Keeping Score: House Passes $1.2T Infrastructure Bill; Justice Sotomayor’s Powerful Dissent on Behalf of Texas Women; Men Have Two-Thirds of News Bylines

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in in this biweekly round-up.


Clockwise from top left: A ‘Protect Trans Kids’ demonstration in front of the White House in February 2017 (Ted Eytan / Flickr); Michelle Wu is first woman of color elected mayor of Boston (Michelle Wu / Instagram); Climate Strike in Toronto in 2019 (Piqsels / Creative Commons); Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) signs Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Nancy Pelosi / Twitter).

Lest We Forget

“There are women in Texas who became pregnant on or around the day that S.B. 8 took effect. As I write these words, some of those women do not know they are pregnant. When they find out, should they wish to exercise their constitutional right to seek abortion care, they will be unable to do so anywhere in their home State.

“Those with sufficient resources may spend thousands of dollars and multiple days anxiously seeking care from out-of-state providers so overwhelmed with Texas patients that they cannot adequately serve their own communities. Those without the ability to make this journey, whether due to lack of money or childcare or employment flexibility or the myriad other constraints that shape people’s day-to-day lives, may be forced to carry to term against their wishes or resort to dangerous methods of self-help. None of this is seriously in dispute. These circumstances are exceptional.

Women seeking abortion care in Texas are entitled to relief from this Court now. Because of the Court’s failure to act today, that relief, if it comes, will be too late for many.

—Justice Sonia Sotomayor in dissent of United States v. Texas, in which the Supreme Court failed to intervene in Texas’s abortion ban while awaiting final decisions on S.B. 8.

“There’s so much misogynist chatter in response to us that would never. Happen. About. A. Man. …

Everyone has something to say. ‘She has too many wrinkles, she doesn’t have enough wrinkles.’ It almost feels as if people don’t want us to be perfectly okay with where we are, as if they almost enjoy us being pained by who we are today, whether we choose to age naturally and not look perfect, or whether you do something if that makes you feel better.

I know what I look like. I have no choice. What am I going to do about it? Stop aging? Disappear?”

—Sarah Jessica Parker with Vogue on misogyny and agism against women in the film industry.

Sarah Jessica Parker. (Instagram)

Milestones

+ The COVID-19 pandemic death toll has reached over 5 million globally, a statistic that only encompasses known cases. Although vaccines are reducing serious complications, cases continue to surge worldwide.

+ The House passed the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill on Friday, Nov. 5, paving the way for Biden to sign it into law. It will provide substantial funding for roads and bridges, technological advancements, environmental infrastructure, and transportation, among other investments.

+ The State Department issued the first American passport displaying an “X” rather than a traditional M or F gender marker. The designation—which is likely to be available to more citizens in early 2022—allows for the inclusion of intersex and nonbinary Americans, marking a major milestone for LGBTQIA activists.

“I almost burst into tears when I opened the envelope, pulled out my new passport, and saw the ‘X’ stamped boldly under ‘sex,'” said Dana Zzyym, an intersex Colorado resident who first sued the State Department in 2015.

+ City Councilor Michelle Wu was elected to be Boston’s next mayor on Tuesday, Nov. 2, making her the first woman and person of color elected to the position.

+ New York City residents elected a record 31 women to City Council, including the first Muslim woman.

+ On Monday, Oct. 25, Texas governor Greg Abbott (R) signed a bill into law that will prohibit transgender youth from playing on sports teams corresponding to their gender identity. As of Jan. 18, 2022, public school students can only compete in athletics for their sex assigned at birth.

+ The Illinois Senate voted on Tuesday, Oct. 26 to repeal the Parental Notification Act, which forbids minors from receiving abortions without their parents’ knowledge. Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) voiced support for the effort, indicating he would likely sign the bill into law if approved by the House, despite pushback from clergy within the state.

+ The Senate voted to confirm two major firsts to the federal appeals court: Judge Beth Robinson will be the first openly LGBTQ+ women to serve, and Myrna Pérez—a voting expert—will be the only Latina on the court, and the first Latina since now-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

+ The Biden administration released the U.S.’s first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality on Friday, Oct. 22, characterized by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as “a roadmap to help our nation close pernicious gender gaps and propel us toward a world with equal opportunity for all people.”

The White House also held a meeting for intersex advocates on Tuesday, Oct. 26—the largest of its kind—to discuss the advancement of intersex rights in the U.S.

+ Just four months after the Norwegian women’s beach handball team was fined 1,500 euros for wearing shorts rather than bikini bottoms, prompting global outrage, the International Handball Federation has responded by changing its regulations. They now require that women “must wear short tight pants with a close fit.”

How We’re Doing

+ Sixty percent of Americans attribute the climate crisis to oil and gas companies, saying they are “completely or mostly responsible,” according to The Guardian. Seventy percent of respondents agree that global warming is actively occurring.

Another report found that industries are not reducing emissions at the rate necessary to slow climate change, meaning warming is likely to exceed 1.5º C by 2030.

+ HPV vaccines Cervarix (2008-12) and Gardasil decreased the rate of cervical cancer in women by 62 percent when offered between ages 14 and 16. The same study also demonstrated a 97 percent drop in pre-cancerous changes to cells in those who were vaccinated at age 12 or 13.

+ Men receive nearly two-thirds of news bylines in American media platforms, with just 34 percent left for women reporters, the Women’s Media Center revealed in Divided 2021: The Media Gender Gap.

WMC researchers analyzed 62,002 pieces of content from January 1 through March 31, 2021 for 30 news outlets across four platforms: print newspaper, online news, broadcast network and cable TV news and wire services in the U.S. (Divided 2021: The Media Gender Gap)

+ Abortion data is unavailable for half of the countries in the world, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading resources on abortion statistics and research. But one of their U.S. analyses found that just 13 states could become the sole abortion havens in the nation, with 20 others expected to implement additional restrictions.

+ A survey by the Public Religion Research Institute asked participants whether they agreed that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” Thirty percent of Republicans did, which the institute’s chief executive Robert Jones called “alarming” considering the violence that occurred against the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

+ Harvard Business School found in a new study that women are less likely than men to ask for deadline extensions in the workplace, regardless of their position, despite having five more hours of household chores each week, and additional administrative tasks at work.

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About

Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a freshman at Tufts University. She was a Ms. editorial fellow, research fellow and assistant editor of social media. You can find her on Twitter at @sophie_dk_.