The Onion FAIL!

September 7, 2009 § 5 Comments

Via Shakesville, check out this heinous shirt from The Onion’s online store:
onionshirt
As SKM pointed out in her post, the text on the website reads “My Friend Went to Thailand and All I Got Was This Lousy Prostitute” — horrifying enough without looking at the text on the actual shirt, which reads “My Friend Went to Thailand and All I Got Was This Lousy Kidnapped Prostitute.”

My love affair with The Onion has been put on hold indefinitely.

Contact them here or here.

Congrats

September 5, 2009 § 1 Comment

diggs-menzelThe musical theatre geek in me would like to extend warm congratulations to Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel, who had their first child this week. Walker Diggs was born on September 2nd (sidenote: Walker was the name my parents had in mind for me if I was a boy!).

I do not extend warm anything to the person who commented on the article, “Black women should be more supportive of their men so they don’t have to go to White women,” nor to whomever was responsible for the death threats sent to the couple in 2004 because their marriage is interracial.

Post-racial, my ass.

Hate Mail Targets Inwood Restaurants

July 31, 2009 § 4 Comments

I heard a story on NPR this morning about several Latino-owned businesses in Inwood — many that my friends and I frequent — receiving hateful letters, to the tune of “vermin pigeons,” “speak English,” “stop wrecking my U.S.A.,” and “step down Sotomayor.”

Fernando Mateo, of Hispanics Across America, claims the restaurants have been receiving the letters every couple of months, and he believes owners fear the hateful words might soon turn into violence.

“That somebody may come with a machine gun and shoot-up the area, shoot-up the patrons, you know?” Mateo said. “We don’t want to wait until it escalates into gunfire.”

Jesus Hernandez also owns a restaurant in the area – Mama Sushi. He came to the US from the Dominican Republic at age 14, and worked hard to be able to open his own business seven years later.

Mama Sushi opened eight months ago, and Hernandez said he cannot understand who is targeting his store and the other businesses on the block.

“I don’t have just Latin people coming here,” Hernandez said. “I have black, I have white I have all kinds of people as customers so I can’t point out anybody who would do such a thing.”

Mateo said he will be turning some of the letters over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Thursday for analysis. He has also been in contact with the Department of Justice for Human Rights about the threats.

Obviously I know on an intellectual level that this shit happens all the time, but it’s something completely new to think of hate-motivated violence happening on streets where I walk. Altogether terrible, especially on a community level.

SAFER teach-in event

July 29, 2009 § Leave a comment

I love Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER). It’s a totally badass organization that provides resources for college students to improve their schools’ sexual assault prevention and response programs. Through our work at NARAL, Shira and I met Nora, an awesome activist who sits on SAFER’s board and was kind enough to speak at a meeting of our Feminist Focus club. It rocked.

So if, unlike me, you’re available during a weekday afternoon, I highly encourage you to make your way to this event they’re holding on Monday:

WHAT: A FREE teach-in for students who want to learn more about what SAFER does and how to get active on their campus.
WHEN: Monday, August 3rd from noon to 2:00pm
WHERE: NARAL Pro-Choice NY Offices (470 Park Ave South, 7th floor) — bring ID!
RSVP: contact@safercampus.org

Hope some of you can make it!

Read This: Another sister attacked

June 30, 2009 § 3 Comments

TRIGGER WARNING: Descriptions of hate-motivated violence.

CaitieCat at Shakesville brings us the story of Leslie Mora, a trans woman who was harassed and brutally beaten in Queens on the night of June 18th. From a report by the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund:

Throughout the attack, Leslie’s assailants called her a “faggot” in Spanish. The attack left Leslie with multiple injuries, including bruises all over her body, and stitches in her scalp. Police called to the scene found Leslie nearly naked and bleeding on the sidewalk. They also recovered a belt buckle from the assailants that was covered in blood.

And from CaitieCat’s spot-on reaction:

Despite shouting anti-gay slurs at her in Spanish while they attacked her, the assailants have not been charged with any hate crime, as the Queens Co. DA has declined to even investigate it as such.

There are a whole bunch of things I could point out about this: that it’s just about the most obviously hate-based crime I’ve heard of in a while, that calling it only assault leaves out that they were only stopped from killing her by the passerby — why isn’t it attempted murder, exactly? — that there was no bail set for two men who tried to kill a random stranger on the street.

That people will be saying it was her fault for walking alone on the street late at night, or that she’d been drinking, or blah blah victim-blaming blah.

On average, at least one transgender person is killed in the US each month. It seems only by the intervention of “good fortune” that Ms. Mora didn’t join so many of our sisters and brothers already listed at the Transgender Day of Remembrance site.

Very often when I read stories like these on other blogs, I can’t decide whether or not to repost it here because I have nothing to add to the well-crafted and respectful responses that brought me the information in the first place. But I think that not reposting, not getting the story out there through as many humble outlets as possible, is a large factor in the erasure of unfortunately less popular and less discussed feminist/progressive injustices. So I will keep on reposting with minimal comment, because the stories I share need to be heard.

Those Ads

June 10, 2009 § 23 Comments

true blood

This is an advertisement for the second season of True Blood, a television series on HBO.

I have never seen this show, and my thoughts on this poster are difficult to articulate. But they’ve been stewing for weeks, and I know for sure that I am troubled by the combination of the sexual picture and the words “It hurts so good.” A few days ago I saw one of these on a payphone booth, and on the plastic cover was written in black marker: “Stop Domestic Violence. This Ad Is Dangerous.” I am seriously inclined to agree.

My response is complicated by my knowledge that some people achieve certain kinds of pleasure from certain kinds of pain. Some people embody the phrase on this poster. These people might be my friends, partners, teachers, or peers. They might even include my future self. I am conscious that this group, linked by sexual preferences, has a history of being demeaned and fetishized and caricatured by society, and I want no part in that degradation.

But at the same time, this advertisement scares me. Like the glamourization of dead women, this design portrays direct physical violence as something sexy. It tells boys and men that women will automatically lust after violent sexual interactions. The problem is not that women may indeed have such fantasies, and that they will have male partners who will participate – it’s that this ad sanctions sexually violent attitudes on a grand scale. In our consent-confused culture, this subtext could easily translate into an implicit excuse for sexual assault: it was hurting her good. She liked it, even if she didn’t say so.

That thought makes me more than a little nauseous.

A Hypocritical Tragedy

May 31, 2009 § 2 Comments

UPDATE: There will be a vigil in honor of Dr. Tiller TONIGHT, May 1st, at 6pm in Union Square. I hope some of you can make it.

I just got word (via an email from NARAL Pro-Choice America) that a Kansas doctor, Dr. George Tiller, was killed for his “commitment to providing abortion services and other reproductive health care services to women and their families.” Apparently, Dr. Tiller had been violently harassed in the past by anti-abortion protestors, but he never stopped using his resources, time, and education to help those around him. Here’s NARAL’s apt and eloquent expression of grief and vision for the future:

“Dr. Tiller’s murder will send a chill down the spines of the brave and courageous providers and other professionals who are part of reproductive-health centers that serve women across this country. We want them to know that they have our support as they move forward in providing these essential services in the aftermath of the shocking news from Wichita.

We understand that the investigation is ongoing and that law-enforcement officials have detained a suspect. If it proves to be an act of anti-abortion violence, as we suspect it is, then the full weight of the law must be used to send a clear message that these types of attacks will be prosecuted fully and swiftly.”

Here is another example of the terrible ‘weighing of lives’ that goes on within anti-abortion groups and minds. The life of a fetus is sacred, but Dr. Tiller’s wasn’t? It’s wrong to kill…unless you’re exterminating someone who threatens your system of beliefs? The sheer hypocrisy makes me mad, and the malicious intent underlying that hypocrisy makes me scared.

Students Speak: Inequality

May 30, 2009 § 1 Comment

Inequality – by Sasha, a high school junior.

If you’re like me, school takes up huge amount of your time and energy. Before you started reading this article, you were probably thinking about school. Maybe you’re worried about an upcoming math test, or thinking about how little sleep you got last night because you were up so late doing homework. Or maybe you were just thinking about someone who you’re hoping to sit next to in your next period class. In New York City, going to school isn’t really a choice and it is easy to think about all the trouble school causes. However, without the education that we are provided, we couldn’t be prepared to lead the life we want to live.

Nearly 66 million girls around the world (two-thirds of the world’s children) do not have access to education, leading to a higher illiteracy rate among women than men. 70 percent of the world’s poorest individuals are girls and women, meaning that a huge amount of the female population does not have the money to go to school. There are many factors other than extreme poverty that prevent girls from achieving access to education, such as childhood marriage and safety concerns like sex trafficking, domestic abuse and hate crimes.

The United Nations defines extreme poverty as living on less than two dollars a day. Many girls do not have access to clean water, resulting in sickness that prevents them from being able to work. Doctor bills result in cutting back even more. Their poverty impacts their educational opportunities as well. They can’t afford the required school uniforms, transportation, or the basic supplies. Unable to afford transportation, they are forced to walk miles to get to classes.

Marriage is a wonderful opportunity to commit your life to someone you love and receive their love and commitment in return. Unfortunately, many women and girls not only have no control over whom they marry, but they also have no control over when they marry. Despite many countries enacting marriageable age laws to limit marriage to a minimum age of 16 to 18, child marriages are still widespread. Poverty, tradition and conflict make the incidence of child marriage very frequent, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In 2006, there were more than 60 million child brides who were married or in union before age 18. For most of those girls, their marriage equals a death sentence to their education because either their husbands don’t allow them to go to school, or they are simply overwhelmed with the responsibilities of a wife.

When talking about sex crimes, rape, and domestic abuse, it is difficult to articulate the traumatic impact it has on the victim’s life. While researching the reality of sex crimes, I was immediately shocked by the numbers. In South Africa, a sex crime happens every 20 seconds. (How long have you spent reading this article?)

  • In Southeast Asia, 40% of girls are being sold into prostitution to feed their families.
  • In 65% of the cases reported in Cambodia, rape victims were younger than eighteen, and 12% of the perpetrators were closely related by blood or marriage.
  • 1 out of 3 women in Asia agreed with at least one reason to justify a husband beating his wife.

Do you believe that there is any reason to justify a husband beating his wife? These beliefs are the result of cultural norms such as preference for males and strict gender roles which allow for this behavior.

Let’s just say, to be optimistic, that a girl is provided with enough money to get to school, have the supplies and the uniform. She has never been physically or physiologically abused, and her parents haven’t made her marry and they allow her to go to school. The issue should be solved, right? Wrong. In November, girls on their way to school in Afghanistan were attacked by two men on their motorcycles who were repulsed by the thought of girls going to school, and thought it was appropriate to throw acid in their faces. 19-year-old Shamsia and her 16-year-old sister Atifa were on their way to Meir Weis Mena School in Kandahar, Afghanistan along with several other teachers and students who were similarly attacked. Unfortunately, hate crimes like these are not unusual.

Education is the most effective means of protection and empowerment for girls living in developing countries. Girls who are educated lead healthier lives, have greater involvement in the social and political life of their communities, marry later, have fewer and healthier children, and play a substantial role in the economic stability of their families. When girls are educated, the world is rewarded by achieving the engagement of an articulate and informed group of women.

Education means learning skills such as mathematics so you can tell if someone is trying to cheat you out of your money, or learning about history so you can try to avoid the mistakes that our ancestors made. Education means being able to read what other people have written, whether that is a fantasy book to allow you to temporarily escape reality, or an instruction manual to teach you how to put together a shelf, or philosophy to stimulate your mind, opening the door to literally endless possibilities. Education means learning how to express yourself in words and speak professionally so that you can become a lawyer or a doctor or a teacher and help others in your community.

Girls Learn International Inc. (GLI) is an organization that was designed to specifically tackle this epidemic. In their own words, “GLI pairs American middle and high school-based Chapters with Partner Schools in countries where girls have been traditionally denied access to education. The GLI Program gives students the opportunity to explore issues affecting girls in relation to global human rights, promotes cross-cultural understanding and communication, and trains students to be leaders and advocates for positive change.” Here, at our school, we are very proud to be part of this program. This year the GLI club has raised over $700 for its partner school in Vietnam for orphans with HIV/AIDS. Along with featuring our partner school in a documentary film on AIDS Action day, the GLI club has sent over care packages such as a scrap book with home decorated pages of each of the members as well as a care packages with mix tapes, friendship bracelets and Disney DVDs. Next year the GLI club is excited to make new, fun, creative projects to support the children in our partner school. You, too, can become involved with this cultural exchange by joining the GLI club next year and contributing to providing girls with an education worldwide.

Filkins, Dexter. “Afghan Girls, Scarred by Acid, Defy Terror, Embracing School.” The New York Times. 13 Jan. 2009.
The World Bank. 2009. The World Bank Group. 18 May 2009 .
Welcome to Girls Learn International. 2008. 18 May 2009 .

Previously in Students Speak: Beware The Virtual Babes, by Luke; Spice Up YOUR Relationship, by Jennifer; Letters From Kartini, by Nia; Coming Out As A Feminist, by Shani

The Stoning of Soraya M.

May 5, 2009 § 4 Comments

The description of the movie says:

The women, stripped of all rights and without recourse, nobly confront the overwhelming desires of corrupt men who use and abuse their authority to condemn Soraya, an innocent but inconvenient wife, to an unjust and torturous death. A shocking and true drama, it exposes the dark power of mob rule, uncivil law, and the utter lack of human rights for women.

My interest was piqued when I saw this trailer so I decided to look up the case of Soraya M. I didn’t find much, but it I did find that she was an Iranian woman in an arranged marriage with an abusive husband who no longer wanted to be married to her, so he accused her of adultery and because of this lie, she was eventually stoned by a group of men. (Please correct me if my facts are off.)

I want to see this so badly, yet have been unable to find the release date anywhere near me. I’ve read October 2008, February 2009, and July 2009 and yet, up until just now, I haven’t heard anything about it. I think this film is important and has the potential to be eye opening (especially since the civil rights of women are violated particularly in the Middle East very often, even currently), but the cynical part of me doubts that many people will see it — after all, where’s the appeal in a movie released this summer that’s not about robots?

Spread the word!

Seen in San Francisco

April 24, 2009 § Leave a comment

antirape-adI’m just getting around to sorting through my family’s pictures from San Francisco, and I found this one of an advertisement on a newsstand:

RAPE AFFECTS US ALL. Be part of the solution. Stop sexual violence.

Can I plaster these all over the world?

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