News

Eventually the Pendulum Swings

Greetings from the Left coast. It’s been quite a while.

I’ve had an entire day now to mull over this Trump victory— I mean, really let it sink in before speaking out—and I find myself now compelled to publicly share my thoughts.

I’m so happy for you Mr. Trump.

Congratulations. You won.

I mean, not the popular vote, which is why there are so many protests occurring, but hey, electoral vote, so what does it matter because you won, right? (except it does matter because, as I’ve just said, half the country is outraged, and it’s not some kind of sore loser outrage, but rather more of a “WTF, howthefuck have my rights just been compromised” type of outrage)

It was pretty clear that pretty much everyone here in California yesterday was walking around in a haze. In a complete, WTF-induced haze, trying to make sense of it. But as one person said to me yesterday, out of her shock and disbelief, “Yeah… I’m just trying to make sense of this… But you know what— I’m from Ohio, so I do get it.”

And for better or worse, so do I. My own father voted for Trump. Which in and of itself continues to baffle me. (Like, dude, you adopted a brown baby [me] who was born of one “illegal” parent from El Salvador) But I digress…

We’ve all been sitting here wondering how we could go from electing the first Black president to the man who questioned his very eligibility because of his race. We’re wondering how we could go from Black Lives Matter to electing a man endorsed by the KKK. We’ve all been wondering how we could go from potentially electing our first female president to a man who has condoned sexual assault and spouted hateful misogyny over and over again.

Here are some reasons why:

  1. Hate Votes, meaning that so many people have been so disillusioned with the government, and were so angry with the choice of candidates, and henceforth our very “democracy,” that they just wanted to vote “anti-establishment.” Enter Trump. Many of his supporters were not as much for-Trump, as they were against-Hillary.
  2. Economic policy has trumped (pun intended) equality, social justice, and common decency. People care more about his economic ideas and potential business acumen than the horrible things he has said. Racism, sexism, and downright bigotry are being overlooked and pushed aside because, you know, he’s going to “make deals” and that’s more important.
  3.  Going back to #1: Eventually the pendulum swings.

It’s almost a game of two steps forward, two steps back when it comes to our political climate and presidential elections. After eight years of Obama—after eight years of any president, mind you, the same happened with George W.— often, if not always, people want change. A striking change. And Trump offers the most striking change of all.

But you know what? This is what is going to keep the optimistic political fire inside me burning bright.

Eventually the pendulum swings.

Bernie may not have won the presidency or even the democratic nomination this time around, but his impact has been undeniable and indelible nonetheless, and he underscored a major movement going on in this country. We have been shown, to some extent, just how far we can go. Even if it wasn’t all the way, there is room for progress and we are going to create even more room. Those of us that declare Trump as #notmypresident are only further revved up in our political fervor and social activism. I know I am.

I am heavily disheartened by the intense apathy and disregard for racism and sexism demonstrated by this election, let alone the very active role both have played throughout the Trump campaign. I am horrified at the potential Supreme Court nominations to come. And I am beyond saddened and beyond disappointed by just how insidious and endemic sexism is in our country that this candidate— THIS person, of all the possible candidates out there— won over Hillary. I have zero doubt, and firmly believe, that if it was Donald Trump versus a “Hal” Clinton (i.e. another man), Trump would not have won. That is just my personal belief, but I know I’m not alone.

Notwithstanding, this means that I am only going to continue to fight even harder than I have in the past. A friend of mine asked me yesterday morning, “Where and how do we fight back?” I’ve thought really long and hard about this question. It’s a great question, and I think one a lot of us are asking ourselves, as well as each other, right now.

This is what I’ve come up with so far… Do take into consideration that this is coming from someone who is a reproductive justice worker, political activist, and in the process of obtaining a Masters in Social Work. I am no political strategist, nor am I even some kind of amazing community organizer *ahem* but nonetheless, here are my thoughts:

  1. As a reproductive justice worker who helps low-income women of all ages, incomes, and ethnicities obtain access to reproductive healthcare and services, I am going to fight even harder for this access. In a country in which, yes, we do have the right to choose, such a choice is not always so easily accessible, even here in California. There are still women who have to travel hundreds of miles for abortion services, women who may not have access to a car or even very much money. There are women afraid to seek out aid because they may be undocumented, a minor, or in a domestic violence situation. These issues are part of our everyday reality, and part of why reproductive justice— not just choice, but reproductive justice— is so crucial. Although Roe v. Wade still stands, the Republican party’s way around this is to chip away at access, and create further barriers for women. I think it’s crucial for us to do what we can in the way of protecting and increasing access, as well as paying attention to state and federal policies encompassing such things as insurance and immigration. If you can volunteer somewhere, great! If not, at least pay attention to state and local elections and use your voice!
  2. On this same note: I am currently helping to push the EACH Woman Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (as we like to say here in the Bay Area, “Barbara Lee speaks for me!”), which leads to another important mode of engagement: Find out who your congressperson is and pay attention to what they’re doing!
  3. Similarly, let’s keep our eyes on these women.
  4. Finally, let us remember: eventually the pendulum swings. Seeing as I’m playing the long game here, let us take these next four years to work even harder at our activism, to pay greater attention to House and Senate bills being penned by our elected officials, and create an even bigger space for progressive ideas and policies. This is the time for us to find one another and work together, and work very hard.

There are a lot of protests going on right now and a lot of people don’t understand why. Well I do understand why, but I also think it’s important to take that angry, frustrated energy inside of us and put it into useful, meaningful, productive action. This is why I’ll be paying close attention to Trump and the policies and actions he will be attempting to make over the next few years.

Because I am going to be a part of the counter-action.

And when the pendulum swings, I’ll be ready.

 

Please feel free to leave comments with further ideas on how to engage in meaningful and productive action

CONSUMER BEWARE

Real Time with Bill Maher, 2/14/14

Stop the Comcast-TimeWarner merger. Sign the petition: 

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-comcasttimewarner-cable-merger-and-require-more-competition-cable-industry/ym52vbd4

Need More Convincing?

Paul Krugman asks, in his New York Times article yesterday, “So let me ask two questions about the proposed deal. First, why would we even think about letting it go through? Second, when and why did we stop worrying about monopoly power?”

He goes on to make the following points:

On the first question, broadband Internet and cable TV are already highly concentrated industries, with a handful of corporations accounting for most of the customers. Once upon a time antitrust authorities, looking at this situation, would probably have been trying to cut Comcast down to size. Letting it expand would have been unthinkable.

In fact, a number of experts — like Susan Crawford of Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, whose recent book “Captive Audience” bears directly on this case — have argued that the power of giant telecommunication companies has stifled innovation, putting the United States increasingly behind other advanced countries.

And there are good reasons to believe that this isn’t a story about just telecommunications, that monopoly power has become a significant drag on the U.S. economy as a whole.

There used to be a bipartisan consensus in favor of tough antitrust enforcement. During the Reagan years, however, antitrust policy went into eclipse, and ever since measures of monopoly power, like the extent to which sales in any given industry are concentrated in the hands of a few big companies, have been rising fast.

Moreover, there’s good reason to believe that monopoly is itself a barrier to innovation. Ms. Crawford argues persuasively that the unchecked power of telecom giants has removed incentives for progress: why upgrade your network or provide better services when your customers have nowhere to go?

And the same phenomenon may be playing an important role in holding back the economy as a whole. One puzzle about recent U.S. experience has been the disconnect between profits and investment. Profits are at a record high as a share of G.D.P., yet corporations aren’t reinvesting their returns in their businesses. Instead, they’re buying back shares, or accumulating huge piles of cash.

In addition to the overarching macroeconomic implications of this merger, there are also, at the most basic individual level, the adverse aspects for us consumers, such as data caps, courtesy of Comcast.

If you like cable, this should matter to you.

If you are a consumer, this should matter to you.

And guess what… We’re all consumers. None of us are exempt.

Let’s not forget to utilize our majority voice via our consumer power. After all, we are the 99 percent, right?

Stop corporate monopolies—which are bad for the economy & bad for us consumers.

Sign the petition

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-comcasttimewarner-cable-merger-and-require-more-competition-cable-industry/ym52vbd4

 

 

 

 

 

PSA: feminism and wussy men are a threat to national security

I don’t know if you all knew this, but…

“American men are on the decline.”

Or so says Australian Author, Nick Adams, in the below Fox & Friends interview with infamous Anti-Womanist Elizabeth Hasselbeck, and other Faux News Douche [insert name here].

 

First off, I love that the “wussification” of American men (and I can’t even tell you how much that made-up word drives me up the wall, Charlotte Perkins Gilman style) is especially seen as a threat “given the leading role” of our country. Ah, American Exceptionalism at it’s finest! Guess what… I love this country. I am very happy to be living in the United States. But, it’s not the greatest country in the world. That doesn’t mean that I hate America. It just means that I’m very critical and very aware. (Thanks, UC Berkeley!) After all, part of my thesis involved looking at our infant and maternal mortality rates against other countries whose primary labor attendants were midwives and indeed, ours is abysmal. There are plenty of other elements factoring into the cold hard fact that we are not the greatest country in the world, and while the above hyperlink is a clip from a TV show (well, it’s not really TV, it’s HBO) that does not render the information contained within it invalid.

I also love that Mr. Adams postulates that feminism sees men as preventing us [women] from achieving our goals. Funny… I’m married to a man, yet… hmm… he actually helps me achieve my goals… OH MY GOD THIS ENTIRE TIME I’VE NEVER EVEN BEEN A REAL FEMINIST.

Ok, so clearly Mr. Adams is not really familiar with what feminism actually is, what it sets out to do, or why most of us feminists view it as a necessity. Suffice it to say that Mr. Adams clearly sees feminism in “Backlash” black and white. Not to mention right in front of his face, during that very interview, was an actual woman who strives to prevent other women’s [feminist] goals….sooo…that’s funny.

And, I’m sorry, we’ve “whitewashed” genders? When did that happen? Does he even know what gender is? And that it is not the same thing as one’s biological sex? (Which is also not binary, by the way—there are both more genders and sexes than just male/female, masculine/feminine) I can only laugh at the lack of knowledge behind such a statement.

Finally, I find it humorous that he declares, with the utmost authority and confidence, that “feminism has delivered angry women and feminine men.” I beg to differ. Feminism has made me (and my predecessors, I’d argue) quite happy. It’s really more the whole sexism bit that has delivered the “angry women,” I’d say. And as for the “feminine men,” is he talking about gay men? (Not that all gay men are feminine, of course) Because whether he is, or is not, his stance that “Weeps and wussies deliver mediocrity” is intrinsically bound up with homophobic rhetoric and ideals. After all, the very notion (or existence, really—it’s not exactly a notion, anymore is it?) of homosexuality has very much undermined the concept of traditional masculinity. Either way, this guy’s notion of masculinity is what I really find most threatening…

Says Katie McDonough, in her Salon.com article:

After listening to Adams bemoan how men once known for “wrestling alligators” have been reduced to “wrestling lattes” instead, Hasselbeck asks — in her most serious journalist voice — if feminists and wussified American men are a threat to national security.

“Do you see this affecting national security? How a nation operates in terms of being a strong presence globally?” she inquired.

“Absolutely, without a doubt,” Adams replied. “I think it has wide-ranging implications. Weeps and wussies deliver mediocrity. And men win. And what America’s always been about is winning. So I think it’s pivotal to the health of the country.”

********

Tom Hanks once said:

“I’m glad I didn’t have to fight in any war. I’m glad I didn’t have to pick up a gun. I’m glad I didn’t get killed or kill somebody. I hope my kids enjoy the same lack of manhood.”

I can’t tell you how much I have loved this quote over the years. And the so-called “manhood” that he is referring to is the very same masculinity to which Mr. Adams is referring. It is a masculinity that engenders violence. It is a masculinity that infers dominance. It is a masculinity that engenders rape, bullying, war, and oppression.

And masculinity isn’t just for men. Anybody—regardless of sex or gender—can exert masculinity. Though it is obviously an image of which is overwhelmingly expected of, and pushed upon, almost all young boys and men (if not all). In my opinion, that’s the real societal threat.

Everyday Sexism

I NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE

The amazing folks over at Everyday Feminism have a running theme of posting photos comprised of people holding up signs that say “I need feminism because…,” with each person’s sign citing just one reason (albeit I’m sure there are more) they need feminism. Today I would like to share with all of you just a little sneak peek into that which fuels my feminist fire.

A.K.A.: #EverydaySexism

Below is just a sampling of that which I see on the daily— images, articles, tweets, etc.—which only further serve to ignite the STRIDENT FEMINIST within me.

Exhibit A: The Underrepresentation of Women Within Our Government

wherearethewomen

via @NancyPelosi

Currently, “99 women serve in the U.S. Congress. Twenty women serve in the Senate and 79 women serve in the House. The number of women in statewide elective executive posts is 75, while the proportion of women in state legislatures is 24.3 percent.” (See more stats taken from the Women In Elective Office 2014 Fact Sheet)

Exhibit B: Blatant Sexist Bullshit such as, “Girls With Short Hair Are Damaged” by King of the Morons 

(ok, I made up that moniker)

shorthair01

“Girls With Short Hair Are Damaged” By Tuthmosis

Which is brought to us by a website called returnofkings.com, whose “About” section I have copied and pasted* below:

About

Return Of Kings is a blog for heterosexual, masculine men. It’s meant for a small but vocal collection of men in America today who believe men should be masculine and women should be feminine.

ROK aims to usher the return of the masculine man in a world where masculinity is being increasingly punished and shamed in favor of creating an androgynous and politically-correct society that allows women to assert superiority and control over men. Sadly, yesterday’s masculinity is today’s misogyny. The site intends to be a safe space on the web for those men who don’t agree with the direction that Western culture is headed. Click here to send an email to the team.

Women and homosexuals are prohibited from commenting here. They will be immediately banned.

ROK Community Beliefs:

1. Men and women are genetically different, both physically and mentally. Sex roles evolved in all mammals. Humans are not exempt.

2. Women are sluts if they sleep around, but men are not. This fact is due to the biological differences between men and women.

3. Men will opt out of monogamy and reproduction if there are no incentives to engage in them.

4. Past traditions and rituals that evolved alongside humanity served a net benefit to the family unit.

5. Testosterone is the biological cause for masculinity. Environmental changes that reduce the hormone’s concentration in men will cause them to be weaker and more feminine.

6. A woman’s value is mainly determined by her fertility and beauty. A man’s value is mainly determined by his resources, intellect, and character.

7. Elimination of traditional gender roles and the promotion of unlimited mating choice in women unleashes their promiscuity and other negative behaviors that block family formation.

8. Socialism, feminism, and cultural Marxism cause societies to decline because they destroy the family unit, decrease the fertility rate, and require large entitlements that impoverish the state.

ROK is published by Roosh V.

Exhibit C: tea party propaganda

(And, no, I will not capitalize the “t” or “p” in tea party)

LIBERALS

I actually got to see this little gem due to a  FAMILY MEMBER posting it on Facebook. OH, GOODY.

For one, I couldn’t help but see this and think, “You are not making your party look any better with this crap, buddy. This is fallacious in so many ways. Why not attack actual policies that are currently in place, in a logical, rational way? That would make you and your party look so much better than spouting nonsense BS like this.” Then it also occurred to me how very insulting this actually is to any Jewish Liberals out there. THINK, Teabaggers, THINK! Way to offend the Jewish crowd by comparing Liberals to Nazis. I’m sure they and any Holocaust survivors really appreciate your poor analogy.

In any case, after much debate with said family member and their tea party friend, I finally ended my side of the debate with the following statements:

My objections to the above graphic are based on (but not limited to) the following logical fallacies:

  1. It analogizes current-day America to post WWI Germany, which is a highly inaccurate analogy due to the different economic, social, and political conditions of each country within their respective contexts.
  2. It equates Liberals with the Nazi party. Just one flaw in such an analogy between the two is the fact Liberals are for increased rights for the LGBTQ and Disabled communities, whereas the Nazis wanted such people rounded up and killed. Liberals are largely for a more egalitarian society with increased infrastructure and social programs whereas the Nazi Party was a dictatorship.
  3. It implicates a cause-effect relationship between stronger gun regulation and a fascist government takeover. England, even at the time that it was one of the Allies during WWII, had stronger gun regulation. yet it did not “follow Hitler’s lead,” nor does not today.

Exhibit D: Online Harassment

tumblr feminist art project

Lindsay Bottos’ “feminist art project”

The words on the above picture state:

I bet you’ve slept with half of baltimore. Your just an ugly slut with cheap ugly makeup and a shitty art school haircut. I hope you get an std and die, the world would be better without your ugly fucking face.

It is just one of many photos in a series Ms. Bottos has put together as a righteous fuck-you to all whom have thrown such insults at her on tumblr for no particular reason whatsoever. According to buzzfeed, “Since starting the Tumblr in 2010, she has received hundreds of cruel anonymous messages. Last week, she decided to turn the words of hate into a feminist art project; she screencapped some of the messages and posted them over pictures of herself.”

Online bullying, threats, and stalking are without a doubt a seriously gendered, feminist issue. After all, the majority of all such harassment—and I mean a LARGE majority of it—is aimed at women.

Just listen to what writer/journalist/heroine-of-mine, Amanda Hess, has to say on the subject:

“According to a 2005 report by the Pew Research Center, which has been tracking the online lives of Americans for more than a decade, women and men have been logging on in equal numbers since 2000, but the vilest communications are still disproportionately lobbed at women. We are more likely to report being stalked and harassed on the Internet—of the 3,787 people who reported harassing incidents from 2000 to 2012 to the volunteer organizationWorking to Halt Online Abuse, 72.5 percent were female.”

“The Polish sociologist Zygmunt Bauman draws a distinction between “tourists” and “vagabonds” in the modern economy. Privileged tourists move about the world “on purpose,” to seek “new experience” as “the joys of the familiar wear off.” Disempowered vagabonds relocate because they have to, pushed and pulled through mean streets where they could never hope to settle down. On the Internet, men are tourists and women are vagabonds.” (Excerpts taken from Amanda Hess’ Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet)

This is our world, folks. This is why I NEED feminism. In fact we all do.

Even John Legend says so.

john legend

“All men should be feminists.”

*Editor’s note: I have de-linked the two hyperlinks originally contained within this text, so as to not contribute any more traffic to their site. (and if you’re a woman you’re “not allowed” to comment on any of their articles anyway)

#FreeOurMidwives

midwife listening to belly

The following excerpts are taken from the CFAM website, a site dedicated to California Families for Access to Midwives:

 

“Yelena Kolodji and Kavita Noble are CA Certified Nurse Midwives (CNMs) who are being prosecuted. Their only alleged offense: failing to obtain physician supervision.

It is virtually impossible for midwives to obtain physician supervision for out-of-hospital births. California Families For Access to Midwives (CFAM) fought hard to remove this unnecessary requirement from law. Thanks to enormous consumer pressure, as of January 1, 2014, physician supervision will be a thing of the past for Licensed Midwives in California —  but not for CNMs.

While most CNMs practice in hospital settings where physician supervision is virtually automatic, the few CNMs who provide out-of-hospital maternity care are forced to practice illegally since physicians are unwilling and/or unable to supervise them.

Yelena and Kavita have been providing comprehensive care to pregnant mothers and newborns for more than a combined 40 years, and have caught a combined 2,000 babies in hospital, birth center, and home settings.”

———————–

“This case also raises the broader question: do mothers have a right to access the full range of maternity care services their providers are trained and skilled to deliver?

When two skilled, experienced, and appropriately licensed midwives are prosecuted for providing appropriate care that results in a healthy mother and healthy baby, it is a sign that something is wrong with the system.”

————————-

“Please get involved in our efforts to support midwives Yelena and Kavita during this trying time by:

******************

 

The legal issue at hand is one of non-compliance with CA state law mandating physician supervision for CNMs. But what is the purpose of such a law? It’s mere existence infers that midwives are inept, or at best, not fully competent, to attend childbirth as autonomous medical professionals—as if they need an authoritarian medical professional overseeing them. Yet midwives are extensively trained in childbirth and perinatal care. If anything it’s the OBGYNs who are not trained well enough in the ways of natural childbirth and effective labor coaching.

Rules like this are in place for bureaucratic reasons—in the legal and financial interests of physicians—not in the interests of mother and baby’s health. It’s about insurance, it’s about money, it’s about fear of lawsuits. It’s not about the best birth outcomes.

 

For more information, check out my Sources:

 

who decides how she gives birth

 

 

 

“I Don’t Have To Tell You Things Are Bad, Everybody Knows Things Are Bad”

Last night, a friend of mine posted the following on Facebook:

“I want to say KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. But I think that’s not very good advise [sic] for anyone right now.”

I immediately thought of this extraordinary scene from the Oscar-winning film, Network. The first episode of The Newsroom also reminded me of this notorious monologue. It just always seems to be relevant, no matter which decade we are in…

 

Midwifery Legislation in CA & AB 1308

cfam

There has been quite a battle going on in California this year. Midwives, midwife advocates, and childbirth advocates alike, have all been organizing, raising awareness, and talking to our leaders in the state capital about revisions for our state’s Licensed Midwifery Practice Act.

For those of you that may not know, prior to 1993 a woman could not choose to have a home birth if she wanted. It was only after California passed its Licensed Midwifery Practice Act in 1993 that this was made possible. This was a huge step in the right direction for midwives and birth rights advocates. However in spite of its recognition of midwives as medical professionals, it still greatly limited their autonomy as medical professionals.

Earlier this year, Assemblywoman Bonilla introduced AB 1308, which would remove the physician supervision requirement from existing law (The CA Licensed Midwifery Practice Act of 1993), as well as enable midwives to “directly obtain supplies, order testing, and receive reports that are necessary to his or her practice of midwifery.”

The rule of thumb since the MPA’s inception in 1993 has been that midwives must, and can only, operate within the purview of CA’s State Medical Board, subordinate to physicians. This has proven problematic in many ways. For one, some physicians view midwives with hostility and will outrightly deny them the cooperation they need in order to carry out their healthcare practices. This not only hinders their capability of being able to comply with state law, but can, and often does, hinder their ability to secure proper supplies and necessary tests.

The larger point at issue here, however, is the fact that midwives are licensed medical professionals. They are highly educated and skilled within the very specific scope of pregnancy, childbirth, and perinatal care. They know what they’re doing, and The California Legislature knows this. Even In 2000, the California Legislature stated in an amendment to the Midwifery Practice Act that:

“Numerous studies have associated professional midwifery care with safety, good outcomes, and cost-effectiveness in the United States and other countries. California studies suggest that low-risk women who choose a natural childbirth approach in an out-of-hospital setting will experience as low a perinatal mortality as low-risk women who choose a hospital birth under management of an obstetrician, including unfavorable results for transfer from the home to the hospital.”

Midwives need, and deserve, greater autonomy.

Contact your CA legislator today and voice your support of birth rights and midwifery care!