An Easy Fight: Paid Maternity Leave



Let’s start with this:

“Only nine countries don’t have laws that guarantee some paid leave for new mothers: the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Suriname, Tonga — and the United States.”

So, shouldn’t it be easy to fight for paid maternity leave? And the real question becomes, why aren’t we???

Not only is paid maternity leave the least we could provide working women (like all other nations), but not doing so further contributes to a gender wage gap. As the Washington Post reports,

“Labor policies that facilitate or hinder working adults’ ability to balance jobs and caregiving have a particularly large impact on women…Paid maternal leave supports women’s continued employment, job stability, and longer-term wage growth.”

It also doesn’t make sense to educate and prepare women for the workforce, if we’re not willing to provide continued support! It hurts the economy overall, and paid maternity would thus benefit men as well.

This fight is worthwhile, should garner worldwide support, and is easy to win! 

What are we waiting for – and what are our first steps?


Sexism Behind Chivalry

Have you ever encountered well-intentioned sexism? It’s a little confusing, right?

Turns out that researchers are now examining both the negative and positive manifestations of sexism. And chivalry may be a positive outcome of sexist beliefs.

 The Telegraph reported that Psychologists at Northeastern University found that some men with sexist beliefs were also more likely to be patient and friendly.

A study author noted,

“Unless sexism is understood as having both hostile and benevolent properties, the insidious nature of benevolent sexism will continue to be one of the driving forces behind gender inequality in our society.” 

While another study author warned,

“These supposed gestures of good faith may entice women to accept the status quo in society because sexism literally looks welcoming, appealing, and harmless.”

It’s important to consider and discuss the many ways that sexism can influence our daily interactions and experiences. 

 And next time you encounter that patient, friendly man smiling at you, remember that he may just be thinking about how your incompetence will only be remedied with his support and protection.

 

Aaron Sorkin: Female Roles Are Less Difficult

Apparently American screenwriter and producer Aaron Sorkin wrote in a released email that the “degree of difficulty” was lower for female roles compared to male ones! Even when these ‘easier’ roles required more screen time. This is unacceptable, considering it’s almost 2015. Women deserve economic, social, and political equality!

Read more at Elle

Sony Email Leak: Gender Pay Gap for ‘American Hustle’

Various sources are reporting that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams got paid 7/9th of what their male counterparts made. They even made less than male supporting actor Jeremy Renner!

Read more at:

Marie Claire

Mail Online

CBS

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Let’s Talk About Victim Blaming & Privilege

With all the recent discussions on race after the killing of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner, and feminist issues with recent campus responses to sexual assault, my attention has been focused on the very familiar act of victim-blaming.

Victim-blaming is when a victim of a wrongful act is held partially or entirely responsible for the harm that befell them,  and is typically only applied to those with less privilege, which include individuals of color, those who are female, identify as lgbtq, are poor, or fit into a combination of these and other categories.

A core issue with victim-blaming is that the lived experiences of the underprivileged and their systematic harassment and abuse are discredited. It is not that as a black man, Eric Gardner had to deal with constant discrimination and police harassment that ultimately led to his death, instead the debate is framed by the privileged that the police simply responded with understandable force to protect himself from a large scary-looking (i.e., black) man who already had a history of arrest.

And more, isn’t it strange that dozens of women have come out with rape charges against Bill Cosby, yet most victims are immediately discredited and questioned, including, “why didn’t you report this sooner” (many did but where ignored!) “why did you return to his house?” or my favorite, ” you know, there are ways to avoid being raped.” WHAT?

As Cera Byer at Alternet points out “a possible first step is to listen to people with an open heart. By believing that other people’s reporting of their lived experience may be true, even though the dominant paradigm tells you it’s impossible.”

She continues in a letter to her male white friends:

Because some forms of injustice don’t happen to you, and the history you learned in school, and what you hear from a lot of the media, and from other white men, is that these things don’t happen, you might really believe they don’t exist. Being able to turn a blind eye to things that don’t happen to you is the essence of privilege.

I’d like to invite a thought exercise.

Your child comes to you and says, “Dad, I’m being harassed, bullied, threatened and terrorized at school.”And you say, “That is impossible. You go to a good school. All the adults I know say it is a good school, so you must be fine. Go back out there.”And you walk away, convinced that your child must be wrong. You’ve abandoned your child, because you’re not taking his or her report as possibly accurate.

Your wife or sister comes to you and says, “I am being harassed, threatened and terrorized out on the street by men. I experience gender inequality on a daily basis. I live in some degree of constant fear for my personal safety, just because I am a woman.”And you say, “That is impossible. Sexism is over. Women now occupy relatively high places of power in this country. You are fine.” And you walk away, convinced that your loved one must be wrong. You have abandoned her, because you are not taking her report as possibly accurate.

Your friends, community, neighbors, co-workers of color come to you and say, “I am harassed, threatened, terrorized on the street by police officers. I am experiencing systemic inequality on a daily basis. I live in constant fear that myself, my brother, my son, will be unfairly convicted of a crime, or shot on the street, simply because of what we look like.” And you say, “That is impossible. Racism has been conquered. We have a black president. Everyone lives an equal life here.” And you walk away, convinced that these people are wrong. You have abandoned them, because you are not taking their reports as possibly accurate.

This really appears to be the core of victim-blaming. For those with privilege, believing the victim can be so painful and threatening to their sense of reality, that it becomes easier to blame the victim for the crime.

What were you wearing? Why were you wearing a hoodie? Why were you walking outside at night? However, as Caitlin Kelly creatively points out, these attacks directed at the victim make little sense and can be a source of laughter when examined through a a crime that occurs to those with privilege (and thus is free of victim-blaming).

 

As we continue our conversations about race and gender equality in this country, let’s continue considering the role of privilege in changing systematic harassment, violence and abuse in our society. Listen to people’s lived experiences, even if they don’t match your sense of reality. Keep an open mind.

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Back From My Hiatus

I realized today that we have not written an article for this blog since last summer! Shame on us.

I am in the final year of my PhD program and realized today that the craziness of academia has diverted my attention from my passion for blogging.

Nonetheless, the website has been going strong for the past year with daily visitors. This is likely due, in part, to the momentum that feminism has been gathering over the last few years. This excites me and makes me want to remain engaged in the discussion.

So there will be more to come. My first piece will focus on what feminism means and why it bothers me when I see people use the term ‘feminist allies’ to describe feminists who happen to be men.

Claire

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A Royal Baby Boy! What this Means for Women

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Today the world has welcomed a newborn royal baby. This British baby boy will one day be King after his father Prince William and grandfather Prince Charles.

Even if the British baby news doesn’t interest you much, this birth is significant in terms of women’s rights. Rachel Maddow made an excellent point today that the Succession to the Crown Act passed in April 2013 would have allowed the baby to be the future monarch no matter what gender it was. In the past women could only be Queen of England if there were no male siblings, however the 2013 Act  “to make succession to the Crown not depend on gender” was passed while Kate was pregnant, ensuring that either way her first born would one day be ruler of the United Kingdom.

I thought that this was pretty cool and is a step in the right direction.

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Three Kurdish Female Activists Murdered in Paris

Three Kurdish Female Activists Murdered in Paris

CNN reports that three Kurdish Female political activists were  all shot in the head today in the center of Paris, France. The apparent assassination has shocked the Kurdish community, especially since the killer or motives are currently unknown.

One of the victims was a founding member of the Kurdish Workers’ Party, a party considered a terror organization by both Turkey and the United States.

Read more on CNN.com

 

Feminist Images Speak in January!

LG picThis is the second annual Loose Garments Images Speak month! Last year We asked for original artwork submissions of what you envision when you think “Woman,” and many responded!  All images on our Images Speak Page been created by Loose Garments fans, who are women (and men) just like you. Images are only accepted during January each year and can include photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, or anything really.

Please submit your artwork to LooseGarments@gmail.com