Forget the five Ws!

If I could gain access to the two-presumptive presidential candidates, I would love to hear their specific and detailed answers to the following questions:

  • How will you make women’s priorities part of your presidential priorities?
  • How do you intend to promote pay equity?
  • How do you plan to protect women’s rights to affordable-comprehensive-safe health care?
  • How do you intend to strengthen protection for women from violence?
  • How do you intend to slow the scourge of sexual assault on active-duty women in the armed services?
  • How are you going to improve public education in America?
  • How do you intend to fund grants to allow students to actually being able to afford to graduate from college?
  • How will you assure that a greater percentage of women and minorities are included in judicial and executive nominations?

Happy “Women’s Equality Day”!

Yesterday, four members of our branch, Sally Barnett, Francesca Payne, Ann Weston and I attended the “Women’s Equality Day” luncheon in Livonia. The guest speaker was Carolyn Cook, founder of United 4 Equality,  who is hard at work trying to remove the ratification time limit on the Equal Rights Amendment. Fifty-plus, state-and-national advocacy organizations are supporting her efforts. Happily for us, Congressman Dingell, Senators Levin and Stabenow are all co-sponsors who are united for equality with us.

Please take time to thank our legislators for supporting H.J. Res. 47 and S.J. Res. 39, “Removing the deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment.” See page 42 in your branch directory for specific contact details.

Meanwhile, I hope you will also take time to read my column in today’s Dearborn Press & Guide, entitled, “It is time to ratify the ERA.” I took it as a good omen when I saw the paper today. The title I had submitted was “In Equality, not Inequality.”  I am happy to report that Tim Powers, the male editor, took a bolder stance than I.

Divine Skepticism from Bette Midler

“I haven’t left my house in days.

I watch the news channels incessantly.

All the news stories are about the election; all the commercials are for Viagra and Cialis.





–either way it’s all about getting screwed.”

Ever on the Outside

As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day tomorrow, August 26, 1920, it is appropriate to recall one of Emily Dickinson’s most popular poems. The literary critic, Harold Bloom, suggests that it captures the “universal feeling of being on the outside.”

It certainly captures the traditional-encoded experience of being a woman in society. The poem challenges the somebodies (authority figures) even as it captures the outsider’s struggle inherent in “us against them.”

I’m Nobody!

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

        — Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson daguerreotype, taken in 1848

AAUW-Dearborn Membership and Book Sale Pitched at the Dearborn Farmers-and-Artisans’ Market

Today our co-membership vice-presidents, Kim Foo and Ellen Judge-Gonzalez, were up bright-and-early to “pitch” a vendor booth which is lent free of charge to member organizations by the Dearborn Community Arts Council. Earlier this week, Kim retrieved the canvas-and-frame shelter from DCAC Executive Director, Stella Greene and gamely set about setting up our “campsite” this morning.  Luckily, Ellen Judge-Gonzalez has dealt with similar contraptions before and knew just what to do. As the sun rose higher in the sky and the heat-and-humidity index climbed, shelter from the sun proved a welcome relief. Ironically, we had been scheduled earlier in the summer to attend an evening market which had to be canceled that same day due to extreme heat!

Ellen and Kim have worked hard to revise and update our tri-fold brochure, and shoppers at the market took all we had along with book marks prepared by Joan Arrick that include details about the branch book sale in September.

Others branch members who joined us or just stopped by to lend morale support included, Laurine Griffin, Betty Gruntman, Mary Harrison, Chris Hilbush, Karen Monroe, Judy Monroe, Joan Reed, Christel Sanecki and Pat Vom Steeg.

It was good to see familiar faces and realize we are about to launch another active year! It was good also to shop the market to bring home great fruit and vegetables. My great purchase was absolutely delectable blackberries! A number of our members were extolling the virtues of fabulous peaches that one vendor had as well. When I went to buy some close to closing time, a man immediately ahead of me in line, bought the last box! C’est la vie! All in all, it was a peachy day!

STEM (science/technology/engineering/mathematics) Jobs Coming to Michigan

In a press release today, Senator Debbie Stabenow shared good news about a firm that will bring new jobs to Michigan residents. Last spring, Stabenow spoke at the AAUW-MI Convention in Lansing and predicted what has now been brought to fruition. We, in Michigan, need to educate more youth in the STEM fields and then actively recruit corporations to move here to tap our talent base. Here are the salient details lifted directly from her news release:


U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, attended the groundbreaking of the Marrone Michigan Manufacturing facility in Bangor, which will create at least 50 new jobs in the region.  Stabenow recruited Marrone Bio Innovations Inc. (MBI), which is headquartered in California, to come and open the new bio-based manufacturing plant in Bangor. Bio-based manufacturing, using agriculture goods instead of petroleum-based products and other materials in manufactured goods, is an industry poised to grow and create jobs in Michigan.

“When we grow things here and make things here, we create jobs here in Michigan,” said Senator Stabenow.  “Businesses like MBI are strengthening our economy with new job opportunities in bio-based manufacturing, an area poised for growth in Michigan.  As Senate Agriculture Chairwoman, I met with MBI and strongly urged them to locate in Michigan.  MBI is precisely the type of innovative bio-based business Michigan is attracting, which will not only create new high-tech jobs of the future but also help protect our Great Lakes and waterways from invasive zebra mussels.”

MBI plans to manufacture two of its most recently introduced products at the new site, including one to control invasive zebra and quagga mussels which have been a serious problem in the Great Lakes.  Senator Stabenow has long championed efforts to combat invasive species in the Great Lakes, including zebra mussels, quagga mussels and Asian carp.  Earlier this year Senator Stabenow authored the bipartisan Stop Invasive Species Act, which was recently signed into law, to help prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from entering the Great Lakes.

Earlier this year, Senator Stabenow also introduced her Grow It Here, Make It Here initiatives to increase access to capital for bio-based manufacturers, improve marketing of bio-based products, and spur the commercialization of new agricultural innovations to create new jobs.  The Farm Bill that Senator Stabenow authored, which passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support 64-35, includes her Grow It Here, Make It Here initiatives.

Bio-based manufacturing is a key sector of Michigan’s agriculture industry, which supports nearly one out of every four jobs. Michigan innovators and entrepreneurs are processing Michigan-grown crops such as soy, wheat, sugar and corn for use in advanced manufactured goods across the state. From car parts to cleaning products, soaps, insulation, plastics, foam goods and fabrics, bio-based products are finding their way into a wide variety of sectors in our economy.  Using American-grown bio-based products creates jobs here at every level of the supply chain, and by replacing petroleum-based products, reduces the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

Blowing Smoke!

This summer Rush Limbaugh, in yet another of his bombastic frenzies, declared that: “When women got the right to vote is when it all went down hill, because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and maternal instincts that government ought to reflect.”

The irony is over the top because Limbaugh trades in little but emotion. He is a bloviating-chauvinistic-macho-misogynistic-outrageous-patriarchal male who frequently fosters sexist stereotyping. Of course, to lessen the controversy, he conveniently casts his net onto another who just happens to be a woman. His is a great rhetorical device. As a clever deceiver, he gets to say things that are not true on one hand and then deny the very point he made on the other. Blowing smoke is plain-and- simple b.s.

Later, Rush stated:  “Yes, of course, I was kidding about the women’s vote.  But you know who believes that is Ann Coulter.  She’s actually written it.  She has written that the major problem in our welfare state is the women’s vote….women bring this maternal instinct in that the government should take care of everybody, including her family, and that women will vote for bigger government every chance they get.  That’s her point.  She’s seriously written this.  And she’s taken her share of heat for it.  But she has written that. I don’t want to be accused of stealing from Ann Coulter.  I just want to tell you that that’s a position that she’s posited for a number of years.”

So in an obviously emotional rationalization, he tries to dump the blame for what he said on another extreme media pundit. Wouldn’t you love to watch him squirm on a witness stand?
This Sunday, August 26, 2012, we commemorate Women’s Equality Day. On August 26, 1920, women finally gained the right to vote with the certification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Tim Powers, editor of the Dearborn Press & Guide is publishing a “Be Our Guest” column entitled “In Equality, not Inequality” written by yours truly. Please take the time to read it and help spread the word!


Rush Limbaugh is scary evidence that we live in a time when some would be more than happy to see women lose the vote!

Breakfast Chat

The Dearborn Federation of Teachers Retirees’ Chapter has cordially invited the members of AAUW-Dearborn branch to attend a continental breakfast followed by what promises to be an interesting presentation by Gary Woronchak, Chair of the fifteen-member Wayne County Commission for 2011-2012.


Who: Gary Woronchak
What: Discussion of Wayne County government, services and politics.
 Where: Dearborn Federation of Teachers’ Office
15250 Mercantile Drive in Dearborn
(off of Greenfield between Michigan Avenue and Rotunda Drive)
 When: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
9:30 a.m. for continental breakfast & 10:00 a.m. presentation


RSVP: To facilitate the ordering of refreshments, please let Cora Houghan         know if you plan to attend by Wednesday, September 26, 2012. Call her at 313-584-5311.

Woronchak, has served four terms on the county commission where he represents Dearborn, Allen Park and Melvindale.  As chairman, the budget, employees, scheduling-and-running meetings, task forces and committee work absorb copious amounts of his time.

Before joining the WCC, he served three terms in the state House of Representatives. And prior to his government work, Woronchak was a journalist for more than two decades. He attended Whitmore-Bolles Elementary and Edison Junior High, graduated in 1973 from Edsel Ford High School, attended Henry Ford Community College and then graduated with a B.A. degree in political science from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 1978.

Woronchak is a proverbial “hometown boy” raised and educated in Dearborn. He owns a home here, has raised his family here and has worked most of his career in Dearborn.

“Since being elected to the Wayne County Commission in 2004, and while a state representative for six years before that, I have focused on being accessible and responsive to the people I represent. Having been a journalist for more than 20 years before holding office, I believe strongly in communicating with constituents and keeping them informed of my work in the community.”

Ignorance Is NOT Bliss in Congress!

Congressman Todd Akin is not a doctor!

Yet Congressman Akin (R-Missouri) explained getting pregnant as a result of a rape this way: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

We need to shut this kind of thinking down!

In “Health Experts Dismiss Assertions on Rape” by Pam Belluck in today’s New York Times, Dr. Michael Greene, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School is quoted: “There are no words for this — it is just nuts.”  In addition, Belluck quotes Dr. David Grimes, a clinical professor in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina: “to suggest that there’s some biological reason why women couldn’t get pregnant during a rape is absurd.”

Belluck goes on to cite a 1996 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, generally considered one of the few peer-reviewed research efforts on this subject, estimated that 5 percent of rapes result in pregnancy.

We need to stay alert to politicians of any stripe peddling monstrous mendacity. Doctors have served me well when it comes to my health. Extremist politicians appear to want to take over my personal nether regions to advance rigid agendas. Private rights don’t deserve these kinds of public wrongs.

This November consider that there are candidates who understand women’s health as well as those that don’t. It’s easy to learn where candidates stand by reading the AAUW Action Fund’s Congressional Voting Record, or their Voter Guides (available next month) here: Also, the League of Women Voters does great work publishing election guides.


Finally, let’s keep the madness of politics in perspective. We can only laugh when we think about another, totally ironic, meaning of congress: the action of coming together for sexual congress!

Too many politicians today appear to be trapped into thinking only in polarities. Perhaps it is due to sound bites and increasingly short attention spans. Vote in November for the subtle, multi-layered, considered and complex thinkers.

MST & LAF: Read on to learn more!

Last spring, Doris Matthews chided our branch board for not doing enough to support the AAUW Legal Advocacy Fund. At that meeting, the board agreed that monies from the English Gardens’ Flower-of-the-Month-Card program and the Mistletoe Mart would both be designated for LAF. (See page 13 of the Dearborn Branch Directory to learn more about the work of this particular fund.)

Meanwhile, Laura Marko who has just moved here from Norfolk, Virginia, contacted me recently via e-mail. She served in the Navy for five years and is a women’s studies major with a focus upon research on military sexual trauma. Happily for us, she will now be pursuing her studies at UM-D!

Part of her e-mail reads: “As a women’s studies major, I have been doing research on military sexual trauma (MST), presenting my work at a research symposium this past spring. I also attended the 2012 SWAN (Service Women’s Action Network) Summit on MST this year in DC., hosted a screening of “The Invisible War,” and met with fellow female veterans to discuss issues related to sexual assault and harassment in the military. So obviously the topic of women in the military is something that I am very passionate about.”

As you may know, AAUW has recently announced the launch of The Invisible War Action Campaign; so our contact with Laura Marko is fortuitous and serendipitous for our branch and UM-D.

So when AAUW’s Two-Minute Activist popped up and asked us to contact our representative about this issue, I felt compelled to act. I hope you, too, will consider trying to help ameliorate this matter by contacting your representative by using Two-Minute Activist. It’s fast, easy and efficient. Here’s a copy of my e-mail to Representative John Dingell.

August 20, 2012

The Honorable John D. Dingell
House of Representatives
2328 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-2215

Re: Support the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act

Dear Representative Dingell:

As your constituent, I join with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in asking you to cosponsor and actively support the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention (STOP) Act (H.R. 3435).
Last year, there were more than 3,000 reported incidents of sexual assault in the military. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta estimates that due to stigmas victims face, the true number may be as high as 19,000! Ensuring adequate investigation and support for victims are both essential.
The STOP Act would create a primarily civilian oversight, response council and investigative office which would investigate and try to prevent sexual assault in the military. A Director of Military Prosecutions would enjoy independent authority from the chain of command and oversee prosecutions of sexual-related offenses committed by a member of the armed forces or refer an offense to courts-martial.
Stronger rules and better enforcement are critical to the health and safety of the men and women in our nation’s armed forces. Please become a cosponsor of the STOP Act. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Anne Gautreau

Bill # H.R.3435 was originally sponsored by Jackie Speier (D-CA 12th). It now has 131 co-sponsors. Strangely, only one is a Republican. All the rest are Democrats. One can only wonder why any representative would not want to protect the troops who sacrifice so much to protect us.

An executive summary about this legislation from AAUW follows:

Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act or STOP Act – Establishes a Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Council, composed mainly of civilians, as an independent entity from the chain of command of the Department of Defense (DOD).
Directs the Council to: (1) appoint personnel to the Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office, and advise such Office; (2) appoint the Director of Military Prosecutions (Director); (3) review each request of the Director with respect to a case stemming from a sexual-related offense that has been referred to a military appellate court or to the Department of Justice (DOJ); and (4) submit to the Secretary of Defense, Congress, and the Attorney General a report on each Director request for referral to a higher court. Requires the Council to advise on the development of sexual assault reporting protocols, risk-reduction and response training, and policy.

Establishes within DOD the Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office, headed by an Executive Director, to undertake specified duties and responsibilities relating to the investigation, prevention, and reduction of sexual assault incidents within the Armed Forces. Requires the Office to establish protocols to ensure that all reports of sexual assault are taken out of the chain of command and reported directly to the Office.

Establishes the position of Director of Military Prosecutions, appointed by the Council, to have independent and final authority to oversee the prosecution of all sexual-related offenses committed by a member of the Armed Forces, and to refer such cases to trial by courts-martial.
Amends the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009 to require the Secretary to implement a centralized database, known as the Military Sexual Registry, for the collection of information regarding sexual assaults within the military, including the nature of the assault, the victim, the offender, and the outcome of associated legal proceedings. Requires the Registry to be housed and maintained within the Office.

AAUW is committed to improving the way the military deals with sexual assault by ensuring victims receive adequate support for their case by helping support  veteran-and-active-duty servicemen/servicewomen who are suing the Department of Defense. The group alleges that the DoD failed to investigate or prosecute their cases.
This is just one example of AAUW Legal Advocacy Funds in action!