Gender & Sexuality

Sheryl Sandberg’s Can-Do Feminism

AP Photo/Gregory Bull

In 1956, when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg entered Harvard Law School, her class of more than 500 students included nine women and one black man. Erwin Griswold, the school’s dean, summoned the nine women and asked each to answer a question: How could she justify taking a place that would otherwise have gone to a man?

Life at the Bottom

Flickr/Sport Suburban

The release of 2012 minimum-wage data last Wednesday—which shows that the number of minimum wage workers has fallen but is still higher than any period since 1998—has underscored the importance of making good on Obama’s pledge of raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour. As many have pointed out, women stand to benefit disproportionately from the increase: Two-thirds of the country’s roughly 1.6 million minimum-wage workers are women.

Rand Paul's Blinkered Libertarianism

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Even if you disagree with Senator Rand Paul's broader politics, there's something inspiring about a politician willing to speak at length—and at some discomfort—for what he believes in. That's even more true when you consider the subject—civil liberties. Paul joins many other civil libertarians in his disdain for targeted killings, the administration's drone policy, and its general approach to due process.

Yet Another Thing Guns Can't Solve

Flickr/ Texas Lightbox

The GOP is worried about women’s safety on campus. Or at least that’s what they’d have you believe of late, howling in protest at Colorado state Democratic representative Joe Salazar’s clumsy remarks about callboxes, and calling out the University of Colorado for teaching young women to vomit, pee, or tell an assailant they have their period in order to avoid rape

Victory for the Violence Against Women Act

Phil Roeder / Flickr

Early this morning, the House of Representatives passed the Senate's version of the Violence Against Women Act, which includes the protections for LGBT victims, immigrants, and Native Americans that House Republicans rejected at the end of last year. As Amanda Marcotte writes, "their ongoing resistance to this popular legislation was starting to make them look like monsters," and so they caved.

Leaning Out—of This Fight

AP Photo/Keystone, Laurent Gillieron, File

I am leaning in just a little as I write this. OK, I’m not. But I am feeling a little sick as I ponder the next unpleasant installment of the “mommy wars” that’s hurtling toward us.

Why Old Men Love Being Naked in the Locker Room

Why are these men smiling? (Flickr/Boston Public Library)

What is it with old men in the locker room? If you're a man, and you've been to a gym, or the Y, or the JCC, you know what I'm talking about. In locker rooms, there's a nearly straight-line correlation between a gentleman's age and the time he enjoys spending chatting with other people, or merely walking about, with his junk on display for all to see. Not long ago I was in a locker room and saw two men talking, one of whom was a 60-ish fellow standing completely naked, holding forth on something or other. I left, worked out, and came back 45 minutes later to find the guy still standing there in the altogether; the only thing that had changed was that his previous conversation partner had managed to slip away, and he was now having an animated discussion with someone else. I don't know whether this is a particularly American phenomenon or it's world-wide, but it's been true in every multi-age locker room I've ever visited, and apparently I'm not the only one who has noticed. Here's Max Ross, writing in the New York Times:

Oscar-Worthy Outrage

Conservatives pretend to care about rape on campus. It's not convincing.

If you’ve been tuning into the right-wing media this week, you might be startled to discover a seeming concern about preventing rape. But don’t get too excited: It’s nothing but a gambit to persuade the public on issues of gun safety. It all started in Colorado, where the legislature is debating whether to ban concealed weapons on college campuses One of the favorite arguments offered by gun advocates for concealed carry on campus is that arming college women prevents rape. On the floor of the state House, Democratic representative Joe Salazar addressed this claim:

Stopping Domestic Violence: A Radical Feminist Idea?

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Of all the strange choices made by the GOP in recent years, the sudden opposition to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is among the most confusing. The act had long counted on bipartisan support for its reauthorization every TK years—George W. Bush signed it without incident in 2005—but now Republicans in the House seem intent on killing it. Republicans haven’t suddenly morphed into evil comic-book villains who openly support rape and wife-beating, so what gives?

A Valentine's Day Vote for Same-Sex Marriage

Flickr/Shira Golding

For Illinois's same-sex couples wishing to wed, the Valentine's Day candy should be extra sweet. The state senate is expected to vote on a same-sex marriage bill today. “This is an exciting time to be a gay-rights lawyer,” Camilla Taylor, counsel for Lamdba Legal, told me.

Taylor has good reason to be excited. With a Democratic supermajority, just about everyone expects the chamber will pass the measure. Then the bill will go to the House, where the leadership is also supportive.

Crowdsourcing Sexual-Assault Prevention

Egypt's HarassMap and its efforts to end sexual violence

AP Images

Two years after Mohamed Bouazizi lit himself on fire in an act of protest that sparked revolutions across the Middle East, the Arab Spring smolders with grief and a lingering sense of lost purpose. For Egyptians, their revolution’s anniversary is both a joyful remembrance and a haunting torment, a reminder that while one Pharaoh was toppled another still reigns. 

What Will It Take to Stop Violence Against Women?

Flickr/ Donovan Shortey

My lord, it’s a privilege opining in this spot week after week. But periodically I get a hankering to dig deeply into meaty and underreported issues, so that I can return with something more informed to say. In collaboration with broadcast journalist Maria Hinojosa’s The Futuro Media Group, we’ve landed a seed grant to do just that. I’ll return to blogging in April. 

Going Back Too Soon

Without pay, many new parents can’t take the time off granted them by the FMLA.

AP Photo/Greg Gibson

Perla Saenz went back sore and exhausted just four weeks after giving birth—and two weeks after the incision from her C-section reopened. (She had heard her older child cough in the night and instinctively tried to pick him up, forgetting for a moment her doctor’s warning against lifting anything heavier than ten pounds.) Weak and sometimes feverish, she often found herself clutching the counter for support.

A Contraception Compromise

Stacy Lynn Baum / Flickr

Last year, as part of implementation for the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration rolled out a rule on contraception that inspired a huge backlash from religious conservatives and began the “war on women” fight that extended through the presidential campaign. In short, Health and Human Services required all employers to include contraception in health insurance plans, without extra charge. Religious institutions could receive an exemption as long as they met particular requirements: Said organizations had to be nonprofits who mainly employed co-religionists, and had “the inculcation of religious values” as their primary purpose.

The Geography of Abortion Access

Mapping the national decline in abortion providers

Flickr/womenscampaignforum

As a collective unit, Americans are pretty keen on the civics-class idea that life in the 6,106,012 square miles of God’s green earth that is the USA is more or less equitable for the 313,847,465 people who have hunkered down to live on the craggy coasts, fruited plains, and purple mountains filled with majesty. We’ve got proportional representation in Congress, a legal system that presumes innocence before guilt, and the ability to walk into any 7-Eleven to get a Slurpee and slice of pizza that will cost you $4 and a year of your life, which has to say something about the level playing field we’ve got going, right?

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