Head of NARAL Pro-Choice America Stepping Down

Yesterday Nancy Keenan, the head of NARAL Pro-Choice America, announced that she is leaving her position at the end of this year. Keenan, who has been the president of NARAL since 2004, cited a concern for the future of the pro-choice movement as a factor in her decision: “If the pro-choice movement is to successfully defend abortion rights, Keenan contends, it needs more young people in leadership roles, including hers.”

It’s no secret that the abortion rights have come under increased attack over the past couple of years. A record number of anti-choice laws were enacted in 2011; earlier this year, controversial mandatory ultrasound laws passed in Virginia and Texas, and Arizona recently approved two incredibly restrictive anti-choice laws.

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Beyond Cowgirl Politicians

In last weekend’s New York Times’ Magazine, Rebecca Traister offered what may be the most, if not the only, constructive examination of the two female politicians who will now be forever linked by the January 8th shootings in Tuscon, Arizona.

Whether or not you believe there is any connection between the first assassination attempt ever made on an American female politician and the gun-slinging rhetoric of the first Republican woman ever nominated for the vice presidency, what’s undeniably true is that despite the vast philosophical and intellectual chasms between them, Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin have something in common: they are both cowgirl politicians. In this, they are symptomatic of the too-narrow ways in which the United States is willing to accept women as leaders.

I’m no fan of Sarah Palin, and I’m too ornery to believe that when you criticize one woman, you criticize them all, but I have to admit it was refreshing to read an article about these two women that didn’t somehow pit one against the other. It’s been such a common thread in the commentary since the shootings, much of it far more subtle than the gunsite image marking Giffords’ district on the Palin campaign’s map, that it was almost in its absence that I sensed it most.

That’s one of the reasons why I’m trying to do the same here. My first instinct was to go glass-half-empty and gripe about the ways the cowgirl politician type left real women, well, hogtied. But maybe that’s ground well-grazed. (Sorry, done now.) Though I hope this is only the first of many steps I take towards fulfilling my New Year’s resolution to improve my sometimes too-sour disposition, I will simply say that I suspect no cowgirl politician, real or iconographic, would occupy a place in the cultural imagination if the average American male did not also find the cowgirl in question sexually attractive.   [Read more...]

Did You Vote Yesterday?

voting_boothI’ll be honest – I didn’t. I didn’t know what the propositions were about, and I didn’t know who was running for city council in my area. I’ve never voted in an off-year election, mainly because I feel like I just don’t know enough about local politics. I realize that this is problematic. The right wing has done a fairly good job of stacking local governments, from the school board to the city council, with anti-choice candidates. If there had been a medical marijuana proposition on the ballot, I probably would have figured out where my polling location was.

I suspect that there are lots of potential voters out there who are just like me. I’ve voted in every presidential election since I turned 18. I just haven’t participated in the smaller elections. Part of this is because I don’t believe in voting. Don’t get me wrong – I love Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, and all of the other women who literally put their lives on the line so that women could have the right to vote. I proudly voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries last year because I was happy to support the possibility of having a woman in the White House. I just don’t get as excited about the person running for city comptroller. I’m sorry.

What about you? Did you participate in the voting process yesterday? If you did, good job of being an engaged citizen. If you didn’t vote, why not?