Tag Archives: Sandra Fluke

Here’s to Strong Women. Here’s to Sandra.

6 Sep

Sometimes, while I make my rounds of news sites, both mainstream and not, I feel hopeless.  I read about statements made by members of our government, legislation passed, Planned Parenthood centers closed, mainstream “cancer research foundations” whose actions tell me that maybe they don’t care as much about women and women’s health as they claim.  I learn about the victimization and revictimization of young girls, the blame placed unduly on the mother rather than on the perpetrators of the crime and the society that spews its truth of “boys will be boys.”  I get sick thinking about how money and power go hand-in-hand and how so often they land in the hands of white men, born to privilege into a world where they live by rules different than the rest of us.  I shake with anger when I think of the women who are dehumanized and tossed aside at the hands of these men and then how they, and not the victimizers, are forced to defend themselves, are accused of lying.  Because how dare we place those who have achieved the ultimate dream — success, wealth, power — anywhere other than on a pedestal.  But then sometimes, I remember that it’s not just me that feels this way.  There are a lot of us.  And at the Democratic National Convention we were handed the microphone and able to speak.   Our voices were heard through Sandra Fluke.

So, here is her speech from the DNC.  I was going to write a little about the speech given by Cecile Richards, who’s President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, but I was just so taken by Fluke’s entire speech that I couldn’t choose pieces.  Everytime I listen to it I have the same reaction:  a little bit emotional, a little bit goose-bumpy, incredibly proud.  She said what I have read in different articles by different strong women online, what I have heard representatives say on the floor when forced to face-off against the horribly bigoted statements made by male co-workers, and what friends have said to me in endless conversations about the realities of being female.  She put it all together and she spoke to that room and she got them on their feet.  So here’s her speech.  Maybe it’s just me, but I think it beats the hell out of an empty chair.

“Some of you…some of you may remember that earlier this year Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception.  In fact, on that panel, they didn’t hear from a single woman even though they were debating an issue that affects nearly every woman.  Because it happened in congress, people noticed.  But it happens all the time.  Too many women are shut out and silenced.  So while I am honored to be standing at this podium it easily could have been any one of you.  I’m here because I spoke out.  And this November, each of us must speak out.

“During this campaign, we’ve heard about two profoundly different futures that could await women in this country.  And how one of those futures looks like an offensive obsolete relic of our past.  Warnings of that future are not distractions, they are not imagined. That future could become real. In that America, your new President could be a man who stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs.  A man who won’t stand up to those slurs, or to any of the extreme, bigoted voices in his own party.  It would be an America in which you have a new Vice President who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms. An America in which states humiliate women by forcing us to endure invasive ultrasounds that we don’t want and our doctors say that we don’t need.  An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it.  An America in which politicians redefine rape and victims are victimized all over again.  In which someone decides which domestic violence victims deserve access to services and which don’t…. We know what this America would look like.  And in a few short months that’s the America we could be but that’s not the America that we should be and it’s not who we are.

“We’ve also seen another America that we could choose.  In that America we’d have the right to choose.  It’s an America in which no one can charge us more than men for the exact same health insurance.  In which no one can deny us affordable access to the cancer screenings that could save our lives.  In which we decide when to start our families.  An America in which our President, when he hears that a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters, not his delegates or his donors.  And in which our President stands with all women, and strangers come together and reach out and lift her up.  And then instead of trying to silence her you invite me here.  And you give me this microphone to amplify our voice.  That’s the difference.

“Over the last 6 months I’ve seen what these two futures look like.  And 6 months from now we’re all going to be living in one future or the other.  But only one.  A country where our President either has our back or turns his back.  A country that honors our foremothers by moving us forward or one that forces our generation to refight battles that they already won.  A country where we mean it when we talk about personal freedom or one where that freedom doesn’t apply to our bodies or our voices.  We talk often about choice.  Well ladies, and gentlemen, it’s now time to choose.”

And…standing ovation.  How Sandra Fluke managed to get through that without breaking down I will never know.  I can’t even read it aloud for type-o’s without getting a little misty-eyed.  To hear her voice say all the things I have thought, that my friends and I have talked about, and in such a well thought out way was really amazing, a breath of fresh air.  Sometimes it is easy to feel frustrated and alone sitting here behind my computer, preaching to the choir.  But then there are people out there who are doing the leg work, who are making a difference, and then I get shivers and realize that some day, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next year, it will be okay.  We just have to keep speaking out in whatever ways we can.

Senator Glenn Grothman, You’re an Idiot

8 Mar

Glenn Grothman, Republican Senator of Wisconsin, has introduced Senate Bill 507 which requires “the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.”  Apparently, according to Senator Grothman, being a single parent essentially makes you a child abuser.  You might think that I am being a little liberal with my interpretation but in an interview with Alan Colmes, Grothman said there has been a change towards single motherhood over the last 30 years and that “a lot of that change has been the choice of women.”  He believes that women need to be taught that this is a mistake.

In the interview with Colmes, after Grothman cited a New York Times article that said 60% of children born to women under 30 are born out of wedlock, the following interaction happened:

Colmes:  It’s a good argument for birth control, right?

Grothman:  Well…no…we all love all, all children.

Colmes:  I mean if you’re saying we’ve got a problem with out of wedlock births, a good answer to that would be to help provide, as the president is doing, access to complete birth control and health care for women.

Grothman then responds that “anyone has access to birth control, it’s not that expensive.”  Planned Parenthood, according to Grothman, makes birth control very available.  (It’s like it grows on trees!)  I guess he hasn’t been clued in on the recent assault on Planned Parenthoods nationwide and that many of them are being forced to close their doors.  Colmes countered this by referencing the recent appearance of Sandra Fluke in this debate.  Grothman, who obviously is not very up-to-speed on the whole birth control debate currently exploding in this country, responded that most of these out-of-wedlock births are no accident and that our “social services bureaucracy” have made these births acceptable, even beneficial.  He believes that the government is actually engineering the single-parent lifestyle by providing all these benefits.  Government, he believes, is making it easy, even desirable, to be a single mother.  When asked what he would do for women who are already low income and perhaps left an abusive relationship or have a partner who doesn’t pay a fair share of child support he did the easy thing:  he blamed the women.  He believes that women choose to be single mothers because apparently the benefits are so good that it beats out the alternative.  He’s on to us, ladies!

If you would be so kind as to direct your attention to the following chart that I discovered on the ChildStats website, you will notice that there is a pretty sizable percentage of children who live in a one-parent home.  You will also notice that of those children living in a one-parent home, most of them live with only their mother.  It is therefore not a huge leap of logic to say that this bill is blatantly sexist.  In fact, in the interview with Colmes and other articles I read, single father homes are never mentioned.  We don’t need to educate the men about the dangers of single-parent living to the safety of children, only the women.  And to add insult to injury:  Grothman is, as you probably already guessed, pro-life.*

So, this man simultaneously supports the government forcing women to carry babies to term, (because birth control is affordable for the majority of women…ha!) regardless of the circumstances, marital or otherwise, surrounding that pregnancy and then says that if they do indeed abide by that unjust rule they are likely to be considered neglectful or abusive parents.  So I wonder, Senator Grothman, if a woman was raped, and then was forced to carry that baby to term, would she then be urged to marry her rapist so as not to seem abusive or neglectful? Has she actually orchestrated the rape in order to live high on the hog with the abundance of government “handouts”?  These two view points are at odds with one another.  Also, they are just a bunch of sexist, woman-hating bullshit.

NOTE: Data for 2010 exclude the nearly 290,000 household residents under age 18 who were listed as family reference persons or spouses. Prior to 2007, Current Population Survey (CPS) data identified only one parent on the child’s record. This meant that a second parent could only be identified if they were married to the first parent. In 2007, a second parent identifier was added to the CPS. This permits identification of two coresident parents, even if the parents are not married to each other. In this figure, “two parents” reflects all children who have both a mother and father identified in the household, including biological, step, and adoptive parents. Before 2007, “mother only” and “father only” included some children who lived with two unmarried parents. Beginning in 2007, “mother only” and “father only” refer to children for whom only one parent in the household has been identified, whether biological, step, or adoptive.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements.**

This now brings me to the next point which is that this bill is not only sexist, it is also racist.  According to information compiled from the US Census Bureau by the Kids Count Data Center, and demonstrated in this really embarrassingly bare bones chart that I made in excel, one-parent homes are most common amongst Blacks, followed by American Indians and Latinos.  So now you have a bill which not only disproportionately impacts single mothers, but it even more disproportionately impacts single mothers of color.***

Non-Hispanic White 24%
Black or African American 66%
American Indian 52%
Asian and Pacific Islander 16%
Hispanic or Latino 41%
Total 34%

And finally, I believe this bill is classist.  With only one income coming in, and dependents to care for, it can be difficult for single parents to keep their heads above water.  Think about child care costs, for example.  And the fact that, according to this New York Times article, aid to single-parent families living on “less than half of poverty-level income” declined 38% between 1984 and 2004.  (An article which Grothman didn’t see fit to read…sort of turns his theory on its head, don’t it?)  That’s serious.  According to a slightly outdated article (although I imagine that the statistics are now on the low end rather than the high given the economic environment in recent years), about 60% of mother-only families are impoverished compared with 11% of two-parent families.

So, basically, this bill is like the trifecta of awful.  Sexist, racist and classist and, as usual, it does not address any of the systemic issues that increase poverty among these groups in the first place but rather seeks to incriminate people, most specifically low-income women of color, a group which really needs a little more challenges sent its way.  Why not look at the price of child care, issues of joblessness, our education system (and yes, that includes sex education), the difficulty some people find obtaining the benefits they qualify for, availability of birth control, access to abortions, among other things.  How about we try to empower women to improve their own lives, rather than alternatively thinking of them as incapable and calculating?  Also, if you bring abuse and neglect charges against single parents, where are the kids going to go?  Into our fantastic foster care system?  Yea, great idea.

*  In a search for a link telling me what I already knew about Grothman’s views on abortion, I came across this blog written by an MPeterson who hails from Wisconsin.  The blog is called “What did Glen Grothman get wrong this week?”  I applaud you, MPeterson.

** Note and chart taken from ChildStats.gov (link referenced in above post).

*** This chart reflects information for the entire United States.  If you want Wisconsin, or other state, specific statistics, please go to the Kids Count Data Center website.