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.
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.
The movie "Eat, Pray, Love" is the story of a woman who travels the world in search of personal fulfillment, enlightenment and love. Despite the noticeably non-materialistic theme, though, Sony Pictures and Home Shopping Network (HSN) inked a deal to use the movie as a vehicle to hype an amazing amount of female-targeted merchandise. In the run-up to the film's August 13 release, HSN staged a three-day shopping event that showcased over 400 "Eat, Pray, Love" movie-related products including kitchenware, teas, jewelry, clothing, spices, shower gel, bed sheets, furnishings and cookware. Moviegoers are invited buy Eat, Pray, Love "I deserve Something Beautiful" T-shirts for a whopping $39.90 apiece, or an "Eat, Pray, Love" Sony Pocket Edition E-Reader with case for $229.95 (in three easy payments), a gelato maker, Sony laptop computers in movie-themed colors, gourmet candies, flat-panel TVs and much more.
In May of this year, the oral contraceptive known as "The Pill" turns 50 years old, and on this anniversary it is worth reflecting on the Pill's impact, and the obstacles women have faced in obtaining and using it.
As smoking rates decline in the developed world, tobacco companies are searching for new markets, and they are finding them in developing south Asian countries, Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia. People in rural areas of Bangladesh see advertisements that are unimaginable in other parts of the world. Ads tell smokers that they are smarter, more energetic and better lovers than non-smokers.
The Roman Catholic Church worked aggressively to get a last-minute amendment added to the newly-passed House health care reform bill that specifically prohibits abortion coverage in insurance plans that receive funding from the federal government.