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





Anti-feminist fun

26 09 2009

The Family Research Council (whose motto is Defending Faith, Family and Freedom – that’s enough to make me never want to be associated with them) held a conference last weekend called the 2009 Value Voters Summit that featured Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin and Bill O’Reilly (Hmph,what a lovely bunch) as speakers. So at this ultra conservative gathering, one of the talks was called “The New Masculinity”:

Feminism has wreaked havoc on marriage, women, children and men. It is time to redress the disorder it has wrought and that must start with getting the principles and ideals for a new “masculinism” right. Such a “masculinism” will have its dovetailing counterpart in a new “feminism” for they mutually define each other and, in nature, are meant to be complementary.

Here we go with the classic villification of feminism again… Evil feminism, responsible for destroying men, women, children, families and marriage. So to remedy that, we need a “new masculinism”? The rhetoric used to discuss this “new masculinism” is blatantly homophobic. Here’s a taste. Michael Schwartz, Chief of Staff to Sen. Tom Coburn said:

…Pornography is a blight. It is a disaster. It is, it is one of those silent diseases in our society that we haven’t been able to overcome very well. Now, I may be getting politically incorrect here. But one — It’s been a few years, not that many, since I was closely associated with pre-adolescent boys, boys who are like 10 to 12 years of age. But it is my observation that boys at that age have less tolerance for homosexuality than just about any other class of people. They speak badly about homosexuality. And that’s because they don’t want to be that way. They don’t want to fall into it. And that’s a good instinct. After all, homosexuality, we know, studies have been done by the National Institute of Health to try to prove that its genetic and all those studies have proved its not genetic. Homosexuality is inflicted on people. [Bold emphasis mine]

Homosexuality is inflicted on people?!?!?!?! I don’t understand his twisted logic. And then he continues:

I had a very good friend who was in the homosexual lifestyle for a long time and then he had a religious conversion in the eighties. And he bought a old motel and turned it into a hospice for some of his former associates who were dying of AIDS. He helped, he helped almost 300 men die. This man was a real hero. But he knew that he wasn’t as healed as he thought he was. He was able to resist temptation. He was able to resist sin. But he wasn’t healed enough to take on the responsibilities of marriage. And he was a brilliant man in the sense that he knew himself. And he knew his limits. And he and I had good conversations about, about the malady that he suffered. And one of the things that he said to me, that I think is an astonishingly insightful remark. He said, “all pornography is homosexual pornography because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards. Now think about that. And if you, if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to go out and get a copy of Playboy? I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest. That’s the last thing he wants.” You know, that’s a, that’s a good comment. It’s a good point and it’s a good thing to teach young people. [Bold emphasis, again mine]

Say what?!?!?! Homosexuality is not a sin. Nor is it a malady. And besides, HOW the hell can looking at pornography “turn” someone gay?!?! This stupidity is way beyond me, and it scares me to think that a roomful of similar close minded conservatives all huddled together to promote a “new masculinism” through homophobia?!

Some of the other panels were:

DEFUNDING PLANNED PARENTHOOD – PALLADIAN ROOM
Mark Bucher, Bucher & Palmer, LLP; Lila Rose, President, LiveAction

As many state and local governments are tightening their budgets to weather this fiscal storm, communities are taking a second look at the funding of the controversial abortion corporation Planned Parenthood. Since 1987, Planned Parenthood has taken in $3.2 billion in taxpayer funds. Planned Parenthood has used its money to support candidates who will continue this money stream and to lobby against initiatives such as parental notification laws in cases of minors seeking an abortion. Learn from people, like you, who have successfully stopped Planned Parenthood funding in their communities.

Ugh. Anti-choicers, go away!!

TRUE TOLERANCE: COUNTERING THE HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS – CONGRESSIONAL B
Candi Cushman–Education Analyst, Focus on the Family Action

True tolerance my ass.

MARRIAGE: WHY IT’S WORTH DEFENDING AND HOW REDEFINING IT THREATENS RELIGIOUS LIBERTY – DIPLOMAT ROOM
Charles Donovan, Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation; Thomas Messner, Visiting Fellow; The Heritage Foundation; Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Founder and President, Ruth Institute

Redefining marriage poses serious threats to the religious liberties of people who continue to believe that marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman. This understanding of marriage is an important religious belief for many Americans, but the freedom to express it will come under growing pressure as courts, public officials, and private institutions come to regard the traditional understanding of marriage as a form of irrational prejudice that should be purged from public life. This briefing will focus on policy and legal developments, as well as how to communicate the link between marriage and religious liberty.

Heterosexist much?

GLOBAL WARMING HYSTERIA: THE NEW FACE OF THE “PRO-DEATH” AGENDA – CABINET ROOM
Dr. Calvin Beisner, National Spokesman, Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation

  • Why did the President’s science advisor support coerced abortions to protect the planet?
  • Why are top abortion funders underwriting efforts to co-opt evangelicals on global warming?
  • If “people are the problem,” what’s the final solution?

Cap and trade is about more than saving the planet. It’s the biggest tax hike in American history. It threatens to concentrate massive amounts of power into the hands of central government and international bureaucrats. And its ascendancy marks the rise of a new, more subtle challenge to the culture of life.

Ultimately, climate change hysteria rests on an unbiblical view of God, mankind, and the environment. Come and hear how the Cornwall Alliance is pushing back–producing ground-breaking studies on Biblical environmentalism, educating pastors and churches across the country, and activating thousands of Christians to rally against the hype through the WeGetIt.org Campaign. Learn why policies to fight alleged man-made global warming will instead cause hundreds of millions of premature deaths throughout this century, and how human liberty, responsibility, and flourishing are the key to a healthier environment.

Oh my god. Seriously?!

Sometimes this is all so ridiculous and laughable that I can’t imagine anyone buying into it or believing it. The unfortunate thing is that a lot of people do believe this bullshit.





Caster Semenya to undergo sex determination

29 08 2009

In case you haven’t heard, there has been some serious bullshit going on about Caster Semenya, an 18-year-old world champion runner from South Africa, whose privacy is being invaded beyond belief in a controversy over whether the runner has too many male characteristics to compete as a woman.  On Tuesday, Semenya won the 800-meters race at the track and field world championships, just hours after it was determined by track officials that she would need to undergo sex testing to determine her further eligibility to compete as a woman.  Many people globally are rightfully angered about the public invasion of the young woman’s privacy.

Lamine Diack, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations, (the organization who ordered the investigation) has admitted that the confidentiality of the investigation was breached, called this “regrettable,” and asked for an inquiry.  However, these words are little comfort to those who are outraged by the implicit sexism, heteronormativity and racism in the investigation.  Controversy and finger-pointing has also arisen over who was the one to raise the question about Semenya’s sex to the I.A.A.F.  It has also been noted that white South Africans seem to be conspicuously absent as Semenya’s supporters.

Leonard Chuene, President of Athletics South Africa, said to The New York Times:   “We are not going to allow Europeans to define and describe our children…The only scientists I believe in are the parents of this child.”

According to a test three years ago, Semenya’s testosterone levels were in the normal range for women, and she was judged to be definitely female.  But regardless of the results, these investigations emphasize how global society continues to denigrate, mock, and intimidate those who do not conform to a rigid binary of gender stereotypes.

The New York Times notes that Semenya has been subjected to harassment about her sex before.  “Boys used to tease her all the time…Sometimes she’d have to beat them up,” said Semenya’s great aunt, Martina Mpati.  Semenya’s high school principal told South African newspaper “The Star” that at some track meets, the other team would demand proof of her sex identity, but after they returned from the toilets, “she would be cleared and the competition would resume.”

But as if physical exams and taunting weren’t enough, her sex has become an item of global attention and speculation, simply because of the way that she looks and speaks.  Semenya should not be subjected to this blatant gender discrimination.  But sadly, Semenya is forced to deal with this discrimination on both a private and public level, and she is being further taunted and humiliated globally because this most recent investigation was made public.

Dave Zirin calls out the “twisted, sexist, racist, and heteronormative” history of track and field in this MSNBC video on the subject.  Check it out.

Zirin also wrote an excellent piece on the subject in which he points out that:

fifty years ago, Olympic official Norman Cox proposed that in the case of black women, “the International Olympic Committee should create a special category of competition for them — the unfairly advantaged ‘hermaphrodites.'”

But it seems that we have remained relatively stagnant on this issue, and it still seems all too often that the athletic success of women (especially non-white women) causes their sex identity or honesty (or both) to be questioned.  The possibility of an endless spectrum of genders, even sexes, seems to be thought of as entirely impossible in a global athletics culture which values only a clear-cut gender binary in which male is the more athletically successful of the two categories.  We must resist this urge to define what is acceptable by these stereotypes of what it means to be male or female, masculine or feminine.  Perhaps only with the erasure of these stereotypes and this rigid gender/sex binary will we be able to stop the further humiliation and degradation of innocent people like Semenya.





Homophobic hate crime in Tel Aviv

2 08 2009

In Tel Aviv Saturday night, a masked gunman burst into the basement of the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association and opened fire on a support group for gay teenagers.  He sprayed the interior with automatic rifle fire, killing 3 people and injuring 11.  Of the 11 injured, 6 are “badly hurt”.  Witnesses have described the scene to the media as a “bloodbath”.

Nitzan Horowitz, an openly gay Knesset lawmaker, said that Saturday night was “without a doubt the biggest ever attack on the Israeli gay community, we are all in shock.”  What is especially saddening and tragic about this violent hate crime is that the targets and the victims were all young people.

For many of them, the basement of the Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Association was a safe space where they could meet others who were struggling like they were to come to terms with their identity.  It was a safe space for them to retreat from the homophobia they faced in the outside world and find themselves in a community where they were supported.  Unfortunately on Saturday night, their safe space was infiltrated by a violent and bigoted man.

These are human lives that were lost, the lives of young people who were stripped of their opportunities and right to live their lives and pursue their hopes, dreams and desires.  The price of hatred and intolerance is too high.  May those three young people rest in peace.