Saturday, October 17, 2009

Weekly Poetry Slam Posted by A Mc

Post your poems on this thread, don't be shy.

News From The Wingnut Front

I know someone who watches Fox News all day long, every day. She tells me stuff! For instance, the contraceptive pill is terrible because it disrupts evolution by making women not pick dominant men! And all studies show that only working women are unhappy and it's the fault of feminists!

Those of you who read this blog regularly know where these ideas come from. But they sure change so as to be unrecognizable before they are fed as "facts" at Fox. And then they are plugged back into the popular culture, and you will come across them one day. Funny how that works.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gender & homelessness (by Suzie)

I pretended to be homeless for three days and nights in June 1989. I knew this was not the same as being homeless. I question the ethics of it now, but as a reporter covering housing issues, I wanted an insider’s perspective.

Some people eyed me with concern because I was slender and salable as a prostitute. Poor and/or homeless people offered to share food. On the street, it helps to have strength and some reserve fat.

I had gone undercover with Joel, who managed a program for the homeless mentally ill. I wouldn't have gone out alone. Women who don’t already have a man often hook up with one on the streets to help protect them from other men. Many get swept into prostitution. After all, a single woman on the streets is synonymous with prostitution. Think “street walker” or “woman of the streets.”

I was no prize. I was dirty and I stunk. There was no shower, no toothbrush and no “sanitary products.” I happened to be on my period that week, and the best I could do was stuff toilet paper in my underwear. The first day, a man told us we weren’t going to find any work or shelter.

“Honey, the only way you’re going to make any money is on your ass.” He then put an arm with crusty sores around my shoulders and told Joel: “I’ll give you $20.” Although disgusted, we laughed off his suggestion, to avoid conflict. He then offered to sneak me into his flophouse. “I won’t molest you,” he promised. Yeah, right.

No one we encountered thought sex work was empowering. At a Salvation Army office, an older woman who worked as a maid assured me: “There’s nothing wrong with hard work.” She suggested I try a day-labor pool.

At a church shelter, Joel and I got a hearty meal after a long sermon. At bedtime, men and women were separated. Joel slept on a pew, while I claimed an old mattress on the floor. The bathroom in the women’s area had a sign: “Women Only! If you don’t know which you are, male or female, ask the staff.”

I spent the next two nights at a Salvation Army shelter. I had to obey various rules, and I had little privacy, but the food, hot showers, washer and dryer, clean clothes and clean sheets felt luxurious.

We were rousted out before dawn to work. At a labor pool, I got a job as an assistant to a maid at a pricey hotel. The maid reassured me that I could do this work; I didn't have to remain homeless.
Women are more likely to be poor, and yet, the great majority of people who live on urban streets, especially those who sleep outside, are men. To avoid the streets (or, more accurately, predatory men), many women stay in overcrowded or unsafe housing or with abusive families or mates.

I’ve written before about public spaces, asking: Which public? Some women, whether homeless or a professional on her lunch break, may feel uncomfortable in places where men hang out – and for good reason.

When people talk about helping the homeless, don’t forget women who live in bad conditions but are not visible to passers-by.
Next week, a friend will write about the connection between domestic violence and homelessness.

Friday critter blogging (by Suzie)

This is Noah, the puggle puppy, contemplating Clifford's tail. My Ginger walks with her tail in the air, like a lemur. If it's cold or rainy, she tucks it under, if it were a furry thong.

I've always wished that I had a prehensile tail, like a monkey.

Question for the weekend (by Suzie)

The topic is underwear. I was curious if every girl and woman knew that they would end up with fewer stained underwear if they wore black ones during their period. (I'm not counting cultures in which women don't wear underwear or don't wear black ones.) The question arose because a friend had not received that wisdom.

When I searched the font of all knowledge, I saw she must be the only one because there were various disquisitions on "period underwear." The Frisky, for example, had a photo of a butt in red underwear (No! No! It's too hard to match colors.) and this comment:
Typically, girls wear sexy underwear at all times because, even if we know no one is going to see them, we just feel better about ourselves when we know we look pretty underneath.
My new questions: Is it possible for a woman to feel good about herself without wearing sexy underwear? Is the Frisky satire or a sign of the apocalypse?

Even scarier was answering: "What does it mean if a girl wears black underwear?" The first response mentioned the utility during her period. Then there was this:
... when a woman wears black underwear, they planned that ahead, which means they wanted you to see it, wheter it be a bra or panties, they intended for you to see it, whether that means before intercourse, or just whenever. I think it's safe to say if a woman is wearing sexy underwear, and she is showing it to you, she already planned this out. I'm not saying if a woman has on black underwear it means you're going to get laid, but it's not too far fetched to think that that is a possibility. Mind you this is all from personal experience.
Does this make you want to wear large white underwear?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Today's Funny

This is Mr. Savage and a caller who thinks that Savage's rants should be valid material to use for a college paper.
For more funnies, go here. I guess I should attach a wingnut warning to these. The kind which despises us wimminfolk.

And Here We Go Again..

Yet another series by a guy writer on the topic of those unhappy wimmen. This time it's Russel Bishop telling women that what makes them unhappy is trying to compete with the boyz:

My theory as that over the past 40 years, as American society exited the "Father Knows Best" or "Leave It To Beaver" mentality of the 50's and 60's, we seem to have increasingly equated success and fulfillment with jobs, career advancement, position title, bank accounts, and other symbols of success. If you were one of those statistical women who took on job, career or economic goals as your "symbols" of success, you just might have wound up sacrificing what mattered most in hopes of greener pastures at the other end of job, career or economic goals.

What if you won the race to the top: a better job, increased paycheck, more "toys" than the boys? Did you bargain for all that comes with it? Did you anticipate the sacrifices you would have to make to get there? How are those trades looking now?

Pardon me while I bang my head against the garage door.

Just to a reminder, the initial study which started this diarrhea flowing found a small increase in the number of women reporting that they were not too happy, when compared to studies forty years ago or so. The study establishing this was unable to find any one group of women which would have caused this increase. IN PARTICULAR, STAY-AT-HOME WIVES WERE AS LIKELY TO REPORT INCREASED UNHAPPINESS AS WOMEN IN THE LABOR FORCE. Yes, that's worth shouting about, even though nobody on Huffington Post hears it.

So you begin with a finding that having a job is not the reason why women's unhappiness might have risen? Never mind! Let's pretend that it IS the reason! Then let's pretend that all the women with jobs have them only in order to die in the corner office! Nope, they are not working to earn money. They work to compete with the boyz, and what makes the boyz happy makes the wimmins unhappy. So the wimmins should return to the world of "Father Knows Best." Even though that was a television series, not real world.

This is so fucking inane (and yes, I know I shouldn't write that word). Don't read the comments thread if you want to keep your sanity. Though I award my louse medal for this comment:

I've read enough evolutionary psychology to know that nature's purpose for women is to bear children and raise them. However, I wouldn't go so far as to say that means they must obey nature's command and deny their hearts. But, I do question whether wanting to compete with men in everything and making themselves miserable in the process is really their heart's speaking or the constant nagging of the feminists in society who people should have stopped listening to almost immediately after they opened their mouths in the 60's.

I know I'm shouting into a barrel and nobody will hear. It's much more fun and exciting to debate the question whether women should stay at home or not. Never mind that nobody is offering a wage for that or health insurance or retirement benefits! Never mind, either, that the happiness of one Mr. Russell Bishop seems to be inextricably intertwined with that premise or some similar one.

I do admit wondering why HuffPo puts up guys to write on the topic of women's happiness, by the way. Especially as these guys certainly have an axe to grind.
You should also read this post of mine, while we are on the topic of what constitutes a failure of feminism. And Barbara Ehrenreich's take on the whole hullabaloo. Thanks to AndiF for that link.

Errr. Not Quite What I Had In Mind

When it comes to wanting equal treatment of men and women in fashion. Check out this photograph on latest men's fashions and the associated text.

But suppose that fashion actually did start treating men as inanimate dolls, too. Would this ultimately work to make fashions more human-friendly? By making more people aware of the impossibility of walking or working or breathing in those clothes?

An interesting question. Alas, men lack the training to accept fashion rules.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Man Who Bit The Dog

I have seen a great increase in those kind of news stories: the unusual, the extreme, the shocking!, probably because the traditional media is fighting for its survival and one way to get lots of eyeballs is by posting on scandalous and weird stuff all the time. But this is dangerous, because the more something is discussed in the news the more it starts looking like a representative case. The average or the norm, even! Then we might change our lives based on that belief.

The obvious example of the dangers of this approach is the way strangers waiting to abuse children are now feared all over the country, quite out of proportion to the actual risks, and this has much to do with twenty years of media focus on every single awful and disgusting and frightening case. Note that all of the known cases get media attention, but our brains replace that with the idea that what we see is just the tip of some incredible iceberg.

Likewise, if you want to bash a government program, you will draw our attention to any foolish examples that might be derived from that. Once those foolish attempts get enough publicity we start believing that all the parts of the program are like that. Even if the foolish examples are the only ones that could be found after much digging, and even if they don't exist at all.

This trick of picking the most extreme examples of something and then pretending that they are representative examples is a common one. I see that employed by anti-feminists all the time, for example.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan

I watched the videos attached to this article a few days ago, and I always assumed that the mother of the schoolgirl they portrayed was dead. It turns out that she is not dead. If you have time, watch the videos first and only then read the story. Much food for thought there.

That Was Then...

The New York Times front-paged these thoughts about Roman Polanski a few days ago:

At the end of "Manhattan," the celebrated movie romance from 1979, a teenager played by Mariel Hemingway delivers some good news to the 42-year-old television writer, portrayed by Woody Allen, with whom she has had a long-running sexual affair.

"Guess what, I turned 18 the other day," said Ms. Hemingway, in what was framed as a poignant encounter. "I'm legal, but I'm still a kid."

That was then.

Roman Polanski's arrest on Sept. 26 to face a decades-old charge of having sex with a 13-year-old girl stirred global furor over both Mr. Polanski's original misdeed and the way the authorities have handled it — along with some sharp reminders that, when it comes to adult sex with the under age, things have changed.

Manners, mores and law enforcement have become far less forgiving of sex crimes involving minors in the 31 years since Mr. Polanski was charged with both rape and sodomy involving drugs. He fled rather than face what was to have been a 48-day sentence after he pleaded guilty to unlawful sex with a minor.

But if he is extradited from Switzerland, Mr. Polanski could face a more severe punishment than he did in the 1970s, as a vigorous victims' rights movement, a family-values revival and revelations of child abuse by clergy members have all helped change the moral and legal framework regarding sex with the young.

This is the beginning of an article on the Polanski case by Michael Cieply. It's a little bit startling, and if you didn't find it so, read it again. Cieply starts by giving us a scene from a Woody Allen movie, a love story between a very young girl and Woody Allen (of course). He then compares this with the rape-and-sodomy charges Polanski faced in the 1970s and sorta concludes that the two are basically the same thing! Rape and sodomy charges are just like "sex with the young!" Or at least they were that in the 1970s. Except that Polanski was charged with rape and sodomy 31 years ago, not yesterday, and rape of thirteen-year olds was not A-OK even in the 1970s.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Good News Tuesday, Again

Ellinor Ostrom became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics! I'm doing a Snoopy dance in her honor, even though she sort of snuck into the field from political science.

She shares the prize with Oliver Williamson. What the two share is a focus on nonmarket solutions in economics:

The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded on Monday to two American social scientists for their work in describing the numerous relationships within a company or among companies and individuals that shape market behavior.

The prize committee cited Elinor Ostrom, 76, at Indiana University, and Oliver E. Williamson, 77, at the University of California, Berkeley, for work done over long careers. Ms. Ostrom is the first woman to receive the economics prize in the 41-year history of the award. She is a political scientist, not an economist, and in honoring her, the judges seemed to suggest that economics should be thought of as an interdisciplinary field rather than a pure science governed by mathematics.

"This award is part of the merging of the social sciences," said Robert Shiller, a Yale University economist. "Economics has been too isolated and too stuck on the view that markets are efficient and self-regulating. It has derailed our thinking."

This award means a lot to young female economists who can now dream further. It made me all weepy, to be honest.

Book Learning

Paul Krugman wrote about the importance of public education as one reason for the American economic success. The demise of that same education is beginning to bite:

If you had to explain America's economic success with one word, that word would be "education." In the 19th century, America led the way in universal basic education. Then, as other nations followed suit, the "high school revolution" of the early 20th century took us to a whole new level. And in the years after World War II, America established a commanding position in higher education.

But that was then. The rise of American education was, overwhelmingly, the rise of public education — and for the past 30 years our political scene has been dominated by the view that any and all government spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Education, as one of the largest components of public spending, has inevitably suffered.

Until now, the results of educational neglect have been gradual — a slow-motion erosion of America's relative position. But things are about to get much worse, as the economic crisis — its effects exacerbated by the penny-wise, pound-foolish behavior that passes for "fiscal responsibility" in Washington — deals a severe blow to education across the board.

I'm not so certain that education was the main engine of America's economic rise. The very large domestic markets had something to do with it, too, as did the vast natural resources of the country. But education certainly didn't hurt that cause.

The reason I titled this post "book learning" is that Americans do tend to have contempt towards academic learning in general. It's not regarded as necessary (not like college sports, say), and it's viewed as some sort of elitism: as if you rejected your social class by going to college. Or something like catching an infectious disease. The wingnuts don't want to educate their daughters or sons (and especially their daughters) because they might actually start thinking differently, and thinking differently is A Very Bad Thing.

This is weird. If education is so unimportant, how can it be so powerful and dangerous at the same time? Yet these two ideas seem to be the engine in many of the recent changes in education.


David Broder wrote recently about how horrible it is that one election campaign has stooped to talking about fatness:

Every time you think politics has hit a new low, it finds a way to go lower. I thought we had reached the nadir last month when Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted "You lie!" at President Obama while he was speaking to a joint session of Congress.

But then the New York Times caught me up on what has been happening in New Jersey. Campaigns there are rarely elevated affairs, but the current battle between Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Christopher Christie has sunk to new depths.

As the Times pointed out, a television ad for Corzine, "about as subtle as a playground taunt," shows Christie "stepping out of an SUV in extreme slow motion, his extra girth moving, just as slowly, in several different directions at once. In case viewers missed the point, a narrator snidely intones" that Christie, the former U.S. attorney for New Jersey, "threw his weight around" to avoid several traffic tickets.


This issue has no place in our politics.

I am still looking for my divine jaw somewhere on the floor. Not because what Broder writes wouldn't be relevant but because of the way he writes it. As if this focus on the looks of a politician are a brand new thing! Never attempted before, ever!

I guess one could call this male privilege, but I see it more as a nice set of blinders which you can put on before you go out, assuming you are an intrepid guy reporter. Those blinders cover up everything that was said about Hillary Clinton's thighs, legs or cleavage! They cover up the porn movies made with a Sarah Palin look-alike! I guess it is possible that no aspiring politician has ever made those slurs about a woman he was competing against, but his underlings certainly have.

Here Echidne goes again, writing about something trivial. Mmm. Have a piece of chocolate.

There's a deeper point here, of course, as there always is, and that is the way it's possible for some men to view the society as completely consisting of men. And, of course, oftheirwomen.

That double-sight explains why someone like Broder can truly NOT see how female politicians are routinely treated. It also explains something I found on a blog which discussed the old courtly love traditions, of young men expressing a forbidden love towards the wife of their liege lord, and how very dangerous this could be: to the young men. The wife of the liege lord was not an active participant in the story, and what the consequences might have been to her are irrelevant.

Or the way Pepys' "love escapades" were routinely viewed in the literature I read about them: As a sign of his irrepressible rogue nature, with a few wink-winks added to the treatment. Yet anyone who actually reads his diary finds that he pretty much forced servant maids and the wives of poorer men to have sex with him. Some of them may have been willing, of course, but none of them ultimately had the power to refuse him, and all this was very obvious to me on first reading. Perhaps because I would have been one of those servant maids, most likely, had I been born the same sex into the place and time of Pepys.

Perhaps all this bias is just a consequence of gender identification? I doubt that, because I can't really see myself ever writing about the politics or the culture or anything else as if men were almost nonexistent creatures. Though I certainly have my own set of blinders!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Go Read Melissa

On Rape Culture.

The Sleeping Beauty

On a bad day I believe that the fairy tale princess in the Sleeping Beauty story is the Ideal Woman of this culture:

She's seventeen, beautiful and asleep, only to be awakened by the prince who does all the actual work in the story by breaking through her hymen the thorns which defend the castle in a hundred-year slumber.

On a better day I realize that she can give me a blogging topic: The Ideal Traditional Woman Has No Agency!

The Sleeping Beauty doesn't choose the prince; she is chosen. Snow-White is also kissed (while a corpse herself) by a prince who then marries her. We are never told anything about how willing the princesses are to do this. The story of Cinderella isn't that much different, though she does want to go to the ball: The ultimate choice is not hers but belongs to the prince who picks whoever can fit the glass shoe.

The hero in traditional European fairy tales almost always gets the princess and half the realm as his reward, even when he didn't rescue her from the dragon. What the princess thinks of this all is unclear.

Yet these stories were told to all the children, including little girls. The message is obvious: If you are passive and long-suffering enough, good things will come to you! The Beast holding Beauty prisoner turns into a handsome prince, because Beauty obeyed her father. Things "happens to" the girls and women in fairy tales, with only a few exceptions. It is men and boys who MAKE things happen.

You can step outside the fairy tale world and still find the same norms. The Virgin Mary is the ultimate long-suffering, patient and passive woman. The eternal virgins promised to Muslim men in paradise don't seem to mind their lack of agency. Neither do all those wives and girlfriends in the he-man movie genre whose speaking roles consist of saying: "You need some rest, honey," while gazing at the hero with adoring eyes. Or the Quiverful wives who have relinquished their bodies to god and the starter key to those bodies to their husbands. A good woman has always been a modest woman, a woman who stays silent and long-suffering. A woman without many demands.

Some of this is probably a logical consequence of the way the Hero's Tale is told in most cultures. Such tales don't need uppity women walking into the scene, yelling and demanding attention, stomping their feet. It ruins the intended path of the Hero's Tale. But too many of the suffer-in-silence stories exist for this to be the whole explanation. It does look like women have been traditionally trained towards passivity. A certain kind of eternal sleep.

What Am I?

A futile question I ask myself all the time. But today I'm asking it for a different reason: It's a disguise for talking about what feminism doesn't much talk about.

This quest began with Phila's post below, about how we can scientifically prove that human mate-selection is done by women (nope, you are wrong about all those historically arranged marriages and the custom of punishing women who have babies outside marriage and the more recent custom of men proposing to women and so on) and that women pick their baby daddies on the day when they ovulate (late applicants will be turned away at the door).

Also, the selection takes place in a laboratory where undergraduate women look at facial images of men on computers. Well, at least that's what the studies consist of, the ones which we are told explain mate selection preferences. Then the researchers decide that the faces some number of women pick when ovulating are CLEARLY the faces of dominant males who engage in male-on-male competition! Something to do with large jaws, I guess.

And then all this is written into a story about how women on the pill are wrecking human evolution because they are less likely to pick men with the faces the researchers think demonstrate male dominance.

It's a lot of fun to read these stories and earnest investigations into the mysterious female bodies. Or it would be if the resulting interpretations weren't ultimately aimed at keeping me and others like me from ever able to answer that "what am I?" question, or even ever getting to formulate the question.

Yet to ask the "what am I?" question is to me a fundamental human right and one we still allow men far more often than women. (That is a deep statement, by the way, and you might want to think about it in terms of popular culture, fairy tales, songs, movies, books, religions and laws and societal norms.)

What a long introduction that is! If I had an editor it wouldn't be there much longer. But I am going to keep it because it tells you how intense my feelings are, how strongly I believe in the importance of following the pseudo-scientific discussions and how bitter I am when I bump into those very same arguments at parties in six months' time.

All this matters for the girls born today, you know. It is they who will grow up within a culture which lets stuff like this find its place into the small-talk departments of cocktail parties, church picnics, kitchen tables and bars.

So I go to other feminist sites to see what they say about any of the myriad pseudo-scientific gender studies that I fret over. And I find next to nothing*, on most days. This worries me. As I have mentioned before, religion, pseudo-science and the legal system are the three traditional legs of the stool on which misogyny sits, and seeing so little written about one of those legs is disconcerting.

Then again I start questioning myself: Perhaps the warnings I write are not needed? Perhaps everyone is one move ahead in the game? And, after all, there are smart writers responding to this stuff; only not so often on blogs.

At the same time, I think that the relative lack of feminist response to topics such as the one Phila took on reflects a problem with the current feminist emphasis on one end of the oppression scale (for lack of better terms): the oppressed. The more we focus on those who suffer from oppressions of all kinds the less we see the new oppressive tools being developed. Because that development takes place elsewhere and because any new tools appear relatively harmless to begin with. Something to ridicule, say.

My apologies for the muddled thinking above. I'm trying out some ideas in this post and welcome your views.
*For one of the few exceptions, Clarissa wrote about this topic.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Unnatural Selection (by Phila)

An article revealingly titled "Unnatural Selection" explores the possibility that the use of oral contraceptives is changing women's (natural) preference for domineering men, and their ability to land a mate (of the correct type).
Ovulating women exhibit a preference for more masculine male features, are particularly attracted to men showing dominance and male-male competitiveness and prefer partners that are genetically dissimilar to themselves....

The authors also speculate that the use of oral contraceptives may influence a woman's ability to attract a mate by reducing attractiveness to men, thereby disrupting her ability to compete with normally cycling women for access to mate.
So women who are on the pill lack the ovulating women's "normal" desire for aggressively masculine men, and are less attractive to men per se, and fail to choose genetically dissimilar partners who are more likely to get them pregnant? Obviously, this path to reproductive freedom is an evolutionary dead end.
"The ultimate outstanding evolutionary question concerns whether the use of oral contraceptives when making mating decisions can have long-term consequences on the ability of couples to reproduce," suggests Dr. Lummaa.
One way to investigate this theory, it seems to me, would be to study whether fertility problems are more common among couples who previously relied on oral contraceptives. Since the myth that oral contraceptives cause infertility is pretty widespread, a fair amount of attention has been given to this issue. And as far I know, the results have been entirely negative. (Granted, couples who use the pill may delay pregnancy until an age when fertility has decreased...but again, I don't know of any evidence showing that these older couples are statistically more likely to have fertility problems than ones who never used the pill).

As always, I'm concerned about the normative tone that prevails when this sort of research is described in the press. And I'm skeptical that these alleged "preferences" have the power and ubiquity that tends to be assigned to them. And I'm troubled that these stories almost never report the actual statistical incidence of the expected response; they simply issue blanket statements about what "ovulating women" prefer, as though the women who failed to conform to expectations were so completely irrelevant that there's no need to know how many of them there were. And of course, I'm irritated at the lack of any acknowledgment that the definition of research topics, the research itself, the subjects' responses, the researchers' conclusions, and the media's reporting all take place not in some anti-ideological vacuum, but within a social context of male dominance, misogyny, and heteronormativity.

In this case, I'm also curious about how closely you can compare the supposed mate preferences of women who are not on the pill to those who are, especially if they're avoiding contraceptives for ethical or cultural reasons. If a woman doesn't use contraceptives because she was raised in a conservative household, is she more likely to report a preference for traditionally "masculine" (i.e., socially dominant) men? Beats me. But like every other factor that influences the incredibly complex social phenomenon of sexual behavior, it probably bears looking into.

Putting all that aside, the main thing that interests me about this groundbreaking research is how it ties in with the finding that ovulating women were more likely to vote for Obama. Will women who are taking oral contraceptives show the same preference in 2012, or will they be more interested in, say, a Palin/Jindal ticket? Hopefully someone's working on this important problem right now, because as the author of the Obama study notes:
"There are some women who aren't going to change their beliefs whether they're ovulating or not, but people don't pay enough attention to a woman's changing cycle and how it might affect decision making."

NSFM: Tom DeLay does the tango (by Suzie)

NSFM = Not Safe for Meals. You may choke with laughter or anger or nausea.

Found: Some equity in healthcare, but not good news (by Liz)

I tuned into CSPAN2 last week to watch the women senators who spoke out on the Senator floor for healthcare reform. They were led by Senator Barbara Mikulski and her rally cry: "We the women of the Senate have fought for equal pay and equal work…and now we are fighting for equal coverage. We want equal benefits for equal premiums." Her colleagues went on to speak out against gender inequities in the current healthcare system including these facts:

- In nine states domestic abuse is considered a pre-existing condition- for the victim, not the batterer
- Having had a C-section, even if it was medically mandated, may be considered a pre-existing condition
- In many states, insurance companies can charge women more for coverage than they charge men
- Not all states are required to cover maternity care
- And, per Senator Stabenow, that the intent to adopt may be considered a pre-existing condition

Not much new here. If you've been paying attention, you've heard most of this already. But I learned something else--I found some fairness in the current system. Senator Stabenow reported that not only is being pregnant cause for automatic rejection of coverage from some insurance companies, so is being an expectant father. Not quite the gender equity I was looking for.