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A Redefinition of Family Group 7 Agenda

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This is a letter to the United States Government which is calling to attention the disregard for alternative family systems and their importance in our society. Current members in the government have stated that "Family definitions play a major role not only in programs, but in virtually every policy arena". Our governmental definitions of family not only affect the benefits individuals are entitled to, it also affects the emotional status of unrecognized family members. The plutonic family systems of the 1950's has been proven to only encompass portion of our society and as we see more and more alternative family units emerging we must have new definitions to ensure our support for those families. There are several ways that family is currently defined in our government and our own government affirms this by stating that "Families cannot be defined simply or universally for purposes of Federal programs and policies. Much variation is due to the complex nature of the family itself and to the specific purpose of the Federal program". Although this acknowledgement of the complexity of family we would like to propose a list of inclusions for our government to consider when proposing new legislation that affects any aspect of family.
 Family includes both genetically and non-genetically connected family members.
 Family transcends ethnicity and nationalities, families can have allegiance to many flags and be comprised of many different skin colors.
 Family is needs community, if you protect the family, but harm the community systems around it such as schools, libraries, and parks, then you inherently harm the family unit.
 Families need support and daycare is expensive, and we cannot undervalue the importance of raising our future generations in healthy environments.
 Families may be composed of many sexual orientations. This does not mean that parents that are gay, lesbian, transgender, or other sexual orientations are any less valuable parents. We need to value and support all parents for their hard work as being parents.
 Families may be comprised of single parent households. These parents need extra support for their work and dedication. Child care should be made freely available to these parents as well as government aid no matter their gender.
 Families do not have age restrictions, old and young adults help raise children in many different situations.
 Families are very dynamic and change all of the time and assistance to families should be dynamic and not dependent on social class.
 We should have legislation that speeds up the process for parents seeking to adopt, children who spend long periods of time in foster care suffer extensively. We need to ensure the child's safety and well being.
 Family policy should be written by mothers and fathers, not by accountants. Family policy should not be victim to budget cuts and tax raises.
 WE CANNOT UNDERVALUE OUR FAMILIES!!!!!!


Group 7... I think...

Agenda, group 1: restrooms

our agenda addresses feminist and queer family values concerning public restrooms. here are some exploratory proposals for gender neutral restrooms that are not too radical, and surely not meant to offend or completely disparage traditional family values, but to allow for new possibilities concerning the way we understand "family" or "gender" and relationships between people in public space. our ideas centered primarily around the questioning of prohibitive and ill-conceived constructions of gender and the merging/uniting of gendered spaces, while still allowing for *private* spaces -- thus communal, or collective, restrooms, and private restrooms. we acknowledge that the models depicted have their faults -- and appear to demand quite a large space -- however, they are only models, proposals, and tentative suggestions towards an uncertain, yet optimistic, future of shit-fulfillment....

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group participants: mary, matt, kathryn, carlyn, will, ellen

Group 4 PIC Agenda

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View and download the full size flier here.


Today you will get into your groups and develop an agenda for Feminist Family Values or create a response to the Sex Wars. Here are two examples that might inspire you:

ONE: Feminist Family Values
During our discussion of gay marriage, we read the statement by BeyondMarriage.org. Here is their agenda:

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TWO: Sex Wars
In her entry, Anna discusses The Sex Workers Project.. They have a press kit that you can download, which has a lot of valuable information, including a values statement. Here's a blurb from that statement:
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PIC AGENDA FLYER

Group 6: Caitlin, Danielle, Yein, Heather, Ava, and Abby

Our group decided on making a flyer that would address the problem of dehumanizing prisoners; we then decided to present different outlets and resources to create contact, increase education, and ultimately remove the stigmatizing label of "prisoner" and have them be seen as people.

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PIC Agendas

In class today you will be developing agendas for responding to the Prison Industrial Complex. I thought it might be helpful to offer an example of one group's response/s to the PIC: INCITE! and their national project on stopping law enforcement violence. Their site for the project provides a detailed description of the project and why it is necessary:


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They also discuss their goals, other organizations that are a part of the campaign and how to get involved. You can download brochures, tool kits, and posters that offer more information about their project at the site as well. 

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Remember: If you and your group decide to post an agenda on the PIC, it must be posted by Thursday May 6 to receive full credit.


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The New York Times wrote a great article today about Oklahoma's decision to make women who are considering having an abortion have an ultrasound and listen to a detailed description of the fetus in an attempt to dissuade them--even in the instance of rape or incest. Another part of this new law says that women who have given birth to children with serious birth defects cannot sue the doctors for withholding this information because they did not want the woman to choose to have an abortion. Another part of these laws wasn't to make it mandatory for women seeking abortions to fill out a lengthy questionnaire about why they are choosing to have an abortion and then post their information on the internet. Also, they are looking into how the state can restrict certain insurance policies so to make it unable for women to use them when seeking an abortion.
I really could go on and on about this but I think you get my point. If it isn't already hard enough for women to make these decisions lets just step it up 10 fold and force them to put their life choices on the internet. I am so, so sad about this and I can only hope that feminist can rally behind this and make sure that this ridiculous nonsense does not come to fruition.

Group 6 - Reproductive Rights Agenda

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Our group chose to focus on reproductive rights and specifically to inform people of the options that are available to them for information and protection:

Just because you are choosing to be sexually active does not mean that you need to be in danger of getting pregnant or contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

By knowing your options, you can protect yourself as well as your partner. Take advantage of the resources available to you for information and protection.

Being informed of your rights and choices is the key to a healthy sex life. Knowledge is powerful - educate yourself and those around you.


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Group 3 Work Agenda

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As a group, we decided to develop an agenda for the issue of Maternal/Parental Leave. One argument over providing women with access to employment leave in the instance of pregnancy is that it creates a system where women are, from the get go, more expensive to hire as employees. In acknowledging this reality, we believe it is important to develop a system in which both men and women start off on an equal playing field in terms of their prospective demands to an organization. It is here that we believe the system of unpaid time off, however accessible it is for both men and women to take advantage of, is in inadequate in addressing the issue. Realistically very few households are in a position to give up the salaries of both spouses to take care of their newborn or adopted child. Since it is unrealistic to expect a family to do so and still be able to support themselves, it is reasonable to assume that the majority of households opt for the woman, having undergone the significant physical and psychological demands of pregnancy, to be the one to take time off.

Having proven that equal accessibility of unpaid time off does little to address the equal employment of time off that is necessary to equalize the costs women and men pose to an organization, we feel that greater incentive must be given to both sexes for taking time. To do so, unpaid time off must become paid time off. In an attempt to acknowledge the important role of childcare as a vital component to parenthood on both sides and address the economic realities facing families, we propose that the government mandate that paid time off be offered to both men and women for the eight weeks after the birth of the child, followed by an additional eight weeks of unpaid leave. To take into account the demands pregnancy demands on the woman, she may be excused from a total of seven days of unpaid leave leading up to the birth of the child.

In addition to the modifications we would make to the standing FMLA litigation, we also feel it is important to address the cultural stigma that exists around male parenting. It seems to be the case that men who do decide to take time off are given a pretty hard time about it, accused of 'reducing' themselves to female roles, or reneging on their traditional role as the economic provider. We find such mentalities to be fundamentally harmful not only to the struggle for equality within the workplace, but detrimental to a healthy society where women and men invest due time and energy into raising their children. One method of changing the stigma around paternal leave would be to alter how fathers are represented within the media. Rather than as strictly rugged role models who wrestle in the backyard on the weekends with their children (though there is nothing in itself wrong with this as long as it is not the only representation of fathers as it seems to be today), more men must be depicted as caregivers, ones who change diapers and who are sensitive to the emotional needs of their children. We all know men like this, so why can't they be represented and affirmed as they should be on the most influential social platform there is--the media.

Hilary, Courtney, Michelle J, Adam, Anna O, Alyssa

Agenda - Reproductive Rights

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Group 5: Agenda for Reproductive Rights:

Our group created a curriculum to be implemented as an nine week program (one quarter long) as part of a high school health course. We envision that this class will be team-taught by one male teacher and one female teacher, in order to act as a check on teachers who feel uncomfortable discussing aspects of human sexuality and reproduction, or teachers who feel ideologically compelled not to share information. Our expectation is that federal legislation would be passed to mandate the specifications of this class, and federal funding would be allocated to create teacher training sessions and workshops. We would like this class to become a national requirement for high school graduation. We envision that students in this class will not be separated on the basis of sex. While a high school curriculum cannot solve all the current problems associated with reproductive justice, many inequalities could be solved or aided by fostering open discussion and a better knowledge of ones body and ones choices. Our goal is to provide comprehensive sexual education in an accepting, open, and safe environment for students of all backgrounds and experiences. While dialogue, frankness, and question-asking will be strongly encouraged, we believe an anonymous question box should be provided for students with queries they do not feel comfortable asking in front of the rest of the class. These questions can be read aloud and answered by one of the teachers in a class that is relevant to the topic.

Week 1: Focus on the biology of sex and reproduction. Topics such as puberty, menstruation, sexual intercourse, fertilization, etc. We believe a basic understanding of the human body is necessary to make choices concerning ones reproductive health can be made in an informed matter, and to understand and feel happy in ones body.

Week 2: Focus on the biology of pregnancy. Development of the fetus, changes in the mother, the birthing process, pre and post natal care, options for delivery (hospital, home birth, cesarean section, midwife), pros and cons of breast feeding. Schools should distribute Robotic Learning Babies to students as part of a two week long project on the experience of parenthood. Understanding the science and the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy is a necessary part of being able to make an educated and informed decision about ones body and future.

Week 3: Sexually transmitted diseases and infections. Discussion and explanation of different diseases, their symptoms, how they are spread, and treatment options. Common myths concerning STD spread will be debunked (ie, AIDS can be prevented by having sex in a shower). The importance of getting tested for STDs and STIs will be emphasized. How and where to get tested will be discussed. The patient/parent/partner confidentiality policies of the relevant state government will be discussed. Techniques for having a productive, comfortable discussion of STDs with ones partner should be covered.

Week 4: Birth control options. All options will be presented with a pro and con list consistent with recent medical information and clinical studies. Options covered should include: abstinence, male and female condom use, various types of oral contraceptives, diaphragm, depo-provera, nuvaring, spermicidal fluids, intra-uterine devices, sterilization, and timing sexual intercourse. A focus on each party's responsibility and choice should be emphasized. Teachers should be especially sensitive to provide accurate, objective information without preaching or attempting to sway a students choice. Information on how to access various types of birth control should be made available.

Week 5: Unexpected pregnancy. Pregnancy testing, Plan B, abortion, adoption, and the decision to have a child. Information should be made available on how to access these services. Teachers should be especially sensitive to students' religious views and beliefs.
Week 6: Information about fertility treatments, in vitro fertilization, adoption, different types of surrogacy, and other methods of having a child. Controversies surrounding these topics should be approached with the idea that both sides have merit.

Week 7: Discussion of sexual pressure and abuse. What constitutes a healthy and productive dialogue with your partner. How to say "no", basic self defense, and how to access resources for people in abusive relationships or rape victims. Discussion of emotionally abusive partnerships (passive aggression, threats, ultimatums, etc). Basic myths will be debunked ("if you loved me, you'd have sex with me", blue balls, "it's not rape if the people are in a relationship"). The importance of fiscal self-sufficiency should be discussed. Teachers should be careful not to gender-stereotype the roles of victim and abuser, and to ensure that the class is not taught in a hetero-normative fashion.

Week 8: Discussion on sexuality. The spectrum of sexual orientation, the process of coming out, how to access LGBTQ resources. What "gender" is - theories on social construction and biological determinism. Discussion of the scientific and psychological information available about homosexuality/intersexuality. Discussion of gender-reassignment surgery and hormones. The idea of acceptance instead of tolerance should be emphasized. Debunking common myths ("homosexuality is a choice", etc).

Week 9: A philosophical approach to sex and sexuality. How sex has been viewed throughout history - approaches from religious texts, feminist scholars, hedonist philosophers, historic and current 'expectations' of the male and the female, etc. This unit is meant to provide students with a literary and philosophical introduction to sexuality scholarship.

AGENDAS: Some more information

First, here is what I wrote about the agenda assignment in your blog assignment handout:

1 Agenda: 50 points
Several times during the semester, we will devote class time to developing agendas for
addressing contentious and important issues within feminism. In these sessions, you will break up into small groups and collectively develop an agenda. You are required to post one of those agendas on our blog site. You are encouraged to be creative in your post. For example, you could post a bullet list of action items or an image of flyer that you want to circulate. Or you could post a manifesto that you and your group have written. Or you could post a vlog (video blog) in which you speak out against the issue or a Public Service Announcement in which you try to raise awareness about the issue.

In other words, over the course of the semester, you and your group will get together and brainstorm a single agenda for each of the 5 issues. One collective agenda for one of the issues must be posted on our blog. (note: this doesn't mean that you should post one agenda for each of the issues). Pick one person from your group to post your agenda. You should identify groups members by your group number instead of your individual names. As I indicate above, be creative with your presentation of the agenda. Your agenda is due one week after our class session devoted to that issue.

Issue                                 Agenda Class Session            Agenda must be posted by

Repro Rights                     3/2                                             3/9

Work                                 3/4                                             3/11

Feminist Values                5/4                                           5/11

Sex Wars                          5/4                                            5/11

PIC                                    4/29                                           5/6


Please post any questions you about this agenda assignment as comments to this entry.

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