Tuesday 31 March 2009

Where are the feminists on the new 'pro-rape' law in Afghanistan?


I'm speechless.

LATER: OK, I've calmed down a bit. I wanted to add some links to previous posts about this bullshit 'we're there to save teh wiminz' meme. Here, here, and here.

LOL cuz U R bay-beez haz bay-beez!

"becuz the dad’s name on the birth certificate is going to be I live in a house with four guys. It could have been any one of them."
When I first saw this site, words failed me. What is the purpose of whythefuckdoyouhaveakid.com?
Was it created in a moment of spite, a vile opportunity for adolescents to post pix of their peers ? Do these teens loathe and mock other teens for reasons beyond the fact they are kids having kids? Are they using this website to settle a score?
Though it's certainly been demonstrated that the failure of abstinence-only programs in the US was spectacular, it would seem unlikely that advocates for comprehensive Sex-Ed would use this tactic to promote their own programs. Fear and hate-mongering is not known to be an approach they advocate.
There's something deeply nasty and contemptuous, misogynist, classist and racist about this website, in spite of the disclaimer that all photos were obtained from public image hosting. For example, the jeering caption under that photo at the top of the post - does this young woman deserve to be tagged this way? No, she doesn't.
When I started paying attention to the background - generic birth control pills and Durex condoms - something clicked. Of course. The advertising consultants who designed this website are hoping that it goes viral. Because misery, tragedy and mean-spirited laughs are powerful tools for attracting people and selling them your product.
This website is not the new LOL CATZ. It's just a despicable advertising gimmick.

Monday 30 March 2009

News flash: shopaholism caused by hormonal insufficiency.


From the department of pointless research projects:

Women may be able to blame impulse buys and extravagant shopping on their time of the month, research suggests.

In the 10 days before their periods began women were more likely to go on a spending spree, a study found.

Psychologists believe shopping could be a way for premenstrual women to deal with the negative emotions created by their hormonal changes.

First off - aren't those three sentences basically rephrasing and recycling the same basic information - women are more likely to shop impulsively before their menstrual period starts? That BBC pseudo-news item - illustrated with a photograph of one of the "Sex and the City" gals is found in the health - yes, health section.

The scientific word for shopaholism is oniomania.
Only in the past twenty years has specific and persistent inquiry into the disorder occurred. Although the study of compulsive buying is still in its infancy compared with some of its psychological siblings—alcoholism, eating disorders or drug abuse — there is more and more evidence that it poses a serious and worsening problem, one with significant emotional, social, occupational, and financial consequences. As many as 8.9 percent of the American population may be full-fledged compulsive buyers. (Ridgway, et al., 2008), and the problem is fast becoming a global one.
Oh - so all human beings, including men, are susceptible to this disorder? But some reproductive-age women are more vulnerable at certain times of their hormonal cycle.
That would only account for a tiny percentage of impulse buys.

What is the likelihood that research will be conducted to account for the hormonal and biological reasons men make very expensive purchases? About the same time that sentences like these:
Most of the purchases made by the women were for adornment, including jewellery, make-up and high heels. Professor Pine said: "Other researchers have found there is an ornamental effect around the time of ovulation."
no longer appear in supposedly serious news outlets. Now give me that fair-trade dark chocolate bar and nobody gets hurt.

Sunday 29 March 2009

Moralizers' Two-Fer

Woo-hoo! Moralizers' delight! Smoking and pregnancy.
If you're a smoker and planning to get pregnant, there's good news and bad news.

First the good news: Australian researchers say women who stop smoking before 15 weeks of pregnancy cut their risk of giving birth prematurely and having small babies to the same level as non-smokers.

Now the bad: Women who don't quit by 15 weeks are three times as likely to give birth prematurely and twice as likely to have small babies, compared to women who stopped smoking.

Seems like a good research topic. Many pregnancies are not planned but welcome nonetheless. So, for smokers, this is some encouraging motivation to quit ASAP.

But have a look at some of the comments.

From RallyBoy:
I think it is a crime to smoke while pregnant and when you have kids. A person is knowingly endangering the life of a little baby and setting it up for a life-time of complications. This should be legal? When the health risk is FACT then a person should most definitely be held accountable. No different than driving without a seat belt or proper car seat for your child. It is a crime to hold a child captive in the womb while a person sits and pumps toxins into their body knowing bloody well what it is doing. If they don't know what it is doing then I'd say they don't have the mental capacity to have a child in the first place. I think the other points made in the comment above asking if we should dictate what a mother eats, etc. is just being silly. There is an obvious difference between those other points and smoking and drinking while pregnant. I'd like to think the poster is intelligent enough that I really don't need to sit here and list the major differences between smoking and drinking vs. exercise, eating and staying up late. Smoking and or drinking should be a crime while pregnant.

And Alley1800 agrees:
I completely agree!!! I think that smoking while pregnant or smoking around your kids at home or in the car should be considered a form of child abuse. Second hand smoke is just as toxic (if not more) as the smoke inhaled by the smoker. Women who smoke during pregnancy are just in denial or they just don't care enough about their child, and therefore should not be having a child in the first place!
I grew up in a smoke-filled household until I was about 13. It was just AWFUL. To this day I despise smokers and I actually have much less respect for them as people. I don't know how people can go around smelling like that 24/7. I know most of you smokers don't think that you smell because smoke is simply the air that you breathe and you are used to it, but just so you know, YOU REEK! And I know that it's none of my business what people are doing to their own health, but they are not only doing it to themselves, they are doing it to everyone around them. And just FYI for any smokers, when you smoke outside waiting for the bus or just outside a building at work, your smoke does NOT just disappear into the wind. It lingers around you and is very bothersome to the non-smokers around you.

Much more at the link.

Bonus: One of my favorite posts from Birth Pangs by Sleeping Sun who was pregnant at the time, 'Why Stop at Alcohol?'

Feminism - a force for social transformation

And finally we find some good news to read about feminism - as communicated in the 'mainstream media'.

During the course of a two-day seminar on the 'many faces of feminism in India', organised by the Centre for Women's Studies and Development which was held at Banaras Hindu University, Professor RK Mani Tripathi told the audience feminism was always conditioned by the place and the time it developed. Whether in Europe or America, the focus of feminist discourse varied according to the type of exploitation women experienced. Gradually as more reflexion developed, he said it became a critique and a struggle against the institutional structures of patriarchy.

In India, feminist discourse developed in 19th century as a result of initiative taken by Raja Ram Mohan Rai and other reformers for women's freedom and education, he said and added in Gandhian thinking, feminist discourse took a definite form. Gandhi considered non-violence as a feminine quality and accepted feminity not as a weakness but as a culture, he pointed out.
Had Professor Tripathi had access to the scholarly resources that Dale Spender did when she wrote "Women of Ideas and What Men Have Done to Them", he would have also been able to share what she discovered about Gandhi and his connection to feminism. Spender makes a case for the influence of the suffragists' tactics - and their eventual success - upon Ghandi's choice to use passive resistance to draw attention to the many outbursts of British armed violence against the Indian people.

Saturday 28 March 2009

Canadian doctors respond to idiotic claim.

A number of scurrilous schlock news outlet and tabloids are slagging our medical services and repeating one US doctor's speculative claim that Canada's health care system failed Natasha Richardson.

Meanwhile Canadian physicians kept their calm and responded rationally to the ill-founded opinion piece.

The implication “is totally unjustified,” said Paul Saba, an emergency room doctor at Lachine Hospital and co-president of the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice. He flatly rejected the notion that a lack of funding for overall public health care contributes to fatal head injuries like the one that claimed the life of Richardson ... Saba stressed he was not commenting specifically about Richardson, but “any patient’s refusal of treatment is crucial” to the outcome. ...

Paul Brunet, president of the Council for the protection of patients, said ... “And with all due to respect to the Americans, we don’t need any lessons from them about health care,” Brunet added. Canada doesn’t “have 50 million people without health care like they do.”


Blame feminism because sloppy and lazy columnists have found it's a facile way to make a buck while sitting in their pajamas at home, scratching their balls and pecking out words on a laptop while watching porn on cable TV.

... in the M. T. case, Ms. Timson blames the girl's actions on "a very retro scenario," an "ages-old pre-feminist scenario" in which girls believe they have no power on their own. So they convince themselves that they must attract a man and keep him at all costs, even murder. Pardon me? Girls have turned to murder because they have no power? The truth is, they have turned to murder and "obsessive irrational hatred of one girl toward another, depict[ing] an emotional landscape devoid of respect, conscience or heart," because they have too much power. I don't mean too much power relative to boys -- with whom they are now equals in every real sense -- but rather relative to teens of past generations.

It is just possible that all of this is the logical end product of feminism, instead of, as Ms. Timson postulates, the harbinger of some return to a regressive age.

"The logical end product of feminism" .... shriEEEkkk!!!! Why not blame feminism for the following, then?

NEWS ITEM: Investigators confirmed Thursday that two small bolts in the main gearbox of a helicopter that crashed off Newfoundland two weeks ago broke in flight sometime before the aircraft slammed into the ocean, killing 17 of 18 people on board. Blame feminism for forcing women to seek employment in non-traditional jobs; that crash was the logical end product of men threatened or distracted by their female colleagues.

NEWS ITEM: The RCMP says it has busted a marijuana grow operation at a home in western Quebec that doubled as a daycare centre. ... spokeswoman Caroline Poulin says a couple in their 50s have been arrested in Gatineau and will appear in court at a later date. Blame feminism for the increased use and popularity of daycares; their exploitation as fronts for home grow-ops is the logical end product.

NEWS ITEM: The bonuses paid to some executives at American International Group have become a symbol of Wall Street greed in the last two weeks. Citizens and legislators alike were infuriated to learn the insurance giant, which received a federal bailout of more than US$180 billion, paid out $165 million in bonuses to some of the employees who almost ran the company into the ground. Blame feminism for the practice of giving generous bonuses to executive-level employees; they're the logical end product of judges awarding their first wives more of their assets when their husbands divorce them.

NEWS ITEM: Police have apologised to a widow for giving her the rope her husband had used to kill himself. Mr Gilmore's possessions were returned to his wife, who lives in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, because she was his next of kin. Police had given Ms Gerelli three bags containing her husband's laptop, wallet and briefcase, but when she looked in the bags she noticed the rope. Blame feminism for forcing those officers to apologize when it's obvious that male suicide is the logical end product when women are no longer feminine enough to please their men.

a creative revolution and April Reign blogged brilliantly about that odious NP column.

Friday 27 March 2009


Dr George Tiller found innocent of trumped-up charges in his decades-long persecution.
In a trial watched closely by those on both sides of the abortion debate, Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas physician accused of performing 19 illegal late-term abortions, was found innocent today. The six-person jury, three men and three women, deliberated for less than an hour.

So it's over, right?

Um. No.
"We are extremely disappointed," said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a Presbyterian minister and pacifist who has worked with Operation Rescue. "We were thrilled that George Tiller even went to trial. This will not stop us at all."

It's NEVER over for the fetus fetishists.

Canada's healthcare system killed Richardson, claims US physician.

The New York Post published an obnoxious opinion piece from a physician who claims that Canada's health care system is to blame for Natasha Richardson's death. The serious (and obvious) evidence-supported argument that he should have used - that in the US, rich and famous people have faster and better access to medical interventions - is conspicuously absent from his screed.

On a more positive note, brebis noire and I discussed in the comments after this blogpost whether Richardson might have donated her organs to patients waiting for transplants. It appears that this may be the case.

... her family allowed doctors to keep her organs for those whose lives they could save. The English actress who died after a skiing accident, was buried this week. A friend of her husband, Liam Neeson, told People magazine that she had supported organ donation.

"She spent so much time fighting the stigma of AIDS; someone like that would naturally donate her organs... by donating her organs something good could come out of [the tragedy]," said the un-named friend.

An autopsy performed in New York, where Richardson died at the Lenox Hill Hospital, showed a blow to her head had caused fatal bleeding between her brain and skull, known as an epidural haematoma. Experts said the way she had died would have left her organs viable for donation.

Paparazzi will likely be dumpster-diving behind Lenox Hill Hospital in the hopes of finding confidential documents that will help them locate the beneficiaries of Richardson's final act of generosity.

Thursday 26 March 2009

Mentally Ill Man Celebrated by Anti-Choice Terrorists

Well, well, well. A famous Canadian FETUSBLOGGER (I won't link, but JJ did), among other sick and twisted anti-choicers, is celebrating the deaths of a bunch of people, including children, who were related to the owner of abortion clinics. In the comments there, there's talk of how we normal people think fetus fetishists are dangerous and violent. Because we want to think so, SHE says.

Um. No. Because of stories like this.
The Cottage Grove man who crashed his car into a St. Paul Planned Parenthood clinic on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling is being touted as a hero of the militant anti-abortion movement.

Matthew Lee Derosia, 33, is among several "prisoners of Christ" featured on the Web site of the group Army of God, which advocates violence to stop abortion providers.

Derosia pleaded guilty Wednesday in Ramsey County District Court to a felony charge of first-degree damage to property. A second charge is expected to be dropped at sentencing.
. . .
"Matthew Derosia rammed the babykilling abortion mill twice and then got out and quoted verses from the Holy Bible ... (on) the date when babykilling was made legal nationally," the Army of God Web site says.

" 'Jesus told me to do it' said Matthew (and who am I to dispute that)," said a comment apparently written by the Web site's host, anti-abortion activist the Rev. Donald Spitz.

The section on Derosia has an address for the Ramsey County Jail and includes an e-mail link to Glory2Jesus@ ArmyofGod.com.

The abortion-rights group National Abortion Federation describes the Army of God as "an underground network of domestic terrorists."

He will be sentenced on May 12.
The terms of the plea agreement, assuming it is approved by Judge John Van de North, include a maximum of 100 days in jail. He is being held at the Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center for the mentally ill.

"I think he's doing better," said his attorney, Tom Handley. "He's on medication."

OK, the man has a history of mental illness, but dig this from his mother:
She criticized Planned Parenthood officials, saying they were "after him."

"There's just so much hate for him from these people ... there's nothing godly about them," she said. "There's no air of forgiveness. They're just hard-core, pound-of-flesh."

Who's seeing hate? These people are incredible.

When did the RCMP jump the shark?

Is it some point between the development of the restraining device pictured above and the moment Commissioner William Elliott publicly lied confabulated to cover up the implicit weaponry war that a number of officers have been allowed to wage?

Go read RCMP : Getting away with murder by Alison at Creekside.

Yes, it is very unfortunate for all the RCMP officers who do not support nor act according to the current policing practices that Elliot sanctions and justifies. They are decent people. But their colleagues have dragged down the force to such tangled and corrupt depths that disbanding the whole organization is the only solution to the menace the RCMP poses to public safety.

Venomous Vultures

That is the only appropriate qualifier for the author of this shriEEEkkk!!! rant passing itself off as a reasonable opinion piece.

You remember the Vulture Culture, don't you? It's a loose alliance of fetus fetishists, religious fundamentalists, neocon rightwing authoritarians and women-haters that have come together in one MASSIVE shriek-fest for the purpose of re-criminalizing abortion. Some of them engineered last year's fiasco, The Pill Kills! campaign.
As for the drivel posted at KX.net, the standard disclaimer distances the site owner from the poison oozing from the rant:
This article is a blog post and does not represent the views or opinions of Reiten Television, KXNet.com, its staff and associates ....
But of course. Consider this gem:
What’s also stupid is this notion that abortions are somehow saving these children from lives of hardship when, in reality, most abortions are basically just birth control exercised by women too lazy or careless to either live their sexual lives responsible or face up to the consequences of their irresponsible actions. The pro-abortion crowd loves to emotionalize this issue with stories about women who allegedly would have died in pregnancy were it not for abortion, or babies who would be born with awful birth defects, but the truth is that the occurrence of these cases in overall abortion cases is so low as to be inconsequential.
Aside from the self-righteous preachiness and contempt for women, this statement trivializes women who have died in pregnancy. Women who chose pregnancy and who were confronted with state legislators, health care providers and hospital administrators who supported extraordinary medical interventions to "save" the embryos or fetus they carried - by depriving them of their own right to life.

Vulture culture zealots - because dead flesh excites them and turns their crank.
Update on the carrion gang - I wrote this before I read JJ and her blogpost at unrepentantoldhippie's about the fetus fetishists' internet pile-on when news regarding the Montana plane crash disclosed that nine members of the same family, seven of them children under the age of nine, were related to Irving Feltkamp, who owns a chain of clinics that offer abortion services.
So, about those vultures who feast on carnage? Look no further than Jill Stanek, exploiting this family tragedy with bloody beak and sharpened claws and shrieeeking about the righteousness of her fundamentalist God's vicious and unholy revenge.

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Fetal personhood used to deny women who chose pregnancy their rights.

It gives us no pleasure to say we told you, but here it is. From Salon:
We all know that establishing the "personhood" of microscopic Americans is a means of characterizing abortion -- legally, and even culturally -- as murder. Though the Supreme Court decision making abortion legal turns largely on the right to privacy, it also notes -- in an aside that has become anything but -- that if fetuses were "people," they would be entitled to protection under the 14th Amendment, ergo entitled to "life." The Center for Women Policy Studies has stated that "legislative efforts to establish fetal patienthood, victimhood and, therefore, personhood represent the primary threat to Roe v. Wade." But as the National Advocates for Pregnant Women point out in a brand-new video, they also represent a threat to pregnant women -- all pregnant women, including those who plan to carry to term.
One woman featured in the video became critically ill at 25 weeks pregnant. Her doctor's hospital board filed for an emergency hearing to determine the rights of the fetus. The court supported the hospital's contention that an emergency C-section should be done without the pregnant woman's consent. Her doctor objected, stating the surgery could kill her. The operation was performed; neither woman nor fetus survived.

Thus Lifeshite and their posse of fetus fetishizing goons continue to bully legislators in their willingness to sacrifice the female vessel (aka pregnant woman) to achieve their political goal: the recriminalization of abortion.

Bravo for the National Advocates for Pregnant Women for their activism!

Un grand merci to Pareta.

Of mothers' milk and women's voices.

Earlier this month, we blogged about a nitwit who was stopped by traffic cops while driving under the influence of stupidity.

This week, a well-researched article by Hanna Rosin challenged the notion that all mothers must breast-feed or else. It seems that hot-button topic keeps buzzing.

I dutifully breast-fed each of my first two children for the full year that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. I have experienced ... breast-feeding-induced “maternal nirvana.” This time around, nirvana did not describe my state of mind; I was launching a new Web site and I had two other children to care for, and a husband I would occasionally like to talk to. Being stuck at home breast-feeding as he walked out the door for work just made me unreasonably furious, at him and everyone else.

In Betty Friedan’s day, feminists felt shackled to domesticity by the unreasonably high bar for housework, the endless dusting and shopping and pushing the Hoover around—a vacuum cleaner being the obligatory prop for the “happy housewife heroine,” as Friedan sardonically called her. When I looked at the picture on the cover of Sears’s Breastfeeding Book—a lady lying down, gently smiling at her baby and still in her robe, although the sun is well up—the scales fell from my eyes: it was not the vacuum that was keeping me and my 21st-century sisters down, but another sucking sound.

Still, despite my stint as the postpartum playground crank, I could not bring myself to stop breast-feeding—too many years of Sears’s conditioning, too many playground spies. So I was left feeling trapped, like many women before me, in the middle-class mother’s prison of vague discontent: surly but too privileged for pity, breast-feeding with one hand while answering the cell phone with the other, and barking at my older kids to get their own organic, 100 percent juice—the modern, multitasking mother’s version of Friedan’s “problem that has no name.”

Rosin is a terrific writer. From the origins of the La Leche League, to the publication of Our Bodies, Ourselves, from the insidious rigour of bossy pediatricians to the magical thinking that positions mothers' milk as "liquid vaccine" she unravels the complex discourse on breast-feeding with great skill and humour.

On the same subject, but a less fun read, the federal government released yesterday What Mother's Say: The Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey:
The MES population consisted of birth mothers 15 years of age and older who had a singleton live birth in Canada during a three-month period preceding the 2006 Canadian Census of Population and who lived with their infant at the time of data collection. Using the 2006 Canadian Census, a stratified random sample of 8,244 women estimated to be eligible was identified. Of these women, 6,421 (78%) completed a 45-minute interview at five to 14 months after the birth of their baby, conducted primarily by telephone.
Some of the highlights of this survey - pregnant Canadian women are on average subjected to 3 prenatal ultrasounds (the World Health Organization recommends ultrasound on indication only, or one at about 18 weeks), 26.3 per cent of women had caesarean births and many reported suffering birthing practices such as shaving, enemas and stirrups that are no longer supported by clinical evidence.
In January, a joint statement was released by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, the Canadian Association of Midwives, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses of Canada, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada that deplored the increasing use of caesarian deliveries and induction of labour before 41 weeks of gestation, in the case of low-risk pregnancies that did not require such aggressive medical interventions.

Monday 23 March 2009

A picture that is well worth 1000 words, squared.

A friend showed me this photo that she stored on her cell phone.

It made me laugh.

The challenge: Give us a caption for this photo. It shouldn't take anywhere near 1000 words. Don't worry, be pithy.

Oh Noes! Fundy Politics at the FDA?

Judge orders FDA to let 17-year-olds use pill
The Food and Drug Administration let politics cloud its judgment when it denied teenage girls over-the-counter access to the Plan B morning-after pill, a federal judge said Monday as he ordered the FDA to let 17-year-olds obtain the medication.

U.S. District Judge Edward Korman blasted the FDA's handling of the issue during the Bush administration, saying it had "repeatedly and unreasonably" delayed issuing a decision on the medication, marketed by Montvale, N.J.-based Barr Pharmaceuticals Inc. as Plan B.

Korman's ruling said the FDA in several instances had delayed issuing a ruling for suspect reasons and on two occasions took action only to facilitate the confirmation of acting FDA commissioners whose confirmations had been held up by the repeated delays.

"These political considerations, delays, and implausible justifications for decision-making are not the only evidence of a lack of good faith and reasoned decision-making," Korman said. "Indeed, the record is clear that the FDA's course of conduct regarding Plan B departed in significant ways from the agency's normal procedures regarding similar applications to switch a drug product from prescription to non-prescription use."

Is sanity returning?

Religion never at fault; women's deaths are collateral damage.

Two young women were crushed to death in a crowded frenzy to enter Coqueiros Stadium in Luanda where the Pope was about to have a meeting with Angolan youths as Benedict XVI pontificated about the evils of systemic corruption, witchcraft and discrimination against women.

There's something about that in the Gospels, is there not?
... And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? ... Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye, Matthew 7:1-5.

Absent a sense of irony, it seems the Pope floats in a bubble of sublime abstractions and religious ideology, isolated and protected from the harsh realities that Catholic Church followers confront every day.
... at a meeting with female Catholic groups ... He further emphasised “think about those lands where poverty abounds, zones devastated by war, in many tragic situations resulting or not from forced immigration, almost always women keep human dignity intact, they defend the family and uphold the cultural and religious values”.
Thus the top Catholic Church patriarch can patronize and deign to recognize women's contribution ... but upholds the ecclesiastical opinion that only male power reigns supreme in the clergy.

This imperious personal and Catholic Church position has deadly consequences for women in Africa.

The United Nations magazine, Africa Renewal, quotes an expert who participated in a UN survey of AIDS' impact on young African women. She described the conditions under which most young African women contract AIDS as follows:

"[They] are not in a position to abstain. They are not in a position to demand faithfulness of their partners. In many cases they are in fact faithful, but are being infected by unfaithful partners...A woman who is a victim of violence or the fear of violence is not going to negotiate anything, let alone fidelity or condom use ... Her main objective is to get through the day without being beaten up."

The Pope is correct in saying that AIDS cannot be eradicated by condom use alone. Clearly, when young women are raped or otherwise forced into sex against their will, the men abusing them will not commit to use condoms. But instead of offering these women useless verbiage, the Pope could have offered the vast resources of the Church to distribute anti-viral foam to young married women in AIDS-infested areas. Foam is the only form of AIDS prevention that young wives completely control and can use without their husbands' permission.

From here.

Sunday 22 March 2009

Sarah Palin's 15 minutes of fame, over and over again.

In 1968 Andy Warhol said: "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." Sadly, Warhol did not anticipate how media would become viral and that a few individuals would have such 15 minutes looped to the nth degree.

Sarah Palin for example. The basis for her 'fame' has melted away - how many former vice-presidential candidates can you name? - yet stories about her have become the staple of shlock and even semi-serious media. She is a Slushee - a tall, cool sugared drink of empty calories, quickly consumed yet addictive.

Just in case you were wondering, Huffington Post scoops up the latest slurp on Palin - a frothy mixture of insider political and Faux-News gossip with a dash of serious analytical journalism.

There is something absolutely bizarre and troubling going on in the political netherworld of Sarah and Todd Palin, Greta Van Susteren and her wannabe-queen-maker hubby, John Coale. At best, it's a clear case of journalistic conflict-of-interest on behalf of Van Susteren; at worst, it's a sleazy, national power play by a couple of practitioners of Scientology - the controversial cult that Time magazine described as "a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner." ...

While there's something ironic about Alaska's most famous evangelical Christians pallin' around with a couple who believes that 75 million years ago an entity named Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft ... It was Van Susteren who made Bristol Palin a public figure, who pulled her out of her privacy with her child, and who played the ratings game with Bristol's private life. Not once did Van Susteren acknowledge that fact, reflect on it, nor express any regret for doing so. Not once. So much for insight and compassion.

Thanks to the evident fascination/obsession that Van Susteren and Coale have with Sarah Palin and her nuclear family, expect more in the way of
brain freeze over the next few years.

Saturday 21 March 2009

Westboro Baptist Church says it will protest at Richardson's funeral.

From here:
The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) based in Topeka, Kansas, regularly stages protests, often several times a week, against institutions and individuals they think support homosexuality or otherwise subvert what they believe is God's law. Targets include schools the group deems to be accepting of homosexuality; Catholic, Lutheran, and other Christian denominations that the WBC feels are heretical; and funerals for people murdered or killed in accidents .... WBC also protests at funerals for American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, a tactic the group started in 2005.
Why would
Natasha Richardson be a target for fundamentalist fanatics who may suffer from religious zealotry disorder? Because she lent support to charitable organizations, in memory of her father Tony Richardson.

They say they're picketing because Richardson supported research for a cure for AIDS. The small Kansas church has protested schools, colleges, churches, and other funerals.

Richardson became a speaker and activist in the fight against AIDS after her father producer/director Tony Richardson died from the disease in 1991. The actress also served on the board of trustees for the American Foundation of AIDS Research.

Last August,
WBC members attempted to enter Canada to hold a protest at Tim McLean's funeral.


This was predictable. The convergence of the arrogantly sexist authoritarian marketing campaign with soft-pedaling, dissembling authoritarian believers.

Support for reproductive choice by women who are grandmothers, mothers, adolescent girls, women from all ethnic and religious backgrounds becomes

Women are told by old-school feminists and, too often, their own family members, that killing their unborn child is a valid “choice.”
Now there's text-book spin, aka disinformation, written with the intent to distort facts and reality to suit an ideological imperative. The PWPL crew is rabidly anti-abortion. No one is forcing any of them to have an abortion. Yet they would deprive all other women of the choice to carry or not carry a pregnancy to term.

But you know what? In spite of their high-and-mighty judgmental position with regard to other women's life choices, DAMMIT JANET! generously offers them a graphic for their t-shirts, in the same spirit of sisterhood that PWPL demonstrates.

Friday 20 March 2009

The Pope pontificates on why the chicken crossed the road.

This morning on Christiane Charest the corrosively witty Zapartistes did a drive-by-excoriation. Listen to the whole piece.

Their imitation of Pope Benedict pontificating on why the chicken crossed the road (that bit is found at 4:50) just cracked me up.

Imagine a creaky voice ...
"That chicken was excommunicated. That chicken is a sinner because she laid eggs - which are aborted chicks. May God have mercy on her soul."

Religious zealotry as a mental disorder ... why the hell not?

Via Slap Upside The Head, we learn that Kari Simpson has filed a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal, alleging that the Ministry of Education (and other parties named) discriminates against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students by depriving them of the support and services that would "cure them of their dysfunctionality".

Not shy about using the legal and court system to draw public attention to her cause, Simpson claims:

"... sexual re-orientation therapies have helped thousands of individuals to recover from such dysfunctional orientations. School counsellors are being denied the tools to be effective advocates for students in need of sexual re-orientation help and they should have access to resources and training that will equip them to properly counsel students."

Should the only reasonable, legal, systemic counterweight to such pernicious and unmitigated bigotry be an initiative to have the following definition included in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), as a sub-category of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
Zealot fundamentalist fixation is a mental illness most commonly characterized by intrusive, repetitive thoughts resulting in compulsive behaviors and mental acts that the person feels driven to perform, according to religious dogma and beliefs that must be applied rigidly, aimed at reducing anxiety by preventing some dreaded event or by denying other people's reality. In extreme manifestations of this illness, those who suffer from ZFF may utter verbal abuse and are capable of acts of physical violence toward individuals and organizations that embody the dreaded event that is feared and must be destroyed at all costs. See fetus fetishists.
Of course, that could mean acting against the fundamentalist religious zealots with the same authoritarian force that they resolutely and implacably try to use against us.

Thursday 19 March 2009

The heading says it all. . .

Contraception foes share bizarre theories, intimate lives at House hearing.

Okey-dokey. Remember the failed ballot initiative in Colorado that would have amended the state constitution to define 'person' as a freshly fertilized egg?

The wingnuts behind the 'personhood' movement have not just abortion in their sights but all kinds of contraception they consider -- without an iota of evidence -- to be abortifacients.

Well, it seems the smarter people down there had a notion to end-run any debate about contraception causing abortion by redefining 'contraception'.
During a hearing Monday on the Birth Control Protection Act, five anti-contraception witnesses spoke out as state House Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Jim Reisberg (D-Greeley) tried in vain to keep the hearing room focused on the bill at hand.

Eventually and apologetically, Reisburg succumbed to the committee members’ subtle urging to shut down rambling filibusters and indelicate public disclosures about their personal sexual histories.

Among the witnesses were a teenage girl (?) who pushed the notion that the urine of women on the pill was causing all kinds environmental damage and disease, and a fundy doctor for whom pregnancy begins at conception.
But what stood out was his off-kilter phrasing of a pre-implantation zygote in terms more reminiscent of a fund-raising plea for a homeless shelter: “All that this new human life needs is a place to live and food to eat.”

Then there was a member of the tinfoil chapeau crew, who
claimed that pharmaceutical lobbyists conspired with lawmakers to set the “arbitrary date of implantation” as the definition of pregnancy as a defensive tactic to avoid lawsuits for causing abortions in the years before the landmark Roe v. Wade case decriminalized the procedure.

(I'd never heard that one before.)

There was one sad and confused woman I'll spare you from. Then Pete and Marguerite (emphasis mine).
Natural family-planning advocates Pete and Marguerite Gormley went into deep detail about their fertility issues and how contraception could have destroyed their marriage. Marguerite Gormley, who counts Archbishop Charles J. Chaput as her hero on Facebook, told the committee, “I had been duped into believing that the pill was helping me [for painful menstrual cycles] for close to 10 years. … Being on birth control never triggered those discussions in our marriage,” she said blaming the convenience of the pill for the delay in starting her family.

Pete Gormley claimed, without any substantiation, that family-planning classes taught him that birth control is not healthy for women and doesn’t constitute medicine. “I never once even considered looking into it and learning what the drug was doing to my wife’s body and potentially to her fertility,” said Gormley, a pharmaceutical chemist by trade and the father of four boys.

Listen, smart Coloradoans or whatever you call yourselves, if this is what you're up against and you LOSE, you deserve it.

Natasha Richardson, 1963 - 2009

Sunday May 10th will be a deeply sad Mother's day in the Neeson /Richardson /Redgrave family this year. The next day would have been her 46th birthday.

Those who have lost a sister, a daughter, a spouse, a mother to a sudden, stupid and incomprehensible accident have an understanding of their profound grief.

My impression of Natasha Richardson was based on performances that she perfected and that I watched, reviews or short news items that I read. For example, this piece about her role in The Handmaid's Tale.

Natasha Richardson was never afraid to speak her mind.

And it was in defence of a revered Canadian writer that she first showed her capacity for bluntness. ... Natasha Richardson could have been more circumspect about The Handmaid's Tale, given the fact that it represented a huge career opportunity, but that wasn't in her nature. ... She saw both novel and film as an important cautionary tale. She strode unrepentantly into a minefield when she cited her reasons for applauding a screen version - the rise of fundamentalism in the American South, the constant threats of censorship in so-called democratic countries, the continuing abortion debate, the lesson of Nazi Germany. And she was proud of the fact that this was a project proceeding from a firm feminist perspective.

But she also made it clear that her loyalty was to Canada's Margaret Atwood, rather than the movie, and she took delight in chastising the big Hollywood studios which had refused to finance a feminist-oriented story that was clearly set in a United States taken over by right-wing fundamentalist fanatics - a country where the few remaining fertile women were required to act as surrogate mothers or ``handmaids'' to the ruling male elite.

It was her concern for the integrity of Atwood's novel which led to her bold criticism of Pinter's screenplay. ... Richardson recognized early on the difficulties in making a film out of a book which was ``so much a one-woman interior monologue'' and with the challenge of playing a woman unable to convey her feelings to the world about her, but who must make them evident to the audience watching the movie. She thought the passages of voice-over narration in the original screenplay would solve the problem, but then Pinter changed his mind and Richardson felt she had been cast adrift. ...

"Harold Pinter has something specific against voice-overs,'' she said angrily 19 years ago. "Speaking as a member of an audience, I've seen voice- over and narration work very well in films a number of times, and I think it would have been helpful had it been there for The Handmaid's Tale. After all its HER story.''

In the end director Volker Schlondorff sided with Richardson. ... "As far as I was concerned, at the risk of offending Harold, the book was my bible.''

Natasha Richardson's mother Vanessa Redgrave has supported the Palestinian people's human rights for decades now. Perhaps I shouldn't assume that religious fundamentalists and anti-feminist, right-wing neo-cons will respond to news of Richardson's death and her family's grief with the same vile and gloating petulance that they displayed towards the recent commemoration of Rachel Corrie's death. Let's hope that most of them are decent and compassionate people.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

This is how the Pope's declarations harm women and children.

This needs to be said: the Pope's declarations harm women and children. An African mother who is a practicing Catholic faces the following dilemna: If she requests that her husband use a condom when having conjugal relations, she is going against the Pope's edict, even if she is trying to protect herself and any potential child that she might carry to term from HIV infection. If her husband is a devout Catholic, he may refuse to use a condom.

If this woman decides to not allow sexual intercourse, her husband may beat her, sexually assault her or abandon her and their children. Her priest, if he obeys the Pope's edict, will consider that she sinned.

But if she becomes infected with HIV because she submitted to sex without protection, who will care and take responsibility for her children when she dies of AIDS? The Catholic Church?

Some countries were quick to take action, in response to the Pope's medieval ideology.
Spain said Wednesday it will send one million condoms to Africa to fight the spread of AIDS, one day after Pope Benedict XVI's controversial remarks that they aggravated efforts to battle the disease. "The objective is to advance the prevention of this epidemic, which affects 33 million people all over the world, two-thirds of them in Africa," the health ministry said in a statement. "Condoms have been demonstrated to be a necessary element in prevention policies and an efficient barrier against the virus, according to laboratory studies," it added.
Good for Spain, I hope that other Catholic countries follow its lead in demonstrating compassion for Africans as well as support for medical science.

'Insensitive, Incomprehensible and Lacking in Mercy'

From women's rights flowing from washing machines, to excommunicating doctors who saved the life of a raped nine-year-old, to undermining decades of AIDS work in Africa, the Catholic Church is on a heckuva roll.

A mess of world leaders, scientists, and AIDS activists are all just seething with anti-Catholic bigotry.

Even the New York Times saw fit to slap His Poopiness:
Pope Benedict XVI has every right to express his opposition to the use of condoms on moral grounds, in accordance with the official stance of the Roman Catholic Church. But he deserves no credence when he distorts scientific findings about the value of condoms in slowing the spread of the AIDS virus.

But this has really got to smart:
There were also some signs of dissent within the Church.

"Anyone who has AIDS and is sexually active, anyone who seeks multiple partners, must protect others and themselves," said Hans-Jochen Jaschke, Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop of Hamburg in the pope's native Germany.

To my mind, Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said it best (on the excommunication fiasco):

"Unfortunately the credibility of our teaching took a blow as it appeared, in the eyes of many, to be insensitive, incomprehensible and lacking mercy."

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Spreading dogma and ignorance.

It's what the Catholic Church does best. And its chief propagandist strikes again.
The Pope today reignited the controversy over the Catholic church's stance on condom use as he made his first trip to Africa.
How did health agencies respond?
Graciously, considering the continued harm such attitudes and values promote.

About 22 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with HIV, according to UNAIDS. In 2007, three-quarters of all AIDS deaths worldwide were there, as well as two-thirds of all people living with HIV.

Rebecca Hodes with the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa said if the pope is serious about preventing new HIV infections, he will focus on promoting wide access to condoms and spreading information on how best to use them. “Instead, his opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans,” said Ms. Hodes, director of policy, communication and research for the action campaign.

While she said the pope is correct that condoms are not the sole solution to Africa's AIDS epidemic, she said they are one of the very few HIV prevention mechanisms proven to work. Even some priests and nuns working with those living with HIV/AIDS question the church's opposition to condoms amid the pandemic ravaging Africa.

Is it any surprise that the word 'pontificate' has come to mean 'to express opinions or judgments in a pompous way'?

What's sauce for the goose. . . Oh. Wait.

Meet Tennessee Representative Karen Camper My kinda gal. <3

In the last election, Rethugnicans took the Tennessee legislature, so of course, the fetus fetishists among them got busy with a bunch of bills to restrict or outlaw abortion.

So one of the few Democrats got busy herself, proposing a law to regulate vasectomies.

She figured the boys needed a little experience with busy-bodies messing with their choices.

Guess what. They didn't like it.
Eyewitness News went to Camper’s Memphis district. Most of the men we spoke with did not like the idea of government regulating what they could do to their bodies.

Well, that's just the dumb citizens. What did the legislators think?

Today, the matter was voted on:
With male legislators booming out their no votes, a House subcommittee has just killed a proposed state constitutional amendment to restrict the right to vasectomies. Rep. Karen Camper offered her resolution, which began "nothing in this constitution secures or protects a right to vasectomy," to make the obvious point that men are willing to trample on women's reproductive health rights but not their own. The subcommittee delayed action on a slew of anti-abortion bills and resolutions, but it's certain to adopt some of them this session.

"I expected people who are pro-abortion would vote against it," Camper said afterward. "I'm just glad I was able to present it. The point was, when you're talking about reproductive health, our constitution protects us and our privacy and our rights. If we're going to change the constitution, then it needs to be done equally. At this point, I don't think that's happening. Women's rights are being diminished and the same isn't happening on the other side of the equation. But hey, you win some, you lose some."

Good on ya, Karen. I hope this gets reported far and wide.

Sunday 15 March 2009

Fetus Fetishists' 'Public Enemy Number One'

Here and back at Birth Pangs, we've blogged about the ongoing persecution of Dr George Tiller in Kansas.

Today the LA Times has an excellent summary of this looong and convoluted tale -- complete with sexual harassment allegations, extramarital affairs, ethics investigations, patient privacy disputes -- titled Kansas eager for abortion provider's case to move forward. It seems everyone just wants it over.

For activists on both sides of the debate over legalized abortion, the criminal trial of Dr. George Tiller, which begins Monday in a Wichita courtroom, is an oddly unfulfilling culmination of a struggle that has wrenched Kansas for years.

Tiller, 67, is one of a handful of doctors in the country who terminate late-term pregnancies and has virtually become public enemy No. 1 to those who oppose abortion. For years, prosecutors and activists have tried to bring him down, and for years, Tiller has survived legal and physical challenges.

In 1986, his clinic was bombed. In 1991, it was blockaded for six weeks. In 1993, he was shot in both arms by an abortion opponent. He has been investigated twice by grand juries that have found no cause to charge him with crimes.

Relentlessly pursued by then-Kansas Atty. Gen. Phill Kline, a Republican, Tiller was charged in 2006 with illegally performing late-term abortions. The charges were dropped because of a technicality about jurisdiction.

But Kline was a lame duck by the time he filed the charges against Tiller. A month earlier, Kansas voters, tired of what they perceived as Kline's intrusiveness -- which included a successful years-long fight to obtain some of Tiller's patient records -- turned him out of office in favor of Democrat Paul Morrison, who supports abortion rights. The campaign against Kline included direct mail attacks characterizing him as "the Snoop Dog."

The following year, to the delight of abortion foes, Morrison charged Tiller with 19 misdemeanor counts of violating a technical aspect of the 1998 Kansas law that regulates late-term abortions.

The fetus fetishists were so revved that Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, moved from his native California to Kansas six years ago with 'the goal of putting Tiller out of business'.

And it has infected other aspects of Kansas life. Kathleen Sebelius, pro-choice governor through much of this farce and now Obama's nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services, is expected to get a rough ride in her confirmation process because of shrieeeking from the zygote zealots.

As we know so well, it will never be over for the fetus fetishists. But this chapter may soon be.

It burned, drowned and decapitated women as witches, didn't it?

Last week fern hill blogged about the cruel inconsistencies in the Catholic Church, as its bishops pontificated over the life of a nine year-old Brazilian girl.

The Catholic Church has always been quick to pass judgement against women and girls, and yet been generously lenient with its pedophile clerics. More evidence of its centuries-old tradition of doctrinal misogyny came to the surface in Kent, England last month. From here:

The medieval remains of a teenage girl who may have been suspected of witchcraft are to be given a Christian burial and funeral. The skeleton, found by Faversham-based archaeologist Dr Paul Wilkinson, is thought to be from the 14th or 15th century.

It was found in unconsecrated ground under a holly tree, next to Hoo St Werburgh parish church, near Rochester. The remains would normally be left in archives for future archaeological reference, but the vicar of Hoo, the Rev Andy Harding, has asked for the body to be returned so she can be re-buried in the church grounds. ...

When they found the remains, the girl’s skull had been removed from the body and placed carefully beside it, meaning she may have either committed suicide or was suspected of being a witch or a criminal. He said: ..."She was buried facing east with her head very carefully placed beside her body." ... Pottery found in the area dates back to medieval times and so it is suspected the body, which is currently being held at the University of Kent, was from the same period.

It should be mentioned that this young woman's decapitation and burial took place when was Hoo St Werburgh parish was under the ecclesiastical rule of the Vatican. Yesterday her body was given the dignity of a Christian burial. From here:

Her body has now been reburied in the church's main graveyard. The girl was affectionately named Holly by church officials because her remains were found beside a holly tree used over many years to decorate the church at Christmas.

Speaking at Saturday's public funeral service, the Reverend Andy Harding, vicar of Hoo, said: "Whoever this young girl is, whatever she had done, innocent or guilty, she and everyone deserves a dignified and respectable funeral. "If she had faced a trial then her death was the human penalty and she has paid in full. If she took her own life then today's culture tells us that she deserves pity and understanding, not damnation and brutality." He added: "Holly had an horrific end and the treatment of her body was brutal."

Removing the young girl's head had been an "extra punishment meant to last an eternity". Mr Harding said that if she had come from the area, then she had now completed her journey and been given the proper burial denied to her several hundred years ago.

Hoo St Werburgh parish now belongs to the Church of England, which may explain why the clergy found it appropriate and Christian to bury her in consecrated ground.

Saturday 14 March 2009

Are crimes of sexual assault still a joke for cops?

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose? In London it would seem so.

The revelations today about how the Metropolitan police missed chances over six years to stop John Worboys - and indeed believed him rather than the victim - raises the question of how much has changed. At the top of forces such as the Metropolitan police there has been concern about the poor rape conviction rates and much thought on how to improve investigatory techniques and the victim support that the force offers.

Nine years ago the Met set up Sapphire teams in 30 boroughs, where trained officers told women all allegations of rape and sexual assault would be treated seriously. Haven sexual referral units were created where victims were medically examined in a supportive environment by specialist staff.

For frontline officers there is a strict protocol; primarily they are told to listen to the victim and accept her version unless there is a glaring reason not to. Despite such policies the Worboys case suggests that, at grassroots level, officers are not carrying out orders.

According to evidence, officers working in Sapphire teams have complained repeatedly that their units are de-prioritised and under funded. Some female police officers have told campaigners they would not go to the Met if they were raped because they do not believe they would be taken seriously.

At the heart of the controversy is how frontline officers treat women who complain of a sexual assault. The Worboys case suggests officers can be dismissive; several of the complaints made to the police were put down as "no crime" because the victims seemed flaky and unable to recall what had happened - all of which should have rung alarm bells ... not led to the victims being shown the door.

Here in Canada, the consequences of a legal judgement in favour of 'Jane Doe' and her lawsuit against the Toronto police organization would suggest that the system has improved how it handles investigations.

...much has changed since Paul Douglas Callow, known as the Balcony Rapist, stole through her open bedroom window 22 years ago, put a knife to her ['Jane Doe'] throat and raped her. The sex assault squad has grown from a 20-detective, 9-to-5 shoestring outfit to a bustling 30-detective operation with officers on call night and day. Its mandate has changed, too, from focusing only on stranger rape involving penetration to investigating any sexual assault in which there could be an ongoing danger to the public. ...

The squad is part of the 70-person Sex Crimes Unit, which includes divisions focusing on child exploitation, behavioural assessments and special victims. Changes to the system, Byrnes says, are owed in part to Doe's dogged wrangling.

For instance, after recommendations from the steering committee, squad officers now get specialized training. Other changes include:

  • Front-line officers responding to 911 calls only take limited information, so victims only have to tell their story once. Squad members are hand-picked.
  • There is a separate division dedicated to investigating rapes of prostitutes, a group previously ignored or blamed for their own plight.
  • Cautions and press releases no longer contain "blame" language. For instance, women are no longer advised to "close their windows" if a serial rapist is on the loose.

Ten years ago, out of 1,570 sexual assaults reported in Toronto, the squad only investigated 70 cases because of its restrictive mandate. Last year, under the new rules, the Sex Crimes Unit probed 2,551 cases. "We've made the crime a priority," Byrnes says.

The Faculty of Common Law at the University of Ottawa recently held a conference - Sexual Assault Law, Practice & Activism in a Post-Jane Doe Era - to reflect upon whether anything has actually changed. The proceedings should be fascinating to read.

Excommunication was wrong. Or misinterpreted. Or . . . something

There's been a reversal in the case of the raped nine-year-old in Brazil whose mother and doctors were to be excommunicated.

According to Radio New Zealand (the only source I could find):
Brazilian bishops have cancelled the excommunication of the mother and doctors of a nine-year-old girl who had an abortion after being raped.

They said the decision to excommunicate was wrong and would not be applied.
. . .
In an effort to mitigate the archbishop's declarations, CNBB president Geraldo Lyra Rocha said his colleague had been misinterpreted.

"Archbishop Sobrinho did not excommunicate anyone," he said. "I am sure he did not mean to harm anyone but rather wanted to draw attention to a certain permissiveness (over abortions)."

Well, which is it? Was the decision wrong or misinterpreted? How about just plain evil?

And what will the Poop have to say, having already backed this monstrous decision? Was he wrong? Misinterpreted?

And yes, of course, blogging on this story is -- SHRIEEEEEK!!! -- Anti-Catlick Bigotry! Start the countdown.

UPPITY-DATE: Vatican Backtracks:
A senior Vatican official has criticized the excommunication of a Brazilian woman whose nine-year-old daughter had an abortion after being raped, as well as the medical team who performed it.

"Before thinking about an excommunication it was necessary and urgent to save the innocent life" of the girl "to bring her back to a level of humanity of which clerics should be the experts and master," said Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

"This was not the case," Fisichella said in an article to be published by the Vatican's Osservatore Romano newspaper today.

"Unfortunately the credibility of our teaching took a blow as it appeared, in the eyes of many, to be insensitive, incomprehensible and lacking mercy."


Friday 13 March 2009

Raped for being a lesbian ...

And killed, as in the case of Eudy Simelane.

As well as being one of South Africa's best-known female footballers, Simelane was a voracious equality rights campaigner and one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian in Kwa Thema.

Her brutal murder took place last April, and since then a tide of violence against lesbian women in South Africa has continued to rise. Human rights campaigners say it is characterised by what they call "corrective rape" committed by men behind the guise of trying to "cure" lesbian women of their sexual orientation.

Now, a report by the international NGO ActionAid, backed by the South African Human Rights Commission, condemns the culture of impunity around these crimes, which it says are going unrecognised by the state and unpunished by the legal system.

The mindset and beliefs that support these forms of targeted violence are found anywhere where hatred against women exists in the mind of misogynist men. This happened a few months ago, near San Francisco, a North American city where it would seemingly be safe to be honest about one's sexual orientation.

The 28-year-old victim was attacked on December 13 in Richmond after she got out of her car, which bore a rainbow gay pride sticker. Police said the attackers made comments indicating they knew the woman, who lives openly with her female partner, was a lesbian.

The attack began when one of the men approached the woman, struck her with a blunt object and ordered her to strip. He then sexually assaulted her with the help of the others, according to detectives. When the group saw another person approaching, they forced the victim back into her car and took her to a burned-out apartment building.

She was raped again inside and outside the vehicle and left naked outside the building while her attackers took her wallet and drove off in her car, police said.

Heterosexuality is no protection against sexual assault however. If a group of men terrorize, sexually torture and assault a woman to teach her a lesson, those religious and cultural values that fuel their rage and hatred must be addressed and put on trial, just as its enforcers should be.
As it is with pedophile priests, the common element in these crimes is the institutional validation of the power to control and harm women and children.

Thursday 12 March 2009

“We believe this bill is designed to bankrupt the Catholic Church."

Because, of course, that would be the one and only reason that a woman or a man who was sexually abused by a priest would want to initiate a lawsuit against a Church who silenced any attempt to hold their clergy or religious institution accountable for the great harm that was caused.

Perhaps, had the Church Fathers had responded in a humane, caring and responsible manner when children and parents approached them with evidence of these transgressions, instead of sweeping these crimes under the carpet, such legislation would not now been necessary.

A friend recently lent me a novel by Ariana Franklin, Mistress of the Art of Death. The author admits that she allowed an anachronism or two to slip in so that the narrative flowed.

The basic historical background is rigorous however, and there is one issue critical to the storyline that returns in Franklin's subsequent novel, The Serpent's Tale. The Catholic Church maintained then that members of its clergy were not obliged to obey man-made laws. This was the question that divided Henry II and Thomas Beckett:
"The clergy have Christ alone as King and under the King of Heaven; they should be ruled by their own law."

Centuries later, the Catholic Church perseveres in following medieval principles and maintaining that its ecclesiastical rules are the only ones that are God-given and irrevocable.

Un grand merci to JJ who blogged the news item quoted.

I suppose people should move every three decades or so

So, having lost at Ontario's Landlord-Tenant Board and then at Divisional Court, it seems I'm outta here by the end of the month.

I have been evicted.

(I don't blog on personal stuff. There was some interest in my fight elsewhere though, so I hope others will be patient while I bring those people up to date. I may blog on the eviction fight later. It was very instructive.)

I moved here when I was a student and never saw a reason to leave. (Rent control, while it lasted, was a pretty good reason to stay, too.) I moved a lot as a child and young adult, so it was a whole new thing for me to have a home of my own.

I moved in with very little. But I seem to have accumulated quite a bit of shit.

A few days ago, I did clothes. I'm pretty good about tossing stuff that I don't wear, that doesn't fit, or that was a mistake to begin with, so that wasn't too bad.

I did books a couple of weeks ago. Again, I'm pretty good about recycling those too.

Today, though, I did paper. I sorted and shredded a whack of it a few months ago, but today I got into deep storage.


Business records from twenty years ago. Peculiar correspondence found in a file helpfully labelled 'Peculiar Correspondence'. Letters and postcards and old employee photo IDs.

A novel I wrote twenty years ago. Short stories, some finished, some now incomprehensible. Thank the goddess -- no poetry.

Almost three decades of my life.

I'm exhausted. And I'm not done.

Fifty looks good, when you're made of plastic.

From the top of her head to the tip of her toes, Barbie™ is a material girl. Plastic material, that is. Flesh-and-blood-and-silicone versions of this low and haute couture clothes mannequin, like Victoria 'Posh' Beckam, are but pale imitations.

A fixture in toy cupboards around the globe, Barbie has become more than just a doll for young girls growing up. An enduring cultural icon, she has also weathered much criticism and controversy over the years. ...

From her early swimsuit days Barbie has sported a range of fashions and styles; some which would rival the Oscars red carpet for their inventiveness and designer labels.

She has also pursued more than 100 different careers, including astronaut, gymnast, flight attendant, Unicef ambassador, and Formula One driver. Barbie even had several runs for president, including, ahead of her times perhaps, as a female African-American candidate in 2004.

There was of course that unfortunate release of the math-phobic Barbie™. Although Mattel responded to criticism, it did lead to a guerrilla underground movement, where countless Barbie™ voice microchips were replaced with .... GI Joe's?!?!? There are many who would demonize, elevate, post-modernize and re-habilitate her.

... in Mary Anne Moresco's What Hath Fifty Years of Barbie Wrought? for Catholic Exchange, she claims your wardrobe is indecent and that you're unhealthy for girls. She says Mattel is offering girls "scantily clad, toy-acquiring, self absorbed, empty-headed plastic dolls as role models, and leading girls to fall into that same vain, glamorous, over-sexed anorexic pit."

Feminist writer Camille Paglia adds in 'Pornographically Android Barbie' for Salon.com that you "prefigured the destabilization of sexual identity that would lead, among other things, to an epidemic of anorexia and bulimia among white middle-class girls ..."

OK, you're thin and your neck is a little scary. ... But in your defense, you've been single and self-supporting since 1959, which is pretty cool. And you've got equally verbose supporters, who see you as empowering women. Writing in the London newspaper The Guardian, Moira Redmond dares anyone to imagine you "doing housework; sucking up to men; cowering; being bullied or intimidated; being sexually harassed."

Is there anything left to say except a belated happy birthday?