i haven't blogged a lot recently, for a few reasons. holidays are busy, but also because i'm not sure what i'm doing here, frankly. i rant & rave, but i often end up only feeling worse after. what is really changing in the world for women? i saw this article yesterday and it just sort of hit me: what good am i actually doing? i'm not despairing of the work of feminist organizations, foundations, and individuals who care about eliminating sexism and inequality...but of my own role in the pursuit.

"This month over 350 girls have had their sexual organs mutilated as part of the
traditional practices of their culture."

and this is only one indicator, of course. i feel powerless to make any real change. i follow (and am endlessly inspired and incited by) a number of outstanding feminist bloggers daily (Feministe, I Blame the Patriarchy, Feministing, Shakesville, Fannie's Room, Madre, NOW, V-Day, Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History), but even those eloquent and vocal advocates...individually and collectively...what are they (we) changing? i know i don't even keep up with a tiny portion of all the incredible voices out there in the world, calling for change, but all those voices still seem so quiet sometimes, in the face of the unrelenting and brutal violence, discrimination and degradation of women: every day, in every city and town, in every country, all over this world. WHY is it so impossible to comprehend that women are beings of EQUAL value, worth and dignity, and should be treated as such, in every way? WHY is respect such a rare commodity? WHY is brutality against women and girls considered inevitable, just a part of life, something WE (women) need to be vigilant in order to avoid? (don't walk to your car in the dark, take self-defense classes, don't wear short skirts, etc. etc. etc.)

"...we categorize brutal violence against a partner or spouse as "domestic
issues" ... as if they bear the same level of importance as sweeping the floor
or doing the dishes. "

WHY hadn't i thought of that?? wow, that just pisses me off. i'll do my best never to refer to violence against women as DOMESTIC ever again.

in 2010, i want to be more active, think more critically, and be less tolerant of discrimination (in every form).

this could very well be the cheesiest thing i've ever written, but recently i just can't stop listening to Defying Gravity (of course i've loved the song - from the musical Wicked - since i first heard it a couple of years ago, but maybe it's because i just got the Glee soundtrack for christmas, wahoo!). the lyrics just could not be more apt to how i'm feeling right now:

I'm through accepting limits
'Cause someone says they're so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I'll never know!
Too long I've been afraid of
Losing love I guess I've lost
Well, if that's love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I think I'll try
Defying gravity
And you won't bring me down!

i let things get me down, for sure. but in 2010 i want to try to make a difference on a personal, local level, where i can (maybe) see the ripple effect of my efforts more directly. i know this about myself: i tend toward being darkly pessimistic, or at least staunchly cynical. i've been feeling that pessimism lately, and i want to swing back toward optimism in the new year.

i've been considering some new ink, and i believe i may have decided on what to get, which coincides with my feeling of surging determination.

just one word, reminiscent of one (or 2) of my favorite songs, as well as our daily struggle for our rights.


rise up in 2010!


what do we have to be thankful for?

i'm thankful for this guy ( @nhavey), who posted this piece on HuffPo regarding the recent Sacred Heart University lacrosse team rape case (yep, another one), and i'm thankful for the way he clearly and articulately outlines the rape myths being flung about. i'm so tired of hearing people say 'boys will be boys' and 'she should have known better'.

also, if this article about the power of investing in women farmers in the developing world doesn't make you want to revolt (love that call to action, btw), we need to talk. (follow the author @dansilverstein)

now, on to what i'm NOT thankful for. some of this isn't really NEWs any more...but i've been kind of distracted lately, and haven't had time to post.

1. brazilian woman expelled from university for wearing a mini-skirt. (this in the country for whom the brazilian bikini wax is named???)

2. australian students create pro-rape facebook group. (because that's not inciting violence at all.)

3. the World Economic Forum says the U.S. is 31st in the world in terms of women's equality in matters of politics, education, health and economic opportunity. we rank LOWER than yemen, cambodia, the phillipines, mexico and venezuela in women's health and survival.

4. british police are treating rape victims skeptically if they have been drinking, were in the wrong part of town or have reported a previous rape. (translation: she asked for it.)

i'd really like to experience a thanksgiving, in my lifetime, when i can say i'm thankful for women's emancipation from rape, freedom from discrimination, and equality in every nation.


responsibility: men, what's your policy?

i found this article ("Is Feminism Men's Work Too?") to be a well-reasoned and effective call to action for male feminists.

i especially appreciate this quotation from Khary Lazarre-White, founder of Brotherhood/Sister Sol in NYC, and the overt connection he makes between feminism and morality.

“It is personally important for me to do this work because I try to live my life by a moral and ethical compass, and I know that fighting sexism is a daily lived responsibility—from structural organizational work decisions, to personal relationships, to how one lives one’s life.”

in other words, it is ethical to join the feminist movement; the unequal treatment of women is immoral.

Women Unbound!

well this is cool!

Women Unbound reading challenge, recommended to me by my sister, (who, by the way, blogs at As Usual, I Need More Bookshelves. Check her out!)

hmm...i've never posted any book reviews, but this feminist reading challenge is perfect for me, because i can join the challenge at a lower level of commitment ("Philogynist: read at least two books, including at least one nonfiction one.") to just dip my toes in. :)

so i suppose i should pick a couple of books...i might have to cheat and choose from my sister's list (she is, after all, my personal librarian- i don't even bother picking books on my own any more!) ok, the two books i will ready by November 30, 2010 are:

Fiction: The Robber Bride, Margaret Atwood
(yay! my sister had this on her list, which reminded me that i actually already have this book!)

Non-Fiction: ???
i confess, i don't read as much non-fiction as i'd like. (well, i don't read as much as i'd like PERIOD, but particularly not non-fiction.) but i think i've got something at home i can commit to reading...just need to choose. my non-fiction choice is TBA.

ETA: I'm going to choose from these three, apparently thematic, non-fiction choices:
Out of the Garden: Women Writers on the Bible, ed. Christina Buchmann & Celina Spiegel

also, here's the Women Unbound meme to get us started:

1. What does feminism mean to you? Does it have to do with the work sphere? The social sphere? How you dress? How you act?
feminism, to me, is best summed up by the deceptively simple quotation "...feminism is the radical notion that women are people"
although i would probably add one clarification: feminism is the radical notion that women are people who are of equal value, worth and deserving of rights as male people.
doesn't that sound logical? reasonable? and yet it is still undeniably revolutionary.
this applies in every sphere, because in every sphere, women are treated unequally.

2. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
yes, yes, a thousand times YES.

3. What do you consider the biggest obstacle women face in the world today? Has that obstacle changed over time, or does it basically remain the same?
i personally believe violence against women is (should be) the most pressing issue for feminists. the gendercide (literally) of women across the globe is a direct result of the worldwide and historic de-valuing of women as people. when women are not considered to be equal in worth to men, they are abused. they are by default considered to be automatic prey, and unworthy of equal protections, rights and/or dignities. this doesn't happen just to poor women, or uneducated women, or bad women, or good women, or white women or black women or asian women, or straight women, or women who 'should know better' or women who 'asked for it' or to victims. it happens to every woman.

our very culture de-values women on a daily basis, as do cultures around the world.
male = normal and female = not (less than) male.

the more women and men who
1. live by example and treat women with equal respect and dignity every day, and who
2. speak out and stand up against violence against women in every form (verbal, physical, sexual, psychological, overt, covert, institutionalized, racial, religious, educational, professional, personal), and who
3. teach children that women do have equal worth, and sexism, violence against women and inequality are unnaccepatable...

the more quickly change will come.

thanks Eli!!!


rape culture

more on the teenaged girl raped at her homecoming dance.
this part in particular is the crux of the issue for me:

"I think that teens who get drunk do incur certain risks that we should let them suffer for. They should be allowed to bear all the natural risks that a person faces when that person drinks excessively and nobody commits a criminal violation of their most basic human rights. These risks include: that they may fall and twist an ankle or a knee, tear clothes... puke, wake up with a massive hangover, and get grounded by their parents. That’s what happens when you’re a fifteen year old who gets shitfaced outside the school dance. Those are the risks our sons run as well as our daughters.
Those risks should not include murder, waterboarding, or rape. Each of the latter is a criminal violation of human rights that we should not tolerate, regardless of who the victim is, nice or naughty, drunk or sober, man or woman. Because they are wrong in the big, non-situational sense. These things are not forces of nature. Tornadoes appear on their own due to climatological conditions, but rapes do not self-generate from masses of air. People commit rapes. With staggering frequency, male people commit rapes, and commit them against women."

also- a GREAT analysis of rape culture as a whole, here.
so much of this is just so blatant...and yet so commonplace. people are literally scared, or embarrassed, or WHATEVER, to speak up and say this kind of thing is NOT ok. and THAT is rape culture.

"Rape culture is 1 in 6 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is not even talking about the reality that many women are sexually assaulted multiple times in their lives. Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women's daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you're alone, if you're with a stranger, if you're in a group, if you're in a group of strangers, if it's dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you're carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you're wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who's around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who's at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn't follow all the rules it's your fault."

"Rape culture is tasking victims with the burden of rape prevention. Rape culture is encouraging women to take self-defense as though that is the only solution required to preventing rape. Rape culture is admonishing women to "learn common sense" or "be more responsible" or "be aware of barroom risks" or "avoid these places" or "don't dress this way," and failing to admonish men to not rape."

"Rape culture is boys under 10 years old knowing how to rape."

"Rape culture is the objectification of women, which is part of a dehumanizing process that renders consent irrelevant. Rape culture is treating women's bodies like public property. Rape culture is street harassment and groping on public transportation and equating raped women's bodies to a man walking around with valuables hanging out of his pockets. Rape culture is most men being so far removed from the threat of rape that invoking property theft is evidently the closest thing many of them can imagine to being forcibly subjected to a sexual assault."

"Rape culture is using the word "rape" to describe something that has been done to you other than a forced or coerced sex act. Rape culture is saying things like "That ATM raped me with a huge fee" or "The IRS raped me on my taxes.""

"Rape culture is people objecting to the detritus of the rape culture being called oversensitive, rather than people who perpetuate the rape culture being regarded as not sensitive enough."

in other words. our culture is programmed to excuse rape. because we do it every day in so many ways we don't even realize we're doing it. women's bodies are property, therefore women are expected to take the responsibility for protecting their property, instead of making the degrading, defiling and theft of said property socially and morally unacceptable!

changing rape culture is a change of our CULTURE to afford each person equal value, worth, and rights. true equity is necessary to end rape culture.


safety in numbers

just imagine if you were this teenaged girl's parents. you send her off to her high school homecoming dance. take tons of pictures of her in her new dress, with her hair done, and standing nervously next to her date. before you know it, she's called for a ride home...uh-oh. wondering what kind of adolescent embarassment or BFF squabble might have precipitated the early call, you get in the car to go pick her up.

except that you can't find her at the school gym.

when you do find her, she's been raped, beaten and robbed. by several men. in front of numerous other people. who did nothing to help her.

what could have been going through those people's minds? she deserved it? she asked for it? she should have known better?

the only message this kind of horror gives us is that women are considered OBJECTS, worthless and expendable.

equality is not a reality for women. no matter how many of us like to think 'we've come a long way baby'. not until the rape and torture of women on a daily basis is erradicated. and if we can't even do that in our own neighborhoods, how can we hope to do anything for the women in the congo, or darfur, or afghanistan?

THIS is what feminism is about. and this is why i can't understand when women and men shy away from that label. is the rape of one in every 4 women ok? does that sound like we've "achieved equality"?? rape culture is the reality. but i do not accept that this will always be the case. and the more of us who do not accept that reality, the sooner we can change it.



brain food

two totally unrelated, but thought-provoking pieces i read today:

Single in the City: perspective from a single woman in urban India.
"The idea that the single woman is entitled to the full range of freedoms that any other adult does and is entitled to live her life as she chooses is also one that is yet to gain full acceptance in our society."

(lest you think that women actually have equal rights.)

and Remember the Women? about the realities facing afghani women. it's long, but completely eye-opening. i recommend reading the whole thing, and putting yourself in the shoes of an afghan woman.
"The current reality is that...women are denied their most fundamental human rights and risk further violence in the course of seeking justice for crimes perpetrated against them." For women, "human rights are values, standards, and entitlements that exist only in theory and at times, not even on paper."

(lest you think we are accomplishing any lofty goals in our 'war of necessity')

fashion backward

a busy month and a bit of an inspiration-drought have made for a quiet blog this october...

but today my blood pressure went up a couple of dozen points when i read the following gem:

Not Over The Hill: Secretary Clinton Turns A Stylish 62
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton turns 62 years young today, and we can't help but be sentimental about her style statements over the years. She started out as sassy Miss Rodham sporting striped pants and huge glasses in the '60s, donned sparkles and scarves in the '70s and '80s, and worked up to becoming the 1990s first lady who fancied a good plaid and headbands. And now, as the modern day pantsuit enthusiast, Hillary has certainly covered a lot of sartorial ground. Take a look back at the Queen of the Hill's memorable ensembles...

ok...let's just do a quick run-down:
sexism, check.
agism, check.
total non-sequitur??? CHECK.

what in the world does the Secretary of State's taste in "a good plaid" have to do with anything?

nothing. except that the Secretary of State happens to be a WOMAN. so of course, on her birthday, it makes total sense to publish a retrospective of her STYLE choices, rather than her political ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

bonus: there's also a slide show of michelle obama's "cheap chic" style choices on HuffPo today.
don't get me wrong- i love both of these stylish women. but why oh why aren't we being treated to a slideshow of any male dignitaries?

that's right. because they're men. but when it comes to women, their fashion is the most interesting aspect of their lives, and clearly the top priority in their busy schedules.

not to put too fine a point on this, but here's why this seriously gets under my skin: when we focus our national attention on a female politician/public figure's FASHION choices, rather than their social, political or humanitarian choices, we are implicitly MOVING and SECONDING the notion that this is the extent of said woman's worth. this is what matters to women: CLOTHES. we don't want to bother our pretty little heads with anything more significant than today's choice of printed j.crew cardigans.

and that implicit message leads to explicit sexist treatment of women from the board room to the stock room to the courtroom to the hospital room.

to sum up: if you're going to give me a retrospective slideshow of hillary clinton's wardrobe, either include her corresponding political milestones along with the designer's names, or show me bill's annual pantsuit choices on his birthday too. (yeah right)

better yet. stop wasting bandwidth with this kind of offensive and patriarchal crap. arguably the two most powerful women in the united states deserve to be regarded as more than mannequins. we all do.



this book is on my list: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

among the alarming findings: 1 maternal death every MINUTE worldwide.

this review (among others) reminds me why i gotta read this book.

check it out!


weapon du jour

in the west-african country of Guinea last week, an unarmed crowd of political protestors numbering about 50,000 was fired upon and violently disbanded by governmental military forces. depending on the source, between 50 and 150 people were killed.

"Cellphone snapshots, ugly and hard to refute, are circulating here and feeding rage: they show that women were the particular targets of the Guinean soldiers..."

particular attention was paid to dehumanizing and violating women during the clash. witnesses state that at least 6-10 women were beaten, gang-raped and/or brutally attacked (whipped, stabbed, clubbed).

this strategy, of course, is not new. secretary of state hillary clinton addressed the UN Security Council last week and the council passed a resolution condemning rape as a weapon of war.

but what is going to be done to halt the use of this weapon? will there be any funding to back up the UN's resolution? with more than 200,000 women raped in the congo alone, frankly, this weapon is proving to be more dangerous to the world's population than nuclear weapons have been to date. why isn't there a UN sanctioned and funded watchdog group like the IAEA going into wartorn countries and calling international attention to the atrocities being committed against women every day? putting pressure on world powers to bring economic and social powers to bear against countries that allow this weapon to be used freely? reducing the proliferation of this deadly weapon across the globe, just as nuclear arms proliferation is carefully controlled?

rape is epidemic, systemic and, as research clearly shows, completely destructive to the fabric of a community.

"Community leaders noted that the frequent and extreme brutality committed with impunity during wave after wave of armed occupation has resulted in the disintegration of the moral and social fabric in many localities. Social stigma has left large numbers of rape victims and children born of rape rejected by their families and communities. Many cases of HIV and other infections remain untested and untreated. Fear of going to fields and markets--sites where rapes often take place--has resulted in spiraling malnutrition and economic loss. Widespread criminal impunity and inadequate local and regional governance leave communities without the means to reduce the violence."

communities are wiped out by rape as weapon of war, just as surely as they would be by weapons of mass destruction. in fact, rape SHOULD be considered a WMD. it clearly creates mass casualties in its wake; but to date, rape has not been a priority on the worldwide security agenda.

(i'll give you one guess who's in the majority at the highest levels of world leadership/governance?)


Whip It: Ur doin' it right.

here's a post i wrote in response to a friend of mine's entry about the new Drew Barrymore movie, Whip It.

my friend Scott's blog is a really interesting perspective from a filmmaker/screenwriter based in iowa. i just happened to disagree with one point he made about the new roller derby film...that by having the main character completely turn away from/reject from the pageant dreams her mother has for her, the character/movie is somehow a little less three-dimensional. the rejection of the traditionally feminine (and more stereotypically desireable) role somehow automatically lessened the character's attractiveness, or real-ness, or value.

i begged to differ.

i think the movie can still be three-dimensional with NOBODY choosing that traditional beauty queen role. in fact, NOT including a character who wanted to pursue that role is a deliberate statement in-and-of itself, and one that is too infrequently made. how refreshing for a movie to allow its female characters to choose the non-traditional role, and be celebrated for it. in my opinion, saying that "they missed a huge opportunity to show some three dimensionality by at least giving a nod to the fact that the tribe some girls may want to be in is being in beauty pageants. What if Page’s best friend in the film would have really been gung-ho for doing the pageant thing?" implies that the pageant thing inherently has more value, is more interesting, or is a more comforting (more safe, less unnerving) option to portray, than the derby thing. which of course, is TRUE in our culture.

the "nod to the fact that the tribe some girls may want to be in is being in beauty pageants" is validated in our society every day, by every fashion magazine and make-up commercial.
that nod is UNDERSTOOD. girls know that being a beauty queen is much more socially acceptable than being a jock. but, from what i've read about it so far, Whip It challenges the audience to accept the fact that girls can be loud, crude, tough and STILL be good people, attractive women, and valuable human beings.

but i have to admit- i really should SEE the movie before i get TOO defensive. ;) too bad i have zero weekends open this month. Whip It is already on my netflix queue.

also- my opinion couldn't possibly have anything to do with my general feelings about beauty pageants. (scholarship program FAIL.) nah, that couldn't be it.

props to my friend Scott for his post- hope he doesn't regret telling me to follow his blog! :) check it out @ http://screenwritingfromiowa.wordpress.com/


*cough* *sputter*

we'd "probably" be a better country if women no longer had the right to vote!?!?!?!?!

i suppose we'd probably be a better country if rape was decriminalized, gays were institutionalized and people of color were segregated too, wouldn't we?

truly: this guy is why our nation and our world is so broken. this guy and the millions of other people like him. he thinks he's just making a little point about 'the good ol' days' (before women were recognized as equally worthy of a voice), but what he's really saying is that anyone who is not exactly like him is simply UNDESERVING of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.



this is just making me so MAD.

a couple of great articles below that do a great job of illuminating the crux of the polanski issue, for me. (i.e. i don't care how many great movies he's made, or what other tragedies he lived through. he drugged, raped and sodomized a 13-year old girl. end of story. he's deserves to be held to the same standard as any other violent abuser.)

Polanski's Defenders (you gotta be kidding me, people!!)

Roman Polanski Must Finally be Brought to Justice
"Is there really any debate here? Are there really two sides to this story? He raped a child, for Pete's sake. He plied her with drugs, alcohol, and sodomized her. This was not "consensual sex," as a 13-year-old is neither old enough or mature enough to engage in such acts. In America we have laws against 44-year-old men drugging and raping little children. It's absolutely unconscionable that anyone would imply that his cinematic accomplishments should be reason to cut him slack. How dare they."

good explanation of some of the key questions being brought up about the case:
What's "Unlawful Sexual Intercourse"?

edited to add another commentary, to which i say: PREACH IT.
Shame on Polanski Apologists


preach it!

i only wish i could be this eloquent in explaining why true equality for women is so imperative!

"how can the U.S. become a champion for women globally if we lack the strength, fortitude and resolve to achieve equality here, in the wealthiest democracy in the world?"

not to be outdone...

it's not just afghanistan where women live in fear for their lives, of course.

the Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq also operates safe houses, for women in fear due to the increased threat of "honor killings".

i encourage you to follow the link in that article to the full report from 2007 on the link between the civil war in iraq and violence against women. it reiterates the truth of what we see played out in war-torn countries all over the world: "Because of women's role in cultural and biological reproduction, they are often perceived as symbols of group identity. As such, they are specifically targeted in times of communal violence. In 2003, OWFI began reporting cases of 'Islamic groups taking revenge on each other by raping women.' "

women bear the brunt of war on their shoulders.

danger: woman ahead.

"one of the biggest dangers is to be a woman."

that particular sentence is in reference to afghanistan, but truly, it could be said of nearly every country around the globe.

for the sake of illustration however, afghanistan is the example du jour.

"Afghanistan is a country where for centuries women have been considered property -- not equals, like the constitution states. They are often beaten, raped and even sold to the highest bidder."

"Nearly 90 percent of Afghan women suffer from domestic abuse, according to the United Nations Development Fund for Women. Despite that, there are less than a dozen shelters...in Afghanistan."

"In Afghanistan, a woman is blamed for the injustices she must live through."

if this happens to one woman, we all suffer.
it actually happens to millions of women every day. imagine the consequences.


happy birthday

victoria woodhull (1838-1927)!

i read marge piercy's book
Sex Wars: A Novel of Gilded Age New York not long ago, and i was simultaneously thrilled to learn about a trailblazer like victoria woohull and livid that i hadn't ever heard of her before! the first woman to run for president of the united states, before women could even vote!

[great line from the book, describing the gilded age in nyc: "when every preacher and public official and journalist praised fidelity and chastity and then in private did his best to escape the first and destroy the second." hmm, that sounds vaguely familiar...]

women like woodhull have lived in every age: silenced, abused and ignored...but they have lived nonetheless, and challenged society to live up to its highest ideals. their courage inspires me!

(wow, a happy post for once!)


rape: NOT a public option

i knew something didn't sit quite right with me when i heard about the following story...
All-women Public Transportation in India
then i read the last paragraph of the article. DUH.

and THEN i saw the following two pieces, which pretty much made me mad, sad and laugh out loud- all at the same time!

Only rapists can prevent rape. (*warning, profanity*)

and, similarly,

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

i want that last one plastered on every locker room, club house and boys' bathroom wall, starting in elementary school. if women are EVER going to be safe, EVERY boy needs to learn, and really KNOW, that rape is not an option.

reminder: the world does not consider you to be human.

i mean, if you (female reader) were considered human, your life and rights would be treated as sanctimoniously as the purported "life" which exists between two blobs of cells from the moment they touch. personhood? what about the personhood of WOMEN? living, breathing, (voting) women.

also, if you were considered human by the world at large, we wouldn't be reading
another story about a woman kept prisoner for decades, raped as a matter of course, forced to bear her rapists multiple spawn, and fear for her life if she so much as thought about seeking help. this woman wasn't considered human. she was considered property. and although we've heard 3 stories like this now in the past year (Fritzl in Austria, Garrido in California, and now this Australian case), i realize it's still extreme.

what isn't extreme is the similaries between the way these women were treated and the way that women all over the world are treated every day! rape, psychological and physical torture, control over mind and body, imprisonment, threats of violence if help is sought...

every day. everywhere. we are attacked, from every angle.

it's not acceptable. we are human, and we deserve equal rights. period. full stop.


yale, yemen, uganda

annie le's body was found stuffed in a wall in her yale university lab building.

12-year old Fawziya was in labor for 3 days before she finally died of severe bleeding, and the baby was killed in the process of labor as well. Fawziya would have been in 4th grade, but she was forced to drop out and marry a 24 year old man.

women in uganda are forcibly stripped of their trousers, made to walk home naked. (women in skirts were not accosted.)

the point is: it doesn't matter if you're a successful american yale co-ed, a yemeni child bride, or a woman minding her own business in uganda. on every continent, on every DAY, women are considered to be...


we do not have equal rights. we do not have equal opportunities. we do not have equal safety. female human beings are by default LESS THAN.

and that's unacceptable.


had to share...

in case you missed it:

this is why healthcare reform CAN. NOT. WAIT.
in 9 states plus d.c., insurance companies have declared DOMESTIC VIOLENCE as a pre-existing condition, which means they can deny you health coverage.


also, 5 small town iowa girls (go iowa! NOT.) were strip searched recently, in an investigation regarding a theft from another student. the stolen money was NOT found in their underpants, or their bras. SHOCKING.

and finally- this is just too funny not to share:

i am IN LOVE with the term "uterine-american".


world news at noon

violence against women in nepal: over 80% of women have been abused by their husbands.

let's make note of that. 80%


child sex trafficking:
Approximately 797,500 children go missing every year. That works out to roughly 2,185 children a day. And, more than 100,000 children under the age of 18 are currently being trafficked in the United States.

to put that in perspective..."Debbie, a straight-A student who belonged to a close-knit Air Force family living in Phoenix, Ariz., was 15 when she was snatched from her driveway by an acquaintance-friend. Forced into a car, Debbie was bound and taken to an unknown location, held at gunpoint and raped by multiple men. She was then crammed into a small dog kennel and forced to eat dog biscuits. Debbie's captors advertised her services on Craigslist. Those who responded were often married with children, and the money that Debbie "earned" for sex was given to her kidnappers. The gang raping continued. After searching the apartment where Debbie was held captive, police finally found Debbie stuffed in a drawer under a bed. Her harrowing ordeal lasted for 40 days."


and finally, women targeted by religious leaders:
One in every 33 women who attend worship services regularly has been the target of sexual advances by a religious leader.

clearly: "when you put it with a spiritual leader or moral leader, you've really added a power that we typically don't think about in secular society -- which is that this person speaks for God and interprets God for people. And that really adds a power."

female...THAT'S your pre-existing condition.


i LOVE this!

women confronting their abusers! look at these two awesome projects- one older, one current.

war zone (1998)

holla back

in both cases, women (primarily) are actively responding to men (primarily) who leer at them, catcall them, and otherwise treat them like objects. i wish every woman could do this every day (i.e. i wish every woman felt safe in responding to harrassment), so that someday, instead of catcalls and street harrassement being a daily occurance, a matter of reflex, they would be activities considered as strange and as ostracized as, i don't know, wearing spandex, or not picking up your dog's business on a walk.

because make no mistake: our culture, which permits and even encourages ('boys will be boys') the treatment of women as nothing more than objects, is the SAME culture which permits and even encourages abuse, rape and the continued real life subjugation of women. women have the RIGHT to live their lives free from abuse. but many do not live with the freedom that right should guarantee.

can you even imagine?

can you?
can you imagine making the choice that
lubna hussein has made?
she faced a criminal trial, and the distinct possibility that she would be flogged (40 lashes, with a plastic whip, which usually leaves permanent scars), finally choosing a month in jail instead of paying a $200 fine...

all because she believes simply that: women in sudan should be allowed to wear trousers.

note: 10 of the 11 other women she was arrested with (for wearing trousers) have already been flogged.

women are NOT equal in our world yet. don't take your pants for granted.


that's what i was gonna say...

um, wow.

this is why i'm a feminist.

still waiting...

today is women's equality day!!!

on august 26, 1920, the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, took effect. and in 1923, alice paul introduced the Equal Rights Amendment, which has still not been ratified today.

"sex discrimination should be just as unconstitutional as discrimination on account of race, religion or national origin."- Laura Callow.

tell me again why can't we agree that discrimination, PERIOD, should be unconstitutional???!!!

also- look at this revolutionary photo from Glamour magazine! great analysis from ms. snarker in that post, btw.

"The beauty industry isn’t about making women feel beautiful. It’s about making us feel so horrible about ourselves for not being beautiful that we buy whatever they are selling. Making us hate who we are is a billion-dollar industry."

"Right now, think of three things you don’t like about your body and then three things you love about your body. Those first three came easier, didn’t they? Now f*ck those first three things. Because only those last three things matter. We are as beautiful as we feel. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise."

and finally- more details about chris brown's abuse come out after sentencing. i know that there's probably something to be said against making such a big deal out of this case- all the sympathy rihanna has gotten just because she's a celebrity is sort of a slap in the face to all the women who are abused daily and get ZERO attention or help. but it's also a useful example of just how bad it is for women, and the national fixation is at least bringing some of these skeletons out of america's closet.

"Brown punched Rihanna... numerous times and put her in a head lock, restricting her breathing and causing her to start to lose consciousness. He threatened to beat her and kill her, according to the statement, and he bit her ear and her fingers."
clearly, women are not treated equally in the u.s., or around the world. so today,
say something about equality.
do something about equality.
support equality.
tell your state congresspeople to ratify the ERA!!!
check out http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/ and http://www.eracampaign.net/ for more info. The states that have NOT ratified the Amendment are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia.



guess which area of our society isn't feeling the pinch due to the recession? in fact, it's flourishing!

domestic abuse.

shelters are seeing increased demand for their services, and the national DV hotline has seen over a 20% jump in calls.

BUT the good news for all you abusers out there is: if you DO get caught, and somehow miraculously ARE convicted...don't worry. you'll just have to spend the equivalent of 2 months picking up some garbage while on parole.


speaking of child brides

70% of girls in bangladesh are forced into marriage while still in their teens.


"The young brides, lacking education, become the malnourished mothers of undernourished children and little else."

i'll give ya two dollars and a sheep.

well, last week there was that great piece about child brides...here's more from the guardian re: "the bride price"

in uganda, and across africa, "The practice of bride gifts has been relabelled "bride price", demanded by families and fiercely negotiated. It has reduced young women to commodities and has made families see their daughters as a source of income. Today bride price isn't a bag of potatoes, it's a list of demands for money, animals or clothing made by fathers and older brothers, who might want to throw in requests for new shoes or school fees. The mother gets nothing because she was more or less purchased herself, and the sisters are ignored too as they are all set to be exchanged for commodities when they reach 12 or 13."

the 'commodification of young women'...so much of what we face as women comes back to this basic concept. rape? (women are objects only for the rapist's use) abuse? (women must be controlled, punished, 'shown who's boss') sexism in education/the workplace/society (women aren't as smart/as capable/as valuable/as human as men)...and on and on and on.

in every single corner of the globe, women are treated as less than. so laws are passed (but not enforced) explicitly stating indeed women DO deserve equal treatment. what a cage rattling thought.

how messed up is our world if we have to LEGISLATE equality? from the sufferagists to the civil rights activists to the anti-prop 8 folks- and people in every country following those same paths- people fight valiantly for legal recognition of equal rights. but if legislation is our only avenue, we'll never acheive equality.

i feel like our nation, our globe, needs a new declaration of independence, a new magna carta, (go phillipines!) AFFIRMING the humanity of every living person (female, male, able, disabled, young, old, of every race and ethnicity), and CONDEMNING those who would deny humanity to their fellow people. individual governments can only do so much, and while symbolic gestures certainly carry meaning, they do not change beliefs, or even behaviors. the culture of acceptance of the commodification of women must end. we must protect women, punish abusers, and refuse to accept inequity.


friday screams

LOTS to scream about this week.

forced child marraige (aka rape)

"World-wide 82 million girls are child brides."

"To be sure, childhood marriage is not an easy problem to address. Some of the causes are poverty, parental desire to prevent sexual relations outside of marriage, fear of rape--which would shame the family and either ostracize or lead to the murder of the victim--lack of educational opportunities for girls, and traditional notions of the primary role of women and girls as wives and mothers. It's perpetuated by religions that aim to keep women subordinate and deeply-rooted cultural norms in which men are encouraged to dominate women--If a wife is a child you can guarantee male control."

*please note- there seem to be a variety of causes listed in the paragraph above...but it's really all just different ways to say the same thing...that's self-evident, i hope.*

"Children like Kidan deserve to have a childhood."

*and, i would add, children like Kidan also deserve a FUTURE THEY CHOOSE FOR THEMSELVES.*

ending the CULTURE of violence against women
Great article. Highlights:

"The last meaningful federal survey took place in 2000, at the end of the Clinton administration. A Department of Justice survey on the "Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence" found that nearly 25% of surveyed women said they had been raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, partner, or date. That equates to roughly 4.8 million violent attacks against women annually in this country. And many women were the victim of repeat attacks (an average of 6.9 assaults by the same partner).
The study also found that "approximately one-fifth of all rapes, one-quarter of all physical assaults, and one-half of all stalkings" experienced by women will not be reported to the police."

*Key paragraph:
"It's curious how blind we become to our own culture. We can criticize tribal Muslim societies for their abuse of women, yet fail to see how ours sometimes does the same thing. What can we do? We can support organizations like DASH, which provides alternate housing for victims of domestic violence. We can press for public policies that address domestic violence. We can speak out against the culture of violence -- a culture that's strengthened every time a women is treated like an object. "

End the world's two deadliest wars (and save women and girls in the process)

"Together, Sudan and Congo represent two of Africa's largest countries, two of Africa's richest natural resource bases, two of Africa's longest wars, two of the world's deadliest conflicts in the past half century, two of the continent's most predatory governments, and two of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman or a girl. "

"Rape is employed by these conflicting groups as a tool of war and social control,..."

*who bears the brunt of the conflict, in real life, on the ground, every day? women and girls.*

domestic violence in japan

"The latest data from Japan's national police find a 20 percent jump in the number of women reporting domestic violence. But advocates say there is a long way to go in a country that only criminalized family violence in 2001."

but " Forty percent of people over age 20 don't know there is a domestic violence prevention law and only 14 percent of people over 40 are familiar with it, according to the Gender Agency Bureau, based in Tokyo."

and "A Cabinet Office survey, which was conducted in October-November of last year, found that 33.2 percent of married women have experienced physical and mental abuse from their husbands"

*so, ONE THIRD of women report abuse when surveyed, but a large majority of women, especially over 40, don't even know yet that there is anything they can do to escape their abusers.*

and finally, just a short snippet, a blurb, if you will, to top off alllllll the screaming today:

rape victim blamed for being raped at gunpoint in front of her children.

*Please people, don't ever stay at this mariott again.*

EPIC humanity FAIL.


i'm back, and still pissed.

after 2 weeks having my brain expanded (grad school was both HARD and TOTALLY INSPIRING), and then a week of serious relaxation and re-charging in my favorite womyn-only environment....i'm back. but not much has changed while i've been gone, unfortch.

BALI, Indonesia (Reuters) - Fifty million women in Asia are at risk of being infected with HIV because of the risky sexual behavior of their husbands or boyfriends, leading health experts said in a report on Tuesday.

no surprise. this is already the reason for the AIDS epidemic in africa- looks like asia isn't far behind.

rape, risky sexual behavior by male partners, and sexual oppression (i.e. no choice to refuse) lead to a lifetime of consequences. the number of women contracting HIV/AIDS is rising quickly, and they are powerless to prevent their own infection.


"don't come crying to me when you get hurt!" - u.s. government

female veterans are still not receiving adequate care. and we're just talking basic standards of care here. the medical care they can expect to receive once they return from combat isn't anywhere NEAR dependable, high-quality or even available in some cases.

we've heard so many stories about the insult added to (sometimes literal) injury that our veterans are subjected to (hello, walter reed!). but can you imagine being a woman, having already faced overt sexist treatment while enlisted, and likely having feared for your bodily safety at least once, at the hands of your fellow servicemen (i.e. the ultimate betrayal)...and then you finally get home, and you are denied mental health care, or your exams aren't even private, or you have no access to a doctor specializing in women's health at the VA facility.

this is another glaring example of something i've heard a few people mention recently...and it's so........maddening! white, straight, middle/upper class, able-bodied MEN are considered NORMAL. if you posess any characteristics other than that- you're deviant from the norm, and somehow 'odd', 'biased', or 'special' (and not in a good way.)

because, you know:

~it's so HARD to cater to all of female veterans' special needs (whiiinnnneeee)...

~women who don't serve in active combat don't need mental health services. (are you flipping kidding me?)

~judge sotomayor is suspect of being racist, but "the obvious point — that the background and heritage of old white guys influences their decision-making all the time, too — would not have been the politically sound one to make." (i just have to laugh, or i'll cry...)

the whole world is geared toward what has been established as 'normal'. god forbid if you're not normal. don't bother expecting fair treatment. if you demand equality (which, by the way- doesn't mean THE SAME treatment, but rather, the same quality of treatment, or availability of options, or the same access to opportunities) prepare to be labeled a reverse racist, a bitch, or (gasp) hillary clinton.


this does not bode well...

...for me personally.

Male Nonprofit Executives Earn 27% More Than Female Leaders, Study of Fla. Executives Finds

That pay gap is partially due to the fact that men are more likely to lead large organizations — which offer higher salaries — than are women, according to Margaret Linnane, executive director of the Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership Center at Rollins College, in Winter Park, Fla., which conducted the survey.
But men tend to make more money even at smaller organizations, she said.

At the biggest organizations, female CEO’s earned 34.8 percent less than their male counterparts, according to a Guidestar study last year.

hmm, wonder why men are leading all the big organizations?

sweet. sure makes me glad i'm getting my masters, so i can hopefully move up in the ranks some day and make less than my male counterparts!!

c'mon female central florida nonprofit executives- check this study out and raise some Lilly Ledbetter hell!

real life

real life SVU. new york city bouncer brutalized, murdered and raped boston student.

real life effects of war. 1100 women are raped in the congo every month. more than 16 women (and girls) per day.

the part of that article that made me stop was this: Sexual violence in conflict zones has become so pervasisve that its threat to individual victims as well as entire communities and nations and requires an international response, said Margot Wallstrom, vice president of the European Commission.

ok, i appreciate the sentiment...but does anyone else think that the threat to individuals ALONE should prompt a response? only when it affects the larger community (i.e. not just WOMEN), does this become a 'crisis'.

but any effort to STOP RAPE is a step in the right direction. i want one of these:


troops = war = bad news for women

two articles today, speaking out about the problem of the continued war in afghanistan. in particular, the problem for women. women in afghanistan already face one of the harshest realities in which to survive. war only intensifies the injustices.

self-immolation is on the rise. in other words, life is so unbearable, the only option that provides relief is suicide.

"peacekeeping" forces do not peace bring. in fact, life in occupied afghanistan is not getting better for women at all.

the implication of a troop surge for afghan women is frightening.


just like that time...

this reminds me of that story i heard about a woman kidnapping her husband, and holding him prisoner during a violent stand-off with police...

oh wait.

no it doesn't. because i don't think i've ever heard that story. just this one.

the good news is, she got out alive. note, however, that her ex-husband has other pending criminal charges, including threatening, violating a protective order, arson and forgery. she's been dealing with this threat, this fear, for years. this story is what you would find in the dictionary under 'broken system'.


WWII WASPS get their due


ok, i admit, this wasn't on my radar until i read the article. but seriously- FINALLY.
these women weren't even recognized by the government who asked them to serve until 30 years later. typical.


rape, murder and infidelity, oh my!

husbands have property rights in their wives' bodies. and no, we're not talking about husbands in the dark ages. great article linked there about spousal rape- its prevalence and the shameful way it's STILL prosecuted in many states. (the article doesn't even begin to address the issue outside of the u.s.)

that protective order really worked, huh? the murdered woman did everything right. but she's still dead.
i wish i could personally look women in the eye and really make them hear and believe me: he DOESN'T love you, he WON'T stop hurting you, and you should NOT, under ANY circumstances, take your abuser back.

jeez, sanford
just can't shut up. it would be funny if it wasn't so disgusting and (of course) degrading to his wife. i hope she pitches him.


one more for the tally

just happened to catch this gem tonight, while it's still june-

A Cedar Rapids man is charged with sexually abusing a 4-year-old girl at his apartment.

Police say Daryl Bentley is charged with second-degree sexual abuse. He is accused of abusing the girl at about 5:30 a.m. on June 17.

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Christy Hamblin says the child did not live with Bentley.

Bentley is the nephew of Roger Bentley, who is serving a life sentence for the 2005 kidnapping and murder of 10-year-old Jetseta Gage, and James Bentley, who is serving a 100-year federal prison sentence for taking pornographic pictures of Gage and a 1-year-old girl in 2003.

James Bentley also is serving a 25-year sentence for sexually abusing Gage.


lest anyone thing that abuse of women and girls isn't a LEARNED behavior.

summer in iowa

summer is here, and it's gorgeous in iowa.
but it's still dangerous.

des moines man chokes his wife till she loses consciousness then tries to hit her with a car.

strawberry point man kidnaps and sexually assaults a 16-year old in a remote location.

sioux city man climbs in a 3-year old's bedroom window in the early hours of the morning, sexually assaults, and murders her, while her 9-year old brother pretends to be asleep in the next bed, for fear of being hurt himself. (he later helped identify the killer.)

iowa city police state 12 rapes have been reported thus far in 2009. now, going by conservative estimates of the number of rapes that are actually reported (40%), we can guess that there have actually been more like 30 rapes... in little iowa city, IA... in the past 6 months... conservatively.
that's more than one woman a week.

these headlines were just from June 2009. multiply this times 12 months, times 50 states, times 7 continents. (ok, maybe 6). rape and sexual assault are constant threats to women and girls the world over. it's not a joke, and it's not going away.