In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

This week in US juridical misogyny…

1) You’ll be interested to know that if you get fired for breastfeeding, that is not an instance of sex discrimination, according to a ruling from the Eighth Circuit Court that the Supreme Court has decided to let stand, because, well, man can lactate. It’s been known to happen. They just mostly don’t. So, you know, no problem. Also, if your supervisor tells you that you should be at home with your baby, well, he could say that to a man, too, so that’s also not sex discrimination.

A lawyer has linked us to the following: “Just as one final follow-up, here’s a snopes article on the misleading headlines:” Thanks! And sorry I didn’t catch that.

Let’s just get this out there: yes, it is possible for some cis men sometimes to lactate, if they make it a goal and work toward it. The same is true for trans women, and that’s fantastic, in my book, because I have known trans women to whom that would have meant a lot. And trans men certainly can lactate.

That said, I highly doubt the Eighth Circuit Court could give two shits about trans people. Call it my innate cynicism if you must, but I doubt they even thought about trans people. When it comes to cis people, the vast, overwhelming majority of people who lactate are women. End of story. The vast majority of people who are lactating regularly, intensely, and in a way to support a baby are going to be cis women, and then some trans men. Nobody tells men that they should be at home with their babies. Nobody uses men’s reproductive functions to torment them, by, say, refusing a lactating woman access to a room in which she can pump, causing her pain, anxiety, and possible injury (I’ve known women who’ve developed mastitis–it is incredibly painful). This is a throwback to the Rehnquist court, when it was ruled that pregnancy discrimination wasn’t sex discrimination because if a man got pregnant, he’d be subject to the same conditions. And if Rehnquist was contemplating the plight of trans men, I’m the lowest form of life, an anti-vaxxer.

I don’t know how this happened, legally speaking, and I don’t care. It’s a fucking travesty. It reminds me of the title of an opinion piece that ran in the NYT a week or so ago: “Should the Supreme Court Take into Account How Its Rulings Will Affect the Real World?” YES IT FUCKING WELL SHOULD. I don’t see the virtue in adhering to any old document, be it the Bible or the Constitution just for the sake of textual fidelity. This is the REAL WORLD, and we have to live in it, and it needs to be as reasonable as possible.

2) Purvi Patel, in Indiana, is facing up to 70 years in prison for the mutually exclusive “crimes” of having an illegal abortion (feticide) and felony neglect of a dependent minor. The latter charge, of course, requires a live minor, whereas feticide requires a dead fetus, so perhaps you, unlike the Indiana jury, can see the problem here (this is one of the problems with not requiring logical reasoning as a skill in high school). And that’s not even getting into the problems of any kind of abortion being illegal (aside from the kind forced on a pregnant woman against her will–but I know how much juries in this country hate to acknowledge that a woman’s desires matter). Patel’s crime was to order abortifacient drugs on-line and then have a miscarriage/stillbirth. For this she could spend the rest of her life in prison. Not in El Salvador. In Indiana.

What the linked article doesn’t address is how the police got called into the situation in the first place. Patel went to a hospital for heavy vaginal bleeding, and admitted to the doctors that she had been pregnant and had miscarried. So who called the cops? Isn’t there an issue of doctor-patient confidentiality here? Is the lesson that women who do this shouldn’t go to the ER for help, but should just let themselves bleed to death rather than risk public humiliation and decades in prison?

And what about Patel’s race? I wonder what the racial make-up of that jury was, whether it was easy for them to see Patel as some kind of monstrous, exotic child-murderess because she is neither white nor Christian? And where is the father of the fetus in all this? What kind of scumbag lets a woman face this on her own without taking responsibility for his share in her ordeals?

Anita Hill, 20 Years Later

Twenty-three years ago, Anita Hill testified before Congress in the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, who is now a Supreme Court justice. Hill’s testimony brought the term “sexual harassment” into the general American lexicon, and changed the way we talk about gender, power and the workplace. At the time, Hill was vilified by the media and treated horribly by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her testimony, and the hostility she faced, galvanized women and feminists across the U.S. On Friday, a new documentary called “Anita: Speaking Truth to Power” will be released. I’ve seen it, and it’s excellent — go check it out.

Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Hill — one of my personal heroes — and to interview her for Cosmopolitan. You can read the whole thing here. A bit of it:

The price of being female and on the internet

A must-read by Feministe friend Amanda Hess on online sexual harassment, and how legal mechanisms need to be updated to deal with the reality women face. As someone who has lost countless hours dealing with stalkers and harassers — and actually did see one of them go to jail eventually, although for threatening someone else — it was nice to see a story that didn’t just document the harassment, but that highlighted the sheer ineptitude of law enforcement, the American court system and male-run tech platforms in dealing with it.

Welcome back

For U.S. readers who had a long weekend, welcome back to the grind. For everyone else — those who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, those who don’t get holidays off — welcome back as well. To start your Monday, here’s a piece on raising the minimum wage, which we absolutely need to do.

Support Striking Fast Food Workers

Today, fast food workers across the United States are striking for higher pay. Paltry minimum wages mean that workers are paid as little as $7.25 an hour — not nearly enough to live off of, let alone raise a family. More than 13 percent of fast food workers rely on food stamps to make ends meet, and a disproportionate number of fast food employees are women of color. Willietta Dukes is one woman who will be striking today. She writes: