Bill Cosby Clearly Doesn’t Understand Consent


This past weekend, a 10-year old deposition offered stunning new revelations about Bill Cosby’s sexual encounters from the 1970s onward. Obtained by The New York Times, the document is part of a civil suit filed against Cosby by former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, and it shows that Cosby’s understanding of consent is highly questionable—at best. Constand first met Cosby […]

What You Won’t See on Orange Is the New Black

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When I heard that Piper Kerman wrote the book Orange is the New Black about her experience at the Danbury, Connecticut federal prison camp, I was excited. I served part of my 15-year sentence with her and I found the book an accurate snapshot of Danbury FPC. (Full disclosure: I am “Esposito” in Piper’s book.) […]

When an Unwanted Pregnancy Lands You Behind Bars


Kenlissia Jones did what many women before her have done. Facing a pregnancy she could not or did not want to continue, Jones, a 23-year-old black woman from Georgia, went online in search of a solution. There, she purchased Cytotec, a prescription abortion-inducing pill, from a pharmaceutical company in Canada. She delivered a five and […]

Women’s Health Is in the Hands of the Supreme Court


OK, I admit it. I’ve become obsessed with SCOTUS Blog. During the last week, I’ve spent hours at my computer, watching lawyers live blog as the Supreme Court announced its decisions. I’m a passionate women’s health activist, and this is not where I wanted to be spending my time. No complaints about SCOTUS Blog itself. […]

Passing the Test: Cities Chip In to Reduce the Rape Kit Backlog


The following is from the latest Ms. To read the entire issue, get a print or digital subscription today! Helena Lazaro was washing the vintage Volkswagen Rabbit she had been gifted for her 17th birthday when a man appeared next to her, brandishing a knife. He forced her into the car and made her drive […]

Say Their Names


I’m still reeling from the shock of the massacre that occurred at Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the oldest black churches in this nation, its history is one of resistance and solace. And this history continues to bear witness to the horrors of white supremacy with the recent murders of nine African […]

A Girl Child Ain’t Safe


“I had to fight my uncles. I had to fight my brothers. A girl child ain’t safe in a family of men.” So said Sofia, the hefty, feisty woman in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (and immortalized by Oprah Winfrey in the film adaptation). In a novel highlighting protagonist Celie, an incest survivor who ultimately […]

Oppression vs. Discrimination: How the Law Failed Ellen Pao


When is a gender discrimination lawsuit not about gender discrimination? Always. Gender discrimination cases are proxies for challenges to existing social norms that support unearned privilege. A claim of gender discrimination is a charge that there is bias, both conscious and unconscious, that perpetuates the status quo. Ellen Pao’s suit against the venture capital firm Kleiner, […]

McKinney and the History of Policing Black Women’s Bodies


Last Friday, a white police officer in McKinney, Texas, Cpl. Eric Casebolt, responded to a call about an incident at a teenage pool party. While there, he grabbed—by the hair—bikini-clad Dajerria Becton, a 15-year old African American girl who was a guest at the party, wrestled her to the ground and held her there with […]

What the Supreme Court Didn’t Decide This Week


The most important thing to know about the Supreme Court’s decision on June 1 in Elonis v. United States is that it does not resolve the question of when the First Amendment allows people to be punished for speech threatening others. Facebook and other social media have made it much more common for people to make […]