Meghan Markle is Engaged to Prince Harry

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (E! Online)

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (E! Online)

It’s finally happening! Former “Suits” actress Meghan Markle got engaged to her boyfriend Price Harry (heard of him?), and they announced their engagement a week ago. The two attended a photocall in the morning at Kensington Palance’s Sunken Garden, and sat down for an televised interview revealing more details with the BBC later that day.

This engagement is big for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it’s breaking barriers: Markle will be the first biracial person (and first biracial woman) to join the royal family. (Markle’s mother is Doria Ragland, an African-American woman, and her father is Thomas Markle, who is Caucasian. Markle self-identifies as a “strong, confident mixed-race woman.”) Many are excited because Markle will be the first “Black Princess” (though technically she’s more likely to end up with a Duchess title), but there are more nuances to the situation. “Elle” has a a great piece where 16 Black women aired their reactions to the engagement news; it’s well worth reading in full, so go check it out!

The engagement is also a powerful step towards revolutionizing the British monarchy and the public’s perception thereof. Princes Harry and William have spoken out about their mental health and its importance, and seem to want to make the monarchy more progressive. Along with the fact that Prince Harry will be marrying a biracial woman, he’ll also be marrying a divorcee: Markle was previously married to film producer Trevor Engelson from 2011 to 2013. The last time a British royal married a divorced woman, he had to abdicate the throne. This happened in 1937 when the Duke of Windsor married Wallis Simpson, which caused quite a scandal.

One thing is for sure: this engagement is hurtling the British royal family into the 21st century. As “The New York Times” puts it:

With one heady announcement, it seems, Harry and Ms. Markle have thrown out generations’ worth of quietly repressed tradition and presented a new royal model to a country that will have to adjust to it, whether it wants to or not.

 

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By The Numbers: Interracial Marriage Data

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West arrive at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York (The Huffington Post)

FILE PHOTO – Kim Kardashian and Kanye West arrive at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards in New York, U.S., August 28, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

The 50th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia case is soon approaching. The case struck down bans on interracial marriage, and continues to resonate today. With that in mind, I was curious to see any data on interracial marriages: Has the number gone up? Has societal disapproval gone down?

Let’s take a look:

Who’s Marrying Out?

  • In 1970, less than 1% of all married couples were interracial.
  • In 1980, 6%+ of newlyweds were interracial, and only 3% of all marriages were interracial.
  • In 2013, 12% of newlyweds (a record high) married someone of a different race, and 6.3% of all marriages were interracial.
The Absolute Rise of Intermarriage (Priceonomics)

The Absolute Rise of Intermarriage (Priceonomics)

Who’s Down with Marrying Out?

  • In 1986, only 30% of survey respondents felt interracial marriage is acceptable for everyone. But that same percentage of respondents did not feel interracial marriage was acceptable for anyone.
  • In 2009, 83% of survey respondents were accepting of interracial marriage.
  • In 2012, 93% of people approve of interracial marriage.

And let’s end on one more noteworthy statistic that warms my heart and gives me hope for the future:

“More than four-in-ten Americans (43%) say that more people of different races marrying each other has been a change for the better in our society.”

 

 

Ohio Bans Abortions After 20 Weeks

Ultrasound of fetus at 20 weeks (The Times in Plain English)

Ultrasound of fetus at 20 weeks (The Times in Plain English)

Another blow for women’s health: Ohio Governor John Kasich (yes, the former Republican presidential hopeful) signed a bill to approve banning abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. (To put this in context, most pregnancies are around 40 weeks long.)

The Senate Bill 127, signed December 2016, does not allow for exceptions in rape and incest cases. Supporters of the bill claim that the fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. (I’m curious how they know this; did they ask the fetus through the ultrasound?) The only exception will be for women whose pregnancy puts their health at risk.

Providers caught performing abortions after 20 weeks will charged with a “fourth-degree felony.”

Earlier that month, Kasich tried to sign a “heartbeat” bill, which would ban abortion after six weeks. A heartbeat pulse can generally be found around that time, though women may not know they’re pregnant. He eventually vetoed it due to overwhelming public pressure.

Around 1% of abortions occur after 20 weeks. The new law takes effect Mar. 14, 2017.

Wonder Woman is No Longer a U.N. Ambassador

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (CNet2)

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman (CNet2)

 

DC Comics superhero/feminist icon Wonder Woman has been ousted as the United Nations (U.N.)’s Honorary Ambassador for female empowerment. The character was officially unveiled as the ambassador on Oct. 21. The unveiling tied into the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goal #5, which “seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.’

Her last day as ambassador was Dec. 16. Girlfriend didn’t even have the job a whole two months.

The reason for the end of Wonder Woman’s ambassadorship is slightly unclear. Around 45K+ people showed their displeasure with the iconic character’s new role by singing a petition. But the U.N. claims they made the end date soon after the character’s debut in the role, and not as a result of the protests.

 

First Female President of South Korea Impeached

South Korean President Park Guen-hye (NovoRossia)

South Korean President Park Guen-hye (NovoRossia)

South Korean President Park Guen-hye made history in 2012 by becoming the first woman elected to the country’s highest office. Now, she’s made history for a more ignominious reason: Park is the first female president of South Korea to be impeached.

Park is battling various charges of corruption. The South Korean National Assembly voted to impeach her 234 to 56. The vote now will move to the Constitutional Court, which could take up to six months.

And if the Constitutional Court is in favor?

Park will be formally removed from office if six of the court’s nine justices support her impeachment, and the country would then hold a presidential election within 60 days.

According to a recent poll from Gallup Korea, Park’s current approval rating sits at a measly 5%. Incredibly, this is an improvement from her 4% approval rating. Poll respondents supported her impeachment at a rate of 81%.

 

 

Nikki Haley is the First Woman and Minority Named to the Trump Administration

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (Politico)

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (Politico)

President-elect Donald Trump (I threw up a little just now writing that) has named his pick for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. He’s selected Republican Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley. Haley is the first woman Trump has selected for his administration.

Haley’s also the first minority Trump has selected: She’s of Indian descent, and her parents are Sikh.

Haley has served two terms as governor of South Carolina, and is known for advocating removing the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s State Capitol grounds.

She is the first woman governor of South Carolina, as well as the first minority governor of the state.

According to CNN, “Haley will keep serving as governor until the Senate confirms her nomination.”

The Teen Birth Rate Is Declining

Teenage girls with pregnancy test (Young Adults)

Teenage girls with pregnancy test (Young Adults)

When I was growing up in the ’90s, teenage pregnancy was just a fact. It was depicted in movies and on TV, and you probably knew at least one girl in your school who got pregnant.

But teenage pregnancy now seems so…dated. Times have changed. Having kids young and outside of wedlock isn’t a big deal anymore. And I feel like I’m not seeing teen pregnancies focused on so much anymore (granted, that might be because I’m no longer a teen myself).

There’s a good reason for this: the teen birth rate is decreasing.

According to the U.S Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health, the teenage birth rate in the U.S. has actually been decreasing for over 20 years. In 1991, there were 61.8 babies born for every 1k teenage girls. In 2014, there were 24.2 babies born for every 1K teenage girls. Quite a drop.

Even the year-over-year drops can be steep. The 2014 number is a 9% drop from 2013, where 26.5 babies were born to every 1K teenage girls. And the 2015 number of 22 babies per every 1K teenage girls is a 8% decrease from 2014.

For a longer-term view of how the teen birth rate has declined from the previous decade, CNN has the scoop:

Since 2007, the year-to-year decline in teen birth rates has been between 7% and 9%…The number of teens becoming moms has dropped by a total of 54% from 2007 to 2015.

That’s huge! We’ll see how small the number of teenage pregnancies eventually gets.