They Almost Had To Abandon Making A Film That Would Be Wonderful For Women's Rights. Almost.

This post serves as a thank you. A big HUGE thank you from the people who are working on the documentary "Equal Means Equal," whose New York shoot was funded thanks to the help of Upworthians like you.

"What I want to know — the central question of this film, in fact — is how much of our stories are shaped by this fundamental, and yet generally invisible, legal bias?


Many will claim that a Constitutional Amendment is not a panacea for the litany of ills that women face ... and yet the potential for it to be truly transformative across the board cannot be denied.

We need the law on our side. I believe this more than ever after this shoot."

— Kamala Lopez, director of "Equal Means Equal"

We here at Upworthy are so happy we can help facilitate a positive social change in any way we can. Take a look below at the great video created for the Kickstarter, whose goal was $87,011 to help film the many segments that deal with this important issue:

After the Upworthy post, they met their goal — and then some. The total raised was a whopping $136,933, almost $50,000 more than their goal.

So what have Creator, Producer, and Director Kamala Lopez and the rest of the film crew been up to since their Kickstarter was funded?

Sarah Anderson and Jendra Jarnagin film Jezebel and Salon writer Amanda Marcotte and Kamala Lopez in New York.

Since the Kickstarter wrapped, the "Equal Means Equal" crew was able to film several segments in New York City, including interviews with global women's rights advocates like Lakshmi Puri, an assistant secretary-general of the United Nations, as well as feminist lawyers, authors, reproductive rights activists, and filmmakers — including Helen Benedict, the writer whose work inspired the Film Independent Spirit Award winner "The Invisible War."

Producer and co-writer Gini Sikes

They've also met with domestic violence advocates. Here's a quote from producer and co-writer of "Equal Means Equal" Gini Sikes:

Years ago, after a slew of movies about homicidal women with an axe to grind had just come out, a magazine assigned me to find out whether women were becoming more violent. In a California women's prison I learned that in one irreversible moment many of them had fought back against a vicious partner with fatal consequences. They'd formed the first support group for battered women in the nation and were working to change law. When I reported that female violence wasn't on the rise but women were imprisoned for defending themselves against their abusers, the magazine deemed the story not sexy enough and killed it.

Last week I reunited with several former inmates when Kamala, myself and the "Equal Means Equal" crew filmed three remarkable women in a tiny apartment. [After Battered Woman Syndrome became a legal defense in California], they were paroled, thanks to the tireless efforts of legal advocates. Their stories were hard to hear but they let people know of the injustices still facing women, and that even with new laws, things haven't changed enough.

This time around, I can rest assured their message will get out. And for that, I am deeply grateful to Upworthy for putting Equal Means Equal on the map!

The members of Convicted Women Against Abuse, with Kamala Lopez and Gini Sikes. From left: Crystal Wheeler, Leesha Gooseberry, Lopez, Cheryl Sellers, and Sikes.

So what are they up to now? As of March 2014, they're filming segments in California, and they mentioned an interview with Gloria Steinem is in the works. They still appreciate any assistance, so if you missed their Kickstarter the first time around, they still need money to complete their project! Feel free to make a donation to their project on Fractured Atlas.

Producer Liz Lopez with her daughter Kamala.

More

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

Five people die from vaping, and the government talks about banning vaping devices. Hundreds of American children have been shot to death in their classrooms, sometimes a dozen or so at a time, and the government has done practically nothing. It's unconscionable.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
via Hollie Bellew-Shaw / Facebook

For those of us who are not on the spectrum, it can be hard to perceive the world through the senses of someone with autism.

"You could think of a person with autism as having an imbalanced set of senses," Stephen Shore, assistant professor in the School of Education at Adelphi University, told Web MD.

"Some senses may be turned up too high and some turned down too low. As a result, the data that comes in tends to be distorted, and it's very hard to perceive a person's environment accurately," Shore continued.

Keep Reading Show less
Education & Information
Truth

Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

truth
True