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Rape and Sexual Assault, Women's Birthing Rights

High Praise for Off Our Backs


From the online magazine Third Estate Sunday Review:

[Discussing progressive and feminist news outlets] …we thought we’d note a few of the standouts in the past month. One article or your every-two-year editorial doesn’t cut it as a standout, just FYI.

Let’s start with Off Our Backs. Check out the cover illustration. “Military Power: Is It Power for Women?” Not afraid to ask the hard questions, not afraid to move beyond the Britney-Justin-Paris gossip loop that so many pass off as feminism. Not afraid to step up and address the issue of war. When C.I. started noting this issue (repeatedly and we’ve also noted this edition — vol. 36/ no 2 — twice here) there wasn’t anything available online from it. Now you can read the following online:

Women in the Military: Who’s Got Your Back?” by Jane Hoppen
The Rape of the ‘Hadji Girl’” by Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff
Serving in the Rape Zone” by Allison Tobey

In addition to those three articles being made available online, the print edition also features:

Women in the Military: Is Armed Service Compatible with Feminism?” by Taryn McCall Runck

“A Rape in Iraq: Rape, Brothel Rape and Prsostitution in Wartime” by Suki Falconberg

“U.S. Soldier Pimps Women Under His Command” by Cheryl Seelhoff

That’s six features in a single issue. In The Nation‘s dreams, it wishes it could be this hard hitting. (Though, of course, since The Nation only believes in printing 1 woman for every 4 men, all features would have to be written by men to appear in The Nation — see “The Nation Stats” from last week’s edition.) This is the issue of Off Our Backs that did what The Nation couldn’t, mention Abeer by name, tell her story. Around the time Katha Pollitt’s big concern was that CODEPINK was being ‘mean’ to War Hawk Hillary Clinton, Off Our Backs was addressing the very real issue of the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl by US soldiers (3 have confessed in court). But in The Nation? Even the ‘feminist’ Katha was too busy gas bagging about Hillary or sharing the ‘importance’ of political candidate Ned Lamont. Apparently War Crimes weren’t important and gang rape and murder aren’t topics that token ‘feminists’ tackle? (Alexander Cockburn would mention Abeer in April 2007 — the first time her name would ever appear in The Nation. Or any details of what was done to her and her family.)

Off Our Backs did an amazingly hard  hitting look at war, the military and the costs.  It can be done, they proved it while others stayed silent.


Off Our Backs was also the 2006 recipient of the Michigan Media Award for Excellence in the Coverage of Women and Gender, from the University of Michigan Institute for Research on Women and Gender.

Established by the Institute for Research on Women and Gender in 1999, the Michigan Media Awards recognize outstanding examples of media coverage of neglected, underrepresented issues of concern to women; that appreciate and emphasize the gender aspects of a particular issue or event; that challenge gender-based stereotypes, including stereotypes about feminism and feminist politics; that bring a fresh, feminist perspective to familiar stories; or that offer excellent coverage of academic research on gender.

Go us!  We are a group of radical feminist women with regular, full-time jobs, sometimes not only one, but two or three of them, and we are not paid for the work that we do.  Only office staff is paid.

I am so proud!




7 thoughts on “High Praise for Off Our Backs

  1. You all do us she people proud. Excellent job Heart.

    Posted by chasingmoksha | May 7, 2007, 7:41 pm
  2. I have been a subscriber to Off Our Backs for some years and Off Our Backs have nevere once shirked difficult issues. It is truly amazing what they achieve since finances are so tight and there is always the constant threat of not having enough money to meet ongoing costs. Excellent Heart for promoting this wonderful and challenging feminist magazine.

    Posted by jennifer drew | May 7, 2007, 9:52 pm
  3. I just started recently seeing Off Our Backs at Skylight Books in my neighborhood, we have this other magazine that’s sort of like Off Our Backs if it were wrapped in candy and bullsh*t…lol…Off Our Backs rocks.

    “Katha was too busy gas bagging about Hillary” you know that’s the thing, if you know you are already the token, don’t be the tool too.

    A byline at the Nation I’m going to admit I think that’s cool on some levels, but not like that.

    If you can’t be the same as the other writers, what’s the point?

    That’s like being hungry and someone giving you waxed fruit from far away it looks like real fruit, but you still can’t eat it and that’s worse than having no fruit at all.


    Posted by Lo | May 8, 2007, 1:52 am
  4. Bushels full of kudos and congratulations, Heart and all the staff at OOB!! You have every right to be proud. Take a bow. In fact, take several. Go you women!!!!

    And thank you for the selfless and tireless work you do, for the rest of us.

    Posted by VeggieFem | May 8, 2007, 2:42 pm
  5. I wonder if Katha Pollitt took note of this. In a special report in the Guardian, she does mention the rape and murder of Abeer, along with other horror stories about what is happening to women in Afghanistan. The story is also in her column in the May 28 issue of The Nation. The Guardian story is titled ‘You can come upon women’s bodies anywhere’, while her Nation column is titled ‘Democracy’ Is Hell. Better late than never?,,2082705,00.html

    Ms. Magazine has an interview of Dr. Sima Simar, chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, in the Winter 2007 issue, excerpted at

    I hope this does not go to spam, with three links!

    Posted by Aletha | May 25, 2007, 8:00 am
  6. FTR, the Katha Pollitt column I linked above is all about Iraq, not Afghanistan, just in case my error was not obvious from the context. That is the same column profacero linked in The Courage to Make Revolution: Malalai Joya Supporters Rally in Farah and Jalalabad.

    Posted by Aletha | May 30, 2007, 4:35 am
  7. I’d like to point out that my coverage of military brothels/gang rape/sexual misery of women in wartime–and of the Abeer atrocity–was far more extensive and passionate than Ms. Pollitt’s and pre-dates her article. She makes the same point I make–that occupying forces simply rape and use sexually vulnerable prostituted women–it is part of male military behavior. The Americans and Brits are no exception. My article puts this in a much broader and more compelling context.

    Suki Falconberg, author of “A Rape in Iraq” in OOB.

    Posted by Suki Falconberg | December 31, 2007, 12:34 am

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