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January 30, 2009

Good News/Bad News for Republicans

The Republican National Committee selected a new chairman today. (I was going to be politically correct and say "chairperson", but come on. Sarah Palin notwithstanding, we're talking about Republicans here.) I think there's some bad news and some good news for the GOP in the results.

The bad news: On the day before the vote, Chip Saltsman removed his name from consideration for the position. Chip was the former campaign manager for Mike Huckabee's presidential run, and he's also the guy who thought it would be an excellent idea to send out mix CDs around the holidays containing such fabulous songs as "We Hate The U.S.A" (referring, of course, to us evil liberals), "The Star Spanglish Banner", and the smash Rush Limbaugh endorsed hit "Barack The Magic Negro". Saltsman didn't give a specific reason for pulling out of the race, but it's a sad thing because I think it's pretty clear that this was a guy with the creativity, courage, and sharp political instincts necessary to restore some G to the faltering OP. Too bad.

The good news: The RNC eventually voted for Michael Steele, who will be the first African-American to serve as RNC chairman. This is great for Republicans, not because Steele is apparently more moderate and less wingnut, but for a couple of other reasons. First, it only took them six ballots and about a million hours to settle on Steele, which means the party will be totally united with zero infighting. And second, he's black, which means that for the next few years every Republican can answer any accusations that their party is at all racist by invoking the tried and true defense of "we're not racist, we have a black friend!" And since there are currently really no popular or prominent black politicians anywhere on the Democrats' side of the aisle that I can think of, maybe this will even help to draw some African-American support to the GOP. See, Republicans are smart.

Related Posts:

January 29, 2009


There's not much more we can say. Well, actually we could say 'it's about fucking time' or 'all of the Republicans who voted against this (100% of them were male) are huge douchebags', but let's be positive and just stick with 'yay!'.

January 29, 2009 10:20 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: All right. Everybody please have a seat. Well, this is a wonderful day. (Applause.) First of all, it is fitting that the very first bill that I sign -- the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act -- (applause) -- that it is upholding one of this nation's founding principles: that we are all created equal, and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness.

It's also fitting that we're joined today by the woman after whom this bill is named -- someone who Michelle and I have had the privilege to get to know ourselves. And it is fitting that we are joined this morning by the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. (Applause.) It's appropriate that this is the first bill we do together. We could not have done it without her. Madam Speaker, thank you for your extraordinary work. And to all the sponsors and members of Congress and leadership who helped to make this day possible.

Lilly Ledbetter did not set out to be a trailblazer or a household name. She was just a good hard worker who did her job -- and she did it well -- for nearly two decades before discovering that for years, she was paid less than her male colleagues for doing the very same work. Over the course of her career, she lost more than $200,000 in salary, and even more in pension and Social Security benefits -- losses that she still feels today.

Now, Lilly could have accepted her lot and moved on. She could have decided that it wasn't worth the hassle and the harassment that would inevitably come with speaking up for what she deserved. But instead, she decided that there was a principle at stake, something worth fighting for. So she set out on a journey that would take more than ten years, take her all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, and lead to this day and this bill which will help others get the justice that she was denied.

Because while this bill bears her name, Lilly knows that this story isn't just about her. It's the story of women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every dollar men earn -- women of color even less -- which means that today, in the year 2009, countless women are still losing thousands of dollars in salary, income and retirement savings over the course of a lifetime.

Equal pay is by no means just a women's issue -- it's a family issue. It's about parents who find themselves with less money for tuition and child care; couples who wind up with less to retire on; households where one breadwinner is paid less than she deserves; that's the difference between affording the mortgage -- or not; between keeping the heat on, or paying the doctor bills -- or not. And in this economy, when so many folks are already working harder for less and struggling to get by, the last thing they can afford is losing part of each month's paycheck to simple and plain discrimination.

So signing this bill today is to send a clear message: that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody; that there are no second-class citizens in our workplaces; and that it's not just unfair and illegal, it's bad for business to pay somebody less because of their gender or their age or their race or their ethnicity, religion or disability; and that justice isn't about some abstract legal theory, or footnote in a casebook. It's about how our laws affect the daily lives and the daily realities of people: their ability to make a living and care for their families and achieve their goals.

Ultimately, equal pay isn't just an economic issue for millions of Americans and their families, it's a question of who we are -- and whether we're truly living up to our fundamental ideals; whether we'll do our part, as generations before us, to ensure those words put on paper some 200 years ago really mean something -- to breathe new life into them with a more enlightened understanding that is appropriate for our time.

That is what Lilly Ledbetter challenged us to do. And today, I sign this bill not just in her honor, but in the honor of those who came before -- women like my grandmother, who worked in a bank all her life, and even after she hit that glass ceiling, kept getting up and giving her best every day, without complaint, because she wanted something better for me and my sister.

And I sign this bill for my daughters, and all those who will come after us, because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams and they have opportunities their mothers and grandmothers never could have imagined.

In the end, that's why Lilly stayed the course. She knew it was too late for her -- that this bill wouldn't undo the years of injustice she faced or restore the earnings she was denied. But this grandmother from Alabama kept on fighting, because she was thinking about the next generation. It's what we've always done in America -- set our sights high for ourselves, but even higher for our children and our grandchildren.

And now it's up to us to continue this work. This bill is an important step -- a simple fix to ensure fundamental fairness for American workers -- and I want to thank this remarkable and bipartisan group of legislators who worked so hard to get it passed. And I want to thank all the advocates who are in the audience who worked so hard to get it passed. This is only the beginning. I know that if we stay focused, as Lilly did -- and keep standing for what's right, as Lilly did -- we will close that pay gap and we will make sure that our daughters have the same rights, the same chances, and the same freedoms to pursue their dreams as our sons.

So thank you, Lilly Ledbetter. (Applause.)

(The bill is signed.) (Applause.)

[The White House Blog also has the remarks made by Michelle Obama and Lilly Ledbetter after the bill was signed.]

January 27, 2009

In defense of sex workers

So apparently I have no morals. At least that's the popular opinion lately. Why am I so morally void? Because I'm not offended by the idea of having sex for money. Scandalous!

Yes, it's true. I got into a heated debate about sex work.

It's kind of funny that as often as we get into fights defending groups of people that we may consider ourselves members of (sluts, single mothers, birth control users, people who say "happy holidays") we also get pretty heated defending groups that we do not 'belong' to (homosexual people, community organizers, pregnant men, Muslim airline passengers). And now sex workers.

In what had started as a relatively innocent online conversation about Natalie Dylan (the 22 year old woman who is auctioning off her virginity online), Jezebel and I ended up defending myself - and the sex work industry - from some pretty nasty comments.

I'm not going to post all of the conversation, because it was long and stupid and some of the stuff said was relatively tame or irrelevant to the points I want to address. So here are just a few general excerpts (both the stuff that bothered us and some other stuff to put it context). We were originally going to designate people as Dumb Bitch #1 and Random Person #2... but that got annoying and confusing. So we're just going to name them after Beverly Hills 90210 characters, which is probably also confusing, but much more fun. (The roles of Lilith and Jezebel will be played by themselves).

Steve Sanders
So there is a 22 year old woman using the name Natalie Dylan who is selling her virginity online. The transaction will take place in Nevada on the bunny ranch where this is legal. She has had over 10,000 offers with the top offer 3.7 million. What kind of society provides 10,000 men willing to pay serious dollars for this??
Andrea Zuckerman
The same society that says it is OK for her to sell her virginity.
If she wants to get by on her back that is her choice. If someone wants to spend that much money on a fantasy then that is their choice.

Brenda WalshWow. I don't think I could do that for $3.7m. I don't get the fetish over virginity. I can promise, virgins aren't much fun.
Steve Sanders
She takes off her clothes, lays on her back, and spreads her legs. Nothing more is expected from her.

Andrea ZuckermanOr on her knees, on top, on her side, her stomach, all fours...etc. You know for 3.7 million I would hope the person gets something exciting. Maybe a variety sampler.
Valerie Malone
Call me crazy, but I would almost consider doing that. I wouldn't make it my career, but making almost 4 million for something that I gave away doesn't seem like a bad deal. I'm surprised no one else has done it previously, of course it only works for her because she's pretty.

Kelly Taylor
4 million? This is obscene.
Andrea Zuckerman
Imagine that...a story and thread about a hooker being obscene.

Right, because everyone knows that all sex workers are just "obscene" every single minute of every single day.

Steve Sanders
I didn't think the hooker was being obscene, not at all. I find it odd that other women haven't come forward for similar payouts in exchange for something they give away for free.
Andrea Zuckerman
I didn't say she was. I'm shocked more people don't do this either especially considering that virtue isn't held in regard as it once was.

Thanks for clarifying. So sex workers aren't constantly obscene, they just have no "virtue". Got it.

Andrea Zuckerman
I was using virtue in the definition of 3.chastity; virginity: to lose one's virtue.

Definition of "virtue"
I find it hard to believe someone that held virtue in this definition would sell it to the highest bidder to pay for grad school. And no, I don't believe society in general holds virginity in as high of a regard as it once was.

Maybe it's a geography thing - I don't think I've ever heard anyone use that word in that way in normal everyday conversation, so I assumed you were referring to the first two definitions.
As far as society valuing virginity less now, that's probably true. But I don't really think that a society should hold virginity in high regard. Responsible decision making, comprehensive and effective sex education, access to affordable health care and contraception? Sure. Virginity in and of itself? Not really.

Cindy Walsh
I read that article the other day and all I could think is I bet her parents are sooo proud of their little girl!!!

Sex work is just a job like anything else. I don't have any moral objections or opinions about it. I think if it's legal and SAFE, then go for it.

Steve Sanders
But most sex workers are involved with illegal activities which makes this an un-safe job. Sure strippers are legal but that's not where the real money is made.

There are two main arguments as to why sex work shouldn't be legal: "it's not moral" and "it's not safe". If it was legal, it would be regulated, it would be safer. I don't think laws should be based on morality (nor do I find prostitution to actually be immoral).

Brenda Walsh
While I agree with Lilith in theory, the practice hasn't gone so well. The Netherlands is closing down a lot of its red light districts because of this. There are still 'unlicensed' prostitutes who are able to fake their way through the system, many of whom are trafficked in. Trafficked persons are brought in via organized crime and are either already junkies (easier to grab) or forcibly shot up with drugs to make them more compliant. While I don't think that there's anything wrong intrinsically with sex work, it is constantly followed by a far more objectionable spectre.

Cindy Walsh
Take a trip to Thailand some time - you may change your mind about not having moral objections or opinions about it.

I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to, but if you're talking about trafficking, that's not the same thing as sex work.
Sex Work, Trafficking: Understanding the Difference

I have some moral objections about the way certain food service companies are run, but that doesn't mean that I disagree with eating food. You need to learn to separate specific situations from an industry as a whole. Sex work - when it's voluntary - is just work. I don't know what you're referring to specifically, but nothing will change my moral opinion of sex work in general.

Cindy Walsh
No, I'm not talking about trafficking. I'm talking about sex work. Pay for play. Women who choose that line of work. No one is forcing them into it. They see it as a job - a darn good one in fact.

Would you have a problem if your daughter at age 22 wanted to auction off her virginity or wanted to work at the bunny ranch???

I was thrown off by your mention of Thailand. Are Thai prostitutes, like, extra immoral or something?

I've already said that I do not have moral objections to sex work in general, so why would I have moral objections to it if I decide to "take a trip to Thailand some time"?

I wouldn't hope for my daughter to do that kind of work, but I also wouldn't hope for her to take a lot of other career paths that have nothing to do with 'morality'. I wouldn't want her to be in the military or law enforcement because I don't think it's safe. Just as I don't think that sex work is presently safe. That doesn't mean I think soldiers or police officers are immoral (well not all of them, jk).

I love my daughter and would support her in any of her life goals. I would hope that she had higher aspirations than to be in sex work - not because I think sex work is bad, but because she's mentally brilliant and I'd love to see her doing something where she'd use her mind, not just her body. In the same respect, I'd feel the same way if she was a dancer or athlete, not because I don't respect those professions but because I know she can do more. (And that's not "better" that's "more").

I would hope that by the time she's 22 if she did want to do that kind of work that it would be completely safe and free from legal/social stigma. But I don't anticipate that happening any time soon and it's obviously not now. So I'd be lying if I said "Oh yeah I'd be totally 100% cool with my daughter wanting to be a prostitute!" but my reasoning wouldn't be based on so-called morality.

Cindy Walsh
You stated you had no moral objection to sex work. I suggested that you take a trip to Thailand and you may change your opinion regarding how you feel about sex work. The significance of bringing up Thailand is becuz I spent a fair bit of time over there and it changed my opinion about sex work completely. Even tho it is an illegal practice over there, a portion of their economy thrives on prostitution and it is everywhere. Not all of the 'bargirls' are forced to be there. Some choose it strictly for the money and the opportunity to travel. Even some of the university girls resort to turning tricks for extra money. Store clerks, massage therapists, hotel personnel --- the place is crawling with willing sex workers. The demand is great and so is the supply. Personally I found it quite immoral and sad. Not becuz I am prude or anything like that, but simply becuz it pissed me off that these women felt they had no other option.

I guess you answered my questions and you wouldn't have a problem with your daughter being a sex worker or auctioning off her virginity. And your reasoning isn't based on so called morality but due to the fact that you think she can do more with her life. (I too hope your daughter will have higher aspirations for her life when the time comes) I will say that I wouldn't want my daughter mixed up in sex work of any kind.

Quote: ...a portion of their economy thrives on prostitution and it is everywhere. Not all of the 'bargirls' are forced to be there. Some choose it strictly for the money and the opportunity to travel. Even some of the university girls resort to turning tricks for extra money. Store clerks, massage therapists, hotel personnel --- the place is crawling with willing sex workers. The demand is great and so is the supply.
I don't really understand why that would change my mind. That is a perfect example of why I do NOT have moral objections to sex work. It is an industry, just like any other.

I do have some objections about the way the industry is run. In addition to the safety issues, there are often sexist and exploitative aspects. The fact that many women do turn to sex work because they have no other option is a problem and it isn't really the same thing as women who willingly choose it because that's what they want to do. (I do see the difference between 'being forced' and having 'no other option' and truly 'voluntary').

But I have absolutely NO moral objections to the idea of having sex for money.

I didn't say I wouldn't have an objection to my daughter being a sex worker. Just that I would not have a moral objection. (I guess it would depend on the situation for me to really be able to answer completely). I would have much more of a moral objection if my daughter was cheating on a significant other or sleeping with a married man or something like that, than if she was having safe, honest, consensual sex for money.

I would absolutely have sex for money if it was safe and legal and not likely to lose me custody of my daughter. I would. I wouldn't be on the street having unprotected sex with random gross strangers for $20 in an alley or anything... but in the right situation, with the right person, for the right money... if it was legal and not socially stigmatized the way that it is now and there was very little health risk, I would ABSOLUTELY do it. I have no moral qualms about it at all.
Cindy Walsh
You're entitled to your opinion. I still believe you'd change your moral opinion about sex work if you went to Thailand.

If you still believe that then you are missing my point. Either that or you are defining 'moral' in a different way than I am. The situation in Thailand may very well be immoral, but that doesn't mean that sex work in general is immoral. Or that my or your version of 'morality' is necessarily the right one. I do not have a moral objection about sex work and I'm not to judge an entire industry and an entire concept based on a specific example (Thailand) because that is not what sex work is everywhere.

Maybe if you took a trip to Nevada or some else, you might change your moral opinion of it?

Donna Martin
It does sound like a lucrative business endeavor, but what puts me off is the fact that usually, working in that business, you don't get to pick who you have sex with. If it wasn't bad for business to pick only the guys you are attracted (or moderately attracted) to, and if I was single with no relationship in sight, I think I would consider it, but that's not the case most of the time.
Well, yeah that's why I said: in the right situation, with the right person, for the right money, if it was legal, if it was not socially stigmatized, if there was very little health risk. The state of the prostitution industry as it stands right now - I wouldn't personally want to get involved in that. But the concept of sex for money (instead of say, sex for love) ... I don't have a moral issue with that at all and would do it in theory.

Cindy Walsh
For fcksake Lilith, I've been to Nevada, I've been to Rio, in fact I've been to every continent except Antartica which I hope to see this year.... regardless of my world travels, the sex industry is everywhere. I found it downright nasty in Thailand and that is why I made that reference. My definition of moral is standards of behavior, the difference between right and wrong etc....I don't think our definitions are different, perhaps our morals are different. You don't have a moral objection to sex work, you wouldn't object (morally) if your daughter chose that line of work. In fact, you've clearly stated you'd actually like to be a sex worker if it were legal and safe and you could choose your partners and the price.

Like I said, you're entitled to your opinion. Why the argument? I don't care if your morally void when it comes to sex work. In fact, most people involved in that industry are morally void on some level. My opinion on this issue comes from experience and I still think if you took a trip to southeast asia you'd soon change your mind.

Donna is very right when she says you don't get to pick who your customers are. They pick you. Big fat balding old men who haven't been able to see their dicks in years will pay big bucks to boink a woman 20 years younger than them ---- ick.

Wow, okay. The Nevada line was a joke. I thought it was an obvious allusion to your repeated comment that if I went to Thailand I would change my mind. Look - I'm not blind to the negative aspects of the sex industry. I know that it isn't all peaches and roses. It is those negative aspects that make me want to support sex workers rights groups and hope for the legalization and regulation of prostitution.
My comment about the definition of 'moral' was a joke, because it's ridiculous to suggest that I would change my moral code if I saw the real dirty truth about Thailand. I accept your opinion of prostitution, I just disagree with it. I could take offense to your suggestion that I am morally void or that most sex workers are morally void, but I'll just accept that our morals are very different. I'm not 'arguing', I just want you to accept that the specific situation in Thailand is not going to alter my overall belief system (that it's not wrong to trade sex for monetary compensation).
Quote: My opinion on this issue comes from experience and I still think if you took a trip to southeast asia you'd soon change your mind.
And there it is again. My opinion on this issue is based on my personal beliefs. I do not have a moral objection to sex outside of marriage, to sex without love, or to sex for money. I don't. NOTHING is going to change my opinion on that. Nothing. Do I think that all aspects of the sex work industry are awesome? No, of course not. In fact, I think it's quite the opposite. But rather than that making me change my morals, all it does is make me want to fight for the industry to change. Not to cease to exist, but to become better.

I think you may have a closedminded view of what prostitution has to be. There are many different 'ranges' of sex work. There is a difference between a struggling, street walker and, say, a highly paid escort with opportunity to be more selective. Regardless, that's irrelevant. If I were to ever pursue sex work (I don't plan to, I'm speaking hypothetically) I wouldn't let men 'pick' me without having any say in the matter. I didn't say I would be a sex worker, I said I would have sex for money. (Now you can argue that they're the same thing, but what I'm saying is I would accept payment for sex. It doesn't mean I would put myself in a situation that I wasn't 100% in control of). Obviously it's not common that you would have that much control, which is another problem I have with the current state of the industry. But like I said, I wouldn't ever consider being a sex worker in the current state of the industry. I was speaking theoretically, duh.

Cindy Walsh
It's sad to me that this is your personal belief system.

I don't think I have a close minded view of what prostitution has to be. It is what it is. What it has been for thousands of years. It just gets seedier and greedier as time goes on. duh.

Jackie Taylor
I don't get why this is sad to you. If she thinks fucking for some cash is ok and in some cases, a good idea, why is this sad? Dude, let a girl dream, will ya?

I'm sorry that it's so sad for you that I think sex is... sex. And not something sacred. My bad. So much for respecting my opinion and all. Now I'm not only morally void but my belief system makes you sad. I'm sorry for the way that my lack of morals has saddened you.

Like I said, that is a closedminded view. Sex work takes many many many different forms. It's not all seedy and greedy. It's not all like Thailand. It's not all women on the street. It's not all "big fat balding old men who haven't been able to see their dicks in years" picking me. The fact that you can't even comprehend of a situation where a woman might have control over who she sleeps with, makes it clear that your view of sex work is very narrow.

When I said that I wouldn't have a moral problem accepting money for sex, that doesn't mean that I'd actually consider entering the sex work industry as it is today. I certainly wouldn't make a career of it. Not everyone who's ever had sex for money is necessarily a sex worker. (I may have mixed drinks at a party once or twice but it doesn't make me a bartender, lol).
Cindy WalshIt's sad to me that people in general have no morals. It's sad to me that this woman will pass these beliefs on to her child who will probably grow up more evil and more slutty. She can dream on all she wants - but of course only after a trip to Thailand!!!

And on that note, you can go fuck yourself. For free.

PS: If anyone else would care to educate themselves on the sex workers rights movement (that is, go beyond the stereotypes and judgment):
Desiree Alliance
Bound, Not Gagged
Women, Rights and Change

But Cindy - don't bother. You seem happy in your ignorance and I'd hate to make you feel any sadder. How I choose to raise my child is none of your fucking business. I certainly would never take any parenting advice from you.
Oh what the fuck ever. 'Different morals than you' is not the same as 'no morals'. Get over yourself.

Jackie Taylor
Awww, you took away my brilliant off-handed no-harm meaning comment of:

Quote: If she thinks fucking for some cash is ok and in some cases, a good idea, why is this sad? Dude, let a girl dream, will ya?
and unleashed this catty viciousness of:

Quote: It's sad to me that this woman will pass these beliefs on to her child who will probably grow up more evil and more slutty.
That's just evil. You as a mother know what it feels like when someone brings the kid into the picture and you went and did that. You totally overshadowed my comedic beauty. Bitch.

Really, you have no clue just how much you don't have any idea what you're talking about. Lilith's daughter is smart, talented, open-minded, funny, kind, understanding, mature, a good friend, and a good person. She could already teach you a thing or two about...well, everything.
Claire Arnold
Quote: Donna is very right when she says you don't get to pick who your customers are.
At least in legal Nevada brothels, Donna is very wrong. Sure, the men come in and pick who they'd like to sleep with, but if the sex worker says "No" then that's that.

Donna Martin
I wasn't talking of absolutes, I am not aware of the rules of the business everywhere, I can only assume that there's a very few (comparing to the world population of prostitutes), that can actually choose who they want to have sex with, and I didn't say they all can't choose who they DON'T want to have sex with either.

Cindy Walsh
My apologies, I was wrong to bring the kid into it.
Truly, I hope the kid aspires to do great things with her life and doesn't become involved with sex work of any kind. I hope she will find sex somewhat sacred and not just think sex is just sex. I really do. I think that is sound advice.

As usual any kind of discussion between myself and Lilith has to end up with her telling me to fckoff.

I realized I was never going to change her moral beliefs (or lack of) nor was she going to change my mind about sex workers. She can be a sex worker cheerleader all she wants. I doubt it will make any difference in an underworld that has always been run by men.

We were this close to actually having a decent exchange of views on a very contraversial subject, its a shame it had to end up with name calling. Truly - I am sorry I said that about your child. I am not that vindictive of a person.


Quote: I hope she will find sex somewhat sacred and not just think sex is just sex. I really do. I think that is sound advice.
I don't share those hopes. I hope that she will find the strength to make her own decisions and form her own opinions and not succumb to a bullshit society that does not value a woman's sexuality and choice.
The only kind of discussions that end with me telling anyone to fuck off, are those in which someone completely disrespects me (e.g., telling me I have no morals) and/or uses my daughter as an arguing point against me.
Quote: I realized I was never going to change her moral beliefs (or lack of) nor was she going to change my mind about sex workers. She can be a sex worker cheerleader all she wants. I doubt it will make any difference in an underworld that has always been run by men.
1. You're still saying I have a lack of morals. So again, fuck you.
2. If you actually realized my moral beliefs weren't going to change, then why were you repeatedly insisting that they would change... if I went to Thailand?

3. I never tried to change your mind about sex work, I just tried to get you to quit saying I would change mine.
If sex work is predominantly run by men (I don't agree that it always is) and exploiting women, that's exactly why people should support sex workers rights groups. Prostitution is never going to go away. What can change is the way the industry is run.

Steve Sanders
Much of the prostitution (at least in the states) has become run by independent females, if in doubt check craigslist. They don't need the man for protection because they are not protecting any turf. Business is done via cell phones and the internet.
Emily Valentine

Quote: I would have much more of a moral objection if my daughter was cheating on a significant other or sleeping with a married man or something than if she was having safe, honest, consensual sex for money
I am curious how you would expect that, by being a sex worker, your daughter *wouldn't* be sleeping with married men on a regular basis. Anyone that's ever watched Cops or read a police blotter knows that a large percentage of men soliciting sex are married. Not sleeping with them would cut out a large amount of her earning potential. Not to mention, how would she ensure that a man isn't lying about being married? Even if she checked for marriage licenses in his name in her state, there is always the possibility that the marriage took place in another state or country.

And, what about men who are divorcing? That's even trickier -- there's a big market of lonely men looking for a pick-me-up, but how would she be sure she wasn't being lied to about the state of the marriage, only finding out months into the business relationship that (hypothetically, of course...) the man whose wife lives 1400 miles away is not, in fact, separated and preparing to divorce as he claimed initially. Would this business relationship cause you to decide your daughter is morally void, her opinion on unrelated moral issues no longer valid or appropriate?

Steve Sanders
Any thoughts why there is a market for lonely men and not women? I know there are lonely women but that doesn't mean they are willing to pay for play at least not in any large numbers.

Watching a recent CNBC report on prostitution - they brought up that there are two types of johns; the ones that want to talk (lonely), and the ones that don't want to talk (seek power). It's the power seekers that get all the fame in the media such as Spitzer.

I was speaking theoretically. I have no moral issue with the concept of receiving compensation (monetary or otherwise) for sex or sexual acts. Whereas I do have some strong opinions on dishonesty and infidelity (you're free to disagree with me, as those are my morals and I don't put my morals on other people). That's why I said "safe, honest, consensual sex for money". I do realize that in reality, it would be very difficult if not impossible to ensure those conditions, which is why my comment was meant to be theoretical. I should've been clearer on that point. As I've already said before, I would not be happy if my daughter wanted to be involved in sex work, but my reasons would not be based on a moral aversion to "sex for money" - it would be more so based on the state of the sex industry and the things that go along with it (which sadly, often does include dishonesty and infidelity, among a ton of other things that concern me).

Quote: Would this business relationship cause you to decide your daughter is morally void, her opinion on unrelated moral issues no longer valid or appropriate?
I would think that my daughter's morals are perhaps different than mine, but I'd never think her 'morally void'. I disagree with certain acts/behaviors, yes, but what you're describing there is a potential gray area. I value honesty in relationships - all relationships, be they purely sexual or not. I would be disappointed if she got into a relationship with someone who had a wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/etc but I wouldn't blame her if she did so unknowingly.

Obviously I know that it's difficult to be sure that anyone you're sleeping with (be it a relationship or business transaction or something in between) is being completely honest with you. I know shit happens and people make mistakes but overall, as theoretical CONCEPTS... I morally disagree with cheating and lying. I do not morally disagree with sex as a commodity.

The conversation died down after that... leaving some points unanswered and some points over-answered. Maybe because she felt bad about crossing the line. Maybe because she realized she wasn't going to win the argument. Maybe because it's taking her days and days to come up with another response. Maybe because she just doesn't care enough to continue arguing over something like this. Or maybe there's some other mysterious reason, who really knows.

Regardless, this topic has made me remember how much I care about sex workers rights... The truth is, I don't even really know much about the sex workers rights movement. It's not an issue that is personally close to my heart. It's not something that affects me at all. The reason I care about it - despite being relatively ignorant (although not as ignorant as "Cindy Walsh") - is because, as we've said on here before... the issues of one group of women, are the issues of all women. Sex workers rights are women's rights. (In the same way that we can't relate to the idea that only gay people should care about gay rights). 

And that's part of the reason that we decided to share this conversation - there's so much ignorance and judgment and so many misconceptions when it comes to the issue of sex work, and this experience has made us want to learn more and write more about it (Stay tuned). Oh, and please click the donate button at the top of the page if you want to help finance our upcoming trip to Thailand.

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January 26, 2009

AARP: American Association of Raunchy Perverts

Yes, it's true. The media watchdog group Morality in Media has uncovered some truly shocking conduct on the part of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Apparently, the January issue of the AARP Bulletin contains an ad for the website BetterSex.com. Now, of course we can all see the first problem immediately. Why is an organization for people who are "retired", and therefore most likely kind of old, promoting sex in the first place? All good moral people know that sex is for procreation, not recreation, so old people should be done with it anyway.

But it's far worse than just the concept of old people boinking. I'll let the president of MiM explain it:
Morality in Media (MIM) president Bob Peters has contacted the American Association of Retired People (AARP) for running an ad seeking customers for BetterSex.com.

"BetterSex.com promotes itself as providing bona fide sex education materials for adults," he notes. "I think that many people, if they looked at the content of these materials, would say this is pornography."

Besides the website's graphic and explicit nature, Peters has another objection to it. "BetterSex.com doesn't just promote adult sex education," he points out. "It also provides hundreds, literally hundreds, of pornographic movies, ...many of which you would find in an adult bookstore."

The website is connected to Phil Harvey, founder of Adam and Eve stores, which is one of the largest pornography businesses in America. The website is operated by the Sinclair Institute, established by Harvey in 1991.

Wow, graphic and explicit pornography? This sounds pretty serious. So, of course we had to head over to BetterSex.com to see what kind of twisted, immoral filth we would find there.
Who We Are: The Sinclair Institute™ and our Better Sex ™ website are leading sources of sexual health information and a classy and secure resource for educational products for adults who want to improve the quality of intimacy in their relationships. It is hard to imagine a balanced life without an enjoyable and rewarding sex life. Better Sex works with a Better Sex™ Advisory Panel of psychologists, doctors and sex educators to create award winning products such as the Better Sex Video Series ®, winner of a Telly Award ®.

Better Sex ™ Defined: Our Better Sex ™ philosophy is simple. Better sex results from mental and physical stimulation. Better sex ™ relationships include trust, intimacy, and a spiritual bond between loving partners. Our goal, stated in our motto, is better relationships, better sex ™. Better sex is an aspiration that brings pleasure, happiness, and long lasting reward. Curiosity, a willingness to experiment and learn and creating an unselfish desire to share are crucial to having better sex. We look forward to guiding your search!.
Trust? Intimacy? A spiritual bond between loving partners? I'm sure all of that sounds as immoral and offensive to you as it does to us. The AARP should really be ashamed of themselves for promoting the ridiculous notion that consenting adults in committed relationships should have access to information and products that might improve their sexual health and enhance their sex lives and by extension, the quality of their relationships. Looks like we need to get an "abstinence only retirement" movement started immediately so that old people can stop contributing to the moral decline of our society with their disgraceful intimacy.

January 23, 2009

Senate Confirms Franklin!

The Senate voted yesterday to confirm Aretha Franklin, President Obama's nominee to the new Cabinet level post of Secretary of Awesome Hats. The vote was 100-0. Yes she can!

[Reuters photo via Yahoo]

[UPDATE: You can keep up with all of the awesome hat action by following Aretha's Hat on Twitter.]

But He's Only Half-Black...

We started this draft a few days after Election Day. We decided not to post it, because we figured it would take only about two days for people to move on from this topic. But shortly after the Inauguration on Tuesday, we started to hear similar sentiments (from different people)...

The original content came from a "discussion" on an online message forum. (Yes, we know that arguing on the internet is stupid). I've quoted the original poster's comments only, as she was the only person on the forum who seemed to hold that opinion. Everything else is a combination of responses we made at the time, additional commentary made after the fact during the process of writing the blog, and paraphrasing of other people's comments. It would be too long and tedious (for you to read and for us to edit) if we gave everyone's comments as direct quotes - we all shared relatively the same point of view anyway - but we wanted to clarify that in case anyone from *over there* happens to stumble across the blog entry and thinks we were trying to steal their ideas.

So here it is...

When Barack Obama won the election, we were really happy over here at Evil Slutopia. Not just because we like the Obama/Biden platform and not just because we really really really hated the McCain/Palin platform... but also because it was a huge, momentous occasion. It was amazing to see how many people were touched and moved by his election. The first black President of the United States. No matter who you voted for, everyone had to admit that was a big deal right?

Or not.

Shortly after Obama's landslide win, we saw this on a message board somewhere:
There's one thing that really rubs me the wrong way, and that is how much emphasis they're putting on the fact that he's "black", when he's not really black, he's half black, and that really isn't something to take into consideration, unfortunately, it seems like too many people voted for him just because the color of his skin and that really pisses me off.
Um, what!? We weren't really sure we even wanted to address this subject on the blog, mainly because we weren't exactly sure how to address it. But here goes...

Now I'm sure there's a small percentage of voters out there who used his race as a motivating factor to vote him. A small percentage. I'm also sure that there was an equal or greater percentage of voters who did not vote for him because of his race. (Or because they thought he was Muslim, which was just another form of prejudice). For the most part, I think people voted the way they did because they felt that their candidate was the best one for the job. Or because their candidate was less horrible than the opposing candidates.

Even though I don't think we should have voted for him because he's black (or as the original poster put it, "half black"), I do think it merits celebration of the milestone that this is. Yes, Barack Obama is not 100% African American; he is biracial. Should that somehow make his accomplishment any less powerful?
...the news keep showing people crying and saying how historic this is just because he's a little tan. He's definitely different than Bush, but he doesn't seem that special to me to call this historic. I think it's very racist to make him seem more special just because he is HALF black.
Now I don't know anyone who suggested that Obama was "more special" because he was black (or half-black). He isn't necessarily special. But this is an extremely historic event. We celebrate or pay homage to a lot of "firsts" and this is a huge one. No one is suggesting that he will be any better as a president because of it, but it's still huge. America has come from a point where black people used to be property to a point where a black man has been elected president. Whatever your politics, that is still significant.

It is historic, because our children will grow up knowing (not hoping or dreaming) that someone besides a white man can be president. When a woman finally becomes president (which please let it happen in my lifetime!!!) it will be just as historic because of how hard women in our country fought to get there. When our children are adults, they will not even remember a time when it was a dream or crazy to think of a "minority" President.
Americans really do give too much importance to race.
Well, considering America's vast history of oppression against people based on race, can you really blame us? But I also think that celebrating our differences is a beautiful thing. Hating what makes others different from us is the problem. Race should not be the most important thing, but we should not underestimate its importance either.
There were slaves in Peru too, not just black, but chinese and indian too. Still, they're not as bitter as the formerly-opressed ones here.
Note: In case you didn't realize yet, the poster is originally from Peru. This isn't really that significant, but perhaps some cultural differences might explain for the lack of understanding of race issues in the U.S. Anyway, moving on...

Hm. Bitter? I agree that American do put a lot of importance on race (and yes, that can be a bad thing at times) but I don't agree that people are necessarily "bitter". Regardless, there is very little bitterness this week. People are celebrating! I also disagree with the term "formerly oppressed". Oppression didn't end when slavery did. I don't think that race should be that important, but for a lot of people - who have been defined by their race in a negative way for so long - that's not something that's so easy to just shake off. This is a really big step and it's a shame that it took so long!
I thought he was black at first until I saw a commercial where they showed pictures of his mother, she's white right? so, he's half black technically. I make that distinction because people keep calling him black but he's not, it's not really important what color he is, but if you're going to call him something, at least be accurate.
I do get her point. Sort of. Yes, he's actually biracial, but the media went crazy over him being black. He personally has said he doesn't think of himself as black or white or mixed race or anything. He thinks of himself as... Barack Obama. Period. And I think that's a great thing. He never made his campaign about race (although a lot of other people may have). But on the other hand, it is still monumentally historically HUGE that we have an "openly black" President in the United States finally. (I say "openly" because I was recently informed that several past presidents - Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Harding and Coolidge - were "part black").

When a black person is discriminated against, there is only one factor that determines his or her status as "black" - the color of his or her skin. Nobody checks to see if you have African blood in you; if you look black, they consider you to be a black person. It sucks that we feel the need to categorize people based on that, but the sad fact of the matter is that that's the way our society perceives race.

Even though though he's not 100% black, even though he doesn't necessarily feel "black", even though he was mostly raised by his white side of the family... he looks black, so for the purposes of undeserved oppression he is black. He has had just as much opportunity to experience racial discrimination as anyone who is 100% black.

Whether he is 100% or 50% or 25% or even 1%... people can visibly identify him as not being "an old white guy" and that does mean something in our society. (There were people yelling "kill him" at his opponent's rallies - how much racial hatred do you want to see before you think this is significant?) "Only half black" was enough to get you sold on an auction block in the 1860's. "Only half black" was enough to keep you on the back of the bus in the 1960s or hung in your front yard.
It's 2008 not 1860. Those ideas are just being perpetuated by overcompensating.
What I mean is that Americans overcompensate when it comes to black people, making everything they do more special just because they're black, and this, in my opinion, only perpetuates the idea of racism. That's why people in other countries think americans are extremely racist, it's not just the "white man" that hates "blacks", it's how touchy the subject has become in this country, when in the end, we're all PEOPLE.
A clear misunderstanding of why this is a monumental occasion. This is not a case of overcompensation or affirmative action. His presidency will not be "more special" simply because he is black. No one is suggesting that Barack Obama is more special because he's black. But he's not less special because he's black either - and that's where this comes from in some ways. For a long time black people were considered to be second-class citizens (and before that, property!) Even now, in the 21st century, black people are still oppressed in a lot of ways. No one is suggesting that to be black makes you better. We're suggesting that to be black doesn't make you any worse either! (Still an outrageous concept for some).

It's horrible that it took this long for there to be, not just a black president, but a black major party candidate or even any black candidate with a remote chance. (Alan Keyes does not count). After this election, hopefully race will have nothing to do with anything, because we will have set a precedent that anyone can be president. (Well, okay, any man can be president, but we're hopeful that we'll see a woman in office soon enough). It's not racism to get excited about that. It's because of racism that it took so long for that to be possible.
I am aware that there were slaves in other countries too, like I mentioned previously, we had slaves in Peru too (African, Chinese, Peruvian Indians), but Americans do seem to overcompensate in my opinion, and to me it's just horrible to see sometimes black people abusing that even when they're not opressed anymore. I'm from Peru, there were slaves there but we don't have bitter black or Chinese people still complaining of how the "white man" is "keeping them down".

Sometimes even if in a particular occasion nobody is oppressing them they still take advantage of that.

What I mean is how ridiculous it's become when minorities are treated with equality and they still complain that they're being discriminated against, it happens, maybe because they're so used to being discriminated that they think everybody will try to opress them all the time, when that's not the case.
People are still oppressed. Racism still exists. Are black people not allowed to be bitter about ongoing racism? Sexism still exists too and at times I certainly am bitter about that. I'm angry about how long it took us to get to where we are today and I'm angry about how far we still have to go. I'm not only angry about it... I have hope, but I refuse to give up and a certain level of anger motivates that.
"Complacency is not staying still - complacency is moving backwards."
There is just as much danger in complacency for anyone as there is for me. Anything that makes you "different" can make you a possible target for discrimination. We should all work to further our rights and the rights of others, and sometimes anger can inspire this. Why should we shut our mouths or pretend that oppression doesn't exist just because it isn't actually blatantly occurring every single minute of every single day?

And who is to say that it isn't occurring every single minute of every single day? Oppressed people are constantly oppressed. Oppression is not necessarily an "act", it is a state of being. If you are from an oppressed group/minority in the U.S., that oppression exists constantly. It's not just like "when you _____, you are oppressing me"... it is "because I am ______, I cannot ________". You may not always feel it or you may not always see it, but it is still there.

I think the further and further we get towards all people being equal and no one being oppressed based on race, gender, religion, anything... is good. A black president is good. Not because a black president will be a better president, but because it's one step further towards black people becoming... just people. A female president? One step towards "female people" becoming... people.

But of course, the whole premise that oppressed people are "taking advantage" of their oppression is ridiculous. What exactly are they using this advantage for? And really, what does that have to do with Barack Obama anyway? I really don't think he "took advantage" of being black in order to get elected. Honestly, to suggest that anyone uses their oppression to "take advantage" of something... well that sounds a hell of a lot more "racist" than celebrating a "half black" president. Often when I hear someone speak this way, it sounds like they are trying to rationalize their own racism. "Oh, they think they're always being oppressed, when they're totally not!" It's the same as when some people don't understand why we still need to have Black History Month or Women's History Month, etc.

*Also on a side note: upon some further investigation, Peru is not the super awesome "color blind" country she painted it to be. Perhaps racial relations are in fact different than they are in the U.S., but she's definitely being misleading to suggest that the minorities of Peru are totally and completely free from feelings of oppression.
I don't think I'm a racist, I don't believe in "races", I believe we're all people and no one is better or worse because of the color of their skin or their physical features. I do believe though that there's a lot of racism in the US, not only from whites that don't like blacks or Hispanics or Asians/etc, but also from minorities that think all whites/or all men are against them, when that's not the case. Why can't people in such a developed country just realize we're all the same?

I don't care what color Obama is or what his religion is, if he's a man or a transgender or whatever, I never said I thought he used his skin color or background in his favor, what pisses me off is the reaction of some people making a big deal of only the fact that he's not white.

As Americans, we have a long and ugly history with racism, prejudice and inequality. The fact that we have a black man as a president is monumental because it means that some of the wounds of our history are beginning to heal. It means that old barriers are being dropped and people are looking at a person's platform and not simply the color of their skin.

Even though slavery is over a hundred years in the past and the Civil Rights Movement was forty years ago, it's been a long hard road to this moment. Maybe the focus on his race does seem to trivialize his victory (making it seem race-based instead of issue-based) but I think that the majority of people did vote for his platform and for his ideas of change. At the same time, there's really no way to not celebrate Obama's racial victory as we celebrate his presidential victory. It's a breakthrough moment in our culture.

I would have been really really really upset if McCain and Palin had won, but I would at least have recognized the historical moment that it would have been to have the first female Vice President. (I think she'd have SUCKED at the job and I'd be seriously pissed, but it would still be something monumental, even if bittersweet). You don't need to support Obama to realize why it's a big deal that he won. I definitely don't think he should have won because of his race, but I don't believe that he did.
I don't think he won because of his race, and I'm glad that his race wasn't really an issue during the campaign. It just doesn't make sense to ME to put so much emphasis on his race now that he won. Same thing if McCain and Palin would have won, I don't think it's a big deal to have a female vice president.
It is a big deal because it's never happened before. And it's a big deal because of the reasons why it's never happened before.
"If a one-legged man won the Boston Marathon, people would say it was a big deal. He overcame immense obstacles to achieve that. There are similar obstacles to minorities in this country."
Even two years ago, nobody thought that a black man would be able to overcome the (subconscious but substantial) racism in our society. Pundits were even saying that even people who said they'd vote for Obama would not be able to bring themselves to vote for a black man when they were in the privacy of the polling booth. (The Bradley Effect). Now that a minority has achieved the highest office in the U.S., it will provide the most compellingly positive example to minority children everywhere that if they study hard, and work to improve their lives and overcome the obstacles in their lives, that they may someday be successful.

When John F. Kennedy was elected it was also huge, because he was the first Catholic President. No one thought he'd be a better president because he was Catholic... but no one believed that America would actually let a Catholic man be President. When he was elected, not only Catholic children realized "hey, that could be me someday", but so did black children, Latino children, female children. They realized "hey, someone different really can do this if they work hard enough... maybe I can!"

Now JFK didn't "take advantage" of his Catholicism to win and Obama didn't "take advantage" of his race to win. They won in spite of it. And I hate to even use the phrase "in spite of" because it implies that they are flaws, which they're not. So I'll say that they won in spite of the country's prejudices and fear. It's not a big deal to have a black President. It's a big deal that America is changing and while racism most definitely still exists hardcore... this is proof that it's changing and it's a big step towards helping it continue to change.

We are all collectively celebrating victory over a major shortcoming of our entire nation. We're one step closer to the Presidency not being out of reach for any group of people.

It would be great if someday we could have two candidates for President and no one even cared or noticed what their race or gender was and they were completely on an even playing ground. That's a really awesome dream, but it's not reality yet. Barack Obama was at a disadvantage being "the black candidate" against the status quo. I know plenty of people who outright said they weren't voting for him because of his race/his alleged religion/his "too ethnic" name. (I can't even imagine the amount of people who also felt that way but didn't admit it). The fact that he still beat McCain in a LANDSLIDE victory, despite those people... that is an accomplishment. And to pretend it doesn't matter if he's black or "half black", is downplaying that accomplishment.
Unfortunately, discrimination is still huge in this world, but hopefully, with time, people will realize that anyone can do anything regardless of their race/sex/age/etc, I guess I still have a hard time with all the different types of discrimination in the US considering I believe THIS is a country where people have all kinds of opportunities that they may not have in their own country.
I really want it to be reality, where people just accept that we're all equal and don't care about race or anything like that. But at the same time, to ignore our differences also does us a disservice. Pretending there are no differences between our races and cultures is almost as bad as racism. I think you should be proud of your sexuality, heritage, gender, race, etc. I think these should be celebrated. Pretending we're all the same diminishes some of the things that make us the most beautiful. The important thing to remember though is that we're are all different, but none of those differences mean that we are better or worse than anyone else.

The ESC is very happy to welcome our new president to office.

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January 22, 2009

Blog for Choice 2009

Today is January 22nd, 2009, which means it's the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Blog for Choice Day!

This year, we're all being asked to answer to this question: What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?

After thinking about this year's theme, we'd say that our top pro-choice hope is that we can render this question obsolete within a few years. After eight years of being beaten down by the ignorant, sexist, anti-choice Bush administration, it's understandable that the concept of "pro-choice hope" feels pretty foreign and also kinda awesome right now. But in addition to being pro-choice hopeful, we should also be pro-choice unsatisfied and pro-choice determined and pro-choice loud so that we can make real progress quickly. We've got a moment here where we can take a breath and not feel like we have to spend all of our time being on the defensive constantly, so let's take full advantage of it.

Here's our top 10, with lots of links. We want it all.
  1. Overturn the Global Gag Rule immediately. This is the ultimate "pro-life isn't" policy, hurting women and families and denying critical health care to people around the world under the guise of "respecting life". We were hoping that President Obama would have done this already so that we could start off the list with one item already crossed off, but it does still seem that he plans to do it very soon, and if he doesn't he should hear from all of us until it happens.

    We also hope he listens to the recommendations in this new report: "Five former directors of the Population and Reproductive Health Program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) today urged the new Obama administration to move quickly to restore U.S. leadership in global family planning.

    The former directors issued a joint report, Making the Case for U.S. International Family Planning Assistance, as Barack Obama takes office as president. The report argues that U.S. investment in family planning assistance programs overseas must more than double as soon as possible if global anti-poverty and development goals are to be achieved amidst the worldwide economic downturn."

  2. End all federal funding for abstinence only sex education programs that have been repeatedly proven totally ineffective. Pass the Prevention First Act as soon as possible. "The Act aims to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies by increasing funding for Title X, expanding Medicaid family planning services, ending insurance discrimination against women, improving awareness of emergency contraception, providing compassionate assistance for victims of rape, reducing teen pregnancy rates, and ensuring that Federal programs provide medically accurate information."

  3. Pass the Freedom of Choice Act - "a measure that will codify Roe v. Wade and guarantee the right to choose for future generations of women".

  4. Take action immediately to reverse former President Bush's (wow, that's fun to type) horrible last minute HHS "conscience" regulations. It's not going to be as easy as signing an executive order, so the process needs to begin right away. Several states have already filed suit against the rules, which could help. [Update on this one - it looks like this rule may be subject to President Obama's executive order freezing all of Bush's midnight regulations, which would be really good news.]

  5. Eliminate federal funding for so-called crisis pregnancy centers that really just exist to mislead, manipulate, and shame pregnant women.

  6. Repeal the Hyde Amendment and ensure access to reproductive health services, including abortion, for low-income women, women serving in our military and the families of military personnel, women serving in the Peace Corps, women in federal prisons, women receiving health care from Indian Health Service, and women on disability insurance. (Also, lift all Department of Defense restrictions on abortion access for women in our military.)

  7. Appoint judges who respect a woman's right to choose.

  8. Restore affordable birth control for college students and low-income women by passing the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act. The act was just reintroduced by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY). "Since 2006, prices for birth control have skyrocketed as high as $50/month at clinics and college health centers as a consequence of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. This act included a little-noticed provision that prohibited the decades-old practice of pharmaceutical companies selling contraceptives to college clinics and clinics serving low-income women at deeply discounted rates.

    Crowley commented in a statement: 'A bureaucratic mistake should not stand in the way of protecting the health and safety of millions of women across the nation,' he said. 'At no-cost to the American taxpayer, this simple legislative fix will restore affordable access to safe, effective birth control – reducing unplanned pregnancies and eliminating a considerable financial burden on millions of college-age and low-income women. I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation with my colleagues Reps. Kirk, Ryan, Dent, and Schiff, and I am confident we will address this issue in the 111th Congress.'"

  9. Allow federal employees enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits program to choose insurance policies that cover abortion.

  10. Understanding that we've got to act locally too, we also hope to see the Reproductive Health Act passed so that the right to choose is strengthened here in New York.

  11. Bonus item! President Obama released this statement today. Let's hold him accountable to these words for the next four years.

    On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.

    While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.

    On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere.

For more information on the work that needs to be done now, check out Advancing Reproductive Rights and Health in a New Administration, a report put together by a "coalition of medical, public health, research, religious and religiously-affiliated, women’s health, legal, and other advocacy organizations". Get informed and then get up and get involved. It's our job now to make sure that all of this hope becomes lasting change.