Madhouse, a nationwide discount clothing chain in Britain, is under fire for producing sexist washing instructions on a label.
"I'm just as serious as a heart attack. I'm serious about the potential side effects of Viagra. I'm as serious as my right-wing male colleagues who introduced bills to legislate women's health."
-Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner. See "A taste of their own medicine," below.
A taste of their own medicine
Several Democratic women legislators across the country have been countering anti-abortion and anti-contraception legislation by introducing men's health-focused measures that come with conditions. For example:
Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner's bill would require men to receive psychological counseling to verify they have a medical reason for taking erectile dysfunction medications, and would require doctors to inform men in writing about the potential risks of drugs like Viagra.
Virginia state Sen. Janet Howell's bill would require men to obtain a rectal exam before obtaining such a prescription.
Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy introduced an amendment to a mandatory ultrasound bill that would require men to watch a graphic video about Viagra's side effects before being able to receive a prescription for it.
Oklahoma state Sen. Constance Johnson proposed a "spilled semen" amendment to her state's "fetal personhood" bill that would declare it an act against unborn children for men to waste sperm.
Terri O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, said, "Obviously in terms of policy we would not support any of these amendments; health care is health care and should be left to the individual man and his doctor or woman and hers." She also commented she thinks they're a "brilliant" strategy to combat anti-abortion legislation.
Call her Madame, not Mademoiselle
In February, the French prime minister's office said the courtesy title Mademoiselle should be removed from all administrative documents.
Until now, women were required to identify themselves as married (Madame) or unmarried (Mademoiselle) on everything from tax forms to insurance claims and voting cards. There was no neutral option like the English Ms. Men only had to tick one option-Monsieur-whether married or not.
Feminist groups, including Osez le féminisme and Les Chiennes de Garde, had run a long campaign against what they called the blatant discrimination against women on official forms.
Feminists now want private businesses to follow suit so women do not have to identify themselves as Mademoiselle or Madame for simple transactions like buying music online or booking an airline ticket.
Contraceptive Equity Act
On March 7, Minnesota DFL legislators introduced a bill (House File 2737) requiring Minnesota health plans providing prescription drug coverage to cover contraception without charging a co-pay. Passage of such legislation would make Minnesota the 29th state to enact such a prescription equity law.
"This is a basic issue of ensuring we have an equitable health care system that represents the needs of all Minnesotans," said Rep. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul), chief author of the bill. "Covering contraception without cost sharing smartly confronts cost as a barrier for Minnesota women accessing effective health care."
The bill would allow a religious exemption to companies/organizations not wanting to provide such coverage, but would instead require health plans to provide contraception coverage directly to the employee.
Rep. Murphy hopes that in introducing, and eventually passing this bill, a clear message will be sent to women in Minnesota that they will have fair access to basic health care.
"Over the past several weeks, both nationally and in other states, we have seen repeated attacks on access to basic health care for women," Murphy said. "We are here to say 'not in Minnesota.'"
Equal Pay Day
Tuesday, April 17, is National Equal Pay Day.
This date symbolizes how far into 2012 women must work, in addition to their salary in 2011, to earn what men earned in 2011. Nationally, women on average earn 77¢ to each dollar earned by men. In Minnesota, we are at 79¢.
3. Learn more about our own state's pay equity work. Visit the Pay Equity Coalition of Minnesota's website:
www.mnwomen.org/PECOM.htm. Minnesota's pay equity structure for public employees is model legislation nationally.