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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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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…
More tweets of anger at CJ and support of David Daoat 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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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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.
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…
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:
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.”
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?
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…
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.”
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
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
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.”
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.
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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’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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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Today’s thread is hosted by a twisted children’s books spoof meme. I’ve done this theme before but since then more of the little devils have sprung up on Pinterest and the like so I thought, why not.
It is sadly however that the news stories I bring you are not spoofs, but the real thing, yes…these are the tales of children…no wait. Former Fetuses…. Who find themselves to be in the unfortunate circumstance now (at least) to be a Female Former Fetus aka Woman/Girl living in a PLUB Anti-choice world.
Now there are plenty of links here, some are a few weeks old…but they all focus on primarily one thing.
Recently Samantha Bee introduced her audience to an atrocious anti-woman lawmaker, Senator Renee Unterman of Georgia, who has fought against justice for rape victims. Turns out that is not the only thing Unterman has been doing. She also wrote legislation that allows Georgia to give state money to [Crisis] Pregnancy Resource Centers.
“Woman, have you lost your f*cking mind?” Samantha Bee, host of “Full Frontal,” shouted.
Pregnancy Resource Centers are places that deliberately mislead women about the services that they actually offer.
“Much like Renee Unterman, Crisis Pregnancy Centers may look sweet and helpful, but they’re really full of toxic bullsh*t,” confirmed Bee.
Until recently, a person who Googled “abortion clinic” might be directed to a CPC instead. CPCs, as a result, are reaching more clients than ever, but as statistics indicate, persuading very few to remain pregnant.
Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are billed as alternatives to abortion clinics, but new data suggests they largely fail at their mission, persuading less than 4 percent of clients to forgo abortion care.
Of the 2.6 million clients who visited crisis pregnancy centers since 2004, 3.52 percent, or 92,679 people, decided against having an abortion. The statistics come from eKYROS.com, Inc., an anti-choice, Texas-based software company, which says more than 1,200 CPCs use its software to track clients and measure results.
The publicly available data, as the eKYROS website explains, reflects “clients who came to the center with initial intentions of Abortion or Undecided and then changed their mind to carry baby to term.”
Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, said the Republican-backed measure “allows state funds to go to organizations providing women with incomplete information or outright misinformation.”
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a bill Tuesday that provides $2 million in state funding for anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), reported the Associated Press.
SB 308, sponsored by state Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), would establish a program through the Georgia Department of Public Health that will provide grants to organizations “whose mission and practice is to provide alternatives to abortion services to medically indigent women at no cost.”
Oh, but I wonder what will happen to those women and former fetuses once they are looking for help or assistance from these same fuckers?
About 1.6 million Georgians are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, roughly 16 percent of the overall state population, according to the state Division of Family and Children Services. About half of food stamp recipients are children.
The food stamp program brings $2.8 billion in annual federal aid to the state, with an average monthly benefit about just under $130 per person.
Over the past five years, some states have become quite creative about passing laws that seem specifically designed to close abortion clinics. Innocuous-sounding requirements about building codes ormedical licensing have proven so impossible for abortion providers to comply with that the Supreme Court is considering whether to overturn them.
But Alabama might have just come up with the most creative idea yet:forbidding abortion clinics from operating within 2,000 feet of a public elementary or middle school. Two of the state’s five abortion clinics fit this description — two of the largest, no less, which together provide more than half of all abortions in the state.
As Hannah Levintova of Mother Jones points out, the bill would quite literally regulate abortion clinics in a similar manner as sex offenders. Alabama state law forbids registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and child care facilities. And the bill’s sponsor has made this comparison explicit.
“We can put a restriction on whether a liquor store opens up across the street and make sure pedophiles stay away from schools,” Alabama state Sen. Paul Sanford told the Times Daily in February. “I just think having an abortion clinic that close to elementary-age school children that actually have to walk on the sidewalk past it is not the best thing.”
The bill’s opponents argue that the children would never even know abortions were performed there if not for the disruptive protests outside of the clinic. This, by the way, is why one Washington, DC, charter school is now suing anti-abortion activists.
It was after 4 p.m., and Reproductive Health Services, the clinic she has owned and operated for the last 30 years, was closed for the day. Ayers, in periwinkle scrubs dotted with purple butterflies, was seated behind a front desk covered with patient charts. A muted television played HGTV to an empty waiting room. The silent feed from the security cameras revealed a deserted parking lot.
But the phone kept ringing, so Ayers kept answering.
“Reproductive Health, may I help you?” Ayers, 61, has been repeating this line for decades. And her voice—Alabama drawl, all heavy vowels, sugar-sweet with a little rasp—is very likely one of the first things you will hear if you need an abortion within 100 miles of Montgomery.
The clinic is one of just five left in Alabama, which means that a majority of women in the state live in a county without an abortion provider. So in Alabama—like in Texas, like in Mississippi, like in a growing number of states across the country—to have an abortion means to travel.
It also means state-directed counseling intended to discourage abortion, a mandatory ultrasound, two separate clinic visits, and a 48-hour waiting period between them. For women who live outside of Montgomery, the waiting period requires time off work, traveling hundreds of miles for repeat trips, or finding somewhere to stay in the area overnight. And because 60% of women who have abortions are already mothers, the travel required means, in some cases, two full days of childcare. None of it comes cheap.
Alabama, never one to shy away from in your face anti-abortion sentiment, has come up with a new bill that will help to shutter clinics in the state – a requirement that all abortion providers be located at least 2000 feet from any schools. This seemingly innocuous restriction is poised to completely change the landscape of access in the state and beyond, even more than the critics themselves may realize.
The 2000 foot bill was introduced last legislative session as an attempt to close the abortion clinic in Huntsville, Ala., the only clinic in the northern part of the state. It was introduced to target the clinic, which had only recently reopened after moving to a new location because it could not meet the newly enforced building requirements that had been a part of new legislation passed one year prior. Instead, the clinic relocated into a new building that met most of the standards – but was also located across the street from a local school.
The bill failed to make it through both chambers last year, but came back again this session. A brief debate was held over whether the new legislation should allow a grandfather clause, which would have allowed existing clinics an exception. That proposal failed, and now Huntsville – and possibly the clinic in Tuscaloosa, Ala., too – is in danger of losing licensure.
I’ve used this article before in one of my post, but I think it is important to state it again here:
A new Utah law that goes into effect on Tuesday will force doctors to shirk their promise to “do no harm” by dangerously over-anesthetizing women who seek a later abortion.
Informed by anti-abortion state lawmakers rather than by medical experts, the “Protecting Unborn Children Amendment” requires physicians to administer an anesthetic to any women seeking an abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later, to “eliminate or alleviate organic pain to the unborn child.” Like many anti-abortion laws on the state level, Utah’s law rests on the unscientific belief that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation.
Most states that introduce “fetal pain” legislation try to ban abortions entirely after 20 weeks — and at least 12 have been successful. Utah is the first to pass a anesthesia-related bill instead of outright prohibiting the practice. But according to physicians, it may as well be a ban.
“You’re asking me to invent a procedure that doesn’t have any research to back it up,” said Dr. Leah Torres, an OB-GYN who works at one of Utah’s two licensed abortion clinics, in an interview with the New York Times. “You want me to experiment on my patients.”
Utah physicians have strongly opposed the bill since its inception, arguing that unscientific opinions from state lawmakers have no place in a safe doctor-patient relationship — especially if they put a woman’s life at risk.
Before she could move into a dormitory atBrigham Young University or sign up for freshman classes, Brooke had to sign the college’s Honor Code.
Part moral compass and part contract, the Honor Code is a cornerstone of life for the nearly 30,000 students at Brigham Young, a Mormon-run university. It points students, faculty and staff members toward “moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ,” prizing chastity, honesty and virtue. It requires modest dress on campus, discourages consensual sex outside marriage and, among other things, prohibits drinking, drug use, same-sex intimacy and indecency, as well as sexual misconduct.
But after Brooke, 20, told the university that a fellow student had raped her at his apartment in February 2014, she said the Honor Code became a tool to punish her. She had taken LSD that night, and also told the university about an earlier sexual encounter with the same student that she said had been coerced. Four months after reporting the assault, she received a letter from the associate dean of students.
“You are being suspended from Brigham Young University because of your violation of the Honor Code including continued illegal drug use and consensual sex, effective immediately,” the letter read.
This is something of a habit over there at BYU…
In the past few weeks, Brooke and a handful of other female students have come forward, first at a rape-awareness conference and then in The Salt Lake Tribune, to say that after they made complaints of sexual abuse they had faced Honor Code investigations into whether they drank alcohol, took drugs or had consensual sex.
“They treated me in such an un-Christlike way, like I was some sinner,” said Brooke, who agreed to be identified by her first name. “There was no forgiveness and mercy.”
Their accounts have brought a national debate over colleges’ disparate treatment of women who have reported sexual assaults crashing onto this faith-driven campus, where Mormon students gather from around the globe, skirts must fall to the knee and beards are outlawed. The women’s complaints have focused attention on how the university deals with such cases as it also seeks to uphold a moral code that lies at the heart of its identity.
Brigham Young’s policy on sexual misconduct urges students to come forward even if they have broken university policies. The university says that it investigates sexual assault complaints fully, but that it also has an obligation to pursue misconduct under the Honor Code. According to the sexual misconduct policy, violations of its code discouraging consensual sex are not exempt from scrutiny.
“Brigham Young University cares deeply about the safety of our students,” Carri Jenkins, a university spokeswoman, wrote in an email. “When a student reports a sexual assault, our primary focus is on the well-being of the victim.”
Sometimes, though, “facts come to light that a victim has engaged in prior Honor Code violations,” she said.
While the recent complaints about Brigham Young have come from female students, the university says that all students are required to follow the Honor Code “at all times,” whether on or off campus. Any potential violation that comes to the university’s attention could be investigated, it said. In the wake of the students’ complaints, the university announced last week that it would review how it handled reports of sexual assaults.
Go to the link to see other stories on the situation at BYU, and to read more about this case.
Bizarre loopholes and double standards in rape legislation aren’t just confined to Oklahoma.
On March 24, an Oklahoma appeals court unanimously ruled that “forcible sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation” (PDF). Translated into English: Forcing a woman to perform oral sex while she’s blackout drunk isn’t rape.
Oklahoma Watch first reported the shocking decision, which Tulsa County assistant district attorney Benjamin Fu called “dangerous” and “offensive.” Fu served as the lead prosecutor in a case against a 17-year-old boy who claimed in a police interview that a 16-year-old girl he drove home from a park had consented to oral sex. The girl said she did not remember what happened and another boy who rode in the car confirmed that she was having difficulty staying conscious. After she was taken to the hospital early the next morning, tests showed that her blood alcohol level was a staggering .341 and that traces of the boy’s DNA were around her mouth.
But because she was intoxicated—and because the alleged rape was oral rather than vaginal—the court determined that Oklahoma law did not apply to her case. Oklahoma’s “rape in the first degree” statute is fairly comprehensive, applying to victims who were mentally ill, intoxicated, unconscious, physically coerced, or threatened with violence. But the “forcible sodomy” statute only lists two barriers to consent: mental illness and violence. The difference between the statutes might seem like a technicality, but it’s one that the appeals court took seriously, writing that they could not “enlarge a statute” in order to prosecute the boy.
More alarming than this conclusion is the fact that these bizarre loopholes and double standards in rape legislation aren’t just confined to one state.
As of 2013, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” The agency’s prior definition—“the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will”—was not only archaic, it was ambiguous about what, precisely, counted as rape: Did “carnal knowledge” include oral rape, anal rape, rape with an object? But even though the federal government has now laid out a crystal clear and expansive definition of rape, several states—not just Oklahoma—still regard nonconsensual vaginal penetration with a penis differently from other, equally serious forms of forcible sex.
As Jennifer Gentile Long, CEO of AEquitas, a resource for prosecutors in cases of violence against women, told The Guardian of the Oklahoma case, “There are still gaps in the ways laws are written that allow some cases to fall through the cracks. This case seems to be one of them.”
That article has other state laws similar to OK which will make you red with anger…but since I am sticking to Oklahoma right now….
Unconscious, where you can’t make decisions because you are not awake.
In an Oklahoma court, a decision was made that states the law doesn’t criminalize oral sex with a victim who is completely unconscious. The ruling is, of course, sparking outrage because critics say the judicial system was engaged in victim-blaming and believing outdated notions in regards to rape.
Outraged activists and prosecutors in Oklahoma called for changes to a state law on forced oral sex after a court rejected the prosecution of a teenage boy in Tulsa because his 16-year-old accuser had been intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness.
Many women’s health advocates wear their passion on their sleeve. Diane Horvath-Cosper wears hers on her ankle, in the form of a coat hanger tattoo—a reminder to herself and others, she says, that our country is rapidly returning to the dark ages of abortion and the horrors this reality entails.
I know about Horvath-Cosper’s new tattoo because I was with her when she got it last month. After we left the tattoo parlor, she promptly Instagrammed a photo of it with the hashtag #NeverAgain, then turned to me and said, sarcastically, “My parents are going to love this.”
As a fellow OBGYN and a friend of Horvath-Cosper’s, I was proud but not at all surprised when she announced, in a mic-drop moment last week, that she was taking legal action against her hospital for forbidding her to speak publicly about her work and beliefs as an abortion provider.
As The New York Times first reported, Horvath-Cosper is filing a civil rights complaint against MedStar Washington Center Hospital in Washington, D.C. for what she describes as a “gag order” that has essentially put the kibosh on her work as an abortion rights advocate. “I don’t think the way to deal with bullies is to cower and pull back,”she told the paper.
Not surprisingly, news of Horvath-Cosper’s decision temporarily broke the internet—or at least that sliver of the internet reserved for abortion news, making her an overnight feminist heroine.
Read the rest about Diane Horvath-Cosper at the link…
In recent years, the rise of medical abortion has led some anti-abortion activists and lawmakers to claim that the process can be reversed with an emergency treatment after the first pill. But even if they succeed at turning that myth into law, the truth is that science is not on their side.
A district court judge in Arkansas resigned Monday and agreed to never pursue public office again in the face of mounting evidence that he traded reduced sentences and fines for sexual favors and provocative photos of young men under the guise of “community service.”
The Arkansas Judicial and Disability Commission launched an investigation to determine whether to sanction or remove part-time Cross County District Court Judge Joseph Boeckmann from the bench after an investigator working on an elder abuse case complained that witnesses connected to Boeckmann were dropping his name and refusing to speak with her.
During the course of their investigation, the commission unearthed allegations of misconduct dating back decades.
“He’s a criminal predator who used his judicial power to feed his corrupt desires,” David Sachar, executive director of the commission, told The Associated Press. “Every minute he served as a judge was an insult to the Arkansas Judiciary.”
Boeckmann became a Cross County District Court judge on Jan. 1, 2009. However, the commission said it discovered Boeckmann was using his position to sexually prey on young men as far back as 1985, when he worked as a deputy prosecuting attorney.
Erika Janik and her new book Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction! Pistols and Petticoats is a lively exploration of the struggles women have faced in law enforcement and in mystery fiction since the late nineteenth century. Working in a profession considered to be strictly a man’s domain, investigating women were nearly always at odds with society. These sleuths and detectives refused to let that stop them, and paved the way to a modern professional life for women on the force and in popular culture. We caught up with Janik to ask her about the social implications of women joining the police force, “murder as entertainment,” and how the reality of policewomen compares with the stories told in the crime genre.
What made you decide to write a book on women detectives and the mystery genre?
Something that always grabs my interest is what I sometimes refer to as “women in unexpected places.” I ran across a woman in Chicago who ran her own private detection agency around the turn-of-the-twentieth century and immediately wanted to know more. That led me deep into reading about real women in law enforcement—there are some real characters in the early years!—and thinking about how that reality compared with the fictional worlds I knew from a lifetime of books, television, and movies.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, how did the role of women in detective stories differ from women’s perceived role in society? How does it differ today, if at all?
Fictional female detectives were definitely on the fringes of acceptable female behavior of the time. Women were thought to be emotional—not logical—and rational beings capable of putting the pieces of a mystery together. Women were also expected to be in the home, not out on the street tailing suspects or inspecting crime scenes for clues. At the same time, though, most of these fictional detectives were either young women or spinsters, two stages of life during which women had a bit more latitude because they didn’t have husbands or children.
Fictional detectives today are much closer to real women in that it’s not unusual for a woman to work or to be out in the city at night on her own. Fictional detectives today also tend to have more complicated personal lives. They may be divorced or from a troubled home. One thing that hasn’t changed is that fictional detectives still tend not to be married.
Industrialization and greater education opportunities in the nineteenth century gave women more time to volunteer and to work in social reform. One role borne of this charitable work was the prison matron, a role that paved the way for women on the force. How did the introduction of prison matrons in women’s correctional facilities impact the lives of female inmates and the view of women in policing?
Reformers lobbied hard for the introduction of prison matrons to help protect female inmates from abuse in prisons run by and designed for men. In some prisons, female and male inmates were housed in the same cell, while in others, women were packed together in a single room and largely ignored. Prison matrons did bring more attention to female inmates and had a better understanding of their charges. It also helped to change perceptions of female inmates among the matrons and other reformers. Where before, a woman in prison would be considered “fallen” and beyond redemption, through their work, matrons began to sympathize and understand the circumstances that often drove women to crime. They actually began to point to men as the problem and cause of women’s downfall.
Prison matrons helped ease the path for women in policing because they demonstrated that women could successfully work in a law enforcement capacity.
When women first entered the world of policing, the typical lady detective was young and unmarried or an older “spinster” to allow more time to focus on the job, as all other women were expected to be married and tending to their families. What were the societal implications when married women and mothers began to enter the police force?
Married women entering the police force faced many of the same obstacles and pressures as any married, working mother took on, though law enforcement definitely had the added potential of bodily harm or even death on the job. Fictional female detectives today still tend to be young or unmarried “spinsters,” widows, or divorcees today—that hasn’t changed. This is one area where reality strongly diverges from fiction because many real female officers had partners and children from the very beginning. For instance, Chicago detective Alice Clement was married with a daughter and still made headlines for her adventures in the 1910s.
Sounds like an interesting book…..
Why do you believe “murder as entertainment” as depicted in crime fiction and news reporting was such a satisfying genre for audiences in the nineteenth century? How do audiences view the genre today, and how does that affect the way we view current policewomen and female detectives?
I think that murder becomes satisfying entertainment as it becomes less common and as societies become more ordered. When you aren’t living in fear for your life every day, crime can be thrilling and fun as well as a way to play out our fears within a safe space. We also love a good story, even better if it has clear good and bad guys to cheer for and root against. I don’t think that has changed. Scandinavia is one of the safest places in the world today and yet their top literary genre is crime.
There are far more women in fictional detective settings than in real life. I think these fictional depictions of policewomen on television, in particular, have made it easier for our culture to imagine and accept a woman in that role. Unfortunately, that hasn’t necessarily translated to parity on our nation’s police forces.
Or as any of the links in today’s post show…women still are fighting for their basic rights. We have a woman running for president, dealing with a negative press like no other…women jailed for miscarriages, abortions…doctors required to lie to their patients, if only things were like fictional novels. (But even then, horror tales of Handmaids can and do become reality.)
This is an open thread.
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The jury could not reach a decision in the first trial of a Baltimore police officer charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.
The judge declared a mistrial after a hung jury was announced on all charges against officer William Porter.
The jury deliberated over three days, and there was signs that the jury may not reach a unanimous decision.
Jurors told the court Tuesday they were deadlocked after less than a full day of deliberations but the judge sent them back, asking them to continue to work toward a unanimous verdict in the charges against police officer William Porter.
Back to the news links.
In no particular order, as you can see I’m really in the funk.
The latest brainchild of the Ohio Republican party is a new bill that will require women to authorize and ultimately be financially responsible for the burial or cremation of their “child.” The proposed legislation takes religious zealotry to the state level, where Buckeyes are known for doing incredibly stupid things.
The bill would require women to sign a form, meaning there has to be some kind of record-keeping, but the creepy weirdos who introduced this idiocy promise that doesn’t constitute a “registry.” Unfortunately for them, yeah…it kinda does.
Attorney General Mike DeWine, after investigating Planned Parenthood for months at the taxpayers’ expense and coming up empty-handed, got all misty-eyed when he “found” that Planned Parenthood had been “simply tossing them in landfills” — invoking the idea of huge piles of household garbage and a woman in a lab coat tossing fully formed little children on top without emotion. Basically, DeWine couldn’t find anything, so he invented something.
The Christian right got a hold of that information and immediately began weeping for humanity. If only those fetuses who are far more often than not nothing but zygotes could be replaced with those evil abortion doctors. That would help protect the sanctity of life. They took the ball and ran with it, choosing one of their chief loons, State Rep Barbara Shears, to explain to the people that the bill isn’t politically motivated:
“The idea of respectfully treating the remains of an infant who has been aborted, I think is critical. And I think that you can see how we treat our own childhood pets when we are disposing of them in a respectful way, you know I think that people are shocked. And I don’t think that it matters whether you are Republican or Democrat or Independent or oblivious to politics all together.”
Of course it has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the place you go on Sunday that you want to impose on the rest of America because you and the Duggars are better than we are. Childhood pets? Wait…here’s a great paragraph from WVXU in Cincinnati:
Representative Robert McColley says there are still details to work out…such as whether there would be specific cemeteries for the bodies or places where cremains could be spread. Right now, in Ohio, he says the state does not record the names of women who get abortions and he says while the state would require all women to sign this form, the goal would not be to start a statewide registry of sorts.
Bodies. Cremains. Cemeteries. How long before they require little funerals? These a**holes don’t understand that when a woman loses or is forced to terminate a pregnancy at a stage where what is lost looks like “Walter” from the Planned Parenthood videos, it is most often not welcome and extremely traumatic. It also accounts for a very small percentage of abortions. The entire issue is misleading and unfair, which is about par for the Christian right’s course.
Gabriel Mann of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio said:
“This law that Ohio Planned Parenthood affiliates have been following has been in effect for 40 years, 3 months and 14 days and nobody had any problems with them following the law until Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine had to announce that Planned Parenthood was following the law. And he got very frustrated by the fact that he had to tell the truth and now they need a new law.”
The two hear Ferrer out and pay an assload of lip service to the idea of diversity being amazing, and then Doocy sets PTA mama up to deliver Fox News’s trademarked ass-chapping grievance of the holiday season:
DOOCY: You’re wearing a Santa Mickey shirt. You can wear that into the school, BUT?
FERRER: We’re not allowed to say the “Merry Christmas.” 😦
FOX NEWS SADFACE JIZZ EXTRAVAGANZA, DING DING DING!
But you see, this is not typical Fox News War On Christmas fare. This isn’t Gretchen Carlson bellyaching about how the Festivus Feats Of Strength are prohibiting her from suckling the baby Jesus to her Miss America teats. This is not Fox’s Todd Starnes, Alleged Pee Enthusiast, pushing a fake story about a Georgia school confiscating Christmas cards. And it’s definitely not Starbucks doing abortions to Jesus in His manger, by making a red cup.
Read the whole thing from Wonkette, I just love the sentence about Carlson.
The real estate mogul’s semen & DNA were found in the girl. He was allowed to present the judge evidence in private
The young girl said she woke up in the early hours of the morning and real estate mogul Ehsan Abdulaziz, 46, was raping her.
Abdulaziz had previously slept with the teenager’s 24-year-old friend in his bedroom. He claimed that he had walked over to the young girl to offer to give her a t-shirt, when he tripped and fell on her, with his penis still sticking out of his underwear from the previous sexual encounter.
An investigation found that Abdulaziz’ semen and DNA were inside the teenage girl, but he claimed this was leftover from having sex with the teen’s friend.
The millionaire property developer also blamed the alleged rape survivor for pulling him on top of her. “I’m fragile, I fell down but nothing ever happened, between me and this girl nothing ever happened,” Abdulaziz said, according to British media reports.
Abdulaziz had met the young women in a high-end London club. He invited them to his private $1,500-per-night table and bought them both drinks.
Later that night, the millionaire offered to drive them home in his lavish Aston Martin car.
Abdulaziz is married and lives with his wife and child. At the time of the incident, the two were spending the summer in the Czech Republic.
The jury, in London’s Southwark Crown Court, acquitted the millionaire after roughly 30 minutes of deliberation.
British publication the Daily Mail reported that, “During the trial, Judge Martin Griffiths permitted the rare step of allowing 20 minutes of Mr Abdulaziz’s evidence to be heard in private.”
The black-feathered greater vasa parrot has a new skill to add to its resume — the use of tools to grind shells to create calcium powder, which it then proceeds to lick up with its pink tongue, a new study finds.
The vasa parrot is now the only known species besides humans to use tools for grinding, the researchers said.
The finding was an “entirely fortuitous discovery,” said study lead author Megan Lambert, a doctoral student of psychology at the University of York. She and her colleagues were observing 10 captive greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa) in aviaries that had floors covered with cockleshells, soil, wood chips and pebbles, she said. [Pretty Bird: Images of a Clever Parrot]
“[We] noticed they were interacting quite a bit with objects from the floor of their aviary,” Lambert told Live Science. “So we took a closer look and that’s when we found they were actually using tools.”
The parrots were picking up pebbles or date pits with their beaks and grinding the tools against the cockleshells to create a fine calcium powder. (Seashells are mostly made of calcium carbonate.) The birds then licked the powder off the tools, which gave them a nutritious calcium snack, Lambert said.
“What’s also particularly interesting is that we observed a lot of tool transfer, where one bird would actually approach group members and steal the tool directly from their beak, and then go on to use it on a shell,” she said.
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.