Record Number of Women Sworn in to 113th Congress

Let’s start the new year off with some good news!

Newly elected members of the 113th Congress will be sworn in today, including a record number of 20 women Senators. In fact, the new Congress is the most diverse in history, in terms of race, gender, sexuality and religion. This infographic from Think Progress highlights the diversity within the new Congress. (It also serves as a good reminder that our socially constructed identities of race, gender, sexual orientation, age and faith aren’t mutually exclusive. After all, the category of “women” includes all of the above, and vice versa.)

Also check out this Washington Post photo series of our newly elected female Senators.

Happy New Year 2013!

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I support Question 6!

Early voting in Maryland ends tomorrow, Nov. 2.

Vote early from 8a.m. to 9p.m. and support Questions 4 (state Dream Act) and Question 6 (marriage equality)!

Click here for a list of early voting locations in the state. Happy Voting!

No One Wins a (Tug-of) War on Women: From Uteri to Personhood, Why Feminists Must Reframe the Debate

Yesterday, Fem2pt0 published a piece that I co-authored with my colleagues at Feminist Friends!

Click here to read the article, “No One Wins a (Tug-of) War on Women: From Uteri to Personhood, Why Feminists Must Reframe the Debate.”

We worked collaboratively on the piece for months through many edits and interviews with Maternity Care Coalition, a reproductive health organization in Philadelphia, and Steph Herold, founder of IamDrTiller.com. The response has been positive and we at Feminist Friends couldn’t be more excited.

Let us know what you think on Twitter (@FeministFriends) and be sure to follow us!

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My newest post on Rep. Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin for Rhyme et Reason.

Rhyme et Reason

Just when I thought 2012 couldn’t get any worse in the right-wing attacks on women’s bodily autonomy, Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri proves that we haven’t hit rock-bottom of the GOP’s misogyny.

How can you top transvaginal ultrasounds and upstage Rush Limbaugh? Easy! Let’s recap what happened on Sunday when Akin “misspoke” and blatantly spread the false, unscientific garbage that: 1. a woman’s uterus has the magical power to shut down a rapist’s sperm so she doesn’t become pregnant; and 2. rape, by Akin’s definition, only exists and is “legitimate” if there’s a penis involved.

I laughed and tweeted about my newly discovered magical uterus and its secret powers, but all jokes aside, Akin’s comments are shockingly medieval. Not only do his comments place the burden and onus of preventing rape on women, they also insinuate that a uterus – a fist-sized muscular organ – can instinctively react to…

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Gender Gap in the 2012 Election Coverage

Dismal news from the 4th Estate.

Read The Washington Post’s story on this.

Today on Capitol Hill: Trading women’s autonomy for D.C.’s

The House subcommittee on the Constitution is holding a hearing today without the presence of the city’s elected Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton, on a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy in the District of Columbia. Oh, you know, just another day on Capitol Hill!

Based on similar bills modeled and promoted by the National Right to Life Committee, the bill introduced earlier this year by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) is a standalone bill in legislative talks that would grant D.C. autonomy over its budget. The bill – “District of Columbia Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” – is based upon the disputed claim that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks gestation or older. Although the AP reports the bill has no chance becoming law this year, six states have passed similar legislation.

In case you’re confused about what this debate is really about – fetal pain? D.C. budget autonomy? abortion? – let me save you the mental frustration. Republicans are trading D.C. women’s autonomy over their bodies and healthcare decisions for the city’s budget autonomy. Their asking price is a restriction on D.C. women’s healthcare and constitutional right to abortion. I’m sick and tired of the continual attacks on our healthcare and reproductive rights. And I’m sick of the undemocratic, oppressive tactic of baiting one group of Americans’ rights against another. Enough! On the Rachel Maddow Show last night, Holmes Norton forcefully called the bill out as a bullying tactic. Well done, Rep. Holmes Norton.

Follow the money. Support the Fair Elections Now Act.

Sitting in a university auditorium on a Saturday morning for a Young Democrat convention and listening to one Maryland Democratic lawmaker after another gush about how much the party has accomplished, how great and beautiful the state is, and how I need to help re-elect Obama and Ben Cardin can be tiring. I also think it’s preaching to the choir – do I really have to be reminded of how awesome it is to live in Maryland when I read about what’s been going on in Virginia? Or how important it is to re-elect Obama? I don’t think so. Thank you, enthusiastic Democratic state delegate! Moving on…

So, I sat up a little straighter in my seat when Congressman John Sarbanes (District 3) began to talk about public financing for campaigns and the Fair Elections Now Act. Campaign financing has been a hot topic of conversation for months in the 2012 presidential primary, with the rise of super PACs (political action committees), the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and the influence of billionaires like Foster Friess and Sheldon Adelson. All of these elements have created a perfect storm of unprecedented monied influence in the Romney, Santorum and Gingrich campaigns. According to The Washington Post, five donors accounted for 25 percent of the money that flowed into the presidential race in January. The filthy rich men who infuse the presidential race with millions are casino owners (Adelson), hedge funders, corporate raiders, homebuilders and businessmen (PayPal’s Peter Thiel). And when these “kingmakers” are dumping buckets of money into Republican presidential campaigns, they sometimes feel free to give their political opinion on women’s healthcare (see: Foster Friess’ aspirin between the knees). The only time super PACs are laughable is when I watch The Colbert Report.

Back to the Fair Elections Now Act, which Sarbanes co-sponsors and models in his own re-election bid for his fourth term in the House of Representatives. The bill would allow federal candidates to choose to run for office without relying on donations from lobbyists and large contributions from big money. Candidates would have to raise a large amount of small donations from their communities in order to qualify for Fair Elections funding.

For example, Sarbanes would have to collect 1,500 contributions from Marylanders and raise a total of $50,000 in order to qualify. He would then receive $900,000 in Fair Election funding with 40 percent of the money split for the primary and 60 percent for the general election. The Fair Elections fund would also continue to match small donations raised by him and other House and Senate candidates.

The novel idea of the Fair Elections Now Act is that by publicly financing House and Senate campaigns, candidates would be freed from constant fundraising and could spend more time focusing on what their constituents need. (Yes, our elected officials could truly have the chance to be public servants. Amazing!) By focusing on small, grassroots donations, it makes the candidate more accountable to the voter, who wields more influence than usual with his/her $5 or $20 campaign contribution, because the candidate needs it and the person’s vote. It’s a model that more politicians should be using. And it’s refreshing and admirable to hear a Maryland Congressman put his money where his mouth is.

There are a few things we can do to support the Fair Elections Now Act. Let’s take back our collective power as voters and make public financing of political campaigns the norm in our communities.