Magazines seem to love writing about women’s choices, particularly if they can inspire readers to conclude that we’re making the wrong ones. Just before the new year, a much-talked about New Republic cover story focused on women and men becoming parents at an older age. The piece was written by an author who is herself an older mother and was concerned about a steady increase in birth defects and autism in recent years, although it’s been difficult so far to prove a direct correlation. Meanwhile, one of Boston Magazine’s cover stories that same month was about a growing breed of women who believed that it’s okay to have an “occasional” drink while pregnant. Yes, that was the language — “occasional” 00 yet the subject was so provocative that it warranted top billing. Let’s not forget the May Time cover of the woman breastfeeding her three-year-old son (she didn’t appear to be drinking wine at the time). Soon after came the story in The Atlantic by Anne-Marie Slaughter that blared: “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” (The Atlantic has published at least three stories since 1995 about women facing diminishing marriage and pregnancy prospects if they wait; one of the most famous such pieces, “Marry Him,” from 2008, urged women to settle for “Mr. Good Enough” rather than waiting to have babies.)
It isn’t these stories themselves that are frustrating as much as the fact that they appear to blame women for waiting to have children – as if it’s impossible to fathom that they didn’t find decent or willing men to date at the right time. Some of the stories blame the feminist movement, as if having more freedom is simply so confounding to women that they just can’t figure out what to do with themselves. There’s a wide swath of people in this country who appear to resent the idea of women having leeway in making life choices, and hope we’ll get our comeuppance if we don’t marry the first person who holds a door for us. Keep reading »
Yesterday afternoon, two Democratic politicians introduced the Ruth Moore Act, a bill to support former service members who survived sexual assault in the military. Veterans Affairs has long rejected disability claims of military sexual trauma (MST) for troops who were raped by colleagues and now need assistance. According to the Service Women’s Action Network, only one in three claims of PTSD from MST were approved by the VA between 2008 to 2010, presumably because the threshold was too high for these survivors to been seen as eligible. Keep reading »
If you’re not into the commercial cutesiness of Valentine’s Day, there’s an alternate, empowering holiday to celebrate on February 14th: V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. ”The Vagina Monologues” playwright Eve Ensler created V-Day, which is celebrated each year on Valentine’s Day as the play is staged around the world to raise money for local rape crisis centers.
This year, V-Day also marks the grand finale of Ensler’s year long One Billion Rising campaign. The One Billion Rising name and collective goal derives from a statistic that one in three women will suffer abuse or rape in their lifetime; out of the seven billion people populating the world, that means roughly one billion women will be victims. Keep reading »
Missed the State Of The Union address last night? Well, here’s a guide of some major points for those of you who still want to know where we’re at. The economy continues to dominate President Obama’s agenda, given how the first 20 minutes were a mixture of economic policies from spending cuts to boosting the middle class. Though we’re no longer arguing about the Bush tax cuts, bailouts, or the debt ceiling, we have new talking points: sequester cuts, deficit reduction, tax codes. Oh my.
Sam Seaborn, fictional speechwriting dreamboat from “The West Wing,” would argue the SOTU speech is not solely about policy, it’s about noble over-reaching that government should aspire to. So what’s on President Obama’s agenda? Where are we heading in the next four years? Keep reading »