What I’ve Been Up to..

Updates, Work

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Hopefully, given that my last post announced the birth of my baby girl, anyone reading this blog can appreciate the reason I have no been diligent about updating! Maddie turned six months on Christmas Eve and at her doctor’s appointment a week later clocked in at 14lb. 7oz. and 26 inches long. It has been amazing to watch her grow and develop. My tiny little peanut has grown into an awesome, fun baby girl with so much personality. She will giggle up a storm for absolutely no reason. She’s learned how to army crawl to get what she wants (usually my cell phone!) and I’m sure crawling isn’t too far off. She loves standing holding onto things, whether it’s the side of the changing table or my hands. When we go to storytime at the library or music class, she watches with such wonder. I sincerely hope she never loses her amazement with the world and her joy in discovering new things. It is such a pleasure to watch her learn and grow.

Being a mommy has definitely given me a new perspective on the struggles of working mothers. As a freelancer, finding the time to get work done in between all the diaper changes, feedings and naptime battles has been a challenge. In a post on InPower Women, I wrote about how I didn’t have a maternity leave because FMLA, the Family Medical Leave Act, doesn’t apply to freelancers.

In my postpartum period, I finished up a project that I started while pregnant. At 7.5 months pregnant, I produced three videos for the website BabyCenter.com touring the maternity ward, operating room and birth center at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital. It was a really awesome experience and definitely gave me an inside look at what I could expect for my own birth experience. I was really proud of how the videos turned out from an idea when I was suffering from morning sickness and spending way too much time on the BabyCenter website to finally seeing the videos posted online. But finding the time to finish the videos while taking care of Maddie was definitely a challenge!

I also somehow managed to read What Will it Take to Make a Woman President? and post a review on InPower Women to coincide with election day. I was pretty proud of that post, which talked about some of the reasons we haven’t had a woman president yet. Many people have high hopes for Hilary in 2016. Just throwing this out there, but Maddie will be eligible to run for president in 2048…

One of my main goals for 2014 is to get more of my writing published in more places (and get paid for it!). I’ve always been interested in writing about women and politics, but every time Maddie does something new, I think of another possible article to write about babies and parenting.

Here’s hoping for another big year!

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Is it Finally Time for the Equal Rights Amendment?

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official-blogger-2My latest post is up at InPowerWomen.com, but I’m pretty excited about how it turned out, so I’m going to add it here in its entirety. I’ve been posting over there about women, politics and media and was asked to contribute something for Women’s History Month. I hate to be the downer on the site, but considering how often Women’s History Month articles and events are very much about the successes of women, I thought it’d be beneficial to take a look at a time where things didn’t go so well.

Would love to hear your feedback, either here or on the InPower Women site.

The first Women’s History Week was observed in March of 1982. Just a few months later, one of the biggest disappointments of the women’s movement occurred as the Equal Rights Amendment expired when the ratification deadline came and went at the end of June. This Women’s History Month, after an election year where women’s issues were in the forefront and after the Violence Against Women Act finally passed after a long and hard fought battle, it seems appropriate to ask, do we still need an Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution?

FROM AN IDEA, TO A MOVEMENT

The ERA was originated by the National Woman’s Party in 1923 to complement the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in 1920. The ERA was introduced in Congress officially in 1923 as the following:

Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.

The amendment was re-introduced and failed in every Congress until a reworded version finally passed both chambers in 1972. The final text reads:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

It was then turned over to states for ratification with a seven year deadline. After passage in Congress, the ERA needed to be ratified in 38 states. It only passed in 35. The deadline was extended until June 30, 1982, but ultimately failed to be ratified.

THE QUEST FOR EQUALITY

The ERA was supposed to fill the gap left by the so-called Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Though the 14th protected “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” it was adopted following the Civil War with racial discrimination in mind. And while numerous cases came before the Supreme Court seeking equal protection for women, women routinely lost up through the 1960s.

Women were told they had no constitutional right to practice law (Bradwell v. Illinois in 1873), vote (Minor v. Happersett in 1874), act as a bartender without her husband or father owning the establishment (Goesaert v. Cleary in 1948) or face a jury of her peers (Hoyt v. Florida in 1961), among others. Most of these decisions were rationalized that women were the “fairer or weaker sex” that needed protecting, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in 1979.

In 1971, things started to turn around. In Reed v. Reed, the court held unanimously that an Idaho law giving preferential treatment to men over women in estate administration appointments was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. Other cases began to follow suit.

IS THE ERA STILL NECESSARY?

Whenever discussions about the need for the Equal Rights Amendment come up, my mind immediately goes to this clip from “The West Wing” of Republican Ainsley Hayes discussing her opposition. And Ainsley makes some good points about being protected by the 14th Amendment. There are also plenty of laws on the books like the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, both of which banned discrimination on the basis of sex. Most recently, the ban against women in combat roles, which the ERA would have ended, has been lifted by the military. There’s still more work to be done, but given all the steps in the right direction, do we still need an Equal Rights Amendment?

In my opinion, sort of. In our current climate, I find it’s more imperative than ever to make it clear that women are entitled to the same protection as men under the United States Constitution, for two very specific reasons. First, we hear about new laws on a regular basis seeking to place limits on the right to privacy granted to women under the Equal Protection Clause in the landmark decision Roe v. Wade. That right to privacy is being chiseled away in states that now require an invasive trans-vaginal ultrasounds in order to obtain a legally protected abortion. If this right can be taken away, should women be worried about all their other rights as well?

But more importantly, we need to make clear that the Constitution applies to us all because there are justices on the current Supreme Court who believe in interpreting the Constitution based on the original intent of the framers. And the original intent of the 14th Amendment was not to protect women. In an interview in 2011, Justice Antonin Scalia said this about equal protection in the Constitution:

“You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that.”

Scalia suggests that legislation is sufficient to outlaw sexual discrimination. But with justices like him on the court, what are the chances a law like that would be upheld as constitutional? I don’t like those odds.

So, why do I say sort of? Well, because women aren’t the only group out there in need of constitutional protection. The current session of the Supreme Court will be hearing challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8. Does the Constitution grant equal protection on the basis of sexual orientation? It certainly wasn’t what the original drafters of the 14th Amendment had in mind. And yet, the same 14th Amendment that may not cover women or homosexuals, does cover corporations, according to numerous cases decided by the court. So, where exactly is the line drawn?

Instead of fighting for an Equal Right Amendment just for women, let’s close all the loopholes. Let’s establish once and for all that if you’re a human being born or naturalized in this country, you’re a citizen. And that citizenship comes with all the rights and privileges outlined in the Constitution.

What about you? Do you think there’s still a need for the Equal Rights Amendment?

Will a Record Number of Women in Congress Make a Difference?

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Check out my latest post for InPower Women!

With the Inauguration in the rear view mirror, it’s officially time for the 113th Congress and President Obama to get back to work. Women were big winners in the November elections and the current Congress set a new record for female members when officially sworn in earlier this month. That’s the good news. The bad news is that new records means that female representation in Congress jumped from a high of 17% to a new high of 18%.

But it sounds more depressing than it really is, as these infographics from Mother Jones indicate. Some fast facts:

  • 1 in 3 newly elected members is a woman
  • 184 women ran for Congress in 2012 and nearly half were elected
  • The state of New Hampshire will be sending an entirely female delegation to Washington with a female Governor at home
  • Four states are sending their first female Senators; Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Wisconsin

And let’s not forget that there are now 20 women serving in the Senate, up from 17 in the 112th Congress.

Read the rest at InPowerWomen.com!

Some Blogging News!

Extracurricular, Work

With the summer slowdown, I haven’t been too great about adding new blog posts here, but I do have some blogging news!

First, I’ve started blogging over at InPower Women! Dana Theus, the founder of that site, stumbled upon my last two posts about women in the media and women in politics and asked if I’d be willing to cross post those two and continue to write for the site. My first blog post, The Reoccurring Theme of Entitlement, was posted last week and an updated and tweaked version of my Women as Candidates, Women as Symbols post is going up soon. And frankly, it’s a better version of the post, so if you haven’t read it here, wait and read it over there.

The other piece of blogging news is that I started a food blog! Check out Shana’s Recipe Box for my latest kitchen adventures. Basically, I was tired of always going searching for the recipes I’d tried and liked in the past. Plus, I take way too many photos of my dinner, so I figured it was time to put the two together. I’m not trying to be the next big thing in food blogs. The blog is mostly for me, but I hope other people enjoy it as well. It’s been fun so far, though I need to remind myself to actually blog and not just take pictures of my food.

I have some other big non-blogging related news, but I’m waiting for a few things to fall into place. Suffice to say, I’m looking forward to a pretty exciting end of the summer.