Red State Feminist Blog:

A Child's Right to Know in an Age of Planned Ignorance

Red State Feminists appreciate the international community's attempt to codify the rights of children. As we all know, throughout most of human history, children had no rights whatsoever. That we have an international statement of our aspirations for human children is a good thing for the species to articulate.

Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child includes the following important sentiment: "The child . . . shall have . . . as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents."

Such a simple and stragithforward concept. The child has the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents (except in cases of abuse, of course).

But what if we planned to deprive them of one of their parents? What if we told them the lie that they had no mother, or no father? What if we told them the lie that one or the other of their parents was completely erasable? And what if we justified this lie through contract law?

If we do these things, have we not abrogated one of the most important rights of the child? Red State Feminists says yes. Lying to a child about their human heritage, dening them the right to know their parents, is a horrific and obscenely selfish act.

And yet we seem poised to enter an age of reproduction without sex. Commentators look to the day when our stem cells will be used to create both sperm and eggs, and an artifical womb will be created to gestate an embryo without any need of a human body. There will no longer be fathers and mothers--there will only be a progenitor of either sex, who did not have to have anything to do with the child in a bodily sense before the child was fully gestated.

This is being done in the name of "egalitarianism," that all may have the chance to reproduce regardless of sex, age, marital status, and so forth. Many of those lauding this future vision are women, who see in this hoped-for capability the ability to overcome the double bind of career advancement and menopause. Infertile individuals or couples, such as same-sex couples, see a chance to reproduce despite nature.

Red State Feminists say this is not a step forward for humankind. It is a descent into babarity, and there is no clearer was to see it than by reflecting that humankind has stipulated that every child has "the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents." Inflicting such a wound and teaching such a gross lie to the youngest, most innocent, and most vulnerable among us, who are also our future, is a crime against humanity.

As humankind blithely chooses this path of total destruction of the rights of the child, we will reap the whirlwind. Our children will become the vengeance we deserve.

One man said it best: "Neither man nor woman can bear children alone. It was meant that children have two parents--both a father and a mother. No other pattern or process can replace this one." To deny a child a father, to deny a child a mother, to deny a child gestation within its mother, is to deny the child the foundation of all ethics. To be human is to know that we are not sufficient in and of ourselves to produce the future, but that we need others, and we need a special other of a different sex. That recognition of that limitation, and the submission to it, is what calls the child to join us. When those limits are gone, so too will any sense of ethics that prevented us from becoming monsters.

And mark our words, it will mark the end of females. Being female has meant being a lesser form of humanity to those who enjoy entitlement and impunity (men). When females are no longer necessary for reproduction, the patriarchal races of our planet--and they are the majority--will no longer countenance the birth of such inferior beings.

So while some women may laud reproduction without sex, there are others who see that will lead to the eradication of the "lesser" sex. Reproduction without sex is not only a crime against children; it is a crime against women. Red State Feminists weep for what will come.

December 24, 2012 by Red State Gal


Amen, Karen Hughes! Election Post-Mortem

Red State Feminists, as our readers know, were deeply conflicted over the 2012 election. We just could not get behind Mitt Romney, no matter how hard we tried. We even voted for a write-in, George Herbert Walker Bush. It's a tough year to be a Red State Feminist.

So we were heartened to hear that Karen Hughes, former counsellor to George W. Bush, felt much the same way about how the Republican Party made it almost impossible for a thinking woman to vote for them. Here is what Hughes had to say about the matter:

And if another Republican man says anything about rape other than it is a horrific, violent crime, I want to personally cut out his tongue. The college-age daughters of many of my friends voted for Obama because they were completely turned off by Neanderthal comments like the suggestion of “legitimate rape.”

Amen, sister! Amen! When, oh, when, are Republican men going to talk about MEN'S responsibilities for issues like abortion and contraception. Why do women need contraception and abortion? Because of men's utter sexual irresponsibility. Until we are prepared to talk about that, the discussion is going nowhere. Let's have a new Grover Norquist-type pledge for the next four year--if a Republican man wants to talk about contraception, abortion, etc., then let him talk ONLY about the need for men to be sexually responsible. Let him say not one word about women (after all, they've talked about nothing BUT women for decades). Let's change it up these next several years and let us see what happens then . . .

It's also very, very clear that the middle class sees government as their shield from the predation of Wall Street fat cats, who seem poised to eat us all for breakfast if they get the chance. We DO need a consumer protection czar. We DO need to rein in the excesses of the big banks. We DO need some salvation from health insurance industry executives with hearts of stone. There is a good face to government, too, not just a bad face. Government is--or should be--our protection from the obscenity of growing income inequality in this land. We women take care of our own. Our government should help us, not undermine us. With a new record concerning the number of female senators (20! Woohoo!), maybe we will see some common sense prevail in the US Congress. Freedom doesn't mean freedom to pull the rug out from your fellow citizens. And it doesn't mean freedom to let people die for lack of health care. We are better than that. The women of the United States know that.

Will the Republican Party learn from its mistakes? Are women in the room when these issues of strategy and platform are hammered out? I guess we will find out . . . The fate of the Republican Party may well rest with women. If the GOP does not reformulate its message, and soon, they have no hope of capturing the White House in four years. Because, you see, there's Hillary Clinton waiting in the wings, and she is going to attract female support across the aisle.

November 26, 2012 by Red State Gal


Our Write-In Candidate: George Herbert Walker Bush

Red State Feminists cannot pretend to be enthusiastic about the obligation to vote this Tuesday. It is with heavy heart that we take stock of the choice before us. While on "values issues" we cannot vote for Barack Obama, who has recently come out in favor of same-sex marriage, and who has refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), it is with dismay that we look upon the Republican candidate for president, Mitt Romney.

There was a time and a place where Republican candidates were men of prudence, and men who understood that to support the middle class was to support those who raised the next generation of citizens. One could say they were men of compromise and even, yes, some compassion.

Those adjectives do not seem to describe Mitt Romney. What prudence is there in raising military expenditures to 4% of GDP at a time when so many families are struggling? What compassion is there in shredding health care reform on day one, without suggesting what would take its place for millions of middle class persons who have lost insurance during the Recession? Why is it that it is impossible to learn which tax deductions Romney would close in order to fund his spending initiatives? Would they be the deductions that help the middle class stay on their feet and in their homes?

Romney's positions on women are inscrutable. Maybe he had "binders full of women," but that means he didn't know any, I guess. He has never answered whether he would have signed the Lily Ledbetter Act, which means--let's be honest--that he would not have. He's chosen as a vice president a man who does not believe that rape or incest or even the life of the mother is grounds for abortion.

That larger question about Romney is, "Who is he, really?" Part of the reason we could not in good conscience vote for him is that there are so many different Mitt Romneys, depending on who else is in the room with him. The problem is that after the election, most of us regular middle class people won't be in any rooms with him, ever.

So Red State Feminists, throwing up their hands in despair, have decided to vote for the last Republican president who seemed a man of prudence, compassion, and values. And that was Bush 41--George Herbert Walker Bush. And, by golly, he's still alive! That's even better! So we are writing in George Herbert Walker Bush for president of the United States of America.

The really depressing thing is that either Romney or Obama will be president in a few days . . .

November 4, 2012 by Red State Gal


True Heroes: The V-Men and the Men of Imprint

Red State Feminists are glad to be back! We were wrestling with techinical difficulties, as our third-party comments function disappeared, and we had to move to a new platform for comments. But we are backnow, and comments are enable for all of the Red State Feminists Blog!

Today we have a terrific topic: the true heroism of the V-Men, specifically Denis Mukwege, and also the heroism of the men of Imprint in Egypt. Many people think feminism means some sort of anti-man movement: this could not be farther from the truth. The aim is peace between men and women. And there will be no peace between men and women until men teach men that should be. The men we celebrate today are just such teachers.

I do not know very much about the V-Men. However, I found myself with tears running down my face after listening to this speech by Dr. Denis Mukwege from Dr.R. Congo.

From the transcript of his speech, I give you these quotes that you can share the deeply moving word of this great man:

Why do we focus so much in reversing that natural equality between men and women? Our fight must focus more in the re-establishment of that natural equality between men and women.

These sittings give me an opportunity to amplify the movement which must call us into question as men with regard to our masculinity. We have to think again about our masculinity so as to make it be more responsible. As far as masculinity is concerned, in my opinion, a responsible masculinity is the one that takes into consideration all women's assets and fairly gives them the value they deserve with equality and without any fear.

Rapes and gender based violence will end when men understand the ugliness of sexual assault; the day they will understand that rape and sexual assault degrade their masculinity. Through their education, young boys will understand that to obtain what they want using violence, when they can obtain it by being charming, is a shame to all men who want to protect their masculinity.

Men must be engaged in this movement so as to fight and abandon all those alienating and retrograde traditions for women and regardless of tribe, countries or continents. We must beforehand understand that people are conditioned by others, and that we hold in us the part of a woman which calls us to more listening, love, tolerance, and protection for a full bloom life.

When we destroy female embryos, when we kill women; we are destroying ourselves since it is impossible to talk about life without women on this planet. It goes without saying that excluding the woman from her realm of life, man creates disequilibrium in all areas of his life, but integrating her, as it was in the origin, constitutes a favorable frame for each one to taste the extreme pleasure hidden in the other.

There won't be any equilibrium in our planet if women are excluded. We must give them a space to express their opinions and feelings, to realize that they can do as much as men can or even more.

By excluding 50% of our output capacity in the competition, we weaken ourselves.

My commitment in the fight for women is grounded from wretched reports: Young medical Doctor as I was, I watched with indignation the number of women who died trying to give birth, it means life, during delivery. This revolted me since I knew that these deaths could be avoided if decision makers had the will and gave means.

Having in mind my own limits for this scourge, I took the decision to fight on the side of these women whose rights were totally ignored and who died in performing their duty in absolute indifference.

It is in my journey as a Women's Rights' militant that I discovered all kinds of atrocities that women were subjected to and for which they have to keep quiet, for cultural and social, reasons, unfortunately...

I discovered the depth of a woman's pain who has been raped while men consider this vile act as a slight one and furthermore sometimes incriminate the woman considering her to be the responsible for what happened, her defiler and rapist forgets everything after his act.

The trust that my patients put in me has allowed me to understand that for a woman, rape is an immeasurable drama which can turn her life upside down in irreversible destruction. If the rapist forgets his heinous crime, from which he did not find the expected satisfaction, the Rape survivor lives with her wound all her life.

That's why, I am convinced that men have to be well informed of the seriousness of their acts and of the related psychological as well as physical prejudice in order to have a radical change in their behavior.

We, the men who are here, have each given a lot of effort and the fruit is visible. Yet, it is not enough because the road is still long and this must be done in collaboration with our female peers to boost this men's movement 'V-Men' against sexual violence and make it become a global movement in which millions of men denounce sexual violence and gender based discrimination.

To be V-Men is to:

• Refuse all kinds of gender-based discrimination.

• To denounce sexual violence in all forms.

• To fight in favor of equal opportunities for women and men.

Together we can lead our planet towards more justice and equity.

Together we can overcome sexual and gender based violence.

Thank you.

Amazing, wondrous, inspiring, profound, world-changing! They very fact that a man like this walks the earth gives all women hope! And it should give all men hope, also . . .

But Denis Mukwege is not the only remarkable man we wish to highlight today. There is also a group in Egypt called Imprint, and this group includes both men and women. However, the men of Imprint have recently done something tremendous. Sexual harassment of women who appear in the public space in Egypt is ubiquitous. It is as if men feel women should not be seen in public at all. How deeply and lamentably ironic for a nation that just liberated itself from being in thrall to a dictator. Apparently it is OK for men to be liberated from thrall, but not for women.

Even worse, the groping and assault is even worse on Muslim holy days! (I wish someone would explain how Muslim men can justify this type of behavior! Do they not believe their God will condemn them for this, eepecially on God's holiest days?) The men of Imprint decided to act. They donned yellow vests, and went out to one of the main public squares to protect women, and shame any man who would dare harass them. Here's a quote from an article about their stand:

Their idea was simple: to patrol downtown Cairo and shame men who harass women by cornering them and spray-painting "I'm a harasser" on their backs. That proved pretty much impossible, however. The small group was outnumbered by boys and men who mocked them, some of them blaming women for bringing harassment by the way they dress. Gathering on Friday afternoon on Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt's 2011 revolution, about 20 men - mostly university students - donned neon yellow vests marked "Anti-Harassment."

They steeled themselves for confrontation with the throngs of young men and boys who had taken to the streets with spending money they received as holiday gifts on the first day of the four-day Eid, or Festival of Sacrifice, celebrated by Muslims worldwide. Many in the crowds were blaring air horns and other holiday noisemakers. "There's no solution but grabbing them and trying to stop them," said organizer Shadi Hussien, 19. "If there were (anti-harassment) laws, we could discuss those. And if the police did their jobs, then we wouldn't be here." Hussien and the group of mostly strangers who he organized through Facebook and Twitter say their effort is a last-ditch attempt at forcing the new Egyptian government to respond to sexual harassment, a reality of daily life for Egyptian women.

Notably, no women showed up to join their group. "No women are coming today, it's too dangerous," Hussien said. "They might be attacked."

In past years, the Eid has seen major instances of harassment, with crowds of young men groping passing women - so heavily that women had to flee into shops, and for days afterward newspapers decried the mob attacks. Harassment is a constant problem, and has only become more prominent amid Egypt's revolution, with several instances of crowds attacking women in Tahrir. In June, as women marched through Tahrir Square demanding an end to harassment, a crowd assaulted them, overwhelming their male guardians and molesting several of the female marchers.

On Friday, the anti-harassment campaigners set out, walking toward a bridge normally dotted with young couples enjoying the Nile breeze. On Friday, there were a few families but almost no women walking alone among the crowds. But the activists became victims of harassment themselves. Hordes of all male onlookers shouted taunts and blew air horns at them. Some of the yellow vest wearers responded, slapping them away and throwing water.

Ahmed Ashraf, 20, one of the yellow vest wearers, stood on the Qasr el-Nil bridge and grimaced as some of his fellow anti-harassment campaigners ran to chase down someone they suspected of harassment while a cluster of police officers sipped tea and gazed disinterestedly at the scene.

"I see this issue of harassment every day, I finally had to do something" said Ashraf, a mild-mannered engineering student at Cairo University. "I'm just hoping that our idea will inspire some more people to take action."

Wow. There are men who feel they finally had to do something to stand up for the right of women not to be groped and assaulted. That is the true hope of Egypt! May they be blessed for their stand! May the V-Men be blessed, and may all men who tell men not to hurt and use women be blessed!

October 27, 2012 by Red State Gal


A Thought-Provoking Graphic on Patriarchy

Red State Feminists are a unique brand of feminists. As our motto, "Faith, Family, Womanpower," indicates, we are not interested in being liberated from our religions, our families, or our motherhood. What we are interested in being liberated from is any notion that women are inferior human beings, less intelligent, less capable, or that women in any way deserve oppressive treatment such as domestic violence, lesser investment in their education and health, or exclusion from decision-making in any human collective.

That syndrome of thought, that believes women are an alien, inferior race that can be beaten, used, culled, exploited, and demeaned, is what we call "patriarchy." Yes, patriarchy serves male interests, so there is culpability on the part of any male who subscribes to these toxic precepts. But, as we too well know, there are women who serve patriarchy also, gaining favor from any patrirachal system by currying favor with it.

But what is overlooked is that patriarchy is not all men, and patriarchy hurts men. Patrirachy hurts men and boys just as surely as it hurts women and girls, because it tries to destroy the loving, equal bond between men and women that give us our future as human beings. Red State Feminists has just been made aware of a great new graphic that makes this point so very well:

Wow, that says it all, doesn't it? The kind of feminism that Red State Feminists subscribes to is well represented by the person who came up with this graphic. We are not seeking a war between men and women; we are not seeking to live separately from men; no, we seek peace between men and women. We seek to liberate men from ways of thinking and being that will not only hurt women, but hurt themselves as well. A man will ultimately come to a spiritual position of utter self-hatred if he hates those who gave him birth and those with whom he creates sons and daughters. And that self-hatred will lead to self-destruction, either spiritually or physically or both.

We are Red State Feminists because we love both women and men, and want to see a genuine, meaningful peace based on equality between them. And in that war against patriarchy, men and women are allies.

Like the graphic? Save it to your computer and spread it around!

September 23, 2012 by Red State Gal


Glad to Be Back! Let's Talk Tampa

Red State Feminists are back from our holiday, and just in time for the GOP convention in Tampa, Florida! Fortunately, Hurricane Isaac didn't shut the show down, though it did shut down lots in neighboring Louisiana.

It was a long slog to the nomination for Mitt Romney, and he's got to be relieved that now he can concentrate on Barack Obama instead of people like Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich. It must have been par for the course for Romney to have the Ron Paulists try to get in the second-to-last word right there at the convention.

Ann Romney gave a good speech. It rightly talked about how much harder American women have to work to keep their families on course during the recession. She talked about how such hard-working women would really like to spend more time with their children. It was hard to understand how Ann envisioned Mitt fixing that particular problem, but it was a nice sentiment. Ann asked that we trust Mitt, that we would be safe with him, just as she was safe coming home with him from that first dance. It was a little odd trying to think of Mitt Romney as a dance date, and even odder to think of that as a metaphor for the president, but it was all well-intentioned, and Ann clearly loves Mitt and vice versa, which is a very lovely thing.

Though it was nice to listen to Ann Romney, so far the highlight for Red State Feminists has been Condoleeza Rice. When we think of high-placed Republican women, honestly it is not Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann that comes to mind, but rather Condoleeza Rice.

It is true that Rice had an uneven tenure on the National Security Council and as Secretary of State; she often appeared to be ineffective, or to have been steamrolled by people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld against her better judgment. But she left with her integrity, her reputation, and her intellect intact. Since the end of the Bush 43 administation, her message has been that the chief national security threat to the United States is the inadequacy of the US educational system.

Indeed, she sounded that same theme in Tampa: “Our greatest ally in controlling your response to your circumstances has been a quality education. But today, today when I can look at your ZIP Code and I can tell whether you’re going to get a good education, can I honestly say it doesn’t matter where you came from? . . . The crisis in K-12 education is a threat to the very fabric of who we are.”

It made a lot of sense to this Red State Feminist that Condoleeza Rice would be on the list of speakers at Tampa. Given the large gender gap in the polls, Romney has to reassure women that smart women could see themselves as Republican. Rice was a great pick, and Republicans should be eminently proud that she is one of them. I just hope the Romney-Ryan ticket listens to her, for what she said was important for the future of our nation.

September 1, 2012 by Red State Gal


Fawzia Koofi is Running For President

Red State Feminists had no idea that a woman was running for President of Afghanistan in 2014. Her name is Fawzia Koofi, a widow with two daughters in a land that despises women. She will almost certainly be killed by the Taliban, given that the Taliban has stepped up their killings of women in the public eye recently, for example, this week killing Hanifa Safi, head of women's affairs in Laghman province. And by 2014, American troops are slated to leave Afghanistan.

Koofi knows she will be killed. Yes, she fears what will happen to her daughters without her. So every time she must travel, she writes them a good-bye letter. She tells them not to forget her; how to access money for their education; but most of all, she tells them why she is risking her life. "For as long as I am alive, I will not rest in my desire to lead my people out of an abyss of corruption and poverty." And that is what makes the difference between foolishness and bravery. She tells her daughters, "All of us human beings will die one day. Maybe today is the day I will die. But if I do, please know that it was for a purpose."

Perhaps her attitude towards death comes from her birth. The 19th of her father's children, her parents wanted a boy, and when Fawzia was born, she was left outside to die. Someone took pity on her, and brought her back in after several hours, and her mother changed her heart and kept her. Ironically, she was the only girl in the family to receive an education. Her father and brother were killed by Afghan fighters, and her husband contracted TB and died. Koofi began work with NGOs in order to build schools for girls. As her network of supporters both within her province and internationally grew, she began to feel that she should run for parliament. She was elected, and furthermore, became the first female deputy speaker of an Afghan parliament. You can read more about her life here, and she has also written her memoirs, and she has a website where you can read about her current activities.

It is fearless women such as Fawzia Koofi that are the hope of Afghanistan. Yes, she will be killed by the Taliban, no doubt, but her death is testament that there are Afghans who care enough about their country to lose everything, even their lives, to achieve a better life for their people. If the stories and the words of these brave women can be kept alive, there is hope that maybe a next generation will be inspired to keep trying to realize that dream. How ironic it is that the most downtrodden members of Afghan society--women--are its true and best hope.

But Afghanistan is not the only land that harbors brave women. If you want to counteract the doom and gloom of everyday life, check out the Daily Beast's list of "150 Fearless Women." Koofi is on that list, but so are many others whose stories you will never hear. One of my favorite fearless women lives right here in the United States--Asenath Andrews of Detroit.

As we contemplate these women and their dauntless efforts to improve their communities and their world, it is hard not to look with jaundiced eyes at our current presidential campaign here in the United States. One daydreams, "If only there were someone like Fawzia Koofi running for president here!" It is disheartening that it is impossible to believe that either candidate would seriously sacrifice for the good of their fellow citizens. Maybe we could persuade Asenath Andrews to run for president? If only, sigh Red State Feminists.

(FYI: Red State Feminists will be taking 2-3 weeks off; we'll be posting again in mid-August--see you then!)

July 19, 2012 by Red State Gal


Crony Capitalism is Un-American

Red State Feminists are sick to our stomachs over the descent of American capitalism into cronyism. Crooks have infested our economic system, and what we have now no longer deserves the name "capitalism." What we have instead is corruption and untrammeled greed. And worst of all, our government seems purposefully powerless in the face of these developments.

What make us sick? First off, LIBOR. This interest rate, to which many funds, such as pension funds, are linked, was baldly adjusted when large financial institutions requested an adjustment. The market did not set that interest rate--vested parties set it in order to hide their financial losses. That other people trusted this rate to be an honest reflection of the market apparently was not a factor in the decisions made. Furthermore, funds did not make as much money as they would have if the rate had been legit. That means they were defrauded of what they should have earned.

Then there's the news that the top paid CEO in America makes $44,000 per hour. That's right--PER HOUR. That's about $730 PER MINUTE. It would take over 9,000 years for a minimum wage worker to make as much as this guy makes in just one year. But he is going to look like a piker next year, because the new CEO of APple is going to make almost THREE TIMES that amount. He'll be making about $2300 PER MINUTE. The only adjective that comes to mind is "obscene." Cities across the country are going bankrupt, leaving themselves without any police protection, and some guy is making $2300 per minute!

Need we even mention the now infamous tale of how large banks bundled together worthless mortgages, blessed them with AAA ratings, sold them to unsuspecting clients, and then bet AGAINST their clients? This, of course, was the catalyzing event of our Great Recession. And are any of these guys, besides Bernie Madoff, in jail? No, not one. NOT ONE!

We are beginning to look like a Third World Country, with a few rich sharks and lots of poor fish that periodically get eaten by the sharks. Our government appears to be bought and paid for by the sharks, who need not worry about any repercussions because they are too big to fail OR jail.

Let's be frank here: crony capitalism, which is what we have now, is patently un-American. Though some of these theives wrap themselves in the flag, they are destroying our country, lock, stock, and barrel.

Though Red State Feminists are conservative, do you know who gets our vote in November? THE FIRST CANDIDATE WHO PROMISES TO THROW THESE BUMS IN JAIL.

July 11, 2012 by Red State Gal


Happy Fourth! And Mr. Romney, the Middle Class is Waiting to Hear Your Ideas

Happy Fourth of July! Happy birthday to our country! May God bless America!

Red State Feminists have noted that the presidential campaign seems virtually neck and neck. This is good news for conservatives . . . but it is also true that the man we are supporting in the presidential election still seems to offer no concrete plans for America. What will Mitt Romney do when he is in office?

For example, Romney tell us that he will repeal Obamacare on day one of his administration. But then what? A repeal is not a plan. Furthermore, many of the provisions of Obamacare are actually supported not only by Democrats, but also Republicans--such as forbidding insurance companies from dropping you when you are sick, or denying you coverage because you have a preexisting condition, or allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26, or forbidding insurance companies from charging women more than men. I haven't met one soul who isn't ecstatic about those provisions. They help the middle class, who are neither rich enough to afford a bout with cancer on their own, not poor enough to afford a bout with cancer on Medicaid. Why isn't Romney reassuring the middle class that he isn't going to scrap these things?

Then there's illegal immigration. "Civil but resolute" sounds like advice from a Jane Austen novel. What, exactly, does that mean? Americans are searching for a way to uphold the law but also be humane concerning immigration. What we'd really like to see from Mitt Romney is how we are going to accomplish that balancing act.

Then there's "women's issues." Given the almost misogynist behavior of some on the Republican right recently, could he say something about being a strong supporter of the rights of women? Could he choose a female vice presidential candidate to show he means business? Could he agree that pay equity for women deserves more legal protection? Could he stand behind home health care workers, predominantly female, who wish to be eligible for overtime pay? Could he support paid maternity leave? The only support any woman has yet seen from him is that he says his wife is a great person. Sorry, that is just not enough.

Then there's the whole silver spoon issue. Romney appears to have made his fortune by gutting the fortunes of blue collar workers in several industries. Does he have any comprehension of how badly the middle class has been hurt by the Great Recession, or how untouched the very wealthy have been by it? Can he say that many more people should have gone to jail for destroying our economy out of greed, and he intends to make sure justice is done? Could he suggest that during this time of slashed state budgets that the rich might have to help local governments survive so that they can help average Americans survive?

Red State Feminists are conservative, no doubt about it. But it is difficult to support Mitt Romney at this point. We'd all like some details about the issues raised above. The left voted for a cipher in the last election, and they are not pleased with having chosen "Door # 1" without knowing what was really behind it. Why do we have the suspicion that now it is the right's turn to make the same mistake?

July 4, 2012 by Red State Gal


Laura Bush Gets It; Obama Doesn't

Red State Feminists have always had admiration for Laura Bush, especially in terms of her advocacy for women in countries where women are not treated well. While her husband was in office, and even now that he is no longer in office, Laura Bush has been an active advocate for better conditions for women, such as in Afghanistan. Some have accused the Bush2 Administration of cynically using women's issues to promote warfare. All they have to do is look at Laura Bush to see that she (and we surmise her husband also) were sincere in their empathy for the women of Afghanistan.

So it is supremely ironic on many levels to hear Laura Bush's voice once more on behalf of the women of Afghanistan--pleading with the Obama Administration not to abandon them! In a recent Washington Post op-ed, Laura Bush asks some penetrating questions of Barack Obama, the most important of which is,

Having already seen the terrible cost of denying the most basic of human freedoms, do we dare risk the consequences now of abandoning the women of Afghanistan?

Yes, think of it. It is Barack Obama and his administration--which includes Secertary of State Hillary Clinton--who will be the ones who walk away from the women of Afghanistan. We all know Obama is going to sell those women down the river. Women aren't present and were not invited to the "reconciliation talks" with the Taliban. The Taliban have said that they want to impose "Islamic women's rights," which is Orwellian double-speak for no rights. And it is under "Hope and Change" Obama that the women of Afghanistan will be betrayed back into the hands of the Taliban.

Laura Bush has more to say:

[T]he Afghan government cannot negotiate away women’s rights. At their gathering, NATO officials have an opportunity to communicate that aid, investment and alliances are not guaranteed if women are simply to be treated as a bargaining chip.

This NATO gathering has come and gone, and there is no evidence that the Americans intend to lift a finger to preserve the progress they brought about for Afghan women by banishing the Taliban from power. Laura Bush goes on to say:

Last fall, I received a letter from an Afghan woman who wrote encouragingly of refugees who are now home, girls who attend school, women who are able to work and participate in public life, and farmers who have reclaimed their land. But she added, “Though many victories have been won for the Afghan people, I fear it is all at risk, and the return of the Taliban is an impending threat.” The rippling consequences of such a return would be devastating.

We are still waiting to hear what Mr. Hope and Change has to say about this.

June 20, 2012 by Red State Gal


Regnerus on Children of Same-Sex Couples

Red State Feminists happen to believe that children need a mother and a father. Children need to be raised by the two halves of humanity from which every single living human being is descended. This is an ontological argument, one that states that to be purposefully deprived of having a mother by one's father because one's mother is a female, or to be purposesully deprived of having a father by one's mother because one's father is a male is an act of inhumanity.

Thus, we have been unpersuaded by studies that wrangle over whether children of same-sex parents "turn out as well" as children of different-sex parents. It is not "turning out well" that is the issue: the issue is whether one has treated a child inhumanely and, indeed, stripped the child of its rights to be filiated to the two halves of humanity from which he or she is descended.

Nevertheless, the academic world continues to fight over the "turn out well" question. So let's go there. In a new article that is making waves, Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin has challenged the foundation of those studies that have purported to show that children of same-sex parents turn out as well as other children. It turns out that most of those studies compare children of same-sex parents to children of single mothers or children in stepfamilies. But I think everyone would agree that that comparison is stacking the deck, because children of single mothers and children in stepfamilies have been shown to do far worse than children in intact biological families.

So Regnerus asks, how do adult children of same-sex couples fare compared to intact biological families? Astoundingly, he appears to be the first to have ever made that comparison in a rigorous fashion. Indeed, another commentator, Loren Marks, points out that most same-sex couples analyzed in previous research were white, highly educated lesbian couples, who themselves were not representative of all "same-sex couples."

What did Regnerus find? Not surprisingly, he found that children of same-sex couples did worse on many measures of well-being than the children of intact biological families. For example, children of same-sex couples were more likely to be on welfare, more likely to be unemployed, more likely to have been sexually abused as children, have lower educational attainment, higher levels of depression, and worse health. These findings (and others) were all statistically significant. And they are comparable to the outcomes of children of single mothers or children in stepfamilies.

Now Regnerus knows that all he can say is "for some reason, these children aren't turning out as well." He also admits that his findings may be judged as irrelevant to the debate over same-sex marriage because we certainly don't stop stepfamilies from forming, or single mother households.

That's all true. But if you believe, as Red State Feminists do, that children are entitled to a relationship with their biological parents who are always of different sexes, then this just adds to that case. Not only is it wrong to purposefully deprive a child of his human descent from both males and females, it also turns out that it may harm children to do so in whatsoever form you do it--single mothers, same-sex couples, stepfamilies.

Of course, we do know that some intact biological families are highly dysfunctional, even violent. We cannot condone those types of harmful relationships in the name of heterosexual marriage. But if it is wrong to perpetrate an inhumanity on an innocent child, and if it appears that doing so harms them, then the state should pay attention. And it has grounds to favor one form of child-rearing institution over another in that case.

Same-sex marriage is certainly headed to the Supreme Court. Too bad that the justice that will decide that case seems to be a formerly devout Catholic who has put his friendship with homosexuals above his former faith. Yes, we speak of Justic Kennedy.

No matter. If the Court rules in favor of striking down DOMA, our country will reap what it has sown. If we countenance such a wrong inflicted on the most innocent among us, we will surely reap the whirlwind.

June 13, 2012 by Red State Gal


The West Needs Charles Napier's Clarity

Red State Feminists are saddened by the parade of honor killings that have found there way into the West through immigrants from countries where women are considered less than fully human. The litany of deaths is heartbreaking.

In England, Shafilea Ahmed, 17 years old, was suffocated by her parents after a year of beatings for being too Western and wanting to date boys. The truth almost did not come to light, because her decomposed body, found in 2004, did not provide enought clues to her murder. Finally, after eight years of silence, her little sister, Rukish, was ready to tell the court that her parents had killed her Shafilea in front of her.

In Italy, a man from Italy strangles his pregnant wife, the mother of a 5 year old boy, because she wanted to wear Western clothes instead of Indian clothes. He dumps her body in the Po River and pretends that she has left him. Only when the body finally bobs to the surface is the mystery solved.

In the United States, two sisters, 17 year old Amina and 18 year old Sarah Said are shot to death by their father, an Egyptian immigrant. Because they had boyfriends, their father viewed them as "whores." He is nowhere to be found.

And on and on and on . . . Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada . . . every Western country is seeing the black stain of honor killings seep across their border. But increasingly, the term "honor killing" is being viewed as racist or xenophobic. Western legal systems sometimes look the other way when women in immigrant communities are treated as things instead of as people.

That's wrongheaded. It's not more moral to overlook murder just because it occurs in a different social group than one's own. What we need now is the moral clarity of Charles Napier. Napier was once Commander-in-Chief of British forces in colonial India, and his greatest claim to fame was subduing what is now Pakistan for the British. However, his name would have all but faded into history except for his moral clarity on suttee, the practice of Indian widows being coerced into throwing themselves on their husband's funeral pyre to die. (After all, in Indian culture, widows are completely superfluous and often end up as beggars. Better to just get them out of the way entirely.)

Told that the Hundu leaders rejected his ban on suttee, Napier uttered a remark that will live forever:

"Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs."

Precisely right. Why should others be entitled to their national customs, and we not entitled to our own? Why are we so afriad of seeming racist or neo-colonial that we cannot denounce this horrible oppression and violence against women for what it is--criminal? Why do we censor ourselves when the crimes are by men against women of thei own ethnicity?

It's time for this impunity to end. Want to kill your daughter because she wears Western clothes and doesn't want to marry whom you have chosen for her? Sorry, but we will defend her, give her shelter, and make sure you are punished. You see, we have national customs, too. And if you don't like those customs, what are you doing here? You shouldn't have come if you weren't prepared to be accountable for what are considered horrible crimes in our culture and legal system.

It's time for the West to follow the example of Charles Napier, bless his soul.

June 6, 2012 by Red State Gal


Is Competition Always Good?

Red State Feminists enjoyed a recent editorial by David Brooks. It asked a very simple question, but one that is worth pondering: Is competition always good?

In America, we tend to think so.We talk about the need to keep our country's competitive edge. We talk about besting the competition. We talk about how competition produces the best ideas. We routinely offer grand prizes to those who can outperform the competition. We talk about the free market as a forum of competition where the best goods and services will come to pass as a result. In other words, we treat competition as an unalloyed good.

Sometimes we also treat competition as the natural state of human beings. We believe in evolution, which is the survival of the fittest. We compete for status, for wealth, for trophies and toys. We even suggest that any altruistic act must actually be self-interested at heart, or it would not occur among humans.

Brooks, a conservative, raises the interesting question of whether we might in fact be wrong about these things.

First of all, it probably is incorrect to say that competition is the natural state of affairs among humans. If that were true, there wouldn't be any humans around. Human beings need an awful lot of care when they are young, when they are sick, when they are old. That there are so many humans around suggests that the natural state of human beings is to care for one another, to cooperate with one another. Brooks notes:

Michael Tomasello, the author of “Why We Cooperate,” devised a series of tests that he could give to chimps and toddlers in nearly identical form. He found that at an astonishingly early age kids begin to help others, and to share information, in ways that adult chimps hardly ever do. An infant of 12 months will inform others about something by pointing. Chimpanzees and other apes do not helpfully inform each other about things. Infants share food readily with strangers. Chimpanzees rarely even offer food to their own offspring. If a 14-month-old child sees an adult having difficulty — like being unable to open a door because her hands are full — the child will try to help. Tomasello’s point is that the human mind veered away from that of the other primates. We are born ready to cooperate, and then we build cultures to magnify this trait.


Also interesting to consider is that sometimes competition does not produce the best, but rather the worst ideas. This can be seen in academia, where the pride and competitiveness of research groups leads them to attempt to discredit any idea that they have not come up with themselves. Winning the competition is what matters, not whether the idea is sound or not sound. We saw this also in the Great Recession, where financial companies, drive by competition with other firms, devised financial instruments that amounted to weapons of mass destruction--and that destruction engulfed them as well. Competition led not just to suboptimal results, but to catastrophic results.

We also see this in politics, where the competition between Republicans and Democrats crowds out common sense as the sides become every more polarized. Politics is no longer about solving the nation's problems--indeed, sometimes it is more politically useful for a politician to refuse to solve a problem so that they can blame the opposition.

Another writer puts it this way:

In other words, Enron, BP, Goldman, Philip Morris, G.E., Merck, etc., etc. Accounting fraud, tax evasion, toxic dumping, product safety violations, bid rigging, overbilling, perjury. The Walmart bribery scandal, the News Corp. hacking scandal — just open up the business section on an average day. Shafting your workers, hurting your customers, destroying the land. Leaving the public to pick up the tab. These aren’t anomalies; this is how the system works: you get away with what you can and try to weasel out when you get caught.

Maybe competition is overrated and overestimated. And maybe our society would be healthier if we acknowledged both facts.

May 23, 2012 by Red State Gal


President Obama, North Carolina, and Same-Sex Marriage

Red State Feminists have, like every other American, watched the headlines this week and shaken our heads. North Carolina bans same-sex marriage in a constitutional amendment that cannot be overruled by the judicial branch of its state government. Ironically, Bill Clinton, he who as president signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), robo-called North Carolinians to urge them to vote against that amendment.

And in the same week, President Obama (not to mention the Vice President) announces that he believes same-sex couples should have the right to marry. However, his aides say he is not planning any federal legislation on this point, and will simply let the states do what they will. On the other hand, he will not defend DOMA in court, even though it is the law of the land.

Interesting. When the people are allowed to actually vote on the subject, they vote against same-sex marriage. When legislators and judges get the final say, same-sex marriage is legalized. This is certainly a case where the political elite believe they can and should lead from in front, imposing their will on their fellow citizens who have another viewpoint. The most egregious case, of course, was in California, where a gay judge tossed the results of a referendum held in 2008 that showed that Californians did not want to legalize same-sex marriage.

Of course, these anti-democracy forces claim that the public is simply behind the times, but that history cannot wait--as it could not wait with racial relations--for the most ignorant of the people to catch up with the elite. (Of course, it is interesting that blacks reject the parallel between their own situation and that of gays, in part because the black community still believes that being black is not a sin, but that having same-sex relations is.)

What is so lamentable is that pro-heterosexual marriage forces have not put forward a good defense of heterosexual marriage--even though it is eminently possible to do so. Furthermore, the ideal of heterosexual marriage was corrupted by those who did not take their vows of fidelity and love seriously. And certainly those who view heteosexual marriage as a hierarchy where men rule over women did not do marriage any favors by this distortion of the ideal, either.

While it's true in a sense that heterosexuals are to blame for the lack of regard many people in our culture have for marriage, that is not the same thing as saying there should be lack of regard for marriage in our culture. It is up to each one of us to articulate why heterosexual marriage is a special, fragile, and crucial component of human-ness. We must tell different stories to our children about what marriage was meant to be--it was meant to be the living symbol of peace between the two halves of humanity from which every single human being springs.

And we must do more than tell new and better stories about heterosexual marriage. We must also live those stories. We must live heterosexual marriage with complete fidelity, with complete love, and in complete equality. Only then will our stories ring true to our children.

Red State Feminists are glad that North Carolina has taken a stand. And we are sad that President Obama has lost the understanding of what marriage was meant to mean. It is possible that due to the poor example of his own father, he was never given the wherewithal to develop that understanding in the first place. We urge President Obama to keep his views as his views--and not attempt to impose his views on others through anti-democratic federal legislation that will surely bring a backlash that will tear our political system asunder.

May 9, 2012 by Red State Gal


The US Military's Stimulant Problem

Red State Feminists have taken our military to task for its appalling high rate of violence against women soldiers. Now an interesting piece of the puzzle--appalling in its own right--astonishes us as well. According to Richard A. Friedman, professor of psychiatry, "the number of Ritalin and Adderall prescriptions written for active-duty service members increased by nearly 1,000 percent in five years, to 32,000 from 3,000."

What's going on here? According to Friedman, the military's official response is that they are using these drugs to treat ADHD in their soldiers. Why the stunning increase? According to Friedman, "A spokesman for Tricare attributed the sharp rise to “the increased recognition and diagnosis of A.D.H.D. by medical providers.”

Of course, that is ridiculous. We all know what is happening. The military is using stimulants to keep its soldiers awake and alert in hostile territory. These stimulants help you focus and pay attention to the things that might kill you. They let you pull guard duty for hours at night and go on patrol in the morning. It's an easy, American-style "fix" for a problem--just get rid of the problem with a pill.

Unfortunately, these stimulants also have some big downsides. They make you more agitated and irritable. They may hamper your impulse control. In some individuals, they can even cause hallucinations. But Friedman points out that they also imprint emotionally-charged memories deeply into our memory banks.

Now, that can be very helpful if you are trying to learn something. But it can also have some heavy-duty unintended side effects when you are exposed to a horrible trauma. Your brain will strongly imprint that memory, making PTSD that much more likely. No wonder, points out Friedman, that along with a stunning increase in stimulant prescriptions for our troops, we also see a stunning increase in PTSD cases. Friedman notes, "One recent study of 289,000 Americans who served in those countries found that the rates of the disorder jumped to 22 percent in 2008 from just 0.2 percent in 2002."

Is this widespread prescribing of stimulants really helping our soldiers? Does it really make them a better fighting force? Or does it help make them more brittle, more fragile? Why is the US military acting like a giant drug pusher to our troops? These are questions worth asking. It's also worth asking if there is a linkage between stimulant use and crimes like rape.

In short, Red State Feminists wants to know: whose bright idea was this? And how do we rein it in?

May 2, 2012 by Red State Gal


Foreign Policy Magazine's Sex Issue

Red State Feminists have gobbled up the latest online issue of Foreign Policy Magazine (FP)--it's their "Sex Issue." Now, some of you may be asking, what does sex have to do with foreign policy? This issue answers that question.

Melanne Verveer, head of the State Department's Office of Global Women's Issues, has an essay in the issue called, "Why Women are a Foreign Policy Issue," and that's a good place to start. Verveer asserts that too long we have looked at women in less developed countries as victims, when in fact they are leaders who contribute more to the peace and prosperity of their countries than anyone has ever understood. When women are included, development projects work better and economic growth is better. When they are included in peace negotiations, the peace lasts longer. She speaks of how the State Department has put into the job description of every one of its diplomats the task of improving the situation of women and girls. With regard to Afghanistan, she says,

"The United States must continue to insist that insurgents who want to reconcile must commit to protecting the rights embedded in the Afghan constitution -- including those for women. There may be some who, in the interests of getting a deal done, consider women's rights negotiable. But this is a red line that cannot be crossed; any peace that is made by excluding more than half the population is no peace at all and will not last."

The most controversial article in the issue is by Egyptian Mona Eltahawy, who asks, "Why Do They Hate US?" The "they" is men. She asks why Muslim men hate Muslim women. She says, "Yes: They hate us. It must be said." She explains,

"When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband "with good intentions" no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are "good intentions"? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is "not severe" or "directed at the face." What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it's not better than you think. It's much, much worse . . . Then -- the 1980s and 1990s -- as now, clerics on Saudi TV were obsessed with women and their orifices, especially what came out of them. I'll never forget hearing that if a baby boy urinated on you, you could go ahead and pray in the same clothes, yet if a baby girl peed on you, you had to change. What on Earth in the girl's urine made you impure? I wondered.

Hatred of women.

We are more than our headscarves and our hymens.

Eltahawy is sceptical that the Arab Spring will bring any progress for women . . . indeed, she fears that there will be regress. Tunisia, Libya, Egypt: each of these countries rumbles about rolling back the modest improvements in status that the women in these countries have won over the years.

The Sex Issue has several other great articles and features, including a series of maps from The WomanStats Project about the situation of women in the world. FP also has a great article on The 25 Most Powerful Women you've never heard of. And an article about "What Sex Means for World Peace," featuring research from a book called Sex and World Peace, explains that,

The evidence is clear: The primary challenge facing the 21st century is to eliminate violence against women and remove barriers to developing their strength, creativity, and voices. A bird with one broken wing, or a species with one wounded sex, will never soar. We know that. Humans have experienced it for millennia -- and paid for it with rivers of blood and mountains of needless suffering. The countries of the world must try a different path, one that we have every empirical reason to believe will lead to greater well-being, prosperity, and security for the entire international system. Sex and world peace, then, with no question mark.

Red State Feminists thank Foreign Policy for such a great issue! We encourage our readers to check it out!

April 25, 2012 by Red State Gal


Woman-to-Woman Diplomacy: Asmaa al-Assad

Red State Feminists were happily amazed to hear the news story about the efforts of the wives of UN ambassadors from European countries to reach Asmaa al-Assad, the wife of Bashar al-Assad, the dictator of Syria. Because there was no way to reach her in person, they launched a 4 minute YouTube video addressed to her.

This is the first instance we know of of woman-to-woman diplomacy, where women--simply because they are women--call upon influential women to step up to the plate in the name of peace. The video has been "signed" by women from around the world. And the message is uniquely gendered--in two different ways.

Asking, "What happened to you, Asmaa?" the video juxtaposes her love for children, as shown in photos of Asmaa with her own children, or caressing or kissing other women's children, with photos of wounded, dead, and frightened Syrian children during the civil conflict. Containing a clip of Asmaa al-Assad speaking out in behalf of peace, the video urges her to stop being a "bystander," and instead do what she can to stop her husband and his supporters.

This is a theme all mothers can understand. The pains of childbirth, and the deep joys and deep sorrows of loving our children and attempting to care for them in a dangerous world, unite all mothers. Mothers know to hurt another person is to hurt that person's mother. Mothers do unto other mothers as they would want other mothers to do unto them. "These children could all be your children," the video states, and all mothers understand.

The second theme is a bit more, well, snarky. The video asserts that Asmaa, reportedly a notorious fashionista, is too concerned with her image and style to care about her country. Showing photos of Asmaa in elegant clothes, the narrator says, "Some women care for style . . . some women struggle for their image . . . No one cares about your image." This imputation of frivolous motives for non-action is not as helpful as the first message based on shared motherhood. It is quite possible that Asmaa al-Assad and her children have been sequestered and have little chance for action.

Nevertheless, the video is remarkable and memorable. Woman-to-woman diplomacy! Would that women had more power in this world, so that such diplomacy would be the most effective policy initiative of all. Kudos from Red State Feminists!

April 18, 2012 by Red State Gal


Do Babies Benefit Their Societies?

Red State Feminists have met them, and we bet you have met them, too. These are the folks who claim that if you have a baby, it is like choosing to have a pet, and society really should not be bothered to accommodate you because of that choice. These are the folks who resent working parents asking for any flexibility in their working schedule. Why should childless people, it is argued, be inconvenienced because someone chose to have a human pet? It's not like we offer accommodations for those who want to attend to their Labrador Retrievers, so why should we accommodate parents?

The real question here for those without children is, "What's in it for me?" Is there any benefit to non-parents from the birth of a child? Should society and all of its members, even the childless, see themselves as having a stake in each baby born?

There are many ways to address this question, but most of the answers leave such questioners unmoved. Babies are the future citizens of our country . . . so? What's in it for me ? Everyone has a stake in making sure that children are raised to be educated and civilized . . . so? I pay property taxes that go to fund public education. I've done my share--what's in it for me? Parents juggling work and family life need flexibility to ensure the kids get good care . . . so? Why do I have to pick up the slack for others' kids--what's in it for me?

These arguments might make some selfish sense in a country with no social security system. Indeed, it's pretty hard to survive old age as a childless person in such countries. Having children is all that may stand between you and penury in such societies. Having children may in fact be mostly about "what's in it for me" as a form of old age pension.

It is the distortion created by social security that confuses folks. You can be childless in America and not be homeless as an elderly person because there will always be social security (at least we hope there will be). But our perspective is warped by the fact that we pay into Social Security with each of our paychecks. We may feel that we are putting funds into the "lockbox" of Social Security, from which we can draw later. We may feel we have funded our own pension in this way.

But that is based on a deep misunderstanding. The money we are paying right now goes to pay the Social Security benefits of current retirees. You are not putting money away for your own retirement--there is no lockbox for these funds. Your funds go to someone else, someone older than you are.

So who is going to pay your Social Security benefits? Well, it's those babies of parents who chose to have children. No children, no Social Security benefits--even for the childless. Most especially not for the childless. Someone finally quantified the economic contribution to Social Security made by babies. ROnald Lee, in the 2003 book Demographic Change, Welfare, and Intergenerational Transfers: A Global Overview, calculates:

"This is certainly true of childbearing, where children impose costs for health care and education on society, but also provide benefits as taxpayers who help support the elderly and spread the costs of public goods (Lee, 1990; Lee and Miller, 1990). Population aging raises these externalities by increasing the need for taxes to help support the elderly. In earlier work, Lee and Miller (1997) evaluated these externalities as shown in Table 2. They calculated that a child born to parents who have a high school education had a net fiscal present value of $171,000 in 1996 [for more than a high school degree, the figure is $245,000 after deducting education and other normal public expenses for children]... This large positive fiscal externality reflects in large part the fact that the family does not benefit directly from old-age support when it has a child, although society does. It is possible, although perhaps not likely, that this externality is partly responsible for the low fertility observed throughout industrialized nations today."

That's a very interesting statistic. Even after deducting all the state pays on things like education, even discounting what the child will add to the GDP of the nation, a child will contribute about $200,000 towards supporting Social Security. And that figure also does not include the monetary value of those children raising the next generation of citizens, either.

So the next time someone compares having a baby with buying a Labrador Retriever, ask them when Labrador Retrievers started paying into the Social Security system to fund the survival of the retired childless.

April 12, 2012 by Red State Gal


The GOP's Deadly Gender Gap

Red State Feminists are sorrowful to see a very large gender gap developing for the GOP. Indeed, the gap is so great at this point, that Obama seems assured of a second term in office. There is every indication that American women will swing the election in his favor.

It did not have to be this way. Even if you are pro-life, as most Red State Feminists are, there was a better way than the path the GOP primaries have taken in this regard. Rather than start talking about trans-vaginal ultrasounds, rather than start suggesting that health insurance need not cover birth control, the GOP candidates could have made the same points in a different way completely and not have alienated women.

What could they have done? The GOP candidates could have pointed to MEN'S involvement in these issues. The GOP candidates could have observed "sperm causes abortion." They could have suggested that the best way to reduce the abortion rate is to transform a culture of impunity for male sexual behavior into a culture of accountability. THe GOP candidates could have observed that women need birth control because MEN assume through their sexual behavior that women will use birth control. The GOP candidates could have spoken of how ensuring greater male responsibility for their sperm would make abortion and birth control very small problems indeed. The GOP candidates could even say that they would hold off on changing laws pertaining to birth control and abortion while they worked on ensuring greater male responsibility, because otherwise that would put women in a very bad position.

Then the GOP candidates could have moved out from there . . . they could have spoken about the egregiously high rate of poverty among US children (almost 1 in 5), and they could have asked, where are their FATHERS? Why aren't these children's fathers providing the temporal support these children need? And does that failure have something to do with male sexual irresponsibility again?

And they could have riffed on this theme even further . . . under pre-Obamacare (and even now--until 2014), why were health insurance companies allowed to charge higher rates for women who had had C-sections for pervious births, or women who had been victims of domestic violence? Wasn't it men who impregnated those women who then needed C-sections? Weren't the perpetrators of the domestic violence against those women predominantly male? Why are women being treated as those solely responsible for this health history, when men are clearly involved?

The GOP stands for the accountability of every citizen for their choices. If the GOP wants to reduce its stunningly large gender gap--women now prefer Obama to any GOP candidate by almost 20 percentage points--it is time for them to talk about these hot button social issues in a different way. It is time for them to talk about these issues in terms of ensuring that male citizens are accountable for their sexual decisions--decisions that may lead to abortion, or the need for birth control, or higher insurance rates for women, or high levels of childhood poverty.

If they did so, women would be so utterly amazed that any man was saying these things that the gender gap would turn around in a heartbeat. Women would usher the GOp candidate straight into the White House.

But of course, the GOP candidates are all male. Would they even be capable of seeing this opportunity? Ann Romney, are you listening?

April 4, 2012 by Red State Gal


The Slipstream File: Amalie Noether, Mathematician Extraordinaire

Red State Feminists is delighted that for two days straight, an article about Amalie Noether has remained one of the most emailed articles from the New York Times. Amalie Noether is certainly a name worth rescuing from the alipstream of history. She was one of the foremost mathematicians of her day--but she is almost completely forgotten. Kudos to the Times for rectifying our collective memory loss!

According to the article, Noether, the daughter of a mathematician, was originally shunted into more feminine fields of study, such as French and the piano, but her innate talent pushed her into mathematics. She was not allowed to be admitted as a student to the university in mathematics, so she audited every course in mathematics that was being taught. Her performance was so stellar that the university decided to grant her the equivalent of a college degree.

But, of course, no university would hire her as a professor. After all, she was a woman. She worked at the Mathematical Institute at Erlangen for seven years without pay. In 1907, she was invited to teach at the University of Gottingen, the most prestigious German university in mathematics. The faculty objected to having a woman, so she spent another four years without pay, lecturing under the name of one of the male faculty, but eventually was named a "Private Docent." She still was prohibited from holding the title of professor because of her sex. It was not until 1923 that she received any pay at all, but was eventually made an untenured professor.

In 1933, as the Nazis came to power in Germany, she was dismissed from her position because of her Jewish ancestry. She became a professor of mathermatics at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. However, less than two years later, she died from an operation at the age of 53.

One of Noether's major contributions was named "Noether's Theorem" in her honor, and has to do with how symmetry is related to laws of conservation. Other mathematicians have claimed it is on a par with the Pythagorean Theroem. Perhaps even more significantly, she has been described in this way: "Completely unegotistical and free of vanity, she never claimed anything for herself, but promoted the works of her students above all."

May we teach our daughters that mathematicians such as Amalie Noether have profoundly shaped the field--although their names do not appear in our daughters' textbooks.

March 28, 2012 by Red State Gal


"After-Birth Abortion": Medical Ethics at Its Most Ignoble

Red State Feminists thought it was a joke . . . an article, ostensibly published by the Journal of Medical Ethics, on "after-birth abortion." It must be a joke because, after all, once a child is "after birth," there is no such thing as "abortion." The proper term would be infanticide, which is considered under all law as being equivalent to murder. So this must be some type of joke, right?

Well, in another sign of the times, apparently not. After doing a little digging, assuming this was some type of urban legend, we are mortified to report that an article called, "After-Birth Abortion: Why Should the Baby Live?," was indeed published by the Journal of Medical Ethics in its most recent issue. Here is the link to the full article. The authors are Francesca Minerva and Alberto Giubilini, which makes us wonder whether this insight into the Italian mind explains why Italy has one of the lowest birthrates in the world. (Note: The authors are affiliated with Australian institutions. Given that Peter Singer, who has argued in favor of infanticide, originally hails from Australia, an alternative hypothesis to the Italian one is that there is something in the water down under.)

Noting that quite a few Down's Syndrome babies escape being caught through prenatal testing and thus also escape abortion, the authors opine that such a failure of medical testing should not stand in the way of the parents' decision not to have a Down's Syndrome child. The parents should have the right to an "after-birth abortion," which will take the life of the baby with Down's Syndrome. Thus, parents would not be at the mercy of fallible medical tests.

How is this not infanticide? According to the authors, it is not infanticide because the baby's status as a person is on a par with that of a fetus. It just happens to be a fetus outside of the womb, no longer attached by an umbilical cord to another human being. Birth has not made the newborn a person.

So what does make a person a person, according to our Australo-Italians? Well, here we must quote:

Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’. We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her. This means that many non-human animals and mentally retarded human individuals are persons, but that all the individuals who are not in the condition of attributing any value to their own existence are not persons. Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life. Indeed, many humans are not considered subjects of a right to life: spare embryos where research on embryo stem cells is permitted, fetuses where abortion is permitted, criminals where capital punishment is legal. . . If a potential person, like a fetus and a newborn, does not become an actual person, like you and us, then there is neither an actual nor a future person who can be harmed, which means that there is no harm at all. So, if you ask one of us if we would have been harmed, had our parents decided to kill us when we were fetuses or newborns, our answer is ‘no’, because they would have harmed someone who does not exist (the ‘us’ whom you are asking the question), which means no one. And if no one is harmed, then no harm occurred.

Wow. And folks, they are not just talking about Down's Syndrome babies: "Actual people's well-being could be threatened by the new (even if healthy) child requiring energy, money and care which the family might happen to be in short supply of." So, you've had that cute little bundle of joy, and discovered that it pees, poops, cries, and costs you time and money? Not to worry: you are perfectly justified in procuring an "after-birth abortion." As the authors put it, "people should be given the chance of not being forced to do something they cannot afford."

What about adoption, you ask? Unfortunately, according to the authors, that might so traumatize a mother for the rest of her life that she must be given the right to choose abortion over adoption to save herself that grief. After all, she is an "actual person," and the baby is but a "potential person."

So for how long must your baby live in limbo until it is accorded personhood protected under the law? According to the authors, that depends: "In cases where the after-birth abortion were requested for non-medical reasons, we do not suggest any threshold, as it depends on the neurological development of newborns, which is something neurologists and psychologists would be able to assess." So, hey, it could be a few years before the baby can breathe a sigh of relief that its parents won't kill it just because they felt like it that day.

You may be asking yourself, how could something called the "Journal of Medical Ethics" publish a piece encouraging the legalization of infanticide? In typical squirrellly academic fashion, the editors state, "This paper was scrutinised by 3 peer reviewers and revised in light of their comments. The Journal does not publish or not publish articles because of the controversial nature of their conclusion, but rather on the quality of the argument. If an argument was based on clearly and obviously mistaken premises, then we would reject it. But in this case, there has been a long and ongoing debate on the moral status of early human life – embryos, fetuses and neonates, as the above literature attests." Yes, what the world desperately needs now is a discussion of the merits of legalizing infanticide.

A Catholic theologian responded to this article (the response is downloadable from the first link provided in this blogpost), stating that the Catholic Church has pointed out repeatedly that if you do not ascribe rights to the fetus, you will end up on the slippery slope to justifying infanticide, because there is very little difference between a full-term fetus and a neonate. He goes on to say: "From our prenatal and postnatal children—to brain damaged and mentally disabled adults—the fact that a fellow substance of a rational nature happens to have their potential frustrated is no reason at all to treat them as anything less than a person. If anything, those who are not currently expressing these traits deserve our special attention given that they are so vulnerable."

Perhaps the authors themselves are in agreement with the Catholic theologian, for they say, "If criteria such as the costs (social, psychological, economic) for the potential parents are good enough reasons for having an abortion even when the fetus is healthy, if the moral status of the newborn is the same as that of the infant and if neither has any moral value by virtue of being a potential person, then the same reasons which justify abortion should also justify the killing of the potential person when it is at the stage of a newborn." Perhaps this is, in effect, a sardonic parody? Could it really be an anti-abortion piece after all?

Somehow we Red State Feminists doubt it.

March 13, 2012 by Red State Gal


Kudos to Jessica Winter

Red State Feminists have shaken their heads in dismay and blogged about recent events in the political sphere concerning women that have unsettled us. However, sometimes the most effective way to tackle these topics is through humor. So, yesterday, when a friend passed on this link by Jessica Winter, we laughed long and hard. And you know what? It felt great to laugh instead of weep about these things. Laughter sometimes is the very best medicine. And so today, we are going to present some excerpts from Winter's piece, though we encourage readers to check out the entire article.

Case No. 1: U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes [Ed. Note: Red State Feminists have blogged about this]
The Recap: Following a 10-week maternity leave, a three-year employee of a Houston debt collection agency filed a sex discrimination suit, alleging she was fired for asking permission to bring a breast pump to work. Hughes sided with the company, but added that the truth of the plaintiff’s claim was irrelevant. “Lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition,” he ruled in February, paraphrasing Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. “She gave birth on Dec. 11, 2009. After that day, she was no longer pregnant and her pregnancy-related conditions ended. Firing someone because of lactation or breast-pumping is not sex discrimination.”

What We Learned: Possession of naturally functioning secondary sex characteristics is a fireable offense; a woman with a fetus has more rights than a woman with a baby.

So, Are Women People? Only when they’re pregnant.

Case No. 2: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and Alabama State Senator Clay Scofield
The Recap: Both lawmakers pursued—and then backed off from—laws that would require any woman getting an abortion to submit to the invasive procedure known as a transvaginal ultrasound and, in McDonnell’s words, “view her child.” “This was about empowering women with more medical and legal information that previously they were not required to get in order to give informed consent,” McDonnell said on March 2.

What We Learned: Acquiring informed consent isn’t necessarily consensual; having an eight- to ten-inch wand inserted into your vagina against your will is “empowering”; because they lack vaginas, some male politicians seek empowerment in different ways.

So, Are Women People? I’m guessing no, but you should ask Virginia delegate Kathy Byron, the woman who introduced the bill in her state.

Case No. 3: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa
The Recap: The California congressman convened an all-male panel of clergy to discuss the mandate that insurance companies include coverage of birth control pills. He declined to include Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, which oversees some 1200 Catholic health organizations across the U.S., or Georgetown law student and activist Sandra Fluke, whose health plan does not cover contraception. Of the latter woman, Issa stated, “As the hearing is not about reproductive rights but instead about the [Obama] administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness.”

What We Learned: Freedom of conscience is not an appropriate topic for women to discuss; freedom from unplanned pregnancy, ovarian cysts, symptoms of endometriosis, irregular periods, migraines, and other health issues are not matters of public conscience; talking about icky body stuff is easier for dudes when ladies aren’t around.

So, Are Women People? If you look at photos of this hearing, you wouldn’t even know that women exist.

Case No. 4: Sad Loud Man in a Small Room Rush Limbaugh
The Recap: “Slut,” “prostitute,” “she wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex,” “we want you to post the videos online so we can all watch,” etc.

What We Learned: Taxpayers are billed across the board for private insurance plans; women who use birth control pills are not taxpayers; women whose insurance covers birth control pills are sluts and prostitutes; taxpayers enjoy watching movies about sluts and prostitutes.

So, Are Women People? They’re more like really expensive blow-up dolls.

Case No. 5: Novelist Jonathan Franzen
The Recap: His much-discussed recent New Yorker essay argued that novelist Edith Wharton is an unsympathetic figure due to her wealth, conservative political views and the fact that she “wasn’t pretty.” (She “might well be more congenial to us now if, alongside her other advantages, she’d looked like Grace Kelly or Jacqueline Kennedy.”) Her unprettiness, according to Franzen, contributed to the sexual dysfunction of her marriage, while her success as a writer caused her husband’s mental illness and underscored her antipathy toward her own sex—her friendships with writers of similar stature such as Henry James and André Gide, Franzen says, showed that “she wanted to be with the men and to talk about the things men talked about.”

What We Learned: Plain girls aren’t good in bed; female success is a brain-eating virus; a (female) writer forging relationships with other (male) writers is a form of penis envy; Jonathan Franzen might not think you’re pretty.

So, Are Women People? Not quite—they’re objects with certain people-like traits.

Case No. 6: Briefly Viable Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum
The Recap: He calls his wife “the rock which I stand upon.”

What We Learned: That’s apparently a compliment.

So, Are Women People? No, they’re rocks! Finally, a definitive answer. Thanks, Senator Santorum!

******Red State back again: thanks, Jessica, for giving women a reason to smile instead of cry as we survey the political landscape in 2012 . . . Kudos!

March 8, 2012 by Red State Gal


Santorum's Gender Gap Did Him In

Red State Feminists have noted Mitt Romney is on a roll, winning the vote in the primaries in Michigan, Arizona, and Wyoming. What is very interesting to us as feminists is that, at least in Michigan, it was women who gave Romney the edge. We think of it less than women love Romney, than that women are turned off by Santorum, and voting for Romney was the way to show it.

It's just been one catatrophe after another for Rick Santorum with the ladies. Do you remember them all? Let's recount a few.

The women as president flap: One of Santorum's staffers advised Santorum to make the argument that women were never meant by God to be president--in case Michelle Bachmann did not drop out of the race soon enough. Here's a quote: “The question then comes, ‘Is it God’s highest desire, that is, his biblically expressed will, … to have a woman rule the institutions of the family, the church, and the state?’ At this point in human history, it's hard to suggest that things could be any worse under new management . . .

Then there's contraception. According to Santorum, contraception is "a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be." If we want to talk about how things really shoud be, we would talk about date rape, about the sexual coercion of girls by their boyfriends, about stranger rape, about marital rape. We would talk about how most women are not initiated willingly into sex in our society. When men are ready to talk about these things, then we women will be open to debating the merits of contraception, thank you very much. (And this is beside the point of hormonal therapy being the therapeutic of choice for certain pahtological conditions, such as endometriosis.)

Santorum has also stated his opposition to allowing women who have been raped to have an abortion, suggesting it was the raped woman's duty to "make the best of a bad situation." Perhaps we should believe that the rape victim has the right to make that determination, and not the state. And not Rick Santorum. Again, if Santorum is sincere about his opposition to abortion, how come he is not talking about men's sexual incontinence, which leads women into unwanted pregnancy? Why is everything always on the shoulders of the women?

Then there was the women-in-combat debacle. While there are good arguments to be made on that subject on both sides, Santorum's "contribution" was to suggest that the emotions of women would be a drawback in battle. Then he backtracked and said it was the emotions of men he was worried about, not the emotions of women.

His pollsters have talked to him, apparently. He will shift his strategy to appeal more to women voters who have been swayed by "media caricatures." Rather than continue to praise his wife for staying home, he now speaks of the fact that his own mother worked while raising her children: "She was someone who did get a job in the 1930s and was a nurse, and worked full time. She continued to work through my childhood years. She balanced time working different schedules. A professional who made more money than her husband."

Well, perhaps this is a new Santorum, which would be a welcome change. While we can respect Santorum's right to hold his convictions, it is very difficult for Red State Feminists to support him if he wishes to force those convictions on women. He does not understand the profound disadvantage women find themselves in, especially when it comes to sexual relations with men. Perhaps his pollster will advise him to start talking about men's role in the abortion and contraception and women-in-combat debate? Perhaps the pollster will advise that he should say he'd be proud to vote for his wife or daughter for president one day?

Let's hope Santorum's pollster is a woman . . .

February 29, 2012 by Red State Gal


The Most Inspiring Photos We've Seen in a Long Time--from the EU Parliament, No Less!

Red State Feminists have never thought of the EU governance structure as especially interesting, much less inspiring. Until today. For today, we saw some photos taken inside the EU Parliament that made us really sit up and take notice! These photos were taken while Parliament was in session, and in attendance was Licia Ronzulli from the Lombardy region of Italy, who is an elected member of parliament. They say a picture's worth a thousand words, so we have several thousand for you here, all taken from the Daily Mail's website and report:

Wow. All at once we see a larger world--a world in which you can be a member of the EU Parliament and not leave your child in daycare. A world in which women can contribute their talents, their voices, their perspectives, and their values to the most important decision-making bodies in their society--and do it with their children by their side. Yes, the EU Parliament allows parents to bring their children with them. And Licia has been bringing her daughter with her since she was born:

Oh, that the United States could become a place where such photos could be taken! There is nothing that Red State Feminists would want more than that . . . to live in a world where women were not excluded because they wanted to be hands-on mothers. Where women did not have to make a choice between contributing and molding their society and being a mother.

Thank you, Licia, for making the world larger for women! Red State Feminists salute you!

February 22, 2012 by Red State Gal


The Slipstream File: Susan Travers, Only Woman Ever in the French Foreign Legion

Red State Feminists, as our readers know, are fond of rescuing obscure but significant historical figures from the slipstream of time. Today our subject is Susan Travers, the only woman ever admitted into the French Foreign Legion.

You can tell from her name that she is not French. According to a BBC article, she was born in England, the daughter of an admiral. But she grew up in the south of France, and worked as a nurse for the Red Cross when World War II broke out. She decided it was much more exciting to be an ambulance driver than a nurse, and she joined the French force that went to help the Finns in the Winter War--as a driver for the medical officer.

After her stint in Finland, she was attached to the French Foreign Legion that was sent to Libya to counter Rommel. she volumteered to drive for the brigade's officers. Specifically, she was present when Rommel attacked the fort of Bir Hakeim. Her finest moment of glory was driving the lead car that broke through the German lines in the pitch dark. Almost 3000 men escaped, following her path.

After Libya, she continued with the Legion, driving a self-propelled anti-tank gun in theaters such as Italy, France, and Germany, and eventually was wounded by a mine. After the war, she applied to become an official member of the Legion. The Legionnaire who approved her application had been one of the men who had escaped from Bir Hakeim because of her bravery. She was posted to Vietnam, met and married another escapee from Bir Hakeim, and had two sons.

She was honored by France with some of its very highest honors--the Legion of Honor, the Medaille Militaire, and the Croix du Guerre. And she wrote a book for her children and grandchildren: Tomorrow to Be Brave. She died in 2003.

We hope this small blogpost of remembrance will help keep the memory of her courage alive for those who come after. Salut, Susan Travers!

February 15, 2012 by Red State Gal


The Crazy Judge File: Lynn Hughes of Houston Doesn't Know How Breasts Work

Red State Feminists have periodically been aghast at the craziness of judges in the USA. Seriously, sometimes you gotta wonder where they find these clowns. Like the judge in New Jersey who ruled that a man couldn't be prosecuted for raping his wife because he was Muslim and if you are a Muslim, there's no such thing as marital rape. Uh-huh.

Well, today we have another case from the Crazy Judge file: Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston, Texas, who ruled that breastfeeding is unrelated to pregnancy and childbirth. Yes, you heard right--casting aside everything we have known for millenia about human physiology, an American judge has rewritten the tenets of biology. Nusring a baby? Has nothing to do with having actually had a baby. Totally separate, not on the same page, apples and oranges.

Now, you are saying to yourselves, "Lynn, is that a boy's name or a girl's name?" Well, it's a boy's name. here's Judge Lynn Hughes of Texas:

Ah, well, you say, "Hmm, he's a man. He has never breastfed personally. Maybe he isn't married and thus knows nothing about women's physiology. Poor guy. When the biologists get a hold of him, he's going to be mighty embarrassed." Well, you're wrong. His bio says he has 3 children and 4 grandchildren. We think--think--his wife must have given birth. And that Judge Hughes knows she has breasts. And may have actually seen them in use pursuant to the birth of his 3 children. So, sorry, the guy cannot be forgiven on the basis of sheer ignorance.

No, it's something else. A business fired a black woman because she wanted to use the back room to pump breastmilk for her baby, and the pumping time would be unpaid. The employee, with help from the EEOC, sued, saying it was against the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. Apparently the judge liked the company better than the woman, because in order to find for the company, the judge had to pronounce that the company had not violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act because breastfeeding is unrelated to pregnancy or childbirth!!!

The audacity of these men! Who, exactly, do they think they are? I hope their mothers are completely ashamed of them and have told them so.

Anyhow, you might be thinking--wait, I heard that Obamacare protects the rights of female workers to breastfeed! Well, yes and no. Yes, if you are in a company with over 50 employees. Yes if you work for an hourly wage and not on salary. But if your company is small and/or you are on salary, forget it. Your rights to pump for your baby are not protected at your job.

Speaking of jobs, clearly this is a job for Congress. And there is a proposed bill that would solve the problem; MomsRising explains:

The Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2011 (HR 2758) would help make breastfeeding more accessible to new mothers in the workforce by ensuring that all mothers who want to breastfeed can have unpaid time and private, clean spaces to express milk at work. If passed, the bill would also protect breastfeeding women from being fired or discriminated against in the workplace.

While we are making progress in supporting nursing mothers, we're not moving fast enough. Thanks to new protections included in the Affordable Care Act (health care reform), Donnicia’s employer would have been required to provide unpaid break time and a clean space for pumping if she had had her baby today.

However, these new rules in the Affordable Care Act only cover "non-exempt" workers (generally those paid hourly wages), rather than those who have salaried positions. As a result, approximately half of new mothers in the workforce are unprotected, which is why we need Congress to pass the Breastfeeding Promotion Act

Approximately 56% of new mothers in our country are now in the paid labor force and Donnicia's case is a clear example of why we need uniform workplace policies to provide all mothers with the option to continue to breastfeed their babies.

Many working mothers who choose to breastfeed their babies, as is recommended by doctors, report that they had to stop because it was not possible to pump breast milk while at work. While 3 out of 4 women in the U.S. breastfeed their infants at birth, only 13% are exclusively breastfeeding at six months as recommended by every major national and international medical authority. In fact, breastfeeding rates for employed mothers are 15% lower than among non-employed mothers.

Women who want to and can breastfeed deserve support for doing what doctors recommend. And we all have a stake in supporting new mothers who wish to breastfeed. Nationally, we could save $2.2 billion per year in health care costs if 90% of women breastfed their infants exclusively for at least the first six months as pediatricians recommend. Individual employers who have actively supported workplace lactation programs have saved money through lower health care costs and reduced absenteeism.

There's something our readers can do to prod Congress. Go to this petition site, and click to sign a petition to Congress asking that this bill be passed. Working moms shouldn't have to choose between breastfeeding and working. Our nation and their families need them to do both.

And, Judge Hughes, maybe you should have a personal conversation with your wife about what those things on her chest are for . . .

February 9, 2012 by Red State Gal


The Slipstream File: Mildred Hemmon Carter

Red State Feminists wish all of our readers a happy and healthy 2012! Now, we are not going to start the new year by making South Carolina jokes, even though the South Carolina Republicans voted for the biggest joke of them all, Newt Gingrich. All we can say is that the Floridians apparently know a scumbag when they see one, whereas vision is not so clear closer to the Mason-Dixon line.

Anyhow, enough of that. As readers know, Red State Feminists like to rescue important stories from the slipstream of history. Today we pluck from the slipstream Mildred Hemmon Carter. Her name graced the news for one day in connection with the new George Lucas film, Red Tails, about the Tuskegee airmen--black airmen during World War II. The show unsurprisingly focuses on the black men, who with bravery and skill fought not only the enemy, but also those within the military who thought that blacks did not deserve a place in the cockpit. Fortunately, the military higher-ups were willing to disregard traditional discrimination if it meant that new talent could be brought to bear against the Axis. The fight was more important than keeping discrimination in place.

Or was it? What about women who were skilled airmen? Allied women, including American women, were primarily relegated to transporting planes from factories to airbases during World War II. Only the Soviets used women as military pilots (they were called the Night Witches).

Mildred Hemmon Carter was the first black woman in Alabama to earn her pilot's license. We'll let her story, told by her husband, one of the Tuskegee airman, take over (as reported in this article by CNN):

Mildred was well on her way to a successful aviation career. She learned to fly under C. Alfred "Chief" Anderson, the chief instructor at Tuskegee and the man considered the father of black aviation.

With Anderson's help, Mildred became the first female pilot to join the state's Civil Air Patrol Squadron in 1942. But she was never called to go on patrol; racism, she learned, had gotten in the way. Determined to fly for her country, she applied to become a WASP, a member of the groundbreaking Women Airforce Service Pilots who ferried planes from factories to airfields. (Women of any race were barred from flying combat at that time.) By then, Mildred had her business degree and well over 100 hours of flying. She was named "Miss Tuskegee Army Flying School" by the airfield newsletter, and Anderson ranked her among his best pilots.

But the rejection came swiftly. "The U.S. government does not have plans at this time to include colored female pilots in the WASP." Shaken, she called Herbert [soon to be her husband, Herbert Carter].

"Mil, what is it?" he said.

"It's race again," she said.

He rushed to her side. She ripped up the letter. He hugged her.

"Keep the faith, Sweet. We'll get there."

Her rejection made him more determined to succeed. "I thought, 'Well, damn it, I'll show them that we can do it.' "

They held each other's hands.

Mildred entered college at 15 and earned her business degree before she was 20. During that time, she kept seeing all these young men by the dozens apply to become pilots and thought to herself, "I can do that." On February 1, 1941, she entered history, becoming the first black woman in the state to earn her pilot's license. A month later, flying solo, she came in for a landing at Tuskegee. As she set down the plane, she saw a commotion and a throng of photographers. She was told somebody wanted to meet her.

"How's flying?" asked first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who had come to the airfield to publicly support the project. A photographer captured the young female aviator standing next to the first lady, who towered over the 5-foot-5 pilot. The first lady's visit garnered headlines across the country. Mrs. Roosevelt hopped in a plane with Chief Anderson, and the two flew together for 30 minutes. The first lady's message was unequivocal: Blacks were more than capable of flying.

"Well, you can fly all right," she told Anderson.

Though Mildred never flew for the military, she went on to mentor female African-American fighter pilots. She'd tell audiences to never stop dreaming, to leave the world better than before.

"I'd be an astronaut today," she'd say. Last February, 70 years after she earned her pilot's license, she received a letter from the government. Again she read it with astonishment, but this time she didn't rip it up. She'd been declared a member of the WASPs and given a medal with the inscription: "The First Women in History to Fly America."

"Look, Geno [her nickname for her husband Herbert]," she said. "They sent this to me. Why?"

"Because you're a Tuskegee Airman."

She paused. "Awww, seriously?"

"They've finally come to realize you made contributions, too. Better late than never."

Unfortunately, Mildred died before the screening of the film Red Tails. But her courage and her fortitude in the face of discrimination against women and against women of color, is inspiring. We Red State Feminists salute Mildred Hemmon Carter! Let her name not be forgotten by we who come after!

January 29, 2012 by Red State Gal