Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oklahomans unite against War on Women at 4/28 rally

This afternoon I took a brief break from the end-of-semester madness to enjoy an hour or so of sanity at the Oklahoma Unite Against the War on Women rally at the state capitol. This was part of a nationwide day of events in support of women's liberation from an increasingly obnoxious right-wing backlash against our well-being and freedom.

I estimated that about 300 people, mostly women but some men, attended the event in front of the capitol's north steps.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

When pregnancy begins

Hat tip to Planned Parenthood of Oklahoma for a link to this informative post about how pregnancy happens and how the extreme right intentional distorts this information to limit women's reproductive freedom.

Correction--down to the wire April 26

I mistakenly posted that yesterday was the last day that the Oklahoma House could hear SB 1433, the bill that would declare fertilized eggs to be persons. (Once upon a time we had a "personhood bill" for adult women. It was called the Equal Rights Amendment, and unfortunately it didn't pass, in Oklahoma or the nation.) I finally made it down to the capitol last night after an emergency tweet asked for supporters when Rep. Reynolds attempted an obscure parliamentary maneuver to bring SB 1433 to a vote. It failed! Things are looking good for the bill to finally go down today, but the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice--which has played such a crucial role in stopping this monstrosity--is still calling for supporters to join the Pink Wave at the Capitol today. You can follow how things are going on Twitter, or you can even listen to the Oklahoma House live.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Down to the wire on April 25th

The anti-choice backers of Oklahoma Senate Bill 1433 were angered by the reported death of the bill that would declare that a fertilized human egg is a person with all of the rights thereof. Yesterday, the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice and others worked to stop the consideration of SB1433 and reported that the bill was still dead, replaced by a non-binding resolution that was passed by the OK House. Today is the last day for bills that originated in the Senate to be heard on the House floor. Anti-choice activists were not appeased by the passage of the non-binding resolution, and according to, pressure is growing on lawmakers to hear SB 1433 while they still can.(Hat tip to Oklahomans Against the Personhood Act for the link.)

The daring pro-choice Pinkwave is still making its presence felt in the House. I tried to join them on my way to work, only to discover that the House is in recess until 1:45 today. You should join them if you can, or consider calling your representative.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Finally, good news from the OK Legislature

The Tulsa World reported this morning that SB 1433, the so-called "personhood bill" will not get a vote in the Oklahoma House. House Speaker Kris Steele described this decision as representing the collective will of the Republican caucus. The extreme right-wing Rep. Randy Terrill said it was "stunning and unbelievable" that the bill wouldn't come up for a vote. Whatever. The bill would have declared that from the moment a human egg was fertilized, it had all the rights and privileges of a person. (Unlike the adult female human who carried it.)

Kudos to the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice for its hard work in stopping this nonsense.

Who wants an Oklahoma income tax cut?

On Wednesday, the Oklahoma Senate passed a bill to cut the state's income tax to a top rate of 4.9 percent. While this might sound appealing on the surface, it would result in cutting important public services--like healthcare and education. And to get to this lower top rate, deductions and credits for ordinary working people would have to be sacrificed, meaning that rich people would pay lower taxes and poor people would pay higher taxes. Vital public services have already been cut drastically in the wake of the Great Recession.

The Oklahoma Policy Institute has been doing a lot of work on analyzing this issue, and they have a page of links devoted to information about this important topic. This morning, a post on OPI's OKPolicy Blog shows that most of the support comes not from Oklahomans--even business groups are wary of it--but from outside pressure groups. Among these groups (no surprise) is the notorious American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC):
So where is it coming from? It’s no coincidence that very similar efforts to eliminate the income tax are popping up in Kansas and Missouri. All three campaigns rely heavily on a report by Arthur Laffer, a former Reagan advisor who has dedicated his career to restricting taxes in numerous states. Governor Fallin mentioned Laffer’s numbers in this year’s state of the state speech, though she cited them as coming from Americans for Prosperity, a national lobbying group founded by David and Charles Koch. Most recently, Governor Fallin wrote the introduction for a report by Laffer and others at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that ranks states based on how closely they follow ALEC’s economic policy agenda. It’s clear that these national groups have the governor’s ear.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Does housework count as real work?

Some time in the foreseeable past, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney described his wife, Ann, as his primary advisor on women's issues. His wife told him that women didn't care about feminism, they cared about the economy.

Democratic campaign consultant called Hilary Rosen set off a kerfuffle when she said that Ann Romney knew nothing about economics because she hadn't worked a day in her life. Staying home to raise five sons counted as working, Ann Romney said. This ignited a silly media row that I did my best to ignore. However, a couple of interesting items showed up on the Web as a result of this silly row.

One such item was Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne's commentary. I think he's supposed to be a liberal. I found his post on the Truthdig Web site. Mr. Dionne basically agrees with the Romneys when he says
For millions of American moms and dads, debates about “feminism” or “social conservatism” are irrelevant. It’s about money.
He goes on to chastise Republicans and conservatives for undermining the economic foundation of most families that would allow one parent to choose to stay home.
This points to a contradiction that few conservatives want to confront. When trying to win votes from religious and social traditionalists, conservatives speak as if they want to restore what they see as the glory days of the 1950s family. But they are reluctant to acknowledge that it was the high wages of (often unionized) workers that underwrote these arrangements.

Yet on the right, economic conservatism almost always trumps social conservatism, and market imperatives almost always get priority over family imperatives. As a result, the United States has the weakest family-leave laws in the industrialized world. We have done far less than other well-off countries to accommodate the difficult work-family dilemmas that most moms and dads deal with in the new economy.
There's much in that second quote to agree with, but I'm left with the strong impression that Dionne considers women's freedom and women's lives irrelevant, unless these are considered as part of a family economy that affects men.

A much more interesting conversation about the topic of women and housework took place on Democracy Now!, where host Amy Goodman interviewed long-time activist and theorist Selma James. Back in 1952, James wrote a brilliant pamphlet called "A Woman's Place," and now James has published a book called Sex, Race, and Class, a collection of her essays.

James argues that the work of stay-at-home mothers is crucial to the operation of capitalism, because mothers reproduce labor. The housewife becomes the servant of the working husband, who relates to her in the same way the capitalist relates to him. That is, he pays her just enough to live on, while capturing goods and services with a value far beyond that.

Selma James says it better than I do. Here is the interview as it aired on Democracy Now! on April 16:

On the Democracy Now! Web site, you can view a longer version of the interview, complete with written transcript.

Right here in Central Park

Peak Oil Hausfrau has a post about a great project that goes on right in my neighborhood.

Monday, April 16, 2012

My kind of tea party

Saturday night, after the poetry reading at Herland, I headed over to the Blue Door to the fundraiser for the Voices of Oklahoma community radio station. I regretted missing the opener by Miss Brown to You, but loved the show by Emma's Revolution. One of their funniest numbers was a send-up of the Tea Party Movement called "Taxed Enough Already." Below you can watch the version that's out on YouTube:

It would be interesting to ponder the complexities of a duo named in honor of the anarchist Emma Goldman producing a defense of government. But I'll leave that conversation aside in favor of noting the appropriateness of "Taxed Enough Already" as an anthem to opponents of the Buffett Rule that is coming up for a vote in the US Senate today.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Occupying patriarchy

Lucinda Marshall is always wonderful. You can read her latest post either at Feminist Peace Network or at Occupy Patriarchy.
It is not sufficient to say that we have to come together as the 99% against the 1%. The needs of the 99% are not homogenous and it is not acceptable to say that it is divisive when we point this out.

While the Occupy movement has been developing, the war on women has become a nightmare of hateful, ignorant, daily attacks on women’s human rights. It is urgent that this be stopped and presents an opportunity for the Occupy movement as a whole to stand up for women’s lives and say that this war must stop. On April 28th there will be rallies in all 50 states and in Washington, DC calling for an end to the war on women.
Thank you, Lucinda. In Oklahoma City, we will have a march at the state capital starting at noon on April 28. I will be there. What about you?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Oklahoma not the only anti-woman state

The woman governor of Arizona (!) has signed into law one of the most extreme anti-choice laws in the US.

Some complexities of the Trayvon Martin case

Sean Thomas-Breitfeld over at has written a really good analysis of some of the complexities involved in the Florida shooting of African American teen Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer whose ethnicity has become a source of controversy in the case. Here's a brief sample:
George Zimmerman’s unconscious biases and his racial identity did not cause Trayvon Martin’s death. The gun he carried while volunteering his time as a neighborhood watch captain is what made the difference between a misunderstanding leading to insults and hurt feelings, and the death of an unarmed black teenager who was walking home from the store. But rather than talk about the laws in play in this case, we get mired in a debate over the motivation of individual actors.

The new black/brown terms of this case were a convenient distraction for conservatives (particularly the National Rifle Association) who would rather we not focus on how Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law fosters a vigilante mentality. The leaking of details about how Trayvon Martin was a normal (rather than perfect) teenager helped the Sanford Police shift the focus away from how their inaction the night of Trayvon’s death and showed a too-familiar disregard for the well-being of black men.

There are legitimate questions to raise about how gated communities—as modern-day, segregated enclaves—foster a racialized paranoia that George Zimmerman was caught up in. There’s a real discussion to have about the many ways that structural racism and criminal justice collide and conspire to rob Trayvon Martin of fair and just protection by the police. We must not lose sight of the structural factors at work in situations like this one.
There's much more to this eloquent post, and it's well worth reading the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Unique Kenyan village empowers women

Hannah Rubenstein of Inter Press Service has written a fascinating article about a woman-only village in Kenya:

Umoja’s history began in 1990, when a collective of 15 Samburu women, who called themselves the Umoja Uaso Women's Group, began selling beadwork and other goods to raise money for themselves and their families. As the group began to grow financially lucrative, they found themselves facing increasing harassment by men in their communities who felt that economic growth was not appropriate for the women, who traditionally play a subordinate role.

In response, the women, led by matriarch Rebecca Lolosoli, decided to break away and begin their own village, in order to ensure security and cooperation for themselves out of the reach of those who sought to undermine them.

Today, Umoja is home to 48 women who have come from all over the country. Their stories vary – some were young girls fleeing forced marriages to old men, others were raped or sexually abused, and several were widows who were shunned by their communities. Moreover, several women residing in the village are Turkana, taking refuge from the tribal violence currently raging in the central region of Isiolo.

Only women are permitted to sleep in the village. An exception is made for men who were raised there. Many women who live in Umoja plan to marry eventually, and conduct courtships outside the village--on their own terms.

Gender nonconformity lives

This post by Dorothee Benz at is well worth reading.