I'm inclined to believe him. Ball had a long history of sleepwalking and it ran in his family. Moreover, experts said that his behavior is concurrent with sleepwalking, since he did nothing more with the young girl than climb into bed and kiss her on the lips. It's possible that in his sleeping state, he subconsciously assumed he was getting into bed with his wife. Though charges were dropped, he went through hell. Ball lost his job, suffered alienation, and was separated from his own 5 year-old daughter for a year.
Though Mr. Ball's case seems legit, this sheds light on some other cases that certainly aren't. The "I was sleepwalking" excuse is more common than you might think, but don't assume that experts are brought in every time to thoroughly examine the culprit's history and make an educated decision. From the Daily Mail:
The defence is known as automatism, with those who commit indecent acts in their sleep said to be suffering from 'sexsomnia'.
This year the Daily Mail told the story of Jane McKenna, 33, from Hampshire.
She claimed she had been raped by a friend's husband, Jason Jeal, only for him to be cleared on the basis that he was sleepwalking - even though he had no medical history of the condition.
After the case, Solicitor General Vera Baird said such arguments should only be allowed in court backed up by well-founded medical evidence.
The year before, RAF mechanic Kenneth Ecott, 26, was cleared of raping a 15-year-old girl at a house party in Poole, Dorset after arguing that he had been in a state of automatism at the time.
How could a sleeping person have the capability to hold down a struggling woman and rape her? It blows my mind that a court could ever rule that.
It's definitely difficult to find a balance between religious rights and same-sex marriage rights. I think, in the end, it's not going to be laws that remedy this. What it boils down to is changing people's beliefs and attitudes. Slowly, but surely, religious groups are becoming more accepting of GLBT people. But of course it's going to take decades, since very religious people like to cling to "tradition," meaning no gays allowed. We need to convince these people that gay people are not going away - in fact they are coming out in greater numbers than ever. I wish opponents would use their religious beliefs of respect and love, rather than focus on one tiny passage in the Bible and use it to keep an entire group of people down.
Earlier this month, a state commission headed by J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, the director of the Division on Civil Rights and the author of Monday's ruling, recommended that the state allow gay couples full marriage rights.
Opponents of gay marriage cite the case as a prime example of their contention that by recognizing same-sex couples, states are interfering with religious freedoms.
"It's something we have to be careful about," said the Alliance Defense Fund's Raum. "As the rights of same-sex couples increase, the tendency is to have it conflict with the First Amendment rights of religious organizations."
Notice how the men in this commercial are fixing cars, using a leafblower, and doing construction work, while the women are working in a bridal shop and standing in front of a camera. Cute.
And here's a lovely new gem of an advertisement from Extra chewing gum that paints women out to be neurotic and body-conscious. I also love how they try to convince us that a stick of Extra is an acceptable substitute for a snack. I say EAT THE DAMN COOKIE!
As if diet commercials aren't bad enough for convincing us that we're disgusting fat pigs, Nutrisystem decided to throw in a little sexism for good measure. Watch Jillian Barberie tell us, "I know I'm not your average gal... I love sports. Football! How many girls can do that?!" Thank you, Jillian, for perpetuating the stereotypes we've been fighting for decades.
Now, on the heels of the U.S. presidential election of Barack Obama and a Democratic majority in the Senate of 58 seats, activists in New York who have attracted Ledbetter to their cause say they are hoping for the best from the next Congress.
"It's sort of like, what do we want for Christmas?" said Beverly Neufeld, vice president of the New York Women's Agenda, a New York City coalition of professional women. "We want some new fair pay legislation. That would be a gift."
The New York State Pay Equity Coalition is planning to push another equal pay bill in New York. This bill is especially important because it is much more thorough. For example, it would include pay equity for employees who have comparable job titles, not just identical positions. Also, it would outlaw firing or reprimanding employees for disclosing their salary to coworkers, since the discouragement of wage comparison is fuel that keeps an unequal workplace running.
When I was 16, I had my first job. Around the first month or so, my boss scolded me because she found out that I let slip my salary to a coworker. She was especially upset because it was through talking about our salaries that another employee and I realized we were being paid significantly different salaries. We were both women and were around the same age, yet I was being paid $2.50 more than her. She also had come to the job with more experience and had been working there for several months more than me. The only factor I can attribute our unequal salaries to is that she was African-American, and I'm not. She quit. She never got a straight answer from our boss as to why she was being paid less than me.
Laws like the one that the New York State Pay Equity Coalition is trying to pass are crucial.
I think these PSAs are a really smart idea. The use of this phrase is getting ridiculously out of control - to the point where no one can walk down the halls of a school or through a shopping mall on a Friday afternoon without hearing some teenager saying it. Many of the people who use it don't even realize that the phrase can be offensive, so I think these PSAs have the power to shed some new light on just how offensive calling an ugly statue "gay" can be.
Yes. It is as racist as it sounds. And though RNC members are defending the song as mere "political satire," the fact that it was first played on Rush Limbaugh's show in 2007 reaffirms my belief that its intentions are not good.
Here's a sample of the lyrics:
[Sung to the tune of "Puff the Magic Dragon"]
AL SHARPTON IMPERSONATOR:
Barack the Magic Negro lives in D.C.
The L.A. Times, they called him that
'Cause he's not authentic like me.
Yeah, the guy from the L.A. paper
Said he makes guilty whites feel good
They'll vote for him, and not for me
'Cause he's not from the hood.
See, real black men, like Snoop Dog,
Or me, or Farrakhan
Have talked the talk, and walked the walk.
Not come in late and won!
I can see why people would defend it as satire - it is similar to the infamous cover of the New Yorker, but again, look at the source. Rush Limbaugh played it. I just don't see good intentions here.
To everyone else, have a wonderful Kwanzaa tomorrow, and I hope you've been enjoying your Hanukkah!
The Comstock Law was enacted in 1873, and made it illegal to send "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials through the mail, particularly materials that provided education on birth control, abortions, or STDs. Read an excerpt from the Comstock Law to see how utterly ridiculous it was. When you think of "obscene," do you think of pamphlets on reproductive health? Neither do I.
In 1915, Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood, wrote a response to the Comstock Law, entitled "Comstockery in America." In 1932, Sanger arranged for a shipment of diaphragms to be mailed from Japan to a doctor in New York City. When U.S. customs confiscated the packages, Sanger helped file a lawsuit. In 1936, a federal appeals court ruled that the federal government could not interfere with doctors providing contraception to their patients.
Sanchez goes to Washington with an impressive resume. In addition to his current work at AIDS Action he served as director of JRI Health’s TransHealth and GLBT Health Access Programs. He was named among the Top 100 Most Powerful Latinos in Corporate America by Hispanic Business magazine and one of the 100 most powerful Latinos in Massachusetts by El Planeta newspaper. He is the first transgender person appointed to a Democratic National Committee standing committee, named to the DNC Platform Committee by Chair Gov. Howard Dean and appointed a Party Leader and At-Large Delegate to the 2008 convention in Denver.
A historic step for trans people everywhere.
Unfortunately, two anti-choice pharmacists are now challenging that rule in an Illinois Circuit Court. One of the pharmacists commented, "I cannot follow my religion's teachings and continue to be involved" in distributing EC. The court is still reviewing the case in an attempt to find a balance between the right to free exercise of religion, and the right to access of reproductive health care.
I vote we keep religion out of the medical profession. Health care is an extremely important field - our health is precious and delicate, and we cannot compromise it because of someone else's religious beliefs. If we do, we're headed down a slippery slope. Scientologists, for example, don't believe in psychiatry. Should a pharmacist who practices Scientology be allowed to refuse to distribute anti-depressants? Should someone who disapproves of pre-marital sex be allowed to refuse to sell condoms or Viagra to an unmarried person?
We could eventually have a world filled with pro-life pharmacies, pro-abstience pharmacies, anti-psychiatry pharmacies, and whatever else might fall under this ridiculous "protect religion at the expense of our health" rule.
Hope to see more of you subscribing!
There were 1,415 sexual orientation-based hate crimes in 2006 and 1,460 in 2007. It's a fucked up world we live in.
What You Can Do:
- Learn more about hate crimes - who they happen to, how they happen, and how often they occur.
- Contact your representatives and urge them to champion stronger hate crime laws.
- Host anti-hate events, like Stop the Hate, on your campus or in your community.
- Contact your local media and persuade them to cover hate crimes that don't get enough media coverage, like this one.
"I have many gay friends. I've eaten dinner in gay homes. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church," he said in a recent interview with BeliefNet. But later in the interview, he compared the "redefinition of marriage" to include gay marriage to legitimizing incest, child abuse, and polygamy.
There are so many things wrong with this statement that I have no idea where to begin.
- I wish people would stop using the excuse "I have many gay friends" to justify their anti-gay views. It reminds me of this documentary by Spike Lee on the segregation laws in the South, in which he interviewed this mayor who was key proponent of segregation laws. The mayor specifically brought his token Black friend with him to the interview just so he could say repeatedly, "This is my best friend." Having a gay/Black friend is NOT your "get out of jail free" card. It's not an excuse.
- "Gay homes"? Homes that are gay? Homosexual houses? What?
- Why does he bring up the fact that his church helps fight AIDS? Clearly, Mr. Warren associates AIDS with gay people. Clearly, we're back in 1985.
- Rick Warren wins for Hypocrite of the Year. Let's tell the public how much we love homosexuals, and then associate them getting married with incest, child abuse, and polygamy! Funny way of showing love.
"I am thrilled by the nomination of Hilda Solis, who has been a long-time strong champion for feminist issues in the House of Representatives," said Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal.
As if ripping marriage rights away from happy same-sex couples immediately after granting them isn't harsh enough, supporters of "traditional marriage" are seeking to nullify the thousands of same-sex marriages that were already instated. Imagine going to sleep one night next to what the government recognizes as your wife or husband, and waking up in the morning next to what the government defines as just someone you live with.
"by inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table."
I'm completely with them. I'm extremely disappointed. Not to say that the person who delivers the invocation has to completely agree with Obama's views and agenda, but why does it have to be someone who is so fervently against everything Obama's feminists and GLBT supporters stand for?!
I'm nervous that this is the first sign of many to come that we put too much faith in Obama. I hope he proves me wrong.
A doctor who is morally opposed to premarital sex can refuse to prescribe birth control to a young patient.
A terrified pregnant teenager who finally musters up enough courage to see a doctor can be told that her only option is to carry the baby to term.
A doctor or nurse who believes contraceptives are immoral can refuse to counsel patients who are curious about their options.
Roe v. Wade is being seriously undermined. Bush, guided by his anti-choice views, is paying medical employees to trick women into following a path that isn't right for them. He's harming thousands of women solely to fulfill his own selfish desires. Take a minute to sign Planned Parenthood's online petition against this. Something needs to be done.
The only comfort we can take is that our next president is wholeheartedly pro-choice, and will hopefully rescind this awful regulation.
Old Spice, in its infinite wisdom, decided to hold a contest where people can go online and vote for the "Art of Manliness Man of the Year 2008." Now, as if this sexist bullshit isn't bad enough, let's just take a look at the winner of this contest.
The winner is: Matthew Chancey. Chancey and his wife, Jennie, who runs the antifeminist website Ladies Against Feminism, are members of the Vision Forum, a cult-like group that spreads hatred. Take a look at their statement on homosexuality:
"Vision Forum believes homosexuality is a moral perversion to be publicly denounced. Homosexuality is a sin of choice, not a genetically produced birth defect and no concessions should be granted to the trendy and politically driven scientific theories of the present generation. Furthermore, we oppose the use of politically correct and misleading language like 'gay' to describe sodomite behavior."
Chancey and his wife believe women should stay inside the home, and not work, attend college, or have the right to vote. Proctor and Gamble, the company that owns Old Spice, has been informed of his outlandish beliefs, but they took no action. Please take a minute to send a message to Old Spice in hopes that bombarding them with complaints will pressure them to take action. You can also contact organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and ask them to do something about this. They cannot get away with this.
As wonderful as modern feminists are, we often forget to study and appreciate our roots. There were so many amazing women of the 1st and 2nd waves who laid the foundation for activism today. We owe them so much. Once in awhile, I want to post some feminist herstory literature. I highly advise reading them; the women of the past can be an extraordinary inspiration to us.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Rat was a leading leftist newspaper in New York City. However, the paper was plagued with inherent sexism and oppressive hierarchies, and this led a group of women who worked at Rat to take over the paper and convert it into a feminist newspaper. In the first issue, Robin Morgan contributed her ground-breaking radical feminist piece "Goodbye to All That," in which she harshly criticized sexism and oppression.
Thirty-eight years later, Robin Morgan wrote "Goodbye to All That No. 2," which scolded all the appalling sexism and racism surrounding the 2008 election.
Her pieces are well worth reading. She says everything that every feminist wants to say, but can't find the exact right words to say it.
Despite significant advances in recent decades, women continue to lag behind men in income and career advancement. Regardless of class, race, educational level and profession, women make less money than their male counterparts -- an average of 77 cents on the dollar. Women make up 2.4 percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (and get paid less than those peers), less than one-fifth of partners in law firms (minority women fare significantly worse, accounting for 2 percent of law partners), and continue to be significantly underrepresented in politics.
However, a growing number of studies show that women are more likely than men to be devoted to their employers and to see hard work as the best way to get ahead. But women, conditioned from an early age to be communal and "nice," are generally hesitant to boast about their efforts and are less likely than men to push for raises and promotions. In a workplace that rewards aggressiveness and self-promotion, women often go unrecognized for their contributions.
It's very true. If you put half the population in dresses and tell them to sit cross-legged so their underwear doesn't show because it's "unladylike," and put the other half of the population in jeans and encourage them to climb trees, which half is going to be more aggressive? For a few days, surround yourself with people and try to observe who tends to apologize more: men or women. If you're a student, who is more likely to preface their answer to a question asked by a professor with, "I'm not sure if this is right, but..." It's a really vicious cycle that needs to be broken. Of course, when a strong, aggressive woman does come along - i.e. Hillary Clinton - you get this reaction:
Double standard? I think so.
SNL recently poked fun at New York governor David Paterson, and he is not amused. Predominantly, his beef is over the fact that they blatantly made fun of his blindness. I can't say I'm surprised that he found it distasteful. His exact comment was: "I can take a joke. But only 37% of disabled people are working and I'm afraid that that kind of third-grade humor certainly adds to this atmosphere. Let's just say I don't think it helped."
Furthermore, why can't SNL pick an actual African-American actor to play an African-American character? Fred Armisen plays Governor Paterson, and he was also the one who played Barack Obama. It seems to me that just because Armisen's skin is a tiny bit darker than the average White person, he's the go-to guy when you need to portray a person of color. It just doesn't seem right.
Oh, and please enjoy this very classy headline put forth by the New York Post:
I really wish people would stop using God as justification for crimes. "God told me to do it" is no excuse for child molestation, hurting yourself, or killing innocent people. I'm pretty sure that if there is a God, she/he/it would surely not will anyone to commit any of these acts.
In response, the New Jersey governor stated, "it's clear that this issue of civil rights must be addressed sooner rather than later. I encourage the Legislature to seriously review the commission's report and, as I have said before, I will sign marriage-equality legislation when it reaches my desk."
Hm. Could good ol' NJ be the next to legalize?
Not that this fact makes the doll any more excusable, since the original Black Canary was still a highly sexualized female figure. It just amazes me that parents are now in an uproar, when for decades, the original white, tall, skinny, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Barbie doll has been promoting impossible beauty standards that have been harming the self-esteem of children everywhere. In a 2007 report, the American Psychology Association argued, "the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development." But toy-makers hardly take that to heart.
In the end, I see the original Barbie as far more of a cause for an uproar. Are young women more likely to become S&M sex workers or develop eating disorders in hopes of shaping their bodies to emulate their role models?
For the activist:
- "Smash Patriarchy" tote bag.
- "Equality in Marriage" gear.
- Sticker Sisters offers tons of girl-friendly goodies, including the "This Insults Women" sticker, to be put on anything that is sexist and offensive.
- "Smash Racism" stickers.
- Get a silk-screened Obama dress or sweatshirt.
For the empowered:
For the sex-lover:
- "Eco Delight" kit at Babeland, featuring tons of green sex toys.
- Babeland's "Come for a Cause" kit.
- Adorable vibrating rubber duckie.
For the proud owner/lover of a vagina:
- Cunt Coloring Book.
- Check out VulvaLoveLovely's shop at Etsy.com. It includes fun products, like the plush "happy uterus."
- The famous "I Love Female Orgasm" t-shirt.
For the cartoon buff:
For the feminist baby:
- "Feminist in Training" onesie.
- "Two Mommies are Better than One!" onesie.
- "I Have Two Papa Bears" onesie.
- Radical coloring books at GirlsNotChicks.com.
For the bookworm:
- Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
- Woman on the Edge of Time
- The Handmaid's Tale
- Deciding the Next Decider: the 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme
For the movie-lover:
- "Exes and Ohs" - complete first season (hilarious show about lesbian relationships).
- Documentary "The Bible Tells Me So," about the co-existence of religion and homosexuality.
- The movie "Itty Bitty Titty Committee" - doesn't everyone want a feminist gang like this?
- "Wall-E": Pixar's best movie, and some argue that the main characters are genderless.
- "Commander in Chief" - season 1. What if we actually had a female president?
For the charitable:
Make a donation in someone else's name to any one of these charities...
Even if you don't identify as GLBTQ, you can still participate! I'm sure allies are more than welcome to join. Don't go to work, don't buy any products, and instead, the organizers of the protest are urging everyone to perform volunteer work. Of course, students are not traitors if they go to class or take final exams. Involve your friends and family so Day Without a Gay really makes an impact. Yahoo! News already covered the protest, so it's already getting great attention.
There are plenty of places to volunteer near you. I'm spending a few hours at a soup kitchen, and they were thrilled when I called and asked to help. Check out VolunteerMatch.org for some nearby listings.
Because, you know, a decrease in testosterone and an increase in estrogen most definitely is the worst thing that could ever happen to the male gender. We don't want our men turning into a bunch of sissies. Watch this video and count how many sexist jokes the Fox News anchors make.
Fifty-five percent of respondents favored legally sanctioned unions or partnerships, while only 39 percent supported marriage rights. Both figures are notably higher than in 2004, when 40 percent backed the former and 33 percent approved of the latter. When it comes to according legal rights in specific areas to gays, the public is even more supportive. Seventy-four percent back inheritance rights for gay domestic partners (compared to 60 percent in 2004), 73 percent approve of extending health insurance and other employee benefits to them (compared to 60 percent in 2004), 67 percent favor granting them Social Security benefits (compared to 55 percent in 2004) and 86 percent support hospital visitation rights (a question that wasn't asked four years ago). In other areas, too, respondents appeared increasingly tolerant. Fifty-three percent favor gay adoption rights (8 points more than in 2004), and 66 percent believe gays should be able to serve openly in the military (6 points more than in 2004).
You have to wonder - if there's so much support for it, why is it only legal in two states?
"To circumscribe, limit the governor to only men, and for the commission to say, 'We searched the state, we couldn't find a single, solitary qualified woman to serve on the bench' — something is wrong," he said.
An enormous thank you goes to Governor Paterson for having the guts to stand up to patriarchy. If you're a New Yorker, or even if you're not, send him a thank you note.
Yeah, that's Favreau with his hand on Hillary's chest, while his friend feeds her beer and kisses her on the cheek. The photos were only up for a couple hours before Favreau took them down, but that was more than enough time for them to be spread all over the internet. I'm really disappointed by this display of sexism and disrespect.
And then of course we have the positively grotesque and arrogant Rush Limbaugh. This is where Walters gains points for having the guts to call Rush out on his bullshit. She quotes Rush's lovely comment on the country not being ready to watch a woman grow older before their eyes (talking about Clinton), to which Rush tries to claim that he was commenting on how unfair our culture is to older women. Right. Walters has the perfect response: "You're not fighting our battles." Oh, and I definitely laughed the hardest when Rush called himself "tolerant."
Also on the list was the very wonderful, talented, beautiful Tina Fey. Of course she made the list because her Palin impersonations were the hot topic this year.
Speaking of Sarah Palin... she was #3.
Aaaand not surprisingly, #1 was our new celebrity and president, Barack Obama.
A sample of the lyrics:
My girlfriend's a dick magnet
My girlfriend's gotta have it
She's hot, can't stop, up on stage doing shots
Tip the man he'll ring the bell, get her drunk she'll scream like hell
Dirty girl, gettin' down, dance with guys from outta town
Grab her ass, actin' tough,
Mess with her, she'll fuck you up
No one really knows if she's drunk or if she's stoned,
But she's comin' back to my place tonight!
Studies on this have been done before. Cristina Page writes about it in her book, "How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America." A study done by the American Psychological Association found that women who had abortions were actually happier when compared to women who gave birth. They seemed to be functioning better, have a higher economic well-being, and were more likely to graduate high school. The study that MSNBC writes about was much larger than the APA study, and it proved the same thing:
A team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reviewed 21 studies involving more than 150,000 women and found the high-quality studies showed no significant differences in long-term mental health between women who choose to abort a pregnancy and others.
"The best research does not support the existence of a 'post-abortion syndrome' similar to post-traumatic stress disorder," Dr. Robert Blum, who led the study published in the journal Contraception, said in a statement.
Any "studies" that anti-choice organizations claim support "post-abortion stress syndrome" were either conducted in an extremely flawed way, or were not conducted at all. Take that.
Considering all the bullshit lies that abstinence-only education spews at kids, I guess it's not too far off.
Get tested. Tell your friends to get tested. If you're too embarrassed to ask for an HIV test from your doctor, donate blood - if they find anything wrong, they'll notify you. It's a simple request when you think about what's at stake. But don't stop there. Get involved, donate if you can, and spread awareness. Promote comprehensive sex ed. Visit any one of these sites to take action:
- One Million Tests
- Stop AIDS Project
- The Global Fight
- Aid for Africa
- The Global Fund to Fight AIDS
- The One Campaign
- InSpot.org (send an anonymous e-card to someone you think might have been exposed to an STD)