in the beginning
the plan is to write some thoughts here. some about my life, and my family, some about fictional lives and fictional families. it’ll probably all blend together.
"…speak truth plurally…" - Zadie Smith (taken quite out of context from her essay Speaking in Tongues)
So, i’m gonna be doing some writing over here. if folks are interested.
doubling down on inequality
This. Article. Is. Amazing.
Coontz effectively deconstructions the myth that women earn more than men, along with how this false narrative effects everyone in our society (or at least those in the gender binary).
There was one thread in what she said that really caught my eye. According to Coontz, women are expected to reach higher educational attainment, while still being compensated less than their male counterparts with the same education level. Specifically, "77 percent of Americans now believe that a college education is necessary for a woman to get ahead in life today, but only 68 percent think that is true for men," and thus, "today women earn almost 60 percent of college degrees.” Yet, this does not indicate pay parity, “Among never-married, childless 22- to 30-year-old metropolitan-area workers with the same educational credentials, males out-earn females in every category.”
This is not a shock. My partner earns more with a BA than I do with an MS, despite working in similar positions in the same field.
But what really gets me about this, is the bind this puts women in. Especially women from low income families trying to get a leg up. Higher education is incredibly expensive, as I know far too well. If men do not need to reach the same educational attainment that women do to earn X salary, than not only are they making more money, but they are less likely to have burdensome education debt.
The issue of education related debt comes up time and time again as my friends who live debt free jump by leaps and compounding bounds toward brighter economic futures. While myself, and others with high levels of debt are left wondering how this happened and how the hell we are ever going to find a way out of it.
This is the next level of analysis that Coontz directs us to; that expectations of women seem to correlate to greater debt and less earnings. Education related debt is over $1 Trillion dollars in the United States. While student debt is often cast aside as a bourgeois issue, it is not all students who must take on huge debt loads. Rather debt is concentrated among those who have the least amount of familiar financial support to help them out of it. While simultaneously needing that educational attainment to do away with the ‘patriarchal dividend,’ and the ‘racial dividend,’ and all the other ways that those not born to privilege are told to prove their worth.
Maybe instead of casting aside the issue of student debt as bourgeois, it’s time to see it as an extension of all the layers of privilege that have been plaguing us for years. The many ways that kids from poor backgrounds, who went to underfunded schools with over worked teachers, parents working multiple jobs, and students themselves working to help out here and there are forever told they have to prove why they are special. Why they are deserving. And the issue of student debt is not unrelated, but rather another way that perpetuates these inequalities and ultimately sucks the poor dry as they try for that all powerful mirage that is American Dream.
women’s health first
I was watching the BBC today while they talked about an abortion boat headed to Moracco, that picks people up from countries that have outlawed abortion, takes them into international waters, provides safe access to abortions (from what I understand these are pill induced, not surgical abortions), and helps them home. I was immediately fearful for the people providing services on the boat.
When asked by the BBC wether or not the boat was putting women’s lives at greater risk, by giving them abortions that are illegal in their country of residence, the woman said that somewhere between 60-80 women die every day in Moracco due to botched abortions. This reality is something we are rarely willing to talk about.
From abortions to sex work, to drugs, real people have to make decisions based on their real lives. It’s time we start providing the tools for people to make the best decisions they can make, and simultaneously stop victim blaming when our systems necessitate difficult decisions, or no decisions at all. As Caperton so eloquently says, harsh laws do not fix problems, but providing real support (funding and all) does, and also saves lives in the process.
we’ll save the discussion about a dutch boat going to other countries for another day.
In short, Bain Capital is not about producing wealth, but rather about siphoning off wealth that was produced elsewhere in the economy. There is no doubt that one individual or one company can get enormously wealthy if they are able to do this successfully. However you cannot have an entire economy that is premised on the idea that it will siphon off wealth produced elsewhere. It is not clear that Romney understands that fact, but certainly the general public should when it goes to vote this fall.
I’m not generally one to wade into party politics, but this is more about how Private Equity firms (like Bain) create nothing but wealthy individuals. It’s a good, short, synopsis of how that’s done and how it trades in long term economic health and stability for short term profits. Plus, I heart Dean Baker.
written and perfomed by Stella Peach July 2012
New music! By me! Yay!
Love the fiddle (and fiddler) to pieces.
fit, forceful, and femme
rad. from feministe.
Zoe Smith, 18, is a weightlifter. This weekend, she competes for Britain in the Olympics. She can clean and jerk nearly 260 lbs. Her Olympic qualifying total was 211 kg, or about 465 lbs. That alone should be enough to make the wise person disinclined to mess with her.
But there are always unwise people around to make the world a shittier place, and a number of them took to Twitter after the BBC aired Girl Power – Going For Gold, a documentary about Smith and her teammates Hannah Powell and Helen Jewel. “They’re probably lesbians anyway,” and “I’d think you were a bloke and so would 9 out of 10 lads,” and of course the classic “Now piss off back to the kitchen.”
Smith held her own on Twitter, and then she elaborated further in a post on her blog.
The obvious choice of slander when talking about female weightlifting is “how unfeminine, girls shouldn’t be strong or have muscles, this is wrong”. And maybe they’re right… in the Victorian era. To think people still think like this is laughable, we’re in 2012! This may sound like a sweeping generalization, but most of the people that do think like this seem to be chauvinistic, pigheaded blokes who feel emasculated by the face that we, three small, fairly feminine girls, are stronger than them. Simple as that. I confronted one guy that said “we’re probably all lesbians and look like blokes”, purely to explain the fact that his opinion is invalid cause he’s a moron. And wrong. He came up with the original comeback that I should get back in the kitchen. I laughed.
As Hannah pointed out earlier, we don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favourably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?! Cause you are clearly the kindest, most attractive type of man to grace the earth with your presence.
Weightlifting events start this Saturday; competitors in Smith’s class, Women’s 58kg, lift the equivalent of a grown man over their heads starting Monday.
and zoe smith’s whole blog post is here.
A great article about voter intimidation, suppression, and purging, written by the Economist. The text in full:
IMAGINE that officials in California pass legislation making it deliberately onerous to own a gun. They enact every roadblock favoured by the gun-control community and then some. They mandate background checks, waiting periods and burdensome paperwork. They restrict the number of gun shops in the state to two, both state-owned. They make it illegal to bring a gun in from out of state. They send threatening letters to all suspected gun owners telling them the state believes they possess an illegal weapon and that they must prove the weapon’s legality or risk a felony conviction and five years in prison. When pressed, the sponsor of this legislation denies he opposes gun ownership. He says he just wants to make it as hard as possible to own guns so that gun owners really appreciate their rights.
Of course, this would never happen. It would be electoral suicide, thanks both to the NRA and, more broadly, to the unseemliness (at least) of an elected official, who swears an oath to defend the constitution, advocating the deliberate restriction of a constitutional right.
But no such indulgence seems to extend to elected officials who make it hard for citizens to vote. Florida passed a law in 2011 that imposed heavy burdens on people who register voters—heavy enough that groups such as the League of Women Voters, which has been registering voters across the country for 92 years, simply shut down their registration drives. The law required groups to turn in registration forms within 48 hours of their being filled out, or face a $1,000 fine. It imposed burdensome record-keeping requirements. Forms from Florida’s secretary of state told registration agents that they “could be imprisoned for five years for sending in a voter registration application that includes false information, even if the registration agent does not know or have reason to believe the information is false”—a statement that happens to be untrue, as that is not the law. Michael Bennett, the senator who sponsored this legislation, said, “I want the people in the state of Florida to want to vote as badly as that person in Africa who is willing to walk 200 miles for that opportunity he’s never had before in his life. This should not be easy.” A federal judge struck down that law at the end of May. He also sharply rebuked Mr Bennett, telling him that Florida “doesn’t have an interest in making it hard to vote. That’s not a permissible goal.”
The same judge had the opportunity to enjoin another odious voting law in Florida, one in which Florida’s secretary of state tried to get all non-eligible voters off the voter rolls by consulting a list so riddled with errors that most county election chiefs simply refused to use it. The list, which contained duplicate names as well as dead voters who had already been removed, identified almost 2,700 potential non-citizens, 87% of whom happen to be minorities. Around 500 turned out to be citizens; 40 were not, and were removed from the rolls. I spoke to one of the targeted citizens last Monday: Suly Anselme, a bluff, courtly former train engineer who emigrated to Miami from Haiti in 1994 and became a citizen in 2004. He received a letter saying he may be ineligible to vote, and telling him that voter fraud was a felony. His first thought was terror: he had already voted in two elections; he was worried about going to jail. It ended happily for Mr Anselme once he proved his citizenship, but he is politically engaged. He said he knew many others—newly naturalised citizens—who were frightened, and who did nothing, and who would have been thrown off the voter rolls had Florida’s secretary of state not suspended the purge (which is why the judge declined to enjoin; he warned that if the purge resumes he could reexamine the request).
Supporters of this law, and of voter-ID laws generally, may contend that every vote cast by someone who should not be on the voter rolls casts doubt on the election’s outcome. But if so it ought to be equally true of every vote not cast by an eligible voter kept away from the polls.