Weekly Feminist Reader

We rejected smears and race-baiting and Muslim-baiting and desperation. We rejected so much history and so many rules that have bound us to the way things have been and are supposed to be. We rejected fear. Most importantly, we rejected fear.
Despite the beliefs of certain cable-news talking heads, white privilege is, uh, still around.
Latoya rounds up some good links on the Prop 8 fallout.
New Hampshire just became the first state to have a majority of women in the legislature!
Veronica Arreola on Larry Summers topping the short-list for Treasury secretary under Obama. (Jill has more.)
Eliot Spitzer escapes prosecution for his involvement in a prostitution ring. (More thoughts from Bianca on the community blog, and from Figleaf.)
Echidne makes the case for why First Lady should be a paid job. Gina at Michelle Obama Watch has some related thoughts, and Dana also adds her two cents.
A voting-rights movement for the mentally ill is gaining ground.
One man’s experience with taking his wife’s last name. (via Renee)
Well-known anti-immigrant Sheriff (and all-around asshole) Joe Arpaio caused an incarcerated woman to lose her baby.


Montana elected the first Native woman to statewide office.
This dude would rather lose his job than go through training on sexual harassment. Wow.
Members of the Dutch Parliament want to force women it deems “unfit mothers” to take contraception. (More at the Bitch Blog.)
Katha Pollitt says buh-bye to Sarah Palin.
New research on how viewing material that objectifies women is also harmful to men.
Undoing the Global Gag Rule is reportedly at the top of Obama’s to-do list! Yay!
Our country deports legal immigrants because they’re sick and uninsured. Just think about that for a second.
PETA’s got company: Habladora blogs about a new campaign using women’s bodies to “educate” the public about a serious issue. She writes, “Wait – can you really sell people on compassion with sexy ladies? The Human Rights Action Center says, ‘Yes! With the help of Tila Tequila, we’ll save the good people of Myanmar!’”
A court rejected “Choose Life” license plates in Illinois.
Is it really true that women don’t write as many “big idea” books?
Actions and Events
Minneapolis is about to lose a gathering place that’s always been super welcoming to queer folks (and non-queer people alike). Take action!
Chicago: “On Jan. 21, 2009, Chicago Foundation for Women and the “Our Voices, Our Choices” coalition are hosting an event to hear the personal stories of women who encountered barriers trying to access abortion information and services–told by the women themselves and by those who have shared the stories.” Deadline for submissions is November 14.
UPDATE: November 15: Join the Impact and protest the passage of Prop 8 in front of city halls and state capitols across the country.

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41 Comments

  1. AgnesScottie
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    “But others are concerned that allowing outsiders to help — whether assisting with ballots or driving voters to the polls — could subject people to undue influence.” -From the article on assisting the mentally ill with voting
    This election my bf and I had some pretty close experience with this issue, though it was because of his cousin with middle range autism. He is perfectly capable of choosing the candidate he wants to vote for and had told his brother that he wanted to vote for Obama. His mother, however, is a McCain supporter,and was the one assisting him in the voting booth. He was afraid that she wouldn’t let him vote for Obama, so he voted for McCain, even though he was perfectly competent to make his own voting choices. It made me really sad and frustrated for him.

  2. Alice
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    As long as policies for limiting voting rights based on competence are the same as those used in determining competency to stand trial, I’m ok with them. In the first place, a person not fit to stand accountable for their crimes can hardly be considered fit to influence the course of politics, and secondly, by tying these two things together like that, it ensures that the state will not be any more eager to deny someone the ability to vote than they are to grant them exclusion from criminal proceedings, which it is of course rather adverse to doing.

  3. Chickensh*tEagle
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    “…New Hampshire, my state, became the first state in the country to have a majority of women in the legislature.”
    Not to rain on our parade (“our” because it’s my state too), but it’s not the whole legislature, just the state senate. No small accomplishment nonetheless, and here’s some background on how it happened with the help of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England:
    http://www.democracynow.org/2008/11/7/new_hampshire_becomes_first_state_senate

  4. Alex, FCD
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Good god, don’t read the comments on the sexual harassment training one if you have high blood pressure or are at risk for the dreaded head-asplody syndrome.

  5. Jessica F.
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    In my job as a nurse, I’ve worked with a lot of mentally ill adults who, for various reasons, lived in state hospitals or halfway homes. Many of these people were articulate and intelligent and fully capable of choosing a person to represent them politically. I understand the concern about assistance turning into undue influence or outright fraud, but there are already many people who receive assistance to vote. It makes me think that argument really comes down to “We don’t want the crazies to vote.”
    My aunt (who is 60) once told me that she decided to be a teacher because, growing up, “the only options were teacher, nurse, or nun.” So merely counting the number of “idea books” written by women is misleading.
    And I hate that the too-frequent response to reports of prison abuse is something along the lines of “not pampering prisoners”. How sick is it that we see food and medical care as pampering?

  6. RevolutionarilySpeaking
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    On the subject of voters rights, any adult who has the capacity to have the desire to vote should be able to vote. It’s not like they’re fighting for patients in a coma or legal adults who have severe developmental disorders that do limit their competence to have the right to vote. And mentally ill does not automatically equal incompetent, not by a long shot.

  7. Habladora
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Feminocracy (http://feminocracy.wordpress.com) also covered the prof who is risking losing his pay in order to avoid a sexual harassment seminar, and gives a few more details. Guy sounds like a real ass.

  8. Trouble
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    It really bothers me when people make fun of the names of the Palin children, as though that’s okay. I don’t think we’d be okay with it if people were making fun of the names of the Obama children.

  9. Emily
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    That really sucks. My bf’s sister is autistic but her mom (who is awesome) is always careful to try and explain the issues without trying to influence her decisions.

  10. T-Monster
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    You made me laugh, cuz it’s too late, I already read them! The article is really creepy… the professor won’t take the course unless the university signs a document saying he’s never sexually harassed anyone? I mean- seriously, the guy couldn’t have broadcasted his guilt any more loudly.
    Some posters made good points, though. There were some in there about how sexual harassment training could be improved, and how educators would do well to embrace being educated. The other stuff made my head hurt -especially the one who claimed staff numbers are rising at universities to facilitate the sexual assault witch hunt. Whaaat???! I had to remind myself that people feel safe within the anonymity of the internet and to take deep breaths.

  11. Misspelled
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Joe Arpaio is all but a murderer, definitely a human rights abuser many times over, an inhuman bastard and a racist son of a bitch. He belongs in a jail, not running one.

  12. nightingale
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I feel bad for all the young female students who have to take that professor’s class. Even if he doesn’t do anything wrong, it’s got to be scary taking a class from the guy who refuses to spend two hours online taking that class.

  13. ShifterCat
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Re. the Womanist Musings article:
    Bill Bennett’s remarks are the parallel of what I’d feared if the McCain/Palin ticket won: “Look, there’s a woman in the White House. That proves sexism no longer exists. Stop complaining, ladies.”

  14. figleaf
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the link, Jessica. (And thank Cara for inspiring that and a followup post.)
    figleaf

  15. nightingale
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    And I definitely did not mean to reply to Misspelled, whoops!

  16. Misspelled
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    No worries. : )

  17. Qwerty
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Renee can continue to insist that there is a racist tilt in math.
    I’m not buying it. Blacks and Latinos have some blame in passing Prop 8.

  18. Eeyore
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Since we’ve been encouraged to post what we’ve been reading in WFR threads, I’d like to share some articles about a New Jersey 13-year-old whose anorexia treatment is putting her parents $200,000 into debt. And the family has “good” health insurance.
    Here’s a story from August, and a follow-up from Sunday’s newspaper.
    As someone who has lived with depression for years, I know all too well how insurers regard mental health treatment as a luxury. While I don’t expect the Obama administration’s health care reforms to be implemented immediately (if at all), I’m curious if and how they will treat mental health issues, including treatment for body dysmorphia and eating disorders. Would Emily’s family be in debt if they were from, say, Canada or Britain?

  19. Qwerty
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    whoops, not Renee. whomever wrote that article.

  20. Ian
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    The story about the man changing his surname to his wifes gave me an idea. I originally was planning on changing mine, Cain, to hers, Clayton because it annoys me that people often spell my name incorrectly(including when it counts like on bank records and medical records) and as far as I know Clayton is never spelled with a K.
    However he gave me another reason, it’s a very good detector of people who are stagnated by unimaginative linear thinking. And as such people I should avoid.
    Thanks for the post Ann

  21. feministinthecold
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I’ll never be sold on Summers. Why is Obama still surrounding himself with the Clinton-era neoliberals who have put us on the path to where we are now, with the working class royally screwed over? I know some will say that we can overlook Summers’ racist & sexist statements and focus on his economic smarts, but women & minorities are hurt by the greedy, selfish economic policies that Summers and his ilk advocate. If they have their way–and they already have to a certain degree- no one will study math or anything at Harvard except the legacy kids.

  22. aniri
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Why are pregnant women allowed to be in jail? I don’t know much about the justice system and how things are decided, but I think it’s insane for someone carrying a child to be in jail. If a woman is found guilty, can’t she serve her sentence after giving birth? How about house arrest? Isn’t there some way to change the system? I would appreciate any insight. Just so sad :(

  23. Trees
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    This same math says 58% of White voters chose to ban gay adoptions in Arkansas (vs. 54% of Black voters). Where’s the outrage over that? Who gets the blame there?

  24. fsu
    Posted November 9, 2008 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    If you thought those were bad, don’t look at the comments under the forced contraception article. I feel physically ill after reading them.

  25. Misspelled
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    Amen.

  26. Lydia Encyclopedia
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Larry Summers disgusts me. Like it was said already, it’s downright hypocrisy to espouse change, and then appoint people like him.
    However, there are some rumors swirling around that he may have Asperger Syndrome. I myself have Asperger Syndrome, and if Summers does indeed have it, it makes me wish to go into politics more, to prove that people with AS are capable of thinking before they speak.

  27. Chelsea Morning
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 4:17 am | Permalink

    My great-great aunt made her husband change his name to hers, sometime in the ’30s or ’40s, and there are like a bajillion of us with that surname, so it’s not like the family name was on it’s way out. I’m also pretty sure it wasn’t scandalous, so I think it’s kind of funny that it’s apparently scandalous now. Maybe people are more uptight now. ;)

  28. Liza
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    That’s terrible. Couldn’t he get an impartial poll worker to help him?

  29. Liza
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I was denied my parents’ health insurance because I had previously been treated for depression. For from the most severe form. No hospital stays or anything, just anti-depressants and a session with a psychiatrist every few months. Apparently they only take mental health seriously when it can be classified as a “pre-existing condition.”
    My shrink’s letter about how basic and inexpensive my treatment was did absolutely nada to help, too. I really hope that after he does whatever must be done to the economy, Obama jumps right into healthcare as his next priority.

  30. Liza
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    I was denied my parents’ health insurance because I had previously been treated for depression. For from the most severe form. No hospital stays or anything, just anti-depressants and a session with a psychiatrist every few months. Apparently they only take mental health seriously when it can be classified as a “pre-existing condition.”
    My shrink’s letter about how basic and inexpensive my treatment was did absolutely nada to help, too. I really hope that after he does whatever must be done to the economy, Obama jumps right into healthcare as his next priority.

  31. Liza
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Whoopsy. Blame my new Mac and my not being used to the right-clicking method for that one.

  32. Destra
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    I’m perfectly ok with people making fun of their names. I personally don’t have any problem with the names, but the names represent a choice made by Palin. And it’s just one more way to point out the absurdity of her decision making skills.
    Of course we’d be ruffled if people made fun of Obama’s naming abilities. It may seem like a cheap shot at the kids, but on the scale of attacks on a politician, these fall very very low.

  33. yamiblue990
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    arpaio is a plague to those of us living in arizona who want justice for immigrants. he hasn’t even been charged for when he proposed one of the judges down here be raped and killed simply because she participated in a rally for humane treatment of immigrants. which really sucks. may he pay for his crimes before he dies and afterwards as well.

  34. yamiblue990
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    arpaio is a plague to those of us living in arizona who want justice for immigrants. he hasn’t even been charged for when he proposed one of the judges down here be raped and killed simply because she participated in a rally for humane treatment of immigrants. which really sucks. may he pay for his crimes before he dies and afterwards as well.

  35. yamiblue990
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    sorry about the double post.

  36. borrow_tunnel
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    On the last story about women and “big idea books”
    Hopefully no one’s already posted a similar thought but I’ve thought about this topic a lot and I need to get out an idea I have. Yes, men might publish more math and science books & other nonfiction, but that doesn’t mean they’re WRITING more nonfiction. couldn’t it be that publishers see a book called “Sex and handbags” (I don’t know if such a title really exists) and thinks yes, this author is a female so it must be a good book because you know women know all about handbags, let’s publish it. And then looks at a science book written by a woman and doesn’t publish it because it’s not as credible with a woman’s name on it. until we know how many nonfiction books get sent to the publishers by women, we can’t really say for sure which gender has more “big thinkers”. anyone here a publisher or know of any statistics?

  37. Qwerty
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Whites, obviously.
    And what happens in one state does not absolve responsibility in another.

  38. Eileen
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    “…which gender has more big thinkers…”
    There is no big thinker contest going on here. There doesn’t need to be a 50/50 sex distribution in publishing, it’s just worthwhile to explore the ways in which some women are still discouraged, or discourage themselves.

  39. hotpinko
    Posted November 10, 2008 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    they just passed a mental health parity law, saying that insurance companies have to pay mental health costs, just like they pay physical health costs (not that that’s ideal, by any means)
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/06/washington/06health.html

  40. Felalin
    Posted November 11, 2008 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    Joe Arpaio is an asshole of Grade A quality. Words can not even describe the heinousness of the crime his jail committed. I hope the Sergeant on duty and whoever was involved at least get Manslaughter charges or SOMETHING. I feel sympathy for the mother and family of the little baby girl. :(
    I hate people sometimes and this is one of them. >:(

  41. Rebecca
    Posted November 11, 2008 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the link to the Independent article on th eman who took his wife’s name. Besides th econtent, I also thought the tone was very feminist and positive.

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