Chicago Foundation for Women's Weekly eUpdate

The week of Aug. 14-20, 2007

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"Peace will be lasting only if it is built on two solid pillars: social justice and democracy."
-Shirin Ebadi, 22nd Annual Luncheon speaker
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“Violence is a choice. We demand nonviolent solutions to our common problems.”
Want to hear words like these more often? You can at our 22nd Annual Luncheon on Sept. 11. Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Shirin Ebadi, quoted above, will speak on women's rights as human rights. Buy your table or tickets today. Buy your table or tickets today.

HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER CATHERINE AUBRECHT stands by students who want a gay-straight alliance at Hononegah High School near Rockford, Ill. to create a safe and supportive space for gay students, many of whom suffer harassment and bullying. But many local parents and community members fear the club “promotes a homosexual lifestyle.” In 2005, this same body denied students' request for a month-long celebration of the achievements and contributions of gay people. But Aubrecht sets herself apart by supporting the alliance's creation and supporting the brave students who stand up for their beliefs and speak at the open school board meetings. Read her letter to the editor giving the students kudos.

DONNA LOPIANO resigned this week as chief executive of the Women's Sports Foundation, one of the foremost advocacy groups for women in athletics and Title IX. She led the group for 15 years. “I want my next challenge to be the product of everything I have learned,” she said. Billie Jean King, founder of the Women's Sports Foundation, praised her as “a driving force and a tireless supporter of gender equity issues.” The foundation runs the GoGirlGo program, and Chicago Foundation for Women administers Chicago-area grants for this successful self-esteem and physical fitness program. Thanks to Lopiano for her years of showing what Title IX could really do.

JOIN THE WOMEN'S TEAM. We have two new employment opportunities: Special Events and Annual Giving Manager and Executive Assistant to the Directors. Read the full job descriptions and learn more about all our employment opportunities on our website.

Airman Cassandra Hernandez says she was raped by three other airmen while stationed at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina-but she is the one now facing charges. This story is still unfolding, but here are the details so far: Hernandez decided not to testify after a defense attorney grilled her days prior to the trial. The Air Force then dropped the case, they say due to factual inconsistencies. Then, all four airmen were charged with indecent acts. Hernandez balked at her charge and chose trial by special court-martial, says the Navy Times, where her attackers (who confessed to indecent acts) will testify against her with immunity-nothing they say can be used against them in future rape charges. Hernandez, however, faces dishonorable discharge and jail time, maybe even sex offender registration. Hernandez has come forward, she says, because, “The last thing a rape victim needs to worry about when he or she decides to report something is...what's going to happen to me.” “I did everything I was told to do in that situation, and the system failed me,” she says. Stay tuned: Her court-martial is set for Sept. 24. 

Cook County's Stroger Hospital is cutting back its mammogram services for women in poverty while it catches up with “backlogs of thousands of unread screening and diagnostic mammograms,” according to Carol Marin's column in Sunday's Chicago Sun-Times. Marin found out how many hoops low-income women must jump through in order to get referrals for mammograms at other area hospitals. This “hole in the safety net,” as Marin says, is a real problem, and it's true: In Illinois, 1,740 women are expected to die of breast cancer this year, and low-income women have a much higher mortality rate, says Y-ME of Illinois. The Tuesday Blast will keep an eye on this issue. In the meantime, read more statistics from Y-ME.

Recent studies show 74 percent of mothers attempt breastfeeding, but after three months just 30 percent still exclusively nurse their babies. After six months, it's down to only 11 percent, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Breastfeeding is no breeze, so Erika Clowes started the Boobie Brigade support group in California, CNN reports. The group meets online and in person, exchanging breast-feeding advice and support. Pearls of Boobie Brigade wisdom include snappy comebacks when nursing moms get flack for breastfeeding in public: “If you're uncomfortable seeing my baby eat, you are welcome to cover yourself with this baby blanket. I'll let you know when we're done.”

Bills and policies that need your energy. Vist our Action Center - quickly make a difference this week. 

Read the Voices for Illinois Children analysis of the Illinois legislature’s overtime budget talks for fiscal year 2008. Learn what compromises will help and which will hurt women, girls and families for the next fiscal year that began July 1.

Illinois women and girls - along with everyone else - need Illinois Covered. Tell your state legislators to vote YES on Illinois Covered. CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION NOW.

Congress may be in recess for the summer, but that doesn't mean that your elected officials are on vacation. They are out and about in the district. So, now is a great time to tell them what you think they need to do once they return to Washington D.C. Chicago Foundation for Women will be giving you a few talking points in the coming weeks to keep the conversation going with your congressional legislators. This week's topic is: hate crimes. President Bush has said he will veto a bill that would expand the definition of federal hate crimes to include gender sexual orientation, and disability status. He is kowtowing to the Christian religious right, who wrongly think this bill will limit free speech from the pulpit—even with a special amendment specifically excluding speech. In fact, the American Civil Liberties Union supports the legislation, though it has never backed a hate crimes law before. CLICK HERE TO CONTACT CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT NOW.

Also take action on last week's topic: Food supplemental programs including Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (or WIC) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) mostly for seniors 60 and older. CONTACT YOUR SENATORS NOW.

Last week the House passed a funding increase for the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP (you know it as Kid Care in Illinois). Now it's the Senate's turn. The President still pledges to veto the House's spending bill as well as the Senate's version. As of now, there is not a veto-proof majority in either chamber. SPEAK UP NOW. Tell the Senate to support the $35 billion bipartisan plan and override an expected veto, and tell the President to get on board.    
We add perspective to recent headlines

The story: Has red become the new black? Women are winning men's hearts by ordering red meat, reports the New York Times fashion article “Be Yourselves, Girls, Order the Rib-Eye." Martha Flech, a former vegetarian, began ordering steak to send a message that she was “unpretentious and down to earth and unneurotic…not obsessed with my weight even though I'm thin, and I don't have any food issues.” Flech added, “In terms of the burgers, it said I'm a cheap date, low maintenance.” Flech credits consumption of red meat for her recent wedding engagement. According to Sloane Crosley, a publicist at Random House, “Everyone wants to be the girl who drinks the beer and eats the steak and looks like Kate Hudson.”
What is missing: Women are not what they eat. Suggesting they are leads us down a familiar path of body image issues and disordered eating. According to the Avalon Eating Disorder Treatment Center, 20 percent of female college students engage in bulimic behaviors regularly. Women are in an impossible situation: order the steak but wear a size zero-eat like a guy but have a waif's body. Like Anne Ream said, we “like our women small, literally and figuratively.” Any “food issues” should be covered up with barbeque sauce and gulped down with a smile, according to this article. On top of all this, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of American women. Do we really want them to double their steak intake? This article doesn't make us re-think our orders. 

The story: An ex-security guard, Kevin Isom, 41, shot and killed his wife, Cassandra Isom, 40, their 16-year-old son, Michael Moore, and their 13-year-old daughter, Ci'Andria Cole in Gary last week. Isom used a shotgun and two handguns in the attack. According to the Post-Tribune, family members were “stunned” because they “saw no signs of rage in Cassandra Isom's husband…even close family members couldn't have anticipated marital strife would boil over into Monday's violence.” Debra Earl, Cassandra Isom's cousin, said, “People can say there were signs or there weren't signs…They were just things most people brush off.”
What is missing: The context of how common this is. More than three women are killed each day by an intimate partner, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief. So why are we continually “stunned” by massacres like this? We shouldn't be. And we should stop wasting our time debating the existence of signs precipitating an attack. The signs are all around us: There are about 30,000 domestic violence orders of protection in effect on any given day for women and girls, according to the Illinois State Police, and more than 95,000 Illinois children were reported as abused in the 2006 fiscal year, reports the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services. Evidence of a real problem is there. It's time we shift focus to the prevention of future violence.

The story:
Now 50 Cent is joining Justin Timberlake in bringing sexy back…with stalking? The video for their collaboration “Ayo Technology (She Wants It)” features the two singers using high-tech x-ray goggles to spy on women from nearby cars and rooftops. They also use a touch screen to stroke a woman's body and seemingly arouse her from afar. The video's director says it's about “dirty little boys” acting like spies. While Timberlake sings he is “tired of using technology” to see naked women, he also says, “She wants it - I gotta give it to her.” 50 Cent is feeling the pressure on this one, since songs released from his upcoming album, “Curtis,” have not been successful. He dons a suit in the video, trying to “change my look,” as he told MTV. 
What is missing: Stalking and harassment are not sexy-they are illegal. If we let alone the issue of yet another video glorifying women's body parts and men's control over them, we are left with peeping toms who claim their victims want it. In the U.S., more than a million women are stalked annually. Plus, stalking is one of the most common predictors of more violence. No woman wants that. Timberlake's claim to fame of bringing sexy back fails here-he's setting it back. Stalking women is not edgy or pushing the envelope. The only envelope here is violence against women, and we hope it seals their careers with a sick kiss.

AUG. 16: Executive director roundtable, 12-1:30 p.m.

SEPT. 11: 22nd Annual Luncheon and Symposium featuring Shirin Ebadi, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

For more programs and events see our calendar page or the "What Will It Take?" statewide events page.

Catch up at our Press Room or our Past Events page at or our News page on
Speakers bureau: Want a free speaker to come and tell you or your organization about “What Will It Take?” Contact Laura Fletcher at (312) 577-2824 or More about the speakers bureau...

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