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Posts Tagged ‘Women's Rights’

Today Scott Roeder was convicted of first-degree murder of Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion provider in Wichita, KS. I am incredibly relieved that the judge did not give the jury the instruction for voluntary manslaughter. (Roeder wanted to argue that his motive for killing Dr. Tiller was to save the life of unborn babies, therefore reducing the charge to voluntary  manslaughter). However, not even a sentence to life in prison can lessen the incredible sadness and tragedy surrounding Dr. Tiller’s death. I fear that there are others in this country like Scott Roeder who feel that they are justified in taking the life of someone working to help women and promote female agency, in order to save the life of a fetus.  I fear that these people will not be deterred by Roeder’s conviction.  I fear that some judge in some state will be willing to give a jury a voluntary manslaughter instruction.

The loss of Dr. Tiller also means the loss of another doctor who is willing to perform late-term abortions (and abortions in general). This means that more women will lack access to safe abortions. More women will be forced into making certain decisions about their bodies, in which they really had no choice. More women will turn to unsafe methods to ending their pregnancies. Dr. Tiller’s death represents another loss of women’s rights in this country. It is another way in which women’s control over their own bodies is being stripped away.

I hope that Scott Roeder is sentenced to life in prison without parole, because it frightens me to think of what he would do if released on parole. It is at times like this that I wish I had gone to medical school and could lend a hand in providing women with safe, comprehensive reproductive health care. As a lawyer I will be able to contribute to legislative changes and protecting women’s legal rights, but it is hard to sit back and not be able to directly provide women with the medical services they desire.  I only hope that there are others like Dr. Tiller who will not be afraid to continue fighting for women’s access to abortion.

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Yesterday was the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  Despite Obama’s election, in the past year events have occurred that have made me question how long women will continue to enjoy the right to choose.  The murder of Dr. Tiller continues to disturb me – knowing that there are people in this country who have so much disrespect for women and those who seek to protect their bodily integrity and freedom.  Yet I also remember that even with Roe v. Wade (mostly) in tact, there are many women in this country who, because of the color of their skin or the amount of money in their bank accounts, do not currently enjoy the same choices as women who have the “right” skin color or enough money to pay for their choices.  As we continue to fight to protect our right to choose, we must remember that there are many of us who have had choices taken away already.  We must not only fight to prevent losing rights but to restore the rights that no longer exist.

The election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts has also reminded me that we must not be single-minded. Advocating for women does not only mean advocating for abortion rights. It means paying attention to the candidates who will be making policies, not just health policies, but education and financial policies, that affect women.  I truly hope that the left-leaning community can find more coherence and start helping Obama create the change he promised, and I hope that on this day next year I will be more optimistic about Roe v. Wade’s legacy.

Read more about the anniversary of Roe v. Wade on feministing and feministe.

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So obviously I’m way young to be making this decision for myself, but cosmetic surgery is  one of those feminist dilemmas that gets me thinking. Can I, as a feminist, support cosmetic surgery? On the one hand, I feel like the pressures that suggest that women even need to get botox injections or other types of cosmetic surgery are really awful. They suggest that there is no such thing as “aging gracefully” for women. And of course it just reinforces the idea that women are valued for their looks, and not for their intelligence or personalities. I fully support the idea that a person should be comfortable with the body that she has and not the one that she should or could have. On the other hand, I don’t think this is a problem unique to women. I feel like our society as a whole has an obssession with yoouth – that growing old is just not option. Think about all the lengths men go to to prevent balding. Even some men get facelifts and botox injections. While it’s true that men are definitely subject to less pressures about age, and it is much more acceptable for an older man to be with a younger woman than an older woman to be with a younger man, I think that we should maybe step back and look at how the obsession with youth affects everyone and not just women.

This whole discussion has been very prevalent in the media recently because of the proposed tax on people who opt to have cosmetic surgery. While I agree with the message, that perhaps we should not be encouraging people to be making these changes to their bodies. But, I just don’t think that adding a tax for cosmetic surgery is the most effective way to do this. People are still going to have cosmetic surgery despite the extra cost. And really, why shouldn’t they, if that’s what they really want to do? What we should be doing is having a national discussion about aging. It’s going to happen to all of us, after all. Judith Warner has an interesting op-ed in the Times about this issue.  I think she makes some really good points about the current state of the feminist movement and our looks-obssessed culture.

Also a great post about this issue on salon.com here.

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I recently saw the movie “Precious,” and I am currently reading (almost finished!) “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Steig Larsson. You might be asking, how can there possibly be a connection between the two? “Precious” is about a pregant Harlem teenager who experiences severe abuse and who eventually finds a place for herself in a supportive educational environment. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is a Swedish murder mystery involving rape and domestic abuse (I can’t really say more, or I’ll ruin the mystery). The similarity between the two is that both of the works were created by men. (Although the book Push, on which Precious was based, is written by a woman, the director of the film is a man). Both works are also trying to provide some sort of critique/insight into the violence and sexual assault that many women have to deal with on a regular basis.  Although I appreciate the work that both of these works are doing to educate people about domestic violence and sexual assault, I wonder about the ways in which male critiques of this nature differ from female critiques.

In both “Precious” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” the scenes of violence and sexual abuse hit the viewer/reader hard over the head. The descriptions and images are shocking, raw, and exceptionally brutal. Of course, this type of violence is shocking, raw, and exceptionally brutal. But, I wonder if sometimes directors and authors purposely play up the violence and play-down the emotional effects of the abuse in order to get more viewers or readers. I wonder if this focus on the physical, visceral violence is more of a male trait, whereas sometimes I feel that in works created by female authors more time is given to the victim’s emotions and psychological responses. Unfortunately, in both “Precious” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” I feel like I ended up paying more attention to the abuser rather than the abusee. This troubles me, because I don’t think it does much to actually empower the exact women the creators are trying to call attention to. Instead, in some ways I feel like both Precious and the female characters in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” seem even more like victims, and less like the strong, brave women they really are.

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (a UCLA law grad!) speaks out against the Stupak Amendment, and does a great job explaining why it will limit access and harm healthcare for women and girls.

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imagesThere is nothing that angers me more than men making decisions that greatly affect the choices of women. When it happened with the partial birth abortion ban, we all were quick to attribute the awful decision to Bush being in the White House, but now Obama is here, and nothing has really changed.

The Stupak Amendment, which was added to the healthcare bill, which just passed in the House, prohibits anyone receiving federal health care coverage from buying plans that cover abortion. This means that it will be even harder for women to access abortion.

I am not going to spend this post talking about all the reasons why a woman might need an abortion that go beyond the “irresponsible, unprotected sex” narrative. And, never having had an abortion, I certainly don’t feel that ist is my place to explain how abortion is not a decision that most women take lightly – there are many people who have explained it more eloquently and truthfully than I can. Instead, I would like to take a minute to point out that political moves like the Stupak Amendment demonstrate exactly why women are still considered second class citizens, women’s bodies still are considered to be of much less value than men’s, and that we have a far way to go before women truly have equality in this country. Men should not be making these decisions, and men should certainly not be writing these amendments and arguing that women should not be having an abortion. Until men can get pregnant, they will have no idea what it feels like to have bodily autonomy slowly stripped away.

I know that this healthcare bill, if it is enacted, will be an incredible step forward, but I am sick of women being the casualties of “progress.” I sincerely hope that while the bill is debated in the Senate women (and our pro-choice male allies) continue to push for this amendment to be removed, to not continue to make sacrifices that compromise the autonomy of women in this country. And, I hope that Obama takes a stand against this amendment. I have yet to be convinced that he truly meant what he said during his campaign. I have yet to believe that he will dedicate any greater attention to women in this country than presidents in the past.  I still have hope, but if this bill passes in the Senate with the Stupak amendment in tact, I will certainly not be celebrating, because it will just mean that I do not merit the same respect as my fellow male citizens.

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500x_tumblr_kr8nybGVqn1qzmvbao1_5001[via Jezebel]

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