As I write this post I am watching the Hulu presentation of The Handmaid’s Tale…for the third time. I’ve wanted to write about this series, but the situation of late has been so depressing that watching hours of a possible futuristic society for our daughters…has not been high on my list of priorities.
I’ve read the book, ages ago. So long in fact, that I can’t remember much of the specifics. Certain things stick of course…but several changes have been made to transition the book to the screen.
When Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, she gave the world a dystopian masterpiece: the story of a woman named Offred who’s only purpose in the theocratic Republic of Gilead is to get pregnant and be a surrogate for her new owners. The book is back in vogue in a big way, thanks to a certain U.S. president (his name rhymes with Grump) and a new TV adaptation that premieres in Canada this Sunday. Here, aspiring Atwood aficionados, we pinpoint five major ways that the two-hour premiere differs from the novel. Spoilers ahead—obviously.
Be sure to go and read the other changes but I wanted to point these out:
Ofglen gets fleshed out
ON PAGE: Little is known about Ofglen, the Handmaid assigned to accompany Offred on all her errands (Handmaids always walk two by two). Still, she becomes a compelling character as a member of Mayday, the covert resistance against Gilead, whose survival instincts and knowledge help Offred. Eventually, Ofglen is discovered as a member of Mayday, and she hangs herself rather than enduring Gilead’s torture.
ON SCREEN: Alexis Bledel’ Ofglen gets a meatier storyline, which gives ol’ Rory Gilmore a chance to shine—she displays a surprising mastery of delivering subtext through little more than meaningful glances. The added information is both excellent and deeply sad. Ofglen tells Offred that she used to be a college professor, and that she recently attempted to escape to Canada with her partner. In the show, Ofglen is gay, which is forbidden. It adds an extra layer of horror when she is caught by The Eyes, Gilead’s secret police.
Handmaids once used Tinder
ON PAGE: Atwood provides very few details that hint at when The Handmaid’s Tale takes place or how long it has been since the U.S. dissolved into Gilead. This makes Gilead an eternal threat: the revolution could happen any time.
ON SCREEN: Flashbacks feature Uber, Tinder and artisanal coffee shops, making it far easier to situate Gilead in the modern era—perhaps just a few years from now. The Eyes also have earpieces and sharp black cars, instead of the horses and truncheons they use in the book. It’s an astute change: it’s a lot more terrifying for audiences to imagine Offred being taken out of today’s world than the distant past.
I do think that bringing it up to present day makes it more immediate…in that sense of desperation. That this sort of life is something that could happen just around the corner.
The much-anticipated Hulu series based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel from 1985 does not disappoint expectations; in fact, it delivers an aptly horrifying and prescient treatment of the story’s increased relevance. You see, for women, the personal is the political, and vice versa. I was reminded of this while recently re-viewing the excellent documentary She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, which chronicles the birth of the women’s movement of the late 1960s. In recent months, American women have seen rising complacency about sexist behavior as well as the normalizing of misogynist rhetoric. There is also a threat to our hard-won reproductive rights. The chatter around this new series has been enlivened by its eerily-accurate reflection of our present situation, which may yet escalate into a future not unlike the one depicted in this television adaptation.
Atwood’s novel was published to rave reviews and devoured by feminists, science fiction fans, and curious readers around the world. In the Republic of Gilead, in the not too distant future, women have lost all rights to their bodies, their reproductive autonomy, their livelihoods, and even their names. Atwood’s novel is narrated in the first person by Offred, a young woman whose name at first seems a comment on the bright red robes — flamboyant yet puritanical — that she and others like her are forced to wear. We soon realize women are referred to by the names of their fathers: “Ofglen” or “Ofwarren.” They have no jobs, are not allowed to own property, read books, or watch television. And oh, by the way, the young fertile ones are forced to bear children for complete strangers.
The review discusses an overview of the first episode of the series, but this is what I want to cut to:
One reason The Handmaid’s Tale (written by Bruce Miller, who also co-produced sci-fi series The 4400 and The 100 and is working on Jenji Kohan’s new series about the Salem Witch Trials, The Devil You Know) resonates strongly today is that the flashback scenes (memories of the world referred to as “Before”) take place in what looks very much like the present day: hip hop music plays on iPods, cafes serve complicated low-fat coffee drinks, an intimidating military presence makes use of semi-automatic rifles and wears black knit hats in the mode of Colorado hipsters, people buy used Volvos on craigslist. But there are differences: fascism is approaching, but the characters can’t quite believe it is taking place. When anger builds and there are marches and demonstrations, the police/military (there’s no real separation between the two anymore and, if you doubt this, see the recent documentary Do Not Resist) shoot unarmed protesters with impunity. Women are finally rounded up and reassigned according to their utility: as domestic servants (Marthas) or incubators (Handmaids). Known lesbians may be punished with “mercy” or “redemption”—I won’t spoil a particularly moving and harrowing scene by explaining those euphemisms further.
This article also brings up a change in the series from the book that is also of note:
The Handmaid’s duty is completed via bizarre ceremonies and rituals that center on impregnation and birth; the arrangement is strange, intimate, and humiliating for all involved. The overarching purpose is to serve God; but religion is an oddly cold and distant presence here. Offred is frequently heard speaking to God for help; but the constant anachronistic phrases uttered by the denizens of Gilead (“blessed be the fruit,” or “go with grace” or “praise be,” or even “under His eye,” which also refers to the “eyes” of surveillance) ring hollow given the violence and tyranny that govern America’s hypocritical culture. Those who managed to escape to Canada when things started changing are the lucky ones. In Atwood’s novel, Japanese tourists come to gawk at the strangely dressed and morally backwards citizens of Gilead. In one of several bold — but intriguing — changes to Atwood’s work, this society is a multi-cultural one. June and Luke have an interracial marriage, white June’s best friend Moira is African-American. In the 1985 novel, the new regime “rounded up” people of color and relocated them to Midwest camps.
I wondered if the change from Atwood’s novel could have been more powerfully done. After all, racist policies are currently being directed towards American immigrants; it would make sense that Gilead’s brand of authoritarianism would attempt to control to all expressions of the Other, not just women. Still, there are examples of the indignity of social rank, based on socioeconomic and class status. The handsome driver who works for Offred’s “Commander” is of “such low status” that he has not yet been “assigned a woman.” Meanwhile, the treatment of the people who protest the government — men, women, young, old, every race imaginable — is egalitarian. The spray of bullets that sends them fleeing for cover is remarkably democratic in its range and efficacy. As Offred says, “There will be no mercies for members of the resistance.”
Yet the most terrifying parts of “The Handmaid’s Tale” are the flashbacks, to a time very much like ours.
Before the coup, Offred has freedom, a job, Uber. Then things start to change — little things. Women are having trouble conceiving. The government becomes more reactionary. One day, a coffee shop clerk, unprovoked, calls her and her best friend, Moira (Samira Wiley), “sluts.”
Something primal and angry is awakening. Some people are exhilarated: Finally, they can say what’s on their minds, without the PC thought police cracking down! The show is also attentive to how progressive men can back-burner the concerns of women. Offred’s husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), for instance, is convinced that the craziness is bound to blow over.
It doesn’t. An intermediate layer of flashbacks finds Offred, Moira and a class of future handmaids at a re-education center being indoctrinated, with homilies and a cattle prod, by Aunt Lydia (a coolly imperious Ann Dowd). “This may not seem ordinary to you right now,” she tells them. “But after a time it will.”
The line is terrifying because it rings so true. You may not believe that anyone, in real life, is actually Making America Gilead Again. But this urgent “Handmaid’s Tale” is not about prophecy. It’s about process, the way people will themselves to believe the abnormal is normal, until one day they look around and realize that these are the bad old days.
And I think that scene in the coffee shop is one of the most disturbing, for me…because it is something that we are seeing nowadays…with more and more frequency.
Offred thinks, “Now I’m awake to the world. I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists, and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up then either.” Yowza. Dystopian nightmare fulfilled.
Flashback to June and Moira jogging in the city, earbuds in, as Peaches‘, F**k The Pain Away plays. Seems like a normal enough thing, but when they jog by a woman on the street, she looks them up and down and gives them the dirtiest look. And I realize, mmm no, all is not well.
At a coffee shop, a mouthy little jerk of a cashier, harasses Moira and June after June’s credit card is declined for insufficient funds, which makes no sense to her since she just deposited her paycheck. He calls them “f*cking sluts.” And then tells them to “Get the f*ck out of here.” So I guess this is the moment when the “it” that happened starts to happen. Clearly, this dude’s feeling himself with a dose of extra strength straight-white-male-privilege.
And what is worse, that behavior is something that is not being called out, rather it is being egged on by a population led by the “Grab your pussy” President and elected officials…(I’m including the asshole Sanders in that mix as well.)
Image below is a still from the coffee shop scene.
In Trump’s America, everything is political, and all of pop culture becomes commentary, whether it wants to be or not. From the beginning of 2017, TV shows from Scandal to The Young Pope to Big Little Lies have been mined for insights about our new political reality, despite having been written and filmed well before the election. But you won’t see a more timely or essential onscreen story this year than Hulu’s extraordinary rendering of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, reimagined as a fundamentalist nightmare for the Mike Pence era.
Full disclosure up front: my experience with The Handmaid’s Tale extends to the three episodes made available for review. We’ll have plenty of coverage for those familiar with the book here at Pajiba over the upcoming weeks, but I think a show should stand on its own, regardless of source material. If you have to have read the book/seen the movie/followed the Instagram account in order to fully understand the television adaptation, then that adaptation has failed. It undoubtedly means certain scenes, certain interactions, and certain imagery in those episodes will resonate differently for those who have read Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel. But absolutely no power was lost upon this particularly newbie to this dystopian world.
If I could sum up the overwhelming subtext of this show, it would be this: “We are not doing nearly enough to prevent this from actually happening.” The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t take place in a future far removed from ours, and at times feels as if set tomorrow. This is a show that suggests The Women’s March on Washington this past January was a cute digression on the path towards the inevitable subjugation of women, a path forged by men via nuclear fire in order to clear the path for a return to a more “civilized” time. This isn’t a show in which the right side initially wins: Ideological purity trumps the concept of compromise little by little, until the ground falls out completely beneath those that had no idea just how rocky the terrain had become.
I use the verb “trump” there intentionally, because it’s absolutely, positively impossible to not view The Handmaid’s Tale through the lens of the last year. There’s a scene early in the third episode in which a barista, newly emboldened by the government’s increasingly sexist legislation in the days before the shit truly hits the fan, feels free to call two women who have just gone for a run “sluts.” They aren’t wearing anything particularly revealing: They are in what one might consider “normal” workout clothes, but they do show a bit of skin, and that skin is glistening with sweat, and that’s enough at this point in the narrative’s timeline for that to be the new benchmark. The word “slut” is uttered as much in relief as in hatred, as if this person has been holding it in for decades and feels happy to finally say it. It’s not hard to link this scene with the rise of those emboldened by Trump’s victory to overtly and publicly say things meant to demean other races, sexualities, cultures, customs, and anything that doesn’t look the same when viewed in the mirror.
Interview with Atwood:
Things like this are creepy to read about:
There’s a women’s march that occurs in The Handmaid’s Tale, which was filmed before Donald Trump was elected president and well before the actual Women’s March on Washington.
Image above is a sketch by Margaret Atwood.
Just a few more links on the series:
Found on Facebook:
Yeah, just to tie into the whole patriarchal thing….and threats.
“I want to thank Ambassador Nikki Haley for her outstanding leadership and for acting as my personal envoy on the Security Council. She is doing a good job. Now, does everybody like Nikki?” Trump said, according to reporters present at the White House event. “Otherwise she could be easily replaced, right? No, we won’t do that. I promise you we won’t do that. She’s doing a fantastic job.”
‘It was criminal once before, and it is their intent to make it criminal again,’ says Dr Willie Parker
And a few more disgusting shit stories for good measure:
We bring you now the “Women are Objects” section of the thread:
(Er…the whole damn post is women are objects.)
That video is just plain disturbing on so many levels. Especially the freaky dude saying the sex dolls will cut down on rape and assault. WTF?
And as if all this wasn’t depressing enough:
In order to avoid males of the species bothering them for sex, female dragonflies fake their own deaths, falling from the sky and lying motionless on the ground until the suitor goes away.
A study by Rassim Khelifa, a zoologist from the University of Zurich is the first time scientists have seen odonates feign death as a tactic to avoid mating, and a rare instance of animals faking their own deaths for this purpose. Odonates is the order of carnivorous insects that includes dragonflies and damselflies.
In other sad news this week…we lost one of our best directors in film.
Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme died Wednesday in New York of cancer complications, his publicist told Variety. He was 73 years old.
Demme is best known for directing “The Silence of the Lambs,” the 1991 horror-thriller that was a box office smash, a critical triumph, and introduced moviegoers to Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter, a charismatic serial with a yen for chianti, fava beans, and cannibalism. The story of a novice FBI analyst (Jodie Foster) on the trail of a murderer became only the third film in history to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories ( picture, actor, actress, director, and adapted screenplay), joining the ranks of “It Happened One Night” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”
Though he had his greatest success terrifying audiences, most of Demme’s work was looser and quirkier. In particular, he showed a great humanism and an empathy for outsiders in the likes of “Melvin and Howard,” the story of a service station owner who claimed to have been a beneficiary of Howard Hughes, and “Something Wild,” a screwball comedy about a banker whose life is turned upside down by a kooky woman. He also scored with “Married to the Mob” and oversaw “Stop Making Sense,” a documentary about the Talking Heads that is considered to be a seminal concert film.
I loved Married to the Mob…it is one of my favorite films.
Jonathan Demme, one of the American cinema’s finest, most insistently humanist directors, has died at the absurdly young age of 73, from complications of throat cancer and heart disease.
It’s hard to imagine New York or the world or the movies without Demme in the house. How do you eulogize someone whose overriding aspect is aliveness?
I guess you start by simply naming some of his wonderful movies, in chronological order: Caged Heat, Handle With Care, Melvin and Howard, Swing Shift, Stop Making Sense, Something Wild, Married to the Mob, The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Beloved, Rachel Getting Married, Neil Young: Heart of Gold, A Master Builder … Those are my favorites, but many of the others are vital, too — Swimming to Cambodia, Cousin Bobby, his Haitian documentaries, his brave and urgent remake of The Manchurian Candidate, his patchy but exuberant Ricki and the Flash …
In 2002, I wrote an article about Demme for the New York Times in connection with his loose remake of Charade, The Truth About Charlie — a difficult piece because the movie was plainly a dud. It was, however, a generous and overflowing dud, and an excellent prism through which to view the man the Times’ headline writer called “the Happy Hipster of Film.” For one thing, Demme’s camera was always swerving off the main actors to catch street performers or passersby or people he knew.
“There seem to be no extras,” I wrote, “only characters from movies yet to be made … Mr. Demme tries to cram in the maximum amount of life per square inch of movie screen.” (The “Mr.” thing is Times style and is reproduced accordingly.)
“Other faces that show up in Mr. Demme’s films are from his vast circle of acquaintances, business associates and creative influences – so that watching his movies is like looking through a scrapbook of his life. In The Truth About Charlie, Mr. Demme not only salutes Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player (1960) with an excerpt; he brings in its star, Charles Aznavour, to serenade the lovers.
Read that link in full…it has some good parts.
I know that I only focus on that one scene in the coffee shop. There are many other that spoke to me, as I am sure there are scenes that spoke to you. (The Salvaging being one of them.) But I thought it best not to go too fully into the series. I do think it is something that people need to see.
Even if the ones who truly need to realize the situation, and are the ones who would get the most out of the show’s message…still do not get their eyes open by the end of the third episode.
Yeah, from my experience…with my husband at least, he does not think a handmaid society is anywhere near within reach. Like the husband “Luke” in the show, who is a patronizing ass…he is completely complacent to the warning signs that seem to blare like the sirens and explosions that go on around him.
But it is all there folks. And what the fuck are we going to do, I don’t know how to get this message to the “Guardians” among us. Do you?
That is my offering today. It is depressing I know…but it is an open thread.
This will be a quick post, and it won’t mention a tRump at all.
Well, except for this little tidbit…
Republicans are demanding Democratic support for Donald Trump’s nominee to the stolen Supreme Court seat, but the White House is denying some Democratic women the opportunity to even meet with him for questioning.
Not surprising when his VP won’t even have dinner with any woman other than his wife.
The vice-president’s rule is insulting for men and limiting for women. But let’s not let Pence’s sexism distract us from his whole party’s sexist agenda
Also, on that note…Mike Pence strips women of healthcare with tie-breaking Senate vote
Vice President Mike Pence just used his powers in the Senate to be the lone decider in whether or not women will have access to crucial healthcare coverage.
In a 51-50 vote, Senate Republicans — with a few members defecting to side with Democrats — just repealed an Obama-era regulation that puts states “on notice” with respect to funding Planned Parenthood health centers. The initial regulation stipulated that states that sought to deny Title X funding — which goes to groups like Planned Parenthood that provide low-income Americans with affordable family planning services — would be in violation of federal law.
The National Women’s Law Center broke down the harm that the latest decision by Vice President Pence and Senate Republicans would cause to low-income women in a recent blog post:
Breast exams—which were provided to over 1 million women nationally at Title X sites in 2015;
Other important confidential preventive care, including screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)/HIV, and health education; and
Contraceptive care and counseling that helped women avoid 904,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 439,000 unplanned births in 2014.
The move to relieve states attempting to cut Title X grants to dry up Planned Parenthood’s funding comes on the heels of the Republicans’ embarrassing Trumpcare defeat last week, when President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposed healthcare overhaul didn’t even receive a vote in the heavily Republican House of Representatives. With Pence’s latest tiebreaker, Republicans will now no longer be 0-1 in fulfilling campaign promises related to taking away healthcare for low-income people.
What a way to end out the month that was supposed to celebrate women…
It is constantly amazing to me how the right can continue to put forth life threatening laws like this:
An Iowa state representative is under fire after saying women who miscarry after 20 weeks of pregnancy should be forced to carry their dead fetuses to term.
During a hearing Wednesday of Senate File 471, which would clear the way for a state ban on abortions after the 20-week mark, Republican Rep. Shannon Lundgren — the manager of 471 — faced a question from fellow Rep. John Forbes, a Democrat.
Noting that he has a daughter who is 20 weeks pregnant, Forbes asked that under the bill, would his daughter have to carry her child to term even if a doctor told her there was no longer a heartbeat.
“Is that good medicine?” Forbes wondered.
“This bill wasn’t written for the intent to protect or govern on the side of the woman. It was written to save babies’ lives, giving the choice and being the voice of those babies…that don’t have one. I understand what you’re saying—this fetus, this baby, is not alive. I would concur that in that instance, if your daughter’s life is not in danger, that yes, she would have to carry that baby.”
And this isn’t all that we have seen from the GOP this week…Georgia lawmakers cruelly mocked rape survivor lobbying against harmful bill
If you REALLY want to rage, watch this clip of Ehrhart saying being “falsely accused” is just as traumatizing as being sexually assaulted.
The year is 2017 and that video above still shows the dangerous repercussions of rape culture that is perpetuated by the patriarchy attitudes that show no signs of calming down. Take this incident, which is not in this country…but illustrates the point: Wealthy Man in Mexico Acquitted of Rape Because He ‘Didn’t Enjoy It’
A judge in Mexico has acquitted one of three men accused of raping a 17-year-old girl on the grounds that, as one activist described it, he “didn’t enjoy it.”
Diego Cruz, who was 19 at the time, and three of his friends, all sons of wealthy businessmen and politicians, allegedly abducted their former high school classmate and forced her into the back of a car as she was leaving a party in Boca del Rio, Veracruz, in 2015. The girl said Cruz and another man, Jorge Coahuila, grabbed under her shirt and shorts. A third man, Enrique Capitaine, raped her, while the fourth sat there.
Though Judge Anuar González acknowledged that Cruz touched the girl’s breasts and genitals, he found that Cruz’s action was “incidental rubbing” that lacked “carnal intent,” and was therefore not assault.
And you know, the fight…is a world wide assault. Over in Britain: Anger as tampon tax is used to help fund anti-abortion group | Politics | The Guardian
Seriously…no wonder so many women over the world took the Woman’s March to heart.
But let’s hear it for the women and girls who are standing up to the right.
Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny is Little Miss Flint. She is 9 years old and lives in Flint, MI. She told me that in her free time she likes to “go on Twitter or just play with my toys or just lay down in bed, read, and play with my dollhouse, and color and draw and cheer.” She hasn’t been able to drink the water from the sink in her house for 1,071 days, because, as she put it, “you might die.”
Copeny’s story has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
The water smelled bad. It gave me a bad rash. It smelled like bleach. We couldn’t use it no more. [We used] bottled water: 36 gallons for a bubble bath and so we could brush our teeth.
More stories of women and girls standing up below…
Want to follow some body positive folks: 6 Body Positive Illustrators You Need To Know About
Self-love is for everybody! For those days then you feel like “ugh,” you need bright, cheerful reminders of how you are just perfect, just the way you are! Here are 6 of my favorite body-positive illustrators to watch for everyday inspiration to love yourself and be kind to your body!
With history mostly focusing on the achievements of men, it’s necessary to elevate the stories of women. As British historian and author Bettany Hughes states, “It’s the inconvenient truth that women have always been 50 percent of the population, but only occupy around 0.5 percent of recorded history. Physically the stories of women have been written out of history, rather than written in.”
That’s why the work of 24-year-old Zaira Funes is so important. During this year’s Women’s History Month, she fought this erasure by tweeting about inspirational Latin American women. Because the Salvadoran-American student chose to solely highlight Central America – an isthmus that’s also very familiar with erasure – she gave many a chance to learn and feel pride about barrier-breaking women from Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize.
Funes included a range of athletes, activists, singers, and everything in between. To wrap up March, check out these Central American women who made history, as curated by Funes:
Go to the link to read more and check those women out.
And since I am packing this post with links on women, why not post a story on…The Real Story of Elizabeth Báthory: History’s Most Prolific Female Serial Killer
Whenever you hear this story, you’ll find plenty more questions than answers. Was Elizabeth Báthory really the most prolific female killer of all time? Was she framed, a victim of being a powerful woman in a time when that alone was enough to ruin her reputation?
Or was she as bad as they say, a woman who had her henchmen gather virgins (up to 650!) from neighboring villages in order to bathe in their blood, a practice she believed would keep her young?
As with the majority of history (especially history about women and other underrepresented categories of people), you’ll just have to read what we know and make up your own mind, because there will never be a black-and-white truth.
Well, y’all know what I mean.
Now a quick video, because it makes me laugh every time I see it.
If you are on Facebook, then follow the next couple of groups. They always have interesting post.
And if anything is said of feminism…this must be: Intersectionality
Let’s keep the women post going….
For some reason that Instagram of Alan Cumming is not showing up…this is the image btw:
We celebrated Transgender Day recently, and one story that went around the web caught my eye:
I put up three different links there…each has the same story but they all have little various details and quotes.
Lesbians are well-known for our unique ability to find a girlfriend and then turn that romantic relationship into an all-consuming life partnership — starting businesses, pursuing activism, revolutionizing social services, erecting schools, liberating marginalized groups. This is true today but has also been true since the beginning of time. Back in the day, many women were held back from activism and entrepreneurship by the demands of marriage and motherhood, making some women-loving-women uniquely able to pursue civilization-shifting ventures. (Although many managed to do both!) We’re gonna talk about some of those relationships here today.
For the purposes of this list, I defined “power couple” as a relationship through which both women were able to achieve greater professional, artistic or service-related success because of their relationship with each other. I leaned towards couples that actually made or did things together — whether that be starting a school, hosting a nightclub, creating social services for disadvantaged humans or making films. Also, as usual, the word “lesbian” is used as an adjective to describe a same-sex relationship, not the sexual orientation of the women in the relationship.
And for many of us, this next article may come as no surprise: What states have the best and worst quality of life for women.
Ladies love Hawaii! The island state is declared to have the best quality of life for women – while Utah, Louisiana, and Oklahoma have the worst
A new in-depth study by MoveHub ranked US states based on the quality of life for women who live there
The site looked at factors like gender pay gap, political representation in the state legislature, equality in education, and accessibility to health insurance
It also examined reproductive rights and the number of incidents of violence against women
States in the Northeast and West mostly fared best, while Utah and a cluster of Southern states performed worst
I also thought this was a good story to share, ‘Penis Seat’ Causes Double Takes on Mexico City Subway – The New York Times
A seat in a subway car in Mexico City’s metro system caused a stir earlier this year. There were awkward glances. Visible discomfort. Baffled looks. Some laughs. And of course, the inevitable pictures from passengers’ camera phones.
It was meant to be provocative, and it was. A seat was changed to look like the lower half of a male’s body, including the penis, part of a campaign by UN Women and the Mexico City government to raise awareness about sexual harassment on subways.
On the floor beneath the seat, there was a sign reading, “It is annoying to travel this way, but not compared to the sexual violence women suffer in their daily commutes.”
Video and more at the link.
And finally….this last story:
It’s a place where women rule, marriage doesn’t exist and everything follows the maternal bloodline. But is it as good for women as it sounds – and how long can it last?
A Mosuo woman weaves with a loom at her shop in Lijiang, China. Photograph: Chien-min Chung/Getty Images
Imagine a society without fathers; without marriage (or divorce); one in which nuclear families don’t exist. Grandmother sits at the head of the table; her sons and daughters live with her, along with the children of those daughters, following the maternal bloodline. Men are little more than studs, sperm donors who inseminate women but have, more often than not, little involvement in their children’s upbringing.
This progressive, feminist world – or anachronistic matriarchy, as skewed as any patriarchal society, depending on your viewpoint – exists in a lush valley in Yunnan, south-west China, in the far eastern foothills of the Himalayas. An ancient tribal community of Tibetan Buddhists called the Mosuo, they live in a surprisingly modern way: women are treated as equal, if not superior, to men; both have as many, or as few, sexual partners as they like, free from judgment; and extended families bring up the children and care for the elderly. But is it as utopian as it seems? And how much longer can it survive?
Go to the link and read the rest. It is fascinating.
Well, that is all I have for you today…this is an open thread..have at it.
Hello, I’ve used photos of woman boxers, or women boxing, before…it seemed appropriate with the latest assault in women’s rights out of Ohio and Texas, that images of women in boxing gear (vintage ones at that) should be the perfect accompaniment to this thread.
So focusing on women in this evening thread…
If Gov. John Kasich (R) signs the bill, it would pose a direct challenge to Supreme Court decisions that have found that women have a constitutional right to abortion until the point of viability, which is typically pegged around 24 weeks. Similar bills have been blocked by the courts. Because of this, even many antiabortion advocates have opposed such measures.
But some Ohio Republicans said they were empowered to support the bill because of President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to appoint Supreme Court justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion nationally.
“New president, new Supreme Court justice appointees, change the dynamic,” state Senate President Keith Faber (R) told WHIO-TV after the vote. Asked if he believed it could withstand a constitutional challenge, he replied he felt “it has a better chance than it did before.”
There is one vacancy on the Supreme Court, left by Antonin Scalia, a conservative justice who died this year. Another conservative justice in his place would not likely change the dynamics of the court enough to alter the chances for such a bill. But that could change if Trump gets the opportunity during his term to appoint a replacement for one of the more liberal justices.
The vote is the latest sign that Trump’s election has energized conservatives on cultural matters, even as his campaign was built around an economic message. Social conservatives were heartened by his choice for vice president, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), who shepherded some of the nation’s strictest laws in his state. They have watched approvingly as his cabinet picks have almost uniformly been outspoken against abortion rights.
Read the rest at the link.
Sign the petition here: Governor Kasich, you can’t just ban abortion | American Civil Liberties Union
On Tuesday, Ohio lawmakers approved a bill that would ban abortion at six weeks, or when a fetus’s heartbeat became audible. The so-called “heartbeat bill” is one of the strictest in the nation and has the potential to prevent women from getting abortions before they even know they’re pregnant, and it makes no exception for cases of rape or incest.
Republican Representative Jim Buchy was a strong proponent for the bill, which he said would “encourage personal responsibility.” “What we have here is really the need to give people the incentive to be more responsible so we reduce unwanted pregnancies, and by the way, the vast majority of abortions are performed on women who were not raped,” he told Ohio Public Radio.
Buchy is a longtime proponent of restricting women’s access to abortion — in 2012, he told Al Jazeera that his ultimate goal is to ban abortion completely in the State of Ohio. Then, the reporter asked him an interesting question: “What do you think makes a woman want to have an abortion?”
He pauses. Then he says, “Well, there’s probably a lot of reas— I’m not a woman.” He laughs. “I’m thinking now if I’m a woman why would I want to get … Some of it has to do with economics. A lot of it has to do with economics. I don’t know. It’s a question I’ve never even thought about.”
President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly promised on the campaign trail that he would help criminalize abortion. In his postelection interview with Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes,” Trump doubled down, promising to appoint Supreme Court judges who will vote against abortion rights.
Well, Ohio Republicans clearly believe him and are downright excited about it — so much so that state legislators in both houses used the last few days of the lame duck session to pass a bill banning abortion after the embryo begins pumping blood, at about six weeks of pregnancy. It’s called the “Heartbeat Bill,” but that’s a bit of misnomer, since the circulatory system of an embryo that early in a pregnancy hasn’t really developed what most of us recognize as a proper heart.
Now the abortion ban is headed to the desk of John Kasich, Ohio’s governor and former Republican presidential candidate. Kasich is a hard-line opponent of abortion rights and takes a dim view of women’s health care generally. Since 2011, he has waged all-out war on abortion access, using backdoor regulatory schemes to shut down half of the state’s abortion clinics.
The only hope Ohio has, Ohio House Approves Fetal Heartbeat Bill | Mother Jones….
If the measure becomes law, it will likely fail in court.
However, in Texas…this is going on…Texas Governor Can Expect Mailbox Full Of Used Tampons After Passing Abortion Burial Law
After months of fierce opposition from pro-choice activists and the medical community, state health officials in Texas who have had their sights set on punishing women that didn’t carry their pregnancies to term after failing to make abortions more costly, as well as physically and mentally draining earlier this year, have finally succeeded.
Starting December 19th, all miscarried and aborted fetuses will need to be cremated or buried in accordance with the new law, whether the woman wanted to carry the pregnancy to term or not, and regardless of the reasons behind the termination.
Ele Chupik, a resident of Fort Worth, Texas, shared an idea that many people have taken a liking to:
It is fucking 2016…and we are still dealing with shit like this?
It is looking a lot like women are totally fucked…remember this article from November 15th? What abortion could look like in America under Donald Trump – The Washington Post
If Donald Trump’s Supreme Court of the future moves to overturn Roe v. Wade, access to legal abortion in the United States wouldn’t vanish. But it would likely become staggeringly unequal — an option only for women who happen to live in a liberal state or have the money to travel to one.
For a glimpse of this possible fate, look to the recent past. In 1970, New York became the first state to allow any woman to end a pregnancy without proving she’d been raped or that her health would fail if gestation continued.
“Women flocked there,” said Katha Pollitt, author of Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights. “But low-income women, disproportionately women of color, were trapped in anti-abortion states.”
Before the Supreme Court decided to guarantee a woman’s right to seek a legal abortion in 1973, making Roe the law of the land, the procedure was banned in 30 states. At the time New York struck down its abortion limitations, allowing women to terminate a pregnancy up to 24 weeks, only Hawaii offered similar access — but solely to residents.
New York, however, upheld no residency requirement. In the two years after the law changed, 60 percent of women who had abortions there came from another state. By 1972, roughly women 100,000 had left their state to get a legal procedure in New York City, according the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization. An estimated 50,000 traveled more than 500 miles to reach an abortion provider in the metropolis, and nearly 7,000 trekked double that distance.
If Gov. Terry Branstad is confirmed as ambassador, Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will replace him as Iowa governor. Reynolds has said if abortion is criminalized, the punishment “would be equivalent to murder.”
President-elect Trump on Wednesday announced a slew of cabinet picks, including three anti-choice nominees—one of whom will clear the way in Iowa for a new governor who has said abortion patients, if such care were to be criminalized, should be punished like people who commit “murder.”
Trump intends to nominate Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) as U.S. ambassador to China, climate-change denier Scott Pruitt to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon to the Small Business Association.
While governor, Branstad’s administration pushed through restrictions on reproductive health care, including an unconstitutional ban on telemedicine abortions. In 2015, he moved to restrictfunding for Planned Parenthood affiliates after speaking at an anti-choice rally and proclaiming that “no Medicaid-funded abortions have occurred in the state” in the previous two years.
Branstad in 2013 signed a state budget that allowed him to decide on a case-by-case basis whether a person seeking Medicaid funding for abortion in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormalities, or life endangerment could be reimbursed.
If Branstad’s appointment is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will replace him as Iowa governor. In an interview with the Carol Daily Herald Timesin July 2010, Reynolds was asked how doctors who provide abortions and women who have them should be punished if the medical procedure were criminalized.
“Well, I think it would be equivalent to murder,” Reynolds said. “I would want to research that before I would lay specifically out what the penalties would be.” When pressed for an answer, Reynolds said, “I don’t know if it needs to be the death penalty.”
Reynolds’ office did not respond to Rewire‘s requests for comment.
Just a few more articles…on abortion.
My pregnancy was going to be high-risk already. And given what I’d already been through, I made a choice. I do not bow to shrunken gods.
Two days later, I went to a little cafe here to meet with Nadya Tolokonnikova of the Russian punk band and activist art collective Pussy Riot. The group’s 2012 guerrilla performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, which viciously mocked Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church, resulted in a two-year prison sentence for Ms. Tolokonnikova and another of its members.
I had been in South Florida for family reasons and when I saw that Ms. Tolokonnikova was swinging through Miami for Art Basel, I immediately reached out to her. I’d come to view her as an emissary from a dystopian political-media environment that seemed to be heading our way, with governmental threats against dissent, disinformation from the presidential level and increasingly assertive propagandists who stoke the perception that there can be no honest arbiter of truth.
It’s what Ms. Tolokonnikova was protesting, and it’s what led to her brutal internment, which lasted more than 20 months and ended in 2013.
Leading up to Ms. Tolokonnikova’s trial, Russian news reports carried suggestions that she and her bandmates were pawns of Hillary Clinton’s State Department or witches working with a global satanic conspiracy — perhaps linked to the one that was behind the Sept. 11 attacks, as lawyers for one of their offended accusers put it. This is what we now call “fake news.”
Pussy Riot became an international symbol of Mr. Putin’s crackdown on free speech; of how his regime uses falsehood and deflection to sow confusion and undermine critics.
Now that the political-media environment that we smugly thought to be “over there” seems to be arriving over here, Ms. Tolokonnikova has a message: “It’s important not to say to yourself, ‘Oh, it’s O.K.,’” she told me. “It’s important to remember that, for example, in Russia, for the first year of when Vladimir Putin came to power, everybody was thinking that it will be O.K.”
She pointed to Russian oligarchs who helped engineer Mr. Putin’s rise to power at the end of 1999 but didn’t appreciate the threat he posed to them until they found themselves under arrest, forced into exile or forced into giving up their businesses — especially if those businesses included independent media critical of Mr. Putin (see Berezovsky, Boris; Gusinsky, Vladimir).
This article was published before the CIA reports effectively stating what we knew to be true…that Putin had a hand in the Trump election. So read the rest of that article with this new information in mind.
Of course, the United States has checks, balances and traditions that presumably preclude anything like that from happening, she acknowledged as we sat comfortably in sunny Miami Beach while it played host to a celebration of free expression (Art Basel).
“It is a common phrase right now that ‘America has institutions,’” Ms. Tolokonnikova said. “It does. But a president has power to change institutions and a president moreover has power to change public perception of what is normal, which could lead to changing institutions.”
Teen Vogue editor pulls fire alarm on Trump gaslighting: He spun ‘accusations of his falsehoods’ as bias -The important part of that link is…Teen Vogue y’all.
Donald Trump’s Harassment of a Teenage Girl on Twitter Led to Death and Rape Threats
In October 2015, then-18-year-old Lauren Batchelder asked Trump a question at a political forum in New Hampshire. “So, maybe I’m wrong, maybe you can prove me wrong, but I don’t think you’re a friend to women,” she said. Trump defended himself, and Batchelder took the mic again, asking if she’d get equal pay and access to abortion with Trump as president. Trump answered: “You’re going to make the same if you do as good of a job, and I happen to be pro-life, okay?”
Batchelder thought that was the end of it, but when she woke up the next day, she realized that the current president-elect had sent out a series of tweets about her. “The arrogant young woman who questioned me in such a nasty fashion at No Labels yesterday was a Jeb staffer!” he tweeted. (Batchelder is not, and has never been, a staffer for Jeb Bush, though she did volunteer for his campaign.) His followers replied with screenshots of Batchelder and posted her phone number and other personal information online.
Within hours, her phone began to ring, and her email inbox and Facebook account filled with threatening messages. “I didn’t really know what anyone was going to do,” Batchelder, now 19, told the Washington Post. “He was only going to tweet about it and that was it, but I didn’t really know what his supporters were going to do, and that to me was the scariest part.”
She said the abuse has continued, prompting one Trump supporter to send her a Facebook message five days before the election that read, “Wishing I could f—ing punch you in the face. id then proceed to stomp your head on the curb and urinate in your bloodied mouth and i know where you live, so watch your f—ing back punk.”
Batchelder’s case illustrates what happens when Trump, who has more than 17 million Twitter followers, goes after a private citizen online. And far from showing restraint as his following has grown, Trump has continued the pattern. On Wednesday he attacked Chuck Jones, a union leader, who wrote in the Washington Post Thursday that his office is now receiving threats, too.
But wait, there is more…Women’s March on Washington barred from Lincoln Memorial | US news | The Guardian
For the thousands hoping to echo the civil rights and anti-Vietnam rallies at Lincoln Memorial by joining the women’s march on Washington the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration: time to readjust your expectations.
That’s because the National Park Service, on behalf of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, filed documents securing large swaths of the national mall and Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial for the inauguration festivities. None of these spots will be open for protesters.
The NPS filed a “massive omnibus blocking permit” for many of Washington DC’s most famous political locations for days and weeks before and after the inauguration on 20 January, said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a constitutional rights litigator and the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.
But banning access to public land for protesters days after the inauguration is “extremely unique”, she said in a press conference held by the Answer [Act Now to Stop War and End Racism] Coalition.
“It hasn’t come up in any way previously, where you’ve had a groundswell of people trying to have access on the Saturday, January 21, and thousands of people want to come, and the government is saying we won’t give you a permit,” she said.
“What they’ve done is take all of these spaces out of action,” she said, many of which, the Answer Coalition noted in its press release, are “historic spaces for dissent”.
After Ilhan Omar moved to the United States in the mid-1990s — fleeing war in her native Somalia and a childhood spent in a refugee camp — she went to high school in Minneapolis, and was occasionally bullied for wearing a hijab, her father wrote.
Through decades of community activism and civic leadership, Omar fought back against such forms of intolerance. And on Election Day, proudly wearing her headscarf, she made history— winning a Minnesota statehouse race to become the nation’s first Somali American lawmaker.
But less than one month later, as she visited the nation’s capital for policy training at the White House, her historic role didn’t stop a cab driver from targeting her for her religion. Riding in a taxi en route to her hotel Tuesday, after having spent the afternoon at the White House, she “became subjected to the most hateful, derogatory, islamophobic, sexist taunts and threats” she had ever experienced, she wrote in a post on social media.
“The cab driver called me ISIS and threatened to remove my hijab,” she wrote. “I wasn’t really sure how this encounter would end as I attempted to rush out of his cab and retrieve my belongs.”
You can read that article if you want to…at the link.
I will end this post with a few videos from Facebook.
This photo of Elsie Connor looked to us as if it had been Photoshopped in a very interesting way but it wasn’t—we found a version on Getty Images and it was identical to what you see above. The image and the fact that she’s identified as an Irish boxing champion on various websites made us curious about her career, but after a bit of digging we discovered that she was actually a dancer and chorus girl, and appeared in the 1930 musical Earl Carroll’s Sketch Book, the 1929 shows Fioretta and Earl Carroll’s Vanities, and the 1928 production Here’s Howe. That’s a pretty short career, and one that lacked any starring roles, but thanks to the internet she’s famous again, looking like a real world beater. The only thing is, we doubt she was ever a boxer. We can’t be 100% sure, but with no evidence that she ever stepped into a ring, as well as a very clear understanding of how often the world wide web is world wide wrong, we suspect this is just a very, er, striking publicity photo. It dates from 1931.
I don’t know about y’all, but when I read the fuckwad shitheads Bertolucci and Brando schemed together to commit a rape for their film, it made me physically ill….Bertolucci’s justification for the Last Tango rape scene is bogus. It’s called ‘acting’ for a reason | Jessica Tovey | Film | The Guardian
That is probably why this next link really struck a nerve for me?
Artemisia Gentileschi was raped when she was 19. In her career as one of Italy’s greatest painters, she resurrected and exorcized that trauma again and again.
Give this article a full read…but here is an bit to get you going:
Once, there was a man called Holofernes. He was a general, several thousand years ago, in what is now modern-day Syria. Holofernes was doing what generals often did back then—laying siege. His target was the city of Bethulia, which was almost at the point of starvation and surrender when one occupant, a woman named Judith, formulated a plan. She seduced Holofernes through charm and the promise of information. While he slept in his bed, dead drunk, she decapitated him with two slices of a blade and brought his head back to the city in a bag.
The tale of Judith and Holofernes is an ancient and sacred one, but you won’t read it in a modern Bible. It’s not historical. It’s inaccurate. And it may have been written by a woman.
The story struck a chord with Artemisia Gentileschi, one of Italy’s greatest artists during the 17th century. As a teenager, she had been raped. The trial was public and protracted, and Gentileschi was tortured during her testimony. Like Judith, she was portrayed as a slut instead of a hero. And also like Judith, Gentileschi wrote for herself a heroic narrative that would only ever be truly appreciated long after she had died.
That is all folks, sorry for the tardiness.
Ah, good afternoon!
It has been a while since we took a look at the offerings of political cartoonist, so I thought today would be a good day for that…and in all honesty, there is another reason, things have been moving quickly with my parent’s closing (it is now pushed to the 6th) so there is plenty to do. (But it is a good plenty…)
First I will start with this video from UNICEF, posted on Huffington Post Facebook page,
Some of you may have seen this…if you haven’t please take the few minutes to watch it in full.
If you cannot see the embedded video, here is a link to the page: The Huffington Post
Those fuckers made that little girl cry.
Many of the cartoons today mention the ruling regarding SCOTUS smackdown of Texas Anti-abortion law HB-2. In relation to this, Vox has an article: It could take years for Texas abortion clinics to reopen, even after a Supreme Court victory – Vox
Pro-choice advocates won a huge victory on Monday when the Supreme Court struck down two major anti-abortion laws in Texas inWhole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Those laws, part of an omnibus anti-abortion bill called HB 2, were responsible for closing about half of all abortion clinics in Texas.
Before HB 2 passed in 2013, Texas had 41 open clinics. Today there are 19. If the Court had ruled to uphold the restrictions, that number would have shrunk to nine. So it’s no surprise that lead plaintiff Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO and founder of Whole Woman’s Health, said she was “beyond elated” by the ruling.
But, Hagstrom Miller said in a recent interview with Vox, a victory at the Supreme Court is really just the beginning for abortion providers in Texas. Not only are other restrictions, like a 20-week abortion ban and limits on medication abortion, still in place in Texas but HB 2 has also done lasting damage to abortion access that could take years to repair, if it can be repaired at all.
It turns out, according to the Vox report…
The closed clinics can’t just reopen overnight, and some might never reopen
Well, I realized that they would not reopen with a snap of the fingers, but that some may never reopen, that just is salt in wounds.
Then there was this, from the NY Times: Abortion Ruling Could Create Waves of Legal Challenges – The New York Times
From Texas to Alabama to Wisconsin, more than a dozen Republican-run states in recent years have passed laws requiring that abortion clinics have hospital-grade facilities or use doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.
Now, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling — that those provisions in a Texas law do not protect women’s health and place an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion — will quickly reverberate across the country.
It will prevent the threatened shutdown of clinics in some states, especially in the Deep South, that have been operating in a legal limbo, with Texas-style laws on temporary hold. But legal experts said the effect over time was likely to be wider, potentially giving momentum to dozens of legal challenges, including to laws that restrict abortions with medication or ban certain surgical methods.
“The ruling deals a crushing blow to this most recent wave of state efforts to shut off access to abortion through hyper-regulation,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, the director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School.
Adopting stringent regulations on abortion clinics and doctors that are said to be about protecting women’s health has been one of the anti-abortion movement’s most successful efforts, imposing large expenses on some clinics, forcing others to close and making it harder for women in some regions to obtain abortions. Republicans like Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who deplored Monday’s ruling, argued that they were requiring clinics to “be held to the same standards as other medical facilities.”
Now, the court has ruled that any such requirements must be based on convincing medical evidence that the rules are solving a real health issue to be weighed by a court, not by ideologically driven legislators — and that the benefits must outweigh the burdens imposed on women’s constitutional right to an abortion.
Take a look at that article, because it highlights a few states that currently have abortion laws going into effect on July 1st…which could now be seen in a different light since the Monday ruling.
One more link before the cartoons…I just think this is funny: Why Do Monkeys Become More Selective With Friends As They Age, Just Like Humans? : SCIENCE : Tech Times
Scientists from the German Primate Center wanted to know how age affected the behavior of more than 100 Barbary macaques kept in an enclosure in a park in France.
They investigated how the monkeys – whose ages ranged from 4 to 29 years (equivalent to 105 human years) – reacted to physical objects such as novel toys and tubes with food, social interactions such as fighting and grooming “friends” and new social information, such as calls and photos of “friends” and “strangers.”
Researchers discovered that the interest of Barbary macaques in toys wane when they become adults. At around 20 or the retirement age of monkeys, these animals approached fewer monkeys and had less social contact.
What surprised scientists is that this obvious withdrawal was not prompted by a social affinity to avoid old monkeys. Younger ones still groomed and approached their elders.
It also wasn’t because older monkeys were not interested in anything at all. Scientists found that older monkeys still hissed to others during fights and still responded to photos of others.
These older monkeys are still attuned to what is going on around them, but they do not want to participate, says Julia Fischer, one of the researchers of the study.
They hissed? Could this be a monkey’s way of saying, get off my lawn?
The dominant psychological theory that could explain why this behavior happens in humans is that they want to maximize the time they have left with death on the horizon.
Fischer says although monkeys have excellent memories, there is no evidence that they are self-aware about their impending deaths. So if both monkeys and humans act this way as they age, the theory may be rationalizing a natural behavior with biological roots, she says.
Alexandra Freund, Fischer’s co-researcher, says the findings of the study clearly tell us that we are not distinctive in how we grow into old age.
“There might be an evolutionary ‘deep’ root in this pattern,” says Freund.
There is a bit more at the link, along with some other sources and connections to the published study.
And now the funnies…
Starting with Luckovich…06/17 Mike Luckovich: Losing letters. | Mike Luckovich
From Cagle Cartoons, click to see the toon:
This is a good one: Brexit
Brexit ….a different one, but the same name.
Brexit …another one with the same name, but different, and damn good.
And the rest from the AAEC:
The above cartoon is from a right wing cartoonist btw….so that is not a sarcastic cartoon. It is in fact a glorification. To see more from this cartoonist…cough, cough: AAEC — Political Cartoons by A.F.Branco Because I will not put up a sample of his other shit. (Now, I bet that gives ya the creeps. As it gave me…at least check this one out: Eye To Eye: 06/26/2016 Cartoon by A.F.Branco)
That is an older cartoon, but I thought it was a good one and should be included.
This is an open thread…
(Rape and sexual assault trigger warnings)
I went to undergraduate school at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska where I immediately joined the University Women’s Action Group and followed the work I did in high school as a volunteer for what was the the nascent Rape Crisis line set up by the Junior League in Omaha. I had been assaulted in the choir room at my high school when I was a junior by two seniors. I was forcibly held down for a period of time and had bible verses and other things shouted at me. It made me realize how vulnerable every girl and woman is to the pack mentality of white men and boys with privilege who are taught by their parents, religions, coaches, teachers and friends to go out and grab anything they want because they are told they are the masters of the universe and entitled to go for it.
I worked hard to change the old laws in Nebraska when I hit college so that violent crimes against women and children would be removed from the Property Crimes Divisions of police departments, so that female police officers were assigned to victims, so that women didn’t need 3 witnesses to their assaults to even be considered assaulted rather than just telling tales, so that husbands could be found guilty of rape, and so that women’s sexual history and facts not pertinent to the rape would not be brought up to slander the victim in court. I taught basic self defense and lectured at sororities which mostly meant telling my peers to assume they’d be assaulted at some time so here’s ways to lower your risk.
I wound up helping a friend who had been raped in the stacks at the library through the legal process that re-victimized her. She was afraid to even report the rape since she had been smoking pot earlier in the evening. This was in the mid 1970s. My lecture to those girls was to basically warned them to avoid the male athletes; especially the football players and travel and stay in packs in well-lit areas. But how and why should you tell any student to avoid studying in the library? A serial rapist was later found to haunt there and it proves women can’t assume they are safe anywhere, and that thought rules our lives.
I had planned to be a lawyer at that time and the way the system treated women and children that were assaulted by men was at the top of my list of things I intended to change. At 60, a full forty years later after my core activism, I know now that even systemic changes do not change men like Judge Aaron Persky. He’s getting some blow back but, he just won another term. It also hasn’t apparently changed how many boys are raised in this country.
I’d like to think that my work at that time made women and children safer but then I read about Brock Turner, Stanford University where rapes are frequent , Turner’s parents, and our justice system that still metes out justice based on levels of privilege.
Yes, it’s that post. It’s where we confront a society that raises and enables rapists. We face a judge and court system that fails when it comes to privileged white males. My oldest daughter’s first labor day weekend at LSU turned into an ER visit when she was roofied at a local college bar and temporarily paralyzed. Fortunately, she was with other girls and some properly-raised boys took her to the hospital. Believe me, I never lectured my daughters on much of anything because my mother raised me in fear of all kinds of things like being captured for white slavery. You kinda stop listening to it after awhile and I never wanted that to happen so I chose my lectures carefully. I lectured my daughters on never, ever leaving their drinks uncovered or unattended at any time. Gigging in the French Quarter left me knowing that the tricks of Bill Cosby live on. Let me tell you about a local eye surgeon on that account … but that’s for another day.
The deal is that we still live in a world where many men think they have a right to anything they want including the bodies of women. To quote one of my favorite lyricists, “you have to be carefully taught.”
Well, it’s as good a day as any to discuss how a judge in California enabled a rapist after a jury of his peers delivered a guilty plea on 3 felony accounts. The six month sentence–which appears to look more like a three month sentence–has outraged the American Public. Follow this link to CNN for a good understanding of the basics of the case.
Please be aware that this post will contain information that may trigger visceral responses in any of our readers that have been sexually assaulted. I know that we have quite a few survivors here, so I want to make it clear that this post and the links may upset you.
Believe me, I’m amazed that our country is finally at the point where a sexual assault case can garner so much attention. I don’t know what got us to that point. I only know that it’s been a long time coming. One in five women and one in thirty three men will be the victims of sexual violence at least once in their lives. An American is sexually assaulted every two minutes. That is no small number.
The victim’s statement to Brock Turner, the former Stanford student convicted of sexually assaulting her, has been viewed online millions of times since last week. A CNN anchor read the statement, in full, on television. Representative Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, read it aloud on the House floor. The case, which resulted in a six-month jail sentence and probation for Turner, has touched off furor among those who say the punishment is too light, and sparked vigorous debate about the intersection of sexual assault, privilege, and justice.
This is an astounding moment, in part because it’s so rare for sexual violence, despite its ubiquity, to garner this kind of attention.
“It’s incredible,” said Michele Dauber, a Stanford Law School professor who has pressed for the recall of the judge who sentenced Turner. “Why did that happen? First of all, it’s the tremendous power and clarity of thought that is reflected in the survivor’s statement.”
“She is helping people to understand this experience in a visceral and clear way,” Dauber added. “And she’s brushing away all the really toxic politics around campus assault that have built up. People have said, ‘How can we really believe these women? It’s his word against hers.’ This men’s rights movement has emerged. And there’s been a lot of rage happening out there. Then, whoosh, [this statement] really reframed it.”
It wasn’t just the statement. In March, Turner was convicted of three felony counts: sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and assault with an intent to commit rape. If it’s rare for someone to report a sexual assault in the first place, it’s even more unusual for that report to result in a conviction. In the vast majority of sexual assaults the perpetrators never serve time in prison—97 percent of cases, an analysis of Justice Department data by the anti-sexual violence advocacy group RAINN concludes.
Another unusual component of the case at Stanford: There were eyewitnesses. Two graduate students were riding their bikes through Stanford’s campus when they saw, “a man on the ground, thrusting toward a body,” The Mercury News reported in March.
We’ve found out some horrible things since the sentence was handed down. The parents wrote letters to the judge pleading for leniency that are so appallingly clueless and selfish that you wonder how this boy has not become a full blown sociopath. The letters fell on sympathetic ears, however, since the judge himself was a Stanford athlete at one time. I’ve linked to the mother’s newly released letter since the father’s has pretty much gone viral and we’ve discussed it already in some downthread conversations.
A letter to the judge from Brock Turner‘s mother calls the convicted rapist the “most trustworthy and honest person I know.”
The emergence of Carleen Turner‘s glowing assessment of her “beautiful son,” a former Stanford swimmer, comes after his victim’s letter went viral, his father’s letter sparked outrage, andBrock’s own statement maintained the encounter was consensual.
His mother’s letter depicts Brock as a model student and citizen, and she laments the misfortune that has struck her son:
My first thought upon wakening every morning is “this isn’t real, this can’t be real. Why him? Why HIM? WHY? WHY?”
She goes on to describe the devastating effect of this “awful, horrible, terrible, gut-wrenching, life-changing verdict” on her family:
My once vibrant and happy boy is distraught, deeply depressed, terribly wounded, and filled with despair. His smile is gone forever-that beautiful grin is no more. … We are devastated beyond belief. My beautiful, happy family will never know happiness again.
In her concluding plea for mercy, she says Brock isn’t tough enough to survive prison and would be a “target” for other inmates:
I beg of you, please don’t send him to jail/prison. Look at him. He won’t survive it. He will be damaged forever and I fear he would be a major target. Stanford boy, college kid, college athlete- all the publicity……..this would be a death sentence for him.
This is from the mother of a convicted rapist worrying about her son being raped in prison. No one should be raped. EVER. Not even her rapist son deserves to be raped. But, really, how can anyone be so unaware of the suffering of her son’s rape victim and yet be so concerned about his potential rape? Here are some new developments found by the press since the story has garnered so much attention. Turner sent pictures of the rape victim’s breast to his friends.
Investigators believe Brock Turner may have photographed his assault victim’s breasts, then sent the pictures to a group of friends, the Daily Mail reported.
According to police, Turner received a text message via the GroupMe online app asking, “Who’s [sic] t*ts are those” from a fellow swimmer, identified as Justin Buck. However, the picture that prompted the question was deleted from the group chat by an unknown party.
A witness also told police that he saw a man standing over the victim holding his cell phone.
“The cell phone had a bright light pointed in the direction of the female, using either a flashlight app in his phone or its built-in app,” a police statement read.
The witness, identified as Blake Bolton, then “told the male subject to roll her over onto her side to breathe. The male subject did not do this. Bolton then got on his knees and checked her pulse. When he got back up, the male subject was gone.”
The U.S. governing body for the sport of swimming on Friday banned ex-Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, whose six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman has stirred widespread outrage.
Condemning Turner’s “crime and actions,” USA Swimming said that he is not a current organization member and is ineligible for membership.
“Brock Turner’s membership with USA Swimming expired at the end of the calendar year 2014 and he was not a member at the time of his crime or since then,” USA Swimming spokesman Scott Leightman said. “As a result, USA Swimming doesn’t have any jurisdiction over Brock Turner.”
Court documents have been released and show that Brock Turner lied about his past partying exploits. Turner’s parents and the student himself indicated that Stanford made him do it. Evidence shows otherwise.
In a letter submitted to Persky prior to sentencing, Turner said he came from a small town in Ohio and never experienced partying that involved alcohol. But when he started attending Stanford, Turner wrote, he began drinking to relieve the stress of school and competitive swimming. He blamed a “party culture and risk-taking behavior” for his actions.
But prosecutors said they found text messages and photographs that show Turner lied and has a history of partying.
Investigators found photographs of Turner smoking from a pipe and another teammate was holding a bong, according to court documents. A photo of a bong was found as well as a video showing Turner smoking from a bong and drinking from a bottle of liquor.
“Furthermore, there are many text messages that are indicative of drug use, both during the defendant’s time at Stanford and during his time in Ohio when he was still in high school.”
In a message sent to a friend in 2014, Turner asked: “Do you think I could buy some wax so we could do some dabs?” Dabs is a reference to smoking a highly potent form of cannabis, known as honey oil.
Turner also talked about using acid while in high school and at Stanford. He bragged about taking LSD and MDMA together, an act referred to as “candyflippin,” according to prosecutors.
A professor in his Ohio community indicates that Turner’s surroundings enable all kinds of white privilege and bad behavior. It sounds a lot like the place where I grew up. (H/T to BostonBoomer)
The kids walk to school and go home for lunch. The schools are nationally recognized. In fact, the local nickname for Oakwood is “the Dome,” so sheltered are its residents from violence, poverty and inconvenient truths. I have lived here for more than 20 years.
Communities like this one have a dark side, though: the conflation of achievement with being “a good kid”; the pressure to succeed; the parents who shrug when the party in their basement gets out of control (or worse yet, when they host it) because “kids are gonna drink”; the tacit understanding that rules don’t necessarily apply. The cops won’t come. The ax won’t fall.
Yet now it has.
Invariably, when I tell someone who knows the Dayton area that I live in Oakwood, they assume that I am rich, narrow-minded, a Republican or some combination thereof. If most residents were just the stereotype, though, I would not have been happy here as long as I have. For the most part, I have loved raising my kids here. But I have struggled, too. My closest friends and I have a long-standing joke about needing to remember to “lower the bar” around here — about not falling prey to the pressures to conform and compete, not buying the line that the schools or the kids are special. Most of us understand our privilege and good fortune. Many do not.
There is an Oakwood in every city; there’s a Brock Turner in every Oakwood: the “nice,” clean-cut, “happy-go-lucky,” hyper-achieving kid who’s never been told no. There’s nothing he can’t have, do or be, because he is special. Fortunately, most kids like this will march into their predictably bright futures without victimizing anyone along the way. Many will do good in the world.
But it’s not hard to draw a straight line from this little ’burb (or a hundred like it) to that dumpster at Stanford. What does being told no mean to that kid? If the world is his for the taking, isn’t an unconscious woman’s body? When he gets caught, why wouldn’t his first impulse be to run, to make excuses — to blame the Fireball or the girl or the campus drinking culture? That is entitlement. That is unchecked privilege.
I’ve been in conversations about rape, violence, and rape culture for over 40 years. I feel like there’s not much new that can be added to the conversation although all the wisdom beings in the multiverse know that those of us that really care about this try angles old and new. It rarely captures public opinion unless it’s part of the rescuing the princess paradigm and that worries me.
It’s interesting that the thing that started this latest outrage also displays intersectionality so we not only see that rape culture is alive and well but the treatment of rapists by judges depends on factors like privilege and race. My guess is that treatment of victims depends on similar factors. The referenced article is by Shaun King. I wish he would investigate the justice meted out for poor women and for women that are racially minorities brutalized by men because my guess is they don’t get their day in court let alone their week in the press. Would this story have gotten so far if the victim was less educated or “articulate”? If she were a sex worker or poor? If she were a Hispanic woman who overstayed her VISA?
All victims of rape deserve justice as do all perpetrators.
Mothers and Fathers, don’t let your babies grow up to be rapists.
Yesterday was the IDAHO | DAHOT International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. With that in mind let’s take a look at the scene surrounding LGTB issues this week, especially the last few days. As y’all know, it is a “fluid ” situation, one of constant assault from the same forces I discussed in my last post Wednesday Reads: Buckets of what? | Sky Dancing. They are same hypocritical basturds who want to control every aspect of a woman’s autonomy, spirit, and cognitive functions. Shit…we are just going to have to get to it, right?
On May 17, Americans and people around the world mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by reaffirming the dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love or their gender identity.
Our nation is committed to the principle that all people should be treated fairly and with respect. Advancing this goal has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and I am proud that my Administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBT individuals a specific focus of our engagement around the world. I am also proud of the great strides that our nation has made at home in recent years, including that we now have marriage equality as a result of last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision.
At the same time, there is much work to be done to combat homophobia and transphobia, both at home and abroad. In too many places, LGBT individuals grow up forced to conceal or deny who they truly are for fear of persecution, discrimination, and violence. All nations and all communities can, and must, do better. Fortunately, human rights champions and good citizens around the world continue to strive towards this goal every day by lifting up the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights. The United States honors their work and will continue to support them in their struggle for human dignity.
Obama was not the only world leader who made an official statement yesterday…Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia | Prime Minister of Canada
“Today, I join Canadians – and people around the world – to recognize the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
“Everyone deserves to live free of stigma, persecution, and discrimination – no matter who they are or whom they love. Today is about ensuring that all people – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – feel safe and secure, and empowered to freely express themselves.
“On this important day, I encourage all Canadians to raise awareness, and mobilize to end the violence, prejudice, and judgement faced by LGBTQ2 persons.
“As a society, we have taken many important steps toward recognizing and protecting the legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community – from enshrining equality rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. There remains much to be done, though. Far too many people still face harassment, discrimination, and violence for being who they are. This is unacceptable.
“To do its part, the Government of Canada today will introduce legislation that will help ensure transgender and other gender-diverse people can live according to their gender identity, free from discrimination, and protected from hate propaganda and hate crimes.
“Today, let us unite in a global celebration of diversity, and reaffirm our commitment to unequivocally defend LGBTQ2 rights as human rights. We will never stop fighting for a safer, more equal, and more just world for all of our children.”
Meanwhile, reports in Mexico indicate some positive changes may be coming…Mexican President: Legalize Gay Marriage – The Daily Beast
According to multiple reports, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed legalizing same-sex marriage across the entire country. Should Mexico recognize same-sex marriages at the national level, it would join the United States and Canada as the only North American nations to do so. Nieto’s proposal comes as part of a string of socially liberal policy ideas from the 49-year-old president, including the legalization of medical marijuana and an overhaul of the country’s war on drugs.
Meanwhile, here in the USA, things are continuing as expected:
In what’s sure to be part of a growing trend, a young woman in a Walmart restroom Friday was treated to a stern anti-transgender scolding from a self-appointed member of the Moral Police in Danbury, Connecticut. Aimée Toms, a 22-year-old college student from Naugatuck, was washing her hands when a complete stranger hissed “You’re disgusting!” and “You don’t belong here!” Toms, you see, has really short hair and was wearing a baseball cap, which was enough to convince the sharp-eyed Walmart shopper that Toms had to be one of those filthy transgender people using the ladies’ biffy, endangering The Children and ruining America. Toms posted a fine video rant about the experience to Facebook Friday evening, and the video quickly went viral, with nearly 40,000 views since it went up. We have to say we like the cut of her jib. Toms introduces the video with this brief caption:
If it really takes me pulling up my shirt and showing someone I grew these boobs myself for them to leave me alone in a restroom, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.
This really lit a fire under my ass today.
My state is getting in on the fun:
Students in North Georgia are the targets of the latest transphobic outcry.
Parents in Fannin County, organized by school resource officer Anthony Walden, rallied last week against a policy supporting transgender students using bathrooms that align with their gender identity, instead of their sex assigned at birth.
Parents packed the Thursday school board meeting to decry the policy, which stems from federal government guidance, with media reports of anywhere from one to three hundred people in attendance.
“We could stand to lose 3.5 million dollars, that’s federal money,” school attorney Lynn Doss toldFox 5 News.
Following the egregious N.C. “bathroom bill,” the federal government issued a letter to schools urging them to allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity and not their sex assigned at birth.
N.C. and Gov. Pat McCrory are facing a lawsuit from the federal government over HB 2, with the Dept. of Justice making clear that transphobic bathroom policies are discriminatory and a violation of student’s civil rights.
So much love to Loretta Lynch for this: “Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself…no matter how isolated, no matter how afraid, and no matter how alone you may feel today…we see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”
I think you can tell the direction this article is taking….
School resource officer Walden called transgender people “perverts” and compared them to pedophiles, during public comment that received applause multiple times.
Transphobic statements abounded during the three hours of public comment. Parents and local leaders encouraged the school board to forego the federal dollars, threatening to remove their kids from school.
“We’re going to do everything we can to stop this, and if not, then us moms are going to come home and teach our kids like it used to be,” Parent Angel Chancey said.
“Ask the question what would Jesus have me do in this situation,” said Matthew McDaniel, a pastor at First Baptist Church. “We need to stand on God’s truth in this perverse situation.”
Speaker David Ralston, who represents the area, even waded in, sending a letter to Ga. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Purdue asking them to get involved.
Calling it “a vast overreach of federal authority,” Ralston asks them to “take appropriate action to protect our students and our local educators from the heavy hand of the federal government.”
Well, he certainly doesn’t seem interested in protecting transgender students, and that does not bode well for continued “religious freedom” rabble-rousing during next year’s legislative session.
Have I mentioned how much I hate the people up here in Banjoville. Fannin is the county next door…so they are our Banjoneighbors.
State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-51), Senate Majority Whip, is calling on Georgia’s top officials to take a firm stand against President Barack Obama’s letter sent to school systems Friday with guidelines allowing transgender students to use bathrooms matching the gender they identify with.
“We’re asking the governor and lieutenant governor to look at the president’s policy initiative that he announced this week that basically threatens local governments with withholding their funds for their local schools,” Gooch said Tuesday. “We think that’s a wrong direction for our country. We shouldn’t be controlling local school boards and dictating them and holding this over their head.”
Gooch, of Lumpkin County, briefly answered questions during Tuesday afternoon’s Helen City Commission meeting.
More news on the LGBT front:
Turning back to idiots in politics, hey…this one is not even a part of this country’s political elite!
Peter Dutton says ‘illiterate’ refugees would be ‘taking Australian jobs’ | Australia news | The Guardian I guess Trump isn’t the only asshole making a name for himself out there, huh?
But hey, that kind of talk is just mainstream nowadays, you want idiot? I got your idiot right here:
Mike Webb is a conservative candidate for the United States Congress (VA-8) and he’s hoping to bring “responsiveness and accountability” to Washington, D.C. From hiscampaign announcement:
“If we succeed in winning this race as a conservative Republican in the most liberal district in the nation and the most Democratic in the South, that will be a real revolution that will have national implications,” he said in a press release.
He is campaigning with a hands-on approach, insisting he does all of his own social media:
Webb claims that many residents are looking for responsiveness and accountability from their elected and appointed leaders. “One way to do that is to personally respond on social media. Talk and engage with people. Joke and chide. Engage in dialogue. That is what it is all about.”
Unfortunately for Mike Webb, he’s probably now wishing he had someone running his social media. He shared a screenshot of his computer screen while trying to make a point (that was partial conspiracy theory) about trying to find employment and he forgot to close out a couple of tabs:
Oh, my! Fans of Mike Webb’s Facebook page were quick to point out that the two tabs above led to two porn sites. Needless to say, fans were amused:
Stephen Carroll I like your taste in porn.
Stephen Carroll Hey, that’s probably why you had so many viruses and couldn’t make your FEC filing.
Christopher Allard Oh my good lord! That’s AWESOME!!! Way to go Mike! You posted a screen shot of your computer and left the PORN SITES up??? Wow, ranger that bud! This is definitely going viral!
At least 5 hours after the original post, it remains on this Facebook page. So much for his pledge for responsiveness! The post will no doubt be deleted in time, but it can currently be seen here.
I had to quote the entire post there, it was too unbelievable and fucking prefect not to.
Two Boston brothers who beat and urinated on a homeless Mexican man, then told police “Donald Trump was right: All these illegals need to be deported,” were sentenced to prison on Monday.
Next up, a series of links on the Nevada/Bernie Bros/From the top directive shit that happened over the last few days:
I think the key point to all this is:
Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucus.
Anyway, the links are below just if anyone missed yesterday’s threads….
I hate the title of this one: DNC chairwoman chides Sanders | TheHill
This is another title that irks me: Nevada Democrats accused Bernie Sanders’s campaign of inciting violence. And Sanders is hitting back. – The Washington Post
A few other disturbing news stories, not on Bernie but still like I said, disturbing:
Oh and what about the Koch Brothers? Hullabaloo– GOP suffering from Koch withdrawal by digby
And I want to end it on something fun…This one is for Boston Boomer, and her keen interest in words and the brain: Words, more words … and statistics: To segment words, the brain could be using statistical methods — ScienceDaily
Picking out single words in a flow of speech is no easy task and, according to linguists, to succeed in doing it the brain might use statistical methods. A group of scientists has applied a statistics-based method for word segmentation and measured its efficacy on natural language, in nine different languages, to discover that linguistic rhythm plays an important role.
Have you ever racked your brains trying to make out even a single word of an uninterrupted flow of speech in a language you hardly know at all? It is naïve to think that in speech there is even the smallest of pauses between one word and the next (like the space we conventionally insert between words in writing): in actual fact, speech is almost always a continuous stream of sound. However, when we listen to our native language, word “segmentation” is an effortless process. What are, linguists wonder, the automatic cognitive mechanisms underlying this skill? Clearly, knowledge of the vocabulary helps: memory of the sound of the single words helps us to pick them out. However, many linguists argue, there are also automatic, subconscious “low-level” mechanisms that help us even when we do not recognise the words or when, as in the case of very young children, our knowledge of the language is still only rudimentary. These mechanisms, they think, rely on the statistical analysis of the frequency (estimated based on past experience) of the syllables in each language.
I hope you enjoy that one BB…
Have a good day y’all, treat this as an open thread of course.