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Newsflash: The economy causes poverty

Thanks to Deborah Siegel at Girl with Pen (and to Feministing via which I discovered GWP) for this report on Frank Furstenburg's recent briefing paper on teen pregnancy and poverty.

The headline as she reports it from the Ascribe Livewire:

Teen Pregnancy and Poverty: 30-Year-Study Confirms That Living in Economically-Depressed Neighborhoods, Not Teen Motherhood, Perpetuates Poverty

Can you feel the tidal wave of support building for all kinds of "End economic depression in neighborhoods where teens live" programs? In fact since Furstenburg reports that young women who become teen mothers are often already poor, maybe the government can use all the abstinance-only money that states keep rejecting to fund some education/housing/jobs programs to rebuild neighborhoods and reduce poverty and increase opportunity. That might be a better way of reducing teen pregnancy rates.

Furstenburg's briefing report is here.

 

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Access denied: A different kind of de facto segregation

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It's interesting that "Blog for Choice" day falls right after Martin Luther King Jr's holiday. It has me thinking about intersections and parallels of civil rights issues. For those who've studied segregation, the terms "de facto" and "de jure" are familiar. They mean "in fact" and "by law" and they are used to describe the reality of segregation in the United States today. Segregation in schools, for example, has been illegal since Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 yet there is a great deal of de facto segregation in American schools.

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Note to Bob Herbert: Misogyny is much more complicated!

Herbert's column in the NY Times this morning reprises his claims about the misogyny of prostitution and pornography but in a different context this time and with some unwittingly apt parallels.

Readers of this blog know that I have a very different analysis of sex work, one that doesn't assume that prostitution or pornography are inherently and essentially misogynistic, so I won't reprise that here. (You can get a glimpse of some of that here and here) Instead, I'd like to point out some of the things I think make Herbert's analysis here especially weak, including some false assumptions about causality, and unfortunate parallels to sports and the military.

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Vote for the best teen sex ed video

Missing the excitement of all those awards shows that you'd be enthralled by right now if it weren't for the intransigence of the Producers association? This contest is way better: Teens and young adults making videos demonstrating the need for improved sex ed programs.

You know that I've long argued in favor of age-appropriate comprehensive sex education for kids starting in elementary school and working through high school. You also know that's a hard sell in a nation that increases funds abstinence-only sex ed even while states are rejecting the money and even though research shows it to be ineffective.

To help spread the message about how necessary comprehensive sex ed is, and also about how bad a lot of the sex ed that teens now receive can be, RH Reality Check in partnership with SIECUS, Isis Inc., Advocates for Youth and the National Sexuality Resource Center sponsored a video contest. Young people were invited to send in short videos describing their sex ed experiences or envisioning the kind of sex ed they think is best.

The top 10 videos are posted here and you can vote for your favorite until January 16.

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Secondhand Rose interviewed by Radical Vixen

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Radical Vixen, whose blog tagline I adore (Porn...peace...politics) responded to this past International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers by starting a Sex Worker Solidarity Series on her blog. What a brilliant idea. It's an interview series asking sex workers important questions about social change, feminism, and most of all, building solidarity within the ranks of workers. I'm a union junkie at heart and can't think many things more important in achieving social change than solidarity and organization.

Gracie, our newest correspondent, just tipped me off to the new interview with Secondhand Rose. This is the third interview in the series, and I hope you'll go over there and read it. It's fantastic. In it, Secondhand Rose discusses things like what's missing in feminism, why it is so hard for sex workers to have solidarity with one another, and why parallels between the gay rights movement and the sex worker rights movement give her a sense of optimism. One quote, just to tempt you into going over there and reading the whole thing:

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One New Year's Resolution!

You may have noticed that my contributions to the square have been a bit sparse since September. What's up with that? For one thing, I finished my first semester back in the classroom (what an adjustment!), spent two separate weekends at union conferences (union work being another of my passions), and just got back from a trip to Georgia to see family.

So, one New Year's Resolution: To get better at combining blogging with my other work, and next semester a lot of my other work is related to this site, so I'm feeling pretty optimistic!

What's up for next semester? Well, for one thing I'll be teaching a course in Sociology of Gender, being offered for the first time at NCC. That's very exciting, and one way that I plan to integrate some of my blogging and some of my teaching. In addition, I'll be speaking at a bunch of conferences about stuff we discuss here. (If you're local to any of them, drop by!) Here's where I'll be:

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I read it for the pictures (The New York Times, that is)

These two pictures accompany an article in this morning's Times on the presidential candidates' use of their opposition to NCLB (which stands for No Child Left Behind, not No Cheerleader left behind") as a way of rallying supporters.

Maybe it's just that my brain is still a bit addled from the end of the semester, and I'm only through my first cup of coffee this morning, but it seemed like an odd selection of images to me. Take a look. Then feel free to discuss in the comments whether or not these images matter at all.

This one is captioned "Students at Central High School in Davenport, Iowa, listening to former president Bill Clinton."

Photo of cheerleaders listening to Bill Clinton, accompanying article about No Child Left Behind

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Congress Kills Matthew Shepard Bill by attaching it to Military Funding Bill

How to kill the Matthew Shepard Act without really trying:

The Matthew Shepard Act passed the House of Representatives pretty easily, but it was in trouble at the Senate. The Senate's solution? Insert it into a Pentagon funding bill. (Yes, they really did this.) That got enough Republican suport to allow the bill to pass in the Senate. Here's the catch: Now, the combined bill can't get past the House. Two reasons: Conservative Republicans don't like the hate crimes provision and liberal Democrats don't like the military spending bill:

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was widely supported by Democrats and some moderate Senate Republicans. But because it was attached to a major defense policy bill that would have authorized more money for the Iraq war, many anti-war Democrats said they would oppose it.

''We don't have the votes,'' said one House Democratic aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because conference negotiations on the defense bill were ongoing. ''We're about 40 votes short, not four or six.''

So, they dropped the hate crimes provision in order to pass the spending bill.

Perversely, today I'm headed down to DC. Fortunately I'll be with teachers and union leadership folks and not with politicians.

Click here to read the New York Times story .

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But will Medicare pay for lube?

drawing "Penis Pump" You might have missed the part about the penis pumps. It was in a New York Times article about Medicare overpaying for things like oxygen tanks. Apparently Medicare, despite its potentially enormous bargaining power, spends more for many items than they would cost in your neighborhood pharmacy or surgical supply store. In the midst of the article is this paragraph:

For example, last year Medicare spent more than $21 million on pumps to help older and disabled men attain erections, paying about $450 for the same device that is available online for as little as $108. Even for a simple walking cane, which can be purchased online for about $11, the government pays $20, according to government data.

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Sex Angst Revealed and Sex Research Proposed

Kinsey Institute Another quickie for you, and I swear I'll get back to some serious blogging soon:

Debbie Nathan has another great Sex Angst Roundup. This one spotlights stories on the impact of early teen sexual activity, the decline in teens' visits to online porn sites, the continuing legal struggles over 2257, the continuing debacle that is abstinence-only sex ed, the issues posed by child porn that doesn't include real children, and the unhelpful ways we attempt to deal with sex offenders while not really making kids safer.

Phew!

Meanwhile, Tristan Taormino attended the annual conference of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and wrote about her experience in the Village Voice. One strong reaction: There are lots of studies of sexual dysfunction but not nearly enough about sexual diversity. Below is her list of the top 5 research projects she'd love to see (anybody out there looking for a dissertation topic?):

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