Women Are Really Driving the Democrats' Agenda

    Planned Parenthood argues that women voters are why Democrats have achieved a consensus supporting LGBT rights, marijuana legalization and immigration reform.

    My friend Doug Sosnik has forgotten more about analyzing polling data than most of us will ever know, but he mistakes the wave for the currents in his POLITICO Magazine cover story, “Blue Crush: How the left took over the Democratic Party.” By focusing on ideology, Sosnik’s analysis ignores what is driving the power shift in the Democratic electorate. The reason that Democrats have achieved a consensus supporting LGBT rights, marijuana legalization and immigration reform is because they now enjoy a double-digit lead among women, especially unmarried women.            

    The left hasn’t taken over the Democratic Party. Women have. Sosnik does write that he can’t imagine “a viable Democratic presidential candidate,” much less a nominee, “who isn’t willing to take clear positions on … supporting women’s health and their reproductive rights,” but this core value is embedded among positions on hydraulic fracking and the minimum wage. In that word salad, it’s hard to tell the side dish from the entree. Put simply, when polls show a double-digit gender gap — and women turn out — we know who’s going to win and why.            

  • Giles Clarke/Getty

    Crisis at the border

    ‘We Cannot Return to Guatemala’

    Conservatives are blaming the immigration crisis on the president, but one mother who crossed the border says she’s never heard of Obama’s laws—she just wants to save her children.

    SAN DIEGO — “No podemos volver a Guatemala. We cannot return to Guatemala,” Elvina tells me. She’s just arrived at Border Angels, a local San Diego charity, with three of her four children. Her eldest son, an 18-year-old, is being held separately as an adult in a detention center. He may have already been deported back to Guatemala; Elvina has no way to find him or contact him.

    She tells me about the amenaza de muerte—the death threats—that keep her from wanting to return home.  “Los mareros”—the notorious MS-13 gang—“threatened us. They beat up my husband. They wanted my sons to join their gang.”

  • Hobby Lobby

    Not My Boss’ Business; Not My Politician’s Ploy

    Jessica González-Rojas of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health argues that Latinas are disproportionately impacted by a lack coverage for birth control – and the community will not sit by quietly.

    It all started with the Hobby Lobby decision at the end of June. When the Court issued its opinion, SCOTUS watchers and those committed to women’s equality warned that the country had been set on a slippery slope. In a disastrous decision made by the male five-justice majority, CEOs of corporations would now be able to deny employees any number of services – including birth control coverage – based on personal religious beliefs.  

    Concerns centered on the elimination of access to contraception coverage, which disproportionately affects Latinas and women of color. We know that Latinas use and support contraception in large numbers — and that the stakes are higher for our community. One in four Latinas lives in poverty, putting out-of-pocket health care costs out of reach for millions. Latinas also struggle to access affordable prenatal care and abortion services, so an unintended pregnancy in many cases means even a greater toll on our health and economic security.  

  • Photo Credit: Reuters

    Daughter's Keeper

    British Law Prosecutes Parents for FGM

    British law said it was illegal to perform female genital mutilation or to take a girl out of the country for the purpose. Now, parents can be prosecuted for allowing it.

    More than 137,000 women in England and Wales have undergone female genital mutilation. An estimated 20,000 girls born in Britain are at risk. Seeking to end the practice “everywhere for everyone within this generation,” Prime Minister David Cameron this week announced new legislation making it the parents’ responsibility to protect their daughters. While the laws had made it illegal only to perform the cutting or to take a girl out of the country for the purpose, now parents in Britain who subject their daughters to the practice will be prosecuted. Female genital mutilation – which occurs mostly in 29 African countries, parts of Asia and the Middle East – has been outlawed in Britain since 1985.  The local effect, however, has increased over the last decade as female refugees have arrived from conflict countries where it’s practiced.

    Read it at The New York Times
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    Beauty Pageants

    A Crowning Moment of American Hypocrisy

    Thirty years ago, Vanessa Williams relinquished her crown amidst a nude photo scandal, crystallizing the unfair expectation that American girls have to be sexy, but not sexual.

    Wednesday is the 30th anniversary of an iconic moment in American hypocrisy: Vanessa Williams, who had been crowned Miss America in September 1983, resigned amid threats from Penthouse to publish nude photos she had taken in 1982. Williams swore that she had been told the photos would obscure her identity when she posed for them and they were sold to Penthouse without her permission.

    But while it’s troubling to consider that Williams was a victim of coercion, the resignation under fire would have been nearly as troubling even if she had been a more willing participant. That’s because the incident perfectly crystallized the unfair and impossible expectation that starts getting applied to girls from the moment you hit puberty: You have to be sexy, but not sexual.

  • Mothers know best

    Talking to Daughters About Rape

    Wasted Youth: One mom's plea to daughters who drink.

    In recent months there’s been much discussion about how, and how badly, colleges, as a whole, have failed students who have been victims of sexual assault. Much of the dialogue has centered on the “victim-blaming” that goes on (and on). Victim-blaming is telling a survivor of assault that she “asked for it” through any number of actions or behaviors, including but not limited to: what she wore; how many men she’d had sex with previously; whether or not she ever flirted with her attacker, or knew him, or willingly went someplace with him; and how much she drank on the night in question.

    None of these things are factors that indicate permission, of course, or excuse sex without consent. As one popular slogan goes, “Blame rapists. Not boobs.” It is not a woman’s responsibility to mitigate a man’s sexual desire or prevent—or even anticipate—his tendency towards violence. There is no excuse for sexual assault. Survivors shoulder zero blame.

  • Mark Makela/Reuters

    Voting Bloc

    How to Really Empower Black Voters

    Fifty years after the Freedom Summer, black voters are more powerful than ever. It’s time for both parties to realize this, and start competing for their support in earnest.

    For the first time in our history, according to the Census Bureau, blacks are now voting at a higher rate than whites. Roughly two out of three eligible blacks voted in the 2012 election, which is a greater percentage than the number of non-Hispanic whites who turned out to the polls. And while the presence of President Barack Obama on the ballot for re-election almost certainly drove up turnout, blacks are still the only ethnic group to show a significant increase in voting from 2008 to 2012.

    Nowhere is this trend more noteworthy than in the South where, as Nate Cohn recently argued in The New York Times, black voters may decide who controls the Senate next year. “If Democrats win the South and hold the Senate,” he wrote, “they will do so because of Southern black voters.”

  • Picture It

    How Do You Imagine Equality?

    Global Fund For Women’s new campaign asks women to picture an equal world.

    Global Fund for Women has just launched a new campaign, “Imagining Equality,” which asked women around the world to share what they pictured when they imagined equality. With over 400 submissions, responses ranged from the broad ("Equality is about choosing love, instead of fear, and about actively seeking opportunities to counter injustice and prejudice") to the more specific (“Equality is about freedom of rights for disabled women in Tanzania.”). The campaign launched with stories about the body, the website noting “All too often, women are reduced to bodies, whether as sex objects, child-bearers, or workers. In this section, we imagine a world where all women have autonomy and agency over their bodies. From health, to ability, to body image, these stories give voice not only to suffering, but to strength, beauty, and power.” Site visitors are invited to submit their own vision here.

    Read it at Global Fund for Women
  • Underwood Archives/Getty

    Feminism 3.0

    Whither the Women’s Movement?

    Despite massive gains in the 20th century, the women’s movement has reached a stalemate in the 21st. How to move forward?

    William Barnett, my paternal grandfather, came to America in 1910, and became a union organizer with the International Cap Makers Union.  Although William was enamored with his newly-found freedoms in America, and angered by the horrendous working conditions of his fellow laborers, my grandmother Lottie was not amused.  With four children living in a tenement on the Lower East Side in two tiny rooms, Lottie knew that the only way they could stay in their adopted country was to earn a paycheck.  And when William was eventually blacklisted due to his union involvement, the situation became desperate. 

    Lottie believed, as an Orthodox Jew, that the next thing that happened was divine intervention.  She found two $ 20 dollar bills in the communal washrooms, moved the family to Canada, and advised my grandfather that he was welcome to join only if he intended to stop organizing and get a real job.  Their children became doctors and businesswomen, but all were infused with a sense of justice for the millions who remained in the poverty that their family once knew.

  • Photo Credit: Reuters


    Will Brazil Re-elect President Rousseff?

    Has hosting the World Cup helped or hurt the woman in charge?

     This week, on the heels of the World Cup, leaders of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) held a summit meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil. At this meeting, the leaders of these ascendant powers agreed to form an international development bank to challenge the dominance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, described the New Development Bank (NDB)—and accompanying emergency reserve fund—as the first steps towards a "more just and inclusive world order.”  

    Even Bloomberg View’s Mac Margolis, whose coverage of the BRIC summit referred to President Rousseff’s “power hair” before he bothered to discuss her actual power in the room, had to admit that “Rousseff looked poised and presidential, at ease in the company of fellow giants.”