Monday, May 14, 2012

Barack Obama: Empowerer or Protector of Women?

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It's always amazing to hear elected officials reference their daughters with glowing pride, and then do nothing much to actually empower women. President Obama clarified his views on gay marriage by referencing Sasha and Malia's influence on his perspective and subsequent affirmation to do what's right. Having mentioned his daughters, it would have been easy for him to also mention equality for women in terms of righting all outstanding civil right wrongs. What exactly has the president really done for women's rights since his election?

Everybody is talking about marriage equality; hardly anyone is talking about equal rights for women, approximately 51% of the population. One might argue that it's easier to get people's attention via hot-button issues, or that most people are unaware of the lack of basic equal rights for women. But neither is an excuse for no equality under the U.S Constitution or 17% women in Congress or ridiculously unequal pay. Aren't women tired of excuses for ongoing discrimination and half-baked efforts on our behalves? And don't tell me no rocking the boat because President Obama's re-election is the most important thing. His statements on behalf of gay marriage have given new meaning to rocking the boat!

This past week's hoopla validated my long-held belief that basic LGBT rights may well come into fruition faster that women's rights. There are currently no cohesive, effective women's equal rights campaigns that can hold a candle to those for marriage equality. Some days we even have a "war amongst women" to go along with the "war on women." Of course, it doesn't hurt that the more visible and more powerful gay rights leaders are men with money -- many of which will be attending tonight's fundraiser for the president featuring Ricky Martin in New York City.

Earlier today at Barnard College, President Obama gave a stirring commencement address talking about the preponderance/importance of women, past/current women political figures, and, yes, how much better it would be with more women in Congress. He then implored the new graduates to be involved, set good examples, and persevere -- that he would be with them every step of the way. His words may have inspired those young, adoring women, but the future was essentially left up to their own efforts. Barack Obama did not say anything about what he was going to do in the meantime to help level the playing field.

And The New York Times reported on efforts afoot in both presidential campaigns to court the votes of women. The focus was on the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, "as an important tool in protecting women." VAWA is indeed crucial to reducing violence against women, but I'd rather women be in a position to pass those kinds of laws themselves rather than continue to be dependent on "Daddy."

If President Obama wants to do what's right for women, he must to do much more than preach to the converted and espouse protective policies. It's time for him to tell the nation more than occasionally that he fully supports equal rights for women -- and to specifically support the current Congressional bills (H.J.Res. 47, S.J.Res. 39) that will erase the time limit for ratification of the ERA. Passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act must be a super-top priority. His Democratic Party must do something concrete towards achievement of gender-balance in Congress. It's time for Barack Obama to use some of his political capital on behalf of all those women he is assiduously courting for votes.

If President Obama wants a better future for his daughters, he must stand up and do something concrete to empower women -- so that some day those two girls won't have to know more, do more and work harder than men for unequal pay. So that they will have the power to protect themselves, instead of looking back on an eloquent Daddy that didn't do enough when he had the chance.

-- then click HERE to access "SMOKE & MIRRORS: The Truth About the Political Status of U.S. Women" on

Thursday, May 10, 2012

She's from the Bronx!

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Kudos to young women finding their voices and using them -- check out a charming, poignant and empowering video by Lillian Rodriguez by clicking HERE. She's from the Bronx!

-- then click HERE to access "SMOKE & MIRRORS: The Truth About the Political Status of U.S. Women" on