A Working Mother Asks: Can We Please Talk About Working Parents Instead?

Another week, another spate of stories and “debates” about motherhood and working mothers and the right age to become a mother and on and on until oh my god, is there nothing else to talk about besides the ovaries and uterus of The American Woman? What about—just for funsies—the testicles of The American Man? After all, in a whole lot of cases, women are getting pregnant by their male partners. What say The American Man about the best age to become a father, or the ideal career path that fathers should take, or the struggle between financial security and a stable family?

I understand quite well that for many years—nay, decades—women have had a unique set of issues to contend with if they wished to have both children and a career. I also understand that while those issues have shifted over the years, there are still specific challenges to being a mother that earns a paycheck, whether she works outside the house or from home. But focusing just on the challenges and questions encountered by one gender perpetuates the notion that only this one gender needs to meet these challenges and ask these questions.

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Feminists for Choice Fundraiser in NYC

On September 7, 2012, Feminists for Choice will celebrate New York’s historic role in protecting women’s reproductive rights at a happy hour fundraiser for the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF). With the Republican National Committee drafting what committee member Russ Walker boasts is “the most conservative platform in modern history”–a document that promises more rights to a zygote in a petri dish than to the living, breathing, thinking woman who might hope to carry that zygote to term–there’s no better time to support the grass roots efforts of the NYAAF to ensure that New York remains the safe haven for women it has been for generations.

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In Memoriam: Dr. Jean Pakter

Image courtesy The New York Times

Earlier this week, women’s health advocate Jean Pakter passed away in New York at age 101. The Manhattan born-and-bred physician began working for the city in the 1950s, and was the head of the bureau of maternity services and family planning for the city’s health department from 1960 to 1982.

Jean Pakter’s research and advocacy work helped create a safer, healthier society – not just for women and children, but for families. [Read more...]

Occupy Wall Street and Feminism

As the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to gain traction both in New York City and around the country, one question keeps popping up: is this a feminist movement? After all, in its energy, audacity, and sense of limitless possibility, OWS is reminiscent of the feminist movement some forty years ago.

On the Ms. Blog, Daphne Muller argues that OWS is indeed a feminist fight. “I realized that Occupy Wall Street is galvanizing because the ire is feminist, anti-colonialist, anti-racist and anti-patriarchal,” she writes, adding that Code Pink was very visible at the New York protest site that she visited. But while she praises the diversity on display at Liberty Plaza, Muller does acknowledge that men have dominated both intra-movement discussions and mainstream media representation.

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Demanding Justice for Rape Survivors

I just returned from the rally to demand justice for rape survivors and maximum sentencing for NYPD rape cops Mata and Moreno. What an inspiring event with an amazing turnout — dozens of men and women gathered to lend their support.

Unfortunately, the defense attorneys filed a motion to delay sentencing, so it has been pushed back one month. Nevertheless, we all stood together in solidarity and demanded an end to all violence against women, including rape, and for accountability of these crimes. Members of the Connect the Dots Coalition (including NOW-NYC, Crime Victims Treatment Center, Feministing, The Healing Center, New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault and Service Women’s Action Network) were all present and spoke, as did NYC Council members, among others.

The message was clear: we will, under no circumstances, stand by as women and girls are raped, harassed and brutalized, especially at the hands of law enforcement. We are going to continue fighting until the city and the NYPD take rape seriously. As one speaker so eloquently put it, we challenge the NYPD to win back our trust and we challenge the judge to deliver justice. We demand an end to victim blaming and an environment in which victims are afraid to come forward, lest they be treated like the brave victim who reported her rape by NYPD officers. We will accept nothing less.

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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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Teenagers, Birth Control, and the Eternal Wisdom of Donna Martin

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article examining the city’s high abortion rate: 41 percent of all pregnancies in New York City end in abortion. Several possible explanations were mentioned, including the absence of mandatory sex education in the city’s public schools and young people’s lack of knowledge about where to get affordable birth control.

The focus on teenagers was interesting, particularly in light of an overall decrease in the number of teenage parents. In New York, the number of teenagers having children has fallen by almost 40 percent since 1996; the number of abortions has decreased by more than 16 percent. These statistics reflect national trends; according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the teen birth rate declined by 6% in 2009 and is now at a “record low.” [Read more...]

Stonewall Inn: A Legacy

Many people are familiar with the infamous 1969 Stonewall riots, the “shot heard round the world” of the gay-rights movement. Many are unaware, however of the history behind the location now seen as the first national monument of significance to the gay community.

After opening in 1967, the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village bar, was soon the largest gay establishment in the country. Although New York City attracted a rapidly-growing community of homosexuals, at the time there were very few places where particularly gay men, could congregate and socialize without facing police harassment. That is where Stonewall came in.

The bar’s main attraction was its dance floor, and gay men from all over the New York came to the bar seeking a safe place to dance and socialize with one another. “It catered largely to a group of people who are not welcome in, or cannot afford, other places of homosexual social gathering…The Stonewall became home to these kids. When it was raided, they fought for it (Mattachine Society).” [Read more...]

New York City to cut vital services to working families.

Roughly 15 New York City childcare centers are scheduled to close as of July 10th. On April 21st, thousands of parents and advocates marched across the Brooklyn Bridge in protest.

NYC officials claim that the areas where the closings will take place are no longer in need of as many services for low-income families. However, Jerry Chiappetta, Executive Director of the Court St. Day Care Center in Cobble Hill, says that he was told his center would be closing because of high operational costs, including rent and maintenance.

The official’s argument ignores the fact that many who cannot afford to live in these areas are in fact the ones working in the areas, and many utilize childcare in the area where they work, rather than where they live. Chiappetta says that although the make-up of the neighborhood has changed, those his center serves has not.

Parents and directors are frustrated and widely believe that condos will be built in place of the current centers. Ten of the fifteen centers scheduled to close are in “up and coming” areas such a Cobble Hill and Prospect Heights. [Read more...]