Friday Morning Open Thread: Pioneering Figures

Something I did not know, via McClatchy DC:

More than 100 astronauts have visited the International Space Station since it was first launched in 1998. Of the 101, the U.S. has accounted for 49 of those visitors, a fraction of the hundreds of astronauts NASA has sent into space over the decades.

But now, for the first time ever, an African-American will call the International Space Station home, NASA announced Wednesday.

Jeanette Epps will be part of Expedition 56 to the ISS in 2018 and will remain on board as part of Expedition 57, per a press release. That will make her the first African-American to crew the station, as well as the 13th woman.

Epps has served as an astronaut since 2009 and has a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. She has also spent several years as a CIA technical intelligence officer, according to her biography.

NASA’s announcement comes just before the release of the film “Hidden Figures,” which tells the story of three African-American women who were pivotal in the launch of the first American into orbit, John Glenn. The movie, which has enjoyed a warm reception from critics, per Rotten Tomatoes, has been praised for its authentic feel and adherence to history, per

Been looking forward to Hidden Figures for a while now — I’m hoping we can get our schedule in order to see it this weekend.

Apart from happy planning, what’s on the agenda as we wrap up the week?

Women’s March On (Your City Here): Let’s Meet-Up

When Betty posted this morning about attending the Women’s March on Washington, I saw there were a lot of people going to local marches. There is one in Denver:

Women’s March on Denver

January 21, 2017
9 am – 3 pm
Denver’s Civic Center Park
Marching in Solidarity for Human Rights…
Sponsored by Women, For Everyone! 

Any Colorado folk want to do a meet-up for the march. Even if I can’t make it, I’ll help organize it.

Why don’t we use this thread to see if we there is any interest for meetups in other cities.

And I’m hoping Betty C and anyone else going to the marches will live blog/tweet their adventures – or at least provide photos after the fact.

Why I’m Going to the Women’s March on Washington

Election night 2016 came as a vile surprise. It wasn’t just that the candidate I supported lost — I’m old enough to have backed many losing candidates, all the way back to Michael Dukakis.

It wasn’t just that the loss was unexpected. I went into the 2000 and 2004 elections expecting Al Gore and John Kerry to win — Gore because he was obviously more qualified and Kerry because Bush had already screwed the pooch in Iraq by 2004, so why would we “reelect” that fuck-up? But we did.

No, 2016 wasn’t just an electoral defeat. It was a revelation of the extent of the rot, a loss of faith as profound as any I’ve ever experienced. And the defeat of a highly qualified woman by a crude sexist bully sent a personal message to me, as a woman: You’re a second-class citizen at best, an object at worst.

Like many of you, I’ve responded in a variety of ways, becoming more involved in local politics, joining or forming groups to protect those most targeted by the racist, sexist, xenophobic demagogue who will be president in 15 days. Long term, I suspect these will be the most important responses.

But I’m going to the Women’s March on Washington because I want to stand up and say, “Women’s rights are human rights. We’re here. We’re Americans, even if we weren’t born here. We matter. We’re not going away. And we’ll oppose you, Trump, and you, Republicans in Congress, when you try to strip our rights away.”

I’m hoping tens of thousands of us show up, that there are so many of us that our presence can’t be ignored. I’m hoping our numbers demonstrate on a visceral level that the crude sexist bully in the Oval Office doesn’t represent all of us, that there’s another America that still values diversity and progress, that many of us still believe the greatness in America comes from our halting struggle for equality and resides in our efforts to create a more equitable, united future, not our nostalgia for a past that was actually pretty shitty for anyone who wasn’t a white male.

I’m under no illusions about how the march will be covered in the crap media or what effect it will have on the leering groper in the White House or his craven supporters in Congress. I’m aware that even some feminists consider it an empty gesture. I don’t expect it to make a difference politically. But it will mean something to my daughter, my sister and me, and right now, that seems like reason enough to go.

ETA — WTF, WaPo:

Le sigh.

Thursday Morning Open Thread: Rallying Against the New Not-Normal

The Washington Post reports:

Teresa Shook never considered herself much of an activist, or someone particularly versed in feminist theory. But when the results of the presidential election became clear, the retired attorney in Hawaii turned to Facebook and asked: What if women marched on Washington around Inauguration Day en masse?

She asked her online friends how to create an event page, and then started one for the march she was hoping would happen…

Now, more than 100,000 people have registered their plans to attend the Women’s March on Washington in what is expected to be the largest demonstration linked to Donald Trump’s inauguration and a focal point for activists on the left who have been energized in opposing his agenda…

Organizers say plans are on track, after securing a permit from D.C. police to gather 200,000 people near the Capitol at Independence Avenue and Third Street SW on the morning after Inauguration Day. Exactly how big the march will be has yet to be determined, with organizers scrambling to pull together the rest of the necessary permits and raise the $1 million to $2 million necessary to pull off a march triggered by Shook’s Facebook venting…

“We plan to make a bold and clear statement to this country on the national and local level that we will not be silent and we will not let anyone roll back the rights we have fought and struggled to get,” said Tamika Mallory, a veteran organizer and gun-control advocate who is one of the march’s main organizers.

More than 150,000 women and men have responded on the march’s Facebook page that they plan on attending. At least 1,000 buses are headed to Washington for the march through Rally, a website that organizes buses to protests. Dozens of groups, including Planned Parenthood and the antiwar CodePink, have signed on as partners.

Organizers insist the march is not anti-Trump, even as many of the groups that have latched on to it fiercely oppose his agenda…

They’re not anti-Trump; they’re just pro-everything Trump and his followers hate / fear / despise.

What’s on the agenda for the day, as we prepare to keep on fighting?


Open Thread: Yeah, Pretty Much…

Maybe They’re Just Collecting that State Department Info for Ivanka…

Aja Romano at Vox published a piece last week that traced how sexism serves as a gateway drug to overt white nationalism among the pallid froggy set that resides in the underbelly of the internet. Could be true, though it’s a bit of a chicken-or-egg question, I guess. I don’t know anyone who’s identifiably female online who hasn’t been harassed by sexist assholes, but the same holds true for non-whites. Here’s an excerpt from the Vox piece:

But one foundational aspect of the alt-right’s various belief systems has been significantly downplayed following the election — even though it may be the key to understanding the movement’s racist, white nationalist agenda. While it’s true that the movement is most frequently described in terms of the self-stated, explicit white supremacy that defines many of its corners, for many of its members, the gateway drug that led them to join the alt-right in the first place wasn’t racist rhetoric but rather sexism: extreme misogyny evolving from male bonding gone haywire…

In many alt-right communities, men are encouraged to view women as sexual and/or political targets that men must dominate. The men in these communities don’t see themselves as sexist; they see themselves as fighting against their own emasculation and sexual repression at the hands of strident feminists… All of these individual communities advocate a distrust of feminism and an insistence that female empowerment necessarily disempowers men.

It’s easy to see why these nasty folks would gravitate toward Trump, a leering predator who brags about assaulting women and treated beauty pageants he controlled like his own personal meat markets. Since the election, Trump has rewarded white power pukes by ensconcing Steve Bannon and Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III in positions of power. Now he may be preparing to reward the MRA crowd. From WaPo:

The Trump transition team instructed the State Department to turn over all information Wednesday about “gender-related staffing, programming, and funding,” setting off alarm bells among those who fear that the new administration is going to purge programs that promote women’s equality along with the people who work on them.

Only a week after being embroiled in a controversy over collecting information on Energy Department climate change officials, the Trump team seems to be at it again. On Wednesday morning, the State Department leadership sent out what’s called a “Flash Transition Tasker” to a long list of offices and bureaus. This official request mandated that all State Department offices provide to the Trump team by 5 p.m. Wednesday full reports on the positions and programs at the State Department dedicated to promoting a range of women’s and gender issues around the world.

That these are programs the woman who whupped Trump’s ass in the popular vote advocated is icing on the cake for him, I imagine.

A while back, someone in comments — probably Kay — mentioned how revealing (and infuriating) it is that Trump hands off “women’s issues” to his unelected, unqualified daughter. Yeah, it is. It’s as if he’s bestowing a ceremonial role, like the pardoning of the turkeys, when we’re half the fucking population!

Anyhoo, like the turkeys that didn’t get pardoned, it looks like women’s rights are on the menu.

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Strong At the Broken Places


(Joel Pett via

What’s on the agenda for the weekend?

Annie Leibovitz’s latest exhibition, “Women: New Portraits,” has been traveling the globe since it debuted in London early this year. But the latest iteration of the show, which opens in New York City on Friday, has a fresh tweak: A photo of Hillary Clinton hangs in the middle of the exhibit’s central wall of portraits.

“Secretary Clinton was not on this wall until this show,” Leibovitz said during a Tuesday preview of the exhibition co-hosted by famed feminist activist Gloria Steinem, who collaborated with Leibovitz on the project. “It’s the first time I folded her into the sea—into the ocean of women who mean something to us today.”

Leibovitz, who also included some of the photos she shot during the campaign in the show, noted that in the portrait of Clinton, there’s a tile visible on her desk. “I asked my retoucher, ‘Would you please sharpen that tile?’” It says never, never, never give up.”…

Steinem, who helped select some of these subjects, fielded a press question about how she feels about the future of women’s rights in the wake of Donald Trump’s election to the U.S. presidency.

Steinem attributed Trump’s win, in part, to backlash against the progress of women and minorities. “I think that what has been revealed to us is a truth that we must now deal with,” she said. “Never again is anyone going to say ‘post-feminist’ or ‘post-racist’ because we [now] understand that there is something like a third of the country that is still locked into these old hierarchies.”

The activist compared the current state of the U.S. to a survivor of domestic violence. “The moment just before escaping or just after escaping [from a violent household] is the most dangerous time,” she said. “I think we are at a time of maximum danger in this country and we need to look out for each other.”

However, for supporters of women’s and minority rights, there’s value in learning where the country truly stands and how much further it has to go. “Just as we would not tell anyone to go back into a violent household, we would not tell each other to go back,” said Steinem. “And even though it’s a time of danger maybe we are about to be free.”