LGBT people are not, actually, all billionaires who brunch 24/7

1 Oct

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Hardcore homophobes and playful pop culture often present the gays, especially gay men, as brunch-eating, artisanal cocktail swigging, shopping-spreeing, swinging singles with disposable income. Shockingly, this is a myth and not reality.

new report from the Movement Advancement Project and Center for American Progress shatters the myth and reveals that LGBT actually are worse-off financially than their hetero brothers and sisters. For instance, while  39% of non-LGBT adults in the U.S. report they are thriving financially, only  29% of LGBT adults do. While 17% of non-LGBT people who live alone make less than $12,000 a year, 20.7% of LGBT people living alone earn less than $12,000. Transgender people are almost four times as likely to earn less than $10,000 than the rest of the population even though transgender people have much higher rates of college and graduate school education. Single LGBT people with children are three times more likely to be living near the poverty line than the rest of the population with children. And married or partnered LGBT parents are twice as likely to earn incomes close to the poverty line than married or partnered non-LGBT parents. Children raised by same-sex couples are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty than are children raised by married heterosexual couples.

And then, of course, there’s ye ole racism, which dovetails beautifully with homophobia. So, for instance, African Americans in same-sex couples are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as African Americans in married male-female relationships.

The study lays out the three main causes of the financial disadvantages faced by LGBT people:

1. Lack of protection from discrimination means that LGBT people can be fired, denied housing, and refused medically-necessary healthcare simply because they are LGBT. The financial penalty: LGBT people can struggle to find work, make less on the job, and have higher housing and medical costs than their non-LGBT peers. 2.Refusal to recognize LGBT families means that LGBT families are denied many of the same benefits available to non-LGBT families when it comes to health insurance, taxes, vital safety-net programs, and retirement planning. The financial penalty: LGBT families pay more for health insurance, taxes, legal assistance, and essential protection for their families in times of crisis. 3. Failure to adequately protect LGBT students means that LGBT people and their families often face a hostile, unsafe, and unwelcoming environment in local schools, as well as discrimination in accessing financial aid and other support. The financial penalty: LGBT young people and the children of LGBT parents are more likely to perform poorly in school and to face challenges pursuing postsecondary educational opportunities. This, in turn, can reduce their earnings over time, as well as their chances of having successful jobs and careers.

See the infographic of this information below. So, this is the terrible news. But the good news is that we know how to fix the problem. Pass anti-descrimination legislation. I know this seems terrible unjust to those who equate family values with forcing parents and their children to live in poverty. Oh well. They’ll have to get over that.

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Originally posted on RawStory

Why a bill outlawing forced sterilization had to be passed…in California…in 2014

30 Sep

The good news is that forced sterilization is now illegal in California. The bad news is that the bill was necessary because up until now, coerced tubal ligations were happening.

Last Thursday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill which banned using sterilization as a form of birth control for female inmates in all jails, prisons, and detention centers. While the new law is a victory, it is a response to a tragedy and an outrage. As we covered last year, the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that 148 women had undergone tubal violations which violated prison rules between 2006 and 2010. A state audit from June of 2014 find that over a quarter of the procedures, at least 39, had been performed without the required consent. In 18 cases, the mandated waiting period after consent was violated.

Crystal Nguyen was an inmate at the Valley State Prison who worked in the prison’s infirmary in 2007. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s not right,’ ” Nguyen, 28, recalls. “Do they think they’re animals, and they don’t want them to breed anymore?”

“As soon as he found out that I had five kids, he suggested that I look into getting it done.” Christina Cordero, 34, who was in prison for car theft, remembers being pressured by the prison doctor to undergo tubal ligation: “The closer I got to my due date, the more he talked about it… He made me feel like a bad mother if I didn’t do it.” So she got the procedure. But, Cordero adds that, “today, I wish I would have never had it done.”

Of course, the over 140 cases are just the most recent examples in a long history of forced sterilization of prisoners–in California and elsewhere in the US. Between 1909 and 1964 approximately 20,000 men and women, who were disproportionately of color, poor, disabled, mentally ill, and incarcerated, underwent forced sterilization in California. Though the practice was banned in 1979, it continued in prisons.

The law, which will go into affect January 1, outlaws any sterilizing operations, including tubal ligations and hysterectomies. In the case of life-threatening circumstances, inmates must undergo counseling from independent doctors not under contract with the prison. Local jails and state prisons will be required to keep track of and report the surgeries online. And employees who report violations or abuses will be protected from retaliation. Continue reading

National Review hack wants to hang women who abort because sanctity of life

30 Sep

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It’s not every day that you see such a moving and consistent plea to respect the sanctity of life. But Sunday was one of those days. Because that’s when National Review “writer” Kevin Williamson stated that women who have abortions should be hanged. It all started when Williamson wrote a screed against Lena Dunham which was so catty that I’m forced to deduce that he holds her responsible for getting his show Boys, about a group of men who write for The National Review, bumped off of HBO. He both critiqued Dunham for being self-obsessed and assuming that people cared about her sex life while, at the very same time, proving her point that he does indeed obsess about her sex life.

Williamson started out his hysterical diary entry by calling Dunham “distinctly unappealing” and dismissing her recent article which is unabashedly pro-voting and pro-women’s rights (two things that Williamson can’t, apparently, stand) as “a half-assed listicle penned by a half-bright celebrity and published by a gang of abortion profiteers.”

Miss Dunham’s “all about me!” attitude toward the process of voting inevitably extends to the content of what she votes for, which is, in her telling, mostly about her sex life. Hammering down hard on the Caps Lock key, she writes: “The crazy and depressing truth is that there are people running for office right now who could actually affect your life. PARTICULARLY your sex life. PARTICULARLY if you’re a woman. Yup.”

Yup? Nope.

But, like Dan Savage himself says, it gets better. What happened next was that a very logical person on twitter, @LeveyIsLaw, pointed out the contradiction between Williamson’s whole “only someone who suffers from ‘all about me’ disease would think I care at all about your sex life. P.S. I care about your sex life, like, a lot,” argument:

This is strange: “We do not wish to be involved in your sex life” and a rant against abortion in the same article?

He then asked Williamson to flesh out his moral argument against abortion, tweeting, “Do you think it’s morally acceptable to kill doctors who are about to perform abortions? Should women who have abortions get life without parole? If your answer to either question is no, you don’t think abortion is murder.”

To this, Williamson responded “I have hanging more in mind.”

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And it just got better from there. Continue reading

3 Exciting Things We Learned About Sex This Week

29 Sep

For once, science has given us some good news about weight and sex.

This week, science brought us a surprising study about sex work, an unsurprising study blaming everything on women’s allegedly low sex drives, and the link between body fat and sexual stamina. Here’s what we learned.

1. The bigger the cushion, the longer the pushin’.

I get most of my life lessons from comedian Christopher Guest, so I’m not surprised that a new study confirms (kind of) a claim made by a song from This is Spinal Tap. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll definitely remember the epic rock ballad, “Big Bottom.”

The bigger the cushion, the sweeter the pushin’/That’s what I said/The looser the waistband, the deeper the quicksand/Or so I have read

It turns out a similar song could be written about men’s big bellies. A new study shows that men with bigger bellies may last longer in bed than lean men, because men with more fat have higher levels of oestradiol, a female hormone that inhibits orgasms in men. “We found that patients with lifelong PE [premature ejaculation] were leaner than the healthy control cases… As the BMI [Body Mass Index] increased, the number of patients decreased in the PE group,” said the study’s authors.

On average, the study found, overweight men stayed erect for seven minutes before climaxing, while slimmer guys lasted two minutes. To put that into perspective, it takes an average of 10-20 minutes for women to orgasm. I guess we need to write another song: “The bigger the cushion, the longer the pushin’ that’s what I said. The looser the waistband the more time in the quicksand, or so I have read.”

2. Dissatisfied with your job? Maybe you should consider becoming a sex worker.

Canada’s first national study on sex workers had some interesting findings that undermined its conservative government’s arguments for criminalizing sex work. Justice Minister Peter MacKay claims that Bill C-36, which aims to abolish sex work, is needed because, “the vast majority of those that sell sexual services do not do so by choice. We view the vast majority of those involved in selling sexual services as victims.” Yet the five-year study found that 82 percent of workers felt appropriately rewarded, 70 percent were satisfied with their jobs, and 68 percent felt they have good job security.

Perhaps, you might argue, the study is biased, or the workers delusional. What still doesn’t make sense is how criminalizing their behavior helps them. It has the opposite effect, making them less safe by pushing them further underground and making it harder for them to seek help and support. So whether you like to think that every single sex worker is a radical, feminist, subversive, anti-patriarchal, empowered, autonomous revolutionary on the one hand, or a hopeless, helpless victim on the other, we should all be able to agree that persecuting and prosecuting them doesn’t help anyone.

3. When in doubt, blame women’s low sex drive.

Hong Kong’s birth rate has dropped from 1,933 births for every 1,000 women in 1981, to 1,285 in 2012. What’s behind this trend? According to a poll conducted by Hong Kong’s Family Planning Association, it’s ladies’ low libidos.

This is how the South China Morning Post article describes the results of the study:

“The association polled around 2,100 ethnic Chinese women aged between 21 and 40 from December 2007 to December 2009, and found almost six out of 10 had at least one sexual problem.

“Of that number, about 400 said they had no sexual desire and had arousal problems, 500 did not have orgasms and 430 experienced pain during sex.”

OK. First of all, what is a “sexual problem”? Second of all, do these 400 women have no sexual desire and arousal problems at the same time? Or is it one or the other? And if they are simultaneous, couldn’t it be that the arousal problems they encounter hamper their sexual desire? In other words, couldn’t it be that nothing is wrong with their own sex drives, but it’s something related to what their partners are or are not doing? Or, perhaps, just perhaps, their failure to orgasm and you know, physical pain, are preventing them from getting in the mood. But why talk about how women’s sexual needs aren’t being met or fulfilled when it’s so much easier to paint women as frigid?

Dear Jews: Have a happy and healthy New Year by inter-marrying!

26 Sep

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Oy! Can you believe it’s 5775 already? It feels like 5765! Am I right? Anyway, Happy New Year! L’Shana Tovah. As we celebrate the new year, let us commit to a health and happiness. And to do that, we really may want to consider diluting the gene pool.

I know how much we Jews like to keep it in the family. But sometimes it’s a little too close for comfort, as we know from certain unfortunate certain outcomes and diseases, like Tay Sachs. A new study tracking Jewish genes, or “Jenes,” has determined that every single Ashkenazi Jew alive today can be traced back to a group of 330 people from the Middle Ages. The Ashenazi are the Jews who came out of Eastern Europe, France and Germany, while Sephardic Jews descend from Spain, Portugal, North Africa and the Middle East. 80% of Jews today are Ashkenazi.

99% of the time that we use Jewish as an adjective to describe a behavior or look, we really mean Ashkenazi. Like, “Woody Allen is so Ashkenazi!” Or, “male comedians love talking about their guilt-inducing, passive-agressive Ashkenazi mothers!” Or, “if you haven’t been to Zabars, you’re not a real ashkenazi.” So, maybe Jews should embrace inter-marriage or inter-breeding or  diluting our gene pool as a mitzvah (good deed) instead of condemning it as a shandeh (a shame).

On this week’s Morning Jew (see video above), Katie Halper (little old me) and Heather Gold talk with the brilliant illustrator and author Lisa Brown about Jewish genes, dating, Pope fashion and the now defunct Upper West Side Manhattan match-making cafe with the unfortunate name of  Drip.

Originally posted on RawStory

Cop who killed young Black man with dreads warned of Rasta drug culture

25 Sep

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The same cop who shot and killed a 21-year-old Black man who wore dreadlocks had a lot to say about the nefarious connection between drugs and Bob Marley music.

Corporal Matthew Schauerhamer of Saratoga Springs, Utah, is one of the two police officers who were involved in the shooting and killing of Darrien Hunt, which took place last week. The police claimed they shot Hunt as he lunged at them with a samurai sword. The Prosecutor initially backed up the claim but has since stated that Hunt was actually dozens of yards away when he was shot multiple times and killed. An independent autopsy and witnesses corroborate not only that Hunt was far away from police, but that he was running away and shot from behind.

It has been revealed by The Guardian that in June of this year Schauerhamer, 32, had written an article in the local newspaper offering parents tips on how to figure out if their kids are into drugs:

If parents are able to familiarize themselves with the specific trends of drug culture, they will be more likely to recognize if their child is descending into the culture and subcultures that drug users associate with. It will be easier for parents to distinguish whether their child is using or associating with people who use drugs.

According to Schauerhamer’s helpful guide, which was published in a local newspaper in June, one of the gate-way subcultures into drugs is “Rasta” culture.

 if your child is listening to Bob Marley’s “Kaya” is wearing a Bob Marley shirt with Bob Marley on it smoking a joint, has a Bob Marley poster in his room, and is wearing a Rasta hat (red, yellow and green), it is highly likely your child is highly high. If they have Rasta colored anything, it is a good bet your child uses or hangs out with drug users.

Nor does the officer shy away from overstating the allegedly indestructible link between style and criminality. He actually writes that,

the spade associated with this [SRH] clothing brand is so mainstreamed now that simply wearing it makes you a walking billboard proclaiming to the police, ‘I use drugs! Arrest me now!’

Continue reading

Canada’s first national survey of sex workers shows most are satisfied with their jobs

24 Sep
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(Photo credit: Bertrand Langlois/Getty)

Canada’s conservative government is poised to pass a bill which would criminalize sex work. But a new national study disproves many of the paternalistic stereotypes and assumptions behind the legislation.

According to Canada’s Justice Minister Peter MacKay, Bill C-36, which aims to abolish sex work, is based on the fact that “the vast majority of those that sell sexual services do not do so by choice. We view the vast majority of those involved in selling sexual services as victims.” The proposed bill would punish not just those who buy the services but the alleged victims, as well. Punishing victims doesn’t exactly scream sound policy. But on top of that, the characterization of sex workers as victims is problematic, to say the least.

Canada’s first nation-wide survey of sex workers has some interesting findings the government should, but probably won’t, listen to. Over the five-year study, which was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, researchers interviewed 218 sex workers, 1,252 clients, 30 spouses or intimate partners of sex workers, 61 managers of escort or massage businesses, and 80 law enforcement officials in six cities throughout Canada. The study did not, however, look at undocumented sex workers or children, and probably captured neither the best nor the worst of the industry. As one of the study’s lead authors, Cecilia Benoit, explained, “If you think of the sex industry as a continuum, there are people over here who have a lot of control and make a lot of money, and you have people over here who are forced… Our study probably got people in the middle and towards the ends, but not at the extremes.”

Though the bill presents sex workers as victims, the study found that 82 percent of workers felt appropriately rewarded, 70 percent were satisfied with their jobs, and 68 percent felt they have good job security. According to Benoit, “Sex workers are average Canadians. They’re Caucasian, in their 30s and 40s, and have education and training outside of high school. Most of them don’t feel exploited, they don’t see buyers as oppressors…. They are people trying to do the best they can with the tools they have to live their lives.” Researcher  Mikael Jansson added, “They talk to us about the amount of control they have over their work situation… They have a lot more control over the timing of their work, the pace of their work than journalists.” And researcher Chris Atchison reported that, “What we’ve found from the data is when it comes to workers, clients and their interaction, sex workers set the terms and conditions of the service… Clients come to them and say ‘Here’s what I’m looking for.’ A sex worker then says ‘I’m either willing or unwilling to provide that.’” Continue reading

The sound of 310,000 people holding a moment of silence for climate change victims

22 Sep
Photo by Matthew Weinstein

Photo by Matthew Weinstein

Though you would have no idea by watching the Sunday “News” shows, an estimated 310,000 people gathered on Sunday in New York City for the People’s Climate March. The event, which was one of the over 150 protests held around the world, was the largest mobilization against climate change ever held. I attended the event, which was inspiring in its energy and diversity. But by far the most moving moment was when, at 12:58, people held a moment of silence which was followed by a wave of sound. I captured it, rather crappily, on my camera phone. Photographer, Brooklyn For Peace organizer, and fellow Camp Kinderland alum Matthew Weinstein described the auditory experience as,

a very powerful moment of silence for those who have fallen victim to climate change in poor communities around the world. An amazing hush came over the hundreds of thousands assembled. Then a minute or so later — a huge roar of the crowd traveled like a wave up the very many streets of assembled marchers – a noise to help wake and shake up the political leaders meeting at the UN next week.

I got chills when the noise started and I couldn’t tell what it was at first because I had never heard anything like it. But this is what democracy, and 310,000 people making noise, sounds like.

Originally posted on RawStory

The Endless March of Police Brutality—7 Stories From Just This Week

22 Sep

Amid the new wave of protests in Ferguson, the sad and tragic cycle continues.

From Ferguson, Missouri to Staten Island, New York, it seems like a new story about police brutality breaks every day. Here are some recent incidents of police violence from around the nation that you may not have heard about. Because honestly, who can keep up?

1. 22-year-old black man police claim they shot in self-defense was actually shot from behind

The two officers who shot and killed 22-year-old Darrien Hunt in Saratoga Springs, Utah, claimed that they acted in self-defense after the young man lunged at them with a samurai sword. This week, the family’s lawyer announced that Hunt’s parents had a private autopsy performed, which determined that Hunt had actually been shot in the back six times from a distance of 100 yards. Witnesses also say Hunt was shot as he was running away from the cops. As the family’s lawyer said, “The shot that killed Darrien, which was straight in the back, did not have an exit wound…. It raises the question as to how you can lunge at someone and be shot in the back at the same time.” Hunt’s mother, who is white, explained why she thinks this happened to her son, who is bi-racial: “They killed my son because he’s black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away.” Less than 5% of the population of Saratoga Springs, a wealthy community 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City, is non-white.

2. 17-year-old is in critical condition after being tased, stepped on and allowed to fall

Last Sunday, 17-year-old Bryce Masters, of Independence, Missouri, was driving to a friend’s house to play video games, when the police pulled him over for driving a vehicle for which they had a warrant. According to the police, Masters, the son of a Kansas City Police officer, “became uncooperative, physically resistitive [sic] to exiting the car, and an altercation ensued leading the officer to deploying his Taser.” According to witnesses, however, when the police officer asked Masters to roll down his window, he explained that he couldn’t because the window was broken. So, the police officer did what anyone would do when faced with a slight teenager who had made no physical threat whatsoever: tase him in the chest against department policy, pull him from the car, handcuff him and allow him to fall face first onto the concrete. And then, for good measure, put his foot on his back. The Independence Police Department only permits tasering if the subject is an immediate threat to an officer or another person, uses force to resist arrest, flees or attempts to hurt himself. Sitting in a car does not meet any of these requirements. As a result of the totally unnecessary tasing, Masters went into cardiac arrest, stopped breathing, had to be resuscitated, was hospitalized and put into a medically induced coma. Doctors began to bring him out of the coma on Monday and, as of Tuesday, he was in critical but stable condition and was being treated for acute oxygen deprivation to the brain during his cardiac arrest.

3. Milwaukee police officer won’t be punished for lying about witnessing an illegal strip and cavity search

In August, a jury awarded Leo Hardy half a million dollars in damages after determining that Milwaukee police had illegally, “maliciously,” and with “reckless disregard” for civil rights, strip and cavity searched him. Officer Stephanie Seitz, who is either forgetful or legally blind, told investigators she was unaware of these searches. The only problem is that the prosecutor’s office recovered a surveillance video in which Seitz “clearly observes” the anal search. They determined that she had had been “clearly untruthful” and committed perjury. But, she won’t be charged with anything. Because, what’s the big deal? I mean, lying, perjury, probing? They kind of cancel each other out, right?

Continue reading

Urban Outfitter’s greatest racist, sexist, tasteless hits

21 Sep


This week Urban Outfitters sold a great sweatshirt. It said Kent State and had, what appeared to be a blood stain. Everybody except, allegedly, Urban Outfitters saw the sweatshirt as a reference to the blood-stained history of Kent University where, in 1970, the National Guard killed four students and injured 10. Urban Outfitters released an apology, via Twitter, which is really huge. And then they came out with another apology which was surprisingly honest in its acknowledgement of how little their word counted:

this truth does not excuse us from our failure to identify potential controversial products head on. We, as a company who caters to a college-age demographic, have a responsibility to uphold to our customers. Given our history of controversial issues, we understand how our sincerity may be questioned.

Because it turns out, Urban Outfitters has an amazing resume of offensive products under its belt. And to be fair, they take diversity really seriously. They are an equal opportunity offender, whose products have mocked eating disorders, Jews, African Americans, Native Americans. I know I’m leaving someone out, so I apologize. On this week’s Morning Jew, Heather Gold and I talk about these Urban Outfitters blunders, which include a game of “Ghettopoly,” which sounds sooooo fun, full-figured fashion, and  Jewish behinds. Enjoy!

Originally posted on RawStory


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