Equal Pay Day 2014

Did you know that the reason today is Equal Pay Day is because it marks the day in 2014 to which white women have to work to make equal pay to men’s 2013 salary? Yep, you read that correctly. Since white women, on average, make $0.77 to every $1.00 made by men, it will take us an additional THREE months to make what a man is making.

This is shocking, right? Doing the same job, with the same educational background, with the same qualifications… and still white women are making $0.77 on the dollar to men.

Even more shocking, the disparity gets worse based on the color of your skin. (I say shocking, but I really mean “it is absolutely distressing that in 2014, race continues to play a major role in access to employment and equal pay.”)

Take a look at the figures:

Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders made about 66 percent of what white men made.

African American women only made 64 percent.

American Indian and Alaska natives suffer from a 60 percent pay gap.

Hispanic and Latina women, who make up half of the dominant minority group in the US, made little more than half of what white men made, at just 53 percent.

Recently, President Obama made news when he announced his intent to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their compensation. This is a big deal because it allows for transparency in pay, a significant factor in creating pay equality. President Obama also announced his intent to sign a presidential memorandum instructing Labor Secretary Tom Perez to establish new regulations requiring federal contractors to submit summary data on compensation paid to their employees, particularly data including sex and race breakdowns, to the Department of Labor.

It will certainly take more than these narrow executive actions to ensure Equal Pay for all. That’s why I encourage you to contact your Senator and ask he/she to support Equal Pay legislation before the Senate. The AAUW has made it easy for you with this form. Check it out and help get us out of 1950’s.

For more resources on Equal Pay, be sure to check out the AAUW’s website here: http://www.aauw.org/tag/equal-pay/

Almost Perfect… But Not Quite


I started teaching college kids when I was pretty young.  So me and the students? We got each other. All of my references made sense to them – they had grown up in the same time frame as me, so I could tell a joke and they would DEFINITELY get it. And now, I am old. I didn’t realize it until this semester. I mean, I had felt it creeping up on me… like last semester when I said “Let’s talk about sex (long pause) baby. Let’s talk about you and me” when I was introducing our Sexualities section and they all looked at me like I had three heads. But, this semester I am now positive that I am an elderly woman. Forget not knowing “Let’s Talk About Sex”, these students don’t even know The Real World when it was good.

There is a huge generation gap between adults who…

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On the Road

From the archives: a mother/daughter road trip to remember.


I am back from the Great Mother/Daughter Road Trip of 2012 and am happy to report that there was only one tiny tiff when we couldn’t locate Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house using the walking map, the GPS on my cell phone, or our brains.

In fact, the whole weekend was pretty great – full of sunshine, gorgeous vistas, discussing politics and women’s rights, and sampling some of the delicious wines and local brews that the Finger Lakes region has to offer.

I was pretty inspired by this trip and am working on the early stages of a novel – I won’t post any of it here, but any self-publishing advice would be appreciated! (Ahem, super commenter Nadine Feldman…)

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some of the pictures I took along the way so you can see just how moving the scenery and history can be.

We hit the road…

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Did you know that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month? The goal of SAAM is to raise awareness about sexual violence and to teach people and communities how to prevent it. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center has a lot of great literature and informational guides to help facilitate conversations about sexual violence and healthy sexuality. I encourage you to check them out if you’re looking for ways to help the youth in your community start the conversation.




See, that’s the thing: we have to have the conversations. This week in my Gender and the Law class we’re talking about rape culture and the law’s construction of consent. I get that its a hard conversation to have. It’s tough to look at our lawmakers responses to sexual assault and rape (I’m thinking about Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment here and Michigan’s Rape Insurance law) and feel like there’s anyone out there who’s got a survivor’s back.

But there are lots of great organizations that DO have your back. This week is International Anti-Street Harassment Week and I can think of no better organization to highlight than Hollaback! I’ve been following them since their infancy and the group provides a great forum to talk about street harassment.

Speaking of street harassment, I’m sure you’ve all seen the Snickers commercial with Aussie construction workers yelling “empowering” things at women on the street.

It seems like the ad agency there might have had a pretty big lapse in judgment. Because, it’s not just the content of the message being shouted at women that creates a really shitty power dynamic, it’s the fact that men are shouting at women in a public space and taking away a sense of safety. Not only that, but what is Snickers implying with this “you’re not you when you’re hungry” thing? That when you’ve eaten you’ll go back to harassing women with sexist and scary content? Yuck.

The response to the ad has started quite the conversation, however. And that’s important. We need to engage everyone in a conversation about how our culture encourages and perpetuates sexual violence against women. Even if that conversation is a tough one to have.

What are your thoughts on the Snickers commercial? On street harassment? How do you combat street harassment?

Whoops, I Wrote A LadyBlog: On Identity and Lent


I talk a lot about identity politics in my classes; how what we ARE influences what we DO. It comes up often in my intro course when my students fight me on white privilege. Many of them are from white, upper middle class backgrounds and have not encountered anyone who’s not just like them. So their trials and tribulations are unfettered by their identities and when you push your identity aside, your problems are still there… as problems. As we move through the semester and look at the experiences of others and then delve into exploring our own identities, my students start to “get it.” Privilege and identity play giant roles in their lives.

Since I spend a lot of time thinking about identity when it comes to big issues, I thought I’d spend some time today thinking about identity and self for little issues. Two days ago was Ash Wednesday in the Catholic religion. I was born to a practicing Catholic dad and a non-practicing Jewish mom, so I was raised Catholic with a Jewish identity. For me, that meant that we got to do some of the Jewish traditions at home and I went to Catholic school (from kindergarten through college), received all the sacraments, went to Church every Sunday, and built this very solid core of Catholic beliefs.

That Catholicism base is a big part of my identity and it’s a part that I don’t often consider because I’m just not sure how I feel about organized religion, the Roman Catholic Church, and my own beliefs. But stuff like gravitating towards fish on Fridays, or kneeling and doing the sign of the cross at a wake is reactionary for me. And on this Ash Wednesday, without considering that I haven’t been inside a Church other than a wedding or a funeral since high school, I jumped into my Catholic identity and chose something to give up for Lent.

Now here’s where the big exploration of identity happened for me. First, I realized that Catholic guilt paired with Jewish guilt (come on, serious double whammy here) could make me do something for 46 days. That’s some deeply rooted values. Then, I looked at what I wanted to change and I thought, and I thought, and I thought… and then I realized, the biggest yuckiest part of my identity is that I’m a glutton.










There, I said it. I’m a glutton in every area of my life. Sometimes, it’s a good thing: I want to get all the degrees, be all the smarts, have all the jobs, do all the work… But most of the time it’s a bad thing: I want to buy all the clothes, eat all the chocolate, be all the smarts, have all the jobs… you get it.

So I’m taking corrective action. I’m using that Cashew guilt for the next 46-ish days to stop being a glutton for everything. The first step has been joining this hashtag movement (I know, hashtags ugh) from White House Black Shutters #40bags40days where you get rid of a bag of stuff you don’t need every day. I’m already making some great progress, as you can see below. I donated 4 bags of clothing to the Veterans Association to cover the weekend.










I’ve also resisted buying chocolate for two whole days, which is a miracle in and of itself. So, for the next 40 days at least, I’m going to be a woman on a mission – getting rid of the glutton within. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and let you know if I’ve been able to stop taking on so much… of course, that will have to happen after this weekend since I’ve got to grade midterms, write a recommendation letter, deal with just a few cases, and attend a meeting or two. Baby steps, people.

What about you? Are you giving up anything for Lent? Is your desire to do so a part of your identity? Are you going to join me in the 40days40bags challenge? Tell me your thoughts.

Voyeurism, Upskirt Photos, and the Challenges of the Massachusetts Law

Yesterday, Massachusetts’s highest court (the SJC for those of you want the MA legal lingo) found that Michael Robertson was not guilty of criminal voyeurism under the Massachusetts statute. Robertson was accused of using his cell phone camera to videotape and photograph up the skirts of fully clothed females on the MBTA.







There’s been a bit of an uproar about this decision, and for good reason. See, it seems like the SJC is announcing to pervs everywhere that it’s A-OK to stick your cell phone camera up someone’s skirt. And while they actually are saying that, the SJC isn’t making this practice newly legal, rather, they’re saying that the law itself is flawed and that this practice has always been legal because of the way the law is written.

The criminal voyeurism law in Massachusetts (M.G.L. c. 272 s. 105) has three elements that need to be proven in order for someone to be found guilty under the statute:

First, prosecutors must show that the person complaining of the photographing/videotaping did not consent to the act.

Second, prosecutors must show that the person complaining had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

And third, prosecutors must show that the person complaining was nude or partially nude at the time the photos/videos were taken.

Since the photos and video in question were taken when people were fully dressed on the train, prosecutors weren’t able to prove that third requirement and, as such, pervy Michael Robertson wasn’t able to be prosecuted under the law. While this is a devastating blow to people’s general feelings of safety and privacy on the train here in Boston, it’s not a “bad” decision. We want a court that functions within the boundaries of the law, don’t we?

Legislators in Massachusetts have promised to work quickly to update the legislation and address the realities of technological privacy invasions that take place in public places and I applaud their quick work.

But this case shines a light on just how easy it is for folks to invade women’s privacy and exploit women’s bodies through the use of technology and just how slow our laws are to catch up. We desperately need stronger protections in the law – from prohibiting upskirt photos to protecting women’s nude photos and preventing exploitation. This is just the first step.

Massachusetts Anti-Shackling Legislation

I’ve been a terrible, horrible, no good blogger lately. I could offer up a thousand reasons for it, but sometimes an apology and some interesting news is just as good as hearing some lame justification.

So, I’m sorry.






And now for the good news. A while back I wrote about some proposed legislation in Massachusetts that would provide a uniform anti-shackling policy for all Massachusetts correctional facilities prohibiting shackling as a matter of routine during transportation for pregnant moms after the first trimester, and prohibiting shackling during labor and delivery. When I wrote about this legislation, it wasn’t really going anywhere.

But, the bill was reported out of committee on Friday and seems to be on its way to the House Ways and Means Committee. In layman’s terms? The bill is moving and, with support, could be on its way to passage.

This is a big deal because if you stop to think about it, it is inhumane to shackle a pregnant woman to a bed while giving birth. It is dangerous to bind a woman’s hands behind her back while being transported if she’s pregnant – what if she fell forward?

Senator Karen Spilka says it best “Shackling pregnant women interferes with a physician’s ability to treat mothers and their newborns, and it is an inhumane, unacceptable practice. This bill is an important and necessary step toward improving reproductive health for female prisoners and ensuring safe, healthy outcomes for women and their babies.”

I’ll keep you posted on the bill’s progress.