genfem

First World Feminism
What's the point of this website?

A fair question. Two quick answers:

1. Those of us lucky enough to live in the most progressive parts of the world tend to focus on how good we have it, and yet we still haven’t achieved true gender equality.

2. I’m over trying to pitch women’s magazines. If the story isn’t about slimmer thighs for summer, they’re just not interested.

This stuff is important, I’ll try not to make it too dry.

Migrant Women and Children are Missing While Crossing the Mexico-U.S. Border

Guest Post by Conchita Sarnoff, Executive Director of The Alliance to Rescue Victims of Trafficking

On July 2nd, 2014, Ana Ruth Castillo Calles, a graceful and sweet thirty one year-old woman, and her son, Jason, age 3, were arrested in McAllen, Texas, after swimming through El Rio Grande while attempting to illegally cross the Mexico-U.S. border. 

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Ana and Jason


Along with 83,000 families, including 57,000 unaccompanied children, Ana is one of thousands of undocumented women attempting to escape Central America (specifically El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) in search of a safe existence and daily work in the United States. 


The mass exodus began in late 2013 when these vulnerable women and children began saturating the U.S. border, unwittingly risking their lives crossing Central America, the treacherous Rio Grande and a three thousand-mile stretch made up of bewildering and hostile terrain that adjoins Mexico and the United States

On the evening we met, in the barren desert town of Imperial, California, only a few miles west of Calexico, Ana sat dejected on a rickety plastic chair. I had decided to visit the border towns on the California side to investigate claims made earlier by Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) that many young women and children attempting the illegal crossing were missing and possibly being trafficked by drug syndicates and coyotes (smugglers who specialize in the Mexico–US border). Miranda Margowfky, a staff member working for Representative Cuellar, confirmed the Congressman’s claim via phone on July 3rd, a few days prior to my trip.

On the evening of July 3rd, after a series of conversations with law enforcement officials, Calexico Police Officer Luis Casillas, Vice President of the Calexico Police Union, proposed that I meet him at a straggly Laundromat. The Laundromat, located on an unlit street, felt even darker because of the creepy surroundings of this down-and-out section of downtown Imperial. It was there that Ana and three other women - all ranging between twenty and thirty five years of age - and several of their children were being held under protective custody by the Calexico Police Department. 

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Undocumented immigrants and their children under protective custody of Calexico Police Department 


Ana and two other women who spoke on the condition of anonymity told me that they were afraid, tired and hungry. Since the day of their arrest Border Patrol had not allowed them and their children to bathe or given them a proper meal outside of an apple, a soft taco and soda. During processing, most of their belongings, including all the children’s clothing, had been stripped away and replaced by frayed, unsuitable second hand clothing that did not fit. She told me that the authorities at the McAllen Detention Facility had no compassion.

Officer Luis Casillas introduced me to Sergeant Rudy Alarcon, President of the Calexico Police Officers Union. Officer Jose Amaya, a Border Patrol official, revealed that one of the most disquieting facts about the mass exodus from Central America is the dangerous consequences that exist if these women and children are deported back. According to Sergeant Alarcon, the women and children “would face great danger, persecution, recruitment and violent repercussions at home by the MS gangs controlling their communities and a number of corrupt officials in El Salvador.”

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Officer Luis Casillas, Bryan and Jason


The seemingly irrepressible sex trafficking that exists today in Latin America, together with extreme poverty, lack or limited access to secondary education, massive unemployment, extreme violence, recruitment of young boys and daily kidnappings by the all powerful Mara and other drug syndicates make up the driving force behind the massive migration to “El Norte.”


Those of us that are lucky enough to be American citizens must ask ourselves is if we would we risk our lives crossing treacherous terrain and scrape our life’s savings to pay a pollero nine thousand dollars ($9,000) to guide us through a deadly river for the sake of security and a higher standard of living for ourselves and our children, as Ana did.

 
If the answer is yes, then we might want to question President Obama’s current immigration policies that seem, at best, anti-American and, at worst, counterproductive to the values of the Democratic Party. It was these policies that led to the recent Central American exodus to begin with

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Expectancy Violations, or The Long Road Hillary Clinton has Ahead of Her

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Photo from aol.com

I just stumbled onto an article on PsychologyToday.com that explains, in psychological terms, why it’s going to be particularly difficult for a woman to run for president. Here is an excerpt:

"Have you ever heard a remake of a song you are used to, and find yourself not really caring for the remake? This happened to me just yesterday; I was watching the "new" Pink Panther on Netflix and the new musical arrangement of the original Henry Mancini theme was now faster, louder, and played with electric guitars. I hated it. Only after watching several episodes (they are short, like the original) and hearing the song every time did I sort of get used to it. But only sort of.

Cognitive science will tell us that part of my reaction to the new musical arrangement has to do with what is known as expectancy violations. In other words, as a result of watching the original Pink Panther all through my childhood, I developed a certain familiarity with one particular renditionof the theme, and the violation of my expectation of how the theme should sound led me to dislike the new tune. The same thing has also happened to me in reverse—I’ll hate the original rendition of a song because I have gotten used to—somehow attached—to a newer version. There is probably nothing inherently better or worse about one musical arrangement over another; it’s just a matter of taste. But expectations factor hugely into our taste. Expectancy violations are, quite simply, aversive, and are often associated with strong negative emotion.

My colleagues Sang Hee Park, Alex O’Connor and I recently published a paper in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (vol 44, pg. 971-982) showing the downstream effects of expectations and expectancy violations for perceptions of men and women. The results directly parallel the battle for equitable perception that Hillary Clinton is fighting.

In the study, we had a fictitious man and woman behave assertively in a variety of situations—speaking their minds, providing an opinion, laying down the law—and asked judges to rate how assertive they thought the “targets” (we use this word because the fictitious characters are the targets of the study participants’ judgments) actually were. The behaviors were exactly the same across the two targets. However, we also varied the contexts in which the assertive behavior happened. We chose some of these contexts to be strongly associated with men in people’s minds (e.g., at the mechanic, in a conversation about Wall Street), and other contexts to be strongly associated with women (e.g., planning the children’s birthday party; choosing the color of the curtains).

The results are striking—in male dominated contexts (e.g., at the mechanic), the female who spoke her mind was rated as being much more assertive than the male who had shown the exact same behavior. However, in female dominated contexts (e.g., at the curtain store), the man who spoke his mind was now rated as much more assertive than the woman! Same behaviors, same targets, but the results flipped depending on the context in which the two targets spoke their minds. 

What does this have to do with expectations?

In male dominated contexts, we already come into the situation with an expectation (you might it even call it a stereotype) that a man will behave assertively—let’s say, a 7 on ten-point scale—and that a woman will behave passively (let’s say, a 3 on the scale). You then have a man and a woman speaking their minds—let’s say this behavior is a “7.” Compare 7 to your expectation of 7, and you end up saying, “this guy is moderately assertive.” Compare 7, though, to your expectation of 3, and suddenly you’re saying “Mary Jane is extraodinarily, irrationally assertive, even aggressive. What IS her deal??”

The critical thing for the study was to show that exactly the opposite happens in female dominated contexts. At the curtain store, we now fully expect the woman to be the decider (the 7), and a man to say, “uh, OK.” (the 3). When they both speak their minds (a 7) in this context, one would fully expect just the opposite to happen—the woman’s behavior is seen as normative but we ask why the guy cares so much about the color of the curtains anyway. And this is exactly what the study showed.”

Unfortunately, in addition to the mechanic, “male-dominated contexts” include the vast majority of financial, artistic and political power and leadership positions globally. People that criticize Hillary Clinton for her ambition are reacting to a violation of their expectation of what a woman’s role should be in politics. Hopefully once we have a female president, the presidency will no longer be a “male-dominated context” and there will be no more political expectations to violate.  

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Love this campaign from whennurturecalls.org, which aims to pass a law making it illegal to harass women breastfeeding in public. 

Love this campaign from whennurturecalls.org, which aims to pass a law making it illegal to harass women breastfeeding in public. 

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My Friend Wendy Tells Off a Sexist Insurance Agent

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Photo from ronblundell.co.uk

My friend Wendy recently asked her insurance agent, George, why Anthem Insurance is sending her a mandatory pediatric dental insurance bill each month considering that she doesn’t have kids and doesn’t have any intention of ever having kids. Bill’s response was that, like the maternity coverage men have to pay for, it’s just one of those things certain insured people have to cover even though it has nothing to do with them. Wendy responded by tearing his a new one. Observe:

Wendy:

Good afternoon George and Sean,

I am receiving bills for $5.36 each month from Anthem for dental, pediatric.  I recall discussing and signing off on only my regular medical healthcare, with no dependents (I do not even have children, and have not gotten dental for myself yet.)  Possible to explain?
many thanks,
Wendy
George:
Wendy —
 
This is the most common question we get, and it is understandable to have this confusion. Due to the healthcare reform, Anthem Blue Cross requires all policies to include pediatric dental, even if there are no children on the policy. If that wasn’t bad enough, they bill for it separately (it really should be embedded in the policy and no one would really care about it like maternity coverage in the policy for men). Even though it is not a benefit for you to utilize, if you do not pay it, your medical policy will eventually cancel out for non-payment. Once the medical and pediatric dental are both paid to the same date, we can request to have them both billed together on the same invoice (called a “summary bill”).
 
Hope this makes sense.
 
Be well,
George
Wendy:
Hi George,
Thanks for explaining, though it is basically extortion - and, I feel forced to point out, not comparable to men paying for maternity coverage, since 
1. A man is half responsible for virtually every pregnancy / baby.
2. A woman has to take maternity because A. men don’t lactate, and B. even if a baby is fed formula the US laws are still so archaic that men are not even granted paternity at most companies.  And lest anyone suggest childcare / nannies -
3. …The ideal situation, according to reams of medical research, is for a baby to have at least a few months to bond with its mother in the beginning for physical and emotional health and development,  Because, evolution.
4.  And then there is the physical recovery women need after giving birth - again, to a baby that I’m pretty sure a man was 50% responsible for.   I have included a fun and helpful link below that may be educational in this regard.  Please see #s 10, 14, 16, 17, 18.
In contrast, I feel - because I legitimately am - zero percent responsible for other peoples children’s teeth. 
:-)
All the best,
Wendy
After Wendy sent this to me and I replied, “brilliant!!!,” she added:
yeah, why should men pay for women to loll around all day, occasionally taking care of a helpless newborn that THEY created / wanted?  we should def get our entitled asses back to work within 48 hours.  we’re really gaming the system and i hope someone brings this farce of men being held financially responsible for their own kids to attention soon.  god i’m pissed for days on this one.  it is not even a little comparable to me being responsible for pediatric dental when i do not have any children.
Amen. #everydaysexism
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Interviews for the world’s toughest job. From AdWeek:

Here’s a pretty cool project from Mullen for a client we won’t immediately reveal, lest we spoil the surprise. (Scroll down to the bottom of credits, or watch the video to find out.)

The Boston agency posted this job listing online for a “director of operations” position at a company called Rehtom Inc. The requirements sounded nothing short of brutal:


• Standing up almost all the time
• Constantly exerting yourself
• Working from 135 to unlimited hours per week
• Degrees in medicine, finance and culinary arts necessary
• No vacations
• The work load goes up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and other holidays
• No time to sleep
• Salary = $0

Check out what happened. It’s worth watching to the end. 

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One hundred entities have filed lawsuits against the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.   
Sign this petition and stand with NOW to tell them it is not acceptable for employers to impose their personal beliefs on their employees.

One hundred entities have filed lawsuits against the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.   

Sign this petition and stand with NOW to tell them it is not acceptable for employers to impose their personal beliefs on their employees.

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