Tag Archives: politics

The Missing Ballot – Why Asian American Women Don’t Vote

By: Hanna Xue

Image Description: Clara Chan Lee and Emma Tom Leung become 1st Asian American women to register to vote in 1911. Image via Smithsonian APA
Image Description: Clara Chan Lee and Emma Tom Leung become 1st Asian American women to register to vote in 1911. Image via Smithsonian APA

Since gaining the right to vote 100 years ago, American women have become as politically active as, if not more than, their male counterparts. In the last few decades, women’s voter turnout has slowly but surely matched and then exceed the turnout rate for men – women have comprised a majority of the electorate since 1964[1]. This pattern is reflected in the voting habits of all racial groups – Black, White, and Latina women consistently outvote men in their respective groups – except for one – Asian Americans. Asian American women and men have voted at similar rates for the last two decades[2]. At a first glance, this may indicate parity in the political behavior of Asian men and women. One might assume that if they show up to the polls at roughly the same rate, then they likely possess the same resources and attitudes towards political activity. However, a more comprehensive analysis of factors related to voting reveals that this is hardly the case. So why do Asian American women, who comprise half of the fastest growing minority population in the United States, show up to the polls so slowly? Well, the answer may have something to do with a phenomenon called immigrant socialization.

Immigrant socialization refers to the process by which immigrants learn to reconcile their original cultural identity with the host culture in which they find themselves[3]. Adaptation can be facilitated with increased length of residence and can result in a higher sense of social belonging, which is critical to political participation. A 2018 study by the Journal on Race, Ethnicity, and Politics reports that social belonging precedes political engagement in the sense that an individual must feel integrated into a country before becoming involved in the political system[4]. It should be noted that nearly three quarters of the Asian American population is comprised of immigrants, and Asian Americans are poised to become the largest immigrant community in America by 2055[5]. Thus, immigrant socialization factors affect a majority of the Asian population, and therefore a majority of current or future voters. Moreover, a survey on the identity choices of Asian Americans shows that female Asian Americans are significantly less likely to form a U.S. based identity in comparison to their male counterparts[6]. In other words, Asian American women are more likely than men to self-identify as “Asian” or as part of their specific ethnic group (e.g. Chinese, Indian) than as “Asian American” or “ethnic American” (e.g. Chinese American, Indian American). This subtle preference in word choice could indicate a less salient sense of American identity among Asian American women which, as stated previously, could hamper involvement in the political process. Asian immigrant women may have more trouble forging an American identity than men because, in addition to all of the usual obstacles immigrants face when moving to a new country, women have the additional trouble of confronting sexism. Upon arriving in the United States, many Asian immigrants, regardless of gender, have to adapt to a new linguistic, cultural, and geographic environment to develop that sense of belonging, but unlike Asian immigrant men, women must also navigate a completely new set of sexist and patriarchal oppressions. This unique experience of adaptation means that immigrant Asian women may participate in politics at a completely different rate and with different means than their male counterparts[7]. Even if Asian American women possess the same resources and skills as men, this added layer of gender oppression may make it more difficult for them to adapt an American cultural identity, and therefore participate in politics. This observation holds when ethnicity and education level are accounted for; foreign born Asian women are still less likely to vote than foreign born Asian men that possess an equal level of education[8]. Immigrant socialization is a process that most Asian Americans must go through, but existing systems of oppression create more obstacles for Asian American women to overcome. As a result, their rate of political participation is compromised.

There are a host of other factors that might contribute to the generally low voter turnout rates among Asian American women, however, one cannot deny the impact that poor levels of immigrant socialization have on the group’s voting habits. Existing social, economic, and cultural factors intersect in unique ways to make the process of immigrant socialization, and therefore political participation, even more difficult for Asian women than men. Low voter turnout for Asian American women is not necessarily a result of personal apathy towards politics. Rather, they are the result of systematic barriers to their participation.

[1]“Gender Differences in Voter Turnout,” Center for American Women in Politics, accessed January 9, 2019, http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/resources/genderdiff.pdf.

[2]“Gender Differences,” Center for American Women in Politics, January 9, 2019.

[3]Qingwen Dong, Dean Phillip Gundlach, and John C. Phillips. “The Impact of Bicultural Identity on Immigrant Socialization through Television Viewing in the United States,” Intercultural Communication Studies, 15, no. 2 (2006): 63, https://web.uri.edu/iaics/files/06-Qingwen-Dong-Dean-Phillip-Gundlach-John-C.-Phillips.pdf.

[4]Natalie Masuoka, Hahrie Han, Vivien Leung, and Bang Quan Zheng. “Understanding the Asian American Vote in the 2016 Election,” Journal of Race, Ethnicity and Politics, 3, no. 1 (2018): 190, doi: 10.1017/rep.2017.34.

[5]Gustavo Lopez, Neil G. Ruiz, and Eileen Patten, “Key facts about Asian Americans,” September 8, 2017.

[6]Pei‐te Lien, M. Margaret Conway, and Janelle Wong. “The Contours and Sources of Ethnic Identity Choices Among Asian Americans,” Social Science Quarterly, 84, no. 2 (2003): 471, doi: 10.1111/1540-6237.8402015.

[7]Nadia E. Brown. “Political Participation of Women of Color: An Intersectional Analysis,” Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, 35, no. 4 (2014): 317, doi: 10.1080/1554477X.2014.955406.

[8]Christian Dyogi Phillips and Taeku Lee, “Superficial Equality,” 381.

Congress: A Frat ‘House’ of White Men and White Male Interns

By: Sam Johnson

It was my first day interning on Capitol Hill, and I could not – for the life of me – stop mixing up the names of the male staffers in my office. They read off like roll call at an upper class private high school: Dan, Jake, John, Alex, Tim, the works.  

There was one female staffer in the office, and although disappointed, I was happy to know I at least wouldn’t be the only person with a vagina. I later found out that she was leaving the office in a couple of weeks.

The lack of women in the office came as a shock to me. I’m well aware of the mixed gender ratio of representatives in general, but I (naively) expected better from a small Democratic office.

Two former Capitol Hill staffers, Sara Lonardo and Elizabeth Whitney, apparently also saw the same issue. In July of 2018, they launched the Women’s Congressional Staff Foundation, which awards scholarships to women who might not otherwise be able to intern on the Hill. Both women started as interns and are hoping to get diverse women into offices.

“We’re hoping to open up that world to a broader class, a broader demographic who might take themselves out of the running for a career in public policy,” Whitney said.“As I’ve gotten further along in my career, I have just always shared this passion for helping young women through that very vulnerable time in your life, which is finishing college and starting out in your career,” Whitney said. “We’re really going to be looking for those women who are at that critical path, where this is a make or break opportunity … and they are poised for success if they have that helping hand at that moment.”

Their goal is to fund about 50 young women’s internships each year.

As you might have guessed, the average “hilltern” is not only male – he is a white male.

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Statistically, those who can afford to work for free for an extended internship tend to be white students able to lean on family finances for a few months.

Congressional interns can expect to spend an estimated $6,000 of their own money for housing, travel and food during an internship in the nation’s capital. Interns on Capitol Hill have shared horror stories on how they made it by, including skipping meals and walking miles in the rain.

The issue of diversity (or lack thereof) in DC interns – or unpaid interns in general – has been drawing criticism nationwide, specifically by those pushing for paid congressional internships. Among supporters is newcomer and democratic icon Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has recently drawn attention for vowing to pay her interns $15 an hour.

According to Pay Our Interns, 90 percent of House offices do not currently pay their interns at all. In the Senate, about half of Republican offices pay their interns at least a stipend, while Democrats drag behind at 31 percent of offices offering some kind of compensation.

The House and Senate both recently passed spending packages appropriating money specifically for intern pay. For each member’s office, it averages to about $20,000 per year in the House and $50,000 per year in the Senate. However, most members are waiting for new guidelines on using the funds before advertising paid internships.

“The Hunting Ground”: A Horror Pseudo-Documentary on a Serious Issue

By Sabrina Schnurr

Summary

CNN’s The Hunting Ground focuses on the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses in America and the way colleges neglect to address it. The documentary seeks to highlight the roles that money and reputation play in college administrations’ choices while chronicling the journey of Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, two former students at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who filed a Title IX complaint and sparked a movement against sexual assault on college campuses. The film criticizes schools’ actions while also examining the culture of fraternities and college athletes. The Hunting Ground includes testimony from many student victims of sexual assault, as well as interviews with psychologists, authors, professors, administrators, police officers, and parents. Lady Gaga recorded a Grammy-nominated original song, “Till It Happens to You,” for the film.

•••

The film opens like a blockbuster thriller: a montage of high schoolers and their families happily opening college acceptances immediately sets the scene for the emotional rollercoaster to come. Even the title itself establishes fears in viewers. Dramatic images of a doorknob and bathroom tile resemble that of a crime scene remake on a television drama, and voice-overs telling terrifying stories contrast with their corresponding montages of beautiful campus scenery. All in all, the film is hard to watch. Images of fraternity signs reading “sexual assault expected” and “thank you for your daughters” land a giant knot in viewers’ stomachs, and specifically, one father’s account of his daughter’s suicide is heart-wrenching and almost impossible to listen to. In this regard, the film does what it was made to do: draw an emotional reaction from audiences.

However, this emotional reaction is then irresponsibly paired with a quick hero-ending and a weak focus on the facts. Almost instantaneously, two students at UNC transition from broken victims to national heroes taking on Title IX to solve college rape; the ending segment presents a suddenly uplifting montage of women standing up. A quick cut between the national map of reported campus sexual assaults and the nearly identical homemade map hanging in the students’ apartment serves as comforting, but irresponsible closure. While these young women may have started a movement, this ending segment credits them — and solely them — with “solving” college sexual assault.

After this quick transition, women are suddenly shown strongly standing up and taking action, and administrators (formerly pessimistic about the future of the issue) suddenly see an optimistic solution. Footage of President Obama giving an address on the issue and a montage of new federal investigations into colleges make it seem as though these national achievements were a direct result of only these two students’ mission. Visually, this creates a false cause-and-effect relationship, in which the middle step is never shown. Where is the mention of Emma Sulkowicz, the student who started a movement in 2014 after carrying her mattress around campus after being assaulted? What about all the administrators, politicians, families, reporters, and students that played a role in this movement (a movement which started long before these young women even started college)?

The journey of the two students at UNC did not happen in a vacuum, but they are portrayed as if they did. Gillian Greensite, director of rape prevention education at UC Santa Cruz, notes that the first peak of activism in the rape-crisis movement occurred after the Civil War. Considering how these incidents are analyzed in isolation, the film lacks a rational evaluation of the then-current state of discussion about sexual assault and consequently, does these victims a giant disservice. Its happy ending also does not leave room for future discussion of this issue. Sexual assault is a dynamic problem in the United States; recently Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the administration was formally withdrawing Obama-era campus sexual assault direction.

In addition, it has been argued that many of the statistics used in the film are outdated or merely inaccurate. Slate’s Emily Yoffe, who also writes for the Atlantic, spoke to Alyssa Keehan, director of research at United Educators — a higher education insurance group that recently released a study of 305 sexual assault claims they received from 104 schools over three years. Keehan noted that the “most common narrative you hear” — institutions not caring about sexual assault — might not be true. Their data found that when a formal complaint is brought against a student, he is found guilty 45 percent of the time, and when that happens, the attacker is given the “most severe penalty available” (expulsion or suspension) over 80 percent of the time. Nonetheless, while the choice of statistics used in the film can be arguably biased or inaccurate, it can hardly be debated that some are outdated. Specifically, in a portion of the film discussing student athletes as the prime attackers who get away with assault, two statistics are held onscreen; these statistics date back to 1993, over twenty years before the film was released. In using this data, the filmmakers ignore how college culture has changed tremendously in the past twenty years and continue to deny the viewer of a fully-informed, unbiased discussion on college sexual assault.

Any documentary has a responsibility to be fact-based, and in conveniently excluding major pieces of the investigations noted, the film loses its legitimacy and sabotages its powerful message. For example, a large piece of the film focuses on the rape allegation against Jameis Winston, a former Florida State University quarterback who was found not responsible after a criminal investigation. His accuser, Erica Kinsman, went public saying that after drinking a shot at an off-campus bar she started feeling strange and was “fairly certain there was something in that drink.” However, the filmmakers fail to note that two toxicology reports found that she had no drugs in her system nor do they reveal that at the December hearing, Kinsman did not insist that she was drugged or unconscious. Granted, these young women are beyond brave for speaking out about their experiences; sexual assault on college campuses is a real problem that needs to be addressed. Yet while testimony from real victims has raw, emotional power, it isn’t enough. If the students are looking to inform the public about this very serious issue, an ethical stance of fairness does not leave room for picking and choosing what critical pieces get included.

Ultimately, The Hunting Ground does its viewers a disservice by focusing on passion over information. In a world where the media rules our daily lives, documentary-makers have an ethical responsibility to provide fact-based films. However, some could argue that the pushback from schools on the accuracy of things mentioned in the film perhaps proves the film’s point: colleges do not want to put their reputations on the line by addressing this very real issue. Yet, in terms of the film itself, it poses serious questions about bias and our consumption of media. Can a documentary still be a good documentary if it only presents one side of the story? Additionally, Emily Yoffe brought up an interesting point in an NPR interview: what does this mean for CNN? This news network is attempting to present the film as a “fair exploration of an important subject,” but it very easily might not be “fair” at all.

 

Featured image by Christopher Serra, courtesy of the LA Times.

Appearance Does Not Define a Woman

By Kelsie Merrick

There is a universal theory amongst our society that the reason for fewer women running for political office is family concerns and responsibilities. In 2011, a study was conducted that surveyed a national random sample of men and women who were deemed “equally credentialed” in the four fields where political candidates commonly emerge. These are law, business, education, and politics. 62 percent of the men questioned admitted to having considered running for office whereas, only 45 percent of women had considered running for office. Jennifer Lawless, a director for the Women and Politics Institute at American University, analyzed this data and realized that family structure or family roles did not account for the 17 percent gap. She believes that “women are less likely to be encouraged to run and less likely to be considered as a potential candidate when a position opens up.” The negative self-perception and self-doubt among women is also a factor behind why they are not as involved in office races because of the scrutiny women are under once they enter the political field.

In the United States, during elections there is a tremendous problem with the media and the difference between how they judge female politicians in comparison to male politicians. When it comes to women, “media exposure is often belittling and irrelevant because newspapers and television newscasts focus on appearance and attire, rather than the candidate’s platform or attitudes about central issues.” Female politicians are acknowledged by their gender then by whether they can handle raising a family and being a politician at the same time as well as on their mothering styles. Then after the media is finished analyzing them on these two subjects, politics become the main focus. Men, on the other hand, are never questioned about their masculinity or family roles; they are immediately questioned about politics.

Two well-known female politicians that have had to endure the media’s crude comments are Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton. They both ran during the 2008 presidential election and the media had a field day with sexist comments.

For Sarah Palin, there were plenty of topics for the media to critic her on while she was Governor of Alaska such as her defeat with big oil companies. Unfortunately, instead, she was “glorified over her participation in beauty pageants and cheerleading.” For this reason, the media immediately dismissed her as a serious candidate and continued to focus on her appearance, lack of seriousness, or lack of experience. She was also persecuted for her role as a mother. Palin, a mother of five with one child having special needs, “was constantly questioned if she would be able to devote enough time to the Vice-Presidency.” However, if she were to be a dedicated Vice-President, she then would have been labeled as a bad mother. Her credibility of a Vice-Presidential candidate was questioned even more when her seventeen-year-old daughter became pregnant. If a male candidate’s young daughter became pregnant, it is very unlikely that the media would have broadcasted it as much as they did with Palin.

Sarah Palin’s fellow female candidate during the 2008 race was Hillary Clinton. Unlike Palin, Clinton had an “impressive resume and strong qualities” but the media still “labeled her as old, worn down, and significantly less sex appeal than Palin.” Yet again, the media chose to focus on Clinton’s appearance rather than the extensive experience in politics she had. The media created a dynamic between the two women where Palin was the pretty candidate and Clinton was the powerful, manly candidate due to her “pantsuits and stout stature.” Clinton had to deal with comments about her “body, cleavage, choice of pantsuits, and speculation about cosmetic surgery.” Because of the continuous inappropriate attacks on her appearance and mannerisms, the public seldom saw any media coverage that was about her intelligence, experience or policies. Hillary Clinton being a Presidential candidate for the upcoming election has had to endure the same inappropriate critics she experienced in 2008. In April, Chelsea Clinton became a mother and this “set off speculation that being a grandmother would affect Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions” but Joe Biden, a man with five grandchildren, never once was asked about how it would affect his possible Presidential ambitions.

An article in the Huffington Post in 2013, spoke of Johanna Dunaway, an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Mass Communication of Louisiana State University, who conducted a research study that proved that the media covers female candidates running for office differently than men running for office. The research team employed in this study collected data from 9,725 newspaper articles from the Senate and gubernatorial races in 2006 and 2008. The team then looked at if the article focused on personality traits or political issues of those running and compared between the two genders. Their findings were that:

When only male candidates were running, stories focused on character traits 6 percent of the time and political issues 55.5 percent of the time. When only female candidates were running, the stories focused on character traits 9.4 percent of the time and issues 51.7 percent of the time. And when a mix of male and female candidates were running, the articles focused on traits 10.8 percent of the time and the issues 53.1 percent of the time.

The research team concluded that when there is a female candidate in a political race, the media tends to focus more on personality traits in general with an extra focus on the female’s personality traits over the male candidate.

Sexual Assault: A Global Issue Part 2

By Kelsie Merrick

In this election, sexual assault has grown to become a controversial topic with allegations coming from all sides. Whether it’s women saying Donald Trump has sexually assaulted them or Hillary Clinton has covered up rape cases. We’ve heard them all, and people and parties from both sides agree with these women or disagree with these women. However, it does not matter if you agree or disagree with any of these allegations because what we should all agree on is that this is an issue that needs to be fixed, not just in the United States but worldwide. The United Nations has been an avid supporter of reducing the violence against women for years. In 1993, the UN General Assembly created the “Declaration for the Elimination of Violence against Women” to provide a framework on how to act against this crisis. However, it’s been over 20 years since that declaration and “1 in 3 women still experience physical or sexual violence.” If that statistic doesn’t sicken you, just know “around 120 million girls worldwide, that’s 1 in 10, have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts” during their lives. The most common perpetrators of these sexual assaults are former husbands, partners or boyfriends.

We can talk about sexual assault all we want, but that won’t change anything. We need action.

 

What Can We Do To End This Violence?

Stand together in protest against our government until they implement better laws like in Argentina. Ni Una Menos (Not One Less) is a movement of women’s rights advocates that began in June of last year. They are fighting against femicide, a crime involving the violent and deliberate killing of a woman, because, in Argentina, a woman is killed every 30 hours. On Wednesday, October 19th there was a mass demonstration held for every woman that has been killed in the past five years, but mainly for a 16-year-old girl by the name of Lucia Perez who was abducted then drugged, raped repeatedly, and sodomized with an ‘unspecified object’ so violently that she eventually bled out from her internal injuries. The United States needs to join the Ni Una Menos movement, and hopefully, together change will occur. In the US, every 109 seconds an American becomes a victim of sexual assault. Every 8 minutes, a child becomes a victim of sexual assault. Think about those numbers for a second. Think about your mother, sister, brother, father, niece, or nephew. In 109 seconds, they could be a victim. Sexual assault happens too frequently for us to not do anything about it.

We need to encourage victims to speak out against the violence done to them and with this, we need to encourage society to not shame them. According to a study by RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, 20% of victims do not report sexual assault out of fear of retaliation and 13% don’t report because they believe the police wouldn’t do anything to help. Often when a victim speaks out about assault we hear the excuses of “you were drinking too much” or “you shouldn’t have worn such revealing clothing.” What we should be hearing is “we are here to help you” or “they will not get away with this.”

On top of that, we need to start holding offenders accountable. Out of every 1,000 rapists, only 344 are reported to police. However, from that 344 only six rapists will be incarcerated. Six. Imagine being a victim and knowing these statistics. It’s understandable for them to think nothing will happen. Combine the lack of punishment and victims not reporting, 994 perpetrators walk free. 944 people have gotten away with a disgusting crime. 994 people are able to assault another innocent person.

I was raised learning that we should respect each other and to live by the “golden rule” that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Especially being taught from an older generation that believed men were supposed to treat women respectfully and protect them. Many women from the Feminist Movement will take offense to that statement now because we as women can take care of ourselves and protect ourselves, but honestly, only to a certain extent. When you’re a young girl or are intoxicated, willingly or unwillingly, you are not able to protect yourself against a man that is two or three times your size. Together, every country, every nation, every man and women and innocent child needs to come together so that people don’t get away with these vile and torturous crimes and that they serve the correct sentences.

The Importance of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

By Kelsie Merrick

In 1973, Roe v. Wade was, and still is, a controversial case that passed through the Supreme Court. The ruling in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationally unless a woman was in the third trimester then the state had a right to enact abortion regulations to protect the fetus. The only exception to this rule was if the pregnancy was a threat to the mother’s life. Then in 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey reintroduced the controversy around abortion this time about whether consent from a spouse or parent and a 24 hour waiting period is necessary before an abortion. In this case, the court ruled that “states may not impose an ‘undue burden’ on access to abortion: a law is invalid ‘if its purpose or effect is to place substantial obstacles in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.'” Now, abortion has reentered our court system with the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case.

In previous abortion cases, there has been a clear argument with two clear sides: pro-life and pro-choice. That is, the concern has generally been about the baby not about the mother, but with the introduction of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt the conversation is shifting from the baby to the safety of the mother. This case began in 2013 when Texas created a law requiring “doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital no more than 30 miles away, and set clinic standards that are similar to those of surgical centers.” Whole Woman’s Health, an abortion provider, argues, “the law isn’t medically necessary, is demanding and expensive, and interferes with women’s health care.”

Since 2011, “at least 162 abortion providers have shut or stopped offering the procedure” with at least 30 of those closures coming from Texas alone. One of the main reasons behind the closures was the new state regulations that have made these facilities too expensive to remain in operation. Texas is the primary case study of these new regulations and the repercussions of stricter regulations are already noticeable. According to certain providers, “full implementation of the law would leave almost a fifth of Texas women 150 miles or more from a facility.” Texas has already dropped from 42 to 19 clinics since 2013 and if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the new law, Texas would be left with nine abortion clinics. This is a problem for women who need an abortion, whether it is for personal or health reason, and are incapable of traveling that far. A more serious problem caused by the extreme distances of abortion clinics is that “more women would now die of complications from self-induced abortions.”

Another issue facing the abortion world is the discriminating views that then lead to the vandalism of buildings and clinics. Susan Cahill from Kalispell, Montana was unable to rebuild her practice after it was vandalized due to the cost of repairs. Planned Parenthood, one of the leading abortion clinics, has had their fair share of tormenting and vandalism from people protesting outside to fires being started at their facilities. About a third of the facilities that closed or stopped performing terminations were operated by Planned Parenthood. This is detrimental to Planned Parenthood’s operation as a whole since their main goal is not to give abortions but to education society, mainly young adults, about safe sex and contraceptives available to the public.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were “210 abortions for every 1,000 births in the United States.” Even with abortions being almost one-fifth of the births that year, abortions are decreasing without implemented regulations. Since 2010, the Associated Press estimates abortions have decreased 12 percent. Possible explanations for this could be that teen pregnancy rates are decreasing which leads to the reason for more access to birth control. If abortion rates are already decreasing, is it necessary to regulate the clinics? On the other hand, verifying that clinics are safe and healthy and that properly trained doctors are performing the surgeries is also highly beneficial to women that need and want an abortion. Hopefully, the Supreme Court can figure out how to ensure women’s safety without the closure of abortion clinics.

Wendy Davis vs. Texas Abortion Bill

Wendy Davis, feminist superhero

Unless you’ve been avoiding the news for the past twenty-four hours, you’ve heard the name Wendy Davis mentioned. On Tuesday, Davis stood up to the senate in an effort to filibuster a Texas bill on abortion that would provide even more limitations on a woman’s right to control her own body.

The bill would add further restrictions on abortion clinics around the state, including banning any abortion after the twenty-week marker and require all but five abortion clinics in Texas to be closed. The women who so badly need access to abortion to clinics would no longer be able to get to them.

Ms. Davis was nineteen when she had her first child, but managed to get herself from a trailer park all the way through Harvard Law School and eventually to the Texas Senate. “She’s carrying every woman in the state of Texas, if you will, on her shoulder,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.

If Davis’ filibuster successfully continued till midnight, the legislature would be unable to take a final vote and thus successfully block the bill.

The rules regarding filibusters in the state degree that Davis had to remain on topic the entire time, was unable to lean on any additional support (including a desk or a chair), and could not pause for a bathroom break, food or water. After three strikes the filibuster could be called off.

Davis’ first strike came when she discussed Planned Parenthood’s budget, which according to the legislature did not pertain to the bill being discussed. The second when after standing for almost seven hours, Davis had a colleague help her adjust a back brace. Davis received her final strike when she discussed the current laws requiring a woman to have a sonogram before a doctor will perform an abortion.

When the Senate called an end to the Davis’ filibuster, state Senator Leticia Van De Putte spoke up saying “at what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” resulting in shouts of support throughout the chamber.

Despite the senate’s attempt to silence Davis, her efforts resulted in the bills final votes being taken at 12:03, three minutes too late for SB 5 to be passed as a law.

Throughout this ordeal Wendy Davis got countless supporters. Tweets vary from actor Mark Ruffalo to president Barack Obama showing their support of Davis with hashtags such as #StandWithWendy. Her salmon colored sneakers that she apparently threw on as she ran out the door have become a symbol of her stand.

But why is it that a woman’s right to control her body is still being discussed? When was the last time a man had to stand for eleven hours so that he could have control of his own body?

And then to add to this, the protestors supporting a woman’s right to control her own body were called terrorists by Texas Republican legislator Bill Zedler.

Since when did fighting for what should be your right make you a terrorist? People are furious and for good reason – it’s 2013 and women are still forced to fight for their right to choose.

The fight isn’t over, but at least people are listening.

See other articles on Wendy Davis and the Texas filibuster at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and National Public Radio.

Oh it’s sooo serious.

When asked about his involvement with super-sexy-super-witty-super-model-super-singer Carla Bruni, President Sarkozy responded: “It’s serious”, according to a CNN sound byte during NH primary coverage.

However, a little YouTube digging revealed his ACTUAL answer: a five-minute response that ranged widely through the historical precedents for asking a president such a question, the difficulties of human relationships in general, and the ludicrousness of the media caring so much about the personal life of a man who is fundamentally like any other… which goes hand-in-hand with the contemporary media misconception that being covert about one’s private life somehow corresponds to corrupt and nontransparent leadership (COUGH Bill Clinton).

I wish the current U.S. Presidential candidates could give this kind of response to media badgering. It was bitingly sarcastic, well-informed, and evinced a level of sophisticated contemplation beyond mere pre-press-conference maneuvering (“Being the President of the Republic doesn’t guarantee one the right to happiness–no more happiness than anyone else has. But no less, either”), and it certainly wasn’t cut into slogans meant for endless replay in news commercials. He reminisced about the days when “A chacun sa vie” (“to each his own”) was the reigning philosophy when it came to personal presidential matters, and it made me miss those days, too.

Ironically, carrying on about this for so long–even though he was criticizing the nature of the question–actually lowered his approval ratings, since citizens complained he was spending too much time talking about his relationship and not about real politics… imagine THAT public response in OUR country…

Sarkozy’s tone and perspective remind me of Hillary’s sarcastic response to the fact that people don’t find her “likable”: “That hurts my feelings! …but… I guess I’ll just have to carry on, somehow…” And, to reference the over-played Hillary-tears-up tape, her message that behind the rehearsed responses to debate questions, beyond the stark polling numbers, she is deeply and personally invested in making our country a better place and in pointing it away from what she sees as a darkening future is… refreshing (and sounds a little like that guy who just won the peace prize). As much as I don’t like Sarkozy, and though I am reluctant to vote for Hilary, that kind of meta-level perspective is what we’ve been sorely missing in the presidency lately; without it America has gotten into serious trouble.

These little glimpses of politicos’ evolution States-side and abroad give me at least a little hope. But if I have to go through a whole election year watching CNN cut rich, challenging rhetoric down to “It’s serious,” and furthermore have to watch candidates cater to that simple-minded standard, I’ll have trouble believing my vote is in any way ‘informed,’ or that our election process is anything more than a tabloid-triggered shot in the dark.


[This cutting diagnosis of media’s preference for sound bites over reasoned responses — and for sexual gossip rather than political intelligence — comes from Julie Johnson, editor of Clarion at Boston University. When she told me how CNN had chopped President Sarkozy’s responses, I shook my head first not at the infantilitzation of our public discourse, but rather at the sad fact that media outlets find it profitable to fix their cameras on the face and body of politicians’ partners like Carla Bruni or Camilla Parker Bowles. How offensive that mascara should play any role in a campaign plan; that it can and does speaks to the pervasive view of female companions as possessions owned by men in power. Are the male companions of female candidates subjected to this scrutiny? I don’t believe they are, since that deep-rooted tradition of political dimorphism lodged in our media psyche favors men, demeans women, and altogether ignores those outside the heteronormative groove. –CivilizeMe ]

Crass Interference: Taking pot shots at the wifely candidate

A classy knockdown of Senator Clinton’s credibility as a candidate is circulating the Net:

In a news conference Deanna Favre announced she will be the starting QB for the Packers this coming Sunday. She claimed she is qualified to be starting QB because she has spent the past 16 years married to Brett while he played QB for the Packers. Because of this she understands how to pick up a corner blitz and knows the terminology of the Packers offense. A poll of Packers fans shows that 50% of those polled supported the move. Does this sound idiotic and unbelievable to you? Yet Hillary Clinton makes the same claims as to why she is qualified to be President and 50% of democrats polled agreed.

In her classy response, Boston University philosophy student Shanna Slank gets right to the point in uncompromising but nonviolent fashion:

What is required when in the role of First Lady of the White House is quite different from that which is required when in the role of First Lady of the NFL. This is a silly parallel to draw. I would be interested to know if whoever authored this tid-bit is at all informed about Hillary’s activities during her husband’s presidency. Let us also not forget that she was elected and re-elected to the United States Senate all on her own. On my count, that’s first-hand experience in two of the three branches of the federal government, which is more than any of the other current candidates can lay claim to. Make whatever character judgments you’d like about Senator Clinton; however, questioning her qualifications by likening her (and, for that matter, reducing her) to someone’s wife and the wife of an NFL athlete at that, does not bode well for assumptions that will be made regarding one’s own intelligence.

Thanks to Shanna for sharing this sexist email litter and her riposte.