Yesterday I watched the live video feed of a Global Health working session at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. (The press can’t attend the actual working sessions, so we had to sit and watch from the press room.) A bit of background – at the CGI Annual Meetings, government, corporate, and NGO leaders get together to discuss major world issues and figure out ways to tackle them. Each day they break out into working sessions, each one devoted to one of this year’s four focus areas: Poverty Alleviation, Energy and Climate Change, Education, and Global Health. This particular Global Health working session was entitled “Healthy Transitions for Adolescent Girls,” which immediately jumped out at me as a topic of great interest, both personally and for folks at Feministe.
Archive for the 'women' Category
For all the talk about the historic nature of the Clinton (woman!) and Obama (Black!) campaigns that’s gone on in the mainstream media for the past year, you might not have any idea that a third, equally unprecedented ticket was being run: Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente, the presidential and vice-presidential nominees of the Green Party. This is the first all women of color presidential ticket in the history of the United States. Now, I understand that a nomination’s historical importance and newsworthiness tends to be defined by the likelihood of its success – or, as is often the case, by the degree to which people decide to blame the Democratic party’s failures on the Greens. Yet one would hope that in between all of the celebrity gossip and other tripe that makes it onto the news regularly, the mainstream media would find a little more time to devote to a presidential ticket that is unique not only for its makeup but also for the platform it’s running on, a platform that offers a radically different choice from the rightly-named corporate parties that dominate the politics of this nation.
But predictably, the mainstream media has almost completely ignored the McKinney/Clemente ticket. When they won the Green nomination, there were a few articles here, a few news reports here, most of them focusing more on the candidates’ chances of being “spoilers” in the upcoming election rather than focusing on, you know, their positions or platform or qualifications, all of which the MSM apparently deems irrelevant. Most of what I’ve heard about McKinney and Clemente has come from the blogosphere, and even here, coverage is slim. The majority of the mentions I’ve seen have been about McKinney being a possible alternative vote for Clinton supporters who don’t want to vote for Obama, and even there, McKinney is discussed less often than John McCain as the alternate vote. Even on Feministe (if my memory and our search tool are working properly), McKinney’s candidacy hasn’t been mentioned in an actual post, only in the comments.
Now I get that this lack of coverage is to be expected, especially if you’re measuring a candidate’s importance or significance by their likelihood to win come November. McKinney and Clemente won’t be in the White House come January, and I’m sure they both understand that. However, the actual presidency is not the only thing at stake here, especially for the Greens and more generally for the future of third parties in this country. In an interview with Newsweek (subtitled “Will a third-party candidate be a ‘spoiler’?”), McKinney discusses another important and far more feasible goal (emphasis mine):
There are currently about 200 members of the Green Party who are elected officials. These are mostly local elections. The Green Party does not yet have representation on the federal level, but it’s quite a successful “minor” party. With 5 percent of the electorate, it can move from minor party status to major party status [and qualify the Green Party for federal funds]. So our goal is to get onto as many ballots as we can, since then achieving a 5 percent goal becomes possible. When I got to Washington D.C., I realized that public policy was made around the table. The 5 percent puts another seat at the table.
As Obama continues to hedge, flip-flop, and trend right on a variety of issues, and as McCain continues to be his usually sucky self, it becomes clearer and clearer that another seat at the table, a true alternative to corporate politics as usual, is desperately needed. And while even 5 percent of the vote is an uphill battle for McKinney, Clemente, and the rest of the Greens, it isn’t impossible. Such a victory would be huge, a major step in breaking this country away from the two-party system that time and time again shows itself to be severely lacking for people who believe in true peace and true justice.
But who’s gonna vote for them? Continue reading ‘The women still in the race’
Girls for Gender Equity, the organization that I mentioned in my recent post on street harassment, is organizing the Second Annual New York Gender Equality Festival this Saturday, July 28, from 11am to 6pm in Von King Park in Brooklyn. From their site: “Featuring performances by artists including singer/songwriter Pamela Means, hip hop artist Carlethal, Women’s Project theater group, and spoken word poets Urban Word NYC, the Gender Equality Festival is a free public event for education, networking, resource sharing, community interaction, arts and recreation that is open to New Yorkers of all ages and genders.” Check out the GGE site linked above for more info.
So, I have to admit – I was a little nervous when posting about street harassment the other day. I was really eager to open up the conversation, especially because it was focused on a queer/gender non-conforming/trans experience and perspective that I’m not used to hearing. But I was also worried about certain dynamics that tend to surface during these conversations, namely dynamics of race and class.
While women and other gender underprivileged folks of all races, ethnicities, and classes can and often do experience street harassment, the voices that I usually hear in these discussions are most often of women with either race or class privilege. This is not unique to conversations about street harassment: most larger conversations are dominated by the voices with the most privilege. In conversations about street harassment, though, this has an interesting and profound effect, as you’ll often have some very complex and conflicting power dynamics going on: men exerting their gender privilege and sexism over women who have class and/or race privilege over them.
Yesterday morning I listened to a segment on the Brian Lehrer show about street harassment (cat-calling) in NYC. Lehrer interviewed three women: Latosha Belton and Ashley Lewis, two Brooklyn teenagers who worked with Girls for Gender Equity to create “Sisters in Strength Strikes Back: Our Struggle with Street Harassment,” a city-wide summit this past May; and Maggie Hadleigh-West, maker of the anti-street-harassment film War Zone.
The three women talked about their extensive experiences with street harassment directed at them from men of all ages. Ashley Lewis described how she feels like her new way of responding to street harassers is better than staying silent:
The approach I’m taking now, I feel like it’s better ’cause I’ll ask a man something, “Do you really think it’s appropriate to come at me in the street?” And they’re so taken aback by the question that they’re stunned, they don’t know what to say. So instead of answering it, they kind of walk away from me, so it kind of helps.
Hearing that, I couldn’t help worry that the girls would encounter some men who would do far more and far worse than run away. Continue reading ‘Gender/queerness and street harassment’
Planned Parenthood has launched a campaign around the Florida rape survivor who was arrested and subsequently denied emergency contraception after going to the police. Take a moment to go to the PP page and voice your outrage to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. (Thanks to Jessica at Feministing for the heads up.)
That’s precisely what happened to a young woman in Tampa, Florida. After reporting her rape to the Tampa police, she was arrested and kept in jail for two nights after the police ran a background check and found a four year old warrant on her record. This article from the Tampa Tribune describes how this incident brought together so many deeply disturbing things: a callous and sexist disregard for the needs and rights of a rape victim; an inherently flawed criminal justice system; and, on top of it all, how the so-called “right” of medical practitioners to impose their religious beliefs on their patients has seriously jeopardized this woman’s physical, emotional and mental well-being.
The woman’s mother sums it up well:
“You’ve got to make sure you throw somebody in jail on a four-year-old felony warrant after they’ve been brutally raped?” the mother said. “It was a failure to take the actual dynamics into play.”
And as if the arrest alone wasn’t infuriating enough:
Adding to the mother’s ire is her claim that a jail nurse prevented her daughter from taking a second dose of emergency contraception prescribed by a nurse at a clinic as part of a rape examination. The jail nurse, said the mother and the victim’s attorney, denied the medication for religious reasons.
The article describes a police department policy that advises against arresting victims of violent crimes on outstanding warrants, stating that “the severity of the injury suffered by the victim compared to the seriousness of the crime specified in the warrant.” However, this policy only explicitly names misdemeanor warrants, not felonies.
“It’s rare in police work that someone isn’t arrested on a felony warrant, but you always want to have compassion for a victim,” police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said Monday. “This may be a case where we need to revise our policy.”
No, really? Brilliant that this conclusion is reached after this woman is jailed, denied emergency contraception, and basically put through hell – all as a result of reporting the violence committed against her. As the article points out, this sort of thing only adds to obstacles that frequently prevent women from reporting when they’ve been raped.
Bonnie Bucqueroux, a victims’ advocate and coordinator of the Victims and the Media Program at the Michigan State University School of Journalism, said the handling of the situation could have “a chilling effect” on this case and others.
“This is one of those cases where they made the wrong call,” she said. “Spending two days in jail … certainly adds to the trauma she endured. … Why would victims who had any concerns about any dealings in their past come forward?”
Edited to add: In her post on this incident, Jill from Feministe cites this statistic: forty percent of rape survivors in Connecticut, for example, aren’t offered EC in emergency rooms – in both secular and religiously affiliated hospitals. Unbelievable.
I think I’m a few months behind in blogging about this, but I hadn’t seen this film until a friend emailed me a news clip about it today. “A Girl Like Me,” by teen filmmaker Kiri Davis, explores how race and racism affect the self-esteem and self-image of young Black women and even younger Black children. (The link brings you to the film’s page on the Media That Matters Film Festival site, where you can watch the film in its entirety.) The young women who are interviewed are insightful and articulate about their experiences around what is perceived as beautiful; many talk about straight or relaxed hair, lighter skin, and body types that are more typically white than Black.
Davis goes on to replicate the doll experiments conducted by Drs. Mamie and Kenneth Clark in the 1940s, which were presented as part of the Brown vs. Board of Ed Supreme Court decision. In the experiment, Black children were asked to choose which of two nearly identical dolls, one Black and one white, they preferred. The majority of the Black children in those experiments chose the white doll.
Davis reproduced the experiment with young Black children living in NYC; after six decades, the results are much the same. At one point, Davis asks a young girl which doll is the good doll, and the girl holds up the white doll. She asks which one is the bad doll, and the girl indicates the Black doll. Then, Davis asks the girl which doll looks like her. The girl looks to the white doll first, but then turns back to the Black one and slowly pushes it forward.
So admittedly I’m an easy crier. But yes, this made me cry. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s infuriating, that young Black (and Brown, I’m sure) children continue to grow up in a world that makes them think that people who look like them are bad and people who look like their oppressors are good. Not that I didn’t know this is what our society is still about, but this film brings it home in a skilled and poignant way.
Kudos to Kiri Davis for making a powerful, brilliant film. In her bio, Kiri says that she wants to continue to be a filmmaker; I certainly hope she does so, because I can’t wait to see what more she accomplishes.
Geez. This is what happens when I sleep on checking in on the blogosphere for a while – I nearly miss big important events like Blog for Choice Day. I’m not going to get a chance to blog extensively on the matter today, but I’ll just say that I’m very pro-choice, and I don’t see how you can be pro-woman (and pro-people-of-other-genders-who-can-bear-children) and not be.
I’ll also cheat and say lookie here for some good links from Jessica at Feministing.