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.


anywhere you go, i'll follow you down

this woman was raped, and escaped, twice. this is about a dozen blocks from where i grew up.

every day, in every city and town. girls, women, mothers, daughters, sisters. we are all at risk.
rape is all around us.



when i heard about sanford's press conference yesterday, a few thoughts flashed in rapid succession through my brain:

1. they really are ALL doing it.
2. so what's the big deal- why are we so surprised every time we hear someone confess?
3. family values my a**, sir.



one in four men in south africa admit to rape. that's just the ones who ADMIT it.

apartheid: inhumane acts of a character similar to other crimes against humanity "committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime."

Substitute "gender" for "racial" in the above definition, and you've pretty much got it.
sexism is institutionalized.
rape is about domination.
rape is the tool that those with power use to maintain their power.

this isn't exaggeration, it's reality.

feminists in iran

iranian women are protesting side-by-side with the men, calling for justice. their calls, however, echo even louder in my ears, because while there are certainly general rights for all people that are of importance to all the protesters... at least the men don't have to fear forced marraiges, strictly enforced "modesty" regulations, caps on the numbers of them who can attend university, and unemployment based on their gender. mousavi is most certainly the lesser of two evils in this case, and women's lives will not transform over night if he were in power, but liberty will never come under ahmadinejad's zealously patriarchal thumb.

these women inspire me.



"crisis pregnancy centers" purporting to talk to scared young women about their "options" just get on my nerves.

not only do they not actually TALK to women honestly about all their options, they also WITHHOLD proven options for reducing unintended pregnancies: birth control and condoms. these CPC's are the worst example of misrepresentation and misleading advertising. many are not medically licensed in any way, but make it seem as if they're giving medical advice/information.

organizations like this one: http://www.togetherforyouth.net/ are the ones really making a measurable impact in reducing unintended and teen pregnancies. and they're doing it *comprehensively*. their message includes ALL options- abstinence (being the ONLY fail safe method of pregnancy and std prevention), birth control, condoms, and the full spectrum of women's health resources.

in my community, there are two organizations that call themselves CPC's, but which do NOT provide full, accurate information about women's rights and options: birthright, and alternatives. women should know what to expect when going to these centers for help. if you share their worldviews, by all means, go to them. (truly!) my point is simply that women should know what to expect.

i encourage anyone who has questions, or concerns about their reproductive health to visit planned parenthood. when i was young, nervous and didn't know who to turn to, they were warm, welcoming, informative and very very helpful. frankly, i credit the dedicated staff of my local planned parenthood in large part for my life as it is today. without them, i could have gotten pregnant during my young, short marriage, and my life would have been unrecognizable from today.

this is not a very p.c. or popular thing for women to say (still!), but i'm going to say it:
i love my life today, and i'm so glad i didn't get pregnant at a young age.
ALL women should know and have access to the OPTIONS to control their own lives. men get to.

*edited to add: spot-on analysis of the dangers of the virginity movement and especially all the funding that was funneled to it during the previous administration.


and on another note:
"certain rights, in certain instances, by certain agencies..." ~ Rep. Tammy Baldwin being very frank on the Rachel Maddow show tonight, re: President Obama's executive order to extend some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

doesn't sound to me much like "the Blessings of Liberty"
"unalienable rights- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"


wife = toaster

how else would you describe this story? the plain fact is that this man considers his wife (and i would imagine, most women), to be his personal possession. and not even a valuable possession...he wouldn't treat his big screen so callously. or his pool table. or his car. nah, she's more like a toaster- useful, but no reason to be gentle with her. just a tool for getting what you want (i.e. breakfast. or, in this case, a midnight snack.)

wait- actually, HE's the tool.



really? REALLY?

Judge Sonya Sotomayor's menstrual cycle, language (spanish = "illegal alien"), and of course race, are all totally NON SEXIST and NON RACIST reasons why she should not be the next supreme court justice, right?

thanks for the WHAAAA? moment today,
Mr. G. Gordon Libby.

so why would this old nixon-era-convicted-felon care if the next surpreme court justice were a latina woman, as long as she's qualified? why would anyone care? oh that's right- because it means that the POWER will all of a sudden be shared with someone who is not a part of the good ol' boys club. and that, my friends, is the biggest threat of all.

thanks @sarahwarn for the tip on your twitter conversation w/ the esteemed Mr. Libby. keep it up.

x Infinity

i just don't understand (and yet, i do) how stories like this don't cause people to absolutely riot in the streets.

"She was 23 the day in 1994 he beat her senseless, leaving her with back, neck and hand injuries — bone spurs, pinched nerves, osteoarthritis — that still require surgeries. He told Thompson he would kill her, bury her in the back yard and tell their daughters she had run away. He slapped her so hard that a ring on his right hand flew off and dented the wall.The abuse continued for more than three hours. At his trial, she testified the pain was so severe when he squeezed her ears with pliers that she pleaded for him to kill her. Instead, he held her at gunpoint for another 15 hours before allowing her to go to a hospital.
On Friday he was released [from prison], and she began waiting for him to make good on his promise to kill her and her daughters. Price walked out of a federal prison in South Carolina after serving 4½ years of a five-year sentence for sending the [death threat] letter, which began with the words, "Dear Slut."

and stories like this could be told in a hundred newspapers across the country every day (and thousands around the world, especially in areas where women have no legal protections whatsoever). will there ever be a time when women don't live in fear of abuse?

a simple equation

BEREGA, Tanzania — A handwritten ledger at the hospital tells a grim story. For the month of January, 17 of the 31 minor surgical procedures here were done to repair the results of “incomplete abortions.” A few may have been miscarriages, but most were botched operations by untrained, clumsy hands.
Abortion is illegal in Tanzania (except to save the mother’s life or health), so women and girls turn to amateurs, who may dose them with herbs or other concoctions, pummel their bellies or insert objects vaginally. Infections, bleeding and punctures of the uterus or bowel can result, and can be fatal. Doctors treating women after these bungled attempts sometimes have no choice but to remove the uterus.
Pregnancy and childbirth are among the greatest dangers that women face in Africa, which has the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality — at least 100 times those in developed countries. Abortion accounts for a significant part of the death toll.

In most countries the rates of abortion, whether legal or illegal — and abortion-related deaths — tend to decrease when the use of birth control increases. But only about a quarter of Tanzanians use contraception. In South Africa, the rate of contraception use is 60 percent, and in Kenya 39 percent. Both have lower rates of maternal mortality than does Tanzania.

to me, this is the key point in any discussion of reproductive rights:
anti-reproductive rights activists should be the most STALWART birth control, safe sex and family planning supporters. period. end of story. preventing unwanted pregnancies = preventing abortion.

you don't cure an infection by addressing only the symptoms. you attack the CAUSE of the infection in order to make the symptons disappear. the "bad kind" of abortion is primarily the symptom of unwanted pregnancies. so STOP THEM. educate women, provide the resources they need, and STOP RAPE NOW.


life ain't fair

Customers rank women and minority doctors, salespeople and service workers lower than their white male counterparts, even when the customer's interactions with the doctors, sales people or service workers are identical.

key excerpt:
In a related experiment involving bookshop employees, volunteers were shown two videotaped interactions between a customer and a sales clerk and were told to imagine they were customers and rate the shop's service. Some were shown a white male sales clerk, while others were shown a black male clerk or a white female clerk. All the clerks were actors -- and everything else in the videos was identical, down to the script. (emphasis mine)
Those shown the white male clerk rated the service provided 19 percent higher than volunteers shown the woman or the black man. They also rated stores with white male clerks as being cleaner. (emphasis mine)

which is why it's so important to have boards, committees, groups, schools, organizations, city councils, governments and LIVES that reflect the diversity of the world we live in. because if we are left to our own devices, we prove time and again that we are biased, prejudiced, racist, sexist and incapable of systematically treating people fairly. it is only upon closer and sustained examination of our actions and decisions, through the lens of diversity, that we begin to see the inherent fallibility of those actions and decisions. and when we recognize what we're doing, we then have the choice, the opportunity, to change. but if we are never forced, (by simple association), to consider the effect our actions and decisions have on people different from ourselves, then we continue in oblivion.

in other words: until whites and blacks and latinos and arabs, and women and men, and gays and straights, and old and young KNOW one another, respect one another on a personal level and work together across dividing lines- and until ALL those descriptors can be used to accurately describe the governments and boards who wield the power in our communities and across the nation: the inequalities for blacks, latinos, arabs, women, gays, old and young will persist, and will in fact be perpetuated through the governments and boards which hold the power. if our bodies of power do not accurately reflect our communities (which they currently most often do NOT), then the decisions that are made, affecting the entire diverse community, will be exactly like those customer surveys.

it's about more than satisfaction surveys, though. this affects real lives. every day. it's why black men are disproportionately represented in prisons in Iowa. and it's why women are raped but rapists are not hunted down like their victims were. and it's why LGBT men and women aren't given equal protection under the law. and it's why i have missed out on career opportunities.

human beings are unfair to one another. life ain't fair, right? but i choose to stand on the side with all those who say, Imagine.


Patti Rosenfelder survived rape and sexual assault 30 years ago, and wants to tell her story. I think it's a story everyone should hear.

Lolita Windsor's son stabbed her repeatedly and held her captive, over a period of hours.

Darfuri women live in fear, even after they have fled their war-ravaged homeland in Sudan. The refugee camps are almost as bad as the conflict zone, where a simple trip to gather firewood often results in attack and rape.

Darfur. The Congo. The United States of America.
Not so very different from one another, for women.
We live under the constant threat of violence, rape and the knowledge that domestic violence and sexual assault are stopped or punished in only a fraction of the cases. The war on women is real, and every woman who has ever walked across a parking lot holding her keys the way Patti Rosenfelder does knows it.