This week in Mindblowingly Regressive Attacks on Your Reproductive Rights, South Dakota governor Dennis Daugaard passed a statewide law mandating a veritable legislative obstacle course for any woman seeking an abortion. Women in the state will now be subjected to a three-day waiting period before they’re able to get an abortion — and they must also visit a crisis pregnancy center (which, by the way, are privately regulated facilities and thus under no legal obligation to keep your medical information confidential) and listen to a lecture about why abortion is evil. Really. Suddenly that old South Dakotan law that bars you from falling asleep in a cheese factory sounds relatively rational. Amanda Marcotte explains why this law is more than an attack on reproductive rights, but on individual privacy at large:

Republican state senator Al Novstrup claimed the bill is somehow protective of women, offering them a “second opinion,” which indicates not just his disrespect for religious freedom but his profound ignorance of options counseling typical to abortion clinics, especially Planned Parenthood, which runs the sole abortion clinic in the state. I don’t imagine he’d see it that way if the state required citizens to hear a “second opinion” about other private decisions based on personal religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Would Novstrup enjoy having to listen to a lecture from an atheist or Muslim group before joining a church, getting married or making plans for his own funeral? Why then is it appropriate to force women to listen to religious lectures before making a decision that involves their own religious beliefs about life?

In The New York Times, Kate Zernike reported good news and bad news for female professors at M.I.T. and beyond. The good? There are more of them, they’re ascending to more prestigious positions in greater numbers, and they’re winning more awards. But, says M.I.T. associate dean Hazel S. Sive, “Because things are so much better now, we can see an entirely new set of issues.” The situation described at many top universities speaks to the residual and harder-to-define effects of institutional sexism that linger long after equality has, ostenisbly, been “achieved.” Zernike notes:

[W]ith the emphasis on eliminating bias, women now say the assumption when they win important prizes or positions is that they did so because of their gender. Professors say that female undergraduates ask them how to answer male classmates who tell them they got into M.I.T. only because of affirmative action.

Finally, Akoto Ofori-Atta asked an important question in a must-read piece at The Root: “Is Hip-Hop Feminism Alive in 2011?” Ofori-Atta revisits the ideology of hip-hop feminism that writer Joan Morgan coined over a decade ago in her exquisitely titled book When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost. Hip-hop feminists have always had to grapple with a rather difficult question: “How do women actively participate in a culture that seems to hate them so vehemently?” There are no easy answers, but Morgan has found that ambiguity both challenging and freeing:

The manifestoes of black feminism, while they helped me to understand the importance of articulating the language to combat oppression, didn’t give me the language to explore things that were not black and white, but things that were in the gray. And that gray is very much represented in hip-hop.

This weekend we’ll be returning to our beloved alma matter to attend the Visions in Feminism Conference. Let us know if you’ll be there too! We’ll report back next week with what we’ve learned.

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