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Haitian earthquake effect on girls and young women

January 17, 2010 2 comments

Women and girls have always carried the brunt of natural disasters. They become more vulnerable than they may already be. They become more impoverished, due to the fact that they were probably in a worse-off financial situation beforehand. Since they’re generally the primary caretakers, they have other people to take care of, so they don’t put their own needs first. Also, the countries are usually rebuilt on the shoulders of women. You get the picture. Obviously nature disasters effect men in negative ways, but women just carry the brunt of negative effects.

When I heard about the earthquake, I was immediately thinking about how women and girls were going to be effected, and now there is actually an acknowledgment that young women and girls are in more danger now than ever before in Haiti.

As of right now, relief efforts are being put into Haiti, and many have said that things like security is just not something that is important at this moment. However, Gerardo Ducos, a Haitian researcher for Amnesty International states,

“My worry is we put a lot of effort into bringing relief, but we have to have some protective measures to benefit women and girls to avoid their being victimized and sexually assaulted. It was already difficult in ordinary times.”

As Ducos said, it was already difficult during ordinary times. There are various reported numbers, but so many girls and young women do not report their rapes or other sexual assaults. During this time of crisis, this issue is just going to get worse. Yifat Susskind, policy and communications director for MADRE, says that women need more support during this time, but this is what happenings:

“They need support commensurate to the burden they are carrying. Instead, we see women and girls are targeted in all sorts of way, especially gender violence.”

She also mentioned that there are simply more losses for girls and young women, by stating,

“Her grandmother, the one person (a girl) could go to for protection or solace – she doesn’t know if she is dead or alive. Her school, the one safe place she could go every day is destroyed. … “

Ultimately, this earthquake has been such a huge hit for everyone, and it’s wonderful that the world is really stepping up and pouring out love to Haiti. We just can’t forget that women and girls are the ones that are going to be effected by this the most in the short and long run.

Plastic surgery obsession in Western societies

January 15, 2010 3 comments

First off, I’m sorry for neglecting this little blog at the moment. I have some personal family things going on and I’m completely distracted and incoherent at times. I’m going to try and be as consistent as I can, but I can’t really guarantee that right now!

Anyway, by now, you might have seen Heidi Montag (The Hills) on the cover of People Magazine, being called a plastic surgery addict. She is 23 years old. I seriously don’t want to give Montag anymore press, but the issue of a plastic surgery obsession is of interest and is changing the landscape of image for women in North America. So first, here is Montag’s before and after photo, where she clearly had multiple procedures. Ten to be exact.

Um, I just need to say that she now looks 40, and I’m not entirely sure if that’s what she was going for. Isn’t our culture obsessed with youthfulness as well? Maybe Montag isn’t. Not sure.

So how is the availability of plastic surgery effecting women and girls in our society? Well, obviously we already know that women and girls alike are self-conscious about their appearance, and celebrities who do partake in plastic surgery don’t help the situation. I must say, the one good thing about Montag coming out and saying she’s had so much plastic surgery might mean that “normal” women and girls won’t even worry to compare themselves to her apparent “perfection”.

But what about the people that are having plastic surgery that claim they haven’t had any work done? Women and girls are still looking at those people and saying “Oh crap, I’m never going to look like that“, or “Wow…she’s so perfect. I wish I could be like that“, or something along those lines. Now that plastic surgery is readily available to those who can afford it, artificial beauty is becoming more commonplace.

And what does more artificial beauty create? Shitty feelings in women and girls. Low self-esteem. More image-consciousness. The feeling to need “perfection”. We know that women and girls are valued in terms of their appearance, but as the obsession with plastic surgery grows, I think this value based on appearance will grow as well, which is disheartening. Now, I am not blaming celebrities and other people who can afford it, for getting plastic surgery. We do have beauty standards in our society for women and there is absolute pressure to be a part of that standard. I guess what I’m wishing for is a society where these things never mattered. A society where women and girls were not valued for their appearance over a lot of other things, such as intelligence, talents, or individual personalities.

Do you agree? Do you think our society’s obsession with plastic surgery will ultimately hurt women and girls in the end?

Hillary Clinton’s speech for the International Conference on Population and Development

January 11, 2010 Leave a comment

On January 8th, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech commemorating the 15th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development and it was a great speech for women’s rights, health and reproductive rights. Here are some excepts (via The Broadsheet):

“One woman dies every minute of every day in pregnancy or childbirth” and, “for every woman who dies, another 20 suffer from injury, infection or disease every minute.”

“20 million unsafe abortions” occur every year, millions of women die annually from preventable sexually transmitted diseases and millions of lives are destroyed by fistula, which is often “the result of pregnancies that occur when a girl is too young.”

“Seventy million — that’s sev-en-ty million — women and girls worldwide have been subjected to female genital cutting,” which can lead to life-threatening infections and complications while giving birth.

One quote I love, as it is seems so simple, yet…the world doesn’t get it, is:

“Investing in the potential of women and girls is the smartest investment we can make. It is connected to any problem on anyone’s mind in the world today.”

There is much more than these small excepts, I encourage all to watch the speech here.

Being male in the writing realm equates to more success

December 16, 2009 Leave a comment

James Chartrand, of Copyblogger and Mens with Pens, is coming out. As the true woman that she is. James Chartrand, which is a pen name, explains the struggle she was having before she got into the online writing biz. She tells of how she is a single mother, who was on the brink of having to go on welfare and not being able to feed her two daughters. She decided to look online for writing jobs, as she knew she could write well and do it from home. She did this for a good while, under her real name, but it just wasn’t cutting it. She explains that before she took up a male’s pen name, that she would be struggling to get jobs, as well as not receiving the pay she knew some other people were getting. She then decided that she was going to make a pen name for herself, something that would “command respect”. She chose James Chartrand.

Once she did this, she got more jobs. She got more pay. She got compliments. She didn’t have to do many revisions. She states,

Understand, I hadn’t advertised more effectively or used social media — I hadn’t figured that part out yet. I was applying in the same places. I was using the same methods. Even the work was the same.

The exact same work. It was equal by all means, yet, because she now had James as a pen name, everything was better and easier. She explains the positives here:

Taking a man’s name opened up a new world. It helped me earn double and triple the income of my true name, with the same work and service.

No hassles. Higher acceptance. And gratifying respect for my talents and round-the-clock work ethic.

Business opportunities fell into my lap. People asked for my advice, and they thanked me for it, too.

Astounding. If that’s not a slap in the face for women writers, and women in general, I don’t know what is. Most professional women just want to work. They want respect for what they do, because they love what they do and they work hard at it. But still, just because we have vagina’s, we apparently aren’t as good as men. We aren’t as respected. We’re ignored. We’re sexually harassed. We’re discriminated against. Just because we have vagina’s. Really? Does a difference in genitals really make a difference? The clear answer is no, but still today, it is an issue. James talks about this, as she mentions that women writers have been doing this for ages, however, she states that,

Since then, we’ve had feminism. We have the right to vote, to own property, to be members of Parliament and Congress, to get a job, and to be the main breadwinner of the family. And yet apparently we haven’t gotten past those 19th century stigmas.

No, we haven’t gotten past the 19th century stigmas. That’s why feminism still exists today. We need it, and James Chartrand has once again proved that.

Click here to read her post called Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants, which tells her whole story.


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AIDS and Gender

December 1, 2009 Leave a comment

With the recent finding that HIV/AIDS is the biggest killer among women in their reproductive age, we know that there are some serious issues that need to be looked at in terms of this disease and gender.

We know that for most women (an estimated 98% of all women affected by HIV/AIDS live in developing countries), treatment, prevention and ultimately, equality, are things that they do not have access too. Let’s talk about gender inequality for a moment, shall we? Gender norms are a part of this inequality and accounts for much of the spreading of this disease. UNAIDS states,

Gender norms, for example, often dictate that women and girls should be ignorant and passive about sex, leaving them unable to negotiate safer sex or access appropriate services. Gender norms in many societies also reinforce a belief that men should seek multiple sexual partners, take risks and be self-reliant.

And let’s not forget, they also mention how in in many cultures, violence against women is condoned. So looking at the gender norms of men, it’s apparent that women automatically become more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. These uber masculine gender norms continue to hurt women in many ways, but especially in this area. And of course, when women and girls are supposed to be “passive” towards men about sex, it doesn’t prevent the spreading of HIV/AIDS. A way to hurdle this is to of course promote gender equality, empower women to know more about their bodies and sex, and teach men that these norms aren’t good for women, or themselves. And of course we can’t forget, if there is going to be consensual sex, use a condom!

The WHO talks about another issue that comes up with gender norms. They call it “gender-related barriers” for services, or treatment.

Women may face barriers due to their lack of access to and control over resources, child-care responsibilities, restricted mobility and limited decision-making power.

Socialization of men may mean that they will not seek HIV services due to a fear of stigma and discrimination, losing their jobs and of being perceived as “weak” or “unmanly”.

How true. For women of course, it appears that they are not in control of the decision to go seek out services or treatments. How horrible, but true. Women once against face the brunt of this disease, because of their lack of options. Men on the other hand probably do have much more access to services or treatment, but because of their societal gender norms, they refuse to get treatment. This hurts men. This hurts men a lot. Any cultural idea of what hegemonic masculinity should look like, usually hurts men and it can be seen here that men also pay the price.

I’m not going to sit back here and think I know the solution to all of this. I don’t think anyone actually does; and even if they do, solutions are a very hard thing to put in place and people will still continue to live with HIV/AIDS and die from it. However, I do say that promoting gender equality is a must (it’s a must anyway, but I digress). Through promoting gender equality, women and girls will have more rights, as well as have an understanding about their bodies and understand that consensual sex is where it’s at. Now, I’m not saying that women and girls always have the choice of consensual sex. A lot of times they don’t. But for them to know that that is what kind of sex should be happening, is a must.

Women and girls do unfortunately bare the greater responsibility and consequences of sex many, many times. After all, we are the ones that get pregnant and we are the ones that are more vulnerable to STIs. It shouldn’t be our complete responsibility, however, it sometimes ends up like that. Women and girls must be educated about safe sex and the possibility of HIV/AIDS. Many women and girls are in the dark about this because they have not had access to this kind of education. Of course, this still will not prevent HIV/AIDS, because some men will insist that no condom be used.

And this brings me right back around to promoting gender equality. When women are able to make decisions and choices about their bodies and sex, we will see a decrease in HIV/AIDS, in both women and men.

If you want to read more about AIDS and gender, visit AVERT.

Women in developing countries carry the brunt of climate change

November 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Who ever said that environmentalism wasn’t a feminist issue? I know it’s something that I have kept on hearing…but it’s clearly incorrect!

A new report from the United Nations Population Fund has said that women in developing countries are the most vulnerable in these climate changing times.

The report acknowledges that women in these countries to most of the agricultural work, which is of course greatly affected by climate change. Also, it discusses how women are the ones who generally are the caregivers for their families in these countries, which means they have less of a chance to up and move, which threatens them when there are (pending or not) natural disasters. The report also talks about gender issues of family planning and reproductive healthcare. Too bad that those things are not overly available to all poor people in developing countries, and some may refuse these things even.

Ultimately, the UNFPA wants there to be more research and analysis done in this area, since there is so little attention to it at this time, even though it’s something that’s extremely important.

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Men Against Violence Against Women Panel

November 17, 2009 2 comments

Last night, I had the great experience of attending an all men’s panel discussion, provided by my university’s Anti-Violence Network. The panel was entitled “Men Against Violence Against Women”. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first showed up, but it turned out to be a great discussion and some awesome points were brought up, that I want to highlight here.

1. Men need to acknowledge hegemonic masculinity
One speaker went over the basic hegemonic masculinity in our North American culture. This means strong, invulnerable, emotionless, silent, and angry (with anger really being the only emotion allowed). Homophobia is also a part of this. Men aren’t allowed to be feminine in any way, because the traditional man is supposed to be everything opposite of femininity. All of these things open up the pathway to violence, because women and homosexuals are “othered” or dehumanized; therefore, men feel that they CAN be violent.

2. There needs to be a new conception of masculinity
There needs to be a positive conception of being a man, which will make for better partnerships with everyone (women, other men, and children). Men need to reconceptualize strength. Strength can be something that is good, and not used for harm. Also, there needs to be insight within this new masculinity. Openness, self-reflection and self-awareness are necessary for this new masculinity.

3. Men must take responsibility
Many times, men are excused from their violence, or have some form of excuse for their violence. One of these excuses is that it’s a man or boys “nature” to be violent. But we were reminded again tonight that nothing is biological about violence! But another important point was that men who are not violent against women must also take responsibility. These non-violent men must not be silent. They must tell other men and boys that violence against women is not acceptable. Without these men leading other men and boys, this issue is NOT going to go away.

4. Action must be taken
One panelist discussed how there is too much damn research. We all KNOW that there is a problem, and we can continue paying for research to be done, but it’s not doing anything about the problem! We need to move on from identifying the problem. It is now time to seriously act. We must be examples to the younger generation. We must tell others that this issue is not acceptable. However you can act against this issue, you have to do it!

There were some other really awesome things discussed, which I’m going to save for a later post, since I don’t want this post to go on forever. I will just say that it was simply refreshing to hear men discuss this issue and not pat themselves on the back for having this panel in the first place. You know, that self-congratulatory thing? Not cool! So, it was awesome not seeing that. More discussions like this need to happen, because ultimately, this is an issue that only men can get rid of.

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Well, Reebok sucks!

November 16, 2009 1 comment

Thanks to Sociological Images for this one!

Reebok has a new ad campaign out for their EasyTone shoes. This ad campaign pretty much consists of objectifying women. There are 3 new ads for it, which can all be seen at Sociological Images, but here I’m just going to show you the one that I think is the worst!



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Categories: ads, image, media, sexism, women Tags: ,

HIV is top killer for young women

November 10, 2009 Leave a comment

A new report done by the World Health Organization has stated that for the ages between 15 and 49, HIV is the biggest killer for women.

Women are “particular vulnerability” to infection by HIV, WHO says, due to both biology and gender inequality.

WHO Director General Dr Margaret Chan said:

“It’s time to pay girls and women back, to make sure that they get the care and support they need to enjoy a fundamental human right at every moment of their lives, that is their right to health,”

I couldn’t have said it any better myself. It’s true that women and girls need to have better health care, all over the world. This doesn’t just mean more care for those with HIV, but other things, such as reproductive health. As for HIV though, there does need to be more access to the treatment drugs which are available in Western countries for the many millions in Africa (and other underdeveloped countries) that suffer from this disease. Just because these people may not live in a developed country, does not mean that they don’t deserve the same treatment that people can get over here. It’s sad and shows true character when the rich don’t give to the poor.

And of course, more preventative measures need to be taken to stop this disease from getting a hold of people. Proper sex education must be done, for both women and men. None of this abstinence-only crap, where condoms are evil. Also, since so many women have this disease because of rape, we still need to fight institutionalized sexism all around the world. We need to make sure that we are taking measures to let men know that they have no right to rape anyone.

Ultimately, this is not a fair disease. This is not a fair disease because so many women and girls get it without even consenting to the sexual intercourse they get it from. This remains a feminist issue until many things change.

Quote of the day!

November 5, 2009 Leave a comment

“Coffee, tea … or me?”

This was found in an article in the Toronto Star, about feminism, as well as a little history lesson. Apparently, if women at all wanted to travel “back then”, they had to become “stewardesses”, and that’s what they would have to say.

Wow. Just, wow.

Why must activism happen AFTER the wrong act?

November 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Today, I read about how the Richmond High students came together, along with community members and the mayor, for an event to support the girl who was gang raped and speak out against sexism and racism which is still so pervasive in our culture.

The white streamers were everywhere – worn as armbands, headbands, neckties, leg-bands – as hundreds of Richmond High School students gathered on the football field with teachers, parents and community members to express their support for the victim of a horrendous gang rape on the school grounds and their determination to act together to prevent future violence.

The speakers spoke of “building a culture that rejects racist and sexist actions and comments and fights back against the underlying social conditions in which such attitudes flourish.” As well as mentioning how these injustices need to be faced on a daily basis, not just after “one acute problem”.

This is all great. This is all fine and dandy and in fact, it seems like a great community movement at this point and who knows, some of those Richmond High students could go on and be the next leaders in fighting social injustice. However, my question is this, why does it take one horrendously wrong act, or “acute problem”, to create activism within people?

If you think about it, many horrendous acts of sexism or racism (or any other ism) wouldn’t occur if the activism was done on a daily basis. As the mayor said at the Richmond gathering, there would be “no bystanders”. That’s the whole point, right? If activism is performed everyday and people are educated about things like sexism and racism, people will no longer be passive about what’s happening around them.

But what gets them to the point of activism? Obviously, to some extend, something has to be there already. Usually something broad, like sexism or racism. I mean, if those things didn’t already exist, we wouldn’t of had great activist leaders of our time, like Gloria Steinem and Martin Luther King Jr. However, when it comes to individual (but extremely serious) incidents, such as the gang rape in Richmond, CA, why wouldn’t people do something about this at the time it was all happening? Everyone knows that something like gang rape is wrong. I’m sorry, but I refuse to believe that they thought that what they were doing was just fine, even if they might have been in an impaired state due to alcohol. Everyone has a moral compass, and gang rape is off the charts, screaming “WRONG”.

But had people not been educated enough about these things? Did these people who were bystanders, or participants think they didn’t have a voice and therefore couldn’t be against this? And how does one get a voice when it comes to injustice anyway? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but these are things that need to be addressed. We cannot just continuously wait for the next horrendous crime against a girl or woman to occur and jump on the whoa-we-need-to-fight-sexism train. This is an ongoing battle, and activism must take place before these incidents occur.

I’m not trying to knock whatever Richmond is doing right now. I think it’s good that they are collectively realizing what’s going on in our society today and will hopefully push towards a society where sexism isn’t so pervasive. However, what I am saying is that activism after the wrong act is too late. It’s too late for that 15 year-old girl. It’s too late for others who have been raped or murdered because of sexism or racism.

We all need to be collective in our actions and make sure that it’s never too late again, for anyone.

Gender politics in late night comedy

October 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Nell Scovell, a former writer for the Late Show with David Letterman, has come out with an article about gender inequality in late night comedy, as well as her own experiences while writing for Letterman. This article is really informative and it’s interesting to get inside of a writer’s room, because it’s not something that the general public really has a chance to do or see.

Right off the bat, we find out that there are literally ZERO female writers working for not only Letterman, but also Leno and Conan at this moment. Of course, this talk about gender inequality in this workplace has come with Letterman revealing that he’s had sexual relationships with some of his female staff in the past. Scovell answers some revealing questions at this point.

Did Dave hit on me? No. Did he pay me enough extra attention that it was noted by another writer? Yes. Was I aware of rumors that Dave was having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Was I aware that other high-level male employees were having sexual relationships with female staffers? Yes. Did these female staffers have access to information and wield power disproportionate to their job titles? Yes. Did that create a hostile work environment? Yes. Did I believe these female staffers were benefiting professionally from their personal relationships? Yes. Did that make me feel demeaned? Completely. Did I say anything at the time? Sadly, no.

Sounds like quite a great workplace for women, eh?! If I were in the same position, I would also feel demeaned. Knowing that female staff benefit more from having a sexual relationship with high-level male employees than just working your butt off and doing an awesome job, makes me sad and it’s totally unacceptable. So what does Scovell suggest?

I just want Dave to hire some qualified female writers and then treat them with respect. And that goes for Jay and Conan, too. I realize that “hire qualified women!” is the sort of outraged demand that’s often met with a sigh. No one disagrees and yet gender inequality in high-paying positions extends into all professions.

So true. No one seems to disagree about it, but so much gender inequality still exists in high-paying positions. Is it one those, “Yeah, more qualified women should be hired, but I shouldn’t have to be the one to do it?” mentalities? Kind of like the bystander mentality? Like, no one has a problem with women in high-paying jobs, but no one wants to go and actually help out this situation?

I guess it’s something to think about. All I know, is that ALL women deserve a good workplace where they have respect, which Scovell did eventually find. Of course, that was after leaving Letterman.

Woman wearing trousers = 40 lashes in Sudan?

July 31, 2009 Leave a comment

A Sudanese woman, who works for the United Nations, is facing 40 lashes for wearing trousers in public. She is planning on going to court over this and has invited public media to help fight her fight.

This is what went down:

Ms. Hussein said she was at a restaurant on July 3 when police came in and ordered 13 women wearing trousers to follow them to the police station.

Ten of the women were summoned to a police station two days later and were lashed 10 times each, according to Ms. Hussein. Her case was sent for trial when she called in a lawyer.

She says that women are always being lashed for different things, but that no one is standing up to this. She is planning on exposing this for what it is – a harassment towards women. She is even going as far as to resign from the UN to make sure her case is continued. Others are coming out and supporting her, and her lawyer mentions that it will most likely be followed by human rights groups.

My wish is that lashing wasn’t even a punishment anymore. It is so inhumane. Secondly, I wish that women’s clothing choices weren’t such an issue in many places in the world. I know it can be seen in different ways, but I see it as taking away from the individual when they are so confined to wear certain things and then get a physical punishment when they step out and wear something different. It is totally unacceptable on a human rights level, despite the conservative and religious culture.

Positive movement in Afghanistan

July 15, 2009 Leave a comment

News is coming from Washington that a bill may be passed in Afghanistan to punish those who perpetrate violence against women.

“We’ve learned in the last 24 hours or so that a bill that’s been pending in the parliament in Afghanistan and been reviewed by the ministry of justice to eliminate violence against women is going to be signed by President Karzai,” US lawmaker Carolyn Maloney said at the briefing on Capitol Hill.

If this bill is passed, “men who bar women from getting an education, working, or obtaining healthcare could face six months in prison.

Let’s hope this bill gets pass, but even more so, let’s hope that there is actual justice for so many women that experience violence in Afghanistan.

Pop Culture Hit: Lily Allen’s “22”

July 14, 2009 1 comment

Well, not to plug anything, but Lily Allen has a new single called “22“. When I first heard it, I quite enjoyed it (and I admit, I still do). It’s a catchy song and I found myself immediately connected to it because of the fact that I am…22!

However, upon listening to it more, something made me uneasy. The song is about a woman who is nearly 30. She’s still going out a lot, has a decent job, but not a “career”, and has one night stands, but really just wants a boyfriend. The chorus then chimes in with these words:

It’s sad but it’s true how society says
Her life is already over
There’s nothing to do and there’s nothing to say
Til the man of her dreams comes along picks her up and puts her over his shoulder
It seems so unlikely in this day and age

When I first realized what was being sang, I was hoping that Allen was singing this in an attempt to mock society because of this notion…but after listening many times, I don’t get that vibe. I get the vibe that this song is actually saying that a woman’s life is over after her early 20s, until a man comes in a sweeps her off her feet!

What the heck is with that? This is just another example of our society valuing a woman’s youthfulness and when that’s over, life is over. That is, if you don’t have a boyfriend/fiancee/husband/kids. It seems as though a woman’s life is always defined by others. It is never ourselves that are able to stand alone, and be the definition of ourselves.

The premise of this song just worries me because Allen has many female fans, who can be very influenced by her. This song is solidifying the idea that a woman needs a man to have a fulfilling life. And by the way, I don’t think a man needs a woman to have a fulfilling life either…it goes both ways.

I personally know many older women (and by older, I mean in their 60s+) who have had amazing lives and have not been married or had children. They had the opportunities to do what they wanted, go for their own dreams and pursue their passions. I admire these women because they didn’t give into society’s confining norms. They are amazing role models! It is just so sad how this message is getting out to young girls and teenagers.

And I for one, at 22, hope that my life will not be over by my late 20s. It’s easy to give into that thought. I have before, but I’m refusing to do so now. There is too much living to be done for the many decades to come to even consider this notion!

I hope that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Love this “Letter to the Editor”

January 15, 2008 2 comments

Found this in the Toronto Star about all the shitty, sexist media coverage that’s been going on with Clinton.

I’ve been appalled by the outright sexism that is apparently perfectly acceptable in U.S. media coverage of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

I’m a public schoolteacher. To me, the disinclination of young women to support Clinton has much to do with the messages they are now subject to in our culture: attract and please males at almost any price; denigrate yourself and other females; and don’t be a feminist – there’s nothing more unattractive.

I could vote for either Clinton or Barack Obama at this point, but I’m deeply disturbed by the process. There’s much talk about building up women in other countries while we punish their successes at home.

I especially like what she says about building women up in other countries and calling their inequality unjust, while our society tears down women who are successful and ambitious. It’s so true and ironic. Where do we actually stand? Is there only so much equality that our society wants for our women? Does our society think that it’s good enough that we don’t get stoned to death and doesn’t want us to have actual equality? Thoughts?

The war against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo

January 14, 2008 Leave a comment

This absolutely breaks my heart and disgusts me so much at the same time. We know that a civil war is going on in Congo, but something we rarely hear about is the fact that women are continually and systematically raped during these kinds of conflicts. We know it’s something that happens, but we don’t like to think about and don’t bother to think about it because we feel like we can’t do anything about it. Maybe there are a few more reasons that you can come up with! But nonetheless, it’s important to know that this is going on. I’m not going to quote a lot of the gory details here, because it’s graphic, but please read the article. It’s a must.

Anneka Van Woudenberg, who is the senior Congo researcher at Human Rights Watch, explains the raping that is occurring in Congo.

I think what’s different in Congo is the scale and the systematic nature of it, indeed, as well, the brutality. This is not rape because soldiers have got bored and have nothing to do. It is a way to ensure that communities accept the power and authority of that particular armed group. This is about showing terror. This is about using it as a weapon of war.

I honestly don’t have too many words about this. It is disgusting and disheartening to know that thousands of women are becoming victims of “femicide” because of this war. But even further really, these women are having genocide committed against them. Many people simply think that killing is the only definition of genocide and just think of Hitler, but according to the UN Convention on Genocide, one of the definitions is “causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.” This is clearly happening, and it’s clearly intentional.

When will this genocide end? And why is it being ignored?

The ridiculousness of anti-feminist women

January 10, 2008 3 comments

Jessica Valenti, of Feministing.com has a wonderful little piece at The Nation, and now also on Alternet. She talks about the latest in anti-feminist women and how they are doing way more harm to young women, and women in general, than feminism ever has. She specifically talks about Wendy Wright, and oh boy…

In a recent Fox News Special Report, Wright said that proponents of comprehensive sex education are encouraging young people to have sex because “they benefit when kids end up having sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies and then they lead them into having abortions…You have to look at the financial motives behind those who are promoting comprehensive sex ed.”

Yeah, that’s totally right. Sex educators are making millions off of giving kids proper sex education! Ugh. I’m sorry, but I find that such an idiotic thing to say. Another example:

Wright has also made the argument that the increase of women in prison is all feminism’s fault, for teaching women that “they don’t need to be dependent on a husband and they shouldn’t have to depend on their family” which could lead them to “where they’re forced to fend for themselves.”

Oh wow. That’s gold. Complete gold. The rest of the article states more things that conservative women have said and some of it is quite amusing, but quite sad at the same time. I myself cannot understand how any woman can make herself purposely inferior and not believe in equality. Everyone does have a right to their own political ideology, but I just have to ask myself…where are these women getting their ideas from? Hmm…probably their husbands now, their fathers before they got married…so, men. The patriarchy. This is what it does to some women!

Greek women protest by going in men-only sanctuary

January 10, 2008 Leave a comment

About six Greek women have protested the rule of the “all-male” monastic sanctuary in northern Greece. This is a 1000-year-old rule, and entering this sanctuary was a “purely symbolic act.”

Parliament member Litsa Amanatidou Paschalidou was among the women who entered the sanctuary. She called it a “purely symbolic act,” which was meant to send a message to the church to “pursue policies which serve the public and not its financial interest.” The protesters, who say the monks are making illegal claims on their property, broke away from a rally of more than 400 people and evaded a police cordon, entering Athos grounds.

So, this is a land problem, not a problem with the only-male sanctuary, but it’s pretty clear that if they violated a rule that has been around for 1000 years, then they would make some impact, as women. It’s impressive to see that women are taking the charge on this land and property issue. Hey, maybe women just have more of a sense at what’s going on is bullshit, considering they can’t enter the sanctuary…because they have a vagina, which makes them soooo inferior.

Uh, I freaking love these women!

January 7, 2008 1 comment

A group of women in India have started their own political party. Rock on. That’s so sweet! Suman Krishan Kant is the president of this 100 member (almost) all-women political party, who is also the widow of the former vice president, Krishan Kumar Kant.

“It is for the first time in the history of India that a national political party has been formed by women,” she says. “In fact it is the only party of women in the world. We need to ensure that the issues of priority concern to half of its population remain in the forefront of the pressing issues on India’s national agenda.”

Presently, women only hold 8 percent of seats in parliament, and the party wants that to change to 50 percent, which would be an amazing thing to see, but it’s also an amazing task to take on at the same time. It is true that some women do hold top seats in parliament, but that is few and far between, as gender inequality is still rampant in India, even though women have legal equality.

In November, the World Economic Forum’s latest gender gap index put India among the world’s 10 most gender-biased economies, with women’s participation in the paid work force at 36 percent.

Wow. These women are completely extraordinary and inspirational. And they make the point of “not hating men, and wanting and needing their support,” which is really great, because it’s about equality, and working together to create a better world; not squashing the other gender. It is just so encouraging to see something like this happen in India, and like Kant said, it really is the only (almost) all-women’s political party. Just, so cool. I love these women.