Signal Boost: Speakout against age restrictions on over-the-counter #emergencycontraception #fem2

MAP flyer final-2via National Women’s Liberation.  The New York chapter of NWL will hold a speakout on January 22, 2013, in front of the Health and Human Services office at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY, to demand unrestricted access to the Morning-After Pill.  According to their press release, “we are holding our speakout on the anniversary of Roe v Wade because we believe that all women and girls should have access to all tools that enable us to control our reproductive lives.”

Members of this group have been fighting against age restrictions on over-the-counter emergency contraception since January 2004, when they “led the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy Coalition to show the injustice of the restriction on the MAP and to show that woman are the real experts when it comes to birth control.  On February 15, 2004, we began a civil disobedience campaign where 4,500 women signed a pledge promising to give a friend the MAP in defiance of the FDA’s prescription only requirement.  In January 2005, nine if us were arrest’s at the FDA’s headquarters as part of a larger protest of the FDA’s inaction.”

It’s nice to see the return of this group of activists. As I describe in my book.  the Morning-After Pill Conspiracy was inspired by the grassroots activism of the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s: In an interview, one of the group’s founders, Annie Tummino said,  “We speak out and engage in civil disobedience. Our goal is to send the message that women are the experts on our bodies and lives.” MAPC used a variety of direct-action techniques to protest the FDA and the Bush Administration’s stance on emergency contraception. They held consciousness-raising sessions; speak outs in major cities; and committed various acts of civil disobedience including passing along emergency contraceptive kits to women without a prescription.

march4-04fMost emblematic of their ties to Second Wave feminist organizing were their actions at the March for Women’s Lives Washington, DC on April 25, 2004. The group held a mini-rally where a dozen women “testified about rushing around trying to get the Morning-After Pill after a condom broke during sex, about the prohibitive costs associated with a doctor’s visit, and about the tragicomic idea that anyone can get a doctor’s appointment in twenty-four hours, especially starting on a Friday or Saturday night.” In defiance of “unjust” prescription laws, the group flung boxes of Plan B® into the crowd. They also invited spectators “to join them in signing the Morning After Pill Conspiracy pledge to defy the prescription requirement (and break the law) by giving a friend the Morning-After Pill whenever she needs it.”

A group of physicians from the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals’ Reproductive Health Access Project contributed to this display of feminist direct action by bringing their prescription pads and freely writing prescriptions for emergency contraception for any woman who wanted one. According to MAPC member Jenny Brown, these doctors “were illustrating a point which was repeated over and over in the FDA’s advisory hearings–no physical evaluation or instruction from medical professionals is needed to safely and effectively use this medication.” Members of MAPC declared they “were proud to follow in the footsteps of feminists like Margaret Sanger, who passed out information on birth control when it was illegal to do so, and suffragists who were arrested for voting, to showcase how unjust the laws were.” Like the feminist activists who protested against the abuse of women subjects during the 1970s, MAPC members held a sit-in at FDA headquarters in January of 2005, where nine of their members were arrested for blocking access to the FDA, “just like they were blocking women’s access to birth control.”

Members of the MAPC members then filed a lawsuit, Tummino, et al. v. Hamburg with the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, and National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.  From the lawsuit and feminist organizing, the FDA agreed to approve Plan B for women 18 and older without a prescription, in August 2006.  In March 2009- the FDA was ordered to make Plan B available to 17 year olds and to review its decision to deny a “Citizen’s Petition” filed by 60+ women’s health and rights organizations.  In February 2012, the MAPC took the FDA back to court based on its continued failure to act on removing scientifically unsupported restrictions on the MAP.

To support these efforts of NWL, you can attend the rally, sign their petition demanding the FDA and HHS to stop carding for emergency contraception, “like” them on Facebook, and forward their press release to other activists.

Enough with the #mancession already

via the New York Times Magazine, cover story by Hanna Rosin, “Who Wears the Pants in This Economy?

Earlier this year, Bryce Covert at Next New Deal declared the end of the so-called “mancession” — i.e. the gap between male and female unemployment.  First a definition:

“he term itself was coined by AEI scholar Mark Perry. He was the first to give a name to a striking phenomenon during the recession (officially from 2007-2009): not only did employment tank in male-heavy industries, and not only did they therefore have elevated unemployment rates, but the gap between their unemployment rate and women’s was the largest in post-War record-keeping. This was particularly striking because before the recession — in the months from 2004 to 2007 — unemployment rates were about equal for the two sexes, and women’s even rose higher than men’s for some months. This gap between the two rates hit a peak in August of 2009 at 2.7 percent — men at that point had an 11 percent jobless rate, and women had 8.3. (The gap started closing after that point even as male unemployment rose — women just started catching up with them in the unemployment department.) To sum up, as Perry puts it, “the impact of job losses was considerably greater for men, since almost 6 million men lost their jobs, compared to only 2.64 million job losses for women. More than two out of every three jobs lost in 2008 and 2009 were held by men (68.5%), or alternatively it was also the case that 217 men lost their jobs for every 100 women who became unemployed in 2008 and 2009.”

He points out that much of this was related to the industries most affected by the recession. Construction and manufacturing went into freefall. He calculates that the largest job losses during the recession were in manufacturing — down by 14 percent — and construction — down by 20.2 percent. Men make up 71.2 and 87.5 percent of those industries, respectively. On the other hand, some industries where women dominate were doing well. Education and health services was up 4 percent, 74 percent female, and government jobs were up 2.25 percent, 57 percent female.”

In March of this year, an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center showed “men and women are now on par for unemployment rates, both standing at 7.7 percent. Mark it: the gender gap that had Perry, the media, and manhood so worried has completely evaporated.

On top of that, the supposedly recession proof, female-dominated industries are not faring as well. And the male dominated ones are starting to show signs of life. Construction is up 2.1 percent; manufacturing is up 2. Yet government jobs are down 1.2 percent, and that’s across the board — 1.5 percent at the federal level, 1.4 at state level, and 1.1 at the local level. Those government job losses are driving our current womancession. Job losses, which skewed male, have now turned into skewed job gains. Men had lost 6 million jobs to women’s 2.64 million during the recession, but now women have gained just eight percent of the 1.9 million jobs added in the recovery.

This painful economic period, even if it’s showing signs of improvement, is likely far from over. Men and women are both still hurting in huge numbers. But at least one thing has changed: we can stop calling this a mancession.”
Yet, one would never know this from the Times magazine article, which examines the town of Madison, Alabama, where male-dominated manufacturing jobs have all but disappeared, and historically “female” jobs in health, education, and social services have expanded.

The result:  “a nascent middle-class matriarchy,” in which women “pay the mortgage and the cable bills while the men try to find their place.”

I’m about to teach my first session of a course on the New Deal, so I’ve heard this tale of men “emasculated” by hard economic times. At that time, Norman Cousins had the immodest proposal that the way the end the Depression was to fire all the women, “who shouldn’t be working anyway,” and hire men in their place.  Some places of employment actually followed that advice: for example, the majority of public schools refused to hire married women as teachers, and many had a policy of firing women who married.  Yet, at that time, men were even more reluctant and/or unprepared to take on “women’s work” — which was even more poorly compensated than it is today.

One would think that times have changed enough that men in the 21st would be secure enough in their masculinity to seek work in the expanding “female” fields. According one man who was interviewed, one reason they don’t is because these jobs pay far less than they were accustomed to earning.  A more important reason, though, was  “We’re in the South . . .A man needs a strong, macho job. He’s not going to be a schoolteacher or a legal secretary or some beauty-shop queen. He’s got to be a man.”

Since the article only covered white, married, heterosexual couples I’m wondering how representative this is of the South, let alone the rest of the country.  Perhaps Rosin’s forthcoming book will look at a more diverse sample of the American people. Meanwhile, read Covert’s excellent response to Rosin’s other articles.

Save the Woodrow Wilson Women’s Studies Dissertation Fellowship Program

Update:  Here is what the Foundation sent out to supporters of the program:


We are sorry to have to report that, as a consequence of the larger economic downtown, the endowment for the Women’s Studies Dissertation Fellowship has generated insufficient funds to cover program costs over the past several years.  The Woodrow Wilson Foundation has thus decided to suspend the competition for the 2012-2013 year while we explore options to ensure that the program will continue to flourish in the future.  During the coming year we will engage in a careful review of the Fellowship’s goals and structure, with a view toward achieving greater financial stability and success in the future.


In its thirty-seven-year history, during which we have awarded over five hundred Women’s Studies Fellowships, the Women’s Studies Program has made a significant contribution to the field.  We take great pride in the Fellowship’s accomplishments, and we will proceed thoughtfully as we undertake this review.
We are grateful for your dedication to and support of this program and will keep you informed as we move forward.


The Woodrow Wilson Foundation has suspended its Women’s Studies Dissertation Fellowships program.  For twenty-five years this program enabled women’s studies scholars to do the work that enriched so many disciplines and reshaped the curriculum of in secondary schools, colleges and universities.  Suspending this program is a terrible blow to scholars and students.  It reflects very poorly on the foundation.  Why was this decision made?  Why weren’t members of the final selection committee, the past recipients, and leaders in the women’s studies community consulted? Surely they could have worked together to find ways to keep this magnificent program alive. The foundation claims there have been insufficient endowment funds for the past three years.  If that is the case, why wasn’t a full public effort made to address the problem and garner support?  More critically, what is the plan of action going forward?  What steps are underway to build the endowment and get the program back up and running?  We ask the foundation to reach out to us—we are ready to help.

Let’s start by making our voices heard.  If you care about Women’s Studies you can write to the President of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Arthur Levine ( and tell him why the program is so vital and ask that immediate steps be taken to ensure its continued existence. Please also sign this petition at

Happy Women’s Equality Day

via National Women’s History Project  who reminds how recently women received the right to vote in the U.S.  Don’t take it for granted!

Presidential Proclamation – Women’s Equality Day, 2012


On Women’s Equality Day, we mark the anniversary of our Constitution’s 19th Amendment, which secured the right to vote for America’s women. The product of profound struggle and fierce hope, the 19th Amendment reaffirmed what we have always known: that America is a place where anything is possible and where each of us is entitled to the full pursuit of our own happiness. We also know that the defiant, can-do spirit that moved millions to seek suffrage is what runs through the veins of American history. It remains the wellspring of all our progress. And nearly a century after the battle for women’s franchise was won, a new generation of young women stands ready to carry that spirit forward and bring us closer to a world where there are no limits on how big our children can dream or how high they can reach.

To keep our Nation moving ahead, all Americans — men and women — must be able to help provide for their families and contribute fully to our economy. That is why I have made supporting the needs and aspirations of women and girls a top priority for my Administration. From signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law and creating the White House Council on Women and Girls to combatting sexual assault and promoting women’s economic and political empowerment at home and abroad, we have worked to ensure women have the opportunities they need and deserve at every stage of their lives. As women around the world continue to fight for their seat at the table, my Administration will keep their interests at the core of our policy decisions — and we will join them every step of the way.

Today, women are nearly 50 percent of our workforce, the majority of students in our colleges and graduate schools, and a growing number of breadwinners in their families. From business to medicine to our military, women are leading the fields that were closed off to them only decades ago. We owe that legacy of progress to our mothers and aunts, grandmothers and great-grandmothers — women who proved not only that opportunity and equality do not come without a fight, but also that they are possible. Even with the gains we have made, we still have work to do. As we mark this 92nd anniversary of the 19th Amendment, let us reflect on how far we have come toward fully realizing the basic freedoms enshrined in our founding documents, rededicate ourselves to closing the gaps that remain, and continue to widen the doors of opportunity for all of our daughters and sons.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 26, 2012, as Women’s Equality Day. I call upon the people of the United States to celebrate the achievements of women and recommit to realizing gender equality in this country.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.BARACK OBAMA


Signal Boost: Our Bodies, Our Votes Campaign

From Judy Norsigian:

Our Bodies Ourselves has just launched : OUR BODIES, OUR VOTES.

The goal of this campaign is to retain and restore women’s access to reproductive health care and rights, now under attack in almost every state across the country.

Please read our press release, which quotes both Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, and Dr. Timothy RB Johnson. Both are medical leaders who are deeply troubled by recent trends to undermine the provision of evidence-based reproductive health care and the doctor/patient relationship.

The Our Bodies, Our Votes campaign includes: 

* Our Bodies, Our Votes bumper stickers. Order stickers here with a donation to OBOS:  — only $10 for 3 stickers!

*, with information on contraception and abortion, plus news and activist resources and free virtual stickers you can add to your blog or social media.

*, where everyone can post and view photos of Our Bodies, Our Votes stickers appearing across the country.

I hope you will join us in spreading the word by forwarding this email to friends and colleagues who care about women’s access to reproductive health care, and by sharing the links with your networks. If you’re on Twitter, here’s the campaign hashtag: #obov2012

Finally, please make a donation to support our ongoing work to preserve access to reproductive health care.

Thanks, as always, for your support and for your own efforts to improve reproductive health care for all.


Best wishes,

P.S. To stay up to date with OBOS news, sign up here (with options about how often you will be contacted):

P.P.S.  As some of you may know already, the Library of Congress included “Our Bodies, Ourselves” in its new exhibition of Books That Shaped America, and Time magazine named the book one of the 100 best and most influential nonfiction English books written since 1923.  The 2011 edition has received critical acclaim and was selected by Library Journal as one of the eight best consumer health books of the year.

If you want to earmark a generous donation towards a new initiative to get this book into the hands of 10,000 young college-age students, please contact me directly. Thanks so much for your interest and support!

Judy Norsigian, Executive Director

Our Bodies Ourselves

5 Upland Rd, Suite 3

Cambridge, MA 02140

tel: 617-245-0200 x11  fax: 617-245-0201




Signal Boost: New Blog Nursing Clio

I just received word of this new blog, Nursing Clio, which “is a collaborative blog project that ties historical scholarship to present-day political, social, and cultural issues surrounding gender and medicine. Men’s and women’s bodies, their reproductive rights, and their health care are often at the center of political debate and have also become a large part of the social and cultural discussions in popular media. Whether the topic is abortion, birth control, sex, or the pregnant body, each and every one of these issues is embedded with historical dynamics of race, class, and gender. Our tagline -The Personal is Historical – is meant to convey that the medical debates that dominate today’s headlines are, in fact, ongoing dialogues that reach far back into our country’s past.

The mission of Nursing Clio is to provide a platform for historians, health care workers, community activists, students, and the public at large to engage in socio-political and cultural critiques of this ongoing and historical debate over the gendered body. It is our contention that Nursing Clio will provide a coherent, intelligent, informative, and fun historical source for these issues.”

Nursing Clio is looking for historians to become regular contributors:  “We are very interested in those who are writing about race, gender and medicine. We would also welcome those who can examine these topics from a global, transnational, or national perspective. Nursing Clio is a coherent, intelligent, informative, and fun historical source for these issues, and we are looking for indivduals who are excited at the propect of engaging in a public venue, examining how the personal is history.

Please feel free to explore the site and see if you might have an interesting perspective to contribute!

If interested please contact Cheryl Lemus at or Jacqueline Antonovich at”

Happy Belated 40th Birthday to #TitleIX

Last Saturday was the 40th anniversary of Title IX. To celebrate the National Women’s Law Center had a blog carnival of stories about how Title IX has helped shape women’s and girls’ experiences in the classroom and in athletics.  So, here’s my story, a little late.

I came of age just as Title IX was coming into effect. My first recollection of something having to do with this from 7th or 8th grade, when there was an announcement that girls could try out for Little League.  Of course I had no idea at that time what Title IX was and since my baseball skills were poor to non-existent, I had no interest in trying out for the team. I was active in other sports and was best at ones that didn’t involve balls or sticks — i.e. swimming (in summer) and cross-country and track during the school year.  I wasn’t the best athlete but did show enough determination to be receive “most improved track athlete” my senior year.  Athletics definitely helped make me more confident as a high school student and also helped me deal with the stress of adolescence.  I also developed a life-long interest in fitness and a healthy lifestyle.  Now I mostly bike, run, or swim for fun, although I do attempt the occasional triathlon.  I’m also a women’s history professor, so I get to teach students about the importance of Title IX not just for athletics but for educational equality as a whole.  We still have  a ways to go but look how far we’ve come. Thanks Title IX for helping improve the minds and bodies of girls and women in the U.S.