Education Rights for Women (Or lack there of)

By: Cassandra Hedrick

In first world countries like America there is not really a gap between boys and girls school attendance. However, in many countries around the world there is an issue with girls not being able to get an education. In Afghanistan, girls only make up 1/3 of students and they make up 2/3s of illiterate adults worldwide. While we are moving in the direction of gender equality when it comes to education, we are not quite there. There are many factors contributing to this lack of education for girls, the main ones being poverty, race or ethnicity, and location.

Kids in poverty stricken countries are less likely to attend school. Girls are 2% less likely to go to school because they tend to stay at home and help with household duties. Similarly, girls from rural areas are less likely to attend school for the same reason, as well as because of the distance they live from schools. In parts of the world where there is a lot of war and violence, girls may not be able to attend school because it is dangerous for them to go. However, no matter where are in the world, racial and ethnic minorities always attend school at lower rates. This means the gender disparities are accentuated.

We need to pay more attention to gender inequality in education. Just because we don’t see it very often in America, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen all over the world. There are gender disparities in education, caused by poverty, location, and race. If you want to help fix this, you can visit the United Nations Girls Education Initiative to find out more.

Women in Prison: It’s nothing like Orange is the New Black

By: Cassandra Hedrick

Men and women’s prisons are very different from each other. For example, men’s prisons tend to have higher security than women prisons. But even though men and women are separated in prison, there is still an issue of gender inequality. There are only 170 women’s prisons in America and they are not funded as well as the men’s prisons. This causes women prisoners to return to prison at a higher rate, which is known as recidivism.

Even though women’s prisons tend to be more comfortable, they are not as good as men’s prisons. Women tend to stay in dormitories or cottages, rather than cells. Also, like I said before, they have much less security and therefore more freedom. However, they lack in rehabilitation programs. This is a serious issue because many women inmates have substance abuse problems and mental illnesses. Meanwhile, men’s prisons have more rehabilitation programs due to the amount of violent offenders; prisons feel as though they need to rehabilitate them for the protection of the community. This lack of rehabilitation programs is what causes the much higher rates of recidivism for women prisoners.

While the rate of women in prison has tripled since 1980, the funding has not. Just because women get more freedom in prison and the facilities may look nicer, they still aren’t as good as men’s prisons where is counts. Their severe lack of rehabilitation programs causes the inmates to suffer once they leave prison, and inevitably go back. Women need more rehabilitation programs in order to become successful after leaving prison.

How Television Falsely Depicts Abortion

By: Jillian James

Kerry Washington in an episode on Scandal, one of the few shows that have portrayed an abortion in an honest and realistic manner.

 

When it comes to the media’s depiction of abortion, there is usually more fiction on the screen than fact. The University of California San Francisco ANSIRH program’s Abortion OnScreen project studied how abortion was portrayed in a wide variety of television shows. According to the study, “42.5 percent of plot lines included a complication, intervention, or major health consequence” as a result of an abortion.

 

That is huge contrast to the actual outcome data from abortion procedures. Only 2.1% of all abortions have any sort of complication, and they are usually minor. In reality, an abortion is an incredibly safe medical procedure that carries very small risk.

 

According to the study, TV makes having an abortion seem like a high-stakes operation. Characters who receive abortions on TV are frequently depicted as having serious, life-altering complications from the procedure, including “infertility, depression, and death.” According to the study, 5% of the characters in the television samples studies died from having an abortion. That number is astronomically high and dangerously incorrect.

 

People internalize what they see on television, and television has the ability to shape public views and public policy. With women’s rights and reproductive access constantly being attacked by government officials, it is crucial that people have a proper understanding of abortion and its level of safety. Portraying abortion in such a negative light can falsely lead the public to form biases again abortion that are not based on fact, and using abortion to add drama to a television show is blatantly misleading the public.

 

An abortion is not a dangerous decision. Its time for the media to stop portraying it that way.

 

SOURCES:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2017/04/18/abortion_is_20_times_more_dangerous_on_tv_than_it_is_in_real_life.html

https://www.ansirh.org/news/tv-greatly-exaggerates-medical-and-psychological-risks-associated-abortion

 

Religion and Sex Ed in the U.S.

By: Nicole McLaren

The history of sexual education in the U.S. has been interesting to say the least. In the 19th century sex ed included pamphlets about the evils of masturbation to the spreading of the idea that masturbation and ejaculation cause loss of energy. The early 20th century brought about the first organized sexual education. Chicago was the first city to implement sexual education in high school although the program was shut down early after it started. The federal government’s first attempt to educate about sex was during WW1 when they began teaching solider’s about STDs.

The U.S. Office of Education began training teachers in sexual education by the 1930s. By the 60’s and 70’s sex ed had become a political issue that religious conservatives used to prevent sexual education in public schools. These religious groups viewed sex ed as promoting promiscuity, even going as far as claiming sex ed was communist indoctrination.

With HIV emerging as an issue in the 80s, sex ed took on a more prominent role but religious conservatives pushed back through the creation of abstinence only programs. From 1981 to 2010 the federal government spent over $1 billion on abstinence only sexual education programs. This began in the Reagan administration and continued into two years of Obama’s first term. Even in the Clinton’s administration there was provisions added, by religious groups, to the Welfare Reform Act of 96 to ensure that abstinence only education was funded by the federal government. The information provided in these programs not only leaves out birth control methods and other methods of prevention, they also distort medical facts and rely on religious doctrine.

While we have started to move towards a more scientifically based sexual education there is still improvements to be made. The need to promote fact based sex ed is ultimately up to the people in each state. We must push our legislators with organizations like Planned Parenthood and Advocates for Youth to implement sex ed programs in public schools that provide real education for students.

 

 

Do you know how babies are made?

By: Nicole McLaren

The goal of sexual education is to teach young folks how to lead healthy sex lives, at least that is the ideal form of it. Unfortunately only 24 states and D.C. require that public schools teach sex education. Even among these sex education programs there is variance, some programs focus on abstinence only instead of providing a comprehensive education.

Not only have these abstinence only programs been found ineffective at keeping teens from having sex, some of them are not based on scientific fact and actually rely on religion to educate. The federal government has spent taxpayer money to fund these abstinence only programs even after the research found them to be ineffective.  Advocates for Youth claims that overall congress has spent over $1.5 billion on these harmful programs.

Multiple studies have found that parents regardless of educational obtainment, economic class, and religious affiliation, support the idea that comprehensive sexual education should be provided to their children. These studies have been completed nation-wide and in individual states and the results have been the same.

The prevention of teen pregnancy and STD/STI contraction is important for young people to lead healthy, successful lives. The best way to do this is to provide sexual education for teens in school, at home and in the community. Every year, according to dosomething.org 750,000 teen girls will get pregnant in the U.S. That’s 3 out of every 10 teenage girls. Becoming a parent is the leading cause of dropping out of high school, 50% of teen moms never graduate. Only 2% of teen moms earn a college degree.

There is much we can do in way of changing policy by working with organizations  like Planned Parenthood to lobby legislators into listening to the wants and needs of their constituents. Something that we can do right now though is start a free Babysitters Club to help teen moms stay in school or earn their GEDs. Here is a link https://www.dosomething.org/us/campaigns/babysitters-club?source=node/152

Trump Kills Worker’s Protections: Featuring Trump’s many tweets about women.

By: Cassandra Hedrick

It’s no surprise that Donald Trump has very little respect for women. It also shouldn’t be surprising that on March 27th he signed several bills that will take away important protections for women workers. He revoked the 2014 fair pay and safe workplaces order, which made companies allow paycheck transparency and banned forced arbitration for sexual harassment cases.

By taking away these regulation, Trump has made it possible for companies to discriminate against women workers. By taking away paycheck transparency, businesses will now be able to pay women less. This means employers can make it policy for employees not to talk about salaries with coworkers, therefore, women will not know if they are being paid less.

What’s worse, is that companies can now put forced arbitration into their employee contracts. This means, if a woman is sexually harassed or assaulted in the workplace, she must go through the employer and settle the case outside of court. This lets companies to keep sexual assault scandals within the company. It also prevents victims from wanting to come forward about sexual assault cases in their workplace.

But why would Trump do this? He claims he respects women’s workers, you would think he would want to protect them.

But it seems to him that protecting women workers is not nearly as important as de-regulating the economy. He claims these regulations are an unnecessary restriction on businesses. However, without these regulation, employers will be able to pay women less and they may become victims to sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. I’m sorry not discirminatting against women is such an undue burden on businesses.

 

Protections for Transgender Women Or lack Thereof

By: Cassandra Hedrick

Transgender women are one the least protected demographics in America. They are often murdered but it is rarely investigated. In many states, Transgendered individuals can be discriminated against in both housing and employment. However, they are still people and American citizens and there for are entitles to the same rights and protections as cisgendered individuals.

While things are getting better for the trans community, they are still missing many of the same rights most Americans enjoy. They are often targeted for unnecessary questioning and random pat downs by police and are not allowed to ask for an officer of a different gender. When they are in prison, Male to Female transgendered individuals are often housed in male prisons. Not to mention the fact they can be arrested for using the bathroom that does not match their biological sex.

In addition, insurance companies can refuse to cover someone who has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (feeling as though they are a gender other than the one assigned to them at birth). Also employers are not required to provide transition related medical treatment as a part of employee insurance policies.

That being said, we are on the right track. California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia all have protections for transgendered individuals. There have also been several court cases that have provided protections. For instance, the department of Housing and Urban Development is not allowed to discriminate against anyone from the LGBTQ+ community and Title VII protects them against employer discrimination in some states. Things can continue to get better if we all come together and accept trans people as people and treat them as such.

What is Intersectionality, and Why Does it Matter?

By: Jillian James

There has been a lot of discussion among feminists lately about the topic of intersectionality. But what does it mean, and why is it important? Simply put, intersectionality is the conversion and consideration of different cultures and people that are a part of the feminist community. For example, a young Latina feminist may have different priorities than a middle-aged white woman who considers herself a feminist. Being intersectional in your thinking means considering the voices and needs of ALL groups who stand by your cause.

 

The feminist community has been criticized in the past for only including the voices of white women. Scholar and professor Kimberle Crenshaw introduced the topic of intersectional feminism in a 1989 paper that she wrote entitled “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics.” She stated that black women had been excluded from feminist activities and feminist theory, and that a black woman’s race and gender could not be seen as two separate entities.

 

A key part of understanding intersectionality is comprehending that feminism is not one-size-fits-all. It is a very personal thing for each woman who decides to call herself a feminist, and every woman will have certain issues that are close to her. Some women may be concerned about he gender pay gap, while others are worried about issues like paid maternity leave or abortion access. Considering the experiences and voices of every woman of every social, racial, and economic background is the key to making feminism as inclusive and representative as possible.

SOURCES:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/01/19/feminism-intersectionality-racism-sexism-class/96633750/

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/01/why-our-feminism-must-be-intersectional/

 

The Social Construction of Gender and the Gender-Neutral Parenting Trend

By: Jillian James

From the moment we are born, we are classified as either biologically male or female and raised according to our gender. Girls get pink toys and clothes, boys get blue. Girls wear dresses, boys don’t. However, there is a distinct difference between your biological sex and your gender. A person’s sex is refers to their anatomy, while a person’s gender refers to a person’s concept of himself or herself.

 

As more and more social science research has been conducted, scholars have realized something very important- gender is a social construct. Just because a boy has long hair or wears makeup doesn’t make him any less of a male biologically. He is just going against his society’s prescribed ideal about what a male should look like.

 

Gender is a social construct because the definition of masculinity and femininity has changed in our society over time. Less than one hundred years ago women were given the right to vote and a woman wearing pants could cause a scandal. The social construction of gender also changes from country to country, region to region, state to state. Every culture has its own prescribed gender ideals and ways of thinking. This is all proof that gender ideals don’t have a connection to a person’s biology.

 

So what can we learn from this? Luckily, society is becoming more and more accepting and has gained more understanding about gender fluidity and societies’ pressure to conform to gender norms. This is very positive step in the right direction.

 

The new trend in parenting is raising a child to be “gender-neutral”. This means that you don’t raise your child as being distinctively male or female or you don’t make them follow prescribed gender roles. Instead you let them grow and develop independently and make their own choices about their gender as they get older. This is becoming very popular in other countries like Sweden and is now making its way to the United States.

 

There are different levels to this type of parenting. Some couples don’t even reveal the gender of their child and raise their children as neither male nor female while others simply encourage their children to break gender stereotypes. Things as simple as buying both boy and girl toys and encouraging them a wide variety interests can help children feel comfortable being themselves.

 

Having prescribed gender roles can be harmful. Human beings are incredibly complex, multifaceted creatures. They can’t fit into any one box or type. The people who struggle to conform to the societal norm can feel ostracized and begin to question themselves and their self-worth. By understanding and accepting that both boys and girls can have a wide variety of interests that may include things that are typically associated with the opposite gender, we can start to understand, accept, and encourage them to be their truest selves.

 

Source:

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/difference-sex-and-gender/

http://www.parents.com/parenting/gender-neutral-parenting/

 

Defunding women’s healthcare worldwide

By: Nicole McLaren

https://mic.com/articles/173529/this-week-in-reproductive-rights-trump-defunds-the-un-s-maternal-health-fund#.qmpHqXwjV

The U.S. is in the position to have an impact on many issues all across the world, one of these being access to healthcare for women. The current administration has attacked women’s reproductive rights already with both words and policy not only in the US but globally. They have decided to defund the United Nation’s Global Maternal Health Organization.

This is an organization that provides reproductive healthcare including abortion services to women all over the world. According to the administration this is to prevent the UN from conducting “coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization”. This claim is baseless according to the as there is no evidence that the organization does either of these two things.

George W. Bush used the same argument to defund the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), claiming it was supporting China’s one child policy with these funds. Even though the UN has expressed that they do not support the one child policy and no funds are used to support it.

The UNFPA and UN Global Maternal Health Organization provide contraceptives, family planning services, prenatal care, abortion, sexual and reproductive health services as well as education for populations all over the planet. This will take away over $70 million from the organizations but this only makes up 7% of the organizations budget. This is not the first attack on international women’s healthcare that the administration has committed. They have reinstated the Global Gag Rule which is a ban on U.S. funding to be given to any organization that provides safe abortions.

It is important for women to have access to reproductive healthcare, including abortions, not only in the U.S. but across the globe. The current administration is working to limit access to these services for all women and we must combat that by standing up for the rights of women. One way we can do that is having access to information. The UNFPA has a newsletter that anyone can sign up for so that you can be informed about these issues. Here’s the link https://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin?v=001-YNFZmXHhSP25d9kiBTi0ZxtEwaeIcM-UeLsaXPKYoHs5SAGE1WbNakIrfhkc_3wTTkXkKXbHJpBnXtbqkTATg_O174jFAyLQdNkQkPKQAk%3D&MERGE0=