Law, Order, and Sexism: Testimonials from the Law Firm

Emma Staffaroni is a first-year Master’s candidate in SLC’s Women’s History program. A ruthless feminist, she slays haters with her pen and then eats them for dinner, covered in cheese. She also enjoys basset hounds, trains, and red wine.

 

 

Behold, a great irony: sexism in the profession of justice. Re/Visionist asked a few women to share their stories of experiencing sexism within the legal profession. The anonymous women below have given their testimonies in order to raise consciousness about the complex (but straightforward) ways sexism can pervade the legal workplace.

I.

I worked in a law firm in Manhattan dedicated to women’s rights in employment. However, it was run by two men – that’s right – two men. All interns, administrative assistants, office managers, and attorneys at the firm were women. Although there were many women working at the law firm, the two head lawyers never allowed any of the hard-working female attorneys to be a partner in the firm.  They also treated their employees poorly – sometimes yelling and speaking condescendingly to the females. One of the attorneys started a blog and wanted those who contributed to use pictures of themselves at the beginning of each post. One intern felt compelled to participate but albeit uncomfortable about providing a photo because she felt her writing should stand alone. When she gave a photo of herself, he sent it back and requested a close up of her face because the photo was taken of her from “too far away.”

After about a year, I left my position as an administrative assistant after an argument between the head attorney and me about my disappointment in him not fulfilling in what he alleged to be.  He purported to be a feminist attorney trying to help women, but he treated his employees and his clients terribly and underneath his feminist mask he was just a patriarchal male attorney in lower Manhattan.

II.

When I worked at the firm there was (and still is) a dress code that was especially enforced for us underlings. The girls always got lectured if a skirt or pants were too tight, whereas the boys could pretty much do whatever they wanted. They would look all wrinkled and messy, and they never got chastised. Also tasks were delegated to us [based on gender]: girls were generally asked to do most of the filing (unless there was a huge amount and then the boys would help). Guys did more of the physical or technological stuff. Also some of our fellow couriers/service techs who were male would just expect us to do certain tasks, like copy jobs.

III.

We were at trial in New Jersey.  All of the attorneys and litigation support staff stay in the same hotel.  We had a holiday weekend and a few of the attorneys and staff went to the hotel bar for some drinks and appetizers.  Everyone had a little bit too much to drink, and on our way up the elevator back to our rooms, the lead attorney on our case grabbed my ass walking out of the elevator.

IV.

After graduating from college I decided to paralegal at a Manhattan law firm hoping to reach a decision on whether or not I wanted to attend law school. I found it interesting that a vast majority of the paralegals at my firm were women in their early-twenties who had recently graduated from top colleges. All of the attorneys, except one, were men. I once asked the head unit attorney why he only hired women and he answered that women were smarter and “more able” to get the job done correctly and efficiently. There is no doubt in my mind that women are smarter (kidding), but I took this to mean that women are non-threatening, especially when it came to prepping for court motions or depositions, and it made him feel superior.

During my first year at the firm I started to notice that younger women who dressed in tighter, shorter, more provocative clothing received bigger cases and more important tasks within the office. This translated into these paralegals traveling with attorneys to depositions and motion proceedings. Women were clearly not valued for their mind or their talents alone, but rather for their bodies and how they looked.

After rebelling against this stereotype for about a year and not receiving anything of great importance in terms of work, I realized that in order to get the leading cases or recommendations that I needed for school, or even just to have attorneys know who I was, I needed to step it up with my outfit choices and start taking pride in my appearance. I basically realized that I would need to work within this patriarchical system – something that I was taught NOT to do in my past Feminist Political Theory classes – to get what I needed out of my stint at the law firm.

As I started to confidently strut the hallways wearing more shoulder-baring tops, shorter and tighter skirts, and heels (ALWAYS heels- never flats), I was noticed by more attorneys in the office. Not long after I was placed on trial team and given more important and serious work to do. I was given more opportunities to travel with different attorneys and work on different cases. Despite the fact that I knew using my sexuality or gender to get ahead was ultimately wrong and against my beliefs, I figured I was only staying at this male-centric law firm for a couple years I would try to get what I needed out of this position. My lesson from this job is that no matter how many women are graduating from law school these days, the legal field is still very male dominated and misogynistic. Women are not valued for their minds alone, but most importantly, their looks. My intellectual capabilities were secondary to my attractiveness and appearance.

V.

Sometimes less really is more. On my first day of observations as a legal intern I had the opportunity to view a custody case in Family Court. Before the proceedings, the Judge asked me to introduce myself and describe my legal interests. At recess, opposing counsel approached and congratulated me, seemingly intrigued by my interests. After uncomfortably staring in silence when every facet of Small Talk was exhausted, he finally commented, “I hope to see more of you… and even less of your skirt.” That single sentence possessed more power than he could have envisioned. In several words, it undermined my past, present and future abilities. More importantly, it solidified my decision to pursue law.

 

We invite you to share your stories below in our comments. Let women know that they are not dealing with this alone.

Weekly Feminist Smorgasbord: SlutWalk NYC, Wall Street, & Immigration

Stuck in a homogenized, tightly controlled and dehumanizing “total institution,” in sociology speak, wherein everyone wears the same thing, eats the same thing, and sleeps and showers in the same paltry conditions, the only means to autonomy is through hardened hypermasculinity.

  • Colorlines reports on the new, horrifying anti-immigration legislation that just made Alabama the most xenophobic state in the U.S. Now it’s a waiting game: will the Supreme Court uphold a state’s right to create its own immigration regime?

“Today is a dark day for Alabama,” Mary Bauer, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s legal director, said Wednesday in a statement. “This decision not only places Alabama on the wrong side of history but also demonstrates that the rights and freedoms so fundamental to our nation and its history can be manipulated by hate and political agendas – at least for a time.”

Keep your eye out for the October Issue of re/visionist, coming soon! In the mean time, “Like” us on Facebook. Takes 4-10 seconds, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

BRITNEY: A MANIFESTO by Caroline Biggs

{Caroline Biggs is a graduate student in Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College, fashion addict, pop cultural junkie, and girl-about-NYC.}

Britney Spears changed my life. At first, this sentence may seem absurd to you for reasons including (but not limited to): 1. I am nearly 30 years old, 2. It is 2011, 3. I am an educated, self-described feminist, as well as an art, music, and culture-snob, and last [but most frequently] “how on earth could Britney affect anyone other than by providing something to dance to at last call or to make fun of when skimming through Us Weekly at the doctor’s office?” I understand where you are coming from. Defending the idea that Britney can affect anyone positively (above the age of 12 or of any intelligence) can be a daunting task, one that I have been confronted with for almost ten years. That being said, I am not here to sell you a Britney Spears download (although her newest album, Femme Fatale, is worth its weight in gold). Instead, I would like to offer insight as to why you have been socialized and conditioned to dismiss Britney’s value and/or more importantly, how you may have a thing or two to learn from her.

A lot of things are uncertain in this world, but here is one constant: Britney’s fans are the most loyal in the world and will defend her to the grave. Fail safe. To fall in love with Britney involves a lot of time, effort, and awareness–all of which have little to do with her music. Instead, it becomes about articulating your love for her in a society that has encouraged you to reject Britney for what she represents, while forcing her upon you from every which angle imaginable.  And anyone with half-a-brain knows that true devotion is always born of mass resistance and in turn, met with even more opposition.

Case in point: any Britney Spears concert you ever attend (July marked my third) will be sold out and filled with screaming, crying, and overly-protective fans; all of whom are most likely over the age of 20. They have been defending, admiring, and obsessing over Ms. Spears for a long time now—and her shows are a true place of celebratory demonstration. There are tons of joyous tears, fanatical dancing, and a loving-energy that remains unrivaled, in my experience–despite having attended countless shows of the cultish persuasion (Ani diFranco, Tori Amos, Lady Gaga, anyone?).  This is because to know Britney is to love Britney—and her performances are some of the only times in life where one can vocalize support without defense (for at least two whole hours!).

Here is another certainty in life: society is always critical of strong, successful, and powerful women—including the ones that do so while embracing their femininity and prescribed gendered norms. Certainly this is not to suggest that subversive or androgynous women don’t have their own uphill (if not greater) battle (see also: “gaga has a penis”) but rather that we tend to condemn female social power based on appearance (and sexuality) without considering the backlash of the male gaze (and perhaps just as detrimental—the female gaze). Or more aptly put: WE (both men and women) tend to be a lot more critical of the gendered ideal forced upon us by our very own practices—and who has been more sexualized, idealized, and pushed upon us in the past decade than Britney Spears?

But who has been more debased than Britney Spears? First, there was the controversial David LaChapelle photo shoot depicting a 17-year-old Spears stripped so bare you could see the hairs on her tummy. Without any regard for the artistic vision of the famed photographer or Rolling Stone magazine, Britney became the teenage personification of our deepest Freudian Madonna-whore complexes.  And then there was the tumultuous break-up with Justin Timberlake–where the public treated him like the new Michael Jackson (sans the obvious)–yet, despite his talent, he still felt the need to dump all over her publicly to sell his records. By the time she was 21, Britney had become the living, breathing manifestation of our deepest sexual paranoia. She wasn’t the virgin that her publicist and record company made her say she was and as a trained gymnast/dancer (and poster child for the idealized female form) she could DANCE and ENTERTAIN and BE PROUD OF HER FIGURE (heaven forbid she do the job she’s paid to do). Then,to top it all off, she wasn’t apologizing for it. The world was obsessed with her and hated her for it, too.

But anyone who wasn’t born in a cave yesterday knows that you can machete Britney’s public image into two parts: BEFORE and AFTER the nervous breakdown (B.B. and A.B., respectively). Britney B.B. was ostracized for being a sexualized “virgin” who embraced her appearance and her career as an entertainer (Gaga went through Heathrow in a thong but because she doesn’t fake-bake was off the hook) and hit levels of fame that kept her confined to her own diving bell of celebrity. And then she lost her mind (as most of would under that level of scrutiny) making it superlatively heartbreaking to watch her crumble.

That being said, any person who has taken a Psych 101 class should have a pretty good grasp on what Britney A.B. was doing. Having been a child star, developing a sense of self based on others less-than-stellar perceptions can prove a scathing task (um, Dubois, anyone?) So, like most of us have and would–she looked for love in all of the wrong places, got mixed up with some bad crowds, and acted out in ways never before imaginable. Then, after losing custody of her children (followed by a very public hospitalization) the world decided they preferred their Britney a virgin-whore after all. And the world watched in horror and anticipation as the paparazzi and collective industry took on a whole new level of invasiveness.

Britney’s seventh Rolling Stone cover (a feat rivaled to date only by Madonna) in March, 2008 pictured an almost obituary-esque black and white photo of Spears with the macabre headline: “Inside an American Tragedy.” Except that she wasn’t dead, in fact, she was alive and fully aware of the way she was being presented. Britney had gone from virgin to whore, to crazed, bald, umbrella-bearing freak, to terrible mother, to fat, to now the object of public pity all in less than nine years.  The most alarming development of Britney A.B. came with the unprecedented but terrifying decision by the State of California to grant her estranged father legal conservatorship over her life, money, career, home, and physical self (a ruling normally reserved for quadriplegics on life-support not 29-year-old, successful women). Even the law had rendered Britney helpless. Suddenly, the world wanted nothing more than the resurrection of our fallen American-icon, despite still wielding the bloody murder weapon.

And born again Britney was.  Within three years she went from proverbial public trash to the Second Coming—complete with sold-out tours, platinum records, a new doting- boyfriend, and children in tow. And although from the outside she seems to be doing it happily and effortlessly, one should not ignore that she is still under her father’s complete legal control—a one-woman assembly line, providing jobs for hundreds under the guise of “See! She’s all better!” Despite being thrilled for her public turn-around (don’t call it a comeback!), it’s hard to not see her like a broken but bandaged-up baby-doll in the right lighting.

In fact, it’s bittersweet (and quite emotional) as a devoted fan for ten years to be writing this piece on the eve of the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards–where they have been relentlessly plugging a tribute to the legendary Spears. Apparently, just as there was money to be made off of her downfall, there is plenty to be gained from her reclamation. The very people that plotted for both her success and subsequent demise have equal stake in her eventual triumph.

And so, as a feminist and fan of Britney Spears, I have spent over a decade watching and observing what exactly happens when a woman tries to make it on her own by doing exactly what society asks of her. She bleached her hair, stayed fit, danced when asked, made records, and did it all while we hated her for it. And when she tried to deviate from her own circumstances, we punished and pitied her—called her “tragic” in the very magazine that used her image six-times prior to boost sales and circulation.

That being said, I want to be careful to not portray Spears in the oft-criticized second-wave-feminist “victim” role that we are so desperate to subvert and infuse with agency in current feminist activism. Rather, I would like to suggest that Britney fell into the impossible “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” binary that plagues most women today—where she was wrong for embracing her beauty, sexuality, and career and even more at fault for not being able to stay that way.

Not to mention that everything we attack Britney for–whether it be her sexuality, boobs, motherhood, or vagina–is inherently female and (more often than not) a manifestation of our own projections of what female should or shouldn’t be. Or perhaps most importantly, we are jarred by the possibility that what made us so fascinated–and yet so critical–is that deep down, we all have a little Britney in us.

Especially now, as we celebrate “Britney Spears: the Phoenix” rising from the ash of our worst fears and transforming into a near-perfect shell of her former self. It’s hard to use words like “full circle” when you know that at 30 years-old, she still has no legal control over her own life. That’s why I can say unabashedly that “Britney Spears changed my life.” She showed me from a very young age what happens when you follow the proscribed rote of womanhood—complete with a career, looks, and a modern family–where you can do everything right and everything wrong and still not be certain of the difference it makes.

A Naked First

Simi Johnston is a student at Sarah Lawrence College who works in mixed media arts and studies gender theory. She grew up in vermont and recently went on birth-control.

A week after my 20th birthday, I had my first naked photo taken of me. At the time, I was in Alaska with my family. With thousands of miles separated us from society, my sister, a professional photographer, asked if she could take photos of me. We wandered deep into the rainforest. Among the trees and my kin, I removed my clothes. I left nothing on; no shoes to elongate my legs, no thong to frame my ass, no bra to erect my breasts. As she photographed, I stood proud of what I had to offer her lense. I felt the woods, my body free from manipulation of society, my sister looking at my shape in awe of my growth. It’s corny as fuck, but I felt liberated. At the time I didn’t care who saw these photos. I was in art in a purest way, untouched by all the labels I had in “real life.” I was not sexy, or beautiful, or even female. I did not bend my shape into the given female form. I did not push out or suck in. I did not think about my angles or mimicking the images I wish I looked like. I was simply a naked creature.

When I returned home, things changed. Two months after we returned home from Alaska my sister asked if my photo could be shown in galleries in Los Angles. Suddenly, I felt nervous. I wondered about the consequences of having a nude photo in public. My female friends were split on the subject; some said it was just art and “they would do it.”  Their nonchalance reminded me of my attitude before I was faced with the issue. Others worried about negative judgment.  One of my male friends told me he would not want a girl he was dating to have public naked pictures, even if it was “just art.”

Eventually, I decided to allow my sister to show the photos. I did not want to devalue my experience by not allowing others to see the photo. I knew audiences might label the photo, but I realized this was not different from labels females receive every day. This experience validated for me what many female artists have expressed in the past: that being female in the art world is a double-edged sword. There is a liberating aspect of art, a liberation that women are not often given the space to feel. Art provides us an outlet to process or escape confining labels or critique. However, as a woman creating art, you subject your work and self to these very labels and critique your art may have attempted to question in the first place.

On Being a Woman: My First Kiss

{K. Reece is a writer with a BA from Wellesley College and an MFA candidate at Sarah Lawrence College. She is the assistant editor at Sarah Lawrence magazine.}

Chance and I are in the dark room of Jenny’s basement. It’s a skinny rectangular space, framed on both sides with ceramic counters and a stainless steel sink. Red light glows from the ceiling, and Chance’s fingers play with the back hem of my tank top. The dull roar of the stereo thuds through the door. I can hear Jenny and Alison giggling outside.

Jenny’s house has everything you could think of, which my mom refers to without affection as “clutter,” and almost the entire basement is devoted to gym equipment that looks like it belongs with Kevin Kline’s tiny running shorts in “The Big Chill.” Some of the equipment spills over into the game room area, which is more interesting to us, complete with a home theater, foosball table, and dance floor.

But I’ve never been in the dark room, and it seems as good a place as any for my first kiss.

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Tattoos: My Declaration of Feminism

Caroline Biggs is a graduate student in Women’s History at Sarah Lawrence College, fashion addict, pop cultural junkie, and  girl-about-NYC.

So I want to start by saying I have never really been a “tattoo person.” I quote and marginalize said persons because I always saw those who reveled in permanent body art (and I’m not talking about the occasional small of the back or hip tattoo) as committed to a lifestyle decision: that of being a woman who expresses herself via bodily adornment (that lasts FOREVER mind you). Unlike fashion, which constantly shifts and evolves stylistically, tattoos were more like a piece of statement jewelry—something that doesn’t define the person’s aesthetic but definitely functions as the focal point. And being the fashionista that I am, complete with outfits that are more often than not comparable to that of a costumed figure skater, the last thing I ever needed was to draw more attention to myself.

Then, at 18, after a weekend of heavy drinking and amidst the low-rise jean craze that I fell victim to, I got my first tattoo—a cartoonish flower on the small of my back that did not and will not ever represent anything symbolic other than being 18 and saying I had a tattoo. The entire process took about 4 and a half minutes (all of which I was crying from the pain of the needle) and I left Manhattan, Kansas forever marked with, well, a fuchsia cartoon flower. I was sure that was all of the tattooed symbolism I would ever need.

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Linkety Links: Rape in Prisons, White Privilege and Feminists, Hotels, Pervs, and More!!

Its been awhile, friends and readers!! I’ve been bouncing around, adjusting to a summer job and detoxing my brain from school. But I haven’t stopped reading!! Here are some of the pieces that have caught my eye as of late. Happy perusing! <3

Why that Harvard/Tufts Study Isn’t Breaking News
Racialicious: “Another week, another head-scratching study result. Or so you’d think, right? The study, conducted by researchers at Tufts and Harvard Universities, concluded that white people think the prejudices blacks faced during the Civil Rights era are literally in the past. But it’s not all rosy, apparently, for the majority of the 209 white people (alongside 208 blacks) surveyed….But, setting aside questions regarding the size of the survey group and the focus on white/black relations in an increasingly diverse country, one has to wonder: is this really a surprise?”

Hotel’s and Their Pervs Revisited
Mother Jones: “Let’s revisit the issue of pervs in hotel rooms. Why not, after all? It started with New York Times op-ed by Jacob Tomsky, in which he told us that housekeepers are flashed or otherwise sexually accosted by male guests ‘more often than you’d think.’ My off-the-cuff reaction was to suggest azero-tolerance policy for this kind of thing: ‘Do it once and you’re thrown out and blacklisted forever. What’s the justification for extending even the slightest forbearance toward this kind of behavior?’…So why don’t the big hotel chains have policies like this?”

White Privilege Diary Series #1: White Feminist Privilege in Organizations
Daily Kos: “Anyone who has done anti-racist work for more than a few years has run up against this problem:  most racists are happy being racists, and simply don’t want to change.  But at the same time they want to be protected from accusations of racism, and resent anyone who makes them “feel bad” about it.  White feminists are no different from other white people in that regard, as feminists of color well know.  A few are truly committed to diversity and anti-racist action, but the majority of us are not, and get angry and nasty when we’re driven out of our comfort zone. In my estimation, however, a racist feminist is no feminist at all.”

Exposing the Prevalence of Rape in the U.S. Prison System
Bilerico Project: “So, the fact is, our country is globally recognized as having some of the nastiest prisons and jails in the world – owing in part to the rampant sexual violence that prevails, even in juvenile detention. Steve Mason comments on this. This sexual violence is often directed against inmates who are known to be, or simply suspected of being, LGBT. But it can also be turned, like a flamethrower, against any individual or group, for any reason whatever. Violence – not law – is what runs our prisons and jails, and often the penal authorities themselves participate in it.”

Coming Out: Audio, Photos, Stories of Gay Teens – Interactive Feature
New York Times: “Bullying and suicides of gay and lesbian teenagers are in the headlines, the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has been repealed, and the debate over same-sex marriage continues to divide the country. Against this backdrop, many L.G.B.T. youth wonder how accepting society will be.”

2,500 Years After Buddha, Tibetan Buddhists Acknowledge Women
The Huffington Post: “Buddhist women are celebrating a landmark victory: In April, the renowned Institute for Buddhist Dialectical Studies (IBD) in Dharamsala, India, conferred the degree of “Geshe” — the Tibetan equivalent of Ph.D. — to Venerable Kelsang Wangmo, a German nun…[I]t may come as a surprise to many that despite its peaceful and somewhat progressive image in the West, the Tibetan Buddhist tradition does not know full ordination for women. For complex historical and patriarchal reasons, the lineage did not migrate when Buddhism spread from India to Tibet, thus outclassing the Tibetan Buddhist nuns as inferior.”

When Anger Erupts: The Conundrum of Feminist Infighting

This post is cross-posted from The Canonball Blog as part of a series they have been running on Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. Enjoy! – Katrina

“The personal is political”: we feminists love this statement, don’t we? Belief that one’s personal circumstances are what they are because of politics was the basis for a lot of consciousness raising and activism during the Second Wave, when this statement became popularized. I’ve been thinking about it the other way around though, recently. I think it is important to consider the implications here: the political is personal, too. And sometimes the people closest to the scene where the anger Audrey wrote about earlier this week gets ignited are people who, in most other situations, we would consider an ally. I’m thinking girl-on-girl and feminist-on-feminist political anger.

Of course, there is a lot of girl on girl anger out there in the world at large. There is a reason so many people have all seen the movie Mean Girls: it talks about something that is true to life and many of our school experiences. One of my best friends is writing a paper on female beefs in hip-hop culture (Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj, anyone?). Taylor Swift writes slut shaming lyrics. These kinds of conflicts aren’t unusual to us as female identified people, or to popular culture. So what happens when it touches down in our feminist back yard?

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Some links!!: Mother’s Day stories, a sweet zine, and how to deal with anger

The U.S. Maternal Healthcare Crisis: 14 Numbers You Need to Know
Science & Sensibility: “Mother’s Day is May 8. At Amnesty International USA, we’re honoring mothers by fighting for maternal health — sending Mother’s Day action cards to U.S. and international decision-makers, hosting events and more (sign up at amnestyusa.org/mothersday).  Amnesty is also launching a One-Year Update to our groundbreaking report, Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA. From that update, here are 14 numbers you need to know.”

When We Hated Mom
The New York Times: “Contrary to myth, “The Feminine Mystique” and feminism did not represent the beginning of the decline of the stay-at-home mother, but a turning point that led to much stronger legal rights and “working conditions” for her.”

The Greatest Hits in Contraceptive History
Mother Jones: “Pretty much since the beginning of time, people have looked for ways to control their own fertility—from jumping backward seven times after sex, to using elephant or crocodile dung as suppositories, to drinking mercury and donning reusable condoms. And for just as long, there’s been a veritable crusade against (mostly) women’s efforts to control reproduction. From the book of Genesis to the 21st Olympiad, here are some noteable moments in the war on contraception.”

“The PIC (Prison Industrial Complex) Is…” Zine
Chicago PIC Teaching Collective: “This publication is offered as a gift. The topic is tragic and deadly serious. However those of us who worked collaboratively to create this zine envisioned it as a crie de coeur and as something to be shared. We expect that those who care about issues of justice, equality, and humanity will use it as a teaching tool and as an organizing tool. “

Anger Management: On Emotion, Oppression, and Being Productive
The Canonball Blog: “What is the correct way to express anger? How can you express your anger and still have productive conversations? How can we support each other in expressing anger? Lorde’s answer: people of privilege need to learn how to listen. “If we listen to the content of what is said with at least as much intensity as we defend ourselves against the manner of saying.”

So Far This Week: Osama’s death, the GOP and rape/abortion, the history of rainbow pride, and more!

Hey hey hello there! I was trying to wait until the end of the week to post links, but all of a sudden this morning I already had so many. Here are some the news bits that have caught my eye so far this week. Enjoy! – Katrina

In Search Of Meaning: Osama Bin Laden and the Dancing Americans
Mondoweiss: “Those of us that know history did not begin on September 11th have been resisting the abrasive, suffocating encroachment of imperialist and reactionary elements on our lives and identities, building up to the present moment of revolution: between Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and the rest of the region, Arabs, Muslim or otherwise, are fighting to end the age of US puppet regimes on their own terms. One cannot help but wonder what “victory” the United States can claim in the murder of Osama Bin Laden on Pakistani soil.”

The GOP’s Stealth Plan to Redefine Rape
Mother Jones: “While they’ve amended their legislation, which faces a floor vote in the House on Wednesday, Republicans haven’t stopped trying to narrow the already small exception under which federal funding for abortions is permissible. They’ve used a sly legislative maneuver to make sure that even though the language of the bill is different, the effect remains the same.”

White House to Host First Ever Trans Meeting
Note: This meeting happened days ago, but I wasn’t able to find any analysis/commentary/news on the meeting itself. But it happened!! 
The Washington Blade: “‘This is the first president who has allowed trans people — really allowed LGBT people — to bring forward problems and then advocate for them,’ Keisling said. ‘In the Bush administration, we couldn’t even do that. They wouldn’t even listen to us. They didn’t care what our problems were. In fact, they were making most of our problems.'”

Detroit’s Financial Martial Law Hits Home for Teen Moms
Colorlines: “Now, with all 5,466 of Detroit’s public school teachers getting laid off, Catherine Ferguson is on a list of schools to be either turned into charter schools, i.e. sold to and remade by a company with its own agenda, or closed. When students got wind of the impending closure plans, they made the decision to protest; community organization BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) lent support, police were called in, and the day went downhill from there.”

Claiming Rainbow Pride
Bilerico: “In this paper, I will provide a historical context for the [rainbow] flag’s creation, as well as critique the rhetoric used when telling this history, searching for what or who it might leave out. Taking South Africa as a case study, I will present some discourses around how certain people are erased from gay and lesbian visibility, space, and politics in Cape Town as a result of intersectional identities and oppressions. My aim is to open a door for discourse that more deeply questions whose history we take up as queer people when accepting the symbols (and politics) handed to us at first ‘outing.'”

Norway is Best Place to Be Mom; U.S. lags
Jezebel: ” A worldwide study shows that the best place to give birth is Norway. … The US ranks 31st out of 164 countries on Save the Children’s Mothers’ Index. Its maternal mortality rate is 1 in 2,100, the highest of any industrialized country (that’s 15 times higher, for instance, than the mortality rate in Greece). Child mortality is also relatively high, with 8 out of 1,000 children dying before the age of five.”