The case for chinos

In one of his usual nice-guy moments earlier this month, my boss declared every day of this month a casual day. 'Great news!' I thought. I'm a jeans woman. I was excited.

But now that we are mid-way through Casual Decmeber, I can confidently say that the temporary dresscode has change officed dynamics--and not in a good way.

My biggest issue is that my direct supervisor, who has the mentality and physique of a pre-pubescent teenage male anyway, seem only to own casual clothing that dates back to the era of my adolescence. Long story short, all month long I feel like I have been receiving assignments from a twerpy 13-year old boy. It could just be me, but something about a potty-mouthed littleman in grungy, plaid flannel shirts just doesn't quite say, "Take me seriously."

As it turns out, I'm not the only staffer who has felt uncomfortable. One of my colleagues has made a point of commenting every day this month how weird he feels seeing everyone dressed down. I think that talking about it must be some sort of awkwardness-coping-mechanism for him. I would prefer he practiced a bit of restraint. I mean, it's not like I've turned to him and asked if he always wears such bright colors at home on the weekends. Anyway, judging by the loud silences following his remarks, it's clear that this strategy only works for his personal benefit.

And then there's my fashionista bossman (not my direct supervisor, but the big cheese of the whole operation). He issued the Declaration of Casual December, yet he has not participated. Rumor has it that he has not a single pair of jeans nor a short-sleeved shirt in his vast wardrobe. I realize that, as head honcho, he probably wants to maintain his GQ look, but the man won't even relax a bit on Fridays during an entire month among employees who look like they're dressed for a nap. Don't get me wrong; I'm not wishing for him to go the way of my middle-school-style supervisor. I just think The Man ought to join in the fun to stay connect with us little people.

I think a casual dress code can and does succeed for a lot of organizations. I'm not exactly sure what it is about ours that does such a piss-poor job of pulling it off.

I never thought I would yearn so badly to see someone in a pair of pleated-front Dockers.


CCRV Success

Wednesday night the Wisconsin State Assembly passed the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims bill 56-41. The vote is being reported as preliminary because the Assembly has yet to tie up loose ends, but it is expected to get the official green light from the legislature next month. It is likely that Governor Doyle will sign CCRV into law in early 2008.

While I'm thrilled about the bill's passage, the victory is bittersweet. This bill ought to have received overwhelming support, but the fact that it passed by a rather slim margin demonstrates that reproductive rights have a long way to go in this state.

In the spring of this year Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin hosted the Women's Health Day of Action and led dozens of women's health activists to the Capitol to lobby their state legislators on CCRV. I was PPWI's Public Affairs intern at the time, so I was dealt the task of archiving each activist's report from their lobby visit. I couldn't believe what I read on one activist's comment page. She urged her representative to consider what options he would want available to his daughter if she were raped and facing the possibility of pregnancy. His response:

"If she were raped, I would not want her to take the pill. If she got pregnant, even if by rape... well, it's still a child and I'd want her to have that child."

Really? It's more important to this guy that a devout Catholic medical professional preserve his 'conscience' than for his own daughter to retain her autonomy and the chance for self-actualization?

I really, really wish I could remember who said that. Oh well...

Cheers to all the people who have worked so hard to pass this legislation! You rock.


So you party like a rockstar, huh? That's nothin'.

Try partying like a pastor.*

He's so gangsta!

*Disclaimer: Say no crack rocks, people.


A diamond is forever. Or at least its ad campaign is.

Is it just me, or does this 1979 DeBeers commercial sound familiar?

I hope those diamond-pushers don't pay their marketing staff too much, because they haven't come up with a new advertising scheme in nearly three decades.

And boy, do they lay it on thick. Over the past month or so, DeBeers, Zales, and Jared have monopolized just about every commercial break with reminders about my womanly holiday duties. Ladies, 'tis the season to insist that the man in your life drains his bank account and presents you with a velvety box of sparkly rocks, and --upon receipt of the bling--to gasp, with hand clasped to chest and eyeballs bulging out of sockets.

Ok, so the adfolks had enough sense cut the chirpy housewife lines from the commercials at some point in the last 25-30 years, but the 2007 versions still make women look like materialistic dopes.

Support Compassionate Care for Rape Victims in Wisconsin

The State Assembly (finally!) votes today on Sen. Judy Robson's (D-Beloit) Compassionate Care for Rape Victims bill. If it becomes law, this legislation would require all hospitals in Wisconsin to inform rape victims about emergency contraception and dispense it upon their request. Only 33% of hospitals currently do so, which means a lot of women are not getting comprehensive medical attention after experiencing rape. The Senate passed the bill 27-6 way back in May. Here's hoping our state's often moronic, Republican-dominated Assembly votes correctly.

Throughout the current legislative session, some truly incredible Wisconsinites (such as Amanda Harrington) have come forward in hearings at the capitol and in the media to share their survivor stories to illuminate the importance of the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims bill. This is a common sense piece of legislation that can help rape victims begin to heal by empowering them with choices immediately following the trauma.

It's really a no-brainer. Even so, the ruthless folks over at Pro-Life Wisconsin refuse hop off their ideological high horses to show some sympathy for victims of sexual assault. Why? According to Peggy Hamill, state director of PLW, via the Badger Herald: “it is extremely difficult to determine whether or not fertilization has occurred at the time emergency contraception is directed to be taken.” In other words, PLW believes women should give birth to babies fathered by rapists. And those phonies consider their positions pro-family?

I encourage you to attend the vote this morning in support of CCRV. PPAWI has details. Issues of choice typically draw an interesting mix of folks to downtown Madison, so even if reproductive health care isn't your political passion, tomorrow's vote is guaranteed to be a great opportunity to support an important bill and witness democracy in action.


Breaking news: Hillary has a vagina, media not sure what to make of it

I don’t intend vote for Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin primary, but because the media has focused so much on Clinton’s sex, I find myself compelled to speak out in her defense. Particularly when so-called journalists like the WaPo’s Robin Givhan offer utterly embarrassing opinions of Clinton. I realize that Givhan picks on other public figures’ styles—it’s not just Hillary’s fashion choices she frets over. She recently wasted additional ink lamenting Mitt Romney’s hair, for instance. But I find Givhan’s remarks about Clinton truly damaging not only to female politicians, but to women in general. So I rant.

Givhan first riled me up with her obnoxious analysis of the momentary appearance that Clinton’s cleavage made in Congress one day. Givhan, being the classy gal that she is, acknowledges that showing a little d├ęcolletage “doesn't necessarily mean that a woman is asking to be objectified.” Well, if Hillary didn’t make that request, then I guess her boobs themselves must have placed a personal phone call to the writer, begging for her to give them a voice, because Givhan sure thinks they have a lot to say.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Sunday’s Post included an equally nauseating essay from Givhan about what message Clinton’s pantsuits are trying to send to voters. There’s really no need to read the entire thing. Givhan’s piece is basically a pretentiously worded version of the following:

“Men wear pants. Hillary wears pants, too! And I don’t mean just sometimes. I mean, like,
always. Sooo I guess I’m at least glad that Hil got some suits in pink and other pretty colors, so people remember can be kind of cute and stuff. Because she’s like, in the lead, so she is getting tons of attention. Love that coral outfit, Hil! Rock on! Girlpower! Can’t wait to see what she puts on for Super Tuesday.”

Although this type of commentary infuriates me, I am not at all surprised that it's out there. Regardless of whether Clinton wins the presidency or even earns a spot on the Democratic ticket, her candidacy is historically significant because it is creating a generation of future women who will not remember a time when women did not compete for (and perhaps, occupy) the White House. Some call her stern or cold, and I don’t disagree. But with cheap shots like those from Givhan and other sexist pundits, I’m grateful that our formidable female candidate is so resilient.

Do you Subaru?

Winter is the ugliest and the smelliest season on the calendar. Call me grumpy, but I can’t help feeling this way.

The snow was indisputably beautiful when it arrived last weekend. It added a picturesque element to my tranquil Saturday afternoon. But now it’s nine days later, Mama Nature has assaulted the isthmus with much more white stuff, and it looks more like a mudslide hit town rather than a snowy front. All the powder on the ground has either consolidated into a shit-colored sheet of ice about three inches thick or been processed into a pile of shit-colored, slushy slop.

Both consistencies of the poopsnow have waged wars against my automobile this week, with the same result--my nose occupied by the scent of burning rubber from my tires' attempts to gain enough traction to climb up Paterson Street. I’m beginning to understand why everyone else on my block drives an all-wheel drive Outback (I mean, besides that other reason), which is actually much more of a beefcake than an H2. Thankfully, on more than one occasion this week, winter-ready neighborhood Subaruvians have been kind enough to hop out of their steely wagons to give my little Escort a heave-ho through the slick patches, enabling my safe arrival home.

And home is where I shall strive to stay until spring. After an unsuccessful attempt at a seasonal attitude adjustment last winter, I am happy to commit to four months of sipping hot cocoa on my couch with my Netflix du jour. When it got all snowy last year, I decided to try and find a winter hobby, thinking that it might help me enjoy the season if I had something fun and active to do. My boyfriend graciously took me to the slopes to teach me to snowboard. My bruised body caused me to become so surly over the next two weeks that the relationship failed. And I can still feel that day's tailbone fracture.

Because I am entering my fifth consecutive Madison winter, I finally feel like I have enough experience under my belt to make an official proclamation--crabby is my default wintertime demeanor. It may not be a matter of cheering up or changing perspective after all. I may just really, truly, wholeheartedly hate this season and need to come to terms with that.

But before I make anything concrete, I have one remaining idea for the final test of the Theory of the Angry Winter Me. I’ve got this feeling that a nice (long) pour of peppermint schnapps in my mug of hot chocolate might perk me up and prove the whole thing wrong. But I’d probably need one of those damn Subarus just to make it to the liquor store. Hmph.