The English idiom: “a picture is worth a thousand words," aptly describes newly sworn-in president-elect, Donald Trump, as he climbed out of the chauffeured vehicle, leaving his wife behind, never once looking for her, or taking the time to do what usually comes naturally for most couples-a little thoughtfulness and a willingness to share such a historic moment with the woman he calls his wife. After all, the U.S. Presidential Inauguration only takes place once every four years. Some might point out that he may have been distracted. Trump did himself no favors to dispel the talk that he's an out-and-out misogynist when he left his wife behind. President Obama, took a moment to wait and welcome her to join in the festivities. Trump's faux pas has been discussed by many as a harbinger of worse to come.
But this article is not about the newly elected president. It's far more important than that. It's about an organization that has transformed millions of lives for more than 100 years.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (PPFA), is a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health services both in the United States and worldwide partnering with organizations in 12 countries. Stateside, PPFA, consists of 159 medical and non-medical affiliates, which operate over 650 health clinics. The organization directly provides a variety of reproductive health services and sexual education, contributes to research in reproductive technology, and performs advocacy work aimed at protecting and expanding reproductive rights.
A relevant history lesson not taught in school...
Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger, on October 16, 1916, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York, where she opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, in 1921. Sanger, her sister, Ethel Byrne, and Fania Mindell were arrested and jailed, accused of distributing obscene materials at the clinic. Sanger preferred going to jail, turning down the option to simply pay fines instead, realizing that the cause would garner national attention, which it did. Though convicted on misdemeanor charges, Sanger's strategy paid off: the convicting judge modified the law to permit physician-prescribed birth control, a watershed moment that led to major changes in the laws governing birth control and sexual education in the U.S.
It became Planned Parenthood in 1942, because people had found the previous name offensive and against families.
By 1960, the Federation had provided family planning counseling in hundreds of communities across the country. Interestingly enough, Sanger-like many other advocates of birth control-publicly condemned abortion, arguing that it would not be needed if every woman had the education and access to birth control. Following Sanger, Alan Frank Guttmacher became president of Planned Parenthood, serving from 1962 until 1974. During his tenure the FDA approved the sale of the original birth control pill, giving rise to new attitudes towards women's reproductive freedom. PPFA also lobbied the federal government to support reproductive health, culminating with President Nixon's signing of Title X to provide governmental subsidies for low-income women to access family-planning services.
Then in 1978 Faye Wattleton became the first African-American president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
During Wattleton's term PPFA grew to become the seventh largest charity in the country, providing services to four million clients each year through its 170 affiliates, across 50 states. Then from 1996 until 2006, Gloria Feldt became president and activated the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF), the organization's political action committee, launching what was the most far reaching electoral advocacy, voter education, and grassroots organizing to promote the PPFA mission. Current president, Cecile Richards, daughter of former Texas governor, Ann Richards, and formerly deputy chief of staff to the U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi, started her term on February, 2006. Richards was voted one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World, in 2012.
Our elected officials...
A year ago the 114th Congress kicked off 2016, much like it had in 2015, by voting yet again to strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest family-planning provider, because its health services include abortion. There's already a federal law preventing taxpayer dollars from being used toward abortions (patients have to pay for abortions out-of-pocket). But Republicans have long despised the family-planning provider for ideological reasons, and now they control the House, Senate and the White House.
Courtesy of Longroom.
Scarlett Johannson revealed she visited planned parenthood as a teen during her speech at the Women's March.
More than 40 years after Roe vs Wade, politicians are still trying to legislate what women can and can't do with their bodies. North Dakota, recently passed a law that outlaws a woman's right to choose, starting as early as six weeks, even if a woman is raped. Forty-two states have introduced laws that would ban or severely limit access to a woman's right to choose--laws that would make it harder to get contraceptive care, laws that would sever access to cancer screenings and terminate educational programs that would help prevent teen pregnancies.
Help spread the word...
Millions are standing with Planned Parenthood with #PlannedParenthood@PPAct and #IStandwithPP because there's simply too much at stake to allow government to interfere with our rights for reproductive health. Today, approximately one in five women in the U.S., visit Planned Parenthood, and nearly 75 percent of those women are low income. “No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body," was the motto coined by Margaret Sanger over 100 years ago.
It still rings true today, but now more than ever, our help is needed. Grassroots protests and fundraisers can have a significant impact toward protecting one of the most relevant organizations, not just in the United States but also throughout the world. It is easy to forget that sometimes the smallest deeds ignite the greatest outpouring of support and action.
Tuffet restaurant, in Brooklyn, raised over $3,500 for Planned Parenthood, through a raffle, silent auction and drink sales. The owner, said that she didn't think that she would be the best person to address questions on the current political climate that threatens the access to healthcare for millions of women across the country. She's wrong. Her actions, like the actions of countless other selfless individuals, who do far more for the betterment of society than so-called elected officials, are a powerful reminder that deeds address needs far more often than words.
Deeds like proposing legislation favored by many elected officials to not only take away the legal right to choose, but also take away life-saving access to cancer screenings, health education, annual well-women exams, HPV vaccine, pap tests (cervical cancer screenings), STD testing and treatment, pregnancy testing, HIV testing, urinary tract infection testing, breast exams, vasectomies, birth control, pregnancy options education, is not only heartless. It's also a not-so-subtle way to discriminate and harm millions of people (not just women) nation-wide. The vast majority of people would certainly agree that everyone deserves access to affordable, good healthcare regardless of income levels and sex. We are better than this.
The vast majority of people would certainly agree that everyone deserves access to affordable, good healthcare regardless of income levels and sex. We are better than this.
Did You Know...?
- Today more than 55 million women have no co-pay birth control thanks to the Affordable Care Act, saving women an estimated $1.4 billion in its first year alone
- In 2014-2015, thanks to Planned Parenthood, we saw a 40 year low for teen pregnancies
- Planned Parenthood's website garners 60 million annual visits
- The FDA approved Liletta, (Feb 2015) an IUD device that is safe and effective for up to three years and is priced at $50 at qualifying public health clinics
- In June 2015, The Lancet published a study conducted by Planned Parenthood affiliates and researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, about how training healthcare providers in contraceptive counseling and insertion of the most effective forms of reversible contraception-IUDs & implants-could affect patients contraceptive decisions and prevent unintended pregnancies
- Since Roe vs Wade, 11 murders, dozens of attempted murders and hundreds of death threats have plagued Planned Parenthood facilities in the U.S.
- In 2015, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, advocated for a landmark law making Oregon the first state in the nation to require health insurance companies to give a year's supply of the pill, patch, or ring up front
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."