Two weeks ago, women incarcerated at Estrella Jail in Phoenix, Arizona staged a hunger strike. Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who runs the jail, told media that the women were striking over the all-vegetarian meals being served. His direct quote was actually: "They ought to shut up and eat what they have, they happen to be in jail and I'm the sheriff and I'm the chief chef I decide what they eat.” Spinning the women's actions as just a knee-jerk response to having to eat vegetarian food helps turn a serious hunger strike into a punchline.
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.
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.
• A Tumblr has been made in recognition of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's awesomness—The Notorious R.B.G. (which includes the comic at right) [Notorious R.B.G.]
• Speaking of abortion restrictions, here's a report on what the huge turnout of protesters to support Wendy Davis in Texas says about the future of the state: "They were the Texans that national observers rarely see—and they are helping to plant the seeds of a progressive revival in the state." [American Prospect]
• What does "cooling-off period" mean? Natasha Vargas-Cooper explains the language of abortion restrictions and how it negatively affects women. [Buzzfeed]
• The People's Record reports on the "invisible American workforce: prisoners." American inmates are paid almost nothing to make a wide variety of products—from chicken to college dorm furniture. [People's Record]