Focusing On the Good
My blog is not a “best of,” but rather an ongoing attempt to capture the good, bad, and mixed developments in the status of women and girls. To what extent do we see more justice and equity? To what degree have we lost ground?
This is not a comprehensive inventory, rather the gleanings from a practice I learned in theology school called findings. Taken from a daily practice developed by African American minister Howard Thurman, spiritual adviser to Dr. Martin Luther King Junior and beloved by Unitarian Universalists, it involves sitting with the morning papers, scissors in hand, in search of articles and columns that speak to us. Does it further our compassion? Does it illuminate our longings?
Does it speak truths to power that move us to further reflection and then action?
By December, my colored file folders are crammed with clippings, sorted and resorted as each reading brings new angles and insights. They form the basis for this round up of legal rulings, legislation, and events that either benefited or further devastated the lives of females in this country:
And just for today, I have chosen to focus on the good.
A 12-year-old female little league player captured the hearts of the crowds at this year’s Little League championship, overcoming the great odds that girls who love this game can ever get this far.
Lego has reissued the Research Institute, aimed at female Lego scientists.
Frozen, a movie centered around two untypical fantasy princesses, has broken all box office records and generated millions of dollars in branded merchandise sales, a game changer for the male-dominated film industry.
In a generally discouraging midterm election year, two bright spots were the ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage that passed in four deep red states: Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota, and in other jurisdictions non-binding measures calling for a raise. About two thirds of all workers being paid minimum wage are women.
Another positive election result was the overwhelming rejection of fetal “personhood” measures in Colorado and North Dakota, following the defeat of a similar measure in Mississippi three years ago.
The just-passed federal spending bill contained language that, at least, grants women in the Peace Corps the same very limited access to abortion funding that others have. It also contains $41 million for testing rape kits, in hopes of easing or eliminating the tremendous backlog and therefore the availability of crucial evidence.
A stringent bill passed in Arizona to thwart drug-induced abortions has been at least temporarily halted by the Supreme Court. A lower federal court in Florida has blocked a new law (also signed in Georgia) requiring drug testing for food stamp applicants.
Advocates in Texas have banded together to fund travel for those who must now go long distances to find a legal abortion provider. An elite Princeton eating club ousted two officers over emails ridiculing women. The National Football League and some colleges have cracked down on players who engage in domestic violence. The University of Virginia continues its investigation of what has been characterized as a culture of rape on that campus, despite critique of the Rolling Stone magazine piece that exposed it.
The military has been shining some light, albeit reluctantly at times, on the alarming rates of sexual assault within its ranks, and the reluctance to report it.
And however saddening, the growing numbers of women who are coming forward to accuse comedian Bill Cosby of drugging and raping, has also increased the focus on the assault of women.
Finally, the Vatican has come out with a report that hails the dedication of American nuns, with no critique, no demands that they back down on social justice issues, no condemnations that a feminist cabal has infested its ranks.
And that’s worth a special hallelujah.
In January, I will take up and report on the challenges moving forward.
For now, a little cheerful news seems more fitting.