a woman in Texas now faces if she seeks an abortion.
Under a new law that took effect three weeks ago with the strong backing of Gov.
Rick Perry, she first must typically endure an ultrasound probe inserted into
her vagina. Then she listens to the audio thumping of the fetal heartbeat and
watches the fetus on an ultrasound screen.
She must listen to a doctor explain the body parts and internal organs of the
fetus as they’re shown on the monitor. She signs a document saying that she
understands all this, and it is placed in her medical files. Finally, she goes
home and must wait 24 hours before returning to get the abortion.
“It’s state-sanctioned abuse,” said Dr. Curtis Boyd, a Texas physician who
provides abortions. “It borders on a definition of rape. Many states describe
rape as putting any object into an orifice against a person’s will. Well, that’s
what this is. A woman is coerced to do this, just as I’m coerced.”
“The state of Texas is waging war on women and their families,” Dr. Boyd added.
“The new law is demeaning and disrespectful to the women of Texas, and insulting
to the doctors and nurses who care for them.”
That law is part of a war over women’s health being fought around the country —
and in much of the country, women are losing. State by state, legislatures are
creating new obstacles to abortions and are treating women in ways that are
patronizing and humiliating.
Twenty states now require abortion providers to conduct ultrasounds first in
some situations, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization.
The new Texas law is the most extreme to take effect so far, but similar laws
have been passed in North Carolina and Oklahoma and are on hold pending legal
Alabama, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Mississippi are also considering Texas-style
legislation bordering on state-sanctioned rape. And what else do you call it
when states mandate invasive probes in women’s bodies?
“If you look up the term rape, that’s what it is: the penetration of the vagina
without the woman’s consent,” said Linda Coleman, an Alabama state senator who
is fighting the proposal in her state. “As a woman, I am livid and outraged.”
States put in place a record number of new restrictions on abortions last year,
Guttmacher says. It counts 92 new curbs in 24 states.
“It was a debacle,” Elizabeth Nash, who manages state issues for Guttmacher,
told me. “It’s been awful. Last year was unbelievable. We’ve never seen anything
Yes, there have been a few victories for women. The notorious Virginia proposal
that would have required vaginal ultrasounds before an abortion was modified to
require only abdominal ultrasounds.
Yet over all, the pattern has been retrograde: humiliating obstacles to
abortions, cuts in family-planning programs, and limits on comprehensive sex
education in schools.
If Texas legislators wanted to reduce abortions, the obvious approach would be
to reduce unwanted pregnancies. The small proportion of women and girls who
aren’t using contraceptives account for half of all abortions in America,
according to Guttmacher. Yet Texas has some of the weakest sex-education
programs in the nation, and last year it cut spending for family planning by 66
The new Texas law was passed last year but was held up because of a lawsuit by
the Center for Reproductive Rights. In a scathing opinion, Judge Sam Sparks of
Federal District Court described the law as “an attempt by the Texas legislature
to discourage women from exercising their constitutional rights.” In the end,
the courts upheld the law, and it took effect last month.
It requires abortion providers to give women a list of crisis pregnancy centers
where, in theory, they can get unbiased counseling and in some cases
ultrasounds. In fact, these centers are often set up to ensnare pregnant women
and shame them or hound them if they are considering abortions.
“They are traps for women, set up by the state of Texas,” Dr. Boyd said.
The law then requires the physician to go over a politicized list of so-called
dangers of abortion, like “the risks of infection and hemorrhage” and “the
possibility of increased risk of breast cancer.” Then there is the mandated
ultrasound, which in the first trimester normally means a vaginal ultrasound.
Doctors sometimes seek vaginal ultrasounds before an abortion, with the
patient’s consent, but it’s different when the state forces women to undergo the
The best formulation on this topic was Bill Clinton’s, that abortion should be
“safe, legal and rare.” Achieving that isn’t easy, and there is no silver bullet
to reduce unwanted pregnancies. But family planning and comprehensive sex
education are a surer path than demeaning vulnerable women with state-sanctioned
abuse and humiliation.
A wave of mergers between Roman Catholic and secular hospitals is threatening to
deprive women in many areas of the country of ready access to important
reproductive services. Catholic hospitals that merge or form partnerships with
secular hospitals often try to impose religious restrictions against abortions,
contraception and sterilization on the whole system.
This can put an unacceptable burden on women, especially low-income women and
those who live in smaller communities where there are fewer health care options.
State regulators should closely examine such mergers and use whatever powers
they have to block those that diminish women’s access to medical care.
Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky, for example, recently turned down a bid by a
Catholic health system to merge with a public hospital that is the chief
provider of indigent care in Louisville. He cited concerns about loss of control
of a public asset and restrictions on reproductive services.
The nation’s 600 Catholic hospitals are an important part of the health care
system. They treat one-sixth of all hospital patients, and are sometimes the
only hospital in a small community. They receive most of their operating income
from public insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid and from private
insurers, not from the Catholic Church. They are free to deliver care in accord
with their religious principles, but states and communities have an obligation
to make sure that reproductive care remains available. This should be a central
goal for government officials who have a role in approving such consolidations.
As Reed Abelson wrote in a recent report in The Times, these mergers are driven
by shifts in health care economics. Some secular hospitals are struggling to
survive and eager to be rescued by financially stronger institutions, which in
many cases may be Catholic-affiliated. By one estimate, 20 mergers between
Catholic and non-Catholic hospitals have been announced over the past three
years and more can be expected.
The 2009 “Ethical and Religious Directives” issued by the United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops warns that Catholic institutions should avoid
entering into partnerships “that would involve them in cooperation with the
wrongdoing of other providers.” Catholic hospitals have refused to terminate
pregnancies, provide contraceptive services, offer a standard treatment for
ectopic pregnancies, or allow sterilization after caesarean sections (women
seeking tubal ligations are then forced to have a second operation elsewhere,
exposing them to additional risks).
In one case, the sole hospital in a rural area in southeastern Arizona announced
in 2010 that it would partner with an out-of-state Catholic health system, and
would immediately adhere to Catholic directives that forbid certain reproductive
health services. As a result, a woman whose doctors wanted to terminate a
pregnancy to save her life had to be sent 80 miles away for treatment. A
coalition of residents, physicians and activists campaigned against the merger
and it was called off before it was finalized.
Over the past 15 years, MergerWatch, an advocacy group based in New York City,
has helped block or reverse 37 mergers and reached compromises in 22 others that
saved at least some reproductive services. As mergers become more common, state
and local leaders would be wise to block proposals that restrict health
administration has rightly decided to reject a mean-spirited and dangerous
Indiana law banning the use of Medicaid funds at Planned Parenthood clinics,
which provide vital health services to low-income women.
The law, signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana in May, is just one effort by
Republican-led state legislatures around the country to end public financing for
Planned Parenthood — a goal the House Republicans failed to achieve in the
budget deal in April. The organization is a favorite target because a small
percentage of its work involves providing abortion care even though no
government money is used for that purpose.
Governor Daniels and Republican lawmakers, by depriving Planned Parenthood of
about $3 million in government funds, would punish thousands of low-income women
on Medicaid, who stand to lose access to affordable contraception, life-saving
breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for H.I.V. and
other sexually transmitted diseases. Making it harder for women to obtain birth
control is certainly a poor strategy for reducing the number of abortions.
On Wednesday, the administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services, Donald Berwick, said the Indiana law, which is already in effect,
violates federal Medicaid law by imposing impermissible restrictions on the
freedom of Medicaid beneficiaries to choose health care providers.
Although Mr. Berwick’s letter to Indiana officials did not say it explicitly,
Indiana could lose millions of dollars in Medicaid financing unless it changes
its law. In a bulletin to state officials around the country, the Medicaid
office warned that states may not exclude doctors, clinics or other providers
from Medicaid “because they separately provide abortion services.”
So far, Indiana isn’t budging. The issue will be taken up on Monday in federal
court in Indiana where Planned Parenthood has filed a suit challenging the
state’s action on statutory and constitutional grounds. The organization
properly argues that it may not be penalized for engaging in constitutionally
protected activities, like providing abortion services with its own money.
The Obama administration’s opposition to the Indiana law could help deter other
states — including North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin and Tennessee — from moving
forward with similar measures to restrict payments to Planned Parenthood, either
under Medicaid or Title X, the main federal family planning program. Kansas, for
example, has enacted provisions to block Planned Parenthood from receiving any
Title X money.
The measures against Planned Parenthood come amid further efforts to limit
access to abortion. Just since April, six states — Indiana, Virginia, Nebraska,
Idaho, Oklahoma and Kansas — have enacted laws banning insurance coverage of
abortion in the health insurance exchanges created as part of federal health
care reform, bringing the total to 14 states. Two states — Arizona and Texas —
joined three others in making ultrasounds mandatory for women seeking to
terminate pregnancies. Bills expected to be signed soon by Florida’s Republican
governor, Rick Scott, contain both types of provisions.
Many of these fresh attacks on reproductive rights, not surprisingly, have come
in states where the midterm elections left Republicans in charge of both
chambers of the legislature and the governor’s mansion.
in the House of Representatives are mounting an assault on women’s health and
freedom that would deny millions of women access to affordable contraception and
life-saving cancer screenings and cut nutritional support for millions of
newborn babies in struggling families. And this is just the beginning.
The budget bill pushed through the House last Saturday included the defunding of
Planned Parenthood and myriad other cuts detrimental to women. It’s not likely
to pass unchanged, but the urge to compromise may take a toll on these programs.
And once the current skirmishing is over, House Republicans are likely to use
any legislative vehicle at hand to continue the attack.
The egregious cuts in the House resolution include the elimination of support
for Title X, the federal family planning program for low-income women that
provides birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing for
H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases. In the absence of Title X’s
preventive care, some women would die. The Guttmacher Institute, a leading
authority on reproductive health, says a rise in unintended pregnancies would
result in some 400,000 more abortions a year.
An amendment offered by Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana, would
bar any financing of Planned Parenthood. A recent sting operation by an
anti-abortion group uncovered an errant employee, who was promptly fired. That
hardly warrants taking aim at an irreplaceable network of clinics, which uses no
federal dollars in providing needed abortion care. It serves one in five
American women at some point in her lifetime.
The House resolution would slash support for international family planning and
reproductive health care. And it would reimpose the odious global “gag” rule,
which forbids giving federal money to any group that even talks about abortions.
That rule badly hampered family planning groups working abroad to prevent infant
and maternal deaths before President Obama lifted it.
(Mr. Obama has tried to act responsibly. He has rescinded President George W.
Bush’s wildly overreaching decision to grant new protections to health providers
who not only will not perform abortions, but also will not offer emergency
contraception to rape victims or fill routine prescriptions for contraceptives.)
In negotiations over the health care bill last year, Democrats agreed to a
scheme intended to stop insurance companies from offering plans that cover
abortions. Two bills in the Republican House would go even further in denying
coverage to the 30 percent or so of women who have an abortion during
One of the bills, offered by Representative Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, has a
provision that would allow hospitals receiving federal funds to refuse to
terminate a pregnancy even when necessary to save a woman’s life.
Beyond the familiar terrain of abortion or even contraception, House Republicans
would inflict harm on low-income women trying to have children or who are
Their continuing resolution would cut by 10 percent the Special Supplemental
Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC, which
serves 9.6 million low-income women, new mothers, and infants each month, and
has been linked in studies to higher birth weight and lower infant mortality.
The G.O.P. bill also slices $50 million from the block grant supporting programs
providing prenatal health care to 2.5 million low-income women and health care
to 31 million children annually. President Obama’s budget plan for next year
calls for a much more modest cut.
These are treacherous times for women’s reproductive rights and access to
essential health care. House Republicans mistakenly believe they have a mandate
to drastically scale back both even as abortion warfare is accelerating in the
states. To stop them, President Obama’s firm leadership will be crucial. So will
the rising voices of alarmed Americans.
Women made little progress in climbing into management positions in this
country even in the boom years before the financial crisis, according to a
report to be released on Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office.
As of 2007, the latest year for which comprehensive data on managers was
available, women accounted for about 40 percent of managers in the United States
work force. In 2000, women held 39 percent of management positions. Outside of
management, women held 49 percent of the jobs in both years.
Across the work force, the gap between what men and women earn has shrunk over
the last few decades. Full-time women workers closed the gap to 80.2 cents for
every dollar earned by men in 2009, up from just 62.3 cents in 1979. Much of
this persistent wage gap, however, can be explained by what kinds of jobs the
sexes are drawn to, whether by choice or opportunity.
The new report, commissioned by the Joint Economic Council of Congress, tries to
make a better comparison by looking at men versus women in a specific industry
and in similar jobs, and also controlling for differences like education levels
and age. On average, female managers had less education, were younger and were
more likely to be working part time than their male counterparts.
In all but three of the 13 industries covered by the report, women had a smaller
share of management positions than they did of that industry’s overall work
force. The sectors where women were more heavily represented in management than
outside of it were construction, public administration and transportation and
Across the industries, the gender gap in managers’ pay narrowed slightly over
the last decade, even after adjusting for demographic differences. Female
full-time managers earned 81 cents for every dollar earned by male full-time
managers in 2007, compared with 79 cents in 2000.
This varied by industry, with the pay gap being the narrowest in public
administration, where female managers earned 87 cents for every dollar paid to
male managers. It was widest in construction and in financial services, where
women earned 78 percent of what men were paid after adjustments.
Across the work force, the pay gap was also slightly wider for managers who had
Managers who were mothers earned 79 cents of every dollar paid to managers who
were fathers, after adjusting for things like age and education. This gap has
stayed the same since at least 2000.
The greater toll that parenthood appears to take on women’s paychecks may help
explain why, generally speaking, female managers are less likely to have
children than their male counterparts.
In 2007, 63 percent of female managers were childless, compared with just 57
percent of male managers. Of those managers who did have children, men on
average had more children than their women counterparts.
Female managers were also less likely to be married than male managers, at rates
of 59 percent versus 74 percent, respectively.
It is difficult to determine why a wage gap exists between female and male
managers, and to what extent these differences might be because of
discrimination or other factors, like hours clocked. The new G.A.O. report, for
example, does not try to control for hours worked, beyond broad categories like
full-time or part-time status.
The report was prepared at the request of Representative Carolyn B. Maloney,
Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the Joint Economic Committee, for a
hearing on Tuesday on the gender gap in management jobs. The findings were based
on an analysis of data from the American Community Survey of the Census Bureau.
“When working women have kids, they know it will change their lives, but they
are stunned at how much it changes their paycheck,” Ms. Maloney said of the
report. “In this economy, it is adding insult to injury, especially as families
are increasingly relying on the wages of working moms.”
During the recession that began in December 2007 and ended in the summer of 2009
— generally after the data contained in this new report — men generally bore the
brunt of job losses because of the types of industries. It is still unclear how
management positions might have shifted or whether women were affected
differently by that.
September, 21, 2010
The New York Times
By CHRISTINA HOFF SOMMERS
AMONG the top items left on the Senate’s to-do list before the November
elections is a “paycheck fairness” bill, which would make it easier for women to
file class-action, punitive-damages suits against employers they accuse of
sex-based pay discrimination.
The bill’s passage is hardly certain, but it has received strong support from
women’s rights groups, professional organizations and even President Obama, who
has called it “a common-sense bill.”
But the bill isn’t as commonsensical as it might seem. It overlooks mountains of
research showing that discrimination plays little role in pay disparities
between men and women, and it threatens to impose onerous requirements on
employers to correct gaps over which they have little control.
The bill is based on the premise that the 1963 Equal Pay Act, which bans sex
discrimination in the workplace, has failed; for proof, proponents point out
that for every dollar men earn, women earn just 77 cents.
But that wage gap isn’t necessarily the result of discrimination. On the
contrary, there are lots of other reasons men might earn more than women,
including differences in education, experience and job tenure.
When these factors are taken into account the gap narrows considerably — in some
studies, to the point of vanishing. A recent survey found that young, childless,
single urban women earn 8 percent more than their male counterparts, mostly
because more of them earn college degrees.
Moreover, a 2009 analysis of wage-gap studies commissioned by the Labor
Department evaluated more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and concluded that the
aggregate wage gap “may be almost entirely the result of the individual choices
being made by both male and female workers.”
In addition to differences in education and training, the review found that
women are more likely than men to leave the workforce to take care of children
or older parents. They also tend to value family-friendly workplace policies
more than men, and will often accept lower salaries in exchange for more
benefits. In fact, there were so many differences in pay-related choices that
the researchers were unable to specify a residual effect due to discrimination.
Some of the bill’s supporters admit that the pay gap is largely explained by
women’s choices, but they argue that those choices are skewed by sexist
stereotypes and social pressures. Those are interesting and important points,
worthy of continued public debate.
The problem is that while the debate proceeds, the bill assumes the answer: it
would hold employers liable for the “lingering effects of past discrimination” —
“pay disparities” that have been “spread and perpetuated through commerce.”
Under the bill, it’s not enough for an employer to guard against intentional
discrimination; it also has to police potentially discriminatory assumptions
behind market-driven wage disparities that have nothing to do with sexism.
Universities, for example, typically pay professors in their business schools
more than they pay those in the school of social work, citing market forces as
the justification. But according to the gender theory that informs this bill,
sexist attitudes led society to place a higher value on male-centered fields
like business than on female-centered fields like social work.
The bill’s language regarding these “lingering effects” is vague, but that’s the
problem: it could prove a legal nightmare for even the best-intentioned
employers. The theory will be elaborated in feminist expert testimony when cases
go to trial, and it’s not hard to imagine a media firestorm developing from it.
Faced with multimillion-dollar lawsuits and the attendant publicity, many
innocent employers would choose to settle.
The Paycheck Fairness bill would set women against men, empower trial lawyers
and activists, perpetuate falsehoods about the status of women in the workplace
and create havoc in a precarious job market. It is 1970s-style gender-war
feminism for a society that should be celebrating its success in substantially,
if not yet completely, overcoming sex-based workplace discrimination.
Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar
at the American Enterprise
Institute and the editor,
most recently, of “The Science on Women and Science.”
September 22, 2009
The New York Times
By JAMES DAO
FORT JACKSON, S.C. — It may come as no surprise that the Army’s new top drill
sergeant idolizes Gen. George S. Patton Jr., has jumped out of planes 33 times,
aces every physical training test and drives a black Corvette with “noslack”
But consider this: the sergeant is a woman.
On Tuesday, the Army will make Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa L. King, 48, commandant
of its drill sergeant school here. It is a first. No woman has run one of the
Army’s rigorous schools for drill instructors.
Petite yet imposing, Sergeant Major King seems a drill sergeant at heart, ever
vigilant for busted rules: soldiers nodding off in class, soldiers with hair a
fraction too long, soldiers who run too slow.
“Are you crazy?” she shouts at one who is walking across a lawn. “Get off my
The eighth of 12 children, the sergeant major is the daughter of a sharecropper
who grew cucumbers and tobacco near Fort Bragg, N.C. Her first job in the Army
was as a postal clerk, a traditional position for women in those days.
She says she regrets not having been deployed to a war zone during her 29-year
Army career, though she has trained many soldiers who were. And now, in her new
job, she will have significant influence over the basic training of every
Last year the Army consolidated several drill schools into a single campus at
this sprawling post, meaning Sergeant Major King, with her staff of 78
instructors, will oversee drill sergeant training for the entire Army.
Famous for their Smokey Bear hats, booming voices and no-nonsense demeanor,
those sergeants transform tens of thousands of raw recruits into soldiers each
year. It is one of the backbone jobs of the military, and having a woman in
charge underscores the expanding role of women in the Army’s leadership.
But Sergeant Major King’s ascension is also a reminder of the limits of gender
integration in the military. Just 8 percent of the active-duty Army’s
highest-ranking enlisted soldiers — sergeants major and command sergeants major
— are women, though more than 13 percent of Army personnel are female.
In particular, the Army has struggled to recruit women as drill sergeants,
citing pregnancy, long hours and the prohibition against women serving in
frontline combat positions as reasons. Sergeant Major King said one of her
priorities would be to recruit more women into her school.
But she pushes back at the notion that she has risen because she is a woman.
“When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a female,” Sergeant Major King said. “I
see a soldier.”
As a child, she refused her mother’s cooking lessons, insisting on driving her
father’s tractor and playing basketball instead. When her siblings got in
trouble, she volunteered to take their spankings.
It was the sight of a commanding-looking female soldier in a stylish red beret
at the fort that inspired her to enlist while still in high school. Within three
years, she was sent to drill sergeant school, graduating as one of five women in
a class of 30.
Willie Shelley, a retired command sergeant major who supervised Sergeant Major
King in three postings, said that he once promoted her over the objections of
his commander into a position at Fort Bragg that had been held only by men.
“Turns out she was about the best first sergeant they ever had,” Mr. Shelley
said. “It would not surprise me that she could become the first female sergeant
major of the Army,” he added, referring to its top enlisted soldier.
In her clipped speaking style, acute command of regulations and visible disgust
with slovenliness, Sergeant Major King prowls the grounds of Fort Jackson, where
she was the top noncommissioned officer for a human resources battalion before
being promoted to commandant.
“She can always find the cigarette butt under the mattress,” said Patrick J.
Jones, a public affairs officer at Fort Jackson. Respect for rules and
dedication to training is what keeps soldiers alive in combat, Sergeant Major
King says, and she expects drill sergeants to embody that ethic 24 hours a day.
“Most soldiers want to be like their drill sergeants,” she said. “They are the
Yet for all her gruffness, she can show surprising tenderness toward her
charges. She describes her soldiers as “my children” and her approach to
disciplining them as “tough love.” She wells up with emotion while describing
how she once hugged a burly master sergeant whose wife had left him.
“She is confident, no nonsense, but compassionate about what’s right for the
soldier,” said Col. John E. Bessler, her commander in a basic training battalion
four years ago.
After a stint as a drill sergeant in her early 20s, Sergeant Major King went
through a series of rapid promotions: aide to the secretary of defense, then
Dick Cheney; senior enlisted positions near the demilitarized zone in Korea;
with the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg; and at NATO headquarters in Europe.
For a time in her 30s, she was married to another soldier. She got pregnant but
lost the baby, and eventually divorced. The failure of her marriage, she said,
brought on a period of soul-searching that led her to study the Bible. She was
planning to retire and join the ministry when her appointment to the drill
sergeant school was announced over the summer.
“On the other side, the military life, I was doing so good,” she said. “But my
personal life just stunk.” Since her divorce, she added, “I just pour my heart
into these soldiers.”
Looking back on her years in the Army, Sergeant Major King says she can think of
few occasions where men challenged her authority because she was a woman. “And
when they did,” she said, “I could handle it.”
Asked if women should be allowed into frontline combat units, she said yes, but
only if they meet the same standards as men.
While she says most women cannot meet those standards, she believes she can. As
if to prove her point, she scored a perfect 300 on her semiannual physical
training test last week, doing 34 push-ups and 66 situps, each in under two
minutes, then ran two miles in 16 minutes 10 seconds (well below the required
17:36 for her age group.)
But before she started her test, she characteristically noticed something amiss.
“Can you believe that?” the sergeant major asked no one in particular. “A bag of
garbage outside my Dumpster.”
With scientists now claiming they can make sperm in a lab,
does the world
need men any more, asks Tanya Gold
Thursday 9 July 2009
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk
at 00.01 BST
on Thursday 9
It appeared in the Guardian on Thursday 9 July 2009
on p6 of the Comment &
It was last updated at 09.44 BST on Thursday 9 July 2009.
I awoke yesterday in Ira Levin's brain. Scientists have used embryonic stem
cells to make synthetic sperm. My first thought is - does it come in pink? But
the possibility grows (and I'm wilfully hopping and skipping and bouncing over
the science bit here) that we will at some vague point in the future be able to
breed without men.
And so a misanthropic fantasy is conjured: what would a world without men be
like? Would it be a gently slumbering paradise, full of women eating pot noodles
and watching Dallas? Would there be more gilded, stripy cushions, but less armed
robbery? Or would it be like being trapped in an Overeaters Anonymous meeting,
or at an all girls' school - for ever?
Let us examine our history and see how men - the master race for all of our
recorded history in almost every corner of every human civilisation - have fared
so far. Applying all the fairness and equilibrium of my sex, naturally. And then
I must ask myself: could women do better?
Girls dress dolls. Boys stab them. From Action Man to adolescent stabbings to
creaking armchair generals shouting at Fox News while eating cheese straws, men
have always enjoyed - or been willing - to maim. Not all men are drooling
warlike psychopaths, but most drooling warlike psychopaths happen to be male.
Complain if you must, but surely this doesn't happen by accident? Freud said
nothing happens by accident, not even an overboiled egg. Where did that sea of
blood come from?
Obviously war has, at times, been an agent for useful social change: smashing
the Nazis, plucking women out of the kitchen and into the workplace, and so
forth. But generally speaking, I think most humane humans would agree that wars
are a bad thing. And on the whole, women don't do war. Defensively, maybe, but
not for fun, and not to compete with other women, because we know that there are
worse things you can do to another person than merely kill them.
Nah, I can't be bothered to invade Russia. Enders is on, then Holby City. Arms
race? To buy bracelets, possibly.
It would be mean to list only the maniacs but I can't resist; there are so many
flowers in this garden. Edward I flayed his enemies and nailed their skin to the
chapel of Pyx. Then he invaded Scotland, because it was there. Would he have
done this if he had been a woman? I doubt it - no woman would use skin as a wall
Ivan the Terrible threw cats - why cats? - off the walls of the Kremlin and
thumped people with red-hot pokers, because they were there. Joseph Stalin
watched musicals while his peasants starved.
Female rulers, I am certain, can and have already done better. Not always -
Indira Gandhi suppressed women's rights and Elizabeth Bathory murdered random
virgins and no, I haven't forgotten Margaret Thatcher - but Elizabeth I
practised religious tolerance in England while it was still fashionable to eat
Protestants in France. Iceland's prime minister, Jóhanna Sigurardóttir, Liberian
president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Helen Clark - who has just finished four
terms as PM in New Zealand - are all seemingly sane. They stand for fewer insane
policies and less mass murder due to feelings of inadequacy. Which I'm in favour
If you believe, as I do, that religion is more dangerous than an elephant on
cocaine wearing high heels in Legoland, the invention of religion is a very
black mark against the creatures that love football. In the dock we have Abraham
of Ur Kasdim representing Judaism, "St" Paul of Tarsus and Joshua of Nazareth in
the Catholic - later Protestant and Catholic - corner and Muhammad bringing up
the rear for Islam, holding the hand of the nine-year-old child he married.
We also have L Ron Hubbard (Scientology), the cravat-wearing author of Buckskin
Brigades, and our current Pope, who thinks men who kiss men are devilish. He
expounds this idea while dressed as Father Christmas. Spirituality, you say?
Congratulations, boys, on the greatest bullshit ever told.
What of women in religion? We are followers, not leaders; we are the gilding on
this mad lily. Everyone knows that nuns do what they are told, and that they are
terrible drivers. I believe most women go to church/mosque/synagogue for
something to do.
(And for the nibbles: "It's not the body of Christ. It's a biscuit"). Without
men, attendance at religious services would dramatically decline. We would of
course have nothing to pray for.
This is a tricky one, because women use hairdryers and hairdryers use
electricity and I want to be fair. I'm using a hairdryer now, as I type my
spleen. But it's been scientifically proven that cars and aeroplanes contribute
more to global warming than hairdryers and curling tongs.
And who buys the magazines Car and Automobile and Car and Driver and Aircraft
and Combat Aircraft and Hot Rod? You know who. It's m**. What's that strange
noise? It's the imminent destruction of our shared habitat, and we have no
escape pods. Foxtons doesn't have a branch on Pluto. I'd laugh except I'm on
fire. I think this has to go down as another serious black mark for men.
Thank you, Dr Freud and Dr Jung - good work, but I for one am still crying.
Women also practise psychiatry. It's called empathy. This is a good moment to
posit the idea that, in a man-free world, makeup and beauty-product sales would
decline, because we would have no one to preen for. The fashion industry would
die like an insect in autumn.
It is also possible that all women would be fat.
It is a very true truism that men are good at music because they prefer it to
speech. But I have to say thank you for the teenage-shagging Elvis, and the
wife-beating Frank, because in a world without men, I believe the music would be
rubbish. It would probably be like a Suzanne Vega concert. Love songs would
disappear. We'd sing songs about crop rotation and vomiting babies, and we'd sit
down at rock concerts.
Written by the losers in life, and, therefore, superb. Can women write as well
as men? Well, there is George Eliot, although she was not really called George.
She was really called Mary Ann.
It would disappear. We would talk instead. Ditto video games.
And that is my female planet. I can feel you raving now. I can smell your hate.
Women are complicit in the madness, you will say. We fly in the planes and we
eat the mouldy fruit salad. We applaud the decapitations, and read Vogue too.
But men are the rulers of our planet, the ambassadors of humanity; you cannot
dispute this, and be truthful. We women have never had the opportunity to fully
express our own evil, or our own goodness.
And so, for absolute enlightenment, to really make up my mind, I turn to The
The bonobo is a type of ape. It lives only in the Congo and it's one of our
closest living relatives. It lives in a matriarchal society - there are blokes,
but the birds are in charge - and it is more peaceful than the chimpanzee world.
They don't kill each other, like chimps do. They like French kissing and oral
sex and they sleep in a nest. So, if we use The Bonobo Thesis, it seems likely
that a female-only planet would be more peaceful and more lecherous than our
But, as I fantasise about this sweet new world, the question pops up: who would
I have sex with? I like women but I couldn't eat a whole one. Seriously, though?
The paradise is cracking and crumbling and sundering around my unwashed ears. In
truth, I would miss men. I would miss their smell, and their fragile sweetness,
and the way they look at Match of the Day 2 in that lopsided manner, like a lion
ogling a chicken.
And I am certain, that, should the men all leave, something terrible - something
even worse than all the terrible things they have already done - would happen.
Stay, men, stay.
WASHINGTON — Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s judicial opinions are marked by
diligence, depth and unflashy competence. If they are not always a pleasure to
read, they are usually models of modern judicial craftsmanship, which prizes
careful attention to the facts in the record and a methodical application of
layers of legal principles.
Judge Sotomayor, whom President Obama announced Tuesday as his choice for the
Supreme Court, has issued no major decisions concerning abortion, the death
penalty, gay rights or national security. In cases involving criminal
defendants, employment discrimination and free speech, her rulings are more
liberal than not.
But they reveal no larger vision, seldom appeal to history and consistently
avoid quotable language. Judge Sotomayor’s decisions are, instead, almost always
technical, incremental and exhaustive, considering all of the relevant
precedents and supporting even completely uncontroversial propositions with
All of which makes her remarkably cursory treatment last year of an employment
discrimination case brought by firefighters in New Haven so baffling. The
unsigned decision by Judge Sotomayor and two other judges, which affirmed the
dismissal of the claims from 18 white firefighters, one of them Hispanic,
contained a single paragraph of reasoning.
The brief decision in the case, which bristles with interesting and important
legal questions about how the government may take account of race in employment,
will probably attract more questions at her Supreme Court confirmation hearings
than any of the many hundreds of much more deeply considered decisions she has
Judge Sotomayor’s current court, the United States Court of Appeals for the
Second Circuit, in New York, is a collegial one. But Judge Jose A. Cabranes,
writing for himself and five other judges, used unusually tough language in
dissenting from the full court’s later refusal to rehear the firefighters’ case.
Judge Cabranes said the panel’s opinion “contains no reference whatsoever to the
constitutional claims at the core of this case” and added that “this perfunctory
disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal.”
That assessment, which was directed at the work of all three judges on the
panel, may have carried extra weight with Judge Sotomayor. Judge Cabranes was a
mentor to her, and he administered the judicial oath to her twice — in 1992,
when she joined the Federal District Court in Manhattan, and again in 1998, when
she was elevated to the Second Circuit.
The case, Ricci v. DeStefano, is now before the Supreme Court. In the next month
or so, that court will render an unusually high-profile judgment on the work of
a judge who hopes to join it. Based on the questioning at the argument in the
case last month, the majority’s assessment is likely to be unflattering.
In an interview shortly before she joined the district court in 1992, Ms.
Sotomayor spoke about what awaited her, saying that “95 percent of the cases
before most judges are fairly mundane.”
“I’m not going to be able to spend much time on lofty ideals,” she said. “The
cases that shake the world don’t come along every day. But the world of the
litigants is shaken by the existence of their case, and I don’t lose sight of
Judge Sotomayor’s six years on the trial court and more than a decade on the
Second Circuit probably confirmed those intuitions, in part because of the
idiosyncratic dockets of the federal courts in New York. They hear many
important cases involving business, securities, employment, white-collar crime
and immigration. But they do not regularly confront the great issues of the day.
One exception is on the horizon. The full Second Circuit, including Judge
Sotomayor, recently reheard the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian who contends that
American officials sent him to Syria in 2002 to be tortured. A divided panel of
the court had dismissed Mr. Arar’s case. The decision from the full court should
provide clues about Judge Sotomayor’s views concerning how far the government
may go in its efforts to combat terrorism.
Thomas C. Goldstein, a lawyer who argues frequently before the Supreme Court and
founded Scotusblog, a Web site that covers the court, said there could be no
doubt about Judge Sotomayor’s intellectual capacity.
“She’s got the horses, for sure,” Mr. Goldstein said.
Nor, he added, was there any question of her fundamental orientation, based on a
review of her decisions. “From the outcomes,” Mr. Goldstein said, “she’s
certainly on the left.”
Judge Sotomayor’s rulings have sometimes anticipated decisions of the Supreme
Court. In 1999, for instance, she refused to suppress crack cocaine found by
police officers who were executing a warrant that had been vacated 17 months
before but never deleted from a police database.
That kind of error, Judge Sotomayor said, did not require suppression. The
Supreme Court came to the same conclusion in January, a decade after Judge
On other occasions, Judge Sotomayor has been content to wait for definitive
guidance from the Supreme Court. In January, she joined an unsigned decision
rejecting a Second Amendment challenge to a New York law prohibiting the
possession of chukka sticks, a weapon used in martial arts made up of two sticks
joined by a rope or chain.
The decision reasoned that the Supreme Court’s ruling last year establishing an
individual right to bear arms, District of Columbia v. Heller, had not yet been
applied to the states. The Second Circuit’s decision may well reach the Supreme
In a 2004 dissent, Judge Sotomayor seemed to be in agreement with Justice Ruth
Bader Ginsburg’s observation in a recent interview with USA Today that female
judges can be more sensitive to claims that strip searches of young girls are
The majority opinion in the 2004 case, by two male judges, upheld the legality
of some strip searches of girls held at juvenile detention centers in
In her dissent, Judge Sotomayor wrote that the majority had not been attentive
enough to “the privacy interests of emotionally troubled children” who “have
been victims of abuse or neglect, and may be more vulnerable mentally and
emotionally than other youths their age.”
That was in line with Justice Ginsburg’s questioning from the bench last month
in Safford Unified School District v. Redding, which concerned what she called a
“humiliating” strip search of a 13-year-old middle school student by school
officials in Arizona.
In her dissent, Judge Sotomayor also emphasized how “embarrassing and
humiliating” the searches of the girls in Connecticut had been. “The officials
inspected the girls’ naked bodies front and back, and had them lift their
breasts and spread out folds of fat,” Judge Sotomayor wrote.
In a 2002 dissent, Judge Sotomayor said she would have ruled that the First
Amendment has a role to play in protecting anonymous racist communications made
by a police officer. Saying she found the communications “patently offensive,
hateful and insulting,” Judge Sotomayor nonetheless would have allowed the
officer’s case against the police department that fired him to proceed to trial.
She said the majority should not “gloss over three decades of jurisprudence and
the centrality of First Amendment freedoms in our lives because it is confronted
with speech it does not like.”
WASHINGTON — She was “a child with dreams,” as she once said, the little girl
who learned at 8 that she had diabetes, who lost her father when she was 9, who
devoured Nancy Drew books and spent Saturday nights playing bingo, marking the
cards with chickpeas, in the squat red brick housing projects of the East Bronx.
She was the history major and Puerto Rican student activist at Princeton who
spent her first year at that bastion of the Ivy League “too intimidated to ask
questions.” She was the tough-minded New York City prosecutor, and later the
corporate lawyer with the dazzling international clients. She was the federal
judge who “saved baseball” by siding with the players’ union during a strike.
Now Sonia Sotomayor — a self-described “Nuyorican” whose mother, a nurse, and
father, a factory worker, left Puerto Rico during World War II — is President
Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court, with a chance to make history as only the
third woman and first Hispanic to sit on the highest court in the land. Her
up-by-the-bootstraps tale, an only-in-America story that in many ways mirrors
Mr. Obama’s own, is one reason for her selection, and it is the animating
characteristic of her approach to both life and the law.
“Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see,” Judge
Sotomayor (pronounced so-toe-my-OR) said in 2001, in a lecture titled “A Latina
Judge’s Voice.” “My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and
extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not
know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will
be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.”
From her days going to the movies with cousins to see Cantinflas, a Mexican
comedian whom she once called the “Abbott and Costello of my generation,” to her
current life in the rarefied world of the United States Court of Appeals for the
Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor, 54, has traveled what Mr. Obama called “an
In her 2001 address, she spoke longingly of the “sound of merengue at all our
family parties” and the Puerto Rican delicacies — patitas de cerdo con garbanzos
(pigs’ feet with beans) and la lengua y orejas de cuchifrito (pigs’ tongue and
ears) — that appealed to the “particularly adventurous taste buds” that she
called “a very special part of my being Latina.”
Today, Judge Sotomayor’s culinary tastes range from tuna fish and cottage cheese
for lunch with clerks in her chambers, to her standard order at the Blue Ribbon
Bakery: smoked sturgeon on toast, with Dijon mustard, onions and capers. She
works out three times a week, putting in three miles on the treadmill in the
court’s gym. Divorced and with no children, she enjoys the ballet and theater
and lives in a condominium in Greenwich Village — both a subway ride and a world
away from the housing projects where she grew up.
Yet a few things have not changed: her feeling of herself as “not completely a
part of the worlds I inhabit,” as she said in one speech; her drive and
ambition; and her willingness to speak up about her own identity as a Latina and
a woman. In many ways, she is walking through a door she pushed open herself. On
the bench, Judge Sotomayor may be a careful deliberator, but off it she has been
a tireless advocate for Latinos.
In 1976, she wrote her senior thesis at Princeton on Luis Muñoz Marín, the first
democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico, and dedicated it in part “to the
people of my island — for the rich history that is mine.” She has lectured at
the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. In 2001, she was a speaker at a
Princeton-sponsored conference titled “Puerto Ricans: Second-Class Citizens in
In describing his criteria for a Supreme Court pick, Mr. Obama said he was
looking for empathy — a word that conservatives, who are already attacking Judge
Sotomayor, have described as code for an activist judge with liberal views who
will impose her own agenda on the law. Her critics also raise questions about
her judicial temperament, saying she can be abrupt and impatient on the bench.
But Judge Sotomayor’s friends say she is simply someone who will bring the
“common touch” that the president has said he prizes to her understanding of the
“I think she’s compassionate and empathetic, and I think she is going to really
listen to people who are alleging that they have been victimized in some way,”
said Robert H. Klonoff, dean of the Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Ore.,
who attended Yale Law with Judge Sotomayor and considers her a friend. Dean
Klonoff, who last saw the judge in her New York chambers the day after Mr.
Obama’s election, compares her to Thurgood Marshall, the Supreme Court’s first
black justice, for the perspective he says she would bring to the court.
“She had such a different path,” he said. “There were so many people that had
Roman numerals after their names and long histories of family members who had
gone to Yale, and here was this woman who was from the projects, not hiding her
views at all, just totally outspoken. She’s one of those where, even at a school
with great people, I knew that she was going to go on and do amazing things.”
Childhood in the East Bronx
There was something of a pioneer spirit among the Puerto Ricans who settled into
the East Bronx after braving tenements farther south or poverty back on the
island. To settle into the Bronxdale Houses, as Sonia Sotomayor’s family
ultimately did in the 1960s, was to find a haven of sorts, according to people
who lived there then.
“Here was a paradise,” said Ricardo Velez, who was among the earliest tenants
when he moved to his apartment in 1956. “It was beautiful.”
This was the place where Sonia’s parents, Celina and Juan Sotomayor, intended to
raise their children — Ms. Sotomayor and her brother, Juan, who is now a doctor
in Syracuse. The couple met and married during World War II after Celina was
discharged from the Women’s Army Corps, the WACS, the outlet for women of her
generation to give to the war effort. Celina Sotomayor had left Puerto Rico at
17 to sign up, shipping off to Georgia for her training with no relatives in the
mainland United States.
While her husband worked at a tool-and-die factory, Celina Sotomayor — by all
accounts the driving force in her daughter’s life — went on to become a
telephone operator at Prospect Hospital, a small private hospital in the South
Bronx, and later received her practical nurse’s license. The family’s life was
upended when Sonia’s father died at 42, in part from heart complications that
had kept him out of the Army. Celina Sotomayor, a widow with two young children
and no savings, began working six days a week.
Her daughter retreated into books. Sonia Sotomayor loved the Nancy Drew
mysteries, she once said, and yearned to be a police detective. But the doctor
who had diagnosed her diabetes told her that she would not be able to do that
kind of work. (The White House says Judge Sotomayor’s diabetes, a disease that
can ultimately cause blindness, heart disease and kidney ailments, has been
under control through insulin injections and careful monitoring for decades and
does not affect her work.)
A ‘Perry Mason’ Moment
She also spent hours watching “Perry Mason” on television. An episode that ended
with the camera fixed on the judge helped her set a new career goal, she told
The Associated Press in 1998. “I realized that the judge was the most important
player in the room,” she said at the time.
The Bronxdale Houses were still ethnically mixed when the Sotomayors lived
there, and neighbors say it felt mostly safe. But Judge Sotomayor recalled in a
1998 interview with The A.P. that temptation was lurking nearby.
“There were working poor in the projects,” she said. “There were poor poor in
the projects. There were sick poor in the projects. There were addicts and
non-addicts and all sorts of people, every one of them with problems, and each
group with a different response, different methods of survival, different
reactions to the adversity they were facing. And you saw kids making choices.”
Parents made choices, too. For Celina Sotomayor, education was the highest
priority; she bought her children an Encyclopaedia Britannica, a novelty in the
projects. “She was famous for the encyclopedia,” said Milagros Baez O’Toole, a
Roman Catholic schools of that era were embraced by many working-class Puerto
Rican parents who saw the public schools as too rowdy and dangerous. The
Sotomayor family, which is Catholic, was among them. Judge Sotomayor attended
Cardinal Spellman High School in the Northeast Bronx, which opened in 1959 and
earned a reputation as a school for high achievers. She graduated as
valedictorian in 1972.
Jeri Faulkner, who was a freshman when Judge Sotomayor was a senior, remembers
black students sat at one table in the cafeteria, and Latino students at
another. But Ms. Faulkner, who is now the school’s dean of students, said Ms.
Sotomayor inspired her.
“As a freshman, when you’re looking at seniors, you’re a little awestruck with
them,” Ms. Faulkner said. “She was smart. She always had time for you if you
needed to speak to her. She didn’t belittle your questions. She wasn’t aloof.
She was one of us.”
When Ms. Sotomayor entered Cardinal Spellman in the late 1960s, boys and girls
were rigidly segregated into opposing wings of the school, with a nun stationed
at a central point to enforce gender separation. But this “co-institutional”
arrangement was abandoned while she was there, and the sexes mixed freely by the
time she graduated. Ms. Sotomayor had a sweetheart, Kevin E. Noonan. “She was
irrepressible, very popular, very bright, very dynamic,” said one classmate who
asked not to be named. “She wasn’t overbearing about it, but you knew she was in
By then, the Sotomayor family had moved to a new apartment in Co-op City — a
clear step up from the projects. The family’s Co-op City kitchen table became a
regular gathering spot for food and conversation for Sonia’s classmates and
debate team buddies.
“Sonia was very much the ruler of the kitchen-table debate,” said Kenneth K.
Moy, the son of Chinese immigrants who was a year ahead of her at both Spellman
and later Princeton. “She was very analytical, even back then. It was clear to
people who knew her that if she wasn’t going to be a lawyer, she was going to be
in public life somehow.”
Mr. Moy said Ms. Sotomayor’s crowd was a diverse mix of students that included
immigrants from struggling families and others from well-to-do parts of
Westchester County. They endlessly hashed over not only school gossip, but also
Vietnam — where their friends were serving in a war that had divided the school
— as well as the country, race relations and social justice, he said.
Sonia’s mother, Celina, would return home after long hours working as a nurse
and feed the crowd of teenagers rice and beans and sometimes pork chops. “I
can’t tell you how many times I said, ‘Is there another pork chop?’ — and there
was,” said Mr. Moy, now a lawyer in Oakland, Calif. Later, he urged his friend
to follow him to Princeton. But he was candid, he said, about what she would
face there as a Puerto Rican from a modest background.
“I told her I don’t want you to come here with any illusions,” Mr. Moy recalled.
“Social isolation is going to be a part of your experience, and you have to have
the strength of character to get through intact.”
Adjusting to Princeton
When Ms. Sotomayor arrived at Princeton in the fall of 1972, she was one of the
only Latinos there: there were no professors, no administrators, and only a
double-digit number of students. Princeton women were sharply outnumbered as
well; the first ones had been admitted only a few years earlier, and some alumni
had protested their increasing ranks. (Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who
graduated just a few months before Ms. Sotomayor arrived, belonged to one of the
groups that protested.)
Ms. Sotomayor was terrified: she barely raised her hand in class initially, and
years later, she confessed to a friend at Yale Law School that she could “barely
write” when she arrived at Princeton. So she barricaded herself in the library,
earning a reputation as a grind (her diligence would pay off with her eventual
election to Phi Beta Kappa). She spent her summers inhaling children’s classics,
grammar books and literature that many Princeton peers had already conquered at
Choate or Exeter.
She also readily accepted help. When Ms. Sotomayor arrived in Nancy Weiss
Malkiel’s history class in the spring of her freshman year, for example, she
seemed unprepared, Ms. Malkiel recalled in an e-mail message. But Ms. Malkiel
tutored her in how to read sources and write analytically, and by late in the
semester, Ms. Sotomayor was flourishing.
By her junior year or so, “I don’t remember her being shy or reticent about much
of anything,” said Jerry Cox, a classmate.
Ms. Sotomayor also became involved in campus politics. After heavy lobbying, she
joined Acción Puertorriqueña, an organization working for more opportunity for
Puerto Rican students.
“Sonia had to be persuaded to join us,” said Margarita Rosa, a friend from high
school. “We were a ragtag-looking bunch, and she was always methodical in her
Soon Ms. Sotomayor was co-chairwoman of the organization, which filed a formal
letter of complaint with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare,
accusing the university of discrimination in hiring and admission.
“The facts imply and reflect a total absence of regard, concern and respect for
an entire people and their culture,” she wrote in an opinion article in The
Daily Princetonian. “In effect, they represent an effort — a successful effort
so far — to relegate an important cultural sector of the population to
In her student thesis, which she dedicated to nine friends and family members,
Ms. Sotomayor wrote about Puerto Rico’s long struggle for political and economic
self-determination. While Muñoz Marín created great hope among Puerto Ricans,
“the island has continued to be plagued by unemployment, absentee ownership and
dependency on mainland revenues,” she concluded. When Ms. Sotomayor graduated,
she was awarded the Pyne Prize, the university’s highest undergraduate award,
presented for a combination of strong grades and extracurricular work. Even
before she won, everyone on campus seemed to know who she was. “I certainly
admired her from afar,” said Randall Kennedy, now a professor at Harvard Law
School and along with Ms. Sotomayor, a member of Princeton’s Board of Trustees.
Ms. Sotomayor went straight to Yale Law School, where she researched and wrote
her way onto the law review by analyzing the arcane constitutional issues that
would determine whether Puerto Rico would be allowed to maintain access to its
seabed if it became a state.
Even when she described positions with which she disagreed, “she was scrupulous
about giving the strongest form,” said Stephen L. Carter, who edited her
submission and said Ms. Sotomayor was just as tolerant a debater in class.
Her submission was “inspired by deep social concern about having the poorest
area in American jurisdiction survive economically,” said Edward Rubin, another
editor. “It was very scholarly and balanced even though it was inspired by
social concern.” Classmates remember just how hard she worked on it, polishing
and repolishing it again.
At Princeton, Ms. Sotomayor had volunteered with Latino patients at a state
psychiatric hospital in Trenton, and now she showed a similar desire to pull
away from her elite environment. “She felt an affinity with the African-American
janitor, the workers, people in the cafeteria,” recalled Rudolph Aragon, a
classmate and who headed the Latin, Asian and Native American association with
Ms. Sotomayor. “There were so few minority students that we had to combine
forces,” he said.
Her closest friends at the school were all outsiders: Mr. Aragon, who is
Mexican-American, along with three other students — a fellow Puerto Rican, a
Mohawk Indian and an African-American, he recalled.
After hours they would retreat to one another’s apartments for baseball games —
Ms. Sotomayor watched ecstatically as Reggie Jackson delivered the 1977 World
Series to the Yankees — or to a local club where the law students danced
alongside the locals. Ms. Sotomayor was still a grind, her friends said, but she
also smoked, drank beer and danced a mean salsa.
She somehow seemed older than her classmates, several said — perhaps because of
her difficult childhood, or maybe because she was already married. (She and Mr.
Noonan, who would become a biologist and later a biotech patent lawyer, wed in
the summer of 1976, but divorced seven years later.) And she knew exactly what
she wanted after graduation: to be a litigator. She was “tough, clear, very
quick on her feet,” said Martha Minow, now a Harvard Law School professor who
advised the White House on the selection.
An Imposing Prosecutor
She would soon get plenty of practice. In 1979, Robert M. Morgenthau, the
Manhattan district attorney, hired Ms. Sotomayor on the recommendation of José
A. Cabranes, then a teacher at Yale Law School and now a federal appeals court
judge. She became a young prosecutor in a city struggling with a drug- related
crime wave, joining a trial unit that handled everything from misdemeanors to
“Some of the judges like to push around young assistants and get them to dispose
of cases,” Mr. Morgenthau recalled. “Well, no one pushed around Sonia Sotomayor;
she stood up to the judges, in an appropriate way.”
In her fifth year in the office, she was interviewed for The New York Times
Magazine about the prosecutors working for Mr. Morgenthau. She was described as
an imposing woman of 29 who smoked incessantly, and spoke of how she had coped
in a job that some liberal friends disapproved of.
“I had more problems during my first year in the office with the low-grade
crimes — the shoplifting, the prostitution, the minor assault cases,” she said.
“In large measure, in those cases you were dealing with socioeconomic crimes,
crimes that could be the product of the environment and of poverty.
“Once I started doing felonies, it became less hard. No matter how liberal I am,
I’m still outraged by crimes of violence. Regardless of whether I can sympathize
with the causes that lead these individuals to do these crimes, the effects are
In 1984, Ms. Sotomayor left the district attorney’s office and joined Pavia &
Harcourt, a boutique commercial law firm in Manhattan.
“We had an opening for a litigator, and her résumé was perfect,” said George M.
Pavia, the managing partner who hired her. “She’s an excellent lawyer, a careful
preparer of cases, liberal, but not doctrinaire, not wild-eyed.”
A large part of Ms. Sotomayor’s work was fighting the counterfeiters who copied
products of Fendi, the luxury goods company, and its well-known “double F” logo.
Sometimes, that meant suing counterfeiters to stop them from importing fake
At other times, it involved more derring-do: if the firm had a tip from the
United States Customs Office about a suspicious shipment, Ms. Sotomayor would
often be involved in the risky maneuver of going to the warehouse to have the
merchandise seized. One incident that figures largely in firm lore was a seizure
in Chinatown, where the counterfeiters ran away, and Ms. Sotomayor got on a
motorcycle and gave chase.
In July 1987, Mario M. Cuomo, then the governor, appointed Ms. Sotomayor to the
board of the State of New York Mortgage Agency, which helps low-income people
get loans to buy homes. In 1992, when she left the unpaid board position, it
passed a resolution honoring her for consistently defending the rights of the
disadvantaged to secure affordable housing” and serving as the conscience of the
board concerning “the negative effects of gentrification.”
A Docket of Notable Cases
In 1991, the first President George Bush nominated Ms. Sotomayor to be a federal
district judge in the Southern District of New York. But she was informally
selected by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Democrat of New York, who shared
her working-class and parochial school roots and who was convinced, former aides
said, that Ms. Sotomayor would become the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.
Leaving private practice for public service meant that she would never be as
wealthy as many of her peers. Financial disclosure forms that Ms. Sotomayor
filed in 2007 show that her primary asset is her Greenwich Village condo, which
she bought in 1998 with the help of two mortgages totaling $324,000 from Chase
Manhattan Bank. Her last reported savings account balance was between $50,000
and $100,000, and she held no stocks or other significant investments. In
addition to her judicial salary, she earned small sums for teaching at the law
schools at New York University and Columbia University.
But her confirmation, in August 1992, made her the first Hispanic federal judge
in the state. She joined a federal district courthouse in New York City whose
docket is rich with everything from so-called drug mule cases to white-collar
crimes and securities litigation.
She had several notable cases as a district judge on religious liberties. In
1993, she struck down as unconstitutional a White Plains law that prohibited the
displaying of a menorah in a park. In 1994, she ordered New York prison
officials to allow inmates to wear beads of the Santeria religion under their
belts, even though prison officials said the beads were gang symbols.
Other notable cases included a 1995 ruling in which she ordered the government
to make public a photocopy of a torn-up note found in the briefcase of a former
White House counsel, Vincent Foster, who committed suicide. And in 1998, she
ruled that homeless people working for the Grand Central Partnership, a business
consortium, had to be paid the minimum wage.
But Judge Sotomayor’s most celebrated case came in 1995, when she ended a
prolonged baseball strike by ruling forcefully against the baseball team owners
and in favor of the ballplayers, resulting in a quick resumption of play. For a
brief period, she was widely celebrated, at least in those cities with
major-league teams, as the savior of baseball.
In 1997, President Bill Clinton nominated her to become a judge on the Court of
Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York. In filling out her Senate Judiciary
Committee questionnaire, Judge Sotomayor seemed to evoke the same concerns for
the real-world impact of rulings that Mr. Obama has said he is seeking.
“Judges must be extraordinarily sensitive to the impact of their decisions and
function within, and respectful of, the Constitution,” she wrote. She arrived at
her hearing with a New York construction contractor, Peter White, whom she
introduced as “my fiancé” and who was photographed helping her on with her robe
after she was sworn in as an appellate court judge. The relationship ended not
long after that, roughly 10 years ago, according to a friend.
It took the Senate more than a year to confirm her. Republicans delayed a vote,
drawing an accusation from Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who is
now the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, that they feared that Mr. Clinton
would try to elevate her to the Supreme Court.
But Alfonse M. D’Amato, then a Republican senator from New York, eventually
helped push through a vote, and she was confirmed 67 to 29 in October 1998.
Among those voting in her favor was Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who remains a
leading Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Over the next decade, Judge Sotomayor would hear appeals in more than 3,000
cases, writing about 380 majority opinions. The Supreme Court reviewed five of
those, reversing three and affirming two, although it rejected her reasoning
while accepting the outcome in one of those it upheld.
A No-Nonsense Reputation
She would develop a reputation for asking tough questions at oral arguments and
for being sometimes brusque and curt with lawyers who were not prepared to
The 2009 edition of the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, which includes
anonymous comments evaluating judges by lawyers who appear before them, presents
a mixed portrait of Judge Sotomayor. Most of the unnamed lawyers interviewed
said she had good legal ability and wrote good opinions. But several also spoke
very negatively of her manner from the bench, saying she could be abusive of
lawyers appearing before her and using words like “bully,” “nasty” and “a
But one former clerk defended her style.
“Personality- and style-wise, she is a dynamo,” said Lisa Zornberg, who clerked
for her in 1997-98 and is now an assistant United States attorney in the
Southern District of New York. Lawyers “who come before her know she always
shows up on her game” and “doesn’t tolerate unpreparedness, nor should she.”
Judge Sotomayor has had several rulings that indicate a generally more liberal
judicial philosophy than a majority of justices on the current Supreme Court,
leading some conservatives to label her a “judicial activist.”
In 2000, for example, she wrote an opinion that would have allowed a man to sue
a government contractor he accused of violating his constitutional rights. In
2007, she wrote an opinion interpreting an environmental law in a way that would
favor more stringent protections, even if it cost power plant owners more money.
The Supreme Court reversed both decisions.
The ruling by Judge Sotomayor that has attracted the most attention was a 2008
case upholding an affirmative action program at the New Haven Fire Department. A
group of white firefighters sued because the city threw out the results of a
test for promotions after few minority firefighters scored well on it. The
Supreme Court is now reviewing that result.
Several of Judge Sotomayor’s appeals court clerks described her as a rigorous
boss. Her clerks’ offices surround her own office and are within earshot, and
she calls out to them when she has questions. She sometimes asks for the full
records of trial transcripts and motions for a case that was on appeal,
something her experience as a district judge has made her more interested in
than some other judges.
Judge Sotomayor has also developed a reputation for treating her clerks as a
family — taking a strong interest in their personal lives and careers, attending
their weddings, keeping framed pictures of her former clerks and later, their
children, in her office, and keeping in touch with them as a friend and mentor.
She has told friends that one of her greatest regrets is that she herself was
never a law clerk.
James R. Levine, a New York lawyer who clerked for Judge Sotomayor in 2001-2,
recalled that during his interview with her as a law student, the first question
she asked was about himself and his family, while every other judge with whom he
interviewed had first asked about issues like the topic of his law review note.
The interview would turn intellectually rigorous, he said, but first she wanted
to get to know him as a person.
Staying True to Her Roots
She has also tried to stay down to earth, friends say. Melissa Murray, who
worked for the judge from 2003-4 and is now a law professor at the University of
California, Berkeley, recalled going to a Yankees game with Judge Sotomayor. The
judge, a Yankees fan, bought tickets in the bleachers, which Ms. Murray said the
judge preferred as a more “authentic experience,” and she appeared to be known
to several in the crowd.
“We were on the way to the bleachers and people were, like, ‘Judge! Judge!’ ”
Ms. Murray recalled. “She is really well known in the South Bronx and kind of a
role model in the community.”
Ms. Rosa, the friend who also went from a low-income childhood to Princeton and
law school, said that the experiences that someone like Judge Sotomayor
accumulated in her rise from the housing projects of the Bronx to the threshold
of the Supreme Court would leave a vivid understanding of how the world works.
“We came up in a period of time with a sense of conscience about social
justice,” Ms. Rosa said. “It grounded us in a set of values that told us our
lives could be about something more than ourselves and the size of our bank
account. That is a lesson many of us carry.”
In her 2001 speech, Judge Sotomayor reflected on how she applies that lesson.
“Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and
about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me
with suspicion,” she said.
“I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I
accept my limitations,” Judge Sotomayor added. “I willingly accept that we who
judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage, but
attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those
opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.”
Contributors to this article include
Jo Becker, David Gonzalez,
Serge F. Kovaleski, William K. Rashbaum,
December 12, 2008
The New York Times
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
Bettie Page, a legendary pinup girl whose photographs in the nude, in bondage
and in naughty-but-nice poses appeared in men’s magazines and private stashes
across America in the 1950s and set the stage for the sexual revolution of the
rebellious ’60s, died Thursday in Los Angeles. She was 85.
Her death was reported by her agent, Mark Roesler, on Ms. Page’s Web site,
Ms. Page, whose popularity underwent a cult-like revival in the last 20 years,
had been hospitalized for three weeks with pneumonia and was about to be
released Dec. 2 when she suffered a heart attack, said Mr. Roesler, of CMG
Worldwide. She was transferred in a coma to Kindred Hospital, where she died.
In her trademark raven bangs, spike heels and killer curves, Ms. Page was the
most famous pinup girl of the post-World War II era, a centerfold on a million
locker doors and garage walls. She was also a major influence in the fashion
industry and a target of Senator Estes Kefauver’s anti-pornography
But in 1957, at the height of her fame, she disappeared, and for three decades
her private life — two failed marriages, a fight against poverty and mental
illness, resurrection as a born-again Christian, years of seclusion in Southern
California — was a mystery to all but a few close friends.
Then in the late 1980s and early ’90s, she was rediscovered and a Bettie Page
renaissance began. David Stevens, creator of the comic-book and later movie
character the Rocketeer, immortalized her as the Rocketeer’s girlfriend. Fashion
designers revived her look. Uma Thurman, in bangs, reincarnated Bettie in
Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” and Demi Moore, Madonna and others appeared
in Page-like photos.
There were Bettie Page playing cards, lunch boxes, action figures, T-shirts and
beach towels. Her saucy images went up in nightclubs. Bettie Page fan clubs
sprang up. Look-alike contests, featuring leather-and-lace and
kitten-with-a-whip Betties, were organized. Hundreds of Web sites appeared,
including her own, which had 588 million hits in five years, CMG Worldwide said
Biographies were published, including her authorized version, “Bettie Page: The
Life of a Pin-Up Legend,” (General Publishing Group) which appeared in 1996. It
was written by Karen Essex and James L. Swanson.
A movie, “The Notorious Bettie Page,” starring Gretchen Mol as Bettie and
directed by Mary Harron for Picturehouse and HBO Films, was released in 2006,
adapted from “The Real Bettie Page,” by Richard Foster. Bettie May Page was born
in Jackson, Tenn., the eldest girl of Roy and Edna Page’s six children. The
father, an auto mechanic, molested all three of his daughters, Ms. Page said
years later, and was divorced by his wife when Bettie was 10. She and some of
her siblings were placed for a time in an orphanage. She attended high school in
Nashville, and was almost a straight-A student, graduating second in her class.
She graduated from Peabody College, a part of Vanderbilt University in
Nashville, but a teaching career was brief. “I couldn’t control my students,
especially the boys,” she said. She tried secretarial work, married Billy Neal
in 1943 and moved to San Francisco, where she modeled fur coats for a few years.
She divorced Mr. Neal in 1947, moved to New York and enrolled in acting classes.
She had a few stage and television appearances, but it was a chance meeting that
changed her life. On the beach at Coney Island in 1950, she met Jerry Tibbs, a
police officer and photographer, who assembled her first pinup portfolio. By
1951, the brother-sister photographers Irving and Paula Klaw, who ran a
mail-order business in cheesecake, were promoting the Bettie Page image with
spike heels and whips, while Bunny Yeager’s pictures featured her in jungle
shots, with and without leopards skins.
Her pictures were ogled in Wink, Eyeful, Titter, Beauty Parade and other
magazines, and in leather-fetish 8- and 16-millimeter films. Her first name was
often misspelled. Her big break was the Playboy centerfold in January 1955, when
she winked in a Santa Claus cap as she put a bulb on a Christmas tree. Money and
offers rolled in, but as she recalled years later, she was becoming depressed.
In 1955, she received a summons from a Senate committee headed by Senator
Kefauver, a Tennessee Democrat, that was investigating pornography. She was
never compelled to testify, but the uproar and other pressures drove her to quit
modeling two years later. She moved to Florida. Subsequent marriages to Armond
Walterson and Harry Lear ended in divorce, and there were no children. She moved
to California in 1978.
For years Ms. Page lived on Social Security benefits. After a nervous breakdown,
she was arrested for an attack on a landlady, but was found not guilty by reason
of insanity and sent to a California mental institution. She emerged years later
as a born-again Christian, immersing herself in Bible studies and serving as an
adviser to the Billy Graham Crusade.
In recent years, she had lived in Southern California on the proceeds of her
revival. Occasionally, she gave interviews in her gentle Southern drawl, but
largely stayed out of the public eye — and steadfastly refused to be
“I want to be remembered as I was when I was young and in my golden times,” she
told The Los Angeles Times in 2006. “I want to be remembered as a woman who
changed people’s perspectives concerning nudity in its natural form.”
Ministers are stepping up the fight
against so-called 'honour' crime and
Detectives say official statistics are
'merely the tip of the iceberg' of this
Brian Brady investigates
Sunday, 10 February 2008
The Independent on Sunday
Up to 17,000 women in Britain are being subjected to "honour" related
violence, including murder, every year, according to police chiefs.
And official figures on forced marriages are the tip of the iceberg, says the
Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
It warns that the number of girls falling victim to forced marriages,
kidnappings, sexual assaults, beatings and even murder by relatives intent on
upholding the "honour" of their family is up to 35 times higher than official
The crisis, with children as young as 11 having been sent abroad to be married,
has prompted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to call on British consular
staff in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan to take more action to identify and help
British citizens believed to be the victims of forced marriages in recent years.
The Home Office is drawing up an action plan to tackle honour-based violence
which "aims to improve the response of police and other agencies" and "ensure
that victims are encouraged to come forward with the knowledge that they will
receive the help and support they need". And a Civil Protection Bill coming into
effect later this year will give courts greater guidance on dealing with forced
Commander Steve Allen, head of ACPO's honour-based violence unit, says the true
toll of people falling victim to brutal ancient customs is "massively
unreported" and far worse than is traditionally accepted. "We work on a figure
which suggests it is about 500 cases shared between us and the Forced Marriage
Unit per year," he said: "If the generally accepted statistic is that a victim
will suffer 35 experiences of domestic violence before they report, then I
suspect if you multiplied our reporting by 35 times you may be somewhere near
where people's experience is at." His disturbing assessment, made to a committee
of MPs last week, comes amid a series of gruesome murders and attacks on British
women at the hands of their relatives.
Marilyn Mornington, a district judge and chair of the Domestic Violence Working
Group, warned that fears of retribution, and the authorities' failure to
understand the problem completely, meant the vast majority of victims were still
too scared to come forward for help. In evidence to the home affairs committee,
which is investigating the problem, she said: "We need a national strategy to
identify the large number of pupils, particularly girls, missing from school
registers who have been taken off the register and are said to be home schooled,
which leads to these issues. Airport staff and other staff need to be trained to
recognise girls who are being taken out of the country.
"We are bringing three girls a week back from Islamabad as victims of forced
marriage. We know that is the tip of the iceberg, but that is the failure end.
It has to be part of education within the communities and the children
Women who have been taken overseas to be married against their will are now
being rescued on an almost daily basis. The Government's Forced Marriage Unit
(FMU) handled approximately 400 cases last year – 167 of them leading to young
Britons being helped back to the UK to escape unwanted partners overseas. And it
is not just women who are affected. Home Office figures show that 15 per cent of
cases involve men and boys.
In an attempt to crack down on the crimes being committed in the name of honour,
police are to introduce a new training package that will give all officers
instructions on handling honour cases. In addition, detectives are believed to
be conducting a "cold case" style review of previous suicides amid suspicions
that cases of honour killings are more common than previously thought.
Almost all victims of the most extreme crimes are women, killed in half of cases
by their own husbands. Sometimes murders are carried out by other male
relatives, or even hired killers. The fear that many thousands are left to
endure honour violence alone may be supported by the disturbing details of the
incidence of suicide within the British Asian community. Women aged 16 to 24
from Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi backgrounds are three times more likely
to kill themselves than the national average for women of their age.
A report published last week by the Centre for Social Cohesion found that many
women felt unable to defy their families and therefore "suffer violence, abuse,
depression, anxiety and other psychological problems that can lead to self-harm,
schizophrenia and suicide". James Brandon, co-author of Crimes of the Community:
Honour-based Violence in the UK, said: "The Government is still not taking
honour crime seriously. Until this happens, the ideas of honour which perpetuate
this violence will continue to be passed on through generations. Religious
leaders, local authorities and central government must work together to end such
abuses of human rights."
The human cost of honour crime was vividly captured in a haunting video message
from murdered Banaz Mahmood, who revealed how her own father had tried to kill
her after she abandoned her arranged marriage and fell in love with another man.
In the grainy message she told how he plied her with brandy – the first time she
had ever drunk alcohol – pulled the curtains and asked her to turn around.
The 19-year-old fled, but less than a month after making the grainy video on a
mobile phone, Banaz was dead. Her naked body was found buried in a yard in
Birmingham in 2006, more than 100 miles from her London home. She had been raped
and tortured by men hired by her uncle to kill her. Mahmood's father, uncle and
one of her killers were sentenced to a total of 60 years in jail for the murder.
And the fatal potential of honour disputes was laid bare last month when a
coroner said he was convinced that a Muslim teenager who feared she was being
forced into an arranged marriage by her parents had suffered a "vile murder."
Ian Smith said the concept of an arranged marriage was "central" to the
circumstances leading up to the death of 17-year-old Shafilea Ahmed, whose
decomposed body was discovered on the banks of the River Kent at Sedgwick,
Cumbria, four years ago. After running away from home in February 2003, Shafilea
told housing officers: "My parents are going to send me to Pakistan and I'll be
married to someone and left there." The tragic story of the bright teenager who
wanted to go to university and study law is far from the only example of the
anguish suffered by British teenagers in recent years.
Toafiq Wahab, British consul in Dhaka, Bangladesh, recalls a "rescue mission" to
recover a 17-year-old who called his office from Sylhet. "We had to track her
down and 36 hours from taking that call, we had turned up at her house with an
armed police escort," he said. "The house was filled with over 20 of her
relations, most of whom were from Britain and stunned to see me. They obviously
did not want her to leave. We simply asked her if she wanted to leave and go
back to the UK in the presence of all her family and she agreed. I then spoke to
the family and explained what we were doing and tried to make them understand.
In the end, we had to get the police to assist in helping us to leave."
Former Bradford policeman Philip Balmforth, who works with vulnerable Asian
women, said he saw 395 cases of forced marriage in the city last year. "I had a
case of a 14-year-old girl at school," he recalled. "The teacher tells me that
the girl claims to have been married. So I went along to the school with a
Muslim colleague. We saw the girl. We asked her a few questions and we were not
sure. Then the girl said: 'If you don't believe me I have the video at home.'"
In Bradford alone, a total of 250 girls aged between 13 and 16 were taken off
the school rolls last year because they failed to return from trips abroad.
Campaigners suspect many were victims of forced marriages.
"If contacted by concerned young British men and women in the UK, the FMU
provides free and confidential advice on the potential dangers of being forced
into marriage overseas and precautions to take to help avoid this happening,"
said a Foreign Office spokesperson last night. "If we learn that a British
national overseas is being forced into marriage, or has already been forced into
marriage, we look at various means of consular assistance ranging from action
through the courts to rescue missions."
"The FMU can also help to arrange accommodation for victims for when they return
to the UK and can refer victims to counselling and supports groups, legal
centres, and so on.
"When it is necessary, the FMU and our embassies and high commissions work
closely with the police and judiciary overseas in order to organise emergency
rescue and repatriation missions."
Britain's hidden scandal
The kidnap victim
In June 2000 Narina Anwar, 29, and her two sisters claim they were tricked by
their parents into going on a family holiday to a remote village in Pakistan,
where they were held captive for five months in an attempt to force them to
marry three illiterate villagers. The sisters fled to Lahore and contacted the
British High Commission, which persuaded their parents to hand over their
children's passports so they could return home.
Gina Singh, 28, sued her former mother-in-law for £35,000 in 2006 after she was
forced to work 17 hours a day around the house. Ms Singh, from Nottingham, was
forbidden to leave the house on her own after an arranged marriage in 2002.
The runaway wife
In 1983, Zana Muhsen and her sister Nadia, from Birmingham, were pushed by their
father to visit Yemen and forced to marry. Zana, now 35, escaped eight years
later. Her father had sold her for a few thousand dollars. The experience is
recounted in her book, 'Sold'.
The murder victim
Surjit Athwal disappeared with Bachan Athwal, her mother-in-law, after a family
wedding in India in 1998. Her body was never found. Bachan later boasted that
she arranged for her son, Sukhdave, to murder Surjit after finding out that she
was having an affair.
The attempted suicide
Shafilea Ahmed was the victim of a suspected honour killing. The 17-year-old's
body was found months after she had returned from a trip to Pakistan in 2003. On
the trip she drank bleach. The coroner said he saw it as a 'desperate measure'
to avoid a forced marriage.
Filed at 11:32 p.m. ET
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
N.J. (AP) -- Women looking for a simple way to avoid their menstrual period
could soon have access the first birth control pill designed to let women
suppress monthly bleeding indefinitely.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expect to announce approval Tuesday for
Lybrel, a drug from Wyeth which would be the first pill to be taken
Lybrel, a name meant to evoke ''liberty,'' would be the fourth new oral
contraceptive that doesn't follow the standard schedule of 21 daily active
pills, followed by seven sugar pills -- a design meant to mimic a woman's
monthly cycle. Among the others, Yaz and Loestrin 24 shorten monthly periods to
three days or less and Seasonique, an updated version of Seasonale, reduces them
to four times a year.
Gynecologists say they've been seeing a slow but steady increase in women asking
how to limit and even stop monthly bleeding. Surveys have found up to half of
women would prefer not to have any periods, most would prefer them less often
and a majority of doctors have prescribed contraception to prevent periods.
''I think it's the beginning of it being very common,'' said Dr. Leslie Miller,
a University of Washington-Seattle obstetrician-gynecologist who runs a Web site
focused on suppressing periods. ''Lybrel says, 'You don't need a period.'''
While that can be done easily -- sometimes more cheaply -- by skipping the sugar
pills or replacing birth-control patches or vaginal rings sooner, doctors say
the trend is fueled mainly by advertising for the new options. They expect
plenty for Lybrel's July launch, although Madison, N.J.-based Wyeth says it will
market to doctors first.
Analysts have estimated Lybrel sales could reach $40 million this year and $235
million by 2010. U.S. sales of Seasonique, launched last August, hit $6.1
million in the first quarter of 2007. Predecessor Seasonale, which got cheaper
generic competition in September, peaked at about $100 million. Yaz, launched
last August, had first-quarter sales of $35.6 million; Loestrin 24, launched in
April 2006, hit $34.4 million in the first quarter.
Still, some women raise concerns about whether blocking periods is safe or
natural. Baltimore health psychologist Paula S. Derry wrote in an opinion piece
in the British Medical Journal two weeks ago that ''menstrual suppression itself
is unnatural,'' and that there's not enough data to determine if it is safe
Sheldon J. Segal, a scientist at the nonprofit research group Population
Council, wrote back that a British study found no harm in taking pills with much
higher hormone levels than today's products for up to 10 years.
''Nothing has come up to indicate any unexpected side effects,'' said Segal, who
co-authored the book ''Is Menstruation Obsolete?''
Most doctors say there's no medical reason women need monthly bleeding and that
it triggers health problems from anemia to epilepsy in many women. They note
women have been tinkering with nature since the advent of birth control pills
and now endure as many as 450 periods, compared with 50 or so in the days when
women spent most of their fertile years pregnant or breast-feeding.
Dr. Mindy Wiser-Estin, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Little Silver, N.J., has
long advocated menstrual suppression.
She has seen a big increase in the last year in patients asking about it, but
has one concern that leads her to encourage younger women to take a break every
12 weeks. About 1 percent of oral contraceptive users become pregnant each year,
and young women taking continuous pills who have never been pregnant may not
recognize the symptoms, she said.
''They may not know it in time to do something about it,'' Wiser-Estin said.
Barr Pharmaceuticals of Woodcliff Lake, N.J., whose subsidiary Duramed already
is developing a lower-estrogen version of Seasonique, said its research with
consumers and health care providers indicates they feel four periods a year is
optimal, said spokeswoman Amy Niemann.
Wyeth obviously thinks otherwise.
''It allows women to put their menstrual cycle on hold'' and reduces 17 related
symptoms, from irritability to bloating, based on one small study, said Dr. Amy
Marren, director of clinical affairs for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.
Marren said Lybrel contains the lowest dose of two hormones widely used in
birth-control pills, ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel.
That might cause too much breakthrough bleeding, already a problem with some
newer pills with low hormone doses, said Dr. Lee Shulman, a Chicago
obstetrician-gynecologist who chairs the board of the Association of
Reproductive Health Professionals.
In testing of Lybrel, 59 percent of women ended up with no bleeding after six
months, but 18 percent of women dropped out of studies because of spotting and
breakthrough bleeding, according to Wyeth.
''You're now basically trading scheduled bleeding for unscheduled bleeding, and
I don't know whether American women will buy into that,'' Shulman said.
May 13, 2007
From The Sunday Times
MINISTERS are considering new laws to give women a right to breastfeed their
babies in public and take statutory breaks at work to suckle their infants.
The move follows research showing that only a minority of new mothers breastfeed
their babies for the full six months recommended by the World Health
It would become an offence for anyone to stop a woman from breastfeeding in
public, a change that has already been enacted in Scotland. It follows
complaints from mothers that they have been accused of indecency and barred from
breastfeeding when they have attempted to do so in public.
Employers would also have to allow mothers to take breaks each working day to
breast feed. In France women with a baby under 12 months are entitled to two
30-minute breaks a day. In Italy, new mothers can take two one-hour rest
The proposals are central planks of a campaign by the five royal colleges of
medicine, nursing and midwifery to which health minister Andy Burnham has signed
up. He said he backed the campaign for a new policy on breast feeding in public
and a new law on work breaks.
Caroline Flint, the public health minister, has already had a meeting with the
coalition, which includes Unicef, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and will
address doctors and midwives at the launch of its manifesto on Wednesday.
“All the evidence says that ‘nothing is fitter than a breastfed nipper’,” said
Flint. “We’ve made good progress over the last 30 years encouraging more and
more women to breastfeed. But we cannot be complacent. There are communities
where breastfeeding rates remain low, adding to the health inequalities gap. We
need to do more to close this and to ensure babies receive the best form of
nutrition and to give them the best start in life.”
According to official figures, only 21% of British women breastfeed for up to
the recommended period of six months.
Young mothers are particularly reluctant to breastfeed. A television advertising
campaign will be launched this week by the Department of Health to encourage
more mothers aged 25 and under to suckle their infants.
Rosie Dodds, policy and research officer for the National Childbirth Trust, said
the statistics would improve if the government made it an offence to ask women
to stop breastfeeding in public.
Lindsey Black, a 29-year-old mother of two from Southport, Merseyside, was asked
to leave a branch of McDonald’s while breastfeeding her baby daughter in the
restaurant. After twice being told to stop breastfeeding or leave, Black was
forced to breastfeed in the lavatories.
“The older generation tend to tut-tut. I am not doing anything wrong — you do
not see much,” said Black. “It is not as if I am lifting my top and exposing
myself. The public need to be more understanding.”
The breastfeeding manifesto, which has been signed by more than 180 politicians
including Margaret Hodge, the trade and industry minister, and Sir Menzies
Campbell, the Liberal Democrat leader, says returning to work is the most common
reason for women stopping breastfeeding.
The manifesto says: “We call on the government to legislate for breastfeeding
breaks for women at work, in line with other European countries.”
Alison Baum, co-ordinator of the Breastfeeding Manifesto, said: “By ensuring
that employers provide appropriate work schedules and places to allow women to
continue breastfeeding, women could breastfeed for longer.
“Employers who are breast-feeding-friendly benefit in the long run because the
babies of those mothers will end up having fewer bugs and suffering less
illness. The parents will, therefore, have fewer absences.”
If companies had on-site crãches, women would take a break to breastfeed their
child but, more commonly, they would express milk and store it for their baby to
Natalie Marshall, a mother of two from Wiltshire, is an IT support worker for a
large manufacturing company and is allowed to takes two breastfeeding breaks a
day. Marshall, who is still breastfeeding her two-year-old daughter and
breastfed her three-year-old son until he was 14 months, said all companies
should be as sympathetic as her employer.
“Those breaks were absolutely essential and without them I would not have
managed to keep breastfeeding,” she said.
“It did add a bit of stress to the rest of the team because when I was having a
break there were fewer people to respond to urgent problems, but they were all
Marshall expresses milk in a room provided by the occupational health department
of the company. Her employer also provides a fridge for her to store it.
A legal entitlement to breastfeeding breaks is opposed, however, by the
Confederation of British Industry and the Federation of Small Businesses.
McDonald’s said breastfeeding was allowed within its restaurants and that staff
had been made aware of this policy.
Wed Mar 7, 2007
By Andrea Hopkins
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Reuters) - Twelve-year-old Bridget Bailey has been
cheerleading since she was eight, and devotes at least 10 hours a week to her
passion -- a uniquely American sport that combines dance, gymnastics and
On one recent Friday at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio, Bailey
cheered her way to a 1st place finish in the solo youth non-tumbling division.
She described the day of competition.
"I got up this morning at about 6:30, I got to school at 7:40 and then I got out
at 12:40," she said. Before she left school, Bailey collected the assignments
she would miss because of the competition.
Bailey, her mom, Kim, and aunt, Christina Fisher, traveled from a northern
Columbus suburb to the downtown convention center -- a relatively short trip.
She regularly travels to other cities for cheerleading events which also involve
beauty pagent-worthy hair and makeup skills.
"We had to come and get my hair done, and then I have to get all my makeup and
glitter on," she said, sitting patiently in a quiet corner of the convention
center while her mom and aunt styled her thick brown hair with curling irons,
one on each side.
The beauty aspect of the routine takes "between a half hour and an hour,
depending," Bailey said.
Once her makeup is done and glitter applied, the sixth grader heads to the
cheerleading venue, an auditorium half-filled with competitors, parents and
fans, for the contest, which lasts from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
"We stretch for about 15 minutes to half an hour," said Bailey. "And then you
wait in line to compete, and then you compete. And then you wait for awards,"
she said matter-of-factly.
An announcer bellows out the name of each contestant and the cheerleading club
they represent. A DJ plays their chosen music, and a handful of judges perched
high above the competition floor scrutinize the cheerleaders as they strut their
Bailey describes her routine:
"My first thing, I do dance and a few jumps, and then I do more dance and jumps,
and then I do my cheer, which is about halfway through. After the cheer, I jump,
dance and cheer, and then after that I do triple jumps, and then do some more of
the dance and then it's ending."
"Fusion. All Stars. Remember the name. If cheering is my sport, then winning is
my game. Step back. Watch out. We're the best of the best. We're Fusion All
Stars, we're F-A-S."
After four hours of competition, the winners receive their awards -- gleaming
golden trophies and medals on red, white and blue ribbons.
After her first-place award, Bailey had a long night planned, with more
gymnastics with friends at her cheerleading club, the iYooWee gym.
"I'm going to the gym to tell my coach how I did, and then I'm staying at the
gym for this thing called Kids Night Out, where you can just go play," she said.
"More cheerleading," her mom translated.
Summing up her long day, Bailey said she wouldn't want to be spending her Friday
in any other way.
· Glass ceiling hampers access to 33,000 top jobs
· Children can spell career death in professions
Friday January 5, 2007
The glass ceiling is still holding back 6,000 women from the top 33,000 jobs
in Britain, according to new research from the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Thirty years after the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act, women are
"woefully under-represented" in the country's boardrooms, politics and courts,
Help from nannies has not enabled successful women to maintain their careers
after having children, the research suggests. The EOC blames a male-dominated
culture in the professions for resistance to flexible working.
The upward trend in the proportion of women in top jobs is "painfully slow", the
report says, and in some sectors there is even a decline. The proportion of
women in parliament has slipped in the 12 months since the EOC's last Sex and
Power survey and is now at 19.5% - lower than in Iraq, Afghanistan and Rwanda.
Despite the successes of women such as Clara Furse, chief executive of the
London Stock Exchange, and Lady Clark of Calton, who is only one of four female
senior judges currently serving, the proportion of women directors of top 100
FTSE companies has dipped to 10.4%, and of female judges to 9.8%.
Jenny Watson, chair of the EOC, said: "Today's troubling findings show just how
slow the pace of change has been in powerful British institutions. They suggest
it's time not just to send out the headhunters to find some of those 'missing
women', but to address the barriers that stand in their way. Thirty years on
from the Sex Discrimination Act, women rightly expect to share power. But as our
survey shows, that's not the reality.
"We all pay the price when Britain's boardrooms and elected chambers are
unrepresentative. Our democracy and local communities will be stronger if women
from different backgrounds are able to enjoy an equal voice. In business, no one
can afford to fish in half the talent pool in today's intensely competitive
In total, the commission identified 33,000 of the country's most influential
jobs in the private sector, politics, the legal system and the public sector. To
achieve a representative proportion, 6,000 more of those jobs would have to be
filled by women, it said.
At the current rate of improvement it would take 20 years to achieve equality in
the civil service, 40 years in the judiciary and 60 years among FTSE 100
companies. But it would take 200 years - at least another 40 elections - to
achieve an equal number of MPs in parliament. The proportion in the Scottish
assembly is nearly 40% and in Wales the figure is 51.7%. The EOC said it was an
argument for parties to use all-women shortlists, as in Wales.
But figures for women from ethnic minorities are worse. There are only two black
women MPs, four non-white top 100 FTSE directors and nine top civil servants
from ethnic minority backgrounds.
"Ethnic minority women are still largely invisible in public life and this has
to change if we want our communities to thrive," the report says.
The research suggests that women are experiencing the same barriers to getting
the jobs they want as women in lower paid jobs. The pay gap between men and
women is 3.7% in their 20s, rising to 10.7% for thirtysomethings, a change which
is largely attributed to the impact of childbirth on women's earnings. The same
is not true for men who become fathers.
Female workers in the UK suffer one of the biggest pay gaps in Europe - 17% for
full-time staff and 38% for part-time - because they are more likely to be in
low-paid jobs and then slip further down the career ladder after having
children, the Women and Work Commission found last year.
Ms Watson said that women were getting higher up the career ladder but having
children still prevented them from getting the top jobs.
"Asking for flexible working still spells career death for too many women in
today's workplace, and as a consequence women with caring responsibilities all
too often have to 'trade down' to keep working. Extending the right to ask for
flexible working to everyone in the workplace would change that culture and
enable more women to reach the top," she said.
Katherine Rake, director of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for equal
rights, said: "This demonstrates how much of a male preserve power remains in
the UK. If decisions are only being taken by one group of the population they
will not reflect the lives of ordinary people. It proves beyond a doubt that
life at the top is white and male."
The annual report is the last from the EOC, which is due to be amalgamated with
the Commission for Racial Equality and the Disability Rights Commission from
next year into a new body called the Commission for Equality and Human Rights.
There have been concerns that the women's rights agenda could be sidelined in
the new body, which will be headed by Trevor Phillips, current chair of the CRE.
"There is so much more to be done. This demonstrates that we haven't solved the
problem of sex discrimination," said Ms Watson.
December 2, 2006
The New York Times
By PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN
OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 1 — Until recently, many
children who did not conform to gender norms in their clothing or behavior and
identified intensely with the opposite sex were steered to psychoanalysis or
But as advocates gain ground for what they call gender-identity rights,
evidenced most recently by New York City’s decision to let people alter the sex
listed on their birth certificates, a major change is taking place among schools
and families. Children as young as 5 who display predispositions to dress like
the opposite sex are being supported by a growing number of young parents,
educators and mental health professionals.
Doctors, some of them from the top pediatric hospitals, have begun to advise
families to let these children be “who they are” to foster a sense of security
and self-esteem. They are motivated, in part, by the high incidence of
depression, suicidal feelings and self-mutilation that has been common in past
generations of transgender children. Legal trends suggest that schools are now
required to respect parents’ decisions.
“First we became sensitive to two mommies and two daddies,” said Reynaldo
Almeida, the director of the Aurora School, a progressive private school in
Oakland. “Now it’s kids who come to school who aren’t gender typical.”
The supportive attitudes are far easier to find in traditionally tolerant areas
of the country like San Francisco than in other parts, but even in those places
there is fierce debate over how best to handle the children.
Cassandra Reese, a first-grade teacher outside Boston, recalled that fellow
teachers were unnerved when a young boy showed up in a skirt. “They said, ‘This
is not normal,’ and, ‘It’s the parents’ fault,’ ” Ms. Reese said. “They didn’t
see children as sophisticated enough to verbalize their feelings.”
As their children head into adolescence, some parents are choosing to block
puberty medically to buy time for them to figure out who they are — raising a
host of ethical questions.
While these children are still relatively rare, doctors say the number of
referrals is rising across the nation. Massachusetts, Minnesota, California, New
Jersey and the District of Columbia have laws protecting the rights of
transgender students, and some schools are engaged in a steep learning curve to
dismantle gender stereotypes.
At the Park Day School in Oakland, teachers are taught a gender-neutral
vocabulary and are urged to line up students by sneaker color rather than by
gender. “We are careful not to create a situation where students are being boxed
in,” said Tom Little, the school’s director. “We allow them to move back and
forth until something feels right.”
For families, it can be a long, emotional adjustment. Shortly after her son’s
third birthday, Pam B. and her husband, Joel, began a parental journey for which
there was no map. It started when their son, J., began wearing oversized
T-shirts and wrapping a towel around his head to emulate long, flowing hair.
Then came his mothers’ silky undershirts. Half a year into preschool, J. started
becoming agitated when asked to wear boys’ clothing.
En route to a mall with her son, Ms. B. had an epiphany: “It just clicked in me.
I said, ‘You really want to wear a dress, don’t you?’ ”
Thus began what the B.’s, who asked their full names not be used to protect
their son’s privacy, call “the reluctant path,” a behind-closed-doors struggle
to come to terms with a gender-variant child — a spirited 5-year-old boy who, at
least for now, strongly identifies as a girl, requests to be called “she” and
asks to wear pigtails and pink jumpers to school.
Ms. B., 41, a lawyer, accepted the way her son defined himself after she and her
husband consulted with a psychologist and observed his newfound comfort with his
choice. But she feels the precarious nature of the day-to-day reality. “It’s
hard to convey the relentlessness of it, she said, “every social encounter,
every time you go out to eat, every day feeling like a balance between your
kid’s self-esteem and protecting him from the hostile outside world.”
The prospect of cross-dressing kindergartners has sparked a deep philosophical
divide among professionals over how best to counsel families. Is it healthier
for families to follow the child’s lead, or to spare children potential
humiliation and isolation by steering them toward accepting their biological
gender until they are older?
Both sides in the debate underscore their concern for the profound vulnerability
of such youngsters, symbolized by occurrences like the murder in 2002 of Gwen
Araujo, a transgender teenager born as Eddie, southeast of Oakland.
“Parents now are looking for advice on how to make life reasonable for their
kids — whether to allow cross-dressing in public, and how to protect them from
the savagery of other children,” said Dr. Herbert Schreier, a psychiatrist with
Children’s Hospital and Research Center in Oakland.
Dr. Schreier is one of a growing number of professionals who have begun to think
of gender variance as a naturally occurring phenomenon rather than a disorder.
“These kids are becoming more aware of how it is to be themselves,” he said.
In past generations, so-called sissy boys and tomboy girls were made to conform,
based on the belief that their behaviors were largely products of dysfunctional
Among the revisionists is Dr. Edgardo Menvielle, a child-adolescent psychiatrist
at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington who started a national
outreach group for parents of gender-variant children in 1998 that now has more
than 200 participants. “We know that sexually marginalized children have a
higher rate of depression and suicide attempts,” Dr. Menvielle said. “The goal
is for the child to be well adjusted, healthy and have good self-esteem. What’s
not important is molding their gender.”
The literature on adults who are transgender was hardly consoling to one parent,
a 42-year-old software consultant in Massachusetts and the father of a
gender-variant third grader. “You’re trudging through this tragic, horrible
stuff and realizing not a single person was accepted and understood as a child,”
he said. “You read it and think, O.K., best to avoid that. But as a parent
you’re in this complete terra incognita.”
The biological underpinnings of gender identity, much like sexual orientation,
remain something of a mystery, though many researchers suspect it is linked with
hormone exposure in the developing fetus.
Studies suggest that most boys with gender variance early in childhood grow up
to be gay, and about a quarter heterosexual, Dr. Menvielle said. Only a small
fraction grow up to identify as transgender.
Girls with gender-variant behavior, who have been studied less, voice extreme
unhappiness about being a girl and talk about wanting to have male anatomy. But
research has thus far suggested that most wind up as heterosexual women.
Although many children role-play involving gender, Dr. Menvielle said, “the key
question is how intense and persistent the behavior is,” especially if they show
Dr. Robin Dea, the director of regional mental health for Kaiser Permanente in
Northern California, said: “Our gender identity is something we feel in our
soul. But it is also a continuum, and it evolves.”
Dr. Dea works with four or five children under the age of 15 who are essentially
living as the opposite sex. “They are much happier, and their grades are up,”
she said. “I’m waiting for the study that says supporting these children is
But Dr. Kenneth Zucker, a psychologist and head of the gender-identity service
at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, disagrees with the
“free to be” approach with young children and cross-dressing in public. Over the
past 30 years, Dr. Zucker has treated about 500 preadolescent gender-variant
children. In his studies, 80 percent grow out of the behavior, but 15 percent to
20 percent continue to be distressed about their gender and may ultimately
change their sex.
Dr. Zucker tries to “help these kids be more content in their biological gender”
until they are older and can determine their sexual identity — accomplished, he
said, by encouraging same-sex friendships and activities like board games that
move beyond strict gender roles.
Though she has not encountered such a situation, Jennifer Schwartz, assistant
principal of Chatham Elementary School outside Springfield, Ill., said that
allowing a child to express gender differences “would be very difficult to pull
Ms. Schwartz added: “I’m not sure it’s worth the damage it could cause the
child, with all the prejudices and parents possibly protesting. I’m not sure a
child that age is ready to make that kind of decision.”
The B.’s thought long and hard about what they had observed in their son. They
have carefully choreographed his life, monitoring new playmates, selecting a
compatible school, finding sympathetic parents in a babysitting co-op.
Nevertheless, Ms. B. said, “there is still the stomach-clenching fear for your
It is indeed heartbreaking to hear a child say, as J. did recently, “It feels
like a nightmare I’m a boy.”
The adjustment has been gradual for Mr. B., a 43-year-old public school
administrator who is trying to stop calling J. “our little man.” He thinks of
his son as a positive, resilient person, and his love and admiration show. “The
truth is, is any parent going to choose this for their kid?” he said. “It’s who
your kid is.”
Families are caught in the undertow of conflicting approaches. One suburban
Chicago mother, who did not want to be identified, said in a telephone interview
that she was drawing the line on dress and trying to provide “boy opportunities”
for her 6-year-old son. “But we can’t make everything a power struggle,” she
said. “It gets exhausting.”
She worries about him becoming a social outcast. “Why does your brother like
girl things?” friends of her 10-year-old ask. The answer is always, “I don’t
Nila Marrone, a retired linguistics professor at the University of Connecticut
who consults with parents and schools, recalled an incident last year at a Bronx
elementary school in which an 8-year-old boy perceived as effeminate was thrown
into a large trash bin by a group of boys. The principal, she said, “suggested
to the mother that she was to blame, for not having taught her son how to be
But the tide is turning.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, for instance, requires that students be
addressed with “a name and pronoun that corresponds to the gender identity.” It
also asks schools to provide a locker room or changing area that corresponds to
a student’s chosen gender.
One of the most controversial issues concerns the use of “blockers,” hormones
used to delay the onset of puberty in cases where it could be psychologically
devastating (for instance, a girl who identifies as a boy might slice her wrists
when she gets her period). Some doctors disapprove of blockers, arguing that
only at puberty does an individual fully appreciate their gender identity.
Catherine Tuerk, a nurse-psychotherapist at the children’s hospital in
Washington and the mother of a gender-variant child in the 1970s, says parents
are still left to find their own way. She recalls how therapists urged her to
steer her son into psychoanalysis and “hypermasculine activities” like karate.
She said she and her husband became “gender cops.”
“It was always, ‘You’re not kicking the ball hard enough,’ ” she said.
Ms. Tuerk’s son, now 30, is gay and a father, and her own thinking has evolved
since she was a young parent. “People are beginning to understand this seems to
be something that happens,” she said. “But there was a whole lifetime of feeling
we could never leave him alone.”
"This recalls the famous breakfasts we used to have in the old
fighting days when the prison gates were opened," said Mr Pethick-Lawrence, one
of the speakers at the breakfast held this morning at the Hotel Cecil to
celebrate the passing of the Equal Franchise Bill.
Of the 250 people present many could remember with him the
breakfast welcomes that used to be given to the militant women released from
Holloway Gaol. Dame Millicent Fawcett had on an early occasion, strongly as she
disapproved of militant methods, consented generously to preside at one of the
prisoner breakfasts. But many others, ex-prisoners or colleagues, who would have
liked to join the celebration were unable to do so. They belong now to the great
new army of business women and had to be in their office, which shows with wider
freedom comes new restraint.
The great stars of the occasion were those two wonderful women Mrs Despard,
founder of the Women's Freedom League, and Dame Millicent Fawcett, leader of the
National Union of Suffrage Societies.
Great sympathy was felt with Mr Baldwin [prime minister], Sir William
Joynson-Hicks, and more especially with Lady Astor, who had been unable to come,
and it was felt that the Labour party had every cause to be proud because their
leader, Mr Ramsay MacDonald, did come, and was able to say that his party had
from the beginning supported the claim of women to equal civil rights.
Mrs Pethick-Lawrence referred with gratitude to the pioneers, and in touching
words named specially four of those who had not lived to see the victory: Mrs
Pankhurst, Miss Emily Davidson, Lady Constance Lytton, and Mrs Cobden Sanderson.
"We have our differences but have never had any difference as to women's
franchise," said Mr Ramsay MacDonald, expressing the congratulations of the
Labour party. "I want to say that as far as the great body of people in this
country was concerned, the victory was won before a single shot was fired in the
Lady Rhondda, who was to thank "the men who have helped us", said the men
deserved more credit, for the women had had the prick of discomfort to spur them
Mrs Despard [recalled] the little meeting in a small room at which the Women's
Freedom League was formed twenty-one years ago, expressing her delight that so
many comrades from other societies were present, and assuring her friends that
women continuing to work together in unity would accomplish great things in the
Mrs. Pankhurst, who escaped from her flat in Westminster late
on Saturday night by a ruse, was rearrested yesterday afternoon when she made
her expected appearance at the W.S.P.U. meeting at the London Pavilion.
While the detectives detailed to watch her flat were busy on
Saturday night with the veiled lady in the taxi who turned not to be Mrs.
Pankhurst at all, the leader of the W.S.P.U. slipped out of the flat and drove
away in a motor car that had been waiting in a side street.
When she entered the London Pavilion is not known, but police and detectives
were closely watching every entrance long before the meeting began and it is
supposed that she had been secreted within from an early hour. When arrested she
was in her usual guise.
Mrs. Pankhurst was suddenly seen by the waiting detectives in a passage leading
to the stage. There was a struggle between the officers and supporters of Mrs.
Pankhurst, and a man and two women were arrested. Uniformed police poured into
the building, and Mrs. Pankhurst was driven away to Holloway Gaol.
The Scene in the Pavilion
The London Pavilion was crowded yesterday afternoon with suffragettes expectant
that Mrs. Pankhurst would again make her appearance on the platform.
The chairman, Mrs. Mansell, who was surrounded by members of the Scottish men's
deputation, referred to a rumour that Mrs. Pankhurst had just been arrested, but
said that probably the police had been spoofed again.
Then suddenly the audience in the hall rose and hooted at a line of dark blue
uniforms which had sprung up along the railings. People found the whole alleyway
filled with police.
The first person to be brought by the police out of the tiny room and conveyed
through the lane of police was a tall man with a bloodstained face. Next came
two or three women also under arrest, and then, with a "Now, Mrs. Pankhurst,"
the inspector entered the anteroom and reappeared with a grey-haired woman with
troubled face and faltering steps - Mrs. Pankhurst, looking for once broken and
Two voices cried, "Bravo, Mrs. Pankhurst," and then she was swallowed by blue
uniforms; she was taken out at the back door, where, after some disturbance, she
was put into a cab and driven to Holloway.