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9/10/1997 - Harvard University Creates Endowed Chair for Gender Studies

Harvard University has created a chair for Gender Studies within its Graduate School of Education. "It is an important statement that the issue of gender is now permanently a part of the university, an enduring and vital part of Harvard and its research program, " said Harvard psychologist and education professor Carol Gilligan, who will hold the position. Gilligan holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Harvard and is best known for her studies of women's psychological development and of the ways girls learn.

Four women are endowing the chair, two of whom wish to remain anonymous. The other two are Elisabeth A. Hobbs and Emily H. Fisher, both graduates of the education school and members of its visiting committee. The four sponsors donated a total of $2.5 million.

9/10/1997 - Violence Survivors More Likely to Use Health Care

Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, found that survivors of rape and other interpersonal violence were more likely than others to develop health problems and to increase their use of health services. The study, published in a series of three articles in the journal Behavioral Medicine, followed survivors for 3 years after the violent attack and found health problems ranging from psychological disturbances to chronic physical problems.

"You have a person who uses a set amount of health care and then they get raped. That next year, their health care utilization will increase 18%. They're going to their doctors, they have general complaints, they have panic, they have anxiety-related gastrointestinal distress," said Dr. Ron Acierno, co-author of the study. Use of health care services increased 56% in the second year after a rape and 31% in the third year.

Acierno stated that his report encourages doctors to be proactive in asking patients whether they have been assaulted, given that societal stigma prevents many from openly offering that information. "The people doctors are more likely to see -- especially on a repeated basis -- are assault victims, yet it's not being addressed." Acierno further recommends that medical schools begin training their students about violent assault and its effects on patient health.

9/10/1997 - AHA Says Women Unaware of Heart, Stroke Risks

In a phone survey of 1,000 women released yesterday, the American Heart Association (AHA) said only 8% view heart disease and stroke as their biggest health threat, despite the fact women are twice as likely to die from heart disease than from all types of cancer combined.

Dr. Martha Hill, president of the AHA, said that women tend to seek reproductive rather than comprehensive medical care, and believe only older women suffer from heart disease. The AHA says in 1995, 505,440 women died from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

To counter women's lack of knowledge about their heart disease risk and to encourage preventative measures, the AHA has started a national campaign called "Each One, Reach One!" By calling their toll-free number (1-888-MY HEART), callers can get an informational brochure and a phone card that will allow them to call three other women for 10 minutes to tell them about the program. AHA chapters nationwide also will be sponsoring activities and information campaigns.

To help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, women should exercise, stop smoking, keep at a healthy weight, get their blood cholesterol levels checked regularly. Estrogen therapy can also be considered.

9/9/1997 - DeFrantz, Angelopoulos Win High-Level Olympic Appointments

Last Thursday, Anita DeFrantz became the International Olympic Committee's first woman vice president and Gianna Angelopoulos of Athens on Friday became the first woman bid committee president to win hosting rights for an Olympic Games. The achievements of these women are especially impressive given the Games' history of sexism in the Olympics. International Olympic Committee founder Pierre de Coubertin believed that including women athletes in the Games would be "impractical, uninteresting, unattractive and incorrect."

"It is not the first challenge of my life," said Angelopoulos, "but it is the first challenge that has to do with my country in total, with Greece, with Olympism." If Angelopoulos chooses to head the Olympic organizing committee in Athens, she will become the first women to hold that position. DeFrantz stated "It shows that women's contributions are welcome and valuable and can be significant."

9/9/1997 - Former Citadel Cadet Sues for Sexual Harassment

Former Citadel Cadet Jeanie Mentavlos on Monday filed a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations by The Citadel, the Citadel's governing board, the officer who oversaw the barracks where she was assigned, and five male cadets. Mentavlos stated, "I'm seeking justice. The major goal here is to make sure that it doesn't happen to anybody else."

Mentavos alleges that, during her one semester at the Citadel, she was subjected to taunts, attacks, and other abuses. One cadet allegedly approached her with pictures of lesbian sex and another cadet once entered her room wearing only underwear. An unidentified cadet reportedly rubbed his penis against Mentavos' backside and another told Mentavos that the first freshman to have sex with her would be deemed an "honorary upperclassman."

Mentavos further asserts that male cadets published digitally altered pictures of her on the Internet. The cadets altered the pictures of Mentavos so that she would appear to have a penis and exposed breasts.

The school disciplined 14 male cadets in response to Mentavlos' accusations, but a local prosecutor determined that there were no grounds for criminal charges. The Citadel has not yet made a public statement regarding the lawsuit.

9/9/1997 - Ten-Year Sentence for U.S. Anti-Abortionist

On Monday, September 8, James Anthony Mitchell was convicted for a Feb. 18 anti-abortion arson attack on the Commonwealth Women's Clinic in Falls Church, VA. Mitchell plead guilty to the crime and received a mandatory 10-year sentence. The clinic had just been firebombed in 1994.

9/9/1997 - Army Drill Instructor Avoids Court-Martial, Receives Discharge

Sgt. 1st Class Robert F. Parrish of the 1st Engineer Brigade, accused of having sex with a female trainee and failing to obey two general regulations, avoided a court-martial and was granted an "other than honorable discharge," per his request. The court-martial was scheduled to begin today in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Parrish is the third man to avoid a court-martial for sex-related offenses at Fort Leonard Wood. Another sergeant and drill instructor, Christopher L. Burns, is scheduled to face a general court-martial tomorrow for adultery, committing an indecent act, and failure to obey rules.

9/9/1997 - Auto Parts Maker Charged in Sex Bias Lawsuit

Former sales representative Lorrie Beno has charged Magna International Inc. with sex discrimination. Beno contends that, while employed at the auto parts manufacturing company, she was routinely grabbed and verbally harassed by male employees, and that her male colleagues regularly entertained auto executives at Detroit-area strip clubs in efforts to gain sales. The suit, filed last year, further contends that salesmen were reimbursed for thousands of dollars spent at strip clubs, while Beno was denied reimbursement for $70 ice pageant tickets.

9/8/1997 - U.S. Appeals Court Upholds "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Policy

A U.S. federal appeals court upheld the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy in a ruling issued Friday. The ruling consolidated two separate appeals cases involving the Army's Lt. Andrew Holmes and the Navy's Lt. Richard Watson, both of whom were discharged from the military after disclosing their sexual orientation. Counsel for Holmes and Watson argued that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy infringed on their constitutional right to free speech. The court rejected this argument, claiming that the men were discharged based on their conduct, and not their speech.

Friday's ruling reinforces the military's right to discharge a service member "based on an inference of homosexual conduct from his admission of homosexual orientation, without corroborating evidence of conduct or intent." According to the appeals court, persons who identify as lesbian, bisexual or gay will be assumed "guilty" of homosexual acts or intent to engage in homosexual acts unless they can prove otherwise.

9/8/1997 - Orthodox Rabbis Sue Holocaust Museum Over Gay Exhibit

A new holocaust museum in Manhattan may not open its doors on September 15, as was expected. Sixteen Orthodox Jewish rabbis have sued the museum, claiming that an exhibit honoring gay and lesbian Holocaust victims is offensive to them and should not be supported with public funds. Rabbi Yehuda Levin, lead plaintiff and vocal opponent of gay rights, angrily objects to "the elevation of homosexuals to the martyred status of the six million Jews."

The museum is reviewing the lawsuit and has not yet issued a public statement. A hearing will likely be scheduled for this week.

9/8/1997 - Gore Pledges Administration's Support for Working Women

U.S. Vice President Al Gore promised working women "labor rights, civil rights and human rights" in a speech delivered to an AFL-CIO conference this Saturday. "We can't be satisfied until the notion of equal pay for equal work is not just a theory but a reality in the lives of working women," Gore said. The three-day conference, a project of the AFL-CIO's Working Women's Department, concerned major issues facing working women and their families and drew more than 1,700 attendees. Women discussed ways to bring change, both on the job and in their communities.

9/8/1997 - Jones Rejects Settlement, Seeks New Counsel

Paula Corbin Jones is interviewing new counsel in her 3-year-old sexual harassment dispute with U.S. President Clinton after refusing a $700,000 settlement proposed by her lawyers. Jones counsel, Joe Cammarata and Gil Davis, asked for permission to withdraw from the case if Jones refused to settle. Jones refused to grant this permission, and Cammarata and Davis have since asked U.S. District Court Judge Susan Webber Wright for permission to withdraw from Jones' case, citing a "difference of opinion."

A spokesperson for Jones, Susan Carpenter McMillan, claims that Cammarata and Davis are "are hell-bent on settling" and "don't really want to go to trial." According to McMillan, Jones rejected the latest settlement because she disagreed with the wording of Clinton's apology. Cammarata and Davis have refused to comment, citing attorney-client privilege.

9/8/1997 - Williams Breaks New Ground for African American Women In Tennis

Venus Williams, a 17-year-old tennis star from Florida, on Sunday became the first African American women to play in the U.S. Open Women's Singles Final in 39 years. Williams follows Althea Gibson, who in 1957 became the first African American woman to play in the prestigious tournament final. Gibson won the U.S. Open two years in a row, in 1957 and 1958.

Although Williams lost her match on Sunday against top-seeded Martina Hingis, she won a great victory for people of color in a sport that is largely considered white and upper-middle class. Many speculate that Williams might become a "Tiger Woods of tennis," by stirring up new interest in the sport and by serving as a role model for young African American women.

9/5/1997 - House Votes to Eliminate U.S. Funding for Intl. Family Planning Organizations

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said that September 4, 1997 was "a sad day for women." On that day, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $12.3 million foreign aid bill including the Smith amendment, a measure that eliminates U.S. financial aid to international family planning organizations that practice or advocate abortion. Pelosi, who sponsored a narrowly defeated alternative amendment that would have preserved funding for organizations that pay for abortion services with private funds, says of the Smith measure, "It means more unplanned pregnancies, more abortions, exploding populations and exploding poverty."

In July, the Senate passed a $13.2 billion foreign aid bill that did not include the Smith admendment. Senators have deemed this abortion measure "veto bait." The House and Senate will have to agree on a single bill before the legislation is sent to President Clinton for approval. President Clinton has vowed to veto any legislation that restricts family planning activities.

9/5/1997 - Saudi Arabian Man Kills Newborn Daughter for Being Female

The Arab News daily reported Thursday that a man threw his newborn child to the ground, killing her, when he realized the baby was female. The man, who had six daughters and no sons, claimed he did not intend to kill the baby, but was simply venting his frustration. The newspaper did not state whether the man had been arrested.

9/5/1997 - Operation Rescue Lawsuit Dismissed

U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf has dismissed Operation Rescue's lawsuit against democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. Lawyers for the anti-choice organization alleged that Kennedy made false and defamatory statements about Operation Rescue in a 1993 television interview. In the interview, Kennedy was explaining why women need guaranteed access to abortion clinics. "When we have a national organization like Operation Rescue that has as a matter of national policy firebombing and even murder, that's unacceptable."

Wolf ruled that Kennedy was not liable for his statements because those statements were made as part of his Senatorial duties. "His remarks about Operation Rescue were made, at least in part, to inform the public of the reasons for his position on a legislative matter." Operation Rescue plans to appeal the decision.

9/5/1997 - Vaginal Births Found Safe After Cesarean Section

A new study in Pediatrics reports that women who have had a cesarean section can go on to give birth vaginally without increasing their own or their infant's risk of complications. Vaginal births are less debilitating to mothers, both physically and economically, and do not encourage the respiratory problems that have been linked to elective cesarean sections. Thirty-eight percent of cesarean sections performed in the U.S. are repeat cesareans, giving the U.S. one of the highest rates of repeat procedures.

9/5/1997 - U.S. Supreme Court Refuses Stay on Proposition 209

Civil and women's rights activists requesting an emergency stay on the enforcement of Proposition 209 were refused Thursday, when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the request without comment.

The Court has yet to decide whether it will hear an appeal of Proposition 209's constitutionality, and opponents of the law are confident that the decision, expected in October, will be in their favor. Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, states "This case involves critical questions regarding the ability of cities and states to address historic discrimination and deserves a review by our nation's highest court." Ed Chen, staff attorney for the ACLU of Northern California, hopes that local cities will not jump to enforce Proposition 209, since a Supreme Court reversal of may be forthcoming and the changes would cause "a great deal of disruption to their programs."

9/4/1997 - Senate Moves to Eliminate Medicaid Abortions

The Senate voted Wednesday to eliminate Medicaid funding for abortions performed by managed care organizations. Exceptions would be granted in instances where the unwanted pregnancy was caused by rape or incest or endangers the mother's life. The House will consider this provision, sponsored by Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Missouri, later this week.

According to Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, abortion services are currently covered by two thirds of managed-care plans. The Senate's move will have a particularly devastating affect on poor women, who depend on Medicaid-funded managed care for their basic healthcare. Parenthood Federation of America president Gloria Feldt remarked, "This action stands in stark contrast to the original intent of the federal Medicaid program by further marginalizing poor women and erecting barriers to equal health care for all."

9/4/1997 - Nutri/System Replaces Fen-Phen With Phen-Pro

Nutri/System Weight Loss Centers has discontinued the use of fen-phen in response to reports that the drug causes damage to heart valves and increases blood pressure. Nutri/System has replaced fen-phen with an alternative drug combination called phen-pro, a mixture of phentermine and Prozac, an anti-depressant.

Nutri/System claims that the new drug is effective and safer than fen-phen. Others, like Dr. Lewis J. Rubin, head of pulmonary medicine at the University of Maryland Medical School, claim that phen-pro has not yet been proven safe. "Let's not embrace the next [drug] that comes down the pike until it's proven safe and effective."

9/4/1997 - Calcium, Vitamin D Prevent Bone Fractures, Study Reports

A new study found that calcium and vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of broken bones in elderly persons. Previous studies have established that calcium supplements can slow bone loss and increase bone density, and that vitamin D encourages the body's absorption of calcium. The new study by Dr. Beth Dawson-Hughes et al and published in last Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, is unique in that it shows that calcium can actually prevent fractures from occurring.

In the study, subjects that took calcium supplements were more than 50% less likely to suffer a broken bone after a fall than were subject that did not take calcium supplements. The annual cost of osteoporosis (gradual thinning and weakening of bone tissue) and fractures that are caused by osteoporosis is an estimated $10 billion.

9/3/1997 - Abortion Dispute May Obstruct Administration's Plan

An anticipated abortion dispute in Congress, led by Republican Rep. Chris Smith of N.J., may jeopardize the Clinton administration's plan to repay United Nations debt and restructure U.S. foreign policy organization through the State Department authorization bill. The authorization bill, which was discussed and partially agreed-upon in a House-Senate conference last month and may come up in the House again this week, would bring the U.S. Information Agency and the Arms Control Agency under the State Department and allocate $819 million for repayment of U.S. debt to the United Nations.

The portion of the bill that is in contention is a measure that concerns funding for family planning organizations that practice or advocate abortion. Smith would like to reinstate the former "Mexico City" provision by amending the State Department authorization bill. The Mexico City provision, strictly enforced by the Bush and Reagan administrations and then abolished by Clinton in 1993, bars the use of U.S. funds for international family planning organizations that perform or advocate abortions. If the House-Senate approves the "Mexico City" language suggested by Smith, Clinton will likely veto the bill.

9/3/1997 - Corporations Cater to Women Entrepreneurs

The U.S. Department of Labor has projected that women will own approximately one-half of U.S. businesses by the year 2000. There are approximately eight million women business owners today, and these businesses generate $2.3 trillion in sales. Lucile Reid, who directs a $10 billion loan program for women business owners for Wells Fargo Bank, says of women-owned businesses, "They've grown from being tiny businesses to strong, small businesses with great growth prospects, so you [corporations] better pay attention."

Several major U.S. corporations have responded to women's growing economic power by altering their sales strategies and marketing specifically to women. IBM now has women-led divisions that target women business owners. AT&T has launched commercials which feature women business owners and has trained its sales force to use communication skills and tactics that women are said to prefer. For example, women, more so than men, desire partnerships with their vendors. They seek to establish long-term relationships, demand frequent personal attention, and are often more loyal to their vendors than are men. Some women business owners dispute these generalizations and fear that essentialist stereotypes will impede them in their struggles for equality with men.

9/3/1997 - Chicago Sponsors Gay-Pride Themed Renovations

Chicago's North Halsted Street, home to one of the city's most visible and prosperous gay communities, will receive city funds for renovations and improvements that have a gay-pride theme. Mark Johnson, spokesperson for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said, "Such a institutional recognition of a largely homosexual community is a national first." The renovations, scheduled to begin in March of 1998, will include rainbow-colored lights, hung in arches on a half-mile stretch of Halsted Street. In addition to the new lighting, sidewalks will be repaired and widened, and trees will be planted. "This particular strip has contributed million of dollars to the economic base of the city, so the city is reinvesting in the community," said Mary Morten, liaison to the gay and lesbian community for Mayor Richard Daley.

9/3/1997 - WOC Honors Diana With Land Mines Campaign

Women Organizing for Change (WOC) is honoring Diana, the Princess of Wales, by lending its efforts to one of her many worthy causes. "There will be many memorials to the Princess of Wales. But perhaps the best tribute to her life would be to make her fight against land mines a success." According to the WOC, the U.S. government has done little to eliminate the use of these destructive devices, which claim many innocent lives each year. If you would like to contribute to WOC's efforts, please contact President Clinton and urge him to join in the fight to eliminate land mines. He can be reached via e-mail (, phone (202/456-1414), fax (202/456-2883), or mail (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC 20500).