Entries Tagged as 'Politics'

The Week: Stop calling Hobby Lobby a Christian business

June 30, 2014

“…a closer look at Hobby Lobby’s actual business practices reveals this claim to be as hollow as a flute. Turn over just about any trinket in a Hobby Lobby store and you’ll find a gold oval stamped with ‘Made in China,’ a country that is one of the worst offenders of human dignity, unborn infant life, and economic justice anywhere in the world.

As such, those shiny stickers littering every Hobby Lobby from sea to shining sea are more than a statement about a product’s geographical origin; they are also a stinging indictment against the way the retailer has sought to label itself.”

— Jonathan Merritt in Stop calling Hobby Lobby a Christian business on The Week

Let the record reflect

June 30, 2014

So…we’re all going to Michael’s tomorrow to buy pipe cleaners and other supplies for our homemade IUDs, right? And then we’re going to have Ruth Bader Ginsburg over for a singalong birth control craft night?  

 

 

Let the record reflect

June 2, 2014

On Saturday night, I read the 141-page manifesto written by Elliot Rodger, the young man who murdered six people on Friday. It was horrifying, but I couldn’t stop reading. My friend Dallas asked me why I was reading it. “So I can articulately tell people to fuck off when they say his hatred of women wasn’t the problem,” I said. And then I told her that if anyone did that (which of course they would do), she could direct them to page 116 where he says “Women should not have the right to choose who to mate with.” (Which, FYI, would be #1 on the BuzzFeed listicle “The 20 Most Disturbing Things Elliott Rodger Said About Women” I started working on in my head as I read the manifesto.)

As one might expect, plenty of people haven’t read the manifesto, or they have, and they are still making excuses for him. “Oh, well, he’s clearly mentally ill.” But mental illness doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and the way it manifests is influenced by the culture around an individual. “Would it have killed those sorority girls to have said yes just once to him?” That is an actual quote from Facebook. Fun fact: he didn’t actually ask any of those sorority girls out! (And even if he had…yes. It literally might have killed them.) But there really should be no debate about this, because it’s very clearly written out for us in his own words: he wasn’t asking girls out and getting rejected. He was observing women in public and getting angry that they didn’t approach him. He was losing his shit over the couples he didn’t know but whom he saw canoodling at the mall. He didn’t understand why these beautiful white women weren’t just his. There was no real rejection to speak of. 

Every time someone goes on a shooting spree, we ask why. And then this guy did us a favor and told us why! And the thing about the manifesto is that it is so. Damn. Articulate. Even though you might think someone so concerned with being an alpha male would attempt to come across as one in what is essentially his memoir, it actually reads as remarkably honest. He talks about his pain, his humiliation, and how he’d go home and cry out of frustration after seeing couples out together in public. He seems to own the fact that he wasn’t what he so desperately wanted to be (powerful) because he’s writing with the guns in his possession and his “Day of Retribution” planned. He’s comfortable talking about his own weaknesses, and his motivation is unbelievably clear. It’s also exactly what you’d think his motivation would be if you’ve ever witnessed a misogynist in action, or spent any time on an anti-PUA forum (something I do not recommend if you want to be able to get out of bed ever). So we don’t need to ask why because he told us why.

And yet. Even with the manifesto in front of us, there are still choruses of “This wasn’t about women!” and “But mental illness!” and “Neither guns nor misogyny kill people; people kill people!” and “Not all men are like that!” and “We’ll never really know why he did it” and “But…but…maybe he was gay?” YOU GUYS. DID YOU DO THE READING?

But for everyone who won’t do the reading, who wants to discuss (or, more accurately, talk and be heard) this tragedy without doing any research, the Cliff’s Notes were made available to you and they are called #YesAllWomen. And still. There are people who read those Tweets and they still aren’t convinced.

Last week, I walked to the store at lunchtime to buy some flowers for a work project. It’s a short walk, about three blocks. A block-and-a-half in, a car with all tinted windows pulled up next to me, slowed way down, and all but stopped. And within a second, I was moving quickly — both forward but also several feet to the side, because my first thought was, “I don’t want them to reach out of the window and Taser me.” Because I know that’s a thing that sometimes happens…a woman gets Tasered and then she gets kidnapped. Luckily, I was walking toward the car and moved fast enough to pass them; there were enough cars coming that they couldn’t back up at that point. Thank goodness. But in under a second, I knew what to be afraid of and I had an escape route. Because I always have an escape route. Even if I’m walking three blocks in broad daylight. And even though I was thoroughly creeped out, my first thought after I knew I was in the clear was, “Welp. Guess I shouldn’t have worn that romper.” 

I know that not all men are violent or rapists. We all know that. But also: not all men are doing a good job to keep some men from being violent or rapey or just generally shitty to women. Before you come in to claim a cookie for, I dunno, not raping anyone (because your friendly neighborhood or office or dorm rapists totally call what the did that fits the legal definition of rape “rape”), please tell me what exactly you’ve done to prevent the daily bullshit women have to deal with. I’m not saying men are solely responsible for stopping misogyny…but I’m doing my part by always watching my drink, so now how about you do yours? It blows my mind the kinds of incredibly uncomfortable-making shit that a certain type of man will do in public…and no one will call him on it. Even if they are good guys, even if it makes them uncomfortable, even if they know it was undeniably wrong, they still avoid the confrontation. The best we can usually hope for is that they’ll admit it was a problem later, when the creep is no longer around anymore. 

Why are we so worried about protecting creeps’ feelings? 

I mean, I know why women are worried about it, but why, privileged dudes, are you so worried about it? You don’t have to protect me, but if you’re so interested in getting your award for being not like those men, you kinda have to say something, I dunno, every third shitty comment? As known Good Guy John Scalzi Tweeted, “The fact I’m getting so much credit for doing what should really be THE BASIC STANDARD OF DECENCY is why #YesAllWomen matters.”

So no, I’m not interested in hearing that “not all men” are like Elliot Rodger. I would (maybe not in the middle of the #YesAllWomen stream?) be interested in hearing how you and other men are stepping up when you witness misogyny. And if you’re so concerned with men (as many men’s rights activists claim to be) then I’m sure you’ll have a lot of examples of how you call bullshit when someone makes fun of a guy for being a virgin, or mocks a guy for hooking up with “fat chicks.” I’d love to hear how you call people out when they talk about a man’s girlfriend or wife in the context of his success. I’d really just like to actually see you do it when it happens instead of me looking around at all the privileged white men around me and saying, “…anyone? No? OK, guess I’ll take this one and get called a bitch for it…” But that is the kind of sexism that hurts men and the kind of sexism that so many men ignore or perpetuate. And, as it stands, right now there’s a lot of crossover between men who say “not all men!” and the men who fall silent when their friend or their coworker or their parent is objectifying women, perpetuating harmful stereotypes, getting grabby, or assaulting a woman. Or, you know, when a murderer shares his manifesto and it’s all about how much he hates women. 

But. While this all makes me want to scream, #YesAllWomen has still been really uplifting. And I know that this hashtag might not matter — it’s not raising the dead or bringing about legislation and I doubt it’s changing many misogynistic minds — but it really, actually matters. It matters because whether or not we’re getting a positive response from the people whose minds need to be changed most, and whether or not the mainstream media is having this conversation, we’re still speaking. And we’re being heard. We are putting up a fight and that feels GOOD. #YesAllWomen reminds me a lot of Wendy Davis’s filibuster last summer; it is a similarly collective and powerful “HEY, EVERYONE? THIS IS NOT OK.” Even if you know you can’t win, it still feels good to fight BACK, to make it clear that we see what is happening and we think it is bullshit. So when future generations inevitably look back at us and say, “How on earth did everyone think that was OK?”…let the record reflect that WE DIDN’T. Lots and lots and lots of people did not think it was OK (I’ll share links tomorrow) and we said so, loudly, when it happened.  

Lover.ly: 20 Creative Wedding Themes and Ideas

May 19, 2014

tea-party-shower-15

Photo by: Meghan Christine Photography on Engaged & Inspired via Lover.ly

Can we all just agree to bring this tradition into the 21st century already? See all of my ideas on Lover.ly.

Paycheck to Paycheck

March 19, 2014

Monday night, Eric and I watched “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert,” a documentary about one woman struggling to stay afloat, on HBO. Maria Shriver executive produced the film, and I first heard about it last week on “The Today Show.” You can actually watch the entire documentary below.

Before watching, I also read this article in the New York Times, which looks at poverty in Chattanooga (where Katrina also lives). Like the documentary, it was pretty sobering. I definitely recommend reading it and watching the documentary. This issue needs more attention and we need more people talking about it, challenging the misconceptions about poverty, and demanding solutions. 

 

The good fight

June 26, 2013

To answer the obvious question on everyone’s mind…no, what happened at the Supreme Court this morning did not, in fact, cause my straight relationship to spontaneously combust. I appreciate everyone’s concern, as it was predicted my many bigots that federally recognizing gay marriage would spell doom for us straights; as of right now, Eric and I are taking the necessary precautions to ensure that your legal, legitimate, and totally joyful banging does not bring harm to the wedding we are currently planning.

roses

So! A lot of things have happened in the past 24 hours and I have a lot of feelings. Let’s start with last night, when Wendy Davis and her crew killed it at the Capitol. I don’t think I’ve ever been more anxious or stressed out when watching live television in my entire life. (But, admittedly, I don’t watch sports. You superfans may think I’m overreacting.)

Following along on Twitter and watching the live video stream was inspiring, uplifting, and totally infuriating. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more helpless. For those of you who weren’t tuning in, a brief recap: The Texas legislature has been in a special session, which Governor Rick Perry called for to push through, among other things, incredibly restrictive abortion legislation. Like, five-clinics-to-serve-the-entire-state-of-Texas restrictive. Like sorry-if-your-wanted-child-has-a-severe-fetal-abnormality-but-we’re-going-to-make-that-even-harder-for-you restrictive. Die-on-the-table restrictive. It is some scary Handmaid’s Tale kind of shit and, turns out, the women (and men) of Texas didn’t take to kindly to total bullshit disguised as efforts to protect women’s health. With access to safe, legal abortion seriously under threat, Wendy Davis decided to filibuster the shit out of SB5, and, yesterday, began what would have to be a 13-hour filibuster if it were going to succeed.

Watching her was equal parts inspiring and heartbreaking. During the filibuster, she read story after story about women who died from botched abortions and dozens of letters from women who had to make extremely hard choices but who were ultimately grateful for the right to do so. The filibuster had a ton of rules, including the requirement that she had to stay on topic and the requirement that she could not get any sort of help with anything. There is what is essentially a “three strikes, you’re out” rule here regarding filibusters, but it was sort of  like Inception-style filibustering because each strike would need to be voted on, and also, technically, all three strikes needed to be of the same style. So if you got a strike for going off topic, and then a second one for getting help from a  congressman, you wouldn’t be at two strikes. OR SO WE THOUGHT. That, like many other rules, was pretty much just disregarded last night.

What was so infuriating was the way that the strikes were to be voted on…by people who were trying to shut down the filibuster. So there wasn’t a lot of confidence on anyone’s part that the question of whether the strike was valid or not was going to be answered along party lines. For example, the transvaginal sonogram bill and the abortion pill both seem pretty closely related to this abortion bill, but the GOP did not think so, so…sorry! That’s a strike coming at ya! And after two totally debatable strikes, she got her third (also debatable) strike around 10:00 last night and they cut off the filibuster.

At this point, it was pretty much time to stall at all costs, but the thing is…the stalling wasn’t just stalling for the hell of it. The appeals regarding her strikes and the entire procedure seemed pretty valid. There was an overwhelming sense that the Republican leaders were just winging it when it came to the rules and that they would stoop pretty low to get the vote in before midnight. A lot of people wanted answers. Which is why at 11:00 last night, tens of thousands (and eventually more than 100,000) people were watching the livestream. (Meanwhile, it was crickets from the major national news networks.) Twitter was blowing up, and not just with tweets from Texans…at this point, the nation was watching and tweeting their support. Despite how sad and scary this entire thing felt, it was a relief to see how many non-Texans and how many men were actively showing their support on Twitter. (Eric said to me this morning, “I’m not normally a political person, but even I had the vapors last night.” Putting the US in UTERUS, that one!) I think so many people turned to social media because the last hour of the session involved a bunch of men standing around talking to each other about whether or not a woman was allowed to continue speaking about her right to bodily autonomy, and it kind of made everyone want to be heard.

Around 11:40, after being ignored by Lt. Governor Dewhurst even though she had the right to speak, Senator Leticia Van de Putte (who left her father’s funeral on Monday for this train wreck) stepped to the mic, said a very calm and polite “Parliamentary Inquiry” (like ya do), and then delivered the most ladylike “fuck you” I think I’ve ever heard: “At what point must a female Senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?”

I wish she’d dropped the mic at that point, but she didn’t need to. The protesters in the gallery, who had been silent up until this point (lest they get arrested) burst into cheers and applause. And, with that, the Capitol (and Twitter) kind of burst into flames. There was confusion. There was ongoing chanting from the crowd. There was an attempt to take roll call. Finally, Dewhurst said, “Fuck this noise” (not a direct quote), and announced that it was time to vote. He and his GOP buddies, initially said that they got the vote in before the midnight deadline. But later in the night, it came out that…Surprise! They changed the date stamp on the votes so they would appear to have been entered on 6/25 before the midnight deadline even though they were not! Doesn’t that make you feel all warm inside? At 3 AM, Dewhurst finally admitted that the voting had not happened before the deadline and was therefore dead (“like your cold feminist hearts” he wanted to add).

And, I mean, it’s dead like the killer at the end of a horror movie when there were a few false endings and you already know there’s going to be a sequel is dead, but hot damn, last night was still a huge victory. (Updated 2 hours later: FASTEST SEQUEL EVER.) The message this filibuster sent to people everywhere was clear and powerful: You may think we’re all a bunch of sluts, but we’re not just going to take this lying down.

But just when we thought we finally had gotten the government out of our bedrooms once and for all, SCOTUS got together to tell us where they stood on the Defense of Marriage Act and Prop 8. I don’t even know why I bothered to put on mascara this morning; I knew I was going to be a mess. (To be honest, I was already pretty weepy as I was watching and reading the recaps from last night. The men and women who brought this bill down yesterday had me questioning what the hell I’m doing with my life if I’m not trying to be more like they are.) And when, just after 9:00 Texas time, ten years to the day from the landmark ruling on Lawrence v. Texas (which determined that sodomy is, in fact, between God and you), the SCOTUS live blog informed the world that, just like Paula Deen on The Today Show, DOMA had imploded, I was so glad to be working from home so that I could just cry it out. While their ruling on the Voting Rights Act yesterday is disappointing, and it’s not like the DOMA or the Prop 8 decisions are the final steps in the fight for marriage equality, that doesn’t change the fact that this morning, my friend and fellow APW writing intern Elizabeth wrote to us in an email, “I can’t believe it. !!!!! Holy shit, I’m really getting married.” And (oh God, every time I read that, it makes me cry) that makes it a good day. An important day. A day when fighting the good fight actually paid off a teeny tiny bit and when I think we’re all allowed to feel just a little bit hopeful.

The (Texas) house wins again

June 24, 2013

texas bluebonnets

When I was melting down on a regular basis during the election last fall, Eric told me that if Texas ever outlawed abortion, we could move to another state. I reminded him of that fact this morning, just after I told him about my new plans to become a one-woman shuttle service for women who need abortions and won’t have much access to it if the governor has his way this week. If he doesn’t want to move, I also offered him the alternative option of having a vasectomy.

I’ve been extremely distracted since last night by all the news coming out of Austin regarding SB 5, which is just your average, run-of-the-mill, “Bodily autonomy?! Think again, slut!” legislation making its way through state legislature. (There should be a Schoolhouse Rock version of that, starring a misogynistic bill that shouts Bible verses at you and sits in your uterus instead of on Capitol Hill.) I’m really regretting not going to the Capitol today to join the protesters because it’s not like I got anything done today anyway, and I won’t be able to go tomorrow. I’m just relieved that there will even be a tomorrow; the GOP’s last-ditch effort to suspend the rules (taking advantage of the fact that one Democrat was out today for her father’s funeral) and push the Senate’s vote up to today, thus killing Democratic hopes of a filibuster in the Senate, didn’t make it through.

And I know it’s easy for people in other states to be like, “Well, of course…TEXAS!!” but Texas isn’t the first state to push legislation like this, and, sadly, it won’t be the last. (Not to mention the fact that most Texans are not OK with this shit. Andrea Grimes has more on why you shouldn’t just blow this off because it’s Texas.)

One of the things that is most troubling to me about all the proposed restrictions on abortion is how big Texas is, something I just didn’t really get until I moved here. The idea that just five abortion clinics would remain open to serve a state this huge (to put it in perspective, it’s a shorter drive from El Paso to California that it is from El Paso to some parts of Texas), and that some women would have to drive 600 miles to have a safe, legal abortion is appalling. And it’s fucking unconscionable that last night, with regard to an exception for victims of rape and incest, Representative Jodie Laubenberg (the class act who introduced this bill) said that wouldn’t be necessary because, “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out…The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development.”

There you have it, friends: a reminder for all us ladies who love shopping that an abortion is the free gift with your rape kit purchase.

"This magic thing"

March 26, 2013

two brides

“The fact is, marriage is this magic thing,” Edie says. “I mean forget all the financial stuff — marriage … symbolizes commitment and love like nothing else in the world. And it’s known all over the world. I mean, wherever you go, if you’re married, that means something to people, and it meant a difference in feeling the next day.” — Edith Windsor, in Meet The 83-Year-Old Taking On The U.S. Over Same-Sex Marriage, the NPR story that had me in tears on my way to work yesterday.

I don’t have much to say today except…go team! And that I love my Facebook feed right now. And here are a couple other good articles for your afternoon:

How the Court Could Rule on Same-Sex Marriage [The New York Times]

Supreme Court On Gay Marriage: ‘Sure, Who Cares’ [The Onion]

[Photo by: Anne Adams Photography on The Wedding Chicks via Wedding Party]

"Good" grieving

December 16, 2012

candles

I never know how to write about national tragedies that in no way affect me personally. To not write about these events at all seems wrong, but to say the “wrong” thing seems worse. And then to even worry about that seems absurd at a time when people have lost their lives. But as a professional communicator, not saying it wrong matters to me. It’s been on my mind even more this weekend, as I watch the reaction of everyone from my friends to other bloggers to the biggest media outlets, and I see so much criticism of those reactions everywhere I turn — so many accusations and complaints that people are handling it “wrong.”

While I personally find a lot the reactions I’ve seen distasteful, it is often said that everyone handles grief differently, and far more people than just those with ties to Sandy Hook Elementary are grieving right now. To say anyone is “wrong” for bringing up gun control or for wondering aloud how things might be different if the teachers had been armed or for crying or for posting on Facebook about it seems unfair because, again, though we may find any or all of those reactions personally distasteful, everyone grieves differently. And further, we as a society don’t exactly have a protocol for this. No one knows the “right” way to use social media or have a political discussion or even react to mildly shitty news on a good day; why would we expect anyone to get it right on a day as terrible as Friday?

The best thing I read all weekend? Was the article in The Onion “Report: It Okay To Spend Rest Of Day Curled In Fetal Position Under Desk.” After I read that, I finally felt OK about my strong desire to pack up my work things, go home, and just not do anything for the rest of the night. (Well, I really wanted to go home to Michigan home to be with my mom — who is a teacher — and my 8-year-old brother, but couldn’t do that for obvious reasons.) That article legitimized my grief, and I after reading it I felt OK spending the rest of the weekend feeling my feelings and answering to them. I’ve alternated between curling up in a ball and reading every article and every comment on the shooting, and then getting up and moving around and being physical in some way. And thinking about my family, a lot. These things help..ish. I have no idea if either is the “right” way to react, but I’ve owned that it is OK to react. Full stop.

At this point, arguing about the “right” way to react has become a reaction in its own right, and…well, who am I to say that’s wrong? I mean, how can any of us, myself included, have expectations about how one “should” react when everyone is reacting to something that exceeds what one would expect in pretty much every way possible? I mean…fuck.

Anyway, I just wanted to open the conversation on this topic, as it’s something that has been on my mind all day today, and I thought perhaps other people have been thinking about this too. But whatever you’ve been thinking about in regards to the shooting in Newtown on Friday, feel free to share it in the comments here. Or don’t. Everyone grieves differently, after all.

Let's help get the Violence Against Women Act passed

December 11, 2012

So…remember that time when we were all super passionate about politics? And we said we were going to stay involved even after the election was over? OK, great — because today we’ve got some work to do!

Congress is currently debating the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which has been around for 18 years. (It was actually introduced by everyone’s favorite crazy-but-lovable grandpa Joe Biden.) According to Think Progress, the bill has had far-reaching positive effects since then. It established National Domestic Violence Hotline (which serves more than 22,000 victims a month and has taken a total of 3 million calls); set aside funding so that 500,000 law enforcement officials, judges, and prosecutors a year are trained to help domestic abuse victims; and made stalking a felony offense.

So what’s the holdup with reauthorizing it? (Or, to put it more plainly: how the fuck is this controversial in any way?) Well, Republicans are pushing a version of VAWA that removes language that specifically protects Native Americans, undocumented people, and the LGBT community. If you need more information about why this specific language is necessary, here are some articles for further reading:

For Native American Women, Scourge of Rape, Rare Justice

Tiny Little Laws (this is a long piece, but it’s so worth it)

Why the Violence Against Women Act is a LGBT issue

House Passes Violence Against Women Act Without LGBT Protections

Violence Against Women Act: Eric Cantor, Joe Biden In Talks Amid Stalled Tribal Provision

That this is a debate is somewhat unsurprising given the way the GOP talked about rape during the past year, but it’s still infuriating.

So! Find yourself a congressperson and a senator or two.

Then shoot them an email asking them to get it together and pass legislation that specifically protects the women who need it most. (Not sure what to put in your email? I copied and pasted this email from 4vawa.org, changed the “we” language to “I” language, added a bit of an intro, and then sent it off. Sending those emails takes all of five minutes and is truly the least we can do.

 

Theme by Blogmilk   Coded by Brandi Bernoskie