June 26, 2012
Photo by Fiona B.
Ilene told me, that her mother told her, that she has a friend who said her husband tells her how to vote.
I have no right to find that alarming. Because if it were legal for me to wed my girlfriend of 26 years and make her my wife, I too would be guilty of telling my wife how to vote.
Basically what I have going on here is a glorious mental gyration where I think a man who tells his wife how to vote will steer her wrong. But a lovely twist of internalized sexism gets me thinking “if he were, by some miracle, a feminist, it would be okay for him to tell her how to vote.” Meanwhile, if I, as a woman, tell my wife how to vote, I’d automatically be casting two votes in women’s interest.
I got a total kick out of reading Erin Gloria Ryan today. She is one funny woman and if you have not had a good laugh recently read What the hell does ‘the women’s vote’ even mean?
Apparently what is true is true. Women vote all over the map. Men vote all over the map. And if anyone were to parse out the voters who identify as neither a woman nor a man, we’d find out this demographic votes all over the map.
If we plant those facts pretty squarely in our thinking, how would we proceed in the upcoming election to get-out-the-vote? Say we wanted to re-weave the safety net, work for nation-wide and world peace, bring respectful dialog back into civic life, and lots of other things that are good for women and children. How could we attract voters of like mind? And I mean voters who actually, you know, vote.
I would sure love to hear your opinion about that. Could you vote if you wanted to? Do you? Do you know people who care about women’s issues who could vote, but don’t? Shed some light on this.
June 19, 2012
Listening to the news while parenting is hard. (OK, let’s be honest, doing anything while parenting is hard!) Typically I avoid listening to the NPR headlines when my kids are in the car because I want to filter out the murder, mayhem, and messiness. For instance, when I realized they were about to talk about the secret service agents in Colombia, I looked 30 seconds into the future and decided I didn’t really want to answer the question, “Mama, what’s a prostitute?”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for having the tough conversations with my son, but how do you explain prostitution to a 5 year old? Not just the sex part, but the buying another person part. It’s more than a 5 year old needs to think about or worry about right now. (Actually, I don’t really want to think about that either.) It does make me wonder, what if I never had to explain prostitution at all? What if women weren’t treated as commodities to be bought and sold?
Ted Bunch recently asked a very important question: “What if instead of framing our work…as ‘ending violence against women’ we…had the goal of ‘valuing and respecting women and girls’?” Great question and I look forward to answering it alongside all of you. After all, if we valued and respected girls, I wouldn’t have to answer this question for my son and I could spend more time answering his other difficult questions like, “Mama, how do they get the juice in juiceboxes?” (Now you wanna know too? Look here.)
June 12, 2012
The debate in Congress is still raging over whether to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). One of the major points of conflict between the champions of the bipartisan Senate bill and the deeply flawed Republican House version is over the power Indian tribes have to investigate and prosecute domestic violence crimes.
The Senate bill would restore Indian tribes’ ability to prosecute non-Indians who assault their Indian spouses or domestic partners. Dating back to the much-criticized 1978 Supreme Court case Oliphant vs. Suquamish Indian Tribe, only the federal government can prosecute crimes committed by non-Indians on tribal land. The decision was a disaster for tribes’ ability to protect their communities.
The vast majority of violent crimes against Native women are committed by non-Indian men, and current law leaves a gaping hole in accountability for abusers and protections for victims. Tribes do not have the authority to hold these offenders accountable, and the federal government does not have the resources or the will. Federal authorities decline to prosecute 46% of assaults and 67% of sexual abuse cases in Indian country.
Violence against Native women is at epidemic levels, and has been for many years. A new CDC study shows that 46% of American Indian and Alaska Native women have been raped, physically assaulted, or stalked by an intimate partner. In Washington State, Native women are killed by husbands and boyfriends at nearly three times the rate of white women.
Safety for victims of violence and sovereignty for tribes go hand in hand. Some VAWA opponents are using misinformation and scare tactics to try to minimize the extent of violence against Native women and deny tribes the tools to confront it. Tuesday, June 26th will be a National Day of Action to support the real VAWA and its long overdue protections for Native women. Make sure your representatives know where you stand.
June 5, 2012
Was your first thought a beauty treatment? Did a celebrity cross your mind—say Ashley Judd? Maybe some Ashley Judd outrage is a good idea, but it’s not what I’m talking about today. The Ashley Treatment actually consists of these steps: 1. Being given hormones at age six to stunt your growth so you will stay permanently small and easy to care for; 2. Have your breast buds and uterus removed so you can’t get pregnant or be sexually abused (How does this prevent sexual abuse??); 3. Have no say in this because you can’t give permission or even be asked if this is okay with you.
This is what happened to Ashley X and possibly 100 other children (so far). How can this happen? Because we view people with disabilities as less than human. People with disabilities rarely sit on ethics committees of hospitals. They rarely get to give input on whether to withhold, deny, or impose treatment on children and adults with disabilities. The hospital that performed the procedures on Ashley later admitted that her civil rights had been violated and agreed to make changes, including adding a person with a disability to their ethics committee and requiring a court order prior to doing this type of treatment.
What people with disabilities think about the Ashley Treatment
Disability Rights Washington and The National Disability Rights Network just released a report that uses the Ashley X decision as a case study. It asks how we can make medical decisions that “uphold the constitutional rights and inherent dignity of people with disabilities.” Everyone has the right to choose what will happen to their body—including people with disabilities, battered women, young women and men who want access to birth control. We have to believe that people are experts of their own lives and have the right to make their own decisions―even those who can’t speak for themselves.
What would our community look like if we all had the curiosity and willingness to listen to what has worked for people who’ve had experiences we haven’t had? How would things be different if people with disabilities had a leadership voice in our hospitals, schools, and communities?
June 4, 2012
Our friends at the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence are doing some incredible work on promoting healthy teen relationships and are featured in an article in THE New York Times!!! I’m thrilled for them and moreover I’m thrilled for the teens (and all of us!) who are benefitting from their work.
Start Strong and other programs dedicated to promoting respectful and loving relationships are all doing something great. And surprisingly easy. They’re starting conversations with young people. We can all do this! And you know what? We all should.
It’s as easy as checking in with the young people you know. Start by asking if they or any of their friends are dating. (Now, I know kids don’t say dating anymore, and dating isn’t the same as when you and I were young…but here’s the scoop – brace yourselves – we’re old. And most likely anything we say that isn’t a word we would typically use to talk about dating will make us sound, well, old. So just go for it. They’ll know what we mean.) Go from there. Ask them what kind of person they’d like to go out with. Or if they are dating, “How’s it going?” “Do you have fun/feel good about yourself when you’re with this person?”
Ultimately just keep the conversation open. Keep checking in. If we all do this, just think of all the opportunities we’ll be opening up for when the first “uh-oh” happens, or even better when the first “OMG, I’m so in love” happens. Either way, let’s start talking.