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Part Five: The Gender of Justice

Precedent doesn't always pave a clear path forward. Obstacles remain for women when it comes to applying the law in cases involving men and their perceived rights.


Whether at times of war, in a secluded dark alley, or the matrimonial home, the consequence for assaulting a woman is little to none. But the moment these victims fought back they became criminals in the eyes of the law.

Violence against women is as prevalent today as its always been. Sure, our leaders like to tout the unacceptable 'idea' of domestic violence, rape, and sex trafficking, but do little to nothing in preventing or stopping it. After all, the 'boys will be boys' mentality still persists.


When Judge Archie Simonson of Dade County Wisconsin voiced what all the men in the room were thinking, in 1977, he faced a recall election[1]. When he stated that a 15-year-old rapist was merely reacting normally[2] to sexual permissiveness of teenage girls, they drug him through the streets of a sensationalized media like the collateral damage he was, not because women were horrified by his remarks, but because his opinion cracked the tinted glass men have been hiding behind since Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem pulled the curtain down.


We need only look to the sensationalized story of Cyntoia Brown to see this mindset still playing out today. At 14 years of age, she killed a 34-year-old real estate broker, after he solicited her for sex. Claiming she felt threatened, and was convinced he was going for his gun, she reached for hers.[3] Tried as an adult, the prosecution argued that she shot him for the mere purpose of robbing him, she was a prostitute after all. Which is interesting, given the age of consent is 17–18 (depending on the state). We must have repercussions when a girl kills a man, regardless of what wrong he is doing, lest we knock the tower of patriarchy askew.


In 2019 Nikki Addimando was convicted of 2nd degree murder of her domestic partner, she claimed physically and sexually abused her for years. While photographs depicting deep bruises to her chest and face were present at trial along with pictures of rope-burns, the prosecution insisted they were self-inflicted. The prosecuting attorney, in full Schlafly style, not only insisted that if this abuse occurred, Nikki wanted it, or she would have left, she was also successful in suppressing video evidence of her boyfriend sexually assaulting her, that he posted to pornographic websites without her consent.


Although the presiding judge agreed Addimando was the victim of abuse, he decided it wasn't perpetuated by the man she killed. Proclaiming his belief that she consented to horrific incidents, such as having her genitals burned, and being sodomized with her partners gun, he sentenced her to 19 years to life, following a 2019 conviction of 2nd degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon.[4] In 2021, her sentence was reduced under the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, to just over seven years.[5]


Fifteen-year-old Piper Lewis was charged with first degree murder when she stabbed her rapist to death in 2020. Acting in self-defense after a man forced her at knife point to go with him to his apartment, where he raped her repeatedly. When he eventually fell asleep, Piper grabbed the knife from the bedside table and stabbed him over 30 times.


While the prosecution did in fact believe she was sexually assaulted, they felt a sleeping man was not an immediate threat and she should have just got up and left. The juxtaposition of the law itself leaves justice lying somewhere between an illusion and a right, dependent on your race, your belief system, and most certainly on your gender.


The prosecution had the audacity to complain when Piper called herself a victim, proclaiming it an example of her not taking responsibility for stabbing a man to death and leaving his children without a father.[6] Wait…what?!


Piper Lewis eventually pled to involuntary manslaughter and willful injury. She was sentenced to 5 years of supervised probation, along with a mandatory restitution to the 'victims' family of $150k![7] Surviving rape always comes with a price.


Just another case of an assaulted woman becoming a criminal, the moment she fought back. Cases such as these are far more commonplace than anyone wants to believe. A simple internet search quickly renders dozens of similar cases across the nation.



[1] https://www.jstor.org/stable/3346835

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/1977/08/26/archives/judge-who-suggested-boy-in-rape-reacted-normally-draws-more-ire.html

[3] https://www.npr.org/2019/08/07/749025458/cyntoia-brown-released-after-15-years-in-prison-for-murder

[4] https://westandwithnikki.com/case

[5] https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/local/2021/07/14/murderer-nicole-addimando-sentence-reduced-domestic-violence-act/7967311002/

[6] https://www.npr.org/2022/09/14/1122904939/iowa-teenager-pieper-lewis-killed-accused-rapist-ordered-pay-150000

[7] https://www.npr.org/2022/09/14/1122904939/iowa-teenager-pieper-lewis-killed-accused-rapist-ordered-pay-150000

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Part Four: The Gender of Justice

The more women demand equality the least safe we become. The 1967 bullhorn over the segregation of 'want ads' in the New York Times quickly morphed into a rallying cry for autonomy on the steps of the United States Supreme Court. By 1973, Roe v Wade was handed down and the E.R.A (Equal Right Amendment) passed legislation. In the midst of the battle everyone went home. Confident they had won, the volume came down and women's liberation became a distant reverberation of a housewife's fever dream.


Women believed they had finally conquered man. Yet the journey for states to ratify the E.R.A hit an unexpected wall, built by a woman, Phyllis Schlafly. Phyllis may not have filled the classroom history books like Steinem and Friedan, but she certainly had a lasting impact on women's rights. A loud whisper in a room held by men, she continued to voice her rhetoric and distaste for the ideal of equality between men and women.


At the National Women's Conference in Houston Texas, November of 1977, Phyllis was asked about federal dollars being used to establish shelters for battered women, her response spoke volumes. Insisting that giving a wife who has been beaten a vacation at the taxpayers' expense isn't going to solve her problem.[1] Though a self-proclaimed Catholic Conservative she insisted the woman only needed a divorce lawyer.


Her anti-feminist campaign not only stalled the Equal Rights Amendment but had long reaching effects on social policy and conservative politics until her death. She vehemently opposed The Domestic Violence Against Women Act, insisting it promotes the breakup of marriages, divorce, and hatred of men.[2]


From physical abuse to violent rape, Domestic Violence is real. It's a very real nightmare that millions of women live in every day. What do you do when your rapist isn't a stranger, but the man lying in your bed every night, the one you swore to love in sickness and health. The man whom you can't wake from. When your husband is your attacker, who can a woman turn to?


Phyllis Schlafly once insisted "by getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape."[3] Schlafly wasn't alone. Spousal rape exemption clauses can be traced back to the 17th century jurist Matthew Hale, in which he proclaimed a man cannot commit rape upon his lawful wife, as the marital contract itself established consent. This common interpretation affected women's lives for centuries. In thirty-eight states the exemption would include unmarried men, who cohabitated with a woman.[1]


The first state to repeal such an exclusion was Nebraska in 1976.[2] Many states followed in some form, but it would take until 1993 before Oklahoma and North Carolina joined the ranks. Repealing spousal exemptions weren't all they promised to be, as many went a step further in creating a difference between rape and spousal rape. Allowing the punishment for spousal rape to be less harsh, not much changed for women.[3] As recent as 2002, only 24 states had completely abolished marital rape exemptions.


Assault against women has many forms, and sexual is only one. The beating of one's wife was often viewed as a private domestic issue. Going back only 60 years, states like New York referred domestic violence cases from criminal court to family court, where only civil procedures could apply.


Yet four years later, a change to New York Domestic Relation Law included physical abuse. A beating, as a form of cruel and inhumane punishment by a spouse, finally became valid grounds for a divorce. However, the 1966 ruling required the plaintiff to establish a sufficient number of beatings had taken place. What was considered 'sufficient' remained evasive when the Court of Appeals held that two beatings did not constitute enough reason for divorce. The court would also question the validity of such a claim, if the woman continued to cohabitate following an act of cruelty.[4] Any woman that stayed, clearly enjoyed a beating or was making it all up for attention. A woman with limited resources, would be required to flee her home and in many cases for a predetermined amount of time, before a judge would grant her a divorce on such claims.


Getting a divorce is only one barrier for a woman seeking safety. When Francine Hughes divorced her abusive husband in 1971, he refused to leave and continued to reside with her and their children. In March of 1977, after yet another physical altercation, she poured gasoline near the bed he was passed out in and lit it. Charged with murder, the court set a groundbreaking precedent when she was acquitted on grounds of 'temporary insanity'.[5]


As though in her last breath, Phyllis Schlafly's final book The Conservative Case for Trump, released in 2016 the day after her passing, she attempts to sway the minds of the masses once again by proclaiming more government interference in things she found repulsive, would equal less restrictions and a more comfortable life for conservative Christians like herself.


In 2023, we can be certain the Phyllis' of the world are still here, still fighting and still rebelling against the majority, in the hopes of a minority rule. In the wake of the Dobbs[4] decision, we must not falter in our step nor retreat in a perceived defeat. We must rise, as never before, and lift those behind us as we climb. Our daughters are watching.

[1] https://digitalcommons.law.ggu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1248&context=ggulrev

[2] https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/sop.2009.52.4.505#:~:text=Despite%20this%20resistance%2C%20in%201976,eliminating%20their%20spousal%20rape%20exemptions.

[3] https://msmagazine.com/2021/10/13/can-your-husband-rape-you-california-law-spousal-rape-exemption/

[4] https://scholarship.law.stjohns.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1207&context=jcred

[5] https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/francine-hughes-wilson-whose-burning-bed-became-a-tv-film-dies-at-69/2017/03/31/a1799db8-161c-11e7-ada0-1489b735b3a3_story.html

[1] https://www.tampabay.com/archive/1999/07/29/delicious-irony-the-now-cookbook/

[2] https://www.berkshireeagle.com/archives/only-the-favored-get-equal-rights/article_eb479b03-5fbe-5f5e-b688-4d63c29e50fa.html

[3] https://www.biography.com/activists/phyllis-schlafly

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dobbs_v._Jackson_Women%27s_Health_Organization#:~:text=The%20majority%20held%20that%20abortion,to%20regulate%20access%20to%20abortion.

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Part Three: The Gender of Justice

Part Three: The Gender of Justice

The ultimate crime against a woman, rape, wasn't always viewed as a crime at all. From an acceptable tactic in war to the bedrooms of marital bliss, rape has always been about control. Control over women, in an effort to control men and prove ones virility.


Raping the women of ones adversary was once considered a conquerors right, "…[to] destroy all remaining illusions of power and property for men of the defeated side." Unfortunately, by its reputation alone, rape is the easiest accusation to make, and the hardest to prove.[1] The truth is much darker, as studies estimate one in six women will be forcibly raped in her lifetime, less than 40% will be reported to law enforcement.[2]


The burden of proof is a steep climb for any victim. Prior to 1974, many states, including New York, required a corroborating witness for all cases of rape before the law would consider a claim, after all no woman can be a reliable witness to her own assault.


If she had such evidence, her claim would then be subjected to several objective criteria. First up is the 'consent' factor. Did you fight them off to the 'utmost' of your ability? Did you scream for help? Did you verbally refuse?


Compliance for any reason, including fear, was viewed as consent. If you weren't struggling with maximum of might, screaming your head off the entire time for them to stop, you consented. Without these, how was a man to know you didn't want it?


It was and is a wide belief that women lie about lack of consent for several beneficial reasons; because they desire forceful intercourse, they are seeking vengeance, as a means of blackmail or they simply imagined the rape happened. Women cannot be trusted.


In 1974, thirty minutes after Inez Garcia of Monterey California, was raped, the two men responsible threatened her, promising worse if she didn't leave town. She didn't wait, she went after them with a rifle. Killing the man that forcibly held her down, her bullet missed the man who raped her. The judge refused to allow evidence of the rape to be presented at trial and she was convicted of murder in October of 1974. During a retrial in 1977, her attorney argued self-defense and was allowed to present Garcia's account of the rape. She was finally acquitted.


In the same year, Joan Little was charged with murdering her jailer after he raped her. Pleading self-defense against sexual assault, she was charged with first degree murder, although the victim was found naked from the waist down inside her jail cell, with semen on his leg. She stabbed him in the temple and chest with an ice pick, he had brought into the cell. Her acquittal in 1975 was the first of its kind in cases of rape.


While the #metoo movement may have turned on a light, millions of women still suffer alone in the dark, every day. At the hands of men, women continue to be blamed for the actions of their oppressors. Until women are equal citizens under the law, they will continue to be treated as a footnote in our collective history.



[1] Brownmiller, Susan. Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. Simon and Schuster, 1975

[2] https://www.wvnstv.com/news/rape-is-one-of-the-most-underreported-crimes-heres-why/#:~:text=Despite%20the%20fact%20that%20studies,are%20reported%20to%20law%20enforcement.


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A Brief Note on The Gender of Justice

Part Two:


If women could not be kept under man's control, then they must be punished more extensively than a man. The 1913 Muncy Act of Pennsylvania dictated a mandatory and exclusive sentencing provision for women convicted of a crime, to be imprisoned for more time than a man convicted of the same crime. Most women received indeterminate sentencing under this rule, that led to the long-term incarceration of women.


The constitutionality of the Muncy Act wasn't called into question until 1966 when Jane Daniels was charged with burglary, aggravated robbery, carrying a concealed deadly weapon and possession of a firearm. She was convicted and Judge Stern sentenced her to 1–4 years in prison on May 3, 1966. However, on June 3, he vacated his own sentence and resentenced her under the Muncy Act to an indefinite term of imprisonment.


She appealed, claiming a violation of the 14th Amendment, under the equal protection clause. The Muncy Act definitively provided a distinction between males and females when it came to sentencing, but the appellate court did not agree, and her appeal was denied.



Ironically The Muncy Act was repealed in1968, due to its violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.[2]

As we recognize the benefits, historical significance, and impact of women in our communities, across our nation and in the world at large, may we also remember the long, often winding, and difficult road it has been and continues to be, toward freedom.


[1] https://casetext.com/case/com-v-daniels-59

[2] https://law.justia.com/cases/pennsylvania/supreme-court/1968/430-pa-642-0.html

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The Gender of Justice

Outside any courthouse you can find a blindfolded lady constructed in concrete, proudly holding the scales of righteousness, the sword of swiftness all while proclaiming justice is blind. A courtroom, the final stop on the road to the truth, promises equal treatment under the law.


It fails to mention this is reserved for men only, more specifically straight white men. The very law of the land, written by and for men, to protect men. The subjugation of women isn't merely a side effect, it's the whole damn point.


Monotonous statutes penned over centuries to ensure man's control. From the Comstock Act of 1873, to forced procreation, the law has a long history of infringing upon women. With over 120 laws introduced across the nation this year alone attacking the LGBTQ community, it's not surprising that many are aimed at stripping the right of Trans people to simply exist.[1] After all, we mustn't allow the indoctrination of our children to include the acceptance, and love of those deemed immoral by those in charge.


The more one investigates the decades of the women's liberation movement, the more you will find yourself face to face with the present. Like seriously, is there a cosmic mirror we are unaware of?


In this multi-part series, we peel back the layers of a deep truth long suppressed from the history books. Stories of women that are often twisted and reshaped to fit the narrative of those in charge for no other reason than for them to remain in power.


Let's get started, after all there is a lot to unpack and only a month to talk about it. We wouldn't want the celebration of women to outshine the perpetual legacy of old white men ruling over them. Speaking of men ruling over women…


Part One:


In 1873, Anthony Comstock celebrated congress passing the 'Act for the Suppression of Trade in, and Circulation of, Obscene Literature and Articles of Immoral Use'. While the statute didn't offer a definition of 'obscene', it sought to suppress the dissemination of, and possession of, information and/or instruments it deemed 'immoral', 'obscene', and 'indecent'. From pamphlets, books, pictures and drawings, the moral compass of the country was headed to hell and mankind was at stake.


Of course, no law would be complete if a woman wasn't specifically subject to his wrath, thus the inclusion of anything pertaining to contraception and abortion, even if written by a physician, was quickly added as a misdemeanor offense. Congress agreed women could not be trusted with such knowledge and designated Comstock himself as a special agent, giving him the power to arrest anyone he deemed in violation of the act.[2]


Resolved to prevent what he determined a crime and the inevitable corruption of children, Comstock set out to reset the moral compass of America. Setting his sights on Ezra Heywood, he would make an example of this threatening feminist, who studied women's role in society. When Heywood published Cupids Yokes, in which he asserted women should have the right to control their own bodies, Comstock swooped in and arrested him for making obscene observations. He even went so far as to arrest another man for mailing him a copy of this vile compilation.


Comstock more vehemently sought to enforce another aspect of the act, which included birth control and began arresting physicians for supplying written materials explaining pregnancy and how to prevent it. How dare women control the size of their families, even if they are poor- it wasn't their place and Comstock was making it his.


President Theodore Roosevelt tended to agree, when he penned a venomous letter in 1906 to a reverend in Nebraska for merely suggesting one purposely limit their family size. Roosevelt compared its immorality to that of prostitution and theft, proclaiming anyone disagreeing with him lacked intelligence and character. Accusing the reverend of blasphemy that would lead to the total destruction of the human race, Roosevelt made clear his position on women and their right to autonomy. He wasn't alone then, nor now.[3]


The United States and its Supreme Court continues to obliterate the perceived rights of women, reminding us at every turn, we were never part of the founding father's intention. When women are not full citizens of a country built on the ideal of freedom, it says more about what actual democracy is, not what its suppose to be.


The white man's discovery of a faraway land, to the creation of an idyllic world has never been about equality. The road from 1619 to 2023 is a long and winding one, and honestly no one could cover it all in a mere thirty days. We invite you to peek behind the wall of containment and perhaps break a few bricks with us. Join us as we shine a light in a few dark corners hidden in the halls of congress, illuminating the elusiveness of actual justice.

[1] https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/over-120-bills-restricting-lgbtq-rights-introduced-nationwide-2023-so-far
[2] https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/1038/comstock-act-of-1873#:~:text=The%20Comstock%20Act%20of%201873,picture%2C%20drawing%2C%20or%20advertisement.

[3] https://www.sethkaller.com/item/1965-21123.99-President-Theodore-Roosevelt-Condemns-Abortion,-Birth-Control,-and-Family-Planning&from=12#:~:text=In%20an%20article%20published%20five,1911%2C%20763%2D69).

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Freedom's Wildfire

Freedom's Wildfire


2022 rolled in as the elusive hands of time clicked into place, marking another trip around the sun. We crawled out of the soot, shook off the gritty remnants of a year gone by and exchanged our grievances for resolutions we had no intentions of keeping.


Although much of this past year felt like we were standing still, waiting for the perpetual ball to drop, we welcomed back a life moving forward as the world reopened. Our shared experience in the fragility of our own mortality somehow left our communities and our country evermore divided and seemingly on fire.


The politics of a free world came crashing into our lives, whether invited or not. Democracy; the land, the myth, the legend. The Great Experiment of our forefathers unraveling to the beat of journalistic sensationalism and the evolutionary human need to survive, and of course, be right.


Being right morphed into something no longer recognizable. It was no longer about truth and provable details as a world of 'alternate facts' became the petri dish of discourse and conspiracy. A mob mentality spun out of control, leading mankind down a dismal and burning path of consequence over integrity as people pledged their allegiance to a man, over their country. Disregarding the very flag that allowed them a choice, they coveted a golden idol as though the world they dreamt of were literally in his hands.


Over 1.1 million people in the United States died from COVID[1], and in true American tradition, the masses took to the airwaves to discredit a man who simply stated the facts. A scientist with nothing to gain and everything to lose relayed his expertise and like a bucket of water to a growing flame, it all went up in smoke.


Coming out of a pandemic hibernation felt more like climbing out of a cave, our eyes squinting as we struggled to see clearly. A collective celebration of survival and triumph would have to wait; after all there were more intensifying things in need of our attention.


Taking a giant step backward in time, the white-washing, mansplaining patriarchy and its supremacy flipped the vernacular of its supposed enemy and used it to justify the banning of books and the teaching of actual history simply because it did not fit their personal narratives. Snatching up the word 'woke' from black culture and using it as the blade to a sword designed to instill fear, aging white men and naïve millennials coddled it like a newborn. Bending and twisting its definition into something fictional, they raised it into an empirical threat, warning the masses that because of it whiteness was on the brink of extinction.


From supply chain issues to rising grocery costs to the unrelenting climb of oil prices, everyone scrambled to point the finger and blame anyone, except the real cause. Greed. A true American pastime, greed built this country and its powerhouse legacies. It continues to rule over Congress, political parties, corporate entities and even our neighbors.


We learned an election, like a single strike of a match, can conjure an unyielding blaze that will destroy everything in its path. Leaving the 'every man for himself' mentality to fester, down to the last dollar and the paper it's printed on, it becomes the fueling ember to the holy grail of survival.


The Supreme Court of the United States, once the respected and honored last word on the interpretation of our sacred Constitution, cast itself into the limelight of politics. Sailing across the bench and into the pockets of those in power, they tossed out precedents like breadcrumbs to an overgrown trail. Quoting the defender of marital exemption in cases of rape, the Supreme Court of the United States used the words of Chief Justice Matthew Hale, of the King's Bench, to justify stripping women of their autonomy. American women stood stunned at the border of equality watching our bodies again become the property of men as though the 1600's had somehow reemerged through a smoke-filled mirror.


The twenty-four-hour news cycle moving at the rapidity of quickly tapping fingers, even the speed of light cannot compete with an ever-changing gossip and rumor mill being dispersed through technology.  Everyone's wrong, everyone's right, and everyone claims to be winning. Our failure to recognize that two wrongs never equal a right, no matter who benefits from it, has cloaked an entire country in an interminable wildfire.


The masses demand freedom while simultaneously sacrificing the same for others, like pawns on a chessboard. Each wielding and threatening free-will like it belongs to them, and them alone. Demanding less government, while supporting its interference into the lives of those deemed unworthy, becomes the juxtaposition of a more perfect union. Our collective right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness remains an oozing ulcer that continues to hold our world hostage and our planet tilted on its axis.


Yet in the ash, rising above the smoldering shrapnel of an invasion, we watch a tiny country stand united in its desire to remain a democracy. No one could have predicted an unlikely leader, freely elected by a people, would one day arm each of them and stand fervently beside them in the war-torn streets where their homes once stood. Together and steadfast they continue to sacrifice their very lives to keep hold of that very precious ideal that Americans have long taken for granted.


A combined allegiance to a country, to a flag, has long carved the messy details of a history steeped in righteousness and wickedness. The virtue of society resting concurrently and unsteadily on the shoulders of integrity and dishonesty. Whether or not the change it brings has been for the greater good or a greater power remains to be seen.  


When you light the yule log and greet the new year ahead of us, may you remember all those before you and all those with you along this ever-winding road. And may we all wake in the morning to the warmth of family and find freedom still outside our front doors.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/covid-cases.html

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It's Never Been About Life

An unprecedented leak from the United States Supreme Court has women across the country panicking, certain their right to retain control over their own bodies will be decimated in the very near future. A woman's right to decide whether to bear children has a very dark and ominous history in America, and it began long before the infamous landmark decision in Roe v. Wade.


While criminalizing abortion across the country, government contradictions ran as rampant as they do today. In 1847 doctors came together and created the American Medical Association, which became the male-dominated authority on all medical practices. Phasing out the services of midwives and nurses was only the beginning in a long tradition of making decisions for women about their own healthcare.


This group of men believed they should have the power to decide when an abortion was necessary and forged ahead with a campaign to criminalize abortion that would last until the 1973 Roe v Wade decision was handed down.[1]


Working to prohibit and outlaw abortion, the country simultaneously executed other ways in which to prevent a woman from making her own decisions when it came to reproduction. Certain only they could define 'life' and 'liberty', it was imperative men keep control over procreation.


Laws preventing the issuance of marriage licenses to anyone thought to be an imbecile, an epileptic or mentally impaired were implemented in 1905. The state of Indiana passed the first legislation legalizing sterilization in 1907, mandating the sterilization of all criminals, idiots, rapists and imbeciles in custody of the state institutions. Until its complete repeal in 1974[2] over 2500 individuals had been involuntarily sterilized, with 52% being women.[3] 


Other states soon joined and in 1909 the addition of sterilization laws in California, Washington State and Connecticut were executed.[4] While the implementation of forced sterilization was gaining ground, the push to criminalize abortion sent the practice underground. Resulting in the death of nearly 2,700 women in 1930 alone.


The ongoing death toll from back-alley abortions motivated Planned Parenthood to create the first of its kind conference on abortion, in 1955. Although conference attendees overwhelming called for abortion laws to be rewritten to preserve the lives of woman, not much changed.


Even though the introduction of Thalidomide in the 1950's – 1960's, to pregnant women resulted in severe birth defects, a woman still could not get a legal abortion in the United States.


In 1966 nine physicians were sued for performing abortions on women who had been exposed to Rubella, a disease known to cause devastating birth defects. The formation of NARAL ( National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws) in 1969, spearheaded a nationwide effort to legalize abortion and repeal abortion ban laws.


This campaign led to the complete repeal of abortion bans in four states and abortion laws being rewritten in 13 more. Keeping in step with preferred attributes, these amendments would allow for abortion in specific cases, including risk to the woman, rape, incest, and what was deemed fetal abnormalities.[5]


Cherry-picking preferred traits of the human race had been common practice long before Adolf Hitler rose to power. In 1882 the United States passed immigration laws to prevent the entry of 'undesirables.'[6] In 1883, Francis Galton coined the term 'eugenics' as a way to control, repair and improve the human race. In 1892, Dr. Isaac Kerlin brought forth his ideology insisting sterilization as a cure for idiotic conditions.[7]


The American Breeder's Association created a committee on eugenics in 1906. Do not let the name fool you; this had nothing to do with animals. The committee's purpose was to examine the use of selective breeding to minimize what it deemed as inferior humans.[8]


Though the policy makers demand that women give birth contradicted its long desire for the perfect race, The Eugenics Board of the United States encouraged the passing of Law 116 in 1937. The law was written to encourage the institutionalization of population control in Puerto Rico.[9] This U.S policy promoted the permanent sterilization of women, in lieu of providing access to safe, legal and reversible contraception. After all, forcing one to give birth doesn't equate caring about and for a human with an undesirable ethnicity.


By 1937 every state in the Union had sterilization laws in effect.[10]  It's important to note that the United States led the world in forced sterilizations, prior to the Nazi's issuing the Nuremberg Race Laws in 1935. All in all, over 30,000 people were forcibly sterilized in the United States between 1907 and 1939.[11]


Fast forwarding through the tragic and shameful history of eugenics in the United States, you will find that some states began repealing their laws in 1965, starting with North Dakota. With 1,049 individuals sterilized, 62% of them women, ranked North Dakota 12th overall in sterilization.[12]


North Carolina's Eugenics Board reviewed petitions from both government and private agencies seeking approval to sterilize poor, unwed and/or mentally disabled women, children and men. This led to over 7,600 individuals sterilized between 1930–1970.[13] In 2011, North Carolina formed the Office of Justice for Sterilization Abuse to assist in the identification of victims. It was discovered that 65% of them were black women, even though only 25% of the state's female population was black.[14]


The United States instituted sterilization in Puerto Rico, citing overpopulation as the cause of poverty. Targeting poor women, 37% of the island's childbearing population had been sterilized by 1976. Much of this movement was instigated and encouraged by Clarence Gamble, the president of the Pennsylvania Birth Control Federation, who maintained that a reduction in the birth rate of African Americans was the solution to poverty.[15] Moreover, the phrase 'Mississippi Appendectomy' was coined due to the prevalence of forced or coerced sterilization among the Black population in the south.[16]


Not surprisingly, Native American women were also extensively sterilized throughout the 20th Century. The Indian Health Services began providing what it called 'family planning services' in 1965. Under the control of the U.S Public Health Services, over 3,400 Native Americans were sterilized between 1973 and 1976 alone.[17]


Just as a woman's right to decide when to start a family, has never been hers, outlawing abortion has never been about the sanctity of life. The government, aka large group of white men, have worked tirelessly long before this countries inception to limit power among women and minorities.


Though losing the abortion ban battle in 1973, the legalization of sterilization practices continued well into 2010. In 1978, the ACLU took a case on behalf of 5 women against American Cyanamide for pressuring them to undergo sterilization in order to keep their jobs. The company claimed it had introduced new policy that would shift female workers from certain areas of the lead pigment factory, to protect the unborn.[18] None of these women were pregnant at the time.


The case highlighted evidence that lead exposure of men could also harm a fetus, yet men were not being excluded from any jobs. Joan Bertin, the attorney with the women's project at the ACLU, insisted the idea of protecting women against their will wasn't new, and it should never come at the cost of equality.[19]


Insisting undesirable effects on the unborn trumped a woman's right to choose an occupation, was not reserved for American Cyanamide alone. Du Pont chemical transferred all of its female employees out of areas working with Teflon in 1981, due to a 3M rat study showing chemical C8 used in Teflon production caused significant eye defects in a pregnant rat study and didn't disclose to the women their reasoning.[20]


As much as we would like to believe that this type of barbaric policy is a practice in our country's distance past, it is not. Between the years of 2006 and 2010, 148 female inmates in two of California's prisons were sterilized. Women with multiple children were particularly pressured to comply.[21]


While the anti-abortion crowd would like us to believe all existing and 'potential' life is sacred, they continue to refuse healthcare for all, feeding the poor, and supporting fair, inclusive public education. Their love of 'life' quickly creeps back into the shadows the moment LGBTQ+ and minorities demand the same rights they have been freely given their entire lives.


While the calculating troglodytes of our government work to legislate their definition of morality, you can be certain they will continue to find other ways to keep women in check and white men in power.


From privacy to voting rights, the teaching of history to the banning of books, we must ask ourselves what 'choice' really means.


A government dripping in repudiation of its own history certainly should not control any individual's reproductive freedom or right to sovereign autonomy.

[1] https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/abortion/abortion-central-history-reproductive-health-care-america/historical-abortion-law-timeline-1850-today
[2] https://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/timeline/54fb158acc8b722e04000002

[3] https://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/timeline/53234888132156674b00024e

[4] https://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/timeline/543d5ab028f51f0000000003

[5] https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/abortion/abortion-central-history-reproductive-health-care-america/historical-abortion-law-timeline-1850-today

[6] https://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/timeline/51509af7a4209be523000007

[7] https://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/timeline/51509e79a4209be52300000c

[8] https://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/timeline/532886fb132156674b00029d

[9] http://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/connections/530ba18176f0db569b00001b

[10] https://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/timeline/5501b984cc8b722e04000012

[11] https://www.minnpost.com/community-voices/2019/10/on-indigenous-peoples-day-recalling-forced-sterilizations-of-native-american-women/

[12] https://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/timeline/54fb1502cc8b722e04000001

[13] https://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book-excerpts/health-article/forced-sterilization/

[14] https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/NC/NC.html

[15] http://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/connections/530ba18176f0db569b00001b

[16] https://www.guttmacher.org/journals/psrh/2000/03/forum-black-women-and-pill

[17] https://www.minnpost.com/community-voices/2019/10/on-indigenous-peoples-day-recalling-forced-sterilizations-of-native-american-women/

[18] https://www.aclu.org/other/about-aclu-womens-rights-project

[19] https://www.aclu.org/other/about-aclu-womens-rights-project

[20] https://theintercept.com/2015/08/11/dupont-chemistry-deception/

[21] https://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/2013/07/cir-prison-investigation-opens-another-chapter-on-sterilization-of-women-in-u-s/


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53 Years & Counting...

My girls Christmas 2020~ 

Another year of memories made, things accomplished, and things undone. Such is the journey of life.

I am ever grateful for my amazing daughters and the life and lessons they have given me.


Harli, for giving me the gift of being a mom, for teaching me about real love, embracing each moment, and even for the long string of sleepless nights. For showing me that everyone brings a gift to the table, that all of us, every single one, are important and should be valued. Teaching me that even when we are silent, it never means we have nothing to say. That choosing our words is as important as choosing our thoughts. We are all in charge of our own script, and the ability to share it, should never be taken for granted, nor taken away.


Harli, I have learned a strength through you, that I never thought possible. Thank you for knocking down the walls, crumbling the obstacles and teaching me to look past the judgements of others. To take only what I need and leave the rest.


Destini, you have given me my greatest rewards as a person, a parent, a fellow observer in this maddening world; Resilience. You have shown me, that even in the most trying of times, we decide whether or not to embrace life. It is a choice we make every single day. The light at the end of a dark tunnel is up to us, that we carry the switch, and we alone have the power to turn it on.


Destini you have given me the blessing of watching innocence and kindness blossom, and that even the most fragile of flowers can withstand the greatest of storms. With all of the things you have had to overcome, for no other reason than just being my daughter, and Harli's sister, you have done so with strength and determination, never wavering or compromising who you are.


Yes, even when your anxiety is through the roof top, you always climb back down and move forward to conquer another day. Thank you for showing me kindness in action, grace in the darkness and compassion in the midst of the storms.


Chloe, you have completed our lives in so many ways. You encompass so many things that I see in my own children, and yet your uniqueness shines through. For someone so little, and so young, you have walked the rockiest of roads and climbed the highest of mountains, facing more opposition in your short years than most do in a lifetime.


Chloe, you have shown me that nothing is impossible, everything can be surmounted, and life can be beautiful even in the dark. I watch you win the battles against your demons every single day, and the way you carry your sword, reminds us all how intense strength can be.


While the world spins, mostly out of control, I know we as a people, have come far, yet I am not blind to the fact of how much further we've yet to go. The discord that reaches across oceans, the boiling point of our nation, the fear in the eyes of our brothers and sisters, all made softer in the gentle hands of our children.


I will blow out the candles tonight and make a wish, it will be for the same things I always wish for. That we all find a way to join hands, to embrace our differences and relish in our sameness. There is nothing more beautifully dangerous, nor perfectly imperfect, than being human.


I stand in gratitude for all this life has given me. The obstacles, the gifts, the climb, and the descent; all leading to the person I have become. I am thankful for every person that has come into my life, and for all of those that have left.  I am grateful every day for waking in the morning and still finding Freedom outside my front door, and for the fight we all join to keep it.


Here's to 53 more years along this ever-winding road.

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Road Trip 2021 onward...

Montana 2021 @trmugler

Saturday, July 10 we finished winding our way through Yellowstone, which included a stop at Old Faithful to watch her erupt. It was incredible to see in real time how high up it shot. We meandered along and stopped at other geysers along the way. The array of minerals produces the most brilliant blues, yellows, pale greens, and oranges we have ever seen. We slowly walked the boardwalk over one such geyser field, allowing us a view right through the middle as we crossed.


Leaving Yellowstone, we headed north toward the National Glacier Park. Unlike the barren lands of Wyoming and New Mexico, the vast open range of Montana encompassed fields of deep greens, bright yellows, and warm golds. Cattle spotted the landscape for miles, reminding the observant traveler the heartbeat of life was carrying on even in the quiet.


Just south of the Glacier Park we stopped in Helena for the night, settling on a Howard Johnson's for $172. It seems the entire west coast thinks 'cheap' hotel is anything under $200.


We entered our room to discover humidity checked in before our arrival and the a/c unit was throwing out hot air. Maintenance brought us a fan and took a look. As he pulled the filter a giant cloud of dust was released into the room, coating everything nearby with a nasty film. He cleaned it and left. An hour later the temperature had only risen, so we told the manager we would need to check out, as they were fully booked.


While gathering our luggage from the room, she called to tell us that another guest had volunteered to switch rooms with us, as he wouldn't need it until after midnight and a fan would be enough for him. She also invited us to the hotel bar to buy us a drink and watch the UFC fight, as a local boy was fighting.


We walked down to the Overland Restaurant and Lounge for supper. We split a delicious NY Strip sandwich and fries before heading back to our room, which came with a brand-new a/c unit making sleeping cool and comfortable. We want to give our waitress Kendall, a shout out and recommend you stop in and check the service and food out the next time you find yourself out on the winding road.

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Road Trip 2021 Day Four continued...

Today's final destination is Yellowstone National Park. Leaving Heart Mountain, we were able to see Devil's Tower from the main road, its massive presence stood majestically in the distance. Strangely all I could think about was mashed potatoes and Close Encounters the Third Kind. The mind is a strange an unusual keeper of time.


The winding road offered wide open spaces and the devastation of charred forest stood in contrast to the resilience of nature. The blackened remains of trees fell into the shadows of new life, as we marveled over the strength and spirit of life's rebirth.


Weaving through the park we drove slowly around the often-tight bends, finding unexpected waterfalls and Wild Buffalo grazing near the road. It was as though time stood still and world drifted on the edge of centuries gone.

Wanting to see the world-famous geyser come alive, we stopped for the night not far from Old Faithful. The Lake Hotel came into view like an opening scene in a movie. Soft yellow lap board edged with mountain peak white trim, stood like a gentle giant behind its towering columns beckoning you inside.


Quickly learning accommodations inside the park are booked up months ahead, we were offered a great nugget of advice by the concierge that proved to be true. Waiting until 4:30pm for the cancellations of the day to be released, you can land one of the 153 rooms without a reservation, and we did.


While it was odd that no internet, microwave, refrigerator, air conditioning, or television were among the amenities offered, we easily slipped into the quiet comfort of unplugging. A sense of togetherness wrapped around us, as we relaxed in a large common area, observing children basking in the undivided attention of their parents, playing board games, reading books and writing in journals. The disruptive gadgets of cellular phones, and televisions purging 24-hour news cycles into the air were absent, while life settled into the cradling arms of silence and we collectively exhaled.


Embracing the mild temperature and sun filled sky, we set off on a leisurely walk along the lake across the road. Exploring narrow paths through wooded areas, soon gave us the gift of a tranquil group of Elk foraging in a discreet clearing.


The rustling of leaves above our heads whispering the stories of yesterday, we embraced the smooth feel of grass beneath bare feet as our spirit reached beyond the chaos. Often it is in these serene moments we truly find ourselves. Stillness swaddles us like infants torn from the womb, lifting us into the light as we break free of the manufactured darkness, we allow life to create.


Take a moment or a day and allow peace to rock you gently into the calm waters of your most sacred dreams. Adventure awaits along this ever-winding road.

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