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US Army Releases Racially Biased Hairstyle Regulations | Ms Magazine Blog

Screen shot 2014-04-02 at 11.35.40 AMScreen shot 2014-04-02 at 11.35.01 AM

Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs of the National Guard in Georgia has always plaited her hair into two twists around her head. She has been in the military for six years and has worn her hair natural (meaning no chemical treatments [perms] or hair extensions [weaves]) for four of those years. But according to the new hair-grooming requirements the U.S. Army recently released, her hair is now out of regulation.

And so are the Afro-centric hairstyles of many black women in the Army, who make up 31 percent of Army women.

Jacobs, who said she is “kind of at a loss now with what to do with my hair,” has started a White House petition asking the Army to rethink its new hair guidelines. The petition has collected more than 7,000 signatures from soldiers and civilians, but needs to reach 100,000 signatures by April 19th in order for the White House to address it.

Screen shot 2014-04-02 at 11.35.13 AM

The petition states:

Females with natural hair take strides to style their natural hair in a professional manner when necessary; however, changes to AR 670-1 offer little to no options for females with natural hair… These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent.

The new Army Regulation 670-1 [PDF] was published Tuesday and illustrates with photos the types of hairstyles that are unauthorized for women. Those include dreadlocks, twists or any type of matted or coiled hair. A particularly cumbersome requirement disallows the bulk of a woman’s hair to “exceed more than 2″ from her scalp.” That rules out Afros and most types of non-chemically altered black hair.

Screen shot 2014-04-02 at 11.35.28 AM

Basically, almost every natural hair option that black women in the Army could wear is now off limits. One of the few traditionally natural hairstyles that was listed as appropriate is cornrows, but a slew of specifications and rules surrounded even that. The diameter of each cornrow can’t be more than one-fourth of an inch, and no more than one-eighth of an inch of scalp may be shown between cornrows.

The only way to realistically meet the new standards would be to shave one’s head, perm one’s hair or wear weaves or wigs.

Jacobs said twists like the one she wears are very popular among black women soldiers because the style requires little maintenance when in the field. Her hair’s thickness and curliness makes pulling her hair back into a bun (a style popular among white women soldiers) impossible.

A spokesperson for the Army said the grooming changes are “necessary to maintain uniformity within a military population.” When that need for “uniformity” erases the ethnic differences of a group of women and forces them to constrain themselves to European standards of hair, it presents a serious problem.

“I think, at the end of the day, a lot of people don’t understand the complexities of natural hair… I’m disappointed to see the Army, rather than inform themselves on how black people wear their hair, they’ve white-washed it all,” said Jacobs.

Screenshots taken from Army Regulation 670-1

02:00 pm, by padaviya12 notes



stfufauxminists:

TW: rape, racism, police violence
ginkgobilobas:

lilbijou:

grrlyman:

theotherscottpeterson:

addictinginfo:

Caught On Video: Police Hit, Tie Down, Then Chop Off Possible Rape Victim’s Hair (VIDEO)

Police caught on camera hitting, tying down a 22 year old black mother before chopping off her…

View Post

Jesus GOD.

Read the article if you can stomach it.
"Just a little over a week ago, the republican Executive Director of Oakland County, Michigan, another suburb of Detroit, suggested that Detroit be turned into an ‘Indian reservation,” but for black people.

“I made a prediction a long time ago and it’s come to pass. I said what we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it and then throw in the blankets and the corn.”

He later clarified his statement, saying that his comment was in reference to black people, not Indians.
In another suburb of Detroit, Gross Pointe, it was brought to light that police were humiliating mentally disabled black men. Videos show cops telling the men to sing, dance, walk like chimps and perform other demeaning acts. The men were recorded and the videos were circulated among friends and family members of the officers involved, along with racist messages.
Detroit is currently under an extreme law, written by Republicans and Tea Party members in the Michigan legislature. The law allows the governor to legally strip the citizens of their right to elect local government. It allows the state’s republican governor, Rick Snyder, to remove duly elected representatives and appoint hand picked representatives in their place. During the summer of 2013, the Governor’s hand-picked emergency manager shut off power to a large part of the city of Detroit, on the hottest day of the year. He later admitted, on camera, that it was done to teach the citizens of Detroit “a lesson.”

ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyygooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooddddddddddddddddddddddddd i wanna puke i really wanna puke

We were discussing rape culture the other day and a (white) friend of mine refused to believe that people would simply not report rapes. ‘Why wouldn’t they?’, she asked, ‘the police is here to help you’.This is fucking why. (among several other reasons)

stfufauxminists:

TW: rape, racism, police violence

ginkgobilobas:

lilbijou:

grrlyman:

theotherscottpeterson:

addictinginfo:

Caught On Video: Police Hit, Tie Down, Then Chop Off Possible Rape Victim’s Hair (VIDEO)

Police caught on camera hitting, tying down a 22 year old black mother before chopping off her…

View Post

Jesus GOD.

Read the article if you can stomach it.

"Just a little over a week ago, the republican Executive Director of Oakland County, Michigan, another suburb of Detroit, suggested that Detroit be turned into an ‘Indian reservation,” but for black people.

“I made a prediction a long time ago and it’s come to pass. I said what we’re gonna do is turn Detroit into an Indian reservation, where we herd all the Indians into the city, build a fence around it and then throw in the blankets and the corn.”

He later clarified his statement, saying that his comment was in reference to black people, not Indians.

In another suburb of Detroit, Gross Pointe, it was brought to light that police were humiliating mentally disabled black men. Videos show cops telling the men to sing, dance, walk like chimps and perform other demeaning acts. The men were recorded and the videos were circulated among friends and family members of the officers involved, along with racist messages.

Detroit is currently under an extreme law, written by Republicans and Tea Party members in the Michigan legislature. The law allows the governor to legally strip the citizens of their right to elect local government. It allows the state’s republican governor, Rick Snyder, to remove duly elected representatives and appoint hand picked representatives in their place. During the summer of 2013, the Governor’s hand-picked emergency manager shut off power to a large part of the city of Detroit, on the hottest day of the year. He later admitted, on camera, that it was done to teach the citizens of Detroit “a lesson.

ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyygooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooddddddddddddddddddddddddd i wanna puke i really wanna puke

We were discussing rape culture the other day and a (white) friend of mine refused to believe that people would simply not report rapes. ‘Why wouldn’t they?’, she asked, ‘the police is here to help you’.
This is fucking why. (among several other reasons)


Amtrak police bully homeless taking refuge from cold


Official Documents from the Arrest of Rosa Parks » Sociological Images

Fifty eight years ago today, Rosa Parks kicked off a plan to bring down Jim Crow segregation by refusing to move to the back of the bus.  @ShawneeSoc sent us a link to the Washington Post, where they featured her original arrest documents.

rosa-parks rosa-parks-bus

12:20 pm, by padaviya

What they fail to understand is that “life begins at conception” is a misogynist statement. It’s the erasure of a woman’s role in making new people, and a claim that the only effort that counts is the effort a man put into ejaculating. Abortion is horrifying because it’s a reminder that men do not actually make babies, but that women do through a 9 month process, and that if a woman chooses to interrupt that process, there will not be a baby. Which is pretty conclusive proof that men don’t make babies. Which directly contradicts the misogynist belief that only men are capable of really doing jobs worth doing.
Amanda Marcotte (via rhrealitycheck)

(Source: community.feministing.com)



Law & Order Quotes Actual Rape Survivors, Calls Itself “Fiction” » Sociological Images

This is a new one.

Some of you may know that there is a wave of colleges and universities filing complaints with the Office for Civil Rights, claiming that their institutions are failing to protect women from sexual assault. This (first) wave includes Amherst, Yale, the University of North Carolina, Swarthmore, and Occidental among others.

Well, last night many of the details of the stories of the students whose cases have been mishandled — right down to exact quotes from their lives — found themselves in an episode of Law&Order SVU.  They didn’t ask for permission, offer a “consulting” fee, or even warn them that it was coming.

This just leaves a this-is-so-wrong-I-don’t-even-know icky feeling in the pit of my gut.   I know that Law & Order has been ripping stories from the headlines for three decades, but it stuns me that it can claim to be fiction and not compensate the real women who’s lives are clearly and unequivocally depicted in this show.

Let me put this in stark terms: Law & Order is brazenly capitalizing on the pain and trauma of young women and not only failing to compensate them for stealing their stories, but actually denying that they exist by claiming that the “story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event.”  Stunning.

Alexandra Brodsky, a survivor who filed the complaints against Yale, told Jezebel:

The SVU episode strikes me as an extreme example of the risk of going public as a survivor: your story is no longer your own.

I’ve not seen a more obvious example of this fact.

The teaser for the episode, plus a list of 15 ways the episode copied real life, collected by Katie J.M. Baker at Jezebel, is after the jump.

Here’s the entire list:

SVU: Lindsay is gang-raped by three frat guys who later claim she’s crying rape because she’s embarrassed about her slutty behavior.

Real Life: Four University of Montana football players allegedly gang-raped a drunk female student; charges were dropped because it was unclear whether she was “just embarrassed” about what happened.

SVU: Lindsay Snapchats her rapist the next day, leading students and administrative officials to doubt that she was actually raped.

Real Life: Woman allegedly raped by Mizzou basketball player Michael Dixon Jr. texts him the next day, leading students, officials and cops to doubt that she was actually raped.

SVU: ”I’m sorry that girl had a bad night, but why would Travis need to rape somebody?” a frat bro muses.

Real Life: Students at campuses all over the country don’t believe that Big Men on Campus can be rapists.

SVU: Students call Tau Omega the “Rape Factory.”

Real Life: A former Wesleyan student is suing the university for failing to “to supervise, discipline, warn or take other corrective action” against a frat which she says had a “reputation in the Wesleyan community as the ‘Rape Factory.’”

SVU: Renee is pressured to leave school and commit herself to a mental institution after she attempts to self-harm after the school ignores her rape report. Her rapist is set to graduate with honors.

Real Life: Former student Angie Epifano says Amherst abruptly decided to admit her into a psychiatric ward after she made suicidal comments spurred by the despair she felt when her allegations were repeatedly ignored. Her rapist graduated with honors.

SVU: Renee is penalized by her school’s Honor Court for “intimidating her rapist” by speaking out.

Real Life: UNC sophomore Landen Gambill says she was punished by the Office of Student Conduct for “intimidating” her rapist by speaking to the press about her sexual assault.

SVU: Renee is told that sex “is like a football game” by a school official.

Real Life: Former UNC student Annie Clark was told that rape “is like a football game” by an administrator.

SVU: The university’s mental health counselor says she was met with resistance when she tried to support rape survivors’ reports.

Real Life: UNC allegedly pressured former dean of students Melinda Manning to underreport sexual assault cases; Swarthmore and Occidental were recently accused of mishandling assaults.

SVU: Dean Reyerson says she couldn’t stop Tau Omega alumni from selling “We don’t take ‘no’ for an answer” rush t-shirts.

Real Life: Amherst’s administration came under fire for holding an ineffective closed-door discussion related to a similar frat t-shirt.

SVU: Dean Reyerson says students have the right to assemble, even if they want to chant, “No means yes, yes means anal.”

Real Life: Yale frat boys once gleefully ran around campus chanting exactly that.

SVU: Dean Reyerson says she can’t stop students from posting photos and rumors about rape survivors on an anonymous website because of “free speech.”

Real Life: Oberlin’s administration cites the First Amendment and does next to nothing about undergrads who are seriously harassed via its student-run anonymous message board.

SVU: Lindsaykills herself.

Real Life: Elizabeth “Lizzy” Seeberg committed suicide nine days after accusing a Notre Dame football player of sexually assaulting her in a dorm room; Notre Dame investigators failed to interview the student she accused until 15 days after Seeberg reported the attack and five days after she killed herself.

SVU: Frat boys are caught on video joking that they “raped [Lindsay] dead. (Also that they “raped her Gangnam Style,” which is one we haven’t heard before!)

Real Life: Anonymous leaked a video of former Steubenville High School baseball player Michael Nodianos cracking himself up as he calls a rape victim “deader than” JFK, OJ’s wife, Caylee Anthony, and Trayvon Martin, amongst others.

SVU: At the end of the episode, students hold up signs protesting rape culture using real quotes said to them by members of the community following their assaults.

Real Life: Amherst students put together a collection of photos of men and women who were sexually assaulted on campus, holding signs with words said to them by members of the community following their assaults.

SVU: “I was thinking about maybe starting a kind of support group on campus, so survivors know they’re not alone,” Renee says.

Real Life: A group of rape survivors includingDana Bolger (Amherst College ‘14), Alexandra Brodsky (Yale College ‘12, Yale Law School ‘16), Annie Clark (University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill ‘11), and Andrea Pino (UNC — CH ‘14), some of whom have filed complaint with the federal government against their universities, joined together to help students at colleges across the country stand up to administrations; they recently launched “Know Your IX,” a campaign that aims to educate every college student in the U.S. about his or her rights under Title IX by the start of the Fall 2013 academic term.

05:00 pm, by padaviya4 notes

Jamie Lynn Russell: One Pregnant Woman's Tragic Death Reveals the Human Cost of Devaluing Women

I don’t like war metaphor. I prefer to think about reproductive justice advocacy in terms of healing and love. But when our nonsensical policies on drugs and reproductive health claim the lives of living, breathing people, it feels like a war.

Jamie Lynn Russell was 33 years old when she went to an emergency room in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma in such debilitating pain that she was unable to move. Because her excruciating pain prevented her from lying down for an examination, hospital staff labeled her “noncompliant,” and called the police. The police discovered that she had two pain pills that weren’t hers. Still in pain, she was released by the hospital as “fit to incarcerate,” arrested for drug possession, and taken to jail, where she died two hours later from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy.

Two pain pills.

Much of the initial response to the case centered around the actions of the hospital, which likely amount to malpractice. But we must avoid making the mistake that the hospital did: looking at individual actions when they are merely symptoms of deeper, deadlier problems.

Jamie’s needless death shows us where our priorities lie, misplaced: chasing down minor drug offenders in service of a failed war on drugs is more important that human life and dignity; women’s health is not taken seriously and “noncompliance” is cause for punishment. The tragedy of her death once again disproves the myth that women never need abortions and that “modern technology and science” have eliminated maternal mortality.

I hope that her family—and people across Oklahoma and the United States—will demand justice for Jamie so that she is not just another unnamed casualty of the many political and rhetorical wars waged on pregnant women.

09:01 am, by padaviya5 notes

(TW: hate crime, violence, guns, shooting) Drunk DC Cop Gets off Easy After Shooting 3 Transgender Women

A Washington, D.C. police officer who fired multiple shots into a car with three transgender women and their friends is getting off easy. The officer, 48-year-old Kenneth Furr, was sentenced yesterday “to three years of supervised probation, a $150 fine, and 100 hours of community service,” the Washington Blade reports. The transgender community in D.C. has reacted with outrage.

The D.C. Superior Court Judge, Russell Canan, also sentenced Furr “to five years in prison but suspended all but 14 months of the prison term and credited Furr with the 14 months he already served between the time of his arrest and his trial last October,” the publication reported.The officer was released from jail while he awaits sentencing for his conviction on charges of assault and solicitation for prostitution. Furr was acquitted on the more serious charges of assault with intent to kill with a weapon.

The judge also ordered the officer to stay away from D.C.’s well known areas for transgender prostitution.

This result is the product of a legal system that constantly devalues trans lives, particularly trans people of color,” Jason Terry, an activist with the D.C. Trans Coalition, told the Blade. “Officer Furr’s defense team actively sought to portray the victims as somehow deserving of this violence, and apparently they succeeded. If roles had been reversed and a black trans woman had gotten drunk and shot a gun at a police officer, the results would be drastically different.

The case revolves around events that occurred in August 2011. On a Washington, D.C. street, Furr asked one of the transgender woman for sex for money. After the woman refused, Furr followed her to a CVS store and, when he was outside the store, pointed a gun at the transgender woman. After the officer drove away, the group of transgender woman and their male friends followed him, until Furr stopped his car and fired his gun at the car.

Then, “one of the male friends driving the vehicle ducked to avoid being shot and unintentionally rammed the car into Furr’s car, witnesses testified,” the Blade reports. “Furr responded by climbing on the hood of the car occupied by the transgender women and their friends and fired five times through the front windshield, causing three of the occupants to suffer non-fatal gunshot wounds.

When D.C. police came to the scene, they arrested Furr, who had a “blood alcohol level twice the legal limit under D.C. law,” according to the publication.

The Washington Blade also reports that Furr’s attorney seems to have convinced the jury that Furr was acting in self-defense, which is why he was not convicted on the more serious charges.

While Furr is getting off relatively easy legally, the case will have ramifications for his job. D.C. police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump told the Blade that Furr “has been suspended without pay and that the department will follow its standard procedure for dealing with an officer convicted of a felony.” The standard procedure, according to the Blade, is that “a felony conviction, especially one associated with violence, usually results in the firing of a police officer.

(Source: anarcho-queer)


Just how poorly were women represented in US media in 2012? 

10:52 am, by padaviya1 note

Reluctance to Print Doonesbury Will Only Make it More Visible (via RH Reality Check)

Several prominent newspapers chose not to publish a series of Doonesbury comics because they address forced ultrasound legislation. But in the new media world we live in, their decision not to publish the comic strips ensures they will be much more widely read. 

And you can help!

Let’s make sure these are among the most seen Doonesbury comics ever.

Here’s a short link to use for this comic: http://bit.ly/yGkt65

Here’s a short link to use for this comic: http://bit.ly/AoliCI

Here’s a short link to use for this comic: http://bit.ly/xcBF6G

Here is a list of the media outlets who refused to publish these comics.  Take a couple of moments to post the comic in their comment sections, Facebook pages and Twitter streams.  You’ll have to “like” the media outlet on Facebook to post on their pages… a small price to pay for activism! 

* * * * * * *

The Los Angeles Times refused to publish the Doonesbury comics in their comics section, where people would look for them. They published them, but in their op-ed section. We know, we know - we don’t see an “opinion” either. 

You can post on their Facebook wall here, comment at their website here or you can click this button to tweet at them: 

* * * * * * *

The Houston Chronicle in Texas (!) likewise refused to publish the comics in their comics section. Instead, they moved the strips to their “Outlooks” page, where no one would know or care to look. If any publication should be publishing these comics on their front page, it’s any publication located in Texas!

You can post on their Facebook wall here, comment at their website here or you can click this button to tweet at them: 

* * * * * * *

The Athens Banner-Herald in Georgia refused to publish the comics because the editors “thought there was a real possibility that readers might confuse the topic of this week’s ‘Doonesbury’ with Georgia’s proposed abortion legislation.” Umm, all the more reason to discuss the issue in your paper!

You can post on their Facebook wall here, comment at their website here or you can click this button to tweet at them: 

* * * * * * *

The Oregonian refused to publish the comics because they “went over the line of good taste and humor.” Yeah, maybe, but only because forced ultrasounds and shaming of women goes over the line of good taste and humor. 

You can post to the Oregonian's Facebook page here, comment at their website here or you can click this button to tweet at them: 

* * * * * * *

The Indianapolis Star declined to publish the strips in print. You can post to their Facebook wall here or tweet at them here:

* * * * * * *

The Arizona Star likewise declined to publish (in print). You can post to their Facebook wall here or tweet at them here: 

* * * * * * *

The SC Herald refused to publish the comics because the editors were “concerned about the graphic content.” How this excuse applies remains unclear.

You can post to the SC Herald's Facebook page here  or you can click this button to tweet at them:

* * * * * * *

The CA Reporter refused to publish the comics because “[e]ditors believe [cartoonist Gary Trudeau] has expressed that opinion in a manner that skirts, if not crosses, the boundaries of good taste expected in a family newspaper.” Because good taste would obviously be to encourage anti-choice legislation, duh.

You can post to the CA Reporter's Facebook page here or you can click this button to tweet at them:

* * * * * * *

The Ocala Star Banner is not running the series of strips.  Hit up their Facebook wall here and tweet them:

* * * * * * *

The UT Standard-Examiner refused to publish the comics because the ”language in the original strips was not appropriate for a comic that could be viewed by children.” Tell that to Rush Limbaugh. This is a political comic strip and “slut” is a political word, these days.

Tweet at the Standard-Examiner here:

* * * * * * *

The Press of Atlantic City refused to publish the comics because ”Texas abortion cartoons venture too far for the comics pages.” That’s really not an explanation.

You can post to the Press of Atlantic City's Facebook page here.

* * * * * * *

The Gainesville Sun in Florida refused to publish the strips. Find them on Facebook here and tweet at them by clicking here:

* * * * * * *

The St. Paul Pioneer Press refused to publish the comics in print because “[t]he editors have decided the commentary in some panels is inappropriate for the comics section in the newspaper.” Not this again - what’s the criteria for “appropriate” comics?!

You can post to the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Facebook page here, comment at their website here or you can click this button to tweet at them:

* * * * * * *

The Fort Worth Star Telegram refused to publish the comics in print, and today published an article stating that “the reason for not printing the strip has nothing to do with left- or right-wing politics. It has everything to do with civility and consistency.” Come on, really?

You can post to the Fort Worth Star Telegram's Facebook page here, comment at their website here or you can click this button to tweet at them: 

* * * * * * *

The North Carolina News & Record and the Winston-Salem Journal (both smaller NC newspapers) refused to publish the strips in print. You can post to the Winston-Salem Journal’s Facebook site here. You can tweet at the News & Record here:   or at the Winston-Salem Journal here: 

* * * * * * *

The Utica Observer-Dispatch refused to publish the strips in print. You can post to their Facebook page here, comment on their website here (registration required) or you can click this button to tweet at them:  

* * * * * * *

The Tallahassee Democrat refused to publish the comics in print, and no one will say why. According to one reader, “Thus far, [there has been] no disclosure about its decision either in the paper or online.” After all, TD, you wouldn’t want to say the wrong thing.

You can post to the Tallahassee Democrat's Facebook page here or you can click this button to tweet at them … 

09:14 am, by padaviya4 notes

Your Body Under Arrest: Police in Riot Gear Remove Peaceful Women's Rights Protestors in Virginia (via RH Reality Check)

Editor’s note: This article was amended at 10:33 a.m. on Monday, March 5th to correct an error of omission. An earlier draft with the link back to Style Weekly was lost and has now been re-inserted. The original reporting on this story comes from Style Weekly.

You might think that the right wing in this country was getting the message that women will no longer stand for legal, verbal, and physical abuse and harassment, especially by elected officials.  You would especially think that would be the case in Virginia where former Vice Presidential aspirant Governor Bob McDonnell, who is contemplating signing into law a forced ultrasound bill after doing women a “favor” and taking out the forced trans-vaginal ultrasounds initially required, has been widely pilloried.  You would also think the right-wing would be cautious after a week in which the seemingly untouchable Rush Limbaugh has, as of this writing, lost seven corporate sponsors over his debasing remarks about Sandra Fluke.

But you would be wrong. 

Because, you see, women in this country are so dangerous, their sense of entitlement as citizens so incredibly threatening to the peace of the republic that state police in riot gear were sent to remove peaceful protestors this past weekend. According to a news article in the Richmond independent news source Style Weekly:

Photos by Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly

Photos by Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly

"About a thousand women’s rights protestors descended on the state Capitol Saturday afternoon to protest anti-abortion legislation in the General Assembly, and then things got ugly," reports Style Weekly’s Vernal Colman.

"About 20 State Police officers, many in swat gear with face shields and body armor, were called in to assist Capitol Police in controlling the crowd. Some of the State Police officers wore green camouflage and carried rifles and canisters of tear gas (no tear gas was used, however). After being warned to vacate the south steps of the Capitol, police officers arrested 31 people — 14 men and 17 women — on charges ranging from unlawful assembly to trespassing, according to Capitol Police."

The rally ended a raucous two weeks in the statehouse, with anti-abortion legislation generating national headlines in a Republican-controlled General Assembly. While legislation granting unborn children “personhood” status was shelved until next year and a bill requiring invasive, transvaginal ultrasounds prior to abortions was watered down at the request of Gov. Bob McDonnell, women’s rights protestors descended onto Capitol Square nonetheless.

Photos by Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly

Photos by Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly

Colman continues: Organizers for the event, Speak Loudly With Silence, say that an estimated 1,000 people participated in the rally, which also involved members of the Occupy Richmond movement.”

Claire Tuite says that the arrests were not planned. When the protestors emerged on the Capitol, some made an “autonomous decision” to “occupy” the steps of the Capitol building.”

"This was a peaceful protest on taxpayer-funded property," Tuite says. "We have every right to be here."

Josh Kadrich, one of the organizers, says a small group broke off from the larger crowd of protestors, determined to make it to the steps. They blew by the cops standing on the steps leading towards the capitol. Others joined in. “Eventually, there were around 400 people sitting on the steps of the capitol in silence to protect women’s rights,” Kadrich says.

Then State Police, many officers in riot gear, showed up. The protestors were asked to leave and given a countdown as to when the police would begin making arrests. Some complied peacefully. Others locked arms and resisted.

Photos by Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly

Photos by Scott Elmquist, Style Weekly

Colman writes: “Molly Vice, press liaison for the group, says the arrests “shames lawmakers for passing regressive legislation that usurps the good judgment of women on their own health care for the state’s.

"It’s an outrage," she says of the ultrasound bill. "We’re here … to tell truth to power that infringing on women’s health is not okay. Not this year or the next."

For more photos from the rally, visit Style’s facebook page.

Apparently, Virginia’s state legislators and governor can occupy your body and your uterus, but you can’t occupy your state capitol.

Follow Jodi Jacobson on Twitter, @jljacobson

08:51 am, by padaviya8 notes

2011: The War on Contraception (via RH Reality Check)

The year 2011will be remembered by reproductive rights supporters as the year that the anti-choice movement really turned up the aggression, destroying the objections of moderate liberals who thought that pro-choice activists were being hysterical little ladies with our constant warnings about anti-choicers.

Up until late 2010, you could still find many a liberal who would argue that conservatives “don’t really” want to ban abortion, but instead dangle the promise of doing so in front of a bunch of religious zealots to get their votes. Now those liberals realize the religious zealots actually exert quite a bit of control, in both their direct control over the Republicans and their ability to make the Democrats jump around nervously.

Up through 2010, you could find many liberals who would laugh condescendingly when you would point out that the anti-choice movement not only wants to ban abortion, but has an eye out for destroying access to contraception, as well. No one is laughing at the supposedly hysterical ladies anymore. Turns out, we were right all along, and everyone knows it, including the White House.

There’s much that can be said about the escalating attacks on abortion access, which seemed especially over-the-top in a nation gripped by economic crisis that needs to be dealt with immediately. Irin Carmon did an excellent round-up of that story at Salon, and is on this week’s podcast talking about the same.  As she explains, many anti-choice efforts in that direction were surprisingly useless at the end of the day, since they’ve been tied up in court or, as in the case of the personhood amendment in Mississippi, simply voted down completely.

What I want to comment on for my last column of the year is the war on contraception, since 2011 was the year where it went from a series of skirmishes over contraception access to all-out war. Let’s be clear; anti-choice activists have always opposed contraception. But they were always wary of being outed to the public at large as anti-contraception, which meant that their attempts to discourage the use of it were somewhat stymied.

Under the Bush administration, they scored some victories by mandating anti-contraception propaganda (misleadingly called “abstinence-only education”) in schools, preventing emergency contraception from being sold over-the-counter without age restrictions, and defunding international spending on family planning that had nothing to do with abortion. Two of those victories have turned to losses. Abstinence-only especially turned out to be a joke; while anti-choicers were able to secure an apparently much-desired uptick in the teen pregnancy rate, it seems like it was mostly a blip in what is a longer trend of teenagers being more responsible about contraceptive use. It also seemed, until very recently, that anti-choicers would also lose on emergency contraception.

The election of Obama and the rollback of anti-contraception propaganda, however, seems to have set the anti-choice movement off. Even though most of them will still deflect if asked directly in mainstream media if they oppose contraception, they basically stopped trying so hard to manage mainstream perceptions of themselves as somehow just great lovers of fetal life, and are coming out with their anti-sex, misogynist agenda. The word “abortion” gets thrown around a lot, but the actions of the anti-choice movement this year made it crystal clear that it’s not about abortion, but about punishing women who have sex, full stop. Here’s a list of examples of how:

1) The Planned Parenthood federal budget stand-off. When House Republicans threatened a government shutdown if Title X funding for contraception and reproductive health services wasn’t stripped from the budget, the word “abortion” was tossed around a lot. Maybe some fools bought that story, but for most of us it was obvious that it couldn’t be about abortion. After all, no Title X funds can go to abortion services. It was clearly an attack on contraception access for those who couldn’t pay out of pocket, fitting with previous anti-choice hostility towards contraception.

2) The defunding of family planning clinics on a state level. House Republicans may have lost the funding battle on a federal level, but there’s been much more success depriving women of access to contraceptives and related services on a state level. For instance, under Rick Perry’s leadership, Texas has been so successful in stripping funding from family planning clinics that the state can expect to see a 22 percent increase in its abortion rate. Other anti-choice-controlled states are making the move to dramatically increase the unintended pregnancy rate, with Wisconsin adding cancer screenings to the list of subsidized services they are stripping from women of the state.  Sure, all these moves will dramatically increase the amount of money the states have to dish out for Medicaid, but women are punished for having sex with unintended pregnancies and cancer, which is all that matters to the anti-choice movement.

3) Personhood amendments. Mississippi very nearly passed an amendment that would define fertilized eggs as persons in their state, which would be an effective ban on abortion, IVF, stem cell research, and providing many forms of emergency medical assistance to pregnant women. Anti-choicers also clearly hoped it could be used to ban the pill, even though the only demonstrable mechanism that the pill uses to prevent pregnancy is to suppress ovulation. The amendment didn’t pass, but anti-choicers managed to get many news anchors, pundits, and even feminists to erroneously claim that the pill works by killing fertilized eggs. (All available evidence shows that it works by suppressing ovulation, and the possibility that it may make it slightly more likely for an egg not to implant than usual is speculation.) Getting that misinformation into the public was a huge rhetorical victory for those who have an eye out for banning female-controlled contraception, and returning control over women’s bodies to men.

4) The open fight over the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine couldn’t have less to do with fetal life, embryonic life, or even the life of fertilized eggs. But since those things don’t really matter to the anti-choice movement—which is primarily motivated by the desire to punish women who have sex—the HPV vaccine was resisted by anti-choice activists from the get-go. This war has been going on mainly out of the  view of the mainstream media, until 2011, when Rick Perry’s competition for the Republican nomination decided to make an issue out of his previous support for the vaccine. Michele Bachmann particularly made a giant fuss over the supposed evils of letting the sexually- active avoid death from cervical cancer. While the vaccine isn’t contraception, the controversy was yet another example of how anti-choicers are dispensing with the bad faith arguments about “life,” and openly fighting any tool women can use to be safe while being sexually active.

5) The fight over insurance coverage of contraception. In 2011, the Obama administration decided to add contraception to the list of preventive services that will eventually be covered fully without a co-pay by insurance companies. Naturally, this caused a fight with anti-choice activists, who are now looking for ways to chip away at the decision by carving out exemptions for Catholic-run universities and hospitals. (Who are required to cover contraception by the federal government anyway.) This fight couldn’t have less to do with “abortion”, but is just about maximizing the number of women who get pregnant against their will by making contraception needlessly expensive.

6) The Plan B debacle. Anti-choice activists lost most of their battles, except for the state-level destruction of access to contraception. However, they learned as the year wound down that persistence pays off: The Obama administration handed them an enormous victory when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled the FDA’s decision to allow Plan B to be sold over-the-counter without age restrictions. By keeping Plan B out of the hands of minors, especially those in consensual and age-appropriate relationships, and by making it much harder for women of all ages to get it, the administration helped the anti-choice movement in its goal of keeping this country’s unintended pregnancy rate sky high. Sure, that also means our abortion rate continues to be sky-high, but as this year has definitively shown, the anti-choice movement doesn’t care about preventing a single abortion, if doing so would get in the way of punishing women for having sex.

11:05 am, by padaviya48 notes

U.S.: Woman Jailed, Ostracized After Resorting To Self-Administered Abortion: What Is This, Puritan America? (via AWID)

When we deprive women of access to abortion, shun them, and even throw them in jail, we as a society become weaker.

By Amanda Marcotte

Jennie McCormack, a resident of Idaho and a mother of three, has spent the past few months of her life in a legal and social situation that calls to mind the trials of Hester Pyrnne, the heroine of The Scarlet LetterAs reported by Nancy Hass of Newsweek, McCormack’s ordeal started when she learned she was pregnant by a man who was doing time for robbery.

Realizing that she couldn’t afford another baby, nor the $500 fee and two trips to get an abortion (because Idaho requires women to wait 24 hours after their first visit to the doctor to “think it over”), McCormack resorted to buying RU-486 from a vendor online. The police eventually arrested McCormack and charged her with an illegal abortion, claiming that she was over Idaho’s legal limit of 20 weeks for an abortion. Since the exact gestational age can’t be determined, charges have been dropped for now, but prosecutors are retaining the right to re-charge McCormack. In the meantime, she’s become a pariah in her community, been fired from her job, and even had to face social workers who are basically denying her aid to care for her children.  

Even in super-liberal New York City, a woman is being prosecuted (albeit in a less drastic way) for a self-abortion after the legal limit. The desperate woman, accused of aborting after six months, threw the fetus in a trash can, presumably because she was not aware of her other options for disposing of it.  

In the United States, abortion is technically a legal right, but as these cases show, it’s not functionally a right. If abortion were actually a right, women wouldn’t have such a difficult time getting a legal abortion that they resort to drastic measures that land them in jail. These cases demonstrate why abortion needs to be more than a right for those who have the means to jump through all the hoops put in place to keep them from obtaining legal abortions. Making sure women who want abortions can get them in a timely and safe fashion helps more than the women in question. We all do better if women can get the abortions that are supposedly their right.  

Abortion’s long descent from being a true right to being only a technical right began in 1976, when Congress passed the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds from being used to pay for abortion. Once you needed to be able to get the cash together to pay for an abortion, it stopped really being a right and instead became a commodity, out of reach of those who often need it the most. Since then, anti-choice activists have been chipping away at access to abortion, putting up legal restrictions that usually cost time and money to get around, and now even moving to prevent insurance companies from covering abortion, expanding the number of women whose access is limited because they can’t afford it.  

In the anti-choice imagination, the only people who pay for this are women who want abortions, whom anti-choicers generally believe deserve to suffer for not “keeping their legs closed,” to quote a favorite colloquialism of the anti-choice set. In reality, women’s lack of access to affordable, safe abortion hurts all of us, and not just those who accidentally find a fetus abandoned in a trash can by a woman who had simply run out of legal, safe options. When women who want abortions can’t afford them, they often go on to have the baby, instead. In the short term, that means higher costs for Medicaid and other social welfare programs. But there’s also long-term costs to all of us. Having children they don’t feel ready to have often limits women’s employment and educational opportunities, depriving society of their talents and labor. If women can’t have children until they’re ready, they’re often limited in their abilities to educate and care for those children as well as they’d like to, which increases the burden for everyone. 

Criminalizing women who need abortion care just makes the situation exponentially worse, as Jennie McCormack’s situation demonstrates. So far, her brush with the legal system has been devastating for her entire family. She has three small children to take care of, but because she’s been “outed,” she can’t hold down a job that would help feed and house them. If Idaho successfully prosecutes her and sends her to jail, that would leave her three children without any parents to care for them. This tragedy could have been averted. If there were no Hyde Amendment and Medicaid paid for abortion, and if there weren’t a bunch of useless legal restrictions on abortion, McCormack could have aborted her pregnancy in a timely fashion, leaving her free to get a job and take care of her kids. Instead, there’s a strong possibility that she’ll be forced to abandon her children, and all because she couldn’t access an abortion that was supposed to be her legal right.  

Women who need abortions aren’t some foreign creatures whose wellbeing can be sacrificed so politicians can score points in the culture war. They’re mothers, wives, workers, students, volunteers. When we deprive women of access to abortion, shun them from society, and even throw them in jail for taking matters into their own hands, we as a society become weaker. The Jennie McCormacks of the world are trying to live up to their responsibilities. Putting restrictions on abortion only serves to make that impossible for them.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the blog Pandagon. She is the author of It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments.

08:54 am, by padaviya20 notes

Plan ‘Oh No They Didn’t': Roundup of Responses to Plan B Betrayal (via Ms Magazine Blog)

We at Ms., along with feminists nationwide, were forced to dump our celebratory Korbel down the toilet last week when HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius threw women under the bus reversed the FDA’s decision to grant over-the-counter status to “morning-after” pill Plan B without an age restriction. As we reported last week, we had good reason to preliminarily pop the cork:

Countless doctors, scientists and health professionals have confirmed that Plan B does not pose a health risk. Multiple studies have shown that girls are capable of understanding the package label and using the product safely. In 2009 a federal judge even ordered the FDA to reconsider the age restrictions on the drug, calling it “political and ideological,” not scientific.

But women–and men who care about women–are not taking this lying down. (As a matter of fact, it’s a wonder the cissexuals among us are lying down for anything these days when, should we accidentally conceive, we are likely to face at least one gesture of contempt from our country–whether we seek emergency contraception, abortion services or even to breastfeed in public. But I digress.) Over at the Women’s Media Center, Adele Stan reports that women and women’s groups are both venting and mobilizing; such formidable feminists as Katha Pollitt and Jodi Jacobson have issued all-out battle cries.

Meanwhile, Feministing writes that 14 senators have expressed their displeasure and skepticism regarding the politicized decision in a letter asking Sebelius to provide the scientific evidence behind her highly-criticized move. The letter reads:

On behalf of the millions of women we represent, we want to be assured that this and future decisions affecting women’s health will be based on medical and scientific evidence.

Feminist Majority Foundation President (and Ms. publisher) Eleanor Smeal issued a public statement and didn’t mince words:

Women must not be forced to jump unnecessary hurdles to obtain safe and effective contraception. Men and boys of all ages can obtain condoms easily, without interference from any governmental authority. Women and girls deserve equal treatment and respect, at the minimum.

And finally, according to the FMF, a judge has given a green light to the Center for Reproductive Rights to not only re-file their lawsuit against the FDA for imposing the medically and scientifically unnecessary age restriction, but also to add Sebelius as a defendant.

Here’s hoping that, with the continued outpouring of strength and dedication from fierce, capable women, Ms. can crack open some of that celebratory champagne in the very near future. (And since over-the-counter access to Plan B is predicted to bring the price down from $50 a pop, we may even be able to spring for a pricier bottle.)

Take action to help reverse this decision—click here to tell the Obama administration not to let science and medical standards be trumped by politics.

08:45 am, by padaviya5 notes

Mother of Fetus Found in Alley Charged with Self-Abortion (via DNAInfo)

MANHATTAN — A Washington Heights mother whose miscarried fetus was found dead and wrapped in plastic bags inside a trash can in an alley next to her home has been arrested and charged with self-induced abortion, police said Thursday.

Yaribely Almonte, 20, faces first degree self-abortion, a class A misdemeanor, for the death of her female fetus, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters Thursday. Sources said the pregnancy was about 24 weeks along, which is on the threshold between a first-degree and second-degree misdemeanor, a lesser charge.

The charge, which carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail, applies to a woman who “commits or submits to an abortional act upon herself which causes her miscarriage, unless such abortional act is justifiable.”

Sources said that Almonte, who also has a 3-year-old daughter, told investigators that she had taken an herbal tea before delivering the baby, who was stillborn.

The fetus was discovered by the super of Almonte’s 191st Street building on Nov. 29 inside a box that was buried beneath other trash bags inside a bin, the super’s son told DNAinfo.

11:15 am, by padaviya8 notes