Feminist Fix: Demanding Accountability for Harassment and Assault—From Hollywood to the Hill

Welcome to the Feminist Fix, our weekly round-up of news and other links you won’t wanna miss!

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Feminist News

Women have continued to come forward about rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment by powerful men—including Congressional candidate Roy Moore and comedian Louis C.K. Meanwhile, the call to take domestic violence seriously is louder than ever in the wake of Sutherland Springs. Also inside: Hillary’s letter to her younger self, demands for a DREAM Act, Germany’s third gender and a big boom in ACA enrollment.

+ 2017, like 2016 before it and 2015 before that, is the deadliest year on record for trans people. It’s long past time for us to end the epidemic of deadly violence facing trans people—particularly trans women of color—in this country and around the world.

+ Congressional candidate and former District Attorney Roy Moore from Alabama is now facing allegations that when he was 32, he molested a 14-year-old girl. He has denied those allegations—but just today, told Sean Hannity he doesn’t dispute that he has “dated girls as young as 16.”

+ Notre Dame students have won their fight for birth control coverage. The university announced earlier this month that only contraception used for medical reasons—i.e., not for preventing pregnancy—would be covered under university insurance plans. This week, they reversed their position.

+ California’s Attorney General has filed a petition for a nationwide injunction halting the Trump administration’s birth control rules, which undo the gains made in contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act by widening loopholes for so-called moral objections to such coverage. Under the Trump administration’s rules, entire insurance companies can refuse to offer coverage based on religious objections, as can even more employers. Attorneys General across the country have been taking action against the new policies.

+ The Sutherland Springs shooter who killed 26 and injured 20 others on Sunday was yet another man with a history of domestic violence. It’s becoming more clear than ever that we must take violence against women seriously—and that DV is the “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to mass shootings.

We may never know why a shooter opens fire on a church full of worshipers, or a school full of kids, or a movie theater full of couples. But when it happens, a familiar pattern tends to emerge. The shooter is almost always male, and usually white. He has access to firearms. And often he has a history of domestic violence or violence against women.

According to an analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety, which advocates gun-control measures, 54 percent of mass shootings between 2009 and 2016—incidents in which four or more people, not including the shooter, are killed with a firearm—involved domestic or family violence. That just counts shootings in which the victims included an intimate partner or family member; it doesn’t account for shooters who have domestic violence charges in their past, then go on to shoot up a crowd of strangers.

When Devin Kelley walked into a Texas church and opened fire on Sunday, killing 26 and injuring some 20 others, he became yet another data point in this grim statistic.

+ Meanwhile, the reckoning for men in Hollywood has continued. The LAPD is investigating rape allegations against actor Ed Westwick. Comedian Louis C.K. has finally admitted to and apologized for masturbating in front of female colleagues, and is losing gigs in the wake of the resurfaced allegations and his statement.

+ Jill Filipovic checked in with the women who almost got Hillary elected—one year to the day since her devastating loss.

+ Eight girls—among the top winners of the nation’s most prestigious STEM competition for middle-school students—opened up about why they love STEM, and their advice for other girls who do.

+ …And on the Hill, legislation requiring mandatory sexual harassment training for Senators and Senate staff has passed that chamber.

+ Hundreds of DREAMers and their allies took to Capitol Hill to call for a DREAM Act that will protect undocumented immigrants.

+ Germany’s Parliament has ordered that official documents must make room for a third gender.

Rewire investigates the miscarriages in Flint—and talks to the women who feel their toxic water has impacted their reproductive lives.

+ Last Sunday, students at Kabul University became the first in Afghanistan to graduate from a Master’s Degree Women’s and Gender Studies program. This two-year graduate program, introduced in October 2015, is the first of its kind in all of Afghanistan.

Lest We Forget

+ Ellen Page told her Brett Ratner—and beyond—#MeToo story:

I have been a professional actor since the age of ten. I’ve had the good fortune to work with many honorable and respectful collaborators both behind and in front of the camera. But the behavior I’m describing is ubiquitous. They (abusers), want you to feel small, to make you insecure, to make you feel like you are indebted to them, or that your actions are to blame for their unwelcome advances.

+ Hillary Clinton wrote a letter to her younger self. You’re gonna wanna read it.

You’re at a college that was founded on the belief that women can do anything. And while I know sometimes it seems like we have an awfully long way to go, progress will come. It won’t happen as quickly as you hope, but in your lifetime, you will see the world change for women in ways you wouldn’t believe. You will have a daughter, and she will have a daughter, and they both will be born into an America more fair and equal than the one you know in 1965.

And when you find yourself standing on a stage in Philadelphia on a historic night in July 2016, accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president of the United States, give yourself a moment to take it all in. Don’t forget to enjoy the balloons.

Believe in yourself. You’re going to do great.

+ Diana Nyad, the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida, joined the #MeToo chorus with this heartbreaking essay in the New York Times:

That night I was not of this world. Teammates had to prompt me to get onto the blocks. I hadn’t heard the announcer’s voice. In the end, we won the team title, but while the team was cheering and laughing, I plunged down to the floor of the diving well. My young world had just been capsized and I was very much alone in my confusion and fear. And I screamed into the abyss of dark water: “This is not going to ruin my life!”


+ Lindy West on being brave enough to be angry:

I did not call myself a feminist until I was nearly 20 years old. My world had taught me that feminists were ugly and ridiculous, and I did not want to be ugly and ridiculous. I wanted to be cool and desired by men, because even as a teenager I knew implicitly that pandering for male approval was a woman’s most effective currency. It was my best shot at success, or at least safety, and I wasn’t sophisticated enough to see that success and safety, bestowed conditionally, aren’t success and safety at all. They are domestication and implied violence.

To put it another way, it took me two decades to become brave enough to be angry. Feminism is the collective manifestation of female anger.

They suppress our anger for a reason. Let’s prove them right.


+ Susan Phelps, founder and owner of Cambridge-based adult store Hubba Hubba, has died.

+ Valencia Simmons-Fowler is now the first African American woman to serve as Chief Warrant Officer in the Navy—the “highest chief warrant officer rank in the information warfare community.”

+ Women across the country made history on Tuesday as they ascended to public office. Danica Roem became the first openly transgender person elected to serve in a state legislature, and Andrea Jenkins became the first openly transgender Black woman elected to public office in U.S. history. Sheila Oliver is New Jersey’s first Black lieutenant governor, Vi Lyles is Charlotte’s first Black female mayor and Jenny Durkan is Seattle’s first lesbian mayor. And among the many women who unseated incumbent men in Virginia were Kathy Tran, the first Asian American woman elected to the state house, and Elizabeth Guzmán and Hala Ayala, the first two Latinas elected to the body.

How We’re Doing

+ 69 percent of young women oppose the Trump administration’s birth control rules.

+ The Trump administration is attempting to discourage Affordable Care Act enrollment, which is now open through December 15. But their efforts—including a shortened enrollment period and a vanquished promotional budget for the marketplace—aren’t working. In the first four days of the 2018 enrollment period that began November 1, more than 600,000 people signed up for plans in the ACA marketplace, healthcare.gov. That outpaces last year’s enrollment numbers, and doesn’t even account for 11 states that enroll folks outside of the ACA main marketplace.





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