Claim the Victory, Not the Blame

Today, Bill O’Reilly was fired by Fox News. Women everywhere are rejoicing. Finally, after decades of excuses and backdoor rug sweeping, this sexist degenerate has been held accountable for his actions.

But we should be careful not to play into the narrative that he and his friend Trump are oh, so sure to drum out. He’ll of course deny the allegations. He’ll say he is a victim of the “fake” mainstream media. He’ll say “feminazi” groups launched a witch hunt against him. And memes that place the credit for his demise on women surely play into his hands.

Women are not responsible for taking good old Billy down. Bill O’Reilly himself is responsible for that.

Yes, it is we women who ultimately fanned the fire under the feet of Fox News leadership to hold sexists accountable for the harassment they unleashed on female colleagues. It is we women, with our buying power and market influence, who put pressure on advertisers to pull their sponsorship of O’Reilly’s show. It was a woman who decided she’d had enough, that she wasn’t going to be pushed around and bullied, and decided to go public with her story.

But it is Bill O’Reilly who is the mastermind behind his downfall – his actions determining the direction his story would take. Bill O’Reilly is the composer of his very own symphony of defeat – every pitiful stanza being a testament to his disrespect for his fellow colleagues, his hatred of women, and his disregard for the truth. It is Bill O’Reilly who took Bill O’Reilly down. And he has no one to blame for his failure but himself.

Interjection Dissection

I hate being interrupted.

I’m not talking about someone entering the room when you’re speaking or need privacy, or the intrinsic overlap of friendly banter. I’m talking the “I-start-to-talk” about what I’m doing and the “listener” abruptly interjects with his (supposed) countering opinion without even knowing what I was going to say. I’m talking about the rude shutdown.

Maybe people don’t realize they’re doing it. Maybe he didn’t hear me start talking. Maybe his hearing is bad. Maybe he is blind and deaf and didn’t see my mouth moving either.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

I get it. I’m a young (looking) engineer. I’m pretty. I wear skirts and jewelry to work. I’m a Black woman. (WOOT!) But when did any of these attributes point to the (imaginary) place in our unwritten book of professional etiquette that says it is acceptable to disrespect me?

“Interrupting people is rude, m’kay?”

Shut up. Stop talking. Listen when someone is talking to you. You may be pleasantly surprised what comes out of the other person’s mouth.

PA Legislature Introduces Abortion Ban

A bill  was introduced today in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that would effectively ban second trimester abortions.  House Bill 1948, introduced by Representative Kathy Rapp and Rep. Bryan Barbin, Rep. Bryan Cutler was introduced late to the House Health Committee Friday and this morning was fast track to the full assembly without a public hearing.

The cosponsors of HB1948 claim the bill is intended to prevent fetal pain and reduce complications of an abortion. But in this Trojan horse bill hides an agenda to ban ALL second trimester abortions.

HB1948 contains language that would rename the most common and safest 2nd trimester abortion procedure (dilation and evacuation, or D&E) as a “dismemberment” abortion and then would ban it’s implementation. Doing this would effectively ban all 2nd trimester abortions in Pennsylvania as they are currently performed.  This part of HB1948 would limit doctors’ choices concerning first trimester procedures as well, since a D&E is not uncommon choice in the first trimester. Banning the safest available type of abortion procedure would NOT protect women from complications of abortion. On the contrary, HB1948 would increase the chance of complications after ending a pregnancy.
In addition, although the bill’s sponsors claim a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks there is inadequate scientific evidence to conclude fetal brain development is sufficient to feel pain at that stage of development. The authors may cite Dr.Kanwaljeet Anand to support their claims. However, Dr. Anand’s findings have not been corroborated by any independent research; and remain an outlier in this area of study. In fact, a preponderance of the scientific evidence leads one to exactly the opposite conclusion. The majority of the scientific research on the subject of fetal brain development has found the neural pathways required to experience pain are not formed until at least 24 weeks gestation and more likely later.
Whether a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks should be a moot point in the debate over second trimester abortion. For most women seeking an abortion after 20 weeks – that’s only 1.4 percent of all abortions performed – the abortion is needed because something has gone very wrong with the pregnancy (i.e. – it is not an elective abortion).
It is clear the cosponsors’ characterization of HB1948’s purpose is insincere at best. And rather than giving the people of Pennsylvania a thoughtful review of HB1948 and it’s very real and detrimental consequences, the Health Committee passed it to the general assembly floor for a vote without even 24-hours of consideration. This is just another attempt to slowly chip away at the right to terminate a pregnancy until that right completely disappears.
It’s time to call your state legislator and make your voice heard on House bill 1948. To contact your PA House Representative click here.

**Edited to note the D&E ban would affect first trimester procedures as well.

Punish Women for Having an Abortion? GOP says YES!

Donald Trump has spent the better part of the last week playing mopping boy to all his gaffes. But there is one thing Donald said this week that – bob and weave as he may – he will not be able to dodge. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews this week, Donald Trump admitted he supports punishing women who have an abortion.

The Donald has spent the better part of the week trying to back away from his words. He’s claimed the interview was edited. He’s claimed he “misspoke.” And he keeps trying to offer an alternative to his genuine belief that women should be punished for seeking reproductive care by offering that the doctors who provide that care should be punished in lieu of the woman who decided to obtain it – as if we women are unthinking, naive victims of these money grubbing health care providers.

But I’m not buying it, and neither should you.

The GOP platform is clear about their stance on abortion. The GOP “support a human life amendment to the Constitution.” No matter then rest of their pretty words on the sanctity of life and supporting pregnant women, ratification of the “personhood” amendment the GOP so pointedly seeks means women will go to jail.

I am not just talking through my teeth about this. The evidence is clear. It has been demonstrated time after time that women ARE punished when abortion is made illegal. Take one look at the countries where abortion is illegal and you cannot deny the evidence. In countries where abortion is illegal, women go to jail for having abortions, women go to jail for having miscarriages, and women die due to unsafe abortion.

Even in the United States women have been prosecuted for obtaining abortion inducing drugs or miscarrying after attempting to self-abort.

So when Ted Cruz says he does not agree with Donald Trump’s position – that women be punished for abortion –  he is LYING to you. Ted Cruz supports a personhood amendment. He KNOWS that women will go to jail if a personhood amendment is passed. Ted Cruz supports punishing women. John Kasich supports punishing women. Mitch McConnell supports punishing women. The whole damn GOP supports punishing women.

Women and Children Deserve Better


It’s a common slogan in “prolife” circles: “Women deserve better than abortion.” I see these signs carried by protesters outside my local clinic on a regular basis, as if some ridiculous protest sign is going to changed a woman’s mind about something so serious.

But you know what? They are right on one point.

Women DO deserve better.

Women who live in the richest country in the world should not have to choose abortion because of economic hardship. The most expensive health care on the planet, pregnancy discrimination, lack of parental leave, no sick leave, no paid leave, and astronomical child care costs can create a situation where a woman who might otherwise choose to carry on a pregnancy, eventually give birth and possibly raise a child chooses instead to end it. It is a contingency that affects women and families across all demographics. Eliminating this situation is a commendable goal.

But there are so many points on which these anti-choice protesters are wrong, wrong, WRONG! Organizations like Feminists For Life elevate this mantra, characterizing abortion as a “humiliating, invasive procedure” that “sacrifices” a child. They characterize abortion as a violent, tragic scourge pushed upon victimized, vulnerable women. And they cite flawed research to persuade the public that abortion is dangerous, causes psychiatric distress and cancer. On all these additional points they could not be more wrong.

Abortion is not humiliating. Abortion is not tragic. Abortion is not violent. Abortion is not always a symptom of an underlying problem. And women who choose abortion are not “victims.”

On the contrary, for the woman who feels trapped in an abusive or unsatisfying relationship, abortion is a tale of liberation. For the woman with pregnancy complications, abortion is tale of healing. For the woman working hard to finish college, abortion is a tale of opportunity. For the woman who just does not want children, abortion is a tale of relief.

And, since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal and safe, the dangers associated with illegal, unsafe abortion have all but disappeared. The rates of serious complications and death from pregnancy far exceed those of abortion. Most women who have abortions go on to have healthy pregnancies when they are ready to do so. And research has shown that the incidence of mental health issues in women after abortion is no greater than that experience by women after other stressful life events.

Rather than saving the lives of the unborn, I am most motivated to protect and improve the quality of life for the living. Having compassion for the living means advancing clean energy, maximizing available resources and changing public policy to increase pregnancy safety and encourage birth. Having compassion for the living also means protecting a woman’s access to safe, legal abortion without guilt and without apology.

So, yes, women and their children do deserve better – much better – than the guilt and shame leveled at them by the “prolife” movement. Women deserve good quality of life. Women deserve choices. Women deserve respect.

Michael Vick Did A Bad Thing

Michael Vick hurt dogs. Michael Vick tortured dogs. Michael Vick drowned dogs. Michael Vick murdered dogs. Michael Vick did some of the most horrible, unspeakable things to dogs that I have ever read. He lied to federal prosecutors and they threw the book at him.

Michael Vick spent 21 months in federal prison contemplating the horrible things he did to those dogs. He spent 21 months thinking about turning his life around.

Michael Vick is out of jail. He has been out of jail for over 6 years. He has played football in the NFL for most of those six years, both with the Eagles and the Jets. And now…

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Tuesday that they have signed Michael Vick to a 1-year contract as back-up quarterback after Bruce Gradkowski sustained a season-ending injury during Sunday’s pre-season game against the Green Bay Packers. The former dog fighting ring lord and canine assassin is now a Steeler.

Some fans are outraged. Some of my hard-core Steeler fan friends have even said to me that they will not watch a single Steeler game because Vick is on the team. At today’s practice, there were even protests!

Michael Vick murdered dogs. Michael Vick went to prison for murdering dogs. Michael Vick is now a Pittsburgh Steeler.

And I am okay with that.

There is a lot to be said for honoring the rule of law. Vick pled guilty to the crimes of which he was accused by the federal prosecutor. He served his time. And since his release from prison has shown a remarkable 180 degree attitude adjustment. After serving his time for his role in the dog fighting ring, Vick became an advocate for humane animal treatment. He has volunteered his time and notoriety for The Humane Society of the United States, supporting their Pets for Life program and helping to spread their message with public appearances. He even helped to get the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act passed in Congress.

In this case, justice was served. Whether one agrees with his sentence is a moot point now. Unfortunately, in our society, we often make it extremely difficult for ex convicts to lead meaningful, gainful lives. In some cases, it would be better to keep convicts imprisoned than throw them on the streets without the means to provide for themselves and their families or enjoy a sense of accomplishment after serving their time. The resulting lack of opportunity leads to re-convictions and life behind bars. This is why Rand Paul and Cory Booker have brought justice to Congress with their REDEEM Act; and why many Americans seek to “ban the box” from employment applications.

Michael Vick served his time; and he deserves a second chance. He’s not perfect. He’s just a football player. Michael Vick is a Pittsburgh Steeler. And I’m okay with that.

But I still wouldn’t let him babysit my cats.

The illegal dog fighting culture is alive and thriving in Western Pennsylvania and throughout the United States. Therefore I feel like I have not done justice to this issue without encouraging everyone to write to your legislator and encourage him or her to support legislation that strengthens the laws against dog fighting. In Pennsylvania there are bills sitting with the Assembly waiting on them to take action. I encourage everyone to make a phone call to your legislator to ask them to support laws that aim to end dog fighting for good and put dog fighting ring participants behind bars.

The Feminist Double Standard

When we talk about the influence of feminism on women’s rights, we often enter into the conversation about the double standards women are held to by society. Whether it is in our sex lives, our work/life balance, or our looks, feminists object to any unequal application of restrictive convention on women as a matter of basic principle. And the fact that we women are often judged by our looks over our intellect is a very sore point in that exchange.

So when President Obama introduced his good friend Kamala Harris this week during a DNC event, along with another elected official, many people were quick to call his remarks out as sexist.

“Congressman Mike Honda is here.  Where is Mike?  (Applause.)  He is around here somewhere.  There he is.  Yes, I mean, he’s not like a real tall guy, but he’s a great guy.  (Laughter.)

“Second of all, you have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake.  She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country — Kamala Harris is here.  (Applause.)  It’s true.  Come on.  (Laughter.)  And she is a great friend and has just been a great supporter for many, many years. ”

What is really wrong here is that, by chastising President Obama for remarking on Attorney General Harris’ looks (as opposed to the same about Mike Honda), we are really imposing a feministic double standard on him. President Obama makes flattering (or not so) comments about the physical appearance of accomplished and good looking people as a matter of habit. And for the most part, those accomplished folks upon whom he has heaped compliment have been men. President Obama is an equal opportunity flatterer.

Obama remarked over Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar’s appearance last year.

“A couple people I want to thank for their outstanding work. First of all, our Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, is in the house.  (Applause.)  He’s the guy in the nice-looking hat.  Not only does it look good, but it protects his head, because the hair has gotten a little thin up there.  (Laughter.)  He is a good-looking guy.”

If President Obama’s comments on Harris’ looks crossed the line, so should comments about every other politician’s looks he has ever made. The fact that Harris is a woman should not render comments or compliments about her looks taboo. Such a rule, in itself, is a double standard. To hold President Obama to a different standard when the subject of his praise is a woman undermines the goals of equal treatment, equal rights and equal opportunity for women and men.

I compare this situation to the flawed logic of me getting offended when my male coworkers fail to censor themselves in my presence. The fact that they would curse up a storm or tell jokes in casual conversation with me shows me that they do not view me in a different light. Some people may think they should watch what they say in front of a lady. But I say, “SCREW THAT! I want to hear the joke about the polar bear walking into a bar too.”

If the President’s remarks about good looking people are evenly uttered about men as well as women, I see no reason to censor the handsome conversationalist for the sake of feministic ideals.