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June 23, 2017

It’s been a ‘heartless’ week for women’s health care

By Rebecca McCray | June 23, 2017

Lawmakers in Missouri set the tone for a dark week in health care reform for women. On Tuesday, the House sent a bill to the state Senate that, if passed, will infringe on the rights of women seeking abortions, and hamper the work of abortion providers.

The most alarming amendment to the bill, backed by Republicans, aims to roll back a St. Louis ordinance that protects women from housing and employment discrimination based on whether they use birth control, have an abortion, or are pregnant. In other words, if the bill succeeds, Missouri women could be fired for making any of these constitutionally protected choices. (The state’s full Senate is expected to consider the bill after July 4.)

What happened in Missouri’s legislature turned out to be a precursor to the U.S. Senate’s big reveal on Thursday of the 142-page plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and fulfill Trump’s promise to overhaul the health care system. More >>

Photo: Reproductive Justice For All poster. (Charlotte Cooper)

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Wonder Woman as a rorschach test for women

By Sharon Lennon | June 20, 2017

High hopes and low expectations. That was my attitude when I walked into a dark theater at 12:30 p.m. on a Friday, the opening weekend of Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins.

Since then, I have been reading countless opinion pieces about the film and gathering responses from the women in my midst. What’s striking, but not shocking, is how high the bar is for Wonder Woman. It seems to be nothing less than perfection—one film expected to be all things for all women. That’s a tough jumping off point for much of the discourse, discussion, and critique of Wonder Woman. I guess that’s what happens when a female superhero has to wait it out for decades before she gets to star in a film featuring her very own origin story. Women are bringing a lot of want to this film, and our reaction to it seems to be a kind of Rorschach test.

As a screenwriter and feminist, I did not expect a perfect film. It wasn’t. I also didn’t expect to be profoundly moved. I was. I smile-cried the moment I saw young Diana barreling through the streets of Themyscira, breaking a trail into her future as a superhero. My jaw dropped involuntarily at the sight of Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, and their world of women warriors training with total precision and ferocity. I burst into tears when Wonder Woman soldiered into “no man’s land,” steadying her shield against a hail of machine gun fire. I’ve never seen women do anything like that on screen, and I’m a film dork. I’ve seen a lot of films. More >>

Photo: Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

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Trump's anti-immigrant policies create dire "choices" for domestic violence survivors   

By Susan Buttenwieser | June 15, 2017

"I am afraid,” said G., a domestic violence survivor from Honduras who lives in rural Texas, explaining how President Trump’s policies on undocumented immigrants—making everyone a priority for deportation instead of those with criminal records—have impacted her life. “Before, I felt safe to call the police. Today, because of the laws and the new president, I am not so sure I am able to call if something happens. My abuser feels empowered. Because I have no papers, he thinks immigration will pick me up soon. He has threatened me many times, said he was going to set immigration on me, sent me derogatory memes, mocks me. Now, people try not to go out much or even open the doors to their houses.”

The increases in raids, Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric, and new anti-immigrant state initiatives have left survivors of domestic and sexual violence with the option of reporting their abuse to the authorities and risking possible detainment, deportation, and separation from their children. Or staying with their abuser.

“Our clients have been worried about whether it was worth it to call for protection when they’re being abused, or once they’ve left an abuser to get orders of protection,” said Glenaan O’Neil, director of the Lone Star Victims Advocacy Project, which advocates, educates, and provides free legal services to empower immigrant victims of abuse in rural Texas. “Shelters are worried too. In rural Texas, many shelters don’t have bilingual staff or expertise dealing with immigration issues, or how to respond to this new atmosphere and hostility toward immigrants either. For women, knowing that if they call the police they could be deported is their biggest fear becoming real. In one immigration enforcement action in Austin alone, 75 people were detained. I had one client who was crying … she was just so afraid. She said, ‘I’ve lived here since I was five years old and I love this country. Why doesn’t this country love me?’” More >>

Photo: Woman stands by a fence with her hands gripping the bars. 

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Women's stories we're missing as coverage of Trump dominates media

By Maggie D'Aprix/WMC Women Under Siege Intern | June 21, 2017

With Trump dominating nearly every bit of news across the country and in many parts of the world, reports of major human rights violations against women are being overshadowed. Globally, women and girls are suffering—whether in Bangladesh, where young girls are forced into marriage, or in Burma, where rape is being used as a tool of ethnic cleansing, or in the United States, where cases of female genital mutilation are being uncovered.

Below are some stories greatly affecting women’s lives that you may have missed since Trump came into office. More >>

Photo: A new bill in Poland would seriously restrict women’s access to the morning-after pill. (Iga Lubczańska)

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The invisibility of Muslim girls and women must end

By Farha Khalidi | June 23, 2017

This past week, a teenage girl identified as Nabra Hassanen was brutally murdered. She was attacked on her way home—assaulted by a man with a gun, beaten with a metal bat, and discarded into a body of water. Before she was attacked, Hassanen was leaving her mosque, a Muslim place of worship, during the week of Ramadan, and wearing her hijab. What should be mundane details about this young women instead suggest that Nabra’s murder was a hate crime and that her perpetrator’s actions and beliefs were rooted in sheer ignorance and resentment.

In this particular, tragic instance, one Muslim girl was killed. But this crime is bigger than Hassanen alone: it is a threat to an entire religion, particularly its women.

Muslim girls and women have long been essentially invisible to most people in the Western world, particularly America. We have never been properly represented in the media as a people. I’ve mostly seen men painted as villains, as perpetrators of violence, on the evening news. I rarely see Muslim women who look like me represented in the media at all. When we do exist, we do so at the hands of white Americans—we are molded into ammunition against the religion of Islam. More >>

Photo: Watercolor painting of Nabra Hassanen (Art by @nerdybrownkid)

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Destigmatizing HPV and cervical cancer 

By Shauna Gold | June 21, 2017

The most obvious reason why abstinence-only education is terrible is the unintended pregnancies that frequently occur as a result from it. But there are actually even more serious potential consequences of denying people information about how to take care of their sexual health: When people aren’t taught how to protect themselves against easily preventable diseases, like cervical cancer, their lives are threatened, the health care system is strained, and we socially regress.

President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget includes $277 million for abstinence-only sex ed. If it passes, students will be even less likely than they already are to learn about things like their risk of contracting STIs. Instead, they’ll primarily be inundated with warnings about how dangerous and terrible sex is (spoiler: it’s not) and do it anyway—likely without protection.

I learned how little young people are educated about sexual health firsthand in January, when after my annual pelvic exam my doctor told me my pap had come back abnormal due to HPV (the human papillomavirus). I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we received comprehensive sex ed from a young age. We learned, among many other things, that if you’re sexually active, you should get a pelvic exam once a year, so at least I had been taught enough to be able to detect an STI. But I didn’t know that it was possible to have a dangerous STI without also having any symptoms. More >>

Photo: Room with hospital chair in the foreground. 

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When the Rihanna-Lupita-Ava-Issa buddy comedy is so important

By Kadin Burnett | June 19, 2017

It started as an innocent, clever, and creative tweet. A picture of Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o sitting next to one another at a fashion show in 2014 was making its rounds on the Internet. The duo look as if they could be on the catwalk themselves: Both were clad in big sunglasses, and Rihanna sported a furry coat while Nyong’o wore a white-collared burgundy sweater. One imaginative Twitter user, @1800SADGAL, responded to the picture: “Rihanna looks like she scams rich white men and lupita is the computer smart best friend that helps plan the scans.”

Spelling mistakes aside, the reply was retweeted almost 10,000 times, and garnered over 200,000 likes. It even got the attention of both Rihanna and Nyong’o. The actress responded first, tweeting, “I’m down if you are @rihanna.” This prompted the Barbadian singer to comment back, “I’m in Pit’z.” This exchange was of course followed by the entire Internet collectively throwing its hands into the air in celebration. This playful back-and-forth between the two celebrities, this farfetched Twitter dream, started to blossom into something far more tangible when Ava Duvernay—director of Selma, 13th, and the upcoming film A Wrinkle in Time—saw fit to weigh in on the then-fictitious movie pitch. “Lights set. Camera’s up. Ready to call action for these #queens,” tweeted Duvernay, with an accompanying photo of Rihanna placing a crown atop her head, insinuating that she would helm the movie. Finally, to make the project seem one step closer to reality, comedian Issa Rae, creator and star of the HBO show Insecure, tweeted a GIF of a cat furiously typing on a keyboard, indicating that she would get to work on the script. Then in May of 2017, during the Cannes Film Festival, Netflix announced that this film would actually become a reality, with the streaming service itself as the distributor. More >>

Photo: Rihanna (left) and Lupita Nyong'o (right).

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Why we must stop the Texas bathroom ban  

By Julie Graves | June 16, 2017

Talking to people in my home state of Texas about policies related to gender identity often feels like screaming at a solid wall of concrete—especially when it comes to policies that curb the rights of transgender individuals. Yet this issue is a dire one: Members of the Texas legislature are currently trying to pass a bathroom bill (House Bill 2899) that would prohibit transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. This bill was already debated throughout the regular legislative session, but on June 6, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called a special session to revisit it in July.

This bill is nonsensical for many reasons. First, it protects people’s right to discriminate against transgender people based on the assumption that they will inevitably prey on people in the restroom of their choice. There is, of course, no statistical backing for this claim, which is the very basis of the bill. In fact, a study from the Williams Institute conducted in the Washington, DC area found that, if anyone needs protection in bathrooms, it’s trans individuals themselves: 70 percent of trans people reported experiencing harassment while using the restroom, according to that study. Yet Gov. Abbott defended this reasoning for the bill, telling a reporter that “At a minimum, we need a law that protects the privacy of our children in our public schools.” Clearly, if Gov. Abbott wanted to “protect” children in public schools, he would work to protect children who are the most likely to face discrimination in bathrooms: trans children. More >>

Photo: Bathroom signs side-by-side with the women's sign on the left and the men's sign on the right.

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WMC Live #213: Ariel Levy, Emily Temple-Wood. (Original Airdate 6/18/2017)

Robin on the GOP baseball shooting, the censoring of Shakespeare, how Jim Crow inspired Hitler, and the tale of Maddie Runckles. Guests: Ariel Levy on why The Rules Do Not Apply; Emily Temple-Wood's F-You Project on women in science at Wikipedia. Listen here >>


This week WMC SheSource features experts on the terror attack in London where a man drove a van into Finsbury Park Mosque worshippers, Russia announcing that it will treat U.S. planes as a target following the U.S. shooting down a Syrian jet, the killing of 17-year-old Nabra Hussein near a Virginia mosque, the Philando Castile verdict and the police killing of Charleena Lyles, the special election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, the Supreme Court case that will decide whether gerrymandering is acceptable under the Constitution, and YouTube’s decision to take steps toward fighting online terror.

June 20th was World Refugee Day, which the UN describes as a day to “commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees”. Here is a list of experts on refugee issues.

The Senate Health Care Bill was recently unveiled and promises to repeal and replace the Affordable Healthcare Act. Here is a list of experts on health policy, elderly healthcare, reproductive rights, children’s care, and medicine.

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