Welcome back to #FeministFriday Bad Week/Good Week! Though it wasn't intended, we start and end with Betsy DeVos. Oddly, she made it into both the bad news and the good news section, but not quite like it sounds. We also have some bad news for women who breastfeed at work. A few bad apples in general, with the worm going to one woman in particular (I wonder who that might be, she says sarcastically). I am happy to report that we also have some men who are working toward equality and a better world for all of us and, as always, some rockin women who are providing platforms and making their voices heard!
Bad news in feminism:
Our Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, continues to be bombarded with legitimate, educated condemnation for her archaic and harmful proposed changes to Title IX. But still, she moves forward with her evil plan, undaunted by actual intelligence. According to the Women's National Law Center, "Judith Herman, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and renowned author of Trauma and Recovery, submitted a joint comment with over 900 mental health professionals to strongly express their opposition to the Department of Education’s (ED) proposed rules changing how schools must respond to sexual harassment, including sexual assault, under Title IX. In their comment to ED they cited the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment and that the proposed changes “would exacerbate psychological harms to victims”". Both as a human being and as a mom of a daughter about to leave home for college, this terrifies me. I will never understand how we can be moving backward in terms of protecting our children from assault and harassment. Full article here.
Discrimination against breastfeeding workers is rampant and often has devastating consequences. According to a report by Pregnant @ Work, An Initiative of the Center for Work Life Law, "Breastfeeding workers have been fired, forced to resign, and subjected to other economic harms. Many face serious health consequences, including illness and painful infections, diminished milk supply, and weaning earlier than doctors recommend." The report, the first of its kind, details personally humiliating, physically harmful, and financially damaging behavior that breastfeeding women endure at work. Though there are some laws that protect lactating women, we clearly have a very long way to go. Full story and report here.
Good news in feminism:
Aaron Gouveia tweeted about his son, Sam, getting bullied in kindergarten for wearing red nail polish. He called out toxic masculinity and the harmful effects of assigning certain characteristics, behavior, and fashion to one gender or the other. Sam received a ton of love online with both men and boys taking photographs of their own painted nails in solidarity. Original tweets here. A photo of Sam and his awesome dad are below. This is a perfect example of allowing children to do what makes them happy and understanding that that can look different for everyone. We are finally embracing that girls can wear dinosaur t-shirts and play with rockets but we are lagging behind when it comes to accepting boys wearing nail polish and t-shirts with pink unicorns. Equality matters for everyone. #BeYourself!
Ellen Degeneres has been nominated yet again for a GLAAD award (The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and the issues that affect their lives). This year the nomination was for her interview with class valedictorian Seth Owen, a young man whose parents discovered he was gay and sent him to gay conversion therapy. Following the (unsuccessful) therapy, Seth objected to anti-gay comments being made at the church he was attending with his parents and he was told to attend the church or move out of their home. Seth was still in high school but he chose to move out, stand his ground, and be true to himself. But with the help of a friend's family and a GoFundMe Page, Seth's story has a happy ending. He is attending his dream school, Georgetown University, and is feeling accepted for who he is, even within (and with the help of) his Jesuit educational community. Thank you to Ellen for continuing to provide a voice and a platform for equality and humanity. Click here to watch the entire segment.
PERIOD. The Menstrual Movement. (https://www.period.org/) is a non-profit that was started by two high school students (a young woman and a young man) and has become one of the world's largest youth-run organizations. Their entire mission "is to celebrate periods and provide products to those in need." PERIOD. recently traveled to Washington D.C., along with reps from Thinx Inc. (they do period panties and more - https://www.shethinx.com/), to obtain signatures for a petition to end period poverty in our schools. These wonderful and amazing activists obtained more than 35,000 signatures and then personally delivered boxes and boxes of the signed petitions to none other than Betsy DeVos' office. Their goal is to get the Department of Education to recognize that menstrual products are basic necessities and to ensure that every educational campus has access to menstrual products in every bathroom. Menstrual products respond to a biological need and should have the same availability as toilet paper. To not do so is discriminatory against young women, particularly those who live in poverty. The petition states, in part: "The Department of Education’s self-declared role is clear, and to uphold that pledge it must address inequity among students by championing menstrual equity. That includes acknowledging period products as health necessities, advocating for policies that support students who menstruate, funding programs to provide period products for free to students in all school restrooms, promoting comprehensive, co-ed period health education for students before the age of 12, and commissioning a study to determine the impact period poverty has in the United States. Secretary DeVos, you have a profound responsibility to create “safe and trusted” environments for students across the nation. Now is the time and this is the way to fulfill your moral obligation." Anyone else notice a pattern that Education Secretary DeVos consistently fails the female student population in this country? She has seriously got to go. Period.
If you want to sign the online version of the petition you may do so here.
I will also share it on my facebook page.
Thank you for sharing a bit of your Feminist Friday with me. I wish you inspiring discussions filled with promise!