Posts Tagged ‘politics’

VAWA and why 2013 is already a lot like 2012

January 7, 2013

In addition to stressing out less and purchasing a cat condo, another big New Year’s resolution is blogging regularly again. And why not? Politicians haven’t resolved to stop screwing over women, so there’s plenty to write about!

While everyone’s focused on falling off the fiscal cliff, I’m worried about the Violence Against Women’s Act non-passage. VAWA has been routinely passed without a hassle since its inception in 1994 (thanks, Joe Biden!), but this year Republicans and Democrats deadlocked on some of the additional provisions. SUBDUE YOUR SHOCK.

VAWA has been really, really, really helpful for survivors of domestic abuse — it helps them find housing in case their residence is compromised by stalking or abuse, provides legal assistance, provides funding for rape crisis centers and hotlines, and works to improve awareness about domestic violence.

So what’s there not to like about a program that educates citizens, law enforcement, and the judicial branch about domestic violence while also providing much needed resources to victims?

One of the criticisms — and pardon me if my brain actually implodes from typing this bullshit nonsense out — is that same-sex couples are not legally recognized by the federal government as couples, so LGBT peoples shouldn’t be covered. Ah, yep, I think my brain melted a little bit because that is just absolutely asinine and illogical — the “w” = women, thought that was pretty clear and inclusive.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) calls it a “side issue” that should be based on how the government decides to categorize same-sex couples. Heaven forbid reality — that same-sex couples can be in abusive relationships — dictate the law so people get help they actually need. 

Also, there’s the proposed law’s expanded jurisdiction to Native American tribes. Rapes among Native American women and the total lack of resources — both legally and socially, in the form of education throughout the community — leave sexual assault scarily as the rule rather than the exception.

Read this article about the topic. It’s troubling that both the DOJ and tribal governments don’t do much to make women feel safe in reporting sexual assault or justice in convicting those who do it.

So… why are we still selectively protecting women’s rights? Just when I’m all excited that birth control is free thanks to Obamacare and Planned Parenthood isn’t going to be erased from the planet by a new president, 2013 serves a swift kick in the ass — and a much-needed reality check that there’s still plenty to be done on the equality front.

But perhaps there’s a glimmer of hope from the last round of elections and all the failed candidates who felt obligated to talk about rape as if it was a blessing/deserved/not that big of a deal. Voters didn’t agree. Voters don’t like violence against women. Maybe it’s time to listen to the constituents?

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Replying to more arguments regarding no-cost birth control

July 26, 2011

Since writing about birth control access last week, I’ve come across a few more arguments in the comments section of this blog/my OpenSalon version of this blog that I’d like to address:

  • Condoms aren’t that expensive, why not just use those?
  • $50 isn’t that much money, you can easily forgo excesses and scrape together the money for a co-pay.
  • If you can’t afford birth control and don’t want to get pregnant, then don’t have sex.

Firstly, condoms are cheaper than a lot of types of birth control. But two methods are always better than one, especially if you’re concerned that a condom will break and you — as the woman — could get pregnant. For me, it’s important to know that I have control over my reproductive health, and condoms alone don’t fulfill that sense of security. It’s also important to know that should a condom fail, you’re taking another form of birth control as an added preventive measure against an unplanned pregnancy.

Secondly, $50 isn’t that much money to some people, but just because you could easily scrape together $50 by going out to the bars less or eating out less doesn’t mean other people could. Some women and families already aren’t doing those things and struggle financially, and to them $50 is a lot of money each month. Also, as one commenter pointed out on a previous birth control blog, some clinics that offer low-cost birth control do so in a lump sum. So the price is reasonable per month, but you pay for everything up front — is $150 as easy to gather just by nixing pizza for a month?

Another problem with this mentality is that scraping together money for birth control each month is not a stable way to ensure birth control access. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, then you’ll only successfully scrape together enough money for birth control as long as no other unexpected expenses come your way. Say you save $50 for your co-pay, and then your car breaks down. The bill is $300 — how are you going to pay for birth control now? This leaves women using it inconsistently — a major problem that leads to unplanned pregnancies.

Thirdly, the “just don’t have sex” argument is logical but not practical. True, if people don’t want to get pregnant then they could just not have sex. This is the theme of abstinence-only education, which studies show is less effective at preventing pregnancies than comprehensive sex education because just saying “don’t do it” isn’t efficient. What is efficient is giving people the tools and knowledge they need to practice safe sex.

Some people will probably never agree here, because one side sees this as preventive and the other side sees it as enabling. I see it as realistic. Yes, yes, I hear the people in the “actions have consequences and if you can’t handle having a baby then don’t have sex” corner, but that argument just turns a blind eye to how people actually act. People will have sex, and sure, you can punish them by ensuring birth control is inaccessible so either they have to abide by your moral compass or risk an unplanned pregnancy. Or, you can admit that it’s better for everyone involved that we accept people will have sex outside of procreation purposes and that ensuring unplanned pregnancies don’t lead to abortions or unhealthy babies is more important than winning a standoff because you refuse to compromise.

Sounds like a common theme lately in politics …

I wish Obama hadn’t released his long form birth certificate

April 27, 2011

I wish President Obama hadn’t released a long-form copy of his birth certificate. This entire birther conspiracy — that President Obama is not actually a U.S. citizen and therefore doesn’t meet the requirements to be president of the United States — is not about citizens concerned with paperwork. It’s about some citizens not wanting Obama to be president, and no amount of documents proving his citizenship will change how they feel about Obama’s politics or about him as a president.

The same goes for the conspiracy that Sarah Palin’s son Trig is actually her grandson, and that her entire pregnancy was a ruse to cover up her daughter’s own teenage pregnancy. Conspiracy theorists have said that Palin’s not making public her medical records regarding her pregnancy is key evidence that the entire thing was a cover-up and she was never really pregnant. Again, this isn’t about medical records, it’s about people who dislike Sarah Palin.

As Stephen Stromberg wrote in The Washington Post, paperwork proof isn’t going to stop the birtherism; nor would Palin’s medical records stop people from claiming she isn’t really Trig’s mother. These situations remind me exactly of relationships that have trust issues — A is suspicious that B is cheating, and asks for phone records to see who B has been calling, under the guise that seeing the proof on paper will calm any fears of infidelity. But those phone records won’t fix anything, because the underlying problem is that A doesn’t trust B. A will find something else suspicious and will keep feeling insecure unless the root of the problem — the lack of trust — is addressed.

The goal of birthers and hoaxers isn’t to get to the bottom of whatever “conspiracy” they’re investigating, but to create a lack of trust by planting seeds of suspicion and doubt in as many Americans’ brains as possible. I understand wanting to silence critics by providing factual evidence, but bending to their extraneous demands is just enabling them and giving them attention they don’t deserve. It’s a waste of Obama’s and Palin’s time because prejudices and political leanings (the underlying causes for the distrust/dislike of these politicians) won’t be changed by pieces of paper.

Attacking abortion via family-planning funds is wrong

February 17, 2011

As part of their new spending proposal, Republicans want to completely eliminate all funding to a program called Title X, which provides federal funding for family planning and preventative health services and by law must prioritize low-income families. Without adequate federal funding, family-planning clinics such as Planned Parenthood would likely have to severely cut the services they could provide — and it’s specifically abortion services that anti-choice lawmakers are hoping to affect.

I despise when Planned Parenthood is marketed by anti-choicers as nothing but an abortion clinic. Cutting funding to family-planning clinics means also cutting funding for access to contraceptives, pap tests, testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, vasectomies, breast exams, cancer screenings, and other important health services. Abortions only accounted for 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provided in 2007 — in contrast, contraception, STI testing, pap tests, pregnancy tests, and breast exams accounted for about 94 percent of all services provided in 2007.

Also, it’s most important to remember that Title X funds cannot, by law, be used for abortions, so lawmakers want to completely wipe out the funding to Title X just to indirectly make it more difficult for family-planning clinics to stay afloat. Sacrificing the health and well-being of low-income women and families in order to make abortion less accessible, even though most women already don’t have easy access to a clinic that provides abortion services (87 percent of U.S. counties don’t have an abortion provider), and most services performed at family-planning clinics aren’t abortion-related? Yeah, that’s pretty shady.

And despite targeting low-income women and families, these legislators will later complain about the burdens these women are putting on other Americans by needing government assistance to pay for health care (as they would lose vital access to cancer screenings, pap tests, and STI testing) or food and other necessities (because when you can’t afford contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and subsequently get pregnant and have babies, those babies are expensive).



But why waste time looking at the bigger picture when you can punish not only women who have sex other than for procreation, but also women who can’t afford contraception, pap tests, and other health services anywhere but family-planning clinics?

You can call 202-730-9001 to tell your representative to vote against any legislation that would eliminate Title X funding. Click here for more information.

To donate to Planned Parenthood, click here.

Does ‘our children’s future’ matter beyond fiscal problems?

November 10, 2010

When he was on The Colbert Report in October, Brendan Steinhauser, the director of federal and state campaigns for FreedomWorks (a nonprofit that advocates for small government and lower taxes), refused to discuss Tea Party views on anything unrelated to fiscal conservatism and smaller government. He said those were the core values of the Tea Party, and people’s viewpoints on “social issues” or anything else were outside the scope of Tea Party ideology.

Along with fiscal conservatism and small government, however, another often-discussed Tea Party value is in “our children’s future” — how we shouldn’t burden our children with an outrageous federal debt, high unemployment rates, etc. Though Steinhauser doesn’t want to talk about anything except fiscal conservatism and small government in the broadest sense, Tea Partiers aren’t shy about pulling the “children’s future” card as a reason to be fiscally conservative and downsize government — but what about when things negatively affect “our children’s future” outside the scope of small government and lower taxes?

Under this ideology of not wanting to burden children in the future with the problems we cause in the present, Tea Partiers should theoretically be environmentalists, too. The environmental movement is all about reducing negative impacts on “our children’s future” — creating tons of waste and just shoving it underground or into the ocean leaves a big mess for our children to clean up; tapping resources for energy and only thinking about what we need for the present leaves our children without sustainable energy sources — and not researching or developing renewable and efficient energy sources now leaves our children behind in the future when it comes to dealing with a lack of resources or an inability to easily reach resources.

When the food that you feed your children is so processed that it can sit out for months (e.g. anything at McDonalds) without changing in appearance, or eating enough of it will alter the hormone makeup of your body, that’s not good for our children’s future health. When the water children drink is orange or brown, that’s not good for their future. When a child’s home can be washed away from flooding or coal sludge because of mountaintop removal mining, that’s not good for their future.

So for the Tea Partiers — or anyone using the “what about our children’s future?” slogan — who also happen to be anti-environmental, the question remains, why does a child’s future count when it comes to the federal deficit but not when it comes to anything else? I’d like to note that I didn’t once mention climate change. Anti-environmentalists like to pull the “I don’t believe in climate change” card to invalidate the environmental movement as a whole, but there can be a discussion on environmental degradation and its negative effects on our children’s future and the discussion need not even mention climate change — what then?  

Many politicians in the recent elections used “our children’s future” as a reason there needed to be change in Washington. I’m curious to see if those same politicians are willing to keep “our children’s future” in mind when it comes to the air they breathe, the water they drink, the food they eat, and the resources available for them and their own children. After all, if you don’t want to leave your kids with a lot of debt, why would you want to leave them with a lot of garbage, pollution, and health problems?