Sunday Reads: Human Chains Bring Awareness to #EndChildMarriage

 

 

 

 

 

 

An estimated 5 million people (5 crore) came together to create a #BiharHumanChain2018 in the Indian State of Bihar to bring awareness against child marriage and dowry.

Bihar joins hands against dowry, child marriage; Dy CM thanks people

 

Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, on Sunday thanked the people of Bihar for participating and forming the largest human chain against child marriage and dowry practices.

Earlier in the day, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar shared a message on Twitter, saying that collective effort is required to eliminate practices of dowry and child marriage in the country and a human chain event will be organised to to show our commitment towards the cause.

Bihar forms world’s longest human chain against dowry | GulfNews.com

Millions of people from all walks of life, age groups and professions joined hands on the streets across Bihar on Sunday to form what officials claimed was the world’s longest human chain against dowry and child marriages — the twin social evils gripping Indian society.

Authorities said more than 40 million people came out on the streets in the bone-chilling cold and stood in queues for about 30 minutes Sunday to demonstrate their resolve against the two social evils. The participants included schoolchildren, college students, teachers, officials, social activists, common men and politicians.

 As with most things…this important issue is being overshadowed by politics.

However, two main opposition parties in the state, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, boycotted the initiative, claiming the programme was simply a ploy to help chief minister Nitish Kumar boost his image. They said they could not show solidarity with a man who had brutally “misused the people’s mandate” by going back to partner the BJP and form a new government with its support, while the mandate was given to the erstwhile ruling Grand Alliance comprising the RJD, Congress and the Janata Dal United (JD-U) headed by Nitish Kumar.

Kumar who was the man behind the idea refused to comment on the boycott by the main opposition parties, but said the programme was against social evils in which participation of everyone was solicited. “There are already laws in place yet the twin evils continue and our purpose is to make the people aware about them,” the chief minister told the media on Sunday.

Just a few more links on this human chain…

 

Bihar sets record through human chain

Bihar set a record of sorts when around five crore people joined hands to form a 13,668-km long human chain in here on Sunday.

The human chain, in which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi also participated, was formed to spread awareness about two social evils – child marriage and dowry.

Apart from ruling party legislators and bureaucrats, lakhs of school and college students, teachers, lawyers and academicians took to the streets, where they lined up forming a human chain from 12 noon to 12.30 pm.

The entire event was captured by 40 drone cameras. A documentary film about the human chain will be shown in 127 cinema halls across Bihar.

This human chain has broken the record set in January 2017, when a human chain of 12,417 km was formed by around four crore people in support of the prohibition implemented by the Nitish regime.

RJD, Cong absent

The only stark difference this year was the absence of RJD and Congress leaders from the event. Only one leader from the parties – Congress MLC Ram Chandra Bharti – attended the event, making Nitish’s former partners in the Grand Alliance conspicuous by their absence.

“Nitish is one chief minister who spends crores in image-branding,” said RJD vice president Shivanand Tiwary.

Congress spokesperson Prem Chandra Mishra demanded a white paper on the exorbitant expenses incurred in organising such an event.

This year, the main function was organised at Gandhi Maidan in Patna, where Nitish flagged off the event.

Similar human chains were formed in the 38 districts of the state.

Bihar government’s human chain against dowry system and child marriage a ‘super flop’: Opposition | Patna News – Times of India

Bihar’s two main opposition parties -RJD and Congress – on Sunday said that the state government’s much-trumpeted human chainagainst dowry system and child marriage turned out to be “super flop” as participation of common people could not be seen anywhere across the state.
“Only school children who were called by opening their institutions despite being Sunday, their teachers and a section of state government employees were seen standing in the human chain that remained broken here and there. Common people didn’t turn up anywhere to participate in the chain. Participation of common villagers could not be seen anywhere,” RJD’s state president Ram Chandra Purbey said, adding, “The non-participation of common people shows that CM Nitish Kumar has lost peoples’ faith.”

Last year, the same chain was formed in awareness of the campaign to ban alcohol. Only there was cooperation from among all sides of government. I have not followed the situation enough to fully grasp the entire nuance of the political climate…but I wonder just how much the actual subject of this year’s campaign…being tied to an issue like child marriage and dowry, could be a reason for the lack of full support.

Bihar has it’s problems with child marriage. Human Chain 2.0: After Battling Liquor, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar Sets His Sights on Dowry – The Wire

A look at the statistics from Bihar prove just how serious and deep-rooted these issues are. According to the 2011 Census, around 3% of girls get married before the age of 14. Figures for under-age marriages from the National Family Health Survey 4 say that 39% of girls become child brides. When it comes to atrocities against women, the state ranks 26th in India, but is no. 2 in dowry-related crimes.

Between 2000 and 2015, out of total 1,15,374 dowry death cases registered in India, 17,257 cases were registered in Bihar. Beyond just cases that pertained to deaths, 18,462 cases were registered under the Dowry Prohibition Act during the same period.

The root of the problem

A complex relationship between child marriage and dowry exists in the state. Among well-to-do families, there is a growing emphasis on educating girls and letting them work. As awareness of social ills continues to grow in these circles, cases of child marriage have dropped drastically, but dowry continues to be a problem. In fact, not only is it still followed, the sums exchanging hands are astronomical at times.

Among financially weaker sections, instead of investing to educate girls, families save to pay dowry. Then, in order to not pay a heavy dowry, they opt to marry off their girls early. There is an added problem that arises from this practice: if underage brides become pregnant, there’s a heavy risk of death during the delivery of both mother and child.

More than that, there is also a market opportunity here. Every year, when the wedding season swings around, advertisements spring up everywhere indirectly indicating what would make for a good dowry present. In fact, as Geetanjali Mukherjee wrote in her book Dowry Death in India, published in 1999, advertisements even advise families on how to save on dowry. The book noted that “until recently, billboard advertisements in Bombay, for instance, made an unabashed appeal to pregnant women to take the expensive and somewhat risky amniocentesis test. It importuned them to spend 500 rupees now on the test in order to save 50,000 rupees in future on a daughter’s dowry”.

In contrast to Nitish’s earlier campaign against liquor where the administrative and legal measures worked quite well, in the case of dowry, there is not much space for the police to act proactively. Data from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) tells us that approximately 60% of the dowry-related cases which reach the police are those where there has been a death. This means that most victims avoid going to the authorities, which is why despite strict laws against this practice, dowry-related crimes continue unabated, be it in Bihar or India. The number of cases of dowry deaths in India stood at 6,851 in 2001. That figure jumped to 7,634 in 2015. The same trend was observed in Bihar. During the same period, cases in Bihar increased from 859 in 2001 to 1,154 in 2015.

According to the article in The Wire, unlike the banning of alcohol…the issue of ending child marriage must deal with changing the mindset of people…

More than a law, what is required is changing personal opinions.

Nitish appears to have understood that this is the battle that matters. His campaign against dowry and child marriage will see him act more like a reformer working to swing a big changes in the opinion of the masses more than a chief minister taking the administrative route to fix the state of affairs. This is why he is personally visiting the homes of those who are getting married without the dowry angle. Along with Nitish Kumar, Sushil Kumar Modi, the deputy chief minister, used the marriage of his eldest son to set an example of a dowry-free marriage.

Nitish has undoubtedly taken on a herculean task, but there are certain doubts in the minds of the public. Is this another tactic to keep cadres busy, much like the plantation drive?

With assembly elections just a year away, there is little scope that the anti-dowry campaign will bear any electoral fruits. But if Nitish’s latest battle bears even some fruit, it’s still a step ahead in the fight for gender justice.

 

All the same, I feel that bringing awareness to the crisis of child marriage goes far in helping create a dialogue about an issue that will not go away any time soon.

Here are some tweets with images of the day, #BiharHumanChain2018 :

 

 

 

Last week Human Rights Watch came out with their  World Report 2018: Fighting for Rights Succeeds | Human Rights Watch

Abdul Kareem, a Rohingya Muslim, carries his mother, Alima Khatoon, to a refugee camp after crossing from Burma into Bangladesh on Sept. 16, 2017.

Abdul Kareem, a Rohingya Muslim, carries his mother, Alima Khatoon, to a refugee camp after crossing from Burma into Bangladesh on Sept. 16, 2017.

 © 2017 Dar Yasin/AP

 

In the 643-page World Report, its 28th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that when leaders push back strongly against politicians who demonize minorities, attack human rights, and undermine democratic institutions, they can limit the advance of populists. But where mainstream politicians capitulate to a message of hate and exclusion, the authoritarian populists flourish.

“The past year showed the importance of pushing back against the threat posed by demagogues and their abusive policies,” Roth said. “As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2018, the best way to honor its principles is to vigorously defend them against those leaders who seek political advantage by depriving marginalized groups of the rights guaranteed for all.”

Please go to this link World Report 2018 | Status of Human Rights Around the World to read more and to look up how each of the 90 countries square up…

You may find the United States quite interesting:

World Report 2018: United States | Human Rights Watch

The strong civil society and democratic institutions of the United States were tested in the first year of the administration of President Donald Trump. Across a range of issues in 2017, the US moved backward on human rights at home and abroad.

Trump has targeted refugees and immigrants, calling them criminals and security threats; emboldened racist politics by equivocating on white nationalism; and consistently championed anti-Muslim ideas and policies. His administration has embraced policies that will roll back access to reproductive health care for women; championed health insurance changes that would leave many more Americans without access to affordable health care; and undermined police accountability for abuse. Trump has also expressed disdain for independent media and for federal courts that have blocked some of his actions. And he has repeatedly coddled autocratic leaders and showed little interest or leadership in pressing for the respect of human rights abroad.

The individuals most likely to suffer abuse in the United States—including members of racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, children, the poor, and prisoners—are often least able to defend their rights in court or via the political process. Many vulnerable groups endured renewed attacks on their rights during the year. Other longstanding US laws and practices—particularly related to criminal and juvenile justice, immigration, and national security—continued to violate internationally recognized human rights.

Lots and lots more at the link…reading it is like going through an abbreviated list of shithole actions taken by a shithole president.

Before I end with pictures and tweets from yesterday’s marches…

After a year of Trump, women expect less from men – but demand more – The Globe and Mail

One year ago Sunday, the largest single-day protest in U.S. history took place. The Women’s March, which followed the inauguration of Donald Trump, consisted of over 650 marches of roughly five million participants. The organizers were women, most protesters were women, and the targets were the misogynists of the Trump administration and their repressive policies. Protesters warned of the new government’s autocratic tendencies and planned persecution of the marginalized. Their warnings were not heeded by pundits clinging to the illusion of “checks and balances” or the “presidential pivot,” but they were right.

One year later, women remain the backbone of the opposition to President Trump, and those opposing him comprise the majority of the electorate. You would not know this from reading many U.S. media outlets, which focus disproportionately on Trump voters, with papers like the New York Times even surrendering an op-ed page to them. On Saturday, an enormously popular second women’s march caught the country by surprise, as there was little media attention to it paid beforehand despite the massive amount of preparation and participants involved.

I wanted to show you this little bit of the anti-women’s march protest going around today:

Nazis March In Tennessee Today. Last Time That Happened, I Ended Up With Antifa In A High-Speed Car Chase | HuffPost

Heimbach’s Nazis are returning to Tennessee to protest the Women’s March taking place in Knoxville on Sunday. The Nazis plan to attach themselves to a competing anti-abortion “March for Life” rally. How this will pan out for the fascists is anyone’s guess, but back in October, things didn’t go well for them in the Volunteer State. Heimbach’s crew started a fight with a biracial couple in a Brentwood pub. And their two rallies only put a spotlight on the weakness of their movement and the strength of their opposition. The second event, in Murfreesboro, was a total flop. Heimbach’s Nazis bailed, scared off by hundreds of counter-demonstrators who descended on Murfreesboro’s main square.

It makes me sick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an open thread…what are you reading about today?

 

 

 

 

Cross-posted / Human Chains Bring Awareness to #EndChildMarriage – Empower Dialogue

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#MeToo and why sex is in no danger

The status quo is beginning to regroup after the initial onslaught of the #MeToo movement. Of course, it’s more effective to have women to make its case. Keeps everything polite. It’s just a bunch of women with different opinions, right?

Recently, for instance, Catherine Deneuve, who has been a movie star since the 1960s, and her co-signatories lamented the loss of sexual fun if men had to start paying attention to what women want. As Laura Kipnis points out at the end of her excellent article:

It’s the historical amnesia of the Deneuve document that’s so objectionable. To the extent that women’s bodies are still treated as public property by men, whether that means groping us or deciding what we can do with our uteruses, women do not have civic equality. To miss that point is to miss the political importance and the political lineage of #MeToo: the latest step in a centuries long political struggle for women to simply control our own bodies. …

The political requirement of the post-#MeToo moment is insisting that control of our bodies is the beginning of freedom. Not its terminus, but a starting point. Freedom needs to be more than notional, it also needs to be embodied.

Autonomy, freedom, civil rights are the substance of #MeToo.

But I wanted to address the silly end of the spectrum: the concept that somehow sex will become a robotic interaction requiring permission slips signed in triplicate.

The problem is that we (humans) don’t have a reality-based concept of what sex is.

No, really. Hear me out.

One school of thought imagines that it’s anything to do with sex organs. So, if sex organs are involved, rape and torture are somehow about sex. As if anyone spends their days dreaming about how to be brutalized. To paraphrase Kipnis a bit, “It sounds like an especially Catholic form of [sex], involving much mortification of the flesh.”

The intense stupidity of that definition has led to the recent refinement centering consent. Sex is still about using sex organs, but it has to be preceded by the people involved saying, “Oh, awright already.”

That means out-and-out crimes can’t hide behind sex, but it doesn’t solve the problem of jerks or of the social power they hold. Jill Filipovic wrote an insightful article pointing out that “sex in a misogynist world” has thousands of ways of giving women colorless unsatisfying experiences at best. They may not be assault, but they have the same philosophy: women don’t count.

#MeToo exploded at that attitude. The movement wants the end of the entire steaming pile of crap, and that’s what has some people so worried. They may not really see why sex crimes are crimes and not sex, but they’re learning to shut up about it. They’ve heard of the concept that the woman should be getting something she wants out of sex and they’re so broadminded they’re fine with that if it doesn’t require anything from them.

But the #MeToo movement is also objecting to, well, what can you call it but plain old rudeness? That lack of consideration you dump on worthless people because there’s not a damn thing they can do about it. Where will it all end? (Yes, of course those same men are quite capable of being polite to bosses and policemen, but women are so weird and mysterious, you know? They don’t understand jokes. They take offense at mistakes.) Nobody will be able to do anything and you’ll never get any sex again.

(In one limited respect it is a valid concern. We’re dealing with a scale that goes from criminal to socially unacceptable to rude. At the nether ends of the scale, the sorts of situations where exposure or job loss or jail are good consequences, due process is a real concern. Margaret Atwood was jumped on by the twitverse for having the temerity to point that out. Due process may not always entail the full nine legal yards. It might be less formal ways of verifying the truth of complaints. But whatever its precise form, the point is to avoid lumping the innocent in with the guilty. How can anybody, whose whole complaint is an inability to find justice for themselves, insist on depriving others of justice?)

So, to return to the worry that sex as we know it will vanish and nobody will ever get any again, that would be true. If sex is something to get, there’s no part of that spectrum that’s any use to the thing being got. Not the relatively less harmful end of intravaginal masturbation, and growing worse all the way down till it disappears into criminal types of getting. That’s why Rebecca Traister in her excellent article points out that consensual sex can still be bad and quotes Dusenbery saying that what’s needed is to “promote a specific vision of what sexual equality could entail.”

Well, here’s my version of that vision.

Have you ever been with a group of good friends, sharing jokes that just get funnier and funnier until you’re all helpless with laughter? Possibly the individual jokes aren’t even all that hilarious, but the mood catches everyone and gets stronger in the sharing. If you told yourself the same joke in an empty room, it might be funny but you’d barely smile.

You see where that analogy is headed. That’s how to view sex. It’s a feeling of play, and fun, and delight, and pleasure that’s gets stronger in the sharing. And it’s definitely not the same by yourself in an empty room. Sex organs help trigger the feeling, but the feeling is the point, not the organs. Just as breath and vocal cords enable laughter. The feeling of fun is the point, not vocal exercise.

Another way the analogy is useful is to demonstrate that sex is not and cannot be on any spectrum where sharing is impossible. If the boss tells a joke and everybody has to dutifully laugh, it’s not fun at all. And that’s analogous to the relatively benign, masturbatory end of the scale of unshared sex. There’s no equivalent for the tortured end because nobody ever terrorizes someone into immobility and chokes puffs of air out of them and tries to call that laughter.

Power differentials preclude sharing, and the bigger the difference the less sharing is possible.

But wait, I hear objections at the back. Men get off. They don’t care about the rest of these fancy sex feelings.

That would be like saying sneezing is the same as laughter. It is not. Laughter happens when you’re having fun. Sneezing, like orgasm without feelings, is just a reflex. It’s a release, but it’s not exactly fun. The two are not the same. One doesn’t feel like happiness. The other does.

Besides, if getting off was the only requirement, everybody would simply masturbate. Much simpler, if the result was the same. It’s not. Instead, women turn themselves inside out and their lives upside down in the hope of sharing good time with men. And men bend the whole society into making sure women need them and will be there for them. If men didn’t care about loving feelings, they wouldn’t need to try to turn women into some kind of domestic pets trained to provide them.

Trying to keep humans as sex pets requires crosslinkage between dominance and sex. That may work to justify keeping human pets, but it doesn’t change the fundamental incompatibility between sharing fun and forcing submission. You can crosslink the use of sex organs and dominance all you want, it’ll never bring happiness. It’s like crosslinking a bicycle and a sledgehammer and expecting the combination to bake a cake. None of those things work together or achieve any result. It’s a fundamental error about what sex is.

The result is an irony floating on top of the cosmic waste that is patriarchy: you’ll only get the highs it promises when you ditch it.

The thing is, love and life and laughter will always pull people like the sun pulls the earth. People will always stream toward sex that feels good and away from pain and humiliation. Sex is in no danger. The patriarchy is.

 

Crossposted from Acid Test


Sunday Reads: Of Cannibals and Handmaids

Good Afternoon

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.

Five ways the new Handmaid’s Tale TV series differs from the book

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.

Television Review: “The Handmaid’s Tale” — Not a Documentary…Yet » The Arts Fuse

Margaret Atwood’s novel turns out to have been far more clairvoyant than even she believed it would be.

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.”

Review: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a terrifying story of a future that looks like the past | The Seattle Times

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.

THE HANDMAID’S TALE Recap: (S01E03) Late – Geek Girl Authority

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.

Ep 3, with my personal and professional hero Samira Wiley. The strength and presence this woman has on screen and off is a thing to behold and respect. It's my privilege to work with her and call her my friend. 👊🏻@whododatlikedat #HandmaidsTale

A post shared by Elisabeth Moss (@elisabethmossofficial) on

 

The Handmaid’s Tale TV Show Review – Hulu’s Adaptation Is the Feminist Horror Story We Need

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.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: The Most Important Show of 2017

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.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale – in pictures | Books | The Guardian

Interview with Atwood:

The Handmaid’s Tale: Margaret Atwood on season 2, relevance

Things like this are creepy to read about:

12 Facts About “The Handmaid’s Tale” That Will Make You Say “Holy Shit”

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:

The Handmaid’s Tale: The Hidden Meaning in Those Eerie Costumes | Vanity Fair

Review: ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ is a wake-up call for women

The ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Soundtrack Is An Expression Of Freedom & Empowerment

The Secrets From Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Set Revealed | Hollywood Reporter

‘Handmaid’s Tale’: Shocking Death, Rape, Mutilation Explained | Hollywood Reporter

The Handmaid’s Tale is timely. But that’s not why it’s so terrifying | Jessica Valenti | Opinion | The Guardian

The Handmaid’s Tale and Reproductive Rights | POPSUGAR News

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: The Biggest Changes From the Book

Found on Facebook:

this hateful anti-choice group was on my campus this week basically yelling that everyone who didn’t agree with their message was going to hell. this was one of there signs they were holding. I found it hilarious, and thought I’d share if any of you guys needed a laugh. — at Santa Rosa Junior College.

 

Some real links from real events…

Donald Trump Just Took a Weird Shot at Nikki Haley | Vanity Fair

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.”

That fucker.

Donald Trump will abolish women’s right to abortion, warns expert US doctor | The Independent

‘It was criminal once before, and it is their intent to make it criminal again,’ says Dr Willie Parker

If abortions become illegal, here’s how the government will prosecute women who have them – The Washington Post

How Trump Has Threatened Women and Families in His First 100 Days – NWLC

First 100 Days Reveal Trump’s Anti-Woman, Anti-Rights Administration | The Huffington Post

Trump Brought the War on Women Mainstream in His First 100 Days | Mother Jones

Want to survive another 100 days of Trump? Don’t get complacent – The Globe and Mail

 

More proof that legislators are not far off the mark from the leaders of a Handmaid society…

Reddit’s “Red Pill” Forum Was Created by a GOP Lawmaker | The Mary Sue

Guess Who Founded Reddit’s ‘The Red Pill’? That’s Right, A Republican Representative!

Rep. Robert Fisher Will “Stand Strong for Men’s Rights” | Time.com

And a few more disgusting shit stories for good measure:

Lawyer for accused rapist tells 11 female jurors women are ‘weaker sex,’ ‘especially good at lying’

A disturbing sex trend called ‘stealthing’ is on the rise

Hospitals Didn’t Give Rape Victims Emergency Contraception | Teen Vogue

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:

Female Dragonflies Fake Death to Avoid Males Harassing Them for Sex

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.

Jonathan Demme Dead: ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Director Was 73 | Variety

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: Remembering Cinema’s Contagious Enthusiast

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.

 


Tuesday Reads: Future of what?

 

Good Afternoon

Boston Boomer is under the weather today, so I’m bringing you the round up for the day.

First up I have to start this thread with a little tongue in cheek;

Okay, now let’s get serious.

Why do I get the feeling the passengers that were “randomly” chosen for United to “reaccommodate” perhaps had a little more than a random pick behind it?

Controversy over United passenger’s ‘troubled past’ – Business Insider

People are rallying around the passenger who was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight on Sunday, in response to what many see as attempts to vilify a victim.

On Tuesday, the Louisville Courier-Journal published an article reporting that the passenger, David Dao, “has a troubled history in Kentucky.” The article cites past drug-related felonies in the early 2000s, noting that the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure allowed Dao to resume practicing medicine in 2015.

Soon after the article published, many people took to social media to criticize the Courier-Journal for seemingly attempting to justify an incident in which Dao was dragged from United Express Flight 3411 by law enforcement officers. Dao suffered injuries to his face, and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

None of this man’s past has anything to do with the atrocious treatment he received…but I would not put it past the company to have orchestrated the chosen 4 for just this possible situation. I bet that is part of the protocol. Pick people that can be exploited negatively in the press if you need to…

Louisville’s Courier-Journal Gets Smacked Around For Piece About United Victim’s Past | Mediaite

More tweets of anger at CJ and support of David Dao at that link.

Onward to the shooting and murder of two people at a California primary school.

 

The next series of links will deal with Trump and Syria and Russia…Trump and North Korea…China.

I mentioned in a comment last week that my dad is part of this survival group, and that there was a rumor going on about the strike force heading to the Korean Peninsula…well, last night he told me the new rumor is that China is dealing with a huge number of refugees from North Korea flooding into the country because of the fear that tRump is going to blow Kim Jong Un off the planet.

I don’t know, the shit is hitting the fan.

 

I had to do it…

But here are some news links about all that shit.

Trump threatens via Twitter to ‘solve the problem’ in North Korea | MSNBC

North Korea Threatens ‘Catastrophic Consequences’ Over Approach From U.S. Navy Ships | Mediaite

Geez.

As for the Syria and Putin and Assad shit. (The word shit has become my go to expression for everything lately, you can take a look at some of these updates.

US plans to attack Syria and blame Assad, Vladimir Putin claims | The Independent

Somehow, Russia knew about Syria’s chemical weapon bombing before it happened – Salon.com

It is all so disturbing.

Did Trump Attack Syria For Personal Profit? | Crooks and Liars

At any other time, the questions raised by (fill in the blank) would be the scandal of the decade. Now, with Donald Trump as president, we call it Monday.

Thursday evening, Trump attacked Syria, a sovereign country, with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. This act of war was done without Congressional authorization, even after Trump’s August, 2013, tweet that “Obama needs Congressional approval” before attacking Syria in nearly-identical circumstances.

The following morning, headlines like this one appeared in the business press: Raytheon, maker of Tomahawk missiles, leads premarket rally in defense stocks:

Defense and energy stocks dominated the list of premarket gainers on the S&P 500 Friday, led by Tomahawk missile-maker Raytheon Corp., after U.S. missile strikes against a Syrian air base overnight.

Donald Trump apparently owns Raytheon stock. In May, 2016, Trump reported to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) that he owned Raytheon stock. Interestingly, this FEC report does not appear to include the extensive web of offshore anonymous shell corporations Trump uses to mask assets.

Since that filing Trump’s assets have not been sold with the proceeds placed into a “blind trust,” and there is no public record of his having otherwise sold the stock. Not only that, but Trump is able to draw cash from his “trust” at any time. He could literally have pocketed cash from his gains from attacking Syria.

Read the rest at the link.

But tRump is not only profiting on the attack in Syria. He is making money on his time off, away from, the White House:

 

Again, I can’t believe that nothing has been done to move forward with impeachment.

 

Just a few other links to make you cringe:

 

Trump and Ryan are planning to gut Social Security | Suburban Guerrilla. Susie Madrak

 

Federal Judge Rules That Texas Intentionally Discriminated Against Minority Voters | Mother Jones

The Sessions’ Justice Department had tried to stop the ruling.

Read This: The Handmaid’s Tale author on how Trump is too unbelievable for fiction · Great Job, Internet! · The A.V. Club

Margaret Atwood—author of The Handmaid’s Tale and dozens of other novels, short-story collections, children’s books, works of poetry and criticism, and the new comic-book series Angel Catbird—is the subject of a lengthy and insightful profile in The New Yorker. She speaks briefly on Donald Trump’s presidency, telling New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead, “If the election of Donald Trump were fiction… it would be too implausible to satisfy readers.” It’s an insightful viewpoint from the writer of speculative fiction (her preferred term over “science fiction”), who’s penned arguably the most influential speculation through the lens of patriarchy. Atwood goes on to say:

Fiction has to be something that people would actually believe. If you had published it last June, everybody would have said, “That is never going to happen.”

No shit. (See, I’m using that word “shit” for everything!)

This study looks like an interesting read….

No democracy without women’s rights | EurekAlert! Science News

Why did the Arab spring fail? Despite a number of revolutions in the Arab world, in the end only Tunisia emerged as a functioning democracy. Results from an interdisciplinary research project at the University of Gothenburg indicate that the problem might be traced partially to the lack of women’s civil rights in the region.

A new study published in the European Journal of Political Research discusses the importance of women’s rights for countries to become democratic. The researchers used a dataset developed by V-Dem, a research institution cohosted by the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and the University of Notre Dame (USA). The dataset includes the state of democracy in 177 countries over the years 1900 to 2012.

The study demonstrates that countries do not become fully democratic without political and social rights for women. This is particularly true for the Arab Spring countries, where the failure to foster women’s rights compromised any attempt at democratic governance in the area.

According to Professor Staffan Lindberg, director of the V-Dem Institute, the result is important because it shows that democratic development is not gender blind: societies transitioning from authoritarian regimes strongly need women in order to develop functioning democratic governments.

This next link is for Dak, another grave for you.

 

The desert bloom from space….is something to see.

 

And I will end it on that note.

This is an open thread. I hope BB starts to feel better, and that y’all have a good afternoon.

 

 


Sunday Reads: You’re not like other girls…

 

This will be a quick post, and it won’t mention a tRump at all.

Well, except for this little tidbit…

Democratic women senators not allowed to meet with Trump’s pick for stolen SCOTUS seat – Shareblue

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.

Mike Pence doesn’t eat alone with women. That speaks volumes | Jessica Valenti | Opinion | The Guardian

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…

Fucking hell.

 

Is she locking him up? I prefer to think she is….

It is constantly amazing to me how the right can continue to put forth life threatening laws like this:

Lawmaker: Miscarrying women must carry dead fetuses to term – SFGate

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.

Lundgren’s response:

“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.”

Sepsis anyone?

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.

 

Wait a moment…is she shooting a bird? Flicking the finger? Giving the old, Fuck Off?

 

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.

 

‘They Don’t Care About Any Poor People’: Little Miss Flint Talks About Her City’s Water Crisis

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!

How about this: This Twitter Account Highlights Inspiring Central American Women Who Broke Barriers

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.

Yeah, tell him what for…

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.

 

Cool, innit.

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….

It's #transvisibilityday and I am sending love and strength to all my trans brothers and sisters and those who don't define as either.

A post shared by Alan Cumming (@alancummingsnaps) on

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:

Transgender WWII veteran comes out as a woman at 90 | New York Post

WWII Veteran Comes Out As Transgender At The Age Of 90 | The Huffington Post

90-Year-Old World War II Vet Comes Out As Transgender  | GOOD

I put up three different links there…each has the same story but they all have little various details and quotes.

She looks skeptical…doesn’t she.

Up next…16 Lesbian Power Couples From History Who Got Shit Done, Together | Autostraddle

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.

Hawaii has best quality of life for women | Daily Mail Online

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:

The kingdom of women: the Tibetan tribe where a man is never the boss | Life and style | The Guardian

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.

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.


Sunday: Who Knew? GOP = #GrabOurPussies

 

Well, the GOP have been grabbing our pussies for a while now, legislatively….

It only follows that the letters actually stand for Grab Our Pussies!

I’ve got some images for you, before we get to the links…you have probably seen these already but they are too good to keep off the front page.

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I loved that comment from Edward…I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it with y’all.

 

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As for Trump himself…he made a few comments this morning:

 

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All I can say is that tonight’s debate is going to be frightening. Let’s be sure to watch it together.

My post is not as eloquent as Boston Boomer’s was yesterday. I don’t have the patience to write anything today because the whole thing has me so disgusted and pissed off.

Let’s just say I am glad that the bomb has dropped but why the fuck has it taken so long for this to happen?

Some links to check out:

This one for instance:

Dent: Pressure on GOP Leaders to Pull Away From Trump

Two prominent Republican lawmakers on Sunday called for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to drop out of the presidential race.

“I have serious doubts now about Mr. Trump’s ability to beat Hilary Clinton. In fact, I don’t think he can,” Utah Sen. Mike Lee said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“I’m agnostic right now about who it needs to be,” Lee said when host Chuck Todd asked if vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence should the nominee.

Lee alluded to the many sitting lawmakers in his party who have pulled their support for Trump.

“I think people have to consider the totality of the evidence,” he said. “There were a lot of others who wanted to be persuaded, who hoped they would be persuaded.”

All those making the case for Trump to pull out? I think this tweet by Krugman says a lot about that:

From the AP via Daily Mail: Rumors Mike Pence is under GOP pressure to quit as Trump’s running mate | Daily Mail Online

Report: RNC redirecting funds away from Trump | TheHill

On this morning’s news shows:

Jake Tapper confronts Rudy Giuliani: ‘I have never heard any man ever brag about being able to maul women’ – Business Insider

Tapper blisters Giuliani: Your candidate thinks he can ‘grab women by the vagina — and it’s OK’

Getting ready for the debate tonight:

10 Emotional Abuse Tactics That Trump Blatantly Used in the First Debate — Everyday Feminism

The Ultimate Drinking Game: Clinton v. Trump Presidential Debate Bingo, Round 2

On the No Shit Sherlock list:

The deep disgust for Hillary Clinton that drives so many evangelicals to support Trump – The Washington Post

Sean Hannity defends Trump grabbing p*ssy: ‘King David had 500 concubines’

This is the last spastic breath from the Religious Right before its overdue death – The Washington Post

Poll: GOP voters standing behind Trump after lewd comments | TheHill

Yvonne Abraham: The misogynist in full – The Boston Globe

The worst thing about the Trump tape? When he meets Arianne Zucker | Jessica Valenti | Opinion | The Guardian

‘This is rape culture’: After Trump video, thousands of women share sexual assault stories – The Washington Post

 

Kate McKinnon’s ‘Day Off’ sketch on SNL makes us actually sympathize with the real Kellyanne Conway

 

Trump’s Tape Scandal: The Latest Updates – The Atlantic

 

Watch Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump ‘Apple-ogize’ for Pussygate on Saturday Night Live

 

 

 

More links to look over:

Inside Trump Tower, an Increasingly Upset and Alone Donald Trump – The New York Times

If that Groping women is not a joke video embed did not work, look at the video here.

Other tweets of note:

The U.S. has officially accused Russia of interfering with the election.

And the latest on Hurricane Matthew: Hurricane Matthew Toll Climbs to at Least 15 as North Carolina Suffers Record-Breaking Flooding – The New York Times

How Haiti can recover from Hurricane Matthew’s devastation (Opinion) – CNN.com

Cuban medics in Haiti put the world to shame | The Independent

This is an open thread. See you tonight.

 


Saturday Reads: white privilege and the enabling of rape culture

CSA_Shareable-01-600-600x320Good Afternoon!

(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.

march 1I’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.”635922841696028851596381600_no_excuses_sexual_assault_campaign_logo

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.

rape-culture-4We’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.”

USA Swimming has banned Brock Turner for life. 6359704569031235021988308672_michael-courier-rape-culture

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)635954771090088929640898905_rape-culture-600x400

 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.

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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.