27 February 2009
I wish this were a bad joke -- the unfair caricature of Texas that you might see on a Prius' bumper sticker -- but it isn't: A whopping 94 percent of school districts in the Lone Star State teach only abstinence, according to a new report. Worse yet, the review by two professors at Texas State University found that "sexuality education materials" used in the state "regularly contain factual errors and perpetuate lies and distortions about condoms and STDs." They also found that classes promoted gender stereotypes, sexual orientation biases, shame and fear. Oh, what fun!Go to the Texas Freedom Network's site to learn more about their "Just Say Don't Know" campaign, read the full report (PDF), watch their "Sex Ed...Texas Style" videos and sign their petition for responsible sex education.
Disturbing as they may be, those top-line summaries of the findings are nothing compared to excerpts included in the report (PDF) from actual teaching materials. Suicide is a favorite scare tactic: One program predicts non-virginal students' miserable future, "You know people talk about you behind your back because you’ve had sex with so many people ... Finally you get sick of it all and attempt suicide." There are fun skits about suicide, too. In one, titled "Jumping Off the Bridge," the moral of the story is put like so: "Giving a condom to a teen is just like saying, 'Well if you insist on killing yourself by jumping off the bridge, at least wear these elbow pads -- they may protect you some?'" (Got it: Handing out condoms = assisted suicide.) Read more
24 February 2009
And have fun doing it!
- More About Outrageous Acts
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- Host a party to celebrate Gloria Steinem’s 75th birthday. [Preview the House Party video.]
19 February 2009
"Unity in a movement situation is overrated. If you were the Establishment, which would you rather see coming in the door...
five hundred mice or one lion?"
Gloria Steinem, quoting Florynce Kennedy in "Far From the Opposite Shore," Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1983.
11 February 2009
Responding to the New York Times article, "As Layoffs Surge, Women May Pass Men in Workforce," Valerie Norton writes:
This recession, like most, hit the male-dominated housing, construction, and manufacturing sectors first. So, over the past year, men’s unemployment rose faster than women’s, climbing to 7.6 percent in January 2009. However, since September, as the recession has spread to the female-dominated retail and services sectors, women’s unemployment also rose quickly and actually rose slightly faster than men’s. This past month, women’s unemployment climbed to 6.2 percent, the highest rate in 16 years and the largest single-year increase in 33 years. Unemployment among women who head families -– who have no other income to fall back on and are especially vulnerable –- climbed to 10.3 percent. Read More
10 February 2009
Rebecca Harshbarger writes:
Amid massive layoffs, domestic workers and advocates across the country are looking to New York to become the first state to extend legal protections for health insurance, overtime, severance and cost-of-living salary adjustments. Read more.
05 February 2009
Joan Kuriansky, Executive Director, Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW)
Carol Burnett, Executive Director, Moore Community House
Julie Kuklinski, Women In Construction Program Director, Moore Community House
Ellen Bravo, Coordinator, Multi-State Working Families Consortium and Prof. of Women's Studies at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Moderator: Sara K. Gould, President and CEO, Ms. Foundation for Women
Listen with the player below, or download the mp3 file.
04 February 2009
For example, on Tuesday, Ms. Foundation grantees FIERCE, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities and other members of the Right to the City Alliance protested the "Future of New York City," a meeting held between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and corporate leaders to address the role of the city's business elite in ensuring economic recovery. Chanting, "This is what democracy looks like!" they called attention to the fact that this $249-a-seat gathering represented the systematic exclusion of low-income people, people of color, women, immigrants, youth and others from decision-making tables. Because they've been most affected by our current economic crisis and bear the brunt of harmful policies generated by the business and political elite, the leadership of these groups, protesters demanded, must figure prominently into how this crisis is solved.
Watch this video of the protest. Rickke Mananzala of FIERCE and Esther Wang of CAAAV speak fiercely towards the end (starting around 2:50).
FIERCE and CAAAV are both members of Right to the City (as are other Ms. Foundation grantees in Providence, RI and New Orleans), an alliance of community-based organizations, academics, lawyers and others from across the country working to build a national urban movement for housing, education, health, racial justice and democracy.
02 February 2009
The movie, for me, was about much more than the tragic, and then ultimately uplifting events in Liberia. It was about the power of ordinary people to intervene in their own fate.
The filmmakers Abigail Disney and Gini Reticker show us how Ms. [Leymah] Gbowee not only rallied the women at her Lutheran church to pray for peace, but organized them into a full-blown, all-women peace initiative that spread to other Christian churches -- and then to women of the Muslim faith.
The moral authority of this movement that seemed to have arisen from nowhere had become one of the significant factors pushing the warring sides to the peace table. Peace talks were eventually held in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and when it looked as if they were about to break down, Ms. Gbowee and nearly 200 of her followers staged a sit-in at the site of the talks, demanding that the two sides stay put until an agreement was reached.
A tentative peace was established, and Mr. Taylor went into exile in Nigeria. The women continued their activism. Three years ago, on Jan. 16, 2006, in an absolutely thrilling triumph for the mothers and wives and sisters and aunts and grandmothers who had worked so courageously for peace, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in as the president of Liberia -- the first woman ever elected president of a country in Africa.
Liberia is hardly the world's most stable society. But "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" reminds us of the incredible power available to the most ordinary of people if they are willing to act with courage and unwavering commitment.
Find screenings for "Pray the Devil Back to Hell."
[See also: Join the Ms. Foundation for a Special Showing of "Pray the Devil Back to Hell"]