Category Archives: Political Corner

Sexual Assault or Harassment at School & Title IX

By: Cassandra Hedrick

What Title IX is and How it Works

Title IX is one of the 1972 Education Amendments. It requires schools to receive federal funding for fighting sex discrimination. This includes not being able to participate in an activity because of your sex, being denied benefits from your school because of your sex, and being sexually assaulted on campus or by someone you know from school. Title IX protects students, faculty, and those of any gender identity. This means those who identify outside the gender binary are protected as well This means they must have protocols for stopping any sort of sex discrimination in classrooms, sports, and clubs. If you cannot find these protocols, you can file a complaint here.

Beyond just making sure kids of any gender are treated equally, Title IX primarily deals with sexual assault. If you have been sexually assaulted at your school or by someone who goes to your school, you can file a Title IX report. Your school should have the instructions on how to do this in an easily accessible place, such as the school website or in your school handbook. They should also have a Title IX director who you can contact. If they do not have these things, you should file a complaint.

Beyond this, Title IX provides a “bill of rights” for victims of sexual assault. This includes providing the victim with any resources available to keep them in classes, clubs, and sports, such as providing security, allowing them to change classes, or anything else to prevent them from dealing with their attacker.  The Title IX office is also required to tell the victim of their options to report the attack (to the school, police, or both) and counseling resources.

Once you do report, your Title IX director is required to investigate and give you and the attacker the opportunity to make statements and give witnesses. You also have the right to know what happens during every step. This gives victims peace of mind; by letting them know what is happening during the process, they are not left wondering what is happening. Once the investigation is over, you must be notified of the outcome.

Title IX is there to protect both students and faculty from any kind of sex discrimination, including sexual assault. Every schools’ Title IX procedure should be “well advertised,” but if you can’t find it, you should file a complaint. You should have a Title IX director that will walk you through every step in the process and keep you informed at every step. These procedures are put in place to protect and give peace of mind to victims of sexual assault.

Tom Price: Unhealthy choice for leader US Healthcare Services

By: Nicole McLaren

 

In the past two weeks the Trump administration has dominated the news, some of this has been about the nominations he has made for leadership positions in the executive branch. He has nominated Tom Price for Health and Human Services. This nomination could have a direct impact on access to healthcare services and could dis-proportionally affect women and others who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

Tom Price is a congressman for Georgia’s 6th congressional district. During his time in Congress he sponsored bills that attempt to dismantle federal funding for healthcare services and he has spent years attempting to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. There is also speculation that he used his power as a US representative to benefit a health company that he owns stock in. The bill reversed cuts in reimbursements to the company. Since 2012 he has traded about $300,000 worth of shares in almost 40 different health companies. He has directly benefited from the rising cost of health care in the US which poses a problem if he is going to be the leader of Health and Human Services.

He will now be in a place of power to directly influence healthcare in the US if he is confirmed as the head of Health and Human Services. This nomination could have direct impact on the access to affordable healthcare. The ability to access healthcare services including reproductive and preventative healthcare is extremely important. For women to be able to participate in society we must have access to these services so that we have a choice and a say in our futures.

It is also important to think about the impact this will have on women who need access to reproductive healthcare through Planned Parenthood and how funding for Health and Human Services could hurt the ability to access these things. Healthcare is a fundamental right for all people and we have to work to make that a reality.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/02/hhs-nominee-tom-price-bought-stock-then-authored-bill-benefiting-company/97337838/

https://www.congress.gov/member/tom-price/P000591?q={%22search%22:[%22tom+price%22]}&resultIndex=1

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/tom-price-obamacare-234668

Come Out of the Quiet

This speech by DeRay Mckesson caught my attention the other week, and I’ve been thinking a lot about his ideas since then.


(It’s really worth watching, but in case you’re just skipping ahead, here’s the part of it that I’m going to be talking about: even when a lot of us are ‘out’ about who we are, it can be easy for some of the less convenient parts of ourselves to get overlooked and/or pushed aside when we don’t prioritize talking about them.)

I really like thinking about this, because I feel like it fills in a gap in how we talk about marginalized identities. We’ve had the metaphor of in the closet for ages, but it describes a pretty all-or-nothing situation. My last big ‘coming out’ moment was almost 20 years ago when talking with my grandfather – ever since then, it’s something that comes up as I meet new people, but there’s no big reveal. And that metaphor has always broken down when it comes to talking about identities that are a lot easier to pick up on visually (many racial and ethnic minorities, a number of physical disabilities, etc.)

But regardless of how apparent these identities are, it can still be really easy for them to get overlooked. (The whole “I don’t see race” thing.) It’s not something that happens out of malice, but just a consequence of the fact that human beings are pretty self-centered – it’s easy for us to forget about perspectives that are different from our own unless we’re making a conscious effort to include them.

Which is why the idea of coming out of the quiet is so compelling. It captures the fact that we’re already here, and we’re already a part of things. We’re just told – in various ways – to keep it down when it comes to talking about things that challenge the status quo.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that all of our efforts are stronger when we include this breadth of voices, and that the costs of exclusion are far too high. So here’s to coming out of the quiet, in all of the various ways that we’re called to do so. May we end up making a glorious noise.

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Finding Your People

Recently, I was talking with some other folks at Planned Parenthood about how isolated some people who support PP and reproductive justice can feel. It made a lot of sense, but I realized that I hadn’t thought all that much about what kind of a toll that can have on people.

Part of that is definitely due to circumstance – I’ve lived and worked in various different ‘liberal bubbles’ for a while, and so even though my political opinions haven’t been universally shared, it’s always been somewhat easy for me to find moderately like-minded folks. (Given that meeting new people in the US often involves ‘what do you do’ as an opening question, I often let people identify themselves as kindred spirits early on. And there are also some abrupt changes of subject, too.)

So if in-person conversations aren’t necessarily going to be places where you find shared viewpoints, where do you look? When it comes to something like supporting women who have abortions or opposing the efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, people can easily find the statistics showing that that’s an opinion that the majority of folks in the US share. But abstract numbers can only do so much.

And this made me see a lot of the recent social media campaigns around PP in a totally new way. For most people, it was primarily about showing support for Planned Parenthood in the face of the ongoing attacks. But a side benefit of it is that you can be reminded of who the people are in your life who support this work. For people who feel isolated, that can be a real boon, and that feeling of camaraderie can translate into more in-person connections too.

Not everyone feels the same kind of need to cultivate community around these issues, but for those of us who do, I’m really glad that the internet is making is easier in a lot of ways. If we have to weather the kinds of political attacks that have been coming down lately, at least we can do it together.

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Fighting back – what you can do

Orange logo that says "I stand with Planned Parenthood" in white text

image via The Riot

Feronians, we’ve gotten a lot of questions about how people can help fight back against all of the ridiculousness that’s been surrounding Planned Parenthood lately. From smear campaigns to pushes to take away funding to flat out lies about what happens at health centers, there’s no shortage of things to deal with! But sometimes it can be hard to know what to do specifically, since a lot of this is playing out on a sometimes distant-seeming national stage.

So if you’re fired up and looking for a place to get started, here are some places to begin!

  1. Write a Letter to the Editor
    Many individual voices together can make an impact that goes beyond all of the press conferences and interviews that we could ever hold. Write from the heart at home, or join one of our Wednesday Activist Meetings to join in with others doing the same.
  2. Share Your Story
    What draws you to reproductive justice? Are you one of the 1 in 5 women who’s used Planned Parenthood, or one of the 1 in 3 women in the US who’s had an abortion? What’s inspired you to become a supporter of this movement and this work?Particularly with all of the political rhetoric that gets flung around when it comes to reproductive health, the public conversations that take place often forget about the people who are at the heart of all of this. By talking about your particular connection to these issues, you can help to bring the focus back where it belongs.You can do this with people in your life, or reach out more widely through campaigns like Share Your Story or Humans of Planned Parenthood.
  3. Join Planned Parenthood’s Action Alert Networks
    You can text “Stand With PP” to 69866 to join the mobile action network, sign up for the local email list here, or find out more about volunteer opportunities near you.
  4. Make a Donation
    Especially as local affiliates work to fight back against baseless investigations and false claims, your support is more vital than ever. These attacks only serve to make the hardworking people at the health centers more determined to keep providing affordable, low cost sexual and reproductive health services to their communities.
  5. Follow Planned Parenthood on Social Media
    News is running at a breakneck pace these days, and we want to be sure you have all of the information that you need! You can get updates from Planned Parenthood on Facebook and on Twitter to hear about how what’s happening in the push back against these attacks, and about all of the work that happens in our health centers every day for the people who depend on us.
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Mean girls? Or just mean headlines?

Recently, I was catching up with an old friend when the topic of workplace culture came up. I made some offhand remark about the fact that I’ve only had one job with a male boss, and that the vast majority of my coworkers have all been women, and was really surprised by her response. She immediately expressed sympathy, and said that she could only imagine ‘all the drama’ that goes along with that.

I told her that I never really experienced any of that, our conversation moved on, and I probably wouldn’t have thought of it again except for Facebook. That weekend, another friend posted a meme about the Icelandic Women’s Strike of 1975, with a caption of “What power women have when they unite – instead of tear ourselves apart through gossip, demeaning behavior and ridicule.”

Image via Planting Peace

Image via Planting Peace

Now, it’s always amazing to see what can happen when a large group acts collectively, and it’s a hard and therefore pretty rare thing to see. But is the idea of women’s cattiness so deeply ingrained that it’s always the default expectation for a lot of people? I’ve heard the tropes about this before, but I thought that most of it was like the idea that all lesbians always wear flannel, or that all pregnant women only eat fried pickles: a stereotype that’s an easy sitcom punchline, but one that (almost) no one takes seriously.

Looking into it a bit, though, I found that a *lot* of people take this seriously, and I found myself shocked by the fact that I hadn’t run up against this more often.

We’re only now starting to get more objective data on these kinds of behaviors, though, so assumptions have had a long time to go unchecked. Psychologists call this kind of behavior indirect aggression, and past research tended to focus much more closely on direct aggression. It’s easier to see and categorize shoves and punches, and it’s a lot harder to ask questions about when people have been snide or exclusionary.

The research so far is pretty interesting, especially in the differences between men and women: there aren’t many. Men “gossip” more than women, but if often doesn’t get that label. And men and women express indirect aggression at the same rates, even though a lot of the mainstream press articles about new papers won’t mention that fact.

When I first started looking into this, I was wondering if I’d just been unfathomably lucky in my life and friendships. I’m glad to see that my friends, coworkers and I aren’t anomalies, but I’d be even happier if we could put the tired stereotypes to rest.

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Say It Like You Mean It: Reflecting on Women’s Voices

I come from a family that can be judgy as anything when it comes to how things sound. There are a number of family stories that circle around it, but one that comes to mind is from a parent-teacher night at my high school. One of the French teachers for 9th grade was fluent in a number of languages, but her accent lagged a bit behind her knowledge. Mme. Plume ‘s pronunciation was French-atop-German-atop-New Jersey, and it was the only thing my mother could talk about when she came home.

Now, my mother doesn’t speak a word of French or German beyond hello, but she’s got a degree in music and a well-developed ear. She was in charge of signing me up for classes, and I think that she might not have cared about anything that night other than making sure I got into someone else’s section.

I won’t lie – my accent is probably better off for it. And coming from a family where all things audible could be up for critique, the fact that she talked about it off and on for weeks was normal. While that story faded into memory, there were others that came up pretty regularly. And each time, even though the wincing wasn’t exactly polite, it was coming from such a gut level that I knew that whatever judgment was there was also accompanied by true discomfort.

But.

(You knew there was a but coming, with all that rambling above.)

As I grew up and saw more cycles of hand-wringing about voices – almost always female voices – I started to question why this was. Whether it was hearing people bemoan valley-speak, its legacy of ‘like’ as an interjection, upspeak, or now vocal fry, it was almost always women who were getting criticized.

Eventually I saw that, at a certain level, this criticism stems from the fact that women are expected to be pleasing no matter what else we are. Any woman who’s had to endure ‘helpful feedback’ about a presentation that focuses on her shoes, skirt length, or hairstyle is all too familiar with this, although most men will never face the same. (Though the social rules, as always, are different for men who aren’t white and/or aren’t traditionally masculine.)

These standards are especially damaging when it comes to world events, where a lot of what’s worth saying isn’t pleasant. So while I applaud all of the many excellent articles that have been pushing back about how things vocal fry are ‘the worst,’ I especially enjoyed this one by Jen Dziura, which focuses on all of the ways that speech patterns that are ‘too’ feminine can be used effectively.

And when it all gets to be just a bit too depressing, there’s always this hilarious takedown.

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The Supreme Court’s Decision in 5 Powerful Photos

It was an incredibly powerful and historical weekend, Feronians. On Friday, the Supreme Court came down with a ruling in the Obergefell vs. Hodges case. Marriage equality is now the rule of the land. Here’s the most beautiful excerpt from Justice Anthony Kennedy:

Kennedy

This historically significant decision was perfectly timed to coincide with Pride parades/festivals all over the United States. An unprecedented number of Americans showed up at Pride events to show their support, and it was beautiful. I, myself, marched in my city’s parade, and I was so moved by the sheer number of people and positive energy coming from the crowd. The images of those people along the parade route will forever be seared in my memory. In the event that you didn’t make it out to a Pride event, I’ve collected 5 powerful images from the weekend that I hope will “hit you in the feels.” This first one makes me weepy every time I look at it…

Alejo Jumat, left, hugged his husband, Christian Crowley, outside the Supreme Court on Friday. The couple rode their bikes over to the court after hearing about the ruling.Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Alejo Jumat, left, hugged his husband, Christian Crowley, outside the Supreme Court on Friday. The couple rode their bikes over to the court after hearing about the ruling.Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

 After 54 years as a couple, George Harris, 82, and Jack Evans, 85, shed a tear after being married by Judge Denise Garcia at the Dallas County records building. The two were the first gay couple to be issued a marriage license and to be married in Dallas Photograph: Ashley Landis/AP


After 54 years as a couple, George Harris, 82, and Jack Evans, 85, shed a tear after being married by Judge Denise Garcia at the Dallas County records building. The two were the first gay couple to be issued a marriage license and to be married in Dallas. Photograph: Ashley Landis/AP

 The North Portico of the White House was illuminated with rainbow colors on Friday night. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA


The North Portico of the White House was illuminated with rainbow colors on Friday night. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Carolyn Finken-Dove holds up a sign as she celebrates.

Carolyn Finken-Dove holds up a sign as she celebrates.

Emma Foulkes, left, and Petrina Bloodworth held hands and showed their wedding rings after being married at the Foulton County Courthouse in Atlanta. JOHN BAZEMORE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Emma Foulkes, left, and Petrina Bloodworth held hands and showed their wedding rings after being married at the Foulton County Courthouse in Atlanta. JOHN BAZEMORE/ASSOCIATED PRESS

And lastly, because it will always be relevant…

mlk

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Fun Friday: In Ireland, Love Wins!

In case you missed it, Ireland is the first nation in the world to approve gay marriage by a popular vote (62% of voters said yes). There are lots of great articles to come out of this momentous occasion including this one. The Feronia Project salutes you, Ireland!

A couple walks hand in hand from the count centre in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015. Ireland appears to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum that marks a dramatic social shift in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

A couple walks hand in hand from the count centre in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on gay marriage May 23, 2015. Ireland appears to have voted heavily in favour of allowing same-sex marriage in a historic referendum that marks a dramatic social shift in the traditionally Catholic country, government ministers and opponents of the bill said on Saturday. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

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Beating Burnout

This spring, anyone who’s politically involved has had a full plate, with Florida and a few other states being particularly busy when it comes to fighting bad bills and working to spread the word about rallies, SAAM and other actions. And when you pile that work on top of our everyday lives (as most of us do), the towering grey cloud of burnout tends to start looming.

It’s hard to pull back from this kind of work to take care of yourself, especially when there are a lot of really awful possibilities lurking on the immediate horizon. (Florida legislature, I’m looking at your Bathroom Bill and 24-hour Waiting Period as I type this.) But while you can motivate yourself for a while on the indignation that comes from the awfulness in the world, it’s not a stable long-term strategy.

So what is?

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation,
and that is an act of political warfare.
Audre Lorde, via Everyday Feminism

Everyone’s different, but no matter what you do to rejuvenate yourself, the first step is taking time for yourself to actually do it. For me, a big part of this is consciously unplugging, whether it’s for an evening, a day, or sometimes (wonderfully) a weekend. If you’ve got calls, texts and emails rushing in, it can be close to impossible to really get into a space that helps you to build up your energy again. (Since some of those will still pile up while you’re not answering them, I tend to feel less anxious if I also set aside some time to sift through all that when I get back.)

So once you’ve carved out some time, what do you put in there? When I’m feeling run down, I tend to first turn to something mindless. I really like certain crappy reality TV, and watching Survivor or the Amazing Race online is pretty much guaranteed to not require too much brainpower. Vegging out can only do so much, though, but once your brain has spun down a bit, you can rev it up with something with a bit more meaningful content, like a good novel or movie. Hobbies where you’re learning something new can also be a good way to engage your brain while keeping it so that your only obligations are to yourself. (My current favorite one is DuoLingo, a free site for learning languages.)

For those of you who aren’t as fond of playing the hermit, spending time with friends where you aren’t planning or strategizing can be very restorative. As someone whose closest friends and family are almost all a few states away, it’s also really great to set aside time to catch up with them when I can really focus on our conversation. Facebook and texts are great, but it’s not the same as having a deeper, more centering talk with someone.

And no discussion of self-care would be complete without talking about sleep, water, food, and exercise, since they can make you feel utterly miserable when you’re neglecting them. The good news about being worn down, though, is that small changes can make a pretty big difference here. That may mean keeping your water bottle full throughout the day, or it may mean taking 5 minute dance breaks every hour, but you can almost always shunt something into your schedule that’ll help.

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