Heinous and unforgivable, NOT “awesome.”

3 05 2009

Needless to say, the military is the bastion of patriarchy and violent masculinity.

Last week 23-year old US soldier Steven Green’s trial began at a U.S. District Court in Paducah, Kentucky.  He is charged with premeditating and leading the gang rape of 14-year old Iraqi girl Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi and then massacring her family.  In March 2006, a group of drunk soldiers dressed in black with their faces concealed went to a farmhouse around 20 miles south of Baghdad, gang-raped Abeer and shot her in the head.  They then murdered her younger sister and her parents as well.  They tried to burn the dead bodies and set the house on fire.  After all this, Green was bragging about how “that was awesome.” (VOMIT!)

Initially insurgents were blamed for committing the atrocious crime but three months later, a soldier admitted the truth to a combat-stress counselor.  This brutal attack was carefully premeditated.  The soldiers were stationed at a traffic checkpoint near a town close to Abeer’s home, Mahmoudiya, and often went to the house to ogle at her.

A 2006 article in TIME magazine says:

Her mother, who grew concerned enough to make plans for Abeer to move in with a cousin, told relatives that whenever she caught the Americans ogling her daughter, they would give her the thumbs-up sign, point to the girl and say, “Very good, very good.”

Abeer’s brother Mohammed, 13, told TIME he once watched his sister, frozen in fear, as a U.S. soldier ran his index finger down her cheek. Mohammed has since learned that soldier’s name: Steven Green.

This is absolutely disgusting and shows how Green and the other soldiers felt the male sense of entitlement to and ownership of a woman’s body and sexuality.  It is disturbing and sickening the degree to which Green and his cronies sexually harassed Abeer and then planned to gang-rape and murder her.  I can’t imagine the horror and fear that the soldiers must’ve instilled upon Abeer, her mother, her brother, and her entire family.

Shortly after the brutal killings Green was discharged with a “personality disorder”.  Since people discovered that he was one of the main perpetrators after he was discharged he is being tried in federal court instead of military court.  Apparently he is the first former soldier to be tried in civilian court for conduct during war.  He is being charged with conspiracy, rape, murder, unlawful use of a weapon and obstruction of justice.  Even though he confessed to an army investigator that he was responsible for the crime, he is pleading not guilty.  If convicted, he will get the death penalty.

Green’s attorney Patrick Bouldin, a public defender, said “You have to understand the background that leads up to this perfect storm of insanity.  They couldn’t tell the village people and the farmers from the insurgents and the terrorists.”  Lies.  And more lies.  Besides, this statement implies that it is completely acceptable to commit this heinous violence on insurgents and terrorists.  Gang rape and violent murders should never be acceptable.  It’s appalling that attorneys defend sick people like Green who commit heinous crimes and then brag about how “awesome” it was.

Let’s see how this case pans out.

The Secrets of a Happy Marriage

3 05 2009

So apparently childhood and high school photos are indicators of whether or not a married couple will stay happily married or get divorced.  According to a study done at DePauw University’s psychology department, you can look through someone’s photo albums and assess his/her “smile intensity score” to determine whether or not s/he will stay married or get divorced.

The CNN article says:

The less intensely the subjects smiled, the more likely they would be divorced later in life, while the biggest smilers had lower divorce rates, according to a study published online this month by the journal Motivation and Emotion.

Scientists don’t know what accounts for the link, but say a smile may indicate higher levels of positive emotions and signal other traits, said co-author Matt Hertenstein, associate professor of psychology at DePauw University and head of the school’s Touch and Emotion Lab.

“People who smile a lot may attract happier people and maybe happier marriage partners,” Hertenstein said. “It may be that people who smile in response to a photographer are more obedient people and obedience may help in a marriage. I really don’t know the explanation.”

Oh, please!  Who honestly believes that you can predict success at matrimony based on your childhood pictures or your high school yearbook photos?  I know that as a child, I hated being photographed and rarely ever smiled in pictures.  And in my high school photos I just looked awkward.  I suppose this means that I’m destined to be divorced later on in life.  Darn, I should’ve smiled in those photos then!

And “a smile may indicate higher levels of positive emotions and signal other traits”?  That’s not really rocket science, to conclude that someone is happy or experiencing positive emotions because s/he smiled.  It’s also inaccurate to declare that there’s a link between being super smiley when you’re younger and staying happily married later on in life.  There may be a correlation but not necessarily causation – smiling in photos from your childhood or teenage years does not mean that you will remain in a happy marriage when you’re older.

Hertenstein’s claim,”It may be that people who smile in response to a photographer are more obedient people and obedience may help in a marriage”, is also problematic.  While he isn’t making this comment gender specific, I read: the marriage has a better chance if the wife is obedient.  Obedience is an archetypically feminine characteristic.  How often do people tell boys or men to be obedient?  It’s definitely something said to girls and women more because women are supposed to be subservient and obedient.

Finally, this smiling study essentially does not show us anything.  In order for a scientific study to be valid it needs to be able to be easily replicated and the findings have to be reproduced.  Most people with enough sense in their heads will look at this study and be skeptical, because it even just sounds ridiculous!

LOL. What a tool!

3 05 2009

Roy Den Hollander, a self-professed antifeminist. aka a TOOL.

In August 2008, Roy Den Hollander, a New York based lawyer and self-professed anti-feminist, sued Columbia University for being discriminatory against men by not offering Men’s Studies classes while they offered Women’s Studies classes.  In July 2007 sued Manhattan night clubs before for having ladies’ night free admission or discounts because they apparently violate the 14th Amendment which guarantees equal protection under the law.  In February 2008 he sued the federal government claiming that parts of the Violence Against Women Act were unconstitutional.  He’s proud of his “trilogy of antifeminist lawsuits”.

About the Columbia case, Hollander said that Women’s Studies is a “bastion of bigotry against men” and “demonizes men and exalts women in order to justify discrimination against men based on collective guilt.”  Columbia’s Women’s Studies program and Women’s Studies programs nationwide are “spreading prejudice and fostering animosity and distrust toward men with the result of the wholesale violation of men’s rights due to ignorance, falsehoods and malice.”  He accused Columbia of using federal funding to preach and spread a “religionist belief system called feminism.”

All I have to say is LOL.  Really?!!!

This suit was thrown out of court on April 23rd by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who wrote,“Feminism is no more a religion than physics, and at least the core of the complaint therefore is frivolous.”  Indeed.  This was nothing more than a stupid, frivolous lawsuit.  Again, LOL.

Don’t call yourself feminist if you are transphobic and can’t see past your cisgender privilege!

3 05 2009

I linked to this story earlier today, but I think it needs to be addressed more thoroughly. The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter recently won a court case which granted them the right to refuse to hire a counselor, Kimberly Nixon, because she is a trans woman. Their reasoning? Because she is a trans woman she is not truly a woman and therefore not woman enough to be a counselor at a battered women’s shelter.

Rape Relief spokesperson Suzanne Jay denies that this case is, or ever was, about discrimination and transphobia. Instead she says, “For us, the struggle was about allowing a women’s group to organize as we saw fit.” She claims that Rape Relief needs counselors with similar shared life experiences in which they’ve been oppressed by men “since the day they were born female”. So according to her logic, since trans women are not born with female genitals they simply cannot have these “shared life experiences” of patriarchal male oppression.

This obscures the fact that trans people often are victims of violence, including sexual violence, and it is unfortunate that violence against trans people is too often overlooked. The Gender, Violence and Resource Access Survey preliminarily reports that 50% of individuals in the intersex and trans community have been raped or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner. Rape Relief cannot operate as a feminist organization if it fails to include trans women, if it fails to provide employment and counseling/relief services to trans women. Rape Relief is not truly an all-women space if it operates under such a narrow definition of woman.

And then, to add more insult to injury, Jay speaks of how happy and relieved Rape Relief is that the case is finally closed after eleven and a half years. No, it’s not a matter of human rights violations, discrimination, and transphobia. It’s not about how Kimberly Nixon, and the trans community as a whole, has no legal protection from discrimination or human rights violations, lack job security, and cannot feel safe navigating around in public spaces. Instead, it’s about how poor Rape Relief had to spend more than $100,000 on this court case and how they’ve “endured almost 12 years of attack on Rape Relief’s reputation and resources.” Boo Hoo. Way to displace accountability and paint yourself as the victim.

Read the rest of this entry »

Excuse me while I vomit

3 05 2009

Two teens accused in the death of a Mexican immigrant received not-guilty verdicts on their most serious charges Friday. Derrick Donchak (19 years old) and Brandon Piekarsky (17 years old) were acquitted of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and ethnic intimidation for the death of Luis Ramirez.  Piekarsky was also acquitted of third-degree murder charges.  The two high school football stars were both found guilty of aggravated assault.

Last summer in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Ramirez was confronted by the teens while walking down a residential street with a friend.  The teens had been drinking earlier in the night.  Prosecutors allege that the teens began the fight with racial slurs, and ended the fight with Ramirez fatally injured.  Piekarsky was accused of delivering the fatal kick to Ramirez’s head after he had been knocked to the ground. Gladys Limon, a spokeswoman for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said:

The jurors here [are] sending the message that you can brutally beat a person, without regard to their life, and get away with it, continue with your life uninterrupted.  In this case, the message is that a person who may not be popular in society based on their national origin or certain characteristic has less value in our society.

The acts here were egregious in brutality and it’s just outrageous and very difficult to understand how any juror could have had reasonable doubt, especially as to the aggravated assault and the reckless enganderment charges.

The extent of Ramirez’s injuries had left his brain literally oozing from his skull, and should warrant a stricter penalty than aggravated assault.  The teens do not deny that the altercation occurred.

“In my mind it was the lack of evidence to tie these kids to the serious charges that they brought,” defense lawyer Frederick Fanelli argues.

The murdered man, 25-year-old Luis Ramirez, had just moved to the town a year before his death with his wife and young children.  His life was cut short, and his friends, family’s, and community’s lives have been disrupted irreparably.  The jury is not only sending the wrong message with the conviction, but is also implicitly condoning violence and racism with their lack of action.

At one Kentucky high school, gay students are not allowed to pee?

3 05 2009

From Pandagon:

Fifteen high school students protested outside Franklin County High School in Kentucky on Friday.  The protest was in response to an alleged email sent to teachers by the high school assistant principal that instructed them not to allow homosexuals to leave the classroom to use the restroom.  The email was allegedly sent in response to two lesbian students caught kissing in one of the school bathrooms.

The Kentucky Equality Federation is concerned that the Superintendent will not address the student protesters’ concerns properly.  There have been similar reports of discrimination against LGBT students in Casey, Pulaski, and Powell counties as well.  Kentucky Equality Federation Managing Director Laura Reed stated:

I’d like to know what level this mentality, that gay and lesbian students should not be treated equally is coming from. An incident in one county could be called an isolated incident, but we now have similar reports in three other Kentucky Counties.

While the incident has not been proven, the alleged banning of LGBT students from restrooms is really shameful.  But besides being homophobic, unhealthy, and downright cruel (are people supposed to just go in their pants?), the assistant principal has absolutely no right to keep anyone from doing anything that the rest of the student body is entitled to do.  And I could venture a guess that if a straight couple was found kissing somewhere, the entire straight student population would not be banned from entering that space.  The email would also assume that the teachers can tell who is homosexual in their classes, and enforces discrimination based on physical appearances and stereotypes of gay behavior.

As Pandagon points out, the word for the month of April at Franklin County High School is “tolerance.”  Perhaps the school officials who were allegedly involved need to pick up a dictionary?

Sunday Blogaround

3 05 2009

Here are some interesting things to read this week.  Enjoy!

On Thin Privilege: A Harder Kind of Privilege to Discern

Blogging Against Disabilism: “I wasn’t going to do this…”

Sexism still exists

Oh no, what about the white men?

Geez, did he really think he had a case? (This is why you don’t sue Columbia University or any other university for offering Women’s Studies courses because it discriminates against men.)

On cis gender privilege: Bigotry masking behind feminism in Vancouver

“Rights Versus Rites”: Culture can’t be used as a scapegoat, but it can’t be used to justify human rights violations either

“Will Public Media Survive Where Mainstream Media Failed?”