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WMC News: the American Health Care Act, interviewing sexualized violence survivors, rugby, WMC Live

May 17, 2017

Just how bad for women is the American Health Care Act?

By Susan Buttenwieser | May 16, 2017

“Across the board, this is a terrible bill for women,” said Jamila K. Taylor, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, speaking about the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The Republican-led House of Representatives passed the bill on May 4, without waiting for a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, whose economic analysis of proposed legislation would provide an estimate of how much it will cost and how many people could lose health insurance. The Senate is expected to start work on its version once the CBO score is completed later this month. But advocates and angry constituents were already voicing their outrage.

The Center for American Progress called the AHCA “one of the worst bills for women’s health in a generation” because it would defund Planned Parenthood; institute work requirements for most mothers on Medicaid; allow states to waive requirements that all insurers cover all essential health benefits including maternity care, mental health services, and prescription drugs; restrict private health insurance of abortion; increase premiums for people with pre-existing conditions; and throw millions of people off their coverage. More >>

Image description: Woman in medical garb holding a clip board up with a form that has "POLICY CANCELLED" across it in red-stamped letters.

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Trump policies that hurt workers may be new wedge issue

By Karen Nussbaum | May 10, 2017

Chatting on her front porch with a Working America organizer named Sara, Phylis, an 87-year-old voter in Columbus, Ohio, talked about her views on good jobs and President Trump. “I wouldn't think much of him if he took away safety standards,” she said.

Phylis has good reason to be worried. In 2015, 4,836 workers were killed on the job in the United States, and nearly 3.7 million work-related injuries and illnesses were reported.

What surprised me is that Phylis is a Trump voter who strongly supports him on nearly every other issue. Unfazed by his ties to Russia, conflicts of interest, and cabinet appointments, Phylis didn’t stop to reconsider her choice—until Sara raised the threats to job safety in Trump’s budget. And that’s an important lesson for all of us.

She, and the thousands of other Trump voters we talk to every week, didn’t show up at the Women’s March and don’t connect with the resistance. Phylis is one of millions of people we call “searchers”—Trump voters who are not ideologues, but are sincerely, even desperately looking for a way out of an increasingly grim economic future for their families. That’s where issues like workplace safety and equal pay come in. More >>

Image description: Working America's canvassers interviewed swing voters. Photo courtesy of Working America.

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10 do's and don'ts on how to interview sexualized violence survivors

By Lauren Wolfe/Director | May 17, 2017

This is meant as an informal guide for journalists who cover sexualized violence or want to, mainly in an international context. Over the years I’ve consulted with dozens of experts: psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, doctors, NGO staffers, journalists who’ve long covered this topic, and many others. This is the fruit of those discussions. It is also the product of years of my own reporting in war zones. During this time, I’ve seen and experienced a lot of awful interactions between survivors and journalists, as well as some that have gone extremely well.

I’m sure there is much missing in my discussion here, so please note that this is an incomplete, and personal, guide. My hope is that it may help even one journalist better tell a story of rape, or one survivor confide it without being retraumatized. More >>

Image description: This photo of a young teen in the Democratic Republic of Congo was used to illustrate a story about her rape while protecting her identity. (Lauren Wolfe)

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Syrian women have a message: Drop earring, not bombs

By Didem Tali/Guest Blogger | May 16, 2017

Istanbul—Emerging from a crowd of around a dozen women, Farida, a 32-year-old Syrian refugee living in Istanbul, stood in front of a cabinet full of bright and colorful threads and beads. Looking at the materials with friends, she mused what color she should use for her next earring project.

“Let’s not use orange and pink this time,” she murmured to one of her friends, another Syrian refugee.

After picking her favorite colors, she knuckled down at a workshop table at the center of Small Projects Istanbul, housed in a basement in the Fatih neighborhood bustling with dozens of other Syrian women and their children.

“I usually prefer to make the earrings in light colors. My all-time favorites are white and blue. White symbolizes hope and peace. Blue is for clarity and pureness,” she said.

Farida’s color choices are a reflection of her past. A year and a half ago, the mother of three fled her home in Aleppo, where she was a housewife and her husband was an Arabic teacher. For over a year, she has participated in the “Drop Earrings, Not Bombs” initiative, in which she has mastered the art of making brightly colored, drop-shaped earrings. Run by the NGO Small Projects Istanbul, Drop Earrings, Not Bombs is an income-generation and community-building project enabling around 30 Syrian women like Farida to express themselves through handcrafts. More >>

Image description: A woman holds up a pair of earrings made in the Drop Earrings, Not Bombs initiative. (Didem Tali)

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Africa's famine may be setting the stage for a new HIV epidemic

By Chagmion Antoine/Guest Blogger | May 11, 2017

No one should ever have to choose between starving to death and exposure to HIV, however millions of women and children struggling to survive in the drought-stricken countries of southern Africa aren’t being given a choice.

When both Somalia and South Sudan declared states of emergency due to severe drought and conflict in February, humanitarian workers knew the crisis would not just mean the starvation of millions. It could also potentially open a Pandora’s box of HIV-related complications.

A March press release from the United Nations Population Fund expressed concern that “famine could worsen already existing conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence” such as rape, forced marriage, and forced prostitution. Famine also leads to displacement and desperation, which can lead to trading sex for food. And with all these violent acts can come HIV infection.

Wilfred Ochan, a representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in South Sudan, said a rise in the rate of HIV is likely during famine: “I think this is expected, especially in towns where the HIV epidemic is generalized—it’s in the general population—so if the general population is having sex, and at this point you are vulnerable, you are not protected, it is a concern.”More >>

Image description: This woman, 78, is one of at least 20 million people at risk of starvation throughout sub-Saharan Africa. She’s already lost her husband to malnutrition. (Eduardo Martins)

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What really happens to women at rugby festivals 

By Dayton Uttinger | May 17, 2017

Like any other sport, there are several “official” competitions sanctioned by licensed organizations for college rugby. But there are also unofficial matches — our “friendlies,” our festivals. During these events, teams gather for weekends full of rugby matches, drinking, bruises, wearing over-the-top costumes, and even more rugby. Nothing says “fun” to these people quite like slamming into each other full force while a little buzzed and wearing a tutu.

I am one of those people.

I joined rugby a little late. In fact, I joined sports a little late. After a brief stint of cross country in middle school, I quit all athletic pursuits in favor of focusing on academics. But during my junior year of college, I needed to distract myself from a period of depression, and physical activity was a great way to pump endorphins through my system. I joined my school’s rugby team.

In some ways, going from playing no sports to playing a contact sport with no pads felt like going from zero to 60. But I quickly became enamoured with it. Rugby has a physical ferocity that I always found appealing. The sport celebrates endurance and strength. Thick thighs are revered as pillars of muscle. Hulking shoulders are envied for their lifting potential. Rugby doesn’t just value physical strength, either, but also aggression. Women are too often told to be submissive, but rugby requires equal effort from all players, no matter their gender. All rugby players are expected to lift their teammates multiple times a match and expected to run for 80 minutes. All players ache all over the next day. More >>

Image description: Rugby festival 

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Learning to love myself as a black woman

By Faatimah Solomon | May 16, 2017

“Why are you so fat?”

I froze for a second, confused. “What do you mean?” I asked, puzzled.

“I mean you’re fat and ugly,” she said, as if that were the most obvious thing in the world.

I was in seventh grade; a twelve-year-old pudgy, buck-toothed, frizzy-haired, acne-prone girl totally oblivious to my supposed physical flaws and shortcomings. I lived in my own sheltered bubble. I went to school, did homework when I got back home, and then played in the backyard with our neighbor’s kid. I went to the library with my mother a lot. Perhaps most informatively, though, I lacked exposure to most media. I watched TV only once a week and seldom watched movies (except for the occasional viewing of Dumbo). This fostered a sense of cluelessness about societal expectations of beauty.

But when I got home from school that day, I stood in front of the bathroom and looked at my naked body for a very long time. I examined every protrusion and fat roll. Grooved specks of cellulite peppered my thighs. I had never noticed them before. I had never observed my body critically before. I had always been at ease with my body, but for the first time, I felt as though I wanted to shrink and hide from the world. More >>

Image description: Faatimah Solomon

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Did the election narrow the leadership ambition gap for women in politics? 

By Angela Liu | May 12, 2017

In the months since Trump’s election, people across the country (and world) have been galvanized to take action. Thousands marched in support of women, science, and the environment. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union saw spikes in donations. Late-night comedians like Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, and Chelsea Handler have focused monologue after monologue on the absurdity of Donald Trump’s presidency. And over 11,000 women want to run for office.

As of this past April, that’s how many women had reached out to Emily’s List, a progressive organization dedicated to electing Democratic women, to let them know that they were interested in running for office. To put that in perspective, Emily’s List received just 900 such requests in all of 2016.

While women make up a larger proportion of national and state lawmakers than they ever have before, the share of women in major political positions remains disproportionately low, and still isn’t representative of the U.S. population. Only one in five members of Congress are women. Women make up less than 25 percent of state legislators. Only six out of 50 state governors are women. And, of course, women have only recently been considered viable contenders for major parties’ nominations to high-ranking positions, like the presidency. More >>

Image description: An American flag flies in front of a bright blue sky. It covers the sun and looks translucent. 

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WMC Live #208: Grace Meng, Beth Newell & Sarah Pappalardo. (Original Airdate 5/14/2017)

News Exposé Special: Robin lets loose on a shockingly overlooked, major link connecting Trump and Putin. Guests: Congresswoman Grace Meng's "Menstrual Equality Bill"; comics Sarah Pappalardo and Beth Newell discuss Reductress. Listen here >>


This week WMC SheSource features experts on President Trump sharing classified information with Russia, news that the WannaCry ransomware that attacked attacked computers worldwide has similar coding to North Korean code, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plan for tougher penalties for criminals, Texas’ plan to ban Planned Parenthood from Medicaid family planning programs, and the Supreme Court deciding not to review North Carolina voter suppression laws.

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