Prison Sex Doesn’t Prove Homosexuality Is a Choice—and It’s Offensive for Ben Carson to Argue as MuchHow Many Trips to the Supreme Court Will Obamacare Take?Cleveland Isn’t Blaming Tamir Rice for His Own Death. Not Really.Framing Suzanne Mazzola’s Death in Childbirth as a Martyrdom Is Disturbing and Dangerous

Prison Sex Doesn’t Prove Homosexuality Is a Choice—and It’s Offensive for Ben Carson to Argue as Much

by Martha Kempner

Video

Who Said the Fight for Birth Control Access Was Only About Not Having Babies?

Birth control can have positive effects on the well-being of women and—when and if they choose to have them—their babies, yet 225 million women worldwide who want access to contraception can’t get it. [via EngenderHealth]

#BecauseofThemWeCan: Young Girls Recite Maya Angelou’s ‘Phenomenal Woman’

As part of a joint project between the Because of Them, We Can initiative and Nickelodeon, in which kids portray distinguished African Americans, young girls in this video pay tribute to poet Maya Angelou.

Hollywood Stars Give Advice to Young Women

The Oscars may be over, but the advice shared by these women on the red carpet will last a lifetime. Hollywood stars, including Margaret Avery and Felicity Jones, urge women and girls not to let Hollywood or any industry define who they are. [via BuzzFeed]

Audio

Abortion Stories, and the Equal Pay Debate

by

On this episode of Reality Cast, Renee Bracey Sherman talks about her abortion storytelling advocacy. Also, host Amanda Marcotte looks at why everyone at Fox News is so hostile to equal pay, and the abortion storyline in a recent episode of Girls.

2015 Court Outlook, and ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ in Context

by

On this episode of Reality Cast, Ian Millhiser talks about how the Obama administration is quietly winning court battles in favor of contraception. Also, host Amanda Marcotte shares clips from Irin Carmon’s interview with Justice Ginsburg and discusses how Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t the first movie to romanticize abusive relationship patterns.

Street Harassment in Mexico City, and MRAs Take On ‘Frozen’

by

On this episode of Reality Cast, host Amanda Marcotte chats with Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, creator of the “Stop Telling Women to Smile” art project, about her recent work in Mexico City, where she was joined by Fusion editor Anna Holmes. In another segment, Marcotte looks at the claim that the movie Frozen oppresses men.

News
Labor advocates say the rule change is necessary to reduce anti-union intimidation by employers.

Labor advocates say the rule change is necessary to reduce anti-union intimidation by employers.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, shifting his abortion stance ahead of his expected 2016 presidential bid, has for the first time said he would sign a ban on abortion after 20 weeks' gestation and would support similar legislation at the federal level.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, shifting his abortion stance ahead of his expected 2016 presidential bid, has for the first time said he would sign a ban on abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation and would support similar legislation at the federal level.

Nevada Republicans, after winning control of both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s office in 2014, have pushed a far-right agenda that includes legislation to dismantle organized labor in the state.

Nevada Republicans, after winning control of both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s office in 2014, have pushed a far-right agenda that includes legislation to dismantle organized labor in the state.

Results from more than 15,000 men show that the average penis is about five inches when erect.

Results from more than 15,000 men show that the average penis is about five inches when erect.

The Department of Justice announced Wednesday the findings of its two civil rights investigations related to the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August.

The Department of Justice announced Wednesday the findings of its two civil rights investigations related to the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last August.

After months of delays and exercises in legislative futility, House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday finally allowed the passage of a “clean” funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that would not block any of President Obama’s actions to temporarily protect some unauthorized immigrants from deportation.

After months of delays and exercises in legislative futility, House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday finally allowed the passage of a “clean” funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security that would not block any of President Obama’s actions to temporarily protect some unauthorized immigrants from deportation.

Less than a month after becoming the 20th municipal ordinance in the country to guarantee paid sick leave to workers, Philadelphia’s “Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces” measure is coming under attack by a bill moving through the Republican-controlled state legislature this session.

Less than a month after becoming the 20th municipal ordinance in the country to guarantee paid sick leave to workers, Philadelphia’s “Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces” measure is coming under attack by a bill moving through the Republican-controlled state legislature this session.

Tuesday night's ruling calls on probate judges across the state to ignore a federal court order and stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Tuesday night’s ruling calls on probate judges across the state to ignore a federal court order and stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

To win over the middle, anti-choice leaders argued at CPAC, it's more helpful to message around "incremental" abortion restrictions like 20-week bans or insurance coverage restrictions.

To win over the middle, anti-choice leaders argued at CPAC, it’s more helpful to message around “incremental” abortion restrictions like 20-week bans or insurance coverage restrictions.

HB 390 would amend existing state law to include a ban on abortions after 20 weeks' gestation, while HB 391 would require physicians to provide notice of a planned abortion procedure of a non-emancipated minor to one parent or guardian at least 48 hours prior to the procedure.

HB 390 would amend existing state law to include a ban on abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation, while HB 391 would require physicians to provide notice of a planned abortion procedure of a non-emancipated minor to one parent or guardian at least 48 hours prior to the procedure.

West Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have outlawed abortion after 20 weeks gestation.

West Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would have outlawed abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation.

At a press conference announcing her decision, Mikulski said she had asked herself, “Do I spend time my raising money, or do I spend my time raising hell?”

At a press conference announcing her decision, Mikulski said she had asked herself, “Do I spend time my raising money, or do I spend my time raising hell?”

The West Virginia Senate last week passed a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks, four weeks before a fetus is widely recognized as “viable,” the standard for legally-protected abortion in the United States.

The West Virginia Senate last week passed a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks, four weeks before a fetus is widely recognized as “viable,” the standard for legally-protected abortion in the United States.

The proposal includes an exemption that would allow religious institutions to forgo offering health insurance plans that include contraception coverage for their employees.

The proposal includes an exemption that would allow religious institutions to forgo offering health insurance plans that include contraception coverage for their employees.

Sabo (right) had a thing or two to say about Islam, immigration, Ted Cruz, and art at the nation's largest conservative gathering.

Sabo, a Los Angeles-based street artist and right-wing folk hero, had a thing or two to say about Islam, immigration, Ted Cruz, and art at the nation’s largest conservative gathering.

Jeb Bush speaks at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference.

Both possible 2016 presidential contenders said changes to immigration law should focus less on family ties and more on economic factors.

Carly Fiorina speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference.

Even in front of this red-meat-friendly audience, references to abortion rights by presidential hopefuls were mostly passing and routine.

Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he would take no action if the Affordable Care Act is gutted as the U.S. Supreme Court decision that could cut off access to affordable health care for millions looms.

Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he would take no action if the Affordable Care Act is gutted as the U.S. Supreme Court decision that could cut off access to affordable health care for millions looms.

Roundups
The legislative session kicked off in the states with a bunch of new anti-abortion bills and the first-ever conviction in Indiana of a pregnant woman for feticide for a self-induced abortion.

The legislative session kicked off in the states with a bunch of new anti-abortion bills, along with the conviction of an Indiana woman for feticide and neglect of a dependent.

Valentine's Day is a $19 billion holiday. How are folks spending that money?

Valentine’s Day is a $19 billion holiday. How are folks spending that money?

From Catholic hospitals to juries in Indiana, more and more pregnant people are finding themselves pitted against their pregnancies.

From Catholic hospitals to juries in Indiana, more and more pregnant people are finding themselves pitted against their pregnancies.

Commentary
Contrary to the narratives being pushed by some in the activism community, the win in the fight for net neutrality wasn’t because liberals managed to somehow "want" it badly enough. This was not a matter of willpower, but one of enormous force, bluntly applied.

Contrary to the narratives being pushed by some in the activism community, the win in the fight for net neutrality wasn’t because liberals managed to somehow “want” it badly enough. This was not a matter of willpower, but one of enormous force, bluntly applied.

Can the abortion rate be reduced by making it more affordable to have a baby? New data from the Brookings Institution suggests that answer is no, and women have abortions for more complex reasons than simply being too poor to parent.

Can the abortion rate be reduced by improving social services? New data from the Brookings Institution suggests that answer is no, which makes sense: Women have abortions for more complex reasons than simply being too poor to parent.

Phil Robertson speaks at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference.

Among this year’s attempts at conservative “humor”: Sean Hannity’s X-ray utero-vision, Ted Cruz’s quip about not beating his wife, and the guy from Duck Dynasty calling STIs “the revenge of the hippies.”

Our right-wing state lawmakers are so proudly hateful that they actually celebrated banning marriage equality by cutting a cake.

Our right-wing state lawmakers are so proudly hateful that they actually celebrated banning marriage equality by cutting a cake. They’ve also already filed a slate of oppressive and unnecessary legislation this session.

Last week a pharmaceutical company submitted a third claim for approval of a drug to increase female sexual desire amid accusations that the FDA's failure to approve the drug thus far reeks of sexism.  On the flip side, a group of advocates are arguing that no such drug is needed.  Who's right? Who's wrong? And is there any middle ground?

Some advocates are calling the Food and Drug Administration’s historical hesitation to approve a drug that would treat low sex drive in women sexist; others are saying the development of the medication itself is sexist. Who’s in the right?

Supporters of the "men's rights" movement claim to want to defend the interests of men in a supposedly female-dominated society. But if you give them a chance to share their views in a mainstream setting, their underlying misogyny becomes immediately apparent.

Supporters of the “men’s rights” movement claim to want to defend the interests of men in a supposedly female-dominated society. But if you give them a chance to share their views in a mainstream setting, their underlying misogyny becomes immediately apparent.

Pittsburgh organizer Julia Johnson and Jasmine Burnett (right)

Black women do not expect much from those whose inhumane social, political, and economic interests challenge our human rights, but we do expect respect, support, and trust from our progressive allies, who supposedly are on our side.

A lack of understanding of basic anatomy can have enormous consequences on both a personal and legislative level.

As much as we may want to laugh about the possibility that Idaho state Rep. Vito Barbieri did not know that the uterus is not part of the digestive system, a lack of understanding of basic anatomy can have enormous consequences on both a personal and legislative level.

Social conservatives have been getting more obvious about bullying women into accepting their self-sacrificing, self-effacing model of womanhood. They're having to get louder because fewer women are listening.

Social conservatives have been getting more obvious about bullying women into accepting their self-sacrificing, self-effacing model of womanhood. They’re having to get louder because fewer women are listening.

ABLC Blog
What sounds diabolical to the untrained eye—Cleveland is blaming Rice for his own death!—is actually standard language in a case like this, and we shouldn't let it obscure the bigger injustices at play here.

What sounds diabolical to the untrained eye is actually standard language in a case like this, and we shouldn’t let it obscure the bigger injustices at play here.

To put it plainly, white people, including white women, have advantages simply by virtue of their skin color—advantages that I will never have. These advantages are often invisible. These advantages are also unearned. And that’s why talking to someone who has never considered their privilege about the fact that they have privilege can be so jarring for them.

To put it plainly, white people, including white women, have advantages simply by virtue of their skin color—advantages that I will never have. These advantages are often invisible. These advantages are also unearned. And that’s why talking to someone who has never considered their privilege about the fact that they have privilege can be so jarring for them.

With her words on Sunday night—whether intentional or not (and personally, I believe it was unintentional)—Patricia Arquette gave voice to a system of structural erasure that has been the gold standard in the feminist movement since well before Sojourner Truth stood up and declared “Ain’t I A Woman?”

With her words on Sunday night—whether intentional or not (and personally, I believe it was unintentional)—Patricia Arquette gave voice to a system of structural erasure that has been the gold standard in the feminist movement since well before Sojourner Truth stood up and declared “Ain’t I A Woman?”

Analysis
Challengers get their second shot Wednesday to try and gut Obama's historic health-care reform law. Will the chief justice stand in their way again?

Challengers get their second shot Wednesday to try and gut Obama’s historic health-care reform law. Will the chief justice stand in their way again?

So far, employers have had a good run before the Roberts Court, thanks in large part to Justice Samuel Alito, who has emerged as the architect and conservative standard-bearer for defending the interests of employers in employment claims.

That’s the question before the Roberts Court in a case that pits the religious rights of employees against the duty of an employer to accommodate them.

Most states have rescinded their requirements that brides and grooms be tested for STDs, but one Oklahoma lawmaker would like to reverse this trend.

Most states have rescinded their requirements that brides and grooms be tested for STDs, but one Oklahoma lawmaker would like to reverse this trend.

Investigations
“The IWF has never taken a stance on abortion,” executive director Sabrina Schaeffer wrote in an email to RH Reality Check. Certainly, that is IWF’s public position. But RHRC has found that the IWF’s behind-the-scenes relationship with anti-choice groups contradicts what its spokespeople say publicly.

“The IWF has never taken a stance on abortion,” executive director Sabrina Schaeffer wrote in an email to RH Reality Check. Certainly, that is IWF’s public position. But RHRC has found that the IWF’s behind-the-scenes relationship with anti-choice groups contradicts what its spokespeople say.

Anti-choice lawmakers across the country have in recent weeks filed barrages of laws that would restrict access to safe and legal abortion.

As state legislative sessions gear up for what could be one of the worst years on record for reproductive rights, anti-choice lawmakers across the country have in recent weeks filed barrages of laws that would restrict access to safe and legal abortion. Many of these laws are identical, or nearly so, to laws that have repeatedly failed in the same states where they are being reintroduced.

The emails show Texas’s key consultant putting words into the mouths of the state’s so-called expert witnesses, attempting to persuade them to selectively exclude data that did not match his anti-choice bias, and, in one case, walking extremely close to the line of outright ghostwriting what were supposed to be independent reports.

The emails show Texas’ key consultant putting words into the mouths of the state’s so-called expert witnesses, attempting to persuade them to selectively exclude data that did not match his anti-choice bias, and, in one case, walking extremely close to the line of outright ghostwriting what were supposed to be independent reports.

Q & A
These young activists are leading local sexual and reproductive health and rights movements around the world.

From a 21-year-old who first saw the need for sex ed when he was the only out gay man at his Catholic school in Louisiana, to the 27-year-old web editor of one of the most popular love and relationship sites in India, these young activists are leading local sexual and reproductive health and rights movements around the world.

Diane Rosenfeld, lecturer on law and director of the Gender Violence Program at Harvard Law School, first began focusing on Title IX and its applications when a group of Harvard students approached her about sexual violence on campus in 2001.

Pretending that sexual assault only happens on other campuses makes it harder to keep students safe, says Title IX expert Diane Rosenfeld.

The law provides an expansive host of benefits, including requirements that employers provide simple accommodations for pregnant workers. To get a better sense of this law and the strategy that made it win, RH Reality Check spoke with Debra Fitzpatrick of the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

The law provides an expansive host of benefits, including requirements that employers provide basic accommodations for pregnant workers. To get a better sense of this law and the strategy that made it win, RH Reality Check spoke with Debra Fitzpatrick of the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs.