January 11, 2013 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from the American Prospect, Salon and more.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: "Purity Culture is Rape Culture," E.J. Graff, American Prospect: "[R]ape is less about sex than it is about rage and power," Graff writes, adding that thinking of rape "as primarily a sexual violation places the burden on women to protect their bodies' purity." She argues that society needs to replace the "'traditional' vision of women's sexuality," in which "it's not rape if you've already had sex, ever -- except if you're married and another man violates his property" -- with the "advanced concept that women have a right to enjoy and control our own bodies." Graff discusses feminist responses to recent rape cases in India and Steubenville, Ohio, and how cultural attitudes play into both incidents, concluding, "I do hope that India will turn around the male rage seething in through its streets -- and that here, we see an uprising against Congress' appalling failure to reauthorize [VAWA] that fights ... the terror women feel at home" (Graff, American Prospect, 1/4).
What others are saying about violence against women:
~ "Viewpoint: Don't Rush to Judge on Steubenville," Erika Christakis, Time's "Ideas."
~ "The Harsh Realities for India's Working Women," Karin Kamp, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "What's Next for VAWA?" Rachel Kassenbrock, Ms. Magazine blog.
~ "Indian Political and Religious Leaders Give Slut-Shaming Advice on How Not To Get Raped," Samhita Mukhopadhyay, Feministing.
~ "This Rape Infographic Is Going Viral. Too Bad It's Wrong," Amanda Marcotte, Salon's "XX Factor."
~ "Rape in the Age of Social Media," Irin Carmon, Salon.
~ "How Do We Move Forward After Legitimate Rape, Steubenville, Delhi?" Sandra Park, American Civil Liberties Union's "Blog of Rights."
GLOBAL REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: "A Turning Point on Women's Rights," Walden Bello, Huffington Post blogs: Bello, a senior analyst at Focus on the Global South, writes that the recent rape of a 23-year-old Indian student "proved to be the trigger for the release of popular anger that had built up over the years over the rise in violence against women." He also points to the passage of the first reproductive health bill in the Philippines as a turning point in the global women's rights movement. However, any progress in India and the Philippines was countered by efforts to re-subordinate women in Egypt under an Islamic regime and by Swaziland's recent ban on women wearing miniskirts or midriff-revealing shirts, Bellow writes. He concludes, "Women throughout the world are on the march, but the struggle against sexual oppression and gender rights will continue to be a difficult one" (Bello, Huffington Post blogs, 1/9).
What others are saying about global reproductive rights:
~ "Why American Pro-Life Dollars Are Pouring Into Ireland," Angela Nagle, The Atlantic.
~ "International Planned Parenthood Federation: Still Sexy at 60," Mandy Van Deven, Ms. Magazine blog.
FUTURE OF ABORTION-RIGHTS MOVEMENT: "Response to Nancy Keenan in Salon: Let's Set the Record Straight on Millennials and Abortion. Again," Julia Reticker-Flynn, RH Reality Check: "It is time to put to rest the questioning about Millennials and whether they care about access to safe abortion care," writes Advocates for Youth's Reticker-Flynn in response to a Salon interview with outgoing NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan, who "once again questioned" young people's commitment to the issue. "This generation of young people is more likely to care about the whole range of sexual health and rights issues than older generations," Reticker-Flynn adds. She also cites research by Advocates for Youth showing that 68% of younger people support abortion access, compared with 58% of adults overall. "The work of Millennials -- and in fact of the entire movement -- will continue to be strengthened if we spend less time asking where they are and more time continuing to train young people in grassroots organizing, to mentor new leaders, to fund their work, and most importantly to respect and value their skills, energy, and leadership," Reticker-Flynn concludes (Reticker-Flynn, RH Reality Check, 1/9).
What others are saying about the future of the abortion-rights movement:
~ "Millennials See the Big Picture on Abortion," Sabrina Andrus, Law Students for Reproductive Justice's "RepoRepro."
~ "More and More 'Pro-Life' Americans Support Abortion Rights," Geoffrey Cowley, MSNBC.
~ "Is Roe Taken for Granted?" Sarah Erdreich, Feminists for Choice.
~ "Planned Parenthood Steers Clear of 'Choice' and 'Life,'" Katie J.M. Baker, Jezebel.
ADOLESCENT HEALTH AND SEXUALITY: "The Dangerous Consequences of Right-Wing Scaremongering Around the HPV Vaccine," Sy Mukherjee, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress": A recent CDC and National Cancer Institute report found that the number of cancers related to the human papillomavirus has "ballooned," Mukherjee writes, adding that this is "largely because not enough people are getting vaccinated against" the human papillomavirus. While provisions in the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) provide no-cost HPV screenings, "such provisions are useless if Americans buy into the widely-debunked conservative hysteria that the HPV vaccine is unsafe," Mukherjee writes, noting that some conservatives have claimed it leads to promiscuity and even "mental retardation" (Mukherjee, "Think Progress," Center for American Progress, 1/8).
What others are saying about adolescent health and sexuality:
~ "Since 75 Percent of West Virginia Teens Don't Use Birth Control, Lawmakers Consider Better Sex Ed," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress."
~ "In Teen Pregnancy Prevention, the Ends Don't Justify the Means," Martha Kempner, RH Reality Check.
~ "The New Scarlet Letter," Amy Choi, Feministing.
~ "Young Evangelicals Slowly Shifting Away From Traditional Abstinence-Only, Anti-Contraception Views," Amanda Peterson Beadle, Center for American Progress' "Think Progress."
113TH CONGRESS: "GOP War on Women and Planned Parenthood Continues in 2013," Debbie Hines, Huffington Post blogs: "Republicans' motto in the war against women must be, if at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again to control a woman's birth control choices and defund Planned Parenthood," writes Hines, founder of LegalSpeaks, noting that GOP lawmakers this year already "introduced a bill [HR 61] to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X funds which provides federal funds for family planning." She writes, "Instead of trying to spend time passing bills aimed at attacking women and their right to birth control, cancer screenings and [reproductive] choice, the GOP should aim its attention to the business of major issues affecting this country," and then "they would not have time to re-hash issues on which the American people have spoken" (Hines, Huffington Post blogs, 1/9).
What others are saying about the 113th Congress:
~ "Anti-Women's Health Legislators Didn't Waste Any Time in the First Days of Congress," Jacqueline Murphy, Planned Parenthood Action Fund's "Women Are Watching."
~ "House Contemplates Defunding Planned Parenthood Since That's the Only Place Antis Still Have Power," Robin Marty, RH Reality Check.
~ "Note to the New Congress: We've Already Achieved $2.4 Trillion Dollars in Lopsided Deficit Reduction," Abby Lane, National Women's Law Center's "Womenstake."
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH IN TEXAS: "Texas Has Created a Costly Roadmap for Defunding Planned Parenthood," Molly Redden, New Republic's "The Plank": After courts stopped lawmakers in various states from "strip[ping] funding from their local Planned Parenthood chapters," Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) decided he would achieve this goal in his state "by forfeiting hundreds of millions of federal dollars in Medicaid tagged for women's health care," Redden writes. She continues that when combined with the Texas Legislature's 2011 decision to reduce the state's family planning budget by two-thirds, the state will face an estimated $231 million in additional costs from unplanned pregnancies. Redden writes, "Politicians anywhere who are interested in defunding Planned Parenthood need only follow Texas' roadmap: Give up hundreds of millions of free federal money, launch their own state-run health care apparatus, and steel themselves for the cost of all the unwanted pregnancies that result" (Redden, "The Plank," New Republic, 1/11).
EXECUTIVE NOMINATIONS: "Why Isn't Obama Appointing More Women?" Amanda Marcotte, Salon's "XX Factor": It is "disappointing to see Obama hand one prominent second-term appointment after another only to men," Marcotte writes, adding that if he "replaces Labor Secretary Hilda Solis ... with a man," roughly one-third of his appointees will be women, matching "Bush levels." She urges Obama to overcome his "notorious reluctance" to fight Republican opposition to his female nominees, such as Susan Rice and Elizabeth Warren, who were considered for secretary of state and head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, respectively. She concludes, "No one said getting more women into positions of power was going to be an easy process, but it's one that has to be undertaken all the same" (Marcotte, "XX Factor," Salon, 1/10).
What others are saying about executive nominations:
~ "Obama, Hagel, Feminism and the Middle East: A Progressive's Dilemma," Emily Hauser, Daily Beast's "Open Zion."
MATERNITY LEAVE: "Map of the Day: The State of Maternity Leave Around the World," Maya Dusenbery, Feministing: "[T]he US is not just the only developed nation that doesn't guarantee at least some paid maternity leave, it's one of the only countries, period," writes Dusenberry, who shares an interactive map from NPR that details each country's maternity leave policies. "In theory, feminists and 'family values' conservatives should be able to unite on this issue," she adds, concluding that while "it still looks pretty bad out there, ... we should be talking about the sad state of US maternity leave all the time until it changes" (Dusenbery, Feministing, 1/10).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership