Saturday, August 26, 2006

Chauvinism abounds

I was flipping channels the other night when I landed on Scarborough Country on MSNBC. I am not a fan of Joe Scarborough, but this particular show made me sit up and take notice. The title of the story read "Career Women Make Bad Wives?" (--click to watch the chauvinism ensue).

I was transfixed for the 6 minute segment. I looked around. No I had not been transported in time. It WAS 2006. But it sounded like the 1950's. This topic came up because Forbes magazine ran an article written by Michael Noer that stated,

"Recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it."


There is so much wrong I don't know where to begin. Host Joe Scarborough brought on relationship coach April Beyer, Rabbi Shmuley (of TLC's "Shalom in the Home") and Leslie Morgan Steiner, editor of "Mommy Wars" to discuss if career women did in fact, make bad wives.

Leslie Morgan Steiner, helpfully pointed out that the Forbes comment was completely without merit since there was no study to back it up. It was written to attack women who step outside the traditional role associated with "wife" and "mother." Notice how the quote turns women who seek a career into cheaters, and bad mothers. It's just lazy misogyny.

This flies in the face of common sense. Women today don't work because they want an opportunity to get away from the kids (who they apparently hate) and find someone to have an affair with, women work because the economy demands two-income households for most middle-class families. 70 percent of women who have children under 18, HAVE to work to help support the family. Moreover, women can desire a career, and this doesn't make them a slut or bad mother. It just means they feel they have something talent-wise to offer the world, and they want an outlet to express it.

Rabbi Shmuley's comments distressed me as well. He felt that families need to spend more time with their children, connecting, showing love and keeping the romance of marriage alive. Well yes, that's fine and true. But why does that responsibility fall entirely on women?

Why isn't there a 6 minute program on Scarborough Country about how career men are destroying the home? Do you think Forbes would ever print this:

"Career men tend to assume that their office hours exempt them from family housework and chores. They help out less and spend no time nurturing their children. Men with careers are less likely to be interested in their partner's daily activities and therefore are bad communicators."

The presumption that career women make "bad wives" is an interesting one. What makes a "good wife?" Should she always have dinner on the table at 6 pm sharp? Should she never be wearing sweatpants? Always have a patient, kind word for the children? Never "nag" anyone to do housework? And above all, be ready to give a blowjob at a minute's notice?

Cause if that's the "good wife" American men desire, then no wonder career women are failing. If women are working 8 hours a day, just like their husbands, they're bound to get a little snappy when they come home and have to cook, clean, do laundry and put all the romance into the marriage as Rabbi Schumley insinuates.

There is nothing wrong with staying at home and raising a family. For either gender. But relationship "coach," April Beyer also upset me when she said, "There's not a woman alive who'd say, 'I'd rather be at work than in the arms of the man I love or at home on the couch with my children.'"

Sure every person wants a break from work but no one seems to question that it's "natural" for men to work. Isn't it funny that you've heard people say, "men have to get out of the house or they'd go crazy." But it's assumed that women naturally want to be in the home (where they belong, of course). I love my family but I also love my time alone working on furthering my education and career. Women deserve "me time"! They deserve the right to their own goals autonomous of family and husband.

The Forbes article is inexcusable but giving it airtime and actually posing a serious discussion on "career women as bad wives" is just ridiculous.

On a funny note...Turns out there's an entire award designated to modern day chauvinism.

I was not aware of this until recently, but the "Ernie's" are given out to showcase the worst in sexist behavior. The ceremony takes place in Australia but recently made headlines here in the U.S. for awarding Tom Cruise an Ernie for his comment, "I've got Katie tucked away so no one will get to us until my child is born ... [Katie's] life from now on was going to be about being a mother. I'm not giving her the chance to turn into another Nicole."


This year marked the 14th anual Ernies Awards. There is even an award for a woman -- for the remark least helpful to the sisterhood. For example, Australian journalist Bettina Arndt was awarded for her comment that "well educated women don't always make the best mothers."

Other winners this year:

In the judicial category, lawyer Chrisovalantis Papadopoulos won the Ernie for saying a rape was only brief and "at the very bottom of the scale of seriousness," while the political prize went to Australia's Bill Heffernan who criticized his opponent, Labor MP Julia Gillard, for remaining unmarried and childless. "Anyone who chooses to deliberately remain barren ... they've got no idea what life's about," he said.

For more on the Ernies...

Friday, August 25, 2006

August 26th

Do not let August 26th pass unnoticed

In 1971, Untied States congress made August 26 “Women’s Equality Day.” It celebrates the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Suffragists were not “given” the right to vote but rather won it. Their battle began back in 1848 with Susan B. Anthony and ended in 1920, after suffragists were wrongly imprisoned, beaten and tortured. We owe it to the memory of these brave women to never stop fighting for equality.

Consider women’s healthcare today. I had a harsh awakening as a 22-year-old woman when I realized my health insurance would gladly cover Viagra, but would not under ANY circumstances cover contraception in ANY plan they offered.

Money is the major barrier to contraception access. If a woman’s childbearing age is on average 15-44 and the average cost of contraception can run $360 a year – then you do the math. Women in my age group currently spend 68 percent MORE on health care than men because of reproductive health-related costs.

Where is our equality?

Meanwhile pharmacists are refusing to fill legal prescriptions for Plan B Emergency Contraception and birth control because they claim it conflicts with their moral beliefs. These are legal drugs that are vital to the basic health care of women. Restricting access is an outright act of gender discrimination and it can lead to unintended pregnancies.

Where is our equality?

Health insurers continue to ignore basic fact, that covering contraception saves them money! The average cost for one pregnancy is $10,000. One year of birth control just doesn’t compare.

Twenty-three states have issued laws that require full contraceptive equality. We could make it 50… if we don’t forget we have the right to equality.

For more information visit

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

America the beautiful?

Last night I watched the movie "Why We Fight" by Eugene Jarecki. It's a great documentary because it saturates the viewer with facts and asks questions, more than makes assumptions. If you hated "Fahrenheit 9/11," this is much more your speed. I personally believe that peace is a feminist issue, so watching a film that asks that essential question, "Why do we fight?" was great and had me gasping out loud at certain points. For example, when Jarecki talked about the fall of Rome and compared its rise and fall to the current state of the United States, I got chills!

What Jarecki shows through his documentary is that the Bush administration's approach to Iraq and foreign policy isn't a brand new concept, but rather a path that our country has been on since World War II.

In his farewell address, Eisenhower warned America to beware the "military industrial complex." Our American way of life is so heavily dominated by military supremacy. We have troops deployed and in permanent bases in hundreds of countries around the world. I realized in watching "Why We Fight" that America has had her fingers in many foreign policy blunders, Iraq merely being the latest.

In one part of the documentary, Jarecki takes us to the morgue in Iraq where he runs through his book documenting the bodies that came in after the U.S. began air strikes. 90-percent of the deceased were civilian!!! As the Iraqi man ran his finger down the book, my heart was breaking, "Housewife, housewife, female student, soldier, child, child, housewife, student, soldier, child"-- on and on. Then we learn that of the first 50 "precision, "smart bomb" air-strikes" NONE hit their designated target!

Our federal budget for defense is more than all our other budgets PUT TOGETHER. Makes you stop and think. This documentary is chock full of information and was significant for me on many levels-- as an American and as an advocate for peace. I think everyone, regardless of political leaning or their opinion on Iraq, will learn something from this film.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

We cannot forget Afghanistan

Every single day, somewhere in Afghanistan, a girls' school is burned down or a female teacher killed by the Taliban.

Makes you feel awkward about skipping classes, doesn't it?

If you recall, the treatment of Afghan women and girls was one of the reasons our government advocated going to Afghanistan. Under Taliban rule, women and girls were not allowed to seek education or employment. They weren't even allowed to be outside without a male relative escorting them.

After the Taliban was overthrown, schools were opened immediately by the new Afghan government in 2002. Some 34% of girls were estimated to be going to school and well over 50% in the major cities of Kabul and Herat.

Now unfortunately, the Taliban is fighting back. Bomb threats and violent attacks have kept most girls home and many schools have closed. Nearly one-third of all districts have no schools for girls.

Violence has hit an all time high and yet our government says nothing about the dire situation plaguing women and girls.

You can help give these women a proper voice. Support the Afghan Women's Empowerment Act.

The bill, which was introduced in each house of Congress by Senator Barbara Boxer and Representative Carolyn Maloney, authorizes the President to appropriate $10 million each year for three years for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Also $5 million each year for the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs, and $30 million each year to be used by Afghan women-led NGOs to provide adult literacy, technical training, health care, education, and other critically needed services to women and girls throughout Afghanistan.

Urge your elected officials NOT to turn their back on the women in Afghanistan!