Category Archives: Feminism

Innovative ideas to keep girls interested in STEM

Hello, everyone! I recently contacted the Women’s Center to inquire about volunteer opportunities. I was informed that the blog has been rather neglected the last few years, and if interested, I could write some new entries. Despite the fact that I have virtually no background in writing for a blog and question whether anyone could ever be interested in what I have to say, I agreed. One of my main motivations for wanting to volunteer with the center was to learn more about issues facing girls and women in the world today, so I hope to use the blog as a tool to expose myself and therefore the readers (if you’re out there!) to interesting things going on in the world today affecting women. I apologize in advance if I am awful at this task, but here goes nothing.

 I came across an interesting project on Kickstarter (an online tool entrepreneurs can use to help fund new ideas) the other day while searching for a topic worthy of my first blog post. Though instantly intriguing, I didn’t fully appreciate the concept until I sat back and really thought about how my own experiences related to the cause.

 The author, Sean Reed, identified a well-known problem: women are far less likely than men to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Despite an equal interest in these subjects at a young age in boys and girls, by the time women reach college, they are four times less likely to major in engineering and seven times less likely to major in computer science. While various policy-makers, educators, feminists, etc. have offered solutions as to how to remedy this gender gap in STEM fields, I was rather drawn to Reed’s creative, fun approach.

 Reed suggests that girls are often discouraged from pursuing their interest in STEM fields because they are not frequently exposed to role models in those areas, especially in popular culture. Reed’s Kickstarter is asking for people to help fund a project that would help create a book for young readers that centers around GIRLS pursuing those interests.


Reed’s hypothesis: “If writers produced more books with young girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and math as the MAIN characters in their stories, I believe we could ultimately build a large cohort of girls who wouldn’t have any problem of self-identifying as someone who likes science, and ultimately could increase the number of women across the STEM-related careers where they are underrepresented.”


I think it’s a great, innovative idea. And think about it, do any of your favorite stories, whether from a book, movie, whatever, have inquisitive young girls driving the plot? I can think of plenty of girls who are in that position and then realize how unhappy they are and instead turn to ballet or singing or anything else to find happiness (or as the stories go, “to finally find their true self”). Even in the stories with a science or math-minded female, how often are they the main character? I can only think of a few examples when they are even part of the story at all.

 The idea that all women should pursue STEM careers or all girls need to be interested in these fields is false. But girls interested in those areas should not be discouraged because they feel odd or different for doing so. Having more role models, whether in books or somewhere else, is probably not the only answer, but I think it is at least a start. If anything, I at least appreciate the project for identifying a problem and attempting to find a solution.

 If you want to read more about the project or contribute to the cause, you can do so here:*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1%2Egmp_67341%2Egde_67341_member_224702913

 Hope this blog wasn’t too brutal to read. Continue to check back for more!

 -Marisa, MSWC Volunteer






A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not “Crazy” | The Current Conscience

You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!

Sound familiar?

If you’re a woman, it probably does.

Do you ever hear any of these comments from your spouse, partner, boss, friends, colleagues, or relatives after you have expressed frustration, sadness, or anger about something they have done or said?

When someone says these things to you, it’s not an example of inconsiderate behavior. When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling—that’s inconsiderate behavior. A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation—pure and simple.


And this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. It’s patently false and unfair.

I think it’s time to separate inconsiderate behavior from emotional manipulation and we need to use a word not found in our normal vocabulary.

I want to introduce a helpful term to identify these reactions: gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a term, often used by mental health professionals (I am not one), to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.

The term comes from the 1944 MGM film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman’s husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry. He realizes he can accomplish this by having her certified as insane and hauled off to a mental institution. To pull of this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman’s character reacts to it, he tells her she’s just seeing things. In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself.

Today, when the term is referenced, it’s usually because the perpetrator says things like, “You’re so stupid” or “No one will ever want you,” to the victim. This is an intentional, pre-meditated form of gaslighting, much like the actions of Charles Boyer’s character in Gaslight, where he strategically plots to confuse Ingrid Bergman’s character into believing herself unhinged.

The form of gaslighting I’m addressing is not always pre-mediated or intentional, which makes it worse, because it means all of us, especially women, have dealt with it at one time or another.

Those who engage in gaslighting create a reaction—whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness—in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal.

My friend Anna (all names changed to protect privacy) is married to a man who feels it necessary to make random and unprompted comments about her weight. Whenever she gets upset or frustrated with his insensitive comments, he responds in the same, defeating way, “You’re so sensitive. I’m just joking.”

My friend Abbie works for a man who finds a way, almost daily, to unnecessarily to unnecessarily shoot down her performance and her work product. Comments like, “Can’t you do something right?” or “Why did I hire you?” are regular occurrences for her. Her boss has no problem firing people (he does it regularly), so you wouldn’t know that based on these comments, Abbie has worked for him for six years. But every time she stands up for herself and says, “It doesn’t help me when you say these things,” she gets the same reaction: “Relax; you’re overreacting.”

Abbie thinks her boss is just being a jerk in these moments, but the truth is, he is making those comments to manipulate her into thinking her reactions are out of whack. And it’s exactly that kind manipulation that has left her feeling guilty about being sensitive, and as a result, she has not left her job.

But gaslighting can be as simple as someone smiling and saying something like, “You’re so sensitive,” to somebody else. Such a comment may seem innocuous enough, but in that moment, the speaker is making a judgment about how someone else should feel.

While dealing with gaslighting isn’t a universal truth for women, we all certainly know plenty of women who encounter it at work, home, or in personal relationships.

And the act of gaslighting does not simply affect women who are not quite sure of themselves. Even vocal, confident, assertive women are vulnerable to gaslighting.


Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men.

It’s a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don’t refuse our burdens as easily. It’s the ultimate cowardice.

Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: it renders some women emotionally mute.

These women aren’t able to clearly express to their spouses that what is said or done to them is hurtful. They can’t tell their boss that his behavior is disrespectful and prevents them from doing their best work. They can’t tell their parents that, when they are being critical, they are doing more harm than good.

When these women receive any sort of push back to their reactions, they often brush it off by saying, “Forget it, it’s okay.”

That “forget it” isn’t just about dismissing a thought, it is about self-dismissal. It’s heartbreaking.

No wonder some women are unconsciously passive aggressive when expressing anger, sadness, or frustration. For years, they have been subjected to so much gaslighting that they can no longer express themselves in a way that feels authentic to them.

They say, “I’m sorry,” before giving their opinion. In an email or text message, they place a smiley face next to a serious question or concern, thereby reducing the impact of having to express their true feelings.

You know how it looks: “You’re late :)”

These are the same women who stay in relationships they don’t belong in, who don’t follow their dreams, who withdraw from the kind of life they want to live.

Since I have embarked on this feminist self-exploration in my life and in the lives of the women I know, this concept of women as “crazy” has really emerged as a major issue in society at large and an equally major frustration for the women in my life, in general.

From the way women are portrayed on reality shows, to how we condition boys and girls to see women, we have come to accept the idea that women are unbalanced, irrational individuals, especially in times of anger and frustration.

Just the other day, on a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a flight attendant who had come to recognize me from my many trips asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I write mainly about women, she immediately laughed and asked, “Oh, about how crazy we are?”

Her gut reaction to my work made me really depressed. While she made her response in jest, her question nonetheless makes visible a pattern of sexist commentary that travels through all facets of society on how men view women, which also greatly impacts how women may view themselves.

As far as I am concerned, the epidemic of gaslighting is part of the struggle against the obstacles of inequality that women constantly face. Acts of gaslighting steal their most powerful tool: their voice. This is something we do to women every day, in many different ways.

I don’t think this idea that women are “crazy,” is based in some sort of massive conspiracy. Rather, I believe it’s connected to the slow and steady drumbeat of women being undermined and dismissed, on a daily basis. And gaslighting is one of many reasons why we are dealing with this public construction of women as “crazy.”

I recognize that I’ve been guilty of gaslighting my women friends in the past (but never my male friends—surprise, surprise). It’s shameful, but I’m glad I realized that I did it on occasion and put a stop to it.

While I take total responsibility for my actions, I do believe that I, along with many men, am a byproduct of our conditioning. It’s about the general insight our conditioning gives us into admitting fault and exposing any emotion.

When we are discouraged in our youth and early adulthood from expressing emotion, it causes many of us to remain steadfast in our refusal to express regret when we see someone in pain from our actions.

When I was writing this piece, I was reminded of one of my favorite Gloria Steinem quotes, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”

So for many of us, it’s first about unlearning how to flicker those gaslights and learning how to acknowledge and understand the feelings, opinions, and positions of the women in our lives.

But isn’t the issue of gaslighting ultimately about whether we are conditioned to believe that women’s opinions don’t hold as much weight as ours? That what women have to say, what they feel, isn’t quite as legitimate?


by Yashar Ali

12 September 2011

Originally posted on The Current Consience blog:

A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not “Crazy” | The Current Conscience.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

During April, ACCESS (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter & Support), The Margaret Sloss Women’s Center, and a number of Iowa State University departments and student organizations will be joining with people throughout the state and the nation to increase the public’s attention on Sexual Assault. This is an opportunity to highlight the efforts of individuals and agencies that provide rape crisis intervention and prevention services while offering support to sexual assault survivors, victims and their families. This year’s theme is “Preventing Sexual Violence on College Campuses.”

Sexual violence is a crime of epidemic proportions. It affects everyone. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (

  • Every 2 minutes someone is sexual assaulted in the US.
  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be sexually assaulted.
  • College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.
  • In 2007, there were 248,300 victims of sexual assault.
  • 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.

SAAM raises awareness of sexual violence through special events while highlighting sexual violence as a major public health issue and reinforces the need for prevention efforts.  Local activities to raise awareness of sexual violence include:

“Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Film Showing

Friday, April 1, Sloss House, 2 – 5 p.m.\

Join us at the Sloss House to watch “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and discuss plot points as well as ways we can work to end sexual violence.

Get a Magnet off an ISU PD Vehicle

Monday, April 4, 12:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., South Lawn of Parks Library

Friday, April 8, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Fire Station 2 Welch Ave.

Stop by to peel a magnet or two off an ISU PD vehicle as a reminder to get a yes and of local resources.

Teal Ribbon Distribution

Monday, April 11, Memorial Union booth, 11 – 2 p.m.

Wednesday, April 13, Memorial Union booth, 11 – 2 p.m.

Vagina Warriors will be distributing ribbons. Stop by, take one, and show your support to stop sexual violence on our campus.

T-shirt Designing for The Clothesline Project

Thursday, April 14, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., Sloss House

Design t-shirts that will be displayed in the Clothesline Project, that address the issue of sexual violence to educate the public.

The Clothesline Project

Thursday, April 14, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., West Lawn of the Sloss House
The Clothesline Project is a visual display of t-shirts addressing the issue of violence against women. T-shirts have been designed by survivors and families/friends of survivors. The project focuses on providing healing for survivors of violence, educating the public about issues of violence, and encouraging individual action to prevent violence. Participants will have the opportunity to create a shirt of their own during the event at the Sloss House.

These Hands Don’t Hurt

Thursday, April 14, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., West Lawn of the Sloss House

This is a visual support of non-violence by imprinting your hand on a large canvas representing your commitment to not commit acts of violence against others. Make the pledge to end violence against men, women, and children. The completed banner will represent the people who are supporting the movement against violence. Coordinated by Alpha Kappa Lambda.

Rice Krispie Treat® Bake Sale

Thursday, April 14, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., West Lawn of the Sloss House

Alpha Kappa Lambda will be selling Rice Krispie Treats®. All sales will be donated to ACCESS.

“heARTs for Art” Exhibition

Saturday, April 16, Ames Public Library

Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support invites crime survivors to participate in the “heARTs for art” exhibitition on April 16, 2011 at the Ames Public Library.

SAAM on Display

Monday, April 18 – Friday, April 22, Memorial Union Display Case

Find more information on the events, read about how sexual assault impacts our community, and where to find local resources at the Memorial Union display case.

Self-Defense Workshop

Monday, April 18, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.,
The Hapkido Club will teach lessons on how to avoid hazardous situations and what to do if you can’t. The lessons are very interactive. Students will leave the event with an understanding of basic self-defense techniques.

Take Time on Tuesday: Sexist Comments to Sexual Assault

Tuesday, April 19, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., Sloss House

Sexist Comments to Sexual Assault: How we can make a difference in violence against women. Violence against women impacts us all. Though it can be an intimidating topic, change can start with the “small” stuff. We’ll be discussing ways that we can step-in and speak-out against violence against women in all its forms. Additionally, we’ll share resources and ideas about how to provide support to a friend who has been sexually assaulted and/or who is at-risk in a violent relationship.

Take Back the Night Rally & March

Wednesday, April 20, Rally beginning at 6:00 p.m., Iowa State Memorial Union West Terrace

March beginning at approximately 6:45 p.m., Around campus and campustown

Take Back the Night is an internationally recognized event with rich history, occurring worldwide since the 1970’s. The annual Take Back the Night rally and march at Iowa State University is organized with the purpose of unifying women, men, and children in an awareness of violence against women, children and families. You are invited to join us at the rally and march to take a stand against violence and make the night safe for everyone.

Take Back the Night: Taking the Stage to Reflect and Express Open Mic

Wednesday, April 20, Open Mic begins at 7:30 p.m., UDCC Room 136

To celebrate taking back the night we are hosting an open mic event for the community to share stories, poems, and music.

Asian Pacific American Film Showing: Struggles with Sexual Assault

Thursday, April 21, 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Monsoon United Asian Women of Iowa is sponsoring a film and discussion that touch on the topic of the struggles with sexual assault within the Asian Pacific American community.

For more information on Sexual Assault Awareness Month, contact the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center at 515/294-4154 between 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, confidential help through Sexual Assault Support Services,  is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week at 515-29-ALERT (515-292-5378).

Events are supported by the Sexual Misconduct Education Committee: Alpha Kappa Lambda, ACCESS (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support), Department of Residence, Greek Affairs, ISU Department of Public Safety, Margaret Sloss Women’s Center, Sexual Assault Response Team, Student Counseling Services and Students 2 Students

Nail Polish Gets my Claws!

As I strolled along the nail polish aisle in *insert your favorite box store here*, I was immediately interested in a lovely purple lacquer.  It was sparkly and shiny and I was in need of a polish pick-me-up, so I grabbed it.  As soon as I turned the bottle on its end to read the name of the color, I was forced to pause. The color was called: “No Means No”.  Hm…here, this lovely bottle of purple nail polish was working to end sexual violence…right?  At first, I was excited and my mind was spinning with the possibility that the makeup industry was taking a stance on sexual assault and I was ready to offer my support.

My excitement chipped away like the cheap paint I was holding as I read the other color names in the line: “Strapless”, “French Kiss”, “Cheatin”, “Don’t You Wish”, “Strip Tease”, and my personal favorite “Nasty Girl”.  I became furious in the makeup aisle.  I began huffing and puffing, ready to blow the whole place down.  What kind of message are we sending individuals who wear nail polish (women and young girls specifically)?  What kind of message are we reinforcing when we buy nail polish with such sexist and victim-blaming names?  Because essentially, dear reader, Pure Ice blames victims of sexual assault.  “No Means No” is a fun new catch phrase, a label for a nail polish, not a firm message against sexual violence.

Tell me, Pure Ice Nail Polish, what are you going for with these polish titles?  First, they tell me nothing of your product.  What part of this pretty baby pink color says “Nasty Girl”?   Second, you reinforce the idea that because I like to feel pretty (for myself) in my sparkly, lacquered nails that I am essentially a “tease” or “french kiss”.  When you pair the phrase “No Means No” with “Nasty Girl”, you send the message that no does not mean no.  No becomes: I am a flirt, try harder; because I winked, we should have sex.

Now I sit here catching my breath from the rage that has built inside me.  And I begin to wonder if people think I’m crazy.  After all Liz, it’s just a color name on a cheap bottle of crappy nail polish, what’s the big deal?  To me, the big deal is a phrase that should be taken with the utmost seriousness has been trivialized into a flirtation, a joke, the horrifying notion that when a woman says no, she doesn’t mean it.

And darn it, that is criminal!  Needless to say, the polishes went back on the shelf (rather firmly), and I left sans-lacquer.  But I certainly won’t be giving my money to a corporation who thinks “No Means No” should be a nail polish color.  Instead, my money will be going to ACCESS, where No DOES mean No!

And don’t even get me STARTED on Justin Bieber’s “One Less Lonely Girl” nail polish collection.  *insert extreme sarcasm here*  Because the real tragedy is a single girl!

Liz Steinborn is an Equity and Social Justice Educator at the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center and can be reached at or (515)294-4154.

International Women’s Day

Last year on this day, I got flowers delivered to my office.  Now, this is no ordinary thing for me.  I wasn’t dating anyone.  I hadn’t recently accomplished anything great.  I read the card and it said “Happy International Women’s Day. We’re proud of you.”  (Side story – the card wasn’t signed by anyone… so I went several days wondering who sent me flowers, later to find out the flower company just forgot to add “Love, Mom and Dad” – thanks for the mystery, flowers company!).  This gesture by my parents meant a great deal to me.  To be honest, I never really thought about myself as a woman leader.  I could see them sending me flowers on my birthday or even Valentine’s Day, but I never would have imagined them sending me flowers on International Women’s Day. So it got me thinking – why would they do that? Why this day? They must see something in me as a woman that I don’t see in myself.

This year in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program, I’ve had the opportunity to explore this part of my identity even more.  I was still struggling with why this was an important part of my identity, and this is one reason I wanted to engage in a practicum at the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center.  I wanted to figure out what difference it makes to be a woman in a male dominated world.

Looking at our history, women have had to and continue to overcome many obstacles.  In the U.S., we weren’t granted to opportunity to vote or run for public office until 1920 (and there are still some countries in the world that don’t have women’s suffrage, such as Saudi Arabia).  And still, the gender gap in public office is wide – in the House, there are currently 360 men and 75 women, and in the Senate there are only 17 women compared with 83 men.  There are five times as many men making decisions that affect both sexes equally.  And Iowa is one of four states to never elected a woman to congress.

We’re still working on closing the gender pay gap, the number of women in STEM fields, and, according to CNN Money, in 2006, there were only 10 women running Fortune 500 companies, and only 20 in the top 1,000.  We have a long ways to go.

So, we celebrate the progress we have made, and we are reminded of the work that needs to yet be done.  International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, present and future. It honors the work of the Suffragettes, celebrates women’s success, and reminds us of inequities still to be addressed.

Who is a woman who has impacted your life?  Who is a woman who is quietly making change, without even realizing it? Recognize that person today… a simple “thank you” or “keep up the good work” can go a long way.

Amanda Martin is doing a practicum in the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center. She can be reached at


Celebrating Women

Welcome to March: Women’s History Month.  I was trying to find some profound youtube video about the impact women have made in history, but youtube left me wanting.  So I started looking around for videos that inspired me as a woman.  And because of the political climate’s hostility toward women, I wanted something to bridge the gap.

What I found was a wonderful interview with former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.  She’s witty and brilliant (and sassy, which immediately charmed me to her).  She has an amazing outlook on being a woman in the United States.  Take a look at what she has to say about her experience as Secretary of State as well as her outlook on the importance of women globally.

We often think of women’s history in the past-tense (as history is often found in the past…), but I challenge you to find a woman this week who is making history today.  Maybe you’ll find her in the mirror.  ~Liz (

If you haven’t visited, you are missing out.  TED, as their website states:

a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design.

They videotape their conference presenters and share it in videos on their site.  The idea of sharing knowledge in this way is powerful, and I highly recommend spending some time getting to know their website.

Monday Feminist

Sojourner Truth gave her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech160 years ago.  She was on fire!  Sadly, many of the words she speaks so long ago still ring true today.  But feel empowered and challenged to be so bold to speak out!

The Vagina Monologues!

Well friends, we are officially in V-Season!  The Iowa State ({2011}) V-Day campaign to end violence against women is in full swing.  For those of you unfamiliar with The Vagina Monologues, do we have a treat for you!

Here’s a sneak peak from the playwright herself, Eve Ensler:

Since 1996, The Vagina Monologues have been shocking and delighting audiences across the globe.  The Vagina Warriors at Iowa State are proud to perform this year’s show.  For the past month, we have been talking about vaginas, creating paper vaginas, selling chocolate vaginas, and rehearsing monologues about vaginas.  Through the sisterhood of the cast, we are excited to bring you a show that not only promises to entertain, but raises awareness about the very serious topic of domestic and sexual violence.

The mission of the V-Day campaign is at the heart of each Vagina Warriors:

V-Day is an organized response against violence toward women.

V-Day is a vision: We see a world where women live safely and freely.

V-Day is a demand: Rape, incest, battery, genital mutilation and sexual slavery must end now.

V-Day is a spirit: We believe women should spend their lives creating and thriving rather than surviving or recovering from terrible atrocities.

V-Day is a catalyst: By raising money and consciousness, it will unify and strengthen existing anti-violence efforts. Triggering far-reaching awareness, it will lay the groundwork for new educational, protective, and legislative endeavors throughout the world.

V-Day is a process: We will work as long as it takes. We will not stop until the violence stops.

V-Day is a day. We proclaim Valentine’s Day as V-Day, to celebrate women and end the violence.

V-Day is a fierce, wild, unstoppable movement and community. Join us!

Performances in the Memorial Union Maintenance Shop:

Thursday, February 10th @ 5:30pm – Join us for a brief discussion after the show to learn how you can work to end violence throughout the year.

Friday, February 11th @ 6:00pm – We are proud to provide American Sign Language interpreters at this show!

Friday, February 11th @ 9:00pm

Tickets are on sale at the M-Shop.  Students pay $12 with an ISU i.d. and community members pay $15.  Chocolate vaginas will be available for purchase at all shows.  Visit us in the West Student Office Space booth on Monday, January 31; Tuesday, February 1; Thursday, February 10; and Friday, February 11 to purchase “I Respect Vaginas” t-shirts and chocolates.

All proceeds from the show go to benefit the Ames Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support (ACCESS).  Last year we were able to raise $5,000.  Help us surpass that this year!

Questions? Contact Liz Steinborn at the MSWC:

Humor Perpetuates Patriarchy

I try to find the time each day in my position as the Director of the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center to read (or at least scan) the Iowa State Daily, an independent student newspaper. Some days are easier than other to accomplish this goal. The expansion of the paper to the Internet has made reading the paper much easier for me and I appreciate the addition of videos, blogs, and photos included online. One recent read of the paper caused a bit of frustration and disappointment for me and I would like to share my thoughts for your consideration.

The front cover the January 18, 2011 edition of the Iowa State Daily included a brief report of a female who reported a general assault in Welch Crown Center apartments. A second story corrected a misprint from the January 12 edition of the paper. A sidebar was incorrectly titled “Who Can Give Consent” rather than, “Who Cannot Give Consent.” The article connected to this sidebar was great – the additional press the misprint has given to the Iowa State Daily and our campus is perhaps less than desirable. The third article on the front page of the January 18th edition I would like to mention is title “Center raises stalking awareness” by Carmen Leng. The coverage on the front page of this edition on issues impacting women’s lives was phenomenal. The opinion page included a great article titled “Men and women stand to gain from feminism.”  The rest of the edition included articles on different athletic teams, research findings on the global carbon budget, advertisements, classifieds, horoscopes and Jokes for the Day. This is where humor and patriarchy come together and where I want to stop reading the ISU Daily.

The two submissions in Jokes for the Day on January 18 both take negative stereotypes of women AND men and uses these in the storyline to tell a “joke.” I can’t really use the word “joke” as a label, to me they both perpetuate patriarchy, dehumanize women (and men), and contribute to the rape culture that we live in. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Wow, feminists just can’t take a joke” or “You really need to lighten up.” To this I say, I can’t lighten up and I can’t laugh at words that continue to create an environment where we need to publish articles that were on the front page of the same issue of the ISU Daily. I see no humor in assault, stalking, and failure to gain consent when initiating sex. I see no humor in perpetuating the myth that women talk nonsense and can’t drive. And how said that a thing labeled a “joke” highlights the discount between a husband and wife – drinking is the way he can be at home with her? This is funny?

This is a campus-based newspaper where students are learning and preparing themselves for their future lives, careers, and ways to contribute to society. In the space of 3 1/4 X 4 inches the ISU Daily reversed the contributions made on the front page. My questions for the staff at the ISU Daily:

  • Where are you getting your material to fill the spaces on the Games page?
  • As journalists in training, what newspapers do you hope to work for where this type of humor is valued?
  • As sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, girlfriends, boyfriends and perhaps future partners and parents of daughters and sons – how do these “jokes” make you feel about your sex or members of the opposite sex? How would you feel if your daughters and sons attended a university where this type of information was thought to have printable value?
  • Can you tell a joke without offending a specific group of people? This takes a bit of thought and intelligence to accomplish.

Humor used to perpetuate stereotypes hurts. Humor used to hurt has no place in the ISU Daily. I challenge the staff at the Daily to stretch their thinking and develop skills that will serve them in their future as journalists. Find ways to support a campus climate where all feel safe, supported, and welcome.

Written by Penny J. Rice, Ph.D., Director of the Margeret Sloss Women’s Center.

HF 45 Deappropriation Bill

Status of Bill: House Floor
Committee: Appropriations
Lead Democrat: Reps. Tyler Olson
Floor Manager: Rep. Nick Wagner
Research Analyst: Joe Romano 515-281-6971
HF 45 is a deappropriation and supplemental appropriation bill for FY 2011 and repeals a number of standing ap-propriations for FY 2012 and FY 2013. In total, the bill reduces state funding, from all sources, by $504 million. The bill is projected to reduce the FY 2011 general fund budget by $6.5 million and reduce funding from other funds by $43.4 million. The FY 2012 reduction is $171.7 million to the general fund and $57 million to other funds. The FY 2013 reduction is $175.9 million to the general fund and $50.4 million to other funds.
Some of the major programs being repealed are the voluntary preschool program, the grow Iowa values fund, smoking cessation programs, passenger rail, sustainable communities (which is the IJOBS disaster prevention grants), and the save our small business fund. The bill also imposes a $50 monthly fee on state employee health insurance premiums.
The bill makes a number of changes to Iowa’s budgeting laws. It creates a new Tax Relief Fund to receive one-time excess funds from the state reserve funds once they are full. The fiscal year 2012 estimate is $327.4 million. These funds are then to be used to provide tax relief as determined by the General Assembly. The bill also has the Revenue Estimating Conference establish a revenue estimate for FY 2013 at its February or March 2011 meeting.
The House will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, January 18 at 6:30pm in the House Chamber. The public can also submit their comments online at

Division I – Tax Relief Fund
This division creates a new Tax Relief Fund to receive one-time excess funds from the Economic Emergency Fund, once the state reserve funds are full. The LSA estimate for FY 2012 is $327.4 million that would flow into this fund. The fund is separate from the general fund and the balance of the fund is not considered part of the bal-ance of the general fund of the state. The fund is not subject to reversions and the funds are not to be transferred, used, obligated, appropriated, or otherwise encumbered except as provided. These funds are to be used to reduce taxes as determined by the General Assembly. The moneys in this fund may be used for cash flow purposes dur-ing a fiscal year, provided the moneys are returned to the fund by the end of the fiscal year. The fund is consid-ered a special account for determining the cash position of the state general fund for payment of state obligations. The interest earned by moneys in the fund remains in the fund. The fund is not to be included in the application of any formula, index, or other statutory triggering mechanism that would affect appropriations, payments, or tax-ation rates. The fund also cannot be considered by an arbitrator or in negotiations under Chapter 20.
HF 45
FY 2011 Budget
January 13, 2011
The bill establishes legislative intent for the General Assembly to enact appropriations from the tax relief fund as proposed by the Standing Committees on Ways and Means of the Senate and House of Representatives.
This division of the bill is effective upon enactment. The transfers from the Economic Emergency Fund to the Tax Relief Fund after the effective date are to adjust the state general expenditure limitation for FY 2012 is required to be adjusted accordingly.
Division II – Uniform Provisions
Group Health Insurance Premium Costs for State Employees – Requires the Executive and Judicial branches responsible for negotiating collective bargaining agreements to renegotiate provisions of the contract involving health insurance coverage to establish an employee premium for health insurance coverage at a minimum of $100 per month. If the contracts are renegotiated, the $100 minimum for health insurance premiums would also apply to all state employees not covered by a collective bargaining agreement. State Legislators and employees of the Legislative branch would also pay a minimum of $100 per month as determined by the Legislative Council be-ginning on the effective date, or March 1, 2011, whichever is earlier.
The bill also codifies language to mandate future collective bargaining agreements to require state employees to pay a minimum of $100 per month for group health insurance premiums. This provision includes noncontract employees as well. This provision is effective for collective bargaining agreements entered into on or after the effective date (which is upon enactment). This provision is estimated to save a maximum $124,800 from the gen-eral fund in FY 2011; $28.8 million in the general fund and $46.8 million in other funds in FY 2012; and $28.8 million in the general fund and $46.8 in other funds in FY 2013.
Office Supplies/Out of State Travel – Reduces expenditures for office supplies, outside services, equipment pur-chases, information technology, printing and binding, and marketing by 50% of the unencumbered appropriation. This provision does not apply to information technology expenditures previously approved for Iowa Public Tele-vision. The bill also prohibits out of state travel by department employees funded by the general fund, unless a waiver is approved by the Executive Council. The Appropriation Committees of the House and Senate are re-quired to recommend legislation directing the establishment of a statewide master marketing contract. This is es-timated to save $20.8 million in FY 2011 and $9.6 million in other funds through the 50% reduction specified.
The bill continues the exemption on out-of-state travel for the State Universities, but the limitation applies to the Board of Regents Office. The bill also requires the Department of Management to attribute the expenditure re-ductions proposed by this provision within 30 days of its enactment date and submit a report to the General As-sembly and the Legislative Services Agency itemizing the expenditure and appropriation reductions applied.
State Records Storage – State agencies that have state records stored in locations within flood plains are required to find storage space for the records that is not located in a flood plain, within six months of the effective date of this act.
Revenue Estimating Conference – Requires the REC to establish a revenue estimate for FY 2013 at its meeting in February or March of 2011. (This is intended to aid in the approval of a two-year budget, but the requisite budget law changes for a two-year budget process are not included.)
Unauthorized Aliens – Denies any state benefits to illegal aliens unless already covered by federal law.
Government Lobbyist – Amends the laws pertaining to lobbying activities by state agencies to include a prohibi-tion on the employment of a person through the use of public funds for lobbyist activities.
All of the provisions in Division II are effective upon enactment.
Division III – Administration and Regulation
Administration and Regulation Budget Subcommittee Directive – Directs the Administration and Regulation budget subcommittee to submit recommendations to the General Assembly’s committees on Appropriations on or
before April 4, 2011, proposed legislation concerning the elimination and selling of the pool of state-owned passenger vehicles located in Polk County and to outsource state vehicle leasing through a private entity. The bill also prohibits the purchase of new general use vehicles through the end of FY 2011.
Office Space – Requires the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) to locate state employees in the most cost efficient way possible but not pay penalties for early termination of leases.
Sale or Lease of the Iowa Communications Network – Requires the Iowa Telecommunications and Technology Commission to develop a Request for Proposal to sell or lease, or to lease capacity on the Iowa Communications Network to commence with the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011. The bill prohibits public funds from being used to secure the purchase of the network. The Commission must provide the General Assembly periodic status reports every three months beginning on October 1, 2011, regarding progress made toward selling or leasing the ICN. The bill also authorizes the lease of network capacity to users that otherwise are not authorized to use the network.
Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board – Reduces funding to the Ethics and Campaign Finance Disclo-sure board due to unfilled positions by $61,648 and one FTE. The bill also stops the $150,000 transfer that the Department of Management approved for the board in FY 2011 from the Cash Reserve Fund.
Information Technology – Reduces funding for DAS information technology purchases by 50% and requires the Executive Branch to combine information technology systems.
All of the provisions in Division III are effective upon enactment.
Division IV – Agriculture and Natural Resources
Land Purchase – Prohibits the Department of Natural Resources from purchasing more land. This does not in-clude donated property. The bill reduces the appropriation for the Iowa Resources Enhancement and Protection Fund (REAP) by $3.06 million for FY 2011. This provision is effective upon enactment.
Division V – Economic Development
Repeal – Eliminates the Generation Iowa Commission.
Repeal – Eliminates the Save our Small Business Program and reverts any unobligated and unencumbered mon-eys to the School Infrastructure Fund. Loans awarded from the Save our Small Business Fund prior to this bill will continue as to the terms of the loan agreements and be administered by the Department of Economic Devel-opment.
Corridor Coalition Membership – Prohibits the Department of Economic Development from renewing Iowa’s membership in the North America’s Super Corridor Coalition.
Great Places – Freezes spending on Iowa’s Great Places Program through the end of FY 2011.
All of the provisions of Division V are effective upon enactment.
Division VI – Education
DE Administration – Reduces funding for Department of Education general administration line-item by $59,000 due to the director position being unfilled.
Core Curriculum – Eliminates $1.8 million in funding for core curriculum leaving $75,556 and directs the House and Senate Education Committees to develop new standards for K-12 students.
State University Funding -Reduces the FY 2011 appropriations to the State universities a total of $10 million: University of Iowa $4.7 million, Iowa State University $3.7 million, and the University of Northern Iowa $1.7 million. These reductions would increase to $15 million in FY 2012 and FY 2013.
Regents and Community College Administrative Functions – Directs the Education Appropriations subcom-mittee to implement provisions to consolidate administrative functions of the State board of regents and its institu-tions and the community colleges for FY 2012.
State Library Acquisitions – Reduces acquisitions for the state library by 50% from the effective date of this act (which is upon enactment) through the end of the fiscal year.
Sabbaticals at State Universities – Freezes all Regents’ sabbaticals through the end of FY 2012.
Statewide Voluntary Preschool – Establishes intent language of the General Assembly to fill the needs ad-dressed by the statewide preschool program for four-year-old children that is repealed in this bill by expanding the preschool tuition assistance through the Early Childhood Iowa initiative.
Voluntary Preschool Repeal – Eliminates the policy and funding for the current preschool funding system. These provisions are effective July 1, 2011, and apply to budget years beginning on or after July 1, 2011. LSA estimat-ed a $69.9 million savings in FY 2012 and $75.1 million in FY 2013.
AEA Funding – Reduces funding to Area Education Agencies by $10 million in FY 2011.
All the provisions in Division VI are effective upon enactment, except those relating to the Statewide Voluntary Preschool program and funding repeal (which is effective July 1, 2011, and applies to budget years on or after July 1, 2011).
Division VII – Health and Human Services
Residency Restrictions – Requires the Department of Human Services to enforce residency restrictions for any public benefits.
Area Aging Agencies – Requires the Department on Aging to develop a plan to reduce the number of Area Agen-cies on Aging.
Juvenile Shelter Care – Directs the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee to develop a new system for reimbursement of juvenile shelter care providers and ending the funding of unused beds.
Health Care Coverage Commission – Reduces funding for the legislative health care coverage commission by $167,000.
Smoking Prevention – Reduces funding for tobacco use prevention by $2.4 million. The bill directs the Depart-ment of Public Health to cancel smoking cessation and prevention efforts including for the youth smoking preven-tion program (JEL) and the Quitline Iowa Initiative. The Health and Human Service budget subcommittee, in consultation with House and Senate Human Resources Committees, are to recommend legislation to revise youth programs. The bill directs the Department of Human Services to revise Medicaid eligibility provisions for smok-ing cessation medications with a requirement for a physician prescription, to replace the referral requirements from the Quitline Iowa Initiative.
Local Health Care Delivery – Reduction in funding of $105,000 to the health care delivery system at the local level.
Direct Care Worker Task Force – Reduction in funding of $60,000 to the direct care worker task force.
Healthy Aging – Reduction in funding of $300,000 for elderly wellness, allocating $82,380 of the reduction for public health nursing services and $217,620 for home care aid services.
Public Protection – Reduces funding for the Public Protection Program by $50,000, which eliminates the funding for the education, testing, and training for the certification of emergency medical providers.
Family Planning Waiver –Reduces eligibility for the state family planning waiver from 300% of the federal poverty level to 133%. The bill also excludes women who have health insurance, but do have coverage for bene-fits under the family planning network, and who are older than 45 years of age. Coverage of pregnancy protection services for men.
Juvenile Shelter Care Beds – Reduces funding for juvenile shelter care beds by $466,000.
All of the provisions in Division VII are effective upon enactment.
Division VIII – Infrastructure and Transportation
Living Roadways – Freezes spending from the Living Roadway Trust Fund from the effective date of this Act (which is upon enactment) through the end of the fiscal year.
Sustainable Communities (IJOBS Disaster Prevention Grants) – Eliminates the funding and repeals the policy for what the House Republicans are calling sustainable communities, which they say include heated sidewalks, although there was no funding for heated sidewalks in IJOBS. This is actually the $30 million from the IJOBS program created in 2010 as grants to cities and counties for disaster prevention infrastructure who use smart plan-ning principals. The IJOBS Board awarded these grants on September 15, 2010. All contracts will have been signed by January 7, 2011. The intent is to deappropriate this money because nothing has been drawn down yet, even though contracts have been signed (the grant agreements being signed have some contingency language re-garding funding and any change in funding (e.g. from deappropriation) in Articles 5 and 11). The cities and coun-ties with signed contracts include:
 AFTON – City of Afton Sewer Relining, Union County, $54,000
 CEDAR RAPIDS – Amphitheater Phase I Levee, Linn County, $1,075,000
 CEDAR RAPIDS – Cedar Rapids Fire Department Central Fire Station and West Side Fire Station, Linn County, $6,600,000
 CORALVILLE – Flood Mitigation on Biscuit Creek and Clear Creek in Coralville, Johnson County, $3,657,090
 DES MOINES – Central Place Levee Repair, Polk County, $2,100,000
 DUBUQUE – Lower Bee Branch Creek Restoration Project, Dubuque County, $3,965,500
 EDGEWOOD – Emergency Building/Storm Shelter Project, Delaware County, $300,000
 ELDORA – Hardin County Emergency Operations Center, Hardin County, $270,000
 FAIRFIELD – Water Works Pond Dam # 2, Jefferson County, $480,000
 FORT MADISON – Water Main and Booster Station Project, Lee County, $2,485,500
 HUDSON – Cedar Street, Black Hawk County, $288,000
 HUMBOLDT – City of Humboldt Fire and Rescue Station, Humboldt County, $453,441
 LE MARS – Plymouth County Tornado Safe Room, Plymouth County, $85,000
 LEWIS – Lewis Fire Station, Cass County, $280,950
 MUSCATINE – Relocation and construction of new fire station # 2, Muscatine County, $850,250
 OTTUMWA – Ottumwa Sewer Separation/Flood Mitigation Project Phase III, Wapello County, $800,000
 ROCKWELL CITY – Calhoun County Emergency Services Building, Calhoun County, $339,364
 SABULA – Sabula Levee Certification Project, Jackson Count y, $296,240
 SERGEANT BLUFF – Sergeant Bluff Stormwater Protection, Woodbury County, $1,076,500
 SIOUX CITY – Joint Field Services Facility, Woodbury County, $3,800,000
 STANTON – Viking Center Storm Shelter, Montgomery County, $625,100
 VOLGA – Volga River Dike, Clayton County, $16,065
 WOODBINE – Woodbine Fire Station, Harrison County, $102,000
The bill directs the joint appropriations subcommittee on transportation, infrastructure and capitals to develop on or before April 4, 2011, recommendations for implementation reduction to all identifiable appropriations enacted in the 2010 legislative session for sustainable community projects.
Des Moines Chamber Shuttle – Reduces funding for the shuttle service from downtown Des Moines to the Capi-tol by $75,000.

Honey Creek Asset Manager – Reduces funding for the Honey Creek resort manager by $73,800 (this provision does have a $100,000 signed contract with DNR – they did and RFP and signed a contract; the person is currently on contract and working).
Passenger Rail – Reduces funding going into the passenger rail service revolving fund by $2.7 million in FY 11 and eliminates funding for the passenger rail project in the out years and the intent for $20 million to match feder-al funds over the next four years.
All the provisions in Division VIII are effective upon enactment.
Division IX -Justice System
Court Appointed Attorney Fees (Indigent Cases) – Requires attorney fees in excess of those set by the state public defender’s office limits, for cases not considered unusually complicated, to be paid for by the Judicial Branch budget whether the excess amount was approved by the public defender or the court. Payment of these fees would essentially be a transfer of funds from the Judicial Branch budget to the Indigent Defense Fund and would result in no cost savings for the state.
Indigent Defense – Provides a supplemental appropriation of $16 million for indigent defense for FY 2011.
All of the provisions in Division IX take effect upon enactment.
Division X – Power Fund – Office of Energy Independence
Repeal – Repeals Chapter 469 that establishes the Power Fund, the Office of Energy Independence, and the com-munity grant program.
Transition – Directs the Department of Economic Development to assume the duties of the Office of Energy In-dependence, until otherwise determine by the General Assembly. Any moneys remaining in any account or fund under the control of the Office of Energy Independence and federal funds are to be transferred to a comparable fund or account under the control of the Department of Economic Development.
The Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee is directed to include provisions relating to the repeal and transfer the authority of the Office of Energy Independence to another state entity.
All of the provisions in Division X are effective upon enactment.
Division XI – Rebuild Iowa Office
Rebuild Iowa Office – Eliminates the Rebuild Iowa Office and shifts disaster-related responsibilities back to the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Reduces funding to the Rebuild Iowa Office $116,000 and transfers $50,000 of the remaining $531,014 to the Homeland Security and Emergency Manage-ment Division. The bill directs the Justice System Appropriations Subcommittee to identify the appropriate agen-cy to assume the duties of the Rebuild Iowa Office.
All of the provisions in Division XI are effective upon enactment.
Division XII – Values Fund

Grow Iowa Values Fund – Repeals the Grow Iowa Values Fund, transferring the funds remaining in the fund on the effective date of the bill (which is upon enactment) to the general fund and directs any loan repayments to the general fund. The bill makes a number of conforming changes with the repeal of the Grow Iowa Values Fund. It also establishes a number of new definitions for the High Quality Jobs program within the Department of Eco-nomic Development.

Repeals – The bill repeals the Economic Enterprise Areas, Renewable Fuel Assistance, and a provision relating to the Department of Natural Resources providing infrastructure assistance on environmentally contaminated sites in collaboration with the Department of Economic Development.
All provisions in this division amending 2010 Iowa Acts, Chapter 1184, are effective upon enactment.
Division XIII – County Mental Health and Disability Services
Supplemental for County Mental Health – Provides a one-time appropriation of $25 million from the general fund to the Department of Human Services for the County Mental Health Risk Pool. These funds are intended to eliminate the mental health waiting lists.
Adult Mental Health and Disability Service System Reform -Sunsets the current mental health services deliv-ery system on July 1, 2012. The bill directs the Human Resources, Appropriation, and Ways and Means Commit-tees to propose legislation to phase in the state take-over of the nonfederal share of the costs for Medicaid pro-gram services now borne by counties. The committees are also to provide property tax relief and equity by hav-ing the state assume a greater role in funding the adult mental health and disability services systems. Also, shift the balance of responsibilities for the services between the state and counties so that the state ensures greater uni-formity and there is sufficient size to develop effective services while maintaining the county role of bringing lo-cal resources together in unique ways that best meet the needs of clients, by implementing a new services system structure by July 1, 2012, when the repeals contained in this division take effect.
All of the provisions in Division XIII are effective upon enactment.
Division – Corrective Provisions
These changes are truly corrective provisions to legislation approved in 2010 where corrections or missed conforming changes are needed to the Code. The corrections are nonsubstantive Code Editor changes recommended by the Legislative Services Agency. The following changes are made:
 Clarifies that references to community empowerment areas are deemed to refer to early childhood Iowa areas.
 Unemployment Compensation date correction.
 Terrace Hill maintenance date correction.
 These provisions are effective upon enactment and apply retroactively to April 29, 2010.
Joseph Romano|G:\Caucus Staff\jromano\BUDGET\Approp 2011\HF 45_FY2011_Deappropriation Bill_OUT OF COMMITTEE.docx|January 13, 2011|1:49 PM

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