Book Review: The Good Girls Revolt

Image courtesy of barnesandnoble.com

Lynn Povich’s The Good Girls Revolt tells the story of a class action lawsuit that was brought against Newsweek in 1970, by a number of the women then employed at the magazine. In their groundbreaking suit, the forty-six women charged Newsweek with discrimination in promotion and hiring; this was the first female class action lawsuit, and the first brought by female journalists.

One of the leaders of the suit, Povich deftly ties several narrative threads together in this fast-paced account. She simultaneously details the relevant history of the magazine; introduces the reader to a large cast of characters, including editors, researchers, attorneys and reporters; and paints a vivid picture of the work environment at the magazine in the late 1960s and early 1970s. While the story can become complicated at times, particularly when it comes to discussing the lawsuit’s aftermath, Povich’s writing style is straightforward and engaging.
It would be nice to think that Povich’s experience is one that resides safely in the past. But while great strides have been made for workplace equality – and gender equality in general – Povich makes it clear that women are still encountering workplace discrimination today, albeit in more subtle forms. She bookends her tale with the story of three young female Newsweek employees who, almost forty years after the lawsuit, navigate an environment that, in some ways, may not have changed as much as one would expect – and hope.
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Lawsuit Filed Against Anti-Choice Organization

The image at the center of the lawsuit

I saw an interesting article in the New York Times this morning. Tricia Fraser is suing the anti-choice organization Life Always for using her young daughter’s image on a billboard that contained the text, “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.” Ms. Fraser’s daughter is African-American. (Life Always is the same organization that recently used the famous “Hope” image of President Obama for another astoundingly offensive billboard.)

The billboard was denounced as racist and offensive almost as soon as it went up in the Soho neighborhood in New York City. Similar billboards went up in Atlanta early last year; those ads, sponsored by Georgia Right to Life and the Radiance Foundation, used an image of a different child and different text, but their message was the same. While those billboards were also met with controversy and disapproval, the lawsuit filed by Ms. Fraser is a first.

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Lambda Legal Files Suit Against AZ for Eliminating Domestic Partner Benefits

ArizonaLambda Legal filed a lawsuit earlier this week against the state of Arizona in response to the state’s decision to eliminate domestic partner benefits for state employees. According to the press release issued by Lambda Legal:

Arizona lawmakers included a provision stripping domestic partner health benefits from state employees as part of a last-minute budget deal signed by Governor Jan Brewer in September, while retaining spousal health benefits for heterosexual workers . . .

“This is an issue of equal pay for equal work,” said Tara Borelli, staff attorney for Lambda Legal. “By stripping away these vital benefits from loyal state employees, the state isn’t just paying them less for the same work than their heterosexual colleagues — it’s pulling away a vital lifeline that all workers need. This is simply cruel and saves the state next to nothing.”

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Victim of Abuse Evicted for Reporting Crime Raises Questions about VAWA

Zbigniew Bzdak/ Chicago Tribune

Zbigniew Bzdak/ Chicago Tribune

Sounds a little fishy, I know. Kathy Cleaves-Milan, victim of domestic violence, called the Chicago police to report that her live-in boyfriend had obtained a gun and threatened to end both her life as well as his own. Within a few days, a representative from Aimco, the company operating the apartment complex, served Kathy with eviction paperwork claiming that the criminal activity she reported was in violation of her lease agreement. The sex discrimination doesn’t end there, however, Aimco also stated that they were seriously concerned about Kathy’s ability to afford the rent post break-up. So not only is the apartment complex in the business of disenfranchising victims of domestic violence, they also deem themselves arbiters of determining whether or not a woman is capable of affording rent without a man. Disturbing? I think so.

Kathey Cleaves-Milan, age 36, stated that, “I was punished for protecting myself and my daughter.” Although this unfortunate event occurred in September of 2007, Kathy’s attorneys are now filing a lawsuit this month arguing that her 2007 eviction was a form of sex discrimination. I think it’s probably fair to say that there is also some racism involved in this entire debacle. Kathy proved herself perfectly capable of paying the rent on her own after the incident and was left out to dry regardless. Aimco spokeswoman Cindy Duffy attempts to defend the eviction, “As the safety of our residents is our top priority, we have a zero-tolerance policy for criminal activity at our communities.” Safety for whom and at what expense? [Read more...]

Planned Parenthood Arizona Files Lawsuit Over Restrictive Abortion Laws

planned parenthood logoPlanned Parenthood of Arizona a filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the constitutionality of several provisions in the omnibus anti-abortion law that threatens women’s access to health care in Arizona. The law was signed by Governor Jan Brewer in July of this year.

“Planned Parenthood of Arizona is committed to ensuring women and families in this state have access to the comprehensive reproductive care they need,” said Bryan Howard, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona. “This law puts the health and well being of more than half of our state’s residents at risk by restricting women’s access to comprehensive care. We believe the regulations should not be put into place until the court rules on the legality of this onerous law.”

The omnibus bill is scheduled to go into effect on September 30th. However, the lawsuit was filed in state court, and Planned Parenthood Arizona has asked the court to prevent the new restrictions from going into effect while the litigation is pending. According to an e-mail that was sent out to Planned Parenthood supporters yesterday, Planned Parenthood Arizona is committed to providing affordable access to health care for women and families and will continue to do so through the litigation process.