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.

Behold the squabbling activists

June 24, 2010 § 4 Comments

You might have heard about the Reproductive Health Act. In fact, I hope you have, because I’ve been writing about it incessantly since the beginning of this blog. It’s an awesome and necessary bill that I, personally, me, this person right here who is in high school and not a paid lobbyist, have been invested in for the past two years.

The bill will update New York State’s abortion law for the first time since Roe. It will remove abortion from the criminal code, where the right to choose is stated as an exception to homicide, and put it into the public health code where it belongs. Perhaps most importantly, the bill will permit late-term abortions not only if a woman’s life is in danger, but also in cases where her health is threatened. When the RHA is passed, New York’s women will no longer have to rely on federal legislation to protect our fundamental right to choose; no matter what happens on the national level, our rights will be covered.

People have been talking about the RHA a lot recently because the state legislative session is likely to end soon, as soon as the state budget is passed. (Once the session ends, the senators won’t come back to work until January.) Though the budget is top priority, the senators have been discussing and passing other legislation in the meantime, so it’s not unfeasible that the RHA might be introduced before the end of the session.

There’s another layer of complexity with this bill: different advocacy groups have different ideas about the most effective lobbying methods. Some groups, like NARAL Pro-Choice New York (which — full disclosure — I volunteer with and love), are calling for the bill to be introduced as soon as possible, even if it doesn’t get passed during this session. The idea behind this is that pro-choice organizations and voters will know where their representatives stand on choice issues, and hold accountable those who say they are pro-choice but vote otherwise. This is especially important because this fall is election season. Other groups, most notably Family Planning Advocates of New York State, would rather wait to introduce the bill until it is very likely to pass.

Interesting, yes! Very political, slightly exhausting, undeniably nuanced.

Nuance! It is great. Here is something that is not nuanced: the title of Nicholas Confessore’s New York Times City Room blog post on this issue.

Abortion Rights Supporters Squabble Over Bill.

Squabble.

Squabble.

Here, if you are wondering, is a reliable dictionary definition of that heinous word, squabble: “to engage in a disagreeable argument, usually over a trivial matter.” Fascinating! Because do you know what is not, in fact, a “trivial matter”? WOMEN’S AUTONOMY AND CONTROL OVER OUR OWN BODIES. And do you know who, in fact, might agree with me? MORE THAN HALF THE POPULATION OF THIS FINE STATE.

Fuck this shit.

The media loves to focus on “squabbling” women because it is so easy! It is so fucking easy to get a reader’s attention by writing “Hey! Look at these silly catfighting ladies!” instead of delving into complex political issues. That’s lazy journalism, and entrenched sexism. It’s part of a larger social pattern of framing conflicts between women as desperate and catty, while positioning male conflicts as stoic and totes serious. It’s part of a widespread attempt to delegitimize women’s extremely legitimate political frustrations.

I find this article absolutely hilarious. Because do you know who is actually squabbling? The fucking State Senate! You know, the people who we pay to get important shit done, like, you know, the budget for the entire state of New York. And who we rely on to keep their shit together, not, you know, act like “feuding junior high schoolers.” Have people forgotten about that outrageous, embarrassing, and illegal COUP that happened last June? I remember. I can’t forget.

New York’s women have waited long enough for the Reproductive Health Act. We’re not squabbling. We’re demanding what we deserve.

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