Saturday, September 10, 2011

Heroic women of 9/11 have been all but erased from collective memory

Close your eyes. Today is 9/11. You're fleeing from a building just struck by a hijacked plane. You've fallen and you begin to feel the rubble from the World Trade Center or Pentagon fall on you.

You're scared when someone begins to unearth you from the dust and debris. When you look at your rescuer's face, what do you see?

For many on that September afternoon, the person who came to their aid, firefighters or rescue workers, military personnel, bystanders, or trained first responders, were women.

But our collective memory and social constructs almost inevitably have erased these brave women from the picture. In our imagined world, strong men were the ones who dove in and, in too many cases, died doing so, in order to save people from the devastation of the greatest attack on our soil in the nation’s history.

Read more at The Washington Times Communities Online.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Arguments to dismiss abuse allegation due to less-than-perfect pass leads to slippery slope

Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn can again take the to the sea, air or roads and travel on his merry way, while the woman who accused him of a sexual attack in a New York City hotel room earlier this year is hunkering down against heavy rebuke.

Image courtesy of
The Independent online.
Nafissatou Diallo alleges that Strauss-Kahn forced her to perform oral sex on him at a hotel in which she was employed as a maid. The Guinea native has come under attack after initially being painted by much of the media as a pious woman. As the flames of the scandal grew, reports in various media outlets suggested Diallo had been previously paid for sex, was affiliated with a pimp and more.
Since this information was reported, even very forward-thinking women I work and socialize with have asserted that if Diallo was paid for sex at any time, even though it was never reported that she solicited or was paid for sex by Strauss-Kahn, her claims should be dismissed.

Read more at The Washington Times Communities Online.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Instituting female-only subway cars to prevent sexual assault misses issue entirely

Recently South Korean officials moved to reinstitute female-only subway cars in Seoul, citing a desire to stem sexual assaults and harassment on mass transit lines.

While we can chide the move as an evasive tactic around dealing with the real issue of women’s safety in South Korea, we should also consider the fact that rape and sexual assault on our own Metro rails increased in 2010 by more than 350 percent from the “average year.”

Read the full story at The Washington Times Communities.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Study links weight gain to marriage, divorce; nods to chore inequality as possible health risk

A study released Monday by Ohio State University doctoral student Dmitry Tumin offers that men would live on beer and pizza alone if let without women in their lives.

Actually, the study, presented at the American Sociological Association conference in Las Vegas, shows differences in weight gain between men and women after marriage and divorce.

If you want to keep her thin, gentlemen,
you may want to pitch in with that scrub brush.
Tumin and his team assessed survey data collected over the course of 22 years and found that in the two years post-nuptuals, women are more likely to gain weight than men. However, men are more likely to gain weight in the two years following a divorce.

Single folks, however, showed much less weight gain in the target two-year period. (Read more about the study in USA Today online.)

The study offers no evidence for why these periods are more likely to induce weight gain, however, co-author Zhenchao Qian theorized that womens' "larger role around the house" than men may be a contributing factor. Women "may have less time to exercise and stay fit than similar unmarried women," Qian said.

In an era when housework is no longer considered solely women's work, clearly even Qian recognizes that the division of household chores and family responsibilities is not often equally split between genders. Without specifically designating responsibility for certain duties around the house, women often find themselves doing it all while their male partners find extra time to devote to learning all the details about the debt crisis or soaking in the stats to help their fantasy sports teams. Maybe the next study that should be done is how unequal chore distribution and time commitment to household and family maintenance negatively impacts the ability of women to stay abreast of current issues and complex world affairs.

If Qian is correct, that more household duties for women equals less time to stay fit directly post-wedding, it is yet another argument for an equal share in the daily duties around the home and with the family.

If men want their wives or fiancees to remain in good health, it may be extremely beneficial to offer to split the chores, and women, too, should consider this when deciding how to approach topics about household chore equity with their male partners.

It's either that or remain single.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tonight's bedtime story: Maggie goes on a Diet?

If your child's overweight, recommended reading for this coming school year may be the soon-to-be released children's book, "Maggie Goes on a Diet."

Written by Paul M. Kramer, who is also awaiting the release of two other books targeted for preteens about difficult "issues kids face today," such as bed wetting and divorce, "Maggie Goes on a Diet" follows an overweight 14-year-old girl from obese outcast to school soccer star. (See story about the book at ABC News.)

Pre-orders for the book are being taken at online bookselling giants Barnes & Noble and Amazon, who have tagged the recommended reading age for the book at 6 to 12 years old and 4 to 8 years old respectively.

I completely support teaching children the values of healthy eating, but should we be concerned when we're marketing the concept of dieting - even if it is in the form of a 44-page children's book - to little boys and girls who haven't even stepped into a Kindergarten classroom yet?

If nothing else, I hope that the book comes with some great conversation starters for parents about what is healthy and normal, what constitutes a well-balanced diet (you know, the food plate that ousted the food pyramid as the nation's way of understanding our daily recommended intake of starches, dairy, fruits, vegetables, protein and shhhh-ugar).

I also hope it comes with a lesson on sensitivity for parents and children. Not everyone will fit into a size 2 dress or little boy shorts well into middle school. Those children who may not eat healthy don't deserve the destruction of their mental health through bullying (the topic of Kramer's 2010 children's book).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

U.S. lags far behind all other modernized countries in maternity leave policy

I have not birthed a child. I have not witnessed a birth in real life. I have not seen the aftermath of pushing a small human from a woman's body. In this respect, I am like most men.

I hope, however, most men don't line up behind conservative talk show host Mike Gallagher, who earlier this month called maternity leave -- the time many women take away from their jobs immediate before and after the birth of a child to prepare and recover -- a "racket." Gallagher's comments were made in relation to the three months leave Megyn Kelly, a Fox News anchor, took after the birth of her second child, a daughter, Yardley Evans.
When Kelly brought Gallagher onto Fox News for a showdown about the comment, Gallagher showed his further ignorance by saying, "Do men get maternity leave?"
Yes, Mr. Gallagher, under federal law that does not discriminate between the genders for unpaid leave related to illness or the birth of a child, they do. In fact, in many countries they are expected, encouraged and rewarded for taking it.

Read the rest of the story at The Washington Times Communities Online.

Gender diversity in the workplace may be very positive thing

In one week the office where I work is about to introduce a new element to our office dynamics. His name is Tyler and he will be the first man to work full-time at the National Grange headquarters in Washington, D.C. in a few years.

Sure, we have a few men who work with the eight women in our office, but ten floors down with as little contact as possible. Our building engineer, our part-time printer, and the membership assistant, who is a shipping god, are all men whom we also see on occasion.

Others even go to great lengths to avoid us.

 To read the full article, go to The Washington Times Communities Online.

Unplugging may be best way to boost self-esteem

Today, I’m breaking one of the sacred rules for women. I am 164 lbs. and 5’6”.

I know, I know. Women are never supposed to reveal their weight. If we do, we’re clearly not supposed to tell the truth unless that number is well within the bounds of making a doctor suspicious of an eating disorder.

In 2011 at 164 lbs., I’m supposed to feel ashamed, uncomfortable, hide from cameras while searching for the next greatest diet. And some days, for the most part, that’s just what I do.
A poor body image that often paralyzes women has been linked to advertising for years and has even made us reconsider the real beauty of unquestionable icons like Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell.

To read the full article, go to The Washington Times Communities online.