Monday, January 30, 2012

What we stood for outside the Supreme Court

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One week ago today, I joined pro-choice activists on the sidewalk outside the Supreme Court to commemorate the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Also that day a so-called "March for Life" took place.

You know as well as I do that opponents of women's reproductive rights could give a hoot about women's lives -- and that's why I'm hoping you'll give generously to help us fight for reproductive justice.

The coming year is not going to be pretty:

• The same day as our demonstration, House Speaker John Boehner spoke to the so-called "March for Life" -- we can expect this man to push more anti-choice bills to the floor.

• Republican presidential candidates appear to be in a war with each other to define who is most against women's health (Rick Santorum's suggestion that rape victims should "make the best of a bad situation" is only one such example).

• We can expect to hear more about the "Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act," which would further stigmatize women of color who seek abortion care.

Elections have consequences for reproductive rights, and 2012 is a critical year for women's rights activists -- will you give today?

For women's lives,
Terry O'Neill, President
National Organization for Women

P.S. Please give whatever you can afford -- even $25 helps NOW mobilize grassroots women's rights supporters in this critical election year.
 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Posted by: Anna Gedal


The Dominant Forced into Submission: Why Male Rape is Worse than Female Rape According to the New York Times

I was sipping my morning coffee when my friend sent me this link to a post on Radfem Hub.  It was about a recent article in the New York Times in which an entire two pages were devoted to the topic of male rape.  That is not to say that the issues of male rape does not deserve our attention, but the implications of the article were extremely disturbing on the part of the New York Times, and more deeply, a sad reflection of our patriarchal society in general. 
In the past, I’ve been disappointed by the NYT’s attempts to cover women’s issues, often feeling offended or upset after reading them.  More alarmingly, but perhaps not unexpectedly, I’ve found that several of their female journalists who cover women’s issues hold thinly veiled contempt for women and feminism.  Yet last week’s article, “As Victims, Men Struggle for Rape Awareness,” seemed miles beyond offensive studies that declared women who wear make-up will be more successful or how sweatshops in the third world contribute to female empowerment. I clicked on the link at the Radfem Hub and was redirected to the New York Times site.
First we see a well-dressed man standing fearlessly against a ferocious natural backdrop.  He looks at us with slight suspicion; his dominance is unmistakable.  He is in no way portrayed as a victim; his “masculinity” has been restored. 
Let’s start with the article’s title, as I find it in and of itself problematic, “As Victims, Men Struggle For Rape Awareness.”  Does this not imply that women do not struggle for awareness?  Does this not ignore the victim-blaming, rape culture within which we live?  The article explains the brutal assault that Keith Smith endured as a child.  After being raped, he promptly returned home and told his father and brother who did not question his accusation.  He was not blamed for the crime perpetrated against him.  The article does not mentioned what Smith was wearing nor does it discuss his sexual history.  He was the victim. Period.  Smith was raped by a stranger who ultimately was caught.  Before he could stand trial, he was shot and killed for his crime.  Retribution was served. The pictures and the title speak for themselves.  They beg the question: how could a strong man, a masculine figure be raped?
The article goes on to spew statistics about male rape and how it remains under-reported and how the resources for victims are limited because we expect women, not men to be raped.  Most frighteningly the article implies that Smith’s experience as a man was more damaging to him and his “masculinity” than it would have been for a woman.  In fact, the author, Roni Rabin, declares that rape for men transcends your run-of-the-mill effects.  Men suffer as female victims suffer, “But men also face a challenge to their sense of masculinity. Many feel they should have done more to fight off their attackers. Since they may believe that men are never raped, they may feel isolated and reluctant to confide in anyone. Male rape victims may become confused about their sexual orientation or, if gay and raped by a man, blame their sexual orientation for the rape.” As opposed to female victims, whose femininity is enforced by sexual assault?  Being naturally submissive, being socialized to be submissive, women are thus the natural victims of rape?  In our patriarchal world when the dominant are forced into submission, when the “masculine” are forced to take on a “feminine” role, does this constitute a more profound crime?
It is disturbing to me that an extremely credible, self-declared liberal news outlet can report stories in this manner and do so frequently without facing criticism.  This article suggests that as natural perpetrators, men, when victimized lose their sense of self. What does this say about our culture, about the way we understand gender and sexuality? Women endure sexual assault more readily than men.  The sexual crimes perpetrated against them more often than not go unreported and unpunished.  The society in which we live has plenty of mechanisms in place to blame them, and to excuse the perpetrators of their crimes.  This article is founded upon the premise that women are naturally victims and men are naturally victimizers. When this balance is thrown off, men, not women suffer.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Violence Against Women Act Needs Your Immediate Action

NOW Action Alert

Violence Against Women Act Needs Your Immediate Action

Tell your senators...
take action

After taking action,
please support our work!

January 26, 2012

TAKE ACTION: Your messages are urgently needed to push back against conservatives in the Senate who are attempting to drastically reduce funding under the Violence Against Women Act. Please call AND email your senators urging them to oppose amendments that would effectively shut down many smaller anti-violence programs and seriously impact services in larger programs.

NOW believes that requiring VAW programs to match federal funds by cash contributions is the first step toward eventually eliminating federal support. The Senate Judiciary Committee began consideration of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 1925) today, so your calls and messages should be sent ASAP.

BACKGROUND:

New Information Reveals Game Plan to Gut VAWA - As the Senate Judiciary Committee began its consideration of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S. 1925), it became clear that conservatives in the Senate are pushing hard to eventually eliminate federal funding for anti-violence programs that protect women (as well as men and children) from domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence. They are holding out for a proposed amendment that would require all programs to come up with a cash-only match in order to get federal funds -- a mandate that many local programs would not be able to meet.

Appropriation levels in VAWA 2011 were already seriously reduced, with amounts slashed back to 2000 levels. More than three-quarters of VAW programs, including hundreds of shelters, have indicated that they have experienced a decrease in funding overall (state, local and private sources) at the same time demand for services has increased for most of them! States in financial trouble have reduced support, while private donations have fallen off.

Huge Unmet Need - We know that demand for services are great. Statistics about violence in the U.S. come from the annual one-day census of shelters and services, conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Their 2010 annual survey of 1,746 participating programs found that 70,648 domestic violence survivors were served in that one day. However, 9,541 requests had to be turned away for lack of funds and staff to assist survivors in need of services, such as emergency shelter, housing, transportation, child care and legal representation. Of these requests, 60 percent were from survivors seeking emergency shelter or transitional housing.

Multiplying the more than 9,500 unmet requests out across a full year, it is estimated that roughly 3.5 million violence survivors could not obtain assistance from VAW programs because of inadequate funding and program staffing! Fully 92 percent of programs reported a rise in demand for services, while 77 percent reported a decrease in funding, according to the analysis.

These shocking statistics lend even more urgency to your message to the Senate to fully fund VAWA and oppose any efforts to require state and local programs to come up with matching cash and any other amendments that would reduce services.

Violence is Prevalent - A recently released study, The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, finds that in the U.S., on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. Since VAWA was enacted in 1994, reporting of domestic violence has increased by as much as 51 percent, and the rate of non-fatal intimate partner violence has decreased by 63 percent. We now know much more about the prevalence of violence against women, allowing state and local programs to better address remedies. VAWA provides essential resources to state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute these crimes as well as to the non-profit organizations that provide support to survivors.

VAWA Focuses on Prevention - The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act as introduced in the Senate on Nov. 30 by Judiciary Committee Chair Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and joined as co-sponsors by Sens. Michael D. Crapo (R-Idaho) and Paul Kirk (R-Ill.), would maintain VAWA's crucial support and services for survivors of violence.

VAWA 2011 also includes prevention programs that focus on children and youth, as well as ways to engage men as leaders and role models in ending violence against women. The bill provides tools to prevent domestic violence homicides by training law enforcement, victim service providers, and court personnel on identifying and managing high-risk offenders and connecting high-risk survivors to crisis intervention services.

Rural, Tribal Assistance Provided - VAWA 2011 improves responses to the high rate of violence against women in tribal communities by strengthening concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over perpetrators who assault Indian spouses and dating partners in Indian country.

VAWA programs have provided survivors with critical services such as transitional housing, legal assistance, and supervised visitation services. It has addressed the unique barriers faced by victims in rural communities, elderly victims, and those with disabilities. The bill strengthens housing protections for victims by applying existing housing protections to nine additional federal housing programs.

Senate to Move VAWA Soon - The Senate Judiciary Committee has begun finalizing S. 1925, readying it for a floor vote soon. The time is NOW to reach out to the Senate to urge the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act by sending messages to your senators and to urge them to oppose any amendments that would weaken programs' abilities to meet heightened demand. If your senator supports VAWA, please ask her/him to become a co-sponsor and to take leadership in getting a strong bill passed.

More Information:

National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, Facebook page with action and information items, plus toolkit.

National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, links to legislation, and section-by-section analysis

National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010

2010 Domestic Violence Counts: A 24-Hours Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and Services

Testimony by Terry O'Neill, Esq., President, National Organization for Women, A Hearing before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, July 13, 2011 (PDF)

 

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Urgent Election News

Elect Women NOW

The race for Oregon's 2nd District congressional seat is heating up, and the votes will be counted on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Don't delay -- mail in your vote for NOW/PAC-endorsed candidate Suzanne Bonamici today! After casting your ballot (or if you don't live in her district), please contact the campaign to volunteer to get out the vote.

Bonamici's Republican opponent, Tea Party candidate Rob Cornilles, opposes a woman's right to choose and has been endorsed by Oregon Right to Life. Recent alerts tell us:

Cornilles just took thousands of dollars from "KOCHPAC" -- the Koch Brothers' business PAC. As you may know, the Koch brothers are oil billionaires who are helping bankroll the Tea Party and other radical right-wing efforts.

Just as voters in Oregon's vote-by-mail-only election started to receive their ballots, GOP leaders swooped in with a television ad buy distorting Bonamici's record with half-truths, distortions and outright lies.

Bonamici previously had a healthy lead in the race, but Cornilles just released a poll suggesting he's closing the gap. The poll shows Bonamici just four points (within the margin of error) ahead of Cornilles.

We need feminists like Bonamici fighting for our rights on Capitol Hill. Mail in your ballot today and volunteer with the campaign to help reach out to other voters. The clock is ticking: Show Bonamici you've got her back!

For equality,
Terry O'Neill, President
National Organization for Women

 

© 2012 National Organization for Women

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

National Organization for Women News: Trust Women, Roe, SOTU, Birth Control


NOW News and Action Summary

National Organization for Women:
News & Action Summary

JANUARY 24, 2012

IN THIS ISSUE:


Join the Trust Women Week National Online March (Jan. 20-27)

Trust Women Week 2012

On this 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, NOW is proud to partner with the Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign, MoveOn and advocates around the country to begin 2012 with a powerful event that builds solidarity and momentum for reproductive health, rights and justice. Take Action!



Open Letter to President Obama: NOW Urges 2012 Wake-Up Call for Nation (PDF)

NOW is deeply invested in the message the president will send in his State of the Union Address on Jan. 24. The nation is at a crucial juncture that demands strong, principled leadership to restore a broadly representative democracy and reduce income inequality. Achieving these goals is essential for fairness and justice in our society. Read more.


Roe v. Wade Turns 39, Abortion Rights Still Under Attack

As we celebrate the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that recognized a woman's constitutional right to legal abortion, we can't forget how many times women's lives have been put at risk in the past year. Read more.


Join a Roe Commemoration Event Near You

keep abortion legal NOW round

Celebrate Roe v. Wade's 39th Anniversary with your local NOW chapter! Check here to see our list of actions and events hosted by our grassroots chapter network. *FYI: These events are still occurring through the end of this week.


Catholic Bishops Fail to Take Birth Control from More Women

In an important decision that ensures access to affordable birth control for millions of women, the Obama administration announced that it would not expand an unconstitutional refusal clause that will already deny contraceptive coverage to some women under the Affordable Care Act. Read more.


2012 National NOW Conference
*Save the Date*

2012 National NOW Conference

"A Feminist Wake-Up Call"

Friday, June 29 - Sunday, July 1

Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport
1739 West Nursery Road
Linthicum Heights, MD 20190

Visit the 2012 Conference website for more info »

Stay tuned for more 2012 conference updates soon.

2012 is a regional conference year. Learn more »

Action Spotlight

Roe v. Wade 39th Anniversary

To honor the decision that recognized women's legal right to abortion, the National Action Center hosted a peaceful and poignant vigil in front of the Supreme Court. View photos on Flickr »


Watch our video on YouTube »



Join or Give

Your support is absolutely vital to NOW's ability to take on the right wing and push ahead on all of our important issues. Please consider contributing and if you're not a member joining NOW.

Support NOW's campaign to save women's reproductive freedom.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

NOW to Celebrate Roe v. Wade 39th Anniversary with Vigil at U.S. Supreme Court

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Latoya Veal, 202-628-8669, ext. 116

NOW to Celebrate Roe v. Wade 39th Anniversary
with Vigil at U.S. Supreme Court

January 20, 2012

On Monday, Jan. 23, the National Organization for Women (NOW) will hold its annual vigil in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, commemorating the 39th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision affirming women's constitutional right to abortion.

"For nearly four decades, NOW and women's rights activists around the country have been fighting to ensure that women have access to the full range of reproductive health care services, including abortion, birth control and prenatal care," said NOW President Terry O'Neill. "But the struggle continues, and far-right extremists are now ramping up their attacks, passing a record number of state anti-abortion laws just last year, and pressing for complete defunding of family planning clinics."

"Clearly, abortion is still front and center on right-wing political agendas, putting women's lives at risk," O'Neill stated. "Our grassroots activists and allies across the country will continue to stand strong to protect our rights. We will never give up, and we will never go back."

Who: NOW President Terry O'Neill and pro-choice activists

What: Vigil to commemorate the 39th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

When: Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Where: In front of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1 First Street NE, Washington, D.C.

Local NOW chapters across the country will also host actions and events. A complete list is available online.

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Roe v. Wade Turns 39, Abortion Rights Still Under Attack

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Latoya Veal, 202-628-8669, ext. 116

Roe v. Wade Turns 39, Abortion Rights Still Under Attack
Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill

January 22, 2012

As we celebrate the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that recognized a woman's constitutional right to legal abortion, we can't forget how many times women's lives have been put at risk in the past year. Legislators in 24 states passed 92 anti-abortion provisions in 2011, shattering the previous record of 34 adopted in 2005, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

These new restrictions included waiting-period requirements, onerous and unnecessary clinic regulations and cuts to family planning services and providers because of their connection with abortion. Thanks to a newly energized grassroots coalition, voters defeated the Mississippi Personhood Amendment, a measure that would have legally defined personhood as beginning at fertilization in the state's constitution. But that fight is far from over.

Anti-choice extremists have also continued their push to restrict insurance coverage of abortion. Eight states severely limit insurance coverage of abortion in all private insurance plans written in the state, including those that will be offered through the health insurance exchanges that will be established under the federal health care reform law.

A majority of Americans agree with the Roe v. Wade decision and support a woman's right to safe and legal abortion care. One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. Yet the current GOP presidential candidates are so out of touch that Mitt Romney supports overturning Roe, Newt Gingrich wants to defund family planning, and Rick Santorum favors a constitutional ban on abortion.

Reproductive health care is not for some women; it is a fundamental right of all women. We will not let anti-choice groups destroy what we worked so hard for. On this anniversary, and with 289 days left until Election Day 2012, NOW pledges to work tirelessly to elect officials who will support women's access to the full range of reproductive health care services, and defeat those who don't.

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