Monday, July 28, 2008


Yesterday I did a workshop on Feminism and Eleanor Roosevelt for the Eleanor Roosevelt center at Val Kill's Girls Leadership Workshop (GLW)--28 bright, vibrant, up to any challenge young women from around the globe.
We spent a lot of time talking about equality. They were all taken aback that women are not paid the same as males for the same jobs. Women make on average 76 cents to the male dollar--that is white women--women of color make less: black women make 62 cents, Latinas make 53 cents. And, at the rate we are going since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, it will be another 47 years or so before pay equity may be achieved because the act is NOT enforced. And even when it is enforced we have found that there are other obstacles.
Most notably the recent failure in the Senate of the Lilly Ledbetter Equal Pay Act. The bill was written to correct for last year's punitive (re)reading of the EEOC laws (See Ledbetter V Goodyear Tire Co): employees have to act within 120 days of the first instance of discrimination even if they are not aware of said discrimination until years later.
Pay equity seems very far away.

Especially when women are supporting their families--today even in dual parent households two incomes are necessary to make ends meet. Mike Hein called households in Ulster County with incomes of $50-60,000 the working poor--especially in light of the high cost of gas, home heating oil, and the increasing cost of food (not to mention medicine and health care).

How women came to be paid less than males is rooted in our capitalistic and patriarchial society. In the 1890s when the concept of working wages for families were first introduced, the focus was on the male "breadwinner's" wage--he was suppose to earn enough to support his family or his potential family. Women in the workforce where only earning supplementary monies--pin money. Overtime this working wage has gotten translated into the minimum wage. (Holly Sklar has a good website on the real cost of minimum wage--
It is rooted in our glorification of capitalism--business must make a profit, if the cost of supplies are too high, the cost of labor is what can be cut to ensure profits. This glorification of capitalism does so without holding the businesses responsible to be good citizens--paying their fair share of taxes, for instance; or turning record profits on the backs of consumers and employees.

So, what can we do? Part of the campaign is to make women and men aware of the disparity. Another is to give women a political voice--we already know that there are more women democrats than male democrats in Ulster County; we need more women in elected and appointed office.

We need to grow women leaders!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ideology vs Reality

Ideology should not trump reality, truth, medical soundness and a woman's right to control her reproduction:

1. A 2005 South Dakota law that is being challenged in court requires doctors to read a script to women seeking abortions--even though some of the statements in said script are false and medically unproven:
The abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being;
The pregnant woman has an existing relationship with that unborn human being and that the relationship enjoys protection under the United States Constitution and under the laws of South Dakota;
By having an abortion, her existing relationship and her existing constitutional rights with regards to that relationship will be terminated.”
The law also requires physicians to provide “a description of all known medical risks of the procedure and statistically significant risk factors to which the pregnant woman would be subjected, including depression and related psychological distress” and “increased risk of suicide ideation and suicide.”
The patient must sign each page of the state’s required messages, certifying that she understands them.
questions she asks or explanations she seeks, as well as the physicians’ responses, must be placed in writing and added to her permanent medical record.
A violation of the law is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by 30 days in jail and/or a fine of $500.
[Italics, mine for emphasis.]
I must've missed something in all my readings of the U.S. Constitution. . .

As for the court challenge: on Monday the South Dakota District Court deferred a decision on a request for a preliminary injunction in the case of PPMNS v Rounds until the court has an opportunity to review all of the evidence and arguments developed and presented (Guess they are slow readers in SD!).

I guess the law makers in South Dakota do not think that the women in their state can think, and need to be protected from making a decision about their own bodies, even if it means doctors have to lie to them in order to protect them. . .

2. Meanwhile, back at the duderanch that is the WhiteHouse, the HSS ruling that changes the definition of some forms of contraceptives from birth control (including pills that do not allow for the fertilized egg to be impanted in the uterus, IUDs and emergency contraception) into abortions, and thus, not fundable by the federal government has caused Senator Clinton to write a response:

Gendered Pay Gap

Many people disparage the very gendered pay gap--saying things for instance that women choose the lower paying jobs, that women put their family and hobbies (!) in front of better pay--hmmm one would think that better pay would be good for families. . .
Here is an article which refutes those claims:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Proposed Funding Ruling

The Bush administration is proposing that all healthcare providers receiving federal aid will certify that they will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control (because certain people are defining the beginning of life from when an egg meets sperm). This is one more step away from healthcare providers really providing healthcare for women.
On the flip side, is there support for the children thus conceived so they may have a productive life--you know adequate pre-natal care, healthcare, child care, education???
Under the draft of a proposed rule, hospitals, clinics, researchers and medical schools would have to sign "written certifications" as a prerequisite to getting money under any program run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Voice your opinion directly to the Sec. of HSS:
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt . Contact Information
Office Phone: 202-690-7000
Email: Fax: 202-690-7203
Correspondence Secretary: 202-690-6392
(Outside of the DC/metro area call tollfree 877-696-6775 -- ask to be transferred to the Secretary's office.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

NYS Domestic Violence Law

Finally NYS domestic violence law is going to cover date battery (before that was considered the same as if a stranger committed battery--not recognizing the intimate relationship).
To read more:
NEW YORK REGION July 10, 2008 Albany to Expand Domestic Violence Law to Include Dating Relationships By DANNY HAKIM The new law would make it possible for people in dating relationships, heterosexual or gay, to seek protection from abusers in family court.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sexism in the Media

See clips from the Women's Media Center June 17th conference: From Soundbites to Solutions:Bias, Punditry and the Press in the 2008 Election

Annie Katz

I have just found out that Annie Katz (Accord) passed. She was a true patriot working to help her town, county, state and country live up to the principles we were founded on. It was Annie who was responsible for all those "IMPEACH" signs that grace our front yard and others across the county.

Feminists Are Needed

This past weekend I did a workshop on Feminism and Eleanor Roosevelt (ER)for the first session of GirlsLeadership Workshop, one of the premier programs at the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at ValKill. Of these 29 young women from around the globe, only 6 identified as feminists, most were "I am not a Feminist But I believe that women should have [equal rights, pay equity. . .].

ER herself did not support women's right to vote until her husband did--she was at that point still the perfect Victorian wife--supporting her husband's ventures and popping out 6 children in 10 years. BUT when she did support women's rights, she did so with gusto--calling herself a feminist,too.
Feminists are still much needed--there is still not pay equity, adequate and affordable childcare and eldercare, women's reproductive healthcare is threatened, in some states fetuses will have more rights than the woman whose carrying them, violence against women--from rape to battering to murder-- is still out of control. . .

This is from today's collection of articles on Alternet

Thursday, July 10, 2008


From Lilly Ledbetter at the National Women's Law Center

Have you ever been paid less than you were worth? Lilly Ledbetter Please take a moment to tell us about your experiences.

For months now, I have been traveling the country, speaking about the importance of passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. I never dreamed I'd see a bill in Congress with my name on it — but sometimes in life the totally unexpected happens. After all, I also never imagined that I would be paid less than my co-workers — just because I'm a woman.
Ever since the story of my Supreme Court case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co ., started getting picked up in the news, I've been hearing stories from women of all ages about their own experiences with pay discrimination. For example, I met a doctor who sued her hospital when she learned that two male physicians were making more than she was — even though she had more responsibility than them. That hospital has changed how it works now.
I'm from Alabama, and I originally thought that the problems I'd encountered at work were mostly a Southern thing. Well, that couldn't have been further from the truth. The women I'm meeting are from all across the country with all types of jobs and degrees. I've met coaches, factory workers, doctors, and professors who have told me how much it means to them that I'm speaking out. And they've shown me that it doesn't matter how much education you have or how good you are at your job. Pay discrimination happens to all types of people.
My story has already been told and retold. But now, we need other women's stories to come to the surface.
Sometimes, in Washington, D.C., the policy process can seem distant from the real people it affects. We have to remind our lawmakers that this is an issue that matters to all of us.
If you've ever experienced pay discrimination, or any kind of workplace discrimination, please tell us your story . We may then follow up with you to ask if we can use your story when we're talking to lawmakers.
If you haven't been subject to discrimination yourself, we'd still like to hear your thoughts on why workplace discrimination is such a problem for women .
Thanks again for everything you've already done to help us in this struggle.
Lilly Ledbetter
P.S. Please forward this e-mail widely to your co-workers, neighbors, and friends. The more true stories we can collect, the better our odds of making a difference.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Voting machines

From Andi Novick:
I am writing to those of you who have shown some interest in stopping theft-enabling voting machines and hoping you will give some time or support to this major campaign to sue the State and have concealed software-driven voting machines declared unconstitutional. Sorry for those who I've taken too long getting back to- it was a lot of work to prepare a legal complaint, but it's done. To those of you who didn't offer to help, you're on here because I think you do have an interest and an ability to help get the word out. Here's a two page synopsis of the legal complaint LitigationSummary.pdf (also found at our blog spot, New York VOTERS v. NY State and the State Board of... ) I'm going to be sending a mass email asking people to sign on as plaintiffs. If you would like to be a plaintiff all I'm asking is you agree to take responsibility for circulating the petition I'll be sending (hopefully tomorrow) to many, many people. We want the court to know how serious this issue is and strength in numbers is vital. Each plaintiff should be able to say- I am one person, but I represent 100 citizens, or 1,000 citizens or however many you can get to sign up from your county. Then just keep a list of those from your county, send me the email addresses and when it's time to go to court, try to be there and encourage others to pack the courtroom. A more detailed email will follow up but I wanted to write to you first in the hopes you'd pay more attention and agree to take this part of the campaign on.
And/or we need people who would be willing to post to various blogs and help us get the word out about the lawsuit and what's happening in NY. Here are some very good pieces to help people become informed, but we need to circulate these all over the state. We're working on a list of sites to publish or link to. If you're willing to help with the posting to some sites/blogs that would really help: Here's some articles we should circulate. 1) Eyes Wide Shut, and 2) NY Loves Its Levers as New Systems Fail 3) LET'S CLEAR THE AIR
And we could use readers- those of you who like to surf a bit and find the latest articles- there's a lot of articles in the main stream press re the defective ballot marking devices being delivered to the counties and we need to keep abreast of what's happening out there and circulate that as well. Here are some examples: http://www.poughkeepsiejournal .com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID =/20080627/NEWS01/806270331 /1006 or,0,2675281.story?track=rss or And finally, if any of you know attorneys who might be interested in doing this with me- please send me their names. This labor of patriotism ? is more than one lawyer can do so I'm looking for a few others to handle the army of attorneys that will pile on when we file this suit.

Thanks and please think about taking a piece of this on- it's different than what we normally do in our everyday political work and could have a huge impact. Even without actually prevailing in the litigation ( which I hope we will) lawsuits attract attention and are a good organizing tool. As the ballot marking devices keep coming in defective (see the articles above) the SBOE is going to become increasingly fed up and maybe will return to the federal judge to tell him what we'll be telling a state judge in this lawsuit-- that forcing us to surrender secure functioning lever systems for these pieces of crap (that's what the Commissioner said) is unconstitutional. See the EYES WIDE SHUT piece- this is precisely what's breaking open at the last SBOE meeting. The campaign has to begin and grow now to stop NY before it buys software to count our votes.

Looking forward to hearing from you (and be sure to let me know if you know people in other parts of the state who might be interested).


andi novick
Re-Media Transparency Coalition Northeast Citizens for Responsible Media (Re-Media)