Radfem Reboot has exceeded every last one of my expectations and hopes– what a wonderful, amazing, fabulous conference. Probably three-fourths of the women attending (and there are many, far more than I expected to be there) are under 30 years of age. Thrilling! The workshops have been nourishing, inspiring and energizing, every one of them. Kathleen Barry’s keynote was stunning, as was the consciousness-raising that followed. Indigenous women from Vancouver B.C. have presented workshops and panels on how colonialism, genocide and patriarchy have created generations of prostituted women and girls, raped women, murdered women, missing women and shared their ongoing strategies of resistance. We have heard from Lierre Keith, Renate Klein, Susan Hawthorne, Sam Berg, others, and I presented as well, and it went so well, and I am so pleased. Today we’ll hear from Cathy Brennan and Maggie Hayes and will finish with a social this evening. The food has been delicious. I hugged Lucky Nickel and Stillwater and Cathy Brennan and Lierre Keith and Susan Hawthorne and Renate Klein and Kathleen Barry and Maggie Hayes and Sam Berg and Allecto (many times! had a wonderful dinner with this beloved young woman), and Kat and Emzy Femzie and Bunny from Michfest and Pisaquari! I met some women who live close to me, exchanged contact information. My heart is so full, I feel so nourished, I have so much hope, once again.
Cathy Brennan, a lesbian, was attacked at the New York City Dyke March this past weekend by a group of trans women and their supporters, one of whom was an organizer of the march. Cathy was one woman and she was targeted by a group of people, one ringleader of which acknowledges she “lost it.” Cathy used her one voice to speak her own truth and assaulted nobody.
This is despicable behavior, unconscionable and disgusting. To be silent about it when speaking up is possible, to ignore it, to fail to acknowledge it, would be wrong. Hence, this post.
– Sara Ruddick, in Maternal Thinking: Towards a Politics of Peace, 1989
So, yes, allowing one’s body to be penetrated for money, even if it causes a pleasurable physical sensation, is a greater acquiescence to exploitation than agreeing to make $5 Footlongs for $7 an hour, even though it pays more. Participating in the making of anti-woman propaganda requires far greater emotional, physical, and political compromises on women’s part than any job men do for equivalent pay. The relatively high (for women) wage porn work and prostitution command does not represent our society’s great love for the female form, it signifies the fact that we are willing to pay somewhat dearly to uphold and jack off to misogyny.
Of those men who come here and make the simplistic and dishonest argument that porn isn’t rape because all work requires us to consent to things we wouldn’t do for free, I would like to ask how much your boss would have to pay you to let him fuck you in the ass while you blow his assistant before he, his assistant, and the janitorial staff ejaculate all over your face. Video of the event would, of course, be posted on the internet and would be available to anyone with basic internet search skills until the day you die. I am truly interested in hearing the figures, which are surely more than $1000.
On Friday, three years after a Collin County jury acquitted the Leshers and their employee of aggravated sexual assault, a Tarrant County jury awarded the couple $13.78 million in a libel judgment. The ruling sends the message that people have the freedom to write what they please online, but they can be held accountable.
The award is the largest ever assessed in an Internet libel case, the Leshers’ attorney, Meagan Hassan, said Tuesday…
“This was clearly a vendetta,” [plaintiffs' attorney] Hassan said. “We originally sued 178 John and Jane Does, and it all came down to two IP addresses.”…
The abuse grew so bad that the Leshers closed their businesses and moved away from Clarksville, where they had lived for more than 20 years, Hassan said. Mark Lesher now practices law in Mount Pleasant and Texarkana, and his wife has given up her salon. Continue reading
Even among ourselves we fear that not kneeling at the motherhood shrine will make us look weak and incompetent and unfeeling. We are afraid that if we speak the truth of our lives as mothers, we will find ourselves standing alone, the unnatural, scorned exception, that if we were to tell what agony motherhood has been for us, women of all political persuasions might fall upon us in rage, so invested are women in keeping the fathers' last guilty secret: that making motherhood horrific while brainwashing us to believe instead that it is beatific, they have effectively secured our minds and hearts, our cooperation. --Sonia Johnson, Wildfire: Igniting the She/Volution
To the casual observer, it might appear as though motherhood struggles are indistinguishable from any other difficulties women face because they are women. Feminists have, after all, always confronted wage inequities, job discrimination, mistreatment of women by doctors and the medical establishment, injustices in the court system, exploitation of women as unpaid care providers for children, the elderly and the sick, and as caretakers of home and hearth, and the lack of social and economic support for older women who have spent all of their lives serving their families without being paid for it. All women have experienced these forms of discrimination or been directly affected by them in some way.
But mothers experience specific kinds of discrimination because they are mothers–discrimination those who have elected not to be mothers do not face. This discrimination and the subsequent inequality of mothers compared with those who are not mothers is largely invisible, hidden as it is beneath the motherhood mystique, the aura Western culture has created around the idea of motherhood. It goes unnamed and often unacknowledged by mothers, as well, fearful as each one is that she is the only one to struggle as she does, that other mothers know something she doesn’t, that to speak out might equal admitting she is a bad mother, suspect, better take a good look at her kids, maybe they are abused or neglected. And besides, mothers love their children, or if they don’t love them as they should, they know they are supposed to. They don’t want anyone–particularly their children–to suspect their capacity for maternal love is not what it ought to be. And they don’t want to be despised and feared the way mothers who are not good and loving are despised and feared under male supremacy. And so mothers are silent. Continue reading
The poor people who were dropped from cash assistance here, mostly single mothers, talk with surprising openness about the desperate, and sometimes illegal, ways they make ends meet. They have sold food stamps, sold blood, skipped meals, shoplifted, doubled up with friends, scavenged trash bins for bottles and cans and returned to relationships with violent partners — all with children in tow…
Dear Jane Alexander,
I just spoke with a young man from your office, who informed me that I had been chosen to be one of twelve recipients of the National Medal for the Arts at a ceremony at the White House in the fall. I told him at once that I could not accept such an award from President Clinton or this White House because the very meaning of art, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this administration. I want to clarify to you what I meant by my refusal.
Anyone familiar with my work from the early Sixties on knows that I believe in art’s social presence–as breaker of official silences, as voice for those whose voices are disregarded, and as a human birthright. In my lifetime I have seen the space for the arts opened by movements for social justice, the power of art to break despair. Over the past two decades I have witnessed the increasingly brutal impact of racial and economic injustice in our country.
There is no simple formula for the relationship of art to justice. But I do know that art–in my own case the art of poetry–means nothing if it simply decorates the dinner table of power which holds it hostage. The radical disparities of wealth and power in America are widening at a devastating rate. A President cannot meaningfully honor certain token artists while the people at large are so dishonored. I know you have been engaged in a serious and disheartening struggle to save government funding for the arts, against those whose fear and suspicion of art is nakedly repressive. In the end, I don’t think we can separate art from overall human dignity and hope. My concern for my country is inextricable from my concerns as an artist. I could not participate in a ritual which would feel so hypocritical to me.
I know that in the rest of my life, the next half century or so, every aspect of my identity will have to be engaged. The middle-class white girl taught to trade obedience for privilege. The Jewish lesbian raised to be a heterosexual gentile. The woman who first heard oppression named and analyzed in the Black Civil Rights struggle. The woman with three sons, the feminist who hates male violence. The woman limping with a cane, the woman who has stopped bleeding are also accountable. The poet who knows that beautiful language can lie, that the oppressor’s language sometimes sounds beautiful. The woman trying, as part of her resistance, to clean up her act.
–Adrienne Cecile Rich in “Split at the Root: An Essay on Jewish Identity,” from here, h/t Letecia Layson
For your inspiration, encouragement, and all-around happiness, once again I offer this video of Gjallarhorn, playing “Suvetar,” Goddess of Spring. Like some of my maternal ancestors, the members of Gjallarhorn are Finnish. This is one of the woman warrior songs I play all of the time to ground me, to connect me with the great river of womyn, as my friend Amazon Night calls it, which preceded me and of which I am part. Following are the lyrics in Finnish and in English. Continue reading
- Target: Planned Parenthood Toronto
- Sponsored by: Women Defending Our Right to Say No to Sex
Planned Parenthood Toronto is helping to sponsor a March 31 conference in Toronto that includes a workshop inviting participants to discuss and strategize ways they might be able to “overcome” women’s objections to these participants’ sexual advances. We believe that no means no, that a woman’s right to say “no” to sex at any time is sacrosanct and that no explanations should ever be requested because none is ever necessary. The name of the workshop proposed is “Overcoming the Cotton Ceiling: Breaking Down Sexual Barriers for Queer Trans Women.” The workshop facilitator has defined the “Cotton Ceiling” as follows:
The cotton ceiling is a theory proposed … to explain the experiences queer trans women have with simultaneous social inclusion and sexual exclusion within the broader queer women’s communities. Basically, it means that cis queer women will be friends with us and talk day and night about trans rights and ending transmisogyny, but will still not consider us viable sexual partners.
The term cotton ceiling is a reference to the “glass ceiling” that second wave feminist identified in the workforce, wherein women could only advance so high in the workforce but could not break through into positions of power and authority. The cotton represents underwear, signifying sex.
Please sign this petition and ask Planned Parenthood to withdraw their support from this workshop and to continue their legacy of support for women’s sexual autonomy.
Information about the conference can be found here.
As a female who has relied on Planned Parenthood for any number of biological female-related medical conditions in the past and who has been a vociferous supporter and financial donor in the United States, I find your branch’s sponsorship of the “Cotton Ceiling” workshop scheduled for your upcoming Pleasures and Possibilities Conference incredibly disturbing. Continue reading
there will be no compensation
it was of your free will that you stood
on the frontline
these are the rules of war
remember that you fought for your people
i know the freedom’s been hard won
but as you weep
remember that you
As the world prepares to mark International Women’s Day, a spotlight is focused on how we can improve the lives of a group that is often overlooked and invisible – women and girls who live in rural areas – we must ensure that education appears high on the list of solutions.
Educating girls and young women in rural communities is the surest way to break the cycle of poverty and famine.
Women and girls who live in rural areas are often uneducated and have few choices in life, apart from toiling in the fields, marrying as teens and caring for their children. In fact, girls in rural communities are among those at greatest risk of missing out on education.
Last Friday, the Council, Afghanistan’s highest Islamic authority, issued a non-binding edict saying that women were worth less than men — a statement released by Karzai’s office and then endorsed by the president on Tuesday.
“Men are fundamental and women are secondary,” it said, adding women should avoid “mingling with strange men in various social activities such as education, in bazaars, in offices and other aspects of life”.
Such advice effectively implies that women should not go to university or to work at all, no matter that in the lower house of parliament, for example, 27 percent of seats are reserved for women.
The edict went on to say that women would wear “full Islamic hijab”, should respect polygamy — Islam allows a man to take up to four wives — and comply with Sharia law on divorce, which severely restricts women’s rights.
It further stated that “teasing, harassing and beating women” was prohibited “without a sharia-compliant reason” — leaving open the suggestion that in some circumstances, domestic abuse is appropriate.
Karzai, who has formally outlawed violence and discrimination against women, caused consternation on Tuesday by publicly endorsing the statement, saying that it “reiterated Islamic principles and values” in supporting women.
In response, Afghanistan’s first deputy speaker, Fawzia Koofi, who was this week listed as one of the world’s “150 Fearless Women” by US website The Daily Beast, accused the Council of returning women to the dark days of Taliban rule.
“This move by the Ulema council drives Afghan women rights towards Talibanization,” she told AFP. “Nobody has the right to interfere in women’s rights, not even President Hamid Karzai.”
There is some fallacy of human nature that allows people to view practicing as women only as exclusion rather than inclusion. When we gather in an all women rite we are offering a sacred space for the benefit of those attending – the rite is for women, especially if the focus is Women’s Mysteries. Those rites center on menstruation, birthing, and cessation of menstruation, all functions of women who came into this world at birth as female. Even if the rite does not focus on those Mysteries, women need sacred space to grow and heal from growing up in a world that often excludes, puts down, or otherwise attempts to control them as the “less than” gender. Coming together in this way has nothing to do with excluding men – it is about giving women a place of their own.
Limbaugh said a lot more than that a woman attorney was a “slut.” This is what he said:
“So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis…If we are going to pay for your contraceptives…We want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
What a pathetic excuse for a man.
During the question period of the panel, I spoke about what it means to deride female sovereignty in the context of the intense anti-feminist backlash we are living through now. Margot Adler had mentioned the shrinkage of feminist spaces, bookstores and Women’s Studies. I talked about how that had affected my work, as women’s history got thrown overboard in the stampede to Gender Studies. It’s not because women’s oppression has been solved! I said that this debate has got to get unstuck off the “essentialism” refrain. As long as the issue keeps getting cast only as biological determinism (and I see people in both camps insisting on this discourse in different ways) other real concerns are not being addressed, even effectively denied or misrepresented. We need to have a deeper conversation about the complexities, the differences and the commonalities, between cis, trans, and those who don’t fit this new gender binary. In the current climate such a dialogue, multilogue actually, seems impossible. May the time come soon when we can do so without it turning into a destructive beatdown…. Continue reading
Every year, more and more women are living longer, continuing to work, volunteering and raising political hell. Gingrich’s serial trade downs for the ever-younger embody the notion that older women (especially ones who have put up with the likes of him for decades) are irrelevant and disposable.
Women of any age should never support a candidate whose actions (not to mention policies) announce: Once you hit a certain age, I will ditch you with extreme prejudice. Like so many in his party, Gingrich resents anyone who isn’t white, well-off and male. All women – and remember girls, like it or not, we all get old – should shun him, and any candidate like him.