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.








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