My place of employment is housed in a standard office building. My company provides us many amenities, free of charge, at my workplace. I have access to many flavors of coffee and tea in single serving cups and all the applicable fixings. Free of charge, I can have tissues, napkins, plastic silverware, Styrofoam cups, plastic cups, paper plates, salt & pepper, dish detergent, cold filtered water, candy, toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap and sunscreen. Yet in the women’s bathrooms, you find one of these:
Do they really mean to tell me that we can have the flavored coffee creamer-like substance in our choice of Original, Vanilla, or Hazelnut but I have to pay for a freaking tampon? This is absurd. They should be free! Free at the office, free at the gym. They should be free at the mall and the hospital and everywhere there is a public women’s bathroom. But they aren’t. Sometimes, they aren’t available at all. I once found myself in an airport where the only tampon to be found was kindly given to me by a flight attendant. There were none in the bathrooms, free or paid, and none in the one store/kiosk thing in the terminal. Talk about poor planning.
Of course nobody talks about this because we’re taught we should be embarrassed and ashamed of menstruation. Going up to the male manager of the gym or the male office director and asking them to change their tampon policy is not particularly appealing even to me, and I’m not shy. I just know that through office gossip I would soon be “The Crazy Tampon Lady” and that is less than appealing.
Look, I know we’re all trying to pretend that menstruation doesn’t happen. “Oh what? Not me, no. I never find myself in a situation where I unexpectedly need a feminine hygiene product.” (Let’s not even get into how I feel about that term and all its implications of dirtiness.) But come on, the menstrual cycle is just a part of life- a vital part of life as a matter of fact. We’re talking about a significant percentage of the population here who are being ignored and insulted for what has to be pennies a product.
Don’t you think that if men needed tampons, they would be free?
I have very mixed feelings about Weinergate.
On one hand, I don’t think a politician’s personal life ought to be a consideration if it does not interfere with his/her job. If he cheats on his wife, it isn’t really any of my business, much as I privately think it makes him a colossal douchebag. In the case of Anthony Weiner, I have a bit more sympathy than I would if we were talking about a “family values” conservative. Hypocrisy combined with douchebaggery is simply too much for me.
On the other hand, I have serious doubts about someone with this level of poor decision-making skills being able to represent his constituency effectively.
There’s a certain level of embarrassment I feel for Anthony Weiner. The pictures are just so silly, so absurd. They aren’t particularly lewd to me, to be honest. When I saw them and read the texts, I found myself wondering, “What on earth was he thinking?!” Followed by laughter. Followed by asking “Is his name really Weiner?” It would be next to impossible to take Mr. Weiner seriously after this. The unfortunate coincidence of his surname puts it over the top on the comedy scale.
I have to be honest though, and remember that I supported Bill Clinton and did not think he should resign after the Monica Lewinsky affair. I wonder if I would have felt differently if there had been photographic evidence of his infidelity. I have to admit, I believe I may have. There’s something about actually seeing a photo that makes it very difficult to move past that moment and imagine the person getting on with his career. I’m trying to imagine what would happen if a woman got caught doing something similar, perhaps a woman with the surname of Bush? The media would burn her at the stake.
I have to put myself in Anthony’s shoes. I imagine that I have just gotten caught sending sexy pictures of myself to several men by my boss. Should I be fired for this? Did I mention I took the pictures in the office gymnasium using my company-issued blackberry? I have a feeling I’m about to be unemployed.
In my relationship, I would consider sexting to be cheating. Cheating, to me, is knowing what you are doing will hurt your partner but doing it anyway. I guess maybe some people don’t feel that way and consider it harmless flirting. Thanks to Weiner-Gate, I have made my feelings on the matter known to my boyfriend and he agrees: sexting is cheating. So at least we’re clear on that.
People simply cannot seem to resist taking sexy photos and videos of themselves. It’s a different ballgame now though. Once your digital photo reaches cyberspace, you lose control of it for good. You have no idea who will see it or where it will end up. Most people wouldn’t walk into a room and take off their clothes. If you wouldn’t do that, you probably want to avoid sending naked pictures of yourself to anyone. My personal internet policy is “If you wouldn’t want your parents or your boss to see it, don’t put it on the internet.” Sending photos via cell phone isn’t secure either. You don’t really know if the recipient is going to keep it to himself or share it with his buddies.
A few of my friends have said something to the effect of “What is wrong with men these days?” I have to say, I am not so sure this is a male problem.. There are plenty of women sexting as well, teenagers especially. More girls are sending nude or semi-nude photos of themselves than boys. This is about sexuality in an unknown venue. It feels private, but in actuality it is much more public than making out in the back seat. Online relationships can sometimes feel more perfect than real life relationships because you don’t get the whole picture of a real person, flaws and all. You fill in the blanks using your imagination.
Anthony Weiner has resigned in a flurry of chaos after his sexting scandal. Part comedy and part tragedy, perhaps his rise and fall will be cautionary tale for others who feel a bit too comfortable and secure with their personal business on the internet.
by Kate Pittman:
If you haven’t been paying attention to the anti-abortion, anti-contraception, anti-woman legislation that is currently being put forth and passed in state and national government, it’s time to wake up. The ultra-conservative anti-choice religious right has gained a very loud and powerful voice in government while we, the women who believe in reproductive freedom, stand by. Far too often it seems we have no voice at all. I watch in horror as I read about each new attack on my body and my life.
The individual laws requiring biased counseling, restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion and contraceptives, waiting periods, restrictions on method, and other attempts to reduce our reproductive rights are too numerous to list here. But you should know how serious this is right at this very moment. Please check these links if you have any doubt the Tea Party has something on its agenda other than jobs, jobs, jobs:
Yes, this is personal to me and it should be personal to anyone who is a woman who believes that she has the ability to make the right choices for herself in her own life. What can be more personal than the choice to have a child? Yet there are many who seem to think I am incapable of making serious choices about my life. I boil over with rage when I read about my rights being infringed upon by people who purport to want to “protect life.”
Let us be clear about one thing: this battle is not about life. It is not about saving unborn fetuses from murder. It is an attack on women’s sexual freedom, and consequently women’s autonomy, plain and simple.
When you get right down to it, you would be hard-pressed to find many people in the world who think abortion is a good thing. The overwhelming majority of pro-choice people will tell you that we also believe that if you don’t want to have a baby, the absolute best course of action is to never get pregnant in the first place. Women do not choose abortion lightly. Yet there are those who seem to believe that we are incapable of knowing when we are ready to raise a child. These are the same people, by the way, who are always proclaiming that the government should stay out of our personal lives. Oh, unless they disagree with the way we live those lives. They always seem to forget to add that part.
A woman, in this view, is nothing but a walking, talking set of reproductive organs.
If the Anti-Choice movement really cared about reducing the number of abortions, they would focus on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies. Yet they do just the opposite, taking every opportunity to reduce sexual education and availability of contraceptives.
Making abortion illegal does not stop abortion. Making it difficult to obtain an abortion by adding obstacles ensures that the only people who will still be able to choose whether or not to abort a pregnancy are the rich, who can afford to travel to a place where abortion is available. Relegating abortion to back alleys only harms women, and is sometimes even fatal; it does not save fetuses. When a woman wants to make this decision, she will find a way to make it. When abortion is legal and safe, women are protected. When abortion is illegal and hidden, we are not.
This is a scary time for anyone who believes in reproductive freedom. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in the first quarter of 2011 alone, 916 measures related to reproductive health and rights have been introduced in the 49 legislatures that held regular sessions. Seven states enacted 15 new laws on these issues.
If you feel strongly about these issues, now is the time to stand up. Let your voice be heard. Make sure to vote. Don’t let their voices be louder than ours.
By Kate Pittman
Two unrelated events happened in rapid succession recently. On May 14, Dominique Strauss Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund, was arrested for sexual assault of a maid at a Manhattan hotel. On May 17, Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilder, actor, and governor of California, acknowledged that he had committed adultery and fathered a child with a woman who was part of his household staff.
Perhaps it seems natural that these two events should be covered by the news media in tandem. Both events involve powerful male politicians and women who were in subservient roles to wealthy, influential men.
But the similarities stop there. Conflating these two events frames the sexual assault charges as something other than what they are, criminal violence. Dominique Strauss-Kahn is innocent until proven guilty. But discussing this alleged crime using terms like “sexual antics” and “sex scandal” illustrates that socially, we still do not take crimes involving sexual acts as seriously as other crimes.
If Dominique Strauss Kahn was charged with locking a woman in his hotel room and beating her with a baseball bat, do you think the news media would be talking about it in the same breath as Arnold’s cheating ways? Adultery, appalling as it may be, is not a violent crime. Attempted rape, forced oral sex, and holding a person against her will, are criminal acts.
All over the news media we are hearing that nobody is surprised at these charges due to DSK’s well-known history of inappropriate sexual liaisons. I find myself thinking only of the victim of this alleged crime. How would it feel to read that the person who assaulted you was known to have a violent sexual temper and that nothing had ever been done to reprimand him or bring his actions in line? How would it feel to read that many people do not believe this could happen? As one commentator mused on FoxNews.com, “ Strauss-Kahn is accused of having assaulting a cleaning lady in the luxurious $3,000-a-night room in the Sofitel Hotel where he was staying in New York City. Couldn’t he have afforded a high-class prostitute? Or was he too impatient to bother calling one up?
We all know rich and powerful men are entitled to sex at their whim, right? Isn’t this a victim’s worst nightmare, and one that is realized again and again- that she will have the courage to report the abuse and will not be believed?
Arnold Schwarzenegger is receiving much of the same treatment in the media. Nobody seems particularly surprised by his infidelity. How could anyone really be surprised? If you’ve paid any attention at all to his history with women, the surprising thing would have been if he had remained monogamous.
In both cases, dissimilar as they may be, a major focus of the news coverage seems to be to discredit the victim/mistress. In the case of Arnold’s mistress, Mildred Baena, the internet is abuzz with discussions about her appearance such as this, Why Arnold Schwarzenegger bedded ‘Unattractive’ Mistresses: He Wanted to Be with the ‘Beautiful One!’ The implication being that as a rich and powerful man, Arnold Schwarzenegger deserves any woman he wants, so why not choose a really hot one? This is of course, about really Powerful Men. The women involved are discussed as if they are objects to be used and abused for the amusement of these men.
There have been no indications that Schwarzenegger’s adulterous relationship was not consensual, but you can’t help but wonder about the imbalance of power between employer and employee and how that might have played into the relationship.
Maria Shriver’s reaction is the silver lining of this scandal. I am so proud to see that she has decided not to “Stand by Her Man.” Granted, it is the individual couple’s decision how to handle their relationship going forward, but it sickens me every time a politician or celebrity gets caught in an affair and the wife stands silently beside him, implicitly accepting the adultery. I always want to cry out to them, “You deserve better than this!” Shriver’s statement is short and to the point. Nothing more needs to be said:
“This is a painful and heartbreaking time. As a mother, my concern is for the children. I ask for compassion, respect and privacy as my children and I try to rebuild our lives and heal. I will have no further comment.”
Anne Sinclair, third wife of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, has issued a statement that she does not believe the charges against her husband. Yet it is clear that his reputation as a womanizer is not news to her. In an interview in 2006 she said, “No! I’m even proud of it. It’s important to seduce, for a politician. As long as he is still attracted to me, and I to him, it is sufficient.”
Whether or not this affects Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to Hollywood (I don’t expect so), or Dominique Strauss-Kahn is found guilty or innocent of the criminal charges he faces, these stories are once again shedding light on the imbalanced way we react to sexual impropriety. We are too quick to blame the victim and too enamored of scandal. We seem to forget that where relationships, sex, and emotions are involved, there is a lot of vulnerability and unpredictable fall-out for all involved. Where violence and rape are concerned, there is no excuse. We need to be careful not to belittle the criminal aspect of the charges against DSK, or we belittle the rights of all victims of sex crimes.