Saturday, August 30, 2008

Remembering What Labor Day is all About

A hundred years ago America had a thriving labor movement. Workers organized to better their living conditions, for higher wages and for job security.

Back in those days there was a union called the Industrial Workers of the World. Members of that union and their supporters called themselves Wobblies. The Bosses, the capitalists and the police called them Reds.

Their leaders including Mother Jones, Joe Hill and Big Bill Haywood fought for workers rights and to create unions so that workers would have the power of numbers to balance out the struggle against those with the power of the money and the police who did the bidding of the rich.

So this Labor Day take a moment from your shopping or vegging out on television to remember Organized Labor and the role it played in bringing prosperity to the American workers.

Everything you need to know can be found in the Preamble to the constitution of the IWW.

Preamble to the IWW Constitution

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.

We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.

These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.

Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system."

It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.

Tom Joad lives.
Joe Hill lives.
Spartacus lives.

"Don't mourn the martyrs, organize."

Life In Nickeled and Dimed Land

When Barbara Ehrenreich wrote the Book Nickeled and Dimed she visited the world of those of us who make less than a living wage.

She touched on the hard parts of that life. Barely making it, but many of us are more than our jobs. Some of us are supplementing Social Security, others are the second wage earner in the family.

Many of us have art and aspirations, things we do that our the real "us". We are not defined by what we do for a living. I demonstrate products and serve food samples in a Warehouse Big Box in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. But I am a writer working on a book, a memoir of the 1960s and 70s. I am a photographer and a computer geek.

A hippie anarcho-feminist with long hair and a 60 something body.

What you see at work is my uniform, a disguise.

Today at work some people from Asia were treating me in a degrading manner. To my way of thinking this is because they are over-privileged jerks. A white woman with expensive clothes and jewelry starts to make conversation about "those people and how Asians are always rude."

I looked at her and said, "I receive multi-cultural abuse while I am doing my job. But I don't get all racist about it as jerk isn't a racially or ethnically linked trait." I was more bothered by this woman assuming I would react in a racist manner and agree with her slur than I was with the original rude boorish behavior.

In reality I might vent in the back room about so and so abusing me but that is coming from individuals and my venting is back at them, not towards a whole class of people.

I had only been doing product demonstration for a short time when I quipped that the door to the store should have a paraphrase of the Emma Lazarus poem that would say, "Give us your over privileged and over fed ill mannered masses yearning to eat for free."

Too many people treat those of us who work the concrete sales floors of every retail outlet as lesser human beings. We smile, we suck it up.... Just like my first boy friend, Jerry the Vietnam War Marine Corp deserter said about the stuff in Vietnam... "Just suck it up... It don't mean shit.."

Then when I get in the car I hit the Steve Earle CD "The Revolution Starts Now!!!" and crank up the volume.

Call it nihilism, call it cynicism. Call it just getting by in the burned out remains of the Great Society.. It don't mean nothing...

Tom Joad lives...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palen?

Say what?

Johnny Boy must have been smoking some medical marijuana or something.

What other explanation can there be for his VP choice? Clearly he demonstrates his incompetence with this one.

Perhaps he has been listing to the Reich Wing Punditocracy a bit too much. Fell for the myth of the disaffected PUMAS.

Older white women like myself who are supposed to be so pissed off regarding Obama's slighting Hillary that we are thinking of supporting Johnny.

But I would rather pull double shifts than see Johnny and his trollop in the White House. She makes Laura, the Prozac Princess seem charming.

Oh well... It looks like I'm going to get to show all those dim bulb misogynistic pundits how how wrong they are. I supported Hillary Clinton because she represented me. So does Barack Obama. Either one of them will bee far better for America than any Republican.

I've never voted for someone just because they are a woman. I vote for someone because their politics are closer to mine than the other candidate's. To think otherwise of me is an insult.

As for the idea I would vote for a Republian because she is a woman...

No way, no how and NEVER.

Barack OBama

Yes we can.

http://www.barackobama.com/index.php

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama Rocks

I've been watching the Democratic National Convention after work. What has really touched me the most has been looking at the delegates.

They look like my friends and co-workers, like the people who shop at the warehouse store where I work.

Some 45 years ago Michael Harrington wrote a book, "The Other America: Poverty in the United States". Today people are without health insurance, in debt with foreclosures at the highest levels since the Great Depression. But now we don't talk about poverty. Everyone is middle class.

When the reality is that if one works for a living one is working class and at the bottom end of the pay scale, those of us making less than a living wage feel every penny extra we have to pay for gas or energy. When the cost of food goes up we don't eat as well or go more deeply into debt.

The Republicans tell us our anxiety is only in our head, that we are nothing but whiners. They call it welfare when the government occasionally gives us an extra hand. But billions squandered on private contractors is free enterprise.

So imagine my joy when the Democratic Party stood and acknowledged that there is something terribly wrong in America. Acknowledged that as many as a third of us are either in serious trouble or are worried about falling into serious trouble.

I first saw Barack Obama speak with Joe Biden And Harry Reid back in 2005.

There is something very, very special about him. I supported Hillary and I AM won over.

Yes We Can

Go to: http://www.barackobama.com/index.php Sign up, give. We need to take America back from the rich right wing elite.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Abercrombie & Fitch employees allege promotions based on looks

12:00 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 27, 2008

By JESSICA MEYERS / The Dallas Morning News
jmeyers@dallasnews.com

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/fea/fdshops/fashion/stories/082708dnmetabercrombie.4027698.html

There's no in between. You're either Abercrombie hot – or you're not.

Kristen Carmichael discovered she didn't fit the clothing store's self-described "sexy, effortless style" when she was pulled from a sales position on the floor of the NorthPark Center store and shoved back to the stockroom to fold clothes.

This was after they'd rated her face.

The college student who was in Dallas for the summer and her female co-worker had received a 0 ranking on a district manager's monthly audit. The report, posted on a wall in the office, included the question, "Do all female models currently working have beautiful faces?"

There were two choices, 0 and 5, with the higher number signifying an approval rating for the models – an Abercrombie & Fitch term for sales representatives. The same question for the male models had both 0 and 5 marked – a mix.

"It's so subjective how they judge you," said Ms. Carmichael, a 19-year-old brunette with sharp blue-green eyes and a trim, athletic build, who was told by one manager that she wasn't attractive enough to work on the floor.

The debate centers on the ethics of labeling teenage beauty more than on the possibility of unlawful actions. At issue is whether it's morally justifiable to define an "Abercrombie look" these days, three years after a lawsuit settlement forced the retailer to enhance diversity and amid ongoing debate about Abercrombie's marketing practices, which often include shirtless young men and wistful-looking women in thin outer garments.

Todd Corley, Abercrombie's vice president of diversity and inclusion, said the "face" question refers to the full presentation of an individual, not merely his or her visage.

The company says it is important to uphold the brand's image and maintain diversity in its stores. Some sales representatives are chosen to appear in posters, ads and other marketing materials.

'Hierarchy of hotness'

Sales people function as the store's advertising and are handpicked by current employees, said Joshuah Welch, a 26-year-old Dallas resident, was hired two weeks ago as a manager and told to recruit people who walked into the store looking "all-American, clean, wholesome, or the girl or boy next door." He said stocking employees, on the other hand, are told not to speak to customers.

"It's a hierarchy of hotness," he said.

Cory Payne thought he reached the upper tier when he was recruited as a "model," or salesman, at the Dallas store. Then he found himself in the back storeroom.

"It wasn't the job we signed up for," said the tall 22-year-old blond athlete. "We showed up on time and we felt we were being punished for being good employees."

A weekly "secret shopper" evaluation posted in the back room also focuses on appearance. Employees receive one point for a "yes" to the questions, "Was the person in the women's front room attractive?" and "Was the cashier attractive?"

These rating systems remain legal as long as they don't discriminate based on race or gender.

"There's no real problem to discriminate against 'ugly' people," said Jahan Sagafi, a partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, the firm that represented the plaintiffs in the original diversity suit. "The problem is when you define beauty to incorporate white, which it essentially does at Abercrombie."

Ms. Carmichael and Mr. Payne are both white and say they don't expect legal or financial compensation. Instead, they believe their demotion signifies a disturbingly shallow mentality in youth-focused retail.

The job is "a cattle call and you are hired based on looks, not your ability to fold clothes or work with people," Mr. Welch said.

Fitting a mold

He just quit his managerial training program at the NorthPark store after his bosses told him he would have to leave if he didn't get rid of his new blond highlights.

"I need a job where I am appreciated for the work I do, not because I fit into their mold," said Mr. Welch, who previously worked for Abercrombie in Austin before appearing on a season of the CBS reality show Big Brother.

"I thought they had evolved, but they haven't," he said.

The company agreed in 2005 to pay $40 million to a group of Latinos, blacks, Asians and females who accused the company of advancing whites at the expense of minorities.

Working on diversity

Company representatives say they're fostering a much more diverse and accepting workplace since the lawsuit, with about 32 percent of the floor staff now either Asian, black or Latino.

Last spring, the company – which has more than 1,000 stores and 88,000 employees nationwide – created a new "look book," a collection of images for managers to refer to when hiring.

"It's an array of faces – black, white, Hispanic," Mr. Corley said. "It gives a sense of style, dress. It goes to a whole standard of appearance."

Although the company has hired a diversity coordinator and promoted more minorities to management positions, it's unclear to what extent Abercrombie has adapted its image.

A court-appointed monitor wrote in his second annual compliance report last August that images of Asians and Latinos were "almost entirely absent" in Abercrombie's marketing. A third compliance report is due at the end of the month. Earlier this month, a civil rights group filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Muslim teenager in Oklahoma who alleged she was denied a job because she wears a headscarf.

Unintended bias

Even physical evaluations can tread on shaky ground because they often unintentionally discriminate, said Greg Gochanour, a lawyer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the supervising trial attorney on the 2005 case.

He called the rating system "bizarre" and said he hasn't heard of other companies with this type of audit.

The streamlined image book in each store is intended to take out bias, said Mr. Corley, as are partnerships with organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League. The company also is working with Georgetown University to establish the country's first diversity management program.

Ms. Carmichael, who is back at school in Arizona, said that even if the company isn't technically violating the law, it's still sending the wrong message.

"It just seems so superficial and kind of stupid," she said. "I don't think I'm the most attractive person in the world, but I don't think I'm so hideous you have to shove me into a back room."

NOW Mourns Passing of Longtime NOW and Lesbian Rights Activist Del Martin

Statement of NOW President Kim Gandy

August 27, 2008


Along with NOW activists everywhere, I am terribly saddened at the passing of longtime NOW and lesbian rights activist Del Martin. We extend our love and condolences to Del's wife, Phyllis Lyon, who was her partner in life and in activism for more than half a century.

Del was truly an inspiration to me and to countless others who fight every day for Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender rights. Marriage equality was a passion for Del and Phyllis, and they were married not once but twice in California -- most recently this June, when they became the first couple to wed after same-sex marriage became legal in the state.

Del authored the groundbreaking book Battered Wives, among many impressive accomplishments during her 87 years. Together with Phyllis, Del founded the first national lesbian rights organization, the Daughters of Bilitis, in 1955 and wrote another pivotal book, Lesbian/Woman.

At NOW's Lesbian Rights Summit in 1999, I was honored to present Del and Phyllis with Woman of Courage Awards. They stood before a standing-room-only crowd and noted how far we've come as a movement; Del emphasized the need "to unite as never before and face the grip that the extreme right wing holds over our country."

We owe a great deal to Del. She was a true pioneer who never tired, never gave up on her mission to secure full equality for each of us. Del's work will continue to touch the lives of future generations, and her spirit will live on in the work of NOW and our allies.

NOW encourages women's rights and LGBT advocates to submit tributes to Del Martin on our website.


###

Women Film Critics: An Endangered Species?

By Jennifer Merin, The Women's Media Center
Posted on August 27, 2008, Printed on August 27, 2008
http://www.alternet.org/story/96487/

Mainstream media paid scant attention to Martha Lauzen's "Thumbs Down: Representation of Women Film Critics in the Top 100 U.S. Daily Newspapers" when the report was published on July 28 by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ), although the posting was supported by simultaneous distribution to 500 entertainment media and movie industry A-listers.

This latest study from the guru of women-in-Hollywood statistics and analysis indicates that 70 percent of movie reviews published in America's top 100 daily newspapers are written by men, and that 47 percent of those publications -- almost half -- ran no reviews written by female critics.

Lauzen's impeccably researched report shows that women are still marginalized in the national discussion about film, arguably our country's most influential cultural commodity -- a medium of sweeping social, political and economic significance.

AWFJ, an organization of which I am president, wasn't surprised by the report's findings, nor that they were so conspicuously underreported. Disappointed, perhaps, but not surprised. Why would newspapers -- or media in general -- call attention to or even acknowledge a situation that might inspire their readers and viewers to ask disturbing questions?

The deeply entrenched disparity between the number of women who go to movies and the number of women who write about them rankles female film critics. But the issues extend far beyond a relatively small group of media professionals to directly affect moviegoers -- especially women. Many, if not most, women look to mainstream media outlets for information, and it stands to reason that they'd find the perspective of perceptive, well-informed professional female critics useful. The relative paucity of female voices in film criticism is a manifestation of an industry that favors male-made, male-oriented movies despite the fact that women are avid moviegoers.

We escape into movies to laugh, cry and kick ass, alone or with friends. We learn from cinema how to solve problems in our relationships and careers, we let films baby sit for and educate our children. Sometimes we just marvel at the exquisite artistry of the movies.

Lauzen's report and her unimpeachable statistics have opened the door for a much-needed assessment of what's lost through gender disparity in film criticism.

That debate is taking place on the Internet, where mainstream media reporters -- notably Sean Means at Salt Lake City Tribune, Brandy McDonnell at The Oklahoman, Annie Wagner at the Seattle-based The Stranger, Rania Richardson at Indiewire.com and Anne Thompson at Variety.com -- used their well-read blogs to report on Lauzen's findings, although they were apparently given neither space nor leeway to do so in print. Collectively, they have a huge and diverse following on the web. Hopefully the awareness they sparked and discussions they initiated will be ongoing.

Indicating the report's web reach, UK-based ObsessedWithFilm.com's Michael Kaminski was inspired to present his own observations on gender bias: Amazon.com's list of 50 best-selling movie history and criticism books includes only seven women authors; and women inductees into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences averaged only 27 percent of new members over the last five years.

Closer to home, comments by Salon.com's Stephanie Zacharek raise another concern: "The big news isn't that daily newspapers aren't hiring women as critics; it's that many of them have ceased caring whether they have a full-time movie critic at all," she writes. Lauzen's numbers, she continues, "don't trouble me as much as the pervasiveness of the idea that critics -- the last line of defense between moviegoers and studio-generated hype -- no longer matter."

That said, Zacharek gets anecdotal about gender bias: She turned down a job as a major daily's film critic because the salary "was so laughably low. The editor who interviewed me ... made no secret that the paper wanted to hire a female critic, but clearly, what the joint really wanted was a cheap date."

AWFJ experienced the combined impact of Zacharek's concerns and Lauzen's statistics when two members, Eleanor Ringel and Mary Pols, were retired-by-buyout from hard-earned, long-standing careers at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Contra Costa Times, respectively. Other AWFJ members report space cutbacks and confide fears they'll be pushed into Buyoutsville or worse.

The Internet is clearly film criticism's future forum, and the instrument of its democratization. AWFJ is on board. We provide members with a well-trafficked platform at AWFJ.org, where Pols' post-buyout essay, "Reflections of a Former (and Future) Critic," reached a vast and diverse readership via pick up in mainstream online media, most notably Movie City News (which is of Biblical importance to the movie industry and entertainment media) and USAToday.com. It will take this level of exposure to effect change.

AWFJ is concerned not only about mainstream media's gender bias, but also about discrepancies in the quality, credibility and credentials of some bloggers -- men and women -- who position themselves as movie critics on the web. As an organization, we're wary about marketers in critics' camouflage (whether or not their mission is to tout films made by and about women) who use personal blogs to demand the recognition and clout that years of experience and dedication have earned for the professionals.

And, we see a vast difference between what a seasoned Ringel or Pols delivers online and what's posted by newcomers, some of whom regard experience and painstakingly acquired knowledge of film history and theory as irrelevant. Yet we encourage new voices -- especially women's -- though outreach programs, and have published students' reviews on AWFJ.org.

AWFJ is committed to raising the volume on women critics' voices wherever we hear them, even if they come as faint whispers. Our ultimate concern, however, is not gender-based advocacy but the support and exposure of world-class critical voices that might otherwise be silenced or reduced to a whisper by cultural biases so deeply woven into the fabric of society that many people don't believe they exist. Our commitment is to excellence, because everyone benefits when the best and the brightest share their informed insights about the ever changing and increasingly complex world we share.

Jennifer Merin currently interviews directors and reviews films and DVDs for New York Press and covers nonfiction film for Documentaries.About.com.
© 2008 The Women's Media Center All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/96487/

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Woman forced from federal building for wearing lesbian t-shirt

by AP News
African American woman feels discrimination every day.

LOS ANGELES—A woman wearing a T-shirt promoting lesbianism said she was forced the leave a federal building Monday by a security guard who didn't approve of her attire.

Lapriss Gilbert said she was picking up a Social Security card for her son when the guard was offended by her "lesbian.com" shirt and threatened her with arrest.

She was eventually allowed inside after her mother called police, according to a Los Angeles Daily News story.

The guard, whose name was not immediately available, works for Paragon Security, which contracts with the Department of Homeland Security.

Lori Haley, a spokeswoman within the Homeland Security Department, said the guard's actions were inappropriate and unacceptable.

"We have notified his company, Paragon, of our position in the matter," Haley said.

A message left with Paragon Security was not immediately returned Monday night.
Gilbert said the guard cited a document, the Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property, as proof he had jurisdiction over her clothing. The document does not address what type of clothing is allowed in federal buildings.

Gilbert called the guard's actions "shocking."

"As an African-American and a lesbian, I haven't been through one day without facing some sort of discrimination," Gilbert said.

Her mother called police after Gilbert was kicked out, but another security guard escorted her to the front of the Social Security line before officers arrived, the Daily News reported.

According to a police report, a witness described Gilbert as "peaceful and quiet" before the guard told her to leave.

It was 88 Years Ago Today

And no that wasn't when Sargent Pepper taught the band to play.

I know it is hard to believe but prior to August 26, 1920, a mere 88 years ago, women in the United States did not have the right to vote.

There are still people mostly right wing religious fanatics and Ann Coulter who believe that our getting the vote was a mistake.

Others believe that voting will never bring about meaningful change and so they don't vote. Even worst they suggest others throw away their vote on candidates who serve as spoilers. Voting for candidates such as Nader or McKinney my seem noble. They may well be the best candidate yet splitting the progressive vote means we end up with corporate tools and right wing puppets governing us.

I will admit that I am a late comer to the Obama camp. I desperately wanted Hillary Clinton to be the candidate. I contributed to her campaign and I saw her candidacy as a victory for all women. I am proud to have supported her.

But I believe it is important that we not lose sight of how interwoven oppression can be and how futile it is to engage in horizontal comparisons of oppression that only serve to divide us.

I saw Senator Obama speak here in Dallas in 2005 along with Senator Biden and Senator Reid. I remember how proud I felt as a Democrat to have these Senators representing me. Any one of the candidates who started the race to represent the Democratic Party in this fall's elections would represent the common people of this nation far better than any of the rich white elite Republican candidates.

Last night I watched Michelle Obama speak. While I was put off by all the religion speak I realize how important it was for her to say these things knowing how the right wing uses religion as a tool to divide and oppress women as well as LGBT people.

I was moved by her genuine warmth and humanity. I loved her for her intellect, poise and beauty, her pride. I felt a connection to her when she spoke of growing up in a working class home. She grew up in a family that knew hardship and learned compassion. Compassion is an ethic I have rarely seen in any Republican first lady.

One does not learn compassion at elite private schools, surrounded by the rich and privileged unless one leaves that background and gives of oneself. Giving of oneself to help others is not part of the "I've got mine, screw you. Greed is good." Republican mindset.

Most of all I am not just a feminist. I am a little young for the early 1960s civil rights struggles. When I was a college freashman people who had participated in Freedom Summer spoke at our college. I was in awe of their courage.

I know that since the strides we made toward improving race relations in the 1960s and 1970s there has been a backlash and a reimposing of segregation. Perhaps electing Obama will help heal the wounds of racism.

If nothing else President Obama will bring people who care about the common people, people with compassion and a respect for the rights of all Americans back into the White House.

Any woman who cares about the rights of women needs to ask herself if she really wants to see John McCain nominating any judges to the Supreme Court.

I whole heartedly support Barack Obaa and Joe Biden

My New Blog

I chose "Woman Rebel" as a Blog Title to honor Margaret Sanger. Margaret Sanger was a free thinker and a courageous leader in the fight to give women control over their own bodies by providing them with methods of contraception. For a short time in the early 20th Century she published a paper called "The Woman Rebel". Like the New York Times uses "All the news that is fit to print" The Woman Rebel also had a motto. Its motto was one that is most often associated with anarchism, "No Gods No Masters".

In the 1960s one of the major feminist battles was over women's right to control their own bodies
. Most states limited birth control to married women. Development of oral contraception brought reliable birth control to the masses.

There was immediate resistance to the idea of women having access to contraception from the Catholic Church as well as from Fundamentalist religious sects of many of the world's religions.

These battles further heated up when women fought for access to abortion. Prior to the Roe v. Wade decision in January 1973 access to abortion was illegal in most states, limited in those few where it was legal.

Women were taught that their biology ruled their destiny, that their main purpose in life was to bear children. One of the common button worn by second wave feminists said, "Biology is not Destiny." Access to birth control and abortion frees us to be fully human. to become something beyond mothers. To remain childless without forswearing sex.

For this reason and so many more I admire the free thinking Margaret Sanger.

This is why I chose Woman Rebel for my Blog Title along with her motto "No Gods, No Masters"