Tag Archives: Feminism

I’m Just Going to Print Out Copies of This & Hand Them Out from Now On, Instead of Arguing with Fundies

Pro-life? That’s a lie. You don’t care if women die.


/hat tip: Echidne.

Picture found here.

Rape. It’s Just Different. Wait. No, It’s Not.

So, by now, unless you live under a rock — and by that I mean a rock without wifi where you have no smartphone, no tv, no radio, and no access at all to the outside world — you’ve heard that yet another Republican candidate slipped up and admitted what he really thinks about rape, women, and living in the patriarchy.

It’s always interesting to me how differently, from almost every single other crime, we perceive rape and what this difference tells us about living in patriarchy.

The most obvious example is the way that we’re almost inalterably programmed to blame the rape victim for her rape. Thus, we hear all sorts of justifications: she was in a bad part of town, she was drunk, her skirt was too short, she let him kiss her and get excited, she’d previously (my own, almost ancient by now, moot court hypo) checked out movies that showed rape and therefore must have wanted to be raped, she was, in one way or another, asking for it.

Oddly, we don’t say those things about crimes that routinely happen to men.

Take robbery, for example. If someone shows up with a gun and demands a man’s wallet, we don’t say, well, that man shouldn’t have been walking with a wallet in a bad part of town, having had more than a few drinks, and wearing a nice suit that advertised how much money he had, as if he wanted to attract robbers. He shouldn’t have stopped and offered to give the robber a dollar before saying that, no, he wasn’t willing to give the robber all of his money. We don’t say that he’d previously checked out movies that showed people getting robbed and, therefore, must have wanted to be robbed. We don’t say that he was, in one way or another, asking to be robbed. We don’t blame it on the homeowner when there’s a breaking-and-entering. We don’t blame it on the owner of a credit card when someone commits identity theft. We don’t say that the murder victim was really asking to have poison put in his coffee. We don’t say that if your broker transfers all of your cash to her account in the Caymans, you must have wanted her to do that because you gave her access to your accounts.

You can, I’m sure, come up with many other examples.

And Mr. Mourdock’s assertion that rape victims should have to bear and give birth to the fetus that results from rape is yet another example of how rape — a crime committed almost exclusively by men and suffered overwhelmingly by women — is treated differently from other crimes. If someone rapes you and you get pregnant, that is, according to Mr. Mourdock, the xian god’s will (and what an unfeeling, brutal, weak, nasty, dirty, snarling, ill-mannered, id-controlled god he is, too). As a result the state should step in and prevent modern science and modern medicine from helping, to, as much as possible, put you back in the position that you occupied immediately prior to the rape (i.e., the state should prevent you from having an abortion or using the morning after pill).

I’m unable to think of any other crime of which this is true. In fact, in almost every other crime (and/or contract violation), returning the victim to the position occupied just prior to the infraction is the primary goal of our legal system.

If someone steals your car, the state will, if possible, make them return your car. If they wrecked your car, the state provides mechanisms that will allow you to sue the robber and get back the value of your car, the money you spent renting a car in the interim, the money you spent on counseling to make you feel better after the theft, etc. If someone assaults you, the state provides mechanisms to, if possible, make them pay for your medical bills, missed wages, pain and suffering. Even murder. If someone murders me, the state again provides mechanisms to make that person reimburse my estate, paying attention to my life expectancy, what my future earnings would have been, my value to my family, etc. I may not be able to be put back in the position that I occupied before the murder, but my estate can be and the state will labor to do so.

Yet what Mr. Mourdock proposes is that the state step in and actively prevent me, even with my own resources, from restoring myself to the position that I would have occupied prior to the rape. (As Echidne reminds me, and as I should have remembered from my good friend Literata, forcing women to carry a pregnancy to term can, in fact, be a death sentence. We don’t often sentence the victims of other crimes to death.)

Mr. Mourdock’s proposal is doubly wrong because it violates the United States Constitution. The First Amendment provides, inter alia, that:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . .

That means that the xians can believe whatever misogynistic, patriarchal, illogical, punitive shit they want to believe. That means that xian women who are raped can go ahead and give birth to the children that result from rape. That means that there’s not a damn thing I can do about that, even if I don’t think that adding to global population overload or bringing unwanted children into the world is a good thing. But here’s what it also means. It also means that Mr. Mourdock is wrong. The state may not step in and prevent me from having an abortion when I’m raped, simply because some xians don’t believe in women’s rights. My Goddess wants me to take responsibility for my own body, my own actions, any life that I manifest into this world. She wants me to be in control of my body. She wants me to have an abortion any time that I find myself pregnant and unwilling to bear a child.

I’ve been living in the patriarchy for 56 years. I’m getting tired of this shit.

(As is so often the case, my friend Echidne says the same thing, only earlier and better.)

Can You Identify the Goddess? Trick Question.

Where is the Goddess?

It’s a trick question, a koan, a “settled case of the law.”

Astute observers of this video will see: (1) Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace (aka, Columbia) atop the U.S. Capitol, and, (2) the Roman Goddess Virtus on the seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia. But, of course, everyone in the video “art” Goddess, just as, “thou art Goddess,” (including the wonderful young man, whom, I sincerely hope (Hey! My religion enacts in real time the notions that Thou Art Goddess and that All Acts of Love & Pleasure), gets laid every single day of his life).

You know that internet meme? This one captures all of me:

Who my friends think I am: The girl with the white umbrella.

Who society thinks I am: The girl with the lace on her blue shirt.

Who my mother thinks that I am: The girl in the white shorts.

Who I think I am: The girl in the sneakers, dress, and headscarf who actually can dance.

Who I really am: I really art Goddess.

I grew up (Everybody! Hello, everybody! Get your sneer on! You, you, too! You! You, over in the corner with the chai latte! I don’t think you’re sneering enough!) a Second Wave feminist and if I didn’t do anything else other than to help to create a world where these amazing young women can sing and dance about their vaginas in such an open way, well, I’ll head gladly off to the Summerlands tomorrow morning. I still remember that personal-is-the-political-consciousness-raising session when we passed around a mirror and saw “them.” Yes, daughters, we’d had them all of our lives and never seen them. So, thanks for the dance. And, may the crazies keep their hands of of yours!

This Is My Body: Not Yours

hat tip: @AmandaMarcotte


/hat tip: Digby.

The Art of Magic — Part the Second

Of course, wiser women than I have made the point that having access to imagery plays an important role in causing change according to will:

Imaging creates the possible. It is a necessary first step in our efforts to bring about social change, particularly for those changes that most radically depart from our present condition. It is a powerful tool that we do not fully understand or use in our daily lives. Even those of us who want change, sense its urgency, and are working toward it have difficulty in comprehending and encompassing the enormity of what we are doing. We are attempting to radically change our material circumstances, our values, and our way of knowing. If we sometimes lose heart or become discouraged, we must realize that there may be resources we are not using. For many of us, imaging may be one such resource we have not yet discovered.

We have all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words; it may also be worth ten thousand numbers. . . . Humans handle visual information by intuitive processes and handle it better than words or numbers. So, if one is designing a new car or a new society, working with an image makes it more understandable.

. . .

Balancing commitment to new visions and receptivity to still newer ones is not easy. Helen Lynd, a noted sociologist, has pointed out how difficult it is “to give everything one is to supporting all the truth that one can see at any given time, with full awareness that there are other possibilities and that further knowledge may enlarge and revise the hypotheses on which one has risked everything.” Feminists [and all magic workers] creating new visions of a better life cannot avoid the inevitable tension between the desire for certainty, stability, and a well-earned rest[,] and the elusiveness of truth. We must honor process in the creating of our images and in the way [that] we hold and act upon them.

~ Juanita Weaver, “Images and Models — in Process,” in The Politics of Women’s Spirituality: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power Within the Feminist Movement, ed. by Charlene Spretnak

What magical result are you attempting to create? Do you know what it looks like? Would a walk through a museum or art gallery, even a virtual one, help you to create a powerful image of what the world would like like (of who you would be) when you are successful? Should you begin to collect useful images, when you find them, in your Book of Shadows? Can a picture be as useful as a combination of herbs or an ancient chant?

Picture found here.

Watching the Future

Literata linked to this great video the other day, explaining that:

Kellianna performed on Friday night, and when she took requests, a young girl asked for “I Walk with the Goddess.” Kellianna said, “I’ll sing that if you, you, you, you, and you get up here and sing it with me!”

. . .

I didn’t know any of those girls, but I was so moved that it’s hard to express. I nearly cried with joy at the knowledge that they are being brought up with a vision of the divine that explicitly includes them, their bodies, their selves.

I came to Wicca and Goddess religion many years ago when I first read The Politics of Women’s Spirituality: Essays on the Rise of Spiritual Power Within the Feminist Movement, edited by Charlene Spretnak. In an essay entitled “Why Women Need the Goddess,” Carol P. Christ wrote:

Religious symbol systems focused around exclusively male image of divinity create the impression that female power can never be fully legitimate or wholly beneficent. This message need never be explicitly stated (as, for example, it is in the story of Eve) for its effects to be felt. A woman completely ignorant of the myths of female evil in biblical religion nonetheless acknowledges the anomaly of female power when she prays exclusively to a male God. She may see herself as like God and affirming God’s transcendence of sexual identity. But she can never have the experience that is freely available to every man and boy in her culture, of having her full sexual identity affirmed as being in the image and likeness of God. In Geertz’ terms, her “mood” is one of trust in male power as salvific and distrust of female power in herself and other women as inferior or dangerous. Such a powerful, pervasive, and longlasting “mood” cannot fail to become a “motivation” that translates into social and political reality.

In Beyond God the Father, feminist theologian Mary Daly detailed the psychological and political ramifications of father religion for women. “If God in ‘his’ heaven is a father ruling his people,” she wrote, “then it is the ‘nature’ of things and according to divine plan and the order of the universe that society be male-dominated. . . . The images and values of a given society have been projected into the realm of dogmas and ‘Articles of Faith,’ and these, in turn, justify the social structures which have given rise to them and which sustain their plausibility.”

Looking at the faces of those girls in the video, watching their body language, I can see, incarnate, the truth that rocked me so many years ago. What a gift to live to see this difference.

Of Course

The anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sanday looked at data from over one hundred cultures as to the prevalence of rape, and divided them into high- or low-rape cultures. She found that high-rape cultures are highly militarized and sex segregated. There is a lot of difference in status between men and women. The care of children is devalued and delegated to subordinate females. She also found that the creation myths of high-rape cultures recognize only a male deity, rather than a female deity or a couple. When you think about it, that is rather bizarre. It would be an understandable mistake to think women make babies all by themselves, but it’s preposterous to think men do that alone. So you’ve got to have a fairly elaborate and counterintuitive mythmaking machine in order to fabricate a creation myth that recognizes only a male deity. There was another interesting finding, which is that high-rape cultures had recent experiences — meaning in the last few hundred years — of famine or migration. That is to say, they had not reached a stable adaptation to their ecological niche.

Sadly enough, when these risk factors are tallied, it’s clear this pretty much describes our culture.

~Judith Herman interviewed by Derrick Jensen in Truths Among Us: Conversations on Building a New Culture

Picture found here.

Me, In a Bad Mood

Several years ago, a bunch of white men got together and limited women’s rights to abortion:

Today, a bunch of white men got together and talked about limiting women’s rights to birth control:

I am just saying.

There’s a lot of chortling in the Twitterverse and the Blogosphere over how the Republicans are really stepping in it by going all out against birth control. After all, women vote and about 98% of them use, or have used, birth control. Goddess knows, I hope that’s how it plays out.

But I’m not so sure.

One thing you can say for the Republicans and the Dominionists is that they are masters at moving the Overton Window. (And one thing you can say for Democrats and Progressives is that they give new meaning to the word “lame” in this regard.) And what’s happened over the course of just a few weeks is that the argument has shifted from keeping abortion legal and accessible (an argument that we’ve been losing, BTW, up until Komen went too far, too fast) to whether it’s a vile intrusion of big government onto the religious rights of fundies for women to have access to birth control. I may be a bear of little brain, but it’s difficult for me to see how that’s a huge win for women.

The brilliant Sarah Posner warned us about this some time ago when Newt Gingrich began ramping up his rhetoric about the poor, persecuted Catholics. Christians are v good about insisting that any time they’re not allowed to impose their (completely unworkable, anti-woman, anti-reality, sex-negative) worldview (I won’t call them morals, because they’re not) on the rest of us, that means that we’re picking on the Christians. Honest to Hera, Mobius had nothing on these guys; they’re that good.

Charles Pierce is one of the lone voices suggesting that maybe we ought to be concerned instead of celebrating.

Seriously, does anyone here expect any prominent Democrat to come out and take a stand to protect women on this “icky” issue? I don’t. Not Barack Obama. Not Catholic Joe Biden. Not Katheleen Siebelius. None of them. Nancy Pelosi made one statement today and then shut up. In fact, I expect Obama and the Dems to do what they always do in the face of these entirely-predictable negotiating tactics by the right: retreat some more. Keep negotiating against themselves. Pretend that there’s a middle ground and keep running after it as the fundies snatch it further and further to the right.

Meanwhile, there are a few expressions that no one dares to utter in this entire debate: (1) Population Explosion. (2) Planetary Carrying Capacity. And the fact that those terms dare not speak their names is a HUGE part of the problem.

And, yes, for all that many of us have been saying for years that these people really wanted to abolish birth control as well as abortion, I can’t say that I’m enjoying being right.

I’ll just add that there’s no reason for some of these insane policies to stop with women. Maybe gay men should have probing anal exams before they can get access to drugs for HIV/AIDS. Or to condoms. Sure, it has no medical purpose and is done simply to shame, humiliate, increase costs, and hurt. But we’ve apparently crossed that Rubicon. Maybe immigrants should be subject to humiliating medical exams before they apply for citizenship. Maybe people who apply for unemployment insurance should be waterboarded once a month. Maybe women and children claiming to have been raped or abused should be thrown into a lake. If they sink, they were telling the truth; if they float, they’re lying and should be punished.

I have an idea. Let’s leave the tender consciences of the Catholic bishops (who aren’t worried when their own priests bugger little boys, but who faint and cry at the thought of having anything to do with providing birth control) intact. The government, via single-payer health care, can provide birth control and abortions (fuck the Hyde Amendment), free of cost, to women who want them. As to the argument that Catholics don’t want their tax dollars supporting something they find abhorrent, I’ll simply note that war is against my religion. Torturing people is against my religion. Drilling for oil and cutting timber on federal lands is against my religion. Holding people without charges is against my religion. Tasing people is against my religion. Breaking up peaceful demonstrations is against my religion. And my tax dollars get used for all of those things and many more that I find abhorrent. So unless we’re going to add about 500 pages of check-off items to income tax forms, the Catholics can either suck it up or become tax protesters, facing jail and foreclosure as serious anti-war activists, Quakers, for example, do.

Damn. I’m sick of this bullshit.

May the Goddess Guard Her. May She Find Her Way to the Summerlands. May Her Friends and Family Know Peace.

Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist who began a movement to reforest her country by paying poor women a few shillings to plant trees and who went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, died here on Sunday. She was 71.

The cause was cancer, said her organization, the Green Belt Movement. Kenyan news outlets said that she had been treated for ovarian cancer in the past year and that she had been in a hospital for at least a week before she died.

Dr. Maathai, one of the most widely respected women on the continent, played many roles — environmentalist, feminist, politician, professor, rabble-rouser, human rights advocate and head of the Green Belt Movement, which she founded in 1977. Its mission was to plant trees across Kenya to fight erosion and to create firewood for fuel and jobs for women.

More here.

I will call her name at Samhein. What is remembered does not die.

Picture found here.