Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Take Action Monday on Tuesday

So healthcare reform finally passed. I wouldn't call it a good or a bad bill. If I assigned a student an essay on how to reform the healthcare system and they gave me the major reforms in this bill, I would give them an Incomplete or Needs Improvement. We are not done, but we do not need to start over. We need to add more protections. We need to make sure that Medicaid and Medicare recipients aren't denied care because doctors don't get reimbursed enough. We need to make sure that people aren't denied treatment because it's experimental. The Representatives should be thanked for passing this legislation, but we must demand that they fight for more reform.

Say no to Jewish settlements in Palestine.

Urge Republican leadership to condemn the bigotry in their supporters.

Tell the Democratic Party to stop supporting anti-choice Democrats' campaigns.

Support the Fair Elections Now Act.

End the crack/cocaine sentencing disparity.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Random Thought About Fashion

I don't blog too much about fashion, but I talk about it a lot. I love clothes, particularly how they bring out the best in each of our beautiful bodies. But when the feminists on the mainstream feminist blogs talk about fashion, it's always in a negative light. It's often a deep and academic analysis of why women wear what they wear, and, unsurprisingly, it's often a screed rife with cissexist and heterosexist assumptions. You know how it is, the whole bit about how we're all really femme because we're taught that this is the only way we can be attractive to men. And then there's a lot of self-congratulation when women proudly proclaim that this is all why they only shop in the men's section. Or it's a rant about the failures of the fashion industry, which are well-deserved, but it gets old when it's the only fashion entries on a feminist blog. Yes, models are unhealthily thin. We know. Thanks for sharing that with us for the third time this week.

There's a reason I put a slew of links to sites that sell fair trade and eco-friendly clothing: What we wear makes a statement about ourselves, and there are fashionable clothes that reflect our values. For all the feminist talk about how we should be judged by our brains and not our looks, we often forget that our choice in clothes comes as much from our brains as our poetry or our paintings or our math homework. I recently told my two best buds that I prefer compliments about my clothes and shoes than about my face, because I put a lot of thought into putting together the outfits that I put on my body. I was born with the face.

And for all of the talk about how we should love our bodies and how everyone is beautiful, I think the hostility toward fashion by the feminist community comes from an inaccurate body image. I think a lot of feminists talk about how they used to have a poor body image and now see themselves as beautiful no matter what their body looks like. But they don't say if that body image is accurate. Sure, a cis woman can shop in the men's section and believe that she's making some grand stand against gendered clothing. But I also think this is an outright denial of the shape of their bodies. And because I believe having an accurate body image and knowing the landscape of your body inside and out is imperative to having a positive body image, I'm not sure a lot of women who claim to have a positive body image really do. They may love their bodies, but they don't know them. And they don't know the bodies of other women. They don't see women's bodies, in the way some people don't see race, to protect themselves from feeling like they've objectified someone. But maybe if they'd know the uniqueness of their body and of other women's bodies, they'd see fashion as an individual statement that projects to the world all the things we love about ourselves, inside and out.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kotex & Breaking the Cycle

Kotex has a pretty hilarious campaign geared toward young women that tries to break stereotypes about periods that are prevalent throughout conventional ads for menstrual products. The site, U by Kotex, could be better. But the part I really like is a declaration that young women can sign to love their bodies and talk honestly about their periods without embarrassment. One of their commercials shows a woman talking about her period and kind of making fun of all of the menstrual product commercials that are out there.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Take Action Monday

It's International Women's Day! Take the time this day to recognize the wonderful women around the world who work hard and still get shit on.

Urge your Senators to co-sponsor the GROWTH Act.

Encourage Congress to support the International Violence Against Women Act.

Tell Congress to pass real health reform now.

Close concentration camps in North Korea.

Tell the Washington Post to stop promoting torture on their editorial page.

Keep the Toyota plant in Fremont California open.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Sarah Palin Tries to be Funny, Fails.

The ever evolving Sarah Palin chased the limelight to the set of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to add "crappy stand-up comic" to her resume. But some jokes are a little hard for Sarah Palin to understand, like this one I asked her during an interview before the 2008 election (just play along, people):

Me: Knock, knock.
Sarah Palin: Who's there?
Me: Vice President.
Sarah Palin: Vice President who? Seriously, what's a Vice President?

Then she tried to get me back for making her look like a fool. It totally backfired.

Sarah Palin: Knock, knock.
Me: Who's there?
Sarah Palin: Newspaper.
Me: Which one?
Sarah Palin: . . . Shit!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Castle Doctrine vs. Body Temple

Late last year, I learned about Castle Doctrine laws on an episode of Dan Rather Reports. Coming from the saying "A man's home is his castle," Castle Doctrine laws give people the right to use deadly force against trespassers. Needless to say, these laws are quite controversial. Even the former president of the National Rifle Association, Marion Hammer, who started the Castle Doctrine effort in the state of Florida, believes that the law might go too far in some cases. According to the NRA, there are 24 states with Castle Doctrine Laws (as of February 2010). Many of the states with these laws are conservative states that really love their guns, and it seems to be seen as more of a gun rights issue than a property, privacy, or human rights issue (I believe it's a bit of all of these).

I'm with Marion Hammer on the Castle Doctrine laws, in that using deadly force should be legal when protecting one's life and body, but not to protect one's property. There are gray areas in such situations, like when someone breaks into your house in the middle of the night; you don't know if someone is there to hurt you or steal your stuff, and no one wants to take any chances there. But the Castle Doctrine laws got me thinking about abortion laws, which I will call Body Temple laws, from the saying "My body is a temple." Like I said before, a lot of the states that have Castle Doctrine laws are red states, and I was curious to find out about their abortion legislation. So I headed over to NARAL's site to check it out.

Texas: Gets an F from NARAL for requiring biased counseling and parental consent laws. Their Castle Doctrine law doesn't specifically mention property, but deadly force can be used against a trespasser without the owner's life being threatened.

Alabama: Also gets an F from NARAL for the same reasons Texas does. Alabama also has an unconstitutional ban on abortion that cannot be enforced. Their Castle Doctrine law has been changed to scrap a "duty to retreat" measure, meaning the person doesn't have to try to get away before using deadly force. It is assumed that the person's life and body are in danger if someone intrudes their home, workplace, vehicle, or anywhere else they have a right to be.

Florida: Gets a D from NARAL for having an unconstitutional ban on abortion, biased pre-abortion counseling, and parental consent laws. Furthermore, a Florida legislator was "led by the Lord" to file a bill that would make abortion a felony punishable by a life sentence in prison. Florida's Castle Doctrine law is quite strong. Victims of intrusion on one's property are given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to using deadly force against trespassers, meaning the law assumes that every intruder on a person's property is there to cause bodily harm or death. There is no duty to retreat, and the person who uses deadly force against an intruder cannot be prosecuted.

Idaho: Another F from NARAL for having the same restrictions on abortion as Alabama. Additionally, Idaho prohibits private health insurance companies from covering abortion. I think they should get an F- for that one. Their Castle Doctrine law allows the use of deadly force to defend one's body and life.

Nebraska: Also gets an F from NARAL for parental consent laws, health insurance restrictions, and refusal to provide reproductive health services. Their Castle Doctrine law is being held up in committee, but if passed, it would allow the use of firearms and deadly force against intruders to protect oneself and others.

South Dakota: Not surprisingly at all, South Dakota gets an F from NARAL for having probably every anti-abortion measure on the books. South Dakota also tried twice, unsuccessfully, to ban abortion in almost all cases. State Senator Bill Napoli went so far as to redefine rape to take into consideration the woman's sexual history, religion, and in which body part she was penetrated. The same Mike Rounds who signed the eventually overturned abortion bans signed into law Castle Doctrine legislation that permits people to use deadly force against someone to protect their property from theft and injury. Property injury? Didn't think there was such a thing.

I think you get the point I'm making here. I'm not about to go through all 24 states Castle Doctrine and Body Temple laws here, but you certainly can check them all out. You might even want to perform a statistical analysis to see the correlation. But it seems pretty clear to me that there are a lot of states that allow you to kill someone for trespassing on your property or when you believe your bodily integrity, life, or even the prettiness of your property is at stake. In some states, people are trusted that they were truly in danger when they kill an intruder. They are given immunity and don't have to prove that they were in danger. In essence, they can get away with murder as long as they say the trespasser was trying to hurt them, as long as there's no compelling evidence disputing that claim. They don't even have to run away, or try everything they can to avoid getting hurt, before using deadly force. They are given the benefit of the doubt, because these laws place petty thieves on the same level as cold-blooded murderers.

So why does a woman have to go through a counseling session or "think about it" for 24 hours before having an abortion? Why are there so many restrictions on a woman using -- and I'll use some inflated anti-choice rhetoric here to make my point -- deadly force against an embryo or fetus who is using her body without her permission? If a young woman in South Dakota can kill a trespasser who's on her property to spray paint "Murdering whore" on her car, why does that same young woman have to get permission from her parents or receive biased counseling or wait 24 hours before having an abortion, to get rid of an embryo that's using her body against her will? Why aren't these women given that same benefit of the doubt, that they seriously considered all other options before making the final decision to have an abortion? Seems like property has more rights in some parts of the country than women, and it's extremely disturbing.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Take Action Monday on Tuesday

I have a post idea in the works, so I should be less lazy about updating this thing this week.

Tell Senators Kyl and Bunning to extend unemployment benefits.

Support antitrust laws for health insurance companies.

Urge the EPA to protect farmers and their children from pesticides.

Yes, it's a short one today.