What’s Current: New Brunswick’s Mount Allison University cuts Women’s Studies program

Another Women’s Studies department bites the dust. Canadian school, Mount Allison University announces that they will drop Women and Gender Studies in the 2016-2017 academic year. Petition calls to stop the University from cutting its funding to the program.

Feminism In London writes letter to Home Secretary Theresa May highlighting how Roosh V. should be barred from entering the country under Immigration Rules.

Squad of women in boxing gloves to crash Roosh V’s “pro-rape” Toronto meet-up. (Join the global Roosh V “welcoming party” here!)

The US Center for Disease Control tells women of child-bearing age that they shouldn’t drink unless they are on birth control, because otherwise there is always a chance that they could be unknowingly pregnant. (Everyone knows that women’s bodies are public property insofar as they are gestational machines, and therefore have a societal duty to always be a hospitable environment for fetuses.)

Dallas, Texas officials have confirmed that the first that the first case of Zika virus in the US has been transmitted locally, via sexual intercourse.

Sick of racism and harassment from Winnipeg cab drivers, aboriginal woman, Jackie Traverse, takes direct feminist action, creating a group to offer safe rides to aboriginal women.

“Beyond the issues Indigenous women face once they arrive in some cabs in the city, Traverse said sometimes it’s challenging to even get a cab in the first place.

‘No cab would take me. I was walking down the street with my money out in my hand trying to find a cab, to show them that I had money. Sometimes that’s the only way a cab will stop is if you hold your money with both hands in front of you. So I ended up walking home, which took me an hour, and it was really bitterly cold that night. Twenty cabs must have driven by me that night, and I couldn’t get a cab,’ Traverse said…

‘I’m done with asking for permission to look after our women. We shouldn’t have to ask for permission to look after our own. I don’t think there’s a legal thing with offering a ride. How could that be illegal?’”

Susan Cox
Susan Cox

Susan Cox is a feminist writer and academic living in the United States. She teaches in Philosophy.

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  • Meghan Murphy

    “Foist off??” You mean, like, if they have to, you know, go to work or something??

    • Or give up for adoption. Give custody to father. Hand over to someone else for whatever length of time for whatever reason.

      As far as work goes, I’m one of those weirdos who thinks women should be paid to stay home as much as they want in the first few years of a child’s life. Notice I said “want”. Also, I think parenting is “work”, too. But I wasn’t thinking of work. I was thinking about how pregnancy isn’t something you can take on and off – if you’re pregnant, you’re on duty until it ends.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Why? What if you never wanted to be pregnant in the first place?

        • tinfoil hattie

          I think the commenter means that if you do decide to carry a fetus to term, you can’t temporarily stop being pregnant, or ask the other parent to be pregnant for a while so you can go snort heroin or something.

          I do think it’s true that a woman who wants to carry a fetus to term has an obligation to be a good steward to said fetus. However, nobody seems to be able to agree definitively how to do that, except for the part where the more restrictions shamed into the fetus-grower, the better.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Hmm ok. I think I misunderstood the intent of that comment, perhaps? I don’t know, I get really frustrated with people who argue that fetuses or babies, even, are MORE important than women. And a LOT of people thing that. This is not to say that babies aren’t important… but they aren’t MORE important than adult women/mothers.

  • Morag999

    Thank you for this comment, TheArtist. I despise the fear-mongering regarding alcohol during pregnancy, especially earliest stage, before a lot of women even know they are pregnant. The information is out there, but it seems they’d rather cause women needless anxiety, guilt and shame.

  • Is it fear mongering? The people who read the research probably don’t need advice in the first place. It may be aimed at everyone else.

    • Morag999

      The problem with advice that is “aimed at everyone else” is that it comes, for example, in the form of public service announcements which ominously intone: “Do you know what just ONE drink can do to your baby?” Or, at least that’s what they used to say. Sounds like it’s even worse now, whereby just being a potential vessel for conception means a woman should be watching herself constantly for impure behaviours.

      There are scores of young women who have had a drink or two or ten before they even know they are pregnant. Then they hear a bunch of misinformation or lies, finger-wagging, and orders. Some women — those who want to continue their pregnancies — might come to believe that they shouldn’t, that they cannot continue, because they’re under the impression that they’ve done something very bad which has probably damaged the fetus. And none of it is true.

      That’s propaganda. That’s fear-mongering. It’s an example of the social mechanisms used to control women’s minds and bodies.

      • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

        Search online and you will find forums where women are asking if they should abort their fetuses due to having just a few drinks before realizing they were pregnant. It’s horrific!

        • Meghan Murphy

          Oh dear god. Yeah the drinking-fear mongering is out of control…

    • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

      It sure looks like fear mongering to me when our bars and liquor stores have pictures of pregnant women reminding us all that “alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix”. Things like this empower others to comment on a pregnant woman having a glass of wine in a public place. Many wouldn’t even dare for the judgment they would receive.

  • Zuzanna Smith

    I still wouldn’t tell pregnant women it’s ok to have a drink because if something does go wrong then they will blame themselves for that unnecessary risk, it just isn’t worth it.

    • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

      Why cross the street when pregnant, you could get hit by a car. Why eat at a restaurant, you could get food poisoning. Etc, etc.

  • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

    The appalling thing is that people ever assumed that what fathers do wouldn’t affect their offspring. Well, how convenient!

  • Meghan Murphy

    Thanks for clarifying. I still wouldn’t call giving a child up for adoption “foisting off”…. I mean, I doubt that’s an easy choice for most women…

    • No, giving up a child for adoption isn’t necessarily easy. I didn’t answer well. I was thinking of what tinfoil hattie said about not being pregnant for an evening to go get drunk or whatever when I made the first comment, then went off balance replying to you.

  • CJ

    In this particular instance, I suppose it isn’t interfering with women’s rights, I get the sense that the fetus is more valuable than the woman’s life, wants and desires.

    This declaration from the CDC makes it seem like the uterus is a ticking time bomb and that women spontaneously become pregnant. She has no right to her uterus since she may magically become pregnant and must be the perfect host. No thought is given to telling men to maybe put on a condom. Women should just be incubators ready to go at all times.

  • liz t.

    If you are a pregnant woman who decides to stay pregnant you have to understand that the baby comes first. I’ve been an obstetrician/gynecologist for 21 years and have seen far too many women take a half-ass approach to their pregnancy. I’ve also delivered far too many babies with complications because of the attitude of these women.

  • Tangelo

    Provide the citations to the peer reviewed studies showing that mothers who drink coffee during their pregnancy have small birth weight babies.

  • Tangelo

    Citation please. Otherwise you are just trolling anecdotes. Unless this woman got blind drunk on moonshine that one time, is that it?

  • andeväsen

    Rubbish. What is the evidence that a glass of wine a week causes fetal alcohol syndrome? “I have seen” is not evidence. What coffee-induced condition is causing the small baby to be “fighting for her life”?

  • andeväsen

    The safe lower limit of alcohol consumption in pregnancy is unknown. By recommending none, the U.S. Surgeon general is playing it very safe while providing the backing music to those dancing to the tune of misogynists, whose ideas of child protection seem to gravitate towards prosecuting their primary care giver.

    Fear-mongering without evidence, as displayed on this thread.

  • liz t.

    I’m amazed at the amount of support by some of the commentators on this thread for a pregnant woman to drink and do other harmful stimulants. Given that the alcohol lobby is quite strong in the US you can bet the CDC has the facts on the issue. But I’ve just been delivering and caring for babies for a long time now so what do I know…

    • andeväsen

      I’m delighted that readers of a feminist website are able to diagnose sexism when they see it. The CDC is suffering from a severe case in the matter of its message to women and fetal alcohol syndrome. Forget feminism, asking any group of people to restrict their behaviour in order to plan for an event which they are not planning for (unplanned pregnancy) is an utterly bizarre public health strategy.

      The lobby to restrict women’s health is dangerously vociferous in the U.S., so it is no surprise that the CDC’s approach to target non-pregnant women is different from public health bodies of other countries.

      There are no new groundbreaking aetiology studies on the volume of alcohol required to produce fetal alcohol syndrome – the new CDC statement is based on new findings about the proportion of non-pregnant women of childbearing age, who are not on contraception and who also drink, and the CDC is specifically trying to reduce the proportion of pregnancies “at risk” of fetal alcohol syndrome.

      The report expresses it in plain and reasonable terms (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6504a6.htm). Great objective, bizarre tactic. The reasonable tone is lost in translation to the public.

      “Women also should not drink alcohol if they are sexually active and do not use effective contraception (birth control). This is because a woman might get pregnant and expose her baby to alcohol before she knows she is pregnant. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.”

      Why tell sexually active women not on contraception not to drink alcohol?

      Why not:
      (1) ask the state to provide free contraception to all women who want it? Why not question why nearly half of all U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, the highest of all developed countries? Compare with one in six UK pregnancies being unplanned.
      Encouraging contraception use actually does form part of the counselling package recommended in the CDC’s report. Yet there is silence on this aspect when it comes to the public statement and recommendations to women.

      (2) ask women not to drink alcohol after having unprotected heterosexual penetrative intercouse until pregnancy is ruled out?

      (3) ask men not to have unprotected heterosexual penetrative intercouse with women who are drinking? Outlandish.

      It is also not surprising that “women of childbearing age: stop drinking” made no reference to lesbians. Either the CDC forgot about them, or the implication is “lesbians of childbearing age: stop drinking, just in case you are raped.”

      • lujk

        They also have apparently never heard of abortion.

        Plus, there have been studies showing men’s drinking is a factor in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which is totally ignored. The degree of asymmetry with which they view women’s and men’s role in pregnancy is ludicrous.

  • liz t.

    It clearly advises no more than 2 cups per day. It also clearly says that women who drink more than that average a baby with a birth weight which is 27%-62% below average. One of the biggest risks of having a baby with a low birth weight is having immature lungs. Heart complications, while more rare, are still a huge issue. Please try harder to read or just google complications of low birth weight babies.

    • andeväsen

      Yes, two cups a day – contradicting you, who have claimed women should abstain.

      Your point about immature lungs is incorrect. Immature lungs are not caused by low birth weight. Where did you get this from? Immature lungs are a problem of prematurity, as is implied by the name.

      In fact, within the group of premature babies, those with low birthweight caused by placental insufficiency, lungs may mature quicker than babies of a similar gestational age without placental insufficiency.

      Yeah, heart complications are a “huge issue” but once again, not caused by low birth weight. What makes you think heart complications – specifically life threatening heart complications like the one you described in your case of the baby you delivered – are caused by low birth weight?

    • andeväsen

      Essentially your case goes thus: a baby delivered by you, of a woman who drank coffee throughout her pregnancy, is very low birth weight, gestation age unspecified, and is now fighting for her life, due to weak heart and lungs, which you later clarified to be immature lungs and heart complications, and you are treating these by placing her in an incubator.

      Your strong recommendation is to abstain from coffee in pregnancy to stop all the above.

      I put it to you that you haven’t any evidence that coffee caused the immature lungs and the heart complications and is therefore not responsible for the baby having to fight for her life.

      Here is what low birth weight IS associated with in babies (without googling): being cold, needing to feed more, difficulty latching to the breast or sucking, later down the line being jaundiced. With the care of trained health workers, these problems should not be life-threatening. Immature lungs and life threatening heart complications are not down to low birth weight.

      I would also once again suggest that an incubator does not solve the problem of a baby who is fighting for her life.

  • liz t.

    This is something obstetricians have known for a long time. It’s a shame these studies take so long to confirm it. Nordic countries are the biggest consumers of coffee per capita and I’ve heard doctors there have known for many years this is factor of low birth weight. My father who was also an ob/gyn was warning his patients of this in the 60’s.

  • andeväsen

    The case for cigarettes causing COPD and lung cancer is very much stronger and on much more solid ground than one glass of wine in pregnancy causing fetal alcohol syndrome.

    No comparison.

  • andeväsen

    It very much is fear mongering to claim that one alcoholic drink in pregnancy will cause fetal alcohol syndrome when, as you acknowledge, there is no known safe limit for alcohol in pregnancy. The safe limit has yet to be established.

    No one has found out if it is one drink or one hundred drinks which cause fetal alcohol syndrome but this is not reflected in the CDC guidance.

    Other countries’ public health bodies currently advise their citizens in more transparent and honest terms than the CDC.

  • andeväsen

    You don’t have to go out. Saudi women have strict regulations on when and how they go out and have a disproportionately lower incidence among road traffic accident statistics. Although the driving ban must surely contribute.

    Staying with road safety, the CDC may as well give the above advice because the evidence base behind advising pregnant women to look both ways before crossing the street is stronger than the evidence base for the advice that one alcoholic drink will cause fetal alcohol syndrome.

  • andeväsen

    Agree wholeheartedly.

    Hashtag not all

  • andeväsen

    Oops. Was going to say hashtag not all doctors….which really is about as useful as saying not all menz, especially on the internet, where any misogynist able to type can preface all their rants with “as an obgyn”.

    I’m doubting liz t.’s credentials not just because I’ve never heard any colleagues express liz t.’s views (albeit I accept I’ve never worked in the states) but also and mainly because the medical details in liz t.’s anecdotes are consistently unacceptably vague (“weak lungs”, “heart complications”). Equally I’ve no substantive way of proving I’m in the field apart from also saying “as a doctor”.

    There aren’t enough feminist inroads in the medical field, that’s for sure. Whether or not liz t. is for real, the CDC guidance is testament to that.

  • andeväsen

    I’m a long time admirer of the CDC but this strategy of asking non-pregnant women to abstain from alcohol in case of pregnancy is unacceptably rubbish.

    The CDC itself has mined national datasets to reveal reasons for contraceptive non-use among American women with unintended pregnancies. Only 20%

  • andeväsen

    …only 20% “didn’t mind being pregnant”. (Mosher et al in Contraception, Aug 2015). The most commonly cited reason for non-use among those who had unplanned pregnancies was “didn’t think I could get pregnant”.

    This guidance will have any impact on only those 20%. Blanketly asking all non-users of contraception to abstain from alcohol ignores the considerations of the overwhelming majority of women at risk of unintended pregnancy and presupposes that all women not on contraception want to be pregnant.