Image by Elvert Barnes
1. #EqualPayDay Sweeps the Nation.
Tuesday of this week was Equal Pay Day here in the U.S., and to celebrate, I only did 79% of my assigned homework (lol, closer to 20% but that one’s on me). No but seriously, while it was a super rad day filled with uplifting messages passed from lady to lady, and a hopeful increase in intersectional frameworks for understanding the complex issue of the wage gap, the existence of this day is A) so depressing! Like come ON, America it’s 2016, stop being the terrible roommate who always asks us to pay for stuff and never pays us back! (You still owe me $10 for that pizza, BTW), and B) so telling of the state of women’s politics today. For example, there were lots of posts in protest of the fact that there we even have an Equal Pay Day; but not because protesters think it’s a disgrace that women aren’t paid fairly. Protests emerged from people who deny the existence of the wage gap in the first place. Argh, cue the Liz Lemon nerd rage. Here’s the deal, fam: no matter how you slice it, the wage gap is alive and well and affects certain women more starkly than others. Just because we have the Equal Pay Act of 1963 on the books doesn’t mean that women have benefitted from any kind of drastic change over the past half century. I mean, damn, check out stories like Kerri Sleeman’s for more on how the wage gap is the real deal, and how it’s real lame. Happy holidays, gal pals!
2. Democrats Filibuster to Stop Anti-LGBT Bill.
When Bob Marley said “Get up, stand up,” IDK if he was talking about filibustering for 39 hours straight; but that’s exactly what a bunch of Democratic senators in Missouri did this week, in an effort to keep a discriminatory bill from passing through the Missouri state legislature. Unfortunately, even the heroic (and record-breaking) 39-hour filibuster couldn’t keep out a bill that ‘protects religious liberty’ by prohibiting the state from “penalizing clergy, religious organizations, and certain individuals for their religious beliefs concerning marriage between two people of the same sex.” This means that, if the bill is passed by voters, all the Kim Davises of Missouri would ostensibly be free to refuse services and good to LGBT+ folks--even from taxpayer-funded domains--on the basis of not approving of elements of the other person’s lifestyle. Ugh how are we living in a world advanced enough for snotty 15-year-old boys to hoverboard to school, and yet we can’t figure out how to, like, coexist peacefully!? Color me baffled. Here’s to the badass busters of balls and filis (whatever those are) who stood up to this unholy bill in spite of all the yuck.
3. Dhaka Women Challenge Sexual Violence.
Paint the town red, ladies! And yellow and green and purple and female...
Bangladesh may be halfway around the world, but it shares a troubling characteristic with the U.S.: women are subjected to staggering statistics of sexual assault and violence. Some 87% of married women in Bangladesh reported violence at home and from husbands in a 2011 survey from the government. Oof, that’s enough to do a doubletake. So as we can see, the numbers are not pretty. But, in an effort to peacefully (and creatively TBH) combat the rising levels of violence against women, a fempowerment group in the capital city of Dhaka named Meye (Bangla for ‘Girl’) has taken to painting the city’s famously colorful rickshaws with equally as colorful feminist messages and slogans. These ladies know that one of the most powerful methods of combating the patriarchy is the reclamation of public space--and ain’t nothin’ more public than public transportation (cough, subway, cough) like the rickshaw, a vibrant symbol for city life in Dhaka. Dhaka women: 1, patriarchy: 0.
4. Harvard Final Clubs Resist Gender Mixing.
I’m sorry to do this to you on a perfectly good Thursday, but another dude just proclaimed that allowing women into previously all-male spaces will increase their chances of being assaulted, and I thought you should know about it. Sounds like that Harvard education was really worthwhile, bud! Here’s the scoop: in the middle of a campus-wide initiative to address sexual assault at Harvard (ah, the irony!), an alumnus of the school and an official within the Porcellian Club (a historic social club on campus) wrote a letter to the Harvard Crimson newspaper explaining how recent calls to allow women into all-male final clubs are misguided, and that allowing women into these historically masculine domains will greatly increase their chances of being sexually assaulted. So, instead of calling on his fellow bros to just...I don’t know....do better (?), this fella says it’s best to keep the ladies as far away as possible--for their own safety. Mmmm smells like a recipe for some victim-blaming. The Porcellian official did release a clarifying statement that I suggest checking out, too. Read more of my thoughts here.
5. White House Designates New Feminist Historical Monument.
Great, when do we move in?
How did that song from Annie go again? “Obama, Obama, I love you, Obama”? Anyway, this week our dude in the White House designated a new National Monument in Washington, D.C.--but not just any old monument, folks. The Belmost-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, otherwise known as a feminist history site (!!!), and home of the National Woman’s Party. Over the years (and centuries) this house has been home to many political lady leaders, many of whom were active in the struggle for women’s suffrage, like Alice Paul and Alva Belmont. While women’s history has for so long been lost or ignored or mangled, this monument designation represents a renewed effort to recenter women in history and celebrate our triumphant (often complicated and never perfect) past.