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'Rocket Girl' Is A Jetpack-Powered 21st Century Angel

NPR Books - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 7:03am

Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare's effervescent comic about a flight-suited future teenager is now out in a paperback collection. Reviewer Etelka Lehoczky calls it "a high-spirited, often funny ride."

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Categories: Book News

8 Things White People Really Need to Understand About Race

Everyday Feminisms - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 1:00am
 Francis MoranI would posit that there are a few things that it’s about time all White people figured out. These are things we’ve been told collectively by people of Color countless times, but we don’t seem to be hearing them. Perhaps we can hear them differently when called in by a White person to consider how we can actively work to end racial injustice and oppression.
Categories: Feminist

World’s Best LGBTQ Literary Site is About to Get Better (With Your Help)

Lambda Literary - Wed, 07/23/2014 - 12:15am

The Lambda Literary Review, the world’s most comprehensive online LGBTQ literary magazine, needs to raise $25,000 to make our website more dynamic and engaging for our 50,000 monthly readers. This upgrade would allow us to bring you a fresh, contemporary look, videos, podcasts, streamlined navigation, improved search options and the ability to easily navigate the site on your smartphone.

Please make a tax-deductible donation today and help us make the best LGBTQ literary website in the world even better.

LLF_donate_button_web_2.0

The David Bohnett Foundation has already awarded a $10,000 grant toward our $25,000 goal, and this is a good start. But we need to raise an additional $15,000 this summer to fully fund this upgrade.

Published by Lambda Literary (at www.LambdaLiterary.org), the Lambda Literary Review connects a vast and diverse community of readers, writers, publishers, agents, booksellers, editors, educators, distributors, librarians, and bloggers by offering weekly book reviews (200 per year), high-profile author interviews, insightful commentary on current happenings in the LGBT literary scene, calls for submission, and pertinent op-ed entries on an endless variety of current issues in our community.

By making a tax-deductible contribution toward the upgrade of our website, you will help make the world’s most comprehensive LGBTQ Literary site even better.

Any size donation is appreciated and tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Categories: Book News, LGBTQ

Luluc's New Album "Passerby" Brings Soft Sounds for Summer

Bitch Media - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 7:15pm

luluc on stage

Australian duo Luluc at home onstage in Sydney earlier this year. 

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Categories: Feminist

Family Planning for Adolescents: The Missing Ingredient?

Ms. Blog - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 5:59pm

3116628621_e5bf51efdd_zReprinted from the Thomson Reuters Foundation with permission.

This week in London, several hundred advocates and allies, including myself, will join government officials from around the world, led by British Prime Minister David Cameron, to rally a global movement to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child, early and forced marriage for girls within a generation at Girl Summit 2014. Representing an organization that works to empower women and girls and which, for the past two decades, has raised global awareness about the harms of child marriage and violence against women and girls, I am thrilled to see such high level attention to these important issues that are so critical to international development efforts and to combating inequality.

FGM and child marriage violate the basic human rights of millions of girls worldwide. Not only is FGM an act of violence; it also disempowers girls and women, and can cause significant harm to their health for years to come. And child marriage forces more than 14 million girls every year into a life that restricts their rights and limits their ability to contribute meaningfully to the development of their communities and societies, denying most from continuing their education and cutting their childhoods painfully short.

In addition to being a violation of a girl’s basic human rights, including her right to bodily integrity, FGM has negative implications for her right to a satisfying sex life, as well as her reproductive health rights. Child marriage also has an effect on a girl’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, as it takes away her right to decide if, with whom and when to engage in sexual activity and if or when to have children. Child marriage puts girls at high risk for early pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and intimate partner violence, among other negative health consequences.

I applaud the U.K. government and UNICEF for bringing these important issues to the forefront of global conversations, and for continuing to mobilize allies from around the world to tackle these challenges faced by millions of girls. The U.K. government also co-hosted a groundbreaking summit on family planning in 2012—which makes it all the more perplexing to see a key missing ingredient from this week’s summit: the broader sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescents around the world.

And I think girls around the world would agree.

recent report by the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) brought the perspectives and priorities of more than 500 adolescent girls from around the world to the global stage. Among the many critical issues raised by the girls was their need to access sexual and reproductive health services, as well as to better understand and be able to act on their sexual and reproductive rights. Simply put, the girls wanted to know their options, how they could use available services, and do so freely and safely.

Whether married or not, adolescents must have access to gender-equitable and rights-based comprehensive sexuality education that enables them to expand their knowledge and their understanding of their bodies, their rights and the services that should be accessible to them. They should have the information and services needed to prevent—and treat when necessary—sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

And critically, adolescents need access to youth-friendly family planning services, including the information, skills and contraceptive supplies that can help them decide whether, when and how many children to have, not only during their adolescence, but throughout their lives. It’s a tall order, but we know the approaches that can work in making it happen.

ICRW recently published a report that synthesizes the evidence base regarding adolescents and family planning. Specifically, we looked at the barriers to adolescents’ access to, and use of, family planning services, programmatic approaches for increasing access and uptake of those services, gaps in the evidence that require further research, and areas that are ripe for further investment. In short, the report looks at the “demand” and the “supply” side of family planning, identifying barriers and ways to overcome those barriers in order to help adolescents effectively use family planning methods to reach their reproductive desires over their life course.

The issues are complicated and, like so many other challenges in global development, there is no simple solution. But there is enough evidence to act. And there is enough evidence to demonstrate that we must invest further in meeting the full range of sexual and reproductive health and rights needs of adolescents if we are to succeed in our goal of helping adolescents grow into healthy, productive and empowered citizens. Talking about these issues, particularly when we talk about adolescent girls, would at least be a start.

Dr. Suzanne Petroni is Senior Director of Gender, Population and Development at the International Center for Research on Women.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Brian Stacey licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Categories: Feminist

Book Review: 'Angels Make Their Hope Here'

NPR Books - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 5:47pm

Alan Cheuse reviews Angels Make Their Hope Here, by Breena Clarke.

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Categories: Book News

Federal Appeals Courts Split on Obamacare Subsidies. Now What?

RH Reality Check - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 5:28pm
Two rulings released within minutes of each other Tuesday show that the legal fight over health-care reform is not about the law but rather about the politics of the Affordable Care Act.

Within minutes of each other Tuesday, two separate federal appeals courts handed down conflicting rulings as to whether or not the text of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows the federal government to subsidize insurance premiums in its federally run exchanges.

First came the decision from a divided three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in Halbig v. Burwell that federally run health insurance exchanges cannot provide subsidies for residents of the more than 30 states that participate in the federal exchanges.

Then a panel of judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit unanimously ruled the opposite, in King v. Burwell, finding that the text of the ACA does not prevent the administration from providing subsidies in those markets where states have refused to set up their own exchanges.

The decisions, and their differing results, encapsulate the political-turned-legal fight over one of the Obama administration’s most significant policy achievements.

The conservative case against subsidies in the federal health-care exchanges started in 2012, when the Cato Institute’s Michael Cannon and law professor Jonathan Adler wrote a paper setting out the argument adopted by those challenging the subsidies, including one self-described “Republican operative” at the front of the D.C. Circuit case. They claim that the statutory language of the ACA only allows states, and not the federal government, to subsidize health-care payments. According to the challengers, the actual text of the law says that the sliding-scale tax credits that millions of Americans currently receive are available only for coverage purchased “through an exchange established by the state,” and since only 16 states have established insurance exchanges so far, only residents in those states can qualify for subsidized coverage.

The challengers’ argument is compelling in its simplicity—after all, the statute doesn’t say “through an exchange established by the state and federal government.” But accepting that argument means ignoring the entire context and purpose of the ACA, including all the ways in which the federal government is required to step in when states fail to do so, including when states throw political temper tantrums and refuse to participate in health-care reform. This is the point made by Judge Harry T. Edwards in his dissent in Halbig. “This case is about Appellants’ not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” wrote Edwards.

The decision, Edwards notes, is effectively a “poison pill to the insurance markets in the States that did not elect to create their own Exchanges. This surely is not what Congress intended.”

He continues:

This [plaintiffs'] claim is nonsense, made up out of whole cloth. There is no credible evidence in the record that Congress intended to condition subsidies on whether a State, as opposed to HHS, established the Exchange. Nor is there credible evidence that any State even considered the possibility that its taxpayers would be denied subsidies if the State opted to allow HHS to establish an Exchange on its behalf.

But denying subsidies to taxpayers who are otherwise entitled to them because of a typo or a hyper-constrained reading of the statute is exactly the case conservatives are making in these challenges, and it’s a case two Republican appointees were more than willing to advance. “We conclude that appellants have the better argument: a federal Exchange is not an ‘Exchange established by the State’ and section 36B does not authorize the IRS to provide tax credits for insurance purchased on the federal Exchanges,” the majority in Halbig wrote.

“No one—not the people who wrote the law in Congress, not those who implemented the law in the states—understood this law to work the way that two judges of the D.C. Circuit today said it does,” Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel at the Constitutional Accountability Center, said in a statement in reaction to the Halbig ruling. The Constitutional Accountability Center wrote the legal brief on behalf of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and every major committee chair involved in writing the ACA, as well as state officials from across the country.

So far about 5.4 million people have signed up for health insurance through a federal exchange, and about 87 percent of those consumers received subsidies in the form of sliding-scale tax credits to make that coverage affordable. This savings is critically important in states where mostly Republican lawmakers are politically opposed to the ACA and have refused to establish their own exchanges and expand Medicaid to increase insurance coverage and affordability. For example, as reported by the Washington Post, an individual in Wyoming who buys a mid-grade plan on the federal marketplaces is receiving a subsidy of around $444 per month, which cuts their monthly premium cost to a much more affordable $99 per month. So there’s a lot on the line in these cases, beyond just arguing over the semantics of where the bureaucratic burdens of health-care reform may lie. Real lives are at stake.

Thankfully, the immediate impact of Tuesday’s conflicting rulings will be mostly show among pundits and political organizations. Nobody will immediately lose their subsidies, nor is the ACA immediately gutted. And even though there is a momentary disagreement among the federal courts on the legality of the subsidies, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Roberts Court will immediately jump in to resolve it. The Obama administration has said it plans to ask for a full-panel review of the D.C. Circuit panel opinion, a process that could take months and which helps keep the case away from the Supreme Court for the time being.

The full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals now comprises mostly Democratic appointees; while that doesn’t guarantee a ruling in the administration’s favor, it doesn’t hurt its chances either. Should the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rule in favor of the administration, that could mean, at this point at least, that there’s no longer any disagreement in the federal courts as to whether or not insurance purchased via a federal exchange qualifies for subsidies. Without that kind of split in the federal courts, the Supreme Court may not have any means to get involved in the case, which is good news, since the Roberts Court is not known to respect precedent, especially if there’s a good political reason not to.

In the meantime, federal courts in both Indiana and Oklahoma have similar legal challenges pending, which means that like the legal challenges to the contraception coverage requirement that persist despite the Hobby Lobby ruling, we’re as far away from resolving the legal challenges to the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act as we are from resolving the political ones.

Image: Shutterstock

The post Federal Appeals Courts Split on Obamacare Subsidies. Now What? appeared first on RH Reality Check.

Categories: Feminist

Equal Pay Day for African-American Women, By the Numbers

RH Reality Check - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 5:18pm
Black women specifically face a larger wage gap than women overall, and their Equal Pay Day comes more than two months later than the day women's groups normally highlight.

This year, April 9 was known as Equal Pay Day, representing the extra three months and change that the average woman has to work in 2014 if she wants to earn what the average man already earned by the end of 2013. But as an analysis released Monday by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) points out, the wait is longer for Black women: Equal Pay Day for African-American women was July 16, and Equal Pay Day for Latinas won’t come until November.

African-American women only earn 64 cents to every dollar earned by non-Hispanic white men, according to the NWLC analysis; the figure for women overall is 77 cents. That’s based on the average earnings of female and male full-time, year-round workers taken from Census data.

The pay gap for Black women varies based on age and industry. Older Black women have it the hardest—the pay gap is only 82 cents on the dollar for 15-year-old to 24-year-old Black women compared to white men, but the gap widens to 67 cents and 59 cents, respectively, for Black women ages 25-to-44 and 45-to-64.

As for industries, Black women working as physicians and surgeons—a high-wage and male-dominated occupation—make only 52 cents for every dollar paid to their white male counterparts. Black women fared slightly better in lower-paid occupations, making 86 cents on the dollar in male-dominated, mid-wage construction industries and 85 cents on the dollar working as low-wage, mostly female personal care aides.

The fact that Black women are overrepresented in low-wage jobs doesn’t help, the analysis said. Black women make up 14 percent of low-wage workers and 6 percent of the overall workforce.

Education levels don’t make much of an impact on the high wage gap between Black women and non-Hispanic white men. While more education corresponds with higher wages for both Black women and white men, Black women still make between 61 and 66 cents on the dollar compared to their counterparts at every education level. African-American women have to have at least a Bachelor’s degree to make as much as white men who didn’t finish college.

The NWLC analysis also notes that the wage gap for Black women varies by state. Louisiana, Wyoming, and Mississippi take the top three slots for worst wage inequality, but Washington, D.C., is right behind them, with a wage gap of 55 cents to the dollar. D.C.’s result is especially noteworthy because women overall in the District have the country’s smallest wage gap, 90 cents to the dollar.

The “77 cents to the dollar on average” wage gap statistic for women overall is frequently called into question because while it’s often used in pay discrimination debates, there are factors behind the figure other than outright pay discrimination. President Obama cited it when he passed an executive order, on this year’s Equal Pay Day for women overall, that will make it easier for some women to discover and redress being paid unequally due to gender bias.

But a pay gap persists even when researchers control for workers who have similar characteristics, like college majors and occupations. A report from the Center for American Progress notes that about 40 percent of the wage gap can’t be explained by work experience or occupational differences, and that much of that 40 percent is likely due to the failure of U.S. workplaces and other institutions to adapt and support working families.

Broad average statistics, like the 77-cent figure for women in general, the 64-cent figure for African-American women, or the 55-cent figure for Latinas, draw attention to the fact that women are usually the ones to make career sacrifices for the sake of raising a family. Policies like universal child care and maternity and family leave, advocates argue, would mean fewer women had to make the “choice” to take a lower-paying job, fewer hours, more unpaid leave, or fewer promotions in order to care for their children.

Image: Shutterstock

The post Equal Pay Day for African-American Women, By the Numbers appeared first on RH Reality Check.

Categories: Feminist

July 22, 1920: Suffragist Demand More Action from Harding

Feminist Majority Foundation - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 5:00pm

Founding Feminists is the FMF’s daily herstory column.

FoundingFeministLogo-color

Over a hundred members of the National Woman’s Party met with Republican Presidential nominee Warren G. Harding today, and made it clear that the N.W.P. will not settle for mere words from the Senator, but will insist on deeds.

In fact, if he doesn’t do something meaningful to help the suffrage cause, Harding should probably just continue his “Front Porch Campaign,” because if he leaves his home he will be followed to all events by National Woman’s Party members, who will be pointing out his lack of commitment to winning “Votes for Women.” According to Alice Paul:

Suffragists can feel only dissatisfaction with Senator Harding’s refusal today in his reply to the Woman’s Party delegation, and in his acceptance speech, to take a positive stand for the carrying out of the suffrage plank in the Republican platform. The suffrage plank is the only one in the platform which Senator Harding and his party have the power to carry out without waiting until elected to national office, because of the fact that their party is already in control in several legislatures which have not yet acted on suffrage.

Vermont and Connecticut legislators appear to be especially eager to ratify, but their Republican governors have been refusing for months to call these legislatures back into session so they can vote on ratification. Paul continued:

If Senator Harding refuses to live up to the suffrage plank, and contents himself merely with ‘earnestly hoping’ and ‘sincerely desiring,’ how can he expect the country to take seriously the other planks in his platform? The National Woman’s Party will continue to demand that Senator Harding carry out his platform by securing a unanimous vote in support of ratification from the Republican delegation in the Tennessee Legislature when it meets next month. If Senator Haring will use his full power, as a leader of his party, in behalf of the enfranchisement of women, he can secure such a Republican vote in favor of ratification in Tennessee. Only by action and not by the expression of polite interest will women be satisfied.

Paul’s last comment may refer to a telegram Harding sent last night to Carrie Chapman Catt, in which he said he would “cordially recommend” that Republican legislators in Tennessee vote for suffrage if they asked his opinion.

Harding was very polite to today’s large Woman’s Party delegation, which marched down the streets of Marion, Ohio, to his home, dressed in white, bearing the N.W.P.’s purple, white and gold banners, and wearing similarly colorful sashes. A number of the group’s members spoke frankly to the Republican nominee. Louisine Havemeyer brought up a good point about the Republicans’ frequent boast that they have done more for suffrage than the Democrats:

True, the Republican Party has given us more States than the Democratic Party, but they had more States to draw upon, and I recommend your informing yourselves as to the number of Democrats who voted in these Republican States … This has been a seventy-year struggle between the men and women of this great country. Isn’t it time to end the struggle? Is it fair that a woman should make the flag and only the men should wave it?

Republican Presidential nominee Warren G. Harding speaks to a crowd of supporters gathered outside his home.

Republican Presidential nominee Warren G. Harding speaks to a crowd of supporters gathered outside his home.

Havemeyer then brought Republican Party icon Abraham Lincoln into the discussion, comparing his efforts for the 13th Amendment with those of present Republicans for the proposed 19th: “Fifty-six years ago Abraham Lincoln also wished to pass an amendment …. Did he say, ‘I have done enough,’ or ‘I will request some one,’ or ‘I will urge,’ … or ‘ladies, don’t bother me, I have done all I could.’ No. He said: ‘I need another State, and I am going to make one.’ And he did, and his amendment was ratified.”

Having now met with the Presidential nominees of both major parties, the Woman’s Party will expect them to do whatever is necessary to deliver Tennessee or North Carolina when those legislatures meet in less than three weeks to vote on approving the Susan B. Anthony (nationwide woman suffrage) Amendment. The approval of either State would be the 36th and final one needed to put woman suffrage into the U.S. Constitution as the 19th Amendment. The vote is certain to be quite close, and the result is presently unpredictable, complicated by the fact that most legislators are scattered around their home States at their residences, often in quite remote areas, while others are on extended vacations in undisclosed locations.

The General Election is less than 15 weeks away. Registration deadlines have passed in at least two States where women cannot vote, and are rapidly approaching in many others where women will not be allowed to register unless the 19th Amendment passes. Pressure from the highest levels of each party on State legislators in Tennessee and North Carolina could make the difference between millions of women around the country voting for all offices and referenda on the ballot in November, or being barred from the polls until at least next year – and from voting for President until the 1924 election. No effort will be spared by suffrage forces to get that 36th State ratified, and an all-out drive by anti-suffragists to block any further ratifications it is equally inevitable. So, meaningful efforts by Republican Presidential nominee Senator Warren G. Harding and Democratic Presidential nominee Governor James Cox could be crucial to victory, and will be vigorously sought.

Categories: Feminist

Judith Frank: On Mourning, Taking on Volatile Subject Matter, and Queer Relationships

Lambda Literary - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 4:55pm

All I Love and Know (William Morrow), by Judith Frank, is a brilliant, thoughtful, unexpectedly funny new novel about a gay couple, Daniel Rosen and Matt Greene, who live in Northampton, MA. It opens with a café bombing in Jerusalem that kills Daniel’s twin brother Joel and Joel’s wife Ilana. When it is revealed that Joel and Ilana designated Daniel the guardian of their two small children should they die, a firestorm erupts in both Daniel’s and Ilana’s families about the possibility that the children will be taken out of Israel and raised by gay men. The novel explores what happens to Daniel and Matt’s relationship in the wake of this conflict and this trauma. It is also page-turner that keeps the reader deep in the story until the very last page. And thinking about it afterwards for days.

What is the heart of All I Love and Know for you?

For me, the novel is about how you mourn a death from terror when the cultural scripts handed to you (“the war on terror”) feel toxic to you. It’s also about the various forms safety and danger take in a life, about parenting, about Israel/Palestine. And about the experience of being an identical twin.

The relationship between Daniel and Matt, the gay couple at the center of the book, is so resonant, intimate and real. Why did you choose to write about gay men?

To be honest, I chose to write about gay men for commercial reasons. My first novel, Crybaby Butch, was about lesbians, and garnered no interest whatsoever from agents. A friend of mine quoted his agent as once saying, “Nobody wants to read lesbian novels, not even lesbians.” Seriously.

That much said, once I made that choice, my imagination wound itself around these men, around Jewish masculinity, and the way parenting without a mother feels inimical to Jewish life. There’s a minor AIDS plot in the book too, in which the characters are forced to think about the relative dignity and importance of a man killed by AIDS and a man killed by a terrorist, and about the ways in which safety is and is not within our control. That became important to me. It would have been a very different story with women at its center.

I loved your depiction of Northampton, where Dan and Matt live. We both live in Western Massachusetts. What was it like writing about a place so close to home?

I’m not sure why my instinct, when writing about Northampton, was gentle satire. Is it the earnest goodness of the place? I saw a lot of comic possibilities, too, in the way Matt, this young, handsome, stylish gay New Yorker, has ended up in such a profoundly lesbian place. But it also struck me what a refuge a place like Northampton would be for these kids, whose lives have been struck by violence. If I could describe the Northampton of the novel in one word, it would be “peaceable.”

The book opens with unforgettable scenes of Matt and Daniel rushing to Israel from their home in Northampton, MA, after Daniel’s twin brother and his wife have been killed in a café bombing in Jerusalem. It emerges that Daniel has been made guardian of the couple’s two small children. The family story is central to this book, and it can’t be separated from the violence of the political situation that creates it. Matt and Daniel both oppose the Israeli Occupation. Did you have any hesitation about setting your story in such a volatile context?

The volatility of the context was what attracted me to writing about Israel. My family moved there in 1976, and I lived there for six years and went to college there. My sister, who married an Israeli man, is the only one of us who stayed. But the effects of those years have lingered for my entire family, and I wanted to reckon with that experience. It was only when I came back to the US that I became conscious of this whole realm of Palestinian life under occupation that I couldn’t see in Israel, even when I was only moments away. Many American Jews hesitate to criticize the Occupation, believing they don’t have a right since they aren’t actually living in Israel. But I’ve come to believe that if there are some things you can only see when you’re in a place, there are also some things you can only see from far away.

I was struck by the ways that you depicted Matt being shut out of official discussions of the custody of the children, even though he becomes a very active parent. That’s part of the lingering aftershock of the violence, but it also struck me as an experience of exclusion that many of us grew up with as part of the price of being queer, and it creates at least one (well, or more) of the most emotional turning points in the books. Did you find it painful to write those scenes?

Matt is a funny and irreverent guy who wrestles with his own self-involvement and selfishness. So, not to sound mean, but it was actually kind of fun messing with him because each exclusion produced such a gaudy starburst of emotions. My main concern was not making his partner Daniel, with whom it may already be hard to connect because he spends so much of the novel traumatized, too unsympathetic.

Judith Frank

Judith Frank

Your first novel, Crybaby Butch, won a Lambda Literary Award for its exploration of the connection between two butches of different class backgrounds in the context of an adult literacy class. I’ve heard you mention Leslie Feinberg as one inspiration for that book. Do you see common ground between Crybaby Butch and All I Love and Know

Both novels are centered around mourning, which has been a preoccupation of mine; I’m especially interested in interruptions and impediments to the mourning process, what Freud called melancholia. I think I’m ready now to write a book that’s not about mourning!  But both books also explore queer relationships that face a major challenge, and pose the question of “what happens to a couple when one person changes so much he or she becomes almost unrecognizable to the other?” A friend of mine says that my main strength as a writer is fights between lovers.

Are there other books or other writers whose work has been important to you in writing All I Love and Know?

I reread Phillip Roth’s The Counterlife a few times, because it seems to me to be the ur-text for Americans’ relations to Israel. He would seem like an unlikely model for a lesbian Jewish writer, and my response to this novel is equal parts irritation and awe. The Counterlife is literally about American Jewish masculinity and Israel–it opens with impotence and ends with circumcision. It has a blazing portrait of a messianic settler. It rages about both American Jewish complacency and anti-Semitism. When I worry that my novel will alienate some Jewish audiences, I go back to The Counterlife and think: now that’s how you offend the Jews.

Adina Hoffman’s My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness, about the Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali, had a big impact on me. It was the first time I’d read an actual depiction of the expulsion of Palestinians from their villages in 1948, and it humanized Palestinian villagers for me. They had no coherent leadership, and they related to the news that the Zionists were conquering towns with a combination of mordant humor and deep pessimism.

And, perhaps strangely, because my novel is totally unrelated to it, Colm Tóibín’s The Master, one of my favorite novels of all time, for the quiet and resonant way it describes the writer’s life. It’s a novel that helps balance me, emotionally and creatively.

Is there anything else you would really like to say to the readers of Lambda Literary Review?

I’m interested in the responses of gay men to the novel. My native informants helped me out with various things, like what music gay men were listening to in 2003. They had strong and sometimes uncomfortable (uncomfortable, that is, to me) responses to elements of the novel, especially to one of the climactic moments.

I also hope that readers of Crybaby Butch will find and enjoy this book. They were the smartest, most engaged readership I could have asked for.

 

Photo Credit: Samuel Masinter
Categories: Book News, LGBTQ

In New Orleans, Neighbors are Rallying to Stand By Their Doctor

Feminist Majority Foundation - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 4:11pm

I was really touched this weekend.

support-our-neighbor

Anti-abortion extremist group Operation Rescue/Operation Save America (OSA) launched a week-long siege against doctors and reproductive health clinics in Louisiana on Saturday, protesting not only outside of clinics but also outside a doctor’s private home. While police stood by as protesters harassed and trespassed onto the doctor’s property, a group of twenty or so of the doctor’s neighbors came together to stand up for reproductive rights and to support the doctor.

As a Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) National Campus Organizer, I had the pleasure of partnering with the New Orleans Abortion Fund to train volunteers, student leaders, and community members to support their local abortion clinics and providers. We organized the training in preparation for the OSA siege which follows Louisiana state lawmakers’ recent passage of new restrictive measures that, if allowed to go into effect, may force the closures of most clinics in New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana. Plus, the local Catholic Bishop is waging a campaign to stop the construction of a new Planned Parenthood facility in New Orleans, boycotting any contractors who work on the new building.

The week’s activities have just started, but already OSA has protested outside of a local abortion clinic, threatening the safety and privacy of clinic staff and patients. They interrupted a Unitarian Universalist Sunday church service, going inside to disrupt. The worst is that they even protested an abortion doctor’s private residence. On all occasions, they stood outside yelling and harassing patients, neighbors, and bystanders.

Together with the FMF National Clinic Access Project Director, I have been on the ground in New Orleans, and on Saturday, I was present when OSA went to the doctor’s residence. Together with volunteers, we positioned ourselves at the doctor’s home, not only to show support as observers, but also to make sure she wasn’t alone. It was a quiet, rainy day when all of a sudden, Operation Save America took over the doctor’s neighborhood, holding up gruesome graphic posters and arrowed signs pointing to the doctor’s home with her name. They had loudspeakers and passed out flyers with the doctor’s picture and information. They yelled at neighbors as they were trying to pass by on sidewalks, as well as those driving by.

Some of the protesters even went as far as going onto the doctor’s porch and taking pictures, as though her private home was a visit to a theme park. It was awful to see OSA’s impact on the neighborhood. Young children who were playing outside and neighbors who were walking their dogs scurried into their homes out of fear. About fifty members of Operation Save America stood outside of the doctor’s home yelling for her to come out, calling her names, and urging her to stop providing abortions. Although police were present, they did nothing to intervene.

But then something amazing happened. After a while, neighbors started to come out and join me and the volunteers. They came out to thank us for providing a peaceful pro-choice presence and also to support the doctor. Some came to thank the doctor, some made posters, and some just stood with us in solidarity. They were all appalled at the Operation Save America activities.

clinic-escorts!

“It’s an encroachment on my right as a neighbor. I’ve spoken to the police here. I feel like they have more of a right than I do as someone who lives here to spout all of this hatred whereas I’m supposed to just roll over and take it,” said Elizabeth, one of the doctor’s neighbors. Elizabeth was standing outside of her front yard enjoying a private conversation with her mother when she was interrupted and harassed by one of the OSA protesters.

She and about twenty of her neighbors and community members joined us as we stood not only for the right to choose but also in support of a doctor who has given most of her life’s work to helping her community. I’ve had a chance to meet this doctor and she is an amazing person with a caring heart, who does a job that is desperately needed. It was a beautiful thing to see her neighbors come out in support. I was truly moved.

New Orleans is a “live-and-let-live” city. It’s a big city but also a small town, and from this past weekend, I can see what an awesome community it is. To this day I stand by the saying that public policy does not reflect lived reality. Restrictive legislation has been enacted in Louisiana that will close most of their abortion clinics, leaving the majority of Louisiana, with little to no access. Contrary to what they would like us to believe, the people of New Orleans are pro-choice and stand by reproductive justice, and they stand by their doctor.

Categories: Feminist

Call For Submissions: Glitterwolf Magazine

Lambda Literary - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 3:52pm

With the release of Issue Six of Glitterwolf Magazine, submissions for Issue Seven are now open. We are seeking fiction, poetry, art and photography from LGBT contributors, with an open theme. We’re looking for something that steps out of the well-trod lines of fiction and poetry, and makes us take notice.

We’re also looking for submissions of six word stories — tell a story using only six words, and send it in. The best will be published, and the top three will also receive a copy of the Collected Glitterwolf Issues 4-6.

More details at www.glitterwolf.com.

Submissions to glitterwolfmagazine@gmail.com. Deadline October 31st.

Categories: Book News, LGBTQ

How Scientists Created A Typhus Vaccine In A 'Fantastic Laboratory'

NPR Books - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 3:33pm

Arthur Allen's new book, The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl, describes how a WWII scientist in Poland smuggled the typhus vaccine to Jews — while his team made a weakened version for the Nazis.

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Categories: Book News

How Big of a Problem is Harassment at Comic Conventions? Very Big.

Bitch Media - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 3:27pm

cosplayers at SDCC in 2012, with text added that 59 percent of comics fans and professionals feel that harassment is a problem

Cosplayers at San Diego Comic-Con in 2012. Original photo by Pat Loika, via Creative Commons.

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Categories: Feminist

Pro-Choice Activists Stand Up for Abortion Providers in New Orleans

Ms. Blog - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 2:44pm

NOLA NeighborhoodAbortion providers in Louisiana are getting hit from all sides this summer. First, Louisiana state lawmakers passed restrictive legislation that, if allowed to go into effect, may force the closures of most clinics in the state. Then, the local Catholic Bishop in New Orleans waged an ongoing campaign to stop the construction of a new Planned Parenthood facility, boycotting any contractors who plan to work on the building. And on Saturday, anti-abortion extremist group Operation Save America (OSA) began protesting outside of abortion clinics and doctors’ homes in New Orleans and will continue their actions throughout the week.

I’m here in New Orleans with volunteers and staff from the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Clinic Access Project (NCAP)—who came to the Big Easy to train volunteer student leaders and community members in ways they can support their local abortion clinics and providers—and witnessed firsthand how Operation Save America is wreaking havoc on communities. This weekend, activists took over an abortion doctor’s neighborhood and held up gruesome, graphic posters along with arrow signs pointing to the doctor’s home. They shouted through loud speakers and passed out flyers with the doctor’s picture and contact information, and yelled at neighbors as they were trying to drive through the area or pass by on the sidewalks. Some of the protestors even went as far as stepping onto the doctor’s porch to take pictures of her home as if it was a theme park.

It was awful to see OSA’s impact on the neighborhood. Young children who were playing outside and families who were walking their dogs scurried into their homes out of fear. And although police were present, nothing could be done the prevent the mob-like protest. I was among a group of volunteers from the New Orleans Abortion Fund and NCAP who positioned ourselves outside the doctor’s home to not only show support as observers but also to make sure she wasn’t alone.

After a while, neighbors started to come out and join me and the volunteers. They thanked us for providing a peaceful pro-choice presence and supporting the doctor. Some came to thank the doctor, some made posters and some just stood with us in solidarity. They were all appalled at the OSA activities.

Said Elizabeth, one of the doctor’s neighbors,

It’s an encroachment on my right as a neighbor. I’ve spoken to the police here. I feel like they have more of a right than I do as someone who lives here to spout all of this hatred whereas I’m supposed to just roll over and take it.

We’ll be here all week, providing support to doctors and clinics and showing a pro-choice presence. Contrary to what OSA would like everyone to believe, the people of New Orleans are pro-choice and stand by reproductive justice.

Photo courtesy of pro-choice activists in New Orleans.

Categories: Feminist

Canadian Teen Gets Abstinence-Only Education Class Cancelled

Ms. Blog - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 2:40pm

3263698477_d4d25ddb81_oCanadian high school student Emily Dawson has a lot to celebrate this month. She and her mother, Kathy Dawson, filed a human-rights complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission last year after Emily completed a mandatory abstinence-only workshop that slut-shamed students and used scare tactics to enforce abstinence. Two weeks ago, the Edmonton Public School Board announced that Pregnancy Care Centre, the anti-choice, conservative Christian group that hosted the workshops, would not be invited back into Edmonton’s schools.

In 2013, Emily raised concern over the first day’s abstinence lessons and attempted to seek exemption from the second day, but she was told that she had to attend and pass the class in order to graduate. Her mother, a single parent, decided to sit in on the second day and was horrified by what she observed. The woman giving the lectures, Kathy said, ” … really ridiculed single-parent families, she made it sound like they all give birth to juvenile delinquents.”

Even after deciding not to invite the group back, the Edmonton Public School Board superintendent released a troubling statement countering the Dawsons’ claims:

When I became aware of the concerns about this class, I took immediate steps to look into the Pregnancy Care Centre’s presentation on sex ed. I had staff members, one of whom was a registered nurse, attend and observe the presentation unannounced. They found that the presentation met our standards and expectations on every level—information was presented in a scientifically sound way and students were observed to be comfortable in sharing their thoughts and feelings.

That does not match the Dawsons’ descriptions. The Edmonton Journal reported:

The Dawsons’ complaints allege the presenter taught students that 60 percent of boys carry the HPV sexually transmitted infection under their fingernails, that gonorrhea can kill you in three days [and] that girls should dress modestly to avoid inflaming boys.

Additionally, when one of Emily’s lesbian classmates asked about the consequences of engaging in non-heterosexual intercourse, she was told by the woman leading the course:

We’re not here to talk about that.

While the Dawsons’ allegations have not yet been verified, any class that involves, as Emily described, “basically shaming the girls and making them gatekeepers and meanwhile making it sound like the boys [have] no impulse control” clearly should not be required for graduation, or even permitted in schools. While these types of classes are ubiquitous in American schools, there have been several recent cases where students have reported and publicized these classes’ inaccuracies and harmful messages.

For example, a Tennessee high school student made national headlines after recording a school assembly that contained factually incorrect statements about sex. During the hour-long presentation,

[Instructors] told students that all medical textbooks confirm that life begins at conception, there’s a new STD spreading around the country that’s worse than AIDS, contracting STDs will leave women infertile and having sexual relations with eight different partners is the equivalent of drinking a whole classroom’s spit.

Additionally, a high school student in West Virginia filed an injunction against her principal last year for hosting a sex-shaming and (again) factually incorrect abstinence assembly. The story went viral after it was revealed that the principal threatened to call the student’s intended college, Wellesley, to try and convince them to withdraw their offer of admission. In response, Wellesley tweeted that they were excited to welcome the student.

Perhaps the actions of Emily Dawson and these American students signal a new student-led movement against ignorant and inaccurate sex education. It’s high time for only the real facts of life to be taught in schools.

Photo courtesy of hieu via Creative Commons 2.0

IMG_1262

 

 

Simone Lieban Levine is a rising junior at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and an intern for Ms.

Categories: Feminist

On Our Radar: Feminist News Roundup

Bitch Media - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 2:11pm

on our radar

Here's all the feminist news on our radar today:

• Janet Mock is joining the staff of Marie Clare as a contributing editor—she says she will not "just be thrown into a corner as the trans correspondent." [Poynter] 

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Categories: Feminist

Despite Disability, One Mountain Climber Reflects On His Advantages

NPR Books - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 2:02pm

Spencer West was born with a genetic disorder that led to both his legs being amputated. West tells host Michel Martin about how he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro using just his hands and arms.

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Categories: Book News

Unbreakable or The Problem with Praising Blackgirl Strength

The Crunk Feminist Collective - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:43pm

jada

It has been almost three years since we learned the name Amber Cole, a fourteen year old blackgirl who was secretly recorded while performing fellatio on a former boyfriend.  Images and taunts spread quickly as the video went viral and commentary about Amber’s agency, privacy and sexuality sparked controversy across the interwebs.  There was slut-shaming, blaming, and judgment of Amber and her family (especially her mother) with little mention of the three boys involved (the boy receiving oral sex, the boy recording it on his phone, and a third who watched in the background).  In my gender class we discussed Amber with empathy and understanding, attempting through our closed door discussion to make sense of the thoughtless and cowardly ways people were vilifying her, defending the boys involved, and seeking a scapegoat.  There were several claims in online discussions that Amber should have “known better,” that she was just “being grown,” and “where was her mama at?”  It seemed inconceivable to consider Amber’s vulnerability, not only as an impressionable young woman, but seemingly because she was a young black woman.  My class discussed the racial implications of Amber’s situation and how her race (alongside her sex and age) colored her as anything but a victim, regardless of the laws of consent (for sexual engagement and being filmed).  We opined that perhaps if Amber were a white girl there would have been more sympathy, less visibility.  Stereotypes of blackgirl hypersexuality made Amber fair game, it seemed, and despite possible hurt feelings and embarrassment, she would “get over it.”  She was black so she was strong, right?  The pseudo-remedy for being bullied, shamed, and mocked in real time and online (to the extent of being included in the Urban Dictionary) was changing schools and a short lived twitter campaign.  Not so much.  The scars left from the trauma she experienced by being betrayed and parodied had to leave her broken and emotionally distressed, strength be damned.

It has been about three weeks since we learned the name of another blackgirl whose image and identity has been hypersexualized and ridiculed online.  Jada is a 16 year old rape victim who was drugged and sexually assaulted at a party.  Within days graphic images of her before and after her assault went viral on social media with memes and videos being made mocking her unconscious body.  In a brave and admirable response to being bullied Jada, with the support and encouragement of her mother, has used social media and television interviews to speak out against her attack, her alleged rapist (who continues to mock her online), and the countless cowards participating in attempts to demean her and her character.  Jada has said, “There’s no point in hiding. Everybody has already seen my face and my body, but that’s not what I am and who I am.”  Jada is amazingly resilient and initially I was impressed with how seemingly effortlessly she could recount her rape without emotion during interviews.  But then I thought about myself at sixteen.

While I join others in supporting and celebrating Jada’s bravery I worry that being proud of her stoicism is an improper response to the trauma she has experienced.  Jada is 16 years old and not only has she been raped, but publicly exposed, outed, mocked, teased and threatened.  Rape victims are usually afforded privacy and time in which to process the trauma.  Jada, however, has been put in a public spotlight and interrogated about an event with consequences that far exceed the immediate backlash and immaturity of peers. Perhaps instead of being proud of her for being strong we should let her be visibly devastated, distraught, shocked, and inconsolable.  Maybe instead of being impressed that blackgirls can withstand so much suffering and become role models for strength, we should be concerned about their emotional wellness, their vulnerability, their humanity.

I am not always strong.  When I hurt, I cry.  I sob deeply and from my belly releasing heartbreaking wails and screams until I feel more empty than sad.  There is nothing wrong with feeling pain and expressing it but society doesn’t let black victims mourn, society doesn’t want black people to feel.  We are made to believe that our feelings are dangerous so we suppress them.  We are told, repeatedly, even amongst ourselves that we are nonfragile so we think we must live up to those expectations.

Truth is, black folk feel implicated by other black folk and strength is something we feel we can be proud of.  A lot of the backlash against Amber Cole by the black community was shrouded in respectability politics and fear that her sexuality and participation in a public sex act might blemish an already sullied and stereotypic image of blackgirlness.  With Jada (and her mother), her strength and refusal to be shamed and silenced as a rape victim is seen as heroic and commendable (and don’t get me wrong, it is, but I believe that part of the reason we “need” her to be strong is because it reflects the overall strength of black women).

Remember Sybrina Fulton's "strength?"  Even on the stand it was her stoicism, not her tears, that seemed to demonstrate her strength.

Remember Sybrina Fulton’s “strength?” Even on the stand it was her stoicism, not her tears, that seemed to demonstrate her strength.

The problem with blackgirl strength is that it never lets up.  Blackgirls don’t have the luxury of a time out or a break to breathe.  The problem with blackgirl strength is that our very lives are at stake and if we don’t learn to mask our pain we won’t know how to survive.  The problem with blackgirl strength is that practice makes perfect and after while we have that strength, no pain, never let ‘em see you sweat ish down pat.  The problem with blackgirl strength is that it doesn’t offer protection.  The problem with blackgirl strength is that nobody ever tells us we don’t have to be strong and we don’t know how not to be. That is a problem.

Blackgirls become strongblackwomen, whether they want to or not.  That is a problem.

Anger is permissible as long as it is tempered with strength, but black women cannot afford to be blue. That is a problem.

No matter what happens to them, blackgirls are taught they can “take it.”

That is a problem.

Mistreatment, abuse and misogyny are so commonplace it is common place.

That is a problem.

There has to be a way to protect our Jadas, our Ambers and ourselves without shaming and silencing our visceral responses to trauma.   There has to be a way to be okay without having to be so damn strong.  We have to make room for blackgirl emotional fluidity.  We can raise a fist in the air with tears in our eyes and still be powerful.

Categories: Feminist

Executive Order Banning LGBT Discrimination in the Workplace Makes No Religious Exemptions

Feminist Majority Foundation - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 12:00pm

The President yesterday signed a long-awaited executive order barring workplace discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.

“For more than two centuries, we have strived, often at great cost, to form ‘a more perfect union’ – to make sure that ‘we, the people’ applies to all the people,” President Obama remarked before signing the order. “Many of us are only here because others fought to secure rights and opportunities for us. And we’ve got a responsibility to do the same for future generations. We’ve got an obligation to make sure that the country we love remains a place where no matter who you are, or what you look like, or where you come from, or how you started out, or what your last name is, or who you love – no matter what, you can make it in this country.”

The President’s order does not itself provide a religious exemption for federal contractors, an issue that became even more critical following the US Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. In that case, the Court cited an accommodation to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage benefit – made to religiously affiliated non-profits – in deciding that closely held for-profit corporations should not be required to cover contraceptives if the owners had religious objections. The federal government, however, already allows religiously affiliated federal contractors to favor hiring employees of their religion.

The executive order will apply to roughly 28 million workers – one-fifth of the U.S. workforce, according to Politico - but it does not reach all employers nationwide. The executive order applies only to the federal government and employees of federal contractors. The federal government is already prohibited from discriminating based on sexual orientation, but the order will extend those protections to transgender workers and will go into effect immediately. With respect to federal contractors, the Department of Labor will have 90 days to prepare regulations.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would end employment-based discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity for workers outside of the federal government and for non-federal contract employees. ENDA passed in the Senate in November but remains stalled in the House. Following the Hobby Lobby decision, however, many leading LGBT-rights groups withdrew their support for ENDA as the legislation includes broad religious exemptions that many groups fear would unravel other workplace gains.

Media Resources: The White House 7/21/14; Huffington Post 7/21/14; Politico 7/21/14; Feminist Newswire 7/9/14, 6/17/14; GPO 12/16/02

 

Categories: Feminist
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