“Act and be heard.”

11 05 2009

There is a great op-ed in today’s Tampa Tribune by Casey Gwinn, founder of the San Diego Family Justice Center and the president of the National Family Justice Center Alliance, about how domestic/relationship violence is a very pertinent problem that does not get the attention and action that it needs.   He says:

After more than 30 years of the modern domestic violence movement, we still struggle for funding, face budget cuts and reductions when the economy goes bad (though domestic violence rises) and rarely are the primary focus of public policymakers in America.

This is absolutely right on point.  Domestic/relationship violence often get sidelined or dismissed as not important enough issues compared to more pressing matters, you know like which female celebrities have gained weight, or which Hollywood starlet is pregnant now.  Given the nature of domestic/relationship violence as intimate crimes where the perpetrators and the victims know each other well and may even love each other, they are often perceived as “private matters” that only concern those directly involved.  People aren’t supposed to intervene in other people’s “private business”.  The point that Gwinn makes is the same point that feminists have been making for years and years now – domestic/relationship violence is something that affects the entire community, not just the victim.

Gwinn goes on to say:

Lately, the news is consumed with coverage of the swine flu, an important public health issue in America. As of Friday, there had been nearly 1,650 confirmed cases in the United States and two deaths.

But there has been little news about the mass killings of more than 60 people across America in the past 50-something days, with men responsible for all the deaths and nearly all the cases involving men with a history of violence against women.

..There have been 13 mass killings in the past two months in the United States. In 12 of the 13, the killer had a history of abuse against women or the cases were directly related to or defined as domestic violence; 22 children and seven police officers were among the dead.

People generally fail to see domestic/relationship violence as a public health issue since it’s just a “private matter” between two people.  So it’s easy to keep talking about swine flu and all the lives it’s claimed recently but it’s perceived as irrelevant to discuss the lives that domestic/relationship violence has taken and continues to take.

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Steven Green Trial Update

11 05 2009

So the spotlight is on former soldier Steven Green who was convicted last Thursday of planning and leading the gang rape of 14-year-old Iraqi girl Abeer al-Janabi and later murdering her along with her family. The four other soldiers involved in this heinous crime, Pvt. James Barker, Sgt. Paul Cortez, Pvt. Jesse Spielman and Pvt. Bryan Howard, have been convicted as well and have been given long sentences. Pvt. Jesse Speilman was sentenced to 110 years, Sgt. Paul Cortez was sentenced to 100 years and Pvt. James Barker was sentenced to 90 years. In his closing arguments, Green’s defense attorney mentioned that the prosecutor offered the four other soldiers involved help getting out on parole in seven years if they testified against Green. As Gail McGowan Mellor writes in the Huffington Post:

In prosecuting the hate-crime slaughter by U.S. soldiers of the al-Janabi family in Iraq, and the gang rape of the teenage daughter, the five men are in federal custody; by the evidence, there is no question that the crimes occurred nor that it was these men who perpetrated them. Should any of the four men already sentenced be so quickly freed in order to nail the fifth, Green — especially if he has already confessed?

Something is clearly not right here… Yes, Green is the ringleader of the gang but the other men involved should be held accountable as well, not let off the hook for simply testifying against Green.  Green being the ringleader does not negate their involvement and participation in the violence that occurred, and since they conspired with him they were active enablers who are just as guilty.  Soldiers should get more than just a slap on the wrist for participating in heinous, violent war crimes.   Gang rape and murder should not be more acceptable and less punishable just because men in uniforms commit them.  They are still despicable crimes and should be treated as such.

The military is a boys’ club and it does much to legitimize and normalize violence and violent masculinity. Green bragged about the violent crimes immediately afterwards to his cohorts, including Sgt. Anthony Yribe who helped the five men cover up their crimes. Yribe not only conspired with these men in helping them hide the evidence of their crimes, but he also chose not to turn Green in or making any official note or report of Green’s confession to gang raping al-Janabi and murdering her family. Instead he simply gave Green an honorable discharge sending him back into civilian life in the US , noting that Green had an “antisocial personality disorder.” When Yribe’s role in this was revealed, Yribe was just dishonorably discharged.  Utterly disgusting.

It is important to constantly examine and re-examine the military and militarization.  When doing so, we need to focus more on just the military-industrial complex – we also need to factor in the politics of femininity and masculinity, dominant American ideology and the myth of rugged individualism, and the scripts of patriotism and citizenship that militarism inscribes in all of us.





Racism and sexism in Runescape?

11 05 2009

I am not much of a video or online gamer but I saw this post up on Sociological Images that presents designs for new characters for the online game Runescape.  These new characters are all supposed to be musicians.

reproducing gender and race stereotypes

It’s interesting to note that the two people of color on the right side are barefoot and their attire seem to suggest tribalism or some sort of primitivism.  This plays into racist stereotypes of people of color being exotic others who are not as advanced or cosmopolitan as westerners are.

Furthermore, to look at gender stereotypes, the women appear sexy and seductive.  This is implied in their stance, smiles as well as their arm gestures (with one hand on their hip and the other held out).  Meanwhile the men appear to be more aggressive with wider stances and their hands in fists.

It’s interesting to read the thread on the Runescape forum as well as the comments on the Sociological Images post.  What are people’s thoughts and reactions?





Goodness Gracious

11 05 2009

Feminist2 and I saw these in Urban Outfitters a while back, and they are so ridiculous and gender-role perpetuating that I decided to share them with all of you.

jtl2dt

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