Adrienne Rich, feminist poet and essayist, 1929-2012

From Yahoo:  http://news.yahoo.com/adrienne-rich-feminist-poet-essayist-dies-221054714.html

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — Poet Adrienne Rich, whose socially conscious verse influenced a generation of feminist, gay rights and anti-war activists, has died. She was 82.

Rich died Tuesday at her Santa Cruz home from complications from rheumatoid arthritis, said her son, Pablo Conrad. She had lived in Santa Cruz since the 1980s.

Through her writing, Rich explored topics such as women’s rights, racism, sexuality, economic justice and love between women.

Rich published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and five collections of nonfiction. She won a National Book Award for her collection of poems “Diving into the Wreck” in 1974. In 2004, she won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for her collection “The School Among the Ruins.” According to her publisher, W.W. Norton, her books have sold between 750,000 and 800,000 copies, a high amount for a poet.

She gained national prominence with her third poetry collection, “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law,” in 1963. Citing the title poem, University of Maryland professor Rudd Fleming wrote in The Washington Post that Rich “proves poetically how hard it is to be a woman — a member of the second sex.”

Continue reading at:  http://news.yahoo.com/adrienne-rich-feminist-poet-essayist-dies-221054714.html

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Earl Scruggs 1924-2012

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NOM “We Need Stupid Celebrities as Spokespeople”

Well that explains Kirk Cameron and Victoria Jackson…

NOM Needs a Few Good “Noncognitive” Celebrities

From The Advocate: http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2012/03/28/NOM_Needs_a_Few_Good_Noncognitive_Celebrities/

By Lucas Grindley
March 28, 2012

The National Organization for Marriage wants a few “noncognitive” celebrities to carry its antigay message to the masses.

That’s the latest revelation to get attention from NOM’s strategy document, marked “confidential,” that was uncovered as part of a lawsuit in Maine. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is calling out NOM for what it says is a cynical view of voters’ intelligence.

“Celebrity or not and ‘cognitive’ or not, given how cynically NOM views its supporters, who would want to stand with them and support their agenda?” said Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s vice president of Programs and Communications.

In the strategy document, which has already received a deluge of criticism for its plan to use race to divide the country, NOM outlines “cultural strategies” that include recruiting celebrity spokespeople.

“We are looking for a new set of messengers,” the document declares. But it doesn’t seem to think too highly of whoever volunteers, calling them “glamorous noncognitive elites.”

“Here’s the bottom line: Hollywood with its cultural biases is far bigger than we can hope to be. We recognize this,” the strategy states. “But we also recognize the opportunity – the disproportionate potential impact of proactively seeking to gather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous noncognitive elites across national boundaries.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2012/03/28/NOM_Needs_a_Few_Good_Noncognitive_Celebrities/

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Republicans are causing a moral crisis in America

From The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-are-causing-a-moral-crisis-in-america/2012/03/26/gIQACSM2dS_story.html

By ,
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

There is moral crisis afoot! So say the Republican candidates for president, their pals in Congress and in state houses. Abortion, gay marriage, contraception — contraception, for Pete’s sake — things that so shock the conscience that it’s a wonder The Washington Post can even print the words!

Here’s something I bet you wouldn’t think I’d say: They’re right. There is a moral crisis in the United States. The only thing is — they’re wrong about what it is and who is causing it.

The real crisis of public morality in the United States doesn’t lie in the private decisions Americans make in their lives or their bedrooms; it lies at the heart of an ideology — and a set of policies — that the right-wing has used to batter and browbeat their fellow Americans.

They dress these policies up sometimes, give them catchy titles like Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity.” But they never cease to imbue them with the kind of moral decisions that ought to make anyone furious. Ryan’s latest budget really is case in point. It’s a plan that says that increases in defense spending are so essential, that massive tax cuts for the wealthy are so necessary, that we must pay for them by ripping a hole in the social safety net. The poor need Medicaid to pay for medicine and treatment for their families? We care, we really do, but the wealthy need tax cuts more. Food stamps the only thing standing between your children and starvation? Listen, we feel your pain. We get it. But we’ve got more important things to spend money on. Like a new yacht for that guy who only has one yacht.

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-are-causing-a-moral-crisis-in-america/2012/03/26/gIQACSM2dS_story.html

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Calling All Black People: NOM Wants to Use You

From Southern Poverty Law Center: http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2012/03/27/calling-all-black-people-nom-wants-to-use-you/

by Mark Potok
March 27, 2012

Black folks, this is a message for you: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the country’s preeminent group fighting against same-sex marriage, really, really likes you. They even want to make some of you famous!

Have NOM’s principal leaders, former president Maggie Gallagher and current leader Brian S. Brown, stood up for African Americans before? Well, not so much. But it turns out that they’ve decided that you’re actually very important.

That unexpected revelation came out yesterday, when the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign publicized the contents of some previously confidential 2009 documents outlining NOM’s strategies for winning the national battle for “traditional marriage.” (The documents were just unsealed in a Maine court case over NOM’s refusal to identify its donors there, as required by state law.) “The strategic goal of this project,” NOM said, “is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; and to provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.”

Translation: Let’s get people who support marriage equality to denounce black opponents, making them look like evil racists. Maybe that’ll make people forget that the vast majority of black civil rights leaders support same-sex marriage.

Could this be something more than simply exploiting black people — folks who NOM figures would be hard for Democrats to criticize without splitting their base — for the cynical uses of opponents of same-sex marriage?

No, NOM’s pretty transparent about that. The “project” to which its call for a wedge strategy refers carries this title in the newly released document: “Not a Civil Rights Project.” They couldn’t make it much clearer than that, could they?

Continue reading at:   http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2012/03/27/calling-all-black-people-nom-wants-to-use-you/

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Legislating Teen Sex: What’s (Terribly) Wrong With Our Age of Consent Laws

From RH Reality Check:   http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/03/legislating-teen-sex-age-consent-laws-send-young-men-to-jail-consensual-sex

by Martha Kempner, RH Reality Check
March 27, 2012

Last month, my husband forwarded me this article from the Daily Beast and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. The article focuses on a few young men who went to jail and wound up on sex offender registries ostensibly for having sex with their teenage girlfriends. While the young men were teenagers themselves, at 18 the law considered them adults whereas their girlfriends at 14 and 15 were under the legal age of consent. Now, in fairness, neither of these boys went to jail just for having sex with an underage girl, there were aggravating circumstances – one punched his girlfriend’s father and both violated judges’ orders to stay away from the girls.

Still, all I could think about was that what started out as a somewhat typical high school relationship (a senior boy with a freshman or sophomore girlfriend, is not at all that unusual) essentially ruined these young men’s lives. Not only did they spend time in jail and postpone any future plans, their names now sit on sex offender registries alongside those of serial rapist, child pornographers, and pedophiles.

And as is human nature, all I could think about was my own life story. Once upon a time, a couple of decades ago or so, I was in one of those not unusual relationships between a sophomore girl and a senior boy.  In true high school style, we were fixed up by friends at the beginning of my sophomore year and had an on-again-off-again flirtation throughout the fall and winter (too much of which involved me watching from a distance as his relationship with a perky senior named Suzanne played out in the halls between classes). But by spring they had broken up and one fateful Wednesday he called. From there we began what would be my first serious and my first sexual relationship.

By the time we had sex, we had been together for many months and professed our love for each other, I had nursed him back to puffy-cheeked health after he’d had his wisdom teeth out and he had spent a great deal of time with my family on Cape Cod. Though I can’t say it was a perfect relationship or the balance of power was entirely equal (he held some advantage by virtue of being older and more experienced), I can assure you that the sexual aspect of our relationship was consensual, mutually pleasurable, non-exploitative, honest, and protected from pregnancy and STDs. (Years later as a sexuality educator, these are among the litmus tests I would suggest to teens.)

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/03/legislating-teen-sex-age-consent-laws-send-young-men-to-jail-consensual-sex

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Birth Control Access Boosts Women’s Wages, Study Finds

From  Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/birth-control-access-womens-wages_n_1380250.html


03/26/2012

While women still earn 77 cents for every dollar that men make in the United States, the gender wage gap has closed significantly over the past several decades. Now, for the first time ever, a new study has connected the narrowing of that pay gap to increased access to birth control pills.

The University of Michigan study, which analyzed the careers of 4,300 women, shows that the earlier a woman can start taking birth control pills, the more likely she is to earn higher wages later in life.

About one-third of women’s wage gains throughout the 1990s can be attributed to changing laws in the 1960s and 70s that lowered the age at which women could legally access the pill.

“We found that women who had early access to the pill in the 1960s and 1970s earned 8 percent more on average by the 1980s and 1990s than women without early access,” said Martha Bailey, a research affiliate at the U-M Institute for Social Research who authored the study.

When some states dropped the legal access age from 21 to 18, the report found, contraceptive use among 18- to 20-year-olds doubled. This development, in particular, allowed more college-aged women to finish school without being interrupted by an unplanned pregnancy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/birth-control-access-womens-wages_n_1380250.html

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