Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 202, essentially a reversal of Wisconsin's Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (Act 20), into law on April 5, 2012, more than a month after the bill was passed. Despite Walker's attempts to sign the bill in secret, without the customary notice given to legislators and the public, the move did not go unnoticed and was rapidly drawn up into the national battle over what women's advocates and leading Democrats have dubbed a national "war on women."
Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," has generated widespread media attention this year. The process, which injects water and chemicals into the ground to release "natural" gas and oil from shale bedrock, has been shown to contribute significantly to air and water pollution and has even been linked to earthquakes. But little has been reported on the ways in which fracking may have unique impacts on women. Chemicals used in fracking have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive health problems and there have been reports of rises in crimes against women in some fracking "boom" towns, which have attracted itinerant workers with few ties to the community.
The Wisconsin State Assembly wrapped up a marathon 33-hour session Friday, ending a contentious two-year legislative session marked by massive protests on the collective bargaining issue and an 18 day Capitol occupation.
Galloway Resigns, Senate Split 16-16
It was the last floor session before the six recall elections scheduled for the summer, which could change the balance of power in the Senate and the Governor's office. In a surprise move on the last day of the session, Republican Senator Pam Galloway, one of the targets of the recall, resigned for family health reasons.
Hundreds of protestors showed up to the "Mad as Hell" rally on the Wisconsin State Capitol steps March 13 to protest a series of bills being pushed by Republican lawmakers that would take away a number of women's rights and interfere with women's access to health care in the state.
The rally was led by The Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and a number of other women's rights groups.
"Unfortunately, we have one of the most anti-women's health, anti-choice, anti-birth control legislatures that Wisconsin has ever seen," said Tanya Atkinson, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin.
Late in the evening, on February 22, the Wisconsin Legislature turned back the clock gutting key provisions of Wisconsin's Equal Pay Enforcement Act (Act 20).
Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), a long time women's rights advocate lamented: "It's like we're going back to 1912. We are fighting the same fight our mothers fought, just to be treated equally."
Senate Bill 202, authored by Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), passed on a party line vote. According to the Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Health, Act 20 sought "to secure equal pay for the thousands of working families who are denied fair pay due to wage discrimination based on race and gender." Specifically, the act was intended to deter employers from discriminating by opening an avenue to bring discrimination cases in state court with stiff penalties. Previously, victims were required to pursue lengthy administrative remedies through a state agency. SB 202 removed the compensatory and punitive damages for violations of Act 20, leaving it a toothless tiger.
Every October's push for "breast cancer awareness" brings another example of egregious pinkwashing, and this year was no exception. As if pink toasters, pink beer pong tables and even a pink Smith and Wesson handgun weren't enough, October, 2011 brought us pink, breast cancer awareness 12-gauge shotgun ammo, courtesy of Federal Ammunition.
October is fast approaching, with its annual deluge of pink ribbons and cause marketing campaigns that leverage emotions surrounding breast cancer to sell products. In past years, PRWatch has reported on questionable "pinkwashed" products like buckets of fried fast food, cringeworthy "I Heart Boobies" bracelets marketed to teenagers, and even a pink "breast cancer awareness" Smith and Wesson handgun.
This year, the Susan G. Komen Foundation -- the nonprofit organization that created the corporate phenomenon of pinkwashing -- is hawking its own highly questionable pinkwashed product: a perfume called "Promise Me" that retails for $59.00 a bottle and reportedly contains chemicals, some of which are not listed on the label, that are a suspected hormone disruptor, a known neurotoxin and an anticoagulant banned for use in human food, respectively.
ABC is dominating other news outlets this summer with stories about pretty, white women in distress. The network's special about former kidnap victim J.C. Dugard garnered 15 million viewers, which prompted ABC to re-broadcast it at a later time and date. ABC sent out a press release boasting that its primetime Nightline special about then-accused child-killer Casey Anthony won the network biggest audience it has had in that time slot in five months. After paying Anthony $200,000 years ago for video and pictures to help bolster her story, ABC held nothing back after Anthony was acquitted, grabbing the first juror willing to speak to cameras and having Barbara Walters interview Anthony's attorney on TV. ABC devoted more than twice as much time to the Casey Anthony story as either of its two rival broadcast networks (22.9 minutes, compared to NBC's 8.4 minutes and 5.4 minutes on CBS). ABC even hired pretty, blonde former kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart to comment on missing person cases, even though this type of crime is fairly rare. ABC argues that their hiring of Smart, the extensive coverage of J.C. Dugard and Anthony are all coincidental. Critics say ABC is falling victim to "Missing White Woman Syndrome," the phenomenon where news reports disproportionately favor coverage o crimes committed against young, attractive, white, middle-class women, while crimes committed against females of lower-class backgrounds and different ethnicities, and crimes committed against males, get less coverage.
The Rite Aid drug store chain announced that it is once again teaming with the American Heart Association (AHA) to promote AHA's "Go Red for Women" campaign. Rite Aid collects donations of one dollar or more from customers in exchange for little red paper dresses that contain detachable coupons for merchandise. Rite Aid issued a press release touting the campaign and their free "heart health guide" that contains advice on how to prevent heart disease. Absent from the promotion and the press release, and kept quiet by AHA, is the fact that Rite Aid contributes mightily to causing heart disease in women by selling cigarettes.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Pink ribbons abound at department stores, grocery stores, gas stations, shopping malls and many other places. But the big "awareness" push may be misplaced. After all, lung cancer kills twice as many women each year as breast cancer -- more women every year in the U.S. die from lung cancer than from breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers combined. In 2009 alone, 31,000 more women died of lung cancer than breast cancer. But there aren't any ribbons, theme-colored products, corporate promotions, colored car magnets, festivals or fundraisers to make people aware of lung cancer's devastating toll, or to support lung cancer victims or raise money for a cure.