Feminist Fix: WNBA Players #TakeTheKnee and Amber Rose Takes on Her Critics

Welcome to the Feminist Fix, our weekly round-up of feminist links from across the Internet. Get all caught up in one place—right here, right now.

Feminist News

+ The Republican Governor of Illinois signed a bill into law that expanded abortion access for Medicaid enrollees and state employees and repealed a “trigger law” that would have made abortion illegal in the state should Roe be overturned. It’s been over 20 years since a state voluntarily provided Medicaid funding for abortion care.

+ By this time next year, women will legally be allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia.

+ Mercedez Gonazalez, a former Lush employee, is suing the company for racial discrimination.

+ Nigeria has joined 23 other African countries in outlawing female genital mutilation.

+ The Minnesota Lynx linked arms and kneeled during the national anthem during the first game of the WNBA Finals Sunday. Their opponents, the LA Sparks, walked off the court. Their protests builds on a legacy of WNBA activism. Today, NFL moms released a letter denouncing Trump’s criticisms of athletes participating in the protests. On the Ms. bloga former NFL cheerleader spoke out.

+ Huzzah! Abortion access is improving in Missouri, at long last.

+ A “feminist brigade” is searching for people trapped in rubble in Mexico in the wake of a devastating earthquake that killed hundreds.

+ Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance members at Temple University are protesting the dedication of O’Connor Plaza on campus. The students also want Patrick O’Connor, who represented Bill Cosby in a civil suit against former university employee Andrea Constand, who alleged that Cosby sexually assaulted her, to step down from the Temple Board of Trustees.

Public Relations Chair Kayla Boone spoke about her motivation behind crafting the statement condemning the plaza dedication at Tuesday’s meeting. “I think it’s important for us to really amplify the voices of survivors of sexual assault in this instance,” Boone said. “We can’t speak over or speak for people. You can’t tell people that their experiences are not real and just made up.”


Cardi B is the first female solo rapper to hit Billboard’s #1 since 1998.

+ Gloria Anzaldúa would have been 75 this week. In homage, Feministing rounded up some of her most inspiring quotes.

+ A now-unnamed woman is expected to graduate Monday from the Marine Infantry Officer Course, making her the first female infantry officer to join their ranks.

+ The first monument observing the suffering of “comfort women” in WWII has been erected in a major U.S. city.

Located in St. Mary’s Square and created by Californian Steven Whyte, it looks simple enough: a depiction of three young girls with a grandmother figure standing nearby.

The three girls in the statue represent women from Korea, China and the Philippines, while the grandmother symbolizes the survivors still hoping for justice.

And the inscription on the statue reads: “This monument bears witness to the suffering of hundreds of thousands of women and girls euphemistically called ‘Comfort Women,’ who were sexually enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Armed Forces in thirteen Asian-Pacific countries from 1931 to 1945.”

+ Remembering the Little Rock Nine, 60 years later.

How We’re Doing

+ Donald Trump’s administration is the most male-dominated in decades.

Despite President Donald Trump’s occasional assurances that he has a “tremendous respect” for women, the proof is in the pudding. In news that will surprise no one, an analysis of the Trump administration shows it is overwhelmingly male, The Guardian reported on Sept. 21. And the few women in the Trump administration are members of the most male-dominated federal government in nearly 25 years — according to political action committee American Bridge 21st Century, 80 percent of Trump’s 408 political nominees are men.

That’s 327 men and 80 women — 129 of whom, so far, have been confirmed by the Senate. In his Cabinet, only three out of 15 members are women: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke. And only one — one — of Trump’s 42 nominees for state attorneys general is a woman.

If all of Trump’s nominations are approved, men will outnumber women four-to-one in top roles. It’s so bad, Trump’s Cabinet actually has a smaller proportion of nonwhites and women than any cabinet since Ronald Reagan, who left office in 1989. (Former President Barack Obama’s cabinet, for comparison, was roughly one-third women, less than Bill Clinton, but more than George W. Bush, according to FiveThirtyEight.)

+ More than half of rural counties don’t have hospitals where women can give birth—impacting the lives of 2.4 million women.

A new study in the journal Health Affairs quantifies the trend:

  • In 2004, 45 percent of rural counties lacked a hospital with obstetrics services.
  • About one in 10 rural counties lost those services over the next decade.
  • By 2014, 54 percent of communities lacked those services.
  • That leaves 2.4 million women of childbearing age living in counties without hospitals that deliver babies.

+ Women and girls make up 71 percent of those impacted by modern slavery, according to a report published last week by The Walk Free Foundation, International Labour Organization and International Organization for Migration.

Women and girls are disproportionately impacted by modern slavery. Women make up the majority of those enslaved for the purposes of sexual exploitation, labor exploitation and forced marriage. Men and boys comprise the majority of those who experience state-imposed forced labor.

Of those who were victims of forced marriage within the last year, 84.2 percent were women and girls. Nearly one third of this percentage is made up of girls under the age of eighteen. Forced marriage often involves a loss of sexual freedom and forced-labor imposed upon those who are enslaved. In 2016, an estimated 15.4 million people were facing situations involving forced marriage. Since it is still difficult to measure the exact number of individuals forced into marriage, this report emphasizes that this is a conservative estimate.

99.4 percent of people forced into sexual exploitation are women and girls. An estimated 4.8 million people were victims of involuntary sexual exploitation in 2016. The studies of sexual exploitation include both adults and children who have been forced to take part in commercial sexual exploitation, as well as those who have entered into it freely and are forced to stay.

Lest We Forget

+ New York Assembly Member Amy Paulin on opening up about being a sexual assault survivor for the first time: “I pushed for the bill. Hard. I approached it academically, preparing debate notes complete with statistics and quotes from experts, highlighted with colored Post-it tabs. I went to an important meeting with all the other Assembly legislators to discuss it armed with my binders, ready to argue and make the case. But the strangest thing happened when I opened my mouth to speak. Instead of rattling off percentages and statistics about other victims, I started telling my story for the very first time—to a room full of stunned colleagues.”

+ Amber Rose on feminism in Marie Claire: “I’ve gotten a lot of backlash from people who feel I can’t be taken seriously as an activist and feminist because the world has seen me with my clothes off. I think that’s a bunch of bullshit.”

+ Los Angeles-based OB/GYN Kristyn Brandi thinks it’s time to Be Bold and End Hyde: “The only health care debate worth having is one that improves access for all people — starting with the repeal of the Hyde Amendment. Congress calls upon experts when making important decisions for our country; OB/GYNs are here, ready to be heard.”

+ “Today, I’m the one.” Julia Louis-Dreyfus turned to Twitter when she was diagnosed with breast cancer to call for healthcare reform—the good kind.

Arts, Media & Culture

Dahlia Grossman-Heinze from Bitch saw Mother! It wasn’t great.

Mother! is two hours of watching Jennifer Lawrence suffer. Look how she suffers so beautifully, so bravely. Look how she gives everything she has as she suffers so perfectly. That Lawrence is director Darren Aronofsky’s real-life muse (the two are a couple) complicates the dynamic between Mother and the much-older Him. Any extrapolation that can be taken from Mother! about Aronofsky’s perspective on the relationship between muse and artist, actor and director, or husband and wife is problematic and annoying as hell.

Allegories that position women’s bodies as “Mother Nature” and use their brutalization as a way to talk about the destruction of nature and Earth are nothing new, and I sure didn’t want or need to see a two-hour movie about it that pretended to be a horror movie. I also didn’t need another pop culture artifact about the innate selflessness and nurturing qualities of women as they give and give and give until everything, including their hearts, have been taken from them. Spare yourself from seeing this wreckage.

+ Looking for a girl power costume this year? Here are some ideas.

+ Insecure brings intersectional feminism to the forefront—and to prime-time.

+ These Hillary Clinton book signings are getting better and better.

+ If you’re in Los Angeles, you’re not going to want to miss The Hammer’s “Radical Women” exhibit, featuring the work of women artists spanning Latin America.

+ Bustle talked to Jessica Williams about her place in pop culture and how she’s building a career—and her own self-confidence. (Spoiler Alert: She’s tired of saying “sorry.”)

+ Three very important words: Hocus Pocus reboot.

+ A Harvard University study has confirmed that media bias during the 2016 election favored Trump and disadvantaged Hillary Clinton.

The report, titled “Partisanship, Propaganda, & Disinformation: Online Media & the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election,” found that unethical journalistic practices driven by the desire to produce “clickbait,” coupled with the viral sharing power of social media, resulted in a proliferation of disinformation and propaganda that tipped the election in Donald Trump’s favor.

From results collected from millions of data points and stories via Media Cloud and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, lead researcher Yochai Benkler and his colleges found that in media overall, “attention to reports of Clinton scandals exceeded attention to her stance on issues, whereas attention to reports of Trump’s scandals was balanced by attention to his stance on the issues and reinforced his focus on immigration, his campaign’s primary substantive issue.” In short, the right-wing media and pro-Trump pundits successfully managed to control the narrative. And if you control the narrative by dictating which issues are made visible through journalistic discourse, you win elections.

“Traditional media accountability mechanisms—for example, fact-checking sites, media watchdog groups, and cross-media criticism—appear to have wielded little influence on the insular conservative media sphere,” the researchers explained. While the right-wing media lack media accountability mechanisms, on the left “hyperpartisan, unreliable sources did not receive the same amplification that equivalent sites on the right did,” and in fact, those very same journalistic standards were manipulated by the right “to inject anti-Clinton narratives into the mainstream media narrative.”

Sex and the City star David Eigenberg has partnered with NARAL Pro-Choice America’s #MenForChoice campaign to stand for reproductive rights. In a campaign video, he shares his own story about supporting his wife through her abortion.

This Week’s Must-Read from Ms.

+ In the Fall 2017 issue of Ms., we explore in-depth the ways in which the Trump administration is dismantling and weakening the enforcement mechanisms for civil rights and women’s rights. The entire piece is now available online.

“This administration has turned its back on the progress this country has been making toward civil rights advancement, and its effect is being felt most acutely by the most vulnerable, namely women and girls, the elderly, the disabled and those seeking citizen status,” says Nelson. The refusal to enforce the country’s civil rights laws will cost women their jobs, their education, their health and their safety.

And why does the administration have such hostility to civil rights? “This is fundamentally about making money,” Smeal says. Business interests want access to public funds for their enterprises, whether it’s profit-making charter schools, privately owned prisons or government corporate contracts to build roads or fight wars. And they want public money with no strings attached, meaning no costly requirements to pay a fair wage, maintain a diverse workplace or meet the needs of disabled students.

By attacking workplace equality, unions, educational equity and reproductive health care, the Trump administration increases the number of vulnerable and pliant workers, which is very profitable to business. “They want to say the lack of access to abortion and birth control is a moral question but it’s a money question for them—they are keeping a cheap labor pool,” Smeal says. Their refusal to expand legal immigration, despite a clear need for workers by U.S. businesses, makes the problem worse by increasing the number of undocumented workers.

When corporations don’t pay a living wage, workers need government programs like Medicaid and food stamps to make ends meet. These programs support corporate profits, yet the wealthy condemn the poor as irresponsible and dependent for relying on these programs and call for cuts. “It’s not good enough that they are cheating people out of their money,” Smeal says, “but they want to feel morally superior about it.”

The gutting of labor and environmental regulations, the erosion of public education and voting restrictions reflect the Republican Party’s contempt for democracy, equal opportunity—and even the rule of law. These policies allow a wealthy minority inordinate political control, exemption from the law and access to public resources for private gain, contrary to the interests of the common good.




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