When Mercedes Smith (above) first came home from prison, she was able to sign up for Medicaid. Then she got a part-time job, which pushed her over Medicaid's low-income guidelines. Unable to afford insurance even after getting a second part-time job, Mercedes has gone without health care for the past three years. When she needs urgent care, she goes to the emergency room. Otherwise, health care is a luxury she can't afford.
Photo of a Texas pro-choice protester by Mirsasha (Creative Commons)
After a three-day trial, a Texas judge ruled today that a key section of the state’s controversial slate of abortion-rights restriction laws is unconstitutional. The laws, which thousands of Texans filled the state Capitol to protest or support last summer, were set to go into effect at midnight tonight.
Marissa Alexander is a mother of three, a Black woman, and a survivor of abuse. She is currently sitting in a Florida prison for firing a warning shot into the wall of her house to dissuade her abusive husband from attacking her. Last month, an appeals court overturned her conviction, ruling that the jury received flawed instructions on self-defense.
Marissa Alexander’s case illustrates how abuse survivors are often criminalized and further abused by the legal system.
Ever notice how anger helps a man command a room, but it often has the opposite effect for women?
While the former comes off as passionate, the latter is often remembered as emotionally erratic, an outcome predictable enough to make any woman angry. (Can someone say vicious cycle?)
But there may be a way out, if a new book by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut is any indication. In Compelling People, the authors posit that what makes individuals captivating is their ability to communicate both strength and warmth, but they recognize that it's a fine balance—and that balancing act is trickier for women.
Imagine a woman who is actively in labor. Now, imagine her handcuffed. Attached to those handcuffs is a chain that links her wrists to a chain wrapped around her belly. That belly chain is the same weight as a bicycle chain. Attached to her belly chain is yet another chain that attaches to shackles around her feet.
Imagine going to the hospital like that. Now imagine not knowing when those chains will be removed and if they will come off in time to push the baby out.
"I am Chelsea Manning. I am female." With that announcement, Chelsea Manning begins her thirty-five year sentence with the dubious distinction of being the first openly trans woman in the U.S. military prison system.
While a new National Gay and Lesbian Task Force study shows that trans people are twice as likely to serve in the military than the rest of Americans, the military still bans openly trans folks from service and discriminates against them in a variety of ways. Manning's imprisonment has already sparked national conversation about punishing whistleblowers and treatment of trans people—now, the military is having to consider the fact that their prison system is not set up for trans service members.
"What woman here is so enamored of her own oppression that she cannot see her heel print upon another woman's face?"
– Audre Lorde
As I write this, two undocumented activists have spent 104 out of the last 108 hours in total isolation. Twenty-four-year-old Lulu Martinez and 22-year-old Maria Peniche are in solitary confinement at Arizona's Eloy Detention Center. It has been reported that Peniche is currently on suicide watch.
In 1923, 17-year-old Carrie Buck was raped and impregnated. Her adoptive family, trying to avoid the public shame of having an unwed mother in their midst, had her committed to an institution for the "feeble minded." Because she was supposedly "feeble-minded" and the daughter of an unwed mother herself, the State of Virginia sought to sterilize her and, in 1927, the Supreme Court ruled in its favor.
One would think we've come a long way since 1927. But apparently we haven't.