Friday, March 27, 2009

Jury Duty No Longer Sacred?

The following article in The New York Times about how mistrials are on the rise due to jury misconduct disturbs me.
It might be called a Google mistrial. The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges.
The justice system already finds itself up against the "CSI Effect". Jurors expect snazzy forensic evidence at all trials, which is an unrealistic expectation. There is not always going to be DNA evidence left at a scene or not all evidence submitted is probative and therefore will not be tested. Those are facts that jurors tend to discount and by doing so cases are not receiving the full attention they deserve.

Now add on top of it basic juror misconduct and trials have two strikes against them. Do jurors simply not fully understand/respect how researching the trial or sharing information can destroy the trial altogether or do they not care because it is a moment in the limelight?

How does this fit into this blog you may ask? Oh...I can find a way! In the past we discussed sexual assault evidence not being tested. Now here we have instances where perhaps a high profile sexual assault case actually makes it to the jury trial phase and it can all be for naught because jurors are not taking the civic duty instructions seriously. We can't win for losing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back Up Your Birth Control with EC

Today is the Back Up Your Birth Control Day of Action!

The Back Up Your Birth Control campaign focuses on increasing awareness of and accessibility to emergency contraception (EC). It's important to get the right information out there about EC. It is NOT the abortion pill. It is NOT dangerous. It is NOT 100% effective (no form of contraception is).

It always amazes me how little some women know about EC and how it works. In college I was the Women's Studies Major, well of reproductive health information, so people always came (some still come) to me with their questions. I'm going to put that hat on right now and provide a little 411 for those reading who don't know:

You use EC, also known as the morning-after pill or Plan B, up to 3-5 days after you've had unprotected sex in order to prevent a pregnancy. The sooner you take it after intercourse, the better. It basically works like amped up birth control -- it uses hormones to stop fertilization or implantation. Because of this, it doesn't actually stop a pregnancy if it's already happened. You should take a pregnancy test before you get the EC because it'll be useless to take it if you're already pregnant. I repeat, it is NOT the abortion pill. The side-effects are similar to what you'd experience taking the pill, perhaps a bit more intense depending on your body and the hormone levels you're used to.

Currently in the U.S., EC is available over the counter if you're over 18 -- YAAAAY! For the time being, those under 18 need to have a prescription, but the age is being pushed down to 17 and the courts are asking the FDA to consider removing the age restrictions. (You can take action to make that happen here.) ETA: There are other barriers to access that you can read about here (PDF), including cost, coverage, supply, etc.

So there's your education for the day. If you have any other questions, you can ask them in the comments or email me.

Head on down to the pharmacy and stock up on EC. Go with your friends and have them do the same. And keep a stash handy so you can help somebody out when there's an emergency.

(Cross-posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Celebrating Women's History Month

Time for a little shameless self-promotion here at TheFU.

Have you gotten a chance to check out the Legendary Latinas series over on Jump off the Bridge? In it, I've been highlighting the lives and work of Latinas who have been an inspiration to me in celebration of Women's History Month. Here's a peak at the profiles:

Frida Kahlo
What I really want to do is show why it was so easy for me to love a woman who lived with such pain (physically and emotionally), but who was still able to produce work that spoke truth to that pain and to live her life without apologies.

Dolores Huerta
Her very essence screams to me "I will not be shut down, I will be heard! If you can't speak, I'll be your voice!" I spent a lot of time in my life keeping quiet for the sake of pleasing others, so I have the utmost respect for a woman so fearless.

Rita Moreno
When I was growing up and had dreams of being a world-famous entertainer, I wanted to be Rita Moreno. No, not be like her, I wanted to BE HER... Yep, I'm obsessed. But really, you should be too!

Gloria Anzaldúa
You do not need to be Chicana or even Latina to appreciate her work. It's like she could see what was in our souls. She pulled it out, examined it, played with it, and blew it back in, writing its truth in a way so very real to me.

So that's what I've been working on to celebrate Women's History Month. What have all of you been doing? Blog posts, women's issues, activism, non-profit initiatives?? Leave your links in the comments so we can check it out and celebrate our great work!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

History Repeats Itself with Gender and the Economy

I think ABC News has been following my comments around the blogosphere, because they're reporting on what I've been saying for months now: When Mom Becomes the Breadwinner: Recession's Economic Toll Is Causing Some Couples Marital Issues

I learned in my Women's Studies courses that, like most things in this world, unemployment and economic issues are gendered, and that the personal effects of these are easy to predict. Based on what we know from history (especially The Great Depression and war-time economies), the cycle goes a little something like this:
  • Men and women generally start off on unequal footing, with men making more than women
  • Economy starts to implode, companies need to lay people off in droves (or, in the case of war, men just go buh-bye)
  • In addition to laying people off, companies must now "restructure" - preferably by just reshuffling the people they have left and promoting them without significant raises
  • Men make more to start and are more likely to demand a raise if they get promoted, so men are the first to be fired
  • Women now becomes the head of household
  • Men get depressed, angry, upset, uneasy, etc. because 1) they've lost their job (already an emotional ordeal) and 2) they no longer fill the role society expects from them
  • Tension grows in the home
  • Women are likely still working some form of a "double-shift," many women start to pressure husbands to find a job, even when there aren't any
  • Couple gets divorced, or the men just disappear, or the men commit suicide, or some combination of the above

Seriously, examining this cycle made up about a third of my Women's History course one semester because some variation of this has happened several times throughout U.S. history.

This is yet another example of how sexism and gender roles hurt men and women alike. In my opinion, the heart of the matter is what I pointed out above: they no longer fill the role society expects from them. Losing a job for anybody is stressful, especially during tough economic times. And if your identity is closely linked to your job - as it so often is in the U.S. - that stress is magnified. But add to it the fact that men are still seen as traditional breadwinners and heads of household, and you've got a recipe for disaster.

So far in history, there hasn't been a solution for this cycle, and I'm not sure if there will be one now. My hope is that some good can come of this.

Maybe this time around, there will be more acceptance of seeing men in this role. Or perhaps if enough men embrace the role of stay-at-home father, the government will start paying attention to the needs of parents and focus on access to daycare, education, etc. Okay, those wishes are probably too ambitious, but there's no harm in dreaming.

(Cross-posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hey Wait A Mintute!

What is this crazy gender equality talk going on across the pond?
Has Margot Wallstrom been reading our blog?
I am lucky to come from a country - Sweden - where gender equality is practically taken for granted.

In order to create a level playing field there must at least be decent childcare systems in place.

Let me be very clear: I am not arguing that women are better than men. What I am arguing is that representative democracy which excludes 52% of the population from the decision-making tables is not real democracy at all. It is in the interest of society as a whole - women and men - that we be represented equally. Why? Because women bring a different view of the world to the table - they have different experiences, they see things differently and they act differently.

An example (to generalise): to a man, the word "security" often means tank battalions and missile defence systems. To a woman it can mean access to education and clean drinking water for children.

Not a bad read at BBC.
Happy International Women's Day (a day late but not a dollar short)!

I am so tickled that Margot Wallstrom (wish I knew how to get my keyboard to generate the correct spelling) not only stopped by our blog, but that she left a comment. Thank you! You made my day. It encouraged me to do some more searching, which lead me to her blog here. In the same spirit as her comment, I am happy to have found her blog.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy Int'l Women's Day!

It's International Women's Day! Celebrated every year on March 8th, it's a time to reflect on the accomplishments and advancements made to women's rights around the world. It is obviously also a great time to think about how to move forward - there's never time for a day off when there's social justice to think about.

In terms of accomplishments, there are many to look at. Going back to the women's suffrage movements around the world, there have always been struggles for equality. This year we've already got Iceland's first woman Prime Minister who's openly lesbian, the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in the U.S., and some more rights for women in Iran, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

But, we've also got anti-choicers having a field day in the U.S., rape still being used as a weapon of war in Congo, and the Catholic Church is excommunicating doctors for saving lives performing abortions.

So I'll turn to you all and ask what you think are some of the best recent accomplishments, and what advancements do you want to make this year for women's rights around the world?

The only other assignment I leave you with is to show some love to all the women in your life. Let them know you admire and respect them, and that their lives are valued.

(Cross-posted at Jump off the Bridge.)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Poor Start to the Weekend

My only hope is that the word on the street is wrong when it comes to Prop8 being upheld in California. The quote that pissed me off the most is this:

"Proposition 8 does not erode any of the bundle of rights that this state has very generously provided" to same-sex couples.

- Kenneth Starr, lawyer for Protect Marriage, the sponsor of Prop.

Oh really? Well how frickin' nice to be allowed to maintain some generously provided but apparently not fundamentally deserved human rights.

I need a beer.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I am just now watching a re-run of The Daily Show with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and all I can think is that she is not supposed to be sitting there on The Daily Show...she is supposed to still be sitting on the Supreme Court.

It's true...that is all I've got.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

When Privilege Smacks You in the Face

Here I am, an immigrant who struggled to perfect my English so that I'd be accepted. I'm a woman who has trouble taking orders from anybody, but especially men. I have more debt than I feel comfortable admitting to. I did not grow up wealthy (AT ALL). I know what gunshots sound like in real life. The only thing I've ever (co)owned is the car my guy and I bought from his father for $1,000 that was just stolen.

And yet...

I order food at work a few times every month. And my delivery guy is always a Latino who doesn't really speak English. And I get annoyed when they're late or make me leave my desk to sign for the food. And I feel guilty because I don't have any cash and just realized that the tip I put on my card when I placed the order is not enough for a roundtrip MetroCard. And I feel disgusted until the next time I get hungry and inevitably do it all over again.

I really need to start bringing cash to work...