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China Bans Pornography, Rape Scenes, Film Depictions of Hardcore Sex

China has banned  movie depictions of hardcore sexual activity and rape.  Film studios producing hardcore sex movies risk losing permission to shoot films at all.   In addition, erotic movie producers, directors and actors will be ineligible to compete for film awards or for taking part in any film awards.  Also restricted are vulgar language and song lyrics and sound effects with sexual connotations.

Film studios which produce pornography will be banned from the movie industry for five years.
Link

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Saudi “Justice Ministry” Says “Resorting to the Media” Could Cause More Harm to Raped Woman Sentenced to 200 Lashes– UDATE, Rape Victim “Pardoned”

 UPDATE:  Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has pardoned a female rape victim who had been sentenced to 200 lashes for being alone with a man at the time of the attack who was not related to her, a Saudi newspaper reported Monday.The case had sparked international outcry. In a rare criticism of its Mideast ally, the White House had expressed its ”astonishment” over the woman’s sentence. Canada called it barbaric.Saudi Justice Minister Abdullah bin Muhammed al-Sheik told al-Jazirah newspaper that the pardon does not mean the king doubted the country’s judges, but instead acted in the ”interests of the people.””The king always looks into alleviating the suffering of the citizens when he becomes sure that these verdicts will leave psychological effects on the convicted people, though he is convinced and sure that the verdicts were fair,” al-Jazirah quoted al-Sheik as saying.

The victim in the case, known only as the ”Girl of Qatif” after her hometown in eastern Saudi Arabia, was in a car with a high school friend in 2006 when they were attacked and raped by seven men.

Link and thanks to Mary Sunshine for the heads up!

Profacero alerted me, I think in one of the Delaram Ali comment threads, to the case of the 19-year-old Saudi gang rape victim sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in prison.  Her crime?  Being out after dark in a car without a male family member, more specifically, being out after dark in a car with the man with whom she was having an “extramarital affair.”  Seven men came upon the couple and raped the woman.

When the case was  heard the woman was sentenced to 90 lashes for being alone with her boyfriend, and the rapists were sentenced to five years in prison.  Last week her sentence was increased to 200 lashes and six months in jail and the rapists were resentenced to from two to nine years.

Responding to media outrage and international criticism, the Saudi “Justice” (read:  justice for just us men) Ministry said:

“The woman in the case is married and has confessed to establishing a relationship in violation of sharia law…We reiterate that judicial rulings in this virtuous country … are based on God’s book and the traditions of his Prophet and that no ruling is issued without being based on evidence.”

The “Justice Ministry” also is reported to have said “resorting to the media” could have “a negative effect on the other parties in the case.” 

The woman’s attorney has appealed but has also been hauled before a disciplinary panel. 

Increasingly media, bloggers included — maybe especially — are being warned not to publicize this kind of outrage, told if we do, we may make things more difficult for women being victimized.  Not long ago I took down all of my posts relating to the case of a woman in a Middle Eastern country similar to Saudi Arabia whose abusive ex-husband had engineered a situation in which, even though she had legal custody of their children through the country’s highest court (unheard of prior to her case), she was due to be deported without them, meaning she would never see them again in all likelihood.  I was told reporting the unfolding of events might hurt her, her children and her case. 

What incredible behavior, to threaten the press in this manner, and particularly given the egregiousness of this sentence.  The woman and her attorney have been told if she loses her appeal, she might receive an even harsher sentence.

Dr. Violet Socks has a good post up about this and similar atrocities.

Link and thanks to the Global Sisterhood Network.

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UPDATE on Vancouver’s 69 Missing Women: Murdered by Men, Remembered by Women — Pickton Found Guilty of Second Degree Murder

UPDATE:  A Vancouver B.C. jury returned their verdict today in the trial  of Robert Pickton, finding him guilty of second-degree murder in the deaths of six of the women depicted below:  Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe,Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey.  The verdict carries a life sentence.  Pickton faces a second trial for the murder of the remaining women whose remains were found at his pig farm. Continue reading

Discussions We Will Not Have Here

I sometimes have read whinings that I do not allow dissenting points of view here.  This is very true.  There are certain “dissenting points of view” which will not find their expression on my blog.  They are as follows:

  • Defenses of pornography.  Defend pornography on your own blog or in any one of the multiplicity of venues available for defenses of pornography.  Here?  No.  This is a radical feminist blog.  I oppose pornography with every fiber of my being, as do most of the women here.
  • Defenses of prostitution as a matter of “choice” or as “empowering”.   You may make these defenses on all sorts of blogs and websites and in the mainstream media.  You will never make those defenses here, on my blog, because those defenses cause deep harm to the thousands and millions of children and women who are forced into prostitution and trafficked as sex slaves throughout the world.  Those defenses aid and abet pimps, procurers, johns, sex traffickers, and the pornography industry.  You will never see them approved or entertained here.  Never.  
  • Defenses of sadomasochism as liberating, empowering, or good, whether it occurs in the course of sexual intimacy of any kind, in “scenes”, in “play parties,” between fundamentalist men and their wives, in marriage, out of marriage, in relationships, in friendships, overt, covert, unapologetic, unrecognized, none of it is going to be defended here.  Sadomasochistic relationships are at the heart of the systems, institutions, mechanisms, dynamics, social orders which have created the world as we know it, teetering on the brink of annihilation.    Whether it is the sadomasochism inherent in war, imperialism, colonialism, conquest, fundamentalisms of all kinds, sexism, racism, classism, lesbophobia, transphobia, abuse of children disguised as “discipline,” abuse of animals, abuse of the planet, seas, mountains, skies, earth, or whether it is sadomasochism in intimate relationships between individuals, all of it, because it is about dominance and subordination,  about some groups subjugating others, harms human beings, creatures, and the earth, it participates in the destruction of beneficent life on the earth, and so I oppose it.  It will not be defended here.  Defend it elsewhere.
  • Defenses of males as oppressed (as males) or accusations that feminists are “sexists” or “misandrists”.  Read.  Study.  Learn which sex, far and away, owns the world’s wealth, runs the world’s corporations, heads the world’s governments, religious organizations, judicial systems, academic institutions.  Learn who rapes and who is raped, who batters and who is battered (and for that you might take a look at Stormy’s link from yesterday).  Learn your history.  I will not be welcoming “dissenting opinions” about men as an oppressed class here on this blog.  You may have that discussion all  over the place, not here.
  • Defenses of Big Pharma, patriarchal medicine, “elective” surgeries and treatments, i.e., cosmetic surgeries, boob jobs, face lifts, liposuction, Botox injections,  and the like, “weight loss” surgeries, c-sections,  removals of nondiseased organs and body parts for any reason.  People will do whatever they will do, that’s up to them, I do not stand in judgment on anyone’s personal decisions or what she has done to herself, or he has done to himself, attempting to survive in this world.  But.  These practices will not be defended here.  Big Pharma and patriarchal medicine are gigantic, rich, greedy, exploitive conglomerates which have caused and continue to cause immeasurable harm and destruction to the planet, to human beings, to animals.  That is what we are going to talk about here. 
  • Defenses of medical or other surgical procedures forced on human beings without their consent, whether it is circumcision, female genital mutilation, surgeries performed on infants and young people born intersex or with “ambiguous” genitalia, the “Ashley Treatment”, or most procedures forced on the mentally ill and those considered disabled.  See above re Big Pharm and patriarchal medicine.
  • Defenses of religious fundamentalism of any type, anywhere in the world.

The above “dissenting points of view” will not receive a welcome on my blog.  Almost anywhere you want to go, read, write, on the internet, mainstream media, television, radio, newspapers, wherever, you can find all the information you want to find, all the discussions you may want to have, on everything listed up there.

While we may discuss the defenses commonly offered for the above in the course of  critique or discussion, I am not going to engage in arguments here with  people who are actively defending practices, ideologies, institutions which hurt human beings, animals or the planet. 

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Afghan Warlords and Male Sexual Slavery: Boys Dressed as Girls as Boy Play

The following article, which came via a list I’m on from RAWA, is horrific in that it is a description of the prostituting, sexual slavery, and sexual trafficking of Afghan boys by rich and powerful male warlords.  As is true of most prostituted persons, the boys are vulnerable because they are desperately poor and fresh out of options for survival.  They deserve to be recognized as trafficked persons, victims of rape, they should be freed and their kidnappers, captors and rapists should have to pay for what they have done.  This is what is most important about this story.

There are other elements of the story, though, which are worth considering.

What the warlords and their victims say about themselves offers us interesting insights into the objectification of all women under male heterosupremacy.  The boys compete for the attentions of the warlords decked out as dancing girls, are then purchased as slaves,  dressed as girls, raped and forced into servitude. 

Why don’t these men just buy the boys and rape them as boys?  Whether it is boys or girls who are being enslaved and raped by the warlords, the warlords are violating both civil and religious law in Afghanistan.  Why do they demand that the boys be dressed as girls?  As you read what they say of what they’ve done, it seems pretty clear that the thrill of this crime derives in large part from the acts of subjugation and subordination which characterize it– everything from making “girls” out of boys, raping and otherwise using them in ways that are servile and dehumanizing to parading them around town as status symbols, like Rolex watches or expensive cars.

Are these boys, forced to dress, dance, live as girls, still boys and men?  Or are they girls and women?  Why?  Who decides?  Are they transgender?  Transvestites?  They, themselves, say that they are boys and men, as do the men who own and use them.   What makes these boys “boys” and boys in other cultures who are treated similarly transvestites or transgender or girls or women?  When these boys are viewed as transvestites or transgender or women, how does that change our perceptions of their enslavement, victimization and rape, if it does? 

What do we make of prostituted boys insisting that they are happy and that they are glad for what has happened to them?

They are known as “bacha bereesh,” boys without beards, teenage boys who dress up as girls and dance for male patrons at parties in northern Afghanistan. It’s an age old practice that has led to some of the boy dancers being turned into sex slaves by wealthy and powerful patrons, often former warlords, who dress the boys up as girls, shower them with gifts and keep them as “mistresses.”

Afghan police are battling to crackdown on the practice which has angered Islamic clerics who say those involved should be stoned for sodomy, forbidden under Islamic law. In a society where the sexes are strictly segregated, it is common for men to dance for other men at weddings in Afghanistan. But in northern Afghanistan, former warlords and mujahideen commanders have taken that a step further with competitions for their dancing boys. “Every boy tries to be the first. They are dressed in women’s clothes, have bells on their feet and have artificial breasts,” said Mohammad Yawar, a former mujahideen fighter against the Taliban and resident of the northern town of Pul-e Khumri.

The practice, called “bacha bazi” — literally “boy play” — has a long history in northern Afghanistan, but sometimes it does not stop with just dancing. “I very much enjoy hugging a boy. His smell and fragrance kills me,” said Yawar. The 38-year-old businessman said he recruited a 15-year-old boy three years ago to help him with his work. “I have had him for at least three years, since he was only 15.

He was looking for a job and I gave him somewhere to stay,” said Yawar, showing the boy’s picture. “I don’t have a wife. He is like my wife. I dress him in women’s clothes and have him sleep beside me. I enjoy him and he is my everything,” he said, kissing the photograph.

Having the best-looking boy and the best dancer is a mark of prestige. “Everyone tries to have the best, most handsome and good-looking boy,” said a former mujahideen commander, who declined to be named. “Sometimes we gather and make our boys dance and whoever wins, his boy will be the best boy.”

Former mujahideen commanders hold such parties in and around Pul-e Khumri about once a week. “Having a boy has become a custom for us. Whoever wants to show off, should have a boy,” said Enayatullah, a 42-year-old landowner in Baghlan province. “I was married to a woman 20 years ago, she left me because of my boy,” he said. “I was playing with my boy every night and was away from home, eventually my wife decided to leave me. I am happy with my decision, because I am used to sleeping and entertaining with my young boy.” The men say they lavish money and gifts on their boys.

“I was only 14-years-old when a former Uzbek commander forced me to have sex with him,” said Shir Mohammad in Sar-e Pol province. “Later, I quit my family and became his secretary. I have been with him for 10 years, I am now grown up, but he still loves me and I sleep with him.”

Ahmad Jawad, aged 17, has been with a wealthy landowner for the past two years. “I am used to it. I love my lord. I love to dance and act like a woman and play with my owner,” he said. Owners or “kaatah” meet at bacha baazi parties in large halls where the boys dance late into the night, before being sexually abused. Bacha baazi also serve as marketplaces, with good-looking boys being traded for money.   Asked what he would do when he got older, he said: “Once I grow up, I will be an owner and I will have my own boys.”

But Shir Mohammad, at 24, was already getting too old to be a dancing boy. “I am grown up now and do not have the beauty of former years. So, I proposed to marry my lord’s daughter and he has agreed to it.”

Many local residents have called for a crackdown, but are skeptical it will work as many of the men are powerful and well-armed former commanders. Jahan Shah, who lives in Pul-e Khumri, said government and security officials should take tough action against unIslamic and immoral acts. “If they don’t stop this, it will become a custom and hundreds of other boys will be involved in it,” he said.

Police and security officials in northern Afghanistan say they have been doing their best to arrest the men involved. “It is sad to state that this practice that includes making boys dance, sexual abuse and sometimes even selling boys, has been going on for years,” said General Asadollah Amarkhil, the security chief of Kunduz province. “We have taken steps to stop it to the extent that we are able,” he said.

Amarkhil said poverty, widespread in Afghanistan after nearly three decades of war, forced teenage boys into compliance. “We have taken very strict measures to save the lives of the boys and punish the men,” he said. “We are monitoring to find out where these men and boys gather, then go there and arrest them.”

Those found guilty of abuse would be jailed for at least 15 years, said Baghlan chief prosecutor Hafizullah Khaliqyar. “We have 25 cases of such immoral acts. They are being processed and we are trying our utmost to tackle the problem,” he said.

Islamic scholars recommended harsher punishment. “Those who do this are the devil,” said Mawlawi Mohammad Sadiq Sadiqyar, a scholar and prayer leader in the main northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. “Under Islamic law, those who practice this should be stoned to death.”

But some of the men say they are not interested in women. “We know it is immoral and unIslamic, but how can we quit? We do not like women, we just want boys,” said Chaman Gul, aged 35 of Takhar province.

Heart

Sex Trafficking Conference: Call for Papers

Call for papers:  Sex Trafficking Conference

April 2 – 4, 2008, South Texas College, McAllen, TX

Following the success of our 2007 conference on Human Trafficking, the Women’s Studies committee of South Texas College is organizing our second annual conference on the topic of Human Trafficking, with a focus on the demand for the physical and sexual labor of trafficked persons.

Our keynote and featured speakers are Mimi Chakarova, photojournalist from U.C. Berkeley; Victor Malarek, Canadian TV journalist and author of The Natashas; Robert Jensen, Associate Professor at the University of Texas, Austin and author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity; Melissa Farley, Clinical Psychologist and Director of Prostitution Research and Education; and Norma Hotaling, Executive Director of the SAGE Project and founder of the first “John School.”

We invite researchers, faculty, graduate students, journalists and practitioners to present findings and observations on a wide range of issues related to sex trafficking, focusing on the demand side. Topics may include:

  • The nature of and causes behind the growing demand for services performed by persons who are trafficked
  • The causes and effects of sex and labor trafficking
  • Organized sex tourism
  • Enslaved prostitution
  • Strategies for reducing the global practice of sex and labor trafficking

The conference will include presentations by guest speakers and art exhibits on both sides of the Texas/Mexico border. Proposals for papers, panels and roundtables will be accepted through February 20, 2008, and may be sent via e-mail to Jenny B. Clark, Chair of the Women’s Studies Committee, at jclark@southtexascollege.edu or Mark Burton at amburton@southtexascollege.edu. Please include the term “Sex Trafficking Conference” in the subject line.

Pass on to your colleagues as appropriate.

We shall make prompt responses of acceptance.

Thanks to H.A. Chew for forwarding this along.

Heart

Where in the Name of All that is Holy Are the Comfort Women? An Open Letter to Ken Burns on “The War– An Intimate History”

‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is the starvation prostitution forced upon tens of thousands of European and Japanese girls (some barely into their teens) by the ridiculous conflicts men create to display their phallic brutality. It is also the brothel attached to a military base in Arizona stocked with ‘worn-out whores’ and reserved exclusively for black solders, so that the white GI’s would not have to ‘contaminate’ their penises by raping the same prostitutes. Thousands of black GI’s passed through this brothel daily, and who knows what insane, pathetic creatures they left dead of rape and misery.‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is not your blind, masculine-centric vision of it, full of all these lies about valor and sacrifice and courage and nobility. There is little that is noble about the raping, war-making brute we call a soldier. — Dr. Suki Falconberg

The powerful video above begins, “I was not a human being.”

I’ve been following Ken Burns’ PBS special on World War II, The War:  An Intimate History. *  There is much I have to say about this series.  At the moment, though, I just want to publish the following letter.   I’ve been continually thinking as I watched that if at least one of the nine segments did not pertain to the the Comfort Women, so-called, which I have blogged about here, here, and here, I would never forgive Burns and would certainly never take his work seriously again.

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Which means I am never going to forgive Ken Burns or take his work seriously again.  Because I am not seeing any photos like the photo above, of enslaved young girls, surrounded by their smiling captors.

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Where are scenes like this one, above, depicting women who had been tricked into thinking they had obtained jobs in a garment factory.  They were assembled and photographed as though they were new”employees,” then were kidnapped and loaded into wagons, like so much livestock and taken to “Comfort Stations” where they were enslaved, prostituted, and raped by soldiers, including American GIs. 

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Why doesn’t Burns include interviews with, and footage of,  women who had become pregnant via these rapes, like these “Comfort Women,” again guarded by a smiling soldier?  These photos of degraded, brutalized women together with their smiling captors are macabre.

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Where are the interviews with former Comfort Women who are activists, who, like the women in the bottom photo,  have been demonstrating before the Japanese Embassy every Wednesday for the past 13 years, demanding justice?  Why were they not consulted for this “documentary”? 

Why does Burns participate in the erasure of their lives and the crimes against humanity that they suffered?

The language and cadence of the title of Burns’ “documentary” bear a striking resemblance to the title of Natalie Angier’s groundbreaking feminist book, Woman:  An Intimate Geography suggesting Burns has some familiarity with the book, which makes the omission of the enslaving of the “Comfort Women” dark, scary, inexcusable, misogynist.

“A Letter to Ken Burns about The War: An Intimate History”

By Dr. Suki Falconberg

9/28/07

‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is the Yokosuka rape queues in August 1945, with GI’s lined up for blocks, two abreast, to get at the Japanese girls enslaved in ‘comfort stations’ for them—with the full cooperation of the American and Japanese authorities. Destitute, vulnerable girls were raped into unconsciousness as the men joked and laughed and jostled in line, waiting their turn. Some girls bled to death. Some committed suicide—that is, the lucky ones who could escape. Not one ‘comfort girl’ has told her story—due to shame. Why did you not tell this particular ‘intimate history’ of ‘The War,’ Mr. Burns? Especially since ‘usage’ of the girls was almost 100%. Why has the small detail that almost every GI in Japan, 1945, was a rapist escaped you? Why his this big ‘dirty secret’ of war never been covered?

‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is the men who lined up to use the prostitutes on Hotel Street in Honolulu: women were raped 100 times a day—a different man entered the girl every three minutes. Why should I mourn these rapists when they were killed in the attack at Pearl Harbor? They slaughtered the bodies of these women in a fashion far more brutal than any bombing could ever be.

‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is the widespread rape of French girls by GI’s after they ‘liberated’ Paris. Rape by American soldiers was so common that Eisenhower actually had to acknowledge it was happening, although he did nothing to stop it.

‘The War’ is the public parks in Palermo, where pimps considerately laid out mattresses so the GI’s could fuck starving Italian girls comfortably, for a dollar or two a turn.

‘The War’ is homeless, prostituted girls in Berlin doing it in the rubble for a few cents and agreeing to ‘share’ a GI bed so they would simply have a place to sleep that night. This, after they had already had the insides raped out of them by the invading Russian army and then were labeled ‘whores’ since it was a convenient way for the authorities to deal with these ‘ruined’ women.

The War’ is the village in Okinawa where GI’s raped every woman, girl, and child—the victims were too sick and starving to even try to run from their attackers.

‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is the starvation prostitution forced upon tens of thousands of European and Japanese girls (some barely into their teens) by the ridiculous conflicts men create to display their phallic brutality. It is also the brothel attached to a military base in Arizona stocked with ‘worn-out whores’ and reserved exclusively for black solders, so that the white GI’s would not have to ‘contaminate’ their penises by raping the same prostitutes. Thousands of black GI’s passed through this brothel daily, and who knows what insane, pathetic creatures they left dead of rape and misery.

‘The War,’ Mr. Burns, is not your blind, masculine-centric vision of it, full of all these lies about valor and sacrifice and courage and nobility. There is little that is noble about the raping, war-making brute we call a soldier.

I was raped and prostituted by the U.S. Military. Why don’t you tell my story, Mr. Burns? It is far more ‘colorful’ than that of these soldiers who raped their way through Europe and Asia Don’t you want to know what it’s like to be mounted by a line of soldiers? It is a hell beyond any possible imagining. It has happened to me.

My PTSD, as it is so fashionably called, is far more intense than that of the men who raped the life and dignity and beauty out of me. The emotional damage to the soldier does not compare to the suffering he inflicts on the women he ravages.

War is never good for women. War sexually enslaves women. Men gain by war. They have the pleasure of rape: they mount starving women, ‘cheap whores,’ and take their pleasure, and the woman is silenced forever by her shame.

What a male abomination is not just your grandiose seven-part, tidy version of ‘The War,’ but PBS as well. You pretend to be enlightened but you are as blind and callous and cruel as the soldier rapists who destroyed the lives and bodies of so many women.

I looked at your so-called ‘companion volume’ to the series. The index carries not one reference to rape, prostitution, military brothels, or the sexual suffering of millions of woman. How can you overlook, ignore, dismiss a ‘fact’ so enormous? As if these women simply never existed.

What a betrayal of our raped bodies is your grand, masculine-centric version of ‘The War.’ Even your title indicates that you own this territory, this war, your war. It is, indeed, your war—since all wars are the product of your male phallic cruelty.

War never ‘liberates’ women. War sexually destroys us. It has never been otherwise. Briseis had no say in her fate as a ‘captive’ woman. No one asked her what she thought of the arrangement. No one has asked the Filipina women trafficked onto the fifty U.S. bases in Iraq what they think of their lot as the GI’s line up for their five-minute shot inside them.

Men make war because they love war. Don’t ask me to feel sorry for the way they ‘suffer.’

Dr. Suki Falconberg, Rape/Prostitution Survivor

Link and thanks to Sam at Genderberg for finding the link to Falconberg’s open letter.

 Japan Comfort Women and the Denial of Justice

Friends of the Lolas

Janelle Park Lee

Heart

I’d Rather Be “Negative”: Allecto Does It Again

I want to know how ‘multiple subject positions’ and ‘transgressing gender’ will stop men from raping babies. I want to know how ‘gender fucking’ and ‘transgressive performativity’ will stop men from bashing and slaughtering women. I want to know how the ‘lesbian phallus’ and ‘drag’ will stop the sexualisation of women, will stop women from starving themselves, will stop girls from cutting themselves, will stop men buying women for sex, will stop men from raping us, will stop men from viewing us as sex, will stop men from viewing us as whores. I want to know how post-modernism will stop men. Right now.

I want to wake up tomorrow knowing that there are absolutely no women being bashed in any given second in the whole world. I want to wake up tomorrow knowing that every single sex-trafficked woman currently enslaved by men, to men, for men, has been released. I want to wake up knowing that every man in the world would be absolutely horrified and repulsed by the idea of doing anything to a woman that she did not wholly desire. I want to wake up knowing that no man or woman would do anything harmful (this includes fisting, BDSM, subordination, domination etc.) to any other man or woman and call it love. I want to wake up knowing that every single one of our political prisoners have been freed, the lesbian seven, Aung Sun Suu Kyi. I want to wake up in a world where men don’t kill us or each other, where women are free to define what words like love, peace and freedom actually mean because we are the ones that have the power to make them happen.

If this makes me negative then so be it. I’d rather be negative than sick enough to call fisting a legitimate act of love. I’d rather be negative than sick enough to defend men’s right to use economic means to force women into sexual slavery. I’d rather be negative.

Post-modernism is neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is post-modernism. Neo-liberalism/post-modernism is a male conspired disease that has robbed me of so many of my sisters. I grieve for them. I yearn for them.

Read the whole thing

Heart

Pornography as Violence, Pornography as Rape Culture: Anti-Pornography Commentary Only

Blonde whore forced to suck c*** then f***ed!!
View Movie!!
http://***********

This is the first of a series of posts I plan to do illustrating the intentions of, and reasons for, pornography.  I get thousands and thousands of spam comments day in, day out, almost all of them advertisements for porn.  Right now there are something like 4,000-plus  “comments” — links to pornography, primarily  – in my spam queue.   Most of it is as vile as can be imagined.

I’m tired of talking to pro-pornography, pro-prostitution people, male or female, about pornography.   I think I’m done with doing that.  Discussions with those who are vested in this stuff — who make a living by way of it, who use it all the time, who sell it, who perform in it — remind me of discussions I used to have in my old world with religious fundamentalists who could not be separated from their ideological fixations, obsessions and dogmas by love, money, cogent debate, force, or any combination of the above.  They stood ready to defend their beliefs — and that’s about it.  They were pretty much incapable of even considering the possibility that they might have missed something, might not be seeing something, let alone that they might be wrong.  I always find it perplexing, the way the pro-porn side invokes the spectre of fundamentalism in its arguments or diatribes or propaganda.  My experience is, if there are fundamentalists in this debate, they are on the pro-porn side.

The 11 words at the top of the page tell us what pornography is about.  It is about men forcing their bodies inside of and onto the bodies of women.  It is about men forcing women to do things they do not want to do.   Especially, the words communicate the interest men have in watching women being raped.   We all know a woman is depicted in the film those 11 words advertise, but she is a dehumanized woman.  She has no name;  she is a generic “blonde,” a generic “whore.”  The understanding and agreement between the maker and advertiser and the consumer of pornography is that nobody cares about the names, identities or lives of “blondes” or “whores” or any other woman being raped by men in pornography and nobody wants to know any of that.  The agreement is that the porn consumer should be free to order up a constellation of body parts and the pornographer should stand ready to provide them.  The agreement is the pornographer will provide images of rape and violence which humiliate and degrade already-dehumanized women whose names we do not know.  The agreement, especially, is that this will be sexually titillating and exciting to the consumer.  This is what real men want to see:  “blondes” and “whores” being raped.  Available for cash, at the click of a link.

Comments, as always will be moderated.  Men and women may comment, so long as they are anti-pornography.  At some point, as anti-pornography activists, we are going to have to work to provide some sort of public counterbalance to the weight of the pornographic garbage passing for “discussion” and “debate” which we, and millions of others, find suffocating and deadly.

Heart

Megan Williams

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This young woman, 20, who stands 5 feet tall and weighs less than 100 pounds, was tortured for a week’s time by all of these people:

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Based on what I have read, Megan had had some sort of relationship with Bobby Brewster, 24, one of the men above.  He was bad, bad news.  In the 90s, his mother, bottom row, left, had killed the mother of her boyfriend, with whom she was living.  She went to jail for five years.  While she was in jail, Bobby Brewster, her son,  killed his mother’s boyfriend.  When his mother got out, Bobby Brewster was arrested for threatening her with a machete.   Later, he would also threaten and assault Megan Williams. Finally, he would torture her, together with five other family members, for a week.

About a month ago a neighbor said Megan Williams had run to her house, scared, to say she’d been threatened by one of the Brewsters.  The neighbor encouraged Williams to go to the police.  She did, and domestic violence and assault charges were filed.

My guess is that Megan was tricked into returning to the house, so that the family could make her pay, in the most atrocious manner imaginable, for having dared to go to the police.

La Doctorita says it all here and here.  (Warning, may trigger.) 

Also, link.

Heart

Update on Terrorist Jack McClellan, the Man Who Stalks and Preys on Little Girls

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McClellan

A while back I blogged about Jack McLellan, the guy who published photos of little girls on a website he created for the purpose of discussing his sexual obsessions with them. He also used this website to keep other predators up to speed as to events and venues where little girls could be ogled, objectified and similarly photographed (without their or their caregivers’ permission).  McLellan is in his 40s, has lived with his parents most of his life, and does not work.  He receives Social Security because, says he, he is disabled by “depression, anxiety disorders, and paranoia.”  He says he has never “broken the law” or sexually assaulted a little girl.  However, since he regularly writes about the ways he finds to touch little girls, there is no reason to believe him.  Touching a girl or a woman without permission is sexual assault.  

When parents and others became concerned and angry and his Washington website was closed down, he moved to Southern California where he started up his website afresh.  Parents again were outraged, he was served with restraining orders requiring him to stay away from little girls, he violated the restraining orders and was arrested twice, and his site was again closed down.   Now he’s moved to Portland.   Since he’s never been charged with a crime so far, he is free to move anywhere, live anywhere, and presumably, to continue to start new websites, take and post photos of little girls, and share information with other sexual predators until the level of public outrage results in his sites being closed down again.

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McClellan

I came across an article about McLellan in the Seattle Weekly last week.  It was written by Judy McGuire, who usually writes a sex and relationship advice column, “Date Girl.”  McGuire wrote about having received many letters from McLellan several years ago, before he outed himself as a man who sexually preys on little girls.  At the time McLellan was writing to McGuire, his “habit” was not stalking and preying on little girls but on prostituted women.  McGuire writes about one letter which particularly disturbed her:

His letters were super-creepy, and the intense, psychotic loathing he professed for the sex workers he regularly hired was so palpable, I wondered if he was a serial killer. But this particular letter was different. This time he told me he’d given up on banging pros and, instead, found himself increasingly drawn to little girls.

He wrote, “I don’t watch much adult TV anymore because I’m checking out the girls on Nick, Disney, etc. I don’t consider myself a pedophile and believe that forcing my man-size penis into a girl-size vagina is an abusive and violent act. However, I see nothing wrong with loving, nurturing touch, like cuddling, kissing, massages, and stroking hair.”

…In his letter to me, it seemed like he wanted help. He wrote, “The problem is that I’m afraid it might eventually progress beyond that—into Jacko-style sleepovers, showers, full-nude body contact, cunnilingus, etc. I’m aware of how harsh the laws are regarding adults fooling around with girls this young, but the power of the attraction is difficult for me to resist.”

McGuire consulted with Weekly editors and published McClellan’s letter, resulting in calls from police officers and others.  She describes having been deeply disturbed but wondering whether mostly, McClellan just wanted media attention.  She mentioned that McClellan had had another letter to the editor published in the Weekly. I looked it up.  It is in the May 19, 2004 issue and reads as follows:

I was appalled to see Knute Berger condemning the abuse at Abu Ghraib and ex–Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt having consensual sex with a teenage girl under the banner “Evil Gone Wild” [Mossback, May 12]. Does he really think the two events are remotely comparable? Berger says: “Goldschmidt . . . admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl back in 1975. Only he didn’t call it that.” Well, neither does Canada—where the age of consent is 14. Is Canada “evil” in Berger’s estimation? Anyone who is old enough to reproduce is old enough to accept some responsibility for whom they have sex with.

Jack McClellan
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The girls McCLellan stalks — who are 7, 8, 9 – would occasionally be “old enough to reproduce.”  Here is a guy who defends, in writing, having sex with girls to whom he is sexually attracted, so long as he figures they can “reproduce.” 

It is deeply disturbing that articles about this clearly dangerous man invariably focus on the fact that he hasn’t been charged with crimes, that he isn’t doing anything illegal, or speculate that he is just doing it for the “attention.”  He’s moving all over the country, creating, and re-creating his little-girl-stalking websites because he “wants attention”?  He documents and publishes lists of where to find little girls to photograph, touch and exploit, over years, because he “wants attention”?  He violates restraining orders and goes to jail because he “wants attention”? 

As to his activities being “legal,” I think his prostituting of women should have been illegal.  He is said to have loathed them, who knows how many of them he hurt, beat, raped? I think his sponging off of his parents through age 40-something while creating websites about the girls he stalked should have been illegal.  

And in particular, I think his using his Social Security income — funds he receives every month courtesy of all of us who are taxpayers — to prostitute women and to create these websites which stalk little girls, for the sake of aall that is holy, ought to be illegal!

Why doesn’t anybody say this?  Why doesn’t anybody think about it?  Bigots  and misanthropes of all stripes gleefully document, for example, the candy they once saw in the shopping cart of the single mom on food stamps.  They grouse stupidly on about the use of “taxpayer dollars” to treat and support people who abuse alcohol and substances, or, for that matter, single mothers trying to care for their children, and yet here is this guy living on the public dole, using it to prostitute, stalk and assault women and girls and all anybody seems to have to say about it is, “He hasn’t done anything illegal.”

It’s because of men like Jack McClellan that little girls like Zina Linnek, Jessica LunsfordShasta Groene, the Tamas sisters, and countless, countless other girls and women have suffered.  As women we know that McClellan’s behaviors  are not illegal because in our culture, hurting women and girls, stalking them, exploiting and objectifying them, prostituting them, touching them against their will — for the most part, these are not illegal. 

I am a peace-loving person, wholly committed to nonviolence.  I oppose capital punishment and have since I was old enough to understand what it was.  I think the  racism, classism and injustices in the criminal justice and prison system in this country are atrocious and inexcusable.  I believe in, and advocate for, transformative justice.   Having said all of that, it is mind-boggling to me that what this guy does is “legal” and that he may freely do what he does on my dime.  If I’m going to support him, I vote to throw his sorry ass in jail for the duration, without access to computers, telephones, or any photographs or visual representations of girls and women.  I think I, and all women, since we are footing the bill for his sorry existence, ought to be the people to determine what happens to a guy like Jack McClellan.

Heart

“We Will Not Slumber Until Every Woman Wakes”: The Fifth Carnival of Radical Feminists

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Image from our sisters at Friends of the Lolas

The world breaks open. Underneath the layers, transcending the past, making the present.

I have seen it written. In the hour of our forced surrender. The world will diminish as the time draws near.

Aching with the lost and ancient tidings, her beginning has come. Rekindling our magic. Lusty, wild and untamed. Recalling to us a time when freedom was a word that had meaning.

Do we have her power? This one that calls to us. Cries out long forgotten secrets. Screams our true names. Falling silent as the moon wanes. She is the one that tells us of the future.

She comes in before the dawn, when our power awakens from the stealthy sleep of those who can ill afford dreams. When half of our world is drowning beneath the man-made weather, whether, weather. When half our world is starving. Sacred ground as dry as dust.

Speak to me of your power. Speak to me in riddles, in a woman’s tongue. This day is coming into being and I need no translation. I can feel you breathing, sisters. The calm static before this long-awaited storm.

Our storm.

We have been without our rain and thunder for far too long…

I smell the tumult of our revolution, rising from the east…

Come to me then, in fury and in rage and with warmth. I will not let the cold decay of this bleaching rancour. I will not let this mindless, bloody, relentless torment hold me any longer. I am breaching the walls of this prison. My love, my heart, myself within my sisters. My sisters in me.

Even death cannot strip us of our elemental power. We sisters do not fear the earth.

Listen to the seasons. Listen to the earth beneath your feet. Breathe with the beauty of her. Sing it out. Sing our tempest into being. And as the storm of us gathers on the horizon, know this. We will not slumber until every woman wakes.

Let the rains come in with the tide. Beat out a rhythm in women’s time. And let us soar.

Allecto, whose beautiful writings I’ve published here before on Women’s Space, wrote the poem above to and for me. It meant so much to me, inspired, comforted and encouraged me. Thank you, Allecto! I offer it to you as the perfect beginning for:

The Fifth Carnival of Radical Feminists!

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Women Deserve Better

Holly Ord has posted a rousing, passionate call to action entitled What We Deserve which may help us to begin to move beyond feelings of hopelessness or disgust, the consequences of our ongoing engagement with those vested in our subordination.

Women do deserve better, and what is better is within our reach. It’s to be expected that to the degree we threaten the “rule of the fathers,” to that degree threats, intimidation, and attempts to silence us will increase. It’s also to be expected that to the degree that we threaten the rule of the fathers, hope remains that we will in the end be able to save our own lives and all life on the planet.

Sexualized Violence as Silencing

In all of the sturm and drang over recent internet attacks on me, on Biting Beaver, on Laurelin, and on other radical feminist bloggers, Marcella Chester — way back on August 6 when the attacks were just beginning — wrote as intelligent and prophetic an analysis of the dynamics of ongoing attacks on radical feminist women online and in real life as I have seen so far. We aren’t “exclusive.” We do not “discriminate” against anyone. We are under attack and we have been under attack for a long, long time.

When people are being attacked from all sides … outsiders who declare “I come in peace, let me in” aren’t likely to be trusted or allowed in. This isn’t about discriminating against those outsiders, it’s about the natural consequences of non-stop attacks. When the attacks cease then inclusiveness will become a possibility. This is why those doing the attacking will try to repackage themselves as the group under assault — often while deriding others for playing the victim… The position that some people hold that they are only responsible for their own words online and therefore can blithely say and do nothing as those around them attack others, including on the blogs or forums they run, is a pro-attack position.

I guess the bottom line is this: Do you have a zero-tolerance policy against all forms of sexualized violence including the making of direct or backhanded threats of violence?

If you answer with something that begins with, “No, but …” then “No” is your final answer.

“Our Silence Is Our Dissent”

In a post entitled Dominator Tentacles posted at VeraCity, Vera notes that those involved in the recent attacks don’t target the sources of cultural and societal domination which affect and oppress all of us who are marginalized, oppressed or poor — big business, big government, Wal-Mart, the Pentagon. In fact, they are in league with these powers, with The Man; they do his bidding and dirty work, willingly and free of charge. In this, they are as conservative, or right-wing, or liberal, or left-wing — but above all as sexist — as the powers are.

As a result of the recent attack, there are fewer radical voices on the web. A few radical feminists have taken down their blogs; some will not be reopened. Others have made their Flickr photostreams private. At least one blog and one forum are now private; a muting of voices if not an outright silencing. Going private, having to hide: the parts of the radfem community that are still intact are no longer fully open, and no longer fully a part of the human conversation on the web. …

I don’t like it that radical voices, however unpopular, are being expelled from the human conversation by online thugs. I like it even less that it’s happening with hardly any notice, and without comment by more mainstream writers.

Vera’s statement above reminds me of something Andrea Dworkin wrote in an essay entitled “Against the Male Flood: Censorship, Pornography and Equality,” in Letters from a War Zone” (and this is especially for you, BB):

…writers are … people who by writing do something socially real and significant…writing is never peripheral or beside the point. It is serious and easily seditious. …Censorship is deeply misunderstood in the United States because the fairly spoiled, privileged, frivolous people who are the literate citizens of this country think that censorship is some foggy effort to suppress ideas…not something in itself– an act of police power with discernible consequences to hunted people…

Subordination can be so deep that those who are hurt by it are utterly silent. Subordination can create a silence quieter than death. …The Three Marias of Portugal went to jail for writing this: “Let no one tell me that silence gives consent, because whoever is silent dissents.”…The silence [of the women] is a silence over centuries: an exile into speechlessness. One is shut up by…abuse. One is shut up by the threat and the injury. …If what we want to say is not hurt me, we have the real social power only to use silence as eloquent dissent. Silence is what women have instead of speech. Silence is our dissent during rape … Silence is our moving, persuasive dissent during battery…Silence is a fine dissent during incest and for all the long years after.

Silence is not speech. We have silence, not speech. We fight rape, battery, incest, and prostitution with it.. But someday someone will notice: that people called women were buried in a long silence that meant dissent.

Women’s Art as Resistance

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The Blogger’s Dilemma, by Rosa Sparx at Insultadarity

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Postcards by Margaret of Margaret’s Wanderings

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Close up of part of a quilt The Quilter created for a quilt exhibition she participates in to raise money for domestic violence victims.

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Tears(top) and Bedouin(bottom) by Palestinian artist Salwa Arnous whose work, displayed in an art gallery in Texas, was recently condemned in the San Antonio Times as “anti-semitic.” She invites us to see for ourselves by watching the video below (allow a couple minutes for the video to load– it is well worth the wait).

Visions of Palestine by Salwa Arnous

Radical feminist poet and blogger Lynn Sweeting writes:

Shelter the young Saffron,
And save the garden,

Shelter the battered woman
And save the world.

For the young tree,
A circle of stones,

For the young woman,
A tribe of sisters

Read Womanish Words

Staceyann Chin

Staceyann Chin is the second to perform in the above video. She is one revolutionary woman; I have watched her perform the past two years on night stage at Michfest. This year she inspired all of us to new heights on opening night; she just gets better. It was an amazing thing to look across a sea of women’s raised fists as we all, across the boundaries of race, ethnicity, age, physical ability, heard our own stories, our own realities, in Chin’s words.

Iraqi Women

In Call for Action: Dua Khalil, Whedon, Nothing but Red, writing evolution discusses an upcoming anthology inspired by the recent stoning of Du’a Khalil and Joss Whedon’s blogging of his reaction to her death. (Whedon is the creator of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” series.) The anthology seeks to promote awareness regarding women’s issues, and particularly violence against women. The stoning of Khalil has inspired regular readers of Whedonesque to create their own memorial and feminist blogs, one of which is entitled I am Dua Khalil.

The Crisis Facing Iraqi Women — Honor Killings, Suicides and Misogynist Passport Rules is the title of a post at Feminist Peace Network which says:

The Taipei Times reports on the mind-boggling number of honor killings and suicides in Kurdish Iraq. According to one of their sources, Aso Kamal, there have been 12,500 women murdered for reasons of honor or who have committed suicide in three Kurdish provinces since 1991. There were 350 such deaths so far this year.
The Women’s Union of Kurdistan in Sulaimaniyah has recorded 83 cases of women burning themselves in the first six months of last year and 95 in the first half of this year.

Feminist Peace Network blogs tirelessly about the effect of the war in Iraq on women. In recent posts she describes the huge rise in maternal and infant mortality deaths and in the large numbers of girls and women being driven into prostitution as a result of the war and the deaths of so many of the women’s husbands and sons. In this post she blogs about the stoning of 11-year-old Sarah Jaffar Nimat, a fifth grader, and reports that 40 women and girls have been stoned since the stoning of Du’a Khalil. In this post Feminist Peace Network describes an e-mail exchange with Yanar Mohammed about the disappearances of Iraqi women and laments:

Yanar closed her email with this line–”Thank you for still standing with us.” I wish I felt that we were doing that in some sort of adequate way. Every day our media is filled with reports of soldiers being killed, insurgents, terrorists doing this that or the other act of violence. Our politicians blather on about whether to continue the war while they keep on funding it and make pious assertions that the Iraqis have to take responsibility for fixing the mess we made and the truth is that we totally ignore the plight of these women who are experiencing what women always experience in the aftermath of war.

Afghan Women

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Afghan women in camp of displaced people, July 2007, posted at Frida’ Notebook

Frida of Frida’s Notebook is an attorney documenting civil rights abuses and trauma in Afghanistan. In Tell your story she describes her struggle to find ways to honor the women she interviews as they tell her their stories:

Where is the time to simply listen? To listen to the story as the teller wishes to tell it. To let it be, perhaps, for today, explaining that I would like to document this story as a human rights case but that in order to do that I will need to ask more detailed questions. To ask if I could return to do that another day, once the storyteller has had time to think about what he or she wants to get out of telling the story to me. Where is the time to do that?

Some people might tell me to concentrate on my work as a lawyer and human rights monitor and not to stray to far from what I know into the complex territory of psychological responses to trauma. But I can’t see that boundary very clearly. More accurately perhaps, I see the boundary but the reality of work doesn’t not respect it. Stories are not always about facts and events, they are often about feelings and responses to those events. The remedies people seek are not always about justice, they are also about the acknowledged need for reconciliation in order to build a peaceful tomorrow. In Afghanistan our human rights work is always going to cross into the territoriy of ‘transitional justice’ and all the questions that come with that.

Poverty and Other Obscenities of American Capitalism

Barbara Ehrenreich has a fantastic post up, Smashing Capitalism, about the effects of Bush’s and the Republicans’ economic policies on poor and working class people, casting the impending record-high numbers of home foreclosures and accompanying economic difficulties as poor people’s “plot” to smash capitalism:

First they stopped paying their mortgages, a move in which they were joined by many financially stretched middle class folks, though the poor definitely led the way. All right, these were trick mortgages, many of them designed to be unaffordable within two years of signing the contract. There were “NINJA” loans, for example, awarded to people with “no income, no job or assets.” Conservative columnist Niall Fergusen laments the low levels of “economic literacy” that allowed people to be exploited by sub-prime loans. Why didn’t these low-income folks get lawyers to go over the fine print? And don’t they have personal financial advisors anyway?

Then, in a diabolically clever move, the poor – a category which now roughly coincides with the working class – stopped shopping. Both Wal-Mart and Home Depot announced disappointing second quarter performances, plunging the market into another Arctic-style meltdown. H. Lee Scott, CEO of the low-wage Wal-Mart empire, admitted with admirable sensitivity, that “it’s no secret that many customers are running out of money at the end of the month. “

When, for example, the largest private employer in America, which is Wal-Mart, starts experiencing a shortage of customers, it needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror. About a century ago, Henry Ford realized that his company would only prosper if his own workers earned enough to buy Fords. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, never seemed to figure out that its cruelly low wages would eventually curtail its own growth, even at the company’s famously discounted prices.

The sad truth is that people earning Wal-Mart-level wages tend to favor the fashions available at the Salvation Army. Nor do they have much use for Wal-Mart’s other departments, such as Electronics, Lawn and Garden, and Pharmacy.

In this post, Lo at Braless Living LA mocks — in satisfying fashion! — rich, white anti-war activists who think they are “conscious” with a heart felt letter from a downtown Los Angeles war activist (to a soldier in Iraq):

Thank you for being willing to die, so that I may continue to drive my car. I live in downtown LA. I recycle. I have a Porsche, but I only drive it on the weekends (it was a gift from my parents). I usually drive my Prius. I don’t own conflict diamonds. I am a good person. I hate Bush. I hate him so very, very much. I have a picture of him on a dart board. When I invite my friends over to have a pretend drive-in movie theatre on our roof top (most recently we had a screening of Inconvenient Truth, it was so educational) we play a drinking game before the movie and throw darts at Bush. I hope that doesn’t offend you, but you’re dying for nothing. I don’t even like driving. Traffic is so bad out here. The 405 was murder this afternoon.

In Vacationing While Poor posted at AROOO, Kitty Glendower writes about what passes for “vacations” for poor people:

All the poor people that I have every known, including my own family when I was young, do not routinely take vacations. Vacations are expensive even on the cheap. Most of the time poor people take vacations when it correlates with another task that involves something to do with their poor circumstances. For example, if someone has an extra clunker (or can no longer afford to maintain that clunker) and a family member needs it to survive, the errand becomes the vacation for the one driving the car to that person. Bus, train and plane tickets are expensive even when planned in advanced; however, most impromptu type vacations are not typically efficiently planned. In addition, having efficient means is a privilege in itself, having some money to save after the necessities are covered and having available credit for emergencies, etc.

Manufacturing Crime

In How We Create Our Own Crimes, The Agonist talks about why the US economy needs, and hence creates, both “crimes” and “criminals.”

“Large numbers of US local economies are predicated on a prison industry that pays rural whites to incarcerate urban blacks. But the bottom line is, the US makes policy choices that set the crime and incarceration rates — and makes them higher than any other industrialized country in the world.”

Woman Centered Birthing and Women’s Reproductive Rights

La Doctorita at unconventional beauty writes about the newly-released statistics about the alarming rise in US maternal mortality because of unnecessary c-sections in death from childbirth: it’s not just for “little house on the prairie” anymore.

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Midwife: Sage Femme, Hebamme, Comadrona, Partera reviews Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care, a book about women’s loss of agency and autonomy in hospital births, the large number of unnecessary c-sections performed which is causing rising maternal and infant mortality in the U.S. , and about the importance of women advocating for themselves and insisting that their birthing plans be respected. Some midwives accompany birthing moms during hospital births and act as doulas or advocates while doctors attend the births. Sage Femme disagrees with this practice, not only because of the double binds inherent in working both for patriarchal medical establishments and birthing mothers, but also because of the value she places on women advocating for themselves:

“a reader was surprised (negatively, is how I read it), that I just couldn’t do hospital births any longer as a doula. she says that this is [when] women need support the most. well, when you stand by and watch abuse happen, it feels like you are condoning it. again, it goes back to the idea that somehow a doula can protect a woman or prevent all this from happening. we cannot. they cannot. sometimes we can influence a woman’s choices and decisions – but even then we have to be careful not to create a bias, which is really, really hard. I think the more professional doulas weave themselves delicately through an almost impossible web of medicalized birth. for me, I was no good to anyone at a hospital birth if the things done stirred up feelings of disgust, victimization or even plain abuse and rape of women. believe me, it is much better that a doula move away when she feels like this.

…empowerment, like advocacy, MUST come from within. we cannot empower anyone. usually when women advocate for themselves and use their own voice, they are empowered. sometimes empowerment for women comes more from what we don’t do rather than what we do.”

Happy Birthday, EC! posted at Menstrual Poetry celebrates the one-year anniversary of the legalizing of over-the-counter emergency contraception in the U.S.

The patriarchists never tire of finding ways to limit women’s reproductive rights, however. Feminist Law Professors writes that a Proposed Ohio Law Would Require Man’s Permission For Abortion. In response, in Support Law To Create Consensual Sex Registry at abyss2hope: A rape survivor’s zigzag journey into the open, Marcella Chester writes a tongue-in-cheek counter proposal.

In Abortion is the New Satanism. Activist Mommy writes about reproductive choices and the women she has known and comforted in their seeking and having of abortions, even though she herself is anti-abortion.

Touchingly Naive writes about honoring mothers as an act of sisterhood and solidarity in a post entitled Blaming Mum:

When I honour mothering in other women, it is not just an act of sisterhood. It is about honouring myself as a mother; and it is about honouring my own mother. It is about celebrating what mothers do. When I recognise and confront the darker, painful aspects of motherhood, it is not just an act of confession or truth-speaking. It is about sisterhood with all mothers, including my own, about acknowledging what it is like, how hard it is, and the sheer bloody strength of mind and will and body that it takes to keep soldiering on. And when someone obliterates the mother, erases her importance or her experience, silences her voice – it is as though it is myself that is obliterated, erased and silenced.

Making Feminist Knowledge

Aletha at Free Soil Party Blog has a great post on Feminist Diplomacy:

I see feminist diplomacy bringing an end to all that, an end to any desire to dominate, from the world to another being, human or otherwise. That is the road to more disaster, the sudden end of ability of this planet to sustain human life, perhaps all life. Men have to listen to reason, talk truce, or stand aside as women negotiate peace plans for wars around the world, end the war on terror, put forth ideas to stop the vicious cycle of retaliation. Men have gotten it wrong, more or less distorted or reversed, on just about everything, what they think they know notwithstanding. Most of that is based not on reality, but male theory, structured hierarchically on every level, which in practice glorifies violence, making it seem normal, casual, the expected way to solve an escalated conflict. Violence is only justifiable in self-defense or to aid self-defense, to stop or capture a violent criminal. Aggressive violence is never the only way or best way to resolve a conflict.

In The Benefit of the Doubt, Nanette at Feministe explores what it really means for marginalized persons to extend the “benefit of the doubt:”

So, I went into the comments of the post and said something to the effect that, while I usually love all your pictures, I do not love this one. It’s racist. And his reaction was to change the picture immediately and then to comment on why he had used it, and what he was trying to accomplish, but that he definitely could make the same point with a different picture. Or something like that, this was a while ago. In making the decision to not just shake my head and move on, or to stay silent and probably seethe or to roll my eyes and think “oh well, par for the course” but deciding instead to bring this to his attention, come what may, and to believe (or at least hope) there would be no blowback from it… I was giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Teetering Slightly has an interesting post up entitled Lesbian Gatekeeping:

… one huge problem I have with current lesbian culture is that constant pressure to dichotomise, to decide whether you identify with “butch” or “femme” and to stick within the look and behaviours prescribed for that label.

Julie Bindel, in a post entitled My Trans Mission, begins an interesting post with the statement, “Sex-change surgery is the modern equivalent of aversion therapy for homosexuals.”

In the new radfem blog Sister Medusa’s Radical Lesbian Underground, Sister Medusa writes about the way words like “transphobe” are used to silence lesbian and radical feminists and the way this silencing prevents dialog and healing.

The recent controversy around Catherine Crouch’s film, The Gendercator, and the banning of Bitch from the Boston Dyke March are two prominent examples of a phenomenon that is taking place all over the country, and not just in August as a small group of people attempt to silence and take away the rights of Females to gather in private in the woods of Michigan. The word “transphobia” does not have any meaning to me because this far, no one who has thrown it out – to me, to Bitch, to MWMF, to Catherine, has been able to articulate what they mean by it, and why and how we, as Lesbians, have any power over transpeople.

Take a look at Witchy-Woo’s post about Radical Feminism and Body Image at Well I’ll Go To The Foot Of My Stairs….:

Radical feminists acknowledge that for women (and men) to be who they truly are patriarchial capitalism has to cease to exist because it is oppressive in the extreme. One of the minor bastions of patriarchal capitalism is ‘feminine’ beauty standards.

Then move on to read There Is Nothing Rebellious Or Countercultural About Being “Pro-Porn” posted at Feminist Law Professors. So true! One question I have never heard answered persuasively or convincingly is this: Just what is alternative, progressive, countercultural, rebellious, and above all non-mainstream, let alone feminist, about being pro-pornography? There are men who identify as allies to feminists whose activism consists almost solely of advocating for the pornography industry. This is feminism precisely how?

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Speaking of being pro-pornography, Packaging Girlhood has an interesting post up about the new Bratz movie (Bratz dolls, targeted for elementary-school-age girls, are pictured above, nod to Gingermiss):

No matter how they clean up the movie girlz to mimic every other perky wanna be a teen girl flick, it’s important for parents to see the sexualization that defines the overall Bratz package.

Gingermiss has a post up about the movie as well entitled Why Bratz Dolls Are Evil Incarnate and the questions she asks are right on:

Why can’t girls be assertive rather than ‘bratty’? Why can’t they have dolls that reflect something of what their lives are actually like? And, if they actually live lives like those of Bratz dolls, why would we encourage anyone to celebrate or idolize that mentality?

In Memorium

Grace Paley and Shekhinah Mountainwater passed on in the past month. Turtleheart Cove offers a loving tribute in Farewell, Shekhinah Mountainwater, and Robin Morgan remembers Grace Paley here.

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Ariadne by Monica Sjoo

I suspect Krishanna’s remembering shekhinah might strike a chord for many who read here, even those who never knew of Shekhinah Mountainwater.

I don’t often discuss or talk about my spiritual leanings on my blogs because for the most part, I think people make too much of it. I don’t care much for people who shove their spiritual or religious bent in my face and so I don’t do it to others. Even in passing. I am past the years where I need to wear my beliefs on my sleeve and past the time in my life where I feel the need to explain, justify or even label what my spirituality is. When I think of God or a Higher Power, I think of something feminine, distinctly womanly. Sometimes it is nature, sometimes it is life, sometimes it is a specific goddess, almost always referred to as the “Goddess”. It is, for me, what it is. And it is not static. It is fluid and evolves as I evolve. However, many years ago, when I was searching for a power greater than myself, I was not so sure. It was then when I found the Goddess. … At this time in my life, I explored women’s spirituality. I identified for years as a witch. I cast spells, maintained several altars in my home and studied all manner of pagan religion, trying each on, I suppose, to see how they fit. It was during this time that I discovered a new book called Ariadne’s Thread written by Shekhinah Mountainwater….I learned about the phases of a woman’s life and it was here that I first read about cronehood. Ariadne’s Thread helped to change my world and shape my spirituality.

Various and Sundry

Elaine Vigneault and Angry for a Reason have definitive posts up about dealing with web harrassment. Here, too.

Treehugger Week in Review posted at The Worsted Witch is great!

I want to end this carnival in an inspiring and uplifting way. I believe we are living in a time of rapid change, standing in the center of a paradigm shift. It is a time of shaking and realignment, and we are feeling the strength and power in the changes.

I leave you with these images which remind us that as women, we are in the process of Re-Membering our Archaic Future, even though we may be aware of this only occasionally and dimly.

In Love and Sisterhood,

Heart

———-

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of radical feminists using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Sydney Morning Herald Reports Attacks on Women’s Space

Misogyny bares its teeth on internet

Anna Greer
August 21, 2007

A woman’s place isn’t in the kitchen these days but some malcontents are trying to make sure that it’s not on the web either. The internet is proving to be a hostile place for women.

Death threats, rape threats, verbal abuse, condescending and unwelcome comments about looks and intelligence are all par for the course for many female web users.

Last year a University of Maryland study found that web users with female pseudonyms are 25 times more likely to be harassed online than users with male or ambiguous pseudonyms. And, according to haltabuse.org, women make up 70 per cent of the victims of cyber harassment and stalking.

The internet is looking more and more like the Wild West than the decentralised utopia for which people might have hoped.

An internet war is being fought against the online feminist community by a hive of crackers and tech geeks who call themselves “Anonymous”.

Feminist forums have been hacked, passwords have been stolen, emails have been commandeered and used for whatever nefarious purpose the cyber miscreants wish. Websites such as Women’s Space and Gentle Spirit have been forced to shut down. One outspoken woman who blogged anonymously even had her photo put up on the net and a hunt was undertaken by members of “Anonymous” for her place of residence.

What many who engage in online “flamewars” – raids and attacks such as these – fail to see is that they’re messing with real people’s lives. The internet allows an incredible disconnect between reality and virtuality. Continue reading

Men, Boys, Sons — Something I Wrote to Someone I Love

This is an edited version of an excerpt of something I wrote to someone close to me about some of the events of the past couple of weeks. I thought there might be some value in posting it here. — Heart

Dear Person I Love,

My philosophy is to allow radical feminist women to comment pretty much as they choose, even when I personally do not agree with what they might have to say.  Radical feminism is grass roots and always has  been.  It is understood ahead of time that one woman never speaks for all, but that each woman’s voice is important.  When I see something I find really objectionable, I sometimes might speak up and voice my objections; that is, again, consistent with radical feminist practice.   Everybody has and expresses her own opinion. 

But the fact that one feminist, or radical feminist, writes something, should never in my view be understood to mean anything more than that that is her view.  And one woman writing something, no matter what it is, never obligates anyone to respond, whether she agrees or disagrees.

One reason I would support a woman’s right to say she wished she had not brought a son into the world if it meant he would grow to oppress women is, it brings certain things into focus, things like gynocide.  Every single day, hundreds, thousands, of female fetuses  are aborted in India and China, specifically, for one reason:  because they are female.  That’s the only reason.  Their mothers and fathers don’t say they wish they’d aborted their girl children, they simply and unapologetically abort their girl children. The end.  What this means is that in 20, 30 years, the populations of India and China will be predominantly male, far more adult men than adult women will be alive, with potentially dire results, because whenever this has happened, historically, wars happen, and lots of people die.

When a woman says, “If I knew I’d raise a son who would use pornography, I’d never have given birth to him,” and people react negatively to that, it gives us an opportunity to talk about the millions of female fetuses aborted every year because they are girls and to ask, “Where is the outrage? Where is the grief?  Who even knows about this?”  It gives us an opportunity to talk about such ongoing acts of femicide as “honor killings” which occur every day in every culture throughout the world in which parents do not only express remorse over having given birth to their daughters, they openly and unapologetically murder their daughters, or sisters, or  mothers, or woman partners.   And again, this is 
considered barely worth discussing.  Yet let a mother say she regrets having born her son and she has crossed that line no woman may cross in which she has assumed, not only full responsibility for her life, her body, her offspring, but in which she claims her power over life and death, a power viewed as the prerogative of men and forbidden to women by men until very recently.

You see, for me, this is in part about discourse. It is about creating public conversations which illuminate and challenge a sexist and misogynist status quo which exists throughout the world and which goes, largely, unchallenged.

I do not propose a man tax because men are incarcerated in larger numbers than women.  I propose a man tax because 95 percent of the violence in the world is committed by men, and yet women must pay, financially and in all sorts of ways, for the consequences of this violence anyway.  Are all men violent?  Heck no!  And thank god for that.  But men are, in fact, far more violent than women are.  Then, what would the man tax be used for?  Many things, among them, to  address the problem of male violence, beginning, for example, with identifying boys in their toddler and elementary years who are at risk for violent behavior, and supporting them, getting help that they need so that they do not turn into violent men, so that they do not enter the revolving door of juvenile detention, foster care, and adult prison. A hundred dollars per year, per man, is not that much money. but it could begin to address the way boys are raised to be violent.

Proceeds of the “man tax” could also be used to reform the prison system, to explore transformative/restorative justice models, to confront and challenge militarism and violence in all forms.  Since by and large it is men who fight and kill in war, men who kill men and women, men who are violent, it makes sense that men bear the burden of the paradigm shift which needs to take place so that violence might come to an end.

I will not mince words here:  I hate pornography.  I believe it is hate speech against women.  And especially pornography as it exists today.  Do I fault little boys or girls who see it and are affected by it?  No, it’s happened to all of us.  Do I fault those who make and traffic in it? Yes I do.  This is deadly, deadly, hateful stuff that destroys the lives of girls, women, boys and men.  Do I understand why a woman might say that if she had known her son would use pornography, she might have thought twice before going through with her pregnancy?  Yes, I do.   Because pornography hurts women, and as women, we are under no obligation to participate in any way in what harms us and other women.  This particular discussion is a discussion we sorely need to have if the world is ever to change.

I have also been devastated, over and over and over in my life, by the violence of men– sexual violence, physical brutality, spiritual, emotional, verbal violence, violence of all kinds which have often made my and other women’s lives a living hell.   I want the world to pay attention to the violence that harms us all– not only little girls, but little boys, not only women, but men.  This is violence we are so accustomed to, so inured to, so used to, that it doesn’t even fly across our radar as violence– the violence of pornography, the violence of female infanticide, of “honor killings,”  the violence and pandemic-ness of domestic violence and rape.  To get the world’s attention, those of us who have been devastated by this violence must have a voice and our voices must be heard, however raw or unforgiving or raging or angry or bitter or not-motherly, not nurturing, fearsome, and yes, powerful and unapologetically so. Women who comment to my boards and blog, all them, have their own stories to tell. All have lived through indescribable horror at the hands of men.   It does not set well, it’s true, for mothers to wish their sons not born.  Mothers, of all people, are expected to be endlessly loving and nurturing, even when it costs us our very lives, everything we have, are or could be.  But this is wrong and it must end.  And in increasing numbers, women have to be brave enough to say this is wrong.  What is expected of mothers is wrong. What is expected of women — that we act in ways which harm us — is wrong.

My experience is that men do  indeed attack strong women.  Men do work very hard to silence women who speak up and don’t back down and won’t back down.  This is my reality, my lived experience, for all of my life.  Does that mean that I think ALL men do whatever it is?  Heck no. Anymore than when I say “white people,” I mean that every last white person does whatever it might be.  If it doesn’t apply to a given white person, or a given man, then it isn’t for that person, or for that man, you know?  To say that men in large numbers are violent against women, rape women, hurt women, use sexist or misogynist pornography. is to speak the truth.  We all know that this is not true of ALL men and we are grateful for that!

There are some good men writers whose work I think you’d find interesting, even if you didn’t agree with it all. Among these men are John Stoltenberg (husband of the late Andrea Dworkin), Robert Jensen (who is an anti-pornography writer, speaker and activist), and Jackson Katz, a writer who produces films and materials for domestic violence shelters and groups and who works with men who batter and abuse.  There are others, but if you read these guys, you will, I think, get a sense of where I am coming from and radical feminists are coming from.  In fact of all feminists, we, as radical feminists, are the most pro-male, because we believe men don’t have to be violent, boys don’t have to be violent, they are not “born” that way, violence is learned and it can be unlearned.  It is men like this whom I’d appoint to head up commissions to study and address problems of violence in young boys, for example.

Sociopaths and psychopaths like Hitler and Mussolini and David Duke, haters in general, believe that certain groups of people are naturally bad, wrong, biologically or genetically predetermined to certain behaviors or to inferiority.  No radical feminist I know believes this about any group, including men.  The most hardcore radical feminists, Mary Daly, Andrea Dworkin, Sonia Johnson, agree that there is nothing genetically or biologically predetermined such that men/boys are certain or destined to behave in ways that are destructive.  That’s the reason for the urgency, you know?  If it doesn’t have to be this way, then why is it?  How can we make the world a better place, given that we know change is ours to make?

Realize that I have been thinking for years about all I have gone through in my life as a woman, and because I am a woman — being nearly beaten to death, being raped, being brutalized by male partners for so many years, being brutalized by patriarchal religion and organizations — and at this point in my life, I can’t do anything but whatever I can to make what I have gone through mean something, to redeem it, to make knowledge out of it, to make theory out of it, in the hopes that it isn’t wasted.  This is part of saving my own life, not only for my sake, but for my children’s and grandchildren’s sakes, and for the sake of all whose lives I have touched and influenced, and especially, for the sake of women, in the hopes that one day the world will be a better place. Bottom line that’s what feminism is about — women, saving our own lives, saving women’s lives.

Love,
Heart

Blogging While Female. Hacking as Sexual Terrorism.

Proxy is like a condom! But in this case it masks your IP so every time you access through a proxy it gives you a BRAND NEW IP address but it also masks the incoming URL so you can’t block it!

These are the words of a sexual terrorist, a rapist.  These guys know that’s what they’re doing.  They call it “raep.”  This threat is in my spam queue with all the others.

My ISP took my site down.  There is too much traffic. 

They are investigating.  

I have six years of my feminist life in my site.  I built it with my own blood, sweat, tears, hours and hours, days, weeks, thousands of hours of building, laboring over the text, the words, the images, the women.  I paid for all of it myself.  I taught myself every step of the way–  taught myself html, taught myself how to design and maintain a website, how to moderate boards.  I found  links to websites which preserved the lives and work of feminist women many have never heard of, even though these women are still living.  I posted those links on my site to preserve our herstory as women.  The banner at the top of my site is from a photo of a quilt my 20 year old daughter created when she was 17 in response to the book Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.  This was my site and I loved it, and I still love it, and I am so, so proud of it.  Many, many other women have loved it, too.  We created community there, bridging cultures, nations, ethnicities, diverse backgrounds, lifestyles, beliefs.  We made relationships with one another, some of which became real life relationships.

I feel so broken-hearted.  I feel devastated.  I feel, and have been, and still am, terrorized.  Nothing will ever be the same for me.

Women, we have to rise up.   We are terrorized in our homes, we are terrorized in the streets, everywhere in our world.  And we are terrorized on the internet.   We have to care about, and save, our own lives.  We’ve got to build something different for our own sake, for the sake of the women we love, for the sake of the great river of women which came before us, women who gave all they could and had to make a better world for us, their daughters, to inhabit.  We have to build for the sake of our baby girls and our granddaughters, and all women, men, children, animals, growing things, all life, for the whole planet.

Help me build.  I’m getting old, and I swear I won’t go down without giving my last breath, whatever I have left, to building a world that is inhabitable for all people, and especially for girls and women.

I’m so sorry.  I tried so hard. 

We’ll be back.  But you know, what has been taken from us can never be restored.  It can’t be made right.  It  is really serious. 

Heart

101 Ways To Combat the Harms of Pornography: Great New Anti-Pornography Activist Blog

I followed an incoming link to a new anti-pornography activist blog that looks great! Included on the side bar are links to anti-pornography conference videos, breaking anti-pornography news stories, links to anti-pornography books, articles, blogs and boards and upcoming anti-pornography events.

Welcome to the radfem neighborhood, Anti-Pornography Activist Blog! I will add you to the blogroll. :)

Heart

“Pink Beach,” “Woman Only” Spaces as Sexist Men’s Latest Money-Making Gimmick, and Getting Underneath to What It All Really Means

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 The sign at “Pink Beach,” which says, among other things, “No Men.”  Isn’t that a weird picture of a man?  He appears to have boobs, for one thing.

I’ve been reading the news reports about the opening of a theoretically woman-only beach in Italy on the Adriatic Sea, and have found the coverage and responses to the news far more interesting than the news itself.

As women, we know how to find “woman-only” beaches for ourselves.   This, in general, is a matter of knowing when to show up (very early in the morning or on weekdays or in the off-season), what to avoid (beaches where men hang out, doh),  who to ask (local women), where to look (recreation guides which cater to women).

But “Pink Beach” isn’t really a beach at all.  It’s a spa, offering manicures, pedicures, healthy food, haircuts, and fitness classes, with children and men prohibited.    It’s sort of like one of those spas seen increasingly in tanning joints, except here the tanning takes place not in a “tanning bed” but on the beach. 

Since when does anyone denominate a women’s spa or beauty salon or tanning place or health resort or club as “woman-only”?  By definition, most of these places are, in general, woman only, sometimes women and gay men only.  Women don’t bring children (or men!) to spas because there is nothing for them to do there, because there are toxic chemicals and sharp instruments around, because there is no one to watch them, they will be bored,  they will aggravate the other women, and because in general, women go to spas to relax in the presence of other women. 

“Pink Beach” is in no way “woman-only.”  In fact, it is less woman-only than the ordinary spas women patronize.   For one thing,  “Pink Beach” is the brainchild and creation of a capitalist,  very sexist, traditional man, who will rake in whatever dough is to be raked in.   Organizations and businesses owned by men cannot actually be said to be “woman-only.”   Beyond that, Pink Beach is, in its operation, specifically not woman-only, because the guy has defended such anti-woman practices as hiring a single male lifeguard on the theory that women aren’t capable of saving the lives of women, because we are too weak, feeble, our boobs are too big and get in the way, or whatever.  He has also hired male hairdressers.

What this really is is a sexist, capitalist male entrepreneur cashing in on the idea of woman-only space as a gimmick to sell a rather ordinary-sounding, though nicely located, spa to women.  It is this that interests me because of the way it, and similar ventures, mark a certain shift.  No sexist man would create or market woman-only spaces unless he saw a lucrative market for such spaces.   We are at a time in history when women are increasingly seeking out these spaces and when increasingly women can pay for them. 

Women’s responses to this announcement are discouraging.  It’s disheartening to watch feminists — especially the kind of feminists who regularly defend femininity — lambasting the guy for offering manicures, pedicures, fitness classes, hairdos and a salad bar.  How does that work anyhow?  When feminists rightly challenge all of the above, and defenses of the above, as sexist and oppressive to women,  we can count on it that a certain number of our feminist sisters will mount the soapbox to vigorously and vehemently defend these practices and to roundly condemn us for even mentioning such a thing, yet when a man promotes and sells the same oppressive practices, the very same women seem to have no problem discerning that he is a sexist.  

Then there are the women who seem to live for the opportunity to utter some version of, “I don’t want woman only spaces!”  One writer’s rejection of the idea was based on her own premise that every woman “constantly” compares herself with other women, making woman-only beaches inherently unsafe and unpleasant.  Leaving aside, for a moment, that this is a woman who is projecting, and that many, many women really don’t compare themselves with other women, how is it that women silently comparing themselves with other women would make a beach less safe or pleasant than women walking amongst men, a certain (large) number of whom have or will rape women, sexually assault and harrass women, incest women, molest women, and most of whom are on the beach for the express purpose of objectifying and evaluating women on a scale of less-to-most fuckable, and who do not generally keep their evaluations at all private.  At Feministing,  one commenter says her husband is yucking it up over the story, har-de-har-har because this is a guy who has created himself a harem.  I can only wonder why it doesn’t occur to this woman that this beach is no more a harem than any beach is a harem to any man who goes to the beach to objectify women, including her own husband, who wouldn’t have leveled the accusation in the first place unless it was the first thing that popped into his own harem-fantasizing mind? 

Then there are the commenters who defend Italian men as so evolved, woman-only venues are irrelevant or unnecessary, then the women arguing about how evolved or not evolved Italian and European men really are, how handsome or not handsome Italian men are,  predictably turning a thread about something theoretically “woman-only” into, again, some more still, a thread which is all about the menz, nothing new there. 

In the mainstream coverage there is all of the wink-wink, nudge-nudging about finding ways to ogle from afar, there are endless photos of traditionally beautiful women sunbathing in bikinis, there is a focus on Lara Croft’s presence at the opening of the beach, despite the fact that it is clearly not woman-owned or woman-only.  Some articles make it very clear that this is — gasp, perish the thought — not a lesbian beach, no, no.  This is where “women can be themselves.”  Because, you know, lesbians aren’t women, and women being themselves aren’t lesbians.

Everybody misses what seems most important to me:  that woman-only spaces are something women want, so much so that capitalist men are cashing in on that phenomenon.   Male-identified women can talk all day long and all night long about all the reasons they do not really enjoy woman-only spaces; the fact is, most women do.  My sense is that an increasing number of women do.  Being able to live our own lives, by our own lights, without depending on men, without needing men, without caring what men think about us, is heady, intoxicating stuff.  A little taste creates an appetite.  Men know this, which is why they have historically until today resisted women’s efforts to create our own institutions, organizations, and spaces, which is why they violate our spaces, oppose them, and work very hard to eliminate them, which is why they have worked very hard to keep women from freely associating with women.  More and more women finding that they can live satisfying,  happy lives apart from men is not a scenario most men can appreciate.  They can be expected to be very creative in their efforts to insert themselves into spaces in which they are not welcome and not wanted.

I personally would not seek out a space like “Pink Beach”.  I know exactly where to go to find woman-only spaces, most women do,  although that’s something that most of us keep to ourselves, for obvious reasons.  At the same time, I admit I am enjoying the confirmation of what I have known in my gut for some time– that the time of women’s full humanity, experienced not only as a hope or dream but recognized by each woman as real and true, is coming.  This is what I see in events  like this.

Heart

Because I Am a Girl

becauseiamagirl.jpgWhy Do Girls Face Discrimination?

Girls face the double challenge of being female and being young, which can result in them having little opportunity to make decisions about their lives. Discrimination against girls is grounded in a series of traditions and norms, based on the assumption that biological differences between females and males justify that girls are denied access to rights, opportunity and voice. It is both systematic and widely tolerated. Emerging research commissioned by Plan in West Africa shows that, its manifestations, such as gender based violence, are deeply rooted in the inequalities between  women and men, and girls and boys.

The Early Years

Discrimination against girls begins at birth, or earlier, through attitudes and patterns in behaviour passed down through generations. As this report demonstrates, the lower social status of a girl can have serious consequences for her health and well-being as she grows up and has children herself. By age five, most girls and boys have already internalised the gender role expectations communicated to them by their families, schools, the media and society as a whole. The next generation is then likely to repeat the same cycle. Despite progress in securing a number national and international legal standards designed to protect and promote the rights of girls, cultural and social beliefs about gender and the value of girls and boys have been much more difficult to overcome.

In many countries, particularly in South Asia and China, the birth of a boy is something to be celebrated and the birth of a girl a cause for commiseration, particularly where a marriage dowry requires the parents of daughters to make a financial offering. Much of this is to do with the fact that in some cultures, a boy will grow up and look after his parents, while a girl will be married into another family, and is therefore seen as a financial burden to her own parents.

The family is where children first learn about their potential. It is here that millions of girls are socialised to believe that they have a lower social status than boys. Women are themselves the keepers of much of the knowledge passed on to girls and boys in their early years. In order to ensure that girls can access their rights and have the same opportunities as boys, changes of attitude within the family are necessary.

Girls face discrimination in five crucial areas:

• Invisibility. This includes female foeticide, lack of birth registration, and public environments which discourage their visibility and participation.
• Capacity. This affects the ability of girls to benefit from all of their rights. Girls’ capacity can be impaired by educational curricula, which reinforce negative gender stereotyping, and by preferential access to nutrition for boys within the family.
• Physical and mental discrimination. This includes gender based violence and trafficking, temporary marriages, and judgemental attitudes to the sexual activity of girls limiting their access to preventative measures and health services.
• Family and household responsibilities. This includes discrimination caused by lower minimum ages of marriage for girls, and the sexual and economic exploitation of girls in work, in particular child domestic workers.
• Local and national customs and traditions. This includes embedded religious, judicial and secular traditions, which allow for inequality in inheritance and the creation of status offences discriminating against girls in the legal system.

Achieving gender equality and a better deal for girls requires a challenge to deep rooted attitudes across societies, and a new momentum for investing in girls’ education. An ambitious programme in Haryana in India aims to increase the value placed on girls by their families and prevent early marriage. A small sum of money is put into a savings account by local government for each girl at birth. If she is still unmarried at the age of 18, she can collect the amount plus the years of interest.

The Challenges of Adolescence

The social status that a girl occupies has consequences in all areas of a girl’s life, and in particular during her transition from girlhood into womanhood. This is a time of making the choices which will shape the remainder of her life. Education can make a huge difference to the lives of girls, particularly if they have access to quality, free, girl-friendly educational facilities. A host of academic studies, national and international initiatives and projects on the ground have proved the case for girl’s education.

Recent studies show a striking correlation between under-five mortality rates and the educational level attained by a child’s mother.

Progress in this area has been notable – recent progress in enrolments at primary school level has benefited girls in particular.

The reality for millions of girls in some of the world’s poorest countries is that they have to spend much more time on domestic, non-economic work than boys, and have less time for education and recreation. The rites of passage that determine the transition from girlhood to womanhood can themselves be challenging for girls. Female genital cutting and other initiation rites are customs which violates the rights of girls. Marriage while still in her teens, or younger, and early pregnancy usually has a detrimental impact on a girl’s right to education and to fulfilling her potential.

“To stop this inhuman attitude towards girls, there should be stringent laws against the practice of child marriages, and both the governments and the civil societies should initiate awareness raising campaigns at every community on gender equity and the evil consequences of child marriages.” B. Savitha, aged 14, India

The family is the place where girls and boys should feel safe, and where they learn how to grow into mature and responsible adults, where they form their first relationships and hopefully follow the positive role models shown by their parents. But it is also the place where millions of children, especially girls, face violence and abuse. Much of this violence is gender-based and perpetrated mainly by men against girls and women.

As a girl moves into adulthood, her education or lack of it, will have a significant impact on several areas of her life. There is clear evidence that knowledge, information and self esteem help girls to protect themselves from HIV infection, exploitation and hazardous child labour. Her children are more likely to be healthy and to go to school themselves if a young woman is educated. For example, children with unschooled mothers are 4.8 times more likely to be out of primary school in Venezuela, 4.4 times more likely in Suriname, and 3.4 times more likely in Guyana. An educated young woman also has a better chance of earning an income, which has a positive effect on her family and on the economy. Studies have shown that as a country’s primary enrolment rate for girls increases, so too does its gross domestic product per capita.

Survival

• Girls are discriminated against in the womb,  before birth, as the growing practice of female foeticide and sex selective abortion in some parts of the world demonstrates. An estimated 100 million women are ‘missing’ as a result.

• 10.5 million children die before the age of five every year. There is evidence that more girls than boys die in the developing world.

• An estimated 450 million adult women in developing countries are stunted as a result of childhood protein energy malnutrition.

• Girls are less well-nourished than boys. Girls have more chance of getting diarrhoea than boys.

Family Life

• Mothers pass on knowledge steeped in their own experiences as girls and women.

• As there is little in the way of enforced protective legislation in many developing countries, millions of girls are subjected to early marriage with its inherent risks to their education, physical health and economic prospects. 60% of girls aged 15-19 in sub Saharan Africa are married.

• It is estimated that about 140 million girls and women worldwide have undergone female genital cutting, with an additional two million girls undergoing the procedure every year.

Education

 • It is impossible to overstate the links between
health and education, especially women’s education – data shows a striking correlation between under-five mortality rates and the educational level attained by a child’s mother.

• 62 million girls of primary age are out of school. This is more than all the girls in North America and Europe.

• Girls will not remain in school if they are subjected to abuse and violence, and lack adequate sanitation facilities.

• Despite gains for girls in school achievement in the North, women are paid less than men for comparative jobs and are more likely to be in low-paid employment.

Health

• Pregnancy related illnesses are a leading cause of death for young women ages 15 to 19 worldwide. Half a million women die of pregnancy related deaths every year.

Work

• There is clear evidence that girls and boys form clear opinions about work which is deemed suitable for each gender from an early age.

• 90 per cent of child domestic workers are girls between 12 and 17 years old, and are at risk of both sexual and economic exploitation, violence and abuse.

Girls in Exceptionally Difficult Circumstances

• Gender discrimination – in the form of reduced access to education, healthcare, food and information, limited participation in communities and society, and defined roles in the household – means that girls are particularly vulnerable to a series of risks to their development and well-being, and less likely to attain their rights. At times of  uncertainty and insecurity, these risks increase.

• 20-50% of girls have experienced violence from a family member.

• Girls from indigenous or minority groups and girls with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to violence and abuse.

Full and Executive Reports

Sponsor a Girl

From me, Heart:

  • This is why we still need a dedicated, committed, purposeful, female-centered feminism which commands all of our time, energy, money and attention, as much as we can spare.
  • This is why we need spaces which are female only.  As females, girls, women, we have grown up, from the time of our births — however much we have differed from one another, whatever specific experiences we may have been personally spared – either directly experiencing some or all of the above and/or knowing that it is our kind which has been born to, appointed to, experiencing all of the above.  The above are the experiences to which females are born in the world.  Males are born to a different set of experiences and a different lived reality, again, however individually different males’ lives might be.
  • This is why it is not possible for anyone to “change sex.”   Changing one’s body or one’s gender presentation does not change any of the above lived experience of femaleness, whether the “sex change” is from male to female or from female to male.  The lived experiences and reality remain.  The awareness of which group one was born to, and everything which accompanies that awareness, and that reality, remain as well, and with them certain  habits, responses, and  patterns of relating to boys, to men, to power.

–Heart, enraged over the status of girls in this world and fully committed to devoting the rest of my life to girls and women, female people, my own kind

Free Mary Winkler! And Her Daughters — Mary Sentenced to 3 Years and to Serve 210 Days

marywinkler_002.jpg 

Update:  Mary Winkler was just sentenced to three years in prison, but to serve only 210 days of her sentence. — Heart

The parents of Mary Winkler’s violently, sexually abusive pastor-husband have denied her contact with her kids, save two very brief visits when she was in jail.  She’s been out on $750,000 bond for over six months now, has been working and living quietly, since that morning when she couldn’t take it anymore and shot him, a moment which she doesn’t precisely recall.  The jurors believed Mary Winkler was telling the truth and were moved by her testimony of years of verbal, emotional, sexual and physical abuse at her husband’s hands.  But  the grandparents say Mary “lied” when she told her oldest daughter she didn’t kill Matthew Winkler, and that’s why her kids shouldn’t be able to see their mom.  Winkler agreed to give the grandparents temporary custody until her trial for the murder of Matthew Winkler was concluded, but she never agreed they had the right to keep her children from her forever

Now the grandparents have filed to terminate Mary Winkler’s parental rights and for permanent custody.  They are attempting to take her three daughters away from her and to ensure that she and her sisters, their aunts, and Mary’s family members will never see them again. They have also filed a “wrongful death” action against her.  They are, in other words, attempting to finish what their son began.

Mary will be sentenced Friday and is expected to receive a sentence of 3-6 years minus the five months she has already spent in jail.  Her attorneys are going to petition for a new trial with charges of either voluntary manslaughter or criminally negligent manslaughter.  They believe that the publicity around the case means the judge who sentences Mary this Friday will give her jail time, even though she is clearly no threat to anyone, as battered and abused women rarely are a threat to anyone.  She has worked and lived responsibly on bail for months, although she has been relentlessly hounded and stalked by various unsavory types.   She has abided by every provision of her release on bond.  If the judge doesn’t grant a new trial, Winkler’s attorney will ask that she be released on bond pending appeal of her sentence and spend no time in jail.

I’ve blogged about Mary Winkler here, here, here, and here.

I hope these grandparents — the grandfather is a pastor like his son was, and the great grandfather was a pastor in four states in the South for 60 years– and their attorney get everything they have coming to them.  I hope Mary Winkler does no jail time.  I hope Breanna, Mary and Patricia Winkler are restored to their mother and soon.  They’ve been through enough.  All they need is to spend the rest of their growing-up years in the environment which produced a misogynist like Matthew Winkler and surrounded by people who could stand silently, idly by as their pastor-father abused their mother.

Link

Heart

Grand Rapids Marriott to Have Woman-Only Floor

The JW Marriott in Grand Rapids, Michigan is going to be opening a woman-only floor in September, the 19th floor, and you can watch a video debate on the topic here.  For $30 extra per night, women will be able to stay on a floor catering specifically to females, where security is enhanced, fresh flowers and upgraded toiletries are available, and — best of all, my opinion — women can enjoy a drink in a woman-only lounge without having to deal with men hitting on them.  

In general, women love the idea, particularly women who do a lot of traveling; if you doubt that, go to this link and read the comments for yourself.   Women are concerned about their safety and security for good reason:  hundreds are accosted, harrassed and assaulted every year in hotels.    Safe Place, a company which independently tests and certifies hotels for safety, devotes a good portion of its work to safety for female  travelers.  (Note that Safe Place does not particularly work to ensure the safety of male travelers; it’s a for-profit corporation and would certainly devote itself to this work if there were a need for it which could be profitably filled.  We all know there is no need for it, and we all know that it is males who assault, accost, stalk and attack females, by and large, and not the other way around.  It is women who need protection from men, not men who need protection from women.  They may need protection from other men, but that’s their issue, it isn’t women’s issue.)

I do not know whose bright idea it was to invite Gloria Allred to debate this idea.   What planet does Allred even live on that, with a straight face, she compares females wanting woman-only floors to Ku Klux Klan members’  bigotry and fears?  As though women are to the KKK as men are to “minorities” (!) !  As though it makes any sort of feminist sense at all to call women’s legitimate, reasonable, penultimately rational, documented, hugely memorialized concerns for our own safety, given the enormous numbers of rapes, sexual assaults, stalking incidents, instances of being battered by male partners and husbands, “discrimination” against men?

Allred could be right that female-only space could might result in men demanding male-only space, but you know, I am not sure how bad that would actually be,  and I am completely willing to deal with that issue if and when the time comes.  At the moment I am pretty sure that heterosexual males will have zero interest in male-only hotel floors and male-only lounges (which speaks volumes in and of itself) and it’s het males we have to be concerned about, both as to women’s safety and as to leveraging female-only space in ways which will benefit het males.

In the meantime and anyway,  hell yes:  bring on the female-only hotel floors, lounges, enhanced security and amenities.  If I can afford it (doubtful!), I’ll be so there.  And especially in Grand Rapids, Michigan when I am there, on the day or two before and after the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival!  I wonder whether Festies passing through Grand Rapids on our annual pilgrimages to womyn’s land had anything to do with the creation of this woman-only hotel floor.

Well, I think that would be pretty cool.  And you know, if this is tested in the courts,  maybe that’s what needs to happen.   I have an idea women are ready to take this issue on in a way that will be meaningful and powerful.

Heart

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