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Left In Lowell » Women's Issues

Left In Lowell

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January 9, 2008

A Real Horserace…

by at 1:41 pm.

I was going to post about how, despite my still-heartfelt opposition to Clinton as a candidate, that we now have a real horserace, which is good for democracy and for the rest of the states who have felt left out until now. Susan says it so much better, though, stating that “I can’t help but get a feeling that the whole election/primary process is like a slate being cleaned and we are starting anew.” That’s exactly what it feels like.

I also wonder: did the totally stupid, negative weekend coverage of the Clinton “verklempt” moment really turn women to rallying for her yesterday? After all, women, as a whole, are the first to judge another woman, but they are also the first to rally around one when they are attacked unfairly. Much as I wish we were beyond this whole societal imposition of “what women should be like,” and that I think it’s a lousy way to choose a candidate (instead of looking more at whether or not she can deliver what people in this country need), the women who rallied around Clinton in NH yesterday displayed a very mature, media-savvy rejection of what has been a shameful, knuckle-dragging, caricature-driven pundit class which has made a complete ass out of itself.

In that sense, go Clinton! The more she can defy the media’s constrictions about what a female presidential candidate is or isn’t, or what she can or cannot do, the better for furthering equality for gender in general. However, it’s too bad that this phenomenon had to come to the rescue of the least progressive candidate who is the least likely to push for the reform we need in this country.

Now, the race really has gotten interesting, something us super-dooper-expealidocious Tuesday primary voters can probably really have an impact in. I might even be forced to actually endorse someone before February 5th!

Update: Kos himself had something to say on this, really quite a cogent read.

Update II: Holy crap! The delegate count shows that there is no way in Poughkeepsie you can yet make any statements about who’s going to win this thing, not even the statement “no way Edwards comes back from this.” And look at the Republican side, with Romney in the lead of pledged delegates without ever coming in first in either early state.

January 8, 2008

To Tear Up or Not To Tear Up?

by at 12:17 pm.

There’s a political debate raging everywhere, in particular on Tony’s post. Not about different health care proposals or poll bounces. Nope, it’s about whether or not Hillary Clinton really shed those tears.

For my own part, I suspect the tears were sincere, but to me it seemed more like the stress of her tailspinning campaign is getting to her and I think that may have had a hand in it.

I do sympathize with Clinton, despite the fact I do not want her as our nominee. The question she must have had to ask herself when she entered politics on her own terms is, “Do I act extra-tough because I need to prove that it doesn’t matter that I’m a woman?” But when she does, she winds up acting out of expectations for a woman (ie, people start calling her “bitchy”), therefore making her less electable or attractive (less human).

It’s a stupid, stupid world, where these questions are asked. To my mind, she should be able to be herself, whatever that is, and not have to worry about expectations of being the first woman with a real shot at the White House. But there it is. It’s a hard balancing act, and as she has taken on the mantle of “war hawk” in the Dem primary, she leaned towards “tough” instead of “feminine.” Then when she exhibits emotions, everyone leaps on her. She can’t win.

Truth to tell, this silly teargate is less important (for me, in choosing a candidate) than her actual votes in the Senate or her Establishment hawkishness or neoliberal economic policies or her taking lobbyist money. I only wish the MEDIA, and by extension the American people, were as capable of setting aside the stupid expectations of our glass-ceiling society and looking at the candidates carefully.

Maybe that’s the case. The media throws itself into a tizzy because of the tears…were they faked or calculated…is she showing her female (aka “soft”) side finally? But I think the voters in New Hampshire, and indeed in Iowa before and in the states after, know in general they are looking for “change,” and know in general that she is Old Guard. Maybe we’ll have a real democracy despite ourselves.

And the media will be left scratching its head trying to analyze it all.

June 26, 2007

MA-05: The Question That Launched a Thousand EMILYs

by at 9:50 pm.

The question that started it all at last week’s forum (the full video of which I still have yet to post, sorry, been busy looking at real estate in my spare time! but I will, I promise) in the flesh. We post, you decide.

April 30, 2007

Richardson Disappoints

by at 3:55 pm.

Although we’ve got plenty on our political plate in Lowell, with the 5th CD and the city council race, when something really telling happens in the very early ‘08 Presidential race, it should be noted. And these quotes from Richardson are highly disappointing, given his very credible foreign policy resume, and the admiration from the blogosphere, many of whom believe he’s a credible candidate:

Two recent stories illustrate the bumbling reality of Richardson’s campaign, and how it contrasts with his glowing résumé. The first concerns the Guv’s dumbass decision during last week’s debate to name Byron “Whizzer” White — one of the two dissenters in Roe v. Wade, and a dissenter from the majority in Miranda — as his model Supreme Court justice. Yet that’s not the worst part. When pressed to square his professed admiration for White with his alleged support for reproductive freedom and civil rights, Richardson made two more boners. Which one bothers you more?

A) He cited the fact that White “was an All-American football player besides being a legal scholar” as a justification for describing the often retrograde White as his model High Court member;

B) He apparently doesn’t really know or care about Roe, given that he excused his White pick by saying, “White was in the 60s. Wasn’t Roe v. Wade in the 80s?”

I can’t find another source other than the samefacts.com one for the second quote, though Mark Kleiman appears to have been liveblogging the CA Dem convention, but if true, it’s got to be numbered among the most stupid statements from a presidential candidate on our side. Richardson seriously doesn’t know when Roe was decided? And lists one of the dissenters as his model Justice but doesn’t know White’s judicial history because he thinks Roe is less than three decades old? Do I want a woman’s right to choose in the hands of someone who doesn’t even know its most basic history?

March 2, 2007

My TOL Interview with Jesse Mermell, MWPC

by at 12:31 pm.

You can hear my interview from this morning with Jesse Mermell, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus on the Community Connections website (thanks once again to Jim…wow that was fast!)

March 1, 2007

Thinking Out Loud for 3/2/2007

by at 4:52 pm.

Tomorrow we’ll be kicking off Women’s Month with a discussion about women in politics and leadership. Our invited guest is Jesse Mermell, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, which is dedicated to encouraging and helping women run for office in the state.

I promise this topic will be very relevant as we move into the rest of the month in the midst of a potential Congressional race! Future guests expected in the next few weeks include Doreen Manning, editor of the Middlesex Beat; Niki Tsongas, Dean of External Affairs at Middlesex Community College; and Lowell City Councilor Eileen Donoghue . Unless you live under a rock, you know that Donoghue and Tsongas are both known to have interest in running for Meehan’s seat should he vacate it.

You can listen live tomorrow at 10 am on 91.5 FM or online live here. We’ll try to have the archive up pretty quick as well.

October 14, 2006

Sex Offender Registry: Modern Day “Scarlet Letter”

by at 9:18 am.

I have long had serious misgivings about having a sex offender registry. I’m often alone in opposing this supposedly good-for-society public database; I understand why, but it makes me angry that people throw all sorts of logic out the window in regards to whether or not you have a right to know who every single sex offender is living in your area. I believe this insane attack on Patrick’s family is an opportunity to have a real discussion. Here’s a man who pled guilty to assaulting his wife, felt the remorse, the pain of that, and who subsequently healed and was healed by a reconciliation with his wife and now spends his time counseling others.

Yes, I am against the forced sex offender registry in Massachusetts. Before you go jumping all over me, hear me out. Set aside your gut reactions and think logically for five minutes. This post is going to be harsh, it might piss you off, but I hope it will provoke you to think about this subject in a more serious manner.

First, let me establish, for once and for all: I am a woman. I know, it’s shocking. I feel just as strong an abhorrence as the next person about sex crimes, especially against children, as you do. I imagine (and I have a huge imagination) that suffering that level of humiliation and pain at the hands of a rapist would be devastating, that it would take me years, if ever, to really recover. Or forgive. And I am not immune to the anger people feel about Foley, or any other child sex predator. So the first person to call me heartless in comments will be deleted. (Seriously.)

That said, our modern day “scarlet letter” punishment of forcing convicted sex offenders, who have served their time, to reveal their conviction publicly on a database is neither moral, nor helpful towards preventing another crime. It might serve to help in some individual cases, but overall, I believe it’s more damaging to our society and to our ability to prevent future crimes.

For one thing, rape and child molestation is never about sex. It’s about power. The perpetrator of such horrible acts is generally someone who feels so powerless, the only way they can evoke a feeling of power is to rape. They generally have been abused themselves, physically, mentally, or sexually, often as children, when they were the most vulnerable too. It’s a terrible cycle of powerlessness and violence. Understanding that is more key to stopping repeat offenders than knowing that your neighbor down the street had a rape conviction 15 years ago.

So, imagine you are a psychologically-damaged rapist (you’d have to be damaged to enjoy raping, remember), who has been in jail for years, paid your debt to society, and is now rejoining the human race. But everywhere you live, a steady stream of neighbors stare at you, watch your house, or otherwise make you feel like an outsider, constantly. How in the hell are you supposed to regain a normal sense of power in your life when you are ostrasized? Instead, it brings you further into the cycle of powerlessness/need for power, and you are just that more likely to rape/molest again.

You want to know what’ll stop rapists from raping again? A well-funded program of frequent psychological visits to overcome that damage which brought them to rape in the first place. Having police and social workers tracking their movements for as long as it takes for these offenders to stop the cycle, both to protect the public and to give the offender a framework to perhaps truly rejoin his fellow man. A public which treats them as they treat any other average stranger, not as someone they saw on a sex offense registry that they should look on with suspicion and fear.

This is not a doctrine to coddle criminals and pedophiles. It’s a tried-and-true way to stop repeat offenders, make our streets safer, and - gasp! - do it morally. Our criminal system would work best if a balance were struck between taking criminals off of streets and denying them the privilege of freedom, and follow-up evaluations and treatment to try to get at the underlying issues.

Let me put it into a simple analogy even the most obtuse can understand. Let’s say your toaster broke. You put it in the closet for a year, and then you take it out. If you expect to plug it back in and have it work without having fixed what was broken in the first place, you ought to have your head examined.

I can’t believe that I, an atheist, am out-Christianing most Christians in this country on this and other issues. (Atheists have no moral ground, right?) The rapist or molester needs as much healing as his or her victim, in order to stop inflicting damage on others. Isn’t that what Jesus would want you to do? What the hell is “turn the other cheek” than a call to understand and empathize even with the most abhorrent person, someone who would commit sexual violence against women or children? What else is it but a call to heal wounds, not to hate the sinner but to love him even when it is the hardest?

People who are for the sex registry say they feel safer knowing where all the offenders in their neighborhood are. But does this really make you safer? If a sex offender has not healed the wound on their own soul already, they are just as likely (or more so, I surmise) to rape again anyway, registry or no. Having your name on a sex offense registry regardless of how major or minor your offense was, how much remorse you feel, or how much you’ve changed, is like picking at that wound, over and over again, until it drives you to stop your own pain in some other way. Perhaps, even, by raping again.

March 27, 2006


by at 4:07 pm.

I just received an email from a friend who is gearing up for the Belle of The Ball…Here is her email text with a full explanation… (more…)

March 16, 2006

Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’…Back Fourty Years

by at 12:12 pm.

Now we finally see the true colors of far Right Republicans in writing - in Missouri, not only do they want to see Roe overturned, but Griswold v. Connecticut, the decision about personal privacy that allowed women access to birth control. The state House there has passed a motion to cease state funding for birth control and family planning.

Next, there will be some states looking to pass laws to undo a woman’s right to a vote. Or maybe minority rights. If you aren’t white, male, and straight, they really couldn’t care less about you.

[Via AMERICAblog]

February 22, 2006

It Begins…

by at 1:52 pm.

South Dakota is about to vote to ban all abortions except to protect the life of the mother.

If the bill passes a narrowly divided Senate in a vote expected on Wednesday, and is signed by Gov. Michael Rounds, a Republican who opposes abortion, advocates of abortion rights have pledged to challenge it in court immediately — and that is precisely what the bill’s supporters have in mind.

Optimistic about the recent changes on the United States Supreme Court, some abortion opponents say they have new hope that a court fight over a ban here could lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that made abortion legal around the country.

I wish I could be cavelier and say, well, if Roe v Wade goes back to the states, Massachusetts will likely be a safe haven. But if the right to control her own body is taken away from any American women, it’ll be a shame…a tragedy…a step back for women everywhere.

It begins. Remember when we said 2000, then 2004, mattered, my fellow Americans? Well, it did.

[Via Apathy and Empathy.]

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