Category Archives: women

A few words for concern trolls and boo birds about the Women’s March

A word or two for the concern trolls and boo birds regarding the Women’s March…

First, to the Trumpers: Hurling epithets is outdated. While terms like “libtard, buttercup, snowflake, or femi-nazi” may induce chortles from the bar buddies saturated with hate radio talking points, times have changed.  There’s a point at which formal policy is secondary to cultural acceptability.  And, no, it’s no longer socially acceptable to grab and grope the women. Actually, in polite society it never was. There are fewer judges willing to adopt the boys will be boys, or the she must have been asking for it, mode and when they do they make undeniably negative headlines. What might have been socially comprehensible 50 years ago is unacceptable today — in part because women have simply stopped putting up with it, in part because no brother, uncle, father, or husband wants his female relatives to put up with it.

Secondly,  to the concern trolls who pontificate that the March won’t be effective because…it doesn’t have a precisely focused agenda, it encompasses too many divergent interests, it doesn’t have the right people saying all the right words…

Let’s start with the obvious proposition that there is no magic formula for effective social action. Nor is there any single organizational structure that guarantees efficiency and instant rewards.

For example, consider the unfocused agenda argument.  This presumes that the protesters must have a single issue or a specific agenda. Issue organizations which develop agendas have to start somewhere,  and that somewhere is networking.  The Occupy movement was pronounced ineffective because it didn’t generate specific policy proposals and attendant lobbying.  This critique is roughly analogous to arguing that all fires should be lit with a blow torch, because it’s far more efficient than putting a match to kindling.

We won’t know for some time how much local networking was accomplished during that protest. It won’t be immediately  apparent how that networking will play out in single issues and focused agendas to come. We’ll not know how many interconnected individual snowflakes will come together at some point to create an avalanche.

We might move along to the marches don’t work anymore argument, too often premised on the notion that if it isn’t the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice it isn’t worth consideration.

Again, those looking for instant gratification as the measure of social activism will forever be disappointed. The point of the Women’s March, as I understand it, isn’t to drive the Orange Foolious from the District of Columbia taking his myrmidons with him, but to direct national attention to the rights and needs of women in this country.

Then there is the ripple effect. Women who participate in the Washington March and those who engage in the satellite marches,  will go home and from thence come more measurable results.  Those who participated in these activities we can assume will be more likely to contact their congressional representatives, more likely to write or call senators, more likely to organize local issues, or even more likely to run for offices.

Newton’s First Law, abbreviated, an object in motion will stay in motion until it encounters another force. The motion is just beginning.

 

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Filed under Politics, women, Women's Issues

It’s Not 1950 Anymore

Women Workplace Back in the day, those days of uncompromising conformity, women weren’t in the workforce in large numbers. They had been. They were home now, advised by various and sundry home & shelter magazines to “make way for the boys coming home” from World War II.  Conventional wisdom said that nice girls got jobs in secretarial occupations, teaching (mostly elementary), nursing (not so much as physicians), and domestic service.  There were the outliers – the women who wanted to be accountants not simply bookkeepers; the women who wanted to design kitchens not merely cook in them; the women who wanted to be engineers crafting plans for automobiles not just driving the kids to Scout meetings.  However, for too long they remained the outliers.

Job interviews until relatively recently allowed men (who did the hiring) to ask women (who wanted the jobs) to ask about the applicant’s love life – the real question being “How long are you going to be with us before you get married and quit?”  Or, “…until you get in a ‘family way’ and we ‘have to let you go’.”

In a way the 1950’s Rules of the Gender Game were as deleterious to men as to women.  The entire onus of family expenses in white suburbs was on the man.  The ‘little woman’ could work for some ‘pocket money’ but this wasn’t considered completely within the Rules.  It was expected in white circles that African American women would work, after all “they had to,” – but again, not as the doctor, but as the nurse; not as the architect but as the cook.  It was all very domestic.

It was all completely phony.  How did so many women acquire basic  bookkeeping skills? Quite often They were keeping the household accounts.  Clean, launder, cook, and keep track of the mortgage and car payments; make sure the charge accounts were paid and the Green Stamps collected in the books for redemption.

It was all economically counterproductive.  How many elements of technological progress were delayed because a qualified women was passed over in favor of a less qualified man?  How many companies suffered because men were promoted and paid more than many over-qualified women, resulting in less overall productivity?

It was all potentially dangerous.

While the economic onus was placed on the male, the sexual issues came down on the female.  It was her place to “control herself.”  Boys would be boys, after all they just  “sowed wild oats,” but the young ladies – it, nay, IT, was her fault.  She wanted IT. She asked for IT. She deserved IT.  She dressed for IT. She didn’t resist IT. She was in the wrong place, the wrong time, doing the wrong thing and “that’s what happens.”

So, if he lurked around the water cooler making cracks about the fit of her sweater over the bra designed to define and shape the bust…that was also “what happens.”   If he didn’t mind a bit if she bent over to retrieve a file folder… If he wasn’t “really serious” if she showed a bit of cleavage, then she shouldn’t mind either. After all, department store catalogs of the era advised women how to dress to “please the husband,” or to attract one.

If the tenor of the times made the sopranos uncomfortable, gee, it couldn’t be more uncomfortable than those girdles with the hosiery clips attached?  Indeed, most men did treat their wives with respect, their children with courtesy, and their friends wives with civility.  However, that didn’t prevent  or indeed even much shame the troglodytes who delighted in patting fannies and snapping bras.  This activity didn’t go un-noticed but it wasn’t enough to make a ‘real’ man feel discouraged.  And that’s the point.

It isn’t 1950 anymore.  It’s no longer acceptable to opine sourly but quietly that Dodgy Roger at the garage is hassling the women in the office; Dodgy is going to find himself on the wrong end of an HR complaint.  It’s no longer acceptable to ignore Jumpy John’s continual disparagement of his female cohorts … it’s another route to an EEOC investigation.  It’s no longer acceptable to say “that’s his private business,” when men engage in obscenities and vulgarities in the workplace. It’s not business and if it’s in the workplace it’s not private.

The hard fact of life for vulgarian men is that while the general atmosphere of the 1950s allowed men to avoid some of the more quotidian consequences of unseemly behavior – boorishness and obscenity have never really been socially acceptable. To believe that they once were is to indulge in a fantasy past that never truly defined a reality; they are left with residuals which still make life more difficult for women.

To engage that fantasy is to forget that even in the 1950s invitations to a backyard picnic dwindled if the boor didn’t mend his ways; social interactions at church, in public, and in private diminished as the unacceptable behavior increased.   The difference sixty six years later is that real men do understand the meaning of ‘consent,’ and that real men are less accepting of marginal behavior.   Real women are less likely to remain quiet about sexual harassment and assaults, although they are still vilified for speaking out as if the entire burden of proper behavior is still attached to them.

She should have reported it. She should have reported it sooner. She should have reported it to more than family and friends. She should have reported it to the police. She should have …. When the real question should be: Why did HE do it in the first place?

So, no, it’s not 1950 anymore.  1950 wasn’t even what some contemporary boors imagine it to be.  Perhaps the best we can do is continually remind the boorish vulgarians among us that while progress has been made and there’s little room in contemporary society for their antics, we still have a ways to go.

We still have some distance to cover to remove ourselves from the make way for the boys mentality, the admonitions of the catalog sales department that a well fitting sweater could please him or attract him; from the uninformed attitudes that boys should be given more latitude than girls in matters of manners and morality.   I agree with the First Lady, it seems unconscionable that we’re still talking about the basics of human civility.

One of the most interesting questions surrounding our current election season is if we, as a society, are as willing to confront the agents of social aggression as we are to confront foreign acts of aggression?

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Filed under women, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Wage Discrimination is an Economic, not just family, Issue

Rosie Riveter

Consider the following report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research:

“Women are almost half of the workforce. They are the equal, if not main, breadwinner in four out of ten families. They receive more college and graduate degrees than men. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. In 2015, female full-time workers made only 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 21 percent. Women, on average, earn less than men in virtually every single occupation for which there is sufficient earnings data for both men and women to calculate an earnings ratio.”

DB’s ranted on about this before: (2013)

“Women are having a tough time in the present economy, and the situation isn’t made any better by the wage gap.  NPWF reports: ” In Nevada, on average, a woman who holds a full-time job is paid $35,484 per year while a man who holds a full-time job is paid $41,803 per year. ” (pdf)  This has some very real economic consequences for the state since 125,402 households in Nevada are headed by women. In 32,479 of those households the income is below the poverty line.  Thus 25.89% of those households are barely getting by.”

And on the GOP filibuster of the Paycheck Fairness Act (2014).  However, it really is necessary to broaden the discussion – equal pay for equal work is not just a “woman’s issue,” nor is it a “family issue.” It’s an economic issue.

Once more, let’s look at the reality of what happens when men and women aren’t paid equally for equal work.

In the state of Nevada right now, the average annual wage for a food service manager is $62,160. Pay ranges from $18.51 per hour to $46.97 per hour with a mean wage of $29.89/hr. [NDETR calc]  Let’s keep all the variables such as experience, tenure, and specialization, the same, and concentrate solely on what would happen if two people of the same level of experience, expertise, and skills were to be paid based on gender.  Let’s have our hypothetical male food service manager paid the annual average of $62,160 per year.  This means that our hypothetical female food service manager would receive 79% of that, or $49,106.

If both our male and female food service managers were being paid $62,160 per year, and if both were in the same household then the household income would be $124,320.  Now, here’s why this is an economic issue and not merely a “gender” one.

If our male and female food service managers are paid along the lines of the 79 cents for every dollar that holds nationally, then the total household income is reduced.  That $124,320 in total household income drops to $112,266, a reduction in income of $12,054.

That $12,054 is money NOT spent at the grocery store, or at the furniture store, or the clothing store, or at the restaurant, or the automobile dealership, or the carpet center, or the movie theater. It is NOT spent on educational expenses, books, and Internet service. It is NOT spent on sporting goods, family entertainment, or automobile parts and service.  It is NOT spent at the florists’ shop, or the cabinet-maker’s store, or the barber shop, or the beauty salon.  It can’t be spent because they don’t have it.

The only way to avoid talking about this simple arithmetic is to prattle on about “Job Creators” and the Trickle Down Economics Hoax. “Supply side economics” is a theory in search of statistics – it doesn’t work in the real world, and it never has.   If there is no demand for goods or for a service, there will be no jobs created.  And, there will be no demand IF people don’t have the money to spend for those goods and services.

Once more, here’s the First Law of Personnel Management:

First Law Personnel ManagementHow are businesses in this country supposed to SUSTAIN demand for goods and services if the female employees in the country, who are doing the same jobs as their male counterparts, aren’t able to contribute the same amount to the family’s disposable income?

So, tell me, how do we grow the economy of the United States of America, an economy based in no small part of consumer spending, if we artificially limit the amount of income contributed to family coffers by women?

There are 123 million women ages 16 and above in the United States, and 72 million (58.6%) are working or looking for work. Women are now 47% of the total U.S. labor force, and they are projected to account for 51% of the increase in the total labor force between 2008 and 2018.  73% of employed women are working full time, while 27% are employed on a part time basis. [DoL]

We are no longer talking about the “little woman” working outside the home for some ‘pocket money.”  We are talking about two-income families, both incomes being necessary to move toward the middle class life style or to maintain it.   If a family of four, with an annual income of $112,266 lives in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, their income is comparable to 56% of those adults in that area. That’s the middle. [Pew Calculator] Diminish the second income and we diminish the whole.

Diminish the whole and we diminish the potential for economic growth.  Equal pay for equal work is simply dollars toward a stronger economy and old fashioned common sense.

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Filed under Economy, labor, Nevada economy, Politics, sexism, women, Women's Issues

Ladies’ Day: Supreme Court Decision in Texas TRAP law case

Whole Women's Health

The slip opinion is available here in PDF.  Dissents centered on the issue of res judicata, the idea that once a question is litigated it can’t be re-litigated, however the majority ruling says,

“Changed circumstances showing that a constitutional harm is concrete may give rise to a new claim. Abbott rested upon facts and evidence presented before enforcement of the admitting-privileges requirement began, when it was unclear how clinics would be affected. This case rests upon later, concrete factual developments that occurred once enforcement started and a significant number of clinics closed.”

In dissent, Justice Thomas is having none of this —

“This suit is possible only because the Court has allowed abortion clinics and physicians to invoke a putative constitutional right that does not belong to them—a woman’s right to abortion.

Above all, the Court has been especially forgiving of third-party standing criteria for one particular category of cases: those involving the purported substantive due process right of a woman to abort her unborn child.

There are no “insurmountable” obstacles stopping women seeking abortions from asserting their own rights, the plurality admitted. Nor are there jurisdictional barriers.”

Notice, that for Justice Thomas the right to select a medical procedure is “putative,” and “purported.”  Nor should clinics, facilities, and physicians assert the claim that women have the right to obtain services (such as abortions) from them.  By Justice Thomas’s lights the only complaints to the court should come from those women whose rights have been denied.  He pitches the ‘third party litigant’ to the side, as if a union could not seek redress on behalf of its members, or a company should not appeal on behalf of its shareholders?

However, his final point in the list above borrows from the original anti-TRAP argument (‘insurmountable obstacles’) and bluntly tells women “if you want your rights to seek the medical procedures you feel are your right, then please feel free to file a lawsuit.”  Presumably, at your own expense.,

All this fails to answer a simple question:  How do any of the TRAP laws prevent rich women from seeking an abortion – or any other medical procedure for that matter?  They don’t.  And they were never intended to do so.

We should end on a high note, as usual provided by Justice Ginsberg:

Many medical procedures, including childbirth, are far more dangerous to patients, yet are not subject to ambulatory-surgical-center or hospital admitting-privileges requirements.”  (She cites tonsillectomies, colonoscopies, and in office dental surgeries.)  […]

“Given those realities, it is beyond rational belief that H. B. 2 could genuinely protect the health of women, and certain that the law “would simply make it more difficult for them to obtain abortions.”

Game. Set. Match.

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Filed under abortion, public health, women, Women's Issues

Candles, Fireworks, and Failures: The Colorado Springs Killings

candles

There is purity in light.  Light illuminates all it touches.  We light candles in hope, in celebration, in reverence, and all too often in sorrow.  There will be candles in Colorado Springs, Colorado, some in the festive spirit of the season, others in sorrowful remembrance of those whose own light expired before its time.

French author Jean Paul Satre said of words: “Every word has consequences. Every silence, too.”  Words created the darkness that descended on Colorado Springs.  Silence created the darkness that descended on Colorado Springs.  Words and silences with consequences.

Anti-abortion radicals provided the words.  Edited words in the smear propaganda videos produced by the nefarious Center for Medical Progress. [C&L]  Provocative words from radical politicians in Congress as they launched five investigations into the activities of Planned Parenthood. [NYT]  Incendiary words, generating as the saying goes “more heat than light,” from Republican presidential candidates. [NYT] Manipulated, provocative, incendiary words created the darkness instead of providing illumination.  Worse still those manipulated, provocative, incendiary words were spread across the nation without filtration. [C&L]

It was almost as if the journalists and broadcasters who amplified these words had forgotten the power of the pen, or in these days, the pixel.  Someone decided that the “heavily edited words” in the propaganda videos counted as “news.”  And the words were unleashed before any illumination took hold. Yes, the tapes were edited for effect, certainly not for edification.  Yes, the tapes were controversial. However, no, the tapes were not authentic, truthful, or informative.  And  the message was further enhanced by the failure of editors and publishers to require that what they broadcasted and printed was authentic, truthful, and informative.

It  seems as though the editors, producers, and publishers were content with fireworks – ephemeral bursts of gaudy light, instead of a steady but less glamorous illuminating candle.

Words can challenge or comfort us.  Those manipulated, provocative, and incendiary words caused some to remember that since 1977 there have been eight murders, seventeen attempted murders, forty-two bombings, and one hundred eighty six arsons against abortion clinics and providers. [Vox] Others noted that in just the last four years states have enacted two hundred thirty one pieces of abortion restriction legislation. [Guttmacher]  Those manipulated, provocative, and incendiary words comforted and validated not only the radicals among us but also the  murderers, the bombers, and the arsonists.

Our words are our own. Once uttered they are released forever, and in the case of some media outlets may be repeated almost endlessly, looping along with stock footage and graphics.  There is a vast difference between freedom of speech, and freedom from criticism which is not always evident in the reactions to radical hyperbole.

The Center for Medical Progress, the creator of the propaganda videos, denounced the attack on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood center, but without any acknowledgment that the attack may very well have been informed by the very videos and controversy it created. [HuffPo]  The attack began and ended at the Planned Parenthood center.  Three lives were extinguished there.

Are the radical anti-abortion advocates asking us to please don’t think ill of them because they never intended their words (and pictures) to inflame the murderers, the bombers, and the arsonists?  We’re cautioned about using scatological language in case “small ears” might be listening; do we take as much care when it’s possible small minds might be attending to the messages?

Words can’t be deflected easily.  Most of the Republican candidates sought refuge in generalizations — “everyone should tone down the rhetoric.” But whose rhetoric called abortion providers, “exterminators,” or “a criminal enterprise,” or “killers?”  [NewYorker] No one is arguing that all members of the so-called “pro-life” movement are murderers, bombers, or arsonists – only that the heated verbiage of the radicals provides inspiration and validation for those who are inclined in that direction.

And then there were the silences.

When those 231 pieces of anti-abortion legislation were being considered in State Legislature – how many voices were heard in opposition? How many pro-choice advocates crafted letters to members of those assemblies? To local editors? To local media outlets?  How many legislators decided it was safer to “go along to get along” with radicals rather than risk their wrath?

When the controversy over the video tapes flamed into the news, how many editors and producers succumbed to the temptation to air what was dramatic, flashy, and provocative before vetting the material for authenticity?  We might ask how many times news organizations must get “used” by political groups before they realize that the words and pictures they are disseminating are  propaganda and not really newsworthy?  How many times are these outlets cowered into the shallows of self referential exculpation, as in the convenient “both sides do it” narrative?

The best feature of a candle is its capacity to provide continuous illumination, without flares and flashes.  It may be dim in comparison to electric bulbs, but no illumination is without shadows.  However, to paraphrase Satre: Every candle has the capacity to illuminate. Every darkness the power of destruction.

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Filed under abortion, media, women, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

Protecting Nevada Victims of Domestic Violence and Stalking: We Could Be Doing A Better Job

By almost any common sense standard Ronald E. Haskell should not have had a firearm. By almost any ethical standard he should not have had access to a firearm considering his past behavior towards his ex-wife, and by any moral standard he should not have taken his gun and assassinated six people in Spring, TX, and attempted to murder a seventh. There are three pieces of legislation in Congress which might have prevented this tragedy — and all three are opposed by the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers who support it.  [MJ]

It doesn’t do to sit out here in the Nevada sage brush and lament the problems far away in Texas without considering our own situation in regard to domestic violence and gun ownership.

In 2011, 35% of female homicide victims were killed during a domestic violence incident, and firearms accounted for the deaths of 214 women between 2001 and 2010. [CAP pdf] Let’s approach this rationally.

First, do we have a problem with domestic violence in the State?  Figures from the Nevada Department of Public Safety may indicate that we do. The latest general report available online (pdf) shows the number of domestic violence incidents — of all types — increasing during the period from 2000 to 2005.  There were 20,653 DVIs in 2000, followed by 26,417 in 2001. There were 26,691 in 2002 and another 27,915 in 2003.  2004 totals were 29,233 and in 2005 there were 31,247.  Evidently, things didn’t get much better by 2009.

When the Violence Policy Center rated states according to females murdered by males in single victim homicides by rate, Nevada came up #1, with a 2.70, beating out Alabama with a 2.64 rate and Louisiana with a rate of 1.99. [VPC pdf]  The Nevada Legislature took some serious steps to correct the dismal statistics in the early 2000’s in 2007, [DB] and we have seen some improvement.

Happily, by 2011 the Nevada ranking had dropped to 16th with a rating of 1.48. [VPC pdf] The bad news is that this ranking is still in the “Top 20” nationally. We obviously have room for improvement to reach Illinois at 0.27, Massachusetts at 0.53, and Vermont at 0.36. [VPC pdf]  We do know that during the period 2003 and 2012 there were 221 domestic violence homicides in Nevada and 52.9% of the fatalities were caused by guns. [CAP pdf]  There are some steps we could take to improve our numbers.

What can be done to improve the situation?  As noted many times in this venue, Nevada should have universal background checks to determine if any of the categories of persons who are proscribed from firearm ownership are attempting to purchase weaponry.   The sorry history of S. 221 was most recently discussed here in an article about the Background Check Initiative.  In short, without at least a cursory background check there is little way to determine if the buyer is subject to the restrictions on firearm possession set forth in NRS 33.031 and NRS 33.033.

The permissive language in NRS 33.031 is also a potential loophole through which a miscreant could retain or acquire firearms.  The statute says, “a court MAY include” within an NRS 33.030 extended restraining order the provision that the “adverse party” will surrender firearms, and cannot possess them while the order is in effect.  In order to attach this proviso, the court must decide that the “adverse party” has a (1) documented history of domestic violence, (2) Has used or threatened to use a firearm to injure or harass the applicant, a minor child or any other person, or (3) Has used a firearm in the commission or attempted commission of any crime.  First, it doesn’t appear that this provision can be applied during a temporary restraining order — the first one issued after the violent incident.  Secondly, the firearm surrender requirement is spoken of only in terms of the extended order of protection.  Granted this gives the “adverse party” some representational rights, since the temporary order might not include the presence of our “adverse party,” in court.  However, it also presents some practical issues.

A Nevada Court has one “judicial” day to consider a temporary restraining order of protection, but it has 45 days in the instance of an application for an extended order. [NRS 33.020]  Thus we have a potential circumstance in which a person with a documented history of domestic violence, one who has used or threatened to shoot the applicant, the children, or others, or has already used a firearm in the commission of a crime — has more than a month of “free” firearm possession in this State. That’s certainly sufficient time for the “adverse party” to locate and endanger the remainder of the family.

One possible solution to the problem might be to eliminate the permissive “may”  from the provisions regarding an extended order of protection and simply say that if the “adverse party” meets the three criteria then law enforcement “will” take custody of the individual’s firearms.  Additionally, if the court finds that there is ample evidence of previous incidents of domestic violence, or clear and present danger from immediate threats, then it “may” remove the firearms during the period covered by the temporary restraining order.

There is no intent in this suggestion to permanently deprive any individual of his 2nd Amendment entertainment devices, merely to secure them while a domestic situation remains volatile.  Nor is this a “blank check” for government to “take guns away” without Constitutional protections — the permissive language (may) pertaining to the temporary restraining order gives the court some latitude to determine the extent of the volatility, and to protect the victim, and, to no small extent, protect our “adverse party” from doing something in the heat of the moment he might regret for the rest of his life.

There is also some elasticity in Nevada laws which place some women and children at risk.  NRS 200.575 discusses stalking, which is a misdemeanor for the first offense, and a gross misdemeanor for the second.  Nevada adds a category of “aggravated stalking:”

“A person who commits the crime of stalking and in conjunction therewith threatens the person with the intent to cause the person to be placed in reasonable fear of death or substantial bodily harm commits the crime of aggravated stalking. A person who commits the crime of aggravated stalking shall be punished for a category B felony by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 2 years and a maximum term of not more than 15 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $5,000.”

It is only when the stalker adds threats of death and substantial bodily harm that he would be committing a felony, and thus ineligible to possess firearms under Nevada law.  This sounds reasonable until we run into the problematic nature of stalker mentalities.  After a conviction for a first and second offense the individual may still acquire firearms, if the victim can’t prove a fear of “death or substantial bodily harm,” beyond a reasonable doubt.  The background check would not exclude the individual unless he’s already convicted of felonious, or “aggravated” stalking since stalking convictions are misdemeanors for the first two offenses.

Another suggestion:  Make the imposition of an order of protection mandatory in all cases of stalking. In the instance of a first conviction the court “may” include the surrender of firearms in the order, and “shall” include it in the case of a second conviction; especially if the stalking is done to the same victim as in the first case.   Current law (NRS 200.591) permits a court to issue a temporary or extended order of protection but doesn’t require it.  Might women and families be safer if the temporary order were applied for the first offense, with the provision that the court “may” include the surrender of deadly weapons?  They would certainly seem to be safer if an extended order was immediately applied after the second conviction, and proscribed the possession of firearms for the duration of the order.

The slippage in the system comes, of course, when there is no background check required for all gun sales, such that after the misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor convictions the stalker can simply purchase a firearm at a gun show and move on to the felony he may have been contemplating.

Spare me the “law abiding citizens” argument from the 2nd Amendment extremists.  A person who commits domestic violence has broken the law. A person who stalks another person in the state of Nevada has broken the law.  This is not law-abiding behavior.  When a person’s behavior is classified as a misdemeanor, a gross misdemeanor, or a class B felony — it is not law-abiding. Period.

Spare me the “Big Plot To Take Guns” argument. No one is speaking of temporary or extended orders of protection which deprive the non-law-abiding of their 2nd Amendment playthings in perpetuity. When the stalker hits the B Felony grade he’s done it to himself; if he’s still in the misdemeanor range the surrender of firearms lasts only as long as the orders of protection.

And, finally, spare us the misery of a rendition of the Spring, TX massacre in the Silver State.

 

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Filed under Gun Issues, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, women, Women's Issues

Heck’s Hobby Lobby Hopes Dashed By SCOTUS

Joe HeckNevada’s 3rd District Representative, Joe Heck (R), made this remark concerning the Hobby Lobby Decision:

“Heck said he agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday in the Hobby Lobby case. The high court said businesses that are family owned or closely held don’t have to provide health care coverage for birth control because the companies have religious objections.

Heck said the ruling was narrowly written to accommodate religious beliefs that life begins at conception and he didn’t believe it should be broadly interpreted to apply to companies that aren’t closely held.” [LVRJ]

Here’s what makes the Congressman’s commentary unreasonable.

#1.  What is the standard for “religious objections?  Since the Hobby Lobby Decision as crafted by Justice Samuel Alito doesn’t specify a standard by which the merits of a religious objection are to be discerned, we might safely assume that a mere assertion of a religious objection is sufficient.  This is certainly at odds with the most obvious “religious objection” standard in another part of the federal government — the military.

In order to attain a “1-O” status with the U.S. military, there is a strenuous test for religious convictions.  According to the American Bar Association:

“Applicants must demonstrate that their beliefs upon which their conscientious objection is based are the primary controlling force in their lives. They must produce evidence in their written application (and during their subsequent hearing before an officer) demonstrating that neither the avoidance of military service nor expediency is the motivating factor in their claim. To this end, DoD Directive 1300.6 lists numerous factors to consider in examining the merits of a servicemember’s application, such as his or her training in the home and church, participation in religious activities, and general demeanor and pattern of conduct.”

The revised DoD Directive 1300.6 (pdf) which replaced the 1968 version in 2007, goes on for some twenty pages of specifications regarding the applicants’ qualifications for conscientious objector status.  One of the more common phrases associated with the qualification is that the beliefs must be “firm, fixed, sincere, and deeply held.”

In the case of a member of the Armed Services who wishes separation or reassignment based on religious scruples there is a process which begins with an extensive interview with a service chaplain, followed by a review by an investigating officer; there will be consultation with the Staff JAG, and then a hearing. Following the informal hearing, the investigating officer will file a report which will be forwarded to the commander.  The report and recommendations flow through the chain of command to the officer designated with the authority to make a final decision on the matter.  The separation from service or reassignment may be granted if it is concluded during the process that the individual’s beliefs are “firm, fixed, sincere, and deeply held.”

No such test appears to have been applied to the objections of Conestoga or Hobby Lobby.  Hobby Lobby simply asserted that its religious beliefs precluded funding for insurance benefits which included birth control and abortion.

If there is no test or evaluative process by which my religious objections — to anything — may be reviewed, then what is to prevent me from asserting that my religious beliefs prevent me from considering anyone for employment who is of a faith other than my own?  May I assert my ‘religious conviction’ that those who don’t keep Kosher (or Halal) are impure, unclean or otherwise unemployable. May I cut off from service any  who “partakes of any blood?” (Lev 7:22)

Who is to determine if my beliefs are “firm, fixed, sincere, and deeply held,” or if they are a simply an expedient way to refuse service to Jews or Muslims?  Or, might my objections (see Leviticus) be such that I can refuse service or employment to Basque Christians, on the grounds that many of them  make and consume blood sausage.

If this argument sounds frivolous, it is no more so than the case cited by Justice Ginsberg in her dissent — Newman vs. Piggie Park Enterprises.  The proprietors of Piggie Park (restaurant chain) objected to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 partially on the grounds that it “contravened the Will of God.” “Defendant Bessinger further contends that the Act violates his freedom of religion under the First Amendment “since his religious beliefs compel him to oppose any integration of the races whatever.” [USDC -DColumbia]  The Supreme Court ruled against Piggie Park Enterprises in March 1968.

Herein we have a closely held family business, the patriarch of which had religious objections to integration, who contended that religion trumped the application of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  If this sounds close to the characteristics of the Hobby Lobby/Conestoga Cases it’s because they share obvious elements — just entirely different conclusions.  In short, without a test or process by which religion can be separated from convenient religiosity the adjudication of religious objections becomes highly subjective.

#2.  The decision was neither narrow, nor tightly drawn.  For all the palaver in the decision about the “narrow-ness” of the judgment, the reasoning left the door wide open to further litigation concerning the applicability of religious objections to contraception, as evidenced by some 30 cases piling up in the judicial system in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision.  [DMN]

Immediately in line after the ‘closely held businesses,’ are the non-profit organizations, such as Wheaton College, Notre Dame University, and others for whom even filling out the form to take advantage of the Administration’s accommodation for them is ‘unconscionable.’ [WaPo]  It should be asked — if the Hobby Lobby decision was such a narrow thing, then why did the Supreme Court almost immediately grant an injuction against the contraception mandate accommodation on behalf of non-profit Wheaton College?  Representative Heck hopes, or at least asserts, that the Hobby Lobby ruling only applies to closely held firms — but in its action on behalf of Wheaton, the line immediately shifted out from under Representative Heck’s assertion and right into the realm of non-profit organizations.

#3. The decision blurs the understanding of earned benefits.  The objections from those who describe themselves as religious to procuring health insurance plans which cover contraception for their employees appear to contend that they are being forced to subsidize medication of which they do not approve.

This has several unfortunate threads entangled in it. Contraceptive prescriptions are subject to approval by the FDA, not the Chamber of Commerce.  They are used for many other reasons that simply to avoid pregnancy.  Are we allowing a corporation to determine that even though a female employee has endometriosis, menorrhagia, or polycystic ovarian syndrome the medication prescribed by her physician is not to be covered because of the employer’s objections? [DB]

The health insurance offered to company employees is part of the total compensation package.  The company may pay for part of the premiums, the employee also contributes.  Does the company’s contribution determine who will control the inclusions in the insurance benefit, or the employee?  In the Hobby Lobby Decision the Supreme Court ruled that the employer’s money speaks louder than the employee’s contribution…even though the insurance may be handled by a third party administrator.

#4. The ruling broadly asserts the efficacy of one and only one religious perspective on life.  If a person happens to believe that life begins at conception then the judgment of the Court is acceptable. However, there are those who hold that life doesn’t begin until the newborn takes its first independent breath.   There’s nothing narrow about a Supreme Court decision which sanctions the view of one particular religion, thus denigrating the views of others.

In short, the decision combined with the Wheaton injunction allows corporations and non-profit entities to require their employees to either follow the proscriptions of the institutional faith or individually procure health insurance benefits on their own.  This is close to, if not identical with, forcing employees to follow the faith of their employers — and not their own individual consciences. Such an imposition is hardly the prescription for religious liberty.

As much as Representative Heck may wish to place a happy, non-threatening spin, on the Hobby Lobby decision, he whiffed on this one while the Supreme Court moved home plate.

***

See also:  Department of Defense Instruction, 1300.6, May 31, 2007. (pdf) John P. Jurden, Conscientious  Objectors, GPSolo, Jan-Feb 2005.  Newman, Neal, Mungin v. Piggie Park Enterprises, 256 F.Supp. 941 (1966), July 28, 1966. Newman, Neal, Mungin v. Piggie Park Enterprises, 377 F.2d 433 (1967), April 24, 1967.

Sherman & Zoll, “After Hobby Lobby…”, Dallas Morning News, July 6, 2014. Jonathan Adler, Supreme Court grants Wheaton College an injunction against contraception mandate accommodation,” WaPo, July 3, 2014.  “Joe Heck calls Hobby Lobby Decision Reasonable,” Nevada Democratic Party, and Las Vegas Review Journal, July 1, 2014.

 

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Poor George

Breakfast Club TrapPoor George (Will). Poor misunderstood George. He wants us to know that he really really really takes rape so seriously that he’s opposed to “jerry built” campus processes and procedures in place to deal with it. [TPM]

Here’s his first major point:

“What I say is that: A) I take sexual assault more seriously than I think they do, because I agree that society has correctly said that rape is second only to murder as a serious felony,” Will said. “And therefore, when someone is accused of rape, it should be reported to the criminal justice system that knows how to deal with this, not jerry-built, improvised campus processes.” [TPM]

Where to begin?  (1) Sexual assault is a category of criminal activities which includes rape. See NRS 200.364.  It may also include crimes like lewdness with a child.  This leads us to the next (2) point — University of Nevada campus police officers are ” certified under the laws of the State of Nevada. They perform the same function as officers from city, county and state agencies – enforcing all local, state and federal laws and ordinances within the jurisdiction of the University of Nevada, Reno.” [UNR]  The meaning of all this is simple — report a rape on campus and a law enforcement official — not some ‘jerry built’ system is supposed to respond.  Perhaps Mr. Will remembers college differently than the rest of us. However, he has one more big point to make:

“Second, I take, I think, sexual assault somewhat more seriously than the senators do because I think there’s a danger now of defining sexual assault so broadly, so capaciously, that it begins to trivialize the seriousness of it,” he added. “When remarks become sexual assault, improper touching — bad, shouldn’t be done, but it’s not sexual assault.” [TPM]

It isn’t? This is not for Mr. Will to determine. In the case of the University of Nevada campus in Reno there is nothing trivial about the definition of sexual harassment:

“No employee or student, either in the workplace or in the academic environment, should be subject to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in nature. Sexual harassment does not refer to occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature. It refers to behavior of a sexual nature that is not welcome, that is personally offensive, and that interferes with performance.  [UNRedu]

UNLV’s policy [UNLV pdf] on rape and sexual harassment might be an instructive piece of reading for Mr. Will.  Far from “capacious” or “trivializing” the policy is a straightforward discussion, including definitions of specific terms such as assault, stalking, rape, etc.

This should be about the time for someone to remind Mr. Will of the old saw — when in a hole stop digging. No amount of intellectualizing, hypothesizing, or rationalizing is going to make his comments sound any better than in their original form.

Actually, Mr. Will has had several reminders, from an ob/gyn, from columnists who have shredded his assumptions, and from the St. Louis Post Dispatch which dropped his column.  The saddest part of the entire mess into which Mr. Will has inserted himself is that his arguments are based on little more than the old “Boys will be Boys,” and “She asked for it” canards.

It’s 2014. We don’t need any more recitations of why those two assumptions are devoid of any substance, and equally lacking in intellectual honesty.  Smugness doth not righteousness bestow, and ersatz intellectual rationalizations do not  support reasoned discussions.

Mr. Will has officially joined the Rush Limbaugh school of gender relations in which women are “subject” to men, women are the “lesser half,” and women who don’t care for this situation are ‘phony victims’ or worse… it’s a trap.

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They Just Can’t Help Themselves?

GOP Women QuotesThere’s probably a reason for the GOP “Women’s Problem.”  When Google gives a seeker at least ten+ pages containing lists of quotations*  from prominent Republican and conservative sources, which grate like a rasp on bare skin, then perhaps some people have been providing a fairly accurate assessment of the mentality of party leadership on women’s issues.

Collections of commentary about women’s anatomy, and the functioning thereof, range from A to B, from Republican sources including the infamous “body shutting down,” to the more recent suggestion by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee that “If Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing them for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive  system without the help of government, then so be it.”

It’s difficult to corral this herd of cats because so many of them are convinced of the rectitude of their pronouncements because they are supposedly referenced to Scripture.   This exercise does require some illogical legerdemain, including but not limited to equating the acquisition of the knowledge of good and evil in Eden to sexual intimacy, and ignoring the story of Deborah altogether — or turning her into some form of early Israeli aggressive housewife.   However, before dismissing the politics of “The Little Woman” out of hand, perhaps it’s time to muse about the underlying political message.   Thou Shalt Not Be Made Uncomfortable.

It’s also a mistake to put all the controversy on the “In this day and age” platter and serve it up as though it were something that just happened yesterday, or at least since the ratification of the 19th Amendment.   There are and have been matriarchal societies long before the modern ‘western civilization,’ and there continue to be such institutions.   However, for some men, raised in households in which male domination was the norm it’s easy to see the origin of their political discomfort with female candidates.   Issues concerning child raising, domestic arrangements, etc. are raised with female candidates which would be dismissed summarily when discussing a male office seeker.

If we want to make someone truly uncomfortable, make that individual actually responsible for his or her actions.  Real intimacy requires mutual understanding and consent.  It is a gift one partner can share with the other.  Force does not create consent, and obviously cannot be rationalized by saying “As long as it’s inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”  Former Texas Republican gubernatorial contender Clayton Williams on rape.

One of the more egregious comments from the last election cycle summarized the discomfort of a man struggling with his own sense of entitlement:

“These Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness…We are not going to have our men become subservient.”  Rep. Allen West (R-Fl.), who lost his 2012 bid for re-election

And, here we have the fear of the uncomfortable notion that sexual intimacy is best achieved when both partners are prepared, consenting, and willing — not merely when the guy wants “it.”  There’s always something just a little sad about a man who takes “no” as rejection, or personalizes it as an assault on his masculinity.

The hyper-masculinity associated with the “she wants it,” “she turned me on,” and “I have to fight’em off with a stick,” isn’t masculinity at all — it’s all too often a mask, a camouflage covering some serious personality issues.   Real men don’t rape, real men don’t count their conquests, real men don’t demand sexual intimacy.

Real men having an understanding of female reproductive systems. Real men create partnerships, and real men don’t feel uncomfortable when the time just isn’t right.  Disappointed perhaps — but subservient, no.

Real men also understand that women are not commodities to be “consumed” as we would collect cars, coffee mugs, and other appurtenances of domestic living.  Translating the I Want What I Want When I Want It of consumerism into domestic relationships is neither productive nor healthy.

Real men know that, and it’s probably passed the time that some real men in the GOP read the 2012 after action report with more diligence.

*Some of the better lists and sources: Cosmopolitan; Liberal America;
 Salon.Com; The New Republican; Washington Post; Sychophantastic; Jane Dough; Huffington Post; Huffington Post.

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The Little Woman Has A Job: The Pill and Prosperity

The PillContraception is an economic issue.  The point seems to be lost on Brian Fischer of the American Family Association:

“Case in point: taxpayer-funded contraception. The utter disaster I call MussoliniCare may soon make contraception free (which means everybody else pays for it) to women in the U.S. This is a perfectly terrible idea. If couples want to have sex outside marriage, and don’’t want to conceive children while doing it, let them buy their own contraception or get it from some non-taxpayer funded charity foolish enough to support sexual irresponsibility.”

We could make the obvious point that the Affordable Care Act simply requires that private health insurance plans offer contraceptive prescription coverage, or that most sexual intimacy happens between married couples.  But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good rant, and the Right’s obliviousness to the point that contraception is an economic issue.

“A much higher proportion of married than of never-married women use a contraceptive method (77% vs. 42%). This is largely because married women are more likely to be sexually active. But even among those at risk of unintended pregnancy, contraceptive use is higher among currently married women than among never-married women (93% vs. 83%).” [GuttmacherInst]

Now, why would this be the case?  The answer is economic:

“One of the most influential and frequently cited studies of the impact the pill has had on women’s lives comes from Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz. The two Harvard economists argue that the pill gave women “far greater certainty regarding the pregnancy consequences of sex.” That “lowered the costs of engaging in long-term career investments,” freeing women to finish high school or go to college, for instance, rather than settling down.” [NYT]

True?  Look at the graph from the Department of Labor on the educational attainment of women in the U.S. work force since 1970:

Women Work Force Educational AttainmentIn the 1970’s the percentage of women in the work force with a college education was about 11.2%, a figure which increased to 36.4% by 2010.   Further, we are not speaking of a small number of women, we’re speaking about nearly 60% of the women in this country participating in the labor market.

“In 2009, 59.2 percent of women were in the labor force: of 122 million women in the United States, 72 million were classified as either employed or unemployed. The percentage of women in the labor force has been relatively stable over the past several years.” [BLS]

However if we step back and look at the trends since the 1970’s there’s a picture of increasing participation of women in the labor force which should inform the value of women in the U.S. economy.

Women in Work Force 1970 to 2009We can, and should, engage in discussions about the construction of the work-place and the development of “family friendly” corporate institutions, or the effect of inflationary pressures on American families, [WW.org] (PBR.org] But, the fact remains that only about 7% of our nation’s households are “single income traditional.”   In short, there are more married women in the workforce, they are better educated, and they are a significant source of the economic growth in this country in the past 30 years.   The MGI report for the Wall Street Journal (pdf) highlighted the importance of increasing the female side of the economic ledger:

“To sustain the historic rate of GDP growth of approximately 3% and maintain the United States’ leadership in the global economy, MGI reports that the nation will need a combination of some workforce expansion and a burst of productivity—driven by innovation and operational improvements. Women are critical to both forms of growth…”

It doesn’t take too much imagination or logic to conclude that calls for limiting women’s access to contraception — which allows family planning, enabling women to “engage in long term career investments” — is economically counter-productive.   Nor does it require much effort to acknowledge the conclusions that increased earning power is associated with access to contraceptive prescriptions.

A study by Martha J. Bailey, Brad Hershbein and Amalia R. Miller helps assign a dollar value to those tectonic shifts. For instance, they show that young women who won access to the pill in the 1960s ended up earning an 8 percent premium on their hourly wages by age 50. [NYT]

That’s what those “long term career investments” will get you.   It will also continue to propel us toward more income equality between genders.   The NBER Working Paper (pdf 2012) on the subject yielded this conclusion:

“Using state-by-birth-cohort variation in legal access, we show that younger access to the Pill conferred an 8-percent hourly wage premium by age fifty. Our estimates imply that the Pill can account for 10 percent of the convergence of the gender gap in the 1980s and 30 percent in the 1990s.”

In short, those calling for a return to the Cro-Magnon Era of Masculine Economics  — if indeed those ancestors weren’t matriarchal — are demanding that for the sake of an outmoded social model of male domination we scrap the female contributions to economic growth, dismiss the female contributions to family income, do without the female investment in economic productivity, and impose a specific social ideology upon our entire economic system.

What would indeed be “irresponsible” is to continue to make it difficult for dual income families to succeed in the very real economy we have now.  We could be considering the passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, or proposing more child care services such as those available in Germany.  We could be addressing the need for maternity leave and other family-friendly legislation.    In the corporate sphere we could be conversing about the “pernicious mindsets” that prevents women from rising in the ranks, or the revisions of outmoded institutional thinking which equates more time on the job to more productivity for the company.

As long as the public discourse concerning the issues faced by women and their families in the workforce is driven by sensationalistic, misogynistic, and ideological narratives, we will continue to have trouble addressing the real economic issues which have real impacts on our real country, real states, and real families.

References and Resources: “Invest in Women, Invest In America,” Majority Staff of the Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Senate, December 2010 (pdf).  “Unlocking the full potential of women in the U.S. economy,” McKinsey Group International (Wall Street Journal), 2011, (pdf).   Annie Lowrey, “The Economic Impact of the Pill,” New York Times, March 6, 2012.  “Subsidized Contraception, Fertility, and Sexual Behavior,” National Bureau of Economic Research, Kearney & Levine, April 2007.  The Editor’s Desk, “Women in the Workforce: 1970-2010,” Department of Labor.  “Educational Attainment of Women in the Labor Force,” The Editor’s Desk, Department of Labor.   “The Importance of Sex,” The Economist, April 12, 2006.  “The Opt In Revolution? Contraception and the Gender Gap in Wages,” National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper,  March 2012. (pdf)

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