It's been over a week since 19-year-old Renisha McBride was shot and killed.
For those of you who missed the news, Renisha McBride was a recent high school graduate whose car broke down in Dearborn Heights, a predominantly white suburb of Detroit. McBride knocked on the door of a house to ask for help. The man who answered the door shot her in the face.
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.
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.
• Filmmaker Dina Fiasconaro has launched a Kickstarter campaign in support of her documentary, Women and Meds, which focuses on women who take medication for mental illness and want children. Check out the trailer here. [Kickstarter]
Orange is the New Black—the new Netflix original series premiering July 11—is a prison drama. But that's definitely not all it is. Following naïve yuppie Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) as she enters a women's prison for a 15-month stay, this rich, tactile show delves into gender and sexuality in a deeper way than first meets the eye.
Every now and again I'm struck immobile by the state of our nation. I had wanted to prepare an article on the risks of sex work, real versus imagined, but I'm thinking what the fuck. Why bother. This country sucks. No one's listening. I turned on the news this morning and they're rioting at Penn State over the firing of a football coach, a man who played a pivotal role in covering up the actions of a child molester. In the next segment, a Republican audience is booing Maria Bartiromo for questioning their candidate about claims of sexual harassment, two of which extend beyond allegations into the realm of fact, as those cases were settled. Whatever he says, they cheer. This is the same candidate who said that the unemployed and working poor should "blame themselves" and insinuated that a woman who is raped and gets pregnant has exercised a choice. This is the same audience who booed a gay soldier, cheered another candidate's unparalleled record of execution and supported another candidate's conclusion that an uninsured man be allowed to die. This is not my country, I sometimes think. I don't belong here.
Inside This Place, Not of It: Stories from Women's Prisons is the ninth book in the Voice of Witness series, which carries the Studs Turkel torch by using oral history to share stories from the margins of America. Inside This Place has thirteen accounts from people who have been—and several who remain—incarcerated in women's prisons. Editors Robin Levi and Ayelet Waldman and a team of nineteen interviewers conducted over seventy interviews with thirty individuals over the course of ten months.
If there was ever a marginalized male group directly and powerfully affected by the masculinity construct, it's jail and prison inmates. No, I didn't just finish up an Oz marathon (honestly, I haven't seen a single episode of the prison drama, so there will be no show references dropped in this post henceforth), but I did stumble across a series of studies dissecting the insidious, damaging culture of hypermasculinity in jails and prisons. Considering that there are roughly 1.4 million men behind bars in the United States, it's a relevant issue directly impacting a sizable population.