NOW Issue Advisory: Research Needed for ME/CFS

By Kathryn Gimborys, NOW Public Policy Intern, with contributions from Rivka Solomon and Emily Taylor, of Solve ME/CFS Initiative, May 10, 2017

On the Existence of Rape Culture

by Elleanor Chin, Vice President of the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Women 

“If you disagree, I’d love to hear your thoughts”

So says David Lickey, public high school teacher in Portland Oregon. He says this in a letter he distributed to staff and the students, attacking the notion that rape culture exists, and propagating false and misleading statements about sexual assault.

Okay, Mr. Lickey, here goes. (And this is for Mr. Lickey because he brought it up, but it applies to Mr. Johnson or Mr. Russell or any of thousands of others.) As a fellow once said, “if you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.” First, Google “Rehtaeh Parsons”. You’ll need a strong stomach. Then, search “Steubenville Alayna 2015”. It sounds like you need the internet to recognize “Brock Turner” as well.

You do all that? Good. Now, a key part of the premise in your May 2, 2017 letter is rape culture is a doubtful premise because you don’t know any rapists (or don’t realize you do). All the men and boys you know agree rape is horrible. Setting aside whether your anecdotal understanding should be the benchmark, you now know of some rapists. Those internet searches will show you the pride of their respective communities, young men who thought it was totally fine to penetrate a woman who was incapable of consent, some more violently than others. If you think any of those events were actually okay – healthy sexual self-expression of young people- then we may be done talking. And I’ll hope none of the hundreds of vulnerable young women you teach have ever come to you scared, or hurt.

Next some facts: you assert rape is committed by a small cohort of violent social outliers. This myth has been disproved so thoroughly for so long, I had to read carefully to see if you were being facetious. Sexual offenses are most commonly committed by men that women not only know, but have existing relationships with: friends, husbands, boyfriends, fathers, and yes – high school teachers (look up that business teacher in Billings).

I don’t know you. I looked you up on the internet. Pictures from 2013 show a fit-looking man with silver hair and an engaging smile. If we met, we might enjoy conversation about being liberals and history geeks. I might never suspect you of being a man to use his power and access to an impressionable audience to demean women and undermine their credibility as individuals, and in the aggregate.

You have the ability to get your personal views out to hundreds of people who view you as an authority figure. You chose to package your ignorance, bounded by your limited personal experience, as dispassionate, measured fact. From there you moved on to suggest that somehow men and boys are the true victims, being treated as monolithic perpetrators of a misogyny that doesn’t exist because in the circles you move, men make themselves emotionally vulnerable in their intimate partnerships.

You have declared your experience, the life of an educated (and dare I guess, white and heterosexual) man, respected in your profession, the arbiter of the validity of everyone else’s lives. All of us are wrong, and have to be educated about the misconceptions of an “ill-defined” concept: every girl who has ever been groped or wolf-whistled on the street, every woman who has been told to walk to her car with her keys in her fingers, every woman who has been threatened in the most violent explicit terms by strangers when they set virtual foot on the internet. You elevated the legitimacy of David Lickey’s life experience over that of each of us who has listened to a man in our family laugh and say “makes you want to go rape someone right now” – when the Take Back the Night march goes by the house. You don’t know anyone like that? Lucky you. You have two choices. You can believe me when I say that I do, or you can decide I must be lying, for the simple reason that I’m not you.

What you missed about the concept of rape culture is: it’s descriptive. We don’t have to “do” anything to formulate it. It is the name we give to how we walk in the world, like it or not.

You say you know no rapists. You’re a high school teacher. You know bright, aggressive, charming young men. The statistics on men who will actually admit to sexual imposition on women means it’s mathematically unlikely you know no rapists. You did not proclaim in your letter whether you know any victims. If you have ever once in your life heard a woman described as “damaged goods,” while a man is lauded for “scoring,” you’ve seen rape culture, live and in the field. Do you know for sure not a single woman of your acquaintance has gone home after a “date” and spent an hour taking a shower and crying? Would they tell you if they had?

​You’re probably having a bad few days. You’ll either learn from it, or identify as a victim (I’m not sure how your belief in the marketplace of ideas fits in with that). I’ll have a drink with you and talk about American history, or chat some more about how we disagree. Coffee or beer. You pick, my treat. If it’s a beer, I’m sure no one will tell you that you have to keep your hand on it the Whole. Time. (just in case).

NOW Launches National Action Campaign

With women’s rights facing more severe threats than we have seen in decades, NOW is fighting back. We are standing up for the rights and well being of all women, in all our diversity and in all communities. We are showing up for our allies in Muslim communities, in immigrant communities, in LGBTQIA communities. We have a message for Donald Trump and every politician enabling his white male supremacist agenda: We are leading societal change and promoting feminist ideals — and you need to get out of our way.

I am thrilled to let you know that today we are launching NOW’s expanded National Action Program. This program encompasses five action campaigns that not only defend the gains we have made, but also work pro-actively to achieve real equality for women and girls.

  • Our campaign to Mobilize for Reproductive Justice will work to defeat Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and we will fight to defeat Trump’s Alternative Health Care Act (Trumpcare), which would defund Planned Parenthood, drastically cut maternity care coverage, and imperil access to birth control. We will also promote pro-active bills like the EACH Woman Act to guarantee full coverage of abortion care in all plans including Medicaid–thus permanently repealing the Hyde Amendment–and the Women’s Health Protection Act to stop states from using deceptive legislation to shutter abortion clinics.
  • Through our campaign to End the Sex Abuse to Prison Pipeline, we will urge the Title IX coordinators in middle and high schools around the country to ensure that students who are survivors of sexual assault receive the wraparound services they need in order to stay in school, recover from their trauma, and thrive. Survivors in far too many public schools, especially girls of color and LGBTQIA students, face penalties, punishment, and school pushout instead of the trauma-informed services they need.
  • Our campaign to Advance Voting Rights recognizes and responds to the impacts on women in communities targeted by right-wing voter suppression schemes. We will work with our allies in the civil and human rights communities to overturn measures like racial gerrymandering, voter ID laws, and voter purges. And we will work with our civic engagement allies to encourage women of color not only to vote, but also to run for public office and for leadership roles in their political parties.
  • Our renewed campaign to Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment includes working for ratification of the 1972 ERA by three more states (to meet the constitutional requirement that three-fourths of the states ratify a proposed amendment), as well as supporting a start-over strategy for a new ERA, and engaging younger women and girls in the struggle for women’s constitutional equality. In this effort, NOW is committed to an inclusive and intersectional ERA interpretation that includes equitable access to all aspects of reproductive health care, and centers marginalized people including LGBTQIA individuals, immigrants, women of color, and women with disabilities.
  • Finally, our campaign to Protect Immigrant Rights will work with our allies in the immigrant rights community to oppose Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban and to stop the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s abusive raids, detentions, and deportations that tear families apart. We will in particular work to keep restaurant workers safe from abusive enforcement tactics, knowing that the restaurant industry employs over one million undocumented workers, second only to the construction industry.

NOW’s national action program will propose concrete actions our local chapters, state organizations, members and activists can take, as well as anyone in the general public interested in addressing such issues, along with resources and platforms for engagement. The program will also grow and evolve as we respond in very real-time to the harmful and discriminatory actions of Donald Trump’s administration.

As NOW members and leaders, your role is central to our success. The tools created by the NA Program are intended to be helpful for you as you engage your communities, and your representatives, both locally and nationally. We want to hear from you: your successes, your challenges. How can we better support and equip you to do this important work? This program will strive to increase engagement at all levels of NOW–from the local to the national–and to build unity among our thousands of dedicated grassroots activists across the country.

This is undeniably a challenging time for all of us. But we have been so inspired by the millions of people who have already stood up and committed themselves to resistance just in the last few months. Let’s build on this momentum and make sure this current administration knows we are here, we are watching them, and we are prepared to take the necessary action to defend our rights–and especially the rights of the most marginalized across this country.

“The Rise In Transgender Homicides Is A National Crisis”

Statement by NOW President Terry O’Neill

March 9, 2017

Washington, DC – The numbers are horrifying, but they don’t tell the whole story.

In one week alone, four transgender black women were murdered in the United States. So far this year, there have been seven murders of transgender people, well above last year’s figure. And 2016 saw the murder of 23 transgender and gender nonconforming people, the highest ever recorded by groups that monitor this violence.

Beyond these shocking statistics are real people, parts of vibrant communities, people who are loved and treasured and who are targeted because of their gender identity. Now, those hate-fueled perpetrators see a national climate of rising intolerance against transgender people, with a disregard for their safety and human rights that starts at the very top.

Donald Trump’s decision to rescind President Barack Obama’s guidance on protections for transgender school children, along with the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear what would have been the Court’s first case involving transgender rights, compels us to redouble our efforts to end the culture of violence and the culture of sexism that’s seen such an alarming rise in recent months.

The rise in transgender homicides is a national emergency, but so is the federal government’s abandonment of its constitutional obligation to protect and defend the rights of all citizens, regardless of gender identity. NOW stands with the transgender community and will work tirelessly to support their freedom in the current climate of discrimination, prejudice and violence.

For Press Inquiries Contact

M.E. Ficarra, press@now.org, (951) 547-1241

View this statement online by clicking here.

GOP Health Plan Puts Women’s Health and Lives At Risk

Statement (Press Release) by NOW President Terry O’Neill

03.07.2017
The Republicans have finally revealed their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Their plan could hardly be worse for women.

The Republican crusade against women’s health care, as laid out in this plan, is truly shocking. Depending on the state you live in, maternity care coverage could be unavailable or prohibitively expensive. In all states, abortion care coverage would be all but eliminated and Planned Parenthood would be defunded, possibly forcing it to close clinics and/or curtail services, leaving millions of women without a trusted provider of birth control, STD screening and treatment, breast exams, and cervical cancer screenings.

We know what happens when women don’t have access to reproductive health services — maternal mortality, maternal morbidity, and infant mortality rates go up.

NOW maintains that health care is a basic human right, not a privilege — and that women are no less entitled than men to have affordable access to the full range of health services they need, when they need them. NOW is mobilizing across the country to stop this dangerous bill. Going forward, we will do all we can to defeat any lawmaker–Republican or Democrat–who supports endangering women’s health and lives by blocking their access to care.

Contact

M.E. Ficarra , press@now.org , 951-547-1241

http://now.org/media-center/press-release/gop-health-plan-puts-womens-health-and-lives-at-risk/

With #MuslimBan2.0, Donald Trump doubles down on cruelty and prejudice

Statement by NOW President Terry O’Neill

03.07.2017
Donald Trump made changes at the margins of his infamous Muslim ban, but with #MuslimBan2.0 he is doubling down on its cruelty and prejudice.

The new order is still a Muslim ban, it still does nothing to keep Americans safe, and it still puts tens of thousands of refugee families at risk. The United Nations says that the revised travel ban will increase danger to the world’s refugees, with families fleeing deadly violence who once had hope of being allowed to emigrate left in perilous refugee camps.

This is the image that Donald Trump is projecting to the world—the heavy hand of U.S. government officials extinguishing the promise of welcome that has always been the bedrock of our country’s values. NOW stands in solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers, and we will work with our allies in opposing this unconstitutional and morally repugnant executive order.

Contact

M.E. Ficarra , press@now.org , 951-547-1241

http://now.org/media-center/press-release/with-muslimban2-0-donald-trump-doubles-down-on-cruelty-and-prejudice/

Abortion and Feminism

Letter to the Editor, NY Times 04 March 2017

By Terry O’Neill, President, National Organization for Women

To the Editor:

Re “Pro-Life, but Left Out,” by Lauren Enriquez (Op-Ed, Feb. 27):

Lauren Enriquez used a suspect Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll to support a shaky critique of the Women’s March on Washington for failing to include an anti-abortion message.

Contrary to the data she cited, a recent Pew Research Center poll concluded that public support for legal abortion was 57 percent, as high as it has been in two decades.

More significantly, a 2015 survey reported overwhelming majorities believe that when a woman has decided to have an abortion, her experience should be: informed by medically accurate information (94 percent), safe (93 percent), without pressure (73 percent), affordable and available in her community (72 percent), and without shame (68 percent).

The Women’s March on Washington was a positive affirmation of women’s rights as human rights, including the right of each of us to make our own informed health care decisions. The march celebrated the millions of women, immigrants, Muslims and others who had been insulted, demonized and threatened by vicious rhetoric in the recent election.

I can’t think of a more inclusive message.

TERRY O’NEILL, WASHINGTON

The writer is president of the National Organization for Women.

NOW Rallying Cheer!

The Herstory-We were taught this song by our chapter leaders when we joined our  NOW chapter in 1989 I believe it was written after we lost the ERA. I don’t know who wrote the original words but I am most grateful she did. Please take up the challenge! Make and post your own version on YOuTube and Facebook! – Toni Van Pelt, Florida NOW

(2017 version of a NOW Rallying Cheer)

(sung to the tune of Hey Look Me Over)
song enthusiastically, if not in tune, by 
Sheila Jaffe, Toni Van Pelt and Joyce Smookler
Feb. 05, 2017 in Palm Beach, Florida
The Words
You screwed us over you’re going to pay.
We’re going to get you, come election day.
So don’t count your votes, boys, don’t feel secure.
We’re going to get you in the end… of this you can be sure.
We are here by the millions and you know it’s true.
Hang onto your hats, boys, we’re coming after you.
Here is the lesson we learned this year, on this you can rely
When we’re screwed we multiply!