Editor's note: Stephanie Coontz teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and co-chairs the Council on Contemporary Families. Her most recent book is "A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s."
By Stephanie Coontz, Special to CNN
(CNN) – When Philip Morris introduced Virginia Slims cigarettes for women back in 1968, their marketing slogan was "You've Come a Long Way, Baby." But by 1968 women had not really come very far. "Help wanted" ads were still segregated by sex, the average employed female college graduate earned less than the average male high school graduate, fewer than 3% of all attorneys were female, most states had "head and master" laws giving the husband the final say in the home, and no state counted marital rape as a crime.
Since then women actually have come a very long way. But this year on International Women's Day, March 8, women are facing new challenges from social conservatives, who seem to believe that women have come too far. Who would have thought that women's hard-won access to family planning would suddenly become a hot button issue in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries?
Read Stephanie Coontz's full column
By William Hudson, CNN
(CNN) - Tobacco companies' advertising and promotional campaigns may influence young adults and adolescents to start smoking, says a new report from the U.S. Surgeon General.
The report stops short of saying that tobacco companies have definitely changed their packaging in ways that increase their appeal among adolescents. "The evidence is suggestive," but not conclusive, says the report.
Studies show that the once-steady decline in youth smoking has slowed in recent years.
"Each day in the United States, over 3,800 young people under 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette, and over 1,000 youth under age 18 become daily cigarette smokers," says Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the report's opening comments.
Read the full story
By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
(CNN) – Every time Ellen Seidman hears the word "retarded," she worries for her 9-year-old son, Max, who has cerebral palsy.
She wonders if people will ever respect him, or see him as an equal, if they associate that word with people like him, who have intellectual disabilities.
"I'm not saying that anyone who uses the word flippantly has something against people with special needs," said Seidman, a magazine editor and mom blogger. "But it is a demeaning word even if it's meant as a joke, because it spreads the idea that people who are cognitively impaired are either stupid or losers."
Seidman is not alone in her desire to see "the R-word" go the way of racial slurs once considered acceptable. More than 250,000 people have pledged online to take part in the Special Olympics' campaign to "spread the word to end the word." Many of them are expected to participate in Wednesday's annual day of action through pledge drives, fundraisers and individual acts to raise awareness.
Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.
The world's youngest billionaires –Forbes
Federal Reserve Study: Well-educated, married women leave work force as husbands earn more –Reuters
"The triumph of female employment and opportunity is quite possibly the most important economic story in the world" –The Atlantic
As Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's profile rises, so does increased scrutiny - National Public Radio
Opinion: The importance of International Women's Day–The Huffington Post
By Sarah Hoye, CNN
Philadelphia (CNN) - On a recent Friday night, Saddiq Myers is chasing his younger sisters, Sudaysah and Sihgerra, through a barn in West Philadelphia.
Their giggles rise above the din of horseshoes clanking across a barn floor and the scrape of metal shovels scooping manure.
While most teens and tweens are kicking off the weekend at the mall or the movies, a group of friends gathers inside the stable, once home to mounted police horses.
Tucked away in the heart of Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, the stable has become an urban oasis for at-risk youth hailing from the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - The number of anti-government groups in the United States grew dramatically in 2011 for a third year, fueled by a rising tide against President Barack Obama, the struggling economy and illegal immigration, a report released Thursday finds.
The three-year trend amounts to an "astounding" 755% growth since 2008, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center report "The Year in Hate & Extremism: The Patriot Movement Explodes."
The report attributes the growth to "superheated fears generated by economic dislocation, the changing racial makeup of America, and the prospect of four more years under a black president who many on the far right view as an enemy to their country."
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at email@example.com.
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