Tag Archives: law

Cart Before the Horse

Here’s a game: guess what percentage of Congress is female. Too hard? Okay, would you say it’s higher or lower than in Mexico? How about in Cambodia? Duh, it’s lower than Sweden’s, but do you think it’s higher or lower than in the UAE? It’s lower, on all three counts, a paltry 17%.

To be fair, some of these countries have instituted quota systems, mandating a certain percentage of seats be held for women (like Algeria). That’s certainly one way of going about it, but it wouldn’t my first choice.

Let’s look at another chart. This one is a state-by-state look at laws benefiting new parents. This comes from the National Partnership for Women and Families via Mother Jones. Laws like parental leave, paid sick days, and breastfeeding protections are rolled into the score.

A quota system that mandates X% of seats be held by women (or any other marginalized group of people), doesn’t address the causes of inequality, but attempts to rectify it through opportunity grants. The problem with a quota is that it undermines the very people it attempts to elevate by explicitly declaring their participation is a result of government action, instead of merit (or luck, wealth, notoriety and all the other ways people get elected in this country).

Some people make the same argument about affirmative action (which allows an institution to use race as a consideration in decision-making, but not to have quotas). Any black student or female MBA candidate who has ever heard (or read in the faces of their colleagues), “You’re only here because you’re X” knows that some people still view their success as a perk of their demographic profile.

I posted the new parent map because a solution that only looks forward and neglects the cause of disparity is no solution at all; it’s a band-aid. Recent  research shows that the greatest income gap (and also achievement) is not between men and women, but between women with children and women without. In our society, women typically take on a substantially higher percentage of child care responsibilities, so laws affecting child care and family leave disproportionately affect women. There are a lot of reasons that women don’t get elected for office, but the biggest one is because they don’t run. Give women the tools and resources to pursue any professional goal (political or otherwise), and maybe we’ll see those numbers improve.

In other words, if you want to fix that chart at the top (and maybe compete with Cambodia), we have to fix the map first.

Related Post: Happy Equal Pay Day and why the wage gap persists.

Related Post: How I got a raise.

Related Post: Second vs. Third Wave feminism on The Good Wife.


Filed under Gender, Politics

Sunday Scraps 52

1. LAWS: Some of the ladies at The Rumpus took it upon themselves to respond to the rash of lady-bashing legislation with some suggestions for bills that will make most penises curl up inside themselves.

2. RACE: In response to Trayvon Martin’s death, Urban Cusp has an essay, one of many of this theme, from Ajani Husbands on advice to black children.

3. GEEK: This is the most preposterous Twitter convo you will read this week. A female developer questions a sexist ad and is berated by an idiotic CEO who actually uses the line “I’m a family man,” as if family men can’t be sexist.

4. TEST: What happens when a 35-year-old attempts the SAT again? Bad things, according to Deadspin.

5. WAR: Great piece from The New Yorker on Robert Bayles, PTSD, the culture of war.

6. POLITICS: Kathleen Parker at the Washington Post argues that Southern Republicans in particular are getting screwed in this primary season. Whatever, Mitt Romney likes grits, y’all, so clearly he knows what’s up.

Related Post: Sunday 51 – Frank Bruni, A League of Their Own, inspiration from a trike-rider.

Related Post: Sunday 50xkcd, tenure of dictators, The Wire faces March Madness.

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Filed under Gender, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

Sunday Scraps 50

1. LAW: The New Yorker has a fascinating piece on the true story behind the Lawrence vs. Texas case. Who was Lawrence, and who was the other guy, and what was actually going on? Hint: It’s not what you think.

2. TELEVISION: In the midst of 8 gazillion March Madness style tournements, Grantland is running one pitting characters from The Wire against one another. My money’s on Obama’s #1 seed.

3. POLITICS: Alternet has helpfully curated a list of the 11 dumbest things Republicans have said about women (recently).

4. DATING: xkcd tackles pick-up culture and hits the nail on the head. Gentlemen, we know what you’re up to.

5. LANGUAGE: From Buzzfeed, a chart tracking the usage of the word “slut” in recent years.

6. WORLD: Does four years with an American president feel like a long time? The Economist compares the average tenure of our leaders to the rest of the world.

Related Post: Last Sunday, we had a Lena Dunham interview, 1938 dating advice and 6 houses in Chicago.

Related Post: Two Sundays ago, Zilla marches, feminist pornographers, and Jonathan Lethem on copyright.


Filed under Gender, Hollywood, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

“No Child Left in Ballsack”, and Other Awesomeness

These are my three favorite protests against this preposterous war against contraception, which is a proxy war against the ladies (and also against all the sane men in the world who like having sex with ladies, and also against the gay guys, too. Basically, it’s a war with people who don’t believe that Christian values should be enshrined in a secular government):

1. This is Oklahoma State Senator Judy Eason McIntyre. She is my new best friend.

2. Nick Offerman, Judd Nelson and Tim Meadows know what’s best for women. In this excellent Funny or Die video, a bunch of people without vaginas talk about what’s best for vaginas, because “Late middle-aged men know the most about everything.”

3. The “No Child Left in Ballsack” amendment proposed by the Democrats in the Georgia House. Says Yasmin Neal, “Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation over vasectomies.”

Related Post: I figured it out. Republican candidates don’t like sex.

Related Post: Notes on a scandal.


Filed under Media, Politics, Sex

“Soul-Splintering Panic”: How Marriage Inequality = Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Directly and indirectly related to the legality of gay marriage, here are two really amazing, thought-provoking essays. You should read them both, but in summary:

Image: NYMag.com

Andrew Sullivan on The Daily Beast: On top of being gorgeously written, Sullivan’s essay is perhaps one of the most articulate expressions of the hopelessness that comes with being a gay teen and believing that the joys promised to others don’t apply to you. What the It Gets Better Project accomplishes with volume, variety and YouTube fueled angst, Sullivan approaches with nuance and heartbreaking prose. A snippet: “When puberty struck and I realized I might be ‘one of them,’ I turned inward. It was a strange feeling—both the exhilaration of sexual desire and the simultaneous, soul-splintering panic that I was going to have to live alone my whole life, lying or euphemizing, concocting some public veneer to hide a private shame... To feel you will never know that [accepted love/marriage], never feel that, is to experience a deep psychic wound that takes years to recover from. It is to become psychologically homeless. Which is why, I think, the concept of “coming out” is not quite right. It should really be called ‘coming home‘”.

Gary Greenberg for Mother Jones: In an article titled, presumably for controversy-stirring purposes, “Gay by Choice? The Science of Sexual Identity”, Greenberg summarizes the most recent research on origins of sexual orientation, and the potential implications. If science determines that orientation is biologically based, do we have to worry about parents trying to prenatally “correct” this “flaw”? Protected classes are usually based on things that one can’t change (i.e. race). If sexuality is more fluid (which doesn’t imply an opt-in/opt-out model, only that it’s not binary or necessarily permanent) will protection be harder to legally justify? On the other hand, religion is a protected class, and no one argues that faith is innate.

One of Sullivan’s most compelling points, to my mind, is that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the belief that marriage is an inalienable right over and over again. Felons can get married even if they can’t consummate the relationship. Parents who owe thousands of dollars in child support to previous spouses can still get married. The potential to marry has been referred to as part and parcel of the inalienable right to “pursuit of happiness.” I’m not lawyer, but to me, it seems like gays have a case based on intentional infliction of emotional distress. If we consider marriage a potential piece of happiness, and then categorically deprive a class of citizens access, how can we expect anything less than what Sullivan described as the “psychological wound?”

Perhaps I’m being melodramatic, and I’m quite sure there are legal flaws with my argument. Sullivan put it like this: “It’s hard to convey what that feeling does to a child. In retrospect, it was a sharp, displacing wound to the psyche. At the very moment you become aware of sex and emotion, you simultaneously know that for you, there is no future coupling, no future family, no future home.” That seems pretty damn emotionally distressing to me. And the state’s perpetual exclusion of this group of people? “Intentional” doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Related Post: Pride in Chicago.

Related Post: Coming out of the locker room closet: Will Sheridan, Rick Welts, and more.


Filed under Gender, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

Sunday Scraps 20

1. BODY: Kate at Eat the Damn Cake had a stellar guest-poster this week named Anna who wrote an essay about the kind of language her young cousins were overhearing about body image.

2. PLAY: I did NOT have shit like this as a child. New York Times has a slideshow of some of the most elaborate playhouses around. $150K for a playhouse? I don’t care if it looks like a pirate ship!

3. BLOOD SCIENCE: In the absence of Dexter, spend some time examining this super nifty diagram of blood spatter analysis, from ForensicNursing.org.

4: MARRIAGE: Here’s a rather convincing editorial about polygamous marriage and why the state shouldn’t mess with them. If you strip out the nasty child bride stuff, where’s your argument?

5: AMBIEN: Hilarious take from The Hairpin on what happens when a female comedian with an Ambien addiction finds herself in Dubai without her fix. Surprisingly moving at the end, too!

6: DATING: Jesse Eisenberg of Social Network fame wrote a how-to for McSweeney’s about what the post-heteronormative dude is supposed to do while trying to pick up chicks. Good luck, gentlemen.

Related Post: Sunday last week: Westboro crazies, Stanford Prison Experiment, Dan Savage as bully?, and the doc who worked on JFK.

Related Post: Two weeks ago: resisting misogyny in advertising, period marketing, and how texting is saving dying languages.


Filed under Body Image, Gender, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People

A Slutty, Slutty Weekend

Graffiti from a public restroom at Oak Street Beach, Chicago

If, based on the title of this post, you are expecting debauchery, best take your pervy mind elsewhere for today.

I think the graffiti at right is a fitting visual for this weekend’s first Slutwalk Chicago. The march is a result of a movement sparked in Toronto after a police officer kindly instructed women that to avoid being victimized, they should stop “dressing like sluts”. Protesters have gathered in major cities to oppose victim-blaming and educate against intolerance.  Read the full inception story here.

In the midst of a lot of drag, some serious S&M gear and a whole lot of almost-nipples, signs and posters said things like:

Slut! Does not mean ‘Rape Me!’

How to Prevent Rape: Don’t Rape

Consent is Sexy!

My Body Is Not an Invitation

When Police Make Excuses for Rapists, We’re All Screwed

A Short Dress Does Not Mean Yes

Wow!! I Like Sex So So Much When It’s Consensual!

My Consent Is My Best Feature

There’s even a mom holding a “Slut? So what!” sign and presumably her daughter holding a companion piece that read “I dare you to call me one.” Check out aggregated photos at this flickr stream the organizers so kindly provided.

Though it was seemed statistically heavy on college-aged white girls, I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the crowd. And more men than I would have thought! Hugo Schwyzer from The Good Men Project wrote a great piece about male participation and even helped organize LA’s version.

I’d like to think we won’t need a Slutwalk next year, but who am I kidding? The kind of endemic attitudinal problems we have around sexuality, consent, victimization and consequence are not easily cured. At least I have a whole year to think of a clever sign for Slutwalk 2012!

Related Post: Jamie Keiles was one of the organizers of Slutwalk Chicago. She’s also a pretty cool UChicago student.

Related Post: You know you’re in trouble when the judge starts discussing wardrobe distinctions. Did you know that a tube top was code for “rape me?”


Filed under Chicago, Gender, Sex