Friday, April 29, 2011

SAFER Act Introduced in Congress: No-Cost Bill Will Help End Rape Kits' DNA Backlog

RAINN announced its strong support of the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act, just introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Ted Poe (R-TX). The SAFER Act will lead to the elimination of the DNA backlog and establish better standards for future tracking, storage and use of DNA evidence in sexual assault cases. The SAFER Act also allows victims to monitor the progress of forensic testing in their own case online, anytime.

"The SAFER Act is the vital next step in our efforts to eliminate the backlog of untested DNA evidence. This bill will help us shine a light on the remaining backlog, and give victims access to the status of their forensic evidence. Ultimately, it will lead to testing more DNA evidence and taking more rapists off our streets," said Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN.

The SAFER Act will increase the efficiency of the criminal justice system by more effectively targeting areas with the most significant backlogs, while making the entire process transparent to the public. The bill has strong bipartisan support, making supporters optimistic that it will move quickly through Congress.

Sign the petition to pass the SAFER Act

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

NOW News & Action Summary: Federal Budget, War on Women, Conference, Social Security, Get Ms.

NOW News and Action Summary

National Organization for Women:
News & Action Summary

APRIL 26, 2011


Last Chance: Submit Your Conference Workshop Proposal!

Maybe YOU could be part of the conference program! We are currently accepting workshop proposals. Don't delay -- the submission deadline is today, April 26! Learn more.

Less Than 60 Days -- Register Today, Book Your Hotel, and Order Your T-shirt

Join us for an action-packed weekend of strategizing, networking and rebellious good times. Online registration is open so start planning your trip today! Find out more about the compelling speakers scheduled, or order your official 2011 conference t-shirt.

It's 'Shock and Awe' for Women, the Middle Class and the Poor

NOW President Terry O'Neill says: "Watch out -- the war being waged on women, the middle class and the poor just took another dark turn." Read more.

President Obama Pledges to Protect Social Security; NOW Calls for Plan that Addresses Real Causes of Deficit

NOW welcomes President Obama's reaffirmation that Social Security is not the cause of our deficit and his pledge to protect Medicare and Medicaid. We hope he remains committed to not making any concessions on these programs in order to make a deal on the budget. Read more.

Special Offer: Support NOW, Get Ms.

Support NOW, Get Ms.

Through May 6, we are partnering with Ms. magazine, an award-winning feminist publication. When you donate $25 to NOW you can receive Ms. magazine for one year -- for free! And if you're not a NOW member, join today and get a Ms. magazine with your $25 join.

Join Us: NOW Spring Board Meeting

Join us by webinar on Sunday, May 1, for NOW's spring board meeting. It's open to all NOW members! And if you're not yet a NOW member, join today so you can attend. Read more.

Grassroot Spotlight

Fayetteville NOW Stands With Planned Parenthood

Fayetteville NC NOW - Feb 25, 2011

On Feb. 25, after Rep. Mike McIntyre (D - N.C.) voted to defund Planned Parenthood, Fayetteville NOW picketed his office.

Join or Give

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Action Alert: Oppose Court-Ordered Visitation of children with Convicted Sex Offenders

National Organization for Women-NYS Decries Court Ordered Visitation with Convicted Sex Offenders
Click on this link to contact Governor Cuomo & your state legislature.

Court Ordered, Visitation with Convicted Pedophiles/Sex Offenders is dangerous for women and children.

ALBANY, NY 4/20/11 The New York State Appellate Division 3rd Department recently affirmed the outrageous decision of a Saratoga Family Court Judge Courtenay Hall, ordering a five year old girl visitation in a maximum security prison, with her father, a convicted pedophile. Mr. Culver plead guilty to twenty-nine counts of first degree sexual abuse after molesting eight of his first grade students. He was afforded a free attorney to drag his ex wife through the Family Court, forensics and the Appellate Court, all on the taxpayers dime. Though the Appellate Court overturned the lower courts order for the mother to absorb the cost for the child's 3 hour transportation and escort fees, the child's mother, who committed no crime, lost her right to decide what is best for her daughter and now they both are court ordered to suffer the consequences of this mans crimes.

In June 2010, Sukhwant Herb of Brooklyn, NY, was sentenced to 50 days in Rikers Island for refusing to allow her 9-year old son to visit with his father who is a convicted serial rapist father in an Arizona prison. She was denied bail, and though technically not charged with a crime, she served 19 days before public outrage and a Daily News article won her an early release. Brooklyn Family Court Judge Robin Sheares is still a sitting judge though reassigned to Civil Court. The father, Seon Jonas, was able to obtain a visitation order while in jail.

Suffolk County Family Court Judge, Andrew Tarantino, granted overnight visits for children whose father was convicted of third-degree rape of a minor and possessing child pornography. The judge refused to hear expert testimony and stated in his decision, "to consider sinister every activity in which there may be contact may approach paranoia in some circumstances and this court can not render a decision based upon paranoia". Notably Judge Tarantino was recently censured for taking a teenage litigant to an out of the way beach park for a chat without notifying his attorney or opposing council. The young man has since committed suicide. Judge Tarantino has been reassigned though still a sitting judge.

These orders defy common sense and ignore the laws that are set up to protect citizens and their children. It further exemplifies how judges have been given too much discretion and too little oversight. Judges do not have to detail the reasons for their decisions that are often made on personal preferences rather than legal precedent and suffer little to no consequences for the damage they do. Though commissions were set up to address these matters, we still see no ability for the court to correct itself.

Along with NOW-NYS, urge the NYS Assembly to pass common sense legislation immediately halting all court ordered, forced visitation with pedophiles and sex offenders. We ask that all taxpayer funded programs used for this purpose be cut off immediately and completely. Finally, we ask for a means to remove bad judges. They suffer no consequences for their actions and their actions are often careless and dangerous.
Click on this link to contact Governor Cuomo & your state legislature.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Want to Work Until You Die? Take Action: Rally on April 27 & 28

NOW Action Alert

Want to Work Until You Die?

take action

Take Action: Rally on April 27 & 28

Are you ready to work until age 69 or even longer before you can receive Social Security benefits? That could easily happen if an effort underway in Congress succeeds -- Republicans are pushing for it, and some Democrats are reported to be ready to support it. But NOW is fighting back.

On Wednesday and Thursday, April 27 and 28, NOW activists and allies from across the country will demonstrate that "working until we die" is NOT ACCEPTABLE -- neither are the deep benefit cuts to Social Security proposed by Republicans. Please join NOW activists and allies at one of these important Don't Make Us Work 'Til We Die actions to ensure that women get the benefits they have earned and don't have to work until they drop.

Find a rally in your area. Activities are taking place in at least 18 states and more than 50 cities. And please call or email us at to let us know your plans; take pictures of yourself and friends at the rallies and send these in to NOW (or post them online and send us the link). A vote on this could happen in just a few weeks -- we must stop this crazy idea in its tracks, and we need thousands of NOW activists to help!


Low-Income Women's Life Expectancy Decreased: Republicans -- and some Democrats -- think there is nothing wrong with raising the retirement age, because they have the mistaken view that life expectancy for everyone has increased. In fact, life expectancy for women has stagnated, with lower-income women seeing declines in life expectancy. Millions of working women cannot lift tons of weight (as nurses do each day), wait tables, and clean houses all day, every day throughout their 60s. Continuing to undergo the serious health risks associated with this work will impact the rest of their lives.

Benefit Cuts Would Hurt Many Women: Women in low-income occupations depend upon Social Security for the majority of their retirement income, and working longer before you are able to retire is, in fact, a deep benefit cut. This would disproportionately affect women of color, who often have a negative net worth before the age of 50; many low- and moderate-income women depend on their Social Security checks as their only source of income in retirement. Without Social Security, or with significantly-reduced Social Security benefits, many women would fall below the poverty line. If the retirement age is raised, these women will have no other choice than to work until they drop.

Destroying Medicare, Limiting Medicaid Funding: If this news isn't bad enough, Republican extremists who control the House have passed a budget that would convert Medicare to a voucher system with limited medical expenses (no matter what a person's health conditions required), and the vouchers would go straight to insurers. This radical Republican plan, proposed by House Budget Chair Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), would also raise the Medicare eligibility age from its current 65 to 67.

And, they plan to convert Medicaid to a block grant program, which would result in far less federal funding available to states to provide health care services to the poor. Medicaid is the single most important program providing reproductive health care for low-income women.

Benefits Need to be Improved, Not Cut: Our leaders ought to be working to strengthen Social Security by improving benefits, not cutting them. Many women in retirement depend upon a Social Security check of little over $1,000 per month. Many do not have sufficient savings, investments, or pension income. This is a cruel and needless plan that would punish most seniors, low- and moderate-income workers, persons with disabilities, and older workers who may develop health conditions related to working longer years. Please take up this fight with us.

To Do

NOW activists and allies are working hard to create Don't Make Us Work 'Til We Die actions across the U.S. to show lawmakers that we simply CANNOT -- and should not be asked to -- work until we die. They plan to show up at rallies with walkers, wheelchairs, white wigs and even coffins -- anything to demonstrate the point.

Here's what you can do:

  1. Plan to attend a rally -- or if there isn't one in your city, organize one. Check online to see where rallies are being held OR,
  2. Watch a short video that is a humorous parody of the Twilight Zone TV show depicting our future if politicians raise the Social Security retirement age and turn Medicare over to insurance companies.
  3. Need help? Contact NOW's Field Organizer, Anita Lederer at or 202-628-8669 ext. 134. Send Anita photos of you and your friends at the rally.
  4. Please note, if you cannot participate in a rally on April 27 or 28. Join in on the Virtual Rally to submit your photo and take a stand against raising the retirement age.
take action and then donate

Demand that Judges stop forcing moms to give child visitation to child molesters

The following action alert is a result of many bad examples of judges forcing mothers to let convicted sex offenders visit their children, sometimes overnight.  These programs of reunifying serial rapists/child molesters through prison visitation with their very young children, is done at the expense of taxpayer money.  Here are some examples, provided by Tracy of Mid-Suffolk NOW:

    Those of us who try to "stay in the know" with court trends in trendy NY cant help but notice the new fashion in court orders is: keep your child close to a child molester.    
    Below are 3 separate news articles involving NYS judges ordering children visitation with their fathers/ serial rapists/child molesters. 2 have been transferred with the office of court administration refusing to reveal their new job or location, though they did say they have not been fired. The 3rd is still in place as a higher court upheld the decision.    
    Remember the good old days when thousands of children were taken away from mothers and put in foster care because mom didn't grab those kids and run away from the abusive father far enough, even if they had nowhere to go, no money to get them there, or too beaten down themselves? Now, what do we tell people who discover their children have been abused? Get cozy cause the court will be ordering them back to daddy anyway? The legal standard states the court must act in "the best interests of the child". I bet some of you are really confused right now, so let me clarify this   
    The fashion this Spring for NY ladies is....damned if you do....damned if you don't. Be sure to pass this on to all the ladies "in the know " that you know, don't know.   
    Case #1 Saratoga County  
    In a 3-2 decision, the Appellate Division, Third Department, in Culver v. Culver, affirmed that part of a Saratoga County Family Court decision of Judge Courtenay Hall which granted visitation to an incarcerated father with his 5-year old daughter.  The father, Christopher Culver, 35, a former Shenendehowa elementary school teacher, pleaded guilty in 2008 to a 49-count indictment which included 29 counts of first degree sexual abuse arising from his molestation of 8 of Culver's first grade male students.   
    Case #2 Suffolk County 
    During the visitation hearing in January, Judge Tarantino joked about child pornography, misstated the facts of the case, refused to hear expert testimony regarding sexual-abuse recidivism and maintained an "inappropriate" relationship with the father's attorney, according to the complaint. The complaint was filed Tuesday with the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct by Parents for Megan's Law and the Crime Victims Center, a Long Island advocacy group. It was also forwarded to the OCA, which is independent from the commission The OCA transferred the judge out of Family Court on Monday, based on the allegations underlying the complaint.   
     Case #3 Brooklyn NY 
    Brooklyn mom jailed for 50 days for keeping son from visiting serial rapist dad

Governor Cuomo and New York State Legislature must demand that Judges stop giving visitation to convicted sex offenders.

National Organization for Women-NYS Decries Court Ordered Visitation with Convicted Sex Offenders

Click on this link to contact Governor Cuomo & your state legislature.

Urge Governor Cuomo & NYS Legislature to Protect Women & Children
National Organization for Women-NYS
Decries Court Ordered, Visitation with Convicted Sex Offenders 
NOW-NYS urges the NYS Assembly to pass common sense legislation immediately halting all court ordered, forced visitation with pedophiles and sex offenders. We ask that all taxpayer funded programs used for this purpose be cut off immediately and completely. Finally, we ask for a means to remove bad judges.   Judges suffer no consequences for their actions and their actions are often careless and dangerous.

You can also call Governor Cuomo at (518) 474-8390

Click on this link to contact Governor Cuomo & your state legislature.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Call your NYC Councilmembers to list their name on Resolution 712, which urges Gov Cuomo to halt the Medicaid Redesign Team

Call your New York City Councilmembers!


Ask them to list their name on New York City Council Resolution 712

which urges Governor Cuomo to halt the Medicaid Redesign Team

and create a process that is  prudent and inclusive


(Resolution text below for your review.)


The New York City Council

Legislation Text

City Hall

New York, NY 10007

Res. No. 712

Resolution calling upon New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York Legislature to halt

the Medicaid Redesign process and create a process that is prudent and inclusive in order to reduce the

Medicaid budget and raise additional revenue to pay for services without compromising health care for needy

New Yorkers.

By Council Members Mendez, Barron, Brewer, Dickens and Jackson

Whereas, New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo established the Medicaid Redesign Team,

through Executive Order, to find ways to save money within the Medicaid program for Fiscal Year 2012; and

Whereas, The Governor named a 27-member Medicaid Redesign Team that is composed of a

significant number of hospital administrators, with only one community representative and only four people of

color as members; and

Whereas, The Governor charged the Medicaid Redesign Team with executing its goal without

compromising care for New Yorkers; and

Whereas, The Medicaid Redesign Team was asked to come up with recommendations on how to cut the

state's share of the Medicaid budget by $2.85 billion for Fiscal Year 2012; and

Whereas, This proposed cut will result in the loss of matching federal dollars bringing the total loss of

Medicaid program funding for New York to almost $6 billion for Fiscal Year 2012; and

Whereas, Medically underserved communities exist in New York City; and

Whereas, Most recently there has been a notable loss of services in underserved, immigrant and

communities of color, due to the closing of St. Mary's Hospital and its community-based health centers in

Central Brooklyn, Mary Immaculate Hospital and St. John's Hospital in Queens, and North General Hospital in

Harlem; and

Whereas, Many critically needed services such as primary care for all New Yorkers, especially the

underserved, and mental health services, are reliant upon funding from Medicaid programs to continue; and

Whereas, There are hospitals and health centers in New York City that are financially vulnerable, such

that the loss of Medicaid revenue could result in the closing of these providers; and

Whereas, The Medicaid Redesign Team was given proposals to consider that do not take into account

many of the factors for providing need based health services; and

Whereas, The approved recommendations do not protect safety net health care providers that exist in

underserved communities that serve the uninsured and Medicaid beneficiaries; and

Whereas, The Health and Hospitals Corporation could lose approximately $150 million per year in

funding based upon the recommendations that were adopted, and have already been implementing in services

because of a financial deficit; and

Whereas, The Governor has incorporated the recommendations of the Medicaid Redesign Team,

making them part of the State Executive Budget; and

Whereas, As currently proposed, the State Legislature will not be allowed to modify any of these

proposals, but rather only vote them up or down; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls upon New York State Governor Andrew M.

Cuomo and the New York Legislature to halt the Medicaid Redesign process and create a process that is

prudent and inclusive in order to reduce the Medicaid budget and raise additional revenue to pay for services

without compromising health care for needy New Yorkers.


LS #2175


The New York City Council Page 2 of 2 Printed on 4/20/2011

It's 'Shock and Awe' for Women, the Middle Class and the Poor

NOW Press Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Lisa Bennett, 202-628-8669, ext. 123

It's 'Shock and Awe' for Women, the Middle Class and the Poor
Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill

April 19, 2011

Watch out -- the war being waged on women, the middle class and the poor just took another dark turn. Those connecting the dots will recognize the progression from the calamitous shock to the economy perpetrated by Wall Street to the systematic looting of public assets and families' pocketbooks by conservative lawmakers in Washington and various states.

We must ask whether political calculation motivated Standard and Poor's (S&P) to announce its negative outlook for the U.S. yesterday. Right-wing legislators wasted no time jumping on the announcement as 'proof' that the U.S. must cut Social Security benefits, voucherize Medicare, block grant Medicaid, and target a host of other social programs that disproportionately serve and employ women -- not just family planning but also assisted housing, student loans, Head Start, nutrition, prenatal and infant care and hundreds of other important programs.

Women rely on these programs especially because the recovery, which is anemic to begin with, is leaving them behind. While women accounted for one-third of the jobs lost in the recession, men have picked up almost 90 percent of the job gains. The wage gap -- women on average are paid only 77 cents on the dollar paid to men -- makes it even harder for women to make ends meet. And women of color, subjected to race-based as well as gender-based wage discrimination, are at particular risk.

But conservative politicians and their corporate backers are oblivious to these realities. No surprise there -- this is the same crowd who converted the federal budget surplus to a massive deficit in the Bush/Cheney administration. They were the cheerleaders when the U.S. was led into unnecessary and catastrophically costly wars. They engineered the huge tax breaks on the wealthiest, and then deregulated Wall Street, which soon went out of control and drove the U.S. economy off a cliff, creating the worst unemployment crisis this country has seen in generations.

We hear repeatedly that the 'serious' approach to reining in the U.S. deficit and lowering this nation's debt is to slash spending. But that ignores the revenue side of the budget, conveniently drawing attention away from the need to require multimillionaires and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and to generate income-tax-producing jobs. This is not rocket science: Jobs mean income; income means income tax; income tax means revenue to pay down the deficit. Seriously, who doesn't get this?

But the forces at work here don't give a hoot about lowering the debt or creating jobs. They are too busy making the ridiculously rich even richer while decimating government programs that give women and other disadvantaged people a chance at a decent life.

NOW calls on our elected leadership to stand up for our nation's most admirable principles -- those of fairness, equality and opportunity. Women will support those who do.

### | Press Room | Support NOW's Work

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Scary Reality of a Real-Life Barbie Doll

By Galia Slayen

Some people have skeletons in their closet. I have an enormous Barbie in mine.

She stands about six feet tall with a 39" bust, 18" waist, and 33" hips. These are the supposed measurements of Barbie if she were a real person. I built her as a part of the first National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAW) at my high school, later introducing her to Hamilton College during its first NEDAW in 2011.

When I was a little girl, I played with my Barbie in her playhouse, sending her and Ken on dates that always ended with a goodnight kiss. I had fond times with my Barbie, and I admired her perfect blonde locks and slim figure. Barbie represented beauty, perfection and the ideal for young girls around the world. At least, as a seven-year-old, that is what she was to me.

In January 2007, I was looking for a way to make my peers realize the importance of eating disorders and body image issues. I was frustrated after quitting the cheerleading squad, frustrated with pressures to look and act a certain way and most of all frustrated with the eating disorder controlling my life. I wanted to do something that would turn others' apathy into action. That evening, my neighbor and I found two long pieces of wood and started measuring. With a little math, nails and hammering, we built a stick figure that stood about six feet tall.

The chicken wire came next. Surrounding her wooden frame, we created a body that wasn't much thicker than a stick figure, but had the womanly and unattainable curves and proportions that impressionable young girls idealize. We stuffed the chicken wire with newspaper and created a body that creepily leaned against the wall in my neighbor's basement. She now needed some skin, so I brought her back to my apartment and employed the masterful art of papier maché.

Taking stacks of newspaper, glue and water, I skipped my high school semi-formal dance to give my girl some skin. Oddly, I started to feel my fondness for Barbie return, now not as a plaything but as a tool to reveal the negative body image that she promotes. As I papier machéd, I couldn't forget Barbie's impressive bust and blew up balloons over and over again to achieve a perfect 39" measurement. Once her chest was secured, I spent hours dipping and smoothing the paper, and later mixed paints to replicate her seemingly perfect white skin tone. With a little hard work and a lot of time, a headless, footless and handless body soon stood in my apartment.

But it was then I became stumped. I couldn't figure out how to recreate the recognizable face of the Barbie we all know and love. With NEDAW just around the corner, I was panicked. On my way to get office supplies, I drove by a Toys 'R' Us, and that's when it hit me. Remember that Barbie with just shoulders and a head, meant for you to practice brushing her hair? I confidently walked into the toy store for the first time since I was a kid. I found the Barbie head, found a friend to assemble that head, and clothed Barbie for her first debut.

I dressed Barbie in my old clothes. The skirt she still has on today is a reminder of who I once was. That skirt, a size double zero, used to slip off my waist when I was struggling with anorexia. I put it on Barbie to serve as a reminder that the way Barbie looks, the way I once looked, is not healthy and is not "normal," whatever normal might mean. My Barbie's role is simple. She grabs the attention of apathetic onlookers and makes them think and talk about an issue that thrives in silence. In the last four years, Barbie has surpassed my expectations, attracting attention and sparking conversation among listeners and readers across the nation.

Once a year, at the end of February, Barbie comes out of the closet to meet my friends, strangers, and those apathetic onlookers. During NEDAW, she reminds people that eating disorders and body image issues are serious and prevalent. Holding an awareness week in high school or college is just one way to get students to discuss these important issues. However, constant discussion and education is key to dealing with and overcoming eating disorders.

Despite her bizarre appearance, Barbie provides something that many advocacy efforts lack. She reminds of something we once loved, while showing us the absurdity of our obsession with perfection.

More "Get Real, Barbie" statistics:*

• There are two Barbie dolls sold every second in the world.
• The target market for Barbie doll sales is young girls ages 3-12 years of age.
• A girl usually has her first Barbie by age 3, and collects a total of seven dolls during her childhood.
• Over a billion dollars worth of Barbie dolls and accessories were sold in 1993, making this doll big business and one of the top 10 toys sold.
• If Barbie were an actual women, she would be 5'9" tall, have a 39" bust, an 18" waist, 33" hips and a size 3 shoe.
• Barbie calls this a "full figure" and likes her weight at 110 lbs.
• At 5'9" tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. She likely would not menstruate.
• If Barbie was a real woman, she'd have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
• Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs with a book entitled "How to Lose Weight" with directions inside stating simply "Don't eat."

For more information, call the South Shore Eating Disorders Collaborative at 508-230-1732 or visit the National Eating Disorders Association at
* Source: Body Wars, Margo Maine, Ph.D., Gurze Books, 2000.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Obama's slams the GOP!

Obama caught on audio slamming GOP By Rachel Rose Hartman

Yesterday, President Obama delivered some of his harshest criticism yet of his recent battle with Republicans to fund the government.

However, Obama may not have intended for everybody to hear him.

While listening to an audio feed from a Chicago fundraiser Thursday night, CBS News reporter Mark Knoller heard Obama speaking with donors after other reporters had left the room. That's when the president really opened up about his disdain for the recent GOP pushback:

"I said, 'You want to repeal health care? Go at it. We'll have that debate. But you're not going to be able to do that by nickel-and-diming me in the budget. You think we're stupid?'" the president said.

Obama also complained about GOP attempts to attach a bill to the resolution to fund the government that would defund women's health services provider Planned Parenthood.

"Put it in a separate bill," the president said he told House Speaker John Boehner and his staff, CBS reported. "We'll call it up. And if you think you can overturn my veto, try it. But don't try to sneak this through."

The president also made clear he is no fan of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the GOP's Budget Committee chairman.

"When Paul Ryan says his priority is to make sure... he's just being America's accountant and trying to be responsible-- this is the same guy that voted for two wars that were unpaid for, voted for the Bush tax cuts that were unpaid for, voted for the prescription drug bill that cost as much as my health care bill--but wasn't paid for," Obama said.

Why the dearth of statues honoring women in Statuary Hall and elsewhere?

I have had the honor of communicating with Dr. Lynette Long, quoted on the article below; her group EVE does great work, along with the NOW chapters quoted below and elsewhere.  When people argue that feminism is unnecessary, please point them to this article.

N. Jerin Arifa
National NOW Board of Directors
National NOW Young Feminist Task Force, Chair
NOW – NYS Young Feminist Task Force, Chair
National Organization for Women (NOW)

Why the dearth of statues honoring women in Statuary Hall and elsewhere?
By Cari Shane, Friday, April 15, 1:31 PM
When the 2011 Maryland General Assembly session ended Monday, left unfinished was the effort of some residents to honor a famed abolitionist in a space held by a long-forgotten Revolutionary War figure. The failure of the campaign to replace a sculpture of John Hanson in the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall with one of Harriet Tubman especially irked some women's advocates. "I am pretty disgusted," says Linda Mahoney, president of the Maryland Chapter of the National Organization for Women. "Women continue to be put in the margins or in the footnotes. Yet there is just so much documentation about what Harriet Tubman did. This is separate and unequal treatment."
But even those advocating for Tubman might not have realized how rare it is to establish a statue commemorating a female figure. Of the 5,193 public outdoor sculptures of individuals in the United States, only 394, or less than 8 percent, are of women, compared with 4,799 of men, according to the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Art Inventories Catalog, considered the most up-to-date catalogue of such works. And none of the 44 national memorials managed by the National Park Service (such as the Lincoln Memorial) specifically focuses on women and their accomplishments, writes art historian Erika Doss in her book "Memorial Mania."
The lack of female monuments and statuary "sends a very clear nonverbal message . . . about the relative stature of boys and girls and men and women. It expands the broader message that the contributions of women don't matter," says Lynette Long, a Washington area psychologist and founder of EVE (Equal Visibility Everywhere), a year-old nonprofit group that advocates for gender parity among the nation's signs, symbols, monuments, currencies and even parade balloons.
Long says the nonverbal signal sent by the dominance of male statuary trumps any verbal communication girls receive about being equal to boys. "Humans tend to trust the nonverbal, and the statues send a very clear nonverbal message. Girls can't be what they can't see," she says.
First was in 1884
The first U.S. statue of a celebrated woman was not erected until 1884 in New Orleans, according to the Smithsonian records; it depicts Margaret Haughery, who devoted her life to the care and feeding of the poor. The fact that commemoration of women has not kept pace with that of men is not surprising, art historians say, given our history and the reasons Americans tend to build memorials.
Americans "worry about saying thank you to our heroes," says Erika Doss, a professor of American studies at Notre Dame University. "We want to pay due respect, and we want to preserve the memory because we worry about forgetting. We want to have closure."
And, historically speaking, our heroes are political and military figures who fought in wars. "We have a male-centered history, so we have more male statues," Doss says.
Art historian Ellen Wiley Todd of George Mason University agrees. Between 1860 and 1959, an era that saw a large uptick in commemorative memorials, "people were putting up statues and memorials . . . to events and people who were considered to be history makers, and those were men."
During this time, statues of 170 women were erected, although art historians point out that this celebration is largely generic, similar to the Greek- and Roman-era statues that honor the female form with anonymous figures. Allegorical or mythical female statues of that era abound in Washington, including "Freedom" atop the Capitol dome (1863), "North America" and "South America" at the Organization of American States building (1910) and a nymph in the Joseph Darlington fountain (City University of New York) at Fifth and D streets NW (1923).
Replacement allowed
As women's numbers increased in potentially history-making arenas such as politics and the military, however, their marble and bronze representations did not reflect that change. Between 1960 and today, the Smithsonian records show, 184 public statues of individual women were installed in the United States, and 1,440 male statues were erected during the same period.
Michele H. Bogart, an American visual culture studies professor at Stony Brook University, calls the number "surprising." But, she adds, "by looking at what was produced each decade, we can see a moment where there was a change, where there were more women in statuary." After 1991, she says, there was a jump in the installation of statues representing women, such as a 1996 New York City monument to Eleanor Roosevelt and a 2003 memorial in Boston honoring Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone and Phillis Wheatley.
Another monument to women established during that period was the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington, dedicated in 1993 after a nine-year effort to bring it to fruition. But it didn't happen easily, according to its founder.
"It was incredible how hard we had to work not only to get a sculpture, but one that looked like women," says Diane Evans, who had been an Army first lieutenant and head nurse in Vietnam and spearheaded the initiative. "We were told by J. Carter Brown, the head of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., that a woman's statue would upset the delicate balance of tension at the Vietnam Memorial."
Change has also been slow to come to the Capitol's National Statuary Hall, which some historians consider a microcosm of the U.S. statuary landscape. Designated by Congress in 1864, it showcases statues of two distinguished individuals from each state, chosen by the legislatures. Before 2000, only six of the 100 statues were female.
In 2000, Congress voted to allow states to replace one or both of their statues. According to Alan Hantman, who was the architect of the Capitol from 1997 to 2007, the law was spurred by "a change in the philosophies of individual states" wanting to remove statues of "forgotten legislators and battle heroes."
Although not aimed at women, the new law opens the door for more women in Statuary Hall, he says. "Personally, it's long overdue. There are very powerful people who have impacted the history of our nation, the history of states, who have been women. They haven't gotten the recognition before, and I am personally pleased that each individual state is reevaluating who represents them in the Statuary Hall collection."
Only one of 11 states that has replaced a statue, Alabama, has voted to replace a renowned man with a renowned woman. (Alabama removed a statue of Jabez Lamar Monroe Curry, a member of Congress in the mid-1800s and advocate for universal free education, and installed one of Helen Keller in 2009.) Two other states have installed female statues since 2000, although neither statue replaced an existing statue. In 2003, North Dakota installed Sacagawea, and, two years later, Nevada erected a statue of Sarah Winnemucca. In Kansas, a campaign to replace Sen. John James Ingalls with Amelia Earhart has stalled.
Iowa may be an exception to the trend. Last month, the legislature's vote to replace the statue of Sen. James Harlan with one of agronomist Norman Borlaug, a Nobel Prize winner for advances in fighting famine, was met immediately with the suggestion to replace Iowa's other figure, Gov. Samuel Jordan Kirkwood, with a woman. "Our male colleagues are saying yeah, you are right," says Democratic state Rep. Mary Mascher. "They have daughters and mothers and wives and sisters, and they certainly are cognizant and aware of the fact that we don't have a woman statue there and it is something that has been long overdue."
Maryland Del. Susan C. Lee (D-Montgomery), who was one of the leaders of the effort to honor Tubman, knew there was a big disparity in the number of male and female statues when she took on the cause. But she says she believes Tubman's importance transcends issues of gender. Tubman, Lee says, was "an American hero. She's almost an overqualified individual to be in Statuary Hall."
Behind the trends
Why the difficulty commemorating women in this day and age? Part of the problem is the lack of visibility itself, says Harriet Senie, director of museum studies and professor of art history at City College of New York: "We are not used to seeing physical female figures commemorated in public memorials. I think until it becomes as familiar to honor women as it is to honor men, the numbers will continue" to skew male.
"Public monuments tend to be conservative and to lag behind social trends," says Kirk Savage, an art history professor at the University of Pittsburgh and author of "Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape."
Because public monuments are the domain of the heroic, a traditionally male sphere, Savage adds, it has taken decades for artists to figure out "how to represent female achievement in this traditionally male art form. That's why statuary females are put in traditionally male poses or created in traditional female roles such as the nurses in the Vietnam Women's Memorial, nurturing, caring for the wounded."
"Sculpture is a medium of tradition based on heroic events," George Mason's Todd agrees. "Who are our heroes? Firefighters, police officers, soldiers — people on the front lines who are conceived of as male. They may not all be men, but it is a masculine conception."
And it is getting harder to recognize anyone at all, male or female. Since 2001, only 50 public statues, male and female, have been installed in the United States. "The very mechanism for approval has gotten more complicated because cities are monumented out," Bogart says.
Finally, for whatever reason, women may not have been their own best advocates for public recognition. "Obviously, women have done plenty in American society, including commissioning memorials to the guys," Doss says. But "when it comes to their own histories or their own monuments, not so much. Are women just . . . being deferential to a male-dominated history? It seems that women have a lot more work to be doing in order to raise public consciousness about women in the course of American history."
Some experts suggest that instead of focusing on erecting celebratory statues of themselves, women chose to focus on effecting legislative change. "They were drawn away by causes, living memories, breast cancer research, fundraising efforts. The non-physical memorial may have become the more important subject women are focusing on," says Todd, whose most recent research has focused on the New York Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which erupted in 100 years ago last month. According to Todd, union members and activists (mostly women) decided not to build an actual memorial to the 146 mostly female garment workers who died, but to keep their memory alive by fighting to improve working conditions.
Alexander Sanger, grandson of Margaret Sanger, who founded the birth control movement more than 80 years ago, agrees with this "diversion theory," suggesting it is the prime reason that an effort to erect a Sanger statue died out.
"We are asking our donors for so much right now [to help fund important programs], and they are responding. Perhaps women's statues will be like women doctors or lawyers: It takes 30 years after they get admitted to law or medical school for the employment numbers to even out. So perhaps it will take a generation or two after the Second Wave of Feminism for the statues to even out."
Lee, for one, is not being diverted. "I am not worn down by this, I am fired up. I know now what we need to do, and I am committed to bringing the bill next year," she says. "We are going to go back and regroup, and we are going to produce a really good bill so we can have Harriet Tubman in Statuary Hall."
Shane is a freelance writer.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Monday, April 18: Protest Corporate Tax Dodgers

You're Invited:
Protest corporate tax dodgers:
Monday—Tax Day—in Long Island City

Host: Regina S., MoveOn member

Where: Citibank Plaza on Long Island City (in Long Island City)

When: Monday, Apr. 18, at 12:00 PM

Can you come?
Click below for more details and to RSVP:

I'll be there
I can come.

Can't make it
Sorry, I can't make it this time.

What: While vital government services get cut, corporations like GE are making huge profits, but paying no federal taxes. So, on Monday—Tax Day—in Long Island City, and at hundreds of events across the country, we'll gather outside the headquarters and local offices of the biggest corporate tax dodgers to deliver tax bills from the American people. We'll demand that our leaders make them pay up, instead of cutting billions from programs that would create new jobs, drive economic growth and help the needy and our nation's children.

And don't worry, this email was sent through the MoveOn system, so your personal contact info is kept private.