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On April 22, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that 17-year-olds can now purchase the emergency contraception Plan B, according to a story from the Associated Press.

This decision turns over restrictions made by the Bush administration to limit access to Plan B for women under the age of 18.

In 2006, the FDA made Plan B available without prescription as an over-the-counter drug for women age 18 and over. Prior to this, women had see a doctor and get a prescription in order to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. The decision from the FDA to grant over-the-counter status to Plan B came following a 2005 lawsuit filed by the Center For Reproductive Rights.

“Plan B is an emergency contraceptive that can prevent a pregnancy after unprotected sex, contraceptive failure, or sexual assault. If taken within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected sex, Plan B reduces the chances of pregnancy by up to 89 percent,” according to the Plan B Web site.

This decision is another landmark move in the direction of granting women total reproductive freedoms. This is not an issue of morality, it is an issue of granting a woman the right to family planning and the ability to chose when she will become pregnant. In New York state, 17 is the legal age to consent to sexual intercourse. Therefore, if a 17-year-old woman may legally consent to sex, she should legally be allowed access to contraception without parental permission.


I have to admit that when Dove first began its “Campaign for Real Beauty” a few years ago, I was pretty skeptical – especially because the campaign came just before Dove launched a new line of beauty products for women. Were they really trying to educate women about the beauty myth, or trying merely to sell products which perpetuate the unrealistic expectations faced by young women?

Originally I suspected it to be a marketing ploy, but in reality it may have been a smart PR move for the company, one which I personally support. As part of their Campaign for Real Beauty, they established the Dove Self-Esteem Fund. According to the Web site:

“The Dove Self-Esteem Fund (DSEF) was established as an agent of change to inspire and educate girls and young women about a wider definition of beauty. The DSEF is committed to help girls build positive self-esteem and a healthy body image, with a goal of reaching 5 million girls globally by 2010. The DSEF has already reached 2 million young women. Our definition of ‘reaching’ a girls is when she has gone through an educational program that lasts at least an hour of her life.”

I think educating young women about healthy body image and positive self-esteem is very important in today’s image-and-celebrity-obsessed society. As anyone who has read Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth knows, women’s beauty expectations have served to negatively impact women in almost all aspects of life. To anyone who hasn’t read it, get your copy now.


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As a resident of the town of Greece (near Rochester, NY) I was particularly disturbed to hear about more bad news and misconduct coming from the Greece Police Department, especially in regards to the treatment of women.

According to a May 2 article on the Democrat and Chronicle Web site, a Hilton woman has filed a lawsuit against the town of Greece following several incidents involving a particular officer who happens to be under a great deal of speculation in regards to another Greece Police scandal.

“On Thursday, Holly A. Manville sued Sgt. Thomas Schamerhorn, now-suspended Police Chief Merritt Rahn, and the town of Greece, among others, in federal court. Manville claims Schamerhorn used excessive force and fondled her during traffic stops,” according to the Democrat and Chronicle.

The article goes on to say that Schamerhorn allegedly kicked Manville’s feet out from beneath her during a traffic stop in October 2004 and then fondled her during a traffic stop  in June 2007.

According to the article, another woman filed a lawsuit against the town in 2001. In this incident, Elia Visconte alleged that she needed surgery on her wrists following a traffic stop in 2000 during which she was handcuffed by Schamerhorn. A settlement was reached and the town of Greece paid Visconte over $200,000.

While these are merely allegations, the claims absolutely sicken me. What is a woman to do when she feels intimidated by the police officers who are meant to serve and protect her? As far as I know, there are no female police officers working for the town of Greece.

Power and control are at the heart of patriarchal dominance and violent acts committed against women. Police officers, in particular, are generally endowed with much power and control. Using this control to take advantage of another person is not just morally wrong, but in this case it is a criminal act. No man is above the law, and that includes those who enforce it.


On April 8, President Obama declared April to be National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As the month comes to a close, I think it is important to reflect on the issue of sexual assault and its effect on millions of lives in this country.

In an official Presidential proclamation, President Obama mentions a study finding 18 percent of women in this country have been sexually assaulted in their lifetime. In addition, he cites a study of college women which found that 13.7 percent of undergraduate women had been victims of at least one completed sexual assault since entering college.

You may be wondering, what exactly is sexual assault? Sexual assault is often referred to as an “umbrella” term, which encompasses various unwanted acts. According to women’s health.gov, sexual assault is any sexual activity that one does not agree to. This can include:power_and_control1

  • inappropriate touching
  • vaginal, anal, or oral penetration
  • sexual intercourse that you say no to
  • rape
  • attempted rape
  • child molestation

If you are a victim of sexual assault, the first thing you must do is get yourself to safety. Immediately dial 911 or your local police for assistance. It is important to get in contact with someone you trust and tell them what happened.

If you are raped, it is important not to wash or clean any part of your body, do not even brush your hair or change your clothes. It is important to get to an emergency room right away so your injuries can be treated and a rape kit can be done to collect evidence. It is a personal decision whether or not to press charges against your perpetrator, if possible. However, if you chose to press charges down the line it will be very difficult, if not impossible, without evidence collected immediately after a rape.

Treating your physical injuries is important, but it is also crucial to emotionally heal from the damage caused by rape and sexual assault. An important thing for a victim to know is that it is not your fault, and you did not deserve to be sexually assaulted. Despite what some may say, no woman “asks for it,” regardless of what she is wearing, how much alcohol she drinks, or how flirtatious her behavior may be. No means no. Rape and sexual assault can take a great emotional toll on victims, and the negative connotations associated with victims are wrong.

If you or someone you know has been a victim or rape or sexual assault and need help or counseling, there are a number of resources available.

At The College at Brockport, University Police can be contacted in the instance of a sexual assault at (585) 395-2222. The Counseling Center has a counselor who specializes in rape and sexual assault, and you can contact the center at (585) 395-2207.

In the Rochester, NY area, the Rape Crisis Service of Planned Parenthood of the Rochester/Syracuse Region can be reached at (585) 546-2777.

Nationally you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).


Check It Out!

21Apr09

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Here is great website dedicated to educating people about women’s struggle in Eastern Congo. Take a look at the news, blogs, and stories from the women who have experienced the horrors of war first hand.

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2007 Equal Pay Day Event (photo from the National Committee on Pay Equity)

2007 Equal Pay Day Event (photo from the National Committee on Pay Equity)

Equal Pay Day is a designated Tuesday in April every year when women and grassroots organizations across the country seek to shed light on how women and minorities are “in the red” with their pay. The event was founded in 1996 by the National Committee on Pay Equity as a publicity event to raise awareness.

The month, April, symbolizes how long into the year a woman must work to earn the previous year’s salary of a man doing the same job. The day, Tuesday, symbolizes how long into the week a woman must work to earn the previous week’s salary of a man.

According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, women’s median annual paychecks reflected only 78 cents for every $1.00 earned by men in 2007. The wage disparity is even greater among women of color.

Supporters of equal pay wear red on April 28 to demonstrate their commitment to getting women and minorities “out of the red.”

For more information on how to support Equal Pay Day please visit the National Organization For Women and the National Committee on Pay Equity.


Feminism is the belief in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. This definition does not exclude any member of any sex based on sexual orientation, race, or any other factor. Feminist scholars have been criticized throughout history for pursuing the advancement of women through a narrow lens limited in terms of class, race, and sexual orientation. Postmodern feminism is an attempt at addressing the intersectionality of all these ideas in the pursuit of women’s rights.

There is one group, in particular, who has faced significant political adversity in recent events. Despite the strides made for legislation in regards to civil rights and women’s rights, the LGBT community is still struggling for the basic rights granted to almost all other Americans. One of the most controversial rights to be denied to gays and lesbians is, of course, marriage. It is no surprise that many feminists join the LGBT community as allies to fight for this basic human right.

It is through that feminist perspective that I share with you this hilarious, yet insightful, parody called Proposition 8 – The Musical. Enjoy.

UPDATE: The video, from YouTube, violated copyright laws. Here is a link to the video at FunnyOrDie.com. Sorry for the inconvenience!