Reuters just reported that the Obama Administration stated it would shut down a program that provided medical care services to over 100,000 low-income women in Texas, as the state refused funding for clinics that provide abortions. Why are we so set on increasing our population and burdening poor women who are already barely getting by – just because we are selfish and short-sighted!? We must stop this never-ending war on women.
First of all, women have had access to birth control for about two generations. For many women, their mothers were born in a world where the pill was a normal part of life!
Now, in 2012, we are suddenly…out of nowhere… going back to arguments we had over 50 years ago.
Margaret Sanger risked imprisonment for violating the Comstock Act, which forbade distribution of birth control information.
So after 50 years of having no issues with the pill, we are suddenly seeing arguments popping up online and on TV about the fact that birth control is a “luxury item”, that “it’s really not that expensive” or that women should just put “a Bayer aspirin between their knees.” In addition to these arguments, some people even dare to use the word “freedom” to explain why women should be denied access to contraceptives, and then say that women who use birth control are just “sluts and prostitutes.”
Contraception changed the lives of millions of women, who could now compete with men in the workplace.
These arguments are ridiculous and play on people’s baser instincts of prejudice and stereotyping – as they clearly don’t make any sense.
Let’s assume that the pill is simply a “luxury item” then what is viagra, sleeping medication, acne medication, anxiety medication and even vaccinations? If this is our concern – insurance companies having to cover luxury items – then why don’t we introduce bills for eliminating all medications that don’t immediately save your life? This assertion is simply an excuse for prejudice and unequal treatment.
And the argument that women should just buy their own birth control because “it’s not that expensive” also drives me crazy. If birth control is really not that expensive, then why not just have the insurance companies pay for it like they already do now? It is clearly not affecting their record profits. Why would we be wasting so much time and political resources to change something so inexpensive and trivial?
Yes – let’s just undo years of progress, so that insurance companies don’t have to pay for something so “cheap” as the pill.
Again, the arguments we see are simply a guise for oppressing women’s rights – and they make absolutely no sense! The real question is why we are revisiting debates we laid to rest over 50 years ago? We have many current issues to deal with – such as the economy.
Women are stepping up their political activism. This is great news, as women have some catching up to do when it comes to political involvement. We need more girls who are drawn to political leadership, as currently only 17% of Congress is female. Unfortunately, when women don’t equally participate in government, they are more often targeted in political battles. This leads to suppression of women as we have seen in recent months and years.
It looks like the Occupy movement, which has been spreading from Wall Street to Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, involves just as many women as men. Not only that, but the media coverage and national attention began with the macing of a few innocent young women practicing their first amendment rights. This is what true democracy should look like. Women should be equally involved and vocal as men, so that all of our various interests can be represented equally by our leaders. Occupy is about human rights and about giving the voice back to the people. And as the people regain their voices, lets make sure that about half of those voices are from women.
Awesome, especially for those with short attention spans (not a lot of reading).
Most parents are excited to discover the sex of their child, but some see it as a limitation. The Toronto Star recently covered a story on the now-infamous Canadian baby, Storm, whose parents won’t release his or her sex. Not surprisingly, responses weren’t very positive. How important is it really that gender remains a dichotomy? Perhaps a more realistic way of looking at femininity and masculinity are as continuous and overlapping factors. However, others including the ‘experts’ seem to be very resistant to a more flexible view of gender. Instead, some child development experts call Storm’s upbringing a “psychological experiment.” Perhaps I missed something, but how is treating gender as a personal and multifaceted issue a ‘psychological experiment’? In a recent ABC News article, a Dr. Eugene Beresin, director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital is quoted as saying,
”To raise a child not as a boy or a girl is creating, in some sense, a freak. It sets them up for not knowing who they are. To have a sense of self and personal identity is a critical part of normal healthy development. This blocks that and sets the child up for bullying, scapegoating and marginalization.”
Really, a freak? This doctor is pointing out that anyone whose gender is not immediately obvious or culturally appropriate to his or her sex is a freak, and worse, he seems to believe that bullying, scapegoating and marginalization are expected and appropriate community responses!! Dr. Beresin, with all due respect, that sounds quite intolerant. It is this judgment, based on very little scientific findings, which is so hurtful to the child in question and any other individual whose gender identity does not entirely fit the cultural expectations associated with his or her sex.
Beresin then continues to criticize the Canadian couple’s choice as a “terrible idea.” And states that “Identity formation is really critical for every human being and part of that is gender.” It seems that this doctor is suggesting that identity formation can’t occur without a dichotomous and pre-defined template to either accept or reject. This belief of providing individuals with personality templates based on their sex is voiced by another pediatric ‘expert,’ Dr. Ari Brown,
“I think [the parents] are making a social gender statement. [Keeping the child's gender a surprise is] not a good parenting choice because it’s their identity. Whether you later choose to reject your identity — which sex you are — or not. You are born with a set of parts, and that’s who you are.”
But we forget to look at this issue from other viewpoints. It seems that the Canadian parents are trying to give their child Storm more control and personal choice in how to incorporate the overlapping and continuous variables of femininity and masculinity in his or her gender identity. In a letter to Star, Storm’s parents say:
“In fact, in not telling the gender of my precious baby, I am saying to the world, ‘Please can you just let Storm discover for him/herself what she (he) wants to be?! Everyone keeps asking us, ‘When will this end?’ And we always turn the question back. Yeah, when will this end? When will we live in a world where people can make choices to be whoever they are?”
However, Dr. Beresin and Dr. Brown believe that pressing an inflexible sexual identity on a boy or girl would be better for their development. I agree that this is standard practice, but does that necessarily mean it is better for a child’s development?
I feel that we are at a point of change in regards to gender identity. The recent gay rights and women’s rights issues such as women in combat, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and marriage equality all suggest that femininity and masculinity are perhaps not as dichotomous as we currently collectively believe.
There is a significant amount of research, which Dr. Brown and Dr. Beresin apparently aren’t reading, indicating that gender identity is shaped by a myriad of factors, such as genetics, gestational hormone levels, gestational brain development, as well as social / cultural expectations and influences. I find it overly simplistic to divide individuals based only on one of these factors such as hormones or genetic makeup.
The implication of dichotomous gender identities is that we base traits such as language skills, math skills and sensitivity level solely on genitals. Does that even make sense? There are so many variations of influences that act on a person’s strengths, weaknesses and personal inclinations. It is impractical to assume all these differences are due to hormones or genetics alone.
Researchers keep stating that there are shown differences between boys and girls, but perhaps we are so focused on the small differences that we don’t realize how similar we actually are. A researcher named Campbell Leaper, at UCSC, focuses on this large area of common ground, and points out that when a measure shows a statistical difference between men and women, the two bell curves actually still have an overlap above 50%. This means that, even though a statistically significant difference was found between men and women on any one measure, over half of the participants still performed about the same. Instead, we choose to focus on the 30 – 40% or so who are different from one another, and then place all males and females in the two opposing categories (even though most people are somewhere in between!). The Smithsonian recently published a list on the top ten myths about the human brain, and listed gender differences as one of the myths. Meghan Casserly wrote about this too recently on her Forbes blog titled, Men are from Mars, Women are (also) from Mars.
But why are we so obsessed with placing people in different categories? Social psychology indicates that stereotyping is an unfortunate side effect of how the brain functions. The process of categorizing happens to be the way that our brains learn and remember knowledge. To save time, the brain often creates stereotypes to allow for quick judgment and decision-making. However, when judgments are made based on these compartmentalized definitions of gender, it can lead to significant consequences. Social and neuroscience psychology research, as well as current social movements, are indicating that we are finally ready to re-examine our rigid and dichotomous understanding of gender as an issue that is much more complex and multifaceted. Unfortunately, the “expert” voices I hear speaking out on this issue sound old-fashioned and outdated.
This study, and this one… oh, and this one too, all show that there is a causal relationship between food restriction (or dieting) and weight gain. A direct link! Not only that – the more you diet, the more weight you gain. The reason this happens is because your brain freaks out when you don’t eat even though you are hungry. Your brain panics because it thinks you are starving. Luckily, your neural connections were built to protect you from things like starvation, so your pre-frontal cortex responds by increasing your feelings of pleasure and happiness when you do finally eat. Your frontal lobe actually changes its chemical responses to trick you into eating more, and this change can be pretty permanent depending on how severely and for how long you starve yourself.
Research actually shows that you don’t just gain a little bit of weight from dieting, but you are significantly more likely to become overweight or obese. This means that most people, who are at a healthy body weight throughout their lives, are more likely to have never dieted.
As extremes are never healthy, the increased chance of overweight and obesity go hand-in-hand with some other negative health consequences. Immunology research shows that your immune system responds to overabundant fat cells the same way it reacts to invading foreign cells. This means that obesity is experienced by the body like a chronic illness. Your immune system then constantly sends out protein messages from overabundant fat tissue to recruit killer cells to attack the fat cells (the T cells never win). With time, the constant elevated inflammatory proteins in your blood stream leads to stiffened blood vessels and ultimately contributes to high blood pressure, diabetes, and possibly even brain damage. Both extremes of weight loss and gain seem to be pretty bad for your body… and research shows that one can cause the other.
So what is the take-home message? Moderation. Focus on your health instead of your weight, and eat when you are hungry.
My first Feminist Conference did not disappoint. The National Young Feminist Leadership Conference was chockfull of wonderfully impressive, accomplished, brilliant and eloquent speakers, and let’s not forget the passionate young attendees. When I say young, I mean the majority demographic must have been from around 18-22, and there were even a few high schoolers. Go girls!
The iconic heroine of Women’s Rights, Eleanor Smeal kicked off the conference and introduced a bevy of other important figures there to speak to us. Let me tell you a bit about Ellie first however (as her peers call her) and her magnificent career in the fight for Women’s equality. She deserves abundant recognition and reverence for her unremitting work and passion. Eleanor Smeal is the co-founder and President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, Publisher of Ms. Magazine, and former President of the National Organization for Women. That is just the shortlist. The conference began with…you know what- there is just too much to write about and too many women to mention so I’m going to scan the damn schedule then you all can get a succinct look at what went down and the radically awesome women that contributed their time and knowledge to the experience! Also this way, I won’t leave any of the guest speakers out. They all deserve so much credit for what they are doing. I was truly inspired by all of them.
SWIFFER is notorious for this (personally acknowledged)… it is always a woman cast in cleaning product commercials! I’ve noticed this unconsciously in the past but last night I think I may have seen about 5 within the hour and it hit me- you almost NEVER see a man cleaning the house in these blatantly chauvinist commercials. Let’s get real for a minute, advertising is advertising and not meant to be morally/politically correct okay but seriously it’s 2011 now, let’s see a stay-at-home dad cleaning the house in one of these freaking commercials! They actually DO exist; statistically AND empirically, more men are performing their share of the house work. And why wouldn’t they? Why would that be a woman’s job besides it being an unfair and patriarchal social norm instated centuries ago?! Women these days not only work full-time jobs, but they usually do all of the house work AND take care of the children after coming home from work (imagine the hours-after working-of unpaid labor)!!!! I know this unadulterated, archaic ordinance goes way back in history to when women were not allowed to work so they stayed at home cooking and cleaning all day (what fun!), but really why is it still so acceptable to portray this in the media still? Well, because unfortunately it’s probably still the prevalent familial way of things. Only recently have studies been done (the oldest I could find was from 1976) on this phenomena. Since then of course it shows that single and married women are doing less housework but somehow the responsibility and obligation still lies on the woman’s shoulders. Men are portrayed as “helping” the women. Helping the women with what? Their obligatory duties?! Listen you cavemen and women out there that are producing these commercials and ads, put a dude in your advertisements. Windex is ahead of the curve on this.
Passage from an interesting study taken from here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1854869/