Saturday, July 4, 2015

Sexual Health Lobby Day

On Tuesday, June 30th, we had the great pleasure of stopping in on the Sexual Health Lobby Day at the State House.  Hosted by the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, a federation of 33 organizations and hundreds of volunteers from across our great state rallied for the cause. 

I had the pleasure of interviewing attendee MWPC intern Kelsey Barowich.

What was your favorite part of the Sexual Health Lobby Day?
“Hearing Maura Healey speak.  She is amazing.  We actually go to hear her speak earlier that same morning at our Commonwealth Commentary series, where she spoke about her experience campaigning and as the People’s Lawyer.  It’s always a pleasure—she’s very sincere.  I also really enjoyed seeing the number of young people being civically engaged.”
Why does sexual health matter to you?
“Because it impacts me.  And it impacts the people I care about.  There isn’t a single person on the planet in a position to neglect sexual health.”
Why should sexual health be a priority for our legislators?
“It has a direct impact on all of the communities I’ve been a part of. Sexual health is a major part of community health, and we can’t ignore the subject in fear of the uncomfortable or awkward conversations that might arise. Education is key—with education comes understanding, and understanding brings progress.”

Thanks, Kelsey!

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Taking a Bite Out of Inequality

As the summer gets into full swing, children across the U.S. have begun the time honored tradition of attending summer camps. One particular organization, however, is making headlines – and it’s not for the reason you might think.
Most everyone in the U.S. knows of the Girl Scouts. They’re hard to ignore, especially when they sell those scrumptious cookies.  But their cookies aren’t what’s getting the attention of national news sources. Earlier this year the Girl Scouts of Western Washington were ecstatic to receive a large donation of $100,000. However, they later learned that the donation was not given without stipulations. The donor, who has yet to be named, wanted the promise: no money would go to support transgender girls.  
In response to the request Megan Ferland, the council CEO, stated: “Girl Scouts is for every girl, and every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to." The donation was then returned, in full, to the donor.
Since then, the story has been published on multiple news websites. Furthermore, many articles attached the link to their indiegogo campaign to recuperate the lost funds. As of today, July second, they have raised three times the amount of the original donation.

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Good News for Hillary

Hillary Clinton has currently raised more than $45 million for her primary campaign. According to a campaign spokeswoman speaking on behalf of the Federal Election Commission filings, ninety-one percent of the donations to Hillary for America were given in increments of $100 or less. This is important news for the campaign because it shows that Mrs. Clinton campaign has excited small-dollar donors. These small-money donors are outside her traditional concentration of big money donors from Manhattan and California.
Mrs. Clinton has been on a jam-packed fund-raising schedule across the country. Her aim is to explain her agenda at higher-dollar fund-raisers and entice donations from her wealthy donors.
The campaign’s “Hillstarters” program is raising a lot of funds from Hillary’s wealthy supporters. It has raised $27,000 from friends who were asked to give a maximum donation of $2,700.
Hillary has raised far more money than she did last time she ran in a Democratic primary. Her fund-raising efforts will not go in vain. It is projected that she will raise more funds than her Democratic and Republican rivals. Unlike 2007, her competition among the Democratic candidates for campaign funding is not substantial.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Are Beauty Pageants necessary?

On June 16th, 2015 billionaire businessman Donald Trump announced his intentions to run for President. While he is among a number of Republican candidates vying for the White House, remarks made during his announcement regarding immigration as well as the Mexican and Mexican-American community has sparked outrage for being outright discriminatory, bigoted, and inflammatory. The fear mongering comes from claims Trump has made that suggest all Mexicans who illegally cross the border are “rapists” and “drug dealers,” only later elaborating on this point a few days later following media backlash by stating that such criminal activities are not unique to Mexicans but rather all people who enter the United States undocumented from the southern border, whether the be Mexican, Central American, or South American.
In response, Univision, the Spanish language American broadcasting giant, broke a contract with Trump and refused to air the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, pageants which are facilitated by Trump enterprise The Miss Universe Organization. NBCUniversal, the other owner of The Miss Universe Organization later sided with Univision in their own refusal to broadcast the program on their own networks. While the decision to cut ties with Donald Trump stems from the insensitive comments he has made about Mexican immigrants, any talk of beauty pageants brings into focus a different conversation, one which begs the question as to whether or not beauty pageants are even a necessary component of a supposedly modern culture and that if events like Miss USA and Miss Universe are inherently at odds with the values of a 21st century America.

While various beauty pageants over the years have tried to emphasize their focus on scholarship and intangible non-physical qualities like congeniality, intelligence, and generosity, there is something intrinsic within these pageants that passively displays women’s bodies for judgment on their appropriateness and acceptability. Pageant culture has run rampant in the United States, especially in the past few decades, where women will begin preparing for such events as Miss USA from infancy a la Toddlers and Tiaras. To watch grown women paraded on stage dressed in identical bikinis awaiting judgment from predominantly male judges seems almost too archaic to be congruent to what it is we’re used to in the media. While women experience objectification and commodification on many levels and in many avenues, there is something so blatant and overt about pageants which creates a sort of dissonance that is difficult to reconcile. If we aspire to become a more feminist society, we must abandon the notion that women’s bodies are public spaces in which we can project our criticisms and judgments.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The bill to eradicate Title X

Since the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2011, they have been trying to eliminate the highly effective federal family-planning program known as Title X. In 1970, Title X was enacted by an overwhelming majority in Congress. This program gives millions of lower-income and rural women access to contraception, counseling, cancer screenings, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. 
In 2011 they tried to shut down Title X completely, but were only able to extract significant cuts from this already underfunded program. Now, a House subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services proposed to eliminate all of the Title X funding from the 2016 spending bill. The subcommittee voted to double abstinence-only education, despite the fact that it has been associated with higher rates of teen pregnancy. Since Title X is a federal program, it cannot provide any funding for abortions, yet it is caught up in the nation’s abortion wars.
The Title X grants actually help prevent unwanted pregnancies. The program helped avoid about 363,000 abortions in 2012. Also, the public money spent on family planning reduces costs related to pregnancy, birth and infant care, sexually transmitted diseases, and cervical cancer. The bill to eradicate the program takes aim at some of the most vulnerable women in the country. These women are poorer and typically live in rural areas with little access to health care.