Category Archives: Women

The LGBTQ Movement is an Intersectional Fail

In recent years “intersectionality” has been the biggest buzz word in progressive circles, liberally sprinkled in activist conferences and social media. Yet few movements have been as long on intersectional talk, and little on action, as the LGBTQ movement.

Few events point up this fail more clearly than the impending release from prison this Wednesday of Transgender heroine Chelsea Manning. She is by far the single most important, impactful anti-war activist and whistle-blower that the LGBTQ movement has ever produced.

She exposed war crimes by the U.S. and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, including murder and torture, such as the infamous “Collateral Murder” video of two Reuters journalists and ten other civilians. She gave the most expansive documentary evidence ever provided of U.S. support for a host of corrupt and vicious dictators across the Middle East. This information helped fuel the wave of Arab Spring revolts, the largest democracy movement ever seen in the region, knocking out a number of these dictators.

Yet from 2010 arrest through her subsequent arduous trial and most of her incarceration – the longest imprisonment of a whistleblower in U.S. history – none of the big LGBTQ non-profits defended her.

You might think that her 2010 incarceration would have produced a “perfect storm” of intersectional and identity politics support. Here you had a working class person who identified as gay, and later came out as a Trans woman, who exposed some of the most scandalous secrets of the U.S. military and State Department in what was to that date by far the largest document dump in U.S. history.

You would think, for example, that in the heart of the most powerful military empire that the world has ever seen, that an activist who opposed the savaging of other countries by the U.S. military would receive intersectional support from a broad section of the U.S. left. And particularly since this activist identified as LGBTQ, the LGBTQ left would particularly be in her corner.

But no. Years earlier a top official in what is now known as the National LGBTQ Task Force told me that “we will never” again come out against a U.S. war, following the Task Force’s public opposition to President George H. W. Bush’s first war against Iraq. He said that the Task Force’s coming out against that war had “nearly destroyed” the organization, as wealthy donors pulled their donations and threatened to never support it again. And this was with the Task Force, the group that likes to posture itself as the “hippest” of the big LGBTQ non-profits.

But it was not the first, nor certainly the last time that LGBTQ non-profits – rightly derided as “Gay Inc.” – prioritized donors’ dollars to fund their salaries and offices, over alleged adherence to intersectional principles.

For all their talk of “grassroots organizing” – another phrase that’s become hackneyed thru repeated misuse – Gay Inc. organizations are staff-driven at best, and at worst, controlled by self-selected boards chosen for their ability to tap contributions from wealthy donors. In this way the wealthiest LGBTQs control the political agenda of what passes for our movement, a pink version of the class stratification talked about in straight society, but rarely mentioned in the movement.

Some say that the reason for this conservatism is Gay, Inc.’s affection for “heteronormativity” – the aping straight people. This is said to explain their recent emphasis on winning equal marriage rights, for example. But this interpretation doesn’t adequately explain where “heteronormativity” itself comes from, and it also radically mis-reads the chronology of how the marriage issue became center-space in our movement.

For many years almost all of the large organizations of LGBTQs opposed pushing for equal marriage rights (the one exception being the Metropolitan Community Church). As late as at its 2005 “Creating Change” conference, for example, the Task Force had only anti-equal marriage speakers at one of the conference’s two plenaries – with no opportunity for proponents to rebut.

More recently, of course, Gay Inc. mercilessly mined the marriage issue for donations, not unlike how they have done with Transgender issues for the last couple of years. The cynicism in both instances is quite breath-taking, especially when you consider, for example, the Human Rights Campaign’s well-documented betrayal [2] of Transgender employment rights under the tutelage of gay Congressman Barney Frank.

The root of Gay Inc.’s betrayal of Chelsea Manning, and their flip-flops on marriage rights and Trans rights, lie directly in their being joined at the hip with the Democratic Party. The incestuous revolving door between military contractors and ex-military officers is only exceeded by Gay Inc’s revolving door with the Democratic Party.

The pollsters and media “professionals” who gave us the disastrous failed campaign against Proposition 8, for example, were drawn directly from the Party. The current president of Gay Inc’s biggest and wealthiest group, the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, “got his start in politics volunteering for the Bill Clinton presidential campaign, which led to a position in the White House Press Office at the age of 19. Following his stint in the White House and his graduation from Georgetown University, he led a number of political campaigns advocating for or against various California ballot initiatives, as well as a number of fundraising efforts for political candidates, such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.”

A big reason why Gay Inc. was initially so loath to take on the equal marriage issue was because their main guy, President Bill Clinton, was directly implicated in the worst measure enacted against it – the Defense of Marriage Act – and the series of failed Democratic presidential candidates who followed him also opposed equal marriage rights. As I’ve written elsewhere,

“After Bill Clinton appeased the right by passing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (and NAFTA, and Anti-Terrorism & Effective Death Penalty Act, etc, etc), he took out ads on Christian Right radio stations bragging about it, as part of his re-election bid.”

Similarly with Chelsea Manning. Besides exposing George W. Bush’s dirty laundry, she also exposed the Obama White House’s illegal support for the military coup which overthrew the elected government in Honduras, with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton providing crucial support for the murderous regime that took over.

Only when an issue is considered acceptable to leading Democrats – or forced onto their agenda by incessant campaigning by truly grassroots activists – has Gay Inc. switched up its issues list. So only after years of polling numbers showed that marriage was a top issue for LGBTQs – reacting to the religious right beating us up on the issue – did Gay Inc. change its tune and decide the issue was “realistic.”

Left to their own devices, Gay Inc. groveled to the Party’s needs. This is why after the 1998 lynching of Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard and the protests in hundreds of cities that followed it, Gay Inc. quickly moved to divert the movement into meaningless, if not positively reactionary, calls for “hate crimes” legislation, feeding the racist mass incarceration boom then underway.

Gay Inc. was loath to embarrass then-President Clinton for his support for the Defense of Marriage Act two years earlier, or the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military employment ban three years before that, in enabling the anti-gay hate that killed Shepard.

All of the pro-LGBTQ reforms of the past two decades that were eventually supported by the Democrats have one thing in common:  They cost virtually no money. From hate crimes legislation to marriage rights to Trans people’s access to public restrooms, all cost the profit system little, if any, serious money.

In the meantime, class issues have crept up on the LGBTQ community as they have all other working class people in the United States. Twenty-somethings today, if they are lucky enough to be employed, make on average 20% less than baby boomers did when they were that age. Whereas young adults of the baby boomer generation typically moved away from home upon reaching age 18 or shortly thereafter, nearly half of 25-year-olds and one-third of 18 to 34-year-olds were living at home in 2015. A quarter of those living at home don’t even have the temporary escape from nosy relatives of work or school.

This has had a direct impact on what traditionally is the most dynamic section of any political movement – its youth. By dint of their lack of economic and residential independence, LGBTQ youth are much more vulnerable to abusive relatives, even though anti-LGBTQ attitudes are at historic lows among all generations (at least for the time being).

About 40% of homeless youth are LGBT…[and nearly] seven in 10 (68%) respondents indicated that family rejection was a major factor contributing to LGBT youth homelessness, making it the most cited factor. More than half (54%) of respondents indicated that abuse in their family was another important factor contributing to LGBT homelessness.”

One would think that youth homelessness and joblessness, simultaneously affecting the most vulnerable and potentially most dynamic sectors of the LGBTQ movement, would be top priorities of the movement. Reflecting their structural “last hired, first fired” role in the U.S. economy, one would think that youth of color’s predicament in this generational economic disaster would merit special intersectional and identity politics concern.

But we live in a neoliberal age where the only reforms acceptable to the Democrats are those that don’t cost the system any money. We have a party whose leaders and enablers think that the main reasons why they lost the last election was not their presiding over the last eight years of a decades’-long economic slide in working class incomes, but rather, Russian meddling and the vicissitudes of former FBI Director James Comey’s public pronouncements.

Taking its lead from the Democrats, Gay Inc. gives lip service, if that, to the class issues directly bearing on the overwhelming majority of those whom they purport to represent. Democratic mayors ruling most large U.S. cities, while catering to the upper middle class gayborhoods that house just a small part of their cities’ LGBTQs, offer at best token solutions to these expensive problems.

The massive public housing and jobs programs that were forced out of Roosevelt-era Democrats during the Great Depression are the furthest thing from the minds of their neo-liberal descendants.

Hopes that a Sanders-type movement, working with Gay Inc. and other non-profits might take over the Democratic Party and turn it into an instrument of the 99% to take over the government, ignore the true history of how the New Deal programs came about. And Sanders’ notion that massive New Deal-like programs are possible while maintaining a military that consumes almost as much resources as the militaries of all the other governments of the world, is not only economic nonsense, it violates the very intersectionality, or solidarity, with “Third World” struggles that most U.S. leftists claim they support.

Back in the day, it wasn’t elite non-profits working hand-in-hand with the Democrats that won the gains of the New Deal.  Quite the opposite. It was bottom-up solidarity between different groups of workers, across different industries, employed and unemployed, and crucially, working independently of  the Democrats – that allowed strikes against individual employers to blossom into the three citywide general strikes of the era, and win massive, costly concessions from the 1%, despite far more desperate economic times.

Rather than courting the Democrats, an LGBTQ movement worthy of the name will see them and their Gay Inc. enablers as impediments to the kind of movement we need in this era of austerity and increasing class polarization.

by ANDY THAYER/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Employers can pay women less based on previous salaries, US court rules

A ruling from a traditionally left-leaning federal appeals court allows employers to pay women less than men for the same job, as long as a man was paid more at his previous job and the employer’s policies justify using past salaries to determine pay.

On Thursday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the case of Aileen Rizo, a female employee who sued the county public schools in Fresno after discovering she was being paid less than her male co-workers for doing the same job.

Rizo sued the school in 2014, arguing that although she was being paid a higher salary than her previous employer, her male counterparts had salaries more than $10,000 higher than hers.

According to the lawsuit, the school “conceded that it paid the female plaintiff less than comparable male employees for the same work.” Rizo complained to the County about the disparity, but they informed her that her salary was determined by a salary schedule known as “Standard Operation Procedure 1440.

When Rizo was hired as a math consultant in 2009, the school determined her starting salary by using a policy where they add 5 percent to the previous salary of any new employee.

The county argued that the pay bump incentivizes potential employees to leave their previous jobs since they are guaranteed to receive a raise. They also said the policy is objective, prevents favoritism and encourages consistency.

A three-judge panel overturned a lower court ruling from February, citing a 1982 ruling by the court that employers could use previous salary information as long as they applied it reasonably and had a business policy that justified it.

In the opinion written by US District Court Judge Lynn Adelman, he said that “prior salary alone can be a ‘factor other than sex’ if the defendant shows that its use of prior salary was reasonable and effectuated a business policy.

This decision is a step in the wrong direction if we’re trying to really ensure that women have work opportunities of equal pay,” Deborah Rhode, who teaches gender equity law at Stanford Law School, said, according to the Associated Press. “You can’t allow prior discriminatory salary setting to justify future ones or you perpetuate the discrimination.

The Fresno County Office of Education has since revised their policies after the California Equal Pay Act went into effect on January 1, 2016. Under the new law, employers in the state are prohibited from paying different wages to men and women with the same qualifications.

However, the lawsuit did not mention the state’s Equal Pay Act, since it went into effect after Rizo filed the lawsuit, and the courts have not ruled if the law would apply retroactively.

Rizo’s lawyer, Dan Siegel, told the Associated Press that they have not decided if they are going to take the case to the US Supreme Court.

The logic of the decision is hard to accept,” Siegel said, according to AP. “You’re OK’ing a system that perpetuates the inequity in compensation for women.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

A new tell-all about the Clinton campaign is a searing indictment of the candidate herself

It does not take more than a few pages for journalists Jon Allen and Amie Parnes to arrive at what amounts to their thesis in Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed 2016 Campaign, a new tell-all book built off years of reporting on the trail.

Image: Drew Angerer, Getty Images

“[Clinton’s] campaign was an unholy mess, fraught with tangled lines of authority, petty jealousies, distorted priorities, and no sense of greater purpose. No one was in charge, and no one had figured out how to make the campaign about something bigger than Hillary,” Allen and Parnes write in the book’s introduction. “[But] no explanation of defeat can begin with anything other than the core problem of Hillary’s campaign — Hillary herself.”

Writing in a lively and fast-paced narrative, Allen and Parnes use their unparalleled access (more than 100 on-background interviews with top Clinton surrogates) to richly document what it felt like to be aboard the Clinton Hindenburg, as well as to argue that Trump’s victory was not inevitable, or the result of interventions from the FBI or Russia, but the result of campaign incoherence that went all the way to the top.

More from Vox News

Posted by Libergirl

 

 

 

Fox News faces racism lawsuit – on top of multiple sex scandals

The shameful legacy left by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes is proving hard to overcome for the company, which is already embroiled in multiple sex scandals. Now, several employees are adding a racial discrimination suit to the litany of alleged abuses.

Fox payroll manager Tichaona Brown and payroll coordinator Tabrese Wright have accused co-worker Judy Slater of making “racially charged comments, including suggestions that black men were ‘women beaters’ and that black people wanted to physically harm white people,” reports Think Progress, citing The New York Times.

The lawsuit also alleges that Fox’s accounting director, Tammy Efinger, participated in, or tacitly approved of, the ongoing racist behavior.

Slater was dismissed in February once litigation against the network began.

An additional seven employees are now expected to join the racial discrimination lawsuit this coming week.

However, even more damning claims have since come to light in a letter to the network’s attorneys from the plaintiffs’ legal team, reportedly seen by New York Magazine.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys now allege that Slater demanded that black employees compete in “arm wrestling matches’” with white female employees in an office located close to Ailes’ old office.

The legal team also claims that Efinger spoke of her desire to “fight” a black employee.

In the wake of repeated sex scandals, Fox is already hemorrhaging advertisers but the latest racial allegations are sure to add many more to the list of companies jumping ship.

The company’s tumultuous 18-month period following the unceremonious departure of Ailes amid widespread  accusations of sexual harassment only seems to get worse as time goes on. Arguably Fox News’ most well-known presenter, Bill O’Reilly, was also ousted this past week amid a similar scandal.

Both men will reportedly receive tens of millions of dollars in payouts.

Before O’Reilly’s dismissal during the week, car giants Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, BMW of North America, Mitsubishi and Lexus all pulled their sponsorship from O’Reilly’s show while big pharma companies like Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Consumer HealthCare soon followed suit, reports The New York Times.

In the lead up to O’Reilly’s dismissal, there was a major online campaign pressuring advertisers to renounce O’Reilly’s alleged behaviour and let their wallets do the talking, rallying under the hashtag #DropOReilly.

From RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

How Cable News Keeps Getting It Wrong About Abortion and Reproductive Rights

Evening cable news can’t seem to talk about abortion without relying on men and anti-choice myths.

A 12-month-long Media Matters study of evening cable news programs found that discussions of abortion, reproductive rights, and reproductive health were heavily dependent on male speakers and anti-choice misinformation. In particular, Media Matters found that men were participants in 60 percent of conversations about abortion and reproductive rights, and that 64 percent of statements about abortion that aired during this time period were inaccurate.

Media Matters analyzed evening cable news programs on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC from March 7, 2016, through March 1, 2017, for segments featuring a substantial discussion of abortion or reproductive rights. The resulting 354 segments were then coded for the mention of one or more of six general topics of conversation: the election, legal issues, religion, anti-choice violence, economic and logistical barriers to abortion access, and state-based legislation. Segments were also coded for the number of accurate or inaccurate statements each speaker made about three topics: the discredited anti-choice group Center for Medical Progress (CMP), Planned Parenthood’s essential services, and late-term abortion.

Based on this analysis, Media Matters identified the follow key findings and coverage patterns about abortion and reproductive rights:

  1. Coverage of Abortion and Reproductive Rights Is Male-Dominated Across All Networks
  2. Evening Cable News Features More Inaccurate Than Accurate Information About Abortion
  3. Disparities Between Discussions of Candidates’ Positions on Abortion Enabled the Spread of Misinformation
  4. Conversations About Legal Restrictions on Abortion Outpaced Those About the Consequences of Limiting Access
  5. Fox News Dominated Discussions About Abortion in Concert With Religion or Faith
  6. Misinformation About CMP Was Spread Almost Entirely by Fox News
  7. All Networks Except Fox News Shared Largely Accurate Information About Planned Parenthood’s Essential Services
  8. Misinformation About Late-Term Abortion Dominated on Every Network

More of the story  By Sharon Kann / Media Matters

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Maryland governor signs ‘No means no’ rape law, victims no longer need to prove resistance

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) signed several bills that intend to make it easier to prosecute rape cases and protect sexual crime victims.

On Tuesday, Hogan signed 211 bills into law during a ceremony at the state house, including SB 217, or “Criminal Law – Sexual Offenses – Physical Resistance,” which eliminates the requirement that victims of sexual crimes prove they physically resisted their assailants.

Making Maryland safer begins with making sure that we have a criminal justice system that holds offenders accountable for their actions and the harm they cause, while also supporting victims and the community in the process of healing,” Hogan said in a press release.

Previously, victims of rape had to prove they did not consent and that their resistance was overcome by “force, or the threat of force,” according to Section 3-303 of Maryland Criminal Law.

A 2016 BuzzFeed investigation into the Baltimore County Police Department found that the language in the law often allowed police to dismiss rape charges as “unfounded” if they believed that there wasn’t enough evidence that the victim fought back.

The investigation states that even if a victim submitted to sexual acts out of fear for their life, the assailant was able to “walk away without so much as a police interrogation.” Out of the 42 “unfounded” cases Buzzfeed investigated, 15 were dismissed because the victim did not resist enough.

The bill, signed Tuesday, amends the law, specifically stating, “evidence of physical resistance by a victim is not required to prove that a sexual crime was committed.

Given that a victim increases their chances of being maimed or killed, if trying to physically resist the rape, this bill will clarify that a victim of rape does not have to fight the perpetrator or put up physical resistance in order for the court to hand down a guilty verdict,” State Senator Delores Kelley (D-District 10), who sponsored the bill, said on her website.

The bill was unanimously passed by both the State House and Senate before Hogan signed it into law Tuesday.

In addition, Hogan signed SB 308, the Protecting Victims of Sex Trafficking Act, which expands the definition of sexual abuse to include sex trafficking, even in cases where the sexual abuse is committed by a parent or guardian.

All of the laws signed Tuesday will take effect on October 1.

From Russia Today

Posted by John the Revelator

Will Bill O’Reilly Survive at Fox News?

Bill O'Reilly screenshot
Image: Talking Points Memo

While America is still recovering from the shock of learning that Barry Manilow is gay, we shouldn’t forget another “stunning” recent revelation. Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News is in big trouble: Advertisers are fleeing due to news that the network has had to reportedly pay at least $13 million to protect him from sexual harassment lawsuits, mostly from women who worked with him.

As of this writing, dozens of major companies have pulled advertising from the show in some form. Ironically, or perhaps relatedly, reports indicate that Fox renewed O’Reilly’s contract in the midst of all of this, which may have actually helped provoke more outrage.

More from Mediate

Posted by Libergirl