Tonight’s agenda feels torn: do the readings for my First Assist course, catch up on Sherlock before the latest episode airs, find a good deal for our winter vacation, or watch the final playoffs before the Super Bowl. Turns out that someone all three will happen! Hope you’re finding joy in however your weekend finalizes, before the next week begins!
Transgender People Are Paying The Price For The Media’s Willful Ignorance – Saeed Jones at BuzzFeed
“…For those who care about the way transgender people are covered in the media — to say nothing of transgender people themselves who bear the brunt of the blow — it has been a difficult few weeks. “A chill ran down my spine” is how Caleb Hannan, a Grantland contributor, describes the moment he realized that the subject of his story was a transwoman. In the article, Hannan doesn’t get a “chill” later when the woman, an inventor and entrepreneur, begs him not to out her, stating “you’re about to commit a hate crime.”
After describing how the subject of his story swallowed pills, put a bag over her head and died on her kitchen floor — a suicide some have suggested came as a result of Hannan’s own reporting, though she did not leave a note so we will likely never know for sure — the writer’s next sentence is about himself: “Writing a eulogy for a person who by all accounts despised you is an odd experience.”
To review, a person was outed as transgender against her will and pushed to the breaking point and somehow not only a writer but at least one editor decided this was a story that should be published. This is no eulogy.
“The whole thing about passing is about survival,” actress Laverne Cox told me recently. “Being people able to walk down the street and not have strangers recognize you as trans is about survival. We become targets for violence.”
The Grantland article, published on Jan. 15, sparked an understandably heated debate among readers, journalists, and activists about ethics, the politics of outing, and the media’s habit of treating transgender people as curiosities rather than human beings. Some have argued that Grantland, a sports and pop culture website owned by ESPN, can hardly be expected to exist as a standard bearer for coverage of LGBT issues.
But that’s no excuse, because this is ignorance that kills. “It is a state of emergency for far too many trans people in this country,” Cox, best known for her role as Sophia on Orange Is The New Black, wrote in a Tumblr post last week. That remark came a few days after a segment on Katie Couric’s daytime talk show in which the veteran broadcast journalist asked Cox and Carmen Carrera, another trans woman, “Your private parts are different now, aren’t they?”
The following Sunday, when Jared Leto received the Golden Globe for his performance as Rayon, a trans woman living through the AIDS plague in Dallas Buyers Club, the actor started his acceptance speech by reviewing the sacrifices he had made for the role; mainly, enduring the rigors of body waxing. How thoughtful of Leto to thank the “Rayons of the world” in passing just as he was walking away from the podium.
A week later in Minnesota, CeCe McDonald, a 23-year-old trans woman who was sentenced to 41 months in a men’s prison facility for stabbing a man with a pair of scissors from her purse during a hate crime, was released nearly a year early. When the story was covered by her hometown paper, the Minneapolis’ Star Tribune, thearticle put McDonald’s first name in scare quotes and used her birth name. When reporter Paul Walsh wasn’t referring to McDonald as a man, he opted for “admitted killer.”…”
It Is Expensive to Be Poor – Barbara Ehrenreich at The Atlantic
“…For most women in poverty, in both good times and bad, the shortage of money arises largely from inadequate wages. When I worked on my book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, I took jobs as a waitress, nursing-home aide, hotel housekeeper, Wal-Mart associate, and a maid with a house-cleaning service. I did not choose these jobs because they were low-paying. I chose them because these are the entry-level jobs most readily available to women.
What I discovered is that in many ways, these jobs are a trap: They pay so little that you cannot accumulate even a couple of hundred dollars to help you make the transition to a better-paying job. They often give you no control over your work schedule, making it impossible to arrange for child care or take a second job. And in many of these jobs, even young women soon begin to experience the physical deterioration—especially knee and back problems—that can bring a painful end to their work life.
I was also dismayed to find that in some ways, it is actually more expensive to be poor than not poor. If you can’t afford the first month’s rent and security deposit you need in order to rent an apartment, you may get stuck in an overpriced residential motel. If you don’t have a kitchen or even a refrigerator and microwave, you will find yourself falling back on convenience store food, which—in addition to its nutritional deficits—is also alarmingly overpriced. If you need a loan, as most poor people eventually do, you will end up paying an interest rate many times more than what a more affluent borrower would be charged. To be poor—especially with children to support and care for—is a perpetual high-wire act.
Most private-sector employers offer no sick days, and many will fire a person who misses a day of work, even to stay home with a sick child. A nonfunctioning car can also mean lost pay and sudden expenses. A broken headlight invites a ticket, plus a fine greater than the cost of a new headlight, and possible court costs. If a creditor decides to get nasty, a court summons may be issued, often leading to an arrest warrant. No amount of training in financial literacy can prepare someone for such exigencies—or make up for an income that is impossibly low to start with. Instead of treating low-wage mothers as the struggling heroines they are, our political culture still tends to view them as miscreants and contributors to the “cycle of poverty.”…”
Here’s Where Your Living Will Can Be Ignored When You’re A Pregnant Woman – Katy Hall at Huffington Post
“…Marlise Munoz, a 33-year-old Texas woman, was left brain-dead after she collapsed in November and her family planned to honor her living will and have her removed from life support, according to a recent New York Times story. Today she remains kept alive by machines in the hospital because when she collapsed she was 14 weeks pregnant — not far enough along to have prevented her from getting an abortion under different circumstances, but putting her in a category where doctors must keep her alive until they decide whether she might be able to carry the fetus to term. Texas is one of a dozen states where any stage of pregnancy automatically invalidates advance directives, including living wills.
Why Marriage Won’t Solve Poverty – Michelle Goldberg at The Nation
“…We’re lucky that “A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink,” the rich and fascinating new report by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress, is appearing just as conservatives are once again pushing marriage as a panacea for poverty.
In recent days, several Republicans have rediscovered George W. Bush–style compassionate conservatism, acknowledging poverty as a problem while promoting traditional values as the solution. “The truth is, the greatest tool to lift children and families from poverty is one that decreases the probability of child poverty by 82 percent,” Senator Marco Rubio said in a much-hyped speech last week. “But it isn’t a government spending program. It’s called marriage.” On Sunday, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer made a similar case in a Wall Street Journal piece titled, “How to Fight Income Inequality: Get Married.” Cleverly hijacking gay rights language to talk about poor people’s failure to wed, he wrote, “Marriage inequality is a substantial reason why income inequality exists.”
On one hand, given recent right-wing attacks on the poor as overindulged layabouts, there’s progress in the fact that some conservatives are now talking about poverty as a crisis. That does not mean, however, that marriage promotion is a serious solution, for reasons that the new “Women’s Nation” report makes clear.
Shriver and CAP deserve enormous credit for putting “A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back From the Brink” together. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen unprecedented attention to issues around women, work and power. Ann Marie Slaughter’s 2012 Atlantic article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” set a readership record for the magazine. Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” was a number-one bestseller. Everyone from my old boss Tina Brown to Politico to Gucci is promoting women’s empowerment. But these efforts have often sidelined the needs of the majority of American working women, focusing either on elites shattering glass ceilings or on heroic women in the developing world. The new “Women’s Nation” report, studded with essays by superstars like Beyoncé and LeBron James as well as Slaughter, Sandberg, Barbara Ehrenreich and Stephanie Coontz, represents an effort to channel this momentum toward American women living in poverty or clinging to the lowest rungs of the middle class…”
Supreme Court Considers Legality Of Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones – Nina Totenberg at NPR
“…Law enforcement authorities and clinic personnel paint a different picture. They say the situation outside the clinic was frequently chaotic, with anti-abortion and pro-abortion rights demonstrators often toe to toe at the entrance, a scene one volunteer who helped escort patients into the clinic likened to linebackers on the 1-yard line.
“On a day-to-day basis there was an issue of safety, of people trying to get in the clinic being approached” and “physically harassed,” says Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. At clinics outside Boston, she says, demonstrators routinely stuck literature through car windows as they approached, thus endangering both those in the car and the demonstrators themselves.
Lawyer Rienzi counters that “violence and obstruction and intimidation and harassment are already illegal,” and that “the only new thing this law gets is the peaceful speech.”
Not so, asserts Planned Parenthood’s Walz. The 35-foot buffer zone is a reasonable time, place and manner regulation of speech — akin to regulating how loud you can play music at night. “Nothing else in our 30-year history has worked,” she adds.
Prosecuting people after they’ve violated criminal statutes doesn’t solve anything, Walz says. “What you want to do,” she says, “is create an environment where people can get health care when they need it, when they have an appointment, rather than have them leave because they’re afraid or blocked from getting in the door, and then seeking a remedy.” At that point, “they’ve been deprived of access to health care.”…”
Should Some Teen Moms Be Exploited on Reality TV to Prevent Others From Having Babies? – Martha Kempner at RH Reality Check
“…A paper recently released by economists at the University of Maryland and Wellesley College came to the startling conclusion that MTV’s 16 and Pregnant franchise is responsible for almost 6 percent of the recent declines in teen births in the United States.
The shows—which include
16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom—have beencontroversial from day one. Some have argued that the franchise has provided today’s teens with an accurate depiction of young parenthood, while others suggest that making reality show stars out of pregnant and parenting teens glamorizes their situations and sets a dangerous example, since most 16-year-olds who get pregnant do not end up on the cover of People magazine.
As someone who has been critical of the show since its early days, I admit that I am having a tough time swallowing the idea that it has been a force for good.
MTV launched the franchise in 2009 with 16 and Pregnant, which it describes as an “hourlong documentary series [that] focuses on the issue of teen pregnancy, with each episode detailing the wide variety of challenges—marriage, adoption, finances, gossip and graduating high school among them—a pregnant teenager faces while still coming of age.” The show and its follow-up Where Are They Now? specials were so successful that MTV created a spin-off called Teen Mom, which follows some of the girls into their first years of motherhood…”
Rape Culture is Everywhere – Watch Your Favorite Sitcoms Prove it – Elizabeth Plank at PolicyMic
“…“Rape is as American as apple pie — until we own that, nothing will change.” — Jessica Valenti
The easiest way to describe rape culture is by comparing it to nasty gum stuck under your shoe: You don’t always see it, but you know it’s always there. It can manifest itself in horrifyingly evident ways, like during the coverage of the Steubenville trial, but also in more subtle ways that are no less harmful. Covert rape culture is just as damaging as overt rape culture. In fact, it’s our inability to recognize rape culture that compounds its effect. As Walter Moseley and Rae Gomes point out in at the Nation, “Rape culture exists because we don’t believe it does.” Ignorance isn’t bliss; when it comes to rape culture, the most menacing beast is the one we don’t see.
Among the most common places rape culture hides is in comedy. Rape jokes may seem innocuous, but when they’re told over and over again on mainstream television, there’s nothing benign about them.
Take a look at this jaw-dropping video, and you be the judge…”
Breastfeeding in church? Pope says yes – Daniel Burke at CNN
“…Children’s voices, even when crying, make “the most beautiful choir of all,” Francis said during a service in which he baptized 32 children.
“Some will cry because they are uncomfortable or because they are hungry,” the Pope said. “If they are hungry, mothers, let them eat, no worries, because here, they are the main focus.”
The Sistine Chapel, with its famous frescoes by Michelangelo, is the official chapel of the Apostolic Palace, traditionally the papal residence. Francis, though, lives in the Vatican guesthouse, Casa Santa Marta, saying it better suits his low-key style.
The Pope’s remarks echo statements he made to an Italian newspaper in December in which he tied breastfeeding to the problem of global hunger.
At a recent General Audience – or public appearance by the Pope – a young mother sat behind a screen with her crying infant, Francis told La Stampa.
“I said to her: ‘Madam, I think the child’s hungry. … Please give it something to eat!’ ” the Pope said.
“She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing,” he continued. “I wish to say the same to humanity: Give people something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child; we have enough food in the world to feed everyone.”
Emer McCarthy, a journalist at Vatican Radio, told Catholic News Service that she breastfed her daughter discreetly during Sunday’s baptism ceremony. “Who would have thought the Pope would be this great proponent?” she said…”