trend watch

see if you can spot the trend in these stories:

Man Punches Bus Driver for Staring at His Wife

Waterloo Teen Taken into Custody for Stabbing

Man Killed One Woman, Wounded Another, Before Shooting Self

survey says....?

if you said 'violence is primarily perpetrated by men', you would be right!!!

ugh. i want to move to iceland.


you take the good, you take the bad...the facts of life?

the good: Girlafesto! the coolest thing i've seen in a LONG time. i'm going to print it out for my nieces' bedroom walls!

the bad: the reality of life for women and girls. this particular story is from iraqi kurdistan, and is actually really beautiful and inspirational- but it only highlights the DAILY fight for equality women face, everywhere. (via the awesome thefbomb.org )

the facts of life: violence against women harms men too, and men have a vitally important role to play in ending it. A Brother's Story is a great insight into the perspective of one man fighting against intimate partner violence. (via http://www.vday.org/)



who can find the common denominator in these three stories, (other than the awesome reporting & commentary by the women at Ms. Magazine Blog)?

Feds Lied in Tribal Rape Case

U.S. Has "Failed" Rape Victims: Senate to Hear Testimony

A Call for Self-Defense Against Victim-Blaming AND Against Rape

here are the common themes i see:

1. Rape is the lowest priority violent crime...
2. ...because really, it's the woman's own fault...and it's just a "women's issue" anyway...
3. ...so why bother spending any actual resources (time, money, attention) addressing it?

rape culture says that 'it's all in our heads'...that most rape is perpetrated by terrifying strangers in alleys (not true), that most women 'cry rape' falsely (not true) just because they regret a sexual encounter or because they want to get back at a man with whom they are upset, and that it's our responsibility as the VICTIMS of violence to somehow ward off that violence before it begins...otherwise, well, what did we expect?

I expect law enforcement to take my report of a violent attack on my person seriously. I expect that if i submit to an often painful, embarassing and psychologically difficult physical exam so that evidence of my rape can be collected, that said evidence will actually be TESTED. I also expect that women of all races and ethnicities and orientations and classes will be protected under the
LAWS of the united states. Frankly, I expect a life free from fear of rape and sexual assault.

i know, i have very high expectations.


ya think?

"What is so piquant here is not the fact that Hillary understands that Obama is president. It is the growing sense that Hillary would have made a much, much better president than Obama."


smart girls are scary, cont.

as school started over the last few days, i've heard a lot of complaining from students about having to go back, leaving carefree summers behind, and especially, new school uniform codes (shudder). all relatively normal, understandable, even expected complaints from american kids.

the gratitude we should all feel for the fact that our students can attend school free (generally) from fear or danger is easily forgotten.

40 afghan school girls were apparently poisoned in a gas attack as they sat in school this week.

and previously in may.

and april.

and last year.

always girls schools.

but they keep going to school, believing fervently in the value of education, their right to knowledge.

they are braver than i will ever be.



the tagline of the Iowa Women's Foundation is "investing in the dreams of girls and the power of women".

MY dream is to work for a women's foundation someday, and be able to match my personal passion for feminism to my professional avocation- philanthropy and grant making. below is a really cool video chronicling the women's funding movement. of course money isn't EVERYTHING, but it's a key factor in driving systemic change, and we're only just now starting to really pick up steam. the need, and the potential, is staggering.

we need to keep putting our money where our mouth is. it sounds really simple, but intentionally prioritizing our giving to focus on women is very important, and often overlooked.

i love the statement at the end of the video- make history. fund boldly.

give to women!


must see tv.

clear your schedules for at least 30 minutes.

if you haven't already seen rachel maddow's 'fake president's address' re: the gulf oil spill...even though it's 'capped' now... you'll be glad you spent 10:33 watching her seriously genius commentary.

and, as usual, keith olbermann hits it out of the park with his special comment on the so-called 'ground zero mosque'. so right on.




1. The mosque isn’t just a mosque — it’s a cultural center which contains a prayer room, classrooms, a gym, a pool, a 9/11 memorial, a restaurant, galleries, and an auditorium. So it’s actually more like a YMCA — or, as its name would indicate, a community center — and will be open to all stripes of people. And isn’t at the Ground Zero site. It’s two blocks from the World Trade Center.

2. You know what else is in a two-block radius of Ground Zero (“Ground Zero,” by the way, being a term I loathe)? The same stuff that is on any given two-block radius in New York City. A sex shop. A few bars. Two strip clubs. A bunch of bodegas. Oh and there’s also a mosque already in lower Manhattan. That mosque has been there for a while and the world has not ended. So what’s the cut-off? Two blocks isn’t ok, but three is?

3. “People who were killed on 9/11″ and “Muslims” are not mutually exclusive groups. Yes, Muslims worked in the towers, and for the fire department, and for the police, and for emergency services. Yes, Muslims lived and worked (and still live and work) in lower Manhattan. “Muslims vs. People Impacted by 9/11″ doesn’t really work when those two categories overlap.

Keep reading this perfect explanation of the NON-ISSUE that is (should be) the Islamic cultural center at the world trade center site, via Jill @ Feministe.


dude, you're hilarious.

actual dude's facebook status seen today:

"Call 911, I was just raped at Mastercuts in [the mall], 3 kids haircuts $55, and then she wanted a tip. Tip is your way Overpriced. wont happen again."

we may have the trifecta, folks. 1. oblivious yet overt misogyny in the classic form of a completely inappropriate and offensive rape joke, 2. classist disregard for service worker earning a living wage (who, of course, happens to be a woman), and 3. no regard for grammar or syntax.

and the icing on the cake... he's available.

i know...try to control yourselves, ladies. don't hurt yourselves in the rush to nab this eligible stud.


Women Unbound! Finale

i just finished the second and final book i committed to read for the Women Unbound! Challenge!
i joined the challenge at the Philogynist level: "read at least two books, including at least one nonfiction one." and i did it! i've never done a blog reading challenge, so i'm pretty excited to complete my first one successfully! :)

my sister (Eli at Need More Shelves!) told me to read this book years ago; i'm not really sure why it took me so long. i've never read The Secret Life of Bees, or any of S.M.K's other work, but i guess i should have known how well-written it would be. i don't know why that surprised me so much, but wow. this woman sure can paint a picture. i often have trouble getting psyched up to read non-fiction. i buy the book thinking 'oh, that sounds fascinating!' with great intentions of diving right in and expanding my mental acuity...and then i pick up a novel and never get back around to reading the non-fiction. it's a bad habit, i know. but from the minute i opened up this book i was right there with the author, word by word, minute by minute, wanting to find out what she said, thought and discovered next.

another surprise to me was the context of this book. sue monk kidd used to be an evangelical christian women's author. !! she was (in her words) a "good daughter" of the church. this book is the testimony of her transformation, transfiguration, reconstruction, her journey.

her story is funny, sad, scary and inspiring. it's the story of a feminist awakening. i got chills when i read the section, which was one of the turning points for the author, where she came upon her daughter being heckled by two men. she described feeling rage, indignation and an unwillingness for her daughter, any daughter, to experience a lifetime of subordination and patriarchal repression.

this is also a story about a religious awakening. the author's exploration of ancient religious traditions focusing on feminine symbols of divinity is fascinating- i ate it right up. couldn't get enough. it's just so...validating...to read the truth about the origins of modern religion and why/how the female-centered traditions were suppressed. validating to know that all those misgivings i've had aren't crazy. validating to know that there really are other women out there who question the 'our father's and 'in his image's we've heard for so long.

i can't even begin to do this book justice here. suffice it to say, S.M.K. describes a journey from complacency to the Sacred Feminine that isn't yet finished. her experience is not presented as a prescription, but rather as an example of one woman's experience, which is refreshing and inspiring. i don't necessarily agree with every final conclusion or choice of the author's, but that's ok. i DO feel a real connection and empathy with her journey, and an appreciation for the path she is blazing with courage.

i'm definitely a fan. there were some parts of this story that were, for me, a little bit hippy-dippy (i'm just too cynical, even when try not to be)...but generally speaking, there was something on just about every single page that resonated deeply with me.

do yourself a favor: read this book. especially if you grew up in the church and consider yourself in any way a feminist. you'll be glad you did. i sure am!


couldn't have said it better myself.

From Feminsite:

I'm pretty sure I just hate cleaning toilets on my own, without any guidance
from Gloria Steinem on the subject.


but yes, ahem, the evil feminists totally brainwashed the happy little housewives.



via the awesome Fannie's Room:

someone needs to tell Phylis about Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, Angela Merkel, Benazir Bhutto, Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meïr, and Indira Gandhi...seriously.



the f-word

there are so many f-words, aren't there? i wonder what it is about the sixth letter of the english alphabet anyway? i digress.

today, i'm floored by this blog entry on The Fbomb (which, incidentally, is SO great- teenage feminists!!) about being the FAT girl. it's so true, so honest, and so maddening.

I still knew 99% of the kids in my class – probably my school – were looking at me and seeing “the fat girl.” Not Danielle. Not me.

ugh. this hits me like a punch in the gut, seriously. why can't we, HUMAN BEINGS, just treat each other with respect? with dignity?

fat politics/fat feminism makes me passionate, because how can women ever really achieve true equitable standing in society when something as basic as their physical size, weight and appearance counts them out from the get-go?? are only conventionally "beautiful", thin, white women ever going to achieve equality?

that is simply unacceptable to me.


what is going ON?

haven't had much time to post lately, but i just have to say: W.T.H. IS GOING ON??

(trigger warning)
how many of these rape/incest/imprisonment stories to we have to keep hearing?


the next time i hear someone say that women have achieved equality, or that rape culture is a myth...i might just flip right out on their willfully ignorant a**.

i can't say it better than my favorite spinster aunt:
"...a world order predicated on domination'n'submission oppresses entire classes of people. That oppression is experienced by these classes of people as discrimination, violence and hatred. That discrimination, violence and hatred are unhealthy and injurious."

which classes of people, one might ask? female people, brown people, differently-abled people, young people, old people, gay people, mentally-challenged people, poor people, and generally, anyone non-male, non-white, non-rich and non-NORM.

i hate the norm. viva la diferencia.

but i digress. those stories above hail from brazil, germany, and the US.
guess what... i'd put money on similar situations happening right now in dozens of other countries all over the world. because women are treated like property. it's really that simple. the worldwide oppression of women pervades all cultures, all religions, all national boundaries.

wake up, people. the war is far from over. as long as girls are being kidnapped, held against their will, raped by their fathers and forced to bear their children... we sure as h-e-double-hockey-sticks aren't equal.


still raging, still hoping

april sucks. it's my busiest month at work, so of course that means it flies by too quickly, resulting in me falling frustratingly behind, working late/odd hours, and feeling altogether frenzied for 30 days or so.

thus- no posts recently.

however! today was just too overwhelming, too whiplash-inducing to pass without comment. see exhibits A through F, below:

Exhibit A
after reading this exposition (warning- explicit language, and possible trigger warning) on Feminism for Young Dudes, twice, i've decided my reaction is more positive than negative. i get the ironic tone, and the exagerrated obviousnesss...i even smirked a couple of times ("What I would like is for you to stop thinking about women with an 18th-century disposition while you chill on your ipad in the future."). i think the author's intent is great, which is: feminism doesn't suck! it's actually good for everyone, not just "hairy-legged broads" (represent!). and any time a member of "the superstructure of male, white corporate oppression" speaks up for the oppressed (in this case, teh ladeez. but see also Tim Wise. ), their voice is amplified and enjoys a wider audience purely by virtue of their membership in the aforementioned oppression superstructure. we need all the allies, especially those with privilege, we can get to join the efforts to speak out against white, male, (hetero, able-bodied, etc.etc.etc.) privilege and equalize that good ol' "Liberty and Justice for All" stuff.

i especially liked the part about the way men (and women!) self-righteously throw around the words 'whore' and 'slut' to describe women who engage in consensual sex at similar rates to men...and how someday, maude-willing, those words will be as taboo and offensive and inappropriate as the n-word is- and for all the same reasons.

but i just can't shut that little voice in the back of my head up. the one that says, "why, oh why, in the year two thousand freakin' ten, do we still need to be having this conversation? why are 'young dudes' still in need of CONVINCING that their female friends, companions, sisters, lovers, are worthy of equal treatment and equal respect? why the h-e-double hockey sticks can't this message, which women (awesome women, like Jessica, and Fannie, and Pam, and Melissa, and Twisty!) are constantly repeating, be accepted as fact, instead of some sort of debatable theory?

so thanks for trying, Matt...i'm just annoyed that you have to try so hard.


Exhibits B & C
then, after i processed all of that tasty internalized rage, i stumbled upon two perfect examples of Caution: Occupying space on planet earth While Female.

(Trigger Warnings for rape and violence)

this 12-year old girl, and this 13-year-old girl absolutely did not deserve the brutality they experienced at the hands of men.

incidentally, no headlines today about men being repeatedly and intentionally brutalized by women.


Exhibit D
then of course, a tuesday *headdesk*moment (they really do happen every day) re: boobquake. nice try re-claiming your bodies, grrlz...lucky for you, all the attention is still being paid exclusively to your chestular area, not your, you know...ideas & stuff. (this is what happens when we try to re-claim or re-define partiarchal ideas while operating within the partiarchal system. i'm not saying we shouldn't do it- i'm just saying, by and large, it doesn't work.)


Exhibits E & F
and then! a light shone upon me, and my plummeting morale was once again turned upward when i read the words of these two thoughtful, accomplished, intelligent women, discussing delightfully similar concepts (namely: the intersection of us all, and our human responsibility to each other- to care for and embrace, rather than to belittle and destroy):

Anousheh Ansari (the first female commercial space flight participant, and the first Muslim woman to travel to space): What We Do Matters More Than Labels.

Especially love her point here:
Remind people of who they really are, and not which box they are in, because
those lines [that divide us] really do not exist.

Janet Haag (executive director of Fellowship in Prayer, and organization that calls people to interfaith spiritual practice): Let Us Pray -- With or Without a National Day of Prayer.

As she reminds us:
As a number of wise people have observed, "Prayer doesn't change God; prayer
changes us." We are in need of such transformation-- to become reconcilers,
peacemakers, and justice-bearers. I think those values are shared by theists,
non-theists and athiests-- all who hope for a better world.

amen to that.


cheers & jeers: des moines version

first, the good news: des moines' own Drake University invited Shira Tarrant, from California State University, Long Beach, to speak on campus yesterday about sexual assault and how it shouldn't be up to women to prevent their own assaults (well, isn't that a radical idea!). Best quote:

"A lot of the conversation is that women should walk in groups and wear a whistle," she said. "Well, maybe men should wear a whistle and if they think they're going to rape somebody, they should blow it so people can stay away from them."

Kudos to Drake, for taking a proactive and (sadly) progressive step toward raising awareness about sexual assault & violence against women. the question is: what's the next step?

THIS is the kind of thing i want Iowa to be known for.


now for the bad news: Dave Leach, a Des Moines anti-abortion activist and confidant to the man convicted earlier this year of murdering a Kansas abortion provider, will be the Republican candidate for state Senate in district 31.

this guy is freaky. really domestic-terrorism-kind of freaky.

Since the conviction [of Roeder], Leach has kept in constant contact with Roeder, eventually releasing to the media a 10-minute interview he conducted with Roeder where he said he had no regrets for what he had done and little sympathy for the family of his victim.

this is NOT the kind of thing i want Iowa to be known for.

i can't participate in this particular election (not my district)- but if you live in Des Moines District 31- vote for Matt McCoy! keep this murder-apologist Leach out of office!


where to start?

do we start by helping ethiopian women? this piece by London Independent journalist Johann Hari is terrifying, heartbreaking, and infuriating.

"In 2003 - the last year for which statistics are available - the National Committee on Traditional Practices of Ethiopia found that 69 per cent of marriages begin like this, with the triple-whammy of abduction, rape, and a forced signature. In a country with a mixture of Protestant, Catholic and Muslim, all religions practice it equally."

but it's also deeply, deeply inspiring, because the women are making a difference. they are actually saving their sisters, daughters, and friends. they are literally changing minds and attitudes.

"...cultures can change when women are given a chance"

this is a MUST-READ article.


or, do we start in our own backyard, with our own armed forces? CNN reports that the Pentagon is crowing about how their work to encourage more reporting of sexual assault in the military is working.

"According to the new report, the Department of Defense had two sexual assaults per 1,000 service members in fiscal year 2009. The Army reported 2.6 per 1,000 soldiers; the Navy reported 1.6 per 1,000; the Air Force reported 1.4 per 1,000; and the Marine Corps had 1.3 per 1,000."

"Pentagon officials have said that even though there have been improvements that allow military personnel to report cases, they estimate that only between 10 percent and 20 percent of people who were sexually assaulted report the crime."

here are my take-aways from this piece:

1. the Army is the most dangerous place for women in our armed forces, but not by much.

2. officials sure are proud of this supposed proof that REPORTS are increasing. too bad they still don't have a clue about how many women are actually raped by their fellow soldiers, because reporting a rape pretty much guarantees you further humiliation and abuse (including professional abuse- being denied promotions and advancement.) when they take some real action to STOP RAPE in the military, then i'll share their enthusiasm.

3. according to the Women's Memorial organization, there were approximately 208,000 women in active duty in the u.s. armed forces in 2009. so if 2 out of 1000 were sexually assaulted last year, that means over 400 women* are assaulted while serving their country, by their fellow soldiers. this is unacceptable.

*i should note- the gender of the person reporting the sexual assault was not given in the article...a few of them may be men too. equally unacceptable.
not equally as threatening to male service members (as in, a threat hanging daily over their heads just because they are a male service member), but equally unacceptable, certainly.


double jeopardy in haiti

why am i not surprised that this story is being reported? why am i not surprised that, after surviving the horror of the earthquake in haiti, women and girls are still being forced to live in fear for their lives daily (and nightly). why am i not surprised that officials took weeks to respond, and there is still nothing being done to actually STOP this war on women?

i don't even know what to say. i'm unsurprised. but that doesn't mean my heart doesn't break for these women. they persevered and survived the natural disaster, and now they are living in a human disaster, being faced with the absolute worst of humanity. they have nothing, and no one, and then these rapists try to steal their self-worth.

support efforts to stop the rape of earthquake victims in haiti.


here's what's making me want to scream today:

Fat Hatred
it's insidious "because being fat is viewed not only as a flaw, but as a flaw by choice, a moral failing due to weakness of character." (via Shakesville)

love this last line- so maddeningly true, for so many women:

There is not "a thin person" inside of me screaming to get out. There is only me, screaming for my right to exist in the body I have.


Prude? (warning- graphic descriptions of sex in the linked article)
objectification. so old news, isn't it? women are objectified every day, in every medium. great blog post from Ms. Magazine about the effects of that omnipresent objectification. but my question is- so how to we really stop it? really?

the answer i'm coming up with more and more often is: women need to make more MONEY. feminists need to acquire wealth. instead of making feminism our life's work, we need to make money like everyone else, and then we can use it to advance our feminist ideals. but without the power that comes with having serious capital, how will we, for example, have any effect on the development, production and marketing of movies and tv shows that objectify us? really? how will we?


Afghan women fear loss of hard-won progress
what the author of this article in the Washington Post really means to say, i think, is that Afghan women fear what women all over the world fear (and in particular, what u.s. women rightfully fear this week as well, as health care purportedly comes up for a "final" vote): BEING THROWN UNDER THE BUS.

forgive us if we find it hard to swallow when men in positions of power and leadership say, "trust us, we have your best interest in mind."


After 13 years, police still hunting for East Coast Rapist
hunted like animals; women are victims of men's violence every day. how is it possible that rape is still tolerated in this country. that rapists are not convicted for the predatory criminals that they are, and in fact, rape kits are put on a shelf and never even tested for DNA?

unless there is a real and systematic repression of women going on? women's voices, women's abuses, and women's lives are silenced, covered up (unless they are deemed "sexy"), and ignored. it's real. and every woman in america is affected by it.


How We're Doing: Women and Wealth
this is staggering. literally staggering. Ms. Magazine brings light to the recent study by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, also highlighted in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, which reveals:

1. single white women (between the ages of 36-49) make only 61% as much as white men on average. that 61% works out to a median wealth of about $42,600. (and wealth = all owned assets)

chew on that for a minute. lily ledbetter knows what i'm talking about.

2. single black women (of the same age) have a median wealth of $5.
you didn't read that incorrectly. 1,2,3,4,5.


now either EVERY single black woman between 36-49 is ____(fill in the blank with the disgusting stereotypes of welfare-abusing/drug-abusing/lazy/stupid/makesmewanttothrowup)...


maybe, just maybe, there are system-level inequalities that contribute to this sickening gap in wealth & self-sufficiency. for instance: as a white woman who was raised in a two-parent home, it was just sort of expected that i would attend college. (it was NOT expected that my parents would pay for it.) so i worked 3 jobs and applied for scholarships and made it through.

but what if i hadn't come from a 2-parent household? what if neither of my parents had college educations? what if i couldn't find work on the radio (which i did) because my voice sounded "too black"? what if no one told me about the opportunities to test out of entry-level courses, which enabled me to graduate early and accumulate less debt?

The U.S. has a long history of policies that transferred wealth from people of
color to whites [...]As examples, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 forcibly
removed Cherokees from their traditional lands to make room for white settlers.
Jim Crow laws kept African Americans out of better paying jobs, quality public
education and business opportunities. The benefits of citizenship, open to
Europeans, was forbidden to Asian immigrants. The exclusion of Social Security
coverage for a whole generation of farm workers, laborers and domestic workers,
kept Latino and black elders in poverty. Advantage and disadvantage is passed
from generation to generation, often with a cumulative effect, thereby
contributing to the current racial wealth gap.

it isn't a myth. race matters, especially to women. to women's lives.

so, what makes YOU want to scream today?


violence = violence

anyone who knows me would (hopefully) tell you that i care about cultural sensitivity and that i respect and admire differences in culture, religion, background, etc.

what i do not respect is the way some people (not any particular culture as a whole, or religion...but people who care more about power and dominion than their fellow human being) use their culture or religion as an excuse to perpetrate violence against women and girls.

this is a great blog post from Madre, an incredible organization dedicated to fighting violence against women, creating financial equality and building peace. their blog highlights all kinds of amazing efforts, and the one they link to in this blog post, the Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women looks like something i'd admire too- so straightforward and truthful. violence against women cannot be hidden behind the veil of religion, culture or tradition.

violence is ALWAYS violence. it's never right.

Women in the World Cheat Sheet

this is so great, and i love how they've called it a cheat sheet. for any time you need to quickly remember the way to solve problems for women (which become problems for men, of course)-

here are the ways to do it, clear and simple:

1. Get men on board
2. Pay families that embrace change
3. Publicize victims' stories
4. Support a woman entrepreneur through microcredit
5. Give a woman a phone
6. Build bridges

none of these are difficult strategies, or earth-shattering ideas. they make sense. give women a voice, access, capital, and support. period.

this cheat sheet needs to be on every senator & representative's desk, on every president, prime minister and world leader's agenda. voila! treating women equally leads to equal opportunities, which leads to healthier communities.


conference envy

i SOOOO wish i could be in new york this weekend for the Women in the World Summit.

Hillary Clinton, Queen Raina, Meryl Streep, Madeline Albright, Katie Couric, Valerie Jarrett, Christiane Amanpour, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Tina Brown...

i would just DIE. die die die! what an unbelievable and ambitious project, with the simple purpose to "discuss the urgent challenges facing women and girls around the world, from sex slavery to child marriage to domestic violence. Most importantly, we’ll be highlighting concrete solutions—ways we all can support efforts to empower women in the face of horrific trends." (Tina Brown)

i can't wait to follow all the action on twitter. i can't even hardly describe how much i wish i could attend. seriously, i would DIE!

i'll try to post interesting & compelling tidbits throughout the summit as i see them.


things that make you go... UGH.

NPR is currently doing a series on campus rape...today's installment is particularly good, or bad, depending on your perspective:

There's a common assumption about men who commit sexual assault on a college
campus: That they made a one-time, bad decision. But psychologist David Lisak
says this assumption is wrong —-and dangerously so.
the story goes on to refute the usual assuption that college men who rape are generally good guys who just made 1 bad decision. in fact, it seems that "On college campuses, repeat predators account for 9 out of every 10 rapes."

uh-huh. why am i not surprised? in our culture, and around the world, women are expendable commodities. frankly, with all our take-back-the-night rallies and public awareness campaigns and educational efforts, i don't think we have yet come close to reaching the point at which the majority of men actually think that rape (when they do it) is wrong.

the first and most important step is to stop treating rape on college campuses as a 'violation of the campus conduct code'. (are you kidding me?) just because it happens within a college community, and is perpetrated by a person who is paying tuition, doesn't mean rape is not a CRIME. the first and third parts of the NPR series dealt specifically with the ludicrously lax treatment of rapists on college campuses. not only is the college to blame, but this investigative series actually tracked culpability all way up to the US Department of Education (which ruled that the university in question did not need to expell the man found guilty of raping a fellow student.) so colleges give rapists a slap on the wrist, and the federal government says it's ok. awesome.

there is currently new leadership in charge of the Dept of Ed office which investigates these kinds of situations, appointed by President Obama. let's hope we can start to see rape being taken more seriously under a president who actually purports to care about women's rights.



http://www.now.org/issues/violence/NOW_Sexual_Assault_Toolkit.pdf **"Take Action Against Sexual Assault on Campus"**


Women Unbound! Update

Well, I've finally finished my first of two books for the Women Unbound! challenge I joined this year! I've just completed The Robber Bride, by Margaret Atwood. Here are my thoughts:

I will admit- this book took me a little while to get in the groove. I loved two other Atwood novels, (A Handmaid's Tale, and Oryx & Crake), but hadn't read anything of hers that wasn't dystopian/sci-fi yet. Turns out, I sort of prefer that style to this one. The Robber Bride is the story of four women, friends since college, and the connections and disconnections throughout their lives, fueled by the antics of Zenia, the sexpot friend whose life is either enviable or pitiable, depending on whether she has stolen your husband yet.

I just felt like this story was a little bit anti-climactic. Atwood does (as always) create such realistic, identifiable and unique characters. These women are fascinating people. But their story unfolded a little slowly for my taste. Also, I wanted at least one of them to find their ultimate self-worth apart from their husbands (or the loss thereof). But they were focused almost exclusively on holding on to the men. As I read, I kept saying to myself, "Why do they let her get away with wreaking all this havoc on their lives?" The 'girl drama' actually became a little distracting, for me.

Overall, I did enjoy the story, but it didn't compel me. I appreciate the interesting female characters, (and they were interesting), but in the end, I was hoping for a little more adventure, and that just isn't the kind of book this was.

I definitely haven't been put off of reading Atwood. Her prose is always gorgeous, and I look forward to the next opportunity to read her work.


refusing to be ignored


what a powerful essay by Mona Eltahawy, about the horror of, and real reason behind, the practice of female genital mutilation.

"[The] analogy of penis chopping was absurd not just because if boys were being
mutilated the world would not be so silent but because, really, who would want
to control male sexuality? We invent little blue pills to boost it."

like so many other practices which are ingrained, entrenched and generally accepted, FGM is about so much more than the actual physical act. it's about power and control.

as is rape.
as is the wage gap.
as are standards of beauty.

and all this manipulation, subjugation, and control over women is everywhere.

no really. EVERYWHERE.

"Prevalent mostly in Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, FGM is no
longer a traditional practice that harms girls just "over there". As a result of
immigration and refugee movements, FGM is now being practiced in the U.S.
Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand."

it is NOT just "over there" that women are cut.
it is NOT just "over there" that raped women are murdered because they bring shame to their husband or father's family.
it is NOT just "over there" that women and girls are kept from reaching their full potential by lack of education, resource and the simple encouragement to try, while boys not only receive all those things, but are expected to be successful socially, financially and sexually.

these symptoms of sexism harm women AND men. girls AND boys.

what if human beings could find a way to treat one another as equally valued, of equal worth and dignity...? wow, indeed.

for now, i applaud Mona Eltahawy and women like her who are refusing to be ignored.


a post about football (yes, really! sort of.)

i hadn't planned on cheering for the saints in the big game (frankly, i hadn't given it any thought at all). but i believe i shall, now!

Scott Fujita shows us all how to be respectful, support equal civil rights, AND a be great linebacker, all at the same time! (via Jezebel) not your usual testosterone-y triumverate.

thoughtful analysis of class-related nuances to reproductive rights? CHECK.

speaking out publicly and in the locker room on issues that have the potential to be viewed as gendered (aka breast cancer is a women's disease) and/or effeminate? CHECK.

choosing to play for the saints in post-katrina new orleans, and use his "small platform as a professional football player" because he believes life is about MORE than just football? CHECK.

well-played, Mr. Fujita. well-played indeed. allies show up in the most unlikely places sometimes. go saints!


blog for choice!

today is the 37th anniversary of roe v. wade. NARAL Pro Choice America celebrates this milestone through Blog for Choice Day!

In honor of Dr. George Tiller, who often wore a button that simply read, "Trust Women," this year's Blog for Choice Day question is: What does Trust Women mean to you? in order to participate- just answer the question, and make sure to let NARAL know that you are participating!

so, to me, Trust Women means that i wouldn't have to hear anything like "don't worry your pretty little head about it" ever again.

turns out, my pretty little head is perfectly capable of worrying about anything it wants to, and furthermore, it has every right to worry, fret, parse, weigh or decide what's right for its own self, tyvm. (also: condescending much? )

Trust Women covers so much ground. it makes me think of so many issues in addition to reproductive rights: from the prosecution of sex-workers (instead of the johns) to the treatment of women atheletes, academics and politicians, to equal pay.

"Trust Women" is a sobering reminder that so much of the world still needs reminding that women are of inherently equal value, and should be treated as such. period. full stop.


in other news- how much do i love Mo"Nique's hairy legs at the globes last weekend?? (via Feministing). judging by all the uproar about her awesome mashup of furry-and-french pedicure, clearly women aren't even trusted to make the right choices about their own LEGS.
*eye roll*


random rants

a couple of items that caught my eye during my daily headline perusal:

3 recent "domestic" fatalities in iowa seen as a coincidence.
except they're no coincidence. they are all products of the same system that devalues women's lives and glorifies violence and abuse as acceptable solutions to conflict. that system goes by many names, but his friends call him patriarchy.

to spawn or not to spawn
i feel a lot of the same frustrations Lucy does. like her, there are some children i dearly love (my perfect niece being one of them!), and find babies endearing (when they aren't smelly, loud or messy.) but i have ZERO interest in creating one of my own. zilch. nada. zip. not only do i not feel any sort of biological imperative personally, i'm radical enough in my beliefs about our exploding global population, i usually have to bite my tongue when i hear about people having babies for the purposes of "carrying on the family name" (are you kidding? it's a NAME. adopt a child and give them your name! but that's a whole other discussion re: the importance of men's names...) or "to feel complete" (isn't that pretty much the definition of co-dependency? needing another being to complete you?).

anyway- the pressure to have babies is omnipresent for women my age. while i do believe women who choose to bear children should not be treated unequally, paid less, or be automatically assumed to be the primary caregivers (unless they chose to have a baby without a partner; and, stay-at-home mom should be a paid position with benefits), i also believe that women who choose not to have children should receive equitable treatment. in other words- the decision whether or not to have babies should be no more defining than the decision to have extra foam on her latte. fertility should not be a moral issue.

see also: choosing not to bear children for ecological reasons; and, if men had babies.

and finally today, Jessica Valenti takes on feminist elitism in a really interesting blog post. she says (and i agree):
Everybody – whether or not they take Women’s Studies, have read Judith Butler or
heard of Foucault – deserves to have feminism in their lives.

I am proudly someone who tries to convince women that feminism will make their
lives better – not only because it’s the truth, but because then those same
women go on to change their families, communities and even country.

i should say, i bet the author Jessica is refuting (Nina Power) would have some really interesting things to say as well. but it struck me as i read Jessica's post- what if more women (like, significantly more...like, ALL women) realized all the positive impacts feminism could have, and has had, on their lives? what if all women really did believe that women (individually and as a class) are people too? the world as we know it would look radically different if more than half its population actually did think that women were 'created equal'.

yep, i read things like that and i start doing the math in my head (no small feat, as i am of course, a woman, and those numbers- they just fly right out of my head!). how many more years have i likely got on this planet? how much progress can we make in that time? could i actually live to see the day?

here's hoping!


DERAIL: Battle of the Bards

well, to completely switch gears from my normal raving...i've just joined a little contest, a literary battle royale actually, brought to us by Padfoot & Prongs. as usual, i originally heard about this on my sister Eli's AMAZING blog, Need More Shelves- she's always got the latest & greatest page-turning news!

so all you have to do is take a look at the bracket (this first battle is, naturally, selected works of shakespeare, but i think they're going to do more!), and choose your winners!

then, register for the battle (BY JAN 18!) as they instruct.

finally, EMAIL them with your choices! the person who accumulates the most points through their picks, wins ooh, aah, fabulous prizes!

THE GRAND PRIZE (ooooohhhh ahhhhhhhhh)
That's right marauders. For that lucky thespian who gets the most guesses accurate, at their door they will find a literary package filled with treasures galore.

The grand prize includes:
1. A copy of the winning Shakespeare play (plus an assortment 4 plays of your choice).
2. A custom mug featuring the B.o.B logo
3. Any prize of your choosing from the GBI Etsy store
4. Oh and wait for it...... a 20$ gift card to B&N courtesy of Padfoot
and Prongs.
4. Other literary mystery prizes that will begin to pop up as the contest
progresses, (not just for the winner) so be sure to participate and check back often.

so, i've got my picks! frankly, i have less than zero interest in the real march madness, so this is much more my style! :) (and really, how could Romeo & Juliet not win??? so really, it's all about the strategy for picking the winners up to the final battle, IMHO.)

OH, i almost forgot- you (well, i) need to remember to go back to Padfoot & Prongs' blog and VOTE throughout the battle! the winners will be chosen by popular vote!

leeeeeet's get ready to rrrrrrrrrrrrumbllllllleee!!!!!!! (hee!)


home run, hillary!

Hills hit it out of the park on friday in a speech abou tthe 15th anniversary of the conference in Cairo for global population development!


"Too often, still today in 2010, women and girls bear the burdens of
regional and global crises, whether it’s an economic downturn or climate change
or political instability. They still are the majority of the world’s poor,
unschooled, unhealthy, and underfed. They are rarely the cause of violent conflicts, but increasingly they bear the consequences of such conflicts."

"Global rates of maternal mortality remain perilously high; one woman dies
every minute of every day in pregnancy or childbirth,
and for every woman who dies, another 20 suffer from injury, infection, or disease every minute."

"An estimated 70 million – that is 70 million women and girls worldwide – have been subjected to female genital cutting, a procedure that is not only painful and traumatic but is also the source of infections and increased risks of injury during childbirth."

"When a girl becomes a mother before she becomes literate, when a woman
gives birth alone and is left with a permanent disability, when a mother toils
daily to feed her large family but cannot convince her husband to agree to
contraception, these struggles represent suffering that can and should be
avoided. They represent potential that goes unfulfilled."

"Investing in the health of women, adolescents, and girls is not only the
right thing to do; it is also the smart thing to do."

"We are doing all of these things because we have seen that when women and
girls have the tools to stay healthy and the opportunity to contribute to their
families’ well-being, they flourish and so do the people around them."

right on, madam secretary.

what can I do?

fact: i pretty much worship eve ensler. everything that woman says is everything i wish i were smart enough to come up with on my own. she's brilliant, and inspiring.

fact: every nine seconds, a woman is beaten in the U.S. like this woman from des moines, who "had bruises on almost every part of her body caused by [her abuser] hitting, punching, kicking and pushing her over the past few weeks."

fact: in the Congo, it's much, much worse.

it all seems so inevitable, so overwhelming, so impossible to change, doesn't it?

but here's why i love eve ensler. in her recent HuffPo piece on the violence in the Congo, she suggests 10 actions we can ALL take to affect change...but the last two are so perfect, so applicable to us all, and so DO-ABLE.

9. Talk about the Congo everywhere you go

Be a pain in the ass. Ruin cocktail parties. Stop traffic. Give
sermons. Insert facts about Congo in every possible occasion, i.e., in response
to "How are you today?," you might say: "Well, I would be okay if women weren't
being raped in the DRC...."

Host teach-ins and screen V-Day's film Turning Pain to Power. Visit
vday.org to access

10. Get angry and stop being polite

Feel what your sister, mother, grandmother, daughter, wife, girlfriend
would be feeling if she were being gang raped or held as a sex slave for years
or if her insides were destroyed by sticks and guns and she could never have
another baby.

Feel feel feel.

Open yourself to feeling.

THAT'S what i'm trying to do with this blog...and hopefully i succeed, some of the time.


"the destruction of the female species"

as usual, eve ensler has hit it out of the park with her piece on huffpo from last week.

the women of the congo still live in fear every day.

Over twelve years, this war, this brutally inconceivable violence has raged on.
Almost six million dead. Almost 500 thousand raped. You tell the story of horror
and atrocity one too many times and then you realize nothing is changing and
that the world goes on getting its minerals, supporting its luxuries and the
death, massacres rapes and tortures of millions do not matter. And then you
can't find a real reason for wanting to live in humanity or be part of this
world but you don't want to kill yourself so you start screaming out, screaming
and screaming out and then you get called intense, angry and then mad. Because
that is what people who have crossed over get called.

At what point are we all going to cross over?

let's try this- instead of these women's names sounding unfamiliar and their location seeming remote, why don't we substitute our own names and hometowns? really. read that article again, and insert your name.

Mwamirindi/Carolynn was held as a sex slave and pieces of her flesh were cut every
few days. She was raped for months and watched them rape her sister in law who
they killed and cut open and served for dinner and then when Mwamirindi/Carolynn finally escaped and returned home, she was expelled by her husband who sold her land and house and threw her and her children into the street. Now she is three months pregnant with a baby from the rapes.

terrifying, isn't it? but it is REALITY for these women.

eve calls the situation there "the destruction of the female species of the Congo".

how can it be anything else?


in related news, evidence is piling up that the recession is indeed sparking an increase in violence against women and children domestically. BIG surprise there.

support V-day, support your local women's shelter, support your lawmakers who DO SOMETHING to stop gender-based violence (and ask those who don't if they consider their mothers, sisters, daughters and wives just collateral damage?)

more than half our population is at risk.