About the Weird Lady Who Wanted to Tell Me a Story

Photo source: http://b86a38.medialib.glogster.com/media/0f06ea26e463f923db200101373d3c8068fef0230e768b13b46d1df7f06d02d5/spermicide-gun.jpg

“Would you like to hear a story about abortion?”  The woman in her 50s who I just met asked me this.  Several seconds earlier, she had asked me what I thought about abortion, then cut me off before I could even answer her.  I don’t think she was really interested in my response.  All the while, she barely looked me in the eye. I wondered what I was getting myself into with this new writing group.  No one else had even shown up yet.

I said yes because to say no would be impolite.  I then sat through a pretty basic story about a young woman getting her bangs trimmed.  I kept waiting for the juicy part.

At the end, the hairdresser revealed to the young woman in the story that she used to hide a container of contraceptive foam in an empty box near her bed. That was how she managed to keep the number of children to three.  Once her husband found the container, she had three more children.

It was an interesting enough story, but it wasn’t about abortion! The contraceptive foam referred to is a spermicide. Spermicide is inserted into the vagina before sex and it kills sperm before it can fertilize any eggs.  It is a method of contraception, not an abortifacient.

Contraception prevents pregnancy, so it cannot be an abortifacient.

Another member of the writing group arrived before I could school this woman on the fact that her story wasn’t about abortion.  I would have been more surprised at her ignorance if it wasn’t for the Hobby Lobby case decided last year. In that case, attorneys for Hobby Lobby made arguments that ran counter to science. For example, Plan B (the morning after pill) does not cause an abortion, nor do IUDs, despite Hobby Lobby’s argument to the contrary. Don’t believe me? You can read it from a whole bunch of professional medical associations here.

Misinformation only helps anti-reproductive rights zealots confuse the public. Get informed!


The Best Decision I Ever Made…

I was participating in one of those icebreaker exercises in a group the other day, the kind where you have to finish a sentence that is shared with everyone.  Among the three choices was “The best decision I ever made was…”.  As we went around, one of the woman declared, “The best decision I ever made was marrying my husband.”  As the group let out a collective “aww”, my first reaction was to laugh at her.  Really, you couldn’t come up with anything better than that? You have made no bigger & better decision than which man to marry?

I didn’t laugh, and I hope no one could tell what I was thinking from my facial expression.  Although it was just a response to a silly icebreaker, I have been thinking of it since.

In earlier generations, it was a woman’s goal in life to find a successful, charming husband to take care of her. First a wife, then a mother, thus fulfilling her destiny in life.  Every woman was taught to want a Prince Charming to rescue her and provide for her ’til happily ever after.

Then, women gradually joined the workforce, pursued higher education, gained access to birth control.  Suddenly, women didn’t need men to be socially and economically stable.  Marriage remained big on the bucketlist of many women, but it wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all.  Women could claim their own successes and dream independently.

While women are of course still getting married in this country, the number who are married by the age of 32 is at an all time low.  Compared with 65% of women in 1960, only 26% of women were married by that age in 2015. Women are marrying later in order to pursue higher education, travel, get ahead in their careers, or just simply because they do not feel rushed to do so.

As we forego marriage for other endeavours, there are more chances for success, more decisions to be made, more forks in the road to consider. The best decision you ever make could be to move across the country solo, to pursue a graduate degree, to accept the job that allows you to travel all over the world, to sell everything you own and go backpacking, to run for political office, to take on a case that has you arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court, to open your own art gallery, to write a book, to freeze your eggs, to study yoga. The possibilities are endless. So, of all the choices, is participating in a ceremony that nearly everyone you know will participate in at some point in their lives (and then maybe get divorced) really the best decision you ever made?

I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with marriage. It’s a beautiful thing when two people love one another and make a commitment. I am just suggesting that as women, perhaps we can lay claim to having made other, more important decisions that do not require another person.  We have fought too long and hard for our independence to measure our decision-making and successes by who we marry.

What about you? What’s the best decision you ever made? Answer in the comments!

Source: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/xbk2W69n5DY/maxresdefault.jpg


Alabama Gets Dissed by SCOTUS

About fifteen years ago, a same sex couple had children. One woman birthed the children and the couple moved to Georgia from Alabama temporarily in order to allow the other woman to adopt the children. The couple subsequently broke up and the non-biological parent filed suit in court to have access to the children. The Alabama courts refused to recognize the adoption in Georgia and denied the woman the right to see her children.

The case wound its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In a (rare) unanimous decision, the court invalidated Alabama’s ruling without evening having oral arguments.  Damn….SCOTUS. Killin’ it with the diss. (If you’re lost, watch this.)

Alabama’s argument essentially was that Georgia didn’t understand its own adoption law and so therefore Alabama didn’t have to recognize the adoption. It was Alabama’s cheeky way of trying to skirt the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution, which requires states to recognize the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.”

SCOTUS wasn’t buying it.  In its decision, the court noted:

“A state may not disregard the judgment of a sister state because it disagrees with the reasoning underlying the judgment or deems it to be wrong on the merits.”

You can read the decision in full here.

Alabama is just full of conservative bigots who don’t believe in equality.

While the case was decided on the application of the full faith and credit clause and did not involve a discussion of the rights of same sex couples, the case highlights the difficulties that they often confront when they seek courts to enforce their legal rights.  It wasn’t until last year that we finally had a Supreme Court ruling that the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to same sex marriage.

What do you think? Do you think a non-biological parent in a same sex relationship should have the right to see the children after the relationship ends? Leave your answer in the comments below!



Kiss the ladies in your life – Tuesday is International Women’s Day!

March is Women’s History Month and this Tuesday is International Women’s Day.  Since the early 1800’s, the United States has marked March 8th as a day to celebrate advancements in equality for women, as well as lamented the disparities that still exist.  Right here in New York, over 15,000 women took to the streets on March 8, 1908 to demand better working conditions and voting rights:


Photo credit

The latter wouldn’t come until 1920.

Celebrations today commemorating International Women’s Day remind us of all the work still left to be done for gender equality.

  • The Turkish government banned a planned rally celebrating IWD, and marchers who did show up were shot at by police with rubber bullets.
  • Those who gathered in San Francisco to support women’s rights were heckled by passersby who shouted “bitch” and told them to shut up.
  • Religious leaders in Pakistan are criticizing a law securing women’s rights because it will make husbands feel insecure.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court just heard oral arguments in a case coming out of Texas that threatens women’s access to reproductive healthcare.

Yet, it’s not all negative.

  • The Pentagon announced that as of January 2nd of this year, all combat roles will now be open to women.
  • A woman might actually become president for the first time.
  • The Affordable Care Act requires that insurance plans cover contraceptives (except for that awful Hobby Lobby)

So what do you think? Should we be proud of women’s status in society? Or disappointed?


The Pros and Cons of Yoga Pants (not what you might think!)


Last Thursday was another one of those endlessly rainy “spring” days in New York.  Like many of you, I am sick of my winter clothes and not ready to step out of the house in a mint green dress and wedges.

I decided it was appropriate to wear yoga pants to work. I wasn’t seeing any clients, and I work in a windowless office. Perfect.

Yoga pants are probably the best item of clothing ever. Unlike most jeans, they are stretchy and non-constricting around the middle. The fold-over waistband is flattering and creates the appearance of a smooth belly even on the days after you gorged on Trader’s Joes cheesecake sampler.  No one’s butt ever looks bad in yoga pants, either.

I left my house sufficiently comfortable in yoga pants, Uggs, and a light jacket. Winning.

I wasn’t even two blocks from my house when it started.

The guys at the body shop’s looks were slightly lingering.

Then a guy said good morning to me.  I live in the South Bronx. No one says good morning.

I knew I had a problem when I got close to the train station and three or four guys turned around, circling me like a pack of coyotes and talking to me even though I was clearly on the telephone.

Yoga pants are also apparently a creation of the devil and an item of clothing capable of working men into a deranged frenzy when you put them on a woman’s body.

At that point I was already frazzled and slightly regretting my clothing choice that I had made for comfort, not attention.

I got into my book on the train and forgot all about the incidents before boarding.  As I walked up the stairs at 28th street, I started hearing this man scream, “Baby got back! Hell yeah, baby got back.  Little baby got big back!”

He was standing right behind me, and I was the only female in the station.

I exited the station, shaking my head in disbelief.  After I safely avoided a huge puddle on the street corner, I looked up to see a delivery guy on a bike cross diagonally in front of me. His bike was moving forward, but his head was turned around almost Exorcist-style to stare at me.  I silently wished he would fall.

As I waited for the bus uptown, a portly man walked entirely too close to me and whispered, “que rico” to me.  I wanted to say something mean in return, but I was so grossed out that my Spanish failed me.

I finally made it to my office safely.  I wondered if I had left any clothes there that I could change into later.



Patricia Arquette is a bad@$$

Was it just me, or did anyone else have to look closely at Patricia Arquette to make sure she wasn’t Meryl Streep?

Well, Patricia Arquette is probably the most talked about person from the 2015 Oscars. (As of the time that I am writing this blog, I still don’t know who won best picture. Let me know in the comments.)

Upon winning for best supporting actress, Patricia thanked those to be expected – her parents, people in the movie biz.  But, instead of being drowned out by the orchestra for thanking everyone, including the best boy (have you ever wondered what that is in movie credits?!), she chose to speak out for gender equality and equal pay.

Some people applauded Patricia for using her the time that many actors only dream of to champion equal rights. She made her twin Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez whoop with delight. She made my eyes well up with tears.

She also pissed a lot of people off.

Katie McDonough of Salon called her speech “too narrow”. Patricia’s entire acceptance speech was approximately 1 minute and 27 seconds.  Yet, to me, the fact that she chose to utilize 1/3 of her speech to advocate for equality is laudable. No one can say everything about the issue in 30 seconds.

Stacy Dash, a reporter for Fox News whose qualifications for the job include co-starring in the movie Clueless and, well, nothing else, said that Patricia needed to “do her history” because the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was in effect, and therefore there can be no disparity in pay between the sexes.  If that logic made sense, no one would ever violate any criminal law, ever. Any first year law student could win that argument.

Many others accused Patricia of not bringing to the table the issue of race.  Still, I am sure there were others who were angry that women are still whining about equality in 2015. There’s a WNBA, so what are we complaining about?

Pay equity remains a huge problem in the United States. In one study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women of all races earned less than men of their same race.  This number increased when minority women’s salaries were compared to those of white men.  For example, Hispanic women earned only 61.2% of the weekly wages of white men.

Everyone (including me) wants to weigh in on Patricia Arquette’s Oscar speech.  I think it’s a fantastic method of bringing attention to the issue of pay equity and encouraging dialogue on the topic, which seems like a better use of time than obsessing over what actresses wore last night.

What do you think?




Tennessee Lawmakers Waste No Time on New Laws Restricting Access to Abortion

Last week, I wrote about how Tennessee voters adopted Amendment 1 to their state constitution, which provides that there is no constitutional right to an abortion and that it is up to lawmakers to make the law regarding access to abortion.  At that time, I predicted that lawmakers would waste no time in enacting laws to restrict access. Unfortunately, I was right.

This week, a Republican state representative introduced a bill that would make it mandatory for women to undergo an ultrasound within 72 hours of a scheduled abortion AND would require the following:

– the doctor must ask each woman if she wants to see the ultrasound images

-if the woman opts out of viewing the images, the doctor must explain to the woman what s/he sees in the images AND give the woman a printout of the images AND make the heartbeat audible during the ultrasound

Could someone please explain to me what any of this has to do with women’s health? Plain and simple, the intent of this legislation is to deter women from having abortions. It will convert a private medical decision between a woman and her doctor into a scripted and politically motivated charade.

Proponents of the law cite the need to protect life in all its forms. But, if, as anti-choicers contend, all life is sacred and abortion is a form of violence, then why do protesters engage in acts of violence against women who attempt to enter health clinics and kill doctors who perform abortions? In addition to these overt acts of violence against women, anti-choicers would like to restrict access to abortion to such a degree that women most certainly will die in backroom clinics and self-induced abortions. This is hypocrisy in its purest form.

Roe v. Wade held that the Constitutional right to privacy protects a woman’s right to an abortion. While still good law, the Supreme Court’s subsequent decisions have placed greater restrictions on abortions across the country. Emboldened by these restrictions, some states have enacted laws, including mandatory waiting periods, requirements that abortions be performed in hospitals, and ultrasound legislation in order to further restrict access to reproductive health in whatever way possible.

The war against women is on. The presumption of Tennessee lawmakers is that women are emotional beings, incapable of making private health decisions on their own. So, they want to manipulate women, show them ultrasound images, tell them lies about the link between abortion and breast cancer, or abortion and infertility, or abortion and death.

Fact is, 33% of women in the U.S. will have an abortion in their lifetime. And yet, instead of allowing women to make their own private medical decisions, lawmakers want to place themselves in the exam room with women, whisper things in their ears and guilt them into changing their minds with lies and emotional manipulation. I say, get out of the doctor’s office and out of my uterus.



Take a Second to Thank Birth Control Today

Today is “Thanks, Birth Control Day”. Since 99% of women in the United States will use birth control at some point in their lives, we can all stand up and give a round of applause to:

  • -the birth control pill
  • -the IUD
  • -the patch
  • -the morning after pill (available over the counter in the great state of New York!)
  • -the shot and
  • -any other form of birth control you can think of.

Before you register this as a women’s issue and let your eyes glaze over, may I suggest you take a second to realize the potential non-obvious impact birth control has had on your life.

Perhaps your mother’s access to birth control allowed her to wait to have you until after finishing college. This probably means she had a better, higher-paying job and was able to give provide you with more resources when you were growing up.  That allowed you to get a better education, and then a better job. So, really you can thank birth control for being able to afford the mortgage on your new home.

Or, maybe your mother had you early in life but then used birth control to prevent having further children. You have birth control to thank for not having to share your room with 6 brothers and sisters.

And your father? The women he dated before your mother who used birth control likely didn’t get pregnant.

Still not convinced that you should care about birth control, reproductive rights, or women’s health? I made a list of just a few reasons to care:

1. If you are a woman who has ever used birth control, you should care about women’s access to accurate information about different methods of birth control and the reproductive rights of women across the world. What we take for granted is not available to all women.

2. If you are a heterosexual male and have ever had sex with a woman while relying on her to take her pill or properly place an IUD and she didn’t get pregnant, you have birth control to thank.

3. If you are black, white, Hispanic, Asian, or any combination of the above, you should care about women’s access to birth control.  Women of all races and ethnicities use birth control to determine when the right time is, if ever, to have a child.

4.  If you have ever had a condom break, you should care about birth control.  The morning after pill (which is NOT an abortion pill) probably saved your ass.

5.  If you date people who are of the same sex as you and do not want biological kids of your own, you should still care about birth control. Reproductive rights are human rights, just like the right to love whomever you want to love and not be persecuted for it.

6.  If you are a woman who uses birth control to minimize symptoms of PMS or clear up moderate acne, you can thank the little pill you take daily.

7.  If you have a female family member that you love, thank birth control for the opportunities it has afforded her.

8.  If you are a human, you should care about making birth control affordable and accessible.  Access to reproductive healthcare, including birth control, is a fundamental right, and as a human you should want to protect the rights of other humans.

9.  Even if you are a huge ass and all you care about is the size of your house, the label on your clothes and the car in your driveway, you can still be thankful for birth control as a method of population control.

I personally am thankful for birth control.  Because of birth control, I have had control over my body and my decision not to get pregnant, which allowed me to finish college and law school.  Could I have done either with a child? Yes, there are strong women out there who do it.  But they choose to do it.  All women should be afforded that choice on when and under what circumstances to have children.  Birth control provides women with that choice.

Why are you thankful for birth control?


Solution to Prostitution: Forced Marriage

I love Google alerts.  Without it, I certainly would have missed the news about proposed legislation in St. Petersburg, Russia.

A politician there has introduced a draft law that, if adopted, will impose heavy fines or jail time on individuals who are caught purchasing sex from a prostitute.  The get out of jail free card? Marry the prostitute.

Yes, the johns can avoid punishment through marriage.

The proposed law was explained as an attempt to decrease the occurrence of prostitution in the city.  It cited countries such as Finland and Sweden who have experienced decreased rates of prostitution after tougher laws were enacted against purchasers of sex.  None of the countries cited in the proposed legislation have required johns to marry the women in order to avoid jail time.

When pressed to elaborate on the proposed law, the politician stated that she was actually pro-legalization of prostitution and submitted the proposed legislation to prompt conversation about the topic.

Regardless of the politician’s intent, the proposed legislation raises an interesting question. How would forced marriage solve the issue of prostitution?

Married men buy sex, so they may not be available to marry another women if they are caught buying sex.  Arguably, a man who buys sex isn’t even an attractive choice for a husband.  So are we falling back on the old stereotype that a women is “saved” by marriage and made an honest woman in the process? Ugh, that’s so 1949.

Serious legislation or not, the idea that prostitution would be eradicated if only women had the support of a husband is ridiculous.






Stop Blaming #JenniferLawrence

The internet exploded recently when a hacker released naked photographs of several celebrities into cyberspace.  The pictures of Jennifer Lawrence appear to have garnered the most attention, sparking reactions that range from slobbery lust to disgust.  Some people can’t help but look at the photos, while others have refused to do so in protest.  It seems that everyone has an opinion about their release.

I have seen the photos. I am also of the opinion that what happened to these celebrities is a gross violation of their privacy.  Other people disagree, taking the position that i) celebrities have no right to privacy, ii) if you take naked photos, you can’t complain when someone hacks into your phone and steals them and/or iii) these (female!!) celebrities have no respect for themselves because they take naked photos and therefore they are just common sluts who deserve to be shamed.

We see images of sexualized women daily used to sell products, movies, and even food, and as a whole, everyone appears to be fine with that.  We buy the products, read the magazines they are featured in, and teach our young girls that they must live up to expectations of beauty.  Yet, the second we see female celebrities as real people who have a sexual side, then suddenly we can label them as sluts and claim images of their bodies as our own, free to ridicule, comment on, or distribute as we see fit.

It is not disrespectful or depraved to take pictures of one’s naked body. Nor is there anything wrong with sharing those photos with a significant other, provided the sharing is between two consenting adults.  Being a celebrity does nothing to change that.

When images that were shared privately are then stolen or distributed by one party without the other party’s consent,  privacy rights are violated. And yet, some of us are so quick to blame the victims.  We chastise them for being so stupid, for believing that their private images may actually stay private, for being sexual.

Do we blame victims of robbery for carrying their purses around with them? Do we criticize people whose homes are broken into for owning pricey items? No and no.  So why do things change so dramatically when we are talking about the theft of personal photos?

Nearly all of us have smartphones now.  I’d be willing to best that most of us have taken sexy photos at some point.  Maybe even naked photos.

I have.

And when I broke up with one particularly heinous loser, the first words out of his mouth were, “Got naked pics? I do.”  His threat was clear – he would post naked pictures of me on the internet.

It’s called revenge porn.  It happens all the time now.  A couple breaks up and one party distributes images of the other person out of revenge.  Just like in this latest celebrity hacking scandal, we blame the victims (usually females) for taking the pictures in the first place.  They get what they deserve.  Dumb sluts.  She must have no respect for herself.

Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.  Check your own phone/Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Whatever before you quickly jump to judge other people.

It’s time to hold those who violate others’ privacy responsible for their actions.  It’s time to place them under the microscope and examine why we do not blame them for gross violations of other people’s rights, and time to look inward to our own (mis)beliefs about women’s sexuality that cause us to react so negatively when they are victims of privacy violations.