Monday Blogaround

5 10 2009

Here are some things that popped up on my feminist radar:

What Counts as Real Rape? – More from Gwen on the Roman Polanski case

Concerns About Racism Are “Weird” – The trivialization and dismissal of racism by saying “it’s weird”

US Fence Causes Increase in Border Deaths – Today marks the 15th anniversary of the poorly misguided border strategy known as Operation Gatekeeper

Childbirth at the Global Crossroads – The implications of surrogacy and assisted reproductive technology on women in the “developing” world

End the War in Afghanistan – Peter Rothberg’s lists ways you can help end the war in Afghanistan

Fiona Pilkington inquest: how ableism can lead to suicide – ableism has been instituted and normalized in our society, thus marginalizing and erasing certain existences

Woody’s To Face Boycott – The Fairness Campaign is calling for a boycott of Woody’s Tavern at 4 PM Tuesday

My Weight – Stomp out weight bigotry and fatism. As Joy Nash says, “Tell people how much you weigh. It’s just a stinking number.”

Reclaim the Night (For Cis Women Only) and the London Cis Feminism Network – Feminism is not fully functional if it excludes trans people

Activist Modus Operandi: Methods of Communication – a great post from Genderbitch on activism for marginalized groups and tips on how to be an effective activist





Department of Justice releases first ever “study on crimes against persons with disabilities”

5 10 2009

The Department of Justice just released the first ever study on crimes against persons with disabilities.  (Why “persons with disabilities” and not “differently abled people”?)  The results of the study are not that surprising and statistically illustrate/prove what many anti-ableist activists have known for a while now – that differently abled people are disproportionately targeted for various crimes, and many of these crimes go undocumented and unnoticed by the public.

Here are some highlights of the study’s findings:

  • In 2007 differently abled people were victims of approximately 716,000 nonfatal violent crimes, including rape or sexual assault (47,000), robbery (79,000), aggravated assaults (114,000) and simple assaults (476,000).
  • They also experienced around 2.3 million property crimes during the year, including 527,000 household burglaries, 107,000 motor vehicle thefts and 1.7 million thefts.
  • Differently abled people between the ages of 12 to 19 and those between the ages of 35 to 49 were victims of violence at nearly twice the rate as able bodied people in the same age group.
  • 16% of violent crimes against differently abled females were committed by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend. Among women without disabilities, it was 27%.

While these statistics may not be news for all of us, they still are startling.  It is high time that the Department of Justice and the general public acknowledge the disproportionate amount of violence against differently abled people.  It is important to recognize that society is structured in a way that benefits abled bodied folks while making things unfairly difficult for differently abled ones.  Differently abled people are more vulnerable because we live in an ableist society where those who are differently abled are marginalized and treated as second-class citizens.

In order to prevent or better address violence against differently abled people it’s important to think of all the socially constructed barriers that differently abled people must wrestle with everyday.  What if the world was made more accessible?  What if the language we used was more inclusionary?  What if there was more coverage of violence against differently abled people so that there is less erasure of an already marginalized community?





A Look at some of Graph Jam’s stuff

27 09 2009

I saw this on Unapologetically Female and laughed out loud (because it’s so true):

axe

Then I went to the website to see what other graphs they had up and I saw this one:

heels

Now this one is problematic and irritates me for the following reasons:

1. First of all, the axes are switched. The graph is meant to show that the higher your heels are, the more retarded you look, not that the more retarded you look, the higher your heels are.

2. People need to stop saying “retarded”. It is ableist language that is used in a pejorative way and has been normalized in society which adds to the stigma against different-abled people.

3. This is misogynist and reinforces the patriarchal objectification of women, that women are just their bodies and nothing more. Some of the comments that follow the graph are misogynist as well and make me want to cringe. For example:

A commenter named Karen said: “FINALLY! I was wondering if I was the only person who thought this. I want to beat these girls to death with their own shoes!”

Prisbro wrote: “What about all the dumb bimbos who wear big fuzzy boots with mini skirts in august?? Can we throw them into some quicksand?”

Pencilsharpener wrote: “The rapist who murders you will find them adorable and very practical, as they will help him catch you easily.”

Um. Wow. This last comment seems to be based off of and perpetuates the rape myth that a rapist is a sketchy guy lurking on the street corner who will chase a woman down the street, and the myth that what you wear influences your likelihood of being raped. Wrong and wrong.

These comments are disturbing and symptomatic of the the patriarchal culture that we live in, with misogyny (and internalized misogyny) so deeply entrenched.





Weekend Reads

22 08 2009

Dana Goldstein on the need for a public health insurance plan to provide reproductive health coverage.  Over at The Nation, Sharon Lerner has more on why women need health care reform.

An interesting photo essay that questions and explores what it means to be masculine.  It’s accompanied with an interview with the photographer, Chad States.  The subjects of some of the photos include trans men.

The children’s books industry is a very much white run industry and often children’s books are embedded, subtly and not-so-subtly, with racist undertones.  Read this post on Racism Review about children’s books are very much white-framed and whitewashed.

Here are some thoughts on 18-year old South African runner Caster Semenya whose female-ness was being questioned because she doesn’t conform to traditional western standards of femininity.  Bird of Paradox has more.

Michelle Obama should be allowed to wear shorts without coming under such scrutiny by the media and the public, especially while vacationing at the Grand Canyon.

Being careful with language is very important, especially since language is used to normalize.  There has been much discussion online about language and privilege.  Deeply Problematic takes on being blinded by privilege in these two posts: “Blinded by Privilege”: ableist language in critical discourse and For the Uninformed: Privilege, Perspective and The Little Things That Jab.  Hoyden About Town also has a post on unexamined privileges and unconscious behaviors.

Here is a long but interesting article that contextualizes the use of rape as a weapon of war.  Author Crystal Feimster, a historian at the University of North Carolina, claims that rape was used as a weapon of war way back in the Civil War, which is a new contention.

This one’s more of an uplifting story about a woman in a small West Virginian town, Maria Gunnoe, who took on the coal industry and was victorious.  She was a great community organizer who took action against the coal tycoons and despite threats, harassment and violence, she is not giving up the fight.





Wednesday Blogaround

22 07 2009

Happy Wednesday!  Here’s what we’ve been reading:

Jimmy Carter protests religion’s treatment of women – Thank you Jimmy Carter!  Last week he issued a position paper opening with “Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.”  It’s awesome to see such a prominent man of faith take a stance and speak out on sexism in organized religion.

Lessons for Feminists from Sarah Palin – what the feminist community can learn from Sarah Palin: from the beginning when she first entered the political limelight to her recent resignation speech.

Kansas Attorney Sued After Showing Pictures of Alleged Rape After Refusing to Prosecute – Okay, this is fucked up.  A county attorney in Kansas chose not to prosecute a rape that occurred at a party in 2007, but chose to show pictures of the assault to parents of other people who attended that party to prove that there was underage drinking.

Why the planet needs more non-breeders – a post from fbomb, an awesome new young feminist blog, on Cameron Diaz’s decision to not have kids (for the environment) and how women are caught in a double bind where they are judged for both wanting/having kids and not wanting/not having kids.

Racism in Cambridge: Harvard Professor Gates Arrested (Updated) – RacismReview’s take on Professor Gates’ recent arrest.

Cop Sues Burbank Police Department for Discrimination – Last week, Asian American police detective Christopher Lee Dunn filed a lawsuit against the Burbank Police Department alleging that he was the victim of discrimination and retaliation prior to being unjustly fired.  This is the sixth time that the Burbank Police Department has been sued for discrimination since May.

If You’re Disabled You Cannot be a Customer – People who are differently abled are often treated as second class citizens and “treated like an inconvenience and rushed out of sight”.

On Chris Brown’s Public “Apology” – Or rather, Chris Brown’s non-apology.  “The message [from his "apology"] is clear: beat, bite, punch and strangle your girlfriend, and as long as you apologize, you are a-OK.”





For Your Saturday

18 07 2009

Here are some good posts in the feminist blogosphere to check out:

Lessons from the Rape Culture and a piece inspired by that post.

The Obamas and the Door of No Return.

Hillary’s Challenge – Would putting women first make for better foreign policy?

The Latest Marriage Dust-Up.

Reproductive Rights Matter At Every Age.

Shave and get drunk, because you’re already brilliant.

“Disabled Girls” Video Game.

The Supreme Court and Redefining Racism.





Transphobia in Casino Rama in Ontario

15 07 2009

Back on March 27, 2008, Carol Ann Kotsopoulos, a 38 year old transwoman from Meaford, Ontario, was escorted out of a ladies’ bathroom in Casino Rama in Orillia by a female security guard. Kotsopoulos was in the bathroom, taking care of business of in a closed stall, when a female security guard yelled at her, “Are you a woman or a man?”

Kotsopoulos responded in a joking way, “I’m a transgendered woman, do you want to look?”

The security guard told her, “You cannot use this washroom, you’ll have to use the unisex washroom” although Kotsopoulos said, “There is no unisex washroom that I have ever seen there.”

The guard then escorted her to a public area where she was surrounded by four other guards. Apparently the first guard was called over to the bathroom because another patron had complained.

Kotsopoulos was humiliated, shocked and traumatized, and she filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario that is pending mediation with Casino Rama and an adjudicator, which will likely occur in the fall.

This is deeply disturbing and bears witness to the rampant transphobia that still persists throughout the world. First of all, what kind of question is “Are you a woman or a man?” And who the heck thinks it’s okay to yell that at someone while they are peeing? That is plain rude, insulting and degrading.

Besides, was it really necessary to have five guards? Isn’t that a bit much? All she was doing was minding her business in the bathroom, not wielding a large knife or pointing a gun at anyone. Sigh, these guards need something better to do with their time.

Says Monica over at TransGriot:

The casino is not only owned by First Nations peeps, it sits on reserve land. You would think the last place a transperson would face such disrespect is in a First Nations owned casino due to the concept of two spirit people that is part of First nations culture.

The casino is managed by a US based company called Penn National Gaming in Wyomissing, PA. The Casino Rama is also the largest First Nations owned commercial casino in Canada and the only one in Ontario.

I understand where Monica is coming from, but at the same time First Nations culture is not a homogeneous and monolithic group so it might be unfair to lump them all together. She continues:

Would Ms. Kotsopoulos gotten that type of disrespectful and humiliating treatment from the Casino Rama security staff if she was a high roller dropping big money instead of the smaller amounts she could afford based on her small monthly disability pension?

So clearly this is not only a trans issue, but it is also a class and physical ability issue. Like we’ve said before, oppressions are all interconnected and they function together to maintain the status quo, and this is just one more testament.

Let’s hope that Kotsopoulos’ case proceeds well in the fall.





Monday Catch Up

6 07 2009

Hope everyone had a good Independence Day weekend.  Here are some things we missed:

Four Freedom Movements You Should Know About This Independence Day.

Renee’s take on Sarah Palin‘s public declaration of her intention to resign.  More thoughts on that here, here, here and here.

Racism takes a toll on the health of African Americans living in a predominantly white society.

How Racism Works – people mistakenly de-contextualize racism and perceive it as something that functions in individuals rather than seeing the big picture of how racism is institutionalized and structured in our daily lives in society at large.

A good 101 post on Three Dumb Things About “Reverse Discrimination”.

Thoughts on disability and respectful language.

Arab TV Soaps Reinforce Gender Bias and normalize violence against women.

This is old news, but good news nonetheless – last week, an Indian court decriminalized homosexuality.

There is no such thing as trans privilege.  For necessary 101, here is a great and important post on vocabulary when it comes to gender and cis.

Stop bullying transgender children.

Trigger warning – Sexual Abuse of Female Inmates in Oklahoma.

Carnival Against Sexual Violence has worthy reads you should check out.

Gift giving by stereotypes – an interesting look at the intersection of stereotypes we have about age, class and gender.

Sunscreen’s shady business – a look at the $1 billion a year sunscreen market.

It’s easy to watch a documentary (like Food, Inc.) and be inspired to take action, but often times we may get back into our daily routines and be stunted from any activism or we may simply just not know what to do or how we can help.  So to counter that here’s I Saw Food, Inc.  Now What?

All right, happy reading everybody!





Bacardi Misogyny Makes Me Drink More Malibu

20 06 2009

via Jezebel:

Bacardi has a new promotional site through Tel Aviv ad agency McCann Digital for it’s Bacardi Breezers that is just disgustingly awful.  The site has been created in both English and Hebrew.

The idea behind the site, entitled “Get an Ugly Girlfriend!,” is that all that women have to do to look attractive is find a less attractive friend to accompany them to events.

The site stresses that women can find “ugly” friends to accompany them to the pool, the beach, the mall, or a barbeque.  The site suggests that with sexy fashion accessories, lots of Bacardi Breezers, and these “friends,” any woman can look hot.

ug2

Vomit, vomit, triple vomit.

Read the rest of this entry »





A thought when crossing the street

19 06 2009

I work in Boston.  It’s cool.  But you know what’s not cool?  Being a pedestrian in a driver’s intersection.  Either you have to sit and wait for a million years for the “WALK” signal to let you cross, or you have to take your chances and hope any unseen cars will stop as you technically or actually jay-walk.  It’s a sad, sad game.  Of course, this game is played across the nation.  So why am I blogging about it?

Because one of the intersections I have to cross to get to and from work could and should probably be called ableist.

For those of you who follow this blog and are thinking, “What the hell is ableism and why should I care?” ableism is discrimination against people on the basis of disability (as opposed to race, sex, religion, sexuality, gender, class, and so on).  What we thinking of as “disability” includes needing a wheelchair, but it also includes people with chronic illnesses and other issues.  According to my place of work, I’m disabled (but they don’t know it because I’m not required to tell them about my chronic illness, hahahahaha, suckers).

So, how is this particular intersection I’m thinking of an ableist one (or, I should say, the people who are in charge of how the lights and signals are ignorant and ableist in the process)?

Believe it or not, it takes LONGER than the “WALK” signal and subsequent timer to get across the entire intersection to the other side of the street.  And this crosswalk has a ton of pedestrian traffic.  The one time I even came close to crossing all the way in one signal was when I was already starting to cross before the walk signal, and then RAN across the street (I was about to miss a train; wouldn’t you run?).  I still ended up almost getting clipped by a car.

What’s wrong with a signal that’s not long enough, besides we might all die trying to cross when the signal says, “DON’T WALK?”  I’m able-bodied enough when it comes to walking and running.  But that’s because I haven’t recently broken a leg.  I don’t use a wheelchair.  I don’t walk slowly because my knee never recovered from multiple surgeries I’ve had.

I could also say that the intersection designers/signal people are sexist because it is DAMN hard to cross in comfortable shoes, but I would get flattened by a truck if I ever tried to cross in heels.  But eh, I’ll draw the line at ableism for now.

Meanwhile, if anyone has info on how to contact who’s in charge of that signal, please let me know so I can call them and tell them to make the signal longer (if they don’t believe me, I’ll dare them to cross while not powerwalking/running/using a jet-pack).

But it makes me wonder; if this is the first time I’ve encountered an intersection where the signal isn’t long enough for me to cross while power-walking, how many signals aren’t long enough for people to cross while limping?  Walking slowly?  Using a wheelchair?





Friday Blogaround

19 06 2009

Sorry posting has been slow lately, but here are some interesting reads.  Enjoy and happy Friday everyone!

Happy Juneteenth, Peeps!

Trigger Warning: A young trans woman in New York was tortured to death yesterday, via A.E. Brain

New College Alcohol/Assault Stats – What seems to be still missing from the discussion is prevention

This is depressing – UK Officials Assigned to Fight Rape Actually Promote Rape Myths

Racism Review has a round-up of links to stories on Race, Racism and White Supremacy

Fat and Fashionable AND happy? Impossible!

How the Recession Impacts Women: More Women Forced to Reduce Maternity Leave Under Stress of the Economy

Two great pieces from MoJo: Bush Officials Cash In as More Americans Lose Out and Obamanomics: The Good, the Bad, the Weak

I’ve heard a lot about the new movie, The Hangover and how it’s super hilarious and a must-see.  Here’s a more critical review of it, More White Men Behaving Badly: A “Brain-on” Look at The Hangover

Safer Sex PSAs Conflate the Penis with a Firearm (NSFW)

Wealth-Care Reform: Fixing our health-care system will make us more economically secure.  It won’t make us much healthier.

Jessica Valenti on The Virginity Movement, Rebranded

Depression in Action, or Why I’m Still a Radical Feminist Despite it All

A Study in Ableism

Advocate’s (And the Gayosphere’s) Jacked Up Reporting on Black Transwoman’s Marriages





Disability is a Feminist Issue

6 06 2009

Hoyden About Town reports that the Australian government is proposing a scheme to lower the amount of disabled parking permits available to the community by forbidding individual people with disabilities who walk using a cane or without a mobility device from receiving permits.  Not all disabilities are immediately discernible to the eye which means that many people with disabilities that aren’t so blatantly visible will be refused accessible parking.  This is all done in the name of “harmonization” which is just a bullshit excuse.

Why is this a feminist issue?

Women will be disproportionately affected by this change because many disabilities that are invisible or harder to discern that affect one’s mobility affect more women than men.  For example, more women than men are plagued with chronic fatigue syndrome/ME, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, osteoporosis and many other autoimmune disorders.

Furthermore, women tend to occupy a larger parenting or caretaker role in the family.  Which means that women are the ones driving their kids around from school to soccer practice, dance lessons, music lessons, play dates, doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, etc.  So if women with disabilities are not granted accessible parking their lives and by extension, their children’s lives become incredibly more difficult and complicated.

Call to Action – Send this pre-written letter to the government protesting the “harmonization of disability parking permit scheme.”





Friday Blogaround

29 05 2009

Happy Friday everyone!  Here are some must-reads:

Higher Ground, Not Common Ground by Merle Hoffman in On the Issues magazine:

As a person who feels that war should be the strategy of last resort, I still like to read military history. I find myself going back to the wisdom of Sun Tzu who wrote in “The Art of War” in the 6th century BC: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

As feminists who fight battles against those who would deny women’s freedom and equality, we know the mettle of our enemies. They are relentless, committed beyond secular principles, willing to look at things in the very long term, absolutely sure of their righteousness and totally determined.

They have one solid line, which they define and defend. Those who stand on their side are with the angels; those who stand on the other are misguided, at best, and sinners, at worst.

Educating Ourselves to Oblivion by William Astore:

Can there be any doubt that education matters not just in how we view the world, but in what kind of world we create — or simply accept? And can there be any doubt that, despite a massive educational infrastructure (admittedly now fraying badly), Americans remain remarkably poorly informed about the world? Last year, Rick Shenkman, the editor of the History News Network website, published a book (now out in paperback), Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter, excerpted at this site. Stupid enough (or ill-informed) was the answer.

Cheney’s Bunker Mentality by James Ridgeway:

Say what you will about Dick Cheney, at least he’s consistent. While he was in office, the Vice President made a practice of exploiting the fear and loss wrought by the 9/11 attacks to advance his own political agenda—and he’s still doing it now. During his speech at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday, according to Dana Milbank’s calculations in the Washington Post, “Cheney used the word ‘attack’ 19 times, ‘danger’ and ‘threat’ six times apiece, and 9/11 an impressive 27 times.”

When Systems of Oppression Intersect: Mental Health and the Immigration System by Thea Lim:

Angry Asian Man reports on the story of Xiu Ping Jiang, a 35 year-old Chinese illegal immigrant diagnosed with a mental illness who has been stuck in immigration limbo for over a year.

Detainee Abuse: New Details Reported by Melissa McEwan:

[Strong trigger warning.]

My heart went into my throat as I read the headline in the Telegraph this morning: “Abu Ghraib abuse photos ‘show rape’: Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.”

Oh god. Oh god.

The images, according to the story, show one male American soldier raping a female prisoner, a male American translator raping a male prisoner, someone else forcibly removing a female prisoner’s clothes to expose her naked breasts, and other sexual assaults being committed on prisoners “with objects including a truncheon, wire, and a phosphorescent tube.”

Infant Formula Product Placement in Chemistry Matric Exam by Lauredhel:

School and university exam writers often invent scenarios. They play with made-up names for people, they dream up companies, they have fun devising original scenarios and puns to spice up their questions.

But what happens when they get bored doing that, or don’t have time, or when an alternative is shoved under their noses?

There is a national government Senior High school examination for 18-year-olds in the Netherlands. The chemistry exam is a 3 hour exam consisting of four questions, each with a series of sub-questions. This year’s exam has just taken place, on May 26. You can download and read the exam questions and the technical appendix.

Nine Simple Ways to Scare Your Date by Sarah.of.a.lesser.god:

There are several advantages to being a content singleton, one of which is not having to deal with first dates and the thorny path known as flirtation. But I finally decided to just learn to flirt, and decided to take some cues from Marie-Claire’s nine steps to flirting like a pro, provided by a guy named Neil Strauss (he likes to be considered the world’s greatest pick-up artist). I got some amazing results and learned some valuable lessons!

“Mild Mannered” Grandfather Stabs Cheating Wife by Renee:

That is the “gentle” face of an aggrieved man.  Seldom had a read about a more sympathetic person.   This poor sweet grandfather was happily looking forward to his golden years with his wife of  35 years, when he experienced a totally understandable “moment  of madness .”  Brian Gibbs has admitted to wounding with intent and was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Enjoy!





Seriously fucked up, triggering and vomit inducing

27 05 2009

I read this on The Curvature and it’s absolutely sickening.

Just 2 days ago, an unnamed serial rapist in Australia was sentenced to 9 years in jail for “having sex with his intellectually disadvantaged [now 27 year old] daughter” last year in March when his daughter was 26.  On March 29, 2008 the rapist “followed his daughter home and had sex with her” and believed it to be consensual because she didn’t say anything.  And then, “the next day he had sex with his daughter again.”  (By the way Sunshine Coast Daily and all other rape apologists media sources, we do not call this “having sex”.  This is called RAPE. Sex and rape are two very different things.)

As a woman with a disability, she already exists as a vulnerable, stigmatized and ostracized body in society.  Women with disabilities are raped more often than women without disabilities.  There are several reasons for this that Cara highlights in her post, like the fact that people with disabilities have fewer resources at their disposal and they may be afraid to come forward about sexual assault/rape especially if/when they are dependent on their attackers, who are often family members or caretakers.  Not to mention rape myths like the fact that disabled women are sexually undesirable and therefore “un-rapable”.  And given the stigma that disabled women already face, if they do speak out they may be even less likely to be believed.

Feminists have repeated this over and over, but people like this serial rapist still don’t seem to get it: The absence of “no” does not mean “yes”.  Silence does not mean “yes”.  I hate the sense of male entitlement to female bodies that makes people buy into the bullshit that unless a woman objects to any level of sexual activity, men have a green light for them to just go ahead.  Most male rapists know that women are not consenting and that they aren’t having sex with her but that they’re raping her.  Because of this male sense of entitlement, male rapists feel that sex is a given unless a woman explicitly says “no”.

From the Sunshine Coast Daily:

At the time of the offences, the man had been out of jail for a year after serving 10 years for repeatedly raping his step daughter from the time she was 10 years old.

The court heard the man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims, was in a relationship with a woman from 1979 to 1983 and they had a daughter in 1982.

He left that woman to begin a relationship with the woman’s 17-year old daughter from a previous relationship.

The 17-year old already had a three-year old daughter of her own, and when the little girl was nine, years old the man began a sexual relationship with her while living at a Sunshine Coast caravan park.  (Again, FYI Sunshine Coast Daily, this is not a “sexual relationship”.  As a minor, a 9-year old child cannot consent to a sexual relationship.  This is sexual abuse.)

He raped the girl for the first time around her tenth birthday.

The abuse continued until 1997 when the girl was about 16 years old.

He also raped another 16-year old family member in 1996.

In 1997, the man was sent to jail for a total of 35 offences and was eventually released in 2007.

Clearly this rapist is a sick, sick man with a laundry list of sexual abuse and sexual assault towards female family members.  Why was this rapist, convicted with 35 charges and possessing such a clear and consistent history of sexual abuse and sexual assault, released from jail after only 10 years?  And now, why is he sentenced only to 9 years of prison and eligible for parole in as early as 2012?

This is seriously fucked up.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 33 other followers