Just things.

I loved our week on trangender issues and the internet. I found a bunch of sweet new tumblrs and have now been opened up to YouTube channels. Of course, I always knew what they were, but I had just never had any desire to watch them consistently. But now I really think I might.

I will take any chance to educate anyone on the truths about transgender issues. Anything from telling someone outright that it is not okay to call ANYONE a “tranny” to having a real educational conversation about what it means to be genderqueer. Unfortunately though, it seems like most conversations revolve around what NOT to say. I’d say the biggest thing that someone who is honestly curious and doesn’t want to offend anyone can do is go to the interwebs. If you see someone walking on the street and you assume they are trangendered, straight up asking them questions is never the way to go about it. It’s so incredibly rude. But the internet offers information and advice to people of all genders, and the best part is, it’s coming from people who WANT to share. These people are voluntarily sharing information and experiences, and sometimes pictures of their beautiful naked bodies, so that you can learn from them.

The funny thing to me is that through all this education and information sharing of labels and titles and names, it’s really pointing at one thing: it doesn’t matter. Labels don’t matter. Specified gender doesn’t matter. Sure it matters to one’s personal identity, but what we’re all getting at is that it’s all awesome. That’s always been very interesting to me, that paradox. We advocate the normality of alternative lifestyles but we do so by creating a plethora of distinguishing titles and concepts. I’m not bashing it though. I see the need for it. Without labels, people who live in what society deems as a “normal life” could never grasp and eventually accept these notions until, at first, they have clear labels for them. It’s just an idea I’ve always though of with a slight mental chuckle.

Sorry for the more-thoughts, less-fact post this week, but the transgender umbrella is something I find very special, and best understood if talked out, rather than measured.

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Santorum.

Lets begin by saying, I love politics.  I understand (kinda) how some people say things like “I don’t care about politics” because they think it doesn’t affect their lives. But that really is not the case. I guess it’s like when you start driving a new car and suddenly you see that same car EVERYWHERE. That’s what politics is like even if you start paying the least bit of attention. Maybe, hopefully, this recent explosion in media coverage on the contraceptive debate will be a catalyst for many.

While I could go on and on about contraceptives and  abortion and their mysteriously huge impact on American politics, I want to focus on this unlikely comeback kid, Rick *coughdick* Santorum.

Not even two months ago, no one even thought twice about Santorum. He was clearly being left out of the picture by the media and he had substantially less funding then the two real contenders, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. But in a huge upset, he has swept Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado and become the star of the mainstream political spotlight. However, there is one issue that has really rocketed him to his current position: contraception.

I’ll let him speak for himself for a moment:

– Plan B morning-after pill is abortion, and dangerous.

– Partial birth abortion is not used only for abnormalities.

– Scientifically, an embryo is human from moment of conception.

– 93% of abortions are post-conception birth control.

– Partial birth abortion allows killing baby if only toe is in.

– “The state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that. It is not a constitutional right, the state has the right to pass whatever statutes they have. That is the thing I have said about the activism of the Supreme Court, they are creating right, and they should be left up to the people to decide.” (Talking about states having the right to outlaw birth control.)

Now a lot of this sounds pretty ridiculous to many. Any pro-choicer would be able to smell the pr0-lifeness coming off of him. But I will say, he has brought an issue up that I personally had never even thought of as something  controversial: pre-natal testing.

Santorum and many others claim that pre-testing, while working under the guise of making sure your baby is healthy before they are born, is really a seek and destroy mission for feti with disorders such as Downs Syndrome. I watched him discuss this issue on Face the Nation last Sunday. He’s some of what he has to say.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWLW_xtFH-U

 

I would love to discuss this in class because I myself even have concerns about it. While I wholly disagree that prenatal testing should be outlawed, it’s an interesting concept. Part of me thinks, yes, this is a huge discriminatory practice  taking place, even going beyond generic abortion. But then a greater part of me thinks of my uncle, who is mentally retarded, classmates who were in special classes and will go through life constantly being made fun of or, sometimes in more horrifying cases, sexually abused, and those who have more degenerative genetic disorders and are doomed to a life of inaction.

It’s a really intricate and tough subject, but in my opinion, it still comes down to the woman’s choice and what she thinks she can and wants to handle.

 

 

Gender Partisan Gap

So last week was CRAZY. On Friday I had a paper due in my POLS Campaigns and Elections class and despite being genuinely interested in my chosen topic, the Gender Partisan Gap, it was a very stressful paper to write. In addition to my post this week I’d just like to share it with everyone. Oh, and by the way…..I think I probably had the best title in the class….

Also, the numbers are my citations. I see now the version I have saved on my laptop doesn’t have the bibliography attached. I have them if anyone is really interested, they’re all scholarly papers I found on Google Scholars/JSTOR/etc.

 

A Woman’s Cleavage

Understanding the Partisan Gender Gap

The change in partisan identification of men and women has become a popular field of study. Currently the two genders are further apart than they have been since 1977 (1). These macropolitical analyses all agree that the differences are existent outside of elections (1) and do accurately apply to women as voters as a whole. Very importantly, these studies are not meant to draw conclusions about the two genders, but rather examine what the differences are and why (1). While some may agree with an attitude-based hypothesis, the concept that there are fundamental differences in the preferences of men and women (6), the best way to analyze these shifts in aggregate partisanship is to look at the trends in defection the last thirty years, see that common political sentiments among women clearly point to their participation in the Democratic party, and take note of the historical events that had influence on the political leanings of the two genders.

Beginning in the nineteen sixties, researchers found a trend of defection from the Democratic party (7). More people were moving toward increasingly conservative standpoints and both men and women were re-identifying themselves as Republicans, this increase in conservatism increased the size of the gap (1). Conservative preferences are twice as popular as liberal preferences (1). This proved the surprising fact that autonomy, which was on the rise for women during this time due to the Women’s Rights Movement, did not necessarily mean distinct political preferences (1). However, it is also recognized that the defection of women has come at a much slower rate than men, and this is also a popular belief as to why there are so many women who are Democrats (5). Then President Reagan is elected. Some feminist theorists believe Reagan’s anti-abortion and Equal Rights Amendment opinions turned women away from the Republican party, furthering the gap (5), however, other researchers claim there was a slight bump in numbers of Republican women due to them following men into the party (6). Despite this, the partisan gender gap continued to grow over time and, by 1992, it was solidified as a substantial part of the political leanings of the American people. Although the gender gap exists in both the Northern states and the Southern states, it is noted that the numbers for the partisan gender gap, if examined by North and South separately, are different. This is due to greater partisan preferences, typically toward the Republican party (5). In total, between 1977 and 2000, over 50 percent of women polled by CBS News and the New York Times claimed Democratic partisanship and the gender gap ranged from zero to 10 percent (1).

Now, personally, previous to doing research for this paper, if someone told me that there are more women in the Democratic party because it holds more “feminine” principles, I would have disregarded it as misogynistic generalizations. Although surprisingly, this mentality is actually rooted in feminist theory.  Many vocal and politically minded women have often said that the “women-centered perspective” that focuses on the female experience is a unique source of values for society (3). The exact impact of this perspective is elusive, but many feminists still believe it is valid. Studies have been done to prove, interestingly enough, that if there is a distinctive woman’s perspective, it is not apparent in the political values of women as a whole (3). However, I must say I was told this now, I would feel differently. Each of these scholarly papers note at least once through either empirical evidence or other well regarded statistics that women are more drawn to the Democratic party partly because of it’s more compassionate tenants and  it’s equality-driven advocacy, which, as shown in very eloquent and sometimes longwinded evidence, are also shared by most women. They pose a nearly unarguable position that even I personally, reluctantly, can agree with. For example, women oppose capital punishment and support stricter gun control laws, and they are less likely to support involvement in foreign wars (1). Yep, that’s me. It’s not always easy to admit you’re apart of a statistic, but I see myself and many of my female peers in almost all of these representations. Also, women are supportive of government involvement in the economy to ensure good jobs, assertions of a  certain standard of living, and an increase in government services in general (1). These are all stances often associated with the Democratic party. Another, and even more logical in my opinion, reason for females finding themselves better represented by the Democratic party is there are more women than there are men who are dependent on welfare (1). There has been rapid increases in women who receive state benefits and women who are the head of their households (1), and of course there is the long standing disproportionate number of women who must carry the brunt of responsibilities for the young and the elderly (1). After reading all of these increases in the amount of work that many women must single-handedly take care of, I can’t help but wonder if there is any correlation between this and the staggering number of males in the US penitentiary system, which, as we all know, has the highest number of inmates in the world. Regardless of this curious connection, women suffer a economic vulnerability that very clearly is a propelling reason for so many women to support the Democratic party.

Another question that comes into play in the studies of the partisan gender gap is that of the involvement of independent voters. How do their numbers effect the gap? First of all, there are two different types of independent voters: pure and Democratic or Republican leaning. Traditional treatment of the gender gap, which ignores the leaning independents, mainly focuses on the large concentration of women in the Democratic party. However, if you include the leaning independents, one sees that there is an almost equal concentration of men in the Republican party, proving that there is an affinity for each party by each respective gender (2). It is easy to discount these leaning voters and come to the conclusion that more women align themselves with the Democratic party because women are on average 6 percentage points less likely than men to view themselves as political independents (2). This could be due to the fact that women are likely to view parties more favorably than men (2). They more comfortably assign blame and credit (1) and therefore find it easier to commit to one party or the other.

Being a feminist myself, this topic really jumped out at me right from the start. It’s incredibly important to know what disparities exist between groups, especially gendered groups, and to study them, find out why they exist and if they are a detriment to you, or in this case, the nation. The gender gap doesn’t seem to make an incredibly hurtful impact on our politics, but there’s no reason we should feel that we should follow a certain party because of gender patterns. Political discussion is very often segregated, that is men talk with men and women talk with women about politics (4) and this, I believe, is a perpetrator of this gender gap and it is a problem. What it means to be a Democrat or a Republican doesn’t mean the same things it meant when this research began and it puzzling that the two seem to be diverging as they are (1).  This gap is not a residual phenomenon, it is subject to constant stimulation (1) and because of this, I feel it can be remedied. While the partisan gender gap may be on the back burner of most people’s, and probably many politician’s, minds, it’s something we should all be aware of so as a nation we do not fall into a gendered political scene, sorted by what’s in our pants and how we think we supposed to develop, politically and ideologically.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUU

I forgot! Wah..wah…waaahhhh. But I might as well post anyway. CUZ I HAD A RAD TOPIC THIS WEEK.

 

So this week I discovered a campaign against abortion I’d never heard of, of all places, on the show Tosh.0. Typically, Daniel Tosh’s show is incredibly crass and offensive. He jokes at the expense of everyone imaginable. The basis of his show is playing viral videos and makes jokes about them, occasionally bringing in the subjects of these videos to undergo even more ridicule. But recently, he brought up a series of videos that are a part of a new and younger person-oriented pro-life, or as they say Whole Life, campaign (http://tosh.comedycentral.com/video-clips/until-abortion-ends). The sell is this: each person participating gives something up, until abortion is ended. They cleverly titled it, Until Abortion Ends (http://www.untilabortionends.com/en-us/default.aspx).

The movement is gaining momentum through social networking sites like Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Until-Abortion-Ends/140307996028415 and http://www.facebook.com/IAMWHOLELIFE?sk=wall) and Twitter. While reading some of the resulting articles from a Google search, I don’t seem to be the only one who doesn’t take this very seriously. Like many others, my first thought is this: who benefits from you “sacrificing” things like candy and ice cream. The tiny masses of cells that could potentially ruin or end someone’s life don’t. And the organizations you’re abstaining from may not even support pro-life causes. However, I was raised Catholic, I understand this concept that self sacrifice actually means something. Even after I lost my childlike obedience to the Church, I did participate in Lent, a season of sacrifice, because I liked the idea of having a mandated break from something I may be abusing. But that was for my personal benefit, not for some cause that will feel no impact from my sacrifice.

All in all, these guys are gunning for the wrong cause. Approximately 70,000 women worldwide die every year from unsafe abortions (http://www.unfpa.org/swp/1997/fig4.htm). Instead of shooting for an unrealistic goal like ending abortion entirely, why not accept that it’s a valid medical procedure and put your efforts into making the world a safer place for women…..but I guess that hope is about just as unrealistic as that of the participants in this movement.

Komen undone.

See what I did there.

 

This weeks entertaining news come from Feministing.com.  As many of us have already heard, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure fund, which is the largest breast cancer awareness/research-funding/everything organization and turns thirty years old this year, cut off it’s funding to Planned Parenthood so as to not further Komen’s support of their abortion services. Surprisingly, some good and some humorous things have cropped up out of this.

Firstly, Planned Parenthood received 650,000 dollars in donations in the twenty-four hours following the news. That’s about enough to make up for one year’s worth of Komen’s usual donations ( http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/02/top_komen_official_resigns_site_was_hacked_and_planned_parenthood_donations_surge.html ).

Also, on a funnier note, around midnight last night a hacker tapped into the Susan G. Komen website and rigged to so anyone trying to get to the site was redirected to a fake website for the organization. Under what would be a link to more information about their marathon for breast cancer, they wrote:  “Help us run over poor women on our way to the bank.”

Another small benefit from the shutting down of funds was a tumblr blog started by Deanna Zandt for people to submit how Planned Parenthood helped them, or even saved their lives. Her headline reads:

“I got birth control from Planned Parenthood. I didn’t have health insurance. It was nearby where I lived. So I didn’t get pregnant, until I wanted to, and I married the guy. A happy ending.”

Many other people, about seventy posts in all, shared their stories about how Planned Parenthood provided birth control, prevented them from succumbing to cervical cancer, counseled them after suffering sexual assault, and many more moving experiences (http://plannedparenthoodsavedme.tumblr.com/). I personally have never been to PP for any appointments, but my mother worked at the one in my hometown for two years and I can say I learned a lot from the numerous pamphlets I picked up or informational sheets my mom brought home. Plus, I guess I can also say their free condoms kept me safe at the onset of my sexual career. Whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life, Planned Parenthood undeniably provides benefits to your community.

Finally, as much as some may think he’s a nut and a wannabe “King of New York”, Micheal Bloomberg is matching up to 250,000 dollars in donations to Planned Parenthood. PROPS.

For anyone who would like to make their own contribution here’s the website. Stand with Planned Parenthood!!!!

http://bit.ly/ylZqbs

 

Kathleen Cleaver of the Black Panther Party breaks down Why we wear our hair like this 1968

Reminded me of class today.

 

 

EDIT: I got this video from my favourite sex-positive blog on tumblr, http://sexxxisbeautiful.tumblr.com/. CHECK IT.