker's game, and another year to an opera. They might be unusual Valentine's Day dates, but they were something special for us to do together. We had a blast and created new, fun memories. That is much more romantic than any Hallmark card or box of chocolates purchased from CVS. Doing something together shows the other person that you truly care about them and your relationship, not just about the gifts. I think it is important to resist the idea that buying something for someone means caring for someone. I can show that I love someone without using my Visa, thank you very much capitalism!

This is the world's cleverest valentine. Created by yours truly!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Blog Sale!

The other day, I went to stuff a sweater in my closet and the hanger actually broke - snapped in two! - as I tried to squeeze it in between two other sweaters.

That, my friends, is a sign that I have too much clothing.

In this recent post, I wrote about how I wanted to learn to live simply. And for me, a huge part of that is getting rid of clothing. I love clothes! But I have too much and I hate going near my closet when it is crammed full of stuff, especially when I no longer wear lots of it. I hate clutter, and I'm an all-or-nothing person when it comes to organizing. Its either free from unwanted clothing, color-coordinated, on matching hangars and amazing, or I just leave all my clothes on the floor and stuffed in a corner until B curses at the piles and forces me to face the cluttered closet.

On top of my own issues, I feel that it is wasteful to hoard clothing that I don't wear. I'd much rather see it being used by someone than sitting on my shelf month after month, year after year. There are too many people in the world who need shoes for me to have two pairs of loafers hiding in the back of my closet.

So this week I went through my shoes and picked some to get rid of. I hope that some of you, dear readers, might find them useful and affordable purchases. If we're all working on having less in our closets, devoting less of our budgets toward clothing, and buying second-hand, then this little blog sale can help us all get there!

How it works: I've posted photos and descriptions of the items below. Please feel free to email me at hill.shannonpatgmail.com with any questions about an item or to let me know if you want to buy something. None of the prices include shipping.

Happy shopping!

Anne Klein Loafers
Size 6
Black with gold AK logo 
Purchased for $40
Worn only once
Selling for $5

J.Crew Rain Boots
Size 7
Pink with white scottie dog motif
Worn but in good condition
Purchased for $60
Selling for $10

Born boots
Size 7
Worn but in good condition
There are some water spots on the leather but I don't think it compromises the look of the book
Lined with shearling
These boots are incredibly comfortable and well-made, Born boots are amazing - I just have way too many pairs of brown boots
Purchased for $250
Selling for $25

Black Knee High Miu Miu Boots
Size 96
Very Dark Brown/Black Boots Lined with Shearling
Can be worn folded down to show the lining or unfolded for an over-the-knee look
Side Buckle Detail
Inside Zip Closure
The heels are scuffed and peeling, which you can see in the second to last picture
When you're wearing them you can barely see this (I tried to show this in the last picture)
Original Price: $900*
Selling for $75

Please do send me an email if you have any questions. If you didn't find what you're looking for, I'll be posting more clothing next weekend once I've gone through all my winter clothes.

*Just a little note: These boots were a gift. I did not pay the $900 for them myself. :-)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Is a Dad Just a Baby-Sitter?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, dads are just baby-sitters.

When both parents are present in a household, the U.S. Census Bureau automatically assumes that the mother is the "designated parent." And when that "designated parent" is doing something radical, like working, the government wants to know what she is doing with her children.

According to the most recent data, dad takes care of the kids about 32 percent of the time. Yet, the Census bureau doesn't call this parenting, they call this a "child care arrangement."

The assumption is based on stereotypical and outdated gender norms, norms that assume children will have one female parent who mothers them and one male parent who will provide financially for them. The Census Bureau, by framing mothers as the "designated parent," normalizes these sexist assumptions about parental roles. As KJ Dell'Antonia, of the New York Times writes:
If, every morning, I go off to work and my husband stays home with a child, that’s a “child care arrangement” in the eyes of this governmental institution. If the reverse is true, it’s not.
The Census Bureau's classifications implicitly normalize assumptions that women are naturally suited for care giving by referring only to the father's time with his children as "work." If the mom is caring for the children, that is parenting. If the father is doing it, it is a child care arrangement; a job. It implies that women find it easier and more natural to take care of children than men do, or that men are doing women a favor by taking on an extra "job" and watching the children.

Setting up the survey this way makes it difficult to track changes about who is doing what in families at a time when parental roles are rapidly changing. And it should offend parents. Not just women, who are assumed to be the "designated parent" and whose care giving isn't considered work, but also men, whose parenting is considered to be nothing more than baby-sitting.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Occupy the Church: The 98 percent

I've written two posts on why I think the HHS mandate is a huge victory for women's rights, why I believe it in no way violates religious freedom, and why providing a broad religious exemption is caving to extremism.

Yesterday, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services, published an op-ed in USA Today, affirming that the mandate is necessary and that it respects religion. In the piece, which was obviously a response to outcry from certain religious groups, she talks about how the mandate has no effect on the conscience clause protections for medical providers and that the mandate does not cover abortifacients, as some religious groups have falsely been claiming. She also brings attention to the fact that 28 states, including California and New York, already require contraception to be covered by insurance. Eight of these states have no religious exemption whatsoever. The religious exemption adopted by the federal government, one that provides exemptions for places of worship and religiously-affiliated organizations that can prove that the majority of their employees are of the same faith, is the same as the policy already in place in California, Oregon, and New York. I was actually quite surprised to learn this, given that the Archbishop of New York has been incredibly vocal about the fact that he opposes the federal legislation. But if what Sebelius says is true (and I'm going to assume it is) then nothing will even change for Catholic institutions in the state of NY. So why is he so upset and why does he feel like the federal legislation is an additional assault on his religious liberty? And why does he feel like his religious beliefs should trump the rights of the women who are the life blood of the Catholic schools, hospitals, and even churches in New York?

 I'm reminded of a conversation I had recently with a friend, B, who is Catholic, has an M.A. in Theology, and teaches theology at a very conservative Catholic school. Her insurance provides coverage of contraception, even though she works for an uber-Catholic school. She is appalled by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' outrage over the mandate and angry that they are monopolizing the conversation on how Catholics feel about coverage of contraception. In addition to the fact that most women will use contraception, she pointed out that there are already very many Catholic institutions that do provide coverage of contraception. These institutions obviously do so without feeling that they are somehow terrible Catholics or violating any religious dogma, but even they are silenced by the USCCB.

I think B raises an important issue about questioning who the USCCB speaks for and even who we think of when we think of the Catholic Church. She's also left me thinking quite a bit about how women and men within the Catholic Church who do not follow the USCCB's extremist and minority opinion can make their voices heard. How do these women, the 98 percent if you will, make it clear that they are the majority? Is there a way to change that power dynamic if they stay within the Church?

I feel like I'm inundated with anti-choice, or "pro-life," ideology day in and day out. And it is exhausting because it is an attack on ME and my rights. It's not just political, it is personal. But over the past week, watching the whole Komen/Planned Parenthood saga unfold, I've been inspired by how many women and men stood up for reproductive rights. They made their voices heard and the consequences are enormous, not only in that they forced Komen to re-fund Planned Parenthood and provide life-saving cancer screenings, but by showing that the majority of Americans believe in women's rights and reproductive rights; that they care about women's health. Most women use contraception and, according to a recent Gallup poll, 77% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal. Can we keep the momentum from the Komen situation going and change the conversation on reproductive rights once and for all? Can Catholic women change the conversation about what the Church believes? If they expressed their outrage over restricting access to contraception, could they make the USCCB back down, shut up, or even change their position, as Komen did? Can the 98 percent Occupy the Catholic Church?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Get Well Soon Momma!

Today my momma is having heart surgery. Eek! I know she is in the best of hands, but I still wish I could be there with her. I'm sure we'd have tons of fun hanging out in the hospital!

Get well soon Momma!! You were the first feminist I ever knew, and I couldn't ask for a better role model.

I love you!

Friday, February 3, 2012

BREAKING NEWS: Komen reinstates grants to Planned Parenthood

UPDATE: Komen VP, and anti-choicer, Karen Handel has resigned. She said in her resignation letter that she had supported de-funding Planned Parenthood. This is important in part because it shows that Komen recognizes the severity of their decision and hopefully indicates that they're moving in the right direction re: women's health. Learn more here

UPDATE:  Planned Parenthood just sent me an email saying that in the past 3 days, they have received 3 million dollars in donations. All of this money will go toward cancer screenings. That is amazing! I'm so happy that so many people put women's health ahead of politics.

After a huge outcry, the Susan G. Komen foundation has issued an apology and reinstated funding to Planned Parenthood!

Read more about it here and here.

I'm beyond thrilled, especially now that Planned Parenthood will have lots of extra money from recent donations on top of the Komen grant. But I'm not sure the Komen foundation can recover from their mistake and honestly, they've lost my support unless they can demonstrate that they've thought long and hard about what their priorities are re: women's health. If anything, this whole debacle has brought attention to the organization's leadership and raised serious concerns about their practices.


"I do not like to write. I like to have written." -- Gloria Steinem

I found this quote the other day and thought to myself, "Truer words have never been spoken! She understands me!"

Part of the reason for starting this blog was to help me learn to enjoy the writing process. I'm getting there. But writing often feels like giving birth to me. I stress, I agonize, I sweat, I yell, I don't ever want to have to do it again. But then it is over and I'm exhausted, happy, proud, and can't wait to get started writing something else. :-)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Susan G. Komen Stops Grants to Planned Parenthood

Yesterday, Susan G. Komen announced that they will stop supporting Planned Parenthood. In the past, they have given approx. $700,000 to Planned Parenthood, helping provide nearly 170,000 clinical breast exams and 6,400 mammogram referrals at Planned Parenthood centers across the nation. 

In the past five years, Planned Parenthood has provided more than 4 million clinical breast exams and 70,000 mammogram referrals, often helping low-income or uninsured women detect breast cancer in the earliest stages.

When I found out about this last night, I was outraged. I couldn't believe that the Susan G. Komen foundation would put politics ahead of women's lives. Luckily, I quickly learned from facebook and twitter that many others felt the same. Planned Parenthood and Komen were actually trending last night because there were so many people denouncing their actions. The Komen foundation's facebook page was also full of negative comments, although they seemed to be working overtime to delete them. I wrote a post telling them that their actions were shameful and that I wouldn't support them financially or attend any event sponsored by them until they re-fund Planned Parenthood. It received about 30 likes in the seconds before it was deleted.

Ironically, the Komen foundation just posted a study conducted by the CDC on their facebook page, which says that more work is needed to reduce the disparity of cancer screenings between white women and minority, low-income, and uninsured women.

And then they have the nerve to stop funding Planned Parenthood, the place where these minority, low-income, and uninsured women actually have access to cancer screenings?

That is shameful.

Today, Komen released a statement saying that their move wasn't political. But as Lori Stahl of the Washington Post writes, that is total bull shit. Her article is worth reading in its entirety, but I've copied some of the relevant info below:

The decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood comes shortly after Komen unveiled a new partnership that strengthens its ties to the George W. Bush Institute. The institute is the policy-making arm of Bush’s presidential library, which is scheduled to open in Dallas next year. The founding corporate sponsor [of this new initiative] is Merck, which is making a financial contribution of $3 million over three years.Merck, which manufactures the Gardasil vaccine, is a longtime campaign donor to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose ties to the company were briefly an issue during his failed presidential bid. 
Erin Gloria Ryan, of Jezebel, also calls Komen's statement bullshit. She writes:
Komen's absolutely a political organization, and one of their most recent political moves was to hire as it's Vice President of Communications one Karen Handel, a Sarah Palin-endorsed, rabidly anti-choice failed gubernatorial candidate from Georgia. Even though the services that Komen grants support at Planned Parenthood are breast exams for poor women, Handel was vocally in favor of defunding the organization as a candidate. In addition, Komen's founder Nancy Brinker was a major donor to George W. Bush.
If you think that the Susan G. Komen foundation shouldn't cave to extremists, or prioritize politics over women's lives, I encourage you to sign this petition. I also encourage you to send them an email letting them know that you're disappointed in their actions and that you will not financially support them until they re-fund Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood has also created a Breast Health Emergency fund. I encourage you to donate to it! Democratic Underground also suggests that when you donate, you request that a thank you note be sent to the Susan G. Komen foundation. That way, they'll know exactly how much money and support Planned Parenthood is getting.

And while we're talking about the Susan G. Komen foundation, I'm going to recommend that everyone read the New York Times article from October 2011 about the Pinking of America. The article suggests that the foundation is really kind of a marketing machine, and that it isn't actually doing that much with all the money they're getting. This upcoming movie (which I have not seen) also takes a critical look at the organization.

Shit Wendys Say

It was only a matter of time before someone made a "Shit Wellesley Women Say" video. And here it is! It couldn't be more spot on.

I hope they make a second version with more fun stereotypical things Wellesley ladies say, especially the often-used, "My parents don't pay $50,000 a year to this school so that I have to x" or "I'm offended!"