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?





October is a big month

5 10 2009

October is:

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

breast-cancer-awareness-ribbon

LGBTQ History Month

lgbtq1

 

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Vigil_logo

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (at Tufts)

stoprape





Bravo, Chris Rock!

5 10 2009

Chris Rock has taken a stance against Roman Polanski and has made it clear that he is not going to join the long list of Hollywood celebrities defending Polanski.  On the Jay Leno show, he said:

He made good movies, THIRTY YEARS AGO. Even Johnnie Cochran don’t have the nerve to go, ‘Well, did you see O.J. play against New England?’

Click here to watch the video.





Why is this petition circulating?!?! And why are so many people signing it?!?!

30 09 2009

There is a petition circulating to Free Roman Polanski.  PUKE!  Some names of celebrities who have signed it so far:

Natalie Portman (this surprises me)

Pedro Almodovar

Gael Garcia Bernal

Woody Allen

Wes Anderson

Martin Scorsese

Penelope Cruz

Harrison Ford

This is all really depressing.  The petition states:

Roman Polanski is a French citizen, a renown and international artist now facing extradition. This extradition, if it takes place, will be heavy in consequences and will take away his freedom.

Um, have people forgotten that he raped a 13 year old girl?!?!?!  Whether or not he is a French citizen, a renown and international artist, a wealthy and powerful man, he should not just be let off the hook for his crime!!  And people should not be so quick to defend a rapist!!  (Unfortunately we do live in a rape culture where this sort of shit is not atypical.)

Even though Samantha Gailey has expressed no desire to pursue the case, as Melissa writes on Shakesville:

The simple answer for that is because justice doesn’t operate on the principle of what’s best for the victim; it operates on the principle of what’s best for the community. (That’s why prosecutors represent “the people.”) Particularly in a case of sexual assault of a minor, there is additional pressure to prosecute, even if the victim(s) don’t support the prosecution, because interviews of convicted/admitted child rapists in prisons suggest that the rapist who only rapes once and never again has about as much supporting evidence for his existence as does the unicorn. (To wit: Roman Polanski’s ensuing relationship with then-15-year-old Nastassja Kinski.) Some of those who understand this principle nonetheless argue that Polanski is now an “old man,” as if old men don’t rape. Unfortunately, they can and they do.

The more complicated answer to If even the girl he raped wants to let it go, why shouldn’t we? begins with this statement of fact: Her reasons are not yours.

Samantha Gailey’s primary reason for not wanting the case pursued, according to the public statements I’ve read, have to do with her not wanting to subject herself and her family to the public scrutiny and media circus that will inevitably surround Polanski’s return to the US and any subsequent court proceedings.

She’s not motivated by sympathy—in fact, she has explicitly said she harbors no “hard feelings” but also feels “no sympathy” for Polanski, and in recent years publicly stated she wished he’s come back just so she could put the whole thing behind her, irrespective of the outcome.

The truth not being spoken is that the people incorporating Samantha Gailey’s wishes as part of their arguments aren’t doing so because they want to protect Samantha Gailey. They’re doing it because they want to protect Roman Polanski.





Roman Polanski Arrested on Saturday in Switzerland

29 09 2009

Roman Polanski was arrested on Saturday in Switzerland. He fled the States for 32 years after being tried for raping a 13-year old girl, Samantha Gailey, in 1977.  Much has been said already in the feminist blogosphere about this, so I’ll just guide you to other bloggers’ insights:

Reminder: Roman Polanski raped a child.

Roman Polanski’s life of crime.

Puzzle Activity Time.

Can arresting Roman Polanski make a difference?

Good news from Pandagon.

Roman Polanski Understands Women: Repulsion.

Rape Apologists: Roman Polanski’s Rape of  Child Not That Bad.





Weekly Feminist Reader

27 09 2009

Cara covers the story of a Trans Woman Murdered in Hollywood

Partisan Politican Contributions by US Companies

A Take on The Good Wife: The Wrong Side of the Mommy Track

Health Care Reform — at the Price of Women’s Health?

Nike Makes Black Athlete Look Like…an Animal? An Alien? What?

Cross-generational discussions can be difficult – but we need to have them

Trans-misogyny? There’s an app for that

A topic that’s worth revisiting over and over again: How to be an ally

The Reverse of Discrimination is “Not Discrimination”

Minor Offenses: The Tragedy of Youth in Adult Prisons

What’s wrong with [not just young people] everybody now

Malkin’s venom knows no bounds: Obama “doesn’t like this country very much”, is the “Groveler in Chief”





G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines

27 09 2009

At the G-20 Conference in Pittsburg last Friday, a lot of protesters gathered outside. Since it was a major economic conference featuring leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies, there were many protesters advocating for better wages and working conditions, unemployment rate and hiking violence at the US-Mexico border, clean energy, etc. There was one group of protesters who called attention to sexual assault, establishing procedures and safe spaces for people who are assaulted at the conference or in the crowd. Furthermore, they made a clear statement that sexual harassment and sexual assault will NOT be tolerated.

The following is the G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines that they disseminated to the crowd. I think it’s pretty awesome! The definitions are thorough and well-informed. Check it out for yourself:

Announcing the G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines. Please disseminate widely.Perpetrators of sexual violence, assault, and harassment are not welcome in Pittsburgh or any G20 protest organizational spaces.

Support Structure for Survivors of Sexualized Violence and Assault:

If you experience harassment, abuse, sexual assault, or any other kind of consent violation while resisting the G20 this September, or if a perpetrator of sexual violence is interfering with your participation in the G20 resistance movement, or for any other reason you need support to deal with sexualized violence, please come to us.There will be trained and experienced advocates and support people for survivors of sexual assault at the WELLNESS SPACE (located in the clinic).

G20RP Sexual Consent Guidelines: No Perpetrators Welcome!

Perpetrators of Sexual Assault, Abuse, and Harassment Are Not Welcome in G20 Resistance Spaces

Perpetrators of sexual violence/assault/harassment are not welcome in Pittsburgh or any G20 protest organizational spaces. This includes people who have perpetrated in the past*, people currently engaged in or running away from accountability processes, and people who refuse to respect the ResistG20 consent guidelines. People who violate consent guidelines will be directed to leave G20 organizational spaces and housing arrangements. Given the short time frame, lack of people resources, and likelihood of state repression we don’t have the ability to deal with these situations in this artificially constructed community.

Perpetrators’ presence should not hinder survivors’ participation in G20 mobilizations (Perps: You are not welcome regardless of the survivor’s plans). We are resisting the G20 in large part because the G20 acts WITHOUT accountability to or consent of the people it fucks over. Don’t replicate the same paradigm of domination and abuse that you’re claiming to want to smash.

*We understand and respect that other communities have engaged in their own processes around these incidents. If you have gone through an accountability process and the survivor, joined by the community, feels you have sufficiently dealt with your shit, this statement does not include you.

Support Structure for Survivors of Sexualized Violence and Assault

If you experience harassment, abuse, sexual assault, or any other kind of consent violation while resisting the G20 this September, or if a perpetrator of sexual violence is interfering with your participation in the G20 resistance movement, or for any other reason you need support to deal with sexualized violence, please come to us.

There will be trained and experienced advocates and support people for survivors of sexual assault at the WELLNESS SPACE (located in the clinic). People staffing housing and other spaces, as well as medics and (A)-minded legal observers (note: not the ACLU kind) should also be able to put you in contact with us.

We can offer you:

*Support, caring, and listening

*Advocacy on your behalf, including the removal of perpetrators of violence

*Emergency housing changes to quiet, safer space housing

*Transport to the Pittsburgh rape crisis center

*Medical, herbal, and wellness (massage, acupressure, music therapy) resources

*Resources for further support and/or action

*Support, with the legal team, to document sexual abuse by law enforcement

Consent Guidelines for G20 Resistance Spaces and Housing

Consistently asking for consent and listening to your sexual partner at every step in every sexual encounter, regardless of length, history, or specific situation, is the only way to prevent sexual assault from happening. Consent includes asking, listening, and respecting; it does not include coercion, expectations, or assumptions.

Consent: Consent is actively and voluntarily expressed agreement. Doing personal work to consistently seek consent and respect the times when it is not given helps to combat rape culture, and informed consent, sexual and otherwise, is necessary in the building of strong, healthy anti-authoritarian communities. The following do not qualify as consent: silence, passivity, and coerced acquiescence. Body movements, non-verbal responses such as moans, or the appearance of physical arousal do not, necessarily, constitute consent. Further, if someone is intoxicated, they may not be in a position to give you consent. Consent is required each and every time there is sexual activity, regardless of the parties’ relationship, prior sexual history, or current activity.

Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is any non-consensual sexual interaction. Sexual assault happens, and it happens in activist and radical communities as much as anywhere else. Sexual assault can be perpetrated by a complete stranger, but is often perpetrated by someone known and trusted by the survivor and community. Sexual assault is a tool of domination, of taking power, and can rob someone of their self respect, self worth, and autonomy. Sexual assault is rooted in broader systems of oppression- such as patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, homophobia, and colonialism- and is not separable from them in how and why it is perpetrated, experienced, and dealt with.

Rape Culture: Rape culture is the culture in which sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence are condoned, excused and even encouraged. Rape culture is part of a broader culture of violence, wherein people are socialized to inhabit different positions in hierarchical relationships, to commodify their fellow human beings, and to relate to each other through violence and coercion.

We are survivor centric and survivor oriented. When a decision needs to be made to give “benefit of the doubt” to a perpetrator or support to a survivor, the preference will be to support the survivor. State language which serves to cast doubt onto survivors experiences (eg referring to experiences as “allegations”) has zero space in radical support and communities.

Thank you G20RP, Antioch College Consent Policy, Denver on Fire, Unconventional Denver, and the RNC Welcoming Committee





Enough of these disgusting ads already!

25 09 2009

max

Here’s another episode in advertising FAIL. What is wrong with this ad?

1. It objectifies a woman and positions her in sexual submissiveness to advertise men’s shoes, so clearly the gaze clearly is male. When sex is used to sell products, which it often is, the gaze is pretty much always male. Thus women in the ad who are objectified embody a “to be looked-at” ness in which their subjectivity and personhood is denied. They simply exist as sexual objects to satisfy (cis, het) male viewing pleasure.

2. Notice the racial undertones in this ad – the woman who is tied up is Asian. Two stereotypes are being perpetuated here: one is that women are submissive and available for the male gaze and enjoyment; the second is that Asian women are subdued and submissive. She is also wearing a kimono, something that is traditionally and obviously Asian, which speaks to the exoticization and eroticization of Asian women.

3. The woman has a sexy, come-hither kind of look on her face. However, what is sexy about this? She is clearly in a subordinate position (her movement in space is entirely confined seeing that she’s tied up and displayed), sexually available because she cannot resist. She is tied to a shoe, so she is literally attached to an object. Her passivity renders her personal and sexual subjectivity entirely absent. The conflation of female bodies with objects for consumption reinforce and perpetuate rape culture and violence against women by showing that women are readily available and accessible for male consumption. It makes female helplessness seem sexy.

Many people may argue that this ad is just a shoe ad and that all these criticisms are just reading way too into it. My response? This ad does not exist in isolation. It is important to situate it in our cultural context and see this as symptomatic and emblamatic of not only misogyny but racism. We are socioculturally conditioned to be blind to sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression. So if you fail to see anything wrong with this ad, you are not examining it critically enough.





Feminist Reader

19 09 2009

Here’s some stuff that’s out there on the interwebs right now.  Check it out.

A piece by Ann at Feministing about the Hofstra case and rape culture.

All female trains in India.

Rush Limbaugh once again being a jackass, says that we should return to racially segregated buses.

Cara at The Curvature does an excellent job explaining why we should not pressure rape survivors into naming their attackers.

Stuff white people do-  feel entitled to touch black women’s hair.

Marvel writer has rape in storyline, then responds to criticism with rape-culture apologism.

Katrina’s lessons are as important as 9/11′s.

In upcoming stuff:  “Sex, Lies, and Gender” will appear on the National Geographic channel Tuesday Sept. 22 at 6 PM.  Check out the airing times near you.  I have seen it.  I will watch it again.  You should definitely watch it too.

ACORN pimp sting, child prostitution, and accountability” by Atlasien at Racialicious

Tenured Radical goes to Washington D.C., offers some thoughts on the Tea Party rally.





The Terminator terminates funding for domestic violence in California

25 08 2009

I am a bit late on posting this but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently recklessly terminated California’s entire domestic violence budget.  Yup, all of it.  There’s not a single penny left in the state budget for addressing and dealing with domestic violence.  This is deeply disturbing and infuriating.  As V-Day founder Eve Ensler has said:

What same governor does this as the state economy is plummeting and violence is escalating? When the STAND Hotline, that serves Contra Costa County, fielded more than 12,500 calls for help in the first seven months of 2009, triple the number in a normal year (if violence is ever normal)? In a state where over the past six months at least five men, desperate from losing their jobs, have murdered their families and themselves? What other governor is willing to sacrifice the lives of his constituent daughters and mothers in order to protect oil corporations from paying taxes on their multi-billion-dollar profits – fair taxes that could easily fund these same programs?

Here again we see “women’s issues” being sidelined and shoved off the table because they are not deemed worthy enough for our attention and recognition.  As feminists have argued and demonstrated for so long, domestic violence is not merely a “women’s issue”.  It is a serious matter that affects the entire community.  Victims of domestic violence are not limited to just women.  States and institutions need to take domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence or relationship violence) seriously.

Fortunately in New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson (also a Tufts alum!) has preserved funding for domestic violence programs and has expressed a deep and sincere commitment to ending violence against women in New Mexico.  But it is completely unacceptable that Governor Scwarzenegger has chosen to eliminate all funding for domestic violence programs in California.  He needs to get his priorities in order.





Call it what it really is: rape

25 08 2009

One way that rape culture functions and continues to thrive is through invisibility. The mainstream media poorly covers sexual violence (if they cover it at all). Often times sexual assault and rape get erased from the picture – instead of using the words sexual assault or rape, mainstream news sources will just use sex. So instead of saying that Person X raped Person Y, headlines or articles will say things along the lines of Person X had sex with Person Y. Case in point:

From NBC: A police officer in Connecticut is being charged with first degree sexual assault and criminal impersonation after police say he posed as his twin brother to have sex with a woman.

Okay, so at least they explicitly state that the officer is charged with first degree sexual assault. But then they go on to say “he posed as his twin brother to have sex with a woman”. Wrong, he did not have sex with a woman, he raped a woman. There was no consent. She did not have consented to having sex with him because he was impersonating his twin brother and fooling her so that he could rape her.

Here’s another one describing the same violation from The Telegraph UK:

Jared Rohrig, 25, pretended to be his brother Joe to trick the woman into bed.

Again, the words sexual assault or rape are entirely omitted from the story. The language used here is extremely trivializing and makes it seem more like some kind of soap opera story or some ridiculous drama you’d see on television.

By continuing to unidentify and unexamine rape, we are enabling it to persist without taking notice of its heinous criminal nature.  Failing to name rape as rape simply bolsters rape culture and belittles the severity of the crime.  We need to call it what it is: rape.

H/t Womanist Musings.





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.





Barney’s, This is Completely Unacceptable

27 07 2009

File this under WTF?!!  What were you thinking?!! Via Sociological Images, Barney’s New York had this window display up this past week, but took it down when shoppers complained:

Barney's 1

Barney's 2

The mannequins (obviously female) are apparently being attacked by some invisible assailant with what is supposed to be blood. This display glamorizes violence against women, making it seem fashionable and sexy for women to be in danger or hurt. Depicting women being violently hurt for the purpose of selling clothing is despicable and serves to perpetuate rape culture and a culture of violence.





Sunday Catch Up

26 07 2009

Here are a few things we missed:

This Is What Rape Culture Looks Like.

A woman walks into a rape, uh, bar…

New laws help domestic violence victims.

Human rights violations in U.K. jail.

Women and the Minimum Wage.

Women don’t ask for nasty voyeurism.

Complimentary.

On Gendered Language.

On the word “transition”.

Perhaps Silverton is Not Completely Accepting of their Trans Mayor.

Banning Cesar Chavez: Whites “Sanitizing” US History Again.

Same crap, different day.

Marketing Asian Women to Anti-feminist Men.

When the Outside Looks Like the Inside.








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