“These are not your decisions to make. These are not your words to define.”

Eve Ensler has put it best.

The award-winning playwright of The Vagina Monologues penned a column entitled “Dear Mr. Akin, I Want You to Imagine,” published two days ago by The Huffington Post which directly addresses Todd Akin, the Missouri Congressman running in the GOP Senate race who recently asserted in an interview that a woman could not get pregnant if she were the victim of a “legitimate rape.”

Read the column and tell ARK what you think.


Arizona: Working hard to limit your freedoms


I thought the Arizona Congress was messed up upon the passing of the racist SB1070 bill, but this new bill puts them at a new low.

If this new bill, HB 2625, were to pass, employers would be allowed to deny health care coverage for contraceptives, if they are morally opposed to contraception.  One congresswoman, Debbie Lesko, said on the subject: “I believe that we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union.  And so government shouldn’t be telling employers, Catholic organizations or mom-and-pop employers to do something that’s against their moral beliefs.”

Guess what, Ms. Lesko?  I believe we live in America, too.  And I believe that taking basic health care services away from people is a huge infringement on their rights.  This bill runs completely counter to the idea of personal liberties.  It would be allowing some citizens to impose their moral views on others, and decide for other citizens how they should live their lives and manage their health.

The inherent sexism makes me sick too.  This bill aims to directly limit the freedom of women when it comes to healthcare.  Imagine the reverse, if men’s health services were being restricted.  What if an employer were morally opposed to erectile dysfunction medications, and denied access to them?  Or prostrate cancer screenings?  I seriously doubt that the bill would have gotten as far as it has.

It’s amusing to think about how far this bill could go, letting employers determine what health benefits their employees get.  Would someone who didn’t believe in evolution not allow coverage for vaccines for mutated strains of viruses?  Would someone who disapproved of travelling to foreign countries not allow malaria immunizations?  How about the people who say to have faith in God for everything?  The next religiously-minded health plan: only enough money to cover the costs for a Bible.

I shudder at the idea of any bill that allows some citizens to control the lives of others.  It would let people’s arbitrary personal preferences to influence others.  This sounds much more like totalitarianism than any sort of democracy that I want to be part of, Ms. Lesko.

Another ticked off Arizonan,


Are we ready for Gender-Neutrality?

This column was in my local daily paper earlier this week: http://townhall.com/columnists/monacharen/2012/03/09/gender_specific_writer/page/full/

Mona Charen

Essentially, columnist Mona Charen expressed discontent about Apple’s new word processor Pages because its spelling and grammar corrector suggested she make some of her terms more gender neutral.

Now, I can see her point on some counts–Pages tried to correct the “lady” in “first lady” to “individual,” for example, which doesn’t quite make sense. Furthermore, it preferred “speaker” or “advocate” to “spokesman” and Charen was concerned that her sentence would be confusing with either of those suggestions. In this case, if the person she was quoting was, indeed, a man, there really isn’t an issue anyhow.

But Charen doesn’t say that Pages was too picky or was offering the wrong suggestions. Her anger was directed, rather, at the political correctness of the spelling and grammar corrector. She concludes her column thus:

Apple’s language sentinel has been schooled in political correctness at the expense of English. In another column, I mentioned that the collapse of marriage was “aggravating” inequality in America. Consider “irritating” or “exasperating” instead, Proofreadress advised.

No, those are words I reserve for her.

Does political correctness actually significantly change the English language? If it does, is that a bad thing? This may be a better question for a linguist than for an activist for social change, but I think that political correctness mostly affects suffixes (-er/-ess, -man/-woman, etc.), so probably won’t change the form and function of the language to the point where it’s unrecognizable.                      
Perhaps a more pressing concern is that our society may not ready to unlearn political incorrectness. Are we so used to the current structure that we can’t see past it, that when change starts to affect all parts of society, people get irritated and exasperated?                                                                                                                                   .
I think that Charen was mostly overreacting (especially because Microsoft Word’s Spellcheck isn’t perfect either), and I don’t think that her column was much more than an outlet for frustration because she didn’t connect her anger to any broader problems besides pushing “political correctness at the expense of English.”                                                   .
Still, I think that it’s important that we recognize, as feminists and, more importantly, as activists, as people trying to change society and its discourses, that these are the arguments and sources of resistance that we will meet. People don’t really like change, especially when they feel personally confronted with it.                                                                     a
That said, do you think Apple was right to include these “politically correct” suggestions in Pages’ Proofreader? Do you think Charen has a right to be upset? And most importantly, do you think that this is just an isolated case of somebody being anal, or is it an indicator of widespread resistance to “political correctness” and why it exists?                                       aLet me know! For those of you traveling back to school after break today, be safe.                         aPeace,



We’re all getting busy with midterms, so we’ll keep it brief for you today. These are two letters to the editor of the New York Times lauding New York for trying to limit prostitution by focusing on charging the buyers and sellers of sex, rather than mostly on the prostitutes themselves. What are your thoughts on this? What are your thoughts on prostitution in general? Are prostitutes, as one of the writers says, victims without free choice?


War on Women

Still believe that the fight for the equal treatment of women is over?

Think again. Look at what’s going on in Virginia.


Stay strong,


Why America Hates Women: fighting the internal war

Welcome to 2012, when marvelous things can be achieved—just watch how we go back in time, and back on the great strides women have made.

A few days ago, the inquiry into the Obama administration’s decision to guarantee access to contraception services and other preventative health care free of charge began.  Yet, all of the people testifying at the hearing were men.  When the issue was raised, the Chairman refused to include a female witness.

Shouldn’t women be making decisions about their own bodies? What century are we in, where we don’t let women speak about their own rights? How can men speak for our problems?

Yes, they ultimately did let two women testify.  But that doesn’t change the fact that women were excluded in the first place. Moreover, they excluded from those testifying a Catholic woman who represents the view of most Catholics, which is that Obama’s compromise was reasonable.

What does Santorum’s chief financial backer have to say on the matter? Cross your legs!

Excuse me?

What else? I’m glad you asked.  Apparently, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is now a partisan issue.  First authorized in 1994 by Clinton, it has since been reauthorized with overwhelming support, that is, until this year.  The legislation received no GOP support, though it was sponsored and cosponsored by senators from both parties.

The legislation aims to improve the response to violence against women, including domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault.  According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than three women are murdered by boyfriends and husbands each day.

This issue is still relevant, and should have the full support of those representing the people of this country.  The main objection: victims can’t be discriminated against based on sexual orientation or background.

So, violence against women is O.K. for certain individuals, but not others?  Please explain this to me, because as a human being, I can’t make the same distinction.

Do YOU think there can be too many victims???

Stay strong,


Reason #264 why Rick Santorum shouldn’t be President

Earlier this week, Republican candidate Rick Santorum said that women shouldn’t serve in combat, because “that could be a very compromising situation, where people naturally may do things that may not be in the interest of the mission because of other types of emotions that are involved.”

What? Women are naturally more emotional and would jeopardize a combat mission because of it?Well, Santorum made another comment Friday saying, according to the New York Times, that “he was actually referring to the emotions of men, not women, saying that men might be distracted from their mission by their ‘natural instinct’ to protect women.”

Oh. Well that’s much better. After all, men are naturally domineering and inherently feel the need to protect women, right?

Wrong. Way, way wrong.

First, serving in combat is a huge factor for advancement in the military, so women being unable to serve in combat limits their opportunities for advancement.

Moreover, though, Santorum disrespected all the women who have served and are serving in our armed forces today. Aside from essentially telling women in the military that their emotions harm their ability to serve, and then telling them that their male comrades have no respect for them, he pretty much ignored the sacrifice of the more than 140 women who gave their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It shouldn’t come as a shock, of course, that Rick Santorum never served in the military. He served on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, which, according to their website, is responsible for “comprehensive study and review of matters relating to the common defense policy of the United States.” But did he ever experience combat or serve on the military at all? Nope. He didn’t.

He’s also never been a woman. Maybe his comments aren’t so shocking after all.

Now, disregarding Santorum’s plans for the economy, we’d hesitate to support him, because electing people with ideas like these about women can be a social step backwards, which is the last thing we need in a society that’s already very turned around when it comes to women.

What do you think?


(link to full article, courtesy of Katherine Q. Seelye here: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/santorum-clarifies-remarks-on-women-in-combat/)