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Friday Femorandum: Secretary of Sexism

“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.”

So said president-elect Donald Trump at the second Presidential debate, sending a ripple of laughter through the Las Vegas audience and a chill up the spine of every woman who has experienced harassment, abuse, assault, or discrimination at the hands of men who say they “respect” women.

HULU tv wtf what parks and recreationNow the man who bragged about grabbing unconsenting women by the genitals is President-elect, and his cabinet appointments so far are right in character for the nation’s most famous serial sexual harasser. There’s Health and Human Services director nominee Tom Price, who believes “no woman” has ever been unable to afford birth control, is linked to a radical anti-choice “personhood” organization, and has vowed to overturn the Affordable Care Act and slash benefits for low-income women who rely on Medicaid; Housing and Urban Development nominee Ben Carson, who has compared abortion to slavery; and Jeff Sessions, who in addition to espousing racist views has consistently opposed efforts to close the wage gap between men and women, opposed Title X funding for women’s health care, and opposed the Violence Against Women Act

Let’s start with his pick for labor secretary, Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s CEO Andy Puzder, whose company is famous for its sexist commercials featuring models moaning orgasmically over burgers, feeding each other bacon while writhing around in bikinis, and licking ketchup off their bodies. Puzder’s attitude toward women is right in line with a president-elect who routinely ranks women on a scale of 1 to 10; last year, Puzder dismissed complaints about his company’s sexist ads, saying, “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”

wtf reactions no way disbelief jaw dropIn real life, Puzder’s history with women has been checkered. His ex-wife accused him of domestic abuse, alleging that he hit her, threw her to the ground, and prevented her from calling the police. On another occasions, she claimed, Puzder punched her in the face while the two were driving home. (St. Louis cops were called to the couple’s house at least twice for domestic disputes, Jezebel notes.)

Puzder also has a long history as an anti-choice activist. In the 1980s, Mother Jones reports, he wrote the Missouri anti-abortion law that the Supreme Court upheld in the 1989 Webster v. Reproductive Health Services decision. That case allowed states to impose much harsher restrictions on abortion rights than had been allowed under Roe v. Wade. The Missouri law defined life as beginning at conception in contexts unrelated to abortion–effectively granting embryos property and contract rights, for example, as a prelude to challenging legal abortion. Puzder and his allies in the anti-choice movement in Missouri added a slew of other anti-choice provisions to the law, including one barring public spending on abortions.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Trump’s pick for labor secretary is no fan of labor laws, particularly the minimum wage. As head of a fast-food company, he has fought tirelessly against increases to the federal minimum wage and rules proposed by President Obama that would have expanded the number of employees who qualify for overtime pay. (Those rules are now on hold and seem likely to be overturned by the Trump administration). Women make up the majority of fast-food workers, and of minimum-wage earners in general, in the country.

 

Many women, understandably, want to protest these appointments, and Trump’s election in general, around inauguration day. Unfortunately, according to the Guardian, the Parks Service, at the behest of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, has filed an “unprecedented” blocking permit placing large swaths of the National Mall, Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial off-limits to protesters during the days and weeks leading up to and after the inauguration. Hundreds of thousands of women are expected to show up on January 21 for the Woman’s March on Washington, which was supposed to begin at the Lincoln Memorial. The “omnibus blocking permit” will effectively ban the march, forcing women who want to exercise their right to protest to do so in a remote location. It’s somehow fitting that one of Trump’s first acts as President will be an attempt to literally silence women’s voices.

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Friday Femorandum: After Trump, Week 2

film sad crying david lynch kyle maclachlanTen days A.T. (after Trump), it’s still somewhat hard to grasp the enormity of what U.S. voters have done. The week and a half since Trump’s upset victory has been filled with think pieces and post mortems trying to dissect what went wrong, and who’s to blame. Is it white women, who voted for Trump at about the same rate they voted for Mitt Romney? Is it Latinx voters, who were “supposed to” turn out in much greater numbers? Is it vote suppression, racism, misogyny, the fact that no one believed this could really happen?

Right now, as far as we’re concerned, none of that matters* nearly as much as this question: What does the future look like under President Trump? This isn’t a rhetorical question anymore, or the headline for a think piece. This is real life, and Trump is starting to provide some answers. Since his election, the ex-reality TV show host has appointed a white nationalist anti-Semite as his strategic advisor, nominated an anti-immigration senator who believes “Islam is a political ideology” as attorney general, and indicated his commitment to overturn both the Affordable Care Act and Roe v. Wade as quickly as possible. (Trump has promised to appoint “pro-life” justices who will ensure that repeal of Roe “will happen, automatically.”)

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Post-Roe (we can’t believe we’re writing those words either), Trump suggested, people seeking abortion “will have to go to another state”–suggesting that abortion will merely become somewhat less convenient for women to obtain. Although many women already do cross state lines for abortion care thanks to state laws that make abortion much less accessible in places like Texas and Indiana (thanks, Mike Pence!), it’s disingenuous to suggest that traveling long distances for medical care is a solution to the problem of access. Trump may be able to hop in his gold-plated private plane (and, soon, Air Force One) to travel quickly across the country, but for most women, long-distance travel involves taking time off work, making arrangements for family obligations, and spending money they can’t afford on gas and motel rooms just to access a basic medical service.

Even if you happen to live in one of the states, like Washington, where the right to choose is protected by the state constitution, you can’t afford to be complacent. Trump and his virulently anti-choice vice president, Pence, have pledged to support nationwide legislationthat would ban all abortions after 20 weeks, and there is no reason not to take them at their word. If such legislation passes, and is upheld by the Supreme Court, no state–including Washington–is safe. A national personhood law, or even a 20-week ban, would put millions of women’s lives and health in danger. No one, not even those of us in comfortably blue states, will be exempt if that worst-case scenario comes to pass.

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Here’s some more news on reproductive rights, and women’s rights, from Week 2 A.T.

The radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue “could not be happier” with Trump’s pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

Trump’s election raises fears of increased violence against women.

Anti-abortion House panel seeks to double budget.

Total ban on abortion proposed in Indiana.

The only time AG nominee Jeff Sessions voted to expand health care: When he pushed to provide health care to fetuses at the expense of the women carrying them.

Fewer women of reproductive age were uninsured in 2015; that will change if Trump successfully repeals the Affordable Care Act.

* Although if you’re going to read one more election analysis from this week, make it this one.

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Friday Femorandum: The Highest, Hardest Glass Ceiling

30535583262_80bb893dd3_zThere have been a lot of dizzying highs and crushing lows this election season, which has pitted a tax-evading white nationalist and self-professed pussy grabber against a woman who has endured 30 years of sexist, partisan attacks and emerged as perhaps the most-qualified Presidential candidate in US history.

If you haven’t voted, vote–not just for Hillary, but down the ballot, in your state and local races (if you live in Washington, check out our Pro-Choice Voters’ Guide for our endorsements in your part of the state!) If you don’t vote, your  voice doesn’t count, and right now, we need every pro-choice, pro-woman vote we can get.

As a break from all the terribly troubling news about FBI leaks, voter suppression, and ever-scarier Trump rallies, here are some stories about why Hillary’s supporters say they’re with her.

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At the Atlantic, Chimamanda Adichie punctures the myth that Hillary Clinton’s fans aren’t “enthusiastic,” in a piece titled “What Hillary Clinton’s Fans Love About Her”–including her dedication, her history, her wonkishness, her enthusiasm, and her grit. But still…

Because Hillary Clinton is a woman, she is judged too harshly for doing what most politicians do—hedging sometimes, waffling sometimes, evading sometimes. Politicians are ambitious; they have to be. Yet for Hillary Clinton, ambition is often an accusation. She is held responsible for her husband’s personal failings, in the gendered assumption that a wife is somehow an adult and a husband a child.

There are millions of Americans who do not have the self-indulgent expectation that a politician be perfect. They are frustrated that Hillary Clinton is allowed no complexity. And they love her.

Angry Asian Man has a piece by LGBTQ and API activist Glenn D. Magpantay, who writes that he’s proud and excited to support Hillary because her values reflect his values, because she’s intelligent, impressive, and genuine, because he’s voting for his community, and, yes, because she’s a woman.

As a man, I want to vote for a woman. It’s about time we had a female president. I want my sister and nieces to see that they can be anything they want to be. I want my son to see that women are equal to men and can achieve leadership at the highest levels. This should be the norm. Having a female president will send a powerful message to so many people.

30460701710_323046e646_zAt ShareBlue, Matthew Chapman, who has autism spectrum disorder, notes that Clinton is the only candidate in the race who has a comprehensive plan to help people like him–including nationwide childhood screening, requiring insurers to cover occupational therapy and accommodation, and launching a national school-to-work transition program called Autism Works.

Every time I read her policy document, the one thing that leaps out at me is her empathy. She never once, as many people do, refers to my struggle as an “illness” to be “cured.” Nor does she simply seek to make it easier for society to deal with me. She seeks to ensure that I can deal with society. That I can live my life with independence, pride, and fulfillment.

Also at ShareBlue, Melissa McEwan writes about the irrepressible fact that women who vote for a feminist, female, major-party nominee are etching their names in history.

Hillary Clinton has made history already. By becoming the first female nominee of a major party, she forever changed American politics.

It is an achievement so momentous, I can barely put into words its significance. I still cannot even talk about it without tears spilling from my eyes.

And yet: The historic nature of her candidacy is treated as though it is barely remarkable. A footnote. An aside. Expected.

Which, in some ways, makes me quite angry. But then there is this: The fact that Clinton made shattering a 227-year-old glass ceiling look inevitable is testament to how thoroughly she has changed the landscape.

All she had to do was be extraordinary.

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Finally, at the Huffington Post, a woman records her mom after driving her to the polling place to vote, and asks her why she’s crying. “I got to vote for a woman for President,” she says.

All pictures, by the way, from Hillary Clinton’s Flickr pool, which is a breath of fresh air all by itself in these final few days of the most divisive national campaign most of us alive today have ever seen.

Choice News

Friday Femorandum: The Home Stretch

T minus 11 days and counting! We keep hearing about how relieved everyone will be when this election is over, and while that’s true, we’re also feeling pretty out of sorts about what this election will mean for American democracy going forward–and for women. Trump is already saying he plans to sue all 13-and-counting women who have accused him of sexual harassment or assault, and it’s clear that the gendered attacks on Hillary Clinton as “untrustworthy,” “unlikeable,” and “un-Presidential” will continue long after the election results are counted and certified.

But screw that. Can we just celebrate, for one minute, the fact that we are on the cusp of electing THE FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT IN US HISTORY??

It’s been surprising to see how little attention the media have given to the historic import of a Hillary Clinton victory–surprising, that is, until you consider that the media have been dedicated from Day 1 to the narrative that Hillary is too “establishment,” too “overprepared,” too “ambitious” to deserve to break that highest, hardest glass ceiling.

Here’s what Digby has to say about that.

At the Atlantic, Peter Beinert reiterates the case–because it does, in fact, need to be reiterated–that the sexism that has been leveled at Clinton this election season comes from a place of masculine fragility, which is to say: Some men feel threatened by the prospect of a woman President because their sense of manhood relies on the idea that women are subordinate. And while it’s comforting to believe that a female president would automatically reduce sexism in American society, history (hello, “post-racial America”) suggests that won’t be the case.

Even without Clinton, resentment against female empowerment would be a potent force. In 2015, more Republicans told the Public Religion Research Institute that “there is a lot of discrimination” against white men than said “there is a lot of discrimination” against women.

Ahem.

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This spring, 42 percent of Americans said they believed the United States has become “too soft and feminine.” Imagine how these already unnerved Americans will react once there’s a female president. Forty-two percent isn’t enough to win the presidency. But it’s enough to create a lot of political and cultural turmoil.

Polls, by the way, back up the idea that many Americans still aren’t “ready” for a female president, and don’t particularly “hope” to see one in their lifetimes. (In one poll taken in mid-June, just 66 percent of men said they hoped to someday have a female president). We haven’t come as long a way as we thought, baby.

Distressingly, as Melissa McEwan at ShareBlue observes, data about US voters’ “readiness” for a female president dried up after that poll in June, as pollsters pretty much stopped asking the question. Why? Well, one plausible theory is that the media is invested in a narrative that erases sexism against Clinton, and portrays her not as a woman targeted by gendered criticism and held to personal, ethical, and political standards that would torpedo any male candidate for President, but as a corrupt, entrenched member of the ruling class whose rise was basically inevitable.

Another Atlantic  writer, Clare Foran, observes that Clinton was widely criticized for being “overprepared” at the debate–a characterization that fits with the narrative that she’s little more than a hyperambitious robot. This is an impossible trap: If Clinton hadn’t spent three decades preparing for this role, and many hours prepping for the debates, she’d be considered “underqualified” by the absurdly high double standard to which she is held. When she behaves as if she is qualified, which she is, she gets labeled inauthentic and  craven.

 Election 2016 dnc democratic national convention smh dnc 2016

“There is no feasible way that the first woman to win a major-party nomination could be a ‘natural’ at trying to win an office that only men have won; there’s nothing effortless about trying to break a long-established mold in American politics. So it’s not hard to see why Clinton might feel pressure to demonstrate that she’s more prepared than her male counterpart—to prove that she’s ready for a position that American voters never before deemed a woman adequately qualified to hold,” Foran writes.

Here’s one lady who isn’t taking the first woman president for granted: Patricia Bass of Chicago, who wrote this in a letter to the Chicago Tribune:

I inserted the voter card, pressed “English,” then up popped the ballot. And there it was. I knew it would be there, of course. But, somehow I wasn’t prepared for the impact of seeing it. Her name. A woman’s name. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Listed at the top of the ticket. President of the United States.

Wait. What? Am I starting to cry? Yes, I am, and here’s why:

Because my grandmother was not allowed to vote until she was 24 in 1920.

Because my smart, business-savvy mother was always hired as a secretary where she could have been the boss.

Because of all the limitations placed on girls throughout my childhood when our only school-sanctioned sports were cheerleading, tumbling and modern dance. Being student council president was out of the question.

Because Sears wouldn’t give me a credit card in my own name in 1975.

Because I was always paid less than my male colleagues for doing the same work.

Because a neighborhood teenager’s dad wouldn’t let her baby-sit for my kids because I was a single mother.

Because I was told it was risky to hire me since I’d probably “just get married and leave.”

It goes on, and you should read the entire thing.

Finally, in case you haven’t heard: Hillary has chosen the venue for her election-night victory party: A convention center in Manhattan featuring one  very large glass ceiling.

Choice News

Friday Femorandum: Nasty Women Vote

First things first: Have you gotten your free #NastyWomen sticker yet? If not, get on that and let Donald Trump and his fans know that while good girls may go to heaven, Nasty Women go to the White House!

The big news event of the week, obviously, was the final presidential debate. Let’s just savor those words for a moment, shall we?

Broad City party celebrate party hard champagne

Now, about that debate…

Well, they finally did it. After thousands of women across the country took to social media and demanded that debate moderators #AskAboutAbortion, Fox News person Chris Wallace broached the subject–in a way that was utterly predictable, scientifically bogus, and politically slanted to make the anti-choice position look reasonable and measured.

But before we get to Wallace’s SUPER FRINGE-Y question about “partial birth abortion,” how have Presidential debates historically addressed abortion rights? Perhaps surprisingly, for such a perennial, litmus-test issue, the answer is: They mostly haven’t. And when abortion has come up, the question typically hasn’t been about women’s rights or reproductive freedom, but about the candidates’ religious beliefs or priorities for  judicial appointments.

This isn’t a new phenomenon, or even a post-Reagan one. According to Media Matters‘ analysis of debates going back to 1962, questions about abortion in Presidential debates have been about religion or judicial appointments fully 56% of the time. That means that fundamental issues that are central to the pro-choice position–issues like autonomy, privacy, women’s individual and economic equality, and whether men and women are equal under the law–are being ignored.

Breaking with that tradition, longtime FOX commentator Wallace didn’t ask the candidates directly about judicial appointments or religion. Instead, he framed the issue in a way that was arguably worse: By putting Clinton on the defensive about “partial-birth abortion” (a right-wing talking point used since the 1990s in efforts to ban abortion) and suggesting that Clinton supported abortion with no limitations.

inappropriate no interview mila kunis head shakeDespite this framing, and Trump’s gleeful attempts to take Wallace’s lead and run with it (“They take the baby, and rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day,” he droned), Clinton delivered a stirring and sincere defense of the right to choose. As Think Progress put it, “Instead of equivocating about whether the government should restrict the later abortion procedures that may sound upsetting to an outside observer, or apologizing for her support for a procedure that some Americans may feel uncomfortable with, she focused on the difficult real-world circumstances that may lead a couple to end a pregnancy in the second or third trimester.”

While Trump was busy making it clear that he has no idea how abortion, women’s bodies, or pregnancy work, Clinton affirmed wholeheartedly that she supports the right to choose even when that choice is difficult, saying, “I have met with women who, toward the end of their pregnancy, get the worst news one could get that their health is in jeopardy if they continue to carry to term or that something terrible has happened or just been discovered about the pregnancy. I do not think the United States government should be stepping in and making those most personal of decisions.”

The Voice excited yes yay christina aguileraIf you’re reading this, you’re probably well aware that abortions at nine months aren’t a thing, and that late-term abortions are extremely rare: Most abortions (90 percent) occur in the first trimester, and doctors perform only about 100 third-trimester abortions per year nationwide. You probably also know that second- and third-trimester abortions are usually due to serious fetal abnormalities, or to protect the health or life of the pregnant woman. But perhaps you have friends or relatives who don’t know all those things, or who (shudder) take Trump at his word. Here are a few resources to share with them: First, this Jezebel interview with a woman who recently had an abortion at 32 weeks’ gestation, after finding out that the fetus she was carrying wouldn’t survive outside the womb.

Second, this New York Times piece in which doctors explain, with absolute clarity, that the scenario Trump described in the debate does not exist: In cases where a baby has to be delivered prematurely (because a woman experiences sudden complications, for example), that’s called birth, and in cases where a fetus dies in utero and is delivered at nine months, it’s called stillbirth. “Doctors say the scenario Mr. Trump described does not occur.”

And third, this editorial in Rolling Stone, which lays out the prognosis for women in a Trump Administration. The title: “Donald Trump’s Abortion Policies Would Kill Women.”