Archive for February, 2011

Inarticulate Frustration

via urban_jungle (flickr)

Right now, there is a whole lot going on in the world that is scary and evil and makes me question the basic decency of humanity.

Muammar Gaddafi – he would be a perfect farcical caricature to mock the idea of fearless leader/glorious dictator into nonexistence if it weren’t actually horrifying that he’s been making life awful for Libyans for over 40 years and, like many other ‘leaders’ of North African countries, getting massive political benefits from powerful democratic countries eager to buy the areas natural resources without thought to the human cost.

There have been reports of violence towards the protesters in Egypt, who continue to fight for the kind of government they want.

In a stunning display of political tone-deafness, David Cameron, the UK PM, travelled to Egypt with reps from several companies that provide ‘defense services’. Arms dealers. Great timing. Those governments might be running low on ammunition. And this is on top of his entitled-posh-boy cuts to services in the UK that disproportionately affect women and not-rich people.

Similarly, budget cuts proposed in the US will disproportionately affect people of colour and the non-rich. Surprise.

Also in the US, there appears to be a war against those with wombs.
ETA: as Angry Black Bitch has just made clear, it ain’t just the ladies with all their equipment that legislators have a problem with – apologies for putting it like that. Straight up – the legislative attack is on all women, and attempts to restrict access to a variety of health care tests and treatments that have little or nothing to do with reproductive organs.

The House of Representatives passed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood.

In Iowa, South Dakota, and Nebraska, legislation was proposed that would essentially make killing abortion providers legal.

Slate’s William Saletan has spent several columns talking about the moral quandary of the right to abortion, in which he does that thing where he assumes fetuses have personhood and rights that supercede those of the woman it happens to be in. He also insults pro-choice activists by conflating their resistance to significant government oversight designed to limit services with a disregard for health and safety standards.

Continuing with the misogynist theme in the US, in Canada, the police comment about how the ladies should avoid dressing ‘like sluts’ to avoid rape has been followed by a judge not sentencing jail time for a convicted rapist because the rape victim was wearing heels and went into the woods with the rapist and two other people, and clearly the rapist was just ‘misreading’ signals. Yeah. Certain types of clothing obviously mean that the vagina is open to any and all comers. We’re not picky, boys, when we’ve got those red pumps on.

In other bad news the Republican legislature of Wisconsin is union busting in spite of massive protests.

Not to mention the stuff that isn’t always given attention in the media despite ongoing conflict and oppression and general nastiness.

And what do I feel capable of responding to?

This guy, another Slate.com writer who thinks that all ladies want to get married and have babies and all guys wants only sex, and that the statistical decrease in marriage rates, the existence of the pill, and some study where more men agreed to have no-strings-attached sex than women, means that men have the upper hand when it comes to relationships. And of course this is bad! And who needs to change things? The ladeez, of course, since it is their fault that they a) want marriage and babies and b) aren’t making those irresponsible man-boys grow up like they are supposed to.

The logical fallacies that abound in his article aren’t worth going through one by one, as it would take all day, but there is a lot of straw man arguing, and a lot of begging the question.

It is far easier to point out logical errors in one of a seemingly endless parade of ‘u r doing it rong ladeez’ articles designed to blame women for the supposed fall of the lifestyle that we supposedly all want, than it is to seriously contemplate the gallimaufry of circumstance, institutionalized bigotry, classism, racism, sexism, sense of entitlement, political corruption, imperialism, capitalism, and amorality leading to everything else.

Because all that bad news caused by humans doesn’t spring from rational and considered thought. There are men and a few women within various institutions which give them power over individuals, and yet where the power does not come from those individuals, but other large institutions. Those in power have a vested interest in maintaining it, usually at the expense of the individuals over who they have influence.

As the system has served they and their cronies, they assume that the underlying assumptions which guide the structure are inherently good and beneficial to all (or at least, all who matter). And depending on how much information they have access to, these beliefs are held with varying degrees of belligerent ignorance and genuine sociopathy and disregard for the people in general.

Humbug.

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The Disappearing Bradley Manning

edit – this has been edited because the ‘after’ photo is a different Bradley Manning. Thanks, commenter. My bad. Still, the info is correct and troubling regarding Manning’s inhumane treatment.

Bradley Manning, if you’ve forgotten, is the US private accused of providing all of those exciting cables to Wikileaks.

What with all the news about Wikileaks and the Assange extradition hearing – including the debate over alleged victims rights to privacy and whether it’s a valid case at all, it seems like everyone’s forgotten about the guy who’s already in custody.


Bradley Manning has not yet been put on trial.

After apparently this is some other guy. Sorry.

According to Amnesty, he’s been in solitary confinement, and his lawyer maintains that the conditions of his detention are unduly harsh. He was charged in the summer of last year, and his pre-trial hearing, according to wikipedia, isn’t due until May 2011.

Yes. Manning will have been held, without trial, for nearly a year. He was due to undergo psychological testing this month to see if he could even stand trial. Because, see, being held in solitary can fuck you up.

Glenn Greenwald covered some of the questionable circumstances surrounding Manning’s imprisonment at Salon.com in December.

But what now?

Rape: A Short Review

Sigh.

How many times do we have to go through this?

Let’s review:

1. There is only one cause of rape: rapists

2. The only way to prevent rape is to address the (would-be) attacker, not the victim.

3. Therefore, all statements suggesting that women should not dress like ‘sluts’ (dammit Toronto, first Rob Ford, now this), get drunk, be a journalist in a war zone, be a soldier, in or out of a war zone, etcetera, because they might get raped is illogical, offensive victim-blaming.

In summary, everyone stop looking for ‘reasons’ and ’causes’ in the victims clothing/behaviour/location/physical attributes/job description, and start looking at the individual who actually did the attacking.

(image via mencanstoprape.org)

The Politics of Sex

Happy Valentine’s Day.

In honour of this happy fertility celebration co-opted by Christians to celebrate a Saint who no one remembers anything about, I would like to relate a conversation I recently had with one of my coworkers about sex.

(Yes, a few glasses of wine after work leads to the most exciting conversations).

How this young whipper-snapper and I got on to the subject of nookie, I cannot quite remember, but I suspect it had largely to do with feminism, which often appears in my conversation.

This individual stated that he thought that, in hetero sexual relations, subjugation of the female to the male was inevitable.

I, naturally, argued that this suggested some rather awkward things about his own morality, as well as his opinion of his ladyfriend’s own agency and ownership of her own sexuality.

The main point being, if you genuinely believe that
a) there is an inevitable power imbalance and
b) it is always to your advantage and
c) we are using this dictionary definition of ‘subjugation’
– then what the hell are you doing having sex at all?

I mean that in all seriousness. To consider oneself a decent human being, how can one be in a relationship with someone believing that all of the sexual encounters create and maintain a kind of master/servant interaction? How can one believe both that one is a good person and that one is regularly lording over the person they ostensibly like/love/care for?

One of the dramatic differences in the way the sexes are treated arises from the cultural views of gendered sexual behaviour. What is important is to recognize the difference between a social construct and reality. Women have sexual feelings, and make choices about their sexual behaviours. The virgin/mother/whore thing is not real, as any stereotype is not real.

If a woman is choosing to sleep with you, it does not mean that you own her or her sexual pleasure, or that she is some kind of sexual incontinent.

The missionary position is not a metaphor for your position in life.


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