Equality and gender roles do not co-exist when a woman loves a woman

From LGBTQ Nation:  http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/01/equality-and-gender-roles-do-not-co-exist-when-a-woman-loves-a-woman/

By Robyn Harper
Sunday, January 20, 2013

Society had it all worked out in advance for me. All the time growing up, the message though implicit was loud and clear. Any of my future romantic endeavors would concern the male kind, because I’m female. This presented difficulties when I came to realize that I liked girls, and not boys.

I couldn’t fulfill my gender role as was set for me. I fell short of society’s expectation and this came at a price. I thought I was “different” on foot of this. I felt I couldn’t be who I was, who I am, who I’ve always been. But I didn’t know any better at the time.

I would come to learn that society was not taking account of me as a person, as an individual, but saw me as a gender, as a female. I would come to understand society as a dictator of gender roles. Decreeing commands and orders lending to this culture of conformity.

As a girl, I should have grown up to like boys. And boys should grow up to like girls. Little boys play with trucks. Little girls play with dolls. Boys have short hair. Girls wear dresses. And from the clothes we wear, to the jobs we do to the length of our hair, any departure from these societal “norms” for genders has always been met with resistance.

As a young girl, Hillary Clinton wrote to NASA asking them what she needed to do in order to become an astronaut. NASA wrote back and told her there would be no women astronauts.

There was once resistance to women voting. There was once resistance to men having long hair. Today there is resistance to the woman who wants to marry the woman she loves, and to the man who wants to marry the man he loves. Society has resisted same gender attraction. Society also resisted the idea of female astronauts.

It was summer 2012 when the world paid respect to the passing of Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, survived by her partner of 27 years, Ms. Tam O’Shaughnessy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/01/equality-and-gender-roles-do-not-co-exist-when-a-woman-loves-a-woman/

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When the law won’t call it rape

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/01/26/when_the_law_wont_call_it_rape/

If there’s confusion among the public (and politicians) about rape, baffling, conflicting state laws make it worse

Saturday, Jan 26, 2013

The night of August 18, 2011, 25-year-old Lydia Cuomo could barely sleep. The next day was her first day of work teaching second grade at an elementary school in the South Bronx. She’d just landed the job a few days before, and she was pumped. In the morning, she planned to get a ride with her new principal, who also lived in upper Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood. While waiting outside of the principal’s home, off-duty police officer Michael Pena approached her. He asked for directions to the subway, then showed her his gun, and pushed her into an alleyway, where he forcibly penetrated her with his penis — orally, anally and vaginally. (It’s usual practice to conceal the name of a rape victim in news reports, but in this case, Cuomo preferred to be identified. “”I want to take the most negative thing that ever happened to me in my life and turn it into something positive,” she said. “At the end of the day this is my story and attaching my name to it allows me to own it and take back what happened to me.”)

It seems fair to call all three of those acts “rape.” But the legal definition is more complicated than that. Under New York state law, rape is defined as forcible vaginal penetration. Forced oral and anal contact both go under the term “criminal sexual act.” If the same crimes had occurred elsewhere, they might not legally be considered rape at all. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have stopped using the word “rape” in their criminal codes entirely and instead use terms such as “sexual abuse,” “sexual assault” and “criminal sexual conduct.” This variety of language exists in a country in which the word “rape” is becoming increasingly politicized and where politicians qualify rape as “forcible” or “legitimate,” intimating that other times it’s not. Because the laws — and many lawmakers — differ so wildly on the meaning of rape, it can be hard for us as a society to develop a shared understanding of what it actually is.

In New York, Michael Pena’s case went to trial in March. The charges included rape, criminal sexual act and — because he threatened Cuomo with a gun during the attack — predatory sexual assault. Cuomo testified that she knew she had been penetrated because it hurt. Accounts of the trial say an eyewitness reported seeing Pena push into a woman in the alleyway. Another witness testified to seeing “joyless sex.” Physical evidence is not required for proof of rape, though reports of the trial say Pena’s DNA was found on Cuomo’s underwear. Pena’s attorney, Ephraim Savitt, maintained that while Pena had attacked Cuomo, he hadn’t vaginally penetrated her.

Pena was found guilty of the criminal sexual act and predatory sexual assault charges. But the jury deadlocked on the rape charge. In other words, the jury believed that Pena’s penis had made oral and anal contact with Cuomo, but the jurors couldn’t agree on whether he’d vaginally penetrated her. It’s not clear why. One juror told the New York Times that one of the three holdout jurors questioned Cuomo’s memory because she hadn’t remembered a car in the driveway near where she’d been attacked.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/01/26/when_the_law_wont_call_it_rape/

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Millennials Don’t Know Roe, and That’s Okay

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/01/20/millennials-dont-know-roe-and-thats-okay

by Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check
January 25, 2013

Last week, just in time for the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, a poll from the Pew Forum was released that showed that 56 percent of Americans under 30 don’t know what Roe v Wade is. The majority of them were pro-choice, of course, but they couldn’t connect the name of the decision that secured the right to abortion with their political support for this right. These kinds of polls are touted in the media with the hope of provoking a stereotypical response. Feminists of my generation, generation X, and older are supposed to wring our hands and decry these awful Millennials for their supposed indifference to the rights that were hard-won by their elders.

Well, I for one refuse to play that role. To my mind, it makes perfect sense that Millennials wouldn’t know the name of Roe as well as their elders. When baby boomers and gen Xers were young, “reproductive rights” was largely about the battle over whether or not this country would maintain a legal right to access abortion. But for  millennials, the debate is much more expansive, complex, and bewildering than that. During their formative years, it was as much about contraception, education, and actual access to abortion as it was the right to abortion. No wonder Roe doesn’t loom as large in their world.

With that in  mind, I’ve put together a quick overview of the battles that formed the millennial view of what “reproductive rights” even means, and why for this generation more than any other, it’s not just about legal abortion.

Contraception. As someone from the tail end of generation X, I can safely attest that contraception didn’t seem as big a hassle for us as it often is for millennials. When I was a teenager and a young woman, contraception was relatively cheap. If you had insurance coverage for it, your co-pay for the birth control pill was often no more than $10 or $15. If you didn’t have insurance, you just trotted yourself down to Planned Parenthood to get all the free condoms you could carry and birth control pills on a sliding income scale that usually left you paying the same $15.

For millennials, it hasn’t been that simple. The first decade of the 2000s saw as dramatic rise in the price of contraception at campus and community health centers. For many women on insurance, co-pays rose. Pills that used to only set you back $12 a month started costing $50 or more. When the government took steps to rectify this problem by requiring that contraception be offered with no co-pay to insured women, the right wing flipped out, calling one birth control advocate a “slut” and claiming that contraception coverage was some kind of great assault on religious people.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/01/20/millennials-dont-know-roe-and-thats-okay

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Don’t buy lies about Social Security

From The Capitol Times:   http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/dave_zweifel/plain-talk-don-t-buy-lies-about-social-security/article_7a127b1a-6666-11e2-ba59-0019bb2963f4.html

January 25, 2013

Let’s be brutally frank today: The claim by some of those Wall Street money changers and politicians like Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan and many of his Republican colleagues that Social Security is contributing to the national debt and therefore needs to be “fixed” is nothing more than an outright lie.

Because the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to make sure that the Social Security Trust Fund was protected from the ever-changing political winds, it was set up as a separate self-financed system that gets its revenues from three sources — roughly 80 percent from the payroll tax of 6.2 percent for both the employee and employer (the 6.2 was reduced to 4.2 for employees to help provide relief during the recession and went back to 6.2 percent on Jan. 1), another 15 percent from interest earned by the trust fund, and the other 5 percent from taxes that Social Security recipients wind up paying at income tax time. In Social Security’s 75-year history, it has collected $15.5 trillion and currently has $2.6 trillion in the bank, enough money to pay full benefits until about 2037.

It cannot borrow, but the government itself can borrow from it and always does. The Social Security Trust Fund currently holds roughly 18 percent of the federal government’s debt, twice as much as China, the country Republicans like to claim is holding our debt. Former Michigan Sen. Donald Riegle, who believes the government ought to repay Social Security, has pointed out that President George W. Bush borrowed heavily from the trust fund to mask the budget costs of his two wars and the tax reductions he engineered in his first term.

And now it’s the congressional Republicans and Wall Street financiers who are spreading the lie that we can’t tackle the national debt problem without changing Social Security.

In a recent op-ed, Riegle named Wall Street insider Pete Peterson as a leading advocate of this lie. He has dedicated a billion dollars of his fortune to destroy the system as we know it.

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Child labour uncovered in Apple’s supply chain

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jan/25/apple-child-labour-supply

Internal audit reveals 106 children employed at 11 factories making Apple products in past year

, telecoms correspondent
The Guardian, Friday 25 January 2013

Apple has discovered multiple cases of child labour in its supply chain, including one Chinese company that employed 74 children under the age of 16, in the latest controversy over the technology giant’s manufacturing methods.

An internal audit found a flipside to the western consumer’s insatiable thirst for innovative and competitively priced gadgets. It uncovered 106 cases of underage labour being used at Apple suppliers last year and 70 cases historically. The report follows a series of worker suicides over working conditions at Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that assembles must-have products such as the iPad and iPhone, and lethal explosions at other plants.

Apple’s annual supplier report – which monitors nearly 400 suppliers – found that children were employed at 11 factories involved in making its products. A number of them had been recruited using forged identity papers.

The report uncovered a catalogue of other offences, ranging from mandatory pregnancy tests, to bonded workers whose wages are confiscated to pay off debts imposed by recruitment agencies. They also found cases of juveniles being used to lift heavy goods, workers having their wages docked as a punishment and one factory dumping waste oil in the toilets.

One Chinese supplier, a circuit board component maker called Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics, was axed by Apple after 74 children under the age of 16 were recruited to work on its production lines. According to Apple, the children had been knowingly supplied by one of the region’s largest labour agencies, Shenzhen Quanshun Human Resources. Its investigators found that the agency conspired with families to forge identification documents. Apple did not disclose the ages of the children involved, but its code of conduct states it will not employ workers under the age of 15, or under the legal working age in any jurisdiction – which is 16 in China.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2013/jan/25/apple-child-labour-supply

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Occupy Everyone: Making Revolutionaries, Not a Revolution

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/14095-occupy-everyone-making-revolutionaries-not-a-revolution

By Zachary Bell
Friday, 25 January 2013

If the dynamic of a diverse safe space in which people dismantle oppressions through conflict resolution is at the root of Occupy’s transformative potential, then perhaps there’s not a distinct formula that can be reproduced, but simply spread – a culture – that people can choose to adopt.

Occupy Sandy has been lauded as more American than FEMA. Strike Debt, an Occupy offshoot, is pioneering the “Rolling Jubilee” of debt forgiveness to the adoration of publications like Business Insider. While popular in some circles, these initiatives have also led to bitter divisions that ultimately surround the narrative of the Occupy movement.

Some say Occupy died long ago and that these imitations are attempting to export an unperfected product. Some argue further that these Occupy offshoots are destructive, misusing terms like “mutual aid” (masking the actual lack of community) and providing recovery efforts of the status quo (simply replacing government support with charity), distancing Occupy further from its true nature of rupture. Others counter that Occupy has transformed, or perhaps self-immolated, disposing of its clunky general body to make use of its network, carrying out revolutionary work in more agile campaigns. They argue that these campaigns are in the spirit of the movement by promoting neighborliness, self-reliance and community infrastructure over mass institutions.

This is not just a question of credit or labeling; the debate calls for an etymological investigation of the definition of Occupy Wall Street in pursuit of its revolutionary potential. After well over a year, can we make useful statements about what Occupy really was – or is?

I think we can. Occupy is a movement that has brought about revolutionary personal growth for thousands through a dialectical process. It crammed the contradictions of our modern hierarchical society – a diverse group of people – into small parks, creating a horizontal “safe space,” in which under-represented folks could share their perspective of these hierarchies. It enacted systems of communal facilitation to use the emergent conflict as fuel for the decolonization of each individual’s internalized oppressions. Through this process, it produced people who are committed to inter-relating horizontally (and therefore anti-oppressively) – a cultural idea so counter to the logic of capital as to be revolutionary.

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/14095-occupy-everyone-making-revolutionaries-not-a-revolution

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VOICES: As Obama lays out progressive agenda, white South slips into political irrelevancy

From The Institute for Southern Studies:     http://www.southernstudies.org/2013/01/voices-as-obama-lays-out-progressive-agenda-white-south-slips-into-political-irrelevancy.htm

By Joe Atkins, Labor South
Thu, 01/24/2013

On the Bibles of two men once reviled in the South, President Obama took the oath of office for his second term Monday, a day that also honored one of those two men, Martin Luther King Jr.

After a first term in which he relied heavily on Wall Street insiders like Timothy Geithner, Obama outlined a decidedly progressive-minded agenda for his second term. It’s one that the South’s white oligarchy of business, political, religious and media leaders will fight tooth and nail.

In his speech, Obama made clear his commitment to pay equity, immigration reform, gay rights, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. He offered “hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice.” This country “cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it,” he told Americans.

In the words of writer John Nichols of The Nation, Obama in his speech “completed the arc from FDR and LBJ to today.”

Tea Partyers and the rest of the GOP’s right wing — groups with distinctively Southern accents — are bound to decry the speech and the man who made it for declaring “class warfare,” as if a declaration of war hadn’t been declared long ago by their own financial backers.

Obama called for equal pay for “our wives, our mothers and daughters.” He reached out to “the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.” He called for equal treatment for gay men and women.

Continue reading at:  http://www.southernstudies.org/2013/01/voices-as-obama-lays-out-progressive-agenda-white-south-slips-into-political-irrelevancy.htm

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Shocking: Reporting Factory Farm Abuses to be Considered “Act of Terrorism” If New Laws Pass

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/shocking-reporting-factory-farm-abuses-be-considered-act-terrorism-if-new-laws-pass

Three states are the latest states to introduce Ag-Gag laws and lawmakers in 10 other states introduced similar bills in 2011-2012.

By Katherine Paul, Ronnie Cummins
January 24, 2013

This article was published in partnership with  GlobalPossibilities.org.

How do you keep consumers in the dark about the horrors of factory farms? By making it an “act of terrorism” for anyone to investigate animal cruelty, food safety or environmental violations on the corporate-controlled farms that produce the bulk of our meat, eggs and dairy products.

And who better to write the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, designed to protect Big Ag and Big Energy, than the lawyers on the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force at the corporate-funded and infamous American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

New Hampshire, Wyoming and Nebraska are the latest states to introduce Ag-Gag laws aimed at preventing employees, journalists or activists from exposing illegal or unethical practices on factory farms. Lawmakers in 10 other states introduced similar bills in 2011-2012.  The laws passed in three of those states: Missouri, Iowa and Utah.  But consumer and animal-welfare activists prevented the laws from passing in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York and Tennessee.

In all, six states now have Ag-Gag laws, including North Dakota, Montana and Kansas, all of which passed the laws in 1990-1991, before the term “Ag-Gag” was coined.

Ag-Gag laws passed 20 years ago were focused more on deterring people from destroying property, or from either stealing animals or setting them free. Today’s ALEC-inspired bills take direct aim at anyone who tries to expose horrific acts of animal cruelty, dangerous animal-handling practices that might lead to food safety issues, or blatant disregard for environmental laws designed to protect waterways from animal waste runoff. In the past, most of those exposes have resulted from undercover investigations of exactly the type Big Ag wants to make illegal.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/shocking-reporting-factory-farm-abuses-be-considered-act-terrorism-if-new-laws-pass

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