8 Stories Every Feminist Should Know About This Week
It's hard to believe it's only been a little over a month since Donald Trump took office. Trump's first 100 days as president are shaping up to be as dramatic and polarizing as he promised during his campaign, and it seems like every day brings an unprecedented amount of breaking news. From a highly controversial travel ban affecting Muslim-majority nations (with a recently issued revised version that doesn't exactly put people at ease) to the early steps taken to diminish reproductive rights and federal protections for transgender students, it almost beggars belief that each of these things has only happened since Inauguration Day.
The second you get off the phone with your senator's office about investigating Jeff Sessions, you see a news alert about Trump's plans to attack Environmental Protection Agency regulations. With so many significant stories breaking every day, it can be hard to stay on top of every issue that affects you or the people you care about.
As the Women's March on Washington (and the many sister marches elsewhere) made clear, protecting women's rights is a priority for millions of Americans, even after the election. That's why I've compiled a list of some of the biggest issues that affect American feminism today. It likely can't be exhaustive, but these are at least some of the biggest stories you'll want to keep following in the weeks and months to come.
Possible ACA Repeal
The Affordable Care Act represented a watershed moment in women's public health in the United States. On Monday, Republicans revealed their replacement plan — and it takes straight aim at Planned Parenthood. If ACA gets repealed, Americans may lose the many women-specific protections afforded by the bill, including female-specific preventative care, prohibitions on discrimination against women, and the requirement that insurance providers cover birth control.
Revelations of Workplace Sexism at Uber
In a story that illustrates the twin struggles of women in STEM fields and women in the workplace more generally, a telling editorial published by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler highlighted that company's myriad problems in establishing a welcoming workplace for women. Fowler's post was followed by more allegations of sexism at Uber. The company has vowed to evaluate its problems and do better; feminists across the country should hold Uber to that promise.
Repugnant Sexism from an EU Official
To paraphrase from the famous quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. sexism anywhere is a threat to women everywhere. Sexism in the European Union, therefore, should concern and outrage American feminists. A Polish member of the European Parliament was criticized recently for saying that women should earn less than men. Why?
"They are weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent," he said. In the clip above, the representative, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, preaches about the inferiority of women with a bizarre smile playing at the corners of his lips, something that illustrates the insidious nature of sexism. Thankfully, a female member of Parliament put him in his place. Korwin-Mikke's type of moronic but hateful rhetoric should be called out whenever it's spoken — but particularly in government.
Elimination of Funding to Prevent Violence Against Women
Trump's administration has reportedly been considering budget cuts that would strip funding from the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a grant program that helps women who are victims of violence. These grants go to organizations that fight domestic violence and prevent sexual assault, among other things; to strip funding from these groups would damage the health and safety of women nationwide.
Attacks Against Transgender Women
Since New Years' Day, six transgender women of color have been murdered in the United States. Trans women, and particularly trans women of color, who are at the intersection of sexism, transphobia, and racism, are among the likeliest in the country to be victims of violent crime — 22 such women were murdered in 2016 alone. Due in large part to discrimination, transgender Americans are also about ten times likelier than other Americans to attempt suicide — and the new administration's repeal of Obama-era trans protections will only worsen this discrimination.
Attacks On Reproductive Rights Across The Country
Local politics may seem boring, but its ramifications are enormous. A proposed Texas bill would permit doctors not to tell their pregnant patients if their fetus would be disabled; a new Arkansas law allows men to sue to prevent their wives from having an abortion — a law that doesn't even have an exception for rape. Similar bills pop up with frequency across the country, and being vigilant about your own state's rules can be the best way to protect reproductive rights.
New Research About How Young Girls Internalize Sexism
Many sociologists have published studies recently that can help women (and men!) understand the education gap between the sexes. A study commissioned by Microsoft recently identified the point at which young girls tend to lose interest in STEM fields, and another recent study demonstrated that young girls start to show signs of internalized sexism as young as six.
Enforcement of Rape Law and Oblivious Judges
Sadly, this is another evergreen issue for women's rights: the failure of the law enforcement system to adequately investigate rape and punish rapists. Most recently, a judge in Nova Scotia ruled that an unconscious woman consented to sex, saying "clearly, a drunk can consent."