Here’s the Problem With That Popular Planned Parenthood Defense

Patricia Ireland, president of National Organization for Women (NOW), third from right, demonstrates with other NOW participants in favor of the Roe vs. Wade decision during the candlelight vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. in 2000.

Patricia Ireland, president of National Organization for Women (NOW), third from right, demonstrates with other NOW participants in favor of the Roe vs. Wade decision during the candlelight vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. in 2000.

When attacked, it’s a natural instinct to defend oneself as quickly and succinctly as possible, to shoot down bold lies with hard facts before they hang around and poison the air any longer.

And so when Republican lawmakers attempt to defund Planned Parenthood and presidential candidates paint the women’s health nonprofit as a sadistic baby-killing machine, I can understand why we whip out the numbers. They’re good numbers to have on hand when Jeb Bush says things like “they’re not actually doing women’s health issues” and that Planned Parenthood is “involved in something way different than that.” Or when Rep. Diane Black, sponsor of the House defunding bill, claims: “If there is reason to investigate, then there is reason to withhold taxpayer dollars during that period of time. The American taxpayer has been clear for a very long time that they do not want federal funds spent on abortion.”

Plenty of people have broken it down, but it’s worth repeating: Only 3 percent of the services provided by Planned Parenthood last year were abortion-related. Out of the 10.6 million services provided, 42 percent treated or prevented STDs. Another 34 percent provided contraception. Cancer screening and prevention accounted for 9 percent. (The annual report is available here.) Read more »

Stu Bykofsky Doesn’t Think I Should Have Had an Abortion

Patricia Ireland, president of National Organization for Women (NOW), third from right, demonstrates with other NOW participants in favor of the Roe vs. Wade decision during the candlelight vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. in 2000.

Patricia Ireland, president of National Organization for Women (NOW), third from right, demonstrates with other NOW participants in favor of the Roe vs. Wade decision during the candlelight vigil on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington D.C. in 2000.

In an odious “story” in today’s Daily News, Stu Bykofsky, a man whom I have never met, makes the huge (and hugely male) presumption that he knows why I had an abortion 40 years ago, how I felt about it then, and how I feel about it now. “There are women more casual about their abortions than their hair color,” he writes, and recalls feminist rallies he attended back in the day at which women wore t-shirts that read, “I had an abortion!” “I had 2 abortions!” “I had 3 abortions!”

It’s possible, since Stu is so old, that his memory is faulty. I don’t remember any such jolly carnivals of fetus-killing. The women I know celebrate the fact that abortion is an option that is legally available to them and their daughters. They would never, ever celebrate having one. What a despicable assumption for Stu to make. Read more »

No, Kathleen Kane Scandal Is Not a “Blow to Women”

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Let’s get one thing straight very quickly: Kathleen Kane‘s indictment on charges she leaked secret grand jury materials is a shame, an embarrassment to a state that has no shortage of reasons to be embarrassed, and just plain bad.

But none of that has anything to do with her gender.

Obvious, right? But this is Pennsylvania, where Kane is just one of two women we’ve ever elected to statewide office and where no women are currently in Congress, which means that females who can win a few votes — bizarrely in 2015 — are pioneers in their field, and thus judged not on their own performances, but on how well they represent their underrepresented group.

Which in means we end up with stories where Sen. Pat Vance, a Republican woman with 40 years of electoral politics under her belt, laments about Kane: “I felt very badly when she was charged, even though we’re not in the same political party, because it’s such a blow to women.”

Understandable. And wrong. Read more »

Are the Duggars Pro-Family — or Just Anti-Woman?

The Duggars

The Duggars

In general, I try not to dissect why I care about the lives of strangers on reality TV shows. Best-case scenario, I don’t have enough going on in my own life. Worst case, I have a sneaky crush on Dr. Dubrow that’s about to surface and cause worlds of pain and confusion.

But 19 Kids and Counting has always been a little different. It’s hard to be a woman in 2015 and not be interested (or, in my case, morbidly interested) in the Duggar family, who are followers of an ultra-conservative brand of Christianity that adheres to the Biblical patriarchy movement.

After this weekend, it’s impossible not to be afraid of them. Read more »

These Are Philly’s 10 Worst Catcalls, Ranked

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A sign declaring “No Catcalling Anytime” in Brooklyn’s Grand Plaza area, Thursday, April 16. A nonprofit company called Feminist Apparel says it hopes to have at least one sign up in every borough by week’s end.

I hate to say it, but sometimes, I don’t mind a catcall.

Ideally, yes, women would be able to walk down the street without eliciting any unwanted comments, rendering Fishtown’s fantastic new “No Catcall Zone” signs obsolete. In reality, well, sometimes “Looking good, honey” is the nicest thing I’ll hear all week. (Ever since resolving to meet this city halfway, I sleep better and drink less. Join me.)

The following, however, have no place in civilized society, or even Philadelphia. From drive-bys to bike bys, from the Northeast to Washington Avenue, these are Philly’s worst catcalls. Read more »

That Was Fast: Hillary Clinton Already Attacked for Running While Female

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with local residents at the Jones St. Java House, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in LeClaire, Iowa.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with local residents at the Jones St. Java House, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in LeClaire, Iowa.

Well, that didn’t take long.

The same day Hillary Clinton officially launched her campaign for president, she was scrutinized for doing so while being a woman.

“I don’t need her to drown me in estrogen every time she opens her mouth,” GOP strategist Ana Navarro said Sunday while on CNN to complain about Clinton’s lack of “subtlety.” “Every time she opens her mouth it’s about the granddaughter and Chelsea’s wedding and the yoga routines. She doesn’t need to have a sign that says, ‘I’m a woman, hear me roar!'”

(I know – I thought this was another on-point Onion story, too. I’m still a little paranoid it might be. But I watched the video, and those are real words coming out of a real person’s mouth in 2015.) Read more »

Pennsylvania Women Won’t Get Equal Pay Until 2072

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Shutterstock.com

Yes, it’s true, Pennsylvania’s Equal Pay Act passed in 1963. So why is it that, in its recent “Status of Women in the States” report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, our state earned a C+ in the category of Employment and Earnings? Why is it that the median annual earnings of men in 2013 were $12,000 higher than those of women? Why do women in Pennsylvania earn only 76 cents for every dollar a man earns? Why is it that I have to wait till I’m 103 before I live in a state where men and women get equal pay?

The problem, of course, is that most women don’t know they’re being paid less, and no one can sue for an affront they don’t know exists. If they do find out, their colleagues can get into trouble for violating corporate policies around wage secrecy, and they can be threatened with retaliation. And wage discrepancies can be justified by any number of criteria because the current Equal Pay Act’s standards are vague.
Read more »

Are Women Being Overmedicated?

Psychiatrist Julie Holland wrote in the New York Times this weekend about adjudicating the female mood, which ever since the publication of the feminist classic The Yellow Wallpaper, a book chronicling the imprisonment of a “hysterical” woman, has been the subject of peculiar debate. When a woman is moody, does it mean she’s crazy?  Or is she simply experiencing hormonal or emotional differences that serve her evolutionary purpose?

Thankfully, as of 2015, we’ve come to a consensus closer to the latter point of view, at least scientifically. This is chronicled in Holland’s cheekily titled book, Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy.

But colloquially and in everyday life, the “psycho” bitch who won’t stop calling after a breakup, the crazy girlfriend who’s super jealous, the chick who’s a nightmare when she’s PMS-ing — these tropes are all too common. Read more »

How Free do We Want Our Nipples?

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My hot yoga class gets hot. As in, really hot. When I ring out my mat out after class, best-case scenario is that all of the sweat belongs to me, not Mr. Natural Deodorant in the back row.

I wear as little clothing as possible and do, admittedly, get a bit jealous when the men in class pop their shirts off. But I had never actually considered joining them — unlike the woman in my class this past weekend.

About halfway through the opening sequences she peeled off her tank top off and finished the class bare-chested. Read more »

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