A major hidden ideology that runs through sports and that affects all women participants is the need to appear feminine, according to research that I’ve conducted in the United Kingdom. My study leads me to conclude that the fight to gain equality in sports will mean addressing the enforcement of a heterosexual norm.
In one store, you’re a Size 4, in another a Size 8, and in another a Size 10 — all without gaining an ounce.
It’s a familiar problem for many women, as standard sizing has never been very standard, ever since custom clothing gave way to ready-to-wear.
So, baffled women carry armfuls of the same garment in different sizes into the dressing room. They order several sizes of the same shirt online, just to get the right fit.
Now, a handful of companies are tackling the problem of sizes that are unreliable. Some are pushing more informative labels. Some are designing multiple versions of a garment to fit different body shapes. And one is offering full-body scans at shopping malls, telling a shopper what sizes she should try among the various brands.
This is such a frustrating problem for women of all sizes. I understand the purpose of vanity sizing — if someone who is usually a size 6 fits into a size 2, she’s perhaps more likely to purchase that garment. And I’ve certainly hesitated to size up because the number seemed too high. But vanity sizing makes size tags virtually meaningless, and makes shopping much more challenging (especially if you don’t want to spend an hour trying on clothes at the store, or if you prefer to shop online):
Take a woman with a 27-inch waist. In Marc Jacobs’s high-end line, she is between an 8 and a 10. At Chico’s, she is a triple 0. And that does not consider whether the garment fits in the hips and bust. (Let’s not get into length; there is a reason most neighborhood dry cleaners also offer tailoring.)
There’s a class aspect to this as well. Higher-end brands, I’ve noticed, are sized much smaller than middle-market and mall-store clothes. The cuts, too, are different — mall-store brands like Ann Taylor, Banana Republic and J Crew are not only wildly over-sized as a general rule (especially Ann Taylor, sweet Jesus), but also cut wider in the waist. I am by no means a tiny person, but I don’t even attempt to go shopping at the Gap (or a lot of similar national stores) anymore, unless it’s for an over-sized sweater, because I’m going to waste my time trying on a million different ill-fitting items. Talking about this stuff can feel a little bit whine-braggy (“Ugh don’t you hate it when you don’t even fit into a size zero?”), but really, tiny sizes should fit tiny people (and I am not in their ranks). At the same time, a lot of these stores don’t advertise or adequately stock plus-sized clothes, so larger women aren’t going to walk in, either. And as the Times article details, pants that fit my short legs and big butt and thick thighs and smaller waist are not going to fit my friend’s long skinny legs and straight waist; so why are we both trying on the same size and the same cut?
Stores should be able to cater to larger people by adding additional sizes, not just by cutting garments larger and calling them size 10. It goes back, in part, to how size is tied not only to perceptions of attractiveness but also to social class. Carrying sizes in the 16+ range can add to the perception that a store is down-market; if the store is Chico’s then it’s no biggie, but if it’s J. Crew, that’s going to be a marketing problem. Instead of offering sizes for a wide range of bodies, stores will cut a size 14 to fit a size 20 so they don’t lose the larger customer (and in turn, the size 8 customer fits into a size 2 and feels great and buys more clothes). But stores also can’t afford to lose their smaller customers, so Size 2 items in a particular store have wildly different measurements. The small (but not too small) woman can usually find something and the large (but not too large) woman can usually find something too, but neither of them can walk in to any given store and grab their size and be reasonably confident it will fit.
And despite vanity-sizing and cutting clothes larger and larger, women who are size 20 plus (and there are a lot of women who are size 20 plus) are generally out of luck when it comes to shopping at stores that don’t advertise themselves as “plus-sized.” And since there are so few plus-sized stores, there are not only fewer options generally, but far fewer choices when it comes to cut — and a pear-shaped size 24 is going to fit clothes very differently than a size 24 who carries her weight at her waist. At least if you’re a size 6 (even if that means your clothing tags list sizes that range from 2 to 10) you can try on 15 different pairs of pants at 6 different stores; if you’re a size 20-something, you’ve got Lane Bryant and maybe one or two others.
It would be nice if women’s clothes, like men’s, were sized in inches and were fairly standard; it would also be nice if so much value weren’t assigned to the size on your pants tag.
Ross Douthat apparently finds it paradoxical that some women want to have children but can’t, and some can have children but don’t want to, and the ones that don’t want to aren’t giving birth for the ones who can’t. Which leads me to believe that Ross Douthat has no idea what pregnancy or childbirth actually entails, since he doesn’t seem to understand that it involves significant physical and emotional difficulty.
Or perhaps he does, and doesn’t care. He writes:
This is the paradox of America’s unborn. No life is so desperately sought after, so hungrily desired, so carefully nurtured. And yet no life is so legally unprotected, and so frequently destroyed.
It’s as if the “unborn” exist unto themselves, and we are callously and casually destroying them. Douthat neglects to recognize that there’s a woman involved, and that the desire of one woman to have a child doesn’t mean that a second woman is morally obligated to undergo nearly ten months of physically and emotionally trying pregnancy.
In every era, there’s been a tragic contrast between the burden of unwanted pregnancies and the burden of infertility. But this gap used to be bridged by adoption far more frequently than it is today. Prior to 1973, 20 percent of births to white, unmarried women (and 9 percent of unwed births over all) led to an adoption. Today, just 1 percent of babies born to unwed mothers are adopted, and would-be adoptive parents face a waiting list that has lengthened beyond reason.
Some of this shift reflects the growing acceptance of single parenting. But some of it reflects the impact of Roe v. Wade. Since 1973, countless lives that might have been welcomed into families like Thernstrom’s — which looked into adoption, and gave it up as hopeless — have been cut short in utero instead.
It is absolutely true that legal abortion has decreased the number of “desireable” (white, able-bodied, infant) children available for adoption. Forty years ago, the women giving birth to those babies were mostly young and unmarried; a lot of those women were shipped off to boarding houses for pregnant girls, or cloistered away so they wouldn’t shame their families. Adoption wasn’t much of a choice — the girl in question wasn’t often given the option of raising her own child. Women who did raise children without husbands were not looked upon kindly.
It’s also absolutely true that birth control has decreased the pool of potentially adoptable babies. I suppose in Douthat’s world, that’s a bad thing too, since any control over your reproduction is suspect. But for most of us, being able to prevent pregnancies we don’t want is a net gain.
Douthat also talks a big game about valuing and protecting the unborn, but neglects to lay out the specifics about how he proposes we actually do that. Implicit in his column is the argument that we outlaw abortion, but he never actually comes out and says that — probably because he realizes that when it comes right down to it, a lot of people really don’t like the idea of criminalizing women who don’t believe it’s their burden to provide babies for anyone who wants one. It’s also a lot easier to talk about “valuing life” (and to really mean “punishing women”) than it is to take the sometimes costly steps that actually value that life — providing affordable health care, early-childhood education, childcare, paid maternity leave, and on and on. You know, things that social conservatives like Douthat routinely oppose because of “personal responsibility” and “keeping the government out of our lives.”
We all know that Douthat isn’t a big fan of the ladies (or the rights of ladies). But his concern here isn’t just for fetuses — it’s also for “good” families that, in his estimation, deserve children from not-good women. The old era of adoptions, where middle and upper-middle-class families were able to adopt babies birthed in secret by teenage mothers, required not only a crackdown on women’s bodily autonomy, but also a social model that deemed single mothers inherently bad, and certain families (largely white, headed by a heterosexual couple, and on the wealthier side of not) to be the only acceptable ones. It’s not just about abortion. It’s about a return to an idealized, gender-inegalitarian, racially divided and socially stratified time. It’s about making sure women know that their place isn’t just at home and in the service of their husbands, but also in the service of “better” families.
Good luck with that.
Also, Ross Douthat? Abortions were had on those “most libertine programs” Sex & the City and Mad Men. Characters also decided to give birth. So while you’re learning about the birds and the bees and how pregnancy actually impacts a woman’s body, maybe Netflix some of those shows too.
Here’s a great idea: Invite a bunch of lawyers to an annual meeting of the Bar association. At the meeting, have two panels devoted to female attorneys: One titled "What’s Our Problem?," featuring lady-lawyers discussing "a changing legal market where competition is tougher and expectations are higher" for women who "are currently in or are looking to re-enter the legal field" (because we leave to have babies!), followed by a panel titled "Their Point of View: Tips From the Other Side," where "A distinguished panel of gentlemen from the legal field will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of women in the areas of communication, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, organization, and women's overall management of their legal work."
Got that, ladies? We'll start the day by asking "What's Our Problem?" and discussing all the issues facing us and all the ways we’re sucking in our careers, and then a distinguished panel of gentlemen will tell us how we suck but where we're also good, and then they'll fix our problems. I was personally hoping they would also give us a talking-to about office-appropriate attire, but maybe next year.
Now, don't get me wrong -- I’m sure that both panels would have helpful information. I'm sure that the distinguished gentlemen on the second panel are indeed distinguished, and are probably very smart and nice people who do genuinely want to help female lawyers. And female lawyers do face specific challenges in our field. But the Bar association really framed this one poorly. And maybe we would face fewer challenges if it wasn't always assumed that we're the ones with the problem.
Today, New York Governor David Paterson signed an executive order barring discrimination against state employees on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. Seeing the high numbers of transgender people who report discrimination in the workplace, this is great news for those current and future employees who will be affected.
But it’s also only a first step in the right direction. While New York is now ahead of many states, it’s also really behind many others:
While supporters of transgender legal protections said they were encouraged by Mr. Paterson’s order, they noted that New York was not a pioneer in extending such rights.
“It has been a long road, and I think New York is behind,” said Dru Levasseur, a transgender rights attorney for Lambda Legal. “So this will bring New York up to par with other states that are taking the lead on workplace fairness.”
Twelve states and the District of Columbia have broad laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender expression or identity, according to gay and transgender rights groups. In addition, more than 100 cities and counties across the country provide similar legal protections
Indeed, just within the state, New York City, Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, Rochester, Westchester County and Tompkins County already have workplace discrimination laws applying to trans people in place.
Further, the executive order only applies to state employees, because a law is required to extend those same protections to all workers in New York. What is truly needed is the passage of GENDA, an anti-discrimination bill affecting trans New Yorkers that the legislature has allowed to languish for several years — or, as many would argue, a revamped version of GENDA that doesn’t risk causing as many problems as it solves. (Better yet, an inclusive ENDA would extend workplace protections on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation to all employees across the United States.)
In other words, it’s great news that Governor Paterson finally got around to doing this. But he and the rest of New York’s elected officials still have significantly harder work ahead of them.
This is absurd. Via Raven’s Eye, Danny Westneat at the Seattle Times has uncovered a case in which the IRS audited a single mother with two kids, who earns $10 an hour at Supercuts and lives with her parents. What was their reason for doing so? Random selection? An incorrectly completed return? No, they just thought that she was too poor to be telling the truth:
“I asked the IRS lady straight upfront — ‘I don’t have anything, why are you auditing me?’ ” Porcaro recalled. “I said, ‘Why me, when I don’t own a home, a business, a car?’ ”
The answer stunned both Porcaro and the private tax specialist her dad had gotten to help her.
“They showed us a spreadsheet of incomes in the Seattle area,” says Dante Driver, an accountant at Seattle’s G.A. Michael and Co. “The auditor said, ‘You made eighteen thousand, and our data show a family of three needs at least thirty-six thousand to get by in Seattle.”
“They thought she must have unreported income. That she was hiding something. Basically they were auditing her for not making enough money.”
Seriously? An estimated 60,000 people in Seattle live below the poverty line — meaning they make $11,000 or less for an individual or $22,000 for a family of four. Does the IRS red-flag them for scrutiny, simply because they’re poor?
The IRS must either think that the United States is just filled to the brim with liars, or that they receive an awful lot of tax returns for people who don’t exist. A whole lot of people in this country, not just in Seattle, live under the poverty line — even though the poverty line is actually placed ridiculously low. And more still live above the official poverty line while still being poor. It’s usually not pretty. It’s sure as hell not just. And often, those people need the help of friends and family to get by. But as they will tell you, it can be done — because, simply, it has to.
As Westneat points out, it’s not as though low-income people can’t commit tax fraud. But choosing them as audit subjects specifically because of their low income is incredibly classist, and far from cost effective. It can also be just plain cruel and vindictive, as it turned in Porcaro’s case:
Part of the funding for the Senate's health care bill will come from a 5% tax on cosmetic surgery. The tax would generate $5 billion over ten years, and would only tax procedures where surgery "is not necessary to ameliorate a deformity arising from, or directly related to, a congenital abnormality, a personal injury resulting from an accident or trauma, or disfiguring disease."
It sounds fine and good on its face to tax unnecessary procedures -- especially those that are primarily accessed by the upper middle class. I couldn't find statistics on the average income of people who get cosmetic surgery, and certainly there are low and lower-middle income people who seek out cosmetic procedures, but by definition it seems like plastic surgery would be accessed most often by upper-middle and upper-class people (it is at least accessed disproportionately by white people). But 91 percent of cosmetic procedures are performed on women. While they're generally cast as simple vanity procedures, the fact is that women are under extreme pressure to maintain a particular physical appearance -- to look young, thin and attractive. Men certainly don't escape that pressure either, but women face it to a much higher degree. It seems a little unfair that women are inundated with messages that we need to constantly improve our physical appearance, and then taxed when we take steps to do just that. As Lindsay Beyerstein said on a feminist listserve I’m on, “It’s one of those classic sexist double binds: Society tells you that you have to look perfect and then sticks you with a ’sin’ tax when you do what’s expected of you. Boob jobs would titillate men AND subsidize their health care.”
On the other hand, I don't have much of a problem taxing luxury goods, so why not also tax luxury surgeries? And I know a lot of Feministe readers disagree with me on this one, but I’m also a proponent of taxing things like soda and cigarettes, which offer zero benefits but many health costs.
French legislators are considering introducing legislation to ban the burqa in their country, in the name of respecting women. The burqa, these politicians argue, is a “prison” and “degrading” to women.
I’m personally of the mind that calls for women to cover their bodies because the female form is somehow inherently tempting or representative of sex are misogynist, regressive and certainly out of line with the most basic tenets of feminism. But women make choices about the way we dress for all kinds of reasons -- sometimes to follow a religious tradition, sometimes to be perceived as attractive, sometimes to be invisible, sometimes to just cover our bare asses. Most of our motivations aren’t feminist or anti-feminist. When it comes to religious requirements especially, we know that outlawing certain garments in public doesn’t make women shed the offending item of clothing; it just makes women refrain from public interactions.
Even including the 20 or so beds that would make up the new women's home, Ms. Kiss described a grim calculus for female veterans. Ten years ago, women represented 3 percent of homeless veterans, she said, compared with 5 percent now. About 180,000 female troops now serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Of course, it's still important to note that the vast majority of homeless veterans are male, and the number of homeless female veterans is rather disproportionately low compared to their numbers in the military overall. But the bad news is, first, their numbers just may rise when they finally come home from Iraq and Afghanistan. And second, there are fewer services out there to cater to them:
So, what's in the package for women? "Expanding health for them, child care, unemployment insurance, direct help in higher food stamps and energy assistance," said Joan Entmacher, vice president for family economic stability at the National Women's Law Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group that has worked closely with the Obama transition team and key members of Congress. "It also protects a lot of jobs for women in education, early education and social work services."
"You don't get everything you ask for," said Entmacher, "[But] we're pleased with the funding specifically targeted to child care and Head Start and other investment for children with disabilities."
Other feminist leaders are also guardedly positive about the stimulus.
"We're pretty happy with what we're seeing so far," said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, "But we're waiting to see details."
Frustrated by the failure to overturn Roe v. Wade, a growing number of antiabortion pastors, conservative academics and activists are setting aside efforts to outlaw abortion and instead are focusing on building social programs and developing other assistance for pregnant women to reduce the number of abortions.
Some of the activists are actually working with abortion rights advocates to push for legislation in Congress that would provide pregnant women with health care, child care and money for education — services that could encourage them to continue their pregnancies.
That makes sense. According to National Right to Life, 23 percent of women terminate pregnancies primarily because they can’t afford a baby. An addition 19 percent terminate because they have other children/family responsibilities. In a Guttmacher study (pdf), 73 percent of women listed “can’t afford a baby right now” as one of their reasons for having an abortion (the wide difference between the numbers comes because the Guttmacher study allowed women select multiple reasons for why they were terminating; the study quoted on the National Right to Life site had women pick one reason). The highest abortion rates occur in countries where birth control access is highly limited; worldwide, socioeconomic reasons are a leading factor in women choosing abortion. Low rates of abortion strongly correlate with universal health care, widely available contraception, and gender egalitarianism. There is little correlation between the legal status of abortion and the incidence of abortion — that is, there’s no evidence that countries where abortion is illegal have lower abortion rates than countries where it is legal. Case in point:
Before I discovered feminism I was already neck-deep in hip-hop culture.
The facts are simple: I was raised with hip-hop. That was the emerging culture my parents were immersed in as teenagers in the early 80s*, and even to this day there are older songs I hear that sound like lullabies to me. Old tracks by LL Cool J, the Sugarhill Gang, Kool Moe Dee, even old Common (back when he was Common Sense) fill me with a strange sense of familiarity and peace. My earliest memories are filled with the sweet mana of hip-hop.
So, it should come as no surprise that my earliest encounters with sexism also had a hip-hop chaser.
When I was about ten years old, I remember being at one of my motherÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s friends house. They were doing hair in the kitchen, so they expected me to go and amuse myself by playing with the womanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s eleven year old son, Bryan. I was rapidly approaching the age when I could make my own music choices, so I was often getting in trouble for raiding my parentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s CD collections. That day, a lot like any other, I had grabbed a handful of CDs when my mom wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t looking, a copy of Word Up magazine, a few books (I always had a book or two on hand) and headed to the basement to try to find music videos on TV.
Where have all the role models for girls and young women gone?
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a question that gets asked a lot, in all kinds of circles, from feminist ones to the family around the dinner table ones; where are the good role models for girls today? In the eyes of some, the female youth of the world have nothing other than Disney Princesses, Pop-Princesses, Super Models and (erm) Porn Stars to look up toÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
To them I say, look at a television, where the Olympics are onÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
There really are some pretty amazing women doing some pretty amazing stuff in Beijing. I mean, I love the Olympics, I love sports, and I love seeing women athletes from all over the world out there doing their thing, competing hard, giving it all theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got, win or lose. There are some awesome women doing just that, right now! And I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t help but think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not only cool, but yeah, it could be mighty inspiring.
Take a look:
From top left to bottom right, we haveÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
My good friend recently confessed that she wished her eight-year-old daughter were more interested in 'fashionable' shoes, lamenting that little Maria always insists on wearing sneakers- even with skirts. "Some day soon," my friend comforted herself, "Maria will want to be more like a girl -- she'll want to wear make-up, and shoes that compliment her outfits. I guess she's still just a little young for all that."
In light of that remark, I should have known when I agreed to babysit that Maria would show-up wearing shoes that limited her mobility. Had I been thinking of that conversation with her mother while arranging our day together, I could have saved the kid some pain. Instead, I thought of my own sneakered childhood, and planned to tour the neighborhood playgrounds, gardens, libraries, and ice-cream parlors with her -- on foot. Since I don't usually think of eight-year-olds wearing high-heels (although it seems to be a growing phenomenon), I didn't even notice Maria's 'fashionable' shoes until the poor kid started complaining of blisters and aching feet. Her mom had bought her the 'pretty grown-up shoes' the day before, and told her that big girls don't wear tennis shoes with skirts.
Little Maria's feet had fallen victim to gender-policing, the imposing of perceived 'typical' gender behaviors on another person.
As it turns out, gender policing is far from rare, and any kid who escapes adolescence with just a few blisters as a result can count herself lucky. According to research published in the journal Sex Roles, kids who's parents over-correct " ... gender atypical behavior (GAB) i.e. behavior traditionally considered more typical for children of the opposite sex" are at greater risk of developing adverse adult psychiatric symptoms:
Negative parenting style was associated with psychiatric symptoms. Structural equation modeling showed that parenting style significantly moderated the association between childhood GAB and adult psychiatric symptoms with positive parenting reducing the association and negative parenting sustaining it.To put it a bit more succinctly, it isn't being different that put kids at risk, it's being punished for being different.
I can’t decide if this is an example of careless reporting, or of intentional fear-mongering. While there is no solid evidence that Gardasil is dangerous, CNN’s article “Should parents worry about HPV vaccine?” seems to be written with the aim of confusing the public into believing otherwise:
While the idea that the HPV vaccinations might be unsafe is scary, at this point in CNN’s article I’m most appalled by a major news organization’s apparent lack of interest in conveying any real information to readers about an issue that concerns the safety of women and girls, and that could impact people’s decisions on whether or not to get vaccinated.
Gardasil has been the subject of 7,802 “adverse event” reports from the time the Food and Drug Administration approved its use two years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Girls and women have blamed the vaccine for causing ailments from nausea to paralysis — even death. Fifteen deaths were reported to the FDA, and 10 were confirmed, but the CDC says none of the 10 were linked to the vaccine. The CDC says it continues to study the reports of illness.
Let’s start with the first statement - that 7,802 “adverse event” reports have been filed. The obvious follow-up question that should occur to any reporter is “well, how many of these adverse events have actually been linked to Gardasil?” One might also wonder what the average adverse event report rate is for any vaccine, and if those reports decline after the vaccination is proven to be safe. Readers naturally want to know, after such a sensational headline, well - should we be worried, or are people drawing connections between illnesses and the vaccine where none actually exist?
The article’s second sensational statement, that “[f]ifteen deaths were reported to the FDA,” immediately looses its steam when we realize that none of those deaths have been linked to Gardasil. At this point in my reading, I began to doubt CNN’s motives - they wouldn’t strum-up fear just because it’s good for ratings, would they?
Finally, CNN presents us with the terrifying story of a teenager who developed pancreatitis not long after taking the vaccine. While I am not insensible to how horrifying such a serious illness would be for a young girl and her family, it should be CNN’s responsibility to verify whether or not her fear that it was related to the vaccine could be founded - by researching how many of those incident reports dealt with pancreatitis, for example, or other autoimmune diseases. This type of reporting is important, after all, since it could impact women’s decisions and, consequently, their health.
ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an interesting article about in the Times about the decline of Albanian sworn virgins. Sworn virgins are people who were born as women but take an oath of virginity and live as men. The article theorizes that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re declining because of increased gender equality; itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no longer shameful to have a woman-headed household, and the lines between Ã¢â‚¬Å“manÃ¢â‚¬Â� and Ã¢â‚¬Å“womanÃ¢â‚¬Â� are not as rigid as they used to be Ã¢â‚¬â€� meaning that women can do things that were traditionally in the male sphere while still living as women. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an interesting look at both the fluidity and rigidness of gender Ã¢â‚¬â€�while itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s possible for people born as women to Ã¢â‚¬Å“cross overÃ¢â‚¬Â� and live as men (and be totally socially accepted and understood as men), the only way they can do that is to fully embrace traditional gender roles. Further, only women can cross over Ã¢â‚¬â€� there arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t men who can acceptably choose to live as women.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an interesting piece. Thoughts?
[Ed: Watch an interview with an Albanian sworn virgin from a documentary by Elvira Dones. More information on the sworn virgin tradition is available here.]
Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert, a former U.N. peacekeeping commander, told the meeting: Ã¢â‚¬Å“It has probably become more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in an armed conflict.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
Speakers identified former Yugoslavia, SudanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Darfur region, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Liberia as conflict regions where deliberate sexual violence had occurred on a mass scale.
U.N. officials have said the problem is currently worst in eastern Congo. But a recent survey of 2,000 women and girls in Liberia showed 75 percent had been raped during the West African countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s civil war.
A U.S.-sponsored resolution adopted unanimously by the council called sexual violence Ã¢â‚¬Å“a tactic of war to humiliate, dominate, instil fear in, disperse and/or forcibly relocate civilian members of a community or ethnic group.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
It said the violence Ã¢â‚¬Å“can significantly exacerbate situations of armed conflict and may impede the restoration of international peace and security.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
It called on parties to conflict to take immediate measures to protect civilians from sexual violence, said such crimes should be excluded from amnesty after conflicts, and warned that the council would consider special measures against parties that commit them when imposing or renewing sanctions.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s also heartening to note that U.S. Secretary of State Condelezza Rice was the champion of the resolution.
The United States, council president for June, chose sexual violence as the theme of the monthÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s debate on a general issue. As well as Rice, several government ministers replaced ambassadors as their countriesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ representatives.
Opening the debate, Rice noted there had long been dispute about whether the theme was a security issue and hence something the Security Council was authorized to address.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am proud that today we respond to that lingering question with a resounding Ã¢â‚¬ËœyesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢,Ã¢â‚¬Â� she said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“This world body now acknowledges that sexual violence in conflict zones is indeed a security concern.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We affirm that sexual violence profoundly affects not only the health and safety of women but the economic and social stability of their nations.Ã¢â‚¬Â�
Posted by: Jack, cross-posted at AngryBrownButch
Yesterday while listening to Democracy Now! I heard about Karen Salazar for the first time. She is a high school teacher who was fired from her position at a school in LA because her curriculum was too “Afrocentric” - instead of, you know, the usual Eurocentric curriculum that’s delivered to American students on the daily. From a letter by Salazar posted on the Vivir Latino site:
Most adults throughout history have recognized that young people are likely to be unwise given their minuscule amount of life experience. After all, most adults, even among baby boomers, believe that they themselves are wiser today than 10 years ago, let alone than when they were 20 years old. It is remarkable, then, how often adults romanticize youth involvement in politics Ã¢â‚¬â€� Ã¢â‚¬Å“IsnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t it heartwarming to see young people getting involved?Ã¢â‚¬Â�
Actually, for a wise adult, it is not heartwarming.And by Ã¢â‚¬Å“wise adult,Ã¢â‚¬Â� he means Republican. Of course, the best part is that he starts his column like this:
We regularly hear about Barack ObamaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s appeal to youth, about how he has been able to excite and mobilize a generation of young people to become politically involved, his rare ability to excite young people, and about how many new voters will register (and vote Democrat) as a result.
All this seems to be true. The question, however, is whether it is a good thing for the country and not just for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
The answer is that it probably is not. With a few exceptions Ã¢â‚¬â€� and those exceptions are usually those rare cases when young people confront dictatorships Ã¢â‚¬â€� when youth get involved in politics in large numbers, it is not a good thing.
That’s what Linda Hirshman argues in the Washington Post. And, not surprisingly, I think she’s wrong.
FYI: There will be a live discussion about the article here at 1pm today. Join in.
Full disclosure: Linda interviewed me for this article. I’m quoted in the second-to-last paragraph. I really enjoyed speaking with her — it was clear during the interview that we have very different visions of what feminism should be, and we pushed back against each other quite a bit, but it was an engaging conversation. I didn’t expect to convince her or anything, nor her I — and from the article, I feel like we’re speaking different feminist languages.
Linda seems to be arguing that feminism has lost focus by way of intersectionality — because we’re so busy looking at things like race and class, we’ve forgotten about women. Race and class are “divides” that fragment the movement, making us less able to, say, get a woman elected president:
So what keeps the movement from realizing its demographic potential? First, it’s divided along lines so old that they feel like geological faults. Long before this campaign highlighted the divides of race, class and age, feminism was divided by race, class and age. As early as 1973, some black feminists formed a National Black Feminist Organization; in 1984, the writer Alice Walker coined the term “womanism” to distinguish black women’s liberation from feminism, the white version. In the early 1970s, writer and activist Barbara Ehrenreich argued on behalf of “socialist feminism,” saying that the women’s movement couldn’t succeed unless it attacked capitalism. The movement was barely out of its teens when Walker’s daughter, Rebecca, announced a new wave to distinguish her generation’s feminism from the already divided feminisms of the people who had spawned it.
I know we’ve said it over and over: “Pro-lifers” don’t seem to care much for “life” once people actually enter the world. They oppose contraception access, which could prevent millions of abortions; their political allies take no steps to assist low-income women; they oppose universal health-care; and they generally stand against any social program that would actually help women and children. In fact, 100% of the worst legislators for children are “pro-life.”
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when anti-choicers oppose programs that help born people secure shelter. And yet, even I was stunned at this:
An anti-abortion group has broken up a deal between Planned Parenthood and Habitat for Humanity by blasting out 10,000 e-mails to Habitat supporters.
Planned Parenthood is building a 23,000-square-foot regional headquarters on Central Avenue, and planned to sell Habitat the land next door for a token $10 to build three below-market-cost houses. The deal benefited Planned Parenthood because the city required the clinic to put up buildings as a buffer between its parking lot and Cohen Way.
“We could have put up any building we wanted,” said Barbara Zdravecky, president of Planned Parenthood. “We wanted to donate the land so Habitat could build more attainable housing.”
We’ve all heard the stories about the nutbag pharmacists, nurses and doctors who refuse to provide women with adequate health care because of their “religion.” Women are refused emergency contraception, and even standard birth control pills and devices, with alarming regularity. Anti-choice groups have pushed for “conscience clauses” in state law, allowing medical professionals to refuse to do their jobs.
But it’s not just about contraception any more: It’s also about the right to have children. Pamela reports that a woman in California was refused IVF treatment by a doctor who said that treating her would be against his religion.
Now why in the world would a doctor who disagrees with IVF be working at a fertility clinic, you ask? Because he doesn’t oppose IVF, exactly — he just doesn’t like lesbians, and this woman happened to be one.
But at least they’re being honest here: It’s not about “life.” It’s not about babies. It’s about social control. It’s about whose lives are deemed worthy, and which choices fit into the narrow worldview of religious conservatives. The “pro-life” opposition to abortion and contraception doesn’t come from a serious concern for all those fertilized egg-babies out there; it comes out of a concern for changing gender roles, and the evolution of the family into a unit that is increasingly non-patriarchal, egalitarian and diverse. It’s very much about a class of viewpoints: The feminist/humanist/scientific/modern view, which wants to allow individuals the right to self-determination, and the conservative/regressive view, which wants to take us back to a Golden Era of the family that never actually existed in real life, wherein men were in charge and women knew their place.
Trigger Warning: this post contains descriptions and links to descriptions of sexual abuse against children.
I woke up this morning to two emails from readers, and they both contained this story (thanks Jean and Rich): a new study shows that peacekeepers and aidworkers in post-conflict areas are sexually abusing children much more than we’d like to believe.
Children as young as six are being sexually abused by peacekeepers and aid workers, says a leading UK charity.
Children in post-conflict areas are being abused by the very people drafted into such zones to help look after them, says Save the Children.
After research in Ivory Coast, southern Sudan and Haiti, the charity proposed an international watchdog be set up.
Save the Children said it had sacked three workers for breaching its codes, and called on others to do the same.
The three men were all dismissed in the past year for having had sex with girls aged 17 - which the charity said was a sackable offence even though not illegal.
The UN has said it welcomes the charity’s report, which it will study closely.
Save the Children says the most shocking aspect of child sex abuse is that most of it goes unreported and unpunished, with children too scared to speak out.
Last week, Miss Sarajevo left a comment with a link to this series of articles in The Washington Post, and I’m just finally getting around to writing about it. The series, “Careless Detention,” is about the terrifying, unethical and downright inhumane medical treatment of immigrants imprisoned by ICE, generally while fighting or awaiting deportation for infractions that are usually non-violent and in fact so mild as to verge on the ridiculous. Since 9/11, Bush and his buddies have really stepped up anti-immigrant measures (which were already largely poor and in place), broadened definitions of who could be deported, increased raids and decided that those seeking asylum must do so while behind bars. Our government is imprisoning both documented and undocumented men and women (and though not mentioned in this series, also children), often without due process, and then, quite simply, killing them with medical neglect, or otherwise abusing/torturing them with inappropriate or an outright lack of medical treatment.
If you think that the medical treatment of some immigrants who are not in trouble with ICE is appalling (and it is), be prepared to learn a new definition of the word.
Part 1: “System of Neglect” focuses on those who have died custody due to profound medical indifference:
The most vulnerable detainees, the physically sick and the mentally ill, are sometimes denied the proper treatment to which they are entitled by law and regulation. They are locked in a world of slow care, poor care and no care, with panic and coverups among employees watching it happen, according to a Post investigation.
The investigation found a hidden world of flawed medical judgments, faulty administrative practices, neglectful guards, ill-trained technicians, sloppy record-keeping, lost medical files and dangerous staff shortages. It is also a world increasingly run by high-priced private contractors. There is evidence that infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and chicken pox, are spreading inside the centers.
Federal officials who oversee immigration detention said last week that they are “committed to ensuring the safety and well-being” of everyone in their custody.
Some 83 detainees have died in, or soon after, custody during the past five years. The deaths are the loudest alarms about a system teetering on collapse. Actions taken — or not taken — by medical staff members may have contributed to 30 of those deaths, according to confidential internal reviews and the opinions of medical experts who reviewed some death files for The Post.
According to an analysis by The Post, most of the people who died were young. Thirty-two of the detainees were younger than 40, and only six were 70 or older. The deaths took place at dozens of sites across the country. The most at one location was six at the San Pedro compound near Los Angeles.
Good news, folks: Sonia del Cid Iscoa will not be forcibly (or apparently otherwise) deported to Honduras. Even better, her condition has improved markedly and at an exceptional rate. (Thanks to Lindsay for the update.)
St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center on Tuesday reached agreement with lawyers representing Sonia del Cid Iscoa, ending an international legal drama over whether a legal immigrant could be forcibly transported from the country by a medical facility.
Iscoa, 34, did not have sufficient medical insurance to cover long-term care, St. Joseph’s could not offer it, and there were no apparent programs that could take her.
Of course, I find it odd that St. Joseph’s is no longer contemplating forced deportation now that Iscoa is seemingly doing well without dialysis, but was more than willing to deport her to a hospital that had no dialysis equipment back when she did need it. There’s some ethics for ya. One almost has to wonder if the decision came out of newfound financial ability, a moral revelation, or just some really shitty publicity that needed to be plugged up.
The hospital planned to fly her to a government hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Iscoa’s family went to Maricopa County Superior Court to get a temporary restraining order, and all parties were scheduled to appear before a judge on Friday.
But Iscoa’s condition has improved so markedly in the past several days that the discussion has changed.
“She has begun to take semisolid food. She is on room air, as opposed to supplemental oxygen. And she’s not had dialysis for a week, which is a huge improvement,” said attorney John Curtain. “Because of this the hospital at present is not contemplating sending her to Honduras.”
Though not entirely clear from the article, it does seem like Iscoa’s family is still going to need money to pay off medical bills, and since she’s still in recovery, her struggle is far from over.
The fact that Iscoa’s immediate crisis has been resolved is also no reason to stop discussing the issue and go back to our happy lives like it didn’t happen. Because this isn’t and never was just about one woman — it’s also about the approximately 8 immigrant patients that this one hospital forcibly deports each month, and who knows how many others that are deported by other hospitals across the nation.
Breathe a sigh of relief for Iscoa, but don’t stop talking.
A gravely ill woman at risk of being removed from the country for lack of adequate insurance coverage awoke from a coma Tuesday.
The hospital has been seeking to return her to her native Honduras; her family took the hospital to court.
[. . .]
Iscoa, 34, has a valid visa and has lived in the United States for more than 17 years. She has no family in Honduras.
But St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center sought to have her sent to Honduras when she went into a coma April 20 after giving birth to a daughter about 8 weeks premature. Iscoa has an amended version of Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System coverage that does not cover long-term care, Curtin said. But her family worried that the move would seriously harm her, or, at the very least, prevent her from ever returning to the United States.
Iscoa’s mother, Joaquina del Cid Plasecea, obtained a temporary restraining order to keep her from being moved. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Carey Hyatt also ordered that the family post a $20,000 bond by Tuesday to cover St. Joseph’s costs of postponing the transfer.
However, Curtin said that the hospital gave the family three more days to come up with the money before a hearing Friday.
If the family can prove that Iscoa would suffer irreparable injury by a move, the bond will be refunded and Iscoa will not be transferred. But if Hyatt determines that Iscoa is not in imminent danger by a move, the family will forfeit the bond.
A stipulation to a court order issued by Hyatt Tuesday evening said that the parties were “actively exploring alternative sources of securing payment for the medical bills of Sonia Iscoa.”
This is really beyond the pale. And really, if the “What election sexism?” Democrats can’t see how over-the-top this is, I don’t really know what to say.
Progressives should be better than this.* I haven’t been a Clinton supporter, but the misogynist crap she’s gotten throughout the election has made me a whole lot more sympathetic towards her. There are a lot of questions to raise and a lot of skepticism to be had about both Democratic candidates — we can do that without resorting to sexist and racist crutches. And we can cut the whole “She’s tearing the party apart!” nonsense. You know what tears the party apart? Insulting and attacking the party’s base by launching racist and sexist attacks. Drawing big fat lines between Clinton and Obama, as if either he or she were the bad guy — and in doing so, giving John McCain (the real bad guy) a great big pass.
For thoughts on sexism in the election in general, I refer you to Rebecca Traister and Amanda Fortini.
Contact the TNR editors (email@example.com) and tell them to stick to the issues — not sexist caricatures.
Thanks to Linda for the link.
*And yes, I realize that TNR is not “progressive.” But it’s (pathetically) seen as moderate to left-leaning. And it’s only one example of the nasty misogynistic attacks that have been directed at Clinton.
There are a lot of things I hate about election season, but the competition of which potential First Lady has the best recipes is perhaps my least favorite. So IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m actually kind of glad that Ã¢â‚¬Å“Farfalle-gateÃ¢â‚¬Â� has broken, and it turns out that Cindy McCainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s favorite family recipes were pulled directly from the Food Network Ã¢â‚¬â€� and that she didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even offer them up herself, some unpaid intern found them and claimed they were McCain family traditions. The whole thing is BS, and it makes me happy that Cindy didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t waste ten minutes of her life transcribing her recipe for rosemary chicken (although, of course, she should have just said the whole thing was crap and given Rachel Ray the proper credit).
I like food as much as the next person Ã¢â‚¬â€� actually, I probably like food a whole lot more than the next person Ã¢â‚¬â€� but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t really understand why Americans care which First Lady has the best cookie recipe. And I really donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t understand this:
In the meantime, The Huffington Post reported that the passion fruit recipe had appeared under Mrs. McCainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s name in the Jan. 16 issue of The New York Sun, in an article that also included a recipe from Michelle Obama (apple cobbler) but not one from the spouse of the other Democratic presidential candidate. The article did include Hillary Rodham ClintonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.Cindy McCain, Michelle Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Which one of these is not like the others?
Which isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t to say that Hillary Clinton is above recipe-swapping because sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a real competitor and the other ladies are just wives. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s to point out that the whole thing is stupid and sexist, and that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not about presidential spouses. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a country-wide reminder of a womanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s place, and a nice little national smack-down of feminism and gender equality.
Plus, people cook with recipes that are not their own. The only thing I use my own Ã¢â‚¬Å“recipeÃ¢â‚¬Â� for is gemelli pasta with sauteed garlic, crushed red pepper, black pepper, cilantro and asiago cheese (plus whatever else I have in the fridge that sounds good Ã¢â‚¬â€� chickpeas, avocado, parmesan etc). And IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m pretty sure I picked that up from my old room mate. Now, if I were in the race, I would totally submit the Barefoot ContessaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recipe for steak au poivre, since thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the only non-pasta, non-quesadilla thing I can cook Ã¢â‚¬â€� but I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t even try to convince the American people that itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an old family secret. I would just send them directly to Ina Garten, and everyone would be the better for it.
Shocker: Animal rights activism can be sexist.
TWO things that you can find a lot of in Portland, Ore., are vegans and strip clubs. Johnny Diablo decided to open a business to combine both. At his Casa Diablo Gentlemen's Club, soy protein replaces beef in the tacos and chimichangas; the dancers wear pleather, not leather. Many are vegans or vegetarians themselves.
But Portland is also home to a lot of young feminists, and some are not happy with Mr. Diablo's venture. Since he opened the strip club last month, their complaints have been "all over the Internet," he said. "One of them came in here once. I could tell she had an attitude right when she came in. She was all hostile."
Mr. Diablo isn't concerned with the "feminazis," as he calls them. As a vegan himself, he says he hasn't worn or eaten animal products in 24 years and is worried about cruelty to animals. "My sole purpose in this universe is to save every possible creature from pain and suffering," he said.
Except for women, apparently.
I am glad, however, to see feminist vegetarians, vegans and animal rights activists speaking out against sexism while still promoting animal liberation theory. I’m happy to see that they don’t buy the line that any means to promote veganism are a-ok.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a cookbook author, is among those who believe such images twist the vegan message. "As a feminist, I'm not keen on the idea of using women's bodies to sell veganism, and I'm not into the idea of using veganism to sell women's bodies," she said.
Ms. Moskowitz is the host of an online forum, Post Punk Kitchen (www.www.theppk.com), some of whose members are debating Mr. Diablo's vegan strip club. (Last week Mr. Diablo put the club up for sale, although not because of the criticism, he said. He may have overestimated the appeal of stripping to vegans, or of vegan cuisine to striptease fans; an earlier vegan restaurant he ran was poorly received.)
The issue of sexism in vegan circles is "extremely polarizing," said Bob Torres, an author of "Vegan Freak," a guide to living a vegan lifestyle, which generally means avoiding the use of animals for food, clothing or other purposes. Mr. Torres, like many vegans, disavows the "essential idea at the heart of some animal rights activism that any means justifies the ends," he said. Certain activists, he added, care only about "animal suffering and ignore the suffering of humans," a category into which he would put women who are exploited.
I'm certainly sympathetic to the plight of couples who can't conceive for whatever reason. And it certainly makes sense for women to voluntarily carry someone else's pregnancy if it means making a lot of money. But I think it's possible to be skeptical of this situation without passing judgment on the people involved in it, most of whom are doing the best that they can in tough circumstances.
An article published in The Times of India in February questioned how such a law would be enforced: "In a country crippled by abject poverty," it asked, "how will the government body guarantee that women will not agree to surrogacy just to be able to eat two square meals a day?"One could argue that surrogates are simply providing a service like any other. But I'm not sure that we want to turn reproduction into a service industry. The inequalities here are so stark -- and the carrot of thousands of dollars so tempting for women in a country with astounding poverty rates -- that writing if off as purely business is inadequate.
"Surrogates do it to give their children a better education, to buy a home, to start up a small business, a shop," Dr. Kadam said. "This is as much money as they could earn in maybe three years. I really don't think that this is exploiting the women. I feel it is two people who are helping out each other."
Gus Puryear is a well-connected Republican attorney who, after working for Bill Frist, went on to serve as general counsel for Corrections Corporation of America, a massive company that feeds off of the American prison system. CCA made $1.5 billion in 2004, and is the fifth largest prison system in the U.S. -- behind the federal government and three states. CCA also runs the notorious Hutto detention center in Texas, which detains immigrants and their children in prison conditions.
But it isn't Gusyear's CCA employment that's drawing criticism; it's his membership in a discriminatory country club.
Yes, it is true that the club does not allow women to vote. In fact, women have their own class of membershipÃ¢â‚¬â€�they're called Ã¢â‚¬Å“lady membersÃ¢â‚¬Â�Ã¢â‚¬â€�and lady members can't vote or hold office, even Martha Ingram, who is listed on the club's membership rolls. The only people who can vote are the club's resident members and, lo and behold, all of them are men. The club's Ã¢â‚¬Å“constitution,Ã¢â‚¬Â� which Puryear, as a judicial candidate essentially completing a take-home test, must have reviewed before answering Kennedy's questions, notes the following about resident members: Ã¢â‚¬Å“They alone, to the exclusion of all other classes of membership, shall have the right to control, manage, vote and hold office in the club.Ã¢â‚¬Â� So that means that non-resident members, associate resident members (younger members like Puryear) and, of course, lady members can't have any say in the governance of the club.The club technically allows people of all races to join, but they only have one black member. And he lives in another state.
While I think it's fairly clear that Puryear's club membership -- not to mention his apparent inability to answer straight-forward questions about it -- should disqualify him on ethical grounds, it's his work on behalf of CCA that I find more damning.