You Must Be Joking, Penn State

Erm…I guess not. As I type, a mob of students is gathering outside a Penn State office cheering for Joe Paterno who failed them. His (and everyone else’s) failure to report Jerry Sandusky for child abuse and possible child rape to law enforcement or child protective services is literally disgusting. From a revered leader, we expect much more.

People don’t want to acknowledge the deep-rooted rape culture that pervades our society. But when you see a Penn State student mob cheering Joe Paterno, a man who harbored a child rapist, and joking about it, rape culture is literally undeniable.

I’m going to go puke now.


Herman Cain Flexes His Misogynist Muscle – Again!

I’m not sure I have many polite words to express my disgust with Herman Cain’s latest misogynistic comments. In addition to my complete lack of amazement with the fact that his emerging history of sexual harassment has only bolstered his equally woman-hating supporters into donating more cash to his irreverent campaign, Cain had the nerve to publicly label one of his accusers a “troubled woman.” TROUBLED WOMAN!

Seriously, Herman? Why is she so “troubled?” Is it her success as a single mother? Her loyalty to family? Her unabashed boldness? Her audacity and courage to speak out publicly (baring her soul and her dirty laundry to the world) against the power of a former boss, CEO and current potential presidential candidate?

Well, she did declare bankruptcy. But she helped her parents while raising a child on her own and going through a divorce. I’d say coming out the other side intact shows much, much more than a “troubled” spirit. These actions speak of iron guts! They show above average strength and insatiable will to thrive! Not weakness.

With a victim-blaming strategy straight out of the rape culture play book, Cain resorts to calling Bialek a “troubled woman” in order to discredit her. His tactic is so transparent, I’m surprised other feminist bloggers haven’t had a field day with it. Cain needs to own up to his pattern of misdeeds. He is not fooling anyone with his victim-blaming denial spree.

Regulating Abortion in PA after Gosnell

I agree with the grand jury, inspecting a medical facility only once in ten years is grossly negligent oversight, and endangers patient safety. We need to do better.

In a transparent attempt to usurp the personal power endowed upon us by Roe v. Wade, the Pennsylvania Assembly is considering legislation that would make it impossible for the currently-operating, well-regulated abortion providers in Pennsylvania to continue to provide health care services. While abortion clinics in Pennsylvania are currently regulated in accordance with 28 Pa. Code Ch. 29, Subchapter D – Ambulatory Gynecological Surgery in Hospitals and Clinic, Senate Bill 732 [PDF] would apply Ambulatory Surgical Facility (ASF) regulations to abortion clinics, even for simple, early first trimester procedures. ASF regulations would mandate larger operating room size, fire extinguishing provisions and ventilation capacities that current non-hospital based facilities cannot meet.
This bill was proposed in response to the discovery of the clandestine Gosnell horror clinic in Philadelphia. In the grand jury report [PDF], Pennsylvania Department of Health and Pennsylvania Department of State officials were called out by name for their extremely negligent oversight of this clinic. And now, legislators are attempting to cover their tracks. But anti-choice politicians have seized the opportunity to eliminate any choice for women of abortion care altogether by closing abortion facilities for structural details as minor as an improperly sized closet. If passed, a compliant clinic would be given inadequate time (180 days to widen hallways, increase procedure room size, install new ventilation, and etc. is inadequate time) to make the structural changes necessary to comply with structural requirements for ambulatory facilities.
But imposing new regulations does not mean that the new regulations will be enforced. Instead of new, stricter regulations, we need better oversight and stricter enforcement of the current regulations for abortion clinics. Or if new regulation is the only viable solution, phased-in enforcement of ASF regulations not related to reporting, inspection, enforcement or licensure should be agreed. I agree with the grand jury, inspecting a medical facility only once in ten years is grossly negligent oversight, and endangers patient safety. We need to do better.
What follows is the letter I wrote to my state Senator expressing my opposition to Senate Bill 732, as amended. If you live in PA, please take the time to contact your state Senator about Senate Bill 732.
Dear Senator _________,
I write to you to express my genuine concern for the consequences a piece of legislation currently being considered by the Pennsylvania Senate, Senate Bill 732 (SB 732). As amended, SB 732, if passed, would create a dangerous health care situation. As you know, SB 732 adopts facility standards for all abortion clinics that most western PA abortion providers cannot currently meet, and would face grave structural and financial burdens to meet if such standards were enacted. The effective date of the legislation is such that no structural changes could be rendered to such facilities before their enforcement, and these clinics would be forced to close.
This legislation was proposed under the supposedly well-intentioned premise that patients need to be protected from illegal, unsafe surgical abortion facilities like the one uncovered in Philadelphia. Upon examination, this is an obvious lie. This legislation does nothing to protect women from dubious ‘doctors’ who care nothing for their health and well-being. It is my personal view that this legislation will have the opposite effect. This legislation would close most of the clinics in Pennsylvania due to structural nonconformances unrelated to ensuring medical health or patient safety.
Closing the currently well-regulated, compliant abortion facilities will make abortion inaccessible to most Pennsylvania women. In addition, many women will be unable to afford a legal abortion due to the increase in cost to providers due to increased regulation. Consequently, utterly desperate women will seek clandestine services from unregulated, illegal providers. Women may seek abortion care out of state. Or, sadly, women may attempt extremely dangerous self-abortion. The indirect effects of this legislation are innumerable.
If the genuine concern of the Pennsylvania Assembly is the health and safety of women, the assembly should readdress this bill and pass laws that do not manufacture health crises. Or, if new regulation is the only viable solution, phased-in enforcement of ambulatory surgical facility regulations not related to reporting, inspection, enforcement or licensure should be agreed. If the real concern of the Pennsylvania Assembly is usurping Roe v. Wade by eliminating safe abortion access in Pennsylvania, then this bill is unconstitutional.
I agree with the grand jury, inspecting a medical facility only once in ten years is grossly negligent oversight, and endangers patient safety. We need to do better. But as evidenced by the Gosnell indictment, enacting regulations does not mean the regulations will be enforced. In addition, this legislation does nothing to actually protect patients. Your yes vote on this bill will create a public health crisis, fuel a clandestine abortion industry, and endanger women’s lives. I urge you to vote no on SB 732.
Sincerely yours,
Nuclear Grrl

Is gender discrimination generational?

So, I had an interesting conversation with a young man a while ago. I’m not exactly sure how the subject came up; but we started talking about sexually based discrimination in the workplace. I told him that, as a woman who looks much younger than her years, I worry that some male coworkers may not put the same weight behind my words and opinions as they would if I were male.

And his reaction shocked and pleased me at the same time. He said, “Why would you think that?” He couldn’t see how someone couldn’t have the same respect for a woman’s opinions where he worked. I told him the following story about a time my knowledge was not respected. I had written a corrective action for a technical report my company had committed to write; but had not written. A customer was asking for it to satisfy a regulatory inquiry. The engineering group responsible for that part of the design committed to providing me with the report by a future date, which I then used to provide a delivery date to the customer. When future date arrived, no report had been written. Hence a deliverable to the customer was missed. I wrote a corrective action to investigate why the report was not planned and, ultimately, get the report written.

The investigator who came to determine the cause of the missing report brought with him a report about fire loadings that I was already familiar with. I told him repeatedly what he had was not the report I needed. He insisted it was. I even explained to him the technical details of the analysis that would be necessary to meet the commitment and that were missing from the report he was holding. He still insisted that what he had in his hand was the report I was seeking.

He was trying to figure out why I wrote the corrective action in the first place when he had the report in his hands. He said, since this is the report, then why did you write this issue? I could not believe that this arrogant son of a bitch would sit in front of me, look me in the face and try to tell me that I didn’t know what I was talking about. Seriously, how stupid did he think I was? Apparently, very!

Since my words would not convince him that the issue wasn’t bogus, I sent him away to talk to the responsible manager. Of course, the manager (a male) told him what he had was in fact not the report I required, and that the report hadn’t been written. Viola! The woman might actually know what the hell she’s talking about. Regardless, in his investigation report, he ultimately put the blame on me and my tracking method for engineering missing the deliverable. I couldn’t believe it!

My chat with the younger man gave me interesting perspective. He was a young professional like me who couldn’t believe that women would be treated poorly. He expressed that women aren’t treated like that where he works. He respects the women he works with. I didn’t get into it with him about how women are paid 78 cents on the dollar compared to men. Or that women with children are often passed up for promotions. Or how women who become pregnant or who are lactating are too often discriminated against or even fired. I think he came to the final determination that gender discrimination is a generational problem that doesn’t exist in his generation. I came to the final determination that because gender-specific discrimination was not important to him, he didn’t know about it. We’ll just have to wait and see on this one.

Wimbledon reeks

I love tennis.  Women’s tennis, men’s tennis, singles, doubles, love it! The Australian Open each year is a beacon of hope that winter is finally ending and the summer or sport is soon to follow.  But recently, my ears have been assaulted repeatedly by unwanted noise during women’s tennis matches.  And I am NOT talking about any noise made by the players!  I am talking about the incessant complaining and criticism by the female announcers during women’s matches with regard to players’ grunting.

You see, often, when a person makes a powerful, full-effort athletic move, an exclamation of exertion may be heard.  This is true of basketball, volleyball, tennis and virtually any other sport a person happens to enjoy.  This is a phenomenon unrestricted by gender boundaries: men do it, women do it, even kids do it.  The sporting battle cry is an elemental part of sport.  And I must admit, when I dive for a well-placed hit during a volleyball game, I am unashamed of my own exclamations (especially when I get a positive result).  But for some [obvious] reason, women in particular are being ridiculed and denigrated for doing what comes naturally for sportsmen everywhere.

Watching Wimbledon this year, I had to endure female tennis announcers making derogatory comments about the female tennis players on court.  Statements such as female grunting is damaging the sport, women should tone it down, the women’s grunting is distracting, and other myriad critical comments nearly managed to make me turn the channel.  Every women’s match, I find myself more and more offended by this unending tirade of misogyny.  I am personally unbothered by the gentlemen’s or the ladies’ grunting.  It’s a natural phenomenon, as I explained earlier.  But listening to Mary Carillo, Chris Evert and Pam Shriver constantly criticize female players seriously bursts my bubble!

Yes, women grunt during rallies, but so do men.  Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic played for the men’s championship today.  Their match was a continuous exchange of grunts.  Novak even emits what I describe as a double crescendo grunt that peaks just before and just after his strike.  And Rafa’s grunt is just as audible.  But not once did I hear the male announcers lob criticism on them for their liberties.  Oh, and don’t let me get started on some of yesterday’s players like Andre Agassi!  Yet, let a woman like Maria Sharapova or Venus Williams utter the same athletic sounds, and Shriver and friends are all over the television saying they are bad for tennis.

And now there is talk of a ‘ban’ on grunting?  How much more ridiculous can we get?  Can you imagine what would happen if a ban were raised on grunting during tennis matches?  My theoretical scenario begins thus:

During the 2011 off season, the ATP and WTA approved a ban on grunting. With the enforcement of this ban, players can be docked points, removed from a match, fined, and even disqualified for ‘cheating’.  Despite strident opposition by players male and female alike, the WTA has announced that the ban will become effective with the start of the first major tournament of the season, the Australian Open. The chief complaint among players in opposition to this ban is the fear that the ban will prevent players from exercising their full potential on court, for fear of consequences imposed for uttering sounds that are involuntary.  And top women players fear that the ban will disproportionately affect their professional prospects, and have threatened to file civil legal action against enforcement of the ban.

 Spectators and lovers of tennis have expressed similar fear that tennis may lose its competitive edge, post-match penalties will interfere with the sport’s integrity, or that stoppage time for penalties may hamper match progress. 

Not to mention, it would be utterly ridiculous!

I believe that this angst for females making any kind of noise emanates from a cultural misogyny so deeply ingrained in all of us that even women don’t realize they are indoctrinated with it.  In the nineties, when Monica Seles first made a name for herself, she too was ridiculed by announcers, and nicknamed “Moan-ica.”  One would think that 20 years after Monica Seles took Gabriela Sabatini to school, women in sport would be shown a bit more respect.  Who decided how women should act?  Who decided grunting wasn’t appropriate behavior for women?  When did announcers decide how the players should play?  Hmmmm, excuse me, but I think that should be the players’ decision.  The fifties image of the graceful feminine lady tennis player should be the furthest thing from people’s minds as they watch tennis today.  Well behaved women rarely make history.  The announcers and spectators need to get over it.  If you don’t like the grunting, turn down the sound.  Otherwise, shut the hell up already!

Some people make noise when playing sports.

And while I’m at it, commentary surrounding women’s tennis too often descends into the announcers’ perception of the female players’ body and beauty issues rather than discussions about skill or off-season interests.  Not once during Nadal’s and Djokovic’s match today did I hear the announcers discuss the players’ weight, clothing, or physical appeal.  During Wimbledon I have personally witnessed announcers’ discussion of how frequently a player is photographed and an announcer’s issues with another player’s weight (as if it were any of her business).  Seriously, if I wanted to hear about that kind of crap, I’d turn on TMZ.  Geez.

I love tennis, but it’s obvious that, just off court, equality is still a long way off.