Scotland Is 1st Nation to Make Period Products Free – The New York Times

“LONDON — Scotland has become the first country in the world to make period products freely available to all who need them, after final approval was given to a landmark piece of legislation in Parliament on Tuesday.

The measures are intended to end “period poverty” — or the circumstances, and in some cases, prohibitive expense that have left many without access to sanitary products when they need them.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, posted on Twitter shortly after the vote on Tuesday evening that she was “proud to vote for this groundbreaking legislation” which she called an “important policy for women and girls.”

A draft bill received initial approval in Parliament in February, and the measure was officially passed on Tuesday, with lawmakers voting unanimously in its favor.”

Opinion | When I Step Outside, I Step Into a Country of Men Who Stare – By Fatima Bhojani – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Bhojani is a writer from Pakistan.

Credit…Abdul Majeed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — I am angry. All the time. I’ve been angry for years. Ever since I began to grasp the staggering extent of violence — emotional, mental and physical — against women in Pakistan. Women here, all 100 million of us, exist in collective fury.

“Every day, I am reminded of a reason I shouldn’t exist,” my 19-year-old friend recently told me in a cafe in Islamabad. When she gets into an Uber, she sits right behind the driver so that he can’t reach back and grab her. We agreed that we would jump out of a moving car if that ever happened. We debated whether pepper spray was better than a knife.

When I step outside, I step into a country of men who stare. I could be making the short walk from my car to the bookstore or walking through the aisles at the supermarket. I could be wrapped in a shawl or behind two layers of face mask. But I will be followed by searing eyes, X-raying me. Because here, it is culturally acceptable for men to gape at women unblinkingly, as if we are all in a staring contest that nobody told half the population about, a contest hinged on a subtle form of psychological violence.

“Wolves,” my friend, Maryam, called them, as she recounted the time a man grazed her shoulder as he sped by on a motorbike. “From now on, I am going to stare back, make them uncomfortable.” Maryam runs a company that takes tourists to the mountainous north. “People are shocked to see a woman leading tours on her own,” she told me.”

Opinion | The Case for Accepting Defeat on Roe – By Joan C. Williams – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Williams is a law professor.

“In “Unpregnant, the HBO bildungsroman released this month, the plot revolves around a 17-year-old heroine who travels from Missouri to Albuquerque — a road trip of 1,000 miles — because that’s the nearest place she can get an abortion without parental consent. Watching it made me recall a conversation with a feminist friend, who shocked the hell out of me last year by saying that progressives were too focused on protecting Roe v. Wade.

Why? The argument is that we currently have the worst of both worlds. We’ve basically lost the abortion fight: If Roe is overturned, access to abortion will depend on where you live — but access to abortion already depends on where you live. At the same time, we have people voting for Donald Trump because he’ll appoint justices who will overturn Roe. Maybe it is time to face the fact that abortion access will be fought for in legislatures, not courts.

I was shocked, but I could see the logic. It’s true that abortion access is already abysmal. The stressful road trip in “Unpregnant” is actually in some ways a best-case scenario; many women seeking abortions aren’t suburban teenagers without economic pressures or family responsibilities. Nearly 60 percent have already had one child and nearly half live below the poverty level; some fear they’ll be fired if they take time off, particularly if they need to make two trips, as they must in the 26 states with mandatory waiting periods.

The argument that the left has already lost the abortion fight reflects the fact that there’s no abortion clinic in 90 percent of American counties. This is the result of the highly successful death-by-a-thousand-cuts anti-abortion strategy, which has piled on restriction after restriction to make abortion inaccessible to as many American women as possible.Chief Justice John Roberts’s concurring opinion this summer in June Medical Services v. Russo — the one that mattered — was hailed as a surprise victory for abortion rights, but not by me.

Justice Roberts refused to uphold Louisiana restrictions virtually identical to those the court struck down as unconstitutional just four years earlier, but clearly stated that his reluctance was because of his respect for precedent. Anyone with their eyes open could see the justice signaling to abortion opponents to continue the process of eroding Roe v. Wade’s nigh-absolute protection of access to abortion during the first trimester by inventing new types of restrictions, which they have been remarkably creative in doing.

If Judge Amy Coney Barrett becomes the next Supreme Court justice, Justice Roberts’s vote will be irrelevant, anyway. And if things already looked pretty grim, now they look much worse: Up to 21 states have passed laws banning or limiting abortions in ways that are currently unconstitutional. Many will go into effect immediately if Roe is fully overturned.

So what should we do now? Often forgotten is that R.B.G. herself had decided that Roe was a mistake. In 1992, she gave a lecture musing that the country might be better off if the Supreme Court had written a narrower decision and opened up a “dialogue” with state legislatures, which were trending “toward liberalization of abortion statutes” (to quote the Roe court). Roe “halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believe, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue,” Justice Ginsburg argued. In the process, “a well-organized and vocal right-to-life movement rallied and succeeded, for a considerable time, in turning the legislative tide in the opposite direction.”

What Ginsburg called Roe’s “divisiveness” was instrumental in the rise of the American right, which was flailing until Phyllis Schlafly discovered the galvanizing force of opposition to abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment. Schlafly wrote the culture wars playbook that created the odd coupling of the country-club business elite with evangelicals and blue-collar whites. In exchange for business-friendly policies like tax cuts and deregulation, Republicans now allow these groups to control their agenda on religion and abortion. It’s hard to remember now but this was not inevitable: abortion was not always seen as the partisan issue it is todaynor did evangelicals uniformly oppose abortion.”

Nicole Tersigni Explains ‘Mansplaining’ With Help From 17th-Century Art – The New York Times

“This story begins, as so many do these days, on Twitter.

Last May, Nicole Tersigni, a Detroit-based writer, logged onto the social media platform at the end of a long day. She was tired and frazzled from looking after her 8-year-old daughter, who was home sick at the time.

“So I go online just to kind of scroll through Twitter and zone out for a little bit,” she said, “and I see a dude explaining to a woman her own joke back to her — something that has happened to me many times.”

In the past, Tersigni had let those kinds of irritating conversations go, but this one sparked something in her. She Googled “woman surrounded by men” (“because that is what that moment feels like when you’re online,” she said) and stumbled upon a 17th-century oil painting by Jobst Harrich of a woman baring one breast in the middle of a scrum of bald men.

She combined that image with the caption: “Maybe if I take my tit out they will stop explaining my own joke back to me.” “

Opinion | The Real Reason Biden Is Ahead of Trump? He’s a Man – By Peter Beinart – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Beinart writes about politics and foreign policy.

Credit…Kriston Jae Bethel for The New York Times

“A narrative has formed around the presidential race: Donald Trump is losing because he’s botched the current crisis. Americans are desperate for competence and compassion. He’s offered narcissism and division — and he’s paying the political price.

For progressives, it’s a satisfying story line, in which Americans finally see Mr. Trump for the inept charlatan he truly is. But it’s at best half-true. The administration’s mismanagement of the coronavirus and the Black Lives Matter protests only partially explain why the president is trailing badly in the polls. There’s another, more disquieting, explanation: He is running against a man.

The evidence that Mr. Trump’s electoral woes stem as much from the gender of his opponent as from his own failures begins with his net approval rating: the percent of Americans who view him favorably minus the percent who view him unfavorably. Right now, that figure stands at -15 points. That makes Mr. Trump less popular than he was this spring. But he’s still more popular than he was throughout the 2016 campaign. Yet he won.

What has changed radically over the past four years isn’t Americans’ perception of Mr. Trump. It’s their perception of his opponent. According to Real Clear Politics’s polling average, Joe Biden’s net approval rating is about -1 point. At this point in the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton’s net approval rating was -17 points. For much of the 2016 general election, Mr. Trump faced a Democratic nominee who was also deeply unpopular. Today, he enjoys no such luck.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Sad but true. Thank you Peter Berinart. I fear that Biden’s biggest mistake in this campaign was to limit his VP choice to females, when no ticket with a femail VP has ever won in US history.
Last month I backed Susan Rice, but really wanted Elizabeth Warren. Thinking about all the negatives brought up in this research report, I think a moderate white might be best for the ticket, which suggests Whitimer or one of the other governors from the moderate wing of the party.  Warren seems to be the best candidate and leader, but she has the onus of being such a successful female as to draw the ire of small minded men.

Opinion | On Religion, the Supreme Court Protects the Right to Be Different – By Michael W. McConnell – The New York Times

By 

Mr. McConnell, a former federal appeals court judge, is a law professor and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School.

Credit…Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“Some Supreme Court watchers have been quick to interpret recent decisions as skirmishes in American “culture wars” — with some decisions (on abortion and sexual orientation) siding with the cultural left and others (on religion) siding with the cultural right.

There is another way to look at them. Viewing the decisions as a whole, rather than one by one, they can be seen not as advancing left or right but instead as protecting pluralism — the right of individuals and institutions to be different, to teach different doctrines, to dissent from dominant cultural norms and to practice what they preach.

One indication is that most of these decisions broke 7-2 or 6-3, instead of along the predictable 5-4 conservative/liberal split. At a time when American politics is toxically polarized, it is a welcome relief that members of the court, which by constitutional design is supposed to be the least political of the three branches of government, can still find common ground across ideological divides.

In two of the religion cases, Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, both Democratic appointees, joined the Republican appointees in upholding the rights of religious institutions to set and follow their own doctrine. Two Republican appointees joined the decision treating discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or transgender status as “sex discrimination” — and Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, wrote the opinion. If law were only politics, those cases would not have come out that way.”

David Lindsay:  I was impressed by this man. He has the voice of Saruman. But my my slow wits were woken by the following comments.

trillo
Massachusetts
Times Pick

“The inferior quality of many American public schools, especially those serving inner-city minority populations, is a primary reason for this country’s outrageous economic and social inequality.” This is a conservative shibboleth. The schools are a symptom, not a cause of this country’s economic and social equality. The reason for those is longstanding racism and growing income and wealth inequality as a result of government policy, redlining and the criminal justice system, among other factors. School choice only assures that those left behind in public schools in poor urban districts will get an even worse education. If conservatives favored greater equality of outcomes for urban school districts, THEY’D FUND THEM BETTER.

8 Replies243 Recommended

Timothy commented July 9

Timothy
Brooklyn
Times Pick

The problem with the author’s argument is that these decisions allow ‘some’ people to be different: in one particular (presumedly acceptable) way; and at the expense of others’ difference. About the poor state of public schools: yes, many public schools are not doing so well, but that’s because conservatives have vigorously destroyed public education on budget, taxation, labor, and policy levels since the Reagan administration—with the express goals of dumbing down the (middle- and lower class) electorate and paving the way for religious indoctrination using taxpayer money…. as we’re seeing now. These demons play the long game, folks. And last, the health insurance issue, just in general: Why anyone thinks one’s employer’s values or morals should in any way affect how one uses one’s legally-provided health insurance is an absolute mystery. Yet another great argument for universal, national health care.

1 Reply213 Recommended

Julie commented July 9

Julie
East End of NY
Times Pick

This conservative vision of religious “liberty” is dangerous, especially when it comes to giving employers the “liberty” to enforce beliefs on other people just because they happen to be employees. The deciding factor in this vision is economic clout, not moral standing, when he who cuts the paycheck gets to decide the values. Likewise with public schools, denigrated as “failures” and sabotaged by the religious right. McConnell presents an economic argument to fix what he says is “The inferior quality of many American public schools.” It’s that “Private schools, including religious schools, bring needed competition.” God is not being worshipped here. Capitalism is.

3 Replies185 Recommend

Equality commented July 9

Equality
Times Pick

Last I checked vasectomies are covered by most insurance policies. Why are they not specificially excluded from insurance coverage due to the same religious beliefs? I’m confused. Men get birth control choices but women do not?

3 Replies154 Recommended

Thomas S commented July 9

Thomas S
Prospect, CT

What a masterpiece of sophistry! These religious institutions serve a pluralistic, secular society. They draw their clients and employees therefrom and, in a great many cases, they draw revenue from public coffers in reimbursement for their services. The facilities owned and operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor would be out of business were it not for Medicare and Medicaid. Unless they treat all equally, they should not be allowed to drink at the public trough. The same should apply to Catholic hospitals and health systems that deny reproductive health services to women, especially the poor for whom they purport to care so much. Around ninety percent of Catholics defy their church’s teachings on birth control. What the bishops can’t successfully impose on them, they would impose on anyone else that they can. The real trinity that they worship Is that of power, control, and money. Principle got lost in that tangle a long, long time ago.

1 Reply117 Recommended

 

Editorial | The Roberts Supreme Court Curtails Birth Control Access. Again. – The New York Times

“Well, that didn’t take long.

Only days after surprising the nation by striking down a strict anti-abortion law in Louisiana, the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts reminded Americans once again that it is no friend to reproductive rights, or to the vast majority of women who will use some form of birth control in their lifetime.

In a decision Wednesday, the justices dealt another blow to the birth control mandate under the Affordable Care Act. In the wake of the 7-to-2 ruling in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, “between 70,500 and 126,400 women would immediately lose access to no-cost contraceptive services,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in her dissent, citing a government estimate.

The Little Sisters of the Poor is an order of Catholic nuns who are religiously opposed to birth control. (Many conservatives wrongly conflate some methods of birth control with abortion.) They’re also opposed to the A.C.A.’s birth-control mandate, which says that insurance plans sponsored by large employers must include preventive care — including all forms of birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration — at no additional cost. That’s why, if women have insurance through work, they probably have not been charged a co-pay to get birth control pills or an intrauterine device in recent years.

The order of nuns — along with other entities, like the company Hobby Lobby, that have taken issue with the contraception mandate — say that it violates their religious liberty under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 federal law. The religious order feels this way despite the fact that religious nonprofits already were able to exempt themselves from the contraception mandate by merely filling out a form. In other words, the Little Sisters of the Poor did not have to pay for a single birth control pill.”

Gretchen Whitmer: A Governor on Her Own, With Everything at Stake – By Jonathan Mahler – The New York Times

“Gretchen Whitmer first heard the word “coronavirus” over the 2019 Christmas holidays from her younger sister, who a decade earlier contracted H1N1. Whitmer, just a year into office and preoccupied with her agenda for 2020, barely registered it. She was in a hurry to push forward on some of her campaign promises, like introducing an array of new education programs and repairing Michigan’s badly potholed roads. The state’s Republican lawmakers had blocked her at nearly every turn, but now, with the economy in Michigan and America booming, Whitmer had a plan to make an end-run around the Legislature by issuing $3.5 billion in bonds to help fund her projects. January was going to be about building political momentum for that effort and gearing up for a presidential election in which Michigan, where Donald Trump won by just 10,704 votes in 2016, was again going to be an important battleground state. Whitmer was tapped to deliver the Democratic response to Trump’s annual State of the Union address on Feb. 4.

As the governor began moving ahead with her agenda, though, the state’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, was watching the gathering storm with growing concern. Potentially infected travelers were arriving daily in Michigan, but the Centers for Disease Control was not providing her with the support she needed to adequately detect and contain the virus. On Feb. 27, Khaldun briefed the governor and her staff on the epidemic in a conference room adjacent to her office. She said that she was convinced the coronavirus had already come to Michigan; she just couldn’t prove it. Khaldun reminded Whitmer and her staff that there was no vaccine for this virus, that it was highly contagious and that it was much more deadly than the flu. In order to prevent a widespread outbreak, she said, it would almost certainly be necessary to take some pretty extreme measures, like banning large group gatherings and maybe even ordering certain businesses to close temporarily.

A brief silence fell over the room. One of Whitmer’s aides spoke.

“This could be disastrous to the economy,” he said.

Opinion | The Rape Kit’s Secret History. There Are Many Man-Made Objects. The Rape Kit Is Not One of Them. – By Pagan Kennedy – The New York Times

MARTY GODDARD’S FIRST FLASH OF INSIGHT CAME IN 1972. It all started when she marched into a shabby townhouse on Halsted Street in Chicago to volunteer at a crisis hotline for teenagers.

Most of the other volunteers were hippies with scraggly manes and love beads. But not Marty Goddard. She tended to wear business clothes: a jacket with a modest skirt, pantyhose, low heels. She hid her eyes behind owlish glasses and kept her blond hair short. Not much makeup; maybe a plum lip. She was 31, divorced, with a mordant sense of humor. Her name was Martha, but everyone called her Marty. She liked hiding behind a man’s name. It was useful.

As a volunteer, Ms. Goddard lent a sympathetic ear to the troubled kids then called “runaway teenagers.” They were pregnant, homeless, suicidal, strung out. She was surprised to discover that many weren’t rebels who’d left home seeking adventure; they were victims who had fled sexual abuse. The phones were ringing with the news that kids didn’t feel safe around their own families. “I was just beside myself when I found the extent of the problem,” she later said.

She began to formulate questions that almost no one was asking back in the early ’70s: Why were so many predators getting away with it? And what would it take to stop them?

Ms. Goddard would go on to lead a campaign to treat sexual assault as a crime that could be investigated, rather than as a feminine delusion. She began a revolution in forensics by envisioning the first standardized rape kit, containing items like swabs and combs to gather evidence, and envelopes to seal it in. The kit is one of the most powerful tools ever invented to bring criminals to justice. And yet, you’ve never heard of Marty Goddard. In many ways she and her invention shared the same fate. They were enormously important and consistently overlooked.

I was infuriated when I read a few years ago about the hundreds of thousands of unexamined rape kits piled up in warehouses around the country. I had the same question that many did: How many rapists were walking free because this evidence had gone ignored?”

Opinion | The Supreme Court Finally Provides Good News for Trans People – by Jennifer Finney Boylan – The New York Times

“. . . .  Last week, the author J.K. Rowling felt it necessary to unveil a screed against trans folks that ran to nearly 4,000 words, and read like a greatest-hits list of false statements and groundless fears.

She stated that trans men transition because being a woman is hard; they do not. She stated that trans women pose a threat to others in the ladies’ room; we do not. In fact, more Republican congressmen have been busted for causing trouble in public lavatories than trans women. But no one wants to throw them out of the Coast Guard.

The effect of Ms. Rowling’s manifesto was immediate and passionate — I heard from many young L.G.B.T.Q. people who’d grown up reading her books who responded to her words with sadness and fury. Surely Ms. Rowling was familiar with a series of books about a group of outcasts who were treated differently simply because of who they were?”

David Lindsay:

This op-ed by By Jennifer Finney Boylan  confused and upset me. It it threw around terms like TERF, which I’ve never heard of, and attacked J K Rowling, whom I admire greatly and even revere. I have read Rowling’s Harry Potter series and listened to them read by Jim Dale multiple times, for more times than I have ever read the Bible or any other religious texts.

The top comments calmed me down, as one reader after another defended Rowling’s carefully written 4000 word essay which is on her own blog from last week. I felt the need to read the Rowling piece for myself, and I found it to be everything that the Boylan piece wasn’t. Grounded, clear, fair, and ferociously brave and intelligent. Rowling wrote,

“… activists … accuse me of hatred, call me misogynistic slurs and, above all – as every woman involved in this debate will know – TERF.

If you didn’t already know  ….  ‘TERF’ is an acronym coined by trans activists, which stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. In practice, a huge and diverse cross-section of women are currently being called TERFs and the vast majority have never been radical feminists. Examples of so-called TERFs range from the mother of a gay child who was afraid their child wanted to transition to escape homophobic bullying, to a hitherto totally unfeminist older lady who’s vowed never to visit Marks & Spencer again because they’re allowing any man who says they identify as a woman into the women’s changing rooms. ”

J K Rowling would be a better choice for an occassional op-ed writer.