Name It. Change It. Spread the word about ending sexist media coverage of women candidates!


Discovering Name It. Change It. totally made my day! Consider Tweeting and/or Facebooking this campaign - and using your social media voice to demand a fair, equitable landscape for women candidates in the upcoming elections!

About the Project: "Widespread sexism in the media is one of the top problems facing women. A highly toxic media environment persists for women candidates, often negatively affecting their campaigns. The ever-changing media landscape creates an unmonitored echo chamber, often allowing damaging comments to exist without accountability.

We must erase the pervasiveness of sexism against all women candidates — irrespective of political party or level of office — across all media platforms in order to position women to achieve equality in public office. We will not stand by as pundits, radio hosts, bloggers, and journalists damage women's political futures with misogynistic remarks. When you attack one woman, you attack all women."

Sprint-Android's Gender Bending commercial "The Epic Kiss"


I just saw this commercial during an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which was kind of disturbing, but that's another story) - and I LOVED it!  Take the 31 seconds to watch - you won't regret it.  To quote Sprint as they conclude the commercial, "Movies just got more awesome."  <3

Sprint has the "Epic" series of commercials - and this one is "The Epic Kiss" - a girl takes off her glasses and lets down her hair, shaking it lustfully.  Then the boy takes off his glasses and lets down his hair, shaking it lustfully.  Then, they go for the kiss - and he jumps onto her as someone throws rain at them from stage left.

Something about him shaking his hair, and then jumping up and wrapping his legs around her as she braced them both made me grin from ear to ear!

It pains me that it's getting hate on the internet, but I guess that's to be expected.  I decided to counteract the hate with some love, though!

The Fiction of the "Ground Zero Mosque" - and the facts around the Community Center


*edited to add discussion of Karen Hughes' article.

The debate surrounding the "Ground Zero Mosque" has some attacking its presence as insensitive and divisive, and others begging for religious tolerance, going so far as the Economist did to say the US Constitution demands we allow the Community Center to remain.  While it's a sensitive issue for both sides of the debate, the Economist and Keith Olbermann do an excellent job of synthesizing what it is to be American, and the protections we have in situations such as these.  Karen Hughes acknowledges these Constitutional protections, while also suggesting the community center be relocated as a gesture of goodwill and recognition of American sensitivities.

The Economist's piece on sense and sensitivity describes just how the provisions of our constitution come in to govern disputes of religion and tolerance in this country - on the side of religious freedom and tolerance.
Moreover, the call for sensitivity cuts both ways. Muslims, both inside and outside America, have worried since 9/11 that the attacks would spark widespread reprisals and discrimination. For some, the fuss about the mosque confirms their fears. It is impossible to be sensitive both to those who see the mosque as an affront and those who see opposition to it as proof of prejudice, which is why America has a constitution to adjudicate such disputes. And in this instance, the constitution comes down squarely on the side of the mosque-builders.
While The Economist uses terms such as "mosque-builders", Keith Olbermann made a special comment on August 16 explaining the details of the Community Center, how it is not a Mosque, that it is in no way visible from Ground Zero, and Ground Zero cannot be seen from the Community Center.  Before clarifying the facts surrounding the Center's existence, he begins his comment with the following Pastor Martin Neimollier quotation:
"They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up."
And he concludes with mention of the Muslim Worship Center that has in fact existed just outside Ground Zero since before the World Trade Center was built - and implores us to see the situation for what it is and speak up:
The actual place that is the real-life equivalent of the paranoid dream contained in the phrase "Ground Zero Mosque," has been up and running, since before there was a World Trade Center, and for nine years since there has been a World Trade Center. 
Running, without controversy, without incident, without terrorism, without protest. Because this is America, dammit. 
And in America, when somebody comes for your neighbor, or his bible, or his torah, or his Atheists' Manifesto, or his Koran, you and I do what our fathers did, and our grandmothers did, and our founders did - you speak up. 
Karen Hughes seems to navigate artfully the sensitivities on both sides of the debate, but when she implores Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his congregation to relocate "the mosque" - her argument begins to sound uninformed and her sensitivity towards the Muslim side of the argument is diminished.  She nonetheless makes a compelling argument that Rauf and his congregation be the bigger person.
I recognize that I am asking the imam and his congregation to show a respect that has not always been accorded to them. But what a powerful example that decision would be. Many people worry that this debate threatens to deepen resentments and divisions in America; by choosing a different course, Rauf could provide a path toward the peaceful relationships that he and his fellow Muslims strive to achieve. And this gesture of goodwill could lead us to a more thoughtful conversation to address some of the ugliness this controversy has engendered. 
I wish the next sentence discussed the flip side, however - that this gesture of goodwill could be interpreted as an admission that all the criticism of insensitivity and terroristic insult is well founded; that the anger and resentment might only intensify when directed at Muslims unrelated to the attacks, Muslims who lost people in the 9/11 attacks (either in the towers, or the support staff who gave their lives in attempts to save those in the towers).

It seems like quite the gamble for Rauf - and an unfair forced choice when actual mosques exist in close proximity to Ground Zero, with no objection or controversy.

Not-for-Profit "Hot Bread Kitchen" trains refugee women in English and job placement - in exchange for bread recipes


"How can six women who speak five different languages turn out eight kinds of bread in one cramped industrial kitchen?"
By bringing together women from all over the world to help each other learn English, get jobs and bake delicious bread from their home countries. Jessamyn Waldman created a not for profit bakery, Hot Bread Kitchen, that provides training, English language classes and help with job placement in exchange for breads from the employees' homelands. With a degree in Public Administration, specializing in Immigrant Policy, a baking certificate and a grant to cover rent - Waldman has put 11 women through her training program to date.

Hot Bread Kitchen is a community of women working together and supporting each other, and creating a variety of specialty breads to then share with the city. Each new recruit (brought in through refugee-resettlement agencies like the International Rescue Committee) brings with her a new perspective, cultural background, and bread specialty.

If you're anywhere near Queens, NY - their next loaf is "amdopali, Tibetan-Style...with barley flour and buttermilk cooked in a skillet". Sounds delicious!

London responds to Catholic Church: buses to carry female ordination advert during Pope's visit


In case you missed it, last week the Vatican compared the attempted ordination of female priests to pedophilia as a "grave crime".

Well - London will be responding with bus advertisements on ten buses during the Pope's visit to London that read: "Pope Benedict Ordain Women Now".

Not sure the Pope is going to ride or even see a bus - but this decree definitely has sparked some interest and reengaged conversation about the exclusion of female priests by the Catholic Church, and the bus advertisements will only increase that public awareness!

Legal Analysis: Mel Gibson's tapes should be enough for conviction with jail time


What are you gonna get a fucking restraining order for? For me being drunk and disorderly? For me hitting you? For what?
You know what Mel, I most certainly hope she has gotten a restraining order for all of the above!   The second tape of Mel Gibson's conversations with Oksana was released, but media still aren't covering his hateful speech with much indignation.  In fact, many commenters on the few articles that are talking about it very much blame Oksana for her gold-digging ways, which supposedly mean she had Mel's behavior coming to her.

Thanks to Mel's idiocy, Oksana has recorded proof of at least some of his threats, which will empower any other claims she makes about his words and actions, and really harm him in front of the jury.  So, hopefully her spousal abuse claim is successful, and he's put away for the maximum 6 years if convicted of the felony count.

Felony Spousal abuse (CA Penal Code 273.5) occurs when
Any person willfully inflicts upon ... a cohabitant or ... parent of [their] child, corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition is guilty of a felony ... [punishable] by imprisonment ... for two, three, or four years, or by a fine of $6,000, or by both.
The statute defines "traumatic condition" as a wound, "whether minor or serious" - and if she has proof of the two teeth being knocked out, that wound would definitely qualify as a serious wound to meet that condition.  Having inflicted a serious wound upon Oksana, and admitted to it in that conversation - Mel should be guilty of a felony count of spousal abuse, with at minimum 2 years in jail, if not four.

But, the court could be lenient and simply fine him the $6,000 and essentially not punish him at all.  If we as a society showed a bit more outrage, maybe the judge would too.

The lesser included offense of terroristic threats could potentially add another 6 months of jail time, if the judge chose to make the penalties run consecutive to one another.

CA Article 3.6, Title 11.5 "Terroristic Threats" law provides in part:
Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the to be taken as a threat, ... so specific as to convey to the person threatened a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat...
Penalty under this section is up to one year in jail.  And, not only did Mel make exactly the sort of threat described under this section of the statute, but Oksana has recorded, indisputable proof of the tone and circumstances of the conversation.

CA Penal Code 242: Battery is defined as
any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another.
According to this tape, Mel admits to at least one instance of hitting Oksana in the face hard enough to knock out two of her teeth.  He takes his admission one step further and shouts "You deserved it!"

CA Penal Code 241:
Assault is an unlawful attempt, coupled with present ability, to commit a violent injury on another person.
In this tape, Mel references the last time he had hit Oksana, and continues to threaten her throughout the conversation.  Towards the end of the tape, he tells her he's coming over, and when she threatens to call the police, he tells her
"I'll put you in a fucking rose garden, you cunt. You understand that? Cuz I'm capable. You understand that?"
Judging by his past actions, and total willingness to hit her with force enough to knock out teeth (while she's holding a baby!), Mel is capable and willing to follow through on his threats.  Judging by Oksana's tense emotion in describing her fear for her and her daughter's life - it's also abundantly clear that Oksana appreciate the gravity in Mel's threats as serious and possible.

Now - these three charges are pretty compelling on this tape alone, not to mention any other evidence she may have such as doctor's records of injuries.  This tape (along with the tape released earlier) would also serve to bolster any other claims she has against Mel for abuse.  

Let's just hope he's prosecuted!  Maybe then the media will feel like giving him some bad publicity instead of focusing all their attention on poor LiLo.

"Huge" - positive new show on ABC Family - I hope it lasts! **SPOILERS**


"When i see propoganda that I know is destroying girl's brains, it's my duty as an angry feminist to destroy it."  Willamina
Last week, ABC Family aired the pilot episode of its new summer show "Huge", and has gotten some pretty positive reviews as well as some lackluster ones.  Fatshionista has been doing some pretty thorough coverage of the show from a size-positive perspective, as well.  The show is on Monday nights at 9pm on ABC Family.

Most characters who've gotten air time on the show thus far have been women: Blonsky's cabin of girls seems to be the focus of the show; the camp leader is a woman, the counselor is a woman (an overly chipper one a la Dr. Sydney Heron from Grey's Anatomy) and one of the trainers is a woman (a seeming parody, and subtle criticism, of Jillian Michaels of "The Biggest Loser").  The kids at "fat camp" are by no means all girls, but the emphasis is simply on the female characters.  Additionally, something I appreciate is that the show hasn't given everything away in the first two episodes (like the failed ABC Show "The Deep End"), but it has definitely begun weaving threads of the plot we can expect to see in the later episodes of this season.

The "clique" lines are drawn early on in the first episode, and the prettiest (read: thinnest, blondest, fairest) girl, Amber, is at the top of the food chain, with other girls fawning over her. Will and Amber are bunkmates, and Will takes objection to Amber from the get go. Will isn't happy about being at camp, and is making a mockery of it at every opportunity.  She gets in trouble for selling junk food to fellow camp members, and immediately assumes Amber told the camp director.  While Amber seems to embrace her position at the top to some extent, the second episode elaborates upon a strained home life that humanizes Amber beyond the looks everyone seems to evaluate her for.

There's also the usual teenage romance and "obsession" with members of the opposite sex - Amber is instantly the alluring object for the male trainer.  While this is predictable, and poses a potential issue down the line since these characters are all under 18 (something I'm assuming by the parental updates from the director, the letters kids wrote home, and the parents "checking" their kids in to the camp), and presumably this trainer is over 18. Almost guaranteed to cross the line of appropriate in future episodes based on their interactions in the second episode.

A nice aspect of the character is that he's attractive, and also says he is deaf in one ear - but it didn't seem to be something he struggled with, and I haven't noticed any sort of hearing devices in these first two episodes.  Nice that he's not "perfect" and airtime is given to a disability as acceptable/normal, but it may have been nicer had ABC chosen a bolder imperfection.

The first episode also touches on issues of female camaraderie and what it means to be a "friend". Will's best customer of contraband junk food, Caitlin [also Amber's friend] getting kicked out of camp for throwing up her meals.  Instead of focusing on disordered eating, the conversation in the girls' cabin revolved around what it means to be and support a friend.  Will runs away from camp, and her best friend, Becca, tells Amber about her regrets of not being supportive enough of her friend. Amber admits she was the one who told the director about Caitlin throwing up, not thinking it would be serious enough to get kicked out, but recognizing it was serious enough to notify the director.  They bond over their transgressions in friendship.

Family, as well as "fat camp alumni", issues are developed through the director of the camp, Dorothy Rand.  She is humanized as a former member of the camp, with difficult relationships with her parents, and an allusion to a residual struggle with food. The second episode shows more of the director's strained relationship with her father.  We learn that she hasn't known her father, and that they anticipate her mother is not happy about the renewed relationship. Rand is played by a Cuban actress, and her father is played by a white actor - so their might be some race issues discussed in the development of this story line.

Another touch at family issues is the sibling relationship between Chloe and Alistair, during an awkward meeting in the woods at night where Chloe is exceedingly harsh toward her brother as he attempts to hold a conversation about her day.  She throws at him the mail their mother had sent and leaves him in tears.  This one was quite sad - she seems to completely ignore him in social interactions, and now won't even talk to him at a clandestine meeting in the woods?  It's definitely touching on the degree of power her insecurities has that it can overcome any urge for basic kindness toward her own brother.

I'm not sure the show deals with issues perfectly, but it definitely makes good faith attempts.  The only character, Will, who doesn't buy into the whole "fat camp" establishment also seems to, overall, be a kid who has problems with authority and discipline.  So her rebellion against normative weight assumptions is painted as teenage rebellion, and potentially loses some of its power.  Additionally, many of these characters are  'normal' Americans, and instead of depicting them as normal, they're being shown at fat camp. While the writer claims to have read "fat blogs" to frame the characters more realistically, and the cast is more diverse than most (beyond its predominantly "plus sized" cast), these "steps in the right direction" may not be enough for some who still feel unrepresented by the show's cast.

Some have mentioned that the characters aren't fat enough to be at fat camp, and reinforce the idea that average sized Americans are "fat", and there are still mostly white characters. Also, in response to rumors Will might be gay, Becca has an outburst "Will's not gay!" near the end of episode two - highlighting that it's a big deal to be gay, and she should "defend her friend's honor" by correcting assumptions.  At least, earlier, Will asks if she looks gay, but insists "it's not a big deal". I'm still ambivalent on that one.
"I'm down with my fat.  Me and my fat are like BFF." - Will

Imperfect as it may be - this show definitely has its gems!  Amber uses pictures of extremely thin models for her "thinspiration", and Will counters those images with images of curvier women and calls it her "fatspiration".  What did you all think?  Was it too full of cliches? Did the writers not do enough to counteract stereotypes?

Forbes "100 Websites by Women" - erasure of non-white, cisgendered, able-bodied women.


On June 23, Forbes released a list of the "Top 100 Websites for Women".  Of the 100 websites, only one is authored by a woman of color. The list is overwhelmingly white and privileged, disregarding a number of helpful sites for a diverse array of women.

As Renee and the commenters to her post point out - only 1 site by a woman of color - Bizzie Mommy (and only two more if you count sites with multiple authors, some of which are diverse) was included in Forbes' list of 100.

Renee's post and the comments are creating a list of sites that should have been included, to supplement Forbes' list and give you a more inclusive look into relevant women created and run sites!  

A list of all the sites they mentioned as of this moment, as well as 2 of my own suggestions at the end, provides over 40 websites Forbes could have considered, including: 

Consider tweeting them (@ForbesWoman) a link to this blog and asking why they labeled a list "Top Websites for Women" but ignored websites relevant to non-white, cisgendered, able-bodied women, effectively erasing these women as irrelevant. Moments after reading Renee's post, Forbes re-tweeted their list of "Top 100 Websites for Women" -

and I was sure to respond, questioning its exclusivity. We'll see if they respond!

I will most certainly be tweeting this blog to them next!

Attempted Rape Law - "honest" (but unreasonable) belief she consented = not guilty. *TRIGGER WARNING*


In taking a practice multiple choice test for the bar exam, I came across yet another entirely frustrating question about rape law that I yet again got wrong because I'm obviously biased.

Trigger warning is for the following hypo - mild, but still recounts an attempted rape.

A defendant was charged with attempted rape of a victim. The crime allegedly occurred at a party at the defendant's home. During the party, the defendant invited the victim into his bedroom to show her his tattoos. When she entered his bedroom, the defendant ripped off her blouse and threw her onto his bed. He then jumped on the victim and tried to pull off her skirt. When the victim began to scream, some of the guests rushed into the bedroom and pulled the defendant off the victim. At trial, the defendant testified that he wanted to have sexual intercourse with the victim but he believed that she was consenting. The defendant further testified that he had consumed a pint of whiskey earlier in the evening and was intoxicated at the time the incident occurred.

If the jury believes that the victim did not consent but also believes that the defendant, in his intoxicated state, honestly believes that she was consenting, the defendant should be found:

  1. guilty, because consent is determined by the objective manifestations of the victim and not the subjective beliefs of the defendant.
  2. guilty, because voluntary intoxication is no defense.
  3. not guilty, because he honestly believed that she was consenting.
  4. not guilty because his belief that she was consenting was reasonable.

The correct answer is (3), not guilty because he honestly believed that she was consenting. The part that really grates on me is the fact that his honest belief need not be reasonable in order to serve as a full and complete defense for his actions. I understand that the penalty for an attempted and failed action should be lesser (albeit by varying degrees to fit the crime) than the successful attempt - but this still really irritates me. His "honest" belief was 100% unreasonable, and yet, since it was honest, he's not guilty of attempted rape (but probably still guilty of a battery or assault charge).

The justification for the answer:
"Voluntary intoxication may be a valid defense for a specific intent crime if it negates the requisite mental state. Attempt is a specific intent crime. Choice (3) is correct because if the jury believes that the defendant thought the victim consented, then they cannot find that he had the requisite mens rea. Choice (2) is wrong because it is a true statement of law for general intent crimes, but not specific intent. If the defendant were charged with the crime of rape, then choice (2) would be correct because intoxication is not a valid defense for the "general-intent" crime of rape. Choice (1) is wrong because defendant's guilt of the attempt crime does turn on his subjective belief. Choice (4) is incorrect because reasonableness is irrelevant here."

Female sports announcers on the sidelines rarely invited to the Commentators' Box

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After Game 7 of the NBA finals ended in a Lakers win last night, a woman approached Kobe Bryant with a microphone, and I was pleasantly surprised to see her.  It also got me to thinking, how many women are actually sportscasters? Are women ever sports commentators?  The answer is that less than a handful of women have been play by play commentators for big ticket male sporting events (which are the marker here, since women's sports got a whopping 1.6% of televised sports airtime last year according to a USC study of News and Highlights shows from 1989-2009).

Men alone fill the commentator box for every past Superbowl, the leading roles announcing the NCAA basketball Final Four, the Masters golf championship, the World Series, the NBA championships, and NASCAR races. During the Olympics last summer, NBC had only one female play-by-play announcer (Andrea Joyce), and she covered rhythmic gymnastics, a sport in which men do not compete.

Less than a handful of women have made their way into the booth for play by play commentary of men's sports:
  1. In 2000, Pam Ward announced three college games for ESPN and now announces Big Ten games.
  2. Doris Burke has announced men's and women's basketball games for ESPN.
  3. Beth Mowins has announced women's basketball games for ESPN.
  4. Gayle Sierens called a Chiefs-Seahawks game for NBC at the end of the 1987 season, but declined NBC's offers to announce others.  No other women have been made such offers since.
    Upsetting enough, these women sportscasters, while opening doors for women in the field, have been largely relegated to sideline reporting, leaving the play by play reporting for the men.  The box for commentators is largely reserved for men - because men know more about sports, women are annoying, women's vocal inflection make them inadequate ...  These all sound like they apply to a number of male commentators as well, besides the "women's voices are annoying" argument, which doesn't even warrant a response.

    I can say that at least one of the commentators for Game 7 of the NBA finals last night fit into some of those categories.  I can't tell who was talking (only commentator I would recognize is the late Chick Hearn), but the commentators were Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy.  And the commentary was of about this general quality:
    "That wasn't a foul . . . was that a foul?"  
    The other two commentators continue to talk, we see the replay, the referee calls the foul, and the guy is back to say "It was a foul..." in a confused tone of voice.
    It was not very deep commentary, beyond announcing and confirming his own confusion on what it is to play basketball.  Also, early in the game he discussed how this was shaping up to be one of the most poorly played games, then later said this was the "best we'd ever see the Lakers play".  While the Lakers defense may have been up to par, Bryant, Gasol and Artest had some pretty low shooting percentages (somewhere around 25%) - hardly "the best" any of us have ever seen the team play.  

    If the content of the comments are potentially awful regardless of the commentator's gender - I'd love to watch more of these games with a woman's voice commenting in the background!  

    While women are invisible on the commentating stage, women make up a large number of sports fans and viewers, a large enough number that corporations are targeting at least some of their advertisements directly at women.  Last years numbers from She-conomy:
    • 47.2 % of major league soccer fans are women, 
    • 46.5% of MLB fans are women
    • 43.2% of NFL fans are women
    • 40.8% of fans at NHL games are women
    • 37% of NBA fans are women
    • Women comprise about one-third (34%) of the adult audience for ESPN sport event programs

    As such a large portion of the audience, we should hear about the sports from a woman's mouth and perspective, and as such a large percentage of viewers we should be able to exert pressure on the networks to make it happen!  If you hear a female commentator you like, write your network and thank them!  Better yet, even if you don't, write the networks and request more female commentators!

    A few of the female sportscasters, commentators and analysts who've forged a path in sports journalism:
    1. Gayle Gardner - ESPN 
    2. Andrea Kremer - ESPN
    3. Robin Roberts - ESPN, ABC
    4. Leslie Visser - CBS, ESPN, ABC
    5. Hannah Storm - NBC, CNN
    6. Linda Cohn - ESPN
    7. Helene Elliot
    8. Nancy Lieberman, ESPN
    9. Lisa Salters, ESPN, ABC
    10. Pam Oliver, ESPN, Fox, TNT
    11. Suzy Kolber, ESPN, Fox Sports
    12. Lisa Leslie, ESPN, ABC7
    13. Michele Tafoya, CBS, ESPN, ABC
    14. Lindsay Czarniak, NBC, TNT
    15. Amy Taylor, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
    16. Jacki Oatley, BBC Sport
    17. Clare Balding, BBC Sport
    18. Sue Barker, BBC Sport
    19. Gabby Logan, Sky Sports, BBC Sport, BBC Radio
    20. Tracy Austin, USA Network, BBC
    21. Mary Carillo, USA Network, ESPN, PBS, CBS, HBO, NBC, Bravo 

    Wikipedia Page on Women Sports Announcers (109 women):

    Update: Kolakowski Finished First and prepares for Runoff Election and other women/LGBT wins


    Transgender judicial candidate Victoria Kolakowski came in first in her historic bid for a seat on the Alameda County Superior Court in Tuesday's primary. She now advances to a fall runoff election and is one step closer to being the first out transgender person elected as a trial court judge in the country's history.

    In similar news, other women, openly LGBT and pro-LGBT candidates won their elections.

    • Out lesbian Linda Colfax won her bid for her seat on San Francisco County's Superior Court.
    • Openly gay Michael Nava forced Judge Richard Ulmer into a runoff race this fall for his seat. 
    • Senator Blanche Lincoln won a runoff against Lietuenant Governor Bill hall for the Arkansas Democratic Senate nomination.  
    • eBay CEO Meg Whitman beat Steve Poisner for the California Republican Nomination for Governor candidate to campaign against CA Attorney Jerry Brown for the spot during November elections.
    • Carly Fiorina, ex-CEO of Hewlett-Packard, won the Republican Nomination to campaign against incumbent Barbara Boxer for the US Senate seat.  
    • Nikki Haley fell just short of 50 percent in the race for South Carolina Governor, against three more experienced (male) politicians.  She faces a June 22 Runoff against Rep. Gresham Barrett.
    • Assemblywoman Sharron Angle bested Sue Lowden for the GOP Senate race to face Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada in November.
    • California Rep. Jane Harman (Democrat) maintained her early lead and beat out peace activist Marcy Winograd.
    • Betsy Butler (Equality California Institute Board Member) won the Democratic bid for CA State Assembly
    • Mike Gatto overcame an ad attacking his support for same sex marriage to also win a bid for California State Assembly.
    • Karen Bass (Former Assembly Speaker in CA) won over 85% of the votes in her bid to succeed Rep. Diane Watson in the 33rd Congressional District.
    • Holly Mitchell won over 43% of the vote to fill Bass' CA State Assembly seat vacated in the 47th District.  She'll be on the ballot in November with Republican Lady Cage and Libertarian Sean P. McGrary.
    Looking forward to the campaigning for the November 2010 elections!

    Victoria Kolakowski - Potential First Trans Woman in Trial Court position in US


    "When Bay Area attorney Victoria Kolakowski applied to take the bar exam in Louisiana in the late 1980s, her initial application was rejected on the basis that she was "not of sound mind."
    Victoria Kolakowski is an out lesbian, transgendered woman who has been practicing law for over 20 years. If she is chosen over her to opponents, Kolakowski would be the first openly LGBT person elected countywide and the first transgender trial court judge in the United States.  According to the Victory Fund, there is a total of 12 elected and appointed openly transgender public officials in the United States.  And, while much higher, still a small number of openly lesbian elected and appointed public officials at 243.

    Kolakowski is currently an Administrative Law Judge for Alameda County, a position she's held since January 2007.  She's been an attorney since the 80s, and has a long history working on behalf of LGBT civil rights.  She's a founding member and officer of Equality California, and a board member of San Francisco's Transgender Law Center.  While judicial elections and appointments should have nothing to do with politics - her campaign is historic and worthy of attention.  

    While her judicial run is historic, it may be encumbered by the recent attacks on her allegedly illegal use of RoboCall messages to reach out to voters.  Robocalls (recorded messages made by machines to mass amounts of phone numbers) are illegal in California, and have been for years.  While the law is difficult to (and thus rarely) enforce, Thomas Hawk has taken a very active interest in enlisting assistance in bringing her down for being "unethical" and has enlisted The National Political Do Not Call Registry, as well as contacted various public officials and her two opponents to inform them of her use of these robocalls.

    Kolakowski's response to the complaints was that her calls are placed from a phone number in Colorado, so they are not governed by the California law.  She then emphasizes the information-spreading merits of these sorts of calls.  Her open admission to circumventing law (especially one her position as Administrative Law Judge directly reviews) may prove to effectively stall her campaign's momentum if people like Hawk are able to gain more momentum in their attack.  However, her "circumvention" of the law is neither illegal nor unethical.  California's Public Utilities Code only covers California Public Utilities; one clause even uses the phrase "in this state" (2872(c)).  Thus, it has no legal bearing outside the state of California.

    If you are interested in learning more about her campaign, or volunteering to support her campaign, click the links!  The current election (to fill a vacant seat) is this Tuesday, June 8 2010, and the general election is November 2, 2010.

    Sarah Palin, Abortion and Exclusive Feminism


    “What you should say to outsiders is that a Christian has neither more nor less rights in our Association than an atheist. When our platform becomes too narrow for people of all creeds and of no creeds, I myself shall not stand upon it." Susan B Anthony, A Biography, by Kathleen Barry

    While today the issue of religion is much less overt in the defining of feminism as it was in Susan B. Anthony's time, apparently political beliefs are the new form of narrowing feminism to the movement's own detriment.  There have been quite a few "Sarah Palin is NOT a feminist" posts recently, many of which go on to define rigid exceptions to and requirements of feminism.  While I don't agree with plenty of what Sarah Palin has had to say, I think this general form of attack is pretty divisive and contributes to why Feminism is still struggling to take hold en masse.  Rigid definitions push away women who don't necessarily prioritize the same things as left-leaning feminists, and those constructions simply narrow the pool of people fighting for women's rights in the feminist collective.

    Many women are pro-life, in fact, the most recent Gallup poll on abortion (released May 25, 2010) shows that there are more pro-life than pro-choice women in our country.  There was a 5% increase in pro-life women last year, revealing that 49% of women polled were pro-life, while only 45% were pro-choice.  The change was even more drastic in men, with a 10% decrease to 39% who remain pro-choice, and 54% who identify as pro-life.  And, since feminism is seeking to reach both men and women, the percentage of our total population is relevant: 51% of Americans are calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% pro-choice - the first time since 1995 a majority was pro-life.  

    I know, polls aren't 100% accurate - but these results are from a respectable organization and at the very least should cause us to take pause and ask ourselves, is abortion really going to be the "be all end all" of what we will "allow" to define feminism?  Especially if doing so excludes potentially the majority of our population from joining us?

    This post isn't about whether or not Sarah Palin is a "feminist" - it's about the evolution of a more exclusive feminism and why that's a hindrance to the movement.

    This blog post's attack of Palin focuses largely on her conservative views (namely funding social welfare as the "government needs to keep its hands out of her pocket") - an attack that applies to many women who vote conservative.

    When Palin was first announced as McCain's VP choice, Feministing noted that it was great the GOP had chosen a woman, but went on to say "gender isn't everything", and looked to Palin's politics.  Well, she wasn't chosen as a democratic representative, she was chosen as a Republican candidate, she was never going to have liberal views.  Palin's ascension in the GOP and political world may not be something left-leaning feminists can relate to on a political level, but on a feminist level Palin has provided a role-model for right-leaning women with similar beliefs, and potentially opened the door to a more inclusive feminism than left-leaning women would have been able to achieve through exclusive definitions of what empowered women are allowed to believe and advocate in order to be feminist.  

    A few days ago Jessica at Feministing asked, "So, simply declaring oneself a feminist is all that it takes to be a feminist? Methinks not."  My question in relation to Palin is, why not?  Because she has different priorities than left-leaning feminists?  

    In response to a comment, Jessica clarifies
    "I didn't say that conservatives can't be feminists - I said people who fight against women's rights can't be feminists. And like I said, you can't just declare yourself a feminist - or any other party to a social justice movement - while fighting directly against said movement."  

    I understand how pro-life beliefs are very much in conflict with the pro-choice movement, which is part of feminism, but how is pro-life fighting against the entirety of feminism?  Abortion isn't the only feminist issue, and to define feminism so severely along such a divisive line is to diminish the movement's accessibility, and, in the end, its efficacy.  People may not all believe as strongly in every element of feminism as others, but that shouldn't diminish their willingness to contribute to the movement in ways they do believe.

    Annabelle for The New Agenda responds to the feminist coverage of Palin succinctly and eloquently: 
    "My biggest issue over the outbreak of this the short-sightedness of women ... who purport to support progress for women, and yet attack one of the biggest symbols of that progress simply because their belief in left-feminism allows them to dictate who can and cannot be a feminist."
    Palin surely stands up in opposition to many of the political issues dearest to my heart, my advocacy and my life, but I hardly think that she should be lambasted for it.  She's standing up, speaking her mind and defending her beliefs in a largely male-dominated political world, exposed to sexist media and judgment.  Part of the feminist fight for equal rights and opportunities for all women is to provide those opportunities to all women, regardless of political or religious beliefs, race, sexual orientation, class, ability, etc.  Instead of attacking her, we "left-feminists" would be better served appreciating the vigor and vitality she has provided the feminist movement amongst conservative women, and do our best to incorporate and engage conservative feminists into aspects of feminism where we both intersect.  

    I'll admit, I don't understand nor can I relate to people who are anti-choice - but the fact is, those beliefs are held by a sizable portion of our population.  If they are not allowed to be feminists as a result - if "feminism" has to be liberal, left-leaning, democrat - it erases and marginalizes a large percentage of women (and men) in our country who could bolster feminism, and instead serves the purpose of dividing women so patriarchy can continue to conquer. That exclusive definition of feminism is short-sighted and can only hurt the progression of our nation into a more inclusive, feminist state.

    Phallic Law School Ceiling Light Fixtures


    On a lunch break from my bar exam prep course, I just happened to look up at the ceiling...

    The picture didn't turn out the best since it's a picture of a light, but the fixture is set up to have a penis-like tube in the center, creating round "balls" on either side of the tube at each end of the fixture.  It's unmistakably phallic to the point of seeming intentional.

    Members of Washington DC City Council agree to help name streets after women


    An EVE Facebook Fan posted an article about a group in Germany that did a "Gender Walk" around a certain parts of Berlin, Germany to highlight the disparity in gender representation.  The article states that dead end streets are named after women while main thoroughfares are named after men.  The "Gender Walk" illustrated that 90% of the streets they passed were named after men, and the statues they passed were of men.  The "Gender Walk" movement highlights the deficiency in Urban Planning's emphasis on gender parity and visibility of female worth, the same concern EVE has for the planning of our American cities.

    President of EVE: Equal Visibility Everywhere, Dr. Lynette Long, reached out to City Council members of Washington DC in response to the recent announcement that a street would be renamed after a local male hairstylist.  A number of City Council members responded to, and agreed to help, Dr. Long and EVE with the renaming of streets, or at least of designating certain streets and blocks with a "ceremonial recognition" honoring a woman.

    If you have any suggestions of women who are worthy of such recognition, want to get this started on the streets in your town, or have any comments on the process, visit the blog and post!

    Los Angeles City Council Bans official travel and future dealings with Arizona


    Another action today that took place around the Arizona immigration law was Los Angeles City Council's 13:1 vote to boycott Arizona, encouraging city heads to avoid future business with Arizona, ban official travel to the state, and investigate whether it can legally cancel any of about $8 million worth of contracts.  I imagine the legal issue is the constitutionality of such a ban and its impact on interstate commerce.

    This response by Los Angeles City could spark serious reconsideration of the Arizona law and the Federal Law it is supposedly based upon, and conversation has already begun amongst Senators to overhaul the immigration system.

    First Asian American President of Senate Contender for Hawaii's House Seat


    Hawaii's representative Neil Abercrombie stepped down to run for governor, and there is currently a three way contest to fill his seat until the upcoming general elections in November.  Hawaii's Senate President Ms. Colleen Hanabusa is running for the seat.  She was elected the first woman president of the Senate in 2007, and the first Asian-American woman to lead a state legislative chamber in the United States.  Hawaii's two current US Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel Akaka support Hanabusa's candidacy.

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) was publicly backing Senator Ed Case, Democrat, to fill the seat, including running commercials against the third candidate, Charles Djou.

    In the upcoming November elections, Democrats are expected to lose seats and they're taking it seriously enough to heavily campaign for the Hawaii Seat to the tune of $300,000.  Today the DCCC announced they've decided to stop investing any further funds, and "save the resources we would have invested in the Hawaii special election this month for the general election in November."  Before this announcement, Hanabusa was said to be ranked third place in most polls, possibly because of the splitting of the votes between the two Democratic candidates.  

    The support of the two Senators behind Hanabusa, and the DCCC pulling their support for Case, might allow Hanabusa to win the special election, making her the fourth Hawaiian woman in the House, or at the very least achieve her goal of garnering enough support to get elected in the November election.  The all-mail in votes of the special election contest will be tabulated beginning May 19, with results released after 6pm, May 22, 2010 (the date and time by which the ballots must be received in order to be counted).

    EVE's 100 Great American Women List


    EVE: Equal Visibility Everywhere put out a list of 100 Great American Women in response to the 2010 Time 100, which included only 31 women, and Esquires 75 Greatest Women of All Time, which valued many of its women for their external beauty and sexual utility.

    View their list here:

    While they admit their list is not completely inclusive, and is slightly arbitrary, they felt the need to respond to the lack of representation of notable women in Time's list, and to counteract the valuation process in the Esquire list by creating one of their own.

    They're welcoming more suggestions of noteworthy women to include in future list.  I've attached a screen shot of the comments up to this point with suggestions of more women to have been included.  Check out their list, comment on the list, its premise, the choices made, and any omissions you find to be glaring!

    Obama nominates Kagan, potential third active woman justice to the Supreme Court


     According to the New York Times, Obama is set to announce Solicitor General Elana Kagan as his nomination for the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.  If confirmed, the first woman dean of Harvard Law School and first woman Solicitor General would become the third woman justice active on the current court.  Additionally, Kagan would be the youngest member on the court, which would allow a continued representation of women on the court, and an unprecedented 1/3 of the court until Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg retires.

    Interestingly, Obama seems to have taken into consideration what both Ginsburg and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor called for in the diversification of the Court.  O'Connor, while refusing to acknowledge a difference in male and female perspectives relevant to the gender parity on the court, did call for a diversification of experience on the court.  Specifically, O'Connor noted "I like judges. But we don't need them all on the Court.  And we need people of different backgrounds." Kagan is currently Solicitor General of the United States, was formerly the Dean of Harvard Law School, was Associate White House Counsel under President Clinton, and while she has been nominated for judicial posts in the past, has never served as a judge.  Having never served on the judiciary is a form of diversity that O'Connor found missing on the Supreme Court, and Kagan could clearly fill that void, though in her capacity as Solicitor General she's been arguing before the Supreme Court since her confirmation last year.  In her call for diversification, Ginsburg was willing to bluntly request gender parity when she argued that women experience the world differently from men and should be invited in greater numbers to employ those perspectives in interpreting and applying our laws.

    Another form of diversity Kagan could add to the court is her outspoken support of LGBT rights.  During her time at Harvard Law School, but before she was Dean, Kagan declared military recruiters were in violation of the school's anti discrimination policy because of the application of "Don't ask, don't tell" to their recruiting procedure.  When recruiters entered the campus despite the school's anti discrimination policy, she sent an email to the faculty and student body decrying the discrimination as "a profound wrong - a moral injustice of the first order."  Apparently, she was in line with many other faculty and deans, but in direct contradiction to the eventual unanimous Supreme Court ruling regarding such bans on military recruitment procedures on campus.  Last year during the Supreme Court nomination process, Kagan was outed as being a lesbian, and the White House issued a press release denying the rumor. While her sexual orientation should not be an issue, here's a summary with links to background articles in case it becomes an issue anyway.

    While the Don't Ask, Don't Tell condemnation might prove to be a sticking point for Kagan in the confirmation process, she was approved just last year for the position of Solicitor General defending the United States before the Supreme Court, with that same history behind her.  A more compelling hurdle comes from Paul Campos at the Daily Beast. who points out why Kagan might fail to garner enough support at the confirmation hearings for similar reasons Harriet Miers failed in 2005: too close a relationship with the nominating president, and not enough stated opinions on matters she will be directly responsible for deciding as a Supreme Court justice.

    This post on the Equal Visibility Everywhere blog outlines why it's time for the United States to increase gender parity in its highest offices - something Obama seems to be doing on the Federal judiciary.  Time for the hearings to begin to see if Obama can pull it off, or if a failed hearing will lead him to resort to a second choice of Merrick Garland, the male DC Court of Appeals judge who is generally regarded as a well-balanced candidate who has a history of public service and is favored by conservative senators.  As it stands, however, it seems that President Obama is attempting to secure his legacy through establishing gender parity on the Supreme Court by nominating candidates with strong ties to women's rights, and it's been difficult to peg Garland down on abortion, which seems to weigh against him in Obama's eyes.