This essay intends to discuss the constitutionality of abortion from purely legal perspective. It is written in a “cold-hearted” fashion, and it gradually guides one to understand the issue of abortion as a point in motion along the axis of history of constitutional law. I led the legal discussion is detached of religion, moral, and feelings, because I deemed law as the most effective and practical tool to settle this controversy. I have faith that the legal system has already (or eventually will have) devised several fair  tests and doctrines to humanely and respectably determine and instruct the court’s decisions in future abortion cases.

       The right to abortion was never explicated stated or implied in any part of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. This is not queer at all, for the Constitution was not meant to be too specific. Instead, it was designed broad enough to become the “supreme law of the land” – to guide states and locals to establish their own specific laws and regulations as they see fit under the principle of “separation of power” between federal government and state sovereignty.

       Because of this “state sovereignty” claim, the Supreme Court used to be deferential to each state for establishing its own statutes regarding to abortion. The practice of abortion didn’t emerge as a relatively urgent controversy back then, not only because of the indoctrination of conservative values and religion through generations, but also because of the poor success rate of such “fatal” practices under primitive medical conditions. Because the practice of abortion usually resulted in the loss of both lives of the mother and the fetus, few people risked receiving abortion, and even fewer people considered this perilous practice as a “right” - a privilege entitled to individuals to guard their interests from government's intervention.

       With evolving standards of both medical knowledge and social decency, a landmark case rose to the Supreme Court and caught national attention in 1973. The case was later known as Roe v. Wade, for the woman (used “Roe” as her name) who was forced to seek illegal abortion (because the state of Texas outlawed abortion) sued the state of Texas (defended by County District Attorney Henry Wade). The following is an excerpt of case fact citing from Wikipedia:

       “In June 1969, Norma L. McCorvey discovered she was pregnant with her third child. She returned to Dallas, where friends advised her to assert falsely that she had been raped, as she could then obtain a legal abortion (with the understanding that Texas' anti-abortion laws allowed abortion in the cases of rape and incest). However, this scheme failed, as there was no police report documenting the alleged rape. She attempted to obtain an illegal abortion, but found the unauthorized site shuttered, closed down by the police.”

       The Supreme Court's ruling on this case did not come out of nowhere. Abortion is considered as part of “right to privacy” pertaining to, specifically in this abortion case, the right of women to have a control over her body, including the most important aspect, her pregnancy. The trick is that the so called “right to privacy” did not originally exist, and strict constructionists have been criticizing the court’s aggressive interpretation of reinvention of law ever since.

       Despite controversies and complaints from interest groups (especially state power proponents and pro - life activists), the “right to privacy” was formally recognized as an important legal doctrine and precedent in Griswold v. Connecticut “ that such rights are firmly found in the ‘penumbras’ and ‘emanations’ of other constitutional rights.”

       With the “right to privacy” firmly established, the court ruled over time many cases that involves the individual’s constitutional claim of protection against governmental prosecution of their private choices, such as the abortion in Roe v. Wade.

       Indeed, the fight in Roe v. Wade centered on whether a fetus is considered a human who deserves the full protection of the basic right to life. Although the majority opinion retreated from granting women full rights of abortion by adopting the trimester system, the “right of privacy” was confirmed and the incorporation of abortion into the right of privacy is one step forward in the continuous feminism endeavor for true social, cultural, and political equity.

       To the comfort of many feminists who did not live to see further victories in their cause, the Supreme Court almost consistently ruled in the later cases in favor of women’s right to abortion. The rulings' guidance and influence in the judicial system is so overwhelming, that almost all states nowadays are allowing and aiding women to acquire abortion and regulating to ensure the clean and safe operation to effectively preserve the “right to privacy.” 

Hongru Xu
Flying across the screen were words “remarkable, incredible, and brilliant” in many articles describing Secretary of State Clinton’s speech the other day on the treatment of homosexuals in foreign nations. When I heard this speech I was in shock, in the most positive way possible. I couldn’t believe it. Neither could most of the United States.

On Wednesday, Hilary Clinton made a speech on LGBT rights in Geneva to the United Nations Human Rights Council. She noted that foreign aid given to other countries by the United States would be analyzed partially based on the country’s reatment of gays and lesbians. Many lesbian and gays were in tears while watching the speech, and felt a glimpse of hope. To watch Clinton’s speech, visit

“I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons aaroudn the world,” Obama said. “Whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations or killing men, women and children for their perceived sexual orientation.” According to Clinton, a program that offers support for LGBT people was created, and each embassy will receive a toolkit in the coming months to make sure that LGBT people are justly treated.

Responses to the speech include increasing support for the Obama Administration. One support of Obama said that his donation to his campaign” just added on another zero.” In addition, LGBT human rights defenders across the world were moved by Clinton’s message, and inspired by the movement to instill human equality and justice for lesbians and gays.

Watching the speech myself, I was extremely moved. Clinton made such extremely important points, discrimination against gays and lesbians in the world is just as unjust as discrimination due to race, sex, etc. I believe the world will be a more just place after that speech, and foreign nations must change their views on gays and lesbians if they ever expect help from the United States again.  

Just a week ago was the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion (if you didn’t catch the show, take a look), known for its extravagant lingerie, huge angel wings and of course, beautiful models. But when it comes down to it, “let’s be honest, it’s not about the underwear. It’s about the models” (CNN’s Alina Cho).

Girls around the country looked at the ultra-skinny models’ bodies, looked at their own and felt disappointed, disgusted, and insecure. My own Facebook page was filled with statuses like, “Wow, I need to go work out” and “Uch, I am never eating again.” I appreciate that many girls were joking when they made those statuses, yet, I doubt that they didn’t feel at least some of what they wrote. These girls had a new and vivid image of what they should look like. And of course, some girls will strive to look like that, no matter what it takes.

The question for many people then, is how did they get those bodies? How do they look like that?

There is a lot of controversy and debate about the eating and exercise habits of the models; some argue that they devote a lot of time to exercise and do eat well, while others argue that there is no way they can look like that and be healthy, too. This year, one model slipped that “She indulges in ‘no solids’ for those [9] days, and then, for 12 hours before the show, ‘No liquids at all so you dry out, sometimes you can lose up to eight pounds just from that,’ Lima, 30, told the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph” Days later, after the damage of this statement had already been done, she said, “Those teenagers out there, don't go starving yourself or only drinking liquids. Don't do that please.” Lima’s response reveals that she knows the consequences of her statement and though her plea to teenagers may be heartfelt, she cannot undo what she already said. Some teenagers will try to replicate her habits and will get sick because of it.

Although Lima did admit some unhealthy eating habits, many other models (and their fans) argue that the models, in general, are truly healthy. I would like to argue one more point: even if the models do eat well and live healthy lives, the girls who see them and strive to look like them will most likely utilize poor and perhaps dangerous eating habits to obtain the same result. Whether or not the Victoria’s Secret angels are healthy, and whether or not Victoria’s Secret intends to project a strict and homogeneous image of beauty, the consequences of the fashion show are frightening and worrisome for girls. I do not have a brilliant idea to end the entire industry’s definition of beauty, but I do not think that the industry should be abdicated from the hurt and anxiety it causes girls and women.

And ladies, please don’t ‘forget’ to eat today.

By Miriam Thorne

Look at this hunk of a man Dean Martin. Yeah, he's your culprit.
Since it's December, Christmas music is playing on the radio all the time. One of the songs I hear all the time is called ”Baby It's Cold Outside” by Frank Loesser. Check out the Dean Martin version, which seems to be played the most.
Let me sum up why the song is is memorable:
  • It has harmonies between a male and female singer.
  • It was written 75 years ago, and I hear it every year.
  • It is entirely about a man trying to keep a woman from leaving.
The last point bugs me the most. While the song does not specifically state that sexual assault is occurring (some people think it is), the lyrics imply foul behavior. Here are some statistics from the song:
  • The woman says that she needs to leave nine times.
  • The woman gives six reasons why she needs to leave.
  • The man changes the subject twelve times.
I'm not particularly conservative, but the song may send the wrong signals. One response is particularly bad. The woman asks, “say what's in this drink,” and the man replies, “no cabs to be had out there.” From that response, it seems like the man is trying to get the woman drunk or drugged.

Whenever I listen to this song, I wonder how many cases of sexual assault occur after a scenario similar to that in the song. When a woman says no multiple times (even in jest), but finally agrees, is that considered rape? Does the continuous questioning count as coercion? My intuition leads me to believe that the answer is no, since consent is given and at the end of the day, any happenings are conducted willfully between both partners.

What do you think?

by Kevin Teng

The Twilight saga recently released its latest movie, Breaking Dawn.  I must admit I read the books, but haven’t seen the movies. I want to see the most recent for Bella’s birthing process; it involves Edward ripping open her uterus with his teeth and then sucking a lot of her blood. Not exactly PG-13. 

But in all seriousness, the Twilight saga has come under a lot of fire.  The messages it presents for women are not the best, but it does occasionally contrast media portrayal of gender roles:

·      A male vampire is sparkly- whoa! That’s like feminine! But it does provide a different view of masculinity, showing men can be feminine and still be heterosexual

·      Waiting to have sex until marriage- but I thought everyone was having sex all the time! Guess not everything the media shows me is right

·      But, Bella has to have a boy to make her life worthwhile, so much for powerful heroines

·      She gets preggers!! That makes sense, there was no sexual education in the movie, so clearly Edward had no idea how to use a condom, and Bella received abstinence-only education

·      The family intervenes, and Bella is entirely dependent on them. Sounds a lot like the life of a teenage mother

Overall the Twilight saga does very little to fight media portrayals of well, anything.  But it does tap into a new audience previously ignored, tween and teen girls.  And the message may not be great, but I must commend Stephanie Meyer for recognizing young girls as a legitimate audience rather than making another action and super hero heavy movie for the ever-popular teen male audience.

--Emily Schwab

The “Religion and Spirituality in Women’s Lives” section of the text got me thinking a lot about the positives and negatives of the institution of religion.  It can both empower women and also oppress them, but it seems like oppression is the main force when it comes to the way Orthodox Jewish women live their lives.

Strict Rules of Dress and Sexual Modesty

I have spent some time both in the UCity Orthodox community here in St. Louis, and had some Orthodox Jewish friends growing up.  While not every Jew follows these exact practices, the basics of modesty, or “tzniut”, are listed here:

In this community, women cover their hair, collarbone, elbows, knees, and any other part of the body that can be sexualized.  Women also MUST wear skirts, as cross-dressing of any sort is prohibiting.  Think about that- every time any of you ladies wear a pair of jeans, you are considered a cross-dresser in this community.  This is an example of such a modest woman:

I admire the fact that these women do not strive to dress in the immodest fashions so prevalent in today’s society.  However, there are some things I personally do not understand about their culture, which leads me to:

The Secondary Role of Women in Orthodox Culture

From what I have observed in these communities:

  • Men pray in a “minyan”, which is a public gathering where ten or more men must be present.  Women must often stay home and cook.
  • While women are encouraged to be knowledgeable in Jewish customs and rituals, study is less mandatory for women than men.  Schools for men, called “yeshivas”, are much more popular than the analogous seminaries for women.
  • A woman must have children, because otherwise she risks being shunned in her community.  Generally this means having between five and ten children, sometimes even more.
  • The woman stays home and takes care of her children.  If money is tight, once the children are old enough to go to school the woman can pursue a part-time career, often social work or elementary level teaching.  While it is not unheard of, women in this community are rarely doctors, lawyers or businesspeople.
Women in this culture strike me as very similar to how Betty Friedan described women of the post-WWII suburban craze in The Feminine Mystique.  While Orthodox women claim they love their role and feel they are serving God, I wonder if secretly they ever wish for more than what their child-bearing and child-raising roles can provide.

Here’s another blog you might find interesting:

And a link on women’s role in Judaism:

Keep in mind- my post is not meant to criticize Orthodox Judaism in any way.  I am considering following a more religious lifestyle when I have a family, but Women and Gender Studies has led me to contemplate the facts around the perceived separate social sphere for women.

-Ilana Saltz

The vast majority of parents just want what is best for their kids. So how does one go from here to here?

Just add:

          -fake skinNot every child is beautiful

         -fake teethYou just can’t see her teeth because they’re so tiny

         -fake bodyit’s just normal

        -pixie sticksShe is so silly today for some reason

So clearly, these people are some fucking champs who all really need to be procreating. To the woman who said that “not every child is beautiful”, that is certainly your prerogative. It is also my prerogative to throw a brick at you.

I’m just curious about the level of education of the woman who gave her daughter fake teeth, because apparently human development is not her forte. Babies are very small. They start as one cell and have nine months to turn into a functional human being. So yes, your daughter does have small teeth because she is a CHILD.

I think the fake padding is a great way to give a kid some serious psychological issues. Nice work.

My favorite mother, the one who gave her kid 14 pixie sticks and didn’t understand why the girl couldn’t stay still, I thank you. Why? Because you are the type of person who gets me up in the morning in my fight against stupidity and ignorance. You are the type of person I hope to change, not your daughter. You are the problem.

                                  On a lighter note, enjoy some Tom Hanks:

Disney Disaster

Two nights ago I was watching the movie The Incredibles, one of my all-time favorite Pixar creations.  My friend Alex and I were discussing how nice it was to finally have a movie where there’s a balance between the strong female and male leads  However, halfway through the movie, we started to realize that while on the surface the movie seems to support the idea of “girl power”, there were still undertones of sexist stereotypes present. 

Notice how the powers of Violet and Helen are limited and follow the typical gender roles of women.  Helen, also known as Elasitgirl, has the incredible ability to change the shape of her body in response to her surroundings, stretching it to impossible lengths.  What does this suggest for girls watching?

·         Must change your bodies

·         Need to be “flexible” in personality

·         Be flexible to preserve relationships

Of course, Helen’s husband lands the power of super strength, the ultimate picture of masculinity.  Meanwhile her son Dash has the gift of speed, and even Jack – Jack has the uncanny ability to morph into some sort of feral animal. Go figure. 

Now let’s take a look at Violet, whose has the ability to create force fields and to become invisible.  Here’s what that seems to say to me:

·         Remain on the sidelines while men fight

·         Stay out of sight (we don’t want the helpless girl to get hurt)

·         Protect others but cause no harm

Now I might be going a little overboard with this, but does this also tell girls that they have certain gender roles to fulfill?  Most of which are simply responses and not preemptive actions.  All in all, I felt very disillusioned watching an old childhood favorite.   And it’s not just in The Incredibles.  Even in a simple google search I found sites like this illustrating sexism in Disney characters.    

This experience pretty much describes the current dilemma I am facing. Ever since taking this class, one thing I have noticed is that I no longer watch Disney movies without analyzing the gender roles of each character in some way, particularly the princesses.  I have to admit that while I enjoy being more aware, this has been a frustrating experience because I essentially live off of these movies (I brought more than 15 movies to college). 

Now looking back I have no idea how these messages got past me. I mean, sure, I was a little kid, but it’s not like this stuff is exactly subtle or anything.  To think we grew up with all of these ideas coming at us under the guise of a catchy song!  I can say that this class has definitely changed how I think, for better or for worse.  Hopefully, though, I can keep watching these movies and ignore the stereotypes shown below because, in the end, I am a Disney die hard.

Helene Prickel

In reading Rose Weitz’s What We Do For Love, I began to think about my own hair history. At the end of 8th grade, I cut off 12 inches of my beloved hair to donate to Locks of Love, and I have never been one to prefer a short haircut, so this was a momentous event. I had just lost one of my most prized traits, yet at this age, I wasn’t worried about the social implications of my new ‘do but of its personal, psychological effects.

How would I feel now that I didn’t have my hair? Would I be more likely to criticize myself on my own appearance? What is going to change now that I can’t “hide” behind my long hair?

According to an article called Hair Loss in Women and its Effect on the Quality of Life, women with hair loss issues feel the

·      Loss of self-esteem

·      Anxiety and depression

·      Social dysfunction

·      Loss of control

·      Lack of support

that can result from this one identifying feature’s disappearance. Now I clearly wasn’t suffering from the hair loss that this article discusses, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to feel some of these same repercussions. 

Take a moment to notice, the majority of these women’s emotions focus on internal matters linked to their hair loss that threaten their psychological well-being, not as much on the external world’s effects.

While I understand and agree with the symbolic nature of hair as a social and sexual trait that women possess, I believe it is important to recognize hair’s multiple influences, including on the complexity of emotions between pleasing others versus pleasing yourself. A woman’s hair is first and foremost what she personally makes of it. As a young girl, one plays with her hair, learns how to wear her hair, and figures out which hairstyles are most comfortable. We shouldn’t forget that our hair isn’t just for everyone else’s pleasure, but for our own comfort and confidence as well.

Furthermore, when you Google image search “women and their hair,” you will notice that most of the pictures, such as the one below, are of women and girls touching, combing, and playing with their hair. We have power over our hair and how it makes us feel, so we take advantage of that first, before it becomes a sexualized image.

Kate Nienaltow

Our bodies come in several types of shapes and sizes. We change them, augmenting them with clothes and accessories. We love and hate them, but ultimately live with them. In a rapidly changing and often chaotic world, our bodies ideally represent the last frontier of control. We can manipulate, adjust, enhance, supplement, or do none these, to our bodies to express our individuality. Imagine a world where our bodies were regulated by an oppressive government. Not pretty.

Today, November 8, the registered voters of Mississippi are in a unique position. Today is the day that voters will be able to decide the fate of Amendment 26, coined the Personhood Amendment. It says:

“The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

If it passes, this one sentence will completely change the pro-choice/pro-life conversations in Mississippi. Clearly, this amendment will outlaw abortion, ultimately the heart of the issue. However, as reporters from have theorized, there are further implications of this amendment:

·         Outlaw birth control

·         Restricting in vitro fertilization

·         Complicating life threatening pregnancies

·         Banning stem-cell research

·         Potentially criminalizing miscarriages

Read the article here

Talk about history in action. Currently this amendment is mostly a Mississippi wide topic, but if it passes it could potentially blow up to become a national focus: becoming a key issue in the upcoming presidential elections. Nevertheless, it still has to pass. The state of Mississippi seems pretty split on this Amendment.

Amendment 26 is an example of how bodies, especially women’s, can potentially be controlled by governmental policy.  This amendment would very much effect how women treated and interacted with their bodies. Women smoking and drinking while unaware of pregnancy could potentially be charged and persecuted. Oppression! This amendment, if passed, could open the door for nation-wide change.

Voting is today. We will see what happens tomorrow

Jonathan Merrill