Feminist Fix: Ladysplaining the Google Memo, Tackling Domestic Violence in the NFL and Challenging Gender Norms

Welcome to another Feminist Fix! Here’s all the news you might have missed this week.

Feminist News

+ Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot was suspended for six games due to domestic violence allegations against him. In other words: At long last, the NFL believed a woman.

+ Donald Trump’s pick to be chief scientist for the Department of Agriculture once called then-Attorney General Eric Holder a “racist black” and used to push “unfounded theories about then-President Barack Obama’s upbringing.” Meanwhile, Trump administration members are attending Bible study groups led by a Pastor who once called women lawmakers “sinners.”

+ A trans seven-year-old is suing her school for discrimination.

+ The Indiana chapter of the NAACP is suing state election officials over a new law closing hundreds of poling locations that serve large minority populations. An IndyStar investigation also found that early voting was expanded in GOP-dominated areas and restricted in others.

+ Under the leadership of Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education has closed 1,500 civil rights complaints. 900 were dismissed outright.

+ The Marine Corps is considering allowing women to attend their combat training program in Southern California.

+ Nebraska’s State Patrol allegedly forced their female recruits to undergo vaginal exams. 

Movers & Shakers

+ “The defiant girls who refuse to play softball instead of baseball, and why they rock.

Move over, boys of summer.

The girls are here.

And thanks, but no thanks. They’re not interested in softball. They’re baseball players.

“I watched a middle school softball game once, and it was just so slow,” said Tess Usher, 11, who plays first base for D.C. Force, the all-girls baseball team that just killed it at a national tournament. “I love playing baseball. That’s not going to change.”

Tess hit her first home run in Rockford, Ill., last week, on the same field where the Rockford Peaches played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League way back in the 1940s when women showed the world they could play baseball.

Rewire looked into how Texas advocates are coming together to fight a regressive agenda impacting a wide array of communities.

+ Thanks to Maggie Hassan, little girls in New Hampshire think only women can be governors.

+ Kirsten Gillibrand recently visited the birthplace of Elizabeth Cady Stanton to talk about the importance of remembering women’s history.

+ Former Ms. blog contributor and feminist writer Avital Norman Nathan on being a “progressive feminist Jew in the social justice scene.”

I have been extra dismayed when Jews have been pushed to the side, talked over, and demonized in certain social justice arenas. I want to be clear: I’m not here to play the Oppression Olympics: I am not comparing my experience or the way Jews have been treated in the movement to the way any other folks have been treated. I’m not claiming Jews have had it harder or easier than other groups. I’m just sharing my experience: that my religion has infused in me the responsibility to work for and with others, yet at times it feels like I’m swimming upstream, dodging a spear here and there.

I guess I’m just a Jewish intersectional feminist, standing in front of a social justice movement, telling it I’m not going anywhere.

Deep Dives

+ Who seeks religious-based exemptions from the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, and against which coverage mandates? A new Center for American Progress research brief breaks it down.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), people have access to a vital mix of preventive health care services, including contraceptive coverage, at no cost. Access to contraception is a critical benefit that has helped protect the health, economic security, and overall well-being of millions of women. Yet, it is under relentless attack by the Trump administration and other opponents of reproductive rights seeking to undo the ACA’s important benefits for women and families. In particular, the Trump administration is now considering expanding exemptions—beyond the requirements of recent court rulings—to make it even harder for women to access much-needed health care services. In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that owners of closely held for-profit corporations could exclude certain types of health care services and products—in this case, contraceptive counseling and methods—from their employees’ health insurance plans. The Obama administration responded by expanding the existing accommodation process to allow for-profit companies to forgo covering contraception for their employees through submitting a form stating their religious objections. Now, the Trump administration is expected to go even further by issuing an administrative rule that would allow any organization or individual to deny employees and their families contraceptive coverage on the basis of a religious or moral objection.

In light of Trump’s attacks on women’s health and rights, on May 31, 2017, the Center for American Progress submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for all records of religious accommodation requests submitted to the agency under the ACA’s contraceptive mandate. Records were requested from when the ACA went into effect to the date the FOIA request was submitted and included filings made by requesting entities as well as the agency’s responses.* The purpose of the FOIA request was to learn more about the impact of Hobby Lobby on the nature of religious accommodations sought under the existing regulations. We received 558 pages of documents from January 2014 to March 2016 in response to our request.**

+ Laura Dunn, founder and executive director of SurvJustice, and Jon Krakauer, author of Missoula: Rape and Justice in a College Town, made the case for maintaining—if not strengthening—Title IX protections for survivors in a NYT op-ed.

One of us is a survivor of campus rape who became a lawyer and established a national nonprofit group to help other survivors find justice; one of us is the author of a book about the real-world complexities of campus sexual assault that make such justice so elusive. Both of us are concerned that Ms. DeVos is about to make it even more difficult to hold student perpetrators accountable.

Allowing guilty students to dodge responsibility sustains the myth that victims routinely cry rape to exact revenge, or get attention, or assuage regret the morning after. Branded liars or dismissed as crazy, victims are thus shamed, humiliated and marginalized, worsening the soul-crushing trauma that is a byproduct of sexual violence. And make no mistake: Women are raped vastly more often than men are falsely accused.

Campus sexual assault is a national scourge. A growing body of research makes this impossible to deny. Recent scandals at Baylor, Stanford, Florida State, the University of Montana and dozens of other institutions underscore the scale of the problem. Title IX has started to make schools safer, largely as a result of guidance issued by the Obama administration in 2011. If Ms. DeVos revokes these measures, the cost in human suffering is likely to be enormous.

+ That Google memo is pulled right from the Men’s Rights Activist handbook.

+ A new report found that more LGBT people have been killed so far in 2017 than in all of 2016. And that’s not even including the Pulse nightclub shooting.

Media, Arts & Culture

+ Taylor Swift stood her ground during cross-examination at her sexual assault trial against DJ David Mueller, who she alleges groped her. Here are some of her best comebacks.

+ Kesha’s new album “Rainbow” is her first in five years, and her first since she went to rehab for an eating disorder and took her alleged rapist and abuser, producer Dr. Luke, to court. And it means a lot to her.

+ Jeffrey Lord was fired by CNN after tweeting a nazi salute at the president of Media Matters.

+ Cynthia Lee wants to “ladysplain” the Google memo to you.

I’m a lecturer in computer science at Stanford. I’ve taught at least four different programming languages, including assembly. I’ve had a single-digit employee number in a startup. Yes, I’m a woman in tech.

I have known, worked for, and taught countless men who could have written the now-infamous Google “manifesto” — or who are on some level persuaded by it. Given these facts, I’d like to treat it — and them — with some degree of charity and try to explain why it generated so much outrage.

+ YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki also had some feelings about the Google memo.

Yesterday, after reading the news, my daughter asked me a question. “Mom, is it true that there are biological reasons why there are fewer women in tech and leadership?”

That question, whether it’s been asked outright, whispered quietly, or simply lingered in the back of someone’s mind, has weighed heavily on me throughout my career in technology. Though I’ve been lucky to work at a company where I’ve received a lot of support—from leaders like Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Eric Schmidt, and Jonathan Rosenberg to mentors like Bill Campbell—my experience in the tech industry has shown me just how pervasive that question is.

+ The comedy streaming service Seeso is shutting down. A viral push to save one of the most inclusive shows on TV—Take My Wife—has now materialized, with stars Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher at the helm of the fight. In Season 2, the Take My Wife writers’ room was 43 percent women of color. 22 of 47 roles were played by out LGBTQ actors. The cast was 83 percent female, 25 percent women of color and 33 percent people of color. “Changing the power dynamics in television can be done,” Esposito wrote on Twitter, adding that “we came here to claim our space and make room for others.”




Carmen Rios is a self-proclaimed feminist superstar and the former digital editor at Ms. Her writing on queerness, gender, race and class has been published in print and online by outlets including BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, DAME, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic, the National Women’s History Museum, SIGNS and the Women’s Media Center; and she is a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. @carmenriosss|carmenfuckingrios.com