The Women of Walmart

One story I’m keeping my eye on this week is the Supreme Court hearing Wal-mart vs Dukes. The case was originally brought by 6 female employees 10 years ago, and this week the Supreme Court will not decide if  the women were discriminated against, but rather IF they can proceed with the trial as a class-action suit (representing multiple people).

The Supreme Court will decide this week whether the lawsuit can move forward, making it the largest employment discrimination civil action lawsuit ever, or whether it is unfair to Walmart for the complaints to be pursued as class-action. The group claims to represent between 500,000-1.6 million women who “have described how male workers with less seniority were promoted and paid more and have talked of a culture of female stereotyping, of being called “Janie Qs” and told to wear cosmetics and “doll up.“  As the SF Chronicle reports, “One of the plaintiffs, Chris Kwapnoski, says she asked a supervisor at the Sam’s Club in Concord, what was holding her back from promotion. She recalls getting a curt reply: “Blow the cobwebs off your makeup and doll up.”

USA Today reports that the lead attorneys for the women highlight startling statistics:  “While women comprise over 80% of hourly supervisors, they hold only one-third of store management jobs and their ranks steadily diminish at each successive step in the management hierarchy.” Further, the lawyers say “statistics show that women’s pay lags that of men in every major job in each of the company’s 41 regions. The NWLC, NAACP, and ACLU have filed briefs supporting the women.

The US Chamber of Commerce filed a brief supporting Walmart (big surprise) setting this up to be a test of the Supreme Court’s business bias–remember when corporations were recently declared to have the same right to free speech as people?

So, what exactly is at stake here? As Slate reports, the implication of the ruling is huge: “Wal-Mart’s lawyers have sought to portray the lawsuit as ludicrous, given its size and scope. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say size alone should have no bearing on the case’s legitimacy. By throwing out the case, one lawyer said it would be sending a damaging message: “As long as you discriminate against enough people, courts can’t get involved.”

These women have spent 10 years using the country’s legal resources to prove sex discrimination. If they can’t move forward, there will be a powerful message sent to the women of this country: You are worth less than men, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Who says we don’t need the ERA?

 

Posted on: March 28th, 2011 by Fair and Feminist 2 Comments

State of the Onion, Hail to the Chef, Eggsecutive Orders, Buffalo West Wing

I’ve been reading  a TON lately, (thanks in part to my new kindle!). I happened upon the White House Chef Mystery Series by Julie Hyzy. I read all three books within a week! They were great, breezy, yet interesting reads. As you may imagine, I love a book series with a strong female protagonist, and this series delivers. It revolves around Olivia Paras, a chef in the White House, who is always finding herself in the middle of trouble. She meddles out of a sense of duty, and is a perfectionist in her job. Talk about identifying with a character ;) Further, Olivia does have a love interest, but is not obsessed with, defined by, constantly pining for, or rescued by this love interest. This makes me very happy, and I was able to read the book with minimal eye rolls.

Of course, I am fascinated with politics, so it was entertaining to see the White House through the chef’s eyes. I found myself wondering how much research Hyzy did, or if it was just speculation. I’d be interested to know. Also, at the end of each book, Olivia details the recipes for the dishes mentioned in the story. I have yet to try cooking one, but it’s a nice touch.

The one criticism I have of the series is that there is never any “down time” for our heroine. In order to fully delve into the drama of a story, I need a little dose of a character’s ordinary life. I need to feel the dramatic contrast of “yesterday she was sharing wine with her boyfriend and today she is running from a killer!” What does Olivia do to relax? Granted, this may be left out because people who work at the White House don’t have time to relax.

Overall, I really enjoyed the books in the series, and hope there are more to come. If you’re interested in buying State of The Onion, check out Powell’s price.

 

PS: I read some of Hyzy’s other series, and had a mixed reaction. So far this one is my favorite, and I liked the Manor House mysteries.

Posted on: March 20th, 2011 by Fair and Feminist No Comments

Sphere of Influence

Earlier today, I posted an FB status that has reflected my mood this week: “I’m worried about the people of Japan, the women of America, + the people of Libya.” Even though it’s Spring Break, and the boyfriend and I took a little trip out of town, we couldn’t help but saturate ourselves with news about Japan, Libya, and the GOP’s attack on women.  I’ve spent all week taking turns shaking my head (and fists!) at each of these news lines, feeling disappointed, distraught, and helpless.

Not a great feeling for an activist, right? I find anger to be much more empowering than sadness, but this week I just couldn’t convince myself that I could make any impact on these crises. Sure, I educate the people around me, volunteer escort at Planned Parenthood,  try to teach my students critical thinking skills, and give small amounts of money to the Red Cross, but I can’t possibly do anything to help the solve the huge problems on my mind. The problems are so huge, the obstacles so complicated, the solutions ambiguous–and I am drained.

I’d like to think we all feel this way sometimes as activists. We forget that our contributions to society (and the Red Cross!) actually do matter, even if they pale in comparison to The Problems. Sometimes I feel this way about blogging–what’s the point of WRITING about things when I should just get out there and try to DO something? I downplay, and end up downtrodden.

Apathy about world events just isn’t a state for me–I’ve tried it, even with a bottle of my favorite wine, I can’t swallow it. I am a compassionate person who is constantly concerned about current events.

On our wine tour this week through the beautiful Hill Country of Texas, we chatted with another couple. After learning about my thesis topic (anti-Human trafficking organization) and dissertation topic (Organization that works with abused and neglected children), I recited the joke I always tell to make my interlocutor more comfortable — “I guess I really like to be depressed!” “No,” she responded, shaking her head, “It takes a special person to do that, a special person.”

I had never thought of it that way before.

I work and write and agitate about tough topics because I CAN’T BELIEVE I live in a world where children are ABUSED and people are SOLD. Like I really can’t friggin’ believe it, and I refuse to accept it. It’s a compulsion– I didn’t choose this topic, these voices chose me. A professor once told me that we research that which we don’t understand, and in my case I think it’s true.

All of this is to say, that sometimes I need someone to pull me out of my “desperation place”– or that place where I believe the lie that I can’t do anything to help. This time it was another professor who commented on my status:

“Although I agree that all these folks are in sad straights, I try to keep this in mind: “Worry is energy that pretends to be useful.” Instead, I think about what I can do within my sphere of influence, and then spend my energy likewise.”

I love the idea of examining what I can do within my sphere, and acting accordingly. I don’t get held accountable to how much good  Rachel Maddow/MotherJones/NOW does, because I don’t have their spheres. I have this one, where I can stand outside Planned Parenthood and smile at protesters, where I can include a bunch of feminist writings in the classes I teach, and where I can blog about the issues that I care about, even if only a few people are reading.

So here’s to letting ourselves be disappointed, but always finding a hand to pull us up.

The question becomes, what can you do this week in your sphere?

 

Posted on: March 19th, 2011 by Fair and Feminist No Comments

Happy Spring Break!

Posted on: March 14th, 2011 by Fair and Feminist No Comments

Blog Carnival Update 5

Decadent Depravity details how she supports Planned Parenthood not just because of her own experiences, but because of the work she does: “When I heard about the attack on Planned Parenthood, I signed every petition I could to support them and urge our leaders to defend them.  I called representative Gary Peters and asked him to support Planned Parenthood because, as a social worker advocating for at-risk, low-income young women, many of my clients and the rest of my community would suffer.  The removal of this incredibly necessary resource would result in higher rates of teen pregnancy, STI contraction, insufficient family planning and  decreased health and well-being for communities that have been and continue to be underserved.” Planned Parenthood is a beacon of hope for many people in this nation, and it is under attack from right wing extremists who are out of touch with the lives of everyday Americans.

The Living Artist, in addition to a totally awesome graphic that I’d love to have on a T-shirt, brings us these powerful words: “Because no one else can define my life or my moral landscape, because no one else lives my life, because of all these things, I stand with Planned Parenthood.”

Complications of a Mastermind reveals her personal connection to Planned Parenthood: “I stand with Planned Parenthood because there are many times I could not afford birth control and Planned Parenthood is how I got it. They have never once been judgmental, rude or anything but helpful to me.” That is EXACTLY the kind of experience women (and men) should have when they need healthcare–helpful, accurate, and non-judgemental.

It’s a Small World highlights a few points I haven’t read much of today: “If Planned Parenthood was an organization focused on men’s health – there would be no fight…When women are able to take control over their own bodies, the poverty gap is reduced & so is the gender gap.” AGREED.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Blog Carnival today– I had a great time reading and getting the word out about how important Planned Parenthood is to the American people. Remember to sign a petition, and perhaps attend a rally or Walk for Choice event tomorrow.

Happy Blogging!

Shelly

Posted on: February 25th, 2011 by Fair and Feminist 1 Comment

Blog Carnival Update 4

I’m loving reading all your great posts in support of Planned Parenthood! Let’s look a few more blogs…

Gender Across Borders puts the issue of de-funding Planned Parenthood into a global context:

“As it stands, the US already has a pitiful maternal health ranking compared to other industrialized nations. Undermining the crucial women’s health services that Planned Parenthood provides – like mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care, and birth control, in addition to abortions – will surely cause our ranking to tumble even lower.

And policy-wise, the de-funding of Planned Parenthood has global implications. The domestic policy decisions of the US inform our foreign policies on the same issues, and also set an example for other countries. If we are devaluing women’s rights and health, we are tacitly allowing others to do the same and undermining our ability to pressure governments to treat their women better.”

The implications of the Pence amendment are far-reaching–not only will they affect the millions of women in the U.S. who use PP services, but they will send a message to the international community.

86 Red Shoes gives a slew of reasons to support Planned Parenthood–it almost reads as poem.  One of my favorites on the list: “I stand with Planned Parenthood …Because my uterus is mine.” WELL SAID.  The fact that a bunch of non-uterus-owning fellas are trying to control MY uterus gets me quite riled up.

Politics Power Sex echoes what is now a familiar refrain of the day: Planned Parenthood was there for me when I needed accurate information.

Incongruous Feminisms has an awesome video blog and points out the insanity of the GOP voting to fund NASCAR and not voting to fund reproductive healthcare for poor women.

Paponda joins the chorus of women who have shared their personal stories of using Planned Parenthood’s services.

 

Thanks everyone, and remember, it’s never too late to write a blog about why you stand with Planned Parenthood! Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments

Posted on: February 25th, 2011 by Fair and Feminist 1 Comment

Blog Carnival Update 3

This update focuses on two posts that have something in common–both authors talk about using PP services while married.

The Sin City Siren had me tearing up with her honest reflections on the role Planned Parenthood has played in her life. She writes about how she needed Planned Parenthood early on in her marriage:  ”I grew up poor. I knew what that childhood was like. I knew about the sacrifices that you learn to endure even at early ages. I knew about the neglect of parents working double-shifts and multiple jobs just to pay the bills. I knew about food stamps and welfare and thrift stores and one-gift Christmas. And I knew the fear of no health care when someone got sick. I didn’t want that for any potential child of mine. Like so many, I wanted a better life for any child I might have. And I wanted the liberty — the very liberty promised me as a citizen of these United States — to make the choice of whether or not I wanted to have a baby at all. And so did my husband. So we knew that we needed to use contraception until the time was right for us to decide if we wanted to have a baby. And isn’t that the essence of family planning? We wanted to plan our family. What could be more responsible than that?”

She also echoes a sentiment that I personally hold– as a person of faith, I believe that Planned Parenthood is a wonderful, helpful, lifesaving organization. She offers a great personal tale of how Planned Parenthood is part of routine, much needed medical care.

Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed shares a personal anecdote of a pregnancy scare as a newlywed. She writes: It was the first time I realized what pro-choice actually meant. It’s not about being pro-abortions for all: it’s about being pro-the freedom to have control over your own body.”  I am so glad to have married women talking about their need for Planned Parenthood, as there is a stereotype about who uses PP’s services. As an infertility blogger, she also writes about the link between  reproductive health the infertility community. It’s wonderful to hear women’s bodies talked about in such a holistic, comprehensive way.

The GOP wants to make this about abortion, they want to claim that Planned Parenthood is evil, and that it doesn’t help women. They are way off the mark, and these two bloggers show us how.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Shelly

Posted on: February 25th, 2011 by Fair and Feminist No Comments

Blog Carnival Update 2

Blog Carnival is off and running! Here’s the second update :)

Plenty of Otherwise cuts through the BS and points out the GOP’s real goal in defunding Planned Parenthood: “Because what gets me about this bill is that it works against what the GOP says it wants: no abortion. If you really want to eliminate abortion, you shouldn’t cut funding to the very thing that prevents women from having to seek one.” WELL SAID. She also provides us with some hope: “The term “forcible rape” was removed from the HR3 bill because we spoke the fuck up and demanded that it be removed. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t the biggest victory in the world. But it’s something–proof that if we fight, we can win.” Here, here. We have to fight, we have to make our voices heard, we have to take action to Stand With Planned Parenthood. I hope in some way this blog carnival is contributing to the chorus of outrage about the Pence Amendment. She sums it up with this thought: “Hopeful and angry is a good mix for me, though. It makes me do things, makes me act.” Me too, me too.

 

Over at Femocracy, we get to hear about the author’s trip to a Planned Parenthood in New York. She highlights the extra security in place because of anti-abortion activists penchant for violence: “do you want to know something that’s really off-putting? Having to be scanned for explosives before seeing a doctor.” She continues: “As I’m fairly certain seeing a doctor is a basic right in this country, I’m pretty sure it infringes on my freedom that a vaginal exam becomes a war zone activity.”

I couldn’t agree more. I think there should be protest free zones around all the Planned Parenthood clinics, but that of course is passed on a city or state basis. Here in Bryan, TX, we have a pretty consistent presence of protesters outside the clinic, shouting the most bizarre things. We’re gearing up for 40 days of harassment, which is when protesters stand outside the clinic every day for 40 days. Its exhausting, frustrating, and in my opinion, a violation of the patient’s privacy.

Memoirs of a Gangsta Feminist highlights the idiocy and hypocrisy of the GOP claiming to be working to help Americans get jobs, when all they’re doing is trying to legislate morality. The author writes: “In actuality, the preventive care provided at Planned Parenthood saves the federal budget from spending money on sick citizens later on. Not to mention the thousands of people employed by Planned Parenthood (if you wanna talk about job creation).” Well said.

Alright, I have to go do my actual job for a couple hours, and I will be back this afternoon with more updates!

Keep blogging and tweeting!

Shelly

Posted on: February 25th, 2011 by Fair and Feminist No Comments

Blog Carnival Update 1

Blog carnivals are my favorite things ever for two reasons: one, I get to read a bunch of blogs all day and call it productive, and two, they start a conversation that the blog carnival planner (in this case, me!) really thinks needs to happen. I am excited to be reading why you all support Planned Parenthood! So, here we go…

The Feminist Texican draws me in immediately with a personal tale about Planned Parenthood helping her out when she was dealing with really bad UTIs. I love her honesty, and also the way that she represents millions of women who use Planned Parenthood because they don’t have the resources to go to a hospital or doctor. She writes: “Why does all of this matter to me? Because I know that, for thousands of women nationwide, Planned Parenthood is the only place they can go for affordable, necessary screening services.” She also points out that it’s not likely the Senate will pass this law–I hope that is true. After recent assaults on our rights at the state and national level in Texas, I’m not taking anything for granted.

Over at SheRights, we get an awesome list of  ”I stand with Planned Parenthood Because…” Once again, we see where Planned Parenthood stepped in when the author did not have access to healthcare: “I stand with Planned Parenthood because Of that life-saving pap-smear they gave me when I had no insurance and no money.”  I have a feeling we’re going to see this theme a lot today–that Planned Parenthood is an awesome healthcare choice. SheRights also touches on something I find extremely important related to healthcare: “PP provides medically accurate information on all-things sexual and reproductive health — unlike bastard CPCs.” With all the misinformation out there- from friends, the internet, school, wiki-whatever, it can be difficult to discern accurate information from false information. Planned Parenthood is always there with accurate, unbiased info.

At See Jane Run…The Show we get another testimonial of someone who was helped by Planned Parenthood: “I stand with Planned Parenthood because they were one of the first organizations that had absolutely zero judgment about a poor female student in her early 20s who wanted birth control, who didn’t have a steady boyfriend but wanted to be cautious, who wanted to explore her sexuality without worrying about pregnancy issues.” This is it, right there– Planned Parenthood provides a non-judgmental space where women can find out about their bodies. This space *should* exist in other places–homes and schools, for example. But as many of us know, it doesn’t. Planned Parenthood is there, all across the nation, with a safe space for women to explore what their bodies, their health, and their sexuality means to them.

 

Alright, I’m off to read some more blogs, keep em coming!

Shelly

Posted on: February 25th, 2011 by Fair and Feminist No Comments

I Stand with Planned Parenthood Blog Carnival: Participating Blogs List

The Feminist Texican

Adventures in Global Strategery

Memoirs of a Gangsta Feminist

Plenty of Otherwise

Femocracy

Brooklyn Fit Mami

The Living Artist

The Beautiful Kind (possibly NSFW)

She Says

Gender Across Borders

The Sin City Siren

The Tired Feminist

Radical Flower

Queering the Feminist Lens

See Jane Run…The Show

86 Red Shoes

Decadent Depravity

American Muslimah’s Musings

Incongruous Feminisms

Southern Discomfort

Hydrotion Natural Skin Care Blog

It’s a Small World

Complications of a Mastermind

Paponda

Hannah Wept Sarah Laughed

She Rights

 

Look for updates on FairAndFeminist.com throughout the day! Hooray!

 

 

Posted on: February 25th, 2011 by Fair and Feminist 4 Comments