Another year, hole remains

Another year, hole remains

Gazette Column
He should have turned sweet 16 today. It’s kind of funny, or maybe just sad, that even today, 16 years after our son was stillborn, I still pause and wonder what he’d be doing if he had lived. Maybe he’d be running football two-a-days. Or maybe, like our younger son, he’d require crowbar extraction from his computer. So many possibilities — all of them shattered. Despite the emotional pain, I can’t stop pulling each one out, dusting it off and taking a test drive. It took me a long time to realize that death, in and of itself, isn’t what tugs at the heart year after year and plays on the emotions. It is the promises death steals and opportunities it obstructs that haunt you, nudging toward what-ifs and the…
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Addressing the GOP gender gap

Addressing the GOP gender gap

Gazette Column
Labeling the GOP as the party of “old white men” reached new fervor in the wake of a report commissioned by two major Republican groups, which detailed the currently insurmountable gender gap faced by the party. The report, leaked by Politico, was the result of conversations with women across the country in the form of focus groups and polling. The bottom line? Overall, 49 percent of women view Republicans unfavorably. The contents of the report aren’t necessarily shocking. Republican strategists have known for years that women and ethnic minorities are trending away. The report sums this up, according to Politico, as Republicans “fail[ing] to speak to women in the different circumstances in which they live.” That’s a nice way of saying most women believe the GOP lacks understanding and is out…
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Renewing the promise of Women’s Equality Day

Renewing the promise of Women’s Equality Day

Gazette Column
On this day in 1920, not yet 100 years ago, Congress granted women the right to vote. This day — now celebrated as “Women’s Equality Day” — marks the end of an 80-year campaign for women’s suffrage. While most women, myself included, don’t personally remember the battles fought in earning the right to vote, writings and pictures remain to remind us how difficult change can be, especially for those in positions of power who believe they are being diminished. Those who fought for women to be able to vote were derided as inferior, lazy, oversexed, masculine, childlike and generally unworthy of consideration. Emotions drove the suffragists forward and manipulated them to not only seek a ballot, but to leave husbands and children behind. If women were successful in this endeavor,…
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50 shades of ‘True Story’ mags

50 shades of ‘True Story’ mags

Gazette Column
Although I was a bit late to the book club, I did read the 50 Shades trilogy. How could I not when so many were talking about it? I am a voracious reader — often juggling two or three titles at a time. Non-fiction is usually devoured in traditional book form, although a few reference titles are electronic for easy access. Fiction requiring more thought is also read traditionally, as are books by the few authors I want when they hit the shelves. Most everything else — books my Canadian friend appropriately dubbed “brain popcorn” — is on the iPod. I keep costs down by paying a monthly membership to an audiobook service, which is basically a Netflix for audiobooks. You get the idea. I like books. A lot. When…
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SCOTUS contraception ruling troubling for women, religion

SCOTUS contraception ruling troubling for women, religion

Gazette Column
Many will be erroneously celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court opinion handed down today in the Hobby Lobby contraception case as a further attempt by the courts to protect religious freedoms or innocent life. It does nothing of the sort. The only “people” the opinion protects are the majority of American corporations. The only religious freedoms it protects are those with which a majority of Court justices agree. The decision — a 5-4 split, saying “closely held corporations” cannot be required to provide contraception coverage for employees if the company has a religious objection — is not limited to the Hobby Lobby corporation. Based on Internal Revenue Service definitions, it will impact about 90 percent of all American businesses, and about 52 percent of the American workforce. Perhaps it should not be surprising…
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Tweeting for #YesAllWomen

Tweeting for #YesAllWomen

Gazette Column
It is a story we’ve heard before: a young person lashes out, innocent people die and society struggles to understand. It is a story we’ve heard so often it feels overwhelming, as if there is nothing a single individual can do to turn the tide of violence. But this weekend, on the social media network called twitter, I and a few million of my female friends took a stand. The latest bit of violence came at the hands of a young man, Elliot Rodger, who was (by all accounts) an incredibly troubled individual. He left behind several videos and written documents, which he dubbed his manifesto. What is immediately clear upon viewing any of these items is that Rodger both desperately wanted and hated women. In fact, I’d go so…
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Conservatives favor gender typicality in female politicians

Conservatives favor gender typicality in female politicians

Gazette Column
If research from Dartmouth is any indicator, Joni Ernst may have already lost the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. In fact, she may never have had a chance. The white paper, published this week, details how gendered facial cues can predict electoral success for female politicians. In other words, researchers wanted to determine if feminine appearance — especially facial cues of femininity — was correlated to success in political contests. [caption id="attachment_206" align="alignright" width="300"] State Sen. Joni Ernst appears at the Family Leader Forum at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa, on Friday, April 25, 2014. (Alison Sullivan/The Gazette)[/caption] While research has shown political success for male candidates is linked to perceptions of competence and attractiveness, this white paper demonstrates gender cues uniquely predict a female candidate’s success beyond…
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Work flexibility a win-win

Work flexibility a win-win

Gazette Column
Is it too soon to suggest what the Iowa Legislature should discuss in its next session? If you, like me, think it isn’t, then I propose we ask our lawmakers to stop squabbling over equal pay and minimum-wage hikes (at least for now) and turn their eyes toward Vermont. As of January, Vermont business owners are required by law to consider worker requests for flexibility such as job sharing, working from home or alternative schedules. The law protects the workers making such requests from retaliation. It is essentially a legally protected conversation that can have a tremendous impact on single parents, those tasked with caring for an elderly relative or families stretched thin due to child care costs. While the idea is fairly unique in the United States, several European…
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Just asking for it

Just asking for it

Gazette Column
Some things are so intrinsic to our culture they are no longer spoken. For years, as we have sent our young women off to college, we have given them advice. We told them: Don’t run around after dark Don’t leave your drink unattended Don’t walk across campus alone Don’t dress like that Don’t leave a party alone Don’t leave your friend alone at a party Don’t be stupid While said with the best of intentions, the statements are tinged with an implied conjunctive, “or you’re just asking for it.” Ironically, most of us cannot fathom what “it” actually is. Hopefully we’ll never have firsthand knowledge. But we do know that “it” is something bad, nasty, horrific that happens to women who don’t listen or forget what they’ve been told. If…
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The women are coming?

The women are coming?

Gazette Column
More than half of the state’s population is female, yet women hold less than 25 percent of legislative seats in Iowa. While we have seen a trend of female lieutenant governors, no woman has been elected to live in Terrace Hill or to serve on behalf of Iowans in Congress. Yet if we are to believe the latest research on why women are underrepresented at each level of government, blame for the gap falls primarily on the shoulders of women themselves. Once a woman takes the plunge into politics, she is statistically just as likely as any male counterpart to emerge victorious. The reason more women don’t serve, researchers say, is because most stand on the diving platform and refuse to jump. According to a 2013 research study, there are…
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