Women’s Equality Day: Texas Voting Edition

Tswift feministThat’s right T-Swift, being a feminist isn’t about hating men at all. Being a feminist is about days like today where we stand up and say that the voice of a woman and the vote of a woman are equal. Today is a very important day. Today is Women’s Equality Day in the United States which commemorates the day that the 19th Amendment was certified as law, giving women the vote. Shockingly (or not so shockingly) women (and their male allies) fought for the right to vote in the US for 70+ years before it became a reality in 1920. 70+ years.

In light of this fight, and the ongoing fight to secure the full equality of women in the United States and around the world I call on the women of Texas and the men who support our right to full equality to vote in the upcoming election this November. Yesterday someone sent me an article about the 2014 Best And Worst States for Women’s Equality conducted by the personal finance website Wallethub. Any guesses where Texas ranks on the list? 47th. The researchers looked at the following factors in determining ranking:

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  • Workplace Environment

    • Pay (Median Weekly Earnings)
    • Number of Executives
    • Average Work Hours (for Full-Time Workers)
    • Number of Minimum-Wage Workers
    • Unemployment Rate

    Education and Health

    • Number of Residents Aged 25+ with a Bachelor’s Degree or Higher
    • Life Expectancy at Age 65

    Political Empowerment

    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. Senate
    • Number of Lawmakers in U.S. House of Representatives
    • Number of Lawmakers in State Legislature

47th? Really people of Texas, we can do better. After reading the study and the articles about it I was left to wonder, “Why in the world would any woman would vote for Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick in the upcoming election?” Why would we as citizens of the great state of Texas settle for anything less than the equal treatment of all our citizens; Not just male and female but gay or straight or black or white or latino or asian or christian or muslim or jew or rich or poor or any other distinction you want to make?

For me, a vote for Abbott and Patrick is a vote for the status quo in Texas. And not only the status quo but a move even further into Ted Cruz Tea Party territory. When I looked on the Wendy Davis Campaign’s web site to learn her stance on women’s issues this is what I found:

Working for Women

  • Fighting Against Closure of Women’s Health Centers

Wendy Davis stood for nearly 13 hours to fight against Austin insiders trying to close 60 health centers across Texas that once provided hundreds of thousands of women with care they can’t get elsewhere.

  • Empowering Rape Survivors, Cracking Down on Rapists

Wendy Davis authored the second law in U.S. history to focus on eradicating the state’s backlog of thousands of untested rape kits to ensure sexual predators are brought to justice.

  • Ending Sexual Violence

Wendy Davis has also passed laws to make certain that survivors of sexual assault can be treated and have their evidence collected at almost any hospital with an ER and be kept up to date on the status of their case.

  • Fighting for Equal Pay

Wendy Davis passed a bipartisan equal pay for equal work bill in 2013, which would have conformed Texas law with federal law and allowed victims of wage discrimination to pursue their case in state court. Governor Perry vetoed the bill. Texas is one of only four states that does not have equal pay for equal work protections.

In Texas, the median pay for a woman working full time, year-round is $33,689 per year, while the median yearly pay for a man is $42,044. When broken down, full-time, year-round Texas women are paid about 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, amounting to a yearly gap of $7,859 between men and women.

When I went to Greg Abbott’s website, I could find nothing on any of these issues. NOTHING.

In Texas the Lieutenant Governor is in some ways a more powerful position than Governor. This is because in the Lt. Governor is not only part of the executive branch but also part of the legislative branch as he or she:

…controls the work of the Texas Senate and controls the budgeting process as a leader of the Legislative Budget Board.

Under the provisions of the Texas Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor is President of the Texas Senate. By the rules of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor establishes all special and standing committees, appoints all chairpersons and members, and assigns all Senate legislation to the committee of his choice. The Lieutenant Governor decides all questions of parliamentary procedure in the Senate. He or she also has broad discretion in following Senate procedural rules.

The Lieutenant Governor is an ex officio member of several statutory bodies. These include the Legislative Budget Board, the Legislative Council, the Legislative Audit Committee, the Legislative Board and Legislative Council, which have considerable sway over state programs, the budget and policy. The Lieutenant Governor is also a member of the Legislative Redistricting Board (together with the Speaker of the House, Attorney General, Comptroller, and Land Commissioner), which is charged with adopting a redistricting plan for the Texas House of Representatives, Texas Senate, or U.S. House of Representatives after the decennial census if the Legislature fails to do so.

This November you have a choice between Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick for Lt. Governor. If you go to Dan Patrick’s site, again you will find NOTHING on these issues. The statement on the Van de Putte site says:

WOMEN: TRUSTING WOMEN

As a proud Latina, Leticia believes Texans trust women to make their own health care choices. She knows respecting women means passing equal pay for equal work and that trusting women means letting them make their own family decisions.

As Lieutenant Governor, Leticia will listen to women and make sure that women’s voices are heard.

Listen up Texas, we actually have a real choice to make about the direction our state will take this November. Please, on this day set aside to celebrate the day women were given a say in their own governance, let us pledge to educate ourselves on the issues, register and vote. Too many women and men sacrificed for too long to give us this privilege for us to squander it on the altar of apathy or inconvenience.

Side note: There are so many more issues on the line in this year’s gubernatorial election. I hope you will take the time to read about what the candidates and the party platforms actually say about the issues and then vote your conscience. 

More Resources:

Pathways to Equality 

Texas League of Women Voters

North Texas Tea Party Voter Guide

Vote Texas

Texas GOP Platform

Texas Democrat Platform

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Would you take dating advice from this man?

lookadoo

The Richardson Independent School District in north Dallas apparently thinks you should. Yesterday the  RISD brought in “motivational speaker” Justin Lookadoo to talk to its high school students about dating and relationships. In their defense, Justin is scheduled to speak at schools all over the United States and Canada this year. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY APPALLING.

You see, Justing has some very outdated, sexist advice for our young people.

Mr. Lookadoo is unabashedly christian (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. As you know if you have been here very long, I am a follower of Jesus) however he leaves Biblical references out of his public school presentations. If you go on the Texas Speaker’s Bureau and look up Mr. Lookadoo you will find this description:

  • Top Texas Student Speaker
  • A high-energy, relevant message for the A.D.D. Generation

Justin Lookadoo is a top Texas school speaker. He was a Juvenile Probation Officer, and spent nearly six years as a Crime Prevention Specialist.  He knows students have it rough, and understands where they are coming from.  Justin is bilingual, offering programs in Spanish and English. Justin loves to talk. Go figure! He has been speaking to groups since 1989 and is excellent at what he does. To date, he has given over 3,000 speeches nationally and internationally. Just like Michael Jordan has the gift of being a great athlete, Justin has the gift of being a great speaker. And he works hard at it too! He is always researching and finding the edge that will make his programs current and relevant. Justin is a #1 bestselling author for his book Dateable and has had three other studient-oriented self-help books on the bestseller lists. Two of his books have been nominated for the prestigious Gold Medallion Award and he has sold over 275,000 books nationwide. Not bad for a kid whose two worst subjects were reading and writing.

Judging from this description, as an administrator I would think, what’s not to like? After all, he is to public speaking what Michael Jordan is to basketball. (*eye roll alert*) HOWEVER all one needs to do to find out this is a potential disaster is to search The Google and  look up his books on Amazon.com. Without even reading the reviews you will find out on Amazon that the back cover of “Datable” has these fun facts:

Girls, did you know?
– Guys will lie to you to get what they want
– If he’ll do it for you, he’ll do it to you
– If he doesn’t call it doesn’t mean he hates you
– A guy will treat you like you are dressed
– You might be talking too much
– He doesn’t want sex with you because he loves you, he wants it ‘cuz you’re a girl and you’re willing
– Guys love a mystery

Guys, did you know?
– If you’re too scared to ask her, then you’re not man enough to go out with her
– Girls will lie to themselves to get what they want
– Girls love it when you plan things
– You control how far you go
– Girls have their own kind of porn
– You can be a “real man” without becoming a “bad boy”
– Girls don’t understand you

On the Google you will learn that Lookadoo has a website (which was made available to the students) called rudatable.com (are you datable?). There you will see that there is a second book called “The Datable Rules” in which guys will learn to “live the adventure and to risk it all for God” and girls will learn “the importance of mystery and the power of subtle beauty”. Oh great, once again the boys get to have adventures and excitement. They get to write the script. And girls get to learn how to keep quiet and not draw too much attention to themselves. At this point I have to ask WHY? Why in the world would any public school have a man in to teach the students about dating and relationships whose book comes down to, men are the architects of their own lives and women are the furnishings. Please excuse me while I bang my head against the wall.

If you are so bold as to continue on at rudatable.com you will find that you are invited to take a quiz to see how datable you are. Apparently if you buy the book you can actually determine your datability rating on a scale of 1 to 5 stars! Justin himself has a 4 and a half star rating. If you make it through the silly true/false quiz and come out datable on the other side you will be encouraged to commit to “the list”. What list? I’m glad you asked. It is the same for both genders: 1. Be respectful at all times. 2. Treat your date like you want to be treated. 3. No means no.  Oh wait. Snap. Wrong list.

The girls list says: (my comments in parenthesis after)

As a Dateable girl I will:
1. Shut up and be mysterious (in other words STFU, no one cares what you have to say or if you want to say it, no one like a girl who talks to much…sorry this one hits a little close to home)
2. Not lie to myself (I learned the rest of this is “girls lie to themselves to get what they want”)
3. Keep it covered up (What is it? Where is the line? What if I don’t? See my many previous posts.)
4. Remember that I’m not one of the guys (What the hell? What is wrong with being “one of the guys”?)
5. Know that it will not last (What won’t last? This one just confuses me.)
Write your prayer below: (Dear God please help me stifle who I am to get a man. Goodness knows no one will like me for who I am or if I have too strong/too many opinions. Amen.)

The boys list says:

As a Dateable guy I will:
1. Stand up and be a real man (WTH does this mean? Who sets the definition? I am sure he will tell me in the book.)
2. Not lie to you or for you (Guys, he says, lie to you to get what they want. Also, girls apparently will want you to lie for them. Why? I’m not sure.)
3. Control how far we go (So it is up to the guy alone to determine how far things go physically? Hmm. Shouldn’t that really be a shared responsibility? Also see “no means no” above.)
4. Open doors and pull out chairs (Nice gesture.)
Write your prayer below: (Dear God, Please help me be a “real man” even though I am not sure what that means. Amen)

A few more nuggets of wisdom I learned with minimal research:

“Men of God are wild, not domesticated.  They don’t live by the rules of the opposite sex. ”

“Datable girls know when to shut up.”

Datable guys know…”They know they are stronger, more dangerous, and more adventurous and that’s okay.”

“Please, PLEASE don’t tease us. To show us your hot little body and then tell us we can’t touch it is being a tease.”

“Dateable girls know that guys need to be needed. A Dateable girl isn’t Miss Independent.”

Accept your girly-ness. You’re a girl. Be proud of all that means. You are soft, you are gentle, you are a woman. Don’t try to be a guy. Guys like you because you are different from them. So let your girly-ness soar.”

I think this whole line of thinking is damaging not just to girls but also to boys. I cannot for the life of me figure out why schools (and before you say, oh well Michelle, you live in Texas blah, blah, blah… This dude speaks all over the country. In public schools. At camps. At Juvenile detention facilities. ) would ever dream of inviting this guy in to speak. Don’t even get me started on what kind of message this sends to LGBT youth.

Sadly, it takes the students themselves to tell it like it is. Wednesday in Richardson #lookadouche was trending on twitter (today it is trending everywhere).  Here are a few tweets from the students of the RISD:

@jkredmon
A man gets to tell us what women can and can’t do. I don’t think so. Not at RHS. #lookadouche

@InGodsArmy
Either the best prank ever or the best attempt at reverse psychology to unite an entire student body. Regardless, fire ignited. #lookadouche

@emisccaffetti7
#lookadouche has many problems in the head.
@BmanToler23h
Don’t let some random guy who spoke at school with no ethos determine how you feel about yourself or objectify you. #rhs #lookadouche
@GreenEyedLilo
As a woman w/food allergies, I love that Justin Lookadoo thinks we should suffer in restaurants instead of telling our dates.
@irishfries13
still shocked at @JustinLookadoo ‘s presentation, gender stereotypes all around #lookadouche
@NateBeer
At this rate, our speaker on Friday will be Ritchie Incognito
@Megeramarie
I love that RISD has a no tolerance on bullying and they brought in a bully to motivate us.
These few tweets represent many many more which you can find for yourself on twitter at #lookadouche. These young men and women have renewed my hope that the tide against this kind of thinking is growing and that young people are beginning to recognize that this type of thinking helps no one and in fact hurts us all. Way to go Richardson Eagles. You guys rock. Way to stand up and speak out. #ROAR