Breaking the Silence: Women Using Digital Technology to Drive Global Change
In new recommendations released Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests intrauterine devices (IUDs) and contraceptive implants over other pregnancy prevention methods for sexually active teenage girls.
The policy statement, which was published in the October issue of Pediatrics and replaces a statement written in 2007, notes that pediatricians have an important role to play in reducing teen pregnancy and promoting contraceptive use.
The AAP has made recommendations on contraception to its members since 1980 and suggested that pediatricians become familiar with all contraceptive methods as well as the negative consequences of unintended teen pregnancy. This is the first time, however, that the organization has recommended that pediatricians consider long-acting reversible contraceptive methods (LARCs), including IUDs and implants, for their patients before other methods.
The recommendations note that pediatricians should encourage correct use of condoms for every sexual act, even for those adolescents using a LARC method. This is particularly important because neither the IUD nor the implant prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
IUDs are small, T-shape devices that are inserted into the uterus by a physician. They prevent pregnancy primarily by interfering with the path of the sperm toward the egg.
Two of the IUDs on the market—Mirena and Skyla—release hormones similar to those in some birth control pills, which thickens the cervical mucus (creating a barrier to sperm) and may also prevent ovulation. The other type of IUD, called ParaGard, releases copper, which is thought to create an environment that is toxic to sperm.
ParaGard lasts for ten years, Mirena for five, and Skyla for three years, but any of them can be removed if a user wishes to become pregnant.
Contraceptive implants, sold under the brand name Nexplanon, are flexible plastic devices about the size of a matchstick that are inserted under the skin on a woman’s upper arm.
LARC methods are highly effective in large part because users can “set them and forget them.”
All contraceptive methods have two efficacy rates: the perfect use rate, which shows how well they can work if used consistently and correctly, and the typical use rate, which shows how well they do work for average couples during the first year.
The typical use rate for most contraceptive methods is lower than the perfect use rate because people make mistakes, from forgetting to refill a pill prescription to leaving the condom in the night table drawer. For LARC methods, however, the perfect use rate and the typical use rate are essentially the same; if the method is properly inserted by a physician, users can’t make mistakes.
IUDs have a failure rate of less than 1 percent. Implants have a failure rate of 0.05 percent, meaning that out of 100 couples who use these methods as their primary form of birth control, fewer than one couple will experience an unintended pregnancy in the first year of use.
Though IUDs were once thought to be safe only for older women or women who had already had children, research in the past decade has found that they are safe for women of all ages, including adolescents. Implants have also been found to be safe for women of all ages.
Given the safety and efficacy of these devices, many experts believe that they are the ideal birth control method for young women.
In 2012, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended that LARCs be considered the first-line contraceptive method for adolescents. That opinion read, in part:
When choosing contraceptive methods, adolescents should be encouraged to consider LARC methods. Intrauterine devices and the contraceptive implant are the best reversible methods for preventing unintended pregnancy, rapid repeat pregnancy, and abortion in young women.
The AAP recommendations released this week are similar but focus more on the role the pediatrician should play.
Pediatricians should be able to educate adolescent patients about LARC methods including progestin implants and IUDs. Given the efficacy, safety, and ease of use, LARC methods should be considered first-line contraceptive choices for adolescents. Some pediatricians will choose to acquire the skills to provide these methods to adolescents. Those who do not should identify health care providers in their communities to whom patients can be referred.
Image: IUD via Shutterstock
The post Pediatric Academy Encourages IUDs and Implants for Sexually Active Teens appeared first on RH Reality Check.
As colleges across the country continue to struggle with how best to combat rape and sexual assault on their campuses, California Gov. Jerry Brown advanced the conversation Sunday by signing a landmark piece of legislation which requires individuals to receive “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” from their partners before engaging in sexual activity.
A first of its kind in the United States, SB967 reimagines consent by throwing out the ambiguous and ineffective “no means no” and replacing it with an active and sex-positive “yes means yes.” As a result, victims’ silence or lack of resistance during a sexual encounter (because of intoxication, for example) no longer is a legitimate excuse for unwanted sexual contact. Moreover, potential sexual partners are required to receive affirmation “throughout a sexual activity” as it “can be revoked at any time.” Dating history and sexual past, often cited as indicators of consent, do not presume permission.
The bill, drafted by State Sen. Kevin deLeon, also urges colleges and universities to develop training and outreach programs to educate faculty and students alike on how to prevent and address sexual violence on campus. If state institutions fail to follow the law, they may lose funding for student financial aid.
“Every student deserves a learning environment that is safe and healthy,” says De Leon.”The State of California will not allow schools to sweep rape cases under the rug. We’ve shifted the conversation regarding sexual assault to one of prevention, justice and healing.”
Kitty Lindsay is an editorial at Ms. Follow her on Twitter @KittyLindsayLA
Chances are, you’ve heard the much-lauded pop song of late summer, Meghan Trainor’s body-acceptance anthem “All About That Bass.” (Chances are, just reading that title has driven the season’s most pernicious earworm directly into your brain, and for that, I apologize.) You may or may not like it. You may or may not be disappointed that it wasn’t better, like I was, which seems unfair because nothing’s perfect, but there’s so much promise that the problematic stuff is extra frustrating.
Now, I accept that this song might not be meant for me. I’m what blogger Jenny Trout refers to as “fatcceptable” — more than size 8, less than size 14, the area in which women are lauded for being comfortable and proud in a body that’s three whole sizes larger than the average U.S. actress. My shape and size don’t fit society’s ideal and have caused me a great deal of misery in my life, but they haven’t been a major source of (perceptible) oppression. Then again, it may be meant for me, though, since Trainor is about my size, meaning that she and I might both have all the right junk in all the right places. To some subpopulations, she and I might both be considered fatasses, and to others, we might be called skinny bitches.
Like my reaction to “All About That Bass” the first time I heard it on the radio:
“Well, that’s catchy. … Okay, this is about things that boys chase… Yes! Indeed, that Photoshop ain’t real. Cut it out. … Every inch of you is perfect! That’s a nice message. … Well, really, a variety of women’s figures are attractive to various men, assuming you’re even basing your sense of attractiveness on the approval of the hetero male gaz — ‘Skinny bitches.’ Okay, then.”
Because for all the love-your-body messaging in the song, a lot of it comes in the form of a specific definition of hotness. This is hotter than that. Don’t be that way, because this is what boys like. J/k about the “skinny bitches” thing — they’re fine because they also think they’re fat. Still dictating standards of hotness, just with the scale inverted.
Don’t do that stuff, y’all.
There is definitely thin privilege in much of western society, and it’s strong, and it’s systemic. Most aspects of a woman’s life are in some way affected by her size, and that almost universally leans in favor of thinner bodies. But (privilege being what it is) not being subject to systemic oppression doesn’t mean that life is automatically awesome for thin women, because it’s not just about being thin — it’s about falling within that specific Fuckability Range that lays as many arbitrary specifics about conventional beauty as possible, making sure we worry about precisely how much junk we’re meant to have and in which places it’s meant to go. A thin woman without rounded breasts and hips, a woman with little lipid tissue and visible bones, a woman whose womanliness is called into question because “real women have curves,” a woman who complete strangers think should eat a sandwich — she’s still not getting any love from the Fuckability Standards Commission, and now a body-acceptance anthem is deriding her as a stick figure. Super positive. (Yeah, I know, call the waaambulance, and you can carry two skinny chicks in it side by side because they’re skinny. I get it.)
As the aforementioned Jenny Trout said in her analysis of the song,“I see the magazines workin’ that Photoshop/We know that shit ain’t real, C’mon now, make it stop/If you got beauty beauty, just raise ‘em up/Cause every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top”
This verse is what “All About That Bass” could have been. Look how perfect it is. It celebrates the body of every woman and encourages them to celebrate their beauty in turn. Granted, beauty is a subjective construct that women shouldn’t have to worry about in the first place, so there is a problematic ideology that’s still inherent in these lyrics. But let’s focus on how rare it is to hear this message in pop music in the first place.
Like I said, it’s what this song could have been, because after that we’re right back to:
“Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size/She says boys like a little more booty to hold at night”
Again, the message isn’t really, “I have value, even though I don’t fit the mold I’ve been told I should fit,” but, “I have value, in fact I have more value than some other women who don’t share my body type, because I’m the one a heterosexual man should be attracted to.” And I say should be, because the next few lines say exactly that:
“You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll/So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along”
“If you’re not a heterosexual man willing to objectify me over other women, then HA HA! I am rejecting you first.”
At what point did “body positivity” become, or need to become, yet another method to police each other’s bodies?
And there’s the video, an adorably candy-colored cavalcade of generously proportioned booty shaking. It’s peppy, it’s catchy, and Trainor herself is flipping adorable. It also features a sneering thin woman in a cellophane dress, who at one point derisively gropes the ass of a twerking black dancer, and seriously, can we stop doing that? The twerking-black-woman-as-prop thing? Any time you can end a sentence with “like Miley Cyrus did,” and didn’t start with “I got an unconventional haircut that I really love,” go ahead and assume that it was a bad idea.
To be absolutely clear — and I’m putting this right at the end so it can’t be missed — I don’t think this is a horrible song. Trainor has said, and I have no reason to disbelieve here, that girls and young women have told her how much better about themselves they feel after hearing that song. Women are all over social media talking about how great it is, how empowering, how refreshing it is to see bodies like theirs represented positively in a music video. And I think that’s awesome. I really do. The number of songs and videos celebrating a more diverse range of bodies, particularly in a non-sexualized way, is minimal, in contrast to thousands of videos celebrating the beauty and/or bangworthiness of thinner figures. And while the fact that most of the positivity comes in the context of “dudes prefer booty” isn’t really a good thing, we can’t ignore the fact that for many women who have been inundated with the message that they’re sexually unappealing because of their size, a contradictory message might be really satisfying. If having someone sing to you about how you’re perfect and hot and sassy makes you feel good, then I am sincerely glad there’s an outlet for that.
That said, body positivity doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Sneetches with and without stars are both great, and “body positivity” that depends on negativity toward certain bodies isn’t really body positivity at all. As women, one thing we all have in common — large and small, cis and trans, old and young — is that somewhere, at any moment, there’s someone enthusiastically ready to tell us why we’re ugly. Don’t be one of those people. The enemy here is not other Sneetches; it’s Sylvester McMonkey McBean. So let’s gang up on that motherfucker.
Beginning tonight, six new documentaries in the Makers series (a project of AOL) will be broadcast weekly on PBS. Each one focuses on “women who are trailblazers and have served as groundbreakers in their fields.” The new docs are follow-ups to last year’s three-part documentary on the women’s movement, Makers: Women Who Make America. The good news about the latest productions is that all but one are actually made by women (produced and directed), whereas a man directed the original Makers.
The new series starts with Women in Comedy, to be followed by Women in Hollywood (October 7), Women in Space (October 14), Women in War (October 21), Women in Business (October 28) and Women in Politics (November 4). The films will also be available for screening on the Makers website after their broadcast dates. The website also includes video interviews with more than 250 groundbreaking women (including Ms. publisher Eleanor Smeal).
The Comedy episode is particularly timely, given the recent passing of Joan Rivers, who is prominently featured in the documentary, discussing her start as a comedian, the inspiration of Phyllis Diller and pushing the boundaries of acceptable topics. “There’s no such thing as women’s comedy,” Rivers insists. “What are you all talking about? Funny is funny.” That sentiment is echoed by Joy Behar, who says, “This is the last documentary I ever want to see about women in comedy.” But as Mary McNamara pointed out in her Los Angeles Times review, it’s hard to believe that women have come close to an equal footing with men in comedy:
None of the working and very accomplished women interviewed here were, for example, seriously considered as a replacement for either Jay Leno or David Letterman.
Other comedic groundbreakers featured include Margaret Cho, Kathy Griffin, Ellen DeGeneres, Jane Lynch, Sarah Silverman, Moms Mabley and Mo’Nique, and the discussion focuses on women’s role in comedy (on TV and in stand-up) from about the 1960s to today. Makers uses clips of offensive jokes by male comedians as an example of sexism in comedy, and includes a quote from Christopher Hitchens’ infamous 2007 essay in Vanity Fair entitled “Why Women Aren’t Funny”: “Most [female comedians] … when you come to review the situation, are hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three.”
If you watch Makers, please let us know what you think of it!
Photo of comedian Jackie “Moms” Mabley from Wikimedia Commons
The death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson, Missouri police officer last month prompted the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into Ferguson’s policing practices. (This investigation comes on the heels of a separate federal probe into the killing of Brown). The new investigation will look at departmental practices that may have led to Brown’s shooting and to other civil rights violations in the last several years. Five current and one former Ferguson police officer are currently facing federal lawsuits alleging the use of excessive force.
Attorney General Eric Holder also recently announced a new federal initiative to study racial bias and reduce tensions between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.
While conducting its investigations, we implore the Department of Justice to also examine how the gross underrepresentation of women in the Ferguson Police Department—and in police departments nationwide—aggravates excessive use of force problems and deteriorating police-community relations.
As I’ve written previously, research nationally and internationally for more than four decades has found that women police officers not only do the job of policing equally as well as men, but are not as authoritarian in their approach, use force less often, possess better communication skills and are better at defusing potentially violent confrontations than their male counterparts.
More than 20 years ago, the Feminist Majority Foundation (publisher of Ms.) urged the Christopher Commission, formed in the aftermath of the Rodney King beating, to do just that. The Commission did investigate and made some astounding findings: Within the Los Angeles Police Department, there were no women officers listed among those with the highest number of use-of-force reports, personnel complaints and officer-involved shootings. Women officers accounted for just 3.4 percent of those involved in or at the scenes of crimes where police actions later led to lawsuits against the department.
The Commission also found deep-rooted sex discrimination and sexist attitudes within the Los Angeles Police Department, concluding that this discrimination aggravated the excessive force problems within the LAPD by creating a disdain for women’s less violent approach to policing. Further, that the discrimination was preventing women from achieving equal numbers and reaching the highest ranks within the department.
So, to really get at the problem of police excessive force, the Department of Justice must also, as it examines the impact of racial bias, look at how increasing the numbers of women in policing holds the key to substantially decreasing police violence while also improving police relations with the community.
Women’s underrepresentation in policing is a problem across the country: Nationwide, small law enforcement agencies employ an average of 4-to-6-percent women, while larger ones employ about 15 percent. These numbers are from a Bureau of Justice Statistics survey in 2007. The last time the Feminist Majority Foundation surveyed police agencies in 2001, we found similar overall numbers. Additionally, we found that women of color are virtually absent from small departments (1.2 percent) and represent only 4.8 percent of officers in the largest agencies. Many of these larger agencies have been under court-ordered consent decrees to hire more women and minorities, the result of a wave of sex and race discrimination lawsuits dating from the 1970s. Yet these numbers have hardly budged over the last 20 years. (Men of color have made somewhat greater progress, though also remain underrepresented in police ranks.)
To get at why there are so few women in policing, the DOJ must scrutinize police hiring and recruiting practices that are keeping women’s numbers in law enforcement artificially low.
One major cause of the problem is that many law enforcement agencies, when recruiting police officers, are looking in the wrong places—at gyms and on military bases—where more men than women can be found, rather than seeking out nurses, teachers and social workers who possess conflict-resolution skills that are critical in reducing the use of excessive force. Even a history of violent behavior on the part of police recruits is often ignored. Indeed, research has shown a marked gender difference between women and men recruits—women applicants are less likely to have histories of violence than male applicants. Screening for this type of behavior would result in increased hiring of women and decreased hiring of physically aggressive men.
A second major contributor to the lack of women in law enforcement is the kind of unnecessary physical testing police agencies use in hiring. Thankfully, the DOJ is already tackling these types of discriminatory hiring practices: Earlier this summer, the DOJ announced that it is suing the Pennsylvania state police for sex discrimination. The lawsuit, filed in late July, alleges that the police used a physical fitness test in hiring state troopers that disadvantaged women and included physical feats not required for the job. In fact, no studies have ever substantiated the use of physical testing in police hiring—women can do the job just as well as men and physical tests are simply designed to keep them out.
The DOJ won a similar sex-discrimination case in Corpus Christi, Texas, last year after suing that city’s police department under Title XII. In response to the suit, the police department replaced its physical abilities test with a Title XII-compliant procedure and offered back pay to women who had failed the test and been disqualified from positions with the agency.
Imagine a police department where there are as many women police officers as men, and where police officers reflect the racial diversity of the communities they serve. A balanced, well-trained force that would be more likely, when officers come upon a situation like they faced with Michael Brown, to diffuse rather than escalate the situation. That’s a police force a community can believe in.
Kathy Spillar is executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation and executive editor of Ms.
At least one in three women in the United States will have at least one abortion in her lifetime.
Six in ten American women who have an abortion already have a child, and more than three in ten already have two or more children.
Studies find that women of all religious faiths and traditions, all political affiliations, and all races, classes, and backgrounds have abortions. It is one of the most common and safest surgical procedures in the United States. And these women—women like me, and like countless daughters, mothers, sisters, friends, nieces, and cousins—have abortions for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from their own judgment about whether and when they can afford to have a child (or another child), to experiences of violence and violation, to matters of life and death, to “none of your business.”
A columnist for the National Review believes we should all be hanged.
This weekend, Kevin Williamson, whose Twitter bio describes him as a “roving reporter for the National Review,” declared on Twitter that all abortions should be treated as premeditated homicide, and that women who have had abortions should face capital punishment, namely hanging. No exceptions.
@Green_Footballs Yes, I believe that the law should treat abortion like any other homicide.
— Kevin D. Williamson (@KevinNR) September 28, 2014
— Kevin D. Williamson (@KevinNR) September 28, 2014
He did not go so far as to describe in what venues these hangings should take place, but it might be fair to assume that Williamson has in mind public executions, so that other women are made very, very sure of their place in society—which is to say, subservient.
Reading several of Williamson’s columns, I see a man who desperately wants to be taken seriously. His pieces are full of pseudo-intellectual musings and plenty of Very Big Words, in a transparent attempt to prove how smart he is. In a recent piece on Lena Dunham and voting, he reveals deep condescension for women, voters, and anyone who is not (according to his judgment) as smart as himself. Voting, Williamson writes, “is the most shallow gesture of citizenship there is.”
That piece is titled “Five Reasons You Are Too Stupid To Vote.” Williamson offers only one reason. Did he forget the other four?
We should perhaps be thankful that, in another tweet, Williamson stated, “I don’t vote.”
In a piece on abortion and capital punishment, he notes that a “consistent life ethic” requires opposition to capital punishment, though he admits to finding reasons capital punishment should still be carried out. Tweeting this weekend, he said, “I’m torn on capital punishment generally; but treating abortion as homicide means what it means.” He further said, “I am against abortion per se in all circumstances.” In other words, he claims a “consistent life ethic,” which would mean he is against capital punishment per se but believes there are circumstances in which capital punishment should be employed anyway. Yet when women’s lives, health, or well-being are threatened, he sees no exceptions for abortion care. Rather, his answer when it comes to women and abortion is to promote capital punishment for them.
@AmateurPolSc I am against abortion per se in all circumstances.
— Kevin D. Williamson (@KevinNR) September 28, 2014
In an ongoing Twitter exchange, I asked Williamson if he knew women who had had abortions. He said yes. I asked him if he had told them he thought they should be hanged. No answer. I asked again. No answer. I asked if he would tell the women in his circle who’ve had abortions that he believes they committed homicide. No answer. I asked Williamson if, being consistent and applying the laws he supports to his own family, he would allow his wife to die in a circumstance in which her life were imminently threatened by a pregnancy rather than break his no exceptions rule. He would not answer. I asked if his wife opted for an abortion in a given circumstance, including to save her own life, would he report her to the authorities. Again, no answer. The only reply I got was him calling my line of questioning an “elementary-school trolley problem gambit.”
“Go look it up if you don’t understand,” he added.
In short, he gave no answer when asked to apply his legal proposal to his own family. He refused to take responsibility for the laws and policies he espouses.
Pregnancy, however, is not an elementary school “trolley problem.” It is real life. Pregnancy, labor, delivery, childbirth, child spacing, child-rearing, and feeding, clothing, raising, emotionally investing in, and in all ways caring for children from birth throughout their lives are all real-life issues. Sometimes pregnancy, childbirth, and delivery result in the death or illness of women. These are not theoretical “trolley problems.” They are real. They are practical. They involve tradeoffs. I know this, as I am a mother and a woman who has had an abortion. And I understand that every time a woman faces a pregnancy—intended or unintended, healthy or untenable—she faces a set of circumstances unique to that pregnancy and that moment in her life.
Williamson’s answers therefore reveal exactly the problem with his pseudo-academic approach, and that of the anti-choice movement writ large, to the issues women face in sex, pregnancy, childbirth, and the lifelong commitment to other human beings that is involved in being a parent. He and they are bereft of compassion and understanding for the real circumstances of real women. They lack respect for the intellectual and emotional maturity and responsibility real women take as they make rational decisions about either abortion or childbirth when facing unintended pregnancy. In other words, they do not trust women as moral agents to make choices that are best for them and their families. Anti-choicers like Williamson lack understanding of or just simply deny immutable facts of public health, such as the fact that access to safe abortion care is directly correlated to improved health outcomes for women, infants, and children. He is either unaware of or irresponsibly ignores the fact that in many states in this country women are today being arrested for miscarriage and pregnancy loss on the basis of “suspected abortion.” His answers and his body of work reveal a dangerous mixture of misogyny and disgust for women, a wholesale lack of compassion, an inability to face reality, and complete ignorance of public health, medical, biological, and human rights evidence.
And, tellingly, he is unwilling to apply his own rules to his own family.
Image: Reason.tv / YouTube
The post National Review Writer Calls for Hanging Women Who Have Abortions appeared first on RH Reality Check.
Matt Bai says that while voters have always cared about candidates' characters, some news used to be off limits. His new book looks at Gary Hart's 1987 affair that destroyed his political ambitions.
Oh Joy Sex Toy is a weekly comics series that graphically explores sex and sexuality. This week, artist Erika Moen lays out the basics of how to share sexy photos without crossing any ethical boundaries.
Singapore Literature Festival
Friday-Sunday, October 10 – 12, 2014
For the first time ever, 14 Singaporean writers will converge on New York City from October 10 to 12, 2014, for the inaugural Singapore Literature Festival. They will read from locally and globally inspired works over 8 events in various locations around Manhattan, including 92nd Street Y, Book Culture, McNally Jackson, and NYU’s Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House.
Organized by a group of book-loving volunteers, the Singapore Literature Festival aims to showcase and build awareness of Singaporean writing among readers, editors, and publishing professionals in New York. The festival provides a wonderful opportunity to hear and engage with the most distinctive voices coming out of the city-state, which celebrates its 50th year of independence next year.
Of special note to Lambda would be the event on Saturday at 92Y, “The Politics of Love,” which feature two Singaporeans that identify as queer writers. Along with another writer, all three will discuss topics on modern love, desire, and relationships.
Please see the schedule for more details!
Here's what's on our radar!
• The city of Ferguson has increased the fee for accessing police files—up to $135 per hour—and some see it as a way to keep the media from investigating the murder of Mike Brown. [Talking Points Memo]
This week, a poem by Dana Kopel.
BODY-PROCESS: MARK MORRISROE
Bodies are so beautiful
_____but remember, nothing is inside them____except body.
__________Remember that, even if you don’t believe it.
The mind is elsewhere
__________floating, it evaporates slowly, over
_____the course of a lifetime or sometimes less than that—
_____________________________________not the soul, but the thoughts
______________of the body, which nonetheless hover above it.
__________Beautiful,__________the negatives layered
______________so the light splits, makes a grain
__________softer than his ripped skin____(scar-rays bloom from the nipple)
___________________________the soft indefinite edge of the body
against the ground behind it: floral wallpaper
______________________or the mirror, so the self
_____becomes the ground behind the self
Remember the bodies when they are young perfect_______blurry, it takes him
_____________________________________just two negatives
__________to capture the body’s evaporation into space—
____and look, the hazy image of an ant
____tacked with a pin to the wall—
_____________didn’t you think so, even at the end
______________________with the wasting disease? You thought so,
____your body was a smooth pale egg
__________with smooth pale leg bones tucked into itself
and your feet were so large
______________________because they were the last to disappear.
Did you keep your thoughts in your feet then, just before dying?
____Did you layer the negatives, the bodies, knowing everything, forgetting
__________but their beauty?
bathe them in chemical baths,
__________let them become something permanent
____and separate from touch, did you wonder
_____________how someone’s touch could bear the body’s whole__disintegration?
____Yours? You held death_______________in your body like a kernel or pearl,
_____________building layers upon itself, not a bullet
___________________________lodged in the spine but like it.
____Still you could not take a picture of it.
The one-colored light of those pictures—
______________________the ones inside your body went beyond it,
___________the kernel grew with the layers of your dying.
___________the sharp male hip, dense rose light
___________After the Laone (In the Home
of a London Rubber Fetishist, December 82)
___________________________your notes, your sharp bent elbow,
_____________the two sharp points at the base of your spine
________________________________your sharpness—your body grew sharper
as it evaporated, it had angles instead of strength
____and instead of weakness;_____your body was a piece of paper
_____________held between two negatives
___________________________when the chemicals came to develop
________________________________when the chemicals came to wash clean
Dress up again like a woman for me
____You’re a kid again in the bathroom mirror, your bare new chest—
DANA KOPEL is a curator, writer and poet based in New York. She was an Assistant Curator for the Maldives Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, and has organized or assisted on exhibitions at TEMP Art Space (NY), Kunsthal KAdE (Amersfoort, NL), and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson. Her writing has been published in the Brooklyn Rail and Keep This Bag Away From Children, among other publications.
Photo credit: Benedict Brink
The Supreme Court on Monday granted an emergency request by Ohio state officials to block a lower court order expanding early voting in the state—a move that some legal scholars find disturbing in its apparent partisanship.
The Roberts Court released the one-page order after a flurry of legal activity related to early voting restrictions enacted by Ohio’s Republican legislature this year. Those limits remove the first week of Ohio’s 35-day early voting period and eliminated the only week that permitted same-day registration and voting, a process most often used by minority voters.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the state challenging the early voting restrictions on behalf of the Ohio chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and League of Women Voters and several African-American churches arguing the new restrictions are unconstitutional.
A federal district court judge in Columbus agreed and struck down those restrictions and last week a unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed that ruling and ordered the officials for the State of Ohio to allow voting to begin this Tuesday.
But on Thursday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine filed an emergency request with the Roberts Court to intervene and reverse or delay federal court orders restoring what is known as “Golden Week,” a week-long window in which people could both register to vote and cast a ballot in Ohio.
Those decisions, attorneys for the State of Ohio argue, improperly created a “right to vote early” and intrude into the state’s rights to manage its elections. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who oversees appeals from the Sixth Circuit, ordered the parties to brief the Court by Saturday.
The order was issued without an accompanying opinion or explanation, and reflected the ideological breakdown of the Court with the four liberal justices stating they would not have denied the request for a stay.
The order staying the voting restrictions came the day after the justices met for their first formal conference for the new term and just one day before polling stations were set to open in Ohio to allow voters to cast ballots in November’s general election.
“This is a case that is just partisan all the way down,” Eric Segall, a Georgia State University law professor, said in an interview with RH Reality Check.
Segall is the author of Supreme Myths: Why the Supreme Court and Its Justices are Not Judges, and co-author of Supreme Secrecy, to be published next year by Stanford University Press.
“It’s five Republicans getting their way over four Democrats on a Republican-Democratic issue overturning a lower court opinion that affirmed a very detailed district court order that is very factual. It’s really sad, I think,” Segall said.
Supporters of early voting detailed in court filings the history of “the debacle of 2004,” when some voters stood in line for more than 12 hours, and many never got to vote. The early voting methods put in place to resolve those events were “a necessary remedy to address the state’s demonstrated inability in 2004 to conduct the entirety of an election on a single day,” advocates argued.
But attorneys for the State of Ohio argued both the lower court and court of appeals got the case wrong by creating a new “right to early voting” and by unconstitutionally interfering in the state’s power to oversee its own elections.
Monday’s decision by the Roberts Court is not a ruling on the merits of Ohio’s early voting restrictions, nor does it have the impact of another Supreme Court election case, the infamous 2000 decision in Bush v. Gore. As Segall explained, the limited nature of Monday’s ruling does not make it less political.
“If the Court was going to stop the changes, it had to do so now,” said Segall, noting the lower courts had ordered the restrictions lifted in time for voting to begin this week. “But the magnitude of the intrusion doesn’t change the nature of the intrusion and the nature of this intrusion is purely partisan.”
“A stay is only supposed to be for the most dire emergency situations. This wasn’t that,” he added.
The immediate effect of Monday’s decision means early voting in Ohio will be delayed at least one week, possibly more. Monday’s order also leaves in limbo expanded days and hours for voting, including voting on the Saturday and Sunday two weeks before Election Day and from 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays during the two weeks prior to Election Day.
“Thousands of Ohioans rely on early voting. For many, it is their only chance to cast a ballot during an election,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement following the Supreme Court’s order. “While today’s order is not a final ruling on the merits, it will deprive many Ohioans of the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election as this case continues to make its way through the courts.”
Ohio’s voting rights case is not the only time the Roberts Court has been accused of partisanship in its decisions to grant or deny emergency requests for relief.
The Court refused last year to grant advocates’ request to intervene in a dispute over a requirement that all abortion providers in Texas maintain hospital admitting privileges. Similar to the Ohio voting rights case, a lower court ruled the Texas requirement unconstitutional following a trial, issuing detailed findings of fact to support its conclusion that the admitting privileges requirement unduly burdened abortion rights.
Unlike the Ohio voting rights case, where both the district court and lower appeals court were in agreement on the problems with Ohio’s early voting restrictions, in the Texas admitting privileges case the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in an emergency order reversed the lower court ruling and ordered the requirement go into effect immediately.
Abortion clinics across the state were forced to close, leaving patients to drive hundreds of miles to access care.
The Roberts Court, in a 5-4 decision, refused to grant advocates’ emergency request to stay the Fifth Circuit decision ordering the abortion restrictions to go into effect. Those restrictions remain in effect today.
“Where the justices feel strongly, they will do what they want, unconstrained by law,” Segall said.
Monday’s order had the support of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.
Image: WikiMedia Commons
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