January 4, 2013 — We've compiled some of the most thought-provoking commentaries from around the Web. Catch up on the conversation with bloggers from Slate, Huffington Post and more.
2012 IN REVIEW: "What Conservatives Taught Us About Women's Bodies in 2012," Amanda Hess, Slate's "XX Factor": Hess reflects on the many inaccurate assertions made by politicians and the media about women's health last year. For instance, she notes that CNN reported on a study purporting that women's menstrual cycles could influence how they would vote in the presidential election, while conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed that the amount of birth control pills women need to use is based on how much sex they have (Hess, "XX Factor," Slate, 12/27/12).
What others are saying about 2012:
~ "Women's Health 2012: The Best (And Worst) Developments This Year," Catherine Pearson, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Women's Health Champions of 2012," Jacqueline Murphy, Planned Parenthood Action Fund's "Women Are Watching."
~ "The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Ugly for Women in 2012," Linda Hallman, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "13 Sweeping (And Sometimes Contradictory) Statements People Have Made About Women This Year," Anna North, BuzzFeed Shift.
~ "Year of the Asshat Man Is Not Year of the Woman," Melissa Tapper Goldman, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "Your Reproductive Rights in 2012: Things Got Better, But They're Still Bad," Katie J.M. Baker, Jezebel.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: "What One 23-Year-Old Gang Rape Victim Taught Us," Sandip Roy, Huffington Post blogs: The recent story of a woman in India who was gang raped and tortured before dying several days later in a hospital "could end in a push for justice which one hopes will have a far more long-lasting impact than vengeance," writes Roy, an editor with New America Media and Firstpost. He outlines several "lessons about ourselves" from the incident and the subsequent outcry over it, including "that it's an exercise in futility to try and assign a hierarchy to rape as if one rape is more deserving of attention than the other." He continues, "We learned that safety is not about what women do, wear or when they go out," adding, "It's about what men around them do" (Roy, Huffington Post blogs, 12/29/12).
What others are saying about violence against women:
~ "What the International Community Can Do To Support the Protest Against the Delhi Gang Rape," Sabina Dewan, Care2.
~ "Extremely Gross 'Two-Finger Test' in India Still Apparently Counts as Admissible Evidence in Rape Cases," Doug Barry, Jezebel.
~ "Republicans, Rape, Immigrants and Gays," Ryan Campbell, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "I Was Raped: Figuring Out What Happened and Why It Felt Wrong," Anonymous, RH Reality Check.
~ "Consequences of Rape Culture and Victim Blaming," Elin Weiss/Hennie Weiss, Feminists for Choice.
~ "Daughters of India," Saumya Arya Haas, Huffington Post blogs.
~ "When Did Violence Against Women Become a Partisan Issue?" Lana Schupbach, MSNBC.
~ "Violence Against Women Act Debacle: Why Congress Should Be More Diverse," Tara Culp-Ressler, The Atlantic.
~ "My Mother's Rape," Rula Jebreal, Daily Beast.
Personhood: "Roe v. Wade and Fetal Personhood: Juridical Persons Are Not Natural Persons, and Why It Matters," Imani Gandy, RH Reality Check: "[P]ersonhood activists are confused about what a 'person' is, what 'personhood' means, and what rights personhood status will confer upon fetuses," writes Gandy, a legal consultant, noting that "even if states successfully pass fetal personhood bills that doesn't necessarily mean that a fetus will suddenly be granted the same rights as a pregnant woman." She explains that "natural personhood" refers to persons who "don't have to wait for a court or state to grant them rights" because their rights are "attach[ed] at birth," while "juridical personhood" refers to "artificial persons" who are "granted by states certain rights normally associated with live breathing persons." Juridical persons do not obtain all the same rights as natural persons. Gandy argues that by enacting personhood laws, "states would simply be clarifying their interest in protecting potential life, not creating a fetal right to life" (Gandy, RH Reality Check, 1/3).
What others are saying about personhood:
~ "Promote the Personhood of Fertilized Eggs! Win $5,000 Cash!" Robin Marty, RH Reality Check.
'FISCAL CLIFF': "Living on the Edge of a Permanent Fiscal Cliff: How Minimum Wage Workers See Few Gains," Sheila Bapat, RH Reality Check: There is a "64 percent chance that any given woman earns a minimum wage," Bapat writes, adding that a 1995 National Bureau of Economic Research report found that "the failure of the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation over the years has played a substantial role in deepening wage inequality for women." Although "'fiscal cliff' battles dominated the news over the New Years holiday, ten states throughout the country quietly increased the minimum wage for their state's workers, effective January 1," she adds, noting, "Tax cuts for middle class workers may help many American families' bottom line, but jobs that pay better help, too." Despite the progress in some states, "many workers are still toiling in low-wage jobs," she writes, asking, "Given the frustrating performance with regard to the 'fiscal cliff,'" what "are the chances of increasing the federal minimum wage across the board?" (Bapat, RH Reality Check, 1/2).
What others are saying about the 'fiscal cliff':
~ "Fiscal Showdown To Be Continued in Two Months: How It Could Affect Women's Health," Jacqueline Murphy, Planned Parenthood Action Fund's "Women Are Watching."
TEEN PREGNANCY: "Teen Motherhood: When 'Reality TV' Doesn't Fully Reflect Reality," Avital Norman Nathman, RH Reality Check: Reality TV shows such as MTV's "Teen Mom" and dramas such as ABC Family's "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" "portray teen pregnancy in an unrealistic way that fetishizes and glamorizes it," elevating the "teen mom" to "star status," Nathman writes. However, after interviewing real teen mothers at an organization in western Massachusetts, which works with teen mothers to help them become self-sufficient, Nathman writes that many face challenges fighting stereotypes and, as some studies have shown, "do better than do their peers who are not mothers" (Nathman, RH Reality Check, 1/1).
ABORTION PROVIDERS: "Evidence-Based Advocacy: How Do Abortion Providers Experience Stigma?" Steph Herold, RH Reality Check: Herold writes about researcher Lisa Harris, whose team coined the term "legitimacy paradox" to describe how abortion providers' choice to "not disclose their work in everyday encounters, ... perpetuates a stereotype that abortion work is unusual or deviant, or that legitimate, mainstream doctors do not perform abortions." Herold writes, "Harris explains that [the legitimacy paradox] most likely affects the availability and accessibility of abortion services in several ways," including by potentially deterring medical students from seeking abortion training and by discouraging current doctors from providing abortions. "Additionally, the legitimacy paradox may impact people seeking abortion services -- that is, patients may assume that doctors at an abortion clinic are 'low-quality' physicians because they provide abortion services," Herold adds. To address stigma, "[w]e must demonstrate that we value the work of abortion providers by challenging the harmful assumption, from anti-abortion legislators as well as some in the medical community, that abortion providers are sub-par clinicians," she writes (Herold, RH Reality Check, 1/1).
What others are saying about abortion providers:
~ "Meet Gisella Perl, the Auschwitz Abortionist Who Saved Countless Lives During the Holocaust," Katie J.M. Baker, Jezebel.
CONTRACEPTION: "5 Reasons Teens Need Free Access to Contraception (Just Ask the French)," Judy Molland, Care2: Molland contrasts partisan battles in the U.S. over contraception with the attitude toward the issue in France, where a new law provides girls ages 15 through 18 with no-cost, confidential access to contraceptives. She outlines five reasons in favor of such as policy, including that "[j]ust as the lack of access to birth control does not stop kids from having sex, neither does the ability to obtain contraception mean that they will start having sex" (Molland, Care2, 12/22/12).
What others are saying about contraception:
~ "Religious Employer Wins Big -- Temporarily," Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog.
~ "Federal Appeals Court Frustratingly Blocks Contraceptive Mandate in Illinois Case," Doug Barry, Jezebel.
~ "Unlike the U.S., Most Countries Offer Birth Control Pills Over the Counter," Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
ATTACKS ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH IN 2013: "3 Looming Abortion Battles in 2013," Jessica Pieklo, Care2: "2013 is shaping up to be just as contentious [as 2012] as anti-choice advocates push for more restrictions in states and from the courts," Pieklo writes. She notes that "mandatory ultrasound laws and additional waiting periods" were the most commonly passed antiabortion measures in states in 2012. For 2013, she predicts more battles over Planned Parenthood funding, "so-called 'fetal pain' bans" and bills restricting the use telemedicine in abortion care (Pieklo, Care2, 12/27/12).
SEX WORKERS: "They Still Have Rights: The Search for Humanity and Justice for Sex Workers," Robin Hustle, Jezebel: Hustle marks the 10th annual International Day To End Violence against Sex Workers, a day to remember "all sex workers who have been murdered or harmed," including the dozens of women murdered by "Green River Killer" Gary Ridgeway in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as more recent violence against sex workers. Hustle features three interviews with advocacy leaders and a friend who is involved in the sex trade, focusing on the murders of three individuals in Chicago within a few days in 2012. "From a legal perspective, their deaths were unrelated, but for those of us who shared communities with these women-as sex workers, trans women, or people of color living in one of the most segregated cities in the country-their deaths are intimately connected," Hustle writes (Hustle, Jezebel, 12/30/12).