dreamer_easy: (melanin)
Some parts of Elizabeth Moon's Park51 posting are more difficult to address than others. For example:
"The same with other points of Islam that I find appalling (especially as a free woman) and totally against those basic principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution...I feel that I personally (and many others) lean over backwards to put up with these things, to let Muslims believe stuff that unfits them for citizenship, on the grounds of their personal freedom."
Because Ms Moon doesn't specify what these "points of Islam" are, it's pretty much impossible to discuss them, except in the most general terms. It can be said that American Muslims are very typically American in their views. For example, most believe life is better for women in the US than in many Muslim countries.

Waleed Aly (and many, many others) point out the maddening tendency of politicians and commentators in the West to accuse Muslims of disrespecting, oppressing, and mistreating women - while Islamic politicians and commentators accuse Westerners of exactly the same thing. Caught in the cultural crossfire (often physically) are Muslim women, whether in the West or the Islamic world: they are spoken about, rather than being given a chance to speak.

Because of that, rather than add the voice of yet another slenderly informed white Western feminist to the noise, I'd like to link to some online commentary from Muslim women. I'll add more links to this list as I come across them. Here goes:

Muslim Women Don't See Themselves as Oppressed, Survey Finds

On 9/11, Listening to Muslim Women's Voices

Muslimah Media Watch

Loving and Leaving the Head Scarf

ETA: In Ms Moon's home state, the Texas Muslim Women's Foundation engage in various good works, including providing a domestic violence shelter for women of all faiths, and collaborate with other organisations.

She Who Disputes: Muslim Women Shape the Debate. A very readable 2006 report from the Muslim Women's Network, giving British Muslimah's views on numerous issues, from violence and safety to civic participation.

(btw, I've said that I'm not going to go and look for online responses to Ms Moon's posting, because of the slim chance of finding light rather than heat. However, I'll read anything that's recced to me - and if there are responses from Muslim women, I'm especially interested in seeing them.)

PS From July this year, the findings of a global survey on attitudes to gender equality.
dreamer_easy: (anti-bullying)
Given his feminist cred, I wonder if Neil Gaiman remarking that "George R. R. Martin is not your bitch" can be read not as a misogynist slip, but a use of the culture's current popular metaphor for exploitation and abuse. In which case, the insult is not directed at the targets of abuse, but at the abusers, with the sense of "stop treating other people like your personal property". It's not a metaphor I'd use myself, and it's right to point out its ugly connotations. But just how useful is it to pillory a long-standing feminist ally on the basis of a single remark? How about (and has this expression has ever been more apposite?) playing the ball instead of the man?
dreamer_easy: (hypomanic)
I have the rampaging thoughts tonight. Parking some of them here, just to get them out of my system.

1. Bullying is not a useful way of opposing racism, sexism, and other bigotry. In particular, social aggression between girls and women - malicious gossip, ridicule, exclusion - is profoundly anti-woman, a byproduct of patriarchy. It should not be confused with, nor is it justified by, honest anger, frustration, assertiveness, disagreement: things which girls and women are taught to suppress, but which are the real tools for dismantling oppression. Bullying will slow and confuse our efforts until online progressives reject it.

2. Why am I not an atheist? I'm a naturalist and a rationalist, so why am I up to my elbows in gods? Is this something to do with how the human brain makes sense of the world through narrative?

3. Dear Mr Dawkins et al, regardless of how much praying I and others may do during takeoff, the Bernoulli Effect is not magic. Please make a note of this.

4. The Ten Commandment Boogie helpfully reminds us that the Bible is "full of incredible tools". Surely you cannot be down-with-the-kids while simultaneously pastiching "Kokomo".

Got you!

Dec. 17th, 2009 10:01 am
dreamer_easy: (darkgod)
Remember these fuckers?

Mercy Ministries admits claims were false
Former directors of Mercy Ministries yesterday admitted the evangelical Christian organisation had engaged in false, misleading and deceptive conduct by wrongly claiming their residential care programs were free and included support from psychologists, dietitians, general practitioners and counsellors.

The admission is part of an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ruling, after an 18-month investigation into complaints from former residents who were forced to undergo exorcisms and use prayer to treat serious health problems such as bipolar disorder and anorexia.

Targeting girls and women aged 16 to 28, Mercy Ministries also claimed - on its website and in advertising material distributed in Gloria Jeans cafes around the country - that its program was free, yet a Herald investigation revealed residents had to sign over their Centrelink benefits during their stay.

The ACCC ordered the former directors to pay $1050 to each of the 110 young women who took part in their programs from January 2005 to June last year, the total being $118,154. They have also agreed to attend annual trade practices compliance training for three years.
They're just lucky they didn't kill someone. Can't they be prosecuted for more than just false advertising?
dreamer_easy: (Default)
Looking for any recent news on the prosecution of Asqa Parvez's alleged killers, I stumbled across this:

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/11/12/barbara-kay-quot-discover-canada-the-rights-and-responisibilities-of-citizenship-quot-is-a-watershed-moment-for-the-policy-of-multiculturalism-and-a-banner-day-for-immigrant-women.aspx

National Post blogger Barbara Kay refers to "gender ideologues who can't bear the idea that some forms of violence against women are a culturally imposed pathology and not, as they would prefer, a tragic but predictable example of the inherent violence and controlling instincts of all men." Damned if I can think of one. Neither can Kay, apparently, since she doesn't name or quote one. Out of millions of people over a century there must be or have been some feminists who think that men are irredeemable. But you're actually much more likely to hear that belief from rape apologists than the women's movement. After all, we're hoping to change society; what would be the point if we thought the problem was biological instead of cultural?

Kay is writing about a Canadian guvmint guide for immigrants which states, "...Canada's openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, 'honour killings,'... or other gender-based violence." Kay hoots delightedly at the use of the word "barbaric", although she doesn't consider its possible effect on the intended readership. Let's hope the firm language opens eyes rather than closing minds.

Any hypothetical feminists who opposed this initiative, says Kay, would be "not really feminists at all." Someone who characterises Muslim women as too frightened, ignorant, and "brainwashed" to resist is skating on very thin ice when it comes to claiming to be a feminist, let alone dictating who else deserves the description. Squabbles over the f-word aside, I wonder what the Canadian Council of Muslim Women or the Federation of Muslim Women or the United Muslim Women of Canada or attendees of August's Muslim Women conference in Ontario would make of her description of them.
dreamer_easy: (DEBUNKING)
Library FAIL. I'll go tomorrow morning. In the meantime I think I'll post some news from the world of SCIENCE here, in between efforts at unearthing the household from its current layer of filth.

Cervical cancer vaccine reminds girls of sexual risks rather than promoting promiscuity.

Bans 'do not cut abortion rate' (but contraceptive access does).

Teen Birth Rates Higher in Highly Religious States

Can therapy make a gay person straight? (No.)

How myths are made looks at both commercial distortion of science, and more subtly, how scientific citations can become a game of "whispers".
dreamer_easy: (feminist)
Rummaging in the mathom house, I found my old copy of Phyllis Chesler's Letters to a Young Feminist, published in 1997. Chesler has written some questionable things since then, but her advice in that book still rings true - here are a few things I'd underlined:
Do not hesitate because your actions may not be perfect enough, or beyond criticism.

Do not try to win approval from your opponents.

Know that you can disagree with someone without having to hate or banish them.

Imperfect action is everything. If we wait for the exact right moment to do the most politically correct action in the company of the most politically correct people... don't hold your breath, it will never happen.
And the one sentence I've never forgotten:
You will make terrible mistakes.
dreamer_easy: (GENDER)
Further to yesterday's posting re drag kings: [livejournal.com profile] qthewetsprocket continues the discussion with her own thoughts on the subject. (Many thanks to all for your thought-provoking responses!)
dreamer_easy: (GENDER)
"... it's worth asking why FTM [Female to Male] drag has gained MTF's acceptance in neither mainstream popular culture nor queer communities... MTF [Male to Female] drag is about performing, and often ridiculing, femininity - a state that, in its exaggerated drag form, is fake, plastic, shallow, and lacking in power. FTM drag is about performing and poking fun at masculinity, a privileged, powerful state that is impossible to 'perform' anyway because it's so darn natural and normal. Many drag kings can pass as male, and that means both questioning male privilege and calling attention to it - unacceptable in a patriarchal society that depends on the naturalness and invisibility of such privilege. Could FTM's lack of acceptance be due to the fact that it presents a much greater threat to gender roles than MTF?"

- Donna Jean Troka, writing in Bitch magazine in 2000. (Her essay, "When We Were Kings", is also in the collection The Drag King Anthology, edited by Troka, Kathleen LeBesco, and Jean Bobby Noble.)
dreamer_easy: (WRITING eye)
Witch. Bitch. Fat. Hag. Cunt.
dreamer_easy: (feminist)
Here's an entry from my proto-blog, "Kate Almanac", dated 9 July 2000.

In June this year, I visited relatives in Washington DC. I packed my passport, my swimsuit - and a list of references to look up at the Library of Congress. Despite plundering university and local libraries around the world, there were still a handful of citations I hadn't been able to track down. I got the call numbers from the LC's Web page. But what I didn't get was an idea of just how difficult it was going to be to get my paws on that short list of research goodies.

One of my targets: a copy of Lenore Walker's 1979 classic, The Battered Woman. Surprisingly, I hadn't been able to find it anywhere. And all I wanted was to check one reference, a supposedly man-hating remark much quoted on the net. Here it is, as it appeared on the Men's Issues Page:

One of Lenore Walker's examples from her classic book The Battered Woman(NY: Harper Colophon Books, 1979, p. 98) says
"There is also no doubt that she began to assault Paul physically before he assaulted her. However, it is also clear from the rest of her story that Paul had been battering her by ignoring her and working late, in order to move up the corporate ladder, for the entire five years of their marriage."
So, the message Walker gives to women is: if your husband is working late, trying to support his dependents, just SLUG HIM if you don't like this. You're the victim, not him, and we will back you up 100%.
What a shocking thing for Walker say! In fact, it's so shocking that I've always suspected that her meaning had been distorted - in order to make anti-domestic violence activists look like villains who trivialise violence against men. You won't be surprised to hear that my suspicion was right. But first, I had to get my hands on that book.

The story continues... )
dreamer_easy: (caution axe-wielding nun)
"In this post-everything real decade (post-politics, post-feminism, post-consciousness) there's a corresponding decadent compunction to Look Good: spiritually, physically, culturally: pose pretty. Appear-to-have-it-all-together. As a substitute for real substance, genuine power. Even our goddesses. New Age spiritual guides, even we spiritual feminists, urge ourselves to image 'positively': smiling, wise, benevolent, graciously non-confrontational ladies. Those who succor, shelter, soothe, agree and understand. Goddesses of therapy rather than bitches of politics; goddesses of personal wellbeing rather than witches of global change. Healing, not upheaval, because we are all, as the whole doomed world is, alone, scared, in pain, stressed-out, terminally obstructed, overdosed and confused.

"Naturally it follows that we seek the Mother of Peace and Quiet, not an Amazonian Battle-Axe hounding us out to Fight Again. In the midst of patriarchy's metallic noise and violent self-pollution, we consume tapes of our mother's last, lost waterfalls, forest winds, sweet silence."
- Barbara Mor, quoted in Creation Spirituality and the Dreamtime (ed. Catherine Hammond)
dreamer_easy: (feminist)
Challenging The 'Sex Sells' Cliche. This is a 2006 article about the porn that saturates the scum British press. The point it makes that stuck with me was that it's not sex that sells, but one narrow stereotype of "sex" out of the endless variety of human sexuality, numbingly repeated over and over and over.

And also: Championing Ourselves, a Pagan essay about the role of the woman warrior. "Most of our battles will not be fought physically, however. We need to sharpen our voices, our wits and our wills, on many fronts. Once we take on the mantle of the warrior and harden it by learning how to protect ourselves physically, that power can translate itself to any battlefield if we truly integrate it. A warrior may find that the path leads her to become a victims advocate, chain herself to a Redwood, or lobby at her statehouse. One can even find a warrior way by being a caregiver, feeding the homeless, or comforting the wounded. If we take the name "warrior" we will always find battlefields, and a warrior should have the skills to adapt to wherever she needs to be. Warriors make changes in the world, no matter how the changes must be made."
dreamer_easy: (podge)
The Goddess movement has been criticised within and without feminism as a distraction from more important issues for women, but the truth is, it intersects very much with political thought and action. Rummaging through old bookmarks, I rediscovered the essay The Goddess Ungirdled: How I learned to love my belly and found the Sacred Feminine within, in which Lisa Sarasohn describes how yoga and finally the image of the prehistoric Great Goddess helped her escape the trap of hating her body. (In this context, it doesn't matter whether there really was a Great Goddess - those luscious, sexy, weighty "Venus" figures are inspiring in their own right.)
dreamer_easy: (BOOKS)
David Bennun. British as a Second Language.
Judy Horacek. Woman With Altitude.
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. The Mote in God's Eye.

Books bought and borrowed )
dreamer_easy: (HOLD ON)
A couple more statistics:
  • In the Australian state of Victoria, from 2000-2003, police classified only 2.1% of reported rapes as false reports. (Statewide Steering Committee to Reduce Sexual Assault. Study of reported rapes in Victoria. Office of Women's Policy, Department for Victorian Communities, Melbourne, July 2006.)

  • In 1991, the San Francisco Examiner reported that "in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Richmond last year, the unfounding rate on sexual assault cases was less than 1%". Actual false reports would have only been part of that figure. (Quoted in Benedict, Helen. Virgin or Vamp: How the Press Covers Sex Crimes. Oxford University Press, New York, 1992.)
Many published statistics on the frequency of false rape reports are not the result of systematic studies, which is one reason why the figures vary so widely. For example, researchers may just rely on their own opinions, or on the opinions of police, whether or not the report was actually investigated. These opinions are often based on assumptions about how a genuine rape victim would appear and behave - assumptions which are not supported by the evidence.

These opinions can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Faced with suspicion and disbelief from police, genuine rape victims may withdraw their complaints in despair or fear, and police may then record those withdrawn complaints as false reports - "proving" they were right to doubt the victim. "Surveys of US rape crisis centers revealed 17 states where adult rape complainants, unlike adult victims of other crimes, are required to take a polygraph exam before their charges are accepted. Many survivors faced with these unsupportive early warning signs withdrew their charges, and police listed their cases as false rape allegations or 'recantations'." (Rozee and Ross, 2001).

Despite the lack of evidence to support it, the belief that false reports are a significant percentage of rape reports is held by police, lawyers, judges, jurors, the media, and members of the public. It's all over the net. The baseless belief that women often falsely report rape is "one of the most important barriers to successfully investigating and prosecuting sexual assault" (Lonsway et al 2009). Countless genuine victims have been turned away by police because of the myth; countless rapists have escaped punishment because of it. There is no other crime in which victims are subject to this baseless scepticism.

__
Rozee, Patricia and Mark P. Koss. Rape: a Century of Resistance. Psychology of Women Quarterly 25 2001 pp 295-311. (Citing Sloan, L.M. (1995) Revictimization by polygraph: The practice of polygraphing survivors of sexual assault. Journal of Medicine and Law 14 pp 255-276.)

Lonsway et al. False Reports: Moving Beyond the Issue to Successfully Investigate and Prosecute Non-Stranger Sexual Assault. The Voice 3(1) 2009. (Newsletter from the American Prosecutors Research Institute.)
dreamer_easy: (feminist)
Found a printout of 1994 soc.feminism posting by Janis Cortese: "I KNOW we're in danger six ways from zero. I KNOW we're abused and raped and hated. But NO "Look how bad we have it" article in Ms. Magazine has EVER made me feel empowered like seeing Counselor Troi kick the hell out of the fellow who was trying to mentally rape her in Star Trek."
dreamer_easy: (HOLD ON)
Although it's a common belief that women frequently falsely report rape, there is no evidence that this is the case, and some evidence that women do not often make false reports. In 2007 I made a series of postings in which I outlined some of the research. I'd like to follow those up now with some more facts and figures specifically about false reports. To begin with:

  • "The San Diego Police Department Sex Crimes Division routinely evaluated the rate of false reports over several years and found them to be around 4%. In a recent study of 2,643 sexual assault cases reported to British police, 8% were classified as false allegations. Yet when researchers applied the actual criteria for a false report, as opposed to an unsubstantiated or unfounded report, the figure dropped to 2%." (Raphael, J. The Duke Lacrosse Case: Exploiting the Issue of False Rape Accusations. Violence Against Women 14(3), March 2008. I'd like to track down the original sources of these figures.)

  • Raphael also remarks: "Professor Lisak reminds us that not a single 'benchmark' study on false rape claims can be found in the social science literature". (Citing Lisak, D. (2007). False allegations of rape: A critique of Kanin. Sexual Assault Report 11, no. 1, 1-2, 6, and 9.) This is why I say there is "some" evidence that women don't often falsely report rape: no-one has ever specifically researched the prevalence of false reports.

  • ETA: "False allegations are widely believed to be a common occurence in cases of sexual assault. However, to date, there is no evidence to support this view. I would therefore counsel caution when statements are made about behaviour, which might be prefaced 'everyone knows'. In such circumstances, it is more likely that nobody knows."
    Adshead, Gwen. Psychological trauma and its influence on genuine and false complaints of sexual assault. Medicine, Science, and the Law 36(2) 1996 pp 95-99.

  • "To the best of the authors' knowledge, there are no statistics maintained on false allegations."
    Hazelwood, Robert R. and Ann Wolbert Burgess. "False allegations of rape". in Hazelwood, Robert R. and Ann Wolbert Burgess (eds). Practical Aspects of Rape Investigation: A Multidisciplinary Approach (4th ed). CRC Press (Taylor and Francis Group), Boca Raton FL, 2008.

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