Sunday, December 30, 2007

huck for president?


Shake, Rattle and Roil the Grand Ol’ Coalition - New York Times
The Enduring Strength of Huckabee - Andrew Sullivan
Holy Huck, Straight out of Flannery O'Connor - Oh, Dave
Meet the Press transcript, Dec 30, 2007 - MSNBC

do you want an ex-baptist preacher for president?
Huckabee has an interesting reply when Meet the Press' Tim Russert asks him about his pastor past:

MR. RUSSERT: But where does this leave non-Christians?
GOV. HUCKABEE: Oh, it leaves them right in the middle of America. I think the Judeo-Christian background of this country is one that respects people not only of faith, but it respects people who don't have faith. The, the key issue of real faith is that it never can be forced on someone. And never would I want to use the government institutions to impose mine or anybody else's faith or to restrict. I think the First Amendment, Tim, is explicitly clear. Government should be restricted, not faith, government. And government's restriction is on two fronts: one, it's not to prefer one faith over another; and the second, it's not to prohibit the practice of somebody's religion, period.
MR. RUSSERT: So you'd have no problem appointing atheists to your Cabinet?
GOV. HUCKABEE: No, I wouldn't have any problem at all appointing atheists. I probably had some working for me as governor. You know, I think you got to realize if people want--say, "Well, you were a pastor," but I was a governor 10 1/2 years. I have more executive experience running a government. I was actually in a government position longer than I was a pastor. And if people want to know how I would blend these issues, the best way to look at it is how I served as a governor. I didn't ever propose a bill that we would remove the capitol dome of Arkansas and replace it with a steeple. You know, we didn't do tent revivals on the grounds of the capitol. But my faith is important to me. I try to be more descriptive of it. I just don't want to run from it and act like it's not important. It drives my views on everything from the environment to poverty to disease to hunger. Issues, frankly, I think the Republicans need to take a greater leadership role in. And as a Republican, but as a Christian, I would want to make sure that we're speaking out on some of these issues that I think we've been lacking in as a party and as, as a nation. [emphasis mine]


my question is, where does the separation between political animal and person of faith begin? if, as Huckabee puts it, faith is an intrinsic part of him, how can he separate that faith from future political decisions, made for a pluralistic society? Huckabee says that his evangelical past leaves non-Christians in the middle of America; i think that's fairly astute. it leaves them surrounded by a government led by an evangelical Christian and a citizenry that believes in the literal truth of the Rapture for the most part. if you were a non-Christian wouldn't you feel a little heebie-jeebie?

the attacks on huckabee from his own party are interesting, too. the times article mentions folks like limbaugh calling Huckabee a fake Republican because of his populist stances on poverty and i have to admit that i always feel sort of good about whatever makes limbaugh get his drawers in a bunch. but then i remember this is a Republican candidate we're talking about. his likeability, speechifying and surprisingly holistic views on education and poverty aside, he's still the man who's the most dangerous to a woman's reproductive freedom. again, from Meet the Press:

MR. RUSSERT: And what would happen to doctors or women who participated in abortion?
GOV. HUCKABEE: It's always the, the point of trying to say, "Are you going to criminalize it?" That's not the issue.
MR. RUSSERT: Well, if it, if it's illegal, it would be.
GOV. HUCKABEE: It would be. And I think you don't punish the woman, first of all, because it's not about--I consider her a victim, not a, not a criminal. You would...
MR. RUSSERT: But you would punish the doctor.
GOV. HUCKABEE: I think if a doctor knowingly took the life of an unborn child for money, and that's why he was doing it, yeah, I think you would, you would find some way to sanction that doctor. I don't know that you'd put him in prison, but there's something to me untoward about a person who has committed himself to healing people and to making people alive who would take money to take an innocent life and to make that life dead. There's something that just doesn't ring true about the purpose of medical practice when the first rule of the Hippocratic Oath is "First, do no harm." Well, if you take the life and suction out the pieces of an unborn child for no reason than its inconvenience to the mother, I don't think you've lived up to your Hippocratic Oath of doing no harm. [emphasis mine]


like his fellow social conservatives who shudder at the thought of women controlling their own fertility, Huck stops short of saying that those women should be thrown in prison. instead, he displays his unconscious devaluing of women by calling us victims. we aren't agents in the decisions we make about our fertility, but objects at the mercy of inveigling doctors or 'inconvenience.' whether his ideas stem from his faith or just a good old lack of trust in women's autonomy, they don't bode well for women's issues; do i want this man as president, wielding the power to appoint supreme court judges?

not so much.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

bhutto assassinated!

Bhutto Assassinated in Attack on Rally - New York Times

just shocking.
the world is really insane.

Monday, December 24, 2007

merry merry


Enough of the Hills and Woods, Can I Send Grandma an E-Card? - New York Times

merry christmas to all 7 of my readers!
instead of sleeping on an arrow mattress in my sister's tv room, i will be warmly ensconced in chicago's brutal, weird weather, drinking all sorts of sparkly things and hosting a sleepover for my friends and other holiday orphans. it's good to know that the ny times has recognized how nice it is to sometimes spend christmas on one's own.

i hope all of you have a wonderful holiday!

cheers,
ding

Thursday, December 20, 2007

cash advance

awesome!
apparently, i'm brainier on this blog than my other one, which only clocked in at 'high school.'

thanks, Orange!

Friday, December 14, 2007

WTF?!?

this is utterly unbelievable - except i believe it because haven't we heard (some version of) this story before?

if you haven't already received the MoveOn alert, here it is:
...
Jamie Leigh Jones was a 20-year-old woman working in Iraq for a subsidiary of Halliburton when she was drugged and brutally gang-raped by several co-workers.
The next day, Halliburton told her that if she left Iraq to get medical treatment, she could lose her job.1
Jamie's story gets even more horrific: For the last two years, she's been asking the US government to hold the perpetrators accountable. But the men who raped her may never be brought to justice because Halliburton and other contractors in Iraq aren't subject to US or Iraqi laws. They can't be tried for a crime in any court.2
This is one of the most disturbing stories we have come across in a while. We're calling on Congress to investigate Jamie's case, hold those involved accountable, and bring US contractors under the jurisdiction of US law so this can't happen again. If hundreds of thousands of us speak out against this outrageous story, we can force Congress to take action.


Can you sign the petition? ... Clicking below will add your name.
http://pol.moveon.org/contractors_accountable/o.pl?id=11800-4019649-L9cSbn&t=3

After you sign, please forward this email to friends, family and colleagues—we all need to speak out together.

When you get an email from us, it doesn't usually include a graphic description of a brutal attack. But when we heard this story, we knew we had to do something about it.
Here's how Jamie described what happened after the attack:
I awoke the next morning in the barracks to find my naked body battered and bruised. I was still groggy from whatever had been put in my drink. I was bleeding... After getting to the clinic and having a rape kit performed...I was locked in a container with no food, no way to call my parents, and was placed under armed guard by Halliburton.3

Jamie's attackers aren't the only ones exploiting a legal loophole to get away with their violent crimes. Another female employee of Halliburton says she was raped by her co-workers in Iraq.4 Employees of Blackwater, another private contracting firm in Iraq, were accused of killing innocent Iraqi civilians, and that incident turned into an international scandal. Worst of all, they may never be punished.5
Private contractors in Iraq are making massive amounts of money, operating above the law and are accountable to no one. This has to stop.
Congress needs to act now to bring these contractors under the rule of law. If they don't, nothing will prevent a case like Jamie's from happening again. No man or woman working in Iraq should have to fear that they can be attacked without consequences.


Please sign on to the petition: "Congress must investigate the rape of Jamie Leigh Jones and others, hold those involved accountable, and bring US contractors under the jurisdiction of US law." Clicking below adds your name:
http://pol.moveon.org/contractors_accountable/o.pl?id=11800-4019649-L9cSbn&t=4

Thanks for all you do,
–Nita, Wes, Karin, Marika, and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team

Friday, December 14th, 2007

Sources:
1.
"Halliburton hit in rape lawsuit," New York Daily News, December 11, 2007
2. "Victim: Gang-Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR," ABC News, December 10, 2007
3. Jamie's Journal, The Jamie Leigh Foundation
4.
"Female ex-employees sue KBR, Halliburton—report," Reuters, June 29, 2007
5."Blackwater Probe Narrows Focus to Guards," Associated Press, December 8, 2007

PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://pol.moveon.org/Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

for the sake of honesty


why can't we, as a nation, just admit that we torture people?
it would make things so much easier.

no more linguistic acrobatics as pundits and analysts weigh the correctness of 'torture' vs. 'enhanced techniques.'
no more propaganda about revealing secrets to the 'enemy' during a closed door session of the Senate. (is the Senate the 'enemy'?)

it would be such a relief to have our cowboy of a president throw a press conference and say, "Look, y'all. We torture. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but we do it anyway. We strap down these young fellers and do things to them that Michael Vick just got sent to prison for doing. But it's ok, because we're America and we think that's what we need to do. You don't like it? Well, too bad."

if we admitted we tortured people we could finally relieve ourselves of the burden of being Democracy's shining light. we could stand tall knowing we are the type of country that literally hurts other people. it's a dubious distinction but one that could make us either really macho tough or really psycho sick. it's like we're living in The Portrait of Dorian Gray, you know? as a nation, we do these horrible sickening things but the picture of ourselves is just as glowing, youthful and full of beauty as it was when we were sort of innocent of such things. but we're so used to looking at the picture of our youth we've forgotten that our nation's true face is warty, full of pus and ravaged by our ... what? our sin? our immorality? our forgetfulness that we aren't supposed to be like some dirty ignorant totalitarian country with a secret police force putting the screws to people?
and if we admitted that we torture people then we, the people, would have an opportunity to ask ourselves if this is really what we want to be and we, the people, could finally begin to demand some change instead of watching the Torture Word Choice Wars like it was some frickin' tennis match.

abu ghraib almost made us look at our true face but it was too easy to blame that ugliness on some poor trashy enlisted men and women. this could be our next opportunity to come to grips with who we are as a country.
how much you wanna bet we're going to find another excuse to ignore our nature again?

Questions Linger After Hayden Testimony

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

My Sorority Pledge? I Swore Off Sisterhood - New York Times

i'm back in the saddle, sort of.
but this mornng, came across a very good Modern Love column about the damage some women do to one another.
i remember writing about how harsh we women seem to be with one another and i've honestly tried to interrogate myself whenever i find myself dismissing a woman because she doesn't fit the mold i have in my head of what makes a woman worthwhile. stay at home mothers, pregnant teenagers, bitchy bosses (ok, they deserve my disdain) - i've tried to ease up a little. but i don't think i've ever emotionally crippled someone. i don't think my friends have, either.

i belong to a small, yet tight circle of women friends in chicago, and these women are as close to me as my own family. for the past month, i've enjoyed these friends of mine as they've brought me books, music, Dr. Who, cookies, magazines and gossip while i've been laid up recovering. we all live different types of lives (one of us just got engaged and one of us would rather poke her eyes out than get married) but we don't judge one another. we certainly don't attack another woman when she's been treated the way the author was treated in this article.

anyway, it only confirmed why i hated sororities when i was at ucla.
and made me glad i have the friends that i have.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

i think i've watched all the tv i can reasonably bear.

so...i am going to venture forth today. the sky is grey but it's still sunny and i want to be outside. i'll get a cup of coffee. maybe i'll sit in a dark theater for hours. or maybe i'll slowly walk around a mall and shop for holiday cards. or maybe i'll buy a book and find a bar to sit in and read for a few hours. who am i kidding? i'm going to go to the comic book store.

then i'll come back home and (gasp) write. yeah...write. i haven't written anything worthwhile in ages. well, at least it's a goal.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

i love thanksgiving

but i'm in no shape to cook a whole freaking dinner. my solution? get someone else to cook it for me.

i cannot say enough about not cooking. (isn't that what being a feminist means during the holidays? the expectation NOT to cook?) why get all hot and sweaty and tired (and smell like stuffing) when you're about to have people over? i used to watch my mother ramp up into a fine resentful boil every thanksgiving afternoon so that, by the time guests arrived, she was completely off her rocker. it wasn't pretty so i decided early on to save myself all that hassle.

i love having friends over and feeding them - i just hate cooking. i hate the timing, the rush, the uncertainty, and the inability to snatch victory from the jaws of culinary defeat.

so i ordered a dinner for 6. the friends are bringing wine, dessert and side dishes, i'm 'doing' the rest.

thanks, fox & obel. you're the best.

(happy thanksgiving to everyone. don't pig out too hard.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

wow.

At Jets Game, a Halftime Ritual of Harassment - New York Times

unbelievably crass and tacky. hundreds of men line the ramp at Gate D and chant to women to expose their breasts.
stadium security thinks it's not their problem and the Jets don't think it's their problem.

is it a free speech issue or a threat to the safety of women?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

When people describe Something (war, architecture or poverty) as a ‘scar across the landscape’, I don’t think they mean that Something (war, architecture or poverty) was black, scabby, bruised and held together with bloodstained strips of adhesive.

I’ve been looking at my scar, my wound, for the past three days. I take a little silver hand mirror and put it on the sink. Then I pull up my shirt, pull down my pants and, holding up my belly a little, I lightly touch the bruised skin above the scar. It looks like my skin has turned into a smashed plum. The scar slashes across my lower belly; it’s about 3 or 4 inches long. The scar is the ugliest, grossest thing I’ve ever seen on my body.

A few days before the surgery, I thought of the virginal way I think about my body. By ‘virginal’ I mean that I hold my body aggressively to myself. Thinking of my body as ‘virgin’ has nothing to do with sex or chastity. I don’t know how to explain it; I just think of my body as mine. It is inviolate; it is whole; it is the same as it has always been; it has all its original parts; it is not shared by anyone or anything. No flag has been planted on it, by marriage or motherhood.

But this surgery, as minor as it was, has changed my body’s landscape.
Where there was previously nothing, now there waves a tiny white flag with a red cross on it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

all is well; i've farted.

hello, from room 1471!
can you believe it? i can blog from my hospital bed! it's day three and i think this is the day i'll go home. they've been asking me if i've passed gas, yet, and finally i can tell them Yes, I have passed gas.

(apparently, when you've had your guts rearranged, farting is an important part of healing. so that's what i'm going to say from now on when i fart in public. "I'm healing.")

the surgery went well, i apparently sing while coming out of anasthesia, and i haven't had an appetite yet. that will change, though, i'm sure. my wound is terribly ugly but the hospital is gorgeous and i have my own room with a view of the lake and the little park by the contemporary art museum.

thanks to all the good wishes, the prayers and thoughtfulness. they are hugely appreciated. i wish i could send a big thank-you note.

Monday, November 12, 2007

tomorrow's the day - fibroid extraction day.

because i'm a (paranoid) modern girl, i've spent the morning getting my affairs in order: living will, power of attorney for healthcare, letter of final wishes in case i stroke out on the operating table, instructions to my friends about de-scandalizing my effects for my family and providing a list of favorite hymns.

i'll probably call my dad and sister tonight, you know, just for filial comfort.
i even went to church on sunday. all bases are covered, i think.

but all this to say that posting here is probably going to be non-existent for the next two weeks while i'm in the hospital and recovering at home for the first week.
LW, i'll be back in the middle of the month when the drugs have worn off!

Friday, November 09, 2007

more on rape and the military

Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » Sexual Assault and the Military

the folks at FLP have done the hard work for me. they've compiled some depressing stories tracing the (lack of) progress made re: rape in the military.

it's an interesting and sobering collection of stats and stories and forces me to ask my question again: Should women serve in the military with men when it's clear that women are in danger from their male cohort?

is that an unfeminist question to ask?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

another asshat: tucker carlson

Media Matters - MSNBC's Carlson suggested women may be "so sensible, they don't want to get involved in something as stupid as politics"

you know, maybe black people shouldn't vote, either.

i mean, we're under stress because lynching is making a comeback, we die in prison, we die from violence and hip hop - it's no wonder we all die before we get old! clearly, we have some major issues to address before we can even start to think about voting. we're struggling for survival, people! what is voting compared to basic human survival??

and maybe other brown people should stay home, too. they have other things to deal with - not being deported and avoiding Gitmo and waterboarding. why do they want to vote? they have some serious legal issues to deal with.

and the gays - the gays should look the other way on election day, too. their fight to get married is so important they shouldn't even bother voting. they need to keep their eyes on the prize. certainly not on the white house.

you know who else shouldn't vote? poor people. poor people (sorta like black people) are too busy trying to find food. and shelter. or a job. voting is trivial.

in fact, voting is so trivial it should be reserved for smug, white, privileged, heterosexual men.

(fucking asshat.)

[h/t feministing]

they must really wanna win bad

Pat Loves Rudy - New York Times

who'da thought it?
i mean, giuliani! i knew the conservative right was varied (just as the progressive left is), but this is just weird.
what about values?
what about shared ideology? (beyond agreeing that torturing the hell out of middle easterners is good, i mean.)

james dobson must be having a stroke.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

riddle

what does balaam and the bush administration have in common?
talking out of one's ass.

Justice Dept. Official Regrets Remarks - New York Times

Monday, October 29, 2007

election 2008: the evangelicals

The Evangelical Crackup - New York Times

interesting article. though this piece is further proof of a growing split within the political-evangelical wing of the religious right, i don't think the 'crackup' is as monumental as the writer thinks. most of the folks leaving the radical right aren't necessarily leaving because they think the religious right is going in the wrong direction; they're leaving because they thought bush was too weak to support their conservative social plan.

in other words, bush didn't go far enough.

i think that's sort of scary.

in the past 7 years, i think bush has gone pretty far; his two ultra-conservative supreme court picks now sit on the court, affecting the course of our civil liberties for several lifetimes; he's been successful appointing folks hostile to reproductive health access for women; scientific fact has been increasingly replaced with 'faith-based' pseudo-science and he's used the budget process to reduce or eliminate funding to social programs important to vulnerable or marginal populations.

if all this regressive social policy/judicial activism isn't good enough for them, imagine what it is they *do* want.

[shudder]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

oh, and if anyone wants to know what religious right pragmatism looks like, there's this.

the religious right *heart* pragmatism



Who Doesn’t Heart Huckabee? - New York Times

what i like about gail collins' piece is this part:
Huckabee’s problems say more about the leaders of the religious right than about him. They’re united mainly by their hatred of abortion and gay marriage, and a desire to win. (my emphasis)

winning isn't particularly christian. i mean, when you're supposed to be turning the other cheek and shaking the dust off your sandals, what's winning got to do with it? but collins puts her finger on a real ugly aspect of the christian right's involvement in politics: their growing pragmatism and willingness to compromise. to an evangelical fundamentalist, compromise is tantamount to cavorting (naked) with the devil. and if i was still a fundamentalist, i'd be worried about the growing corruption of my religious cohort.

collins' point about other aspects of his personality, aspects that may better conform to a more 'christian' image of charity, and how they are proving 'unwinnable' to leaders in the christian right is interesting. no, it's more than interesting; it's a great big spotlight on hyprocrisy.

take the romney thing. every good religious fundamentalist knows that there is NOTHING to bridge mormonism and evangelical christianity. there are more than enough doctrinal differences between the two faiths (if even a fundie will consider mormonism a 'faith' rather than a sect or cult) to make a mormon virtually unrecognizable to a baptist. the southern baptist convention is very clear they think mormonism is extant to the word of God on their apologetics site; walter martin's The Kingdom of the Cults, a classic in evangelical apologetics, is unequivocal in labeling mormonism outside of christian orthodoxy. (how do i know this? i had to read this for bible study when i was a teenager.)

yet fundamentalists who will battle for every scrap of scriptural ground like they're in a cage fight are suddenly finding it 'maybe okay' to entertain thoughts of romney. the doctrinal and exegetical purity that forms the foundation of their thinking on homosexuality, feminism, sex education, abortion, war and terrorism has suddenly become a wispy, trivial thing. you have to wonder at the sudden change in those Values Voters.

(fantastic articles here and here about romney's evangelical problem from my favorite religion/politics writer, amy goodman.)

the religious right, if they decide to throw their considerable weight behind romney, will have to find a way to reconcile their private doctrinal beliefs and their public thirst for victory. it won't be an easy reconciliation because getting in bed with a cultist is to commit apostasy. to get in bed with a cultist is to embrace a pragmatism that would sicken most church folk. politically, it would be the right thing to do but is the religious right willing to endanger their salvation to win an election?

hard to say. if they are, romney's their guy; if they decide that ideological purity is more important than winning, don't count out huckabee. what should the Dems do? since they, too, want to win, they shouldn't be afraid to make the mormon the Other, but they shouldn't ignore ignore the Other in their midst - hillary clinton - because the evangelicals certainly won't.

what should the GOP do? maybe they should pray. because they're screwed.

i'm enjoying the sight of the GOP suddenly realizing their religious friends are a whole 'nother animal. they're beginning to see that such an association comes with a price. hasn't that always been the way with matters of faith - a sacrifice is required of the truly faithful. if they had spent more time in bible study, perhaps they would know that.

it's also fascinating to see the the religious right, after years of winning with the help of power-thirsty republican politicians, discover that winning can be a hard drug to kick. the heady thrill of victory can induce lust in any puritanical breast and if a fundamentalist knows anything he knows the destruction of unbridled lust.

[see
this for how some grassroots religious folk are looking at the huckabee run and what the internal religious gossip is. i wonder if Democratic strategists ever hang out on these things to see what the right is doing.]

[and i'll post about the Dems and reproductive issues tomorrow. it takes a while to collate all that info!]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

candidates '08: hands off my 'single issue'


yesterday, i reluctantly started to research the presidential candidates and what they think about a woman controlling her own fertility. i discovered they suck. republicans, predictably, suck more, but the dems aren't particularly better. (i'll cover the dems later.)

giuliani - meh. he could be totally uninterested in overturning Roe v. Wade, but his recent suck up to the religious right makes my left ass cheek twitch. he also says he 'hates' abortions and would rather states made their own decisions. i think we already know that 'state's rights' is code for 'horrific, regressive social policy.' woe betide the woman who lives in a backassward state filled with baptist zealots.

huckabee - speaking of baptist zealots, candidate huckabee is one dedicated anti-choicer. not only does he want to overturn Roe v. Wade, his ideal world is one in which anti-choice idealogues hold positions of power in his administration, all pro-choice legislation would be vetoed, contraception is neither available nor taught, 'life begins at conception' and abstinence becomes public health policy and 'unborn children' carry more rights than living, breathing women. lovely.

hunter - who? if you take a huckabee and add a dukakis hairdo, you get duncan hunter, a man who wants to 'provide blanket protection to all unborn children from the moment of conception.' it just gets worse from there. his views on 'life' are here. what does he think about birth control? if he thinks a person is a person at conception, i don't really see him being a big fan of anything that prevents...person-making.

mccain - eh. i want to like the man but if he can't figure out if contraceptives prevent the spread of HIV, how can i trust him to be thoughtful about a woman's right to control her own fertility? (nevermind his whole stance on reproductive freedom is rather restrictive.)

paul - who can tell me what a 'pro-life libertarian' is? like huckabee and hunter, he believes a fertilized egg is a person, doesn't want to fund int'l family planning, supports a federal abortion ban but says EC is ok. he doesn't think abortion is a private matter and that abortions are an uneccessary answer to social ills. (whatever that means.) will he respect the right of a woman to control her fertility as she sees fit? i doubt it.

romney - i used to think that the fundies would shun a guy whose doctrine is so clearly extant from the literal bible, but the fundies surprised me; they're not so ideologically pure, after all. again, we have a candidate who seems to have failed simply biology. he, too, wants a fertilized egg to be called a person and thinks that birth control pills are 'abortive drugs.' the man's an idiot and i don't want his political hands on my private parts.

tancredo - by now my head is spinning from reading about all the idiotic men who want to run this country and make decisions about my health and body for me. tancredo thinks so-called 'crisis pregnancy centers' (that offer no medical care other than showing you an ultra-sound and telling you not to kill your 'baby') are preferable to Planned Parenthood centers (that actually offer healthcare services), which he wants to de-fund. the many low-income women who are served by Planned Parenthood thank you, candidate tancredo.

thompson - somehow, the schiavo case warranted a respect of privacy but his support of anti-choice legislation and ideologies says that a woman's fertility does not. thanks, fred.


these candidates' opposition to abortion comes as no real surprise; the more the GOP panders to the socially conservative values of the anti-woman religious right, the more we'll see republican candidates morphing into political dimmesdales, all the more willing to emblazon women with a great big scarlet A. what is surprising is the speed with which their moralizing gazes are turning to birth control.

years ago, i predicted the right wouldn't quit with abortion rights and birth control would be next; from experience i know the mind of a fundamentalist is narrow and can find still more ways to restrict pleasure and inflict punishment. but i still held out hope that modern politicians were reasonable people who knew that certain things are a good idea: birth control benefits everyone. clearly, my hope was misplaced.

i'll just come out with it: reproductive justice issues are my litmus test for this election. more than iraq, more than foreign policy, more than the environment, more than poverty, more than education, more than healthcare - protecting the borders of my physical body and my autonomy is my 'single issue.' the big boys of political strategy may not like 'single issue' advocacy, but it's not their bodies they have to protect. it seems the boys of political punditry and strategy care about bodies when it's war.

for me, this is war.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Conscience of a Values Voter


To pander: to act as go-between or liaison in sexual intrigues; to cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weakness; to pimp.

Dear Mr./Ms. Candidate,
Thank you for coming to my church service/summit/breakfast meeting/conference this weekend. It was a pleasure to host you and hear your views on my views. It's so reassuring to know we're on the same page.

But, I must admit that I have been feeling a bit ... oogie about your visit, of late. Some questions have been cropping up with an alarming regularity. I honestly don't know where these questions are coming from - this doubt. It can't be from your speech; your words were fiery, inspirational and resonated so deeply within my own bosom it was like you peered into my heart and wrote my words with your own pen.

I can't help wondering, however, what your visit meant.

What happened there? I mean, I guess your visit and our welcome of you was a signal that we were for you - or, that I am for you. But what is it that I am getting? Do I get everything I want from you? Are you promise-bound to do what I want? Does this mean you, Mr./Ms. Candidate, are my own personal genie?

What will I have to bring you in return? What is this bargain we've made? Or have we even made a bargain?

I hear the media and pundits call your visit 'pandering to the base.' What does that mean? If I may be so bold as to use the language of pandering - am I the john, or are you? Who's the prostitute? Is this you? I would prefer you be the prostitute, but then this makes me your client, and this is what makes me feel ... oogie. I don't know what kind of transaction this is or who benefits.

Back to my fears: if I'm the john, then all I get is a quick fuck and possibly a disease that will make me ooze from an orifice (please excuse my language. The political world is so new to me.) If you're the whore, all you get is a quick bang; if you're the pimp, however, you get all the cash. Is this what happened? Are you the pimp? But if I'm the pimp...hm. You can understand how confusing this all is for me. I think I'm having an identity crisis here - and you prompted it!

Or maybe we all take turns being the pimp and john and whore. Like a giant game of dress-up. Or a political orgy. Or a weird threesome where no one knows who's tupping who.

Of course, those scenarios do nothing to allay my fears that I have participated in something...unseemly. If I really had to ask what Jesus would do, I believe he would refuse to be the whore, john and pimp.

So you see the quandary I'm in.

Anyway, thank you for your time. Enclosed please find a check to your campaign. I gave your autograph to my sister and she's thrilled I had a chance to meet you at our church service/summit/breakfast meeting/conference this weekend.

Perhaps this time, next year, I may have the honor of calling you Mr./Madam President.

Yours,
The Values Voter

my obsession: weddings in the times

Deneta Howland and Bryan Sells - New York Times

if i was premenstrual, i'd be in tears right now.
their story has all the things that get me: earnestness, long distance, interracial couple, yearning, deflection, and dogged pursuit.

i'm obssessed with these stories.

burning questions...

is it horribly wrong - when someone you've hooked up with in the past (and with whom you hoped to continue a casual liaison) appears to have taken advantage of an improved mental state and moved on - to feel sort of put out by it?

was watching the unbearable 'tell me you love me' with Roomie the other night; is it true that married women are really stunned that their husbands look at porn? i mean, really. who is stunned that men look at porn?? for that matter, isn't it understood by now that women also look at porn? (or is this a generational thing?)

speaking of TMYLM, how can i scrub the image of jane alexander, naked and having sex on a chair, off my inner eyeballs?

can we please have movies about neurotic people of color now? i mean, i'm getting sort of bored by all the representations of quirky/conflicted white folks in popular culture now. and i don't think the tyler perry movies count.

i guess what i'm asking is: who's the Wes Anderson for brown people? (great critique of wes anderson's work here.)

why is the #66 chicago bus the most crowded motherfrakker ever? hm? and why don't the folks who ride the #66 understand the Move to the Back rule ?

why isn't every parent of daughters reading Packaging Girlhood? i bought it for my sister and it's so good, i think everyone should read it with their daughters. (if i had a daughter we'd be talking about this book.) they even have a website.

Friday, October 19, 2007

did they grade on a curve? IL fails woman's health test

woo hoo! IL fails the 'binge drinking' prevention test!
(i know i've done my part.)

overall, the nation sucks when it comes to addressing important issues for women's health - and not just on reproductive issues. like the american occupation of iraq, women's health in america fails to meet nearly all benchmarks.

National Women's Law Center Report Card - State Report Card

read more to learn more.

birth control = sluts

a new director of family planning has been named and this time, it's a woman. dr. susan orr used to work for the Family Research Council, a conservative organization known for its anti-birth control stances, and is now going to be in charge of family planning for low-income people.

what does dr. orr think? she thinks contraception isn't a medical necessity because 'fertility isn't a disease.' well, no shit. contraception is just something we women need to have because, otherwise, we'd be pregnant all the frakking time.

i'm truly puzzled at this administration and folks who don't see what's wrong with this picture. birth control is good. it allows a family to control its fertility; it allows a woman to determine when and if she is going to get pregnant; and when access is wide, paired with education about contraception, abortion numbers go down.

but you know what it is: birth control = sex.
when a woman is on contraception, it's a marker that sex is in the makin' and unless you're in a proper heterosexual, monogamous marriage then having sex makes you a slut. (and if you're a dude, having sex just makes you more of a dude.)

so...birth control = sex = slut.

so basically, orr's appointment is just another step in the social conservative's movement to shame/punish women who have sex.

of course, planned parenthood has sent out an alert to oppose orr's appointment.
you know what you have to do.

The Associated Press: Family-Planning Appointment Denounced

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Advocacy Alert: Tell the CW No Never Means Yes!

from the ywca metropolitan chicago:


Tell the Media that No Never Means Yes!
In August, when the CW network announced Kevin Federline was going to guest star in a few episodes as a front man of a band called ‘No Means Yes,’ we asked the producers of the popular show One Tree Hill to change the name of the band before the season began. We thought the band name winked at sexual assault – an all too common reality for their target demographic. YWCA USA CEO Lorraine Cole, YWCA associations from Illinois and Greater Los Angeles agreed. The name of the band had to change!

But the CW is silent. Maybe they didn’t hear us. Maybe they don’t take sexual assault seriously.

For the YWCA’s Week Without Violence, send another message to the CW and tell them that No Never Means Yes!

Go to their Advocacy Action Center to send an email. Spread the word!


[and i am not exactly a disinterested party here]

update: if you need a good reason to protest, here's a guy who didn't even give women a chance to say no and raped women he met on Match.com. and he got away with it. totally gross.

Monday, October 15, 2007

random dating rant

when does anyone have time to date?
i'm totally serious. between job, friends, volunteer obligations and such, where does anyone find the time to meet someone new?

right now, as i write this, i'm also working on now national advocacy campaign for my agency that could be great or could go down in a conglagration so huge the flames of it could be seen for miles. tomorrow morning i have an 8 am breakfast panel to attend. i'm prepping for our agency's big fundraiser this thursday which is just physically exhausting. i have medical appts, coaching appts, life appts.

when the heck am i supposed to have time to date? while i'm riding the bus?
have you noticed that no one looks at anyone while on the bus? we're all plugged into our mp3 player or reading a book; there's no eye contact. a truly hot guy could be sharing my hand strap and i'd have no idea. or maybe i'm supposed to date in the short walk from my office to my bus stop; or maybe when i'm picking up my birth control at CVS. or maybe a 38 year old woman doesn't date anymore. she just reads her PDA and schedules her next meeting.

i only feel slightly guilty that the guy i was seeing over the summer i've let totally drop off the face of the planet. sorry i forgot to call you, dude.

you know what will solve all this angst of mine? shoe shopping. yeah, that's it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

MRA: just another name for Hermit

Feministing is up for a blog award - and they so totally deserve it. they are smart, hip, relevant and utterly fearless. oh, did i mention they're smart?

they're so smart, and have a serious shot at winning Best Blog Ever, the whiners on several MRA sites are trying to set up a dummy site to 'defeat' them. it's sort of sad but also a source of much comedy.

here's a commenter on a MRA comment:
'Sorry, I must go away now, I have been called to action by one of the MRA commenters:

"Men: the time for discussion is over. Don't get married, don't co-habitate, protect yourself from sperm-snatchers, don't father any children unless you're sure you can pay the child support without going broke. Stay away from the public sector, college, big corporations, or any other place where diversity bigots can discriminate you at leisure. Set up your own business if you can. Keep informed. Spread the word. Don't argue. Pass this on to as many men as you know."

A team of comedians could brainstorm for a thousand years and not come up with anything that funny. I myself am burning my high school diploma, putting my sperm in vials in a briefcase handcuffed to me at all times, using only private roads, and selling macramed (sic) hats over the internet to support myself.'

i'm still giggling.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

two articles of note

this editorial was somewhat educational:A Nation of Christians Is Not a Christian Nation - New York Times

as was this one: Aging and Gay, and Facing Prejudice in Twilight.

i thought this pairing gave a nice view of values as practiced in our culture.

cheers.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

what is rape compared to war?

in a previous post i hinted that women may look at war differently than men. for men (pundits, commentators, strategists, etc.) war might just be a 'political' situation, an intellectual problem or some theoretical exercise in national identity. for women caught in the crosshairs of war, either as civilians or soldiers, war can sometimes mean something else entirely: rape, sexual violence, and sexual exploitation.

the following article is a patently clear example of what war, or any civil conflict, means to women in these areas.

BUKAVU, Congo — Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, cannot bear to listen to the stories his patients tell him anymore.
Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair.
“We don’t know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear,” said Dr. Mukwege, who works in South Kivu Province, the epicenter of Congo’s rape epidemic. “They are done to destroy women.”
Eastern Congo is going through another one of its convulsions of violence, and this time it seems that women are being systematically attacked on a scale never before seen here. According to the
United Nations, 27,000 sexual assaults were reported in 2006 in South Kivu Province alone, and that may be just a fraction of the total number across the country.
“The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world,” said John Holmes, the United Nations under secretary general for humanitarian affairs. “The sheer numbers, the wholesale brutality, the culture of impunity — it’s appalling.”


one of the consequences of such widespread rape is that sexual assault against women and girls (the doctor has said that his youngest victims are 3 years old) has become normative in society.
While rape has always been a weapon of war, researchers say they fear that Congo’s problem has metastasized into a wider social phenomenon.
“It’s gone beyond the conflict,” said Alexandra Bilak, who has studied various armed groups around Bukavu, on the shores of Lake Kivu. She said that the number of women abused and even killed by their husbands seemed to be going up and that brutality toward women had become “almost normal.”
Malteser International, a European aid organization that runs health clinics in eastern Congo, estimates that it will treat 8,000 sexual violence cases this year, compared with 6,338 last year. The organization said that in one town, Shabunda, 70 percent of the women reported being sexually brutalized.


so, what are 'women's issues' compared to war?
apparently, they aren't very much.

Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War - New York Times

Thursday, October 04, 2007

it's not over: Harassment in Aurora

i almost did something bad today.

a coworker showed me a mailer she got in the post sponsored by the folks at Pro-Life Action League. it was chock full of ridiculous inflammatory misinformation about Planned Parenthood ("they encourage sex before marriage! they think babies are smelly!") and it made me so angry that i did something that was a little nuts:

i looked up the home address in aurora of eric scheidler, the communications director for Pro-Life Action League and son of joe scheidler, the zealot patriarch leading the local charge against the folks at Planned Parenthood.

i copied the address. i thought about posting it here and telling pro-choicers to use it and send the scheidlers a little taste of their own harrassment.

but i had an icky feeling. in a rare moment, i felt shame at taking a political fight to the doorstep of a family of 10 (they have 8 kids) to scream at them for hating people like me, for thinking that their grip on righteousness allows them to harrass and violate the privacy of women like me.

why don't the pro-lifers feel that shame?

Real Time: Harassment in Aurora RHRealityCheck.org


(p.s. pro life folk say Planned Parenthood slandered joe scheidler with one of their ads. this interview with eric zorn says otherwise.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

niice: bush vetoes health plan for kids

Bush Vetoes Children's Health Insurance Plan - washingtonpost.com

i can see it now:
a commercial with a cute little brown or tan or light pink 5 year old, preferably with curly hair.
the tyke looks up at their appropriately colored mother and asks, "mommy, why do republicans hate poor kids?"
the mommy sighs, looking at her stack of bills. "i just don't know, sweetie. we just can't get a break."

awesome.

so...who are the 15 brave republicans going to be to break with their party and do the right thing to override this asshat veto?

what the military needs: more porn

i can get the snark tone coming from archpundit. what's porn compared to a frakked up politically motivated war? i get it.

but...is it such a bad idea to protest more porn in the military?
i mean, considering the military's already frakked up record with sexual violence against women (both within their ranks and outside of them), is this really a bad idea? i don't think we should pooh pooh it.

of course, there's the question of whether porn contributes to an environment of misogyny and sexual violence? well, it doesn't necessarily encourage the porneur (my word: porneur - one who reads or watches porn) to see women in ways other than a wet pink hole in the service of masculine power and sexuality, so i'd say yes - porn contributes to misogyny and sexual violence.

and, of course, one needs to ask if porn, misogyny and sexual violence is less important than war?

well, if you're a woman in the military, already keeping your head down from all the sexual harrassment and covered up rapes going on, and you're surrounded by all these guys reading hard core porn - or if you're an iraqi girl just minding your own 14-year old business surrounded by a bunch of drunk, angry soldiers reading porn that strongly suggests there's nothing better to solidify male bonding than a gang bang of a barely legal hot chick - then i'd say that you would find the situation pretty damn important.

historically, where soldiers are so exists rape, porn and/or a sex industry where women's individual or collective empowerment has never been the object. in the crimean war and as the british empire spread and british soldiers were stationed in far off 'exotic' colonies, so proliferated the creation, sale and dissemination of pornographic postcards, pamphlets, stories and pictures that reinforced the notion of british masculine hegemony and the racially marked 'whoredom' on the part of those colonized which offered an excuse to the occupying military for raping 'native' women; the existence of forced prostitution and camp bordellos for german officers, soldiers and collaborators during world war 2; japan's use of 'comfort women' and the enslavement of asian women for forced prostitution, also during world war 2; and during the vietnam war it was estimated that 400,000 prostituted women in thailand were procured for american soldiers on leave, as well as the now confirmed stories of american soldiers raping civilian women. more recently, the stories of soldiers raping civilian women during the serbian/croatian conflict, the ensuing trafficking from that conflict or even the current events in darfur as woman are raped by rebel soldiers?

what's porn compared to war? for women who are unfortunate to get caught in a male fantasy of control via sexual power over a woman's body, porn is war.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

strong arm of Authority

abc7.com: Aftermath of Food Fight Triggers Protest at High School

here's the story: there's an alleged food fight in a school cafeteria; there's a girl who drops a piece of cake; there's an armed security guard who tells her to clean it up; she cleans it up; he doesn't like the way she cleans it up and wants her to clean it up better; she tries and then gets up to leave; he grabs her, throws her down on a table and fractures her wrist. there may or may not have been a racial slur said.

but there's another kid taping the incident with his phone; he gets thrown down and arrested. the girl who dropped the cake is thrown down and arrested. the boy's sister who tries to intervene on his behalf is also thrown down and arrested. oh, and get this: the girl's mother, understandably upset that her daughter had her wrist fractured by a school employee, gets irate and then she gets arrested and suspended from her job with the school district.

(before anyone gets all judgmental about the 'out of control black mother' imagine your emotional response if your precious child was assaulted by a hulking, armed, over zealous school employee and then expelled and arrested for battery, during which she was the object of battery, not the subject.)

exactly who is overreacting here and who are these schools hiring for security? Blackwater USA??

this is another story that brings to mind more than just the weird racial politics of living in southern california. we have another instance of armed force being used against children who defy authority.

my sister, who teaches high school in l.a., is of the mind that authority is authority and should be obeyed; that kid who was tasered at ucla? my sister thought he got what he deserved. sometimes, my sister lives in a seriously weird world where you obey first and ask questions later. ok, that's one point of view. but whatever happened to the idea of civil disobedience?

(not saying that the girl who didn't clean up the cake to the satisfaction of some bohunk security guard was engaging in a political act of resistance. she's a teenager and thought she picked up all the cake and wanted to leave because she was being humiliated.)

when i was young i participated in all sorts of acts of civil disobedience. in 6th grade, i circulated a petition protesting the rigid and regimental recess rules at a new school and organized a recess sit-down in protest. if i did that now as a 6th grader, would that get me expelled and arrested? should that get me expelled? if i refused to end my sit-down during recess, would that get me slammed against a table and my wrist fractured?

i don't believe that authority should automatically be obeyed.
i don't believe that initial obedience automatically means Authority has the right to unfettered abuse in the future.
i don't believe in chaos and anarchy either.

but is it just me or is there something something in the air - a change in our social training that is repeatedly demonstrating that one must obey Authority or suffer to consequences, even for something like dropping cake? do you want to live in a society like that?

clinic to open in illinois!

Feministing has the news: Planned Parenthood's clinic is set to open in Aurora! congratulations to the planned parenthood folks!

(but you know they're in for it. it's going to be a siege on the clinic, the employees and the women who use their comprehensive reproductive health services.)

Monday, October 01, 2007

accessing birth control hits home


Behind the Price of Birth Control RHRealityCheck.org

for the first time, i'm on birth control. when i was 18 i was briefly on the Pill to regulate my irregular and heavy periods. now, almost two decades later, i'm back on it. Seasonique is my new best friend. and each prescription roughly costs about $140.

i'm not on birth control simply to prevent pregnancy (though that's an added bonus). seasonique is preventing ovulation to assist in the shrinkage of my fibroid and to give me more of a chance to increase my iron levels - which would be dangerously low if i continued to ovulate and bleed every month.

what if i couldn't afford to buy Seasonique? i'd be screwed. my doctor and i would be in a tough spot - i'd keep ovulating and bleeding, my fibroid could possibly get bigger and more unstable and my anemia would continue unabated, affecting my overall health in a very dangerous way.

for social conservatives who think every woman is just like any other and all reproductive health issues are all the same, and simple, my being able to buy my prescription of Seasonique is no big deal. to some extent, it's not, really. i'm middle class, employed and have great health benefits through my employer. the odds of my not being able to afford a prescription for my birth control is fairly low. but what if i lose my job? what if my job changes? what about other women - what about women in the service industry who most likely don't have comprehensive health care plans, women who are working poor, or student women?

but the paucity of social conservative's rhetoric is patently unthoughtful: 'don't have sex' is their solution to complicated problems like access and, somehow, women who want to control their fertility or must depend on medication to address a reproductive health situation are 'irresponsible.' for these people, living like a religious celibate or 'letting nature, sickness and illness' run its course is preferred to prevention.

birth control has become the newest battle to control women's autonomy and i don't think women (any woman) can afford to be complacent about it. think about what life was like for women before the Pill - no, do more than think about it. research it. look at the laws and policies governing women's bodies before the Pill became available to women and think about what changes that brought to women's lives.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

holler


Let’s just cut through the chaff and the chatter and the bull. It’s scary to be a woman. It’s not any scarier than being anything else, but it’s still scary as hell. When you’re a woman, you’re told from the start that you are born with something that will make other people want to harm you or chase you or put you in their car or trap you in a room or put their bodies inside you when you don’t want them to. You’re told that this thing you are, whatever this is you have, means you have to be super careful. You can’t bring the wrong kind of attention to yourself so you can’t be too loud, too friendly, too smart, too dumb, too happy, too sad, too pretty, too ugly, too fat, too hot, too … anything. The desire to act against you begins outside of you but somehow you’re in charge of deflecting it.

Being a woman is scary because you begin as a girl who knows that she’s prey.


Today in the lunchroom, a coworker said that they’d found Nailah Franklin’s body in the forest preserve in Calumet. A lump formed in my throat and my coworker’s eyes teared up. The lunchroom was silent while we thought about that beautiful woman’s last moments being at the hands of some fucking violent nutbag. Someone hunted her down and then killed her.

It’s a puzzle why this case should affect me when other missing woman cases haven’t quite. Maybe because it’s a Chicago woman; maybe because she’s black like me. Or was it that, by the black community’s standard of middle class success, she did everything right and I identified with her? Or that her family and friends seemed tight and loving and worried; or that Nailah looked like I could have worked with her or been to school with her or she could have been a friend. Whatever the reason, I felt this sad discovery keener than most.

I felt it because the discovery of this nude female’s body became an emblem of all the other nude female bodies found dumped in dense forest preserves across this country. Right now I’m feeling resigned sort of anger. Resigned because violence against women is a stamp of our DNA; it’s a sad recognition that, across all cultures, ideologies or nationalities, even if men stop making war against one another, they’ll always find time to kill or rape a woman.

Anger because my lizard brain wants to make some guy pay.

How can I explain what it’s like to live with the threat of violence against you?


· It’s like thinking, when you’ve had a particularly bad, nasty, bitter fight with your lover, you should be careful for the next few days just in case he shows up at your office and tries to throw gasoline on you and set you on fire.
· It’s like going on a date and deliberately writing down the guy’s name, phone number, address (which you’ve Googled) and his email address for your friends, just in case you disappear for a few days.
· It’s like being in the middle of making out and randomly thinking, if he tries anything I’ll smash his larynx. And then wondering if you really could.
· It’s like a reflex: when you get home, you turn completely around before opening your building’s door just to make sure a guy isn’t going to bash your head in and rape you in your foyer because all you can do is remember the Chicago woman who was raped and beaten 9 years ago exactly the same way, coming home from work in the middle of the afternoon in Wrigleyville.
· It’s like looking at my 7 year old niece and imagining everything that everyone is going to try and put on her narrow, innocent shoulders; how boys who think she’s pretty might get mad if she rejects them, how older boys and men might just look at her in ways that a grown man shouldn’t be looking at a girl and want to 'break her in', how she’ll be 'fresh meat' on a college campus, and wondering what the hell you can do, short of turning her into a ninja, that can prevent any of that from happening.
· It’s like looking at almost every guy and, though unfairly, expecting someone whose first recourse upon rejection will be to fuck. you. up.
It’s like turning into a soldier stationed in a hostile desert town seeing insurgents everywhere and feeling fucking pissed off because all you want is to fucking go home and not feel so beseiged like this anymore.

our government just told us to shut up

this made me so mad i actually just gave money (i can't really spare) to MoveOn.
the senate just passed a lame resolution against the political action group for criticizing Gen. Petraius and the war effort.

how can this be justified? how is this the mark of a democracy? what does this mean for any kind of future criticism against the state?

whatever your political party, a move like this from our government should make us bristle.
at least.

MoveOn.org: Democracy in Action

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

An Unholy Alliance -- In These Times

the fight down in aurora is heating up but the reproductive justice side is catching up.

eric zorn had a very good piece on the tactics used by the various anti-women groups and it's done some good to turn the tide of public opinion somewhat. who likes a bully who follows you home from work and harrasses you on your front porch and then defames you to your neighbors and your workplace?

if a guy i dated did that, i could accuse him of stalking and get an order of protection from him. these people do it (to protest a LEGAL procedure) and somehow it's not crazy at all. what's up with that?

these are the events that sometimes make me wish our side was a little bit more willing to get our hands dirty. but i only have those thoughts only sometimes.

An Unholy Alliance -- In These Times

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

dear white supremacists: thanks!

Supremacist groups seize on Jena 6 dispute -- chicagotribune.com

well, i guess it's a good thing that the white supremacists have provided a neat little frame for the Jena, LA situation. you're either with them or with the notion of equal application of justice.

Thelma & Louise: irrelevant or prescient?

there was a good conversation in response to judith warner's piece about Thelma & Louise and whether that movie fits with our time now. while the thread begins with the inevitable calling up of the Duke case (as if that one case negates the experiences of rape victims everywhere), the conversation thankfully moves on to thoughtfully explore the role of feminism now, the legacy of the conservative policies in the early 90s, the instability of Dept of Justice (D0J) stats on rape (right, that rape has decreased by 75%), and how our culture has moved the signposts when it comes to defining the empowerment of women.

would Thelma & Louise have been made today? i remember watching it in college and feeling thrilled, angered and frustrated by it. as a sheltered baptist girl, i recognized feeling trapped by others, by unformed ideas of what my role was supposed to be, trapped by a closed culture that laid out motherhood and marriage as the sole sign of fulfillment.

movies about women's experiences now don't evoke the same kind of thrill or anger or even recognition. there is a blank puzzlement when i see women reflected in our popular culture.

i wanted thelma and louise live, but i'd rather have them fly off that cliff than have them turned into the vacuous sexbot females our current culture seems to favor.

Thelma and Louise in the Rear-View Mirror - Judith Warner - Domestic Disturbances - Opinion - New York Times Blog

Sunday, September 23, 2007

between boxes...

i'm covered in paint splotches and taking a short break from unpacking and moving furniture in the new loft so here's an article about young women who earn more than the guy they're dating. it's a cute article but here are a couple of beefs: one, it would have been interesting to see what the guy who was intimidated by his girlfriend's higher salary had to say and, two, this isn't to say that the pay gap is a thing of the past. i betcha these women still aren't being paid the same as their male counterpart.

Putting Money on the Table - New York Times

yikes.
i just noticed a 4-inch bruise on my arm.
thanks to L-, this article in the NYTimes on the woman who was assaulted by her pastor husband: A Minister’s Public Lesson on Domestic Violence - New York Times

i'm reluctant to say that this story reveals a lot about the black community's attitude toward women, women in authority, gender roles or domestic violence but some of the attitudes described in this story (and in other stories about weeks and bynum) are familiar to me, since they were stories i'd heard from my own childhood church: the pressure for women to marry at any cost so they could enjoy sexual intimacy, the poor marital choice that follows, the accusations of homosexuality following a popular pastor, the vacillating congregation that empathizes with an alleged victim but also thinks she somehow 'deserves' her victimization.

i chatted very briefly with my dad about this story. it was brief because our conversations about gender tend to run a very short loop. sure enough, dad's attitude was a mish mash of hedging: 'well, of course the brother was wrong and the book should be thrown at him. no man should hit a woman. but you know, girl, she shoulda left that man alone. why was she running after him? she provoked him.'

roll of eyes. 'right, dad.'

when i watched the couples in my father's church this is what always got my goat: no matter what happened between a man and a woman - marital tension, infidelity, emotional distance, whatever - it was always the woman's fault. the man didn't have to take responsibility for anything, even if it was pretty clear that his contribution to the marital mess was huge.

the dr. sharon ellis davis mentioned in the article works with the Faith Trust Institute, an interfaith organization that educates about sexual and domestic violence in religious communities that was formed when it was clear that rape and domestic violence weren't being addressed adequately in various congregations. i find that stunning; a woman is raped or assaulted and can't go to her pastor, priest or rabbi because she's afraid of what her church will say. where is the failing here? with the victim of assault or with the religious leader whose beliefs about gender make him blame the victim for her own assault?

anyway. it's after 1 am and it's been a long day of unpacking, cleaning and running errands. i'm going to bed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

father, may i? pt 2

so while i was writing yesterday's post on virtuous daughters being something akin to the ideal executive assistant, i kept thinking about various moments in my sunday school training.

what kept flashing through my memory were the stories and precepts about sacrifice for the glory of God: stephen, all the apostles, ruth, abraham, etc.

this is what christian tradition teaches - you give your heart, soul and mind to God. how did that become, for these alarmingly conservative groups, 'abnegate yourself before your Patriarch'? how does devotion to God become 'don't go to college, don't leave home, don't work outside the home and whatever you do, don't think you have dreams and aspirations that go beyond your biology'?

do you get what i'm saying?
while i believe the spiritual precepts in the bible are so, i have a hard time aligning the bible's historical context with these spiritual precepts. it isn't so hard to understand a father being 'in charge' of the women in his family back in the ancient day. women were chattel and functioned in a specific way in an agrarian society - they were how weath was consolidated, how labor forces were created, how tribed moved forward. without the biological function that women served, tribes and families died.

if someone wants to overlay a message from God to women based on the status of women as historical chattel, then that message would be 'women shall be thus forever.' but that's clearly not what the message is. the eternal message is about salvation, not about women's social position, which is something that is mutable and outside of the gospel, i think.

in other words, separate from 'love God yada yada yada,' is the way a virtuous woman was before the dawn of science and literacy, the way a woman is to be forever??

i don't think so.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

father, may i?


it's no secret that i have an 'issue' with authority: dads, pastors, cops, bosses, presidents, boyfriends, bus drivers. it's all one thing: Authority. seeing the world divided into sheep and masters, i guess i'd rather not be a willing sheep.
some people think differently. some people think being a sheep is really great.

amanda marcotte has a link to a post by some waay fundamentalist sisters about the dangers of sending your christian daughters to college. her fisking is sharp and funny.

then i read from those two sisters about maturity and the role of an adult daughter still living with her parents and i had to fight down bile:

The sign of maturity isn’t that we simply “obey” our parents’ commands, but that we understand deeply what our parents’ hearts and goals are, and can anticipate and even exceed what they expect of us. A mature, adult daughter who deserves her parents’ trust most certainly isn’t the one who says, “I’m not a child anymore, Dad! I’m an adult! I’m old enough to decide for myself when to get up, and it’s not something you have authority over anymore!” (Literally, “I’m mature enough to demand my own way, and throw a tantrum and threaten to run away if I don’t get it!”) But she also isn’t the one who says, “Ok, ok, Dad, I’ll get up when you tell me to.” The mature daughter is the one that takes the initiative and says, “Dad, what time would you like me to get up? I know that spending time with your family before you leave for work is important to you, and I love that about you… so how can I help make it happen?” This is one thing that makes us different from mindless automatons with no wills of our own (which some girls seem mortally afraid of becoming.)


why does this make me spew?

because this is exactly what makes a great executive assistant (which i was for a while before i came to my senses and got the hell out.) to be the ideal assistant you have to completely evacuate your own identity; your ways, needs, sensibilities and wants are completely replaced by the routines, habits, desires and enmities of your Executive. the line separating the two of you, if the relationship works out to the Executive's advantage, begins to disappear.

your day begins by asking yourself, 'what will upset Executive this morning and what can i do to make sure that it doesn't? what will make Executive happy and what can i do to facilitate more of that happiness? who is Executive going to fire today and how can i make sure that person isn't me?'

your day is filled with wondering what Executive will want for lunch, if Executive knows how to get to the airport, if Executive can find his/her way to baggage claim without step by step directions and whether Executive will have to stand in line longer than necessary once Executive gets to the hotel. you even ponder the possibility of traveling with Executive just to make sure everything gets done the way Executive wants it.

you will be consumed with wondering if Executive noticed how long your lunch break was, if Executive will buy you a birthday gift and if Executive will notice that you supported the whole team and made that presentation happen at 10 pm while the rest of the team went home and Executive went home to Executive's spouse. the idea of taking a day off scares you; what will happen to Executive if you're home or on vacation? how will Executive accomplish anything?


you will know details of the Executive's life only a partner or family member would know and you would order the world of the Executive to cater to those details: favorite foods, allergies, likes/dislikes, anniversary dates, birthdays, number of children, second home location, social security number, credit cards, taxes, personal finances. as ideal Assistant it's your job to care for these things just like they're your own.

while the Executive is proud of the fact that 'his Susan' or 'his Ali' or 'her Cathy' runs the Executive's life for them, they are also unaware of the seething resentment and anger that will slowly build in their assistant until it's bribed away. at least, if Susan, Ali or Cathy had any sense of self-preservation, they'd be filled with resentment and anger. if they know no better they will acquiesce and sink into a gray little nothing who doesn't exist unless they have an Executive to serve.

those of us who quit being an assistant did so because we hated every single frakking minute of it; being subservient was foreign to our sense of identity and purpose. whenever we interviewed with other firms we were forced to say, honestly, 'i don't do deference very well.'

the sisters have an odd way of defining 'independence.' though they say that the virtuous daughter asks her Executive - uh, Father - what his wishes would be for her, the end result is that she obeys. the virtuous daughter's will is entirely subject to that of her patriarch. in history, we'd call that kind of social organization a fiefdom.

and that's what these two sisters are advocating: deference. service. servility. servant.

who would groom another human being to glory in that kind of personal abnegation?
and why would you say that it's what God wants?

democratic party: big tent or big ol' plantation?

i love this part of the article, about democratic reaction to the sharp anti-war ad placed by MoveOn.org:

They said MoveOn had handed Republicans a fresh talking point to criticize Democrats and turn the focus from Iraq in a critical week in the war debate.
Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said on MSNBC that the advertisement was “simply over the top, and I think it’s inappropriate, period.”
Ms. Pelosi said on “Good Morning America” on ABC that she “would have preferred that they not do such an ad.”
Republicans have called on Democratic Congressional leaders and presidential candidates to disavow the advertisement, but they have largely declined.

and this is what i say to the weak-ass democrats who can't seem to grasp that folks out here are angry about what's happening to this country: you're either representing us or you're just covering your own ass.

Behind an Antiwar Ad, a Powerful Liberal Group - New York Times

this is offensive, tom ford

in a move that demonstrates that being an A-gay does not automatically translate into being a feminist, tom ford's latest ad for his men's cologne hammers that point home:


you know. just in case you didn't get it the first time:



[thanks, Feministing!]

Monday, September 17, 2007

Jena 6: conviction vacated!

Louisiana Appeals Court Throws Out Conviction in Racially Charged 'Jena 6' Case - washingtonpost.com

the first high school student to be found guilty in the Jena 6 trial had his conviction vacated over the weekend by the louisiana 3rd circuit court of appeal; they ruled mychal bell never should have been tried as an adult and the charges of second-degree battery were inappropriate.

this is more than excellent news. it's news that says that advocacy works. grassroots organizing works. public attention on injustice can bring change.

i feel that if those few overseas papers and then the massive email campaign launched by the folks at DemocracyNow and Color of Change hadn't mobilized such grassroots, public outrage, these young boys would have been sent quietly to prison.

but there are 5 other boys waiting trial and their ordeal is by no means over.
if people concerned with racial justice, and equal application of the law, keep up the pressure perhaps these boys can be freed.
...
what can you do about Jena 6?

1. spread the word. the more attention this case gets, the better
these boys chances have for getting their lives back. go here to read about one of
the online campaigns, send a letter to the district attorney and the governor
and find out about further actions.

2. if you have the time and inclination, join the rallies on sept
20. (or, better yet, if you have a blog write about the Jena 6 on Sept 20
as a way of participating in the action.)

several midwest ywcas are organizing buses down to louisiana.
information is here:
In the Midwest region, both Toledo, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan have busses
going down. Toledo is being hosted by a group of concerned citizens and
Detroit is going through the NAACP. For more details regarding either,
please feel free to call Delma Jackson @ 419. 508. 8968.

the naacp has information about their coordinating efforts here.

3. be aware of the increasing criminalization of minority youth in
this country. some research can be found here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

burqa, anyone?

Feministing has an angry-fying post about Southwest Airlines now taking it upon themselves to tell women how to dress and threatening to kick them off the plane because of it.

what. the. hell?
i have points with this stupid airline. but i may not any longer.

if you'd like to share a piece of your mind (politely, people!), share it with the following folks:
Jim Ruppel, Vice president, customer relationsP.O. Box 36647Dallas, TX 75235-1647(214) 792-4223 (general branch number, will have to attempt asking to be transferred to Jim by name) jim.ruppel@wnco.com

Donna Conover, Executive vice president, customer operations(214) 792-4000 (corporate location #, ask the operator to transfer you) donna.conover@wnco.com

Chief executive, Gary Kelly, Chief executive officer(214) 792-4000 (corporate location #, ask the operator to transfer you) gary.kelly@wnco.com

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Black and Missing but not Forgotten

Black and Missing but not Forgotten

i saw this site on feministing and it bears more viewing.
our media, though it protests that it is 'objective', is hardly that.

women of color go missing every year yet hardly garner the same amount of media attention.
so one young woman has taken it upon herself to focus her attention on missing black women, hoping to get some little publicity for them.

visit every once in a while and see if you've seen these women. their families would appreciate it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Rip-off in Iraq: makes me wanna holler

The Rip-off in Iraq: You Will Not Believe How Low the War Profiteers Have Gone - The Smirking Chimp

while i was taking a break from packing boxes as slowly as i could over the holiday weekend, i read this article from my Roomie's Rolling Stone. it gave me gas.

here's a large nugget of how our government has screwed the pooch through neglect, ineptitude and plain old greed:

'[The private contractor's] job is over when their money ends. When I call
Snider to clarify this amazing statement, he declines to discuss the matter further. But if you look over the history of the Iraqi reconstruction effort, you will find versions of this excuse everywhere. When Custer Battles was caught delivering broken trucks to the Army, a military official says the company told him, "We were only told we had to deliver the trucks. The contract doesn't say they had to work."
Such excuses speak to a monstrous vacuum of patriotism; it would be hard to imagine contractors being so blithely disinterested in results during World War II, where every wasted dollar might mean another American boy dead from gangrene in the Ardennes. But the rampant waste of money and resources also suggests a widespread contempt for the ostensible "purpose" of our presence in Iraq. Asked to cast a vote for the war effort, contractors responded by swiping everything they could get their hands on -- and the administration's acquiescence in their thievery suggests that it, too, saw making a buck as the true mission of the war. Two witnesses scheduled to testify before Congress against Custer Battles ultimately declined not only because they had received death threats but because they, too, were contractors and feared that they would be shut out of future government deals. To repeat: Witnesses were afraid to testify in an effort to recover government funds because they feared reprisal from the government.
The Bush administration's lack of interest in recovering stolen funds is one of the great scandals of the war. The White House has failed to litigate a single case against a contractor under the False Claims Act and has not sued anybody for breach of contract. It even declined to join in a lawsuit filed by whistle-blowers who are accusing KBR of improper invoicing in Fallujah. "For all the Bush administration claims to do in the war against terrorism," Grayson said in congressional testimony, "it is a no-show in the war against war profiteers." In nearly five years of some of the worst graft and looting in American history, the administration has recovered less than $6 million.'


in 2004, twenty million women could have changed the course of the election but they never made it to the voting booth.

i desperately want those twenty million women to show up next year.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

not just for the nfl: even pastors beat their wives


edmontonsun.com - World - Hubby charged in minister's beating

so. bishop thomas w. weeks (the 3rd) put the beat down on his wife, gospel singer/televangelist, juanita bynum in a hotel parking lot. he chokes her, 'stomps' on her, flees the scene, she ends up in the hospital, he's arrested and released on $40,000 bail, and then he goes to church.

his supporters, instead of fleeing from a so-called spiritual leader who has poor impulse control, have instead chosen to circle their wagons around him and say totally sheeplistic, insane things like:
"There are three sides to every story. Nobody has the right to judge anybody. God is in the midst of that and will work it out."
"We all make mistakes. He deserves another opportunity."
"Let's love and pray they stay together! It may be a blessing to us all!"

and then there's this love letter from a commenter on an aol board:
"He might have a short fuse. He was obviously tryna walk away from the situation and SHE followed him. A man can only take so much from a nagging ass wife."

ah, yes. the 'nagging ass wife.'
the mouthy, back-talking, sassy, 'don't know her place' emasculating jezebel that all men must beware.

according to church folk, here's the lesson for all you single church gals out there:
if your man has a 'short fuse,' it's no one's fault but your own nagging ass self for making him stomp you so hard in the face a parking lot attendant has to pull him off you.

i hate ignorance. i really really really do. and ignorance crossed with self-hatred and misogyny?
even worse.

[shudder]
sorry; i'm having a flashback to my old church where attitudes like this grew like rotten fruit on a tree.

ah, geez. and this morning, i came across a piece discussing Christian Domestic Discipline.
i really can't take church people's lame excuses for smacking a woman. (and there is a huge difference between consent and acquiescence. one implies enthusiastic participation, the other implies coercion.)

maybe that's what bishop weeks was practicing - just some good old christian domestic discipline.

Jena 6: action down in Louisiana

it's amazing what our news media buries. the events in this campaign happened one year ago, but it's just now beginning to filter to the attention of progressive bloggers and folks who keep tabs on racial justice issues.

truthout has an awesome profile of the story here.

this is the short story:
Last fall in Jena, Louisiana, the day after two Black high school students sat beneath the "white tree" on their campus, nooses were hung from the tree. When the superintendent dismissed the nooses as a "prank," more Black students sat under the tree in protest. The District Attorney then came to the school
accompanied by the town's police and demanded that the students end their
protest, telling them, "I can be your best friend or your worst enemy... I can
take away your lives with a stroke of my pen."1 A series of
white-on-black incidents of violence followed, and the DA did nothing. But when
a white student was beaten up in a schoolyard fight, the DA responded by
charging six black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit
murder.

the first of these students is about to be sentenced for 22 years and a campaign has begun to halt the legal process because it is so clearly uneven, biased and racist. it's like something happening out of 1952 Jim Crow south. the families of the remaining 5 students are frantically trying to stop what's happening to their kids.

ColorOfChange.org has the full story and a petition to be sent to the louisiana governor.