What really lies behind the ‘war on women’

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/may/24/what-lies-behind-war-on-women-naomi-wolf

It would be a mistake to see these attacks as simply a backlash against women. This is about empire struggling for social control


guardian.co.uk, Thursday 24 May 2012

Are women suddenly running rampant in the streets by the millions, threatening society in unexpected ways?

You would surely think so by looking at the pattern that is visible across the nation: state by state, a well-funded legislative war on women is being unleashed. Many of these new proposed bills, or recently passed state laws, attack in novel ways women’s rights to ownership of their bodies and their basic life choices, which second-wave feminists thought long won.

Planned Parenthood appears to be target No 1: Maine, Texas, Arizona, Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana, North Carolina and Kansas have all either had bills to defund Planned Parenthood successfully passed or else bills introduced to begin the process of defunding.

Target No 2 is abortion rights. Since 2011, 92 new laws against abortion took effect, in 11 states: some states, such as Tennessee, are passing creative new restrictions on abortion rights. On 12 April, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona signed a new law banning abortions later than 18 weeks after fertilization, and imposing new regulations making abortion more difficult to obtain.

Other bills impose waiting periods for women after they have sought medical help – so that they are forced to “think it over” in a manner, and for a period, mandated by the state. A law in Utah requires women to wait 72 hours after receiving medical counselling, for instance, before having an abortion. A similar law is passed in South Dakota.

Finally, some bills – in a way that defies the US constitution – limit or criminalize certain kinds of speech to pregnant women: a law in Kansas would allow medical professionals to refuse giving abortion-seeking women information about clinics and doctors.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/may/24/what-lies-behind-war-on-women-naomi-wolf

Posted in Abortion, Feminist, Misogyny. Comments Off

A Message to Girls About Religious Men Who Fear You

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/message-to-girls-about-re_b_1518849.html


05/21/2012

Dear Girls,

You are powerful beyond words, because you threaten to unravel the control of corrupt men who abuse their authority.

In the United States last week there were people who wouldn’t let boys play a baseball championship final because a girl was on the opposing team. She’d already had to sit out two games because of their demands. Why? Did she, a competitive athlete and a member of her team, chose to? Was she being good and respectful when she acceded to their demands? Why were they not asked to forfeit their games? What messages were sent to her and her teammates? This is not complicated. It sent the wrong messages. Confusing messages. Incoherent messages. You need to know that she should have been allowed to play and not have had to sit out two games. These people, and others like them, all over the world, led exclusively by religious men, are scared of you and will not let you be. You worry them constantly.

If you were not powerful, they would not take you so seriously and they take you very, very seriously. You should, too. You can set the world on fire.

It doesn’t feel this way, I know. If that were true, you think, I would not have to sit out baseball games out of respect for religious beliefs that require my subservience and call it a gift. I would not be turned away from serving God with my brothers. I would not be taught that I’m an evil temptress or the virtue keeper of boys. I would not have virginity wielded as a weapon against me and my worth determined by my womb. I would not be spat on and called a whore by men when I am eight because my arms are bare. I would not be poisoned for going to school. I would not be forced, at the age of 9, to carry twins borne of child torture. I would not have to kill myself to avoid marrying my rapist. If this were true, they would pursue my rapists instead of stoning me for their crimes. I, and thousands others, would not be killed for “honor.”

Girls, these things happen because there are men with power who fear you and want to control you. I know that I have equated relatively benign baseball games with deadly, honor killings but, whereas one is a type of daily, seemingly harmless micro-aggression and the other is a lethal macro-aggression they share the same roots. The basis of both, and escalating actions in between, is the same: To teach you, and all girls subject to these men and their authority, a lesson: “Know your place.” I also know that there are places where girls are marginalized and hurt that are not religious. But all over the world these hypocritical, pious men, in their shamefully obvious wrongness, represent the sharp-edged tip of an iceberg, the visible surface of a deep and vast harm. They employ the full range of their earthly and divine influence to make sure, as early as possible, that you and the boys around you understand what they want your relative roles to be. Where there are patriarchal religions girls, in dramatically varying and extreme degrees, disproportionately suffer. Understand these men for what they are: bullies. Do not internalize what they would have you believe.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/message-to-girls-about-re_b_1518849.html

Neo-Nazi Texas Republican Attorney General Compares Planned Parenthood To Terrorist Organization

It’s time to stop pretending the Republicans haven’t become the Nazi Party of America. Their hatred of women and LGBT people makes them completely un-American

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/texas-ag-planned-parenthood-terrorist_n_1468838.html


05/ 1/2012

Just two hours after a U.S. district judge stopped a Texas law that would have eliminated Planned Parenthood’s participation in the state’s Women’s Health Program, Federal Appeals Judge Jerry E. Smith issued an emergency stay that lifted that order.

In the appeal for the emergency stay, a team of attorneys led by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott compared Planned Parenthood to a terrorist organization.

“Planned Parenthood does not provide any assurance that the tax subsidies it receives from the Women’s Health Program have not been used directly or indirectly to subsidize its advocacy of elective abortion,” Abbott wrote in his motion to stay the injunction. “Nor is it possible for Planned Parenthood to provide this assurance.”

“Money is fungible, and taxpayer subsidies — even if ‘earmarked’ for nonabortion activities — free up other resources for Planned Parenthood to spend on its mission to promote elective abortions … (because ‘[m]oney is fungible,’ First Amendment does not prohibit application of federal material-support statute to individuals who give money to ‘humanitarian’ activities performed by terrorist organizations).”

The “federal material-support statute” that Abbott mentions makes it a felony to give money to a terrorist organization, even if the funds are specified for nonterrorist activities. Abbott makes the argument that giving Medicaid money to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings, pap smears, STD testing and birth control is akin to giving a terrorist organization money for humanitarian activities.

Planned Parenthood responded Tuesday to the terrorist comparison in a statement to the Huffington Post.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/texas-ag-planned-parenthood-terrorist_n_1468838.html

We’re Not the Bad Guys, the Executives at Disney Are

From Huffington Post:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lori-day/disney-princess_b_1449718.html


with Michele Sinisgalli-Yulo of Princess Free Zone.
04/24/2012

In honor of this being the First Annual National Princess Week, we’ve got a few things to say!

So much has been written about Disney, girls and their love of all things princess, but it’s time to address the epidemic of inflamed comment threads we’re seeing that pit moms against each other over this topic in a rather unhelpful way. It has us a bit confused, and more than a little concerned. I suppose because we’re both in our mid-40′s, we can remember a different era than can be recalled by younger mothers today. Yes, we remember being children and reading Disney books, seeing Disney movies in the theater and pretending to be princesses.

But we also remember how relatively small a piece of girlhood real estate was owned back then by the Disney Corporation, before the year 2000′s marketing blitz that led to the creation of the four-billion-dollar “Princess franchise” and, ultimately, the onslaught of over 26,000 Disney princess items currently being sold in the children’s market. It is no secret that Disney’s highly profitable, widely accepted, corporate-created definition of what it is to be a girl has become the norm. Our concern is that this new princess culture offers a one-dimensional and very limiting representation of femininity.

Newspaper articles, books and blog posts about princess culture abound, but it is often the comments that drive the grittier narrative. Let’s look at some typical comments taken from recent blog posts:

“I do not understand the concept of not allowing little girls to believe in the princess story. Let kids be kids and believe in fairy tales. People complain that kids grow up too fast these days, well this is one of the reasons why. Forcing adult ideals on children. When they are young let them believe in happy endings and being rescued by prince charming. As they get older, then you can teach them to take care of themselves.”
“You are a sick human being if you are ‘fighting’ the pull for little girls to be girly. Every little girls WANTS to be a princess and/or beautiful. Do you want your daughter to be like a boy?!”
“Really?! Is it really that big of deal? I am a child from the 90s where everything was gender based. Don’t you have better things to do with your time? There are bigger problems in the world.”

Why such backlash to the idea that there might be something detrimental about such a narrow definition of what it is to be female? We are amazed at the number of parents who assertively contradict the facts of history — saying there is nothing new here when this is not how it has always been. The angry push-back to the notion that a little bit of princess is OK, but that complete immersion in all things princess might not be the healthiest thing for girls, is at times breathtaking in its knee-jerk defensiveness and, dare we say, intellectual laziness.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lori-day/disney-princess_b_1449718.html

Posted in Feminist, Gender, Sexism, Uncategorized. Comments Off

Die-In tonight; Tomorrow is International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers

From Feministe: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/12/16/die-in-tonight-tomorrow-is-international-day-to-end-violence-against-sex-workers/

by Clarisse Thorn
on 12.16.2011

Reposted with Permission

Tomorrow is the International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers. For some 2011 event locations, click here.

Sex Worker Activists, Allies and You has a bunch of great links and 101 materials about sex workers’ rights.

Here in Chicago, the Sex Workers Outreach Project is holding a Die-In tonight and another event tomorrow at the best feminist site ever, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum:

“STOP SHAMING US TO DEATH”
Die-in Action for the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

Hosted by: Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) Chicago
When: Friday, December 16, 2011 at 11:45 AM
Where: 18th and State Street, in front of the Chicago Police Department in the South Loop
Who: Current & former sex workers, allies, friends, families, and communities.

Join SWOP-Chicago in a die-in action to protest violence committed against sex workers

Chicago — On December 16th, sex workers and their allies in the Chicago area will gather at the Chicago Police Department for a “die-in” action. Participants will fall to the ground “dead” holding signs bearing our messages. Through this action, we hope to raise awareness of the violence committed against sex workers and other marginalized groups. Law enforcement, those whose job it is to “serve and protect,” often either ignores violence committed against these groups, or is a direct perpetrator. IT IS TIME FOR THIS VIOLENCE TO STOP.

This event is part of the annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. On the following day, Saturday, December 17th, sex workers and their allies will gather at vigils around the world to commemorate the annual Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, honoring sex workers who have died at the hands of violent crimes, and declaring an end to all violence against sex workers.

PLEASE JOIN US AT THIS IMPORTANT EVENT! And don’t forget to dress appropriately for the weather conditions!

And here’s the info about the Saturday December 17 event.

Feel free to link to your own posts about sex work, the International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers, and relevant events in the comments.

Plan B Backlash: Women’s Groups Sour On Obama

From Huffington Post:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/14/plan-b-birth-control-morning-after-pill-obama_n_1148769.html


December 14, 2011

Women played a huge role in propelling President Barack Obama to victory during the 2008 elections, supporting him more strongly than men by seven percentage points. His record on women’s issues as president, however, has been spotty, and major women’s rights organizations are warning that if he makes the wrong decision on birth control coverage in the coming weeks, it could cost him the election in 2012.

Many progressive women’s groups who supported Obama throughout his campaign and presidency felt betrayed last week when, without any warning, his administration decided to overturn the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration and limit access to Plan B One-Step, a popular emergency contraception pill. Whether or not the president had anything to do with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ decision, the fact remains that he promised in 2009 that his administration, unlike that of President George W. Bush, would “make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.”

Americans of all demographics overwhelmingly support access to birth control, which is why the Plan B decision especially surprising to women’s health advocates and has severely dented his support among them. Although progressive women still perceive the GOP candidates’ positions on the issues they care about as more damaging, the problem, they say, is voter enthusiasm.

“I think the women of this country are not disappointed, they’re infuriated,” Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, told HuffPost. “I’m gonna tell you the truth — we’re supporting President Obama as a means to get better alternatives. It’s not like we think he’s great for women, but we know we need to move in that direction, and frankly in this moment women must be engaged and must be mobilized to vote for the candidate that is a stepping stone toward real equality, even though there’s no candidate that represents that now.”

“The Plan B decision was a missed opportunity for Obama to strengthen his record on women’s reproductive issues,” said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “As we’re looking at 2012, we have a key segment of women’s voters, and it’s our job to show them the clear difference between President Obama and the alternatives. The decision last week makes it harder for us to do that.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/14/plan-b-birth-control-morning-after-pill-obama_n_1148769.html

Why is Facebook Protecting Pro Rape Language and Abuse of Women?

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/sex/153406/why_is_facebook_protecting_pro_rape_language_and_abuse_of_women__/

Despite a campaign that included 180,000 signatures, Facebook continues to post pro-rape pages, showing, yet again, that they care about users so long as they’re profitable.

By Melissa Gira Grant
December 12, 2011

 Since August, tens of thousands of Internet activists have taken to social media to protest a social media giant — Facebook — for its apparent tolerance of user-created pages that make sexual violence into a punchline. The pages, with titles like “Riding your Girlfriend softly, Cause you dont [sic] want to wake her up” and “Kicking Sluts in the Vagina,” have been common to Facebook for some time, but campaigns against them began when a Facebook representative commented to the BBC on its decision not to remove that kind of content, stating, “Just as telling a rude joke won’t get you thrown out of your local pub, it won’t get you thrown off Facebook.” The pub analogy comment circulated among feminist activists on Facebook, and it was quoted widely on blogs, sparking a series of petitions that circulated for months, demanding the removal of the pages. When Facebook failed to respond, online activists organized a Twitter hashtag Day of Action, #notfunnyfacebook, to further pressure Facebook to enforce its own terms of service and hold its users accountable. Finally, following the Twitter action, Facebook elected to delete a few of the pages. It also allowed others to remain, so long as they were retitled as parodies.

The victory came as a half-hearted one for activists, who, with more than 180,000 signatures and hundreds of Twitter participants on their side, had not been able to call Facebook to account. New pro-rape pages are still being posted. One I just visited is called “That one slut you have always wanted to kick in the face.” After scrolling past three nearly identical wall announcements explaining how I could make easy money at home today (not involving, as I had first assumed, being “slutty”), I found a handful of nasty comments, all so poorly spelled it would be difficult for them to retain any air of menace. Then I recalled the anonymous person who scrawled “FAGETS” on the wall of a student organization I worked with in college. Then I saw what the page was really used for: with the “tag a user in this post” function, fans of the page could add the name of their intended target to their wall post, and that target would potentially see the post and the threat. It made me queasy.

If it was not clear before, we must understand now that Facebook wasn’t built for us — it was built for the profit of the very few. That Facebook is of value to the public as a communications platform is only important to Facebook insofar as it allows them to sell targeted advertising against our own speech. Its governing document, the Terms of Service, has been repeatedly applied unfairly and without accountability to its users, as its purpose is to legally protect Facebook from our conduct, not provide us with a free space, or even a safe space. Facebook needs to be only as minimally welcoming to us so as to ensure our return to use it again. And that we might use Facebook as a public square for activism? Not even in the business model.

Continue reading at:   http://www.alternet.org/sex/153406/why_is_facebook_protecting_pro_rape_language_and_abuse_of_women__/

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