HR3 and the Pre-Voting Activist

February 2, 2011 § 1 Comment

by ADI

(Trigger warning for mentions of sexual assault.)

If you’ve been spending any time on the feminist Internet lately, you’ve likely read about HR3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Besides codifying the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits almost all federal funding for abortion and vastly limits the access of low-income women to this procedure, the bill would all but remove the current exceptions for rape and incest. Even more problematically, it does so by redefining the only “acceptable” rape as “forcible” rape, something which would effectively bar the majority of rape survivors from receiving help aborting their rapist’s child.

When we talk about the “pro-rape lobby,” this is what we mean. It’s not enough for women who have been raped by a partner, acquaintance, or even stranger in a way that doesn’t comply with this laughably limited definition of rape (while, say, unconscious, drugged, or held down by someone much stronger) to be told that they should have fought back harder, should have watched their drink better, shouldn’t have gone out at all or let their guard down around their closest friends. It’s now going to be enshrined in law. I didn’t think there could be anything more outright evil than denying medical procedures to survivors of sexual assault, but this is almost it: They’re effectively telling people that they do provide funds for survivors, but you weren’t raped.

There are a lot of other reasons why this bill is terrible, many of which have been laid out over at Tiger Beatdown, where Sady is running her wonderful #DearJohn campaign. So what do we do about it now?

Really, in a liberal democracy, there are about four things we can do. The first, obviously, is vote. The nearest election might not be near enough, however, and since this is a blog for young feminists, many of us can’t vote, or at least can’t vote yet. So what do we do? The other three things.

The second is to contact your elected officials. If you’re in the US, find your representative and write them. Call them. Do both. Don’t threaten — we’re better than that. Just explain why the bill hurts women and rape survivors, and why the issue matters to you. Even if you can’t vote yet, let them know that you will be in the closest election.

The third is to make yourself heard. Minority groups like the Tea Party can dominate the national discussion through violent rhetoric and hate — but we can amplify our own voices as well. Follow this guide to joining the #DearJohn campaign — it’s a first step to aggregating the opinions of all the people against HR3. Find your local newspaper and write a letter to the editor — a real, physical letter. If you have access to readers through a blog, post on it. Most importantly, talk to the people you know about the resolution. You don’t have to start an argument or take on a group of people you know are vehemently anti-choice (unless you want to), but make sure that even the pro-choice people you know are aware of the implications of the resolution and why they should be against it.

The last is to consider donating some money to a pro-choice campaign or access fund. Even if we win on this, there are still many women who desperately want abortions — but can’t get the money for them. Try searching for your state’s abortion access fund — many, including DC and New York, have them. Donate to Planned Parenthood or NARAL. Even if you can’t give much, every little bit can help someone in need.

What About Brisenia?

January 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

by KATIE E.

Story via Crooks and Liars.

I think it’s highly unlikely any of you have yet to hear the details of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, and almost as unlikely that any of you didn’t hear the details about Christina Taylor-Green.

Before the inevitable cries occur, yes, I think the shooting was a tragedy. I think the death of this clearly very bright, enthusiastic young woman was a tragedy. I think the media was right in covering her life and her story.

But frankly? It cannot be denied that Taylor-Green received the attention she did because her death didn’t reflect as badly on the rhetoric and policies we hold so dearly in the United States. You know, the ones that routinely lead to people of color being attacked?

Brisenia Flores was nine. Same age as Taylor-Green.  She lived in a town on the Arizona border with her parents and sister. Shawna Forde led a vigilante unit who patrolled U.S. borders with weapons. For patriotic “fun,” she says.

Forde decided to lead her absurd group in attacking supposed drug smugglers and using their money to start a “border race war.” One thing or another led to them heading for the Flores home, which had no drugs whatsoever in it.

They entered the home under false pretenses, leading Mr. Flores into believing that they were law-enforcement officials. When he questioned their motives, the group immediately shot him fatally in the head and went on to wound his wife, Gina Gonzalez. Bresenia pleaded for her life, but she was also shot fatally in the head. (Her sister was at a sleepover at the time.)

Brisenia and Mr. Flores were murdered because of the color of their skin. Someone has lost their father, daughter, sister, and husband because a group of people decided they looked too un-American.

Where were the headlines? Where were the feature stories about what Bresenia liked, what she did at school, what she wanted to do with her life? Where are the interviews with her family? Why wasn’t the president calling on us to make the future the way she would have wanted it?

It’s the simple, ugly truth: As Nathan at Dissenting Leftist put it, it’s only a national tragedy when a politician dies. And I’d like to throw in that yes, it’s often only a national tragedy when someone who’s white dies. Or when someone who’s death would not spark more opposition to current immigration policies. Someone who’s death would never inspire us to maybe change our rhetoric about the undocumented workers we, as a nation, so love to virulently hate.

What killed Brisenia and her family? Racism. Xenophobia. Hateful rhetoric. Constant promotion of illegal immigration as the worst thing that’s happened to this country, and even more promotion of the idea that anyone with brown skin must be a part of it.

And now, for the same reasons, her death is being put aside for ones that reflect on the U.S. a little better. After all, that’s always where the government and the mainstream media value.

Laura and Me.

December 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

by ELENA

More than 20 years after his film Roger and Me, about Flint’s connections to General Motors, and how the city is affected by outsourcing, Michael Moore still has strong geological and emotional ties to the eastern side of the state of Michigan. He mentioned Flint in Bowling for Columbine and Farenheit 9/11, and was clearly passionate about shedding light on the disparity of wealth within Flint. Hell, his Twitter handle is @MMFlint. In his films and interviews, he frequently is seen wearing apparel with the logos of several Michigan colleges, including Michigan State University, and Eastern Michigan University. I wonder if Moore has visited Eastern Michigan University, or spoken at the school recently. If he did, he may have heard about what happened in 2006 to Eastern student Laura Dickinson.

Laura Dickinson, a student at EMU was raped and murdered in her dorm room in December 2006. EMU originally told her family that she died of natural causes, and it was only after a suspect was arrested that the school informed Dickinson’s family that her death was a homocide. EMU was fined for violating the Beverly Clery Act (which requires colleges and universities to report felonies that happen on campus), settled with the Dickinson family out of court, and the President, Vice President, and Public Safety Director were fired. Dickinson’s death, EMU’s cover-up, and the murder trial were on the news constantly, and brought the kind of publicity that a small town in West Michigan does not want. At the same time, the Dickinson family held several benefits, with proceeds going to causes that Laura supported. Friends and neighbors stepped in to help run the family coffee shop during the months after her death.

It was hard to hear TV and radio reports about Laura’s death, because I knew her family, spent numerous hours in their coffeeshop, and it was sad that instead of being in the news because State Grounds supported the community by letting musicians perform in the space, or raised money for important causes. They were on the news because their daughter had died, and the institution that should have been looking out for her safety failed to protect her, and decided to lie to her family.

When I hear the phrase “travesty of justice”, I think about how EMU treated the grieving Dickinson family. I don’t think about Assange turning himself in, being jailed for a short period of time, being released on bail, and spending his holiday in an English mansion. It isn’t so much Moore posting bail for Assange (it’s his money, he can waste it however he wants to) that pisses me off, it’s Moore’s going on “Countdown With Keith Shouts-A-Lot”, and claiming that his donation stems from a belief that Assange was “set up” and that his complainants are merely upset groupies/”honeypots”/CIA informants/otherwise hell bent on destroying WikiLeaks. This is a criminal case, and instead of trying Assange and his accusers in the Court of the Internet (which is highly susceptible to severe cases of trolling), we should let the courts do their job. And we should reserve judgement about the veracity of the accusations until all parties must testify under oath.

Moore and Olbermann have been silent about their fantastically insensitive comments. I understand that having to explain their justification behind saying that Assange’s work was more important than having to do something as pesky as answer for a crime he has been accused of (and spreading misinformation about Assange’s accusers)  must be hard. How about they meet with the Dickinson family, and ask them what it was like to not only have a daughter die after being assaulted, but to have a university lie to them about her death? If Moore doesn’t particularly care about the whole “sexual assault is bad” thing, it would at least provide another example of why cover-ups, and the spreading of lies, by any person or organization, can be devastating and hurtful.

And then maybe, just maybe, Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann will realize why dismissing rape accusations comes off as hurtful, insensitive, pompous, and a slew of other unpleasant adjectives.  And then oh, I don’t know, donate at least a little bit of their fortunes to RAINN?

This Bullshit Is Way Too Close to Home

November 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

by ELENA

I’m done with school for the quarter, and so I’m excited about actually getting back in the blogging swing of things. However, I needed a clear subject to write about, so I’m starting a series in which I point out the massive amounts of complete B.S. on the Willing to Wait website. Why am I choosing Willing to Wait? Because it’s an abstinence only program based in West Michigan (where I’m from) and If I can, in any miniscule way, encourage a more mature and accurate dialouge about sexuality, then I will.

My plan is to specifically go through different categories on their website, and explain why their content is B.S. Next post is going to be about their “Pregnancy and Birth Control” page. If you are currently on a birth control regimen, and would like to tell me about your experience on birth control, the side effects, you’ve experienced, and any challenges in refilling/paying for it, please feel free to email me at egorml20@student.scad.edu. I will not publish submitter’s names or contact information.

The most disturbing thing is that according to the website, the Willing to Wait headquarters are just down the street from the Planned Parenthood. Like many other abstinence only programs and “crisis pregnancy centers”, Willing to Wait has no qualms in deceiving students and adults, and scaring them away from getting medically accurate information.

Alberta Unveils I.D. Cards for Homeless People

October 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

by KATIE E.

Via The Vancouver Sun.

I’m not going to lie and say that this is a huge step in the right direction. It may help some get jobs, but it does little to help the huge population of homeless people who simply can’t work due to disability, kyriarchal discrimination, trying to care for children or other family members, etc.

It will not directly provide food or shelter, and as Cara of  The Curvature put so eloquently the other day, “the corollary to this belief is that people with homes deserve to have them — and those without homes must have done something to make them undeserving of such a basic right as housing.” People should have a roof over their head because that’s a basic human right, not because they have a job or are searching for one.

However, I’m sure many homeless people who are capable of working and can’t find a job due to classist requirements will appreciate this. I don’t live under a rock-classism is classism, and it will still happen-but an I.D. is something many businesses require, and this small step will make a difference for at least a few homeless people who wouldn’t have received the opportunity otherwise.

We actively shame homeless people everyday for not having jobs, but we make it nearly impossible on those that are capable and willing to work to do so. I applaud the Alberta government for taking this step, and I hope they will take bigger measures soon.

The article also mentions that this is part of a ten year plan to end homelessness. I would be extremely curious to hear opinions on the plan overall, especially from any people from Alberta who’ve experienced poverty and/or classism.

Heads Up: New Dutch Government Contemplating Burqa Ban

October 1, 2010 § 4 Comments

by KATIE E.

Via The Guardian:

“Wilders has won pledges to introduce legislation banning Islamic headgear, joining France, Belgium and Switzerland in a growing campaign across Europe to ban a veil that relatively few Muslim women wear.”

I’m not sure of the accuracy of the statement that “relatively few Muslim wear” the burqa, but, does it matter? Shouldn’t the law protect everyone?

I’m sick of the racist, sexist, Westernized idea that Muslim women don’t have agency and would never choose to wear a religious symbol without being forced by a man. As the article states, this is coming from a conservative government, but how long do you think it will be before this type of Islamophobia is again accepted by many as an aspect of feminism? The last time I checked, feminism was supposed to be about giving all women agency, not just when it’s convenient or when we can’t twist it to make ourselves look superior to another culture.

It can’t be ignored that this is coming from a new conservative, anti-immigration government, though. While many will interpret it this way, I highly doubt they’re doing it in the name of “feminism.” Growing numbers of Muslims do not threaten anyone except for white, usually Christian people who would like to remain a privileged group.  If I were leader of The Netherlands, and I tried to ban all cross necklaces or nun’s habits, can you imagine the outcry in the country and all over the world? I would be told I was taking away religious freedom and agency from the same kind of people who support this legislation.

Putting the rampant racism, Islamophobia, and misogyny seen here for a moment, can I just ask what happened to personal freedom? What gives a country a right to dictate what its citizens should wear, and couldn’t this possibly lead them further down a bad road?

If you live in The Netherlands, please contact the leaders of the nation and voice how oppressive the legislation is. We cannot let this happen in another country.

Sex, Lies, and Christine O’Donnell

September 16, 2010 § 2 Comments

by ELENA

Christine O’Donnell, a conservative “Tea Party Candidate” endorsed by Sarah Palin, has won the Republican nomination for Senate in Delaware.

Besides getting the “Mama Grizzly” seal of approval from Ms. Palin, O’Donnell has been getting a lot of publicity about her views on sexuality. Jezebel reported on her appearance in a 90’s MTV special, in which she spoke negatively about masturbation.

Jezebel also linked to an article on The Raw Story, on how O’Donnell compared sex education, specifically talking to kindergarteners about inappropriate touch, with “suddenly talking to the stranger on the playground with candy” in an appearance with former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders on Fox News.

There are a lot of genuine reasons to not want O’Donnell elected to the Senate: Her lack of experience, many financial irregularities, and sex-negative views are enough to warrant a hope that she loses the general election. But Jezebel’s more recent article, which simply runs a quote from O’Donnell, under the headline “Christine O’Donnell May Be a 41 Year Old Virgin” goes too far.

I could care less about O’Donnell’s sexuality, or sexual practices. O’Donnell isn’t a terrifying figure because ghasp! She might not have sex! It’s because she seems hell-bent on forcing her very conservative views onto everyone else. As a senator, she would have the power to support abstinence-only legislation, which doesn’t work, and block legislation that guarantees rights to all members of the queer alphabet soup (LGBTQQIA), or increases funding towards AIDS research and prevention.

Or, as Jill over at Feministe puts it:

What we are talking about are Christine O’Donnell’s views on masturbation, which are relevant in a country where federal funds go towards sex education, churches, schools, health care organizations, etc etc, and where Christine O’Donnell is trying to get herself into a position where she will have some amount of power over those funds. Christine O’Donnell’s comments were not that she doesn’t masturbate, they were that masturbation is wrong and that we should teach young people that it is wrong. She has also said that fighting AIDS gets too much government money and that using condoms won’t work. And see, when she says that using condoms won’t work to fight the spread of AIDS and we (or I) say “That is a ridiculous comment!,” we are not talking about Christine O’Donnell’s personal use of condoms, of which we know nothing. We are talking about her very wrong viewpoint that condoms are useless and should not be promoted.

O’Donnell slut-shames other women when she says that masturbating, using condoms, and having premarital sex are wrong and immoral. However, when others use their high-profile platforms to invite a comment war on O’Donnell’s sexuality, we aren’t any better.

So, let’s not give O’Donnell any more ammunition than she already has, thanks to the Tea Party Express, and make sure she isn’t elected to Senate.

UPDATE: Jezebel isn’t letting go of this story, and republished an article from Talking Points Memo called “Christine O’Donnell’s Sexual Evolution“, which goes far more in depth about O’Donnell’s personal history and experiences, which lead her to be coming an antichoice, abstinence until marriage “crusader”. There is far more depth in this article than anything Jezebel has reported, but still an emphasis on focusing on her sexuality. After all, this article could have worked as “Christine O’Donnell’s Political Evolution”, or “Christine O’Donnell’s Religious Evolution”. But as a woman, all that matters is your sexuality. Obviously.

Iveta Radicova

August 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

by KITTI

Slovakia has a new Prime Minister and it’s a woman!

Do you know what’s even better than having a woman in the most important political position? Iveta Radicova is heading a four-party centre-right coalition, including the Christian Democrat parties SDKU-DS and KDH, the liberal SaS and the ethnic Hungarian Most-Hid, that defeated the coalition of the conservative HZDS, the nationalist Slovak National Party and the social democratic Smer. This is a prime example of the saying ‘many a little becomes much.’

The previous PM, Robert Fico, was famous for his anti-Roma and anti-Hungarian views and outlandish comments. During the elections a voice recording surfaced in which he had stated that he had raised several million euros from undisclosed sources (i.e. probably not legal) and he had also called for the creation of a “parallel financial structure” for his social democratic party, Smer (i.e. this is maybe legal, but definitely not a very nice move). His comment was the best part of the whole scandal, that was probably the biggest in the country’s 17 years of existence:

Should I go over there and give you a smack because you are scoundrels? What you are doing is unheard of. You are masturbating on the prime minister every day. And now you are all going to get off on this. I wish you a pleasant sexual experience.

Why, thank you, Mr Fico. See? He cares about his people’s well-being like a good father would do. Iveta Radicová and the joint forces of the aforementioned four parties seek to create a “great government, not a good one.” But runway shows and politics are very similar: everything you hear or see should be divided by 2. The new government won’t be great, it might not be good but it will definitely be better. She may not resolve the financial crisis or completely wipe out corrupt politicians from the Parliament; she has a very good chance of rebuilding the links with Hungary that were very badly damaged by really nasty name-calling, language and citizenship laws.

I, for one, am very hopeful and optimistic about the new government of Slovakia and also very excited to see another leading lady in European politics.

File Under “Things That Are Not News”

August 2, 2010 § 1 Comment

by KATIE E.

Via here:

“The odds of a death sentence for those suspected of killing white people are about three times higher than those accused of killing blacks, according to a new study from a University of Colorado professor who combed through death sentences in North Carolina over a 28-year period.”

The U.S. justice system values white lives over the lives of people of color, and despite the fact that the story broke eleven days ago, there has been little to no public outrage.  Oh, what a huge surprise. I mean, why would this be important when we have to panic about selling maternity clothes to pregnant! teenagers!

Of course, it wouldn’t be an article about race and the criminal justice system without a white academic dude saying something that reeks of privilege:

“It’s just kind of baffling that in this day and age, race matters,” Radelet said.

 Well…yes. Technically, it is baffling that courts and police can pretty much do anything to people of color and the public doesn’t bat an eye. Fair enough. But I don’t think the concept of race mattering baffles countless people of color who are victimized every single day. Believe it or not, Mr. Radelat, we do not live in that post-racial world everyone keeps talking about, and between the information you found and your lovely realization, we probably never will.

EDITOR’S NOTE: If any of you read this very shortly after it went up, sorry for the very screwy HTML. I’m not very good at this yet.

Quick Hit: The Taliban’s War on Women

July 15, 2010 § 1 Comment

When 22-year-old Hossai was told to quit her job by the Taliban, she refused to be bullied. She was shot and killed…These stories are seldom heard, but it’s not because they are rare. The victims are often too terrified to report such attacks to the authorities, or have little hope that anything will be done if they do. They can expect little or no protection from their government, which seems more willing to provide patronage to senior insurgents who switch sides than assist women at grave risk. When high-profile women are assassinated, their cases are not given the priority they deserve and their killers are rarely brought to justice. While men who run afoul of the Taliban are also attacked — particularly in Kandahar, where the murder rate in recent months has reached unprecedented heights — the situation for women is worse.

Via Human Rights Watch.

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