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The House gallery was packed beyond its 102-seat capacity, with Virginia first lady Pam Northam and her daughter, Aubrey Northam, making a rare appearance to bear witness. ERA supporters attended from around the country, many wearing sashes from long-ago marches for women’s equality.
“What happens in Virginia impacts the entire country and will reverberate across the globe,” said Betty Folliard, the founder of ERA Minnesota, who traveled to Richmond to watch the votes.
Numerous legal hurdles still have to be cleared before the ERA, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, would become part of the Constitution. Critics say various deadlines for ratification have long since passed.
But supporters were jubilant that Virginia, after years of failure, is poised to become the 38th state to approve the amendment. They pledged to mount a massive national campaign to enact it.
“For the women of Virginia and the women of America, the resolution has finally passed,” Del. Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax), the first female House speaker in the 401-year history of Virginia’s legislature, said in announcing the result of the House vote.
She set off cheers that could be heard across the Capitol in the Senate chamber, where debate on the ERA was still underway.
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William), the resolution’s chief House sponsor, introduced the measure with a litany of Virginia’s civil rights failures, including slavery, massive resistance to school integration and the ban on interracial marriage.
“It’s Virginia again on the battleground of equality. I think it is right on time for Virginia to finally be on the right side of history,” Carroll Foy said.
Calling the balloting that was about to take place “the vote of a lifetime,” she asked lawmakers: “Which side of history do you want to be on? . . . The world is watching — your mothers, your sisters, your daughters.”
Del. Vivian Watts (D-Fairfax) held up a photo of herself and her daughter demonstrating for the ERA in Washington 44 years ago, when her daughter was 14. Watts wore the same sash Wednesday that she wore in the photo.
“It should be ancient history,” Watts said. “Forty-four years is a long time to wait.”
Republican lawmakers, who bottled up the ERA in subcommittee during their 26 years in control of the House of Delegates, tried to postpone action with parliamentary challenges. Several also said the vote was merely symbolic, because it remains unclear whether the amendment can actually be ratified so long after its initial approval.
First proposed in 1923, the ERA was reintroduced in every session of Congress until it passed in 1972. U.S. lawmakers set a deadline of March 22, 1979, for three-quarters of the states to ratify the amendment, a measure ERA supporters now say is unconstitutional because it was not included in the amendment text.
As that deadline approached, Congress extended it to June 30, 1982. Because only 35 of the needed 38 state legislatures ratified the ERA by that time, the amendment was declared a failure.
Subsequently, legislatures in Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee and South Dakota rescinded their ratifications. ERA supporters say there is no provision for rescissions in the Constitution, and therefore they do not count. No federal court has conclusively ruled on that question.
Since 2017, Nevada and Illinois have ratified the ERA, which put Virginia in place as the final state needed for ratification, if the five withdrawals are not counted. But the U.S. Justice Department last week issued a finding that the amendment had expired and could no longer be ratified.
The finding was requested by three state attorneys general who sued the archivist of the United States late last year in an attempt to keep him from registering the amendment if Virginia passed it. Their lawsuit is being challenged by two Massachusetts organizations, who say only Congress — not the executive branch — can interfere in a constitutional amendment process.
Separately, several efforts are underway on Capitol Hill to either extend or restart the ratification process.
Elizabeth Holtzman, a former member of Congress from New York who sponsored the resolution extending the original ratification deadline to 1982, said Wednesday that Virginia’s vote is “a very big step forward.
“It’s a recognition by three-quarters of the states that American women firmly belong in the United States Constitution,” she said in a phone call from Paris. “It’s been a long time coming, far too long.”
Wednesday’s votes in Richmond were not for final passage of the amendment. Under parliamentary rules, each chamber still has to approve the other’s version, even though they are identical. That process could take several days, but in this case is considered a formality.
The state Senate has passed the ERA with bipartisan support several times in past sessions. This year, both chambers designated the measure Joint Resolution 1, signifying its priority status.
The House vote was recorded as 59-41, though one Republican — Wendell Walker of Lynchburg — said he voted “yes” inadvertently and filed a vote change. The other three Republicans who sided with every Democratic lawmaker were Dels. Carrie Coyner (Chesterfield), Glenn Davis (Virginia Beach) and Jeff Campbell (Smyth County).
The 28-12 Senate vote included seven Republicans in favor of the amendment. Two of them — Sens. Siobhan Dunnavant (Henrico) and Jennifer Kiggans (Virginia Beach) — made floor speeches. Kiggans, a former Navy helicopter pilot and the first female military veteran in the General Assembly, said that women have not needed the ERA to achieve great things, but that the measure’s symbolism had value.
Conservative opponents say ratifying the ERA would make it harder to limit abortion and illegal to separate the sexes in bathrooms, college dormitories and school sports — assertions supporters dispute.
“The so-called Equal Rights Amendment will not give women any more rights than they have today,” Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) said on the floor Wednesday.
Some ERA critics pointed to the presence of female legislators in Richmond as proof that women were able to achieve in society even without the amendment.
But supporters say the amendment is a matter of guaranteeing women rights and protections.
“It is our time, together, to embrace equal rights under the law for everyone,” Del. Danica Roem (D-Prince William), the first openly transgender member of the Virginia legislature, said to cheers and applause before the House vote.
In the Senate, which scrapped its planned agenda to take up the matter as its first order of business, Sen. Mamie Locke (D-Hampton) said she was “baffled” by the controversy over timing.
“There’s no time limit on equal rights,” she said.
Above, in the gallery, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb — a former Virginia first lady and the daughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson — sat front and center, decked out in a purple pantsuit, the trademark color of the ERA movement.
She also wore a purple sash displaying a half-dozen ERA pins she’d collected while supporting the cause. “I wore this when I marched — I think it was 1980 or ’79 — down Pennsylvania Avenue,” she said.
State Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond) acknowledged the strides women have made in society and in the General Assembly, where women hold a record number of seats, committee chairmanships and other leadership posts.
“And yet, we still have a long way to go,” McClellan said. “I don’t want to leave this fight unfinished for my daughter.”
After the Senate acted, ERA supporters celebrated in crowded Capitol hallways.
“This was 100 years in the making,” said Eileen Davis, a longtime Virginia ERA advocate and the mother of U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.). “It’s for all the women who didn’t live to see this day, and all the women who barely lived to see this day.”
We are Equal Means Equal and want you to know we are keeping a very close eye on the status of the Equal Rights Amendment in the Virginia legislature.
You should be aware that we are funding a Constitutional Equality Super PAC to support candidates who support equality and the ERA; and oppose those who do not.
Rupert Murdoch, Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger, Lawrence Benenson and Marc Benioff, to name just a few of our supporters, are financially and philosophically behind our mission.
Please join us and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment this month – 232 years is too long to wait for basic equality for all Americans.
Please see the CNN video clip below that aired yesterday, focused on the ERA in Virginia:
Here is a copy of the full page color ad that will shortly be seen in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
SJ 284 Has Been Assigned to the Virginia House Privileges and Elections committee.
As said by VA Ratify ERA : “This is the assignment we had hoped to avoid. However, Speaker Cox’s office indicated today that ERA *will* receive a hearing this year because there is so much interest. His office declined to indicate whether that hearing would be in a Subcommittee (certain death) or the full committee (possibility of making it to the floor).
On Monday we will have our first of three “large gathering” days at the Capitol. Think about how much fun it was on opening day and let’s do it again! We know the House leadership has *somewhat* gotten the message that people are focused on the Equal Rights Amendment but we want them to know we have staying power and are not going away. It will be cold so we will plan to go through security in the Capitol and line the halls indoors. We are also working to set up a press conference – more details as soon as we know them!”
Listen as Kamala Lopez, Executive Director of Equal Means Equal speaks with Amanda Marcotte in Salon Talks:
Meanwhile we got great news from Betty Folliard, ERA Minnesota Founder: for the first time in decades, the Minnesota House Government Operations Committee will hear ERA bills! Hearings will take place Thursday January 24th at 9:45 AM.
The clock is ticking. Only thirty four more days to go until the session ends in Virginia. WE CAN DO THIS. Let’s finish it.
Kamala, Natalie and the EME Team
Happy New Year! 2019 is going to be the year that the Equal Rights Amendment is finally enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and EQUAL MEANS EQUAL plans to invite you to celebrate with us every step of the way!
First up: VIRGINIA – January 2019
January 8th EQUAL MEANS EQUAL is heading back to Virginia to host a VIP Reception for legislators the day before their General Assembly begins. After the reception, legislators and supporters will head to the Byrd Theatre for a screening of the great documentary, RGB! This fun evening should put them in the right frame of mind to start the session with the ERA front and center. Our goal is to get ERA voted on and passed by mid-January 🙂
If you will be in Richmond and would like to come, please send us an email RSVP right away – guest list is extremely limited: RSVP@equalmeansequal.com
This year we are not taking anything but “hell, yes!” for an answer and plan put increasing pressure on these guys (we’re looking at YOU, VA House Speaker Kirk Cox!) every week until they hold a full committee hearing on the ERA and put it up for a vote!
According to Kati Hornung of VARatifyERA, the Virginia Senate appears poised to approve the resolution in 2019. They are awaiting confirmation this week when Senator Sturtevant submits his resolution and they see which committee is assigned the resolution (Senator Jill Vogel in the Senate Privileges & Elections Committee always makes sure the ERA gets to the floor).
She says the key focus will likely be on pressuring the most powerful people in the Virginia House of Delegates where the ERA has not gotten out of committee in decades. We look forward to creative participation from all of EQUAL MEANS EQUAL’s on-the-ground equality warriors in this exciting and urgent task.
Here is an important excerpt from their website, shared here with permission:
“Priority 1/Path to the Floor
Virginia House of Delegates
Delegate M. Kirkland “Kirk” Cox, Speaker of the House
Background: Speaker Cox sets the course for an Equal Rights Amendment ratification in 2019 depending upon which committee he selects to consider the issue. The House Privileges and Election committee, chaired by Delegate Mark Cole, has never docketed the Equal Rights Amendment. Speaker Cox, on the other hand, is the chair of the Rules Committee and could single-handedly (without a committee vote) put the Equal Rights Amendment straight to the House floor for a vote.
The ask: Speaker Cox, please ensure the Equal Rights Amendment gets a vote on the full House floor.
Extra credit: Review Speaker Cox’s top donors and if you know someone who could be influential to Speaker Cox please reach out and encourage him/her to become an equality champion.
Delegate Todd Gilbert, House Majority Leader
Background: Delegate Gilbert, as the House Majority Leader, will be very involved in the Republican caucus decision as to whether or not they allow the Equal Rights Amendment to get a full vote on the House floor. The Republicans in the House of Delegates are generally in lock step with important issues and it is expected their caucus will make this decision together.
The ask: Delegate Gilbert, please ensure the Equal Rights Amendment gets a vote on the full House floor.
Extra credit: Review Delegate Gilbert’s top donors and if you know someone who could be influential to Delegate Gilbert, please reach out and encourage him/her to become an equality champion.”
Please keep us posted when and how you follow up on this information; send us suggestions, leads to supportive celebrities and ideas for other media-friendly headline-grabbing actions we can do NOW.
“Do you know a feminist publicist? A journalist interested in a great positive story that ties into the cultural zeitgeist? Who do you know who can help get the word out that the century long fight for equality is making its last stand in Virginia this month?”
We need to raise awareness about this important battle and get people involved right away! Now is the time to push on this – these guys are not looking to be the poster-boys for misogyny so the more of a spotlight we shine on them, the less likely they can: 1. Avoid the ERA again 2. Vote against it.
Let us be strong, outspoken and yet remain respectful. We have rights. Let’s exercise them now in the service of ERA.
Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, Kirk Cox who refuses to allow a vote on the ERA
On another important subject, the next EQUAL MEANS EQUAL legal call, will take place on Friday January 4th at 1pm PST, 4pm EST.
We apologize for any confusion on our inaugural call – I was unfortunately in Costa Rica playing with Pisotes.
Costa Rican pisote or “coati” native to the tropical jungle
We will be sending out the conference call # again to anyone who previously expressed interest as well as inviting any additional attorneys interested in working with our team developing legal strategies post ratification of the 38th state.
If you are interested in participating in this important conversation, please send an email to: email@example.com
Subject Line: Litigation Brain Trust
Please send us : Your Name/firm/email/mobile
And we will follow up an invite to join the call this Friday January 4th at 1pm PST, 4pm EST!
Hope to see you in Virginia in January! Here we go! Let’s do this thing.
SWW ~ Word Cloud: “If These Walls Could Talk”
SWW ~ Word Cloud: “Kavanaugh SCOTUS Hearings”
I was ten.
I was in seventh grade. Youngest of my grade, just ten years old the first day of school with my birthday still months away, skinny, tall for my age, hadn’t opted out of the uniform requirement. A boy started stalking me at school. He’d follow me around campus, catcall me, get in my way, crowd me, push or pull me by my backpack.
I was a good girl. I told him to stop, that I didn’t like how he was acting. I used the pretty words the anti-bullying people told us to. He laughed. He kept following me, harassing me, crowding me.
I was a good girl. I reported him to the office, since telling him to stop hadn’t worked. The staff eyed my long legs in my uniform skort, glanced dismissively at my flat chest, looked annoyed, called the boy in. A cheerful male counselor laughingly told the boy that girls don’t like it when you tease them, so he should stop, okay? There was an obvious sense that they weren’t upset with him at all, and were just going through the motions. He was sent back to class after barely two minutes. I was kept for a half hour, as I was told that girls mature faster than boys, and boys tend to tease girls they like, it’s a compliment. I shouldn’t take it so seriously, I shouldn’t be so sensitive, it was my job to me more mature so he had enough time to grow up more and learn better ways to talk to girls. I should be nice to him, he was in a difficult time for his body. After missing an entire class to this lecture, I was allowed to leave.
He didn’t stop. If anything, he got worse. He’d always been careful not to touch ME, just my backpack, or to position himself so he was blocking my way and I’d have to touch him to get by, but he wouldn’t initiate contact. After he got the not even a slap on the wrist talking to, he started shoving me, tripping me, once or twice pushed me back by my still flat chest. I reported him again. They didn’t even call him up. I reported him again. And again. And again. The office staff began to roll their eyes when they saw me coming. I was lectured on how they’d already disrupted his day once, and they weren’t going to harass the boy…as they kept me out of class to lecture me on how I needed to stop complaining. Eventually, they told me I would have to start making appointments to report him. These appointments were always weeks out.
Months passed, the weather went from scorching to a little chilly. I got a brand new pair of boots one weekend. Hardened leather toe, new-sharp edge on the hard rubber soles. I wore them that Monday.
He harassed me every chance he got all day, as usual. As I was waiting for the bus, he cornered me against the library wall, in a niche between two decorative columns. Hundreds of people could see, including the staff there to monitor the students. He crowded me, blocked me in. The yard duty looked straight at me, then away. Other kids walked by quickly, their eyes flicking guiltily to me and away. No one tried to stop him.
I realized no one would ever stop him, unless I did. I realized all those times I’d been told to be a good girl, no one had ever told me what to do if it wasn’t enough. I wanted to cry, I started to try to back away further into the niche, and my boot caught the ground. Suddenly the hot feeling behind my eyes dropped to my belly, grew. If he wouldn’t be a good boy, well, the sudden fire in my gut poured steel into my spine as I decided I would give him one last warning, and then I’d stop being a good girl. One last chance.
“Get away from me, or I’ll kick you,” I told him firmly, clearly.
“Oooooh, I’m so scaaaared,” he taunted, leaning in closer with a smirk. “Girly girl is going to kiiiick me! Girly girl, girly girl, girly girl, girly-YIE!”
He yelped and fell to the ground, clutching his shin just as my bus finally pulled up. I darted past him, limping from stubbing my toes with how hard I’d kicked him, and clambered onto the bus as fast as I could. I was both scared and feeling this wild, fierce feeling, slightly ashamed since I knew good girls didn’t kick people, but he couldn’t say I hadn’t warned him. He’d taunted me back with my warning! I limped the rest of the day, toes stinging, but still feeling mostly victorious and defiant.
I was called to the office the next morning. He was sitting there, pants rolled up to show a strip of his shin, nearly an inch wide and almost three inches long, where it looked like he’d tried to shave and peeled off a strip of skin instead. I immediately realized that I’d kicked him so hard that I’d skinned his shin right through his jeans. (He was one of many whose parents had signed the uniform waiver, and wore ‘regular’ clothes instead of the uniform.) The office staff looked livid. They crowded me, loomed over me as they told me that he said I’d kicked him after school the day before.
I could tell they wouldn’t care that he’d been harassing me for months. I had an appointment to file another complaint set for two weeks from them already, after all. I knew they wouldn’t care that I’d warned him, that he’d repeated it back to me even. Good girls didn’t kick boys, no matter what boys did. Boys will be boys, after all. They’d blame me for daring to react, for telling a boy no and worse yet, acting to force him away from me. Boys will be boys, and girls will be good girls, or be branded the real problem.
So, in a heartbeat I decided to be a “good girl” for them. They didn’t want the truth, they wanted me to be soft and weak and scared. I burst into ‘repentant’ tears, sobbing loudly, and began to babble apologies. I was so sorry! I hadn’t meant to, it was an accident, I hadn’t realized! He-he pushed me, and I fell, and I’m SO SORRY, I must have kicked him when I fell, I DIDN’T MEAN TO, I’M SORRY! I hiccuped, and coughed, and carried on until my asthmatic whoops were clearly audible as I ‘panicked’ and cried the biggest crocodile tears I could, incoherently gasping out continuous apologies the whole time.
Suddenly, everything shifted. I was a Good Girl again in their eyes. I was a silly little thing who couldn’t cope with a little harmless attention from a boy, yes, but if I’d reported him dozens of times for months and never even tried to fight back before this, and I was clearly so distraught at having hurt him by complete accident, well, I must be a Good Girl. I fit comfortably into the little box they had made for me.
The scornful female secretary was suddenly all coos, calming me down, telling me it was okay, I wasn’t in trouble, it wasn’t my fault. The male counselor rounded on the boy, suddenly switching from being his best friend to a Stern Educator Here To Guide Young Minds To Responsible Paths, and immediately began telling the boy off soundly, full of righteous anger that he had dared to lie to them this way, they’d clearly been too easy on him, how dare he escalate to physical violence like this then blame his victim for the results of his own actions, he would be serving detention for this shameful deception and failure to accept the consequences of his behavior, this was such a violation of the school’s trust in him as a Responsible Young Man.
The boy ended up with months of detentions. It had started as something like a week or two, but he’d argued with the office staff, and gotten more tacked on for his unrepentant and disrespectful attitude. He’d gone from a harmlessly normal boy just being a boy to a disrespectful delinquent liar in their eyes, you see. They weren’t mad at him for harassing me, anyone could see that, they were mad at him for ‘lying’ and disrespecting their authority, and needed to be put in his place. I’d slotted neatly back into my Good Girl box, weak and compliant and meek, while he’d made them look bad and feel tricked. He’d skipped some detentions and sassed staff during others, and his punishment kept getting added to. And every time I saw him after that, I’d look him dead in the eyes and tap my foot. He’d run.
My story has a happy ending. I learned to wear my nails a hair longer, just enough to dig into soft spots, but not fashionably long, as those broke and hurt. I learned how to use those nails to dig into cuticles when boys grabbed me, to bend fingers back on grasping hands, to claw for eyes if I had to. I learned to wear sturdy boots, whatever the weather, if I would be out of my parent’s sight. I learned to be meek and soft in front of adults, to be a Good Girl and make a show of following the rules. I learned to ask once nicely, once firmly, then get nasty to get the results I wanted. I learned to not be afraid of drawing blood if a boy wouldn’t listen to my no, because hundreds of witnesses and dozens of reports wouldn’t do anything to help me. I learned that sometimes lying is the only way to get a boy punished for his actual wrongdoings. I learned to stop trusting others to help me.
This is a mild story, an easy example where it worked out, and the danger was never very bad anyway. I was only ten. I should never have been forced to find a way to deal with my harasser myself, or to have had to lie to keep from being punished for finally ending the harassment myself. I’m still proud that he limped the rest of the week after I’d kicked him. I still feel like I should be ashamed for feeling proud. I dearly hope that minor injury taught him that girls can and will fight back, and perhaps made him wary enough of our hidden strength to maybe save a girl somewhere from being raped by him later on. I hope that. It would fit nicely into a nice, happy story.
All I know is he feared me after I hurt him, but that for months, no one cared if I was scared around him. What if he hadn’t been another child? What if he’d been one of the adult men who stared at me in my uniform, judging the length of my regulation mass produced attire and judging me a slut for having long enough legs that fingertip length still left skin on display? A prude for not having developed breasts to match yet? That first day, the secretary practically screamed those thoughts at me, her eyes lingering on my legs “she deserved it”, my chest “it can’t be anything worth bothering with”, the way I was wearing the required uniform instead of street clothes that 70% of the school had gotten a waiver signed to wear instead, “she’s a prude anyway, she should learn to take a compliment, relax a little.” The way the male counselor’s eyes took the same path. I spent hours being lectured about not making a scene, not complaining, not making a fuss when males decided to harass me. The boy got jokingly scolded, once, for barely minutes.
I was ten. I learned a lot that year, and so much of it wasn’t what the school thought they were teaching me. Though they were right about one thing: Girls do grow up faster than boys. We don’t have a choice.
Perspective He thought white men were vanishing from TV. I disagreed. So we conducted an experiment.
How do you address beliefs when they’re not rooted in reality? Sometimes you just need a pen, a pad and a remote control. (iStock)I have this friend I’ll call Tom, and when we each watch TV, we notice different things. Recently, Tom had been noticing white men like him — or rather, noticing a lack of them. He felt white men were increasingly absent from his screen, and he surmised that a push toward gender and racial diversity had shoved them out. He mentioned this on Facebook, which was the only place I knew him; we’d never met in person.
I felt Tom was watching TV from another planet. (Had he accessed a secret cable package sponsored by Emily’s List that I hadn’t known was available?) But Tom also seemed to exemplify a fear expressed, in ways both articulate and vague, by a lot of men in the post-#MeToo era. There are Reddit threads full of guys claiming they’re now treated as pariahs. Op-eds asking whether all this social awareness has gone too far. The terrifying panic, whispered at dinner tables and in conference rooms, that white men are being erased.
In Tom’s case, the fear manifested in such a concrete way it seemed simple to solve. So I tried to solve it. By sending links to studies showing he was wrong. One, from San Diego State University, found only 24 percent of 2017’s films had a female protagonist. A different SDSU study found only 21 percent of TV shows had more women than men.
It didn’t work.
Tom diligently read these stats but was convinced that they didn’t represent what he saw.
“I’ve noticed it,” he told me. “I’ve noticed white men aren’t there. I’m not making this up.”
It was mostly in TV commercials that the white men had gone missing, he clarified. So I tried to solve it again. By sending more links to more studies, focusing specifically on ads. A 10-year analysis by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in the Media found men appeared in ads across the English-speaking world four times more than women.
It didn’t work. He responded with polite disbelief; I responded with polite bafflement.
“I know you’re not making up that you’ve noticed it,” I told him. “But I don’t think we’re seeing the same world.”
Here’s what I learned while talking to Tom: He was divorced several years ago and is now estranged from his kids, whom he loves and misses deeply. He felt the courts had unfairly prioritized his wife in their custody battle. After that, he started to notice other ways women seemed to get preferential treatment. In 2016, he felt Hillary Clinton’s supporters liked her only because she was a woman. He told me he thought there were a lot of men who felt the same way; I said I thought he was right about that part.
Here’s the other thing I realized while talking to Tom: Our worldviews are shaped by our experiences. We all obsess over our own scars until we start to think they’re symbols for broader injustice. We believe what we feel. And then we believe our feelings are facts.
So as Tom and I talked, during the same week that Donald Trump suggested he found Vladimir Putin more trustworthy than our American intelligence establishment, here’s what I wondered: How do you address beliefs when they’re not rooted in reality? How do you tell someone, I’m trying to treat your fears seriously, but your facts don’t exist? How, as individuals, and how, as a country?
A scientific experiment was Tom’s idea. He’s a data guy; he likes experiments. In this one, we’d make our own data by watching an hour of the same channel, coding ads by gender, by voice-over vs. on-screen appearance, main actor vs. extra. (Tom suggested that white men set up as the butt of a joke be assigned the special coding, “HB,” in honor of the ridiculous Harry Bentley from “The Jeffersons.”)
And as we planned, we veered into confessional. I told him that, to be honest, I might have noticed a slight decrease in white-man ads recently, too — but that I found it elating. There was a new motorcycle ad where the rider is revealed at the end to be a woman, and it made me cry. Could we actually be noticing the exact same thing: a slight decrease? But whereas I saw it as balance, he felt it only as loss?
It’s possible, he said. Anyway, he suggested the experiment would be a win-win for him. “Either I get to prove you wrong, or I’m wrong, and the world is less scary than I think it is.”
So, a Nissan commercial (one speaking white man, one nonspeaking white woman). A Kotex ad (one white woman). Realtor.com. Aveeno. Home Depot. Febreze.
Tom emailed the next day, attaching a spreadsheet and a note:
“In reviewing these statistics, I have to change my opinion. They do represent the population fairly well. There are some commercials that don’t have any white males in them, but this is to be expected.”
His spreadsheet matched mine, but the email was still stunning. Had his mind really changed? Over an hour-long experiment?
A few days later I phoned him, certain I’d missed something. Nope. “Give yourself a win,” he said. Something about that analytical-viewing hour had been cathartic. He’d begun reminding himself, for example, that if there was no man in one ad, there might have been in the previous one.
“That’s great,” I told him, unnerved by the tidiness of this ending and not sure what to do next.
The real question, and one he couldn’t answer, was why he’d been seeing a skewed version of television. Why even a potential slight decline had felt so personal, and made him so upset.
And what it meant that we had spent a night squinting at our televisions, trying to guess whether an extra in the background was a man or a short-haired woman. And why this small, strange act suddenly seemed to matter so much.
Monica Hesse is a columnist writing about gender and its impact on society. For more visit wapo.st/hesse.
This is The Prime Minister Of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. She’s 37. She’s the youngest female head of government in the world. She’s also the first western woman to give birth while in this position of power. 2 days after the baby was born – with midwives, standard in NZ hospitals – she introduced her to the country during a press conference on the nightly news. It was really lovely. She named her Neve Te Aroha. Te Aroha means “The Love” in Maori. It represents ALL the names that were submitted (upon her request) from various tribes throughout the country, and was her attempt at capturing them all.
This is her and her partner, no, he’s NOT her husband (gasp!), walking to the press conference. He’s TV fishing show Host Clarke Gayford, and HE will be staying at home with baby Neve when his lady goes back to running the country in 6 weeks. Clarke sports a snazzy sweater he picked up at the op-shop (second-hand store) in Gisborne, and thinks its just kinda logical that he gives up his day job to stay home and look after the baby.
A week after the birth on July 1st Jacinda introduced a $5billion Families Package that she’d drafted on the floor of her friends house in Hastings – long before her pregnancy. It’s based on the knowledge that the first few years of a babies life are the most important. The package gives an extra $60 a week to families with new babies, and an extra $700 to families for winter heating costs as well (it’s cold as hell down there in the winter). It also increases the Paid Leave for new parents from 18 weeks to 22 weeks. She announced the details via Facebook live, from her couch, right after she’d finished breastfeeding the baby. Because Kiwis. Some of the most down-to-earth, no-drama-having, just-do-it kind of people you’ll ever meet.
And because Women. We really do know how to lead, and to do it well.
South Fulton, GA, makes history as its entire criminal justice system is led by black women
Women are making strides in 2018 like never before. Though Republicans across the country have made a concerted effort to roll back women’s rights, it’s clear that progress cannot be stopped. This is certainly true in the South—where black women have been making political history over the last year. In May, Democrat LaToya Cantrell was sworn in as the mayor of New Orleans, the first woman to be elected mayor in the city’s 300-year history. Later that same month, Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams became the first black woman to be nominated for governor by any major political party. And that’s not all. Also in Georgia, in the newly created City of South Fulton, black women are making history as heads of the criminal justice system. For the very first time in American history, every single one of the criminal justice department heads is a black woman.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution explains in detail how some of the women were hired first and then appointed/hired the black women to their respective positions:
Six of those women hold the highest positions in the city’s law enforcement arm: Chief of Police Sheila Rogers, Chief Judge Tiffany Carter Sellers, Court Administrator Lakesiya L. Cofield, Clerk of Court Ramona Howard, Solicitor LaDawn Jones and Public Defender Viveca Powell.
“This is something that happened organically, but it’s a wonderful thing,” Chief Judge Tiffany Carter Sellers said. “We bring our experience as African-American women, mothers, and wives to the table every day. So when we’re making those decisions, we certainly don’t forget our experiences.”
This is not only historic because all the women are black. It is also the first time that a city’s criminal justice system has been led by all women. As AJC notes, this was not intentionally planned. But it does demonstrate the very reason why the city was founded to begin with—in order to better represent the community it serves.
To some naysayers, this may not sound like the incredible achievement it is. But it could prove to be a shining example for the rest of the country. South Fulton is Georgia’s fifth largest city. It was incorporated in 2017 and the police force and municipal court began operating in March. Though it is new, the city has already included details in the municipal court that are meant to be equitable and provide better access to representation than other systems around the country. It also includes planned opportunities for second chances.
The Atlanta Voice writes:
The city’s pre-trial diversion program will allow offenders to keep a clean record in exchange for community service, education, and counseling where appropriate. The diversion program, “Second Chance South Fulton,” is paid for by the court budget and overseen by the City Solicitor, LaDawn “LBJ” Jones. […]
Another progressive component of the court system is the appointment of the public defender. In most jurisdictions, a public defender is only assigned after someone proves they cannot afford a private attorney.
In South Fulton, everyone that appears before the court has an opportunity to receive appointed counsel prior to making a decision on their case.
These elements of the criminal justice system could have a transformative impact on both incarceration rates and the community itself. Offenders across the country are often denied proper justice and may have their lives ruined for minor infractions or crimes. There is also a history of keeping suspects in jail for long periods of time if they cannot afford bail. City Solicitor LaDawn Jones believes that South Fulton can do better.
“One of the primary purposes of laws is to protect citizens and the city,” Jones explained. “You can do that without sending everyone to jail or enforce high fees. Most people do better when they know better.”
Even with the fuss being made about their historic achievement, their focus remains on their jobs—which they see as keeping the community safe and ensuring justice for everyone. Chief Judge Tiffany Carter Sellers underscores the women’s commitment to South Fulton. In an interview with Channel 2 Action News which was reported by the AJC, she said: “We are all here and invested in the community, and I think that’s what makes it special.”
This is truly special indeed. In an uncertain and dangerous political climate where the world often feels as if its gone completely mad, this is some welcome and good news. We’ve already seen what black women can do in their communities and in the voting booth. Now watch them lead and do their part in reforming our broken criminal justice system.
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#MeToo victory: CA judge recalled after sentencing infamous ‘Stanford Rapist’ to mere 6 months
Relentless California grassroots activists and the #MeToo movement finally celebrate a long-awaited victory. Early Wednesday morning, The New York Times reported the recall of a judge who sentenced Stanford rapist Brock Turner to a mere six months in a country jail while having three felony counts of sexual assault. Aaron Persky is the first California judge to be recalled in 80 years.
Many remember the highly publicized rape and sentence that occurred two years ago after Buzzfeed published a burning statement by the victim, which she read too her rapist Brock Turner in court. Her statement went viral and caused an uproar around the country and throughout social media.
“… Aaron Persky of Santa Clara County, drew national condemnation in 2016 when he sentenced Brock Turner, a Stanford swimmer, to six months in jail for three felony counts of sexual assault — far from the 14-year maximum he could have given Mr. Turner for assaulting an incapacitated young woman behind a Dumpster…”
Garnering massive media attention, the story continued to emerge with Turner’s father crudely coming to his son’s defense causing further outrage. Brock Turner was ultimately kicked out of Stanford University and the Olympic hopeful was permanently banned from USA SWIMMING.
Vice President Joe Biden penned an open letter to the victim letting her know she would not be forgotten. So far, he’s been right.
Turner only spent three months in a country jail. A petition was launched that same year demanding Persky’s “impeachment,” but nothing came from such efforts—until now.
As we see so often, the victim, known as “Emily Doe,” was victimized again by some on social media who said she brought the rape onto herself by drinking too much at a university frat party. More stories reveal that rapists often drug their victims at such parties and lead them to a place to commit their crime. Whether that happened to Emily Doe or not, no person is allowed to sexually violate or penetrate another person conscious or unconscious. And according to the FBI, such action qualifies as rape.
None of us will ever know this young woman’s pain and true experience. Yet millions of rape survivors, including myself, understand the nightmares that follow a rape. Thankfully, there is help and with therapy and support, and victims do survive and learn to thrive—but they never forget. The more victims that speak out, the more chances we can lessen these massive violations. Thank you, “Emily Doe.”
If you or someone you know is, or has ever been, a victim of rape/sexual assault, you are not alone and it’s never too late to seek help. You can find free support via the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.HOPE (4673) and/or by visiting the Rape, Abuse Incest National Network/online.RAINN.org. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911. You do not have to live with guilt and shame. You are not alone. If you can hold on to one thing, remember this: It. Is. Not. Your. Fault.
You can READ MORE COVERAGE and background about THIS STORY Below:
Inspired by documentary, college activists organize for a safer campus—and win
Film can be way more than entertainment: it can be a catalyst for change. That’s what happened after some University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) students watched the documentary film The Hunting Ground, which covers the epidemic of campus sexual assault and institutional attempts to cover it up. (Full disclosure: I appear briefly in the film.)
The Hunting Ground came out in 2015 and since then students at UCSB were compelled to act and create a safer campus for all. Now the school will pick up what students had taken into their own hands.
Last week, vice chancellor for student affairs Margaret Klawunn sent an email about the school’s future plans to institutionalize students’ efforts to create better sexual violence prevention and response on campus. According to KEYT, these are the proposed measures listed:
- Maintain a website that commemorates student efforts with updates on the progress of demands.
- Town Hall meetings twice annually during fall and winter quarters
- Issue a written update to student community each May
- Publish an annual report each fall with statistics of incidents allegedly perpetrated by UCSB students and of the campus’s response.
- Staff will continue to conduct listening sessions in smaller group settings by reaching out to registered student organizations to receive and integrate feedback
In the email, vice chancellor Klawunn also praised the student activists who made it possible.
In the age of Betsy DeVos and rape myths gone amok, this is good news to hear. There are still people out there doing the right thing by making safer communities for all a priority—as it should be.
California decided it was tired of women bleeding to death in childbirth
The maternal mortality rate in the state is a third of the American average. Here’s why.
Kristen Terlizzi woke up on July 16, 2014, in the intensive care unit at Stanford University to the news that the placenta connecting her to the child she’d just given birth to had spread like a cancer through her abdomen.
Six weeks earlier, Terlizzi, then 32, had been diagnosed with placenta accreta, a condition that can cause the placenta to grow out of control. In a normal pregnancy, the placenta develops inside the uterus, attaches to the uterine wall, and then is flushed out of the body after the birth.
In accreta, which doctors believe is most often caused by scarring from prior cesarean sections, the placenta sticks around and embeds. The condition was exceedingly rare in the 1950s, occurring in only one in 30,000 deliveries in the US. Today, because of the rise in C-sections, it shows up in about one in 500 births. One in 14 American women with accreta die, usually from hemorrhaging too much blood.
Childbirth is one of the most common reasons women go into hospitals, and yet the American health care system handles complicated pregnancies with a stunning lack of preparation and precision. Put simply, women who give birth in the US have a greater risk of dying relative to other rich countries — and the problem has been growing worse at a time when America’s peers have continued to make pregnancy safer.
Terlizzi could have died too. But the fact that she lives in California — a state that a decade ago decided to take the American tragedy of maternal death seriously — may well have saved her life.
Terlizzi on the operating table at Stanford. More than 20 doctors and nurses shuffled in and out of her operating room to manage her complicated birth.
Courtesy of Kristen Terlizzi
Terlizzi’s only risk factor for accreta was a prior C-section with her first son, Everett. Her doctors had planned to surgically remove the placenta after Leo was born.
But when the surgeons opened up her abdomen, they discovered the placenta had filled her entire pelvis. “They couldn’t see anything not affected,” she said. Hers was such a risky case, they decided not to operate, and closed her up.
Several weeks later, still in the hospital, Terlizzi developed a deadly blood clotting condition caused by the leftover tissue. Doctors attempted to remove the rogue placenta again. During the second surgery, Terlizzi began to hemorrhage as surgeons raced to cut out the placental tissue, repair her bladder and ureter, and remove her uterus, cervix, and appendix.
A mother can bleed to death in childbirth within five minutes. But Terlizzi managed to hold on, as obstetric anesthesiologists carefully measured how much blood she was losing and gave her 26 units of blood products — effectively replacing all of the blood in her body.
Terlizzi with her son Leo.
Courtesy of Kristen Terlizzi
Today, Terlizzi lives with her husband and two children in Silicon Valley, works in tech, and runs 20 miles per week. The only remnant from the surgeries is a wide, T-shaped scar across her belly.
Her pregnancy was so exceptionally complicated, it inspired a scientific journal case study. But it’s also emblematic of how unpredictably dangerous birth can be, even for healthy women — and how the deadliest pregnancy complications are survivable when hospitals prepare for them.
The Stanford doctors and nurses who treated her were ready with a precise set of steps to manage her care. Among them: hemorrhage guidelines created by a doctor named David Lagrew as part of Stanford’s California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC), a revolutionary initiative to make births safer for moms in the state. A decade into their project, they’ve proved that even within America’s imperfect health system, death in childbirth is not an inevitability.
California has managed to buck America’s grim maternal death trend
In the US, childbirth has been growing more dangerous recently. Maternal mortality — defined as the death of a mother from pregnancy-related complications while she’s carrying or within 42 days after birth — in the US soared by 27 percent, from 19 per 100,000 to 24 per 100,000, between 2000 and 2014.
That’s more than three times the rate of the United Kingdom, and about eight times the rates of Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, according to the OECD.
It’s a stunning example of how poorly the American health care system stacks up against its developed peers. More women in labor or brand new mothers die here than in any other high-income country. And the CDC Foundation estimates that 60 percent of these deaths are preventable.
But as the mortality rate has been edging up nationally, California has made remarkable progress in the opposite direction: Fewer and fewer women are dying in childbirth in the state.
So how did California manage to buck the trend? I was curious, particularly as American women’s health is under assault, with the GOP push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
I went to California to learn about what they were doing right, and found that all roads led to CMQCC, the multi-disciplinary health collective (based out of Stanford).
On my first day in Orange County, I met with Dr. David Lagrew, an OB-GYN and founding member of the CMQCC, at his office in St. Joseph Hospital. He’s been instrumental in helping drive down California’s maternal mortality rate, including creating the hemorrhage protocols that may have saved Terlizzi’s life.
Dr. David Lagrew, an obstetrician gynecologist who has been working to make birth safer for moms for more than 30 years, looks at data on maternal health outcomes at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County.
A native of Kentucky, Lagrew moved to Southern California for a medical fellowship in 1984. About seven months in, he saw a placenta accreta case at Long Beach Memorial that has haunted him since.
“It was just blood everywhere,” he says, in a slow Kentucky drawl that’s softened after more than two decades in California, where he is now the medical director for women’s health for St. Joseph Hoag Health system, overseeing five hospitals in the region that do obstetrical work. This includes facilities in richer parts of the state, like Newport Beach, and low-income areas like Apple Valley, an isolated town on the edge of the Mojave Desert.
“The lady ended up getting over 50 units of blood,” he recalls. The hospital didn’t know how to the handle the bleeding, and Lagrew watched the mother go limp and die on the operating room table.
Around that time, an influential paper was published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, establishing the connection between the exponential rise in C-section rates and placenta accreta cases.
Lagrew started wondering about the suffering and death he had seen in the OR that day, and how much of it was preventable, given that so many C-sections aren’t medically necessary. (Doctors sometimes perform them to wrap up cases faster — and get reimbursed — before the end of their shift. Patients also request them for reasons that have nothing to do with health.)
Lagrew, who has neatly cropped salt-and-pepper hair and wire-rimmed glasses, is obsessed with numbers, a self-professed “data geek.” He spent part of his undergraduate degree teaching himself computer programming, and coded for the Forestry Department at the University of Kentucky to pay his way through school.
He thought that if he could gather data on doctors’ C-section rates, and educate his fellow clinicians about how many they were doing and the risks of unnecessary surgeries, he might be able to reduce C-sections that aren’t medically indicated — and complications like placenta accreta.
An operating room in the labor and delivery ward at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County.
A spot for the newborn babies along with a red “hemorrhage cart” in case a mom begins to bleed heavily after pregnancy.
By 1989, when Lagrew was appointed medical director at Saddleback Hospital in Laguna Hills, he began to test his approach. When he’d hand doctors data on their C-section rates, some would say, “What the heck is this?” Some would even scream at him, he recalls. “I didn’t do this one C-section and you put it on my report!” they’d say.
Lagrew would respond: “What about the other 215?”
The approach worked. The C-section rate at Saddleback was halved within five years.
Lagrew has now managed similar feats at the eight hospitals where he’s worked since, and at hundreds more in the state through CMQCC.
His method is a microcosm for how CMQCC works: Collect data about maternal health, zero in on the complications that can be prevented, figure out what the evidence says about the steps required to prevent them, and then engage stakeholders and mentor them as they follow those lifesaving steps.
Hemorrhage and preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced severe high blood pressure) are the two most common — and preventable — causes of death
The organization, which runs as a collective and is mainly funded by the California Healthcare Foundation, California Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was imagined in a Los Angeles airport hotel meeting room in 2006, a time when the state’s maternal mortality rates had recently doubled.
A group of concerned doctors, nurses, midwives, and hospital administrators, including CMQCC medical director Elliott Main, started a maternal mortality review board to pore over each death in detail and identify its root causes. Pretty quickly, hemorrhage and preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced severe high blood pressure) floated to the top of the list as the two most common — and preventable — causes of death.
It’s difficult to overstate how revolutionary this simple first step was in the arena of maternal health. About half of US states still don’t formally review the causes of maternal death on a regular basis to find out which deaths are preventable and how to stop future similar deaths from occurring. The US National Center for Health Statistics hasn’t even published an official maternal mortality rate since 2007 — that’s how low-priority this issue is.
Mothers die too often because women’s health isn’t valued in the US
One of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals focused on driving down the maternal mortality rate. This led to efforts in almost every country to save moms’ lives — and they were largely successful: The global maternal mortality rate dropped by 44 percent worldwide between 1990 and 2015, and by 48 percent in developed countries.
A maternity clinic in Bangladesh.
Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images
The US was one of only 13 countries, including North Korea and Zimbabwe, that saw its maternal death rate increase since 1990.
“We are going in opposite direction of the whole worldwide trend,” says University of Maryland researcher Marian MacDorman, who co-authored the best available national study of US maternal mortality in 2016.
“It’s a travesty,” says MacDorman. “Mongolia has a maternal mortality rate, and the US with all our wealth and health care can’t publish a maternal mortality rate.”
Part of America’s increase has to do with changes in how maternal deaths are codified on death certificates. In the 1980s, health officials realized that maternal deaths were being underreported, which led to a push for better reporting.
But that’s far from the only explanation, according to MacDorman and other researchers who study maternal health.
For one, there’s been a decline in access to contraception and abortion in many parts of the US, leading to more unplanned, unwanted — and, in some cases, more dangerous — pregnancies.
The opioid epidemic certainly hasn’t made births safer for moms, and health care access remains poor for low-income and minority women, who have among the worst maternal health outcomes. The exponential increase in C-sections, which can sometimes save moms’ and babies’ lives, has also contributed to more pregnancy complications in subsequent births, such as accreta.
American women are also heavier on average, and having babies later in life, often with more chronic health conditions, putting them at a higher risk of complications in the maternity ward.
Yet other developed countries have seen similar health trends in rising childbirth age and bodyweight — without the accompanying increased death risk for mothers.
That’s led researchers like Boston University maternal health expert Eugene Declercq to conclude that a key driver of America’s maternal mortality problem is that America doesn’t value women.
“The argument we make internationally is that [a high maternal death rate] is often a reflection of how the society views women,” he says. “In other countries, we worry about the culture — women are not particularly valued, so they don’t set up systems to care for them at all. I think we have a similar problem in the US.”
Policies and funding dollars tend to focus on babies, not the women who bring them into the world. For example, Medicaid, the government health insurance program for low-income Americans, will only cover women during and shortly after pregnancy. “Nothing has captured it better for me than that: Get on when you’re pregnant, but get off when you’re not,” Declercq said. Only 6 percent of block grants for “maternal and child health” under the Title V Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant Program goes to moms.
In the absence of national leadership, however, there are advocates at the state level who are working on the problem. One place that stands out is California.
As of 2013, there were 7.3 deaths per 100,000 in California — bringing the Golden State in line with countries like the United Kingdom or Portugal. That’s also half of what the state’s maternal death rate was in 2006, and a third of the national rate.
Considering that more than half a million women give birth in California each year, representing one-eighth of all US births, the progress in curbing maternal mortality has been profound.
“Hemorrhage carts” have made birth safer for moms in California
To start to tackle the problem, CMQCC created “toolkits,” which are essentially evidence-based, step-by-step recipes — downloadable for free — on how teams of health care providers in hospitals can best prepare for and manage the sometimes deadly complications that arise with childbirth.
The first toolkit, which Lagrew co-chaired, focused on maternal hemorrhage — what their maternal death review revealed was one of the most common and preventable causes of death in California.
Only about 2 percent of a woman’s total blood volume flows through her uterus. During pregnancy, though, that number rises to 10 percent to nourish the placenta and the baby. The most common cause of postpartum hemorrhage is a uterine atony — when the uterus does not contract and stop bleeding after the placenta breaks off.
About 30 percent of women who experience an obstetric hemorrhage don’t have an identifiable risk factor, so it’s hard to know who might be at risk.
One key idea in the hemorrhage toolkit was to make sure hospitals were armed with all the best protocols and necessary tools that might save those moms’ lives in the event of a bleed.
At St. Joseph hospital, Lagrew showed me a simple beige, waist-high rolling cart with four drawers and red handles, known as “the hemorrhage cart.” Every hospital delivering babies should have one, the CMQCC toolkit says. The cart is filled with everything to manage a hemorrhage: medicines that slow the flow of blood, instruments that repair a tear or laceration, intrauterine balloons that can provide pressure and control bleeding from a uterus that isn’t contracting well.
The “hemorrhage cart” is filled with tools doctors and nurses need to manage a hemorrhage during or after childbirth. The idea was adapted from the “code blue cart” to treat cardiac arrest patients. “Minutes count,” Lagrew said.
“Minutes count, so you can’t afford to be thinking, ‘Hey, what med do I need to use next? Where do I find a balloon catheter to stop the bleed?’” Lagrew says.
When CMQCC did their root cause analysis on what was causing moms to die in their state, they found that hospitals typically didn’t have these simple things on hand. So they borrowed the idea from the “code blue cart” that’s common in hospitals to quickly treat patients who go into cardiac arrest.
“No one had ever made the code blue for obstetrical hemorrhage,” Lagrew added. “They just said, ‘Use this drug, you need these drugs. You need to measure blood better.’”
Learning about CMQCC’s approach opened my eyes to all the places where maternal health care — managing one of the most universal experiences women go through — isn’t very precise or evidence-based.
Doctors and nurses typically eyeball blood loss — and these estimations are notoriously inaccurate
Another piece of guidance in the CMQCC hemorrhage toolkit is that doctors and nurses need to have blood products ready for moms who bleed in childbirth, and they should carefully measure blood loss during the pregnancy to make sure the patient’s levels are being adequately replenished.
To do this, CMQCC recommends a practice called “quantitative blood loss,” Lagrew explained, “which, by the way, in all your medical school or residency, no one ever teaches you how to do.”
Doctors and nurses typically eyeball blood loss — and these estimations are notoriously inaccurate. Instead, CMQCC suggests weighing dry sponges and pads that collect blood on the operating table before a surgery, and then doing so again after they’ve been soaked to calculate how much blood a mother lost.
Lagrew is now trying to make the process even better at his hospitals. In the labor and delivery ward that day, where Brahms’ Lullaby chimes whenever a baby is born alongside the ever-present hum of fetal heart monitors, I watched a training session for nurses on how to use a machine that automates quantitative blood loss.
Triton OR, a new device that helps nurses more accurately measure blood that’s lost during childbirth.
The founder of the Silicon Valley company Gauss Surgical, Siddarth Satish, noticed that every vital sign in the operating room was carefully monitored and measured, except for blood loss. So he created Triton OR, an FDA-approved blood loss monitor with an iPad interface that allows health care providers to quickly weigh their tools before they’re filled with blood and afterward. Lagrew introduced the machine at the hospital as part of a pilot — one of many things he’s constantly experimenting with to make childbirth safer.
“It’s classic process improvement to the point where the doctors and nurses go, ‘Wow. We just had this placenta accreta, but everything went pretty smoothly,” he said. “We didn’t lose that much blood. The patient’s doing great, and didn’t go in the intensive care unit.’”
Hospitals and doctors in California are now competing with one another to save moms’ lives
I wanted to see how the CMQCC approach worked in a resource-strapped area of the state, so I visited St. Joseph Health, St. Mary, a hospital that delivers nearly half of the babies born in and around Apple Valley.
Apple Valley is a town filled with hills of dusty golden rocks and strip malls in a remote region of Southern California, sandwiched between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Here, the median household income is $47,938 — about a third of Newport Beach’s.
Labor and delivery at St. Joseph Health, St. Mary, a hospital in Apple Valley, a low-income area of Southern California.
Almost all the pregnancies nurses and doctors see here are complicated by diabetes, hypertension, addiction, or other issues that put moms and babies at a higher risk of death.
Remarkably, though, St. Mary’s hasn’t seen a maternal death in at least 23 years.
Sitting in front of a stack of charts, Mendy Hickey, a nurse, beamed about gains on maternal health measures. St. Mary’s had just won a CMQCC award for their low C-section rate — among the lowest in the state, at 21 percent. They’d massively driven down their rate of early elective deliveries, or births that happen before 39 weeks gestation, by following CMQCC’s approach.
Mendy Hickey, a nurse at St. Mary’s, which just won a CMQCC award for their low C-section rate — among the lowest in the state, at 21 percent.
Babies who are born prematurely have a higher chance of winding up in the neonatal intensive care unit and needing respiratory support, Hickey said. For moms, early deliveries mean more inductions and C-sections — and more potential complications.
Hickey and her colleagues started talking about early elective deliveries at every department meeting. They posted data about doctors’ individual rates in the units and doctor lounges. “That always works really well,” she said. “They’re very competitive.”
When they spotted an early delivery that wasn’t medically necessary, the department chief would have a conversation with the physician about her decision, and suggest the doctor avoid doing so again.
Joining CMQCC also allowed St. Mary’s to access a data center where they could compare their progress on maternal health against other hospitals and doctors in the state. “The database alone has been huge,” Hickey says.
The results have been staggering. St. Mary’s started to focus on early elective deliveries in late 2014, when they were 9 percent of all births at the hospital. By 2016, 2 percent of babies were being delivered early when it wasn’t medically indicated. “Data speaks,” Hickey said. “Data speaks — big time.”
Every doctor and nurse I spoke to that day was plugged into these quality improvement efforts. They bragged about their award-winning low C-section rates and reducing hemorrhage risk like they were talking about their children’s report cards.
I could also see how it affected patients’ lives, particularly in the neediest and most complicated cases.
Skye Brooks, a 24-year-old mom, had recently given birth to her son, Onyx. Before her unplanned pregnancy, she’d worked as a package handler and sorter at an Amazon warehouse in nearby San Bernardino. She had Type 2 diabetes, which heightened her risk of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure (or preeclampsia).
Skye Brooks, 24, holds her son, Onyx. Brooks was saved from having a stroke — the result of pregnancy-induced high blood pressure — with a C-section.
At a checkup 29 weeks into the pregnancy, her doctor discovered her blood pressure had shot up to a dangerously high 253/186, and that she wasn’t responding to hypertension medication. High blood pressure can cut off the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the fetus, restricting the baby’s growth.
Brooks was quickly shuffled off for an emergency C-section that saved her life. “I would have had a stroke if I didn’t deliver,” she says, while rocking Onyx in the neonatal intensive care unit, a beige room humming with the buzz of vital sign monitors and incubators.
California could inspire the rest of the country, but the GOP health reform bill could make America’s maternal health worse
CMQCC’s toolkits have been downloaded more than 24,000 times, and more than 200 of California’s 243 maternity hospitals have joined the organization to work on improving maternal health.
In one recent study, researchers found a 21 percent reduction in severe health problems associated with hemorrhages in the California hospitals participating in CMQCC’s programs. Hospitals that didn’t join the effort saw a non-significant 1 percent reduction. Since CMQCC’s founding, California has also seen its maternal mortality rate decline by 55 percent at a time when other states are documenting increases.
Signs posted all over the labor and delivery ward at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County remind doctors and nurses they should wait until a woman’s cervix has dilated to 6 cm instead of 4 cm as a criteria for active labor, which can affect whether they decide to perform a c-section. The ultimate goal is to avoid unnecessary surgeries.
Large employers in California, including Disney and Apple, as well as insurance payers have recognized that making births safer saves them money. They’ve supported CMQCC by helping pressure hospitals to follow the steps to protect women in the workforce — and avoid incurring unnecessary costs that drive up insurance premiums.
CMQCC is working with other health care groups to take their work national. But today, California’s efforts are at odds with the direction the federal government is moving on women’s health. Senate Republicans are pushing to repeal and replace Obamacare with the Better Care Reconciliation Act. It could make it harder for American women to access reproductive health care and family planning services. It’ll make maternity benefits optional for private health plans, and defund Planned Parenthood — where 2.5 million Americans access family planning and maternity care services.
The Better Care Act would also gut Medicaid, which covers about half of all births in the US. If the GOP plan passes, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office expects it will result in more unplanned pregnancies and 22 million people losing their health care within a decade.
In Texas, 36 moms die per 100,000 births, five times as many as in California
For a preview of what this could do to women’s health, look to Texas, which has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. There, 36 moms die per 100,000 births, or five times California’s maternal mortality rate. Texas has also closed down Planned Parenthood clinics and rejected Medicaid expansion — changes the GOP would like to see ripple across the US. The state boasts the largest uninsured population in America.
But long before the GOP plan or the current health reform debate, the US lagged behind other rich countries when it comes to providing women access to the comprehensive health care necessary for safe pregnancies and deliveries.
“There are a lot of areas where America’s policies are less protective [for mothers] than they are in Canada, Europe, and other developed countries,” said Adam Sonfield, senior policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute. “Being able to take time off from work to go to the doctor, and having child care to make sure you can go to that doctor, and making sure you have affordable transportation to go to that doctor” — it’s uniformly more difficult for American moms.
In the US, we haven’t bothered to create national health policies around maternity care that are focused on improving outcomes for mothers, such as a federal maternity leave policy or universal health care.
Maternal health is also becoming more complicated. The clinical complications CMQCC has focused on so far — hemorrhage, preeclampsia — are being outpaced by lifestyle-related health issues, like cardiovascular disease and opioid addiction. There are also astounding racial disparities in maternal health: Black mothers are three times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. It’ll require more than well-meaning doctors and nurses to fix these problems.
Courtney McGuffin, 38, has Type 1 diabetes. Her pregnancy and C-section birth were considered high-risk.
Still, California has demonstrated that even in our messy and imperfect health care system, progress is possible. They’ve shown the rest of the country what happens when people care about and organize around women’s health. Policymakers owe it to the 4 million babies born in the US each year, and their mothers, to figure out how to bring that success to families across the country.
The difference between Texas and California is that California decided to take on maternal mortality, Boston’s Eugene Declercq told me.
Kristen Terlizzi, the accreta patient who started the National Accreta Foundation to raise awareness about it, has been thinking about the potential health reforms coming down.
“I’ve come to appreciate the concerns about lifetime limits. Thank God my surgery happened before this was an issue,” she said of the GOP push to reintroduce caps on how much health care costs patients can get coverage for over a lifetime. “I had this perception that maternal mortality was a faraway issue or an issue of the past. I thought this happened in other places. I had no idea healthy mothers in this country were experiencing things like this.”
For more on this story, listen to our maternal health episode of Vox’s The Impact podcast.
Editor: Eliza Barclay
Photographer: Julia Belluz
Photo editor: Kainaz Amaria
Copy editor: Bridgett Henwood
Project manager: Susannah Locke
Graphics: Javier Zarracina and Sarah Frostenson
FIGHTING HATE // TEACHING TOLERANCE // SEEKING JUSTICE
MAY 5, 2018 Weekend Read // Issue 78
Most of the victims in Alek Minassian’s van rampage in Toronto were women. There’s reason to believe that was his goal.
Before he killed 10 people and injured 14 more on a crowded sidewalk in April, Minassian posted on Facebook that he was a “private (recruit)” in what he called the “Incel Rebellion.”
“All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” wrote Minassian, referring to the mass murderer who killed six people in 2014 to “punish all females for the crime of depriving me of sex.”
Minassian is part of a growing subculture of men who call themselves “incels” – or involuntary celibates. To them, the murderer Rodger is a patron saint. Now, since the Toronto mass killing, they have a new one. Users of the website “incels[dot]me” have begun changing their avatars to Minassian’s picture, paying twisted homage to the killer they say “could be our next new saint.”
That either man should be canonized for his deadly misogyny is both horrifying and utterly predictable.
Male supremacy — an extremist ideology we added as a category of hate groups this year — has spawned a network of online communities that advocate violence against women. On these sites, women are called “foids,” or “femoids,” a term combining “female” and “humanoid” to suggest that women are not fully human.
Underpinning it all: the idea that women owe men sex; that women exist purely for their reproductive and sexual capabilities; that men should dominate women.
The extreme hatred among incels has too often been dismissed as mere sexism. Just 10 days after Minassian’s van rampage, New York Times columnist Ross Douthatrecapped arguments that sex is a resource like “property and money,” one that the sexual revolution intended to be “more justly distributed than it is today.” He writes:
“The sexual revolution created new winners and losers, new hierarchies to replace the old ones, privileging the beautiful and rich and socially adept in new ways and relegating others to new forms of loneliness and frustration.”
Douthat — like many — takes incels at their word that their animus is driven by their inability to find a sexual partner. That’s a mistake.
As our Intelligence Project director, Heidi Beirich, told ThinkProgress, incels “have taken this moniker as almost a badge of honor for men who feel like women are not being the docile sex toys for them that they think they should be.”
In other words, for incels, it’s not just about sex. It’s about the women supposedly withholding it.
We define hate groups as organizations that attack or malign an entire class of people for their immutable characteristics. Incels like Rodger and Minassian target women in violent attacks because of what they see as the most immutable female characteristic of all: women’s sexuality.
“I hate women. Truly, they are the scum of the earth. Yet I am still biologically predisposed to want them,” wrote a user named Madrame this week on incels[dot]me.
“I hold too much contempt to feel attraction to them. I want to riddle them each with 250 with [sic] tec-9 rounds,” replied user _incelinside.
The hatred these men feel stems — crucially — not from their belief that they’re entitled to sex, but from their belief that women are required to give it to them. When women don’t, incels weaponize their hate.
It cannot be women’s job to pacify men who hate them because of their gender — just like it cannot be the job of people of color to disarm white supremacists.
We began tracking male supremacy in 2012. In the wake of the 2016 election, we saw how essential male supremacist ideas were to the rise of the so-called “alt-right” and formally added male supremacist groups to our hate map the following year.
Now more than ever, it’s clear that we ignore male supremacy at our peril.
P.S. Here are a few other pieces we think are valuable this week:
All-American Nazis by Janet Reitman for Rolling Stone
Who will stand up for Chikesia Clemons? By Brittany Packnett for The Cut
Exploitation and abuse at the chicken plant by Michael Grabell for The New Yorker
In 1991, FAIR president Dan Stein said immigrants are “getting into competitive breeding” by Alex Amend for SPLC
A Rebuke to Trump, a Century in the Making
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.
Having a sexist in the Oval Office who curries favor with conservative religious groups is having dire consequences. Health workers in developing nations are preparing for a rise in unsafe abortions due to President Trump’s reinstatement of the global gag rule that prohibits federal funding of groups that provide abortion services or referrals. Here at home, his administration has been hostile not only to abortion access, but even to birth control.
But Mr. Trump’s presidency is also having some effects he probably doesn’t intend. Rage at the election of a man who boasted about grabbing women’s genitals helped set off the #MeToo movement’s reckoning with sexual misconduct. A record number of women are running for office around the country, many of them announcing their candidacies after participating in women’s marches the day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration.
And now, on Mr. Trump’s watch, feminists could reach a goal nearly a century in the making, and that many assumed would never come to pass — ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. It states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
The fight centers on Illinois, where the State Senate recently passed a bill to ratify the E.R.A. If the State House of Representatives also passes the legislation — supporters hope to see a vote next month, and are cautiously optimistic about the outcome — then Illinois will become the 37th state to ratify the amendment.
Approval by just one more state would bring the measure to the three-quarters threshold required for constitutional amendments. There are a handful of good possibilities, including Florida, Virginia and Utah.
Congress sent the measure to the states in 1972 with a seven-year deadline that was later extended to 1982. Thirty-five states signed on by 1977, then extensive conservative opposition arose, preventing further ratification. Nevada’s ratification last year was the first since then.
This recent progress counts as dizzying, considering how long supporters have been at it. So long that one of the original writers of the amendment, Crystal Eastman, died in 1928 — she was only 47, granted, but her co-writer, Alice Paul, has also been dead for decades.
An entire generation of feminists has come of age largely knowing the E.R.A. as their mothers’ and grandmothers’ fight. That’s if they know about the amendment at all — a 2016 poll conducted by E.R.A. supporters found that 80 percent of respondents thought the Constitution already explicitly guaranteed equal rights for women and men.
There are some questions about what will happen if a 38th state ratifies the amendment, given that it would miss the deadline Congress set by at least 36 years, and five states have even voted to rescind their ratifications. But E.R.A. supporters and some legal experts make a plausible case that the amendment should still be recognized, pointing to, among other things, the 27th Amendment, on congressional pay, which was ratified more than 200 years after its passage by Congress, although no deadline had been set.
Then there’s the question of what the E.R.A. would do. Even the most die-hard proponents of the amendment acknowledge that it’s unlikely to radically advance women’s rights, at least in the short term. That’s because, for decades, many courts have applied the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to sex discrimination, creating a body of case law that’s functioned as a sort of de facto E.R.A. As to whether the amendment could actually undo some programs that are beneficial to women, like sex-based affirmative action efforts, legal experts point to the fact that though the Constitution already protects the rights of people regardless of race, race-based affirmative action continues to exist. They also point to parts of the country that have state-level E.R.A.s and have not had such outcomes.
The fight against the E.R.A. is being led by groups on the religious right like the Illinois Family Institute, using arguments that are the ideological heirs of those so vociferously expressed by Phyllis Schlafly, whose group Stop E.R.A. — the first word standing for “Stop Taking Our Privileges” — which became the Eagle Forum, prevented the E.R.A.’s ratification at the time.
Those arguments include fearmongering about how coed locker rooms could become standard and alimony for women outlawed — arguments that are hard to take seriously but that nonetheless helped Mrs. Schlafly to very effectively convince Americans, including many women, that the E.R.A. was bad news. (Mrs. Schlafly, who died in 2016, would no doubt be appalled that her home state, Illinois, could now play such a pivotal role in ratification.)
Another conservative talking point is that the E.R.A. would lead to abortion restrictions being struck down. That outcome is not at all certain, but it would help many women. (For obvious reasons, the anti-E.R.A. crowd already had to slink away from an argument that the amendment would lead to legalizing same-sex marriage.)
Looking at everything the E.R.A. would not do raises the question of why it’s still needed. Here’s why it is: The court decisions that make up the “de facto E.R.A.” can be undone in a way a constitutional amendment cannot. The E.R.A. would add an extra layer of legal protection for women — and men — against discrimination. This could become especially important if Mr. Trump gets to pick additional conservative Supreme Court justices.
There’s also a symbolic and emotional element to this fight that’s not to be discounted. Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who, before becoming a Supreme Court justice, fought many legal battles over gender discrimination and is a longtime supporter of the E.R.A. — summed up this argument in 2014.
“I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the Constitution, to see that notion — that women and men are persons of equal stature,” she said. “I’d like them to see that is a basic principle of our society.”
Enshrining women’s rights in the Constitution matters. Doing so now, during this presidency, would be particularly fitting.
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Illinois Senate approves federal Equal Rights Amendment, more than 35 years after the deadline
The Illinois Senate voted Wednesday to ratify Equal Rights Amendment to guarantee in the U.S. Constitution that rights can’t be denied because of a person’s sex, an effort supporters say has renewed importance amid of the #MeToo movement that has put a spotlight on women’s issues.
The measure passed on a vote of 43-12, with no debate.
The vote on Wednesday comes about 36 years after the amendment appeared to die after just 35 states passed it by the 1982 deadline. That was three states short of what was needed. Advocates have since pushed for the so-called “three state solution,” contending Congress can extend the deadline and the amendment should go into effect if three additional states vote in favor.
Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the ERA in 2017. In Illinois, the House and Senate have both voted in favor of the measure in the past, but it has yet to clear both chambers in the same year.
Supporters say they believe this is the year Illinois will approve the amendment, saying controversies over sexual harassment in the workplace are driving the latest push for women’s rights, as evidenced by rallies and marches across the nation.
“I think voting to ratify the ERA helps give voice to these women and say ‘We hear you we are with you, and we agree,” said sponsoring Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago. “It’s high time we provide equal rights to women across the county.”
Duckworth becomes first senator to give birth while in office
By Blair Guild / CBS News
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, became the first sitting U.S. senator to give birth while holding office, with the delivery of her second daughter on Monday.
Duckworth and her daughter, named Maile (pronounced MY-lee) Pearl Bowlsbey, are both in healthy condition and recovering well, according to a statement from her office.
“We’re also so grateful for the love and support of our friends and family, as well as our wonderful medical teams for everything they’ve done to help us in our decades-long journey to complete our family,” Duckworth said in the statement.
She became the tenth congresswoman to give birth while serving in the House in 2014 with her first daughter Abigail. Her second daughter is the first child born to a lawmaker in the upper chamber.
Former Hawaii Sen. Daniel Kahikina Akaka, who retired from the Senate in 2013, blessed the name of Duckworth’s newborn before he passed away at age 93 just three days ago.
“His help in naming both of our daughters means he will always be with us,” Duckworth said.
Duckworth turned 50 just last month and was candid about her struggles in getting pregnant when she initially announced she was expecting.
“I’ve had multiple IVF cycles and a miscarriage trying to conceive again, so we’re very grateful,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times in January.
Duckworth’s office called her pregnancy and experience as a working mother “an important—and underrepresented—perspective in the halls of Congress.”
“Parenthood isn’t just a women’s issue, it’s an economic issue and one that affects all parents—men and women alike,” Duckworth said. “As tough as juggling the demands of motherhood and being a Senator can be, I’m hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and my children only make me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hardworking families everywhere.”
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RBG Movie Trailer – At the age of 84, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed a breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon. But without a definitive Ginsburg biography, the unique personal journey of this diminutive, quiet warrior’s rise to the nation’s highest court has been largely unknown, even to some of her biggest fans – until now. RBG is a revelatory documentary exploring Ginsburg ‘s exceptional life and career from Betsy West and Julie Cohen, and co-produced by Storyville Films and CNN Films. In Theaters May 4
‘Unbought and unbossed’: Shirley Chisholm’s feminist mantra is still relevant 50 years later
Shirley Chisholm’s signature campaign slogan, “Unbought and unbossed,” was as much a statement about who she was as it was a catchy and effective message that helped her become the first black woman elected to Congress.
Chisholm had the audacity, and the political talent, to run for a newly drawn New York congressional seat in 1968 without the backing of the Brooklyn Democratic Party bosses. She described herself as “the people’s politician,” fighting for higher wages for working people and more money for public education and demanding respect for black Americans and women. When she got to Capitol Hill, she challenged institutional customs, pushing her way into spaces that had been the reserve of white men, making friends and enemies on both sides of the aisle by following her own political playbook.
I thought about Shirley Chisholm a few weeks ago when Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the Golden Globes, in which she praised the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements against sexual harassment and assault, incited speculation in the news media and on social media about whether she would run for president. (In an interview in the March issue of InStyle magazine, Winfrey said she is not interested in being on the ballot in 2020. “I don’t have the DNA for it,” she said.) Chisholm, again without anyone’s permission or support, ran for president in 1972, the first black American to seek a major party presidential nomination. Her candidacy generated nowhere near the excitement or sense of possibility that animated the debate about a Winfrey run for the White House, but Chisholm was undaunted, waging a passionate and earnest campaign promising to combat poverty and discrimination, protect the environment and unite a country fractured by urban unrest and the Vietnam War.
Fifty years after Chisholm was elected to Congress, the country is wrestling with some of the same social and political issues — racial tensions, women’s equality, disillusionment with Washington. And those stepping up to take on these challenges bear a striking resemblance to Chisholm — women, especially women of color, speaking up about sexual abuse, taking to the streets to protest President Trump’s views and policies and running for office in record numbers, most without the blessing or help of the political establishment.
Unbought and unbossed.
Rep. Shirley Chisholm of New York throws both arms forward with victory signs as she addresses a crowd of several hundred on the steps of the Jackson County court house in Marianna, Fla., March 11, 1972. Mrs. Chisholm was stumping the panhandle of north Florida seeking votes in Tuesday?s presidential primary in Florida. (AP Photo/Bill Hudson)
Several women’s names have been mentioned as possible presidential candidates in 2020 and a record number of women could follow Chisholm’s example and become members of Congress after this year’s midterm elections. As of this month, 439 women have filed or expressed interest in running for Congress — nearly twice the number of women in the same position as two years ago, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics.
Chisholm’s persona — an independent, outspoken, advocate for marginalized groups and liberal causes — often put her at odds with an establishment that wasn’t used to interacting with black people and women as peers. One of Chisholm’s more notorious standoffs involved her protesting her assignment to the Agriculture Committee when she first arrived in Congress. The House Speaker at the time, Rep. John McCormack (D-Mass.) reminded her that as a freshman she should just be a “good soldier.” Chisholm instead raised her complaint on the House floor, and she was reassigned to the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. She acknowledged her victory by noting, “There are a lot more veterans in my district than trees.”
She both embraced and pushed back against efforts to label her. In her speech announcing her presidential campaign she declared: “I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that.”
Her forceful confrontation of those who would try to constrain her because of her race and gender is what has made her political identity a template for a new generation of black women running for office. “Unbought and unbossed” is the perfect mantra for the intersectional feminist.
Glynda Carr is co-founder of Higher Heights for America, an organization that recruits and trains black women to run for office and provides them with campaign support. Chisholm is the spiritual godmother of the organization; her image and quotes frequently appear on Higher Heights’ website and in its social media campaigns.
“What I love about her life and her legacy is she is the embodiment of the idea that every person, particularly every black woman, has a role to play,” Carr said. She cited another Chisholm quote, a call to action for people who are unhappy with what they see around them: “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”
Chisholm had been a nursery schoolteacher, day-care center operator and consultant to the city of New York before she ran for the New York Assembly in 1965, becoming only the second black woman elected to the body. Three years later, she went for the congressional seat. Carr said Chisholm is a role model because she demonstrates to black women that “not only can you run for office, but you can envision yourself in higher office. … She allows us to envision a black woman in the White House.”
When Chisholm was running for the highest office in the early 1970s, Barbara Lee — now a Democratic congresswoman from California — was a community worker with the Black Panther Party and a student at Mills College in Oakland, Calif. Back then, she was not a registered voter and defiantly declared that electoral politics was not the solution to issues affecting black communities.
She was so adamant in her view that she was prepared to flunk a political science class that required students to volunteer for a presidential campaign. No way, she declared, would she work for any of the men running for president that year.
“Give me an F,” she recalls telling her professor.
Lee, who was president of the black student union at Mills College, had invited Chisholm to speak about her historic role as the first black woman in Congress. She didn’t know about Chisholm’s presidential campaign, which hadn’t gotten much media coverage.
“I went up to her and talked to her and told her about this class that I was about to flunk. She said, ‘Little girl, are you registered to vote?’ And I said, ‘No, I’m not going to,’” Lee recalled. “And she really let me have it about the importance of voting.”
Lee said she asked her professor to hold off on giving her that failing grade. Instead, she helped organize Chisholm’s Northern California campaign effort. She said she got an A in the class and went to that year’s Democratic National Convention in Miami as one of Chisholm’s 152 delegates.
“Shirley became a close friend and a mentor,” said Lee, who started her political career in 1990 in California State Assembly and was elected to Congress in 1998, representing parts of the Bay Area.
She said Chisholm “taught me a lot and I saw how she operated with those guys in D.C. and had to fight her way into everything and stood her ground.”
Rep. Barbara Lee, (D-Calif.), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and other female members of Congress attend the unveiling of the portrait of Shirley Chisholm in 2009. In 1968, Chisholm became the first African-American woman elected to Congress. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Only once did Lee find herself at odds with Chisholm. After George Wallace, the segregationist Alabama governor who also was running for the Democratic nomination, was shot and severely wounded in an attempted assassination, Chisholm went to visit him in the hospital. She explained it as a simple act of human decency, but Lee and others were incredulous.
“I was so angry. I said, ‘How could she do that?’ This man is a racist!’’
Lee would later get to know Wallace’s daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, who said her father had been deeply touched by Chisholm’s kindness and it helped him come to understand that his segregationist views were wrong.
Chisholm, who was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Women’s Caucus, served 14 years in the House. She died on Jan. 1, 2005, at the age of 80.
Numerous pieces were written about Chisholm in 2016, during Hillary Clinton’s historic candidacy as the first woman to head a major party’s presidential ticket. And in 2008, some writers and activists noted that Barack Obama achieved Chisholm’s goal of becoming the first black American to be elected president. She is credited with having paved the way for both political pioneers, as well as for The Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose presidential bids in 1984 and 1988 started a new era of black political activism.
And she still inspires, even for those starting near the bottom of the ladder.
Tamaya Dennard, 38, a first-time candidate who won a seat on the Cincinnati City Council last fall, used another of Chisholm’s famous quotes during her campaign: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
When Dennard was sworn in earlier this month, she carried a bright red folding chair, tucked under her left arm.
More from About US:
A Witness Slip is a person or group’s position on a particular bill.
• A Witness Slip can be filed by individuals on. …
• A Witness Slip can be filed for any bill. scheduled for a hearing in the Illinois Senate or. House Committee, during the week prior to the hearing taking place.
How to fill out a Witness Slip:
Walk in BeautyBe a lady they said. Your skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low. Your pants are too tight. Don’t show so much skin. Don’t show your thighs. Don’t show your breasts. Don’t show your midriff. Don’t show your cleavage. Don’t show your underwear. Don’t show your shoulders. Cover up. Leave something to the imagination. Dress modestly. Don’t be a temptress. Men can’t control themselves. Men have needs. You look frumpy. Loosen up. Show some skin. Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it. Wear black. Wear heels. You’re too dressed up. You’re too dressed down. Don’t wear those sweatpants; you look like you’ve let yourself go.Be a lady they said. Don’t be too fat. Don’t be too thin. Don’t be too large. Don’t be too small. Eat up. Slim down. Stop eating so much. Don’t eat too fast. Order a salad. Don’t eat carbs. Skip dessert. You need to lose weight. Fit into that dress. Go on a diet. Watch what you eat. Eat celery. Chew gum. Drink lots of water. You have to fit into those jeans. God, you look like a skeleton. Why don’t you just eat? You look emaciated. You look sick. Eat a burger. Men like women with some meat on their bones. Be small. Be light. Be little. Be petite. Be feminine. Be a size zero. Be a double zero. Be nothing. Be less than nothing.Be a lady they said. Remove your body hair. Shave your legs. Shave your armpits. Shave your bikini line. Wax your face. Wax your arms. Wax your eyebrows. Get rid of your mustache. Bleach this. Bleach that. Lighten your skin. Tan your skin. Eradicate your scars. Cover your stretch marks. Tighten your abs. Plump your lips. Botox your wrinkles. Lift your face. Tuck your tummy. Thin your thighs. Tone your calves. Perk up your boobs. Look natural. Be yourself. Be genuine. Be confident. You’re trying too hard. You look overdone. Men don’t like girls who try too hard.Be a lady they said. Wear makeup. Prime your face. Conceal your blemishes. Contour your nose. Highlight your cheekbones. Line your lids. Fill in your brows. Lengthen your lashes. Color your lips. Powder, blush, bronze, highlight. Your hair is too short. Your hair is too long. Your ends are split. Highlight your hair. Your roots are showing. Dye your hair. Not blue, that looks unnatural. You’re going grey. You look so old. Look young. Look youthful. Look ageless. Don’t get old. Women don’t get old. Old is ugly. Men don’t like ugly.Be a lady they said. Save yourself. Be pure. Be virginal. Don’t talk about sex. Don’t flirt. Don’t be a skank. Don’t be a whore. Don’t sleep around. Don’t lose your dignity. Don’t have sex with too many men. Don’t give yourself away. Men don’t like sluts. Don’t be a prude. Don’t be so up tight. Have a little fun. Smile more. Pleasure men. Be experienced. Be sexual. Be innocent. Be dirty. Be virginal. Be sexy. Be the cool girl. Don’t be like the other girls.Be a lady they said. Don’t talk to loud. Don’t talk too much. Don’t take up space. Don’t sit like that. Don’t stand like that. Don’t be intimidating. Why are you so miserable? Don’t be a bitch. Don’t be so bossy. Don’t be assertive. Don’t overact. Don’t be so emotional. Don’t cry. Don’t yell. Don’t swear. Be passive. Be obedient. Endure the pain. Be pleasing. Don’t complain. Let him down easy. Boost his ego. Make him fall for you. Men want what they can’t have. Don’t give yourself away. Make him work for it. Men love the chase. Fold his clothes. Cook his dinner. Keep him happy. That’s a woman’s job. You’ll make a good wife some day. Take his last name. You hyphenated your name? Crazy feminist. Give him children. You don’t want children? You will some day. You’ll change your mind.Be a lady they said. Don’t get raped. Protect yourself. Don’t drink too much. Don’t walk alone. Don’t go out too late. Don’t dress like that. Don’t show too much. Don’t get drunk. Don’t leave your drink. Have a buddy. Walk where it is well lit. Stay in the safe neighborhoods. Tell someone where you’re going. Bring pepper spray. Buy a rape whistle. Hold your keys like a weapon. Take a self-defense course. Check your trunk. Lock your doors. Don’t go out alone. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t bat your eyelashes. Don’t look easy. Don’t attract attention. Don’t work late. Don’t crack dirty jokes. Don’t smile at strangers. Don’t go out at night. Don’t trust anyone. Don’t say yes. Don’t say no.Just “be a lady” they said.~ My thanks to Robin Clark and Ellen Henry for this….
2018 Word Cloud
Resources to Engage Men
CAASE – Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation is in Chicago and they are amazing. They have a multitude of programs, from education to legal services and one of the programs is reaching out to men to stop human trafficking (or men’s engagement in the sex industry)
Men Stopping Violence
Men Can Stop Rape
1in6 is for male survivors. It’s an amazing program that shed light on the side of abuse we don’t often talk about.
Up2Us is the group has AMAZING programs.
A WordCloud generated from responses of our audience after viewing the film “Equal Is Equal”.
Rivendell Theatre Ensemble will be producing the world premiere of Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace this fall from September 1st until October 15th.
Alias Grace is a world premiere adaptation of Atwood’s acclaimed novel which takes a look at one of Canada’s most notorious murderers. In 1843, 16-year-old Grace Marks was accused of brutally murdering her employer and his housekeeper. Imprisoned for years, Grace swears she has no memory of the killings.
Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tail is a hit on Hulu right now and Alias Grace will have a series on Netflx this fall. Ms. Atwood is also being honored by the Chicago Public Library Foundation with the Carl Sandburg Literary Award in October.
Rivendell Theatre Ensemble is an intimate, award-winning theatre company located in the Edgewater neighborhood. Rivendell is currently celebrating its 22nd season of improving the lives of women through theatre.
Click here for tickets! Ticket Link
Rivendell Theatre Ensemble is dedicated to advancing the lives of women through theatre.
Registration is open! To learn more and to register, go to http://www.aauw.org/what-we -do/stem-education/tech-savvy/
Tomorrow, Wednesday March 8, is International Women’s Day, and the organizers of the Women’s March have called for a day of action for equity, justice, and the human rights of women—through collective action, economic solidarity, and a one-day strike.
Here’s the call that’s gone out from the Women’s March organizers for tomorrow’s “A Day Without a Woman”—with three things women and allies can do:
Women are encouraged, as possible, not to engage in paid or unpaid labor.
Avoid spending money—with exceptions for small businesses, and businesses owned by women and people of color that support gender, racial, and economic equity.
Please watch and share a short video featuring Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory discussing the reasons for tomorrow’s strike and what we all can do.
This Wednesday is International Women's Day, and the organizers of the Women's March have called for a day of action through a one-day strike. Co-chair Tamika D Mallory explains–share this video and join the action.
Posted by MoveOn on Monday, March 6, 2017
Protesting itself is not enough
If you’re not on Facebook, you can watch the video via YouTube here.
Resistance has been an ever-present theme of 2017 and this has been beautifully visible in the resurgent intergenerational women’s movement, catalyzed by the Women’s March.
You can find out much more about “A Day Without A Woman” here.
On International Women’s Day, women and our allies will act together for equity, justice and the human rights of women, through a one-day strike demonstration of economic solidarity. In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women’s March, we join together in making March 8th A DAY WITHOUT A WOMAN.
Here are 3 ways to participate in A Day Without a Woman on 3/8:
1. Wear RED in solidarity
2. Women strike from paid and unpaid work
3. Avoid spending money (with exceptions for small, women and minority-owned businesses)
Here are some ways to show your support:
1. Sign up and pledge your support on our website here.
2. Download and share A Day Without A Woman graphics here.
3. Read our FAQs and learn more about A Day Without A Woman.
4. Tweet and post what you’re striking for on 3/8 using the hashtag #IStrikeFor.
5. Women, post a photo of yourself on social media with this caption: “A #DayWithoutAWoman is a day without me.”
Letter to Employers: https://www.womensmarch.com/letter
Thank you for supporting Illinois Women Moving Forward! We are so grateful for the outpouring of support for Illinois Women and legislation that helps us move forward.
There is something that you can all do TODAY to help the movement, and you don’t even have to leave your chair. Two pieces of legislation are making their way through the Illinois State Senate that are key to the Illinois Women Moving Forward Agenda.
You can register your support for these bills by filing witness slips in support. It’s easy and will take only 5 minutes!
The first bill, SB981 prohibits an employer from screening applicants on the basis of their salary history and requiring applicants to provide their previous salary history. This measure targets systemic discrimination and the perpetuation of the salary gap throughout a woman’s career. It ensures that women are paid a wage that is equivalent to the value of the job for which are hired and not a wage based on their previous salary. Take a moment and sign-in in support of this bill with the Illinois Senate Labor Committee.
The second piece of legislation is SB1296, which would allow employees to earn sick time over the course of their job tenure. A similar proposal has already passed in Chicago and Cook County. This is issue is especially important to women as they are usually the caretakers in their families. Make your voice hears by filling out your witness slip now.
How to file a slip:
1. Click on the link for the bill:
2. Fill out your information. Under REPRESENTATION you can list your organization or write “self”.
3. Under POSITION, check “Proponent”.
4. Under TESTIMONY, check “Record of Appearance Only”.
5. Finish the CAPTCHA, check the terms of service box, and click on “Create Slip”
Let’s show the Senate Labor Committee that we want women to move forward in Illinois, and moving forward means earning equal pay and paid sick time.
Thank you again for being a part of Illinois Women Moving Forward!
Project Manager, Public Policy
firstname.lastname@example.org | T: 217-546-1525 ext. 6000 | C: 217-299-1315| F: 217-546-1067
New York Times Magazine:Your book, “Life’s Work,” is rooted in the fact that you have a moral and spiritual argument in favor of abortion rights, and you talk about your shift from someone who, for religious reasons, didn’t want to provide abortion to someone who, for religious reasons, did. Why did you consider that a “conversion”? I had to come to a crisis moment regarding a religious understanding that left me unable to help women when I felt deeply for their situation. So I needed to convert from a religious understanding that left me paralyzed to act on my deepest sense of connection to one that empowered me to do what I felt to be the right thing. It felt as life-altering for me to move from being unable to do abortions to being able to do them as it did to move from being a nonbeliever to becoming a believer.You concede in the book that abortion is, actually, a life-ending process. Here’s the thing: Life is a process, not an event. If I thought I was killing a person, I wouldn’t do abortions. A fetus is not a person; it’s a human entity. In the moral scheme of things, I don’t hold fetal life and the life of a woman equally. I value them both, but in the precedence of things, when a woman comes to me, I find myself unable to demote her aspirations because of the aspirations that someone else has for the fetus that she’s carrying.You talk about “verbicaine” during procedures, or conversations with patients in which you try to lighten the mood, even despite the narrative that makes abortion seem morbid and tragic. Rather than allowing your fear to amplify any sensation that you’re having, you’re having a conversation with me, you’re asking yourself, Why isn’t this guy treating me with judgment and stigma like I expected him to? When I say I’m done and you were expecting something else, you’re now asking me, Are you sure you’re done? It’s over. That’s verbicaine.Along those lines, sometimes you talk about University of Alabama football. I think Coach Nick Saban would understand that I’m clued in to something he understands: that in Alabama, football is larger than life.Why do you think that elite white women and the sacralization of motherhood has done some of the most serious damage to abortion access? When women acquiesce to a role determined primarily by their biology of reproduction — even if it’s unconsciously — they judge each other for rejecting that primary identity. So if you think that the most essential role for a woman is to procreate, and humanity doesn’t go on unless you do that, then anything to interrupt that process is to be counterintuitive or immoral. The biggest insult is the notion that there’s such a thing as a black genocide, as if the people who care about abortion really care about black women and black babies.Parker is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who provides abortion care in the South. His memoir, “Life’s Work,” will be published in April.Age: 54Occupation: Obstetrician-gynecologistHometown: Birmingham, Ala.Tell me about the connection between your heritage as a descendant of slaves and the idea that abortion is ultimately about ownership of a body. People often struggle with why, as a man, I am deeply committed to feminism, reproductive justice and gender equality. I come from a heritage of people who know what it’s like to have your life controlled by somebody else. What’s most proximate to that reality right now is the direct control of women’s bodies and their reproduction, because if you don’t control your reproduction, you don’t control anything else about your life.I can’t help mentioning that you’re not married, which you say is part of the reason you can do what you do. Is that a choice on your part? Because you seem pretty cool! I jokingly call myself the best-kept secret in Alabama. I didn’t consciously choose not to be partnered or not to have kids — some things in life should declare themselves. But I try to be of the quality of somebody that I would like to meet. I’ve had some good people in my life; I just haven’t crossed that threshold. But if you know any takers, give me a call.Interview has been condensed and edited.
- You marched. Now what?
- Women’s March on Washington Website – 10 Actions/100 Days
- Congressman Wants To Throw Out Campus Rape Rule He Says Is Unfair To The ‘Often-Innocent Accused’ But research shows false allegations make up just a small fraction of sexual assault reports – Huffington Post
- Women’s Right Report From the US State Department
- Well-Off White Men Are 3 Times More Likely Than Women To Get Job Interviews – Huffington Post
- Women’s march an ‘entry point’ for a new activist wave – USA Today
- Arrested for Having a Miscarriage? 7 Appalling Instances Where Pregnant Women Were Criminalized – Alternet
Feminism Lost. Now What? – New York Times
- Women’s March – MISSION & VISION
- Icelandic Women Take a Day Off … and then Another! – Activists With Attitude
- The U.N. Sent 3 Foreign Women To The U.S. To Assess Gender Equality. They Were Horrified. – Huffington Post – Politics
- Women’s Rights – Global Issues
- This UN report shows that women’s rights in the US are an international embarrassment – Vox
- Short History of CEDAW Convention – UN Women
- Indiana Sentences Purvi Patel to 20 Years for Feticide – NBC News
- There Is No Such Thing as ‘Nonconsensual Sex. It’s Violence. – NY Times – Click on the photo below.
- Global Issues Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues That Affect Us All – Women’s Issues
- FYCARE celebrates 20 years on campus – Daily Illini
- My teen boys are blind to rape culture – Washington Post Parenting
- Nearly One-Third Of College Men In Study Say They Would Commit Rape
- White Male Privilege Is Why We Laugh At Lochte And Vilify Douglas – Huffington Post
- Illinois governor signs bill forcing pro-life doctors to promote abortion
- SWW It’s On Us Tips for Prevention of Sexual Assault
- SWW Know Your Title IX
- SWW-Staying Safe on Campus
- SWW-RAINN Programs and Expertise
- SWW-RAINN Contact Congress – SWW and NWSOFA Logos
- No Prison For Colorado Student Who Raped ‘Helpless’ Freshman – Huffington Post
- Video Uses Eye-Opening Metaphor To Show The Absurdity Of Victim-Blaming Replacing “rape” with “murder” reveals just how problematic victim-blaming is – Huffington Post
- Female Water Polo Player Speaks Out About Sexual Assault in Pool in ESPN Report – Arlington Heights Patch
- Sexual Assault – University of Illinois Police Department
- Not Alone Together Against Sexual Assault – White House, January 22, 2014
- Obama, Biden Won’t Visit Universities That Fall Short In Addressing Sexual Assault – Huffington Post, July 4, 2016
- It’sOnUs Website and Resources
- The Amazing Story Behind the Joe Biden Photo after the Academy Awards
- The Women Take Over – Slate
- Sexual Assault – Why Women Don’t Come Forward – Huffington Post
- Growing list of colleges facing sexual assault lawsuits – USA Today
- Why Women in Business Still Need Men to Get Ahead – CNBC
- Women in Company Leadership Tied to Stronger Profits, Study Says – NY Times
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Gloria Steinem on the Unending Fight for Women’s Rights – The New York Times
- Supreme Court Women Portrait – Huffington Post
- 100 Years Before Women Reach Equality in Top Jobs – Yahoo News Parenting
- What is privilege? Huffington Post – Canada – Short Video
- Women’s equality shouldn’t be controversial — but in too many ways, we’re falling short of that ideal.Legislators in Congress and state houses across the country are continuing to attack women’s reproductive health choices. We need sensible paid leave policies — too many women have to jeopardize their financial security just to take a few weeks off of work after giving birth. And even when women are doing equal work, they’re not always getting equal pay.This is a long-term fight — and OFA is committed to seeing it through.Here’s one thing you can do to help today — share this graphic with your friends.
Women’s equality has always been about more than just the right to vote. It’s about making sure that equal opportunity is unremarkable — that as a society, we ensure women enjoy the same freedoms, choices, and rights that men have.
We can work toward that future. It takes time, it takes conversations, and it takes folks standing up for what’s right.
Say you stand with women — share this graphic on Facebook:
Or on Twitter:
Organizing for Action
- Low Income Families Could Lose Access High Quality Preschool Under 2016 House and Senate Spending Bills
- Equal Pay PDF
- Equal Pay Enforcement Fact Sheet
2018 Word Cloud
NWSOFA Film Presentation – “The Hunting Ground”
August 13 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Arlington Heights Memorial Library
Sexual Assault on Campus Resources:
Our Stand with Women and Fiscal Issues Teams are taking action by continuing our Raise the Minimum Wage Petition gathering. Over 400,000 signatures have been collected we need 1 Million to let Congress know raising the Minimum Wage is good for women and all families and good for the economy. Join us. We’ll be at the Arlington Hts and Schaumburg Libraries and at the Palatine Train Station. Call Sara 847-372-5594 to sign up for the location and time that are good for you. Hope you can join us!
NWSOFA Minimum Wage Petition Drive
May 19 @ 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Raising the minimum wage isn’t just the right thing to do for workers, it would also boost our economy and our community. Despite support from 7 out of 10 Americans — including President Obama, members of Congress and state and local officials — lawmakers have refused to raise the minimum wage. Join supporters in your community to gather signatures for a petition to show lawmakers: It’s time to give America a raise.
Time: Monday, May 19, 2014 2:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Host: Sara Horan
Contact Phone: 847-372-5594
Arlington Hts. Memorial Library (Arlington Heights, IL)
500 N Dunton
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Directions: We will be collecting signatures by the main entrance to the library from the parking garage by the elevators.
Please call Sara if you can do any shifts 2-4,4-6,6-8
Organizing for Action
Stand with Women Monthly Mtg.
Tues. May 27, 2014 7-9 pm
Arlington Hts. Library
2nd floor room “I”
You’re invited to our Stand with Women monthly meeting. We’ll be exploring ways we can highlight issues that are unique to women but impact everyone. We have been very pleased with the crucial benefits ACA has guaranteed women such as non-discriminatory rates for insurance, free preventive care and reproductive health care, no more exclusion from pre-existing conditions and much more. Now our national focus is on economic issues including equal pay, raising the minimum wage, family leave, affordable child care. Bring your concerns and creativity and your friends for what is always an inspiring evening.
Or call Sara 847-372-5594
- Great website with information is the “Shriver Report”, started by Maria Shriver, bringing women’s issues to the forefront of the nation. http://shriverreport.org/
- March is Women’s History Month…Are you registered to vote? Check out why you should Stand with Women and vote: MarchIsWomensHistoryMonth (1)