Wednesday, August 30, 2006
1.) I'm amused that Forbes, after realizing that pissing off their entire female audience (do they think Forbes is only read by housewives and male CEOs...?), quickly retracted the original article, did some editing and got Forbes witer Elizabeth Corcoran to write a satirical rebuttal. Corcoran's piece is three paragraphs shorter than Noers, has no references and has tone that attempts to imply that both articles were written in good fun and a bit of woman-bashing on Noer's side shouldn't be taken seriously. I'm intrigued that the editors actually thought that this was sufficient in appeasing the anger and disbelief that Noer provoked.
2.) For anyone who needs a reason for why gender/feminist studies needs more funding, more teachers, more students...I would like to bring to your attention to one of the statements that Noer makes based on his review of research in social sciences:
Entire women studies course are based around what the notion of 'classic economics' means for women's equality and how, by remaining the dominant and sole form of analysis, it limits the inclusion of women's independence in any real picture of society. The use of classic economics in gender development programmes has also been recognized to be the number one flaw in why programmes fail (I would like to point out here too that for development programmes especially, 'classic economics' also means 'western economics', but that is for another day). Another great example of how the application of 'classic economics' isn't exactly neutral and objective is the UK pension system - a complete violation of British women's human rights, because it is STILL based on the classic notion that women do not need pensions that are equal to men because a) they will be able to rely on their husbands pension and b) women take time off to have children, therefore contribute less to their pensions through paying national insurance tax. Hmmm, does anyone see a correlation between that model and the fact that the UK's most destitute population is ELDERLY WOMEN?
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Both Daum and Kincaid are right but I think they overestimate the condemnation we apparently impose on parents who enter their children into the weird world of child beauty pageants. Two things keep popping into my head whenever JonBenet is brought up and people attempt to debate about it. The first is about how we actually talk about JonBenet, which is awkward for even the most liberal thinkers. It brings up too many issues around where the line begins between a parent's choice on how to raise their child (and therefore none of our business) and the sexualization of children, which is inherently linked to the sexualization of women in our culture and everyone's business. I do agree with Daum that mothers are always the first to be blamed when something happens to a child, but there is not enough criticism of child beauty pageants, somehow seen as some odd, slightly Southern, America-doesn't-know-better events that sit on this afore mentioned line. The only way we have to deal with it at the moment is to blame the parents.
The second thing that keeps popping into my head is the controversy over Jill Greenberg's End Times exhibition. Greenberg's pictures of crying children, meant to convey a political message, has caused her to be branded as a child-absuer and sick woman, using the pain and suffering of innocent children for the sake of art. How dare she!? Taking picture of children...for ART! What was she thinking....crazy woman. Even though she has explained over and over again that parents were present at all times and the children were provoqued to tears by giving them a lollipop and then taking it away. The pain and suffering is more than I can take...Please. Greenberg was quoted in The Times as saying that the accusation that her images has some sort of sexual content came as a surprise to her, "A lot of the people who've been upset are men. I don't know if it's because they project their own desires on these images and they don't know what to do with them and blame me."
We have become so twisted and conservative about child imagery that over, sexually provogative images of little girls is less offensive that implied pain or suffering of children. We are so afraid to talk about pedophilia, yet are so obssessed with it, that we put child abuse and child molestation into one big pot, which is why people see a sexual content in Greenberg's images. Also, we seem to have dropped the debate on the sexualization of women's pain in mainstream imagery.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Often times when I have a conversation with someone about why I am a feminist (or why they AREN'T a feminist....), it focuses on the disbelief that things are really that bad for women. There seems to be this impression out there that if women had it all that bad, then surely we would be hearing more about, right?
Friday, August 18, 2006
To make it even clearer: this article in today's BBC news AGAIN goes to show how the real issue for many feminists (men and women!) in the abortion debate is not about abortion but about choice and control over one's own body - when that means not having a baby, or in the case of the Chinese, having one if you choose to.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
This blog has been recently focused on pregnancy (for reasons I am obviously ridiculously excited about), and perhaps because of Carter Ann's focus on choice, I've been thinking quite a bit lately about contraception/ abortion/ reproductive rights debates that are indeed also centered around choice: the first choice a pregnant woman must make. I'm currently reading The Cider House Rules by John Irving, which I will happily report my musings on when I'm done; but even at this early stage in the book it's pretty clear that Irving understands how poverty and reproductive rights were extremely intersecting issues in the past (and continue to be today).
I just wanted to point you all in the direction of this release from the Feminist Majority Foundation (reprinted below). If you don't already subscribe to this, I urge you to - it's a great source of news from around the world and reminds us of the struggle we all continue to fight against ideologies that deny women of rights.
Feminist Daily News Wire
August 16, 2006
Study: Expanding Coverage of Contraceptives Will Reduce Unwanted Pregnancies
Research by the Guttmacher Institute released today finds that expanding Medicaid coverage of contraceptives would reduce dramatically the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions, preventing close to 500,000 unwanted pregnancies and 200,000 abortions annually. The Guttmacher Policy Review also finds that by preventing unwanted pregnancy, federal and state governments could save $1.5 billion by not having to pay for pre- and post-natal pregnancy care for Medicaid recipients.
The report by Rachel Benson Gold, “Rekindling Efforts to Prevent Unplanned Pregnancy,”cites research by the Guttmacher Institute showing that there is a growing disparity between upper- and middle-class women and poor women’s ability to prevent unwanted pregnancy. According to this research, poor women are “nearly four times as likely to have an unplanned pregnancy, five times as likely to have an unintended birth and more than three times as likely to have an abortion” as higher-income women, according to Guttmacher. Gold’s report recommends that Medicaid cover the same women for contraceptive services that it covers for pregnancy-related expenses. While covering contraceptive services for women on Medicaid would have higher upfront costs, she writes, state and federal pregnancy-related expenditures would drop as the number of unwanted pregnancies also dropped.
“Expanding Medicaid eligibility would be tremendously effective in restarting the nation’s stalled efforts to reduce unplanned pregnancy and, thereby, the need for abortion,” said Gold, the Guttmacher Institute’s Director of Policy Analysis.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Another piece from OnPhilanthropy that might be of interest to our readers. The Global Fund for Women is an awesome organization!
The Other Side of the Story: Q&A with the Global Fund for Women
By: Alisha Fernandez, 08/09/06
As philanthropy becomes increasingly integrated into business functions, corporate grantmakers often find themselves faced with the same measurements and indicators as other corporate units. What is our bottom line? How are we performing? And perhaps more importantly, how can we become more effective in our giving?
The final question is one that is frequently top of mind for anyone involved in corporate philanthropy, but it is perhaps less often that these answers are sought from the most critical stakeholders: the non-profits that are creating the impact that corporate donors seek.
One such non-profit is the Global Fund for Women, an organization that is no stranger to successful corporate partnerships. Founded nearly 20 years ago, the Fund makes grants to women’s groups all over the world with money raised exclusively from individual, corporate, and foundation donors. The fund boasts several large corporations as partners, including American Express, JP Morgan Chase, Reebok and Starbucks. Since its inception, it has made grants totaling more than $50 million to over 3,000 women's groups in 163 countries.
OnPhilanthropy’s Alisha Fernandez spoke recently with Caitlin Stanton, Development Officer at the Global Fund, to learn how the organization has developed successful corporate partnerships and how other corporations and nonprofits can do the same.
OP: What types of characteristics make someone the ideal member of your team to deal with corporations?
CS: In general, we seek out people who understand the goals and objectives corporations have for giving to non-profits, are skilled at establishing rapport and building relationships, and possess strong written and oral communication skills that resonate with corporate audiences.
OP: What mechanisms are in place both to make giving easy for donors and to ensure that their strategic philanthropic goals may be met?
CS: The Global Fund for Women offers a variety of avenues for corporations. They can donate directly to any of the Global Fund’s five programmatic areas that support women’s and girls’ rights; match gifts made by their employees to the Global Fund; sponsor a Global Fund event; or brand a product with the Global Fund logo and donate the proceeds from sales of that product.
OP: Crafting messaging that will benefit both the corporate client and the non-profit, and communicating those messages effectively, is obviously a key part of your relationships with corporate donors. How do you make this easy for them?
CS: We have found that both event sponsorship and branding partnerships help corporations to meet visibility and brand identity goals. However, when companies donate directly to our programmatic areas, we provide detailed reports that give them an understanding of the impact made by their grants. This includes specific accounts of the work that grantee organizations are doing, grantee photos, and data on the challenges and social issues that grantees are addressing. Companies share these facts and stories with their boards, employees, and clients.
OP: What specific internal assets does the Fund leverage to cultivate corporate relationships?
CS: We provide companies with opportunities to hear directly from Kavita Ramdas, our CEO and president, in educational programs. She is a dynamic, visionary and highly knowledgeable speaker whose passion and commitment to creating an equitable world comes through in her presentations. Having the opportunity to meet and hear her has proven to be valuable for companies as a way to increase their staffs’ morale and stimulate pride in the companies’ social impact.
Also, in formal reports that detail how funds were used, we share the stories of how our courageous grantees are working tirelessly every day to transform their communities. We also provide data and statistics to companies on the well-documented impact of increased opportunities for women and girls in the world. We do oral presentations to corporate employees, including senior management, to share inspirational stories of grantees and the importance of investing in women internationally as a strategy that yields high returns.
OP: Do you often face opposition from corporations who worry about controversy in giving to the Global Fund (e.g., around sensitive women’s issues that you support, such as Advancing Health and Sexual Reproductive Rights)? If so, how do you assuage donors’ concerns?
CS: The Global Fund partners with companies that have similar core values to our organization, so while this doesn't mean that our corporate funders always agree about every issue with GFW, it does mean the funders that are uncomfortable with social change issues do not tend to partner with GFW. We also work with funders to select the areas of our work that they are comfortable supporting and most interested in. For example, some corporate funders have chosen to focus their support for our work in support of economic justice or girls’ education.
GFW does help create messaging and participate in donor education activities about why we support the issues we support. While in the past we have not emphasized donor education with corporations, we have begun doing more of this, and have seen that corporations appreciate when we have knowledgeable staff make presentations or hold events that are issue-focused.
OP: What are the ways in which the Fund ensures healthy, effective and productive relationships with its corporate donors?
CS: The Global Fund takes great care to hold conversations with prospective corporate partners that explore the values and goals that each party has for the relationship. Just as companies make sure to “qualify” prospective clients to ensure that both partners are clear on the expectations each has of the relationship, we strive to ensure that companies understand our philosophy of grantmaking. The Global Fund gives mostly general support grants because we firmly believe that women already know the best way to address the problems they face. Therefore, we ask that our companies address us with a similar level of respect and trust in our expertise and 18 years of experience.
OP: Along the same lines, if you were advising a corporation on how to work well with its non- profit partners, what would you recommend?
CS: Find an organization whose values resonate with your own, and whose staff you trust, and then be willing to trust the organization and recognize the knowledge and experience they bring to the table. Be willing to provide support for capacity-building so that the organization can develop staff in areas that you see and the organization agrees need strengthening whether that be in the areas of media relations, accounting, human resource development, or evaluation. Listen to what the organization is trying to accomplish and proceed in a way that is respectful of the organization’s leadership and goals. Recognize that non-profits can have insights to share with for-profits and be willing to relinquish the idea that you should be in control of the gift and what the organization does with it. Take time to learn more about the slow pace of social change, but to also learn to recognize the signs that social change is happening.
OP: On the flip side, what advice you would give to non-profits working with corporate donors?
CS: Don't lump all companies into the stereotype of the “evil corporation" there are a lot of good people and good companies out there. Don’t think that accepting corporate funding automatically compromises your mission. Many corporations have missions and values that are committed to benefiting their community and the environment; before entering into a relationship with a corporation, carefully review the purpose of the partnership and determine whether you have the capacity to meet the corporation’s needs. Both partners should feel confident that they are benefiting from the relationship.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
On a side note, this tendency to have to explain my choices concerning my baby/labor is a tendency that I was warned about, but nonetheless I haven't been able to avoid it and am still surprised by it. I also am thrilled (in a completely facetious way) that I can openly discuss how my baby is going to come out of my VAGINA in an office environment but marketing campaigns still use blue liquid for tampon and pad ads. Does anyone else find that strangely hypocritical?
Things I would like to point out:
- There is a likelihood that drugs used in an epidural will pass through to the baby, even in small amounts. If I am spending nine months avoiding anything harmful, the 'small amount' that might pass through is significant considering it will effect the baby.
- It's assumed that an epidural procedure is an exact science, as if there is never any question of reacting badly to the drugs or having the amounts be inaccurate. Leveling out medication is a normal process is most other areas of medicine, so why pretend that this problem doesn't apply to childbirth?
- Epidurals increase likelihood of fever and low-blood pressure during labor, this leads to a plethora of other problems that I'm not going to go into.
- 20-30% of women experience nausea after receiving epidurals and some may vomit.
- There have been cases of women dying from epidurals - due to heart attacks, fluid in lungs etc..
- Sometimes epidurals don't work! So what happens to the women who didn't prepare themselves for having a natural childbirth? That's a pretty big surprise to deal with.
There is a constant concern about the level of information that women are given about epidurals and their side effects. This is a recognized problem, not one that a couple rabid, crazy, doctor-hating women have issues with yet there is an 95% epidural rate in the USA. That's pretty high.
I'm reiterating that this blog entry is not about whether natural is better than epidural, but about why medicalization of childbirth is not more debated. As has been pointed out by thousands before me, childbirth is not a medical PROBLEM or ILLNESS, therefore we need a different approach to it, not a CURE.
Other blogs discussing epidurals:
Getting the Epidural