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Photobucket Sometimes Winning Feels Like Losing

by LeanneB, SheKos editor

It's been a depressing year so far for proponents of women's reproductive freedom. In state after state, legislatures have been considering and even approving bills that force women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound and "see their baby" before the procedure can be performed. Since early pregnancies usually require an invasive ultrasound involving the use of a wand being inserted into the vagina, this amounts to legally-mandated medical rape. A provision like this recently became law in Oklahoma.


You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

But even in as dark a year as 2010 has been for women's reproductive freedom, there have been two recent small victories. The first came about because Florida governor Charlie Crist is desperate to keep up his pretense of being a moderate now that he's been forced to become an independent in his run for U.S. senator. He vetoed a bill with an ultrasound requirement like the one passed in Oklahoma - despite a long career touting his very conservative views, including saying in February of 2010, “I’m pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family, and I’m anti-tax. And I always have been, and I think that’s abundantly clear."

But Crist's political needs led to Florida women's gain and a marginal ray of hope for women's rights at the state level. This week, an even smaller victory came in South Carolina, where the state legislature has been wrangling over a budget as well as an abortion provision. At issue was an expansion of a woman's wait time after having the ultrasound before she can have an abortion from one hour to 24 hours.

The senate version of this bill calculated the 24-hour period as starting after the woman has the ultrasound, which would have necessitated two trips to the clinic. The house version allowed the woman to download timestamped information about the procedure from the internet and used the timestamp as the beginning of the 24 hours. This would obviously have placed a substantial extra burden on women seeking abortions, particularly women of limited means, since there are only three abortion clinics in South Carolina.

SC Republicans finally dropped their insistence on the 24-hour period being tied to the ultrasound procedure yesterday in order to allow the passage of a budget. So, yay us. Women in South Carolina must still submit to the ultrasound, possibly an invasive one, and then they have to sit around the clinic for an hour before they can actually receive their LEGAL abortion to which they have a constitutional right... but at least they can do it all in one trip, as long as they bring that printout that shows they downloaded the proper info.

And even as you read this, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal has the latest "medical rape" bill on his desk to be signed. This one has no exemptions for victims of incest or rape. I think we can all guess pretty accurately what he's going to do.

Come to think of it, it's still a pretty depressing year for women's rights.


Photobucket  GLBT NEWS THE KAT DRAGGED IN: Protecting All Victims of Domestic Violence

       by KentuckyKat, SheKos contributor

In a welcome move from the Department of Justice, which has been considered of suspect intent towards GLBT Americans, the Department has indicated that the Violence Against Women Act should be applied equally to same-sex relationships. The Department is relying on protections for unmarried partners to allow protection of GLBTs without violating The Defense of Marriage Act.

Oftentimes, domestic violence is viewed as a problem of men hurting women. While this is certainly the most common understanding of domestic violence, it leaves many other victims voiceless.

According to a 2010 report by the National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, intimate partner violence occurs in the relationships of LGBT people at about the same rate as in heterosexual relationships," the release noted. "In these situations, it is important that LGBT victims are afforded the same protections from violence as all other Americans.

In addition to the types of abuse commonly seen in heterosexual relationships, same-sex relationships and domestic violence survivors have additional challenges.

An additional form of emotional abuse for someone who is gay, lesbian, or bisexual may be to “out” them at work or to family or friends.
* * *
Here are more ways same-gender domestic violence is unique:
  • It is frequently incorrectly assumed that lesbian, bi and gay abuse must be "mutual."  It is not often seen as being mutual in heterosexual battering.
  • Utilizing existing services (such as a shelter, attending support groups or calling a crisis line) either means lying or hiding the gender of the batterer to be perceived (and thus accepted) as a heterosexual.  Or it can mean "coming out", which is a major life decision. If lesbians, bi's and gays come out to service providers who are not discreet with this information, it could lead to the victim losing their home, job, custody of children, etc. This may also precipitate local and/or statewide laws to affect some of these changes, depending on the area.
  • Telling heterosexuals about battering in a lesbian, bi or gay relationship can reinforce the myth many believe that lesbian, bi and gay relationships are "abnormal." This can further cause the victim to feel isolated and unsupported.
  • The lesbian, bi and gay community is often not supportive of victims of battering because many want to maintain the myth that there are no problems (such as child abuse, alcoholism, domestic violence, etc.) in lesbian, bi and gay relationships.
  • Receiving support services to help one escape a battering relationship is more difficult when there are also oppressions faced. Battered lesbians and female bisexuals automatically encounter sexism and homophobia, and gay and bisexual men encounter homophobia. Lesbian or gay people of color who are battered also face racism. These forms of social oppressions make it more difficult for these groups to get the support needed (legal, financial, social, housing, medical, etc.) to escape and live freely from an abusive relationship.
  • Lesbian, bi and gay survivors of battering may not know others who are lesbian, bi or gay, meaning that leaving the abuser could result in total isolation.
  • Lesbians, bisexuals and gays are usually not as tied financially to their partner, which can be a benefit if they decide to end the relationship. However, if their lives are financially intertwined, such as each paying a rent or mortgage and having "built a home together", they have no legal process to assist in making sure assets are evenly divided, a process which exists for their married, heterosexual counterparts.
  • The lesbian, bi and gay community within the area may be small, and in all likelihood everyone the survivor knows will soon know of their abuse. Sides will be drawn and support may be difficult to find. Anonymity is not an option, a characteristic many heterosexual survivors can draw upon in "starting a new life" for themselves within the same city.

The thing that struck me the most in reading the information that I located on this issue was the shame that many survivor's feel...as though by admitting their abuse, they are proving all of the negative things said about our relationships are unhealthy. The trauma of bearing the validity of a whole community on one's shoulders while trying to find a way through, and hopefully out of, violence is more than anyone should have to bear.


Photobucket  WOMEN AND WORK: Too hot for the office?

       by pat of butter in a sea of grits, SheKos contributor

Recently, Maureen Dowd wrote a column about 33 year old single mother Debrahlee Lorenzana, who was fired from, and is now suing, Citibank. According to Lorenzana, a business banker, Citibank fired her because her body was too attractive and thus distracting to her male colleagues, even though she dressed similarly to other female co-workers. She was told by her supervisor not to wear turtlenecks, tight skirts or heels, even though other women working there were allowed to dress in similar clothing.

No turtlenecks? Srsly? I could see no short skirts or cleavage, but turtlenecks are hardly inappropriate clothing, except perhaps if it's 95 degrees out.

One commenter at ForbesWoman stated,

"She was not dressed any differently than other women at the bank," says Tamara Bowman. "If a man isn't mature enough to not be distracted by a well-built woman, I really don't want him managing my money. A better solution: keep Debrahlee [and] fire the idiots that haven't developed the maturity to concentrate on their work."
I'm in agreement with Tamara. If someone is dressed similarly to others they can hardly be fairly singled out no matter how they look.

The Daily News states,

But as a rule, as long as your clothes fit properly, and hemlines don't creep high enough to put on a peep show, and you're not wearing flip-flops in any form - you're golden.

As summer wears on, New York women often find themselves looking in the closet and deciding what's okay to wear in the workplace. If Lorenzana is telling the truth and these really are the clothes she wore, her sense of office style is spot-on. Too distracting? File that under someone else's problem.

(I must admit to wearing flip-flops to work sometimes in the summer. Luckily, I don't work (or live) in a place that requires a very high standard of professional clothing.)

In response, Citibank states that the lawsuit is frivolous and that they have a "culture of inclusion" and a "respectful environment in the workplace."

Lorenzana will likely not get her day in court because of an arbitration clause she signed when she went to work at Citibank. Regardless, her lawsuit is bringing the topic of discrimination and, tangentially, sexual harassment at work back to the business section. Hopefully this case will make some clueless employers a little more aware of where the lines are on treating female employees fairly.



       by Aji, SheKos contributor

Ogichidaakweg ("[S]heroes")

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, our word ogichidaakwe translates roughly to (among other things) "woman warrior." It's also the word for a female hero. After the seemingly endless litany of heart-rending, soul-destroying bad news over the last several weeks, it seemed a good time to highlight what some of the female heroes in our Native communities are doing. Without further ado, I'll let their stories speak for themselves. I will say, however, that the last one is my favorite.

Tribal Honors

Bobbie Smith, First Lady of the Cherokee Nation, has been named 2010-2011 Woman of the Year by the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women [OFIW]. Ms. Smith, a volunteer Cherokee language translator, was awarded the title for her work to preserve the traditional language.

The Sciences

Dr. Freda Porter, Lumbee, earned her doctorate in applied mathematics from Duke University, then served as a NASA research fellow at the Langley Research Center, and now owns Porter Scientific, and environmental consulting shop with more than 20 employees. In May, she joined other current and former NASA professionals at an event sponsored by Robeson Community College, aimed at "helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds acquire the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills they need to become part of an educated workforce."


Natalie Charley, Quinault, co-founded the NorthWest Native American Chamber of Commerce and chairs the group's board of directors. The Chamber, founded eight months ago, held its kickoff event - a networking reception - in May. According to Ms. Charley:

"We basically hope to provide not only networking but greater awareness of entrepreneurs, tribal businesses and those partnerships they have created; make them more visible in the greater world and create a marketplace where folks can reach them and generate more business. We can identify not only tribal enterprises but private businesses. You don’t hear of them as often. The chamber covers Oregon, Idaho and Washington. We felt having the three states would be able to provide a larger network for all those folks."
Planned future events include a Chamber conference and training programs.


Tracie L. Stevens, a member of the Tulalip tribe, was nominated by President Obama on April 28 to chair the National Indian Gaming Commission [NIGC]. Ms. Stevens has broad experience in gaming-related governmental and business affairs, including stints on tribal gaming committees and nearly a decade and a half working directly on her tribe's gaming projects. Since July, 2009, she has served as senior adviser to Larry EchoHawk, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the department of the Interior. If confirmed by the Senate, she will take the reins of a troubled agency that has been without a chair for several years, overseeing a $16 million budget and some 115 nationwide staff members.


Shoni Schimmel, a women's high school basketball All-American who "is also believed to be the highest ranked Native American women’s basketball player ever," has joined the signed with the Louisville Cardinals women's basketball program. Ms. Schimmel also received offers from UCLA, Rutgers, South Carolina, and her native Oregon. Her high school record was outstanding:

Schimmel averaged 29.9 points, 8.6 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 5.8 steals as a senior, earning Parade Magazine first-team all-American honors. She finished her career as the No. 6 all-time scorer in Oregon with 2,120 points. She was Player of the Year in Oregon during her junior and senior years and was a first-team All-Stater all four years.
The Arts

Valerie Red Horse, a Cherokee filmmaker, wrote, produced, co-directed, and played the lead role in Naturally Native, a "groundbreaking" film that premiered in late May on the Turner Classic Movies channel, as part of the network's "Native American Images on Film" series. Financed by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, the film was shot in 1997 and premiered at Sundance in 1998, but has apparent languished since then for lack of studio interest. It is apparently the first full-length film with Native women serving as writer, director, producer, and lead actors. According to its Web site description:

[It]depicts the lives and relationships of three sisters of Native American ancestry as they attempt to start a business. As young children, the sisters were adopted by white foster parents.

Agnes Dill of Isleta Pueblo was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of New Mexico [UNM] during the School's May 15 graduation ceremonies. This particular honorary degree is especially notable: Ms. Dill will be 97 on June 23. In the 1930s, she was one of the first Native women students to enroll at UNM; she transferred to New Mexico Highlands University, earning dual bachelor's degrees in English and history in 1937. Ms. Dill began her career as a teacher at Oklahoma BIA schools; after becoming interested in the arts, she took a position as an art teacher. Upon her marriage, she retired from teaching, and she and her husband opened the Fort Cherokee Indian Museum and Trading Post in Oklahoma. In 1965, they returned to Isleta Pueblo, where she returned to teaching, became involved in tribal activities, and in 1971 co-founded the North American Indian Women’s Association [NAIWA], becoming its president in 1973. In 1975, then-President Gerald Ford appointed her to the National Advisory Council on Women’s Education, promoting education and employment for Native women in professional fields such as law and medicine across the country. According to Ms. Dill:

"Anything a man was doing, I tried to get women to do."
In recent years, the woman now known as "Grandma Agnes" has stayed equally busy: as a board member of the Indian Pueblo Cultural center's Indian Pueblo Marketing, Inc.; as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging; as president of NAIWA's New Mexico chapter; as director of the New Mexico Indian Council on Aging; as a "lifetime director" of the Chamiza Foundation of Sante Fe; as a member of the Council of Elders at the UNM Geriatric Education Center; and as a public speaker to health students at UNM on behalf of the Native Health Initiative.

The article closes with a couple of quotes from Grandma Agnes:

"I guess I am still a dill, a dill pickle."
. . .
"I just love people, and that’s why I have worked so much with people during my life."
I love this woman.


Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to SheKos on Thu Jun 17, 2010 at 10:01 AM PDT.

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