• On Wednesday, the Michigan legislature passed a bill that bans private insurance plans from covering abortions. Women can buy extra coverage for unplanned pregnancies that many are calling "rape insurance", but Jessica Valenti argues that this phrase creates a hierarchy of good and bad abortions that limits reproductive justice for all women. [The Nation]
• Queers for Economic Justice, a progressive non-profit organization that has been dedicated to addressing poverty and inequality through a lens of sexual and gender liberation, has announced that they will be closing due to lack of funds, and they urge their supporters to continue the fight for justice. [Queers for Economic Justice]
What happens when states contract with private, for-profit companies to both run their prisons and provide prison health care? Carol Lester, a 73-year-old grandmother, found out shortly after arriving at the New Mexico Women’s Correctional Facility in Grants.
Netflix's Orange Is The New Black debuted at a perfect time for numerous reasons—we were starving, really, for a racially diverse female-driven show unafraid to tackle queer and transgender narratives.
But the timing is particularly perfect politically, because now more than ever the shameful, counterproductive, racially biased and monumentally expensive criminal justice system deserves national interrogation, and this show could potentially help move that conversation forward.
Supporting survivors of domestic violence should be an easy political issue. And yet! For months, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act has been derailed by Republican opposition to the bill's plans to expand protections for Native American, LGBT, and immigrant communities.
In our most recent print issue, writer Maya Dusenbery spells out why violence against women is such a crucial issue for the government to address—but why focusing efforts primarily on putting abusers in jail is problematic:
While ostensibly committed to building a "coordinated community response" to violence against women, the law privileges a pro-criminalization strategy. The original legislation was wrapped in the largest crime bill in U.S. history, and more than half of the initial funding was allocated to law-enforcement efforts. This focus means, for example, that U visas are only available to undocumented survivors who are willing to cooperate with a criminal investigation. Critics of the legislation have argued that relying on the state to protect women from violence can be counterproductive, particularly for poor communities of color. As Angela Davis asked in 2000, "Can a state that is thoroughly infused with racism, male dominance, class-bias, and homophobia, and that constructs itself in and through violence act to minimize violence in the lives of women?"
If there's a silver lining to the bizarre arrest of prominent Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, it's his newly-inspired interest in exploring and exposing the racism that exists in our nation's prison system. Police arrested Gates this past Thursday after a neighbor saw him trying to push open his jammed front door, assumed (ostensibly because of his skin color) that he was an intruder and reported him accordingly. The event was a reminder of our justice system's tendency to disappear minorities, which is one of the unfortunate consequences of advanced corporate capitalism that deserves to be examined under a microscope by as many brilliant minds as possible (Angela Davis can't do it alone, people!)
Gates says that his arrest was a huge eye opener for him, and he has declared his intent to research and film a documentary that deals with racial profiling. He told the Washington Post that the project will ask, "How are people treated when they are arrested? How does the criminal justice system work? How many black and brown men and poor white men are the victims of police officers who are carrying racist thoughts?" I personally can't wait to see it, but if I could make one small request to Professor Gates, I would ask him to not forget about the women.