Friday, June 29, 2007

Male customer punches female drive-thru employee

From today's Post-Gazette, Dennis Roddy has some fun at the expense of a man who punched a woman because he wasn't happy with her "attitude" at a local Wendy's.
A Penn Hills man's beef with a drive-through clerk at Wendy's ended in a
sandwich and police promptly served assault charges for dessert.
"He wasn't
happy with the girl's attitude. Something with the fact that
she didn't say
please and thank you and wasn't pleasant in general," said
Penn Hills police
chief Howard Burton. That, according to police, is when
Duane L. Williams, 46,
added new dimensions to the concept of hitting on the
Because nothing makes for good copy like mocking an assault.

Here's my question. How old was this young woman working in the drive-thru? It says she wasn't seriously injured. Hello? Someone punched her at work. Maybe she doesn't have a black eye, but you don't just shake that off and serve up some more fries. I did note that Penn Hills Police Chief Howard Burton refers to her as a "girl" several times. Do you think he has a poker night with Nate Harper and George Trosky?

Nope, the story has nothing to do with the victim, the crime or even the assailant. The story is the stupid restaurant humor.

I guess when it comes to working at the drive-thru, she can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan. But she never better forget who is the man ...

Buttons? I'm down

Thought I'd do some homework and add to the button collection...

Button, Button, We've Got a Button!

Want to put a button on the sidebar of your blog like the one below?

Just copy and paste the following code on to your blog:

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Need something smaller?

Use this:

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

City Council Hearing Wrap Up

Whew! My fingers are sore ...three hours and nine posts later. But I technically scooped every MSM outlet except the channel that airs the meeting live. So "woo hoo" for me. As for accuracy ... eh, I did the best I could with horrible room dynamics, the Planned Parenthood folks breathing loudly behind me and a lack of familiarity with the speakers.

How did I think it went? It was interesting, especially with the "off the cuff" commenters there to inject both some passion and liveliness into the proceedings. The women's groups made some excellent points about changing/improving procedures. Most were careful when speaking about the Mayor, but it all came down to the fact that domestic violence is a complicated issue with the police department and one that warrants better scrutiny from Council, the Mayor, the "brass", the FOP and the community. I'm curious what the forward movement will entail.

Peduto gave me a copy of the Federal Consent Decree which put the Police Bureau under federal jurisdiction. There is very specific language around the establishment of an "early warning system" which is essentially a statistical database to identify and modify problematic behavior. This includes:

a description of all other civil claims or suits that the officer is a named
party to involving allegations of untruthfulness, physical force, racial bias,
or domestic violence

I'm still ferreting out more information on the relevance of the consent decree, but it is worthwhile to note that domestic violence is specifically ennumerated as a problematic area along with racial bias. That's not insignificant. You'll see more from Peduto on this, I'm sure.

I'm very impressed that so many people turned out for this hearing. That illustrates how strongly the issue resonates across the City.

Most people were very cordial. Lots of thanking going on. I skipped most of that on the blogging.

What's going to happen? I'm skeptical. The FOP are formidable and the Mayor is not strong on admitting mistakes. I'm curious for more information on the relevancy of the consent decree before new procedures are created. If the current laws aren't working, we need to figure out why rather than just layer new ones on top of them.

That's it for me. Look forward to your feedback.

Opening the Floor for Comments

Women Lawrenceville United representative. Defended Trosky b/c he wasn't found guilty. How can that be grounds for action? She says these men have done nothing but served this community and the city with impeccable records.

Another woman who mumbled her name. Children want to be protected. We want police to project image that we protect people. Police should be shining examples of integrity over brutishness. They must be Pittsburgh's finest.

Bill of Greenfield. There's not one bad cop in the whole bunch. Likes Chief Harper.

Beth Pittinger, CPRB. Distributed the police power and control wheel. Will help educate on why DV committed by police officers has escalated. We need commitment of Adminstration to adhere to the model. List of qualifiers and disqualifiers for police recommendations. There are no disqualifiers on the books right now (THAT'S AWFUL).

Celeste Taylor, Point Breeze resident. Important to understand history and relationship. Asking promotions be rescinded. Pgh has first ever federal consent decree leveled against it. There are reasons that happened.

PEDUTO speaks. Thanks Jeanne Clark for putting out the call about the fact that the Mayor would not respond on this issue. People in this room got the Mayor to respond. Brother is a retired military psychologist. Domestic violence is a major issue. There will be more incidents of DV in police force because of greater levels of stress. Nephew of a state trooper so has seen firsthand the effects policework has on the family. We need sound policies. Concerned that promotions should be based on qualifications. 103 people passed over for Trosky's promotion, including Lieutenant Dixon who is at the top of the list. The Administation changed the rules and its not good for morale. "I have trouble believing that Nate Harper and the police brass did not bring these issues up to the Mayor." The Mayor has an opportunity and a responisbility to address these issues and to let the public know in a public way how he will do so. There's been a clear path of trouble in the Public Safety department, starting with appointment of Dennis Regan. Going through change in promotion rules, changes in special details process and the demotion of Commander McNeilly. Now this. We were an example. In past ten months, the number of women in top positions has dropped from 43% to 33%. We don't need more rules, perhaps some updating necessary. We need to follow the existing rules.

He didn't call any of us ladies.

Chris Potter is sitting right behind me trying, I'm sure, to steal all of my excellent paragraphs and ideas.

Tonya Payne speaks: Need domestic violence sweep across all departments.

Interesting note: Bodack is the Chair of Public Safety Committee. That's reassuring.

Discussion on next steps on how to move forward. There's a plan to plan a plan. I certainly feel better.

Police Council Hearing

Kirk Rice, Identifies as the rooster in the room. Discussed General Patton's desire to keep marching into Russia and was stopped. The public safety department has been a "mess" since its inception. First public safety director was the most corrupt person he's met in his life. An officer was sent to federal prison for responding inappropriately to a domestic call at the McNeilly household.

Joanne Witkowski, National Council on Jewish Women (this is the woman I couldn't remember in my first post). As a survivor of childhood intimate violence, she calls on Council to maintain integrity of the police department. Police officers often to not utilize the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). We have to improve the resources. Emphasizes integrity.

Michele Cunko, concerned resident. Council had no role in the promotions, but it is an executive authority. Citizens have a responsibility to say what we do and do not want. We do not want police officers accepting brutal behavior or exhibiting it. We do not want supervisors put in positions to overlook bad behavior b/c they once got away with it. We wish Chief Harper had not made these promotions. These decisions were not in the best interest of the residents of the City. The Mayor needs to rethink appointments and to act. Mistakes have been made and we need to fix them.

PEDUTO speaks to the rules. What is the Mayor's role in the promotion of sargeants and lieutants? And what can we do to rescind them? Civil service rules for competitive roles. Chief gets to pick from the pool and can pass over anyone he chooses. Commander is noncompetitive. Damn. Mayor has no position with regard to competitive. The Mayor would have to pass a resolution to rescind the promotions. I think. This was spoken very low. Sorry, I missed some of it.

Louis Coles. Attorney. Has met all three police officers and worked with them. What seems to be missed here is charges were dropped, no charges were brought and other charges are pending. There is no basis for taking disciplinary action, but that's the fact. Zero tolerance isn't an answer, it is a political slogan. Individuals have the right to face their accusers. No reason to talk about rescinding promotions because these are fine men and good officers. If anything happens at your house, you would be happy to see any of them. The City would implement discipline if there were any reason. There isn't.

Billy Hileman, Lawrenceville resident and City school teacher. Thanked the women for their activism for keeping these issues in the public eye. These officers will be okay if the promotions aren't rescinded. The women's lives will not. 1 in 3 women face violence by an intimate partner. He has three sisters. Violence in families with police officers is 2-3 times greater than the general public. These three men will be okay. What's more important -- the seeming career injustice of these men or the lives of women facing domestic violence every moment of their lives. We need to set a policy where the safety of women are first and the careers of men are second.

Charles Hanlon, represents retired police officers. Police are profoundly impacted by working with women victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Three officers were promoted on just causes (huh?). Ravenstahl and Harper believe in these three men (huh?). All three are professional men. Recites professional successes of the three men. Uses word professional over and over again. These three men have just been accused, but not convicted. Called the women in the audience "Ladies" ARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHH.

While the women were cut off, the police representative was not. How's that for business for usual?

Here's More on hearing

Arrggghhh. I missed her name. I think it is Phyllis Wetherby. Recounted our civil history with regard to police hires, especially with regard to African-American and women applicants. Injunction dissolved and it has been all downhill from there. By 1998, Pittsburgh third in women officers and by 2007, slipped to 10th. Women are 30% of the officers, but 40% of those lost by attrition. Violence against women is not a minor infraction. It is a clear indicator of the attitude of the police officers toward the majority of their constituents.

Harry Liller. Stated that he warned everyone that electing Bob O'Connor would end up in more police corruption. Outlines his perception of the disgrace of Ravenstahl's corruption along with others. The media is corrupt. At age nine, he called the police when his father brutalized his mother. I get three minutes to tell the truth while the media and the politicians get decades to promote their version of the truth. Tony Norman is a fat racist punk. The media only cares about campaign monies, rather than the character of the politicians.

Stephanie Walsh, Center for Victims of Violence and Crime. Have a relationship with the police, professionally. Affirms those who uphold and respect their duties. Asks that the bar be set by them. Thousands of victims do not come forward. Even the perception that the police are abusers creates another barrier (EXCELLENT POINT). Asking Council to play a visible and viable role in assuring city residents that crime witnesses who come forward will be treated with respect and civility and connected with services.

Marlo Svidron, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape. Law enforcement plays a critical role in responding to the crime of rape. Rape survivors often develop a desire for justice, to hold perpetrator accountable for his crime. A well-trained police officer makes a difference in these situations. Imagine chilling effect recent promotions have on rape victims coming forward. In the best of circumstances, coming forward is still painful and uncomfortable. If violence against women even appears to be so unimportant to the police and the system, would women come forward? Requests promotions be rescinded and zero tolerance policy advocated.

Barbara Shore. Retired Professor of Social Work at Pitt. Regrets that we are here today. Beyond belief that we have to declare opposition to domestic violence at this late day. Research has taught us how to help victims and become survivors. Dignity is the destiny of all in a humane and decent society. Police are meant to be protectors of all. If not, we have an unjust society. Police who don't batter women and children are the ones we'd like to see promoted.

More on Council Meeting

It is 2:00 PM and people are still entering the Chamber. We are packed. Shirl Regan is just wrapping up and acknowledging the input of the community. I like that she has a multi-prong plan to put forth.

Karen Myers, Executive Women's Leadership Council (I think I caught that correctly). Issue is that government would grant promotions, especially when cases aren't all resolved. The police don't have to be on our doorstep to be protecting the public order. Ravenstahl has made promises, but it takes consistent and deliberate action over years to change an environment. Please don't be swayed by media relations and other persuasions.

Florence Gaskill. Retired PA Dept. of Public Welfare after 40 years. Worked with women who were poor and relying on public assistance because of domestic violence. She's hear to speak on their behalf because they are too afraid to speak for themselves. She describes the bruises and the verbal abuse she witnessed in her career. Abusers do have perfect career records (referencing the excuse of the police brass on these promotions). These women depend on the police to protect them, even to save their lives.

Yvonne Brown. Her son was killed on November 7, 2002. Claims that DA Zapalla prevented an inquest in her son's murder. Desires police review in more cases. Describes the abuse she endured and the police non-response. We are being beat and mocked by the police. Claims the City Council doesn't pay attention because they don't want to hear the truth. Decried the impact of police on young African-American men. (Very impassioned testimony.)

Laurel Rosenberg, National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section.
Twyla Sable, National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section. Primary goal is social action in the community. Work in Family Court. Silent witness program reaches out to victims. Want women to know where help is available. Called for one strike policy for police officers. Officers should be above suspicion. Council should pass ordinance that promotions require records that indicate no violence against any person. Send a message to people of Pittsburgh that there is zero tolerance.

Coming to order ...

Bill 1574 Petition requesting hearing regarding recent promotion of police officers

The entire Council is here, but Jeff Koch who is out of town. There are easily more than 100 people here and it is rather a diverse crowd in terms of gender, age, and race.

Jeanne Clark of Squirrel Hill NOW. We've come once again to educate about domestic violence. Recent decisions indicate that education is sorely needed. Decisions are outrageous. Reading of the law indicates promotions were not legally made. Statements of police brass with regard to the situation is dismaying and show fundamental failure to understand the criminal aspect of domestic violence. The FOP threatens to sue if promotions overturned. Domestic violence kills. Issue is how to turn it around and ensure this doesn't happen again. "Step up and turn down these promotions." "The issue is not going away and the FOP is not the only group who can sue."

Heather Arnet, Women & Girls Foundation. Encouraged that the city is considering a new model which outlines best practices in dealing with domestic violence charges against police officers. These will serve the whole community. People will be protected. Asks that women's organizations like WC&S be included. Cautioned that forward movement should not pit the labor movement against women's organizations, especially when women have played a huge history in the labor movement. Hope's that the Fraternal Order of Police will work in partnership with Mayor and women's agencies. Shared values - fair wages and keeping families safe. (Personal opinion --- awesome!)

Shirl Regan, Women's Center and Shelter. 3,000 victims in the City of Pittsburgh have come forward to seek help. Women need to know that the police care and are committed to providing safe services and protections for all citizens. Local law enforcement has made tremendous improvement, but there is need for more. Has met with Ravenstahl and Zapalla. Recommends
new DV policy, changes in how promotions are made, DA's office investigates all dv calls about police officers. Second, put the dv experts back into the police stations. Third, immediate in-service training for all city officers within 60 days. Fourth, city purchase digital cameras for all police cars to document the evidence when on a domestic call ($25,000 approximate cost). Fifth, give police access to online protocols for evidence collection around domestic violence. Sixth, the police department track the domestic assault cases from assault cases.

Almost curtain time ...

The woman sitting next to me and estimate there are at least 75-100 people at this hearing. I asked her opinion for objectivity sake. I just met Chris Potter in person. Zone 5 Commander Rashell Brackney ( I hope that is spelled correctly) just walked in as has Women and Girls Foundation Director and school board director-elect Heather Arnet. The LGBT's very own Billy Hileman is here and scheduled to testify. All the seats are occupied. I can see Councilwoman Darlene Harris and Councilman Bill Peduto. I'm sure there are other Councilpersons up there but I cannot see over the top of the heads in front of me.

I'm also getting warm. I will definitely deserve a frappucino after this.

It is 1:40 PM and I think they are getting started soon. A hush has fallen ...

It is 1:12 PM and things are heating up ...

There are well over three dozen women here. I counted heads so don't believe the MSM if they say otherwise. Some wizened looking white men came in, surveyed the women with a frown and turned tail out the door. Several people brought younger women with them -- awesome.

There are some men here, too. About five that seem to be part of the throng. No discernible media presence. Although, I'm pleased to say that when an attendee asked about media someone said "Sue Kerr is blogging in the back." I was walking past with my program. How cool is that?

I don't know most of these women. I need to get out more in women's issues circles. The list of speakers includes a few names you might recognize ... Heather Arnet, Jeanne Clark, Shirl Regan, Barbara Shore to name a few.

I wonder if anyone is live-reading this?

Breaching the Chamber

Well, I'm in. I did find an outlet in the very back so I can, hopefully, unobtrusively blog. Maria told me that Mark R. was unable to blog from one of the council meetings. That seems inherently unfair as there is a giant camera looming over my head and that good-looking guy from WTAE is hovering around outside reporting that the meeting is going to happen. Why would they deny bloggers access? We are the new media! :-)

A few folks from Womens Center & Shelter are here. And someone that knows me from the Run, Baby, Run list and whose name I have promptly forgotten to my regret. We did talk about the story in today's Post-Gazette in which two of the victims of these police officers are in denial about their situations, which does make one wonder about their safety, especially when a third party (and a policeman at that) confirmed some of the facts. I don't think the average reader understands the dynamics of domestic violence enough to contextualize those denials. Too bad the Post-Gazette missed the opportunity to provide that context.

Live Blogging from City Council

OK, so I'm here, albeit early, outside of Council Chambers in anticipation of today's hearing on the City's promotion of three police officers with domestic violence histories. Perhaps you read Maria's stunning posts here and here? Why so early? b/c I finished my last meeting and decided it would be more comfortable lounging here than sitting in my car or fighting the noonish crowds for coffee and/or food.

First a few thoughts on what it's like to sit outside of Council Chambers .... it is boring. People walk by occasionally, but I don't know who they are so that's not very interesting. Plus, those who seem staffer-like tend to keep their heads down while they look furtively at me through their eyelashes. At the office where I work, staff tend to acknowledge people sitting in the hall or waiting outside a Chamber ... just to make sure there service needs are being met. Whatever. I'm sure they are way more busy and important than me. A taxpayer. Sitting in the hall. Using personal time to come down to a political meeting.

I'm currently trying to calculate just how much of my tax dollars are being wasted when the elevators open to reveal no one inside. I can testify that it happens more often than not here on the 5th Floor. There seriously cannot be that many little children in this building pressing all the buttons before being dragged off by their parents. Someone concerned about the environment (Mr. Peduto?) should look into that. On the bright side, the recorded voice is pleasant.

So, a lot has happened with regard to this here police situation. True to form, Mayor Luke has used the opportunity to his own political advantage. He knows damn well he cannot reverse the promotions without royally angering the FOP so he grandstands about making changes in the promotion process. Ha! I suppose he thinks he can appease the women and then get back to his main agenda -- self-promotion. We'll see if he comes up with the monies to put domestic violence back on the table in the police force. I'm hoping someone from Persad attends to talk about the police and same-gender domestic violence concerns.

Well ... people are beginning to arrive. Hang tight to see if I can find an outlet and they let me blog in the Chamber.

Hey! That Candidate's Gay!

In this week’s issue of the City Paper, Chris Potter has an article on local GLBT progress . I found his discussion of Bruce Kraus’ Primary Election win disturbing.

Potter writes: “…many voters probably voted for a gay candidate without realizing it… Kraus' own campaign Web site made no mention of it, [his homosexuality] relying instead on safer biographical detail like the fact that Kraus' mother "has been a member of Unite Here! Local 57 for over 25 years."

Potter goes on to say, “I'll admit that such selective disclosure troubled me a bit, too.”

I’ve worked on numerous local campaigns, being in Pittsburgh and publicizing connections to a union are definitely an advantage, one that every candidate seeks & promotes as widely as possible. For Potter to categorize Kraus’ use of his mother’s union membership as a “safer biographical detail” is incorrect, it minimalizes the impact union affiliation has on local voters. Kraus advertised his mother’s union affiliation as any other savvy candidate would & should.

Too bad Kraus couldn’t claim that either he or his mom worked in a steel mill – that would’ve been perfect!

I don’t know why Potter feels the fact that Kraus didn’t somehow allude to the fact that he’s gay on his campaign website is troubling. The day when all candidates reference their sexual orientation on their campaign websites is the day I’ll call out Kraus for not doing the same.

And let me add that the incumbent, Koch, did his best to inform voters that Bruce is gay. The Sunday before the Primary Koch’s henchmen put fliers advising voters of Kraus’ sexual orientation on the windshields of Catholic Church attendees. I can only imagine that, during the previous months of the campaign, they engaged in similar activities.

Did Kraus win because he was gay? Did he win because voters didn’t know he was gay? Or did he win because voters were fed up with the incompetent incumbent’s inability to provide them with basic services? Maybe, just maybe, Kraus won because he convinced voters that he could do a better job of it than Koch.

GLBT Pittsburghers are the ones who really need to know that Kraus is gay and they do know that. Why is this important? Because, as Pittsburgh’s first openly gay elected official, Bruce is living proof of the viability of a gay candidate’s campaign. I believe and hope his experience will encourage more members of the GLBT community to seek elected office.

Monday, June 25, 2007

City Council Hearing This Thursday on Promoting Cops with Histories of Abuse

Crossposted at 2 Political Junkies:

By now, we hope that everyone has read something about the three Pittsburgh City Police Officers (Cmdr. George T. Trosky, Lt. Charles Rodriguez, Sgt. Eugene F. Hlavac) who have had had domestic abuse run-ins and who were promoted by Police Chief Nate Harper with the approval of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

Some good background on police family violence can be found here (h/t to Laurie in the comments section of The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society) and here (h/t to Agent Ska).

Concerned women and men in the City of Pittsburgh (h/t to Jeanne K. C. Clark, Council Pres. Doug Shields and everyone else who helped) have gathered signatures and have managed to secure a public meeting this Thursday with the Pittsburgh City Council:

People concerned with last week's promotion of three Pittsburgh police officers with histories of domestic abuse, either violent or verbal, will get to say their piece at a Pittsburgh City Council public hearing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in council chambers on the fifth floor of the City-County Building. Organizers turned in petitions demanding the hearings on Friday and didn't want to wait the weeks to a month that it often takes to get a special meeting of the city's nine legislators. Council President Doug Shields obliged, making sure that the issue will get an airing before the July 4 holiday.

Quotes like this one in The Trib from the office of our esteemed "hot, hip, young" Mayor can't help the situtation:

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who approved the promotions, could not be reached for comment. His spokeswoman, Joanna Doven, said the mayor would not discuss the promotions or their effects on women.

"He's not going to talk about that," Doven said.

[h/t to The Conversation.]

I urge all who care to attend.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

daughters and sons

I've been thinking a lot lately about why I treat my children differently. Of course, age is a factor. My son is two and a half years younger than my daughter, but I've come to the conclusion that that is not the only factor in determining how they're treated.

Often, I expect more of my daughter and I'm much harder on her than I am on my son. While this is a painful realization, it is one of utmost importance as I try to uncover the roots. Part of me believes that I'm subconsciously getting her ready for the struggles she'll endure as a woman, but does that struggle have to begin at home? I'm so bothered by this.

Do I actually believe that life is truly easier for attractive, Caucasian males? I almost snicker at my answer because, um, yeah, I do. Though it makes for a poor excuse to allow these mores of society that I detest to make their way into my microcosm. Clearly, it's not ok.

So, I stand at a crossroads moderately aware of my misgivings. I have to figure out how to offer equal treatment, while educating them about the realities to be faced. It seems as though it would be easy enough, but it requires thoughtful effort on my part. I have to look within to see just how much my beliefs have been shaped by my experiences in a patriarchal society and squash those that don't make rational sense. It's an ongoing thing. One that is made even more pressing as I raise my children.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hey, wait...That's me?

A new topic has sprung up on the Run, Baby, Run e-mail list serve. Here is the rundown of the issue.

Hi all,

I just have to write about this here to express my frustration - I think this goes a long way in discussing why women find it difficult to just LIVE OUR LIVES let alone actually get into the spotlight.

One of my best friends currently attends law school, and a few months ago, she found that a group of anonymous individuals had posted picture of her w/o her knowledge on an incriminating website.

Meanwhile, based on the photos, individuals made lewd, racist, and scary comments about her in another web site/forum called She had absolutely nothing to do with this web site, its founders, the chat room or the commenters. You can read more about the site (from another victim) here:

This was scary to me as she had to fight for many weeks (during an intense semester of law school!) to get these pictures, removed, and get these random men to stop Googling her and personally harassing her. Her real name, law school, year, and other personal information were revealed. What's equally scary is that the men who participated in these discussions were law students at top 10 law schools in the country. Honestly, if this is the best that America has to offer, I am mortified.

Thankfully - Anthony Ciolli, one of the Penn Law students who ran AutoAdmit, had his offer rescinded from the firm where he was to work as a result of his involvement with the site.

My fear: As more younger people and women run for office, do we risk having pictures or other information of ourselves from Friendster, MySpace and Flickr stolen and used for malicious purposes? Do women — particularly feminist women — who choose to provide visual images risk both sexualized objectification and ugly ridicule? Is every single woman with an online photo account a target for public flaming? Do we have to be prepared to fight for our individuality, privacy, and the respect of our own personal identifies? Why can't these men see that their actions are really, truly emotional draining ... I mean, why do people waste their time?

For example, here's a disturbing comment from one of the AutoAdmit posters:

As someone who runs a blog and has thousands of flickr pictures online, Jill must know it's inevitable that people will recognize her, especially within a community as small as a law school. She has introduced an informational asymmetry to her life. Many people she doesn't know will have impressions of her based on her online persona. If she wishes to avoid this, she can solve the problem by curtailing her web presence and hoping people have short memories.

So wait - women are the majority of users who get harassed on the Internet. These women are purposefully targeted by men. So it's women who should have to curtail participation in social networking and information sites, and essentially exclude ourselves from civic participation so we don't get harassed?

Excuse me?

As a commenter said, this is what society looks like when women are told that we (and only we) can prevent rape/assault/harassment and abuse by how we conduct our lives, and it is wrong. I think this is a large piece of what prevents women from getting into various sector of professional life - from academia to politics. There's this notion of 'If you can't take it, leave." To me, it's not even about "taking it" - it's about a fundamental respect that seems lacking in civil discourse.
I don't exactly have a resolution or final thought of this e-mail, but I suppose the message is ... highly personal, highly sexualized harassment is a threat to our safety and well-being. Posting your picture or a blog post on the Internet does not make it okay for someone to sexualize you.

Seriously, I've had these conversations with guys before and I feel like a frustrated, sad broken record. It's kind of shocking to hear about how this is "free speech" yada, yada. To the guys out there - when your friends, co-workers or colleagues say something hateful, misogynistic, or sexist is being said, please stop being part of the (silent) problem and start being part of the solution - please call them out and tell them it's not okay. Stop trying to be cool or ironic or playful or whatever. It's seriously not okay.

By the way, the contest web site was eventually shut down, but many of the discussions with my friend's personal information still exist in cyberspace.

Feel free to discuss (in a respectful way, of course.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

HIllaryland: A Posse of their own

The Washington Post ran a fascinating article about the league of women surrounding and running Hillary's campaign for President.

By Lois Romano
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 21, 2007; A01

The seasoned Hill aide knew what she was getting into when she agreed to become Hillary Clinton's chief of staff. The woman was quite prepared for all eyes to be on the biggest celebrity arriving in Congress, the first lady of the United States, who was expected to use her Senate seat as a springboard back into the White House.

But what caught Tamera Luzzatto unawares was the full force of the Hillary machine already in place and making decisions.

"All of a sudden, I had the equivalent of a board of trustees -- an infrastructure that was integral to how she did business," recalls Luzzatto, who continues as Clinton's top Senate aide. "They knew what made her tick, how she thought, how to present advice to her -- with everyone united in a determination to see her do well. It was certainly a new experience."

Fifteen years after Clinton first brought these women together at the White House, the "board" has officially reconvened to help map her unprecedented effort to follow in her husband's footsteps. They are acutely aware their work is making history. Once seen as a tight little sorority, today the group -- happily self-described as "Hillaryland"-- is at the center of a front-running presidential campaign. Never have so many women operated at such a high level in one campaign, working with a discipline and a loyalty and a legendary secrecy rarely seen at this level of American politics.

Older and tougher, they have formed a closely knit Praetorian Guard around Clinton that plots strategy, develops message and clamps down on leaks. But their extraordinary protectiveness also contributes to an ongoing perception of insularity around the candidate and the campaign.

Read more here.

The true face seen through many shown

What do you see in the mirror
A nice person you are not
Do you live in an alternative reality
Be respectful and honest you cannot

You have invaded my privacy
You read the letter from my dead love
You viewed my private pictures
My secrets to others you did speak of

Do you get off on gossip
Do you not have your own life
Is your life really that lonely
This is why you are not a wife

You think you do nothing wrong
No ownership in the problems you cause
Selfish and manipulative you are
You feel compelled to talk of others flaws

Lies and deceit are your tools
In your reality your lies are the truth
You care not who you hurt
Respecting others you are uncouth

You should try and grow up
And others no longer affront
Respect others ways & lives
And you won't be a lonely cunt

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Raise your hands if you agree ...

that women in the City of Pittsburgh surviving domestic violence should feel comforted by the decision to promote not one, not two, but three male officers who have had "domestic issues" according to the Post-Gazette.

Cmdr. George T. Trosky's travails over the years have been
well-documented. The homicide detective who was bumped up to commander was
arrested in 1997 for breaking his then-wife Cheryl's nose, but a simple assault
charge was later dropped after she did not appear in court.
Lt. Charles
Rodriguez, who was promoted from sergeant, faces a hearing next month before
Crafton District Judge Dennis R. Joyce on charges he assaulted his daughter.

And police were called to the home of Sgt. Eugene F. Hlavac, formerly
an officer, for an incident described by Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson as a
"nonviolent, oral domestic."

Right. Cause a domestic incident of the nonviolent, oral type is perfectly acceptable behavior for a police officer.

WTF? How the hell is any woman living in this fair City supposed to call the police knowing that the responding officer could, in fact, be an abuser himself? More specifically, how can any woman living in Zone 2 call 911 knowing that the person in charge of the entire Zone has a more than checkered past, including unresolved domestic violence charges? The fact that those in the know point to his wife being a noshow at the 1997 hearing indicates to moi that they have no clue about the dynamics of domestic violence -- an even scarier thought since they are the big kahunas. I shaudder to think of how police under his command will respond to domestic calls.

More than likely, they have a clue but just do whatever the hell they want anyway. After all, we gotta get more straight white men into positions of power and authority ...

This makes my blood boil.

theme music

i only have 1 thing to say today (o.k. maybe not, but so far...)

i do NOT care what song anyone chooses for their damn political campaign!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

a doctor's poem

she said anyone could reprint it and
I've posted it on my blog as well.

i think it shows what has been done to all of us
INCLUDING doctors and others that try their best to care
for us and themselves.

what do you think?

Quota by Dr. Katherine Ottaway

I feel despair
when I try
to think about the new schedule

Twenty four slots
Of 20 minutes
See three people
For 40 minutes
Twenty on the schedule
Pray for two no shows

Unanswered questions
Wake me Sunday morning
If I am called to a labor patient
Must I make up that clinic face time?
What of holidays?
The clinic is closed.
Night call is nowhere addressed
Will they hire more and more
Who don't take call
Until I am the last woman standing
Red rimmed eyes staring
Numb with fatigue

What of my nearly deaf patient
Who reads lips
May we take forty minutes?
All the fairly deaf elderly?
New parents, anxious
Questions pour out like
Coins from a jackpot win
What of the tearful brokenhearted
And anxious?
I shrink at the thought
Of crushing their hearts
Into twenty minutes

And what if I am sick?
(no paid leave)
If I cancel clinic
For illness
Do I make up those days
A quota of patient face days

I am in the factory
The mines
People are the shirts I must sew
The tons of coal I must load
I must meet a quota

Doctors die younger
Our life is measured out
In patients

I won't let the quota
Kill my love

Katherine Ottaway

Monday, June 18, 2007

Here's a few reasons why we need this Society ...

Excerpted comments from The Burgh Blog's Rant about the Fire in Larimer ...

PittGirl:"Who’s responsible? I am not responsible. You are not responsible. The rich are not responsible. The City of Pittsburgh is not responsible. Responsibility rests squarely with the two young mothers who kissed their kids goodnight for the last time and walked out of the house, closing the door behind them."

The following are from comments:

"The real problem in this society is that we don’t hold people
accountable for their actions. We try to place the blame elsewhere. Not this
time. It is perfectly clear who responsible."

"Um, hi, I’m 25 years old, like those two ‘mothers’, and I’ve made a very conscious choice to be careful not to get knocked up even once, let alone 4 times (with different men, natch), and produce 4 babies that I can’t take care of. I make my choices, you make yours, how dare you blame anyone other than those mothers? Seriously, if you can’t handle birth control, then STOP HAVING SEX. "

"First of all, if the mother’s hadn’t MADE THE CHOICE to get pregnant with all these children they could have been better able to support themselves and maybe the first child they had (because, big or little, we all make mistakes). Secondly, the mothers MADE THE CHIOCE to leave their children alone. Pittsburgh didn’t make them and the rich didn’t make them. "

" probation for these women. They need to be locked away for murder. No death penalty for them. They need solitary confinement and the only thing that they should have is a picture of the children on the wall to remind them why they will be in prison for the rest of their lives. These children are at peace now and away from the terrible life that had been subjected to."

"if it’s proven to be the mother’s fault, they should be subjected to the same horror that those children had to endure. Burn ‘em at the stake. We start doing “eye-for-an-eye” punishments, maybe people will stop and think before they continue to do stupid things."

"You lost them because two irresponsible brain dead women decided it was better to party than take reasonable care of their offspring. When will you sacrifice them to God???? When those mothers go to church instead of a bar."

"I say take the remaining kids away and show no mercy to those “moms”.

I'm not even sure where to begin. There's so much hatred and loathing poured out in these comments, it is frightening. They seem to hate these two mothers, but have even more hatred for a community that is struggling to reconcile itself to a tragedy. But just one tragedy among many ... children having children being one of the first.

introducing, me.

hi, I've been asked to join these bright and talented women and i accepted, tho i am not sure exactly how interesting you may find me. my name is sherry. I'm a 50ish, oh hell, I'm 55 years old. i earned every one of those years and i celebrate 'em. i am a mom and a grand mom and tho i am straight i believe very very strongly that everyone is equal and everyone has the same rights. that means everyone. THAT belief gets some people really po'd at me but hey. I'm old, I've seen a lot and nothing I've seen or experienced in the 55 years i've been breathing has ever changed my mind or my heart on that matter!
that i suppose, makes me a (gasp!)liberal. get out the torches and pitchforks folks were multipl'n like flies here!

i am also a poet. THAT right there gets me odder looks than being a liberal does.
i was going to start a purely literary blog and then i thought why not let people see how poems come about. my political leanings and my personal beliefs are a large part and so those subjects, among others just sort of found their way into the blog.
plus, i started reading political blogs and skipped around, finding new ones on the recommendations of the ones that i began to read every day. the poetry group that I've been a part of for years now,and recently became a list administrator for (they really are a brave bunch as i am fairly clueless technically, tho mostly i do other things for them that don't involve screwing up computers)
anyway, they are from all over the world, all different ages, races, genders, religions or non and orientations, political views, you name it we are a mix of everything. that just made me more aware of global issues.
and then, there was that little conflict called Vietnam. yep, graduated high school at 17 in 1969 so i needn't say more. you can guess.
so i decided to become an old cranky lady and sign petitions and make calls and pester my friends and generally become a pain in the ass ( but in a nice way)
i started commenting on maria's blog and things just went from there.
hope i can add something worthwhile or at least, give a smile or make you shake your head now and then.
going to end now. as you can tell, i can ramble with the best of em.

thanks, sherry

PrideFest 2007: One Woman's Perspective

Over the weekend, I posted some of my impressions of PrideFest 2007. Overall, I thought it was a nice enough event, but other than Luke Ravenstahl claiming to be one with the local homosexual community .... nothing too out of the ordinary happened. Then commenter Nat asked us to share our thoughts in this venue.

So, I gave it some more thought. The organizers brought in nationally known comedian Poppy Champlin. She was funny enough. We laughed, we giggled, we rolled our eyes knowingly. Best of all, she was all about the lesbians. And that was a refreshing change. She performed the evening before at a lesbian dance, but we were unable to attend. I still wish the entertainment committee had tapped into local performers like Colelea and Vanessa German, but Poppy was certainly a step toward expanding the appeal of PrideFest. And I appreciate that step.

The parade was fun, as usual, but gave evidence as to why I was not a fan of the Pride in the Streets event and didn't attend. Their float was the last one in the parade and featured Bruce Villanche surrounded by scads of young, half-dressed men. One approached me and offered me a lollipop sticking out from his underwear, which was his entire costume. Nice.

My point is that there were no women on that float because women were an afterthought for the event. The perception is that men spend their monies at the bars, so they are the ones to attract. A lot of women seemed to have attended, so maybe I missed something. But I also noticed that there is currently only one woman on the board of directors for the Gay & Lesbian Community Center. There are no women bar owners. To my knowledge, there has never been a female PrideFest coordinator (certainly, many women have served on the committee).

One poster at indicated that she and her partner are going to join the Pride In the Streets committee to speak up about women's issues next year. That's great. And I hope Persad continues to host a women's event.

But creating our own spaces within the LGBTQ community is not the only answer. There has to be room at the main table for us, there has to be a willingness to share power and to em-power those who don't look like the guys currently holding the reins.

Some of the responsibility is on us. When the Allegheny County Democratic Committee held an LGBT forum in May, the community was represented by mostly older, white, gay men. A few of us lesbians showed up. Only two of us were under 40. Where the heck were ya? The powers that be are going to continue to define us by those who show up. They don't pay attention to the crowd at PrideFest (very diverse). They pay attention to the stage which was all white, mostly people of maturity, male and bearing all the privileges that come along with those things.

I enjoyed PrideFest, but I am acutely conscious of how much room there is for growth. I hope the committee will find new and creative ways to reach out to the entire community and start a dialogue. I hope those who move on the fringes will respond.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Podcast about gender awareness @ the 2007 Rails Conference

Devchix, one of the most respected blogs written by women in software and open-source development, talk about why it is important to get more women involved in the community and conferences on a Ruby on Rails podcast. Here.

It's a podcast but you can just listen to it online, too. The conversation is interesting, covering topics such as:

-Why should anyone care if there aren't many women in the computer community?

-Why is a collective voice important?

-Their experiences as women in technology in their workplace, conferences, and the technology community at large.

-Are women's only groups discriminatory? How do you balance between creating a safe space for women while also incorporating men who are supportive of women in technology?

You can contact for more info.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

It's ALL Happening This Weekend!


Today, Saturday, June 16th is Pittsburgh's LGBT Pride Awareness March. It kicks off at Noon sharp at 5th and Ross.

Come out and show your pride in yourself or in your LGBT friends and family members!

You can find out about all of tomorrow's PrideFest activities at the PrideFest United for Equality website HERE.

Three Rivers Arts Festival

This is the last weekend of the two week+ downtown arts festival.
12 - 11 PM on Saturday & 12 - 8 PM on Sunday
Find out about all of this weekend's events HERE.


Prefer your art on the grassroots, nontraditional side? Then check out FLUX!
Saturday, June 16, 2007 , 8 PM to 1 AM, 610 Smithfield Street (above Brooks Brothers entrance located at the corner of Smithfield Street & 6th Avenue)
More info at their website HERE.

Friday, June 15, 2007

New Header

An Art Nouveau-ish top to go along with the (ironic) old fashioned name.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

China Martens

China Martens, author of The Future Generation, recently did a book signing at Joseph-Beth at the Works.

Martens is a very tall, excited, self-proclaimed punk and part of the Radical Writer Mamas tour. Her stories focus on the birth and life of her (currently) teenage daughter, and the trials of being a "radical" single mom and simultaneously disappointing her little one. A lot of her audience consisted of blue-haired mamas and their infants, as well as grungy men with messenger bags. It was quite a refreshing gathering.

One of my favorite stories she told described how her daughter finally came to terms with her mother and got "Made in China" tattooed on her lower back. Martens was understandably thrilled.

Her book is a compilation of editions of her personal zine, which, although they still thrive, struck me as the blogs of yesterday. She met her best friends through the things, used them as an artistic and informative outlet, and was able to self-publish.

China Martens

The Need To Wash One's Eyes Out With Bleach

My most favorite dahntahn attorney, Tim Murray (you know him from "The Blog That Needs Not Be Named"), asked me whose face I superimposed on David on a post at my satire blog I titled, "PPG FORCES ARTS FESTIVAL TO PULL OFFENSIVE NUDE ARTWORK FROM ITS FORUM."

Admittedly, it is a little difficult to discern. But be it known here that it is the rugged, heat-wizened face of the infamous "Hunky Steelworker." (I call this my "Hunky David." And see, I can say that -- because even though I'm half French, I'm also half Carpatho-Russian/Lemko. So there.)

As you may or may not recall, "Hunky Steelworker" was the ethnically-incorrect statue that caused a lot of hullabaloo at the Three Rivers Arts Festival a few years ago. This was my satirization America's problem -- and specifically Pittsburgh's -- with artful nudity.

Mary Thomas' article in the P-G talks (or reads, more aptly) about how PPG pulled the plug on a piece of installation art called, "The need to wash the self with milk and honey" by Carolina Loyola-Garcia which shows FULL FRONTAL FEMALE NUDITY (please, take a moment to gasp at this insane concept). The corporation thought the piece was inappropriate for its building.

Thomas observes, astutely:

It's also curious that last year's Society of Sculptors Wintergarden exhibition, "Projects 2006," raised no eyebrows although it included a video installation, "ALAMAR" by Patricia Villalobos Echeverria, that showed a nude woman immersed in ocean waves. And, presumably, male nudity is OK, since Paul Bowden's sculpture "Red Alert" remains in this year's show.

Since the piece is "off" now, you won't have the opportunity to explain it to your kids, at your discretion. Or even to turn their heads, if you must -- just like you did when you passed Minnie the Arts Festival Whore looking to make some extra cash while she bides her time waiting for the North Shore casino biz to open.

Imagine -- seeing the female body as an art form instead of as a dirty, cheap piece of trash -- the way your kids usually see it on M-TV or that "wrestling show," whatever that is.

Thank goodness we have the corporate censors (call it what you will, but that's what it is) to protect our young ones from the obscenities of the naked, female body.

But who will protect them from the obscenities of male-dominated corporate culture? Hey Minnie -- where are ya when we need ya!?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tribune Review on Belmont "Girl Power"

This is the second time in two months I've chided the Trib for using childish "girl" phrases to describe the actions of adult women. While it may be cute to use "girl power" or "girl's night out" on a flyer or blog, it is decidedly demeaning and ridiculous for a newspaper to do so.

The most recent offense stems from John Grupp's coverage of the Belmont Stakes, including his informal poll results that more women than ever attended the event. Apparently, the high levels of estrogen paved the way for the victory of filly Rags to Riches. Gloria wrote a lovely post about her victory. Grupp's coverage isn't so lovely at all.

He quotes a woman who noticed more women present because she was paying attention to fashion. A trio of women from Philadelphia warrant a mention because they were betting on a hometown horse.

You know who doesn't warrant a mention? Women who own horses. Women who groom horses. Women who run stables. Women jockeys. Women who have anything to do with horses or horse racing beyond placing cute bets and wearing fancy hats.

Said Ryan Decker of Garden City, N.J., "We're really rooting for the filly. If
she wins, it's girl power after this race."

I couldn't have said it better myself, Ryan.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Welcome Rachel, Gloria and Jess

Hello to our three newest Society members, Gloria, Rachel and Jess. Looking forward to your contributions.

If you are a woman waiting in the wings, please email and join us on the stage. Even if you post semi-frequently, you are very welcome. It won't be the same without your voice.

I just cracked open the latest edition of Bitch and my mind is spinning with all the greatness within its pages. Bitch, Ms and Bust are my must reads. Usually, it is information overload. But in a good "power to the sisters" kind of way. I tend to read the magazines in chunks lest I get overexcited and do something totally manic in a feminist frenzy. Like start a blog. :-)

Point of interest - I rarely visit the websites of these magazines. While there's some cool content, it pales in comparison to the feel of the pages and smell of magazine print. Very evocative of the days when I first discovered feminism. It was all heady stuff.

Fortunately, there is plenty of room for feminist magazines and women's blogs. Alleluia!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A memorable beauty

Every time I'm faced with the topic of feminine beauty, I'm reminded of a class I took at Slippery Rock University. I've since transferred to Chatham, which was ultimately a completely refreshing decision regarding self-worth, but there remain a few benefits regarding the larger university.

After discussing the subject of beauty ideals, the professor (who remains a favorite, and, of course, was only kept under contract for a year and left when I had), looked to the men in the class. They were all riled up after discussing big breasts and tight waists, models and bikinis, Jessica Simpson and other mutants.

My professor laughed along with them, almost cynically, and then his stare intensified. He looked at the class, hard, and stated, "Beauty? That's how we define beauty? What ever happened to the image of a pregnant woman?" They were all silent then, and I think I saw two or three of the boys mature before my eyes.

But really, when did we move from the beauty of producing life, and especially, to simply having the incredible female form, in any form, as opposed to constantly finding ways to adjust it?

Maybe I just have a fetish, but I look at some renaissance art, some Victorian replications of ladies covered in robes and sporting flowing and frizzy hair, some modest photographs of women in dresses buttoned up to their chins, and I see a beautiful modesty that I'm dying to emulate.

Speaking of standards of beauty...

I saw this video over at Shakesville. It morphs "500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art."

In the comments section at Litbrit's post, some found the video awe inspiring and others found it creepy -- especially that for the first couple of centuries, it seemed like the women all had the same face (the noses seem to be identical through the entire video).

Now there does seem to be a universal female beauty ideal and it does correspond to what is in essence a baby-like face: large eyes, small nose and chin, pouty mouth. Similarly there's also an ideal female body type. It mostly has to do with proportion of hips to waist: Twiggy and Marilyn Monroe -- while very different in weight -- both had the same hip to waist ratio.

Now I could get all scientific on your ass and quote all kinds of theories on beauty: how babies are all kind of cute because people are more likely to love /like cute things (and therefore more likely to care for them); or that a smaller chin on a woman indicates a higher level of estrogen; that the waist to hips ratio may also tie into signals that the woman is better built to bear children; how both people and butterflies have a marked preference for symmetry when choosing a partner and how symmetry may be an indication of good health; etc., but that's just how my mind works when I view a video like this.

What do you think of it?

BBW and All That

Today, the lovely Ledcat and I were headed for Kennywood. As I rushed around fretting about which tee shirt to wear, she shook her head and told me that I needed to shake out a little more of the straight woman in me and chill about clothing.

The straight woman comment aside, she's probably right. I spend waaaay to much time obsessing about how I look in what I wear. I am not a clotheshorse or fashionista by any stretch of the imagination. I simply buy tons of clothes hoping I'll magically find just the right outfit to make me look beautiful. My closets overflow so this year, I agreed to thin the herd when I changed out winter/summer stuff. I sent 7 bags to Goodwill.

I admit that I wear fat chick clothing ... long loose button down shirts over tank tops and tee shirts, pants with elastic discreetly tucked under belt loops and really large tee shirts. But no matter what I wear, I obsess that I look fat and unattractive.

Well, the truth is, I am fat. I gained 60 lbs when I took Prozac back in the early 90's (more on that some other time) and it has never come off. I am far more healthy psychologically speaking than I was at 21 and 130 lbs so it is a trade I wouldn't reverse. But the lesson just about everyone has driven into my head over the past 15 years is that fat = unattractive. I've heard it all ... you have such a pretty face, you would feel better, you could buy nicer clothing, I don't date fat chicks, blah, blah, fucking blah.

No one has ever asked why I went from a size 10 to a size 18. No one. It is not like I went on an all-butter cream diet for two years. I can only assume they jumped to conclusions or that they don't care. The reason doesn't matter; the outcome is all they see and all they assign value to.

And this morning, I could clearly see that I had lost sight of the why as well, focusing only on that oft-repeated message that fat = unattractive, unvalued, unwanted and unlovable. So against my impulse, I walked out of the house in the first tee shirt I grabbed from the closet.

Tomorrow? We'll see.


I get inspiration from wherever it rears its lovely head. And I'm inspired by Rags to Riches, the filly that just won the Belmont. The last time a filly won was 102 years ago.

I'm also intrigued, why don't more fillies win? Knowing nothing about horse racing, I ask is it that fillies are generally slower? Is it that the (mostly), male owners don't think fillies can go the distance?

Thanks for inviting me to blog here, I promise to focus on issues of interest to Pittsburgh women. It's just that, when females of any species win, I like to send a little shout out.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

An information-support-network is what it is!

I've been mulling over my first post on here- why have a separate blog just for women? My answer has evolved in a rather round-about way.

Earlier this year I read Jason Kottke's blog post about the lack of gender diversity at tech conferences. There were different percentages, but by doing a quick scan, it seemed that the average amount of women speakers at tech conferences came out close to 17%.

Intrigued and disgruntled (although not very surprised), I went in search of more information.

According to Computer World in 2005:

"Only about 2% of the thousands of developers working on open-source software projects are women, a number that women already involved in the open-source movement want to see increased. That issue was the topic of a panel discussion here on Friday, the last day of the seventh annual O'Reilly Open Source Convention, as the panel discussed ways to reverse that pattern. The 2% figure was gleaned from several university and private studies, according to panel members, and is much smaller than in the proprietary software industry, where some 25% of all developers are women.

Then, I decided to explore the realm of "women's tech groups" on the internet when I came across groups such as (they also have a wiki group), Fedora Women, and others that you can find at the bottom of the Fedora Women wiki page. I quickly began to sign up for every list-serve that I could find- there were not as many as one might hope- but there were some.

The list-serves for the Linuxchix group are great (there are a couple of different list-serves for different purposes). By the second day, I had not only found out a lot of really interesting information but the conversations taking place within the list-serve were interesting, as well. One such example was finding out about an unConference taking place in San Francisco called Supernova 2007.

Thus, my conclusion evolved: a women's blogging group can allow for an aggregation of information that can create an 'information-support-network' (think of it as its own women's tag, if you will). It's not that I need emotional support- I can yell at my computer for that- what I need is practical, efficient, and applicable information as quickly as possible. Obviously, this doesn't just have to be tech information- it can be anything that provides knowledge or better understanding. Perhaps that's something that we can provide- better understanding of issues that might otherwise go unseen or unnoticed until brought to the light of a monitor. When I started talking to people about the 17% figure, they were shocked. The knowledge had passed on and suddenly it was not just my viewpoint alone- other people could see something that I see almost everyday. This dissemination of information had created a small information-support-network that now included both men and women.

-Agent Ska-

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Society Gets Some Cyber Shout Outs

Wow ... only one day under our belt and word is spreading, thanks to our intrepid bloggers. Check aht what the ladies (and a few men) have been saying ..

From Metroblogging Pittsburgh, Lindsay sends out this praise:

3 of Pittsburgh's top and in my opinion best bloggers have formed a new blogging project - The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society. I think the idea for the PWBS came out of a discussion on the RunBabyRun list serve, but these women rock.

I have always wanted to be a woman who rocked. I use that phrase all the time, but it really makes me smile to have someone use it about moi! Especially someone as cool as Lindsay whom we hope will soon join our ranks.

Our very own Ehrrin gave us some love ...
It sounds like a pretty great concept--all women blogger in the 'Burgh blogging
about things that are important to women.

Amen, sister. Glad to have you aboard.

Over at 2 Political Junkies, our good friend David offers his well wishes.

And we have already been added to the Pittsblog blogroll ...

Not too shabby, ladies, not too shabby at all.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Fewer Rapes in Pittsburgh? Ha.

The Trib and the PG report on Pittsburgh's crime stats for the past year, issued by the DOJ just yesterday. Overall, crime has increased (2.6%). The good news is that 15 fewer rapes were reported in 2006.

Reported. No one reading this list is naive enough to think that 15 fewer rapes occured. According to RAINN (Rape Abuse & Incest National Network), over 59% of rapes remain unreported. I've seen stats as high as 75%.

We all know too many women who don't report. Sigh. I can't even write more.

women + blogging = i like it!

Okay. So, here's my first post here on this Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society. I read an email from Sue (aka PghLesbian) that was casting the net for lady bloggers. I'm just getting into this blog thing. Check out my health/foodie blog here. And, I really like the idea of having a group of local women blogging about things that are important to local women. It just makes sense. So, thanks for inviting me gals. I'm looking forward to it!

A little about lil' ol' me. I'm 34, a lesbian, originally from southern WV but in Pittsburgh for 9 1/2 years, into cooking, nutrition, books, music, games (and clubs for any/all of my interests), feminism, the internets, reproductive choice, kicking ass and taking names, good times, being marginally crafty, making spreadsheets, having a firm plan, travel and long walks on the beach. I have a queer events mailing list for women (google group), and if you wanna be on it, email me. Also, I host a monthly queer lady dinner called "Queers: They're What's For Dinner!". The next one's on June 25th. Want in? Again, email me. It will feel good. Everyone's doing it.

I'll be back soon with a post about something other than myself.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Hit Restart?

After sending out the "official" announcement of this blog, I reread some of our initial what the heck are we doing posts and wondered what sort of impression they might make. Would it be best to start fresh with the announcement? But then I realized that it is precisely that sort of struggling dialogue that we want to explore and cultivate in this forum. This isn't about the finished product on women's blogs. Rather, it's about blogging itself as process, conversation, and art, as well as the unique perspective that women bring to the medium.

At this point, we are casting the net wide to see what we can capture (or, really, set free). The rules are fairly straightforward. Bloggers must identify as women, be active in blogging or related activities and make their true identies known to the blog mistresses. Topics can vary. Positions can vary. The tone should always be respectful.

Men are welcome to comment.

Let's see what we can create together and take it from there ...

Sunday, June 3, 2007

She Gives Birth ....

A secret agent, a lesbian and a political junkie walked into a cyber-coffeehouse. A few keystrokes later, the Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society was born. The Society is open to all women bloggers in the Pittsburgh region. To participate, you must have a virtual footprint be it a blog, email-list or dynamic website. Your gender identity must be female. Your identity must be known to the blog owners, but can be kept private on the blog. Men are welcome to read and comment. We'll appreciate your support and engagement.Visit us at to check us aht.

For more information,remove the spaces and email us at pghwomen @