- Honoring the Heroes: This Veteran’s Day let’s do more than lip-service and half-hearted thanks. Let’s work to help women in the military gain access to abortions through the Sheehan Amendment, which would give them the same access as federal employees. One in three military women have been sexually assaulted (compared with one in six civilian women) and the incidence of unintended pregnancy (regardless of whether it was from sexual assault or not) is higher for military women. These are women who are putting their life on the line for duty and country. We owe it to them to provide them with full access to all forms of legal health care, no matter the circumstances. (And, by the way, we owe them safety from sexual assault, but that’s a discussion for another time.)
- Just can’t get enough: Because we never tire of new ways to map progress across our great country, check out this map and round-up by the ACLU of a lot of wins for civil rights (and a few losses) around the nation. (My one complaint? It’s not really a US map if you leave off Alaska and Hawaii.)
- Bi-Congressional: Not only did America get its first openly lesbian senator in last week’s election, we also got our very first openly bisexual member of either the House or Senate! We’re representin’ in Congress, baby!
Not sexy: Victoria’s Secret is on a roll this year with not one but at least two different events showcasing the misappropriation and hyper-sexualization of non-white cultures. First we had the “geisha” outfit and now we find out that at their annual winter fashion show (taped for television), they sent a model down the runway wearing a war bonnet. This is repugnant. For a company that already has a shaky track record (remember those fair trade cotton undies that were, in fact, made with cotton picked by abused African children?)… These campaigns and events that try to appropriate cultural motifs without any context and which, in fact, trivialize and corrupt them is not just morally wrong, it’s bad business. I plan to vote with my dollars. I hope you will, too.
- A prescription for shame: It turns out that all those times you left the doctor’s office feeling shamed about being fat, you were not imagining that. It not only really happened, but it’s happening to overweight patients — particularly women — all the time! A new study says that despite all their fancy training, doctors harbor the same cultural biases against fat people as regular, non-doctor, fat-shaming people. As a person whose weight has fluctuated with some lows and a lot of highs, I known from experience how downright horrible this can feel. I was once reduced to tears wearing one of those horrible paper gowns at the gynecologist after she refused to write me a prescription for birth control because I was too fat. This happened while I was dealing with a family member dying from terminal cancer. I told her that, even. (PS: An unplanned pregnancy during a family medical crisis, not ideal, doc!) At that same time I was also training for my second 5K (yes, fat people run!) and had just lost 40 pounds. I told her that. She put her hand on my knee and told me to try Weight Watchers. I got dressed, walked out of there, and never went back. (And I got my bc from my totally great general practitioner, thanks.)
- Better than cookies: The Girl Scouts is not only a great youth organization because they have an inclusive LGBTQ policy (unlike some organizations we know), but being a Girl Scout could lead to big successes in life. It turns out that 60 percent of the women in Congress — House and Senate — were in the youth program. Considering only about eight percent of the general female population has ever been a Girl Scout, this is pretty significant news. I admit, I was a Girl Scout and loved it. Not only did it provide me with experiences I would never have had otherwise — I have made fire with sticks and camped under the stars on a coastal Alaskan beach to dig clams at dawn — but it was a welcoming and safe respite from a difficult home life. We are always asking the question why don’t more women run for office? But perhaps we should be training our eyes to the younger set. Why aren’t we providing more leadership and adventure experiences for girls? The Girl Scouts is one way to do that.