My picks for the Michigan Primary

With the primary elections nearby, I’d like to put it out there how I’m voting. Since you can only vote for one party in the primary elections, I am only including my picks for the Democratic section of the ballot in my district. For the record, I am a Democrat. Although I do have certain qualms with the party, overall that is the major political party which aligns with my political beliefs.

Just in case you couldn’t tell from my previous posts.

FYI I vote in Wayne County, Michigan, in the City of Westland, 25th Precinct. I voted absentee this time, since I will not be on that side of the state on election day.

So, here they are:

Governor: Virg Bernero

11th District Congress: Natalie Mosher (uncontested within party)

6th District State Senator: Glenn S. Anderson (incumbent, uncontested within party)

18th District State Representative: Richard LeBlanc (incumbent, uncontested within party)

I did vote for the Wayne County Sheriff, after doing some research I just picked the incumbent, Benny Napoleon. Same with the county executive, I think he is uncontested but I don’t recall at this point.

I also researched the judges (nonpartisan), a bit and had my picks there… If anybody reading this really cares I’ll tell you.

I voted YES on the SMART millage renewal to support regional transit. Detroit and the surrounding area needs all the public transportation funding it can get.

Finally, I voted for MYSELF as precinct delegate. Not going to lie, it felt kind of cool to vote for myself.

Well that’s it. Another post brewing on why I’m voting for Virg and also why you should ALWAYS vote in the Primary election.

DO IT. VOTE. It won’t even take that long, turnout for the primaries is pretty low.

Would YOU be jailed for feminism? She was.

Nawal El Saadawi, Egypt’s “radical feminist” because she believes in basic human rights for Egyptian women, is now at the top of my list of personal heroes.

This woman epitomizes courage– she refuses to wear a veil and she has been jailed for her beliefs. While in jail she wrote about the experience on toilet paper.

From another blog:

She still refuses to tone down her work. “I am very critical of all religions,” she says. “We, as women, are oppressed by all these religions.” It is religious extremism, she believes, that is the biggest threat to women’s liberation today. “There is a backlash against feminism all over the world today because of the revival of religions,” she says. “We have had a global and religious fundamentalist movement.” She fears that the rise of religion is holding back progress regarding issues such as female circumcision, especially in Egypt.

She eventually had to escape to the United States because of death threats from religious groups.

“It’s not a matter of religion. They use religion, in politics. And religion itself, is a political ideology. So it’s politics. It’s all politics.”

“They don’t like my work, because it’s against their political exploitation [of women].”

Do yourself a favor. It’s long, but no less poignant for its length

Sigh. If I only had more time to write. Two blogs and a newspaper job? My fingers are going to fall off.

Please, please read this. I had one of those moments where I read this and realized that this is exactly what I was thinking, but hadn’t before actually solidified the thought and put it into words.

This part, taken from the postscript, aptly describes what the essay is all about:

“It is a discussion that feminist women talk around a lot, but never quite have in detail, that men we love express misogyny, and that it is alienating, functionally undermining the intimacy of the relationship and, sometimes, the entire relationship itself.”

Yeah, pretty sure that was what functionally undermined many a past relationship.

Oh, that Sarah Palin.

See this:

“Feminist” anti-feminists.

No words…

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom (you always inspire me)

I don’t think my mother considers herself to be much of an inspiration to me, but she is and always will be.

My mother is the ultimate feminist, and I have always respected her for her independence. One of the earliest things I remember about my mother that made her different from most of the other mothers I know out there is that she didn’t change her name to match my father’s when they got married. In fact, she has never changed her name for any of her marriages. She shrugs it off, saying that it’s “her name” and leaving it at that. However, I KNOW it goes deeper than that. I think it was her way of keeping control of that aspect of her life, her identity, instead of giving it up at the signing of her marriage license.

My mother also doesn’t bother to cater to the male obsession of female attractiveness– i.e., she has never really worn makeup or cared about fashion. Perhaps it was her way of rebelling against her mother, who was quite obsessed with wearing makeup and being fashionable. But really, I think she just never cared. I definitely respect her for never caring to pander to the societal norm of a rather labor-intensive beauty routine for women.

My mother raised me to be an independent woman and I will be forever thankful for that. Growing up, I never dreamed of my wedding day, or my future husband, or what the perfect man for me might be like. Those thoughts were never put in my head by either of my parents. I’m not saying it’s wrong for parents to do that but I’m very glad mine didn’t. In fact, I don’t think it actually occurred to me that I might someday get married until I was in late middle school or early high school. Instead of growing up with images in my head of myself in some puffy white dress, I dreamed of going to college and succeeding in some awesome career. Like being a scientist. Or a veterinarian. Or a journalist. I have been indecisive about my career since kindergarten but I have always wanted an awesome one.

Well, now I have graduated college (woo hoo!) and I am forever thankful to my mother for everything she has done for me, from making and bringing me food to simply encouraging my independence. She always encouraged me to think for myself and thanks to her I do just that. She always treated me as an actual person when I was growing up, instead of as a stupid child like many parents do. If I asked her a question that parents normally lied to their children about, like about sex or religion or even just Santa Claus, she would tell me the truth (actually I deduced Santa Claus on my own, when I was 5. Santa had the same handwriting as my mother… duh). This is probably the best thing that anybody could have done for me as a precocious child with endless questions. Maybe she knew that I’d probably figure it out if she lied anyway, and didn’t want to be that parent who lies to their kid to protect them and then the kid never trusts their parent to tell them the truth.

So, mom, thanks for everything. Happy Mother’s Day.

Further Analysis: The Wal Mart case

The feminism/politics/law nerd that I am, it is so exciting to be able to see the biggest-ever class-action discrimination lawsuit unfold. Of course, it is very unfortunate that Wal-Mart was (allegedly) discriminating against women in the first place, but it’s nice to see at least some media attention devoted to the issue of gender discrimination.

For those of you who are not a lawyer, law student, or legal nerd, I will attempt to explain some of the more arcane aspects of the case of Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores.

The women who are suing Wal-Mart are doing so under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII “prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin,” which courts have held to include sexual harassment as sex discrimination and later laws have added pregnancy, age and disability to the list of traits which cannot legally be discriminated against.

Up until two days after President Obama took office, there was a limitation of 180 days to file a lawsuit. In the Supreme Court case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.(2007), the Court held that pay discrimination complaints must be filed within 180 days of the original discriminatory decision. With Ledbetter’s case, she had not known about the discrimination and it occurred slowly over a period of 20 years so it would not have been possible for her to sue within that time period. Congress and President Obama rectified this by passing and signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which changed the 180-day limitation to reset after every discriminatory paycheck.

Along with a milieu of other complaints against various aspects of the Wal-Mart company, it can now add gender discrimination to the list. Allegedly. From

This law will most likely help the women who are suing Wal-Mart for discrimination. I could not find any specific information about the EEOC filings regarding this specific case. However, at least we know that the courts will not be able to say that they didn’t file their complaints or lawsuits in time.

If they win, the women suing Wal-Mart will be eligible for injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and back pay. There will be a separate opt-out class for punitive damages– that is, the women who are satisfied with receiving back pay will be able to opt out of receiving punitive damages, which isn’t a guarantee if they win the lawsuit.

Injunctive relief simply means a court-ordered prohibition on an act, and does not involve money.  It basically means the court will order Wal-Mart to not discriminate anymore. Declaratory relief means that the court will officially determine who is right in the case; either the Court will declare that the women who filed suit are right in this controversy, or they will determine that Wal-Mart did not discriminate. Essentially declaratory relief means the courts saying, “yes, you were right” to whichever side.

Back pay is where we get into the money. If the women win, the Court will somehow determine how much back pay is owed. Since this lawsuit is class-action and involves over a million women, Wal-Mart could be required to pay billions in back pay. On top of that, punitive damages could be awarded to the women as well– extra money that Wal-Mart has to pay the women as a punishment for their (alleged) discrimination.

The five judges who dissented against the case going to trial as class-action status agreed with Wal-Mart in that it was a small number of women who had filed complaints of discrimination, too small to merit class-action status. However, as Judge Michael Daly Hawkins noted in a footnote of the opinion:

3Ten times the dissent points out the large class size, referring to the “1.5 million” women alleging discrimination as a reason to reject certification. However, at oral argument, counsel for Wal-Mart conceded that if past employees are excluded the class to be certified would be less than 1.5 million, perhaps two-thirds less than the figure the dissent cites. Further, the dissent emphasizes that this is the largest class that we have ever certified “based on a small number of incidents.” Dissent at 6249 n.11 (all references in this Opinion to the dissent refer to Judge Ikuta’s dissent). As an initial matter, we do not find 120 claims of illegal sex discrimination a small number. Nevertheless, given that the class is suing by far the largest employer in the United States, we are unsurprised that Plaintiffs are seeking to represent such a large class. Of course, this should not change the analysis the Supreme Court required in General Telephone Co. of the Southwest v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 157-59 (1982), nor should it necessitate that we take an even harder look at the merits, essentially conducting a trial, as the dissent proposes.

“We do not find 120 claims of illegal sex discrimination a small number.” Props, Judge Hawkins. Dissenting Judge Sandra S. Ikuta seemed to consider it a small number, however, dismissing it as a “handful of anecdotes” (as quoted in NY Times article):

“Never before has such a low bar been set for certifying such a gargantuan class,” Judge Sandra S. Ikuta wrote. Such a suit would leave large companies vulnerable “based on nothing more than general and conclusory allegations, a handful of anecdotes and statistical disparities that bear little relation to the alleged discriminatory decisions.”

Judge Hawkins also noted other holes in the arguments of the dissent, really discrediting their reasoning. Judge Ikuta and the dissenters partly relied on reasoning they erroneously read from the very case that the majority relied on for their reasoning that the case should go to trial; that is, General Telephone Co. of the Southwest v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 157-59 (1982). Judge Hawkins aptly pointed out that the dissent relied on the “significant proof” standard which was actually not interpreted correctly from Falcon. The dissent quoted the sentence referring to “significant proof,” saying that plaintiffs cannot win at the certification stage without “[s]ignificant proof that an employer operated under a general policy of discrimination.” Well, actually, says Judge Falcon and the majority:

“However, the entire footnote sentence reads as follows: “Significant proof that an employer operated under a general policy of discrimination conceivably could justify a class of both applicants and employees if the discrimination manifested itself in hiring and promotion practices in the same general fashion, such as through entirely subjective decisionmaking processes.” Falcon, 457 U.S. at 159 n.15 (emphasis added).15

Thus, the dissenting opinion is discredited and all women who were (allegedly) discriminated against by Wal-Mart will have their day in court.

So many people treat the issue of gender discrimination as unimportant, like the issue is over, and that anybody who complains about it is just a stupid bitchy man-hating feminist who just likes to complain. However, that is not true– the issue of gender discrimination is NOT over, as we can see with the Wal-Mart case. Women must be brave enough to fight back when they think that there is discrimination, as these brave women did with Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart gender discrimination case will go to trial as class action suit

The biggest class-action discrimination lawsuit in the history of the United States is about to unfold, likely bringing with it a renewed level of attention to the issue of gender discrimination.

A federal appeals court ruled last Monday in a close 6-5 vote in Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores that the suit will go to trial with class-action status. The ruling comes nearly a decade after six women who worked for Wal-Mart initially filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in federal court in 2001.

If the plaintiffs end up winning the lawsuit, Wal Mart could be required to pay billions in back pay and possibly even punitive damages. Wal Mart says it will appeal all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. Image from Business Week.

Since the court allowed for class-action status, the suit will represent more than a million women and could cost the superstore giant billions in backpay and possibly even punitive damages.

The women allege that Wal-Mart systematically pays women less than men for equal work and equal seniority (even women with higher performance ratings than their male counterparts), and that it is more difficult for women in the same circumstances to be promoted. The women are suing on the basis of violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The suit will encompass “all women employed by Wal-Mart at any time after December 26, 1998,” according to the judicial opinion, by Circuit Judge Hawkins. The women, if they win the case, will be eligible for “injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and back pay, while creating a separate opt-out class encompassing the same employees for punitive damages.”

The dissenting judges sided with Wal-Mart’s claim that the plaintiffs’ complaints were not representative of the entire female population of Wal-Mart workers, and were isolated incidents.

For more information, see:

For the text of the judicial opinion, see

Rep. John Boehner Wants Women To Die?

Okay, probably not really. Then again, women tend to vote more democratically than men, and the women whose lives would be saved or improved by this bill probably also generally vote democratically as well so who knows…

U.S. House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) speaks a news conference March 19, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Boehner said he would try his best to stop the Health Care Reform legislation. (March 18, 2010 - Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images North America)

Upon President Obama’s signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the new health care law as of March 23, Representative John A. Boehner, the House Republican Leader, was quoted as saying, “This is a somber day for the American people. By signing this bill, President Obama is abandoning our founding principle that government governs best when it governs closest to the people.”

By opposing this legislation, Rep. Boehner opposed several measures which are critical not only to women’s health, but to their lives in general. Women can no longer be denied coverage based on “pre-existing conditions” like having been raped or domestically abused, or having had a cesarean section or even simply a pregnancy. Additionally, insurance policies are now required to offer maternity care as well as no-cost preventative care.

It is this no-cost preventative care which is likely to save the lives of many women who would otherwise go without, because it includes annual cervical cancer and breast cancer screenings– pap smears and mammograms. Women, especially lower-income women who cannot afford the screenings, will as a group likely see a decrease in DYING because of not catching breast or cervical cancer in time as a direct effect of this legislation.

Eligibility for Medicaid will also be increased, as well as access to contraceptive services and community health centers, which will lead to more availability of testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Low-income women will no longer have to be pregnant, a mother, 65 or older, or have a disability to qualify for Medicaid– the national health insurance program for the low-income. Many very low-income women did not qualify for Medicaid because they do not fall into one of the previously defined categories, and could not afford to buy individual health insurance.

The new health care law will also provide other cost-effective measures for women, including the partial elimination of gender rating (the practice of charging women more for health coverage than men because they tend to cost more) and improved benefits and access under Medicare.

Of course, the new law isn’t an all-encompassing fix to the problem of gender discrimination in the health care industry. The practice of gender rating is still nationally allowable for groups over 100, which of course includes nearly 65 percent of the working population (no figures available on the percentage of women, probably similar but women tend to work for smaller companies so the ratio might just be a bit smaller than the general population).

There is also the contentious abortion issue. Insurance companies are barred from using any type of federal funds for covering abortions, so they must set aside a separate, completely private fund to provide this coverage from. Additionally, people wanting abortion coverage with their policy must now write a separate check for that coverage, even if it is just a few dollars a month. Even further, companies and the new insurance exchanges are not allowed to discriminate against companies, providers, or individuals who are opposed to or refuse to provide abortions, but there is no statute saying that those who are NOT opposed to abortions and DO provide them cannot be discriminated against.

This will likely result in fewer health care plans offering abortion coverage. However, it must be pointed out that now those who are opposed to abortion will no longer have to pay into a policy which does cover abortions– most insurance policies currently do cover them since they are more cost-effective to the company than having a baby. Companies will no longer be legally allowed to consider such cost savings.

Rep. Boehner claims to be opposed to the legislation on the grounds of staying true to the founding principles of this country. However, the founding fathers could not have possibly perceived how things in this country have turned out; insurance companies didn’t even exist at the time and women hardly dreamed of having something as silly as the ability to vote. The fact remains that the current system of health insurance in our company violates rights of many women and men to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides sweeping changes in the industry to rectify this problem.

There have been other sweeping changes enacted on a national level which were controversial and lost the President at the time support of conservatives. You may have heard of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although the changes are not quite as fundamental to the basic human right of liberty as the Civil Rights Act, the premise here is the same. People– not just women– are being discriminated against and denied the basic right of health coverage, people who are not even asking for it for free or for it to be provided to them from the government, they just want coverage. Well now, so many more of them will get it.

Photography’s role in the perpetuation of patriarchy

Many women can relate to the feeling of opening a fashion magazine or newspaper, or even seeing a billboard with an ad, photo shoot, or graphic rendering of a woman and suddenly experiencing a feeling of vague discomfort at the image. At times the feeling is not so vague.

For many, that feeling of discomfort can be explained by critiquing the photograph with a feminist perspective. Does the photo, ad, or other type of graphic medium either obviously or subtly cater to the patriarchal notion of the subjugation of women? Is the woman in a position of submission, perhaps juxtaposed with a man who is likely wearing more clothes than said woman and in a position of dominance? It is an uncomfortable feeling for many women to admit to themselves this feeling of vague discomfort at an ad or a photo in everyday life, accepted by millions and perhaps even praised for its artistic merits. It is even harder for many, many women to admit to themselves that male dominance is so finely woven into society that even photos masquerading as art are nothing more than images which perpetuate patriarchy and the subjugation of women.

This is a very famous image by early-to-mid 20th century French photographer Man Ray.

This photo is a very famous nude by Man Ray. He and his (female) protege/lover Lee Miller arguably revolutionized photography with their advancements of development techniques. This woman does not have tattoos on her back, Ray purposefully put the cello-like swirls on her back during development. Although Ray probably wasn’t thinking that he’d like to objectify women with his photograph, the picture certainly has that effect. The picture is hardly erotic or sexual in nature, but it still equates a woman with a cello– a thing to be possessed, shown off, bought, or even played.

Of course, this photograph was produced during a drastically different sociological climate than exists today. During the earlier parts of the 20th century, women were fighting simply for a political voice, the right to vote. Whether or not some photograph could be seen as  portraying a woman as nothing more than an instrument of men, a tool for a purpose– was hardly a major concern of the early suffragettes. They had bigger fish to fry.

However, photos with similar messages are still prevalent in mainstream advertising, fashion photography, fine art and even the beginner works of photography students. Maybe it’s true that the countless photographers, editors, graphic designers, and students don’t even realize what it is they are really saying with their images. Maybe they just don’t care. Either way, it’s apparent that despite all of the fights that have been fought on the behalf of women’s rights and against such blatant notions of patriarchy, such attitudes about women are so deeply ingrained into society that it will likely be next to impossible to completely eradicate them. Unfortunately, patriarchal attitudes are present in both genders, it’s not just the men who are to blame here.

Of course, all of this begs the question of what exactly is and isn’t subjugation/objectification of women? It’s hard to describe. Rather obvious examples include images of women in an obviously submissive position in relation to that of a man in the same picture. But what of pictures that are only comprised of women? Is a picture of a naked woman art or objectification? Is it possible for it to be both? The feminist answer would likely be no, but as the majority of society are unfortunately not feminists the popular answer would likely be yes.

Here’s this writer’s interpretation of the issue: “sexy” photographs of women are not necessarily an objectification in and of themselves, but sometimes are; furthermore, photographs that do objectify women can have artistic qualities to them. Photographs that contain nudity do not always objectify women. However, if the woman’s nudity is the main focus of the photograph, especially focusing in an erotic way on certain physical features about her body like her breasts or crotch, that would be a blatant objectification. Let’s say we have a picture of a woman who is nude except for a pair of lacy boy-short underwear on, and the picture is taken from the front, and her face is either expressionless or nonexistent in the photo. This is a random example, not founded on any actual photo*. Now, no matter how creative the lighting is, or the depth of field, or the coloring during development/photoshop, the picture is still just a picture of a pair of boobs. There is nothing in the face, or there is no face. There is no woman behind the breasts. She is her breasts.

(Author’s disclaimer: I have absolutely no authority in critiques of art, other than that of a feminist perspective I suppose. I have no artistic training whatsoever except for a couple of photography classes and a previous relationship with a photography student, which arguably taught me more about photography than the classes did.)

This also begs the question, do men get objectified too? Yes, they do, of course. However the objectification of men by women is not nearly as prevalent or even as damaging to the men as it is to the women. WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) Men still dominate society, from most businesses to the majority of representation in government. Of course that has changed a lot in the past few decades and will likely continue to do so. However, prevalence of dirty pictures of men will not likely keep them from advancing their professional careers. On the other hand, the ubiquity of images of half-naked (or wholly naked, even) women along with things such as the strip club industry, pornographic renderings of women in different ‘career’ roles like librarians or secretaries… all of these things have the effect of ensuring that quite often women are not taken seriously for their value in the professional setting. Women, especially attractive women, thus have to fight twice as hard as men do to establish themselves as serious professionals rather than floozies who are just itching to take their clothes off and reveal their sexy lingerie to the big powerful manly men.

Conclusion: It is up to photographers, editors, graphic designers to become aware of how they portray their images and the effect they have on society.


*Okay this is a complete lie. There is a photo. However I can’t exactly post it without pissing off the photographer and I don’t even have a digital copy of it anyway. But, there are many similar examples of similar photos out there and I’m sure you can use your imagination.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.