Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Gabrielle Giffords

I remember when Gabrielle Giffords was the name across the country. Let’s take a look at why.

  • Arizona Democrat member of the House of Representatives
  • She was shot in the head by a constituent in January of 2011 but survived.

I think she was influential – well, not her precisely, but what happened to her. Before she was shot, not many people knew her name. But after her shooting, she really united America in a unique way. It didn’t matter that she was a Democrat from Arizona – she was one of our own, one of our representatives that had been shot. And that had a uniting factor about it for the country for a little while. Especially since she survived – her story of recovery pushed the nation together, everyone was pulling for her.

Sources:

P.S. Not related to her influence, but she was the youngest woman that has ever been elected to serve in the senate in Arizona. Which I think is pretty cool.

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History: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

This was a tragic event in our history and I think it’s often overlooked or just gets a passing mention, so I thought we’d look at it more in depth here.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

  • happened in New York City.
  • happened on March 25th, 1911.
  • is the fourth deadliest industrial accident in the US.
  • caused the death of 146 people by smoke inhalation, fire, or just falling/jumping to their deaths – most of whom were women between 16 and 23 (final count was 129 women/17 men – almost all of whom were the main supporter in their family).
  • is still officially without a cause, but they suspect there was a match or cigarette tossed in a scrap bin still burning (this is the most popular and likely theory).

This video explains about it and also how a very similar situation happened in Thailand in the last five years:

Conditions and how people died

  • People jumped to their deaths because the doors to the stairwells and exits were locked, essentially trapping these women inside.
  • The few doors that were unlocked opened inward and with so many people trying to get out were held shut.
  • No fire alarms to warn these women until it was already too late. Someone on the 8th floor called up to the 10th floor to say something on a phone, but the 9th floor was completely in the dark.
  • The fire department lacked ladders tall enough to get to those floors.
  • The fire houses on each floor that the women tried to use lacked water.
  • Because of the bodies on the ground from people jumping, the fire department had a hard time getting close enough.
  • All the attempts to catch the jumpers failed because too many people jumped too quickly.
  • Some brave men who were working there formed a bridge from the 8th floor to a nearby window and a few more escaped that way, but those men eventually fell to their deaths as well.
  • The water from the hoses of the fire department only reached to the 7th floor.
  • People were so desperate they jumped down the shaft on top of the descending elevator – they died as well.

This is a video of a former New York State Senator discussing his grandmother and two aunts who were killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire:

Because of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

  • laws were passed that improved labor conditions.
  • the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union grew.
  • the owners of the company were indicted of first and second degree manslaughter but they were never convicted. However, in a later civil suit, they were required to pay compensation of 75 dollars per victim.
  • the New York City Fire Department created a division of Fire Prevention.
  • New York City created the The Factory Commission of 1911.


Statements about the fire (warning, a few are graphic)

One Saturday afternoon in March of that year — March 25, to be precise — I was sitting at one of the reading tables in the old Astor Library… It was a raw, unpleasant day and the comfortable reading room seemed a delightful place to spend the remaining few hours until the library closed. I was deeply engrossed in my book when I became aware of fire engines racing past the building. By this time I was sufficiently Americanized to be fascinated by the sound of fire engines. Along with several others in the library, I ran out to see what was happening, and followed crowds of people to the scene of the fire.

A few blocks away, the Asch Building at the corner of Washington Place and Greene Street was ablaze. When we arrived at the scene, the police had thrown up a cordon around the area and the firemen were helplessly fighting the blaze. The eighth, ninth, and tenth stories of the building were now an enormous roaring cornice of flames.

Word had spread through the East Side, by some magic of terror, that the plant of the Triangle Waist Company was on fire and that several hundred workers were trapped. Horrified and helpless, the crowds — I among them — looked up at the burning building, saw girl after girl appear at the reddened windows, pause for a terrified moment, and then leap to the pavement below, to land as mangled, bloody pulp. This went on for what seemed a ghastly eternity. Occasionally a girl who had hesitated too long was licked by pursuing flames and, screaming with clothing and hair ablaze, plunged like a living torch to the street. Life nets held by the firemen were torn by the impact of the falling bodies.

The emotions of the crowd were indescribable. Women were hysterical, scores fainted; men wept as, in paroxysms of frenzy, they hurled themselves against the police lines. – Louis Waldman

I would be a traitor to these poor burned bodies if I came here to talk good fellowship. We have tried you good people of the public and we have found you wanting. … We have tried you citizens; we are trying you now, and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers, brothers and sisters by way of a charity gift. But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us.

Public officials have only words of warning to us—warning that we must be intensely peaceable, and they have the workhouse just back of all their warnings. The strong hand of the law beats us back, when we rise, into the conditions that make life unbearable.

I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement. – Rose Schneiderman

Thud — dead; thud — dead; thud — dead; thud — dead. Sixty-two thud — deads. I call them that, because the sound and the thought of death came to me each time, at the same instant. – William Shephard

It was all nice young Jewish girls who were engaged to be married. You should see the diamonds and everything. Those were the ones who threw themselves from the window. What the hell did they close the door for? What did the think we were going out with? What are we gonna do, steal a shirtwaist? Who the heck wanted a shirtwaist? – Pauline Cuoio Pepe

Girls were burning to death before our eyes. Down came bodies in a shower, burning, smoking, lighted bodies, with the disheveled hair of the girls trailing upward. They had fought each other to die by jumping instead of by fire.

There were 33 in that shower. The flesh of some of them was cooked. The clothes of most of them were burned away. The whole, sound, unharmed girls who jumped on the other side of the street had done their best to fall feet down, but these fire-tortured, suffering ones fell inertly, as if they didn’t care how they fell, just so that death came to them on the sidewalk instead of in the fiery furnace behind them. – Bill Shepard

There are a handful of catalytic, galvanizing moments where history really gets a big push to give us the world that we live in today, and the Triangle fire is one of those. Triangle led to changes that influenced the way every American lives. – David von Drehle

Even a hundred years later, workplace safety concerns are still a problem. You hear about the locked doors at the Triangle factory and it’s shocking. But to this day, we hear about grocery store workers in Brooklyn who are locked in the stores at night and it’s a very common practice in retail and the garment industry to lock the doors — they say it’s to prevent theft, which is what the Triangle factory owners claimed.

In many ways, we haven’t made much progress. The Triangle fire was a mostly immigrant population in a very competitive business. We have that now with janitorial, home health care, security workers, the garment industry — any labor-intensive industry, you have the same pressures. – Catherine Ruckelshaus

It happens all over the place — unsafe construction sites, sweatshops tucked away in all corners of NYC, just blocks from the Triangle factory site. The other part of it is, which is just as shameful, is that 95 percent of garment manufacturing is now offshore. Clothes are being made in Bangladesh, where they have very similar conditions to the Triangle factory, where workers are locked in. – Leigh Benin

Get Involved

Books (Note I haven’t read these, I just found them)*

I write this in memory of these, the victims:

• Adler, Lizzie, 24
• Altman, Anna, 16
• Ardito, Annina, 25
• Bassino, Rose, 31
• Benanti, Vincenza, 22
• Berger, Yetta, 18
• Bernstein, Essie, 19
• Bernstein, Jacob, 38
• Bernstein, Morris, 19
• Bierman, Gussie, 22
• Billota, Vincenza, 16
• Binowitz, Abraham, 30
• Brenman, Rosie, 23
• Brenman, Sarah, 17
• Brodsky, Ida, 15
• Brodsky, Sarah, 21
• Brooks, Ada, 18
• Brunetti, Laura, 17
• Cammarata, Josephine, 17
• Caputo, Francesca, 17
• Carlisi, Josephine, 31
• Caruso, Albina, 20
• Ciminello, Annie, 36
• Cirrito, Rosina, 18
• Cohen, Anna, 25
• Colletti, Annie, 30
• Cooper, Sarah, 16
• Cordiano , Michelina, 25
• Dashefsky, Bessie, 25
• Del Castillo, Josie, 21
• Dockman, Clara, 19
• Donick, Kalman, 24
• Eisenberg, Celia, 17
• Evans, Dora, 18
• Feibisch, Rebecca, 20
• Fichtenholtz, Yetta, 18
• Fitze, Daisy Lopez, 26
• Floresta, Mary, 26
• Florin, Max, 23
• Franco, Jenne, 16
• Friedman, Rose, 18
• Gerjuoy, Diana, 18
• Gerstein, Molly, 17
• Giannattasio, Catherine, 22
• Gitlin, Celia, 17
• Goldstein, Esther, 20
• Goldstein, Lena, 22
• Goldstein, Mary, 18
• Goldstein, Yetta, 20
• Grasso, Rosie, 16
• Greb, Bertha, 25
• Grossman, Rachel, 18
• Herman, Mary, 40
• Hochfeld, Esther, 21
• Hollander, Fannie, 18
• Horowitz, Pauline, 19
• Jukofsky, Ida, 19
• Kanowitz, Ida, 18
• Kaplan, Tessie, 18
• Kessler, Beckie, 19
• Klein, Jacob, 23
• Koppelman, Beckie, 16
• Kula, Bertha, 19
• Kupferschmidt, Tillie, 16
• Kurtz, Benjamin, 19
• L’Abbate, Annie, 16
• Lansner, Fannie, 21
• Lauletti, Maria Giuseppa, 33
• Lederman, Jennie, 21
• Lehrer, Max, 18
• Lehrer, Sam, 19
• Leone, Kate, 14
• Leventhal, Mary, 22
• Levin, Jennie, 19
• Levine, Pauline, 19
• Liebowitz, Nettie, 23
• Liermark, Rose, 19
• Maiale, Bettina, 18
• Maiale, Frances, 21
• Maltese, Catherine, 39
• Maltese, Lucia, 20
• Maltese, Rosaria, 14
• Manaria, Maria, 27
• Mankofsky, Rose, 22
• Mehl, Rose, 15
• Meyers, Yetta, 19
• Midolo, Gaetana, 16
• Miller, Annie, 16
• Neubauer, Beckie, 19
• Nicholas, Annie, 18
• Nicolosi, Michelina, 21
• Nussbaum, Sadie, 18
• Oberstein, Julia, 19
• Oringer, Rose, 19
• Ostrovsky , Beckie, 20
• Pack, Annie, 18
• Panno, Provindenza, 43
• Pasqualicchio, Antonietta, 16
• Pearl, Ida, 20
• Pildescu, Jennie, 18
• Pinelli, Vincenza, 30
• Prato, Emilia, 21
• Prestifilippo, Concetta, 22
• Reines, Beckie, 18
• Rosen (Loeb), Louis, 33
• Rosen, Fannie, 21
• Rosen, Israel, 17
• Rosen, Julia, 35
• Rosenbaum, Yetta, 22
• Rosenberg, Jennie, 21
• Rosenfeld, Gussie, 22
• Rosenthal, Nettie, 21
• Rothstein, Emma, 22
• Rotner, Theodore, 22
• Sabasowitz, Sarah, 17
• Salemi, Santina, 24
• Saracino, Sarafina, 25
• Saracino, Teresina, 20
• Schiffman, Gussie, 18
• Schmidt, Theresa, 32
• Schneider, Ethel, 20
• Schochet, Violet, 21
• Schpunt, Golda, 19
• Schwartz, Margaret, 24
• Seltzer, Jacob, 33
• Shapiro, Rosie, 17
• Sklover, Ben, 25
• Sorkin, Rose, 18
• Starr, Annie, 30
• Stein, Jennie, 18
• Stellino, Jennie, 16
• Stiglitz, Jennie, 22
• Taback, Sam, 20
• Terranova, Clotilde, 22
• Tortorelli, Isabella, 17
• Utal, Meyer, 23
• Uzzo, Catherine, 22
• Velakofsky, Frieda, 20
• Viviano, Bessie, 15
• Weiner, Rosie, 20
• Weintraub, Sarah, 17
• Weisner, Tessie, 21
• Welfowitz, Dora, 21
• Wendorff, Bertha, 18
• Wilson, Joseph, 22
• Wisotsky, Sonia, 17

Sources

*Note: I am now an Amazon Associate which means that if you click on a link to one of the books I promote and then buy it, I get a portion of those proceeds. Thanks for supporting me 🙂

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Breast Implants Have Increased

So man oh man. I came across this article from the New York Times about how in the last ten years breast implants have increased. A lot. I mean, sure, they could increase more, but it still seems like a huge number to me. They increased 39 percent since 2000. And maybe over time that doesn’t seem like a huge increase, but still. It asks the question why? Plastic surgery carries serious risks and it’s not like there’s any medical reason (that I know of) to get breast implants like there is to get a breast reduction.

Why do women feel the need to make their breasts bigger? I feel like this represents an underlying trend in society not to be happy with our body’s image. You know? There’s always bigger breasts, longer legs, better hair, thinner figure to have. But why? Why is it that some women feel such pressure to look a certain way that they’re willing to undergo surgery to look a different way? And it’s risky surgery at that. What is it about our society that women feel the need to do this? To risk possible death just to have bigger boobs?

What would it take to end the hate about our body image? What would it take for women to love themselves? This is the question I want to know.

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Maternal Mortality in the US

I read this really interesting article on how Maternal Mortality in the US is a human rights failure and I agree, it is a human rights failure. They even point to some parts that I think contribute to it – including an overuse of inductions and an overuse of c-sections. However, they fail to touch on another thing I think contributes – abortion. They talk a little bit about certain complications, like placenta previa, which they list as a common cause of death among pregnant women, but fail to mention that the risk of placenta previa is 50 percent higher after an abortion. So while they fail to mention these facts, I think there is a lot of truth in this article and you can check it out here.

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The Screening of Sex Offenders

You may remember awhile back that Match.com announced they were going to start screening sex offenders. This was not out of their good will, but out of a lawsuit. This woman was sexually assaulted on a date and then sued Match.com. Unlike most lawsuits though, she wasn’t asking for money – just for Match.com to have this screening process.

And to be honest, I think this screening process is a great idea. The internet has made it easier in so many ways, I think, for predators to find prey because they can convince people they are someone they are not. I think this is a reasonable measure that protects women. And I mean, I don’t think that women should look at it and think that all guys on there are good, they should have a reasonable level of awareness that just because someone passed a criminal background check doesn’t mean they are a good person. Women should always use a level of common sense but I think actions like this really help more than they hurt because they will be weeding out people who have been convicted and proven to do this for sure. That’s certainly better than nothing at all.

Article

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Starting Giving Young: One 11 Year Old Girl

Giving is something that I believe strongly in. And for Olivia Bouler, that sense of giving started early. At 11 years old, after hearing about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (remember that?), she wanted to do something. She took the initiative to write to the National Audubon Society asking if she could sell her bird paintings to help. They took her up on this and sent off her work to all the people who supported their clean up efforts. She drew pictures of a wide variety of birds, some native to the area where the oil spill happened and some other birds as well. At the time of the writing of the article that I found, she had already done 150 drawings and was set to do up to 500. These drawings helped to raise over $200,000. Olivia was named Hometown Hero and ASPCA’s 2010 Kid of the Year.

This cute duck is one of them!

 “I hope that the Gulf will be as beautiful as it was before the spill, and I hope that people will come together to make it that way.”

If you’d like to benefit the National Audubon Society, you can buy a book of Olivia’s drawings, Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf.

Source: Talented 11-Year-Old Paints Birds, Raises Over $200,000 For Gulf Coast Relief Efforts : TreeHugger 

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Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011

Safe cosmetics, on the surface, might seem like a green or environmental issue, but really, it’s a woman’s issue. Why? Because companies are continuing to make products that contain chemicals that have been proven unsafe and women in Britain have been shown to spend an average of $164,000 dollars on make-up over their lifetime (and do you really think it’s that different in the US?). So needless to say, if it’s not safe, it’s effecting women in a pretty big way.

That’s why making sure that cosmetics are safe is a big priority, even for someone like me, who hardly wears any make-up. Because I have a lot of friends who do. And I bet, even if you yourself aren’t big on make-up, you probably have friends who wear it as well.

So safe cosmetics are important to women, because of the amount that most women use them. Congress has a Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011, and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has made it easy to contact your representatives. Helping get this passed will do a lot of good for many women, men, and children.

Thanks for reading!

And also, P.S. I’m thinking about video blogging once a week – what do you think? Just to spice things up. Delivering you the same great information, just in a different format.

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Innocent Spouse Relief

So I learned the other day about a really interesting (and beneficial to women) rule. It’s called the Innocent Spouse rule within the IRS. Basically, it’s intended to prevent spouses from having to pay back taxes on a joint return if they weren’t aware of the fact that their spouse wasn’t paying them or was committing fraud or other tax evasive measures. It’s intended to protect victims of domestic violence and whose spouse is committing fraud unbeknownst to them. It’s a women’s issue because the spouse that requests it is almost always the wife.

Even though these rules exist, it’s hard to actually be granted innocent spouse status.  It’s difficult because you have to prove that you had no knowledge of it. And if you are perceived to benefit from it at all, you must not be innocent according to the IRS. Because abusers can’t keep you in golden cages, apparently. According to the IRS, even if you file a joint tax return with your spouse and they die leaving tons of back taxes, you’re on the hook. Also, if you divorce and in the proceedings agree that one spouse is responsible for the taxes, the IRS doesn’t take that into account and you can still be liable. Even if the other spouse earns all the income (say you’re a stay at home mom or your abusive husband doesn’t allow you to work outside the home), you can still be held responsible. They also feel that if “a reasonable person in similar circumstances would have known of the understatement” then you’re not eligible. How do they determine something like that? It seems so subjective. Also, they take your education background into effect, like if you’re more educated, you should have known or questioned the tax return. I’ll be completely honest here, I’m almost a college graduate and taxes still confuse me. Also, they’re required to contact your former spouse, which could restrict women from filing if their spouse was an abuser, they may be afraid of repercussions when the abusive spouse finds out. Additionally, if the IRS granted you relief, they could fight it. Abuse is often times about power and dragging you through a long, legal battle could be a form of one spouse continuing to try and exercise control over the innocent spouse. There is also a 2 year deadline (which they recently did away for equitable relief, but not for innocent spouse relief). Imagine being a woman faced with an abusive spouse that it will take you on average seven times to leave. Now imagine during all this time you’ve been together (which could be years before you even have the courage to leave for the first time) your husband has been filing taxes and evading rules and you owe back taxes, since your husband made you sign the tax return and threatened you with violence if you didn’t. Maybe this went on 5 or 10 years. Either way, the IRS says that you can’t file for the first return he filed or any of the other ones, because it’s been longer than 2 years. I think they should do away with this rule immediately, since it hurts more people than it could ever help. For the record, there is back and forth on this. Some news I read claims that the two year limit for everyone is done away with (and that’s what I thought at first), but the official IRS publication I link to below states, “This change does not apply to requests for regular innocent spouse relief or separation of liability relief. Instead, the 2-year period discussed on pages 2 and 20 of Publication 971 continues to apply.” So that is why I am going with the fact that it is NOT changed across the board. And it definitely should be. Doing away with the two year rule is something that has seen support from both Democrats and Republicans.

One woman, who upon her husband’s death discovered that he owed millions of dollars to the IRS (his lawyers had told him never to tell her anything), wrote Innocent Spouse: A Memoir about her experience.

For more information in audio form, you can listen to a podcast on the subject here (I have not listened to it, to be totally honest, because I prefer reading to listening, but I know some people are audio learners).

If you are an innocent spouse, remember that there is help out there. You can find the forms to file for innocent spouse status here. You can also find more resources here. Please note: I am not an attorney and can not give legal advice. This is just my understanding from googling and reading.I’ve done my best that I can to provide you with accurate information, but it is only my understanding and not a background in tax law.

Sources:

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Women in History: Olive Ann Beech

She

  • co-founded an aircraft company with her husband and ran it during parts of his life when he was sick and then after he died.
  • was the first woman in charge of a major aircraft company.
  • was a wife and a mother.
  • was nicknamed “The First Lady of Aviation.”
  • helped support the arts and education during her lifetime.

Others said

  • “Your selection… signals recognition of your contribution to the quality of life in Kansas. Your civic and community involvement has enriched the lives of countless Kansans. We are all grateful for your efforts.” -Governor Carlin

She said

  • “I like to have around me people who find ways to do things, not tell me why they can’t be done.”
  • “You have to sit on your own blisters.”
  • “I would say I was very fortunate throughout my life that I didn’t have to do anything that I didn’t like. I enjoyed what I did.”

Awards

  • Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy (the first woman to receive this)
  • American National Business Hall of Fame (only person from Kansas to receive this)
  • National Aviation Hall of Fame
  • One of 12 Most Distinguished Women in America
  • Woman of the Year in Aviation
  • Outstanding Woman in the Field of Business
  • One of the 10 highest-ranking women executives in major corporations
  • Bendix Trophy
  • Kansan of the Year
  • NASA Space Shuttle Study Committee nomination
  • Kansas Aviation Hall of Fame
  • 1981 Distinguished Achievement Award
  • Honorary Doctor of Business Administration from Wichita State University
  • Business Hall of Fame of Junior Achievement of Wichita

Books (Note, I haven’t read, I’ve just found them)

The Salvation Army in Wichita has an Olive Ann Beech Hall.

If you go to Wichita State University, you might be eligible for the Walter H. and Olive Ann Beech Collection Endowed Fund.

There is also the Olive Ann Beech Scholarship for Primary Care in Kansas.

Southwestern College has the Olive Ann Beech Science Center.

Sources

P.S., I haven’t decided yet on whether or not I’m changing my name – I’m leaning towards yes right now, but if you have a bit of time to pop over here and give me feedback, that would be greatly appreciated.

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Women in History: Mabel MacFerran Rockwell

Mabel was a woman of science and perhaps it is especially fitting to honor women of science because it is a field that (to some extent) even today people still think is a man’s field. I have to admit that I, myself, do not understand science well, so I’m going to do my best to paraphrase and summarize her scientific achievements, but if you want more of the technical terms, feel free to click on the links, by all means. I didn’t find tons of information on her – she lived a relatively quiet life, but her achievements in science are no small thing to me.

She

  • studied electrical engineering.
  • graduated first in her class at MIT.
  • worked with the military during WWII.
  • was a wife and a mother.
  • was the only woman to work on the Boulder and Hoover Dams.
  • created missile guidance systems.
  • worked on submarines.

Awards

  • Woman Engineer of the Year
  • Achievement Award

Sources

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