Human Rights Activism Opportunities

  • #EqualPayDay (4/14/2015) - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Equal Pay Day.

    There’s a stat most people are aware of. On the right they do back flips and employ non sequiturs to “refute” it. On the left we rattle it off automatically whenever anyone says: “Men and women are equal these days, so why is everyone still complaining?”

    Data shows that women in the U.S. earn approximately 25% less than their male counterparts. Still. Like right now. In 2013, women’s earnings were 78.3% of men’s — up 1.8% from 2012 according to the Census.

    That stat comes with an important caveat that should be noted and remembered when participating in today’s action. The 78.3% number is for white women. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE), African American women earned 68.1% of all men’s earnings and Latinas’ earnings were 60.4% of men’s. So, far less than their white counterparts.

    Even if we just use the white woman pay equity gap, the numbers are staggering. In 2013, men earned an average of $50,033 and women came in at $39,157 — a difference of over $10,000 per year. Think about what you could do with ten grand. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, neither women’s nor men’s earnings improved much from 2012 to 2013 — the most recent numbers available. Their “wage gap fact sheet” states:

    “If the pace of change in the annual earnings ratio continues at the same rate as it has since 1960, it will take another 45 years, until 2058, for men and women to reach parity.”

    The biggest awareness day for the pay gap is coming up. The National Committee on Pay Equity started Equal Pay Day in 1996 to illustrate how many extra days into the new year women would need to work to equal what men earned the previous year. In 2015, the date is April 14. So, women would have to work all of 2014, plus the first three and a half months of 2015 to match what men took home in 2014.

    Social media will likely use the traditional hashtags of “Equal Pay” and “Equal Pay Day” with people sharing stories and statistics. Wearing red — possibly with a selfie or two posted to your networks — symbolizes how far women and minorities are “in the red” with their pay.

    You can also visit the “What You Can Do” tab at Pay-Equity.org anytime to track legislation, contact Congress, and find out how to do an equality audit of your business.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Wear red on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 for #EqualPayDay.

    Visit the “What You Can Do” tab at PayEquity.org to track legislation, contact Congress, form a wage club, or do an equality audit of your business.

    Sources/further reading:

    Wage Gap Fact Sheet via Institute for Women's Policy Research

    Equal Pay and the Wage Gap via National Women's Law Center (NWLC)

    "Women Can't Afford to Celebrate Equal Pay Day” by Margaret Carlson at Bloomberg View

    "For African-American Women—and All Women—Let’s Make Every Day Equal Pay Day” by Stephanie Schriock and Rep. Terri Sewell at The Root

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #900 "Stuff we shouldn’t have to explain anymore (Feminism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The March to Full Marriage Equality Continues with @MEUSA - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: The March to Full Marriage Equality Continues with Marriage Equality USA.

    Thirty-seven states plus the District of Columbia currently have full marriage equality on the books. With only 13 states and five U.S. territories to go, the cementing of this particular right for LGBTQ people seems inevitable. As discussed previously on this podcast and in LGBTQ activist writing and campaigning, marriage is not the only right we should be concerned about. But the goal is well within reach, so how about we push hard to get all the way there while building resources and momentum for battles on employment, housing, and healthcare discrimination protections?

    MarriageEquality.org is the nation’s oldest non-profit dedicated to building equality for the LGBTQ community through civil marriage equality at the state and federal level. Their “What’s Happening Now” tab is a comprehensive aggregation of wins and setbacks around the country. They link to local and state-level actions as well as post videos and other shareable content to spread around your networks.

    MarriageEquality.org also tracks anti-equality groups like The National Organization for Marriage and politicians like Mike Huckabee and the Arkansas legislators who just sent a bill to the governor’s desk that would build the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people into state law.

    Tracking state-level legislation has become increasingly important. As the finish line approaches on full marriage equality in America, right-wing groups and legislators are digging in their heels and even repealing protections against discrimination. Basically, they’re using all the press and celebration over marriage to attempt a quiet undermining of the dozens of other rights not as yet afforded to LGBTQ people. The most recent example is in Kansas where the governor essentially cancelled protections for state employees by taking an executive action by former governor Kathleen Sebelius off the books.

    Not exactly a bastion of liberal thought in recent years, even the Washington Post editorial board is giving it to Governor Brownback on both moral and logistical grounds. Their editorial from last week titled "In Kansas, the governor is rolling back tolerance,” reads in part:

    "...his official rationale is embarrassingly weak. Just like chief executives in the private sector, governors and the president set workplace policies within their executive branches all the time. Those policies don’t apply to private employers; it’s up to lawmakers to mandate state or national anti-discrimination policy. That’s no reason for governors or the president to sanction discrimination in the meantime, particularly when “it makes good business sense to treat employees . . . with dignity and respect.”

    Help MarriageEquality.org and the local group Equality Kansas raise awareness and fight back by joining their action to let Governor Brownback know how you feel. You can call the Kansas state Capitol at 877-579-6757 and post a message for him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/govsambrownback and on Twitter at @govsambrownback.

    Also, keep an eye on your state; it is possible to celebrate the realization of one right while looking ahead to continue the fight beyond this victory.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Help finish off the fight for full marriage equality & track state-level discriminatory legislation at: MarriageEquality.org

    Join Marriage Equality USA and Equality Kansas fight Governor Brownback’s discriminatory executive action by calling the state capitol at 877-579-6757 and posting messages on Facebook and Twitter

    Sources/further reading:

    U.S. map of marriage equality via Freedom To Marry

    "Arkansas Legislature Passes Bill Allowing LGBT Discrimination” by Dominic Holden

    "Governor Brownback Cancels LGBT State Employee Protections” via Equality Kansas

    "In Kansas, the governor is rolling back tolerance” by The Washington Post editorial board

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #899 "Work still to be done (LGBTQ Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Fighting the Anti-Vaxxer Movement with @Voices4Vaccines - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Fighting the Anti-Vaxxer Movement with Voices For Vaccines.

    It looks like this run of “I can’t believe this is a thing that needs action” segments is ongoing. Measles — a serious illness even Baby Boomers barely remember — is back. More than 100 people in 17 states have confirmed cases and DisneyWorld had a double digit outbreak just before Christmas.

    Why? Because a study from over a decade ago, based on a handful of cases, that has been refuted and debunked and thoroughly discredited through things like science and a hundred years of data is popular again. For a brief glimmer of a moment, vaccines looked like they might be risky and a generation of parents were scared into opting their children out. Many, like CNN contributor and Daily Beast columnist Sally Kohn regret that decision now and are talking about why they’ve changed their positions. Speaking out can get you attacked by right and left fringes alike — this is one of those rare topics like climate change that has skeptics on both sides. Storytelling combined with the science has become a necessary tool, as it has with so many issues recently.

    Polio survivor Minda Dentler pleads with readers at Time.com to vaccinate their children with her graphic, brave story of surgeries and pain and overcoming it all to become the first handcyclist to complete the Kona Ironman. "Most people who oppose vaccines don’t know first-hand what these diseases can do to you,” Dentler writes. "They should meet me.”

    Writer and parent Jessica Valenti joins in with near-compassion for anti-vaxxers in her column at The Guardian:

    “….when I read quotes from parents denying any social responsibility to vaccinate saying things like, 'My child is pure ... It’s not my responsibility to be protecting their child,' it makes me livid. Where once we said 'it takes a village,' these days some people don’t care if the village burns to the ground so long as their precious snowflake is left standing.”

    Valenti’s piece points out why the right-wing loves this movement; supposedly it’s about personal choice — a topic they’re keen on unless it has to do with someone’s uterus. The left can get taken in as part of the whole “pure and healthy” trend in food and cleaning supplies. What both sides miss — not that the right-wing would care — is that the anti-vaxxer fringe isn’t just awful because they’re risking the rampant return of nearly eradicated diseases. They’re promoting some serious bigotry and discrimination as well.

    Maria Mora has a straightforward, important reminder at SheKnows.com for people who still refuse to believe the thorough debunking of the study celebs like Jenny McCarthy — yes, that Jenny McCarthy — used to fuel the fear of vaccines. "Autism isn't a punishment,” she writes. "It isn't a bogeyman. It shouldn't be what keeps parents who vaccinate their kids up at night.”

    Vaccines don’t cause autism. But beyond that, it’s ableist to talk about fear of autism in a way that pretty much flat out says, “I’d rather risk my child and your child dying from the measles than raise their risk of becoming autistic.” Imagine the message that sends to people with autism.

    With so much to combat, we as concerned, science- and empathy-appreciating citizens are lucky to have Voices For Vaccines as a resource. They are a parent-led, evidence-based non-profit with a team of doctors and immunologists who serve on their board.

    The “Tools” tab at VoicesForVaccines.org has printable handouts; archived conference calls and law manuals on vaccines as resources; community and parent toolkits; new and expectant parent toolkits; links to their “Kick the Flu Out of School” campaign because, yes, people do still die from the flu; and a primer for writing op-eds to your local news outlets and for publication.

    Their social media feeds are active, current, and full of useful information as well as links to local actions and updates. Visit their page, get educated, and help spread the facts to keep the immune compromised and vulnerable in our society protected.

    Also, a quick heads up for those who thought their vaccine schedule ended sometime in college, you very likely need a Pertussis booster with your next tetanus shot to protect against the increased risk of Whooping Cough. It’s back as well, it’s awful, you have increased risk if you spend time with children, and you should ask your doctor if you’re due for one as immunity does wear off over time.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Use the resources at: Voices For Vaccines

    Follow Voices For Vaccines on Twitter and Facebook.

    Find out more about the adult pertussis vaccination at: AdultVaccination.org

    Sources/further reading:

    "A Polio Survivor’s Plea: Vaccinate Your Children” by Minda Dentler at Time.com

    "Anti-Vaxxers Brought Measles to the Happiest Place on Earth: A measles outbreak has sickened 70 people at Disneyland, and could be the spark that brings the once-eradicated disease back in force.” by Russell Saunders at The Daily Beast

    "Your feelings about vaccines don't trump another child's medical reality” by Jessica Valenti at The Guardian

    "Elizabeth Warren Asks Questions About Vaccines, Gets Shocking Answers” by Kaili Joy Gray at Wonkette

    "Dear anti-vaxxers: Stop using autism as a bogeyman” by Maria Mora at SheKnows

    "I Didn’t Vaccinate My Child—And I Regret It: How I finally discovered that vaccinating your kids is the right thing to do.” by Sally Kohn

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #898 "Ignorance and fear sending us backwards (Vaccinations)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • End Abortion Coverage Bans - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: End Abortion Coverage Bans.

    New year, same as the old year. Except slightly worse. The newly GOP-lead Congress announced their priorities for the 114th legislative session by exhaling the final word of the oath of office, removing their hands from their Bibles, and — without so much as pausing — introducing a slate of abortion restrictions.

    Because jobs? and national security? and…maybe they didn’t actually run on anything and this was always the plan. Their very unproductive plan to make restricting people’s bodily autonomy seem not so extreme and, in fact, mostly OK ahead of the presidential primary fundraising set to begin any moment.

    The first vote was scheduled for January 22nd which marked the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade — the seminal date in reproductive rights. They seem to have either zero recognition of history or zero shame — unsurprising from a group that voted over fifty times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, knowing that any bill they passed would be vetoed.

    Similarly, the White House has promised to veto any anti-choice bills that make it through both the House and the Senate — but we can’t rely forever on the West Wing to be a stop gap for bad laws. And the one that passed last week — H.R.7 — is extremely bad policy.

    H.R. 7 — the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015 — would make federal funding for abortion care double, extra, super secret illegal. It’s already on the books thanks to the Hyde Amendment which gets attached annually to the federal budget to prohibit people insured by Medicaid from using their coverage for abortion care. HR 7 would expand that access restriction to absolutely everyone in the country, no matter their insurance provider.

    Privately purchased plans, employer-provided plans, ACA plans — none would be allowed to offer abortion coverage. So much for the free market.

    As Emily Crockett reports at RH Reality Check, the medical community — who deal daily with patients struggling to afford care — are none to happy about H.R.7. Hal C. Lawrence, executive vice president and CEO of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — the group we probably should be listening to on this as they’re the experts — expressed his concern:

    “We remain disappointed that the House leadership continues to target abortion by pivoting to payment policies. Medical care must be guided by sound science and by the patient’s individual needs, not by legislative mandates or financial concerns.”

    H.R. 7 is making its way to the Senate; you can track it’s progress at GovTrack.us and then use ContactingTheCongress.org to let your Senators know you expect them to vote “no” when it hits the floor.

    Even when H.R.7 is defeated, low-income Americans will be facing the renewal of the Hyde Amendment. Congress has seen fit to actually pass a budget the past couple of years, which means some GOP legislator will reintroduce Hyde to maintain the punishment of the poor. Disadvantaged Americans have long been on the legislative chopping block, used as tools and talking points by ambitious politicians without fear of reprisal.

    As the group All* Above All says in their letter to end Hyde: "It’s time to stop abortion coverage restrictions, plain and simple.”

    You can sign their letter to your representatives at AllAboveAll.org under the “Act” tab. If you are in a blue state, you have additional power here. Your representatives should be at least “check the box” pro-choice and moveable on this. The president has also revised his language on abortion and come out unapologetically without couched language against H.R. 7; it’s time he did the same with Hyde. President Obama can end this continual punishment of low-income and marginalized communities by promising to veto a budget that includes Hyde.

    The importance of ending coverage bans cannot be overstated. Only 13% of counties in the U.S. even have abortion providers thanks to TRAP laws and attacks since Roe. The affects of these bans is explained perfectly by Heidi Williamson, the Senior Policy Analyst for the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress and long-time reproductive justice advocate:

    "We celebrate Roe as a standard and a vision that we must continue to strive for as a nation. All women, regardless of age, gender, income, socio-economic status, or funding source of insurance should benefit from its promise. And our fight for justice isn’t done until all woman have comprehensive reproductive health care, including the access to abortion services.”

    TAKE ACTION:

    Track H.R.7 via GovTrack.us and use Contacting the Congress to tell your Senators to vote NO when H.R.7 comes to the Senate.

    SIGN All* Above All’s letter opposing the Hyde Amendment on the 2016 budget: End Abortion Coverage Bans Now!

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    SIGN NARAL Pro-Choice America’s petitions to the 114th Congress:

    ”Ask the Republican Leaders: Where Are The Women?”

    ”Anti-Choice Politicians Don’t Speak For Me

    Sources/further reading:

    Graphic courtesy of The Repeal Hyde Art Project

    See who the H.R.7 co-sponsors were: Congressional Bill Tracker — H.R.7

    "New Year, Same as the Old Year? 2015 Reproductive Rights Preview” by Katie Klabusich at Truthout

    "Roe Should Be a Reality for All, Not Just for a Wealthy Few” by Heidi Williamson at TalkPoverty.org

    "Congress Rejected A 20-Week Abortion Ban, But These States Didn’t” by Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #893 "Bringing harm, one patriarchal policy at a time (Abortion Rights)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Add the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to the Census via @ACCESS1971 & @NNAAC - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Add the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to the Census.

    This is one of those: "Who knew this wasn’t already a thing and why do we even have to ask our policy makers to get on it?” kind of actions. But, apparently, the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t recognize the uniqueness of people from the Middle East and North Africa — or MENA — region. MENA includes a significant number of Arab Americans — a group currently experiencing heightened discriminated thanks to fear mongering from the GOP and Fox News crowd. In such a climate, their receiving specific designation from a governmental body has political, cultural, and practical implications.

    Excluding a group from the Census essentially makes them invisible from a political and policy standpoint, so the National Network for Arab American Communities and their parent group the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services are building grassroots support to create a new category. The comment period is open now; you can add your name to help reach the necessary 5,0000 supporter mark by visiting the “Take Action” tab at NNAAC.org. Comments close February 1st; please act now so the opportunity doesn’t pass.

    A successful campaign would mean including the MENA region in the 2020 census, giving people from that community more power with office holders. Because people from the MENA region identify with many racial backgrounds, they are not viewed as a group from a governmental and policy standpoint. Rights often begin with recognition; Census classifications serve as a resource to local and federal officials charged with caring for their constituents.

    The Census is also used by non-profits and organizers; official recognition of the region allows for non-governmental agencies to address the needs of a community that is underserved, not just because of racism and malevolence, but also because of simple ignorance on the part of those who administer services.

    Visit NNAAC.org and add your name. The Census only comes around every ten years, so missing this opportunity means another decade without recognition.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Leave a positive comment by February 1 to support adding the MENA region to the Census

    Sources/further reading:

    Linda Sarsour speaks to MEMO about Islamophobia in America”

    "Radio Dispatch Live with Linda Sarsour and Vince Warren” on Radio Dispatch

    "For Republicans, Muslims Will Be the Gays of 2016” by Dean Obeidallah at The Daily Beast

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #892 "Fearing and hating what we don’t understand (Religion)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Prohibit Mass Surveillance via @EFF - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Prohibit Mass Surveillance.

    For the background on today’s activism, I must channel my inner Thom Hartmann: This is mostly Ronald Reagan’s fault.

    In 1981, President Reagan signed an executive order — number 12333 — which, according to our friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is: "the primary authority under which the country’s intelligence agencies conduct the majority of their operations.”

    This means NSA spying and mass surveillance.

    So, despite recent bills in Congress designed to curtail mass telephone surveillance, the NSA’s primary surveillance authority has been left unchallenged. The good news is that the fix is easy and the president seems open to using the final two years of his administration to do things unilaterally. Why it took so long to come to that conclusion is a mystery, but let’s take advantage of it now that it’s happened.

    The petition — available at EFF.org under the “Take Action” tab — asks for the president to reform Executive Order 12333 and issue a new order that “prohibits the United States from engaging in mass surveillance of digital communications.”

    The effects of this order have been somewhat hidden. According PEN America’s report “Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers,” a survey of nearly 800 writers worldwide found that 75% of those living in democracies have engaged in self-censorship. Writers en mass now fear that their governments will not respect their right to privacy and freedom of expression — a seriously troubling trend.

    We already know far too little about our country’s law enforcement agencies and programs. If this trend continues, what’s left of our “Fourth Estate” watch dog press will decline even further. So, sign the EFF petition "Tell Obama: Stop Mass Surveillance Under Executive Order 12333” to curb the practice and restore — at least in part — our freedom of the press.

    Also, please take a minute to sign the petitions in the “Additional Activism” section of the segment notes. EFF is trying to prevent the Federal Elections Commission from adding harmful regulations to online political speech that could disproportionately impact free platforms like YouTube — and therefore all of us who use YouTube content. The comment period ends this week, so time is short. There is also a petition from the ACLU urging the president to use the power of the executive order to stop mass surveillance.

    Privacy, security, and Free Speech have always existed with tension. It is our job as citizens to demand our legislators and courts maintain a balance that errs on the side of uninhibited speech that promotes free thought and democracy.

    TAKE ACTION:

    SIGN the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) petition: "Tell Obama: Stop Mass Surveillance Under Executive Order 12333”

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Leave a comment for the Federal Elections Commission via EFF: "No New Regulation for Online Political Speech”

    SIGN the ACLU pledge: "Invasion of the Data Snatchers”

    Sources/further reading:

    "PEN America: "'The Harm Caused by Surveillance...is Unmistakable’” via EFF

    "Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers” from PEN American Center

    "The Fight in Congress to End the NSA’s Mass Spying: 2014 in Review” at EFF

    "ACLU accuses NSA of using holiday lull to ‘minimise impact’ of documents” by Nicky Woolf at The Guardian

    "US tries to strike deal with EU for immunity over online security breaches” by Phillip Inman at The Guardian

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #890 "Why privacy matters (NSA Spying)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Support Survivors With @KnowYourIX - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Support Survivors With Know Your IX.

    This episode happened because sexual assault at colleges and universities is at an epidemic level. That the Rolling Stone reporter was bad at her job and may have coerced sensationalized details doesn’t change the pertinent fact: one in five female students will be assaulted during their time on campus. These students will regularly not be believed, have little legal recourse, be forced to transfer, be expelled for reporting, end up saddled with tens of thousands of debt from schools where they won’t receive degrees and deal with the trauma the rest of their lives.

    Federal law designed to create gender parity — Title IX — exists to provide a framework for students dealing with sexual assault. Known better for its affect on athletics — schools can’t have twice as many male sports teams as women’s sports teams any more, for example — Title IX has much broader applications that are woefully under publicized and under utilized.

    And so, the organization Know Your IX was created in 2013 to educate students, advocates and supporters on everything from how to file a complaint under Title IX and where to find a lawyer to how to speak to the media and handle school retaliation. Know Your IX is a national group run by survivors and driven by students seeking to end campus sexual violence. Their importance cannot be overstated: campus culture is nearly impossible for one person or even a group to change during the very short time they’re enrolled. Change simply takes longer than a couple of years. A grassroots network that holds schools accountable while helping informing the public at large and supporting survivors is critical to making all colleges safe for all students.

    KnowYourIX.org has a number of easy, practical ways to assist their work and make a difference in your community. Obviously, you can always donate if you have the means; they do a lot of trainings and free help, so the money goes to good use.

    Their “Provide” tab has resources for victims of campus sexual assault including how to file a complaint and information on trans discrimination and the affects of immigration status. The “Related Resources” tab prepares victims for dealing with school retaliation and new legislation. And the “Activism” tab guides students who want to change their campus culture and join the movement.

    Perhaps the most broadly helpful and important part of the website is the “I Want To” tab. When you click “support a survivor” you jump to a detailed list of dos and don’ts for family, friends, professors, activists and advocates. The way you — yes, you and absolutely every one — respond to stories about sexual assault in the media and in plot lines and in pop culture affects the survivors in your life. Even if you don’t know that you know someone, the numbers say you do.

    So take the fifteen minutes to prep yourself in case a friend or family member comes to you. Being supportive in that situation isn’t intuitive and doing a little reading ahead of time can mean a world of difference to someone who needs you in that moment. What they need first and foremost is for you to simply believe them.

    The hashtag #BelieveSurvivors was created long before the Rolling Stone article that prompted the current wave of discussion and victim blaming. It sounds so simple, but it is so rare in our culture for a victim to be believed implicitly by the person they reach out to. If you take nothing else out of this episode and the work that groups like Know Your IX do, let it be that two word directive: believe survivors.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Follow, support, and utilize the resources at Know Your IX

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Read and signal boost the #BelieveSurvivors hashtag

    Sources/further reading:

    "On Rolling Stone, lessons from fact-checking, and the limits of journalism” by Maya Dusenbery at Feministing

    ”Jackie Update” — and why media only covers “interesting” rape stories by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville

    "How Rolling Stone Gave A Gift To Rape Apologists” by Katie Klabusich at Buzzfeed

    "Why I Don't Want To Hear Both Sides Of Rape Cases” by Wagatwe Wanjuki at Buzzfeed

    "Victims’ Memories Are Imperfect, But Still Perfectly Believable” by Ali Safran at Buzzfeed

    "The Wrestler and the Rape Victim” by Jessica Luther at Vice Sports

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #885 "A guide to doing it all wrong (The UVA Story - Rape Culture)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Stop Street Harassment via @StopStHarassmnt - Best of the Left Activism

    This should be simple, right? A stranger walks past you on the sidewalk or is standing in front of you in line at the coffee shop or running for the bus or even groggily walking their dog early in the morning. What do you do? How 'bout nothing? Possibly — if you make eye contact in that way that humans sometimes do — you smile and nod as the two of you go on your way.

    For more than 80% of women all over the world, this is not the typical experience. According to Stop Street Harassment — a nonprofit dedicated to documenting and ending gender-based street harassment worldwide, behavior ranging from demanding a person smile to flashing to screaming to stalking are a real, daily part of life.

    There is a compounding threat of gendered harassment for people of color and members of the LGBTQ community. A 2013 study of nearly 100,000 LGBTQ people in the European Union found that half avoided public spaces because of a high level of fear in restaurants, parking lots, parks, etc.

    In the U.S., one quarter of women experience street harassment before their 12th birthday and 90% report dealing with it regularly by age 19. It’s simply unacceptable that more than half our population has to take evasive measures to feel safe in their daily lives. As we’ve heard on today’s show, even if you’re a guy who has totally benign motivations, after hearing and seeing what women go through, you might understand why your “Hey there, where are you headed?” would be met with caution and even fear.

    At StopStreetHarassment.org you can find a comprehensive definition of street harassment as well as tools to raise awareness and work toward culture change around the world. The board of directors explains why they devote time and resources to this issue:

    "We believe that street harassment impedes gender equality and must be taken seriously. Because street harassment is often an invisible problem (especially to people in power) and it is dismissed as being a 'minor annoyance,' a ‘joke,' or the fault of the harassed person, our primarily focus right now is simply to document the problem and demonstrate why it’s a human rights violation that must be addressed.”

    That power dynamic is the core component: a man yelling at a woman on the street is putting himself into her space without her permission and declaring that he can do so if and when he wants. The good news about this dynamic is that every man listening can do something super simple to help. Visit StopStreetHarassment.org to check your own behavior and take stock of the other men in your networks. It’s safer for you to call out a buddy than it is for the harassed person to try and do so.

    Also, this is seriously advanced warning about Anti-Street Harassment Week happening April 12th-18th, so mark your calendars as you’ll have no excuse to miss it. Between now and then, you can share your story with Stop Street Harassment, volunteer your graphic design skills and report ads, TV shows and other media that depicts harassment as a joke, compliment or no big deal. Most of the asks at Stop Street Harassment's “Join Us” tab take less than 15 minutes; certainly the basic humanity and safety of more than half the world’s population is worth at least that.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with Stop Street Harassment

    Mark your calendar for Meet Us On The Street, an international anti-street harassment campaign April 12-18, 2015.

    Follow Stop Street Harassment on Twitter and on Facebook

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Bookmark Meet Us On The Street Week resources on Twitter and on Facebook

    Follow the #EndStreetHarassment thread and share your own experiences.

    Sources/further reading:

    "Street harassment of women: It's a bigger problem than you think” by Holly Kearl at Christian Science Monitor

    "Feeling harassed? Do something about it. — Friday is Women's Equality Day in the US, yet routine street harassment blocks that goal for many women. But we can act.” by Holly Kearl at The Guardian

    "6 Things You Might Not Think Are Harassment But Definitely Are (because apparently we need to clear a few things up)” by Kat George at Bustle

    "Street Harassment Is a Problem—No Doubt—but Here’s Why That Video Didn’t Help the Debate” by Dio Rabouin at The Root

    "Hollaback and Why Everyone Needs Better Research Methods And Why All Data Needs Theory” by Zeynep Tufekci at Medium

    WATCH: "NYC Women Talk Cat Calling” by W. Kamau Bell

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #876 "Hey girl, you want me to respect your personal space? (Street Harassment)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • Assessment Reform via @FairTestOffice - Best of the Left Activism

    Most of what’s wrong with our country’s education system can be summed up by a Time Magazine cover published yesterday. “The War on Teacher Tenure!!” declares Time emphatically atop a graphic with a gavel coming down on “rotten apples” — presumably the teachers in question. The article’s subtitle explains: "It’s really difficult to fire a bad teacher. A group of Silicon Valley investors wants to change that.”

    As if union busting right-to-work laws and the charter school privatization movement weren’t enough, now Silicon Valley has decided to weigh in on our public education system. It’s probably fine, though, right? It’s not like the perpetual standardized testing process could have anything to do with the sudden interest from the technology sector…

    Resistance to the monetizing of primary education and to standardized testing specifically is growing across the country. Boycotts, demonstrations, community forums, and opt-out campaigns like the successful one last year in Seattle have spread to Austin, Portland, Chicago, Denver, and Providence with more student, parent and teacher groups joining all the time.

    Testing Overload in American Schools released a report released last week on just how much time our students take filling in bubbles on tests instead of learning. On average, across the 14 school districts surveyed, students took one to two standardized tests a month. A companion report by the Center for American Progress adds that this “test preparation culture” has “put a premium on testing over learning.”

    The reports were scathing enough that even President Obama — who’s education secretary Arne Duncan has been decidedly right of center on tenure and testing — was forced to weigh in and support a "cutback on unnecessary testing and test preparation" and "the smarter use of tests that measure real student learning.”

    With the release of the reports and the White House comments, now is the perfect time to join the movement for assessment reform. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing has a comprehensive compilation of resources for anyone looking to support opting out and resisting No Child Left Behind “reforms.” Visit FairTest.org for fact sheets on tests, explanations of federal policies, the consequences of high-stakes testing, and better ways to evaluate students and teachers.

    You can also sign the American Federation of Teachers' petition calling out the Time Magazine cover — which doesn’t even accurately depict their own journalists’ reporting, let alone the state of public education. Since we all know more people will see the cover than read the article, most Americans will get the wrong impression and not hear any of the concern surrounding testing industry ties to Silicon Valley.

    Effective public education is an issue that concerns all of us — whether or not we are students or have children of our own. It’s not an overstatement to say that the future of our country very much depends on our investing in the next generation. So, visit FairTest.org and join the movement to let our teachers get back to, well, teaching.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Get involved with FairTest: Assessment Reform Network Project to resist unnecessary standardized testing

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Sign AFT’s petition: "TIME: Apologize to teachers”

    Sign the "Don't Delete History” petition from Texas Freedom Network

    Sources/further reading:

    The awful Time article for those who want to read it: "War on Teacher Tenure: How Silicon Valley Wants to Fire Bad Teachers”

    "Florida schools rail against explosion of new tests” via Orlando Sentinel

    "Scrap the MAP! | Solidarity with Seattle teachers boycotting the MAP test”

    "Test Opposition Surges Across the Nation” via FairTest

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #871 "Your child is a widget (Education)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act via @healthyteen & @nwlc - Best of the Left Activism

    Because of a legislative onslaught of unconstitutional laws that have left almost 90% of Americans living in counties without abortion providers, the media and activism focus on issues of choice and reproductive rights typically centers around abortion care. Reproductive justice advocates work tirelessly to break through that tunnel vision, broadening the narrative to remind us that supporting bodily autonomy includes more than helping people end unwanted pregnancies; it also includes helping those who choose to become parents.

    Teen pregnancy and parenthood come with so much stigma you likely already have a mental image of the stereotypical teen mom. It’s not that you’re insensitive; it's years of media, horror stories in health class meant to scare kids into not having sex, and bad TV all having done their respective jobs on your subconscious.

    You probably don’t even realize that there are laws to protect pregnant teens as those typically accidental pregnancies aren’t given much priority in public spaces or political platforms. It turns out, however, that pregnant teens are full, autonomous humans — whose wombs and lives, according to the Republican Party Platform, must be regulated at every possible opportunity. By all means, they must carry to term — and then be sent adrift with no societal support and as much scolding as possible.

    Title IX laws actually bolster Constitutional protections and bodily autonomy guarantees, but most high school students aren’t aware of their rights, can’t vote for laws that protect them, and are heavily influenced by the messaging in their communities.

    As #NoTeenShame co-founder Gloria Malone writes this week at RH Reality Check, pregnant teens often initially buy into the doomed depiction of young families in the media and on shows like "16 and Pregnant.”

    Malone candidly describes her experience this way:

    "When I became pregnant at 15, the adults in my life believed my life was over. In addition to explicitly stating this to me, they began to treat me differently and even stopped helping me look into colleges because they believed I would not finish high school...If my family and high school guidance counselor had responded to my decision to carry my pregnancy to term and parent my child in a more positive way from the get-go, with tips on planning for my future and for my daughter’s future, I may have experienced a more healthy and positive pregnancy. And so I ask, how are others preparing teens to live the life they want for themselves and their families? We can and must do so much better.”

    Healthy Teen Network and the National Women’s Law Center are co-leading an effort which aims to take that advice and do better in practical and useful ways. The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act — sponsored in this legislative session by Senator Udall of New Mexico and Representative Polis of Colorado — would solidify the rights of teen parents and establish policies that provide concrete help.

    Teen parents should have the flexibility to finish school, pursue careers and have healthy families. Let your representatives know — during election season and beyond — that an issue affecting nearly 3 in 10 girls matters to you and should matter to them. Sign the letter at HealthyTeenNetwork.org under the Public Policy tab and help make the legislation a priority after next month’s election. Also, be sure to follow #NoTeenShame for other ways to get involved with ending stigma and building support for families.

    TAKE ACTION:

    Sign to support the The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act legislation backed by the National Women’s Law Center and Healthy Teen Network

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    Follow #NoTeenShameon Twitter and on Tumblr

    Submit your story to #NoTeenShame

    Sources/further reading:

    "New Mexico Parental-Leave Law Helps Teen Moms Stay in School” via NBC News

    "Where’s the ’16, Parenting, and OK’ Reality Show?” by Gloria Malone at RH Reality Check

    "#NoTeenShame: A Social Media Movement Pushes Us To Respect Young Mothers & We’re All For It” via Hello Beautiful

    Graphic by Repeal Hyde Art Project and available for purchase at RHAP’s Zazzle Store

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #870 "Don't police me, bro! (Feminism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich