"Jane Roe" Arrested

Yesterday, Norma McCorvey, better known as Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, was arrested during a protest that took place during Sonia Sottomayor's Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Although McCorvey has been a controversial figure in the reproductive rights movement for years I was surprised to hear of her arrest. The more I learn about McCorvey, the more conflicted I feel about this woman. I'm grateful for the passing of Roe v. Wade, which decriminalized abortion, I can't help but wonder how this woman felt and was treated throughout the proceedings. Were her sense of agency and well-being neglected or ignored by the pro-choice movement to serve their agenda? Did that treatment cause her to be more easily swayed by Operation Rescue and the anti-choice movement for their cause? Does she ever just feel like a pawn, used by both sides?

Via Washington Post



Happy Independence Day...



Yesterday after I class I went to the shelter and because I had only stopped in for a couple hours earlier that week I wasn't aware of any of the recent events and learned one of our clients went missing on Monday and instead of confirming the client's safety the shelter manager simply closed her file and moved her things into the shed.


Apparently none of the other counselors were worried about the fact that the client had lied about where she was going, was last seen getting into a car with three strange men, left all of her belongings, and had been gone for four days. And apparently I was the only one concerned about where this client was and about the ethics of closing her file so I rallied the other interns and convinced them that we should go over the manager's head and contact the police. After the police arrived we learned that unless we thought she was in immediate danger that there wasn't much that they could do but thankfully after calling her emergency contact again and calling almost all of her relatives I was able to locate the client and confirm that she was alright. I was relieved that she was alright but also incredibly frustrated that she didn't think to call and let us know she was okay. But mostly I'm just angry with our manager and I can't believe she would close a client's file without knowing they were safe. I haven't had a chance to talk to her about this but I left her a brief note in the log book about what we did. I'm hoping to be hired as a fill-in or possibly even a full-time advocate soon so I'm reluctant to get on her bad side but I'm not going to pretend that I agree with her or apologize for my actions.


Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, Azar Nafisi

Against the tyranny of time and politics, imagine us the way we sometimes didn't dare to imagine ourselves: in our most private and secret moments, in the most extraordinary ordinary instances of life, listening to music, falling in love, walking down the streets or reading Lolita in Tehran. And then imagine us again with all of this confiscated, driven undergroud, taken away from us...

In her memoir, Nafisi paints a vivid picture of life in Tehran throughout the revolution and explores how Iranians, particularly women, attempt to subvert the dehumanizing effects of the regime. It was amazing to see how the simple activities that many of us take for granted are acts of resistance and even something like reading a book or wearing pink socks is defiant and brave.


Amnesty for Minors

There was recently a bill introduced to the Michigan Senate that would grant amnesty to under aged drinkers who require medical assistance and allow them to receive care without the threat of a MIP citation. Unlike previous attempts, this bill has the support from health care providers, universities, law enforcement agencies, as well as several senators but it's approval has been delayed until the current law can be modified, however likely that is.

Currently, the law requires that the police be contacted when an intoxicated minor seeks medical attention or is brought in during an emergency, such as alcohol poisoning or serious injury. This is serious because many youth are deterred from seeking help to avoid police involvement and will attempt to deal with these dangerous and even life-threatening situations on their own.

And there are people who are fine with this, who have no problem with young people suffering from long-term damage or even dying because they didn't receive medical care- because they deserve it. I've even heard someone argue that this bill discourages personal responsibility and will cause more under aged drinking, which is bullshit. This bill is not about promoting, or even preventing, under age drinking; it is about protecting young people which is something everyone should support.


Like, You Know?

I'm ridiculously happy that I decided to put off working on my paper to go see Taylor Mali. And even though the paper is due in nine hours I decided to continue procrasinating and post this instead ^.^


Take Back The Night

Last Friday was my first Take Back The Night and it was more than I ever expected it to be. After volunteering at the shelter for a few hours after class I went with M. to a special presention for community leaders on sexual assault presented by Michael Domitrz. Despite being a small group the audience represented at least five local agencies committed to helping victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and I was really happy with the turnout. I enjoyed Domitz's presentation but I wasn't particularly impressed and I had trouble seeing how most of his points applied to our agency. The main focus of his presentation was improving public relations and establishing community support, which thankfully has not been a problem in our area. Our campus does an amazing job with promoting awareness and educating students about sexual assault and has a very effective peer advocacy group. Our agency, Womens' Aid, is also very well-known and supported by the community along with several other organizations. I think that the struggle that most agencies have is not educating the community about our services, its the lack of resources we have to provide those services...but I'll save that for another post.

After the private presentation the auditorium filled up to about three hundred students and Domitrz gave his "May I Kiss You?" presention. This is where he won me over. I had been expecting this presentation to the same as the other half dozen sexual assault presentations I've heard since middle school and was surprised when it made me reevaluate how I thought about consent. I realized "May I kiss you?" was more than a gimmick, it was a revolutionary concept. For years the discussion surrounding consent could be reduced to the simple slogan, no means no, but how many times are we taught to ask, to give our partner a choice? Two days later and I can't shake that simple, frustrating question from my mind. The idea that we should respect our partners and ask for permission before engaging in any intimate contact with them and then honor their choice should not be not a revolutionary idea.

When Domitrz shared with the audience his experience as the brother of a sexual assault survivor and how it changed his family and inspired him to devote his life to prevention and education it made me appreciate him on a whole new level. He then encouraged everyone in the audience to contact a loved one and let them know that if they are ever assaulted that they'd be there for them. While he wanted the audience to open the door for a loved to ask for help, to be there and listen, but he also emphasized that it was important to make sure that they have the resources they need and that they should not try to become their counselor, for their sake and yours. This is something I struggle with. So many of my friends and family members have been sexually assualted and its difficult for me to refer them to someone else. It feels as though I'm rejecting or neglecting them. But I know, even with my training, I'm not in a position to offer that sort of support. I wish I wasn't so painfully aware of my limitations.

I was still preoccupied with these thoughts after we gathered for the march but once it began I got caught up in the excitement. I've never particapated in any sort of rally or march before and was skeptical about their impact. But after marching across town, hearing the honks of support from passing cars, the 'hell yeahs' of passing students, and even picking up a few new marchers on the way, I saw things differently. If the effect that such fierce support had on the many survivors there, providing them with encouragement and strength, isn't a meaningful message then I don't know what is. The march ended with a speak-out downtown. Even though we were all exhausted and had only planned on gathering for an hour or so, there were so many people who wanted to share their experience that we run way over time. By time I got home it was almost midnight, my feet were aching and my head was spinning, but I'm so glad I went. I've been feeling burned out lately and needed to rediscover that spark...


Weight of Words

I wish I had heard about this campaign earlier, even though I regularly receive mail and newsletters from the Special Olympics this slipped past me. The derogatory use of the term 'retard' has gotten out of control; I hear it at least once a day and have noticed it getting worse. There are some people who argue that it is not a big deal, its just a word, but there are some serious implications to the language we use and its important that we be mindful of our words. And not just retard, but fag/gay, pussy, and cripple...All that language needs to stop. The denigrating use of those words only contributes to the discrimination and stereotyping of homosexuals, women, the disabled, and other groups.


"Action is indeed the sole medium for the expression of ethics."- Jane Addams