Blog Archive

Thursday, December 28

Photos of the day

Sly Civilian's post on institutionalization at one of the "better mental institutes" in America had me reading a lot of bad things into some pictures of kids at the Novinki Asylum in Belarus (where lots of kids are not only deemed insane, apparently, but also have physical handicaps thanks to Chernobyl).

However, this picture really brightened my day and gave me hope that, one good worker by one good worker, holding onto patience and love even when the challenges of working with kids who defy all the rules of human behavior that he/she was raised to think of as "right" and "normal" become stressful, things can turn around and people won't have to write posts like Sly's someday.

I thought this was a picture of a kid being restrained until I read the caption.
I don't even know what to say.

Oh, just because I like it, here's one more picture: a worker in a hospital making sure that every kid gets the wonderful feeling of being hugged.

The kid gets the feeling of large arms and a bit of squishy fat (around the arms, on the breasts, etc.) as part of her hug, but you know what? I'll bet that that nurse feels just as much warm fuzziness with skin on bones against her as she does with healthier skin-on-fat-on-bones against her. It's amazing what you can get used to and start to crave that other people find squicky. Maybe I should look into "cuddling volunteering" around here. I've heard that they ask non-professionals to do that with abandoned babies. Don't know about other populations (like 3-year-olds with MS). Hmmmmmmm.

Pictures found on Cecilia Hansson's blog

Wednesday, December 27

Welcome, new visitors

I think I'm about to have company, and this house is a mess.
No working links at the top, no background image for the title, no real title, no working "read more" links, no font improvements so long posts are easier to read...

I'm SO sorry! But if you can have the patience to deal with this eyesore, I think you'll like what you find.

Maybe someday I'll finish getting this blog to look the way I want it (1-column, like a pretty Wordpress theme, and highly legible).

Welcome, readers!


Ooooooh, betcha didn't think this was an international affairs blog, didja?!

Yeah, I was interested in that stuff long before I twiddled around with gender studies, gender relations, & feminism.

I finally got my act together to put together a smorgasbord of my favorite articles on what we should be doing with respect to Iran. I posted it in response to a thread on a message board called, "The Iranian Threat."

From this article I took away the idea that everybody needs to pick up on what Ali Eteraz has found on a smattering of blogs, including a smattering of (though certainly not enough) left-leaning blogs., one of the best sites ever on the Muslim world wrote:
This week the rightosphere was all agog over one particular news story: Iranian students protesting Ahmedinejad and the Iranian mullahocracy.

Norm wrote on it; so did Dr. Yes; also the Bear of Truthiness; Gateway Pundit did; so did RegimeChange Iran.

Question: what lesson did they draw from this? Aside from the brisk conclusion that there are people in Iran who do not like Ahmedinejad, nothing. Further, upon seeing a totally native outpouring of dissent in Iran, none of them became intrigued enough to revisit the Invade Iran debate. These bloggers could have wondered one simple thing: perhaps invasion is counterproductive in light of the fact that given the right circumstances, Iranians themselves will put appropriate leaders in place (whereas a war started by outsiders would likely destroy any chance of these dissenters succeeeding).

This is not the first time that the rightosphere has stopped its investigation of Iran despite the discovery of dissent in Iran. A few weeks ago bloggers found another Iranian dissent worth clapping for; namely, Ayatollah Boroujerdi -- a traditionalist Shia ayatollah who hates the Iranian regime. Back then Gateway covered him. So did the FreeRepublic. So did Pajamasmedia (with a video no less!).

Again, what lessons did the right derive from the presence of this dissenter (with a very large following clearly)? Did they revisit the Invade Iran debate to ask the simple question: does, or does not, a war against Iran advance the chance of people like Boroujerdi and the student dissenters? (The answer is that a war derails any chance these guys have, but I would have been satisfied with any kind of introspection).

It also became pretty clear to me that it was the Left which was doing the best analysis of dissenters in Iran. The Left. It was the Left which broke the Ayatollah Boroujerdi story (Soros owned), for example.

Not only that, it is again the Left which has broken another huge story about a very important Iranian dissenter, who is being called the Iranian Gandhi, namely: Ramin Jahanbegloo.

Open Democracy (Soros owned), started talking about him and his non-violent approach in May. They followed up on it in September.

Simultaneously Ramin Jahanbegloo got picked up by a quasi-Left (certainly not Right) publication called Logos (its board of advisors includes Drucilla Cornell, an uber-feminist). Logos interviewed him. They followed up on him and argued that he was creating a Velvet Revolution in Iran. Meanwhile, that Soros owned publication set up an Open Letter for Ramin's release which was signed by, which was signed by such Right luminaries and Mr. No One, and Miss Not Available and by such Left luminaries as Noam Chomsky, Juan Cole, Howard Zinn, Shadia Drury, Umberto Ecco and Immanuel Wallerstein.

So, who would you rather listen to when it comes to Iran? I say go with the Left. Please keep in mind that I don't hate the Right. I pick up many great stories from them not available elsewhere and I share their hawkish position towards terrorism. However, ultimately I consider myself Center Left, and it bears demonstrating that the Left is at the forefront of democracy promotion and dissent when it comes to Iran, and they do it without the need to talk about Invasion from morning till night.

Anyhow, please go and follow up on Ramin Jahanbegloo:

Here is one of his offending articles which talks about Auschwitz.

Here is his website with his articles.

Here are some secondary sources on Ramin.

Here is the website of the Ganji you do need to know about: Akbar Ganji, the Iranian dissenter.

(Go to the original article for the hyperlinks originally in the text; I'm in a hurry to get to work and am not going to paste them all back in here.)

Now, one of the better posters on that site, Samaha, does bring up a fair point:

We had been waiting for that revolution for ages, it was supposed to be the first domino to fall for change. So, so, so close and what happened? How did they end up with Almanamanadingbat?

But anyway, my point of posting all this is that the growing opinion among scholars and people who get their news from scholars--especially ones who have studied how international relations & politicking play out--aren't worried about a "threat" from Iran.

They feel like it's not a country most of us here would like to live in, but that they're not going to wipe Israel off the map and that they're not going to attack us, either.

They feel like we should be asking, "How did they end up with Almanamanadingbat [when they don't seem to like him]?" perhaps, as a question that could guide us to sensible policy in the future, but not asking, "How do we interact with the rest of the Iranian government and the part of the Iranian government that will probably come into power in the next 5-10 years?"

This article, also posted on, especially makes me feel like we should be as interested in what kind of Iranian government we could be interacting with if we just lay off the "threat" thing (since the experts, even if not the mass media, are saying that that's perfectly reasonable to do): wrote:
The similarities between Bush and Nejad do not stop. They started off merely looking alike: short beady eyed weasel with combovers and stupid laughs; they both tricked their populations into voting against their own interests by using social values; they both became apocalyptic psychos; their approval ratings sank to equivalent lows simultaneously; and they both, now, have suffered beatings at the midterm elections at the hands of the "progressives" and "reformists."

But on Thursday, Ahmadinejad had no reported comments on the final election results, which showed moderate conservatives opposed to his policies had won a majority of seats. The second biggest bloc of vote-getters were reformists, making a comeback after being driven out of local councils, parliament and the presidency over the past five years -- a result many analysts interpreted as a repudiation of the status quo.

Instead, Ahmadinejad spent the day in western Iran, telling crowds that Iran would never dismantle its nuclear program and referring to President Bush as the "most hated person" in Iran -- the kind of fiery focus on international issues that a number of analysts said was behind his loss at the polls.
Similar anti-Ahmadinejad sentiment appeared in final results of a parallel election for the Assembly of Experts, the body of 86 senior clerics that monitors Iran's supreme Islamic leader and chooses his successor.

"We consider this government's policy to be against Iran's national interests and security," said Saeed Shariati, a leader of the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Iran's largest reformist party. His party seeks democratic changes within the ruling Islamic establishment and supports resumed relations with the United States.

A big boost for moderates was the large number of votes for former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who lost to Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential election runoff. Rafsanjani, who also supports dialogue with the United States, got the most votes of any candidate from Tehran to win re-election to the assembly.

Hey Ahmedinejad, keep focusing on Israel, ok? Just like Bush focused on Iraq. Focus your way straight out of office.

If this parallel is true (whether or not you like Bush and whether or not you like Democrats and whether or not you like progressives), it would behoove us to pay as much attention to what it would be like if we were dealing with the potential takers-over as it did for the Muslim world's media to pay attention to our potential takers-over--that is, to assume that not all administrators of a country want the same things, and that we need to be prepared for all sorts of "Irans" the same way they debated in preparation for all sorts of "USAs"

And, lastly, though on account of having read about how diplomacy works (and doesn't ever get around to the "talking" part that would make it work far too often!) in this book, I thought I'd throw in one US soldier's opinion about a particular question our diplomats should ask to Iran's diplomats:

We want Iran to stop sponsoring militias in Iraq and Lebanon and other terrorists. They want us to stop calling for regime change. If we are willing to do the one, are they willing to do the other? Has anyone ever freakin' asked them?

He goes on:

Now, there is also the question of Iranian nuclear status. Perhaps it is time to make realism the guiding light here. Nuclear bombs can be built by crappy little countries run by goofy-looking degenerates who can't even manage to get a decent haircut. It is unrealistic to expect that we can keep them out of the hands of determined countries. What we can do is make the consequences clear to Iran--that with the power will come a certain level of responsibility to control their nuclear power, and also that the United States will not hesitate to use nuclear weapons if forced to a direct confrontation with another nuclear power.

The United States can posture all we like about the Axis of Evil and war to the death with Iran. It's not realistic, and if we meant it, we'd be working a lot harder for regime change. Hence abandoning a rhetorical stance that serves no one and means nothing in favor of a no kidding offer of substantive negotiations in good faith (an approach not yet tried in dealing with Iran) costs us nothing but has the prospect of huge payoff. Maybe it is time to realize that the Shah fell the year after I was born, and nothing is going to put him back. We can't have a puppet government in Iran, but maybe we can have one we can get along with. After all, the French are just as hostile and George isn't calling for regime change in Paris.

And heck, let's get real honest. If they don't play ball, we can always nuke them into glass.

But the Persians were a civilized people when our ancestors were painting themselves blue and running around naked. Treating them like they are defined by a handful of religious nutjobs doesn't get us anywhere.

We are more likely to cause Iran to evolve in positive directions (secular, democratic, free) by having contact with America and Americans through diplomacy, trade, even tourism than we are by ranting in their direction while they rant at us. We can support economic and human rights reforms more effectively within the framework of normalized relations than we can from the otherside of a self-imposed moat.

(He is not the only person I've seen who says that
  1. the Iranians have the democratic process down better than any other Middle Eastern country, despite what it looks like from over here and
  2. the form of Islam-as-an-important-guiding-principle-for-our-country that this democracy brings to power is not the kind that we need to get our panties in a bunch over; it's actually a bunch of people saying, "What's this shit that you've been saying is Islamic? How about the Islamic principles of free speech in the community, popular participation in decision-making, etc?")

Much like our "liberal Christians" have been trying to voice their opinions about Christianity and feel that "real Christianity" could make our policy a lot better. (Whether you agree with them or not, I hope this is at least a useful illustration of what type of Islamicization the experts are predicting over in Iran through its democratic processes.)

Unfortunately, I lost the main link I had reflecting that opinion. Please forgive me. I'll look it up later!

Tuesday, December 26

This post is long, so I'll summarize what happened at the bus stop last night very briefly. A bunch of strangers were being relatively social for the mix and place, probably because a man with a Stephen Hawking-style voice box was very jolly and keeping the conversation going, and because it was Christmas and everyone felt like they're supposed to step outside their "I don't bother talking to strangers" bounds on Christmas.

Plus, it was bitterly cold, so we had something to talk about.

Eventually, a black man I took as long American came into the bus stop, greeted a black American man, joined in the conversation (whence comes my QotD, "Man, think about me! I'm not used to this! I'm from East Africa!" "I'm from East Chicago.") and after some silence diverted the conversation to his situation by leaning against the door and proclaiming, "I'm drunk."

The newcomer revealed that he was drunk, Somali, was born and raised and therefore felt he was Muslim (therefore not supposed to be drunk), had killed his parents, and wished he were Christian, "like you [all]." I forget his words, but he felt like we'd learned happy things, and that he'd learned to hate and do bad things. I couldn't tell if he felt like most of these messages that it was religious to do things he later felt were wrong came from his time in Somalia or his time here or both equally.

About killing his parents, maybe he was talking shit to sound scary, but maybe he'd gotten on the wrong side of a civil war and now hated the people who taught him whatever led him to that side of the war.

The black man he'd greeted (whom I think perhaps the Somali man didn't already know after all) tried to console him and tell him that God--Allah's--whoever's--light had been shining upon him and would continue to shine upon him here.

The Somali man interrupted him and said, "They say I'm not supposed to talk to you. Are you a Christian? I don't believe them. But they say I'm not supposed to talk to Christians!"

I felt like he had so little knowledge about the variety of Christians that what would be best would be to try to help guide him to the Muslims who felt more like he does.

Help him find the variety that exists in the religion of his raising.

Help him find the love he expects out of morality and the moral teachings he expects out of religion at the same time.

The black man across from me had already tried to do that, but he'd failed. I knew I couldn't speak any better words in a hurry, but I had a whole book that could.

I mean, I'd only seen one page of it, and look at what it says:

"Thus the [____] engages in blatant justification--he justifies his heinous act by convincing himself that this is God's will, when in reality, it is [his] own anger, vengeance, and shame that are driving his actions. Very often the [____] strongly believes that the death of the [________] is satisfactory or even pleasing to God. Assuming that the perpetrator is a devout and religious man, as a necessary prelude to the murder, the perpetrator had in effect projected his own human sentiments onto God, and therefore he was able to assume that what made sense to him, what shamed him and his family, and what vindicated him and his family were identical to what God wants. Rather than thinking of God as merciful, forgiving, and compassionate, he imagines God to be angry, enraged, and vengeful. This imagined view of God was possible only because this supposedly pious and devout man heedlessly projected his own emotions and attributed them onto God.

"Furthermore, if through lack of self-awareness people project themselves onto God and see God through an entirely idiosyncratic and subjective lens, they will in all probability not love God at all. Rather, they have fashioned a god in their own image and then fallen love with that image. In this case, God is exploited in an entirely narcissistic process, and the purported partnership with the Divine becomes the means for egotistical empowerment and arrogance."

Here I stood before a man whose entire close social circle was Muslim, but who thought that people who had Islam right taught that God was angry, enraged, and vengeful and that people who had Christianity right taught that God was merciful, forgiving, and compassionate.

I was carrying a book by a Muslim teaching that God was merciful, forgiving, and compassionate and teaching a clear explanation of exactly why this Somali man's teachers could seem "devout and religious" and yet have convinced themselves of things that he now knew were wrong.

I was carrying a book by the kind of person that this man seemed to want to be--and a Muslim one, at that, just like this man was raised!

What'd I do?


I thought, "My book! I just got this. It'll take me forever to get one again at a decent price, and I want to read it."

When I got home, I called my boyfriend to tell him about my regret that I didn't give him my book.

My boyfriend, though, has been feeling rather selfish himself lately and wants to get back into volunteer and giving work. "Whether it does much good or not, I just need that better-person place it puts me in to get going again." Or something like that.

While on the phone, I also realized that part of my "Mine! My book!" attitude comes from a psychological problem caused by conditioning. It also occurred to me that it can probably only be cured by the conditioning that hands-on experience will bring. After all, an experience is worth a million words when it comes to counteracting negative messages that a person has integrated into her/his worldview.

When I thought with a laugh, "Man, there's no way I could tell Mom that I held back from giving away the book she just gave me," I knew it wasn't just because she'd get her feelings hurt that I almost gave away something "from her." No...I knew she'd be disappointed in my actions because they'd deviate from everything she'd tried to raise me to believe: that my ability to do good in this world comes mostly from the fact that I'm better than most other people, and that this person was definitely one of the people that I'm better than. I deserve nice presents, and I shouldn't be giving them away to people who are "less capable" of doing something in the world with those presents.

And thinking about that, I realized that it wasn't just, "Mine!" or sentimental, "Mom gave me this!" that kept me from giving away my book last night.
It was, "I'm more educated and more curious about the world around me than him. This book is more likely to get read by 1 person in my hands than it is to get read by 1 person in his hands. And its ideas can't be shared unless they're read. So even though I want ideas like that to go to people like him, I'm not going to give him my book, because I don't trust him to make as much of a world improvement with it as I will make."

FOR PETE'S SAKE, what was I thinking? This guy was dealing with psychological issues that are addressed right in the book. I'm not.

How on earth can my education & curiosity hold a candle to direct life applicability?

What a moronic subconscious thought I let ruin my opportunity last night.

I realized how much more use he could have made of it than me--and regretted not giving the book away--when, after he left and another bystander was behind me waiting to get on the bus, said, "Brotha's got problems. Sheeyt. People tellin' him to do stuff, callin' it God..."

That comment made me realize that I'd been right about the book being relevant to him. I mean, if someone else of a rather different background (male, black, potentially a different economic class (guess based on the way he was dressed)) had my exact thought, I must have been onto something.

And I must have made a real stupid decision when I decided not to run with my intuition.

Anyway, as I said, a few hours later I dug into my conditioning and realized part of why I did something so stupid. (That idea that education & curiosity make me one of the "best possible readers" of a book with ideas in it that can improve lives.)

This is a big part of why I "give conditionally," as my boyfriend put it.

My boyfriend said, "We need to set aside some times, some afternoons. And we can't say, 'But I want to save my energy for our workout tonight!' Bullshit."

I think that going along with my boyfriend on ideas he comes up with--which, by luck of the draw, are not all going to appeal to me--will present me with times when I want to say, "But I want..." and he can shoot me a look that says, "Bullshit."

And then I'll do it, despite the conditions that I wanted to use to avoid it.

Then force of habit will get me used to being a more unconditional giver.* And that's exactly what I prayed for God to help me become more quickly on the airplane last night, since I felt like I've been wishing it would happen for a year and a half but failing to make it happen at a decent rate.

I suppose I should thank God for his extremely generous providence last night, Christmas night. He sent me an opportunity a mere hour after I prayed with it. I blew it. And then he sent me the words of a best friend saying, "I feel wise but selfish...will you come be foolishly generous with me?" I missed one opportunity and God sent me a promise of 5-10 more.

* An example of a relatively "unconditional giver" would be that priest or nun that you see (or at least read about in 1800's novels) just give even when they have really legitimate worries that they themselves might not make it through another day if they do.

Friday, December 22

Debating with people who like masculinity, femininity, and all those ramifications of them in the world of violence as it intersects w/ sex

If I had a blogroll and treated it like Myspace, adding everyone I read, I might be on enough reading lists that this would get around the internet.

However, I want my blogroll to be more like a "links" page, with comments & annotations--it'd be like the right-hand bar of, only on a completely different page from my main page--or at least in a CSS/Javascript drop-down menu at the top. And I haven't bothered to do that yet, so I have no blogroll.

Anyway, maybe I'm happy that people won't be forwarding this all over. I'm kind of proud of the way I've been trying to engage people who are at all sorts of positions when it comes to gender--especially people who are interested in arguing the way I do.

So I don't think I want this bashed all over the internet. I think I want it discussed--even if that ends up meaning "bashed"--right here. Or at least on some of the moderate blogs--for example Sage's, Shrub, "I'm Not a Feminist, But...," "Thinking Girl," etc. The ones where people sympathize with the logic behind what a radical feminist would say but also sympathize with the logic behind "the way we handle social questions right now is good--or at least has good elements worth preserving through any changes" approaches.

So, yeah, if you take this elsewhere, please not only backlink but also leave a comment, since Blogger doesn't track backlinks very well! Thanks a lot.

On Muslim Wake Up!'s message boards, a very right-wing person posted this article on what might be the first prosecution under the new Women's Protection Act in Pakistan.

I almost didn't say anything about sympathy for victims, but I think I finally managed to work in in at the end in a way that is palatable even for someone who likes to abstract real humans into "rightdoer" and "wrongdoer" hypotheticals & projections.

That writer wrote:
Man lands in jail for admonishing neighbor
20-Dec-2006, 28/11/1427

23rd Ziqad, 1427 – December 15, 2006
ISLAMABAD (Shabbir Ahmad Salafi - Ghazwah Special Reporter)

In the first ever case registered under the new Women’s Protection Act, a very respectable man was sent to jail on the complaint of a woman of questionable character. Being the first case to be registered under the much publicized Women’s protection Act, Ghazwah took an extraordinary interest in the case. Here is what our special reporter uncovered:

A woman in Islamabad called the police and complained that Nazir Ahmad, a man living in a portion of her house which she had rented out to him, had committed Zina (illegal sexual intercourse) with her. When an investigative police team reached her house, number 984 in Sector I-10/1, at three O’clock in the morning, the accused Nazir Ahmad was sleeping in his portion of the house. When the police woke him up and told him that a complaint has been made against him by his landlady for raping her, he was utterly surprised, appeared totally ignorant of the accusation, and said this was the first time he is hearing about it. He requested the police to call the woman so that the accusation could be verified there and then, but the woman, named Maimoona Anjum, was absent from the house, along with her two sons. The police told the Ghazwah reporter that the complainant had arrived at the police station accompanied by her two sons from an unknown location. Ghazwah was amazed to find out later, that the woman, instead of going directly to the police station, had, curiously, gone to the PIMS hospital to get a medical report as proof of rape. It was also astonishing that the police, after briefly questioning Nazir Ahmad, returned without arresting him.

Moreover, for some strange reason, the FIR (First Information Report) was registered at 6 O’clock in the morning instead of being registered right away. The police party left the station at 7 O’clock in the morning to arrest Nazir Ahmad. Meanwhile, Nazir Ahmad stayed at his house and did not try to flee. A police officer, on condition of anonymity, told the Ghazwah reporter that the police contacted the Ministry of Law for guidance as to which clause of the new Women’s Protection Act was applicable for the arrest of the accused. Upon the advice of the Ministry of Law, the accused was booked under Clauses 375 and 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Theses Clauses has recently been added to Article 374 of the PPC which addresses to crimes of rape.

The accused Nazir Ahmad, who is a Grade 18 officer in the Ministry of Science of Technology, was arrested around 8 O’clock in morning by the police from his home. A police officer told the Ghazwah reporter that Nazir Ahmad’s cheeks were wet with tears when he was brought to the police station. Most of the policemen expressed sympathy towards Nazir Ahmad, but none of them was ready to talk about the case off-the-record. The Ghazwah reporter also contacted the SHO (Station House Officer) of the Sabzi Mandi Police Station, Khurshid Ahmad, Investigating Officer, Sub-Inspector Abd-ur-Rahman, and DSP (Deputy Superintendent of Police) Jameel Hashmi, for comments, but they all refused saying that they did not have permission to discuss the case.

Another interesting aspect of this case was that one of the investigating officers told the Ghazwah reporter that as yet the complainant had not been questioned. The medical tests on the complainant had been conducted by Dr. Sobia Luqman. The Investigating Officer, Sub-Inspector Abd-ur-Rahman told the Gazwah reporter that the medical report confirms that the complainant had had sexual intercourse, but it does not show that it was a forced act. Nazir Ahmad, meanwhile, immediately after his arrest, sent an application to DSP Jameel Hashmi, requesting him that a DNA test be conducted on the accused, as that would conclusively prove whether he is guilty or innocent of the crime. Surprisingly, even though six days have passed since the case was lodged; the tests have still not been conducted on the woman. Moreover, Nazir Ahmad was sent to Adiala Jail without presenting him before a magistrate. When the Ghazwah reporter asked the Investigating Officer, Sub-Inspector Abd-ur-Rahman as at which clause of the PPC allows for an accused to be sent to jail without being presenting him before a magistrate, the Sub-Inspector replied that he was sure his superiors were aware of the relevant clauses.

When the Ghazwah reporter visited Nazir Ahmad in Adiala Jail, he told the reporter that the house he was living in now was previously owned by another man. The complainant had bought this house about a year ago and had moved in with her three sons about a couple of months ago. Her husband works in Saudi Arabia. He said he lives with his family in the upper portion of the house. He said the staircase to the upper portion used to be within the lower portion, but when he observed that the woman lives alone without her husband; he had another staircase constructed outside the house at his own expense. He said the woman was very resentful when he had the staircase constructed. During all this time, he said, men, apparently strangers, would often visit her house. He said he advised her that since her husband is away, it did not seem proper that strange men should visit her all the time, nor would it reflect positively on his own family.

Nazir Ahmad said the woman gave him a notice to vacate the house the very next day after he had given her that advice. He said he had paid the rent up to the 31st of December, but the complainant insisted that he vacate the house immediately. Nazir Ahmad wanted the woman to increase the rent rather than have him vacate it. He said this is what became my crime, and the woman accused him of rape. He said that he had requested that a DNA test be conducted on the complainant to conclusively prove that he had not committed the offence, but even though many days have passed no action has been taken in this regard.

The Ghazwah reporter then visited the neighborhood where the supposed crime had taken place. Everyone in the neighborhood said that Nazir Ahmad is a very pious man. They said he had been living in this neighborhood for the past five years but no one had ever observed anything bad about him. In fact, they said, he used to lower his gaze when he passed by the young women of the neighborhood. When the Ghazwah reporter inquired about the complainant, no a single woman of the neighborhood offered a good word about her. One woman said that the complainant, Maimoona Anjum’s husband has been abroad since the last three years, and he is so fed up with his wife’s antics that he prefers not to be associated with her. One woman, on the condition of anonymity, even said that Maimoona’s husband had called one of her neighbors and told her that he is not responsible for what she does anymore, and that he is sick and tired of her actions behavior and activities.

When the Ghazwah reporter visited the complainant to find out her version of the story, her eldest son adopted a very harsh attitude and said he cannot talk to anyone, nor is he ‘allowed’ to talk to anyone regarding this case. He did not mention who had prohibited him to talk, but it was apparent from the rest of the conversation that the police had prohibited them to talk to the press. In her FIR, the woman said she was alone in the house when the incident happened, but she goes on to say that she went to the hospital with her son to have the medical tests conducted. One wonders where her son was before he came home, and also, where were her other two sons when the incident supposedly took place. Interestingly, the medical examiner who conducted the tests has also been prohibited by the police to talk to the press.

Discussing the case with our reporter, Habib Wahab-ul-Khairi, a famous lawyer, and a senior advocate, said, if the woman complainant has really been raped then the offender should definitely be punished, but the biased attitude of the police and senior officials in favor of the complainant is shameful. He said it seems the authorities want to make this case an example for the promotion of the Women’s Protection Act, even if in the process an innocent man gets punished for a crime he never committed.

In response, I wrote:

previous commenter wrote:
...the medical report confirms that the complainant had had sexual intercourse, but it does not show that it was a forced act. Nazir Ahmad, meanwhile, immediately after his arrest, sent an application to DSP Jameel Hashmi, requesting him that a DNA test be conducted on the accused, as that would conclusively prove whether he is guilty or innocent of the crime. Surprisingly, even though six days have passed since the case was lodged; the tests have still not been conducted on the woman.
He said that he had requested that a DNA test be conducted on the complainant to conclusively prove that he had not committed the offence, but even though many days have passed no action has been taken in this regard.

First conducting the test that was conducted, and second conducting the test that Ahmad has asked to be conducted, makes perfect logical sense to me.

The parts that sadden me most, though, are 1) that this kind of testing is invasive to the complainant and I wish that people had had the foresight to take swabs for both tests at once, and 2) if jails are inhumane there (I have no idea whether or not they are), then indeed waiting for the test results in an inhumane place is NOT "due process."

However, just the very basic idea of being detained where you can't get away until the test results about if it's your sperm come back does seem like due process. It'd only be the conditions of the detention that might make me change my mind about fairness & that "due" part.

So yeah, I feel upon reading this that there's a lot of potential for great due process, but that issues of poor treatment along the way (for example, having repeated tests when geez louise, someone could've thought of the next logical test and made sure a swab was taken, and for example, the condition of a detention center) might completely undermine that potential and turn the reality into something quite undue and unfair. If I were in charge, man, I'd start on the bases that I agreed with above but do everything I could to make sure that people are treated very well given those bases.

previous commenter wrote:
a famous lawyer, and a senior advocate, seems the authorities want to make this case an example for the promotion of the Women’s Protection Act, even if in the process an innocent man gets punished for a crime he never committed.

For all the "show people the other extreme and they'll get what we're talking about when we complain" ideas I do support (for example, publishing advertisements that break men into body parts and subject them to bodily objectification and the message, "Your body is the only ultimate criterion about whether you're worth of praise or not" so that they will see how nasty it is and start fighting against such advertisements for everybody, man or woman), I do not support that approach as done through legal systems. The ultimate authority of legal systems to use force makes this too extreme an arena to play around with "making examples."

Absolutely no.

I do hope that that's not what's going on here. I do hope that this is a genuine attempt at due process and creating a balance where there can be victim-compassion-giving and yet "accused-compassion-giving" at the same time--in other words, due process for ALL.

If it's not...SHAME ON THEM.

I just feel like if one person says, "Ooooooh, bogeywoman is suspicious because she got a test before she went to the police," the best answer is, "No, actually, that doesn't seem suspicious to me--seems reasonable." And so on. Isn't that the answer that, if heard enough, is most likely and fastest to change someone's mind?

Thursday, December 21

Is this what watching the news & reading newspapers alone causes?

My mother's boyfriend feels like a way to improve the situation in Iraq would be to just crush the Sunnis.

Is this really what the coverage of Sunnis and Shiites in the media I don't pay much attention to does to a person's theories? Do people really get so certain about solutions?

Oh, dear oh dear.

Well, anyway, I sent him some Marc Lynch articles on the Baker-Hamilton report. At the very least, they mention Sunnis & Shias a LITTLE bit in a much more ambiguous, can't-come-up-with-blanket-solutions-that-will-actually-work light. With any luck, he'll get addicted to Marc Lynch and stumble onto articles that do so even more strongly and his receptiveness to ideas as blanket and easy-solution as his when they're suggested by theorists & afterwords politicians.

Monday, December 18

Quote of the day

From a Saudi Arabian blogger's journal:

"It is shocking that these people [on a television show] are this concerned about the rise in the number of lesbians in the Arab/Muslim world.

"Somalia, a Muslim country, is the most poverty stricken nation in the world...

"here we are still talking about how being gay is the 'worst thing you can do to your family!'

"How about wasting thousands on a television show, or a whole television station, that isn't doing anyone any good, when that money can save hundreds of families in Zimbabwe?

"I know my family would be pretty fucking ashamed of that."

Friday, December 15

Ruqaya al-Ghasara

For anyone who liked the part of the book Female Chauvinist Pigs where Ariel Levy complained that it was sad that our culture values women's athletic feats so little that female Olympians feel pressure to get naked (or so close that every contour of their private parts are showing under what little clothing they're wearing) to get public admiration whereas male Olympians don't seem to feel the pressure to show their penises to get public admiration...

...check out video footage of Ruqaya al-Ghasara winning gold in the 200-meter dash in the Asian Games this year.

I love how the uninterrupted fabric makes her look all the faster.

(Actually, I saw the same phenomenon for several years when female lindy hopping swing dancers wore baggy pants because the lines made their dancing look more refined, even if it didn't make them look "prettier." They gave up general-public admiration for a few hours several nights every week and staked their egos on admiration of their coordination. Nevertheless, I'm rambling. This is an Olympic-bound runner, not a semiprofessional or amateur dancer.)

Maybe if other people come to love what I see in that swish of the red legs--maybe if other people are forced to get used to admiring her athletic prowess alone because she's good enough to get on TV yet will never take those clothes off in the public view--within 10 years they'll start admiring Western female athletes in their ordinary sports clothes and write letters to the editors craving for pictures of them posing in muscle-featuring and only muscle-featuring poses in ESPN Magazine as often as--or more than--they currently write letters to the editors craving for "sexy" pictures of female athletes. Or they'll cry for "serious" athlete pictures of post-hard-work shots, desperate to see more like this photo--and by the way, I want to send COOKIES to whatever editors of various news services decided to disseminate this one instead of one of the "prettier" or "more exotic" (praying facing Mecca) photos of her race that's widely available.

By the way, can anyone find better footage of the entire race for me? Thanks!

Christmas music/nostalgia

Last night I almost turned on some Christmas music I keep on my computer and play this time of year. It's my favorite versions of songs, rather than the hodgepodge of mostly stuff I don't like when I go out in public or listen to other peoples' Christmas music.

I thought, "You know, I'm glad I haven't been out & about in the retail world lately. I think it's a better way to live--keeping my Christmas music-listening private, not taking it in from public sources and experiencing that sense of "of course this stuff is playing" that so many other people I know don't get to experience for their holidays. They live without that public solidarity, and I can, too.

But then I realized something: I wouldn't HAVE my kick-ass Christmas music collection if I hadn't been exposed to a whole lot of Christmas music over the course of my life. If I'd only heard music played in private & religious gatherings and only bought music from places & websites dedicated to fulfilling Christian needs, I wouldn't have been exposed to perhaps some of my favorite pop takes on Christmas music. (Mostly the songs that were pop to begin with, such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.) I might not have known that when it comes to hymns and older songs, I like the sound of simple 4-part harmony that sounds like caroling better than any fancy renditions. After all, I've never been caroled to by Christian neighbors or caroled to other Christian neighbors. Okay, I might still know what caroling is from Christmas children's books kept & read in my house at that time of year, but you know why I've heard it?

Because it's a bit part of TV specials! Public-access TV.

Otherwise I wouldn't know what it sounded like and wouldn't have known I wanted to hunt down a 4-part harmony version of "Deck the Halls."

But there is good news. Maybe I could have all this even if the public world didn't expose me to parts of my holiday that my fellow holiday-celebrators have never personally shared with me.

Maybe, if we all had to keep it inside and at each others' houses because there were less public affirmation, we would be at each others' houses more. We might crave more Christmas. And then I'd hear more music played at friends' homes, and in the end, I'd have been exposed to just as much of my holiday's music as I have by visiting people less and hearing it in public more.


Kansas political appointments

What the ****?

There's this guy over in Kansas whose methods and policy opinions I can't stand, but he keeps running for various offices. And, unfortunately, he keeps getting many of them. Even after he loses an election, he'll keep running until he gets something.

So this time, he lost his incumbent seat as the state's Attorney General, defeated by the most populous county's District Attorney.

That county's District Attorney ran on the statement, "Phil Kline is bad at his job. The job's mandate says he's supposed to make sure X & Y & Z aren't happening in Kansas and prosecute people who do it. He has completely ignored lots of complaints from people just forking over information about people doing Y, and there's been plenty of hints at X & Z going on, and he hasn't done a thing about them, because all he really cares about is prosecuting this non-mandated-by-his-job issue of A & B going on in the state. That's being bad at his job. Vote for me. I have had a similar job of making sure that, among other things, X & Y & Z weren't going on in my county, and I prosecuted people committing them and actually reduced incidences. I'm good at the job."

So good-at-his-job guy Paul Morrison got the office.

And then what did that county's commissioners do? They appointed the person who was voted out of office for incompetency (seriously, there's no way that the challenger could've won based on ideas about policy...enough Kansans are happy with Kline's political ideas to vote him in if he hasn't been proven incompetent at a job) to replace the kickassedly effective county DA who's now becoming state AG. So they're doing a swip-swap of people in the two places...but...WHY, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD?

Do they NOT realize that this guy wasn't just thrown out of office for political ideas? That that couldn't have happened in Kansas? That they just hired someone that the state became convinced was doing a bad job despite being fine with his political ideas?


Monday, December 11

Blogging Parents, Tell Your Children

I received this e-mail from the police-run neighborhood mailing list:

[DATE] ([CITY]) On [DATE], at approximately 5:00 PM, two young school children were getting off a school bus at [-----] when they noted an unidentified black male watching them from behind a tree. Two days later, the same male approached the children telling the one he was going to rape her and her friend as well. The child then informed her parent, who reported the matter at the 4th Precinct Station yesterday. The suspect is a black male, 5" 7" medium build, and was wearing a brown knit cap, and a blue jacket.

Please call 911 to report any suspicious activity. Be alert to adults showing inappropriate attention to children or loitering near school bus stops. Should anyone have information that might be relevant to this matter/suspect, please call the sex crimes unit at [-----].
  • Never get in a vehicle with a stranger.
  • Never get close to a car if a stranger asks for help or directions. It is easy for abductors to pull a child into a vehicle.
  • If anyone invites them into their vehicle, they should run away and immediately tell a trusted adult.
  • If they feel that they are being followed they should run home, to the nearest McGruff House, public place, or trusted neighbor.
  • That they have a right not to let anyone touch them in a way that they don't like. They should say "No" and tell a trusted adult.
  • Avoid walking or playing alone, and to play in well lighted areas.

I did not like this e-mail, and here's the letter I wrote in response. Parents and young readers, I hope I can pass on to you a sense of "can-do" that every one of God's creatures needs to stay alive.

Dear Mr. [-----]:
I appreciate your frequent and detailed reports about our neighborhood. They are far more detailed than the neighborhood list I was subscribed to before I moved, so I cannot thank you enough for doing your job extremely well.

May I suggest a followup to this e-mail...or at least an addendum to whatever followup you are going to send eventually?

Your advice at the end of the letter is solid and effective, but it reinforces the sense of power that evil-intending adults have over children and reinforces the sense of powerlessness that children have when adults try to achieve a "fightless win" over them.

I believe that this way of framing the adult-child confrontation scenario is extraordinarily dangerous to our neighborhood's children. If predators feel such a sense of power, they are more likely to try to attack children. If children feel such a sense of powerlessness, they are more likely to fall for the tactics used by predatory adults.

Your third and fourth points both focus on running. I know from experience that children can turn on a dime and thus usually outrun me, but then again, I'm one of the slowest sprinters I know.
Writing with such a prominent focus on "running" as a violence avoidance technique implies that a child's only option is to compete on an unlevel playing field! 1) The average adult is still faster than the average child. 2) Fighting is another option for children, and running as a kneejerk reaction, instead of assessing the situation and deciding to fight right away, or consciously deciding to run first, can wear the child out too much to fight effectively. I would like to see as many bullet points, if not more, about fighting than about running. Children NEED TO KNOW how strong they are. Why do we teach members of our society how dangers young animals are, yet teach our own young by implication through "advice" that they are not dangerous when protecting themselves? They're animals, too!

This ties into my problem with your fifth point: it's too feel-good, liberal, social worker, or what have you to really speak to a lot of people. Illustrating this point with the natural reaction of a young animal communicates both to adults on this mailing list and to their children how natural "rights" really are. The way it is worded in this letter might turn off parents who are afraid that such lessons would only teach their children to disobey THEM or "act up." Even the strictest, most traditional of parents, though, should have a thoroughly intuitive grasp of the situation when presented with the analogy of an animal. Such an analogy would help them understand how this reaction to violence or the threat of violence is different from disobedience and rebellion at home. Vague talk of "rights" does not communicate this subtlety as well, in my opinion.

Point six seems a bit fearmongering, considering it has absolutely nothing to do with the situation (the children were neither playing nor alone). Was it an accidental insertion pulled from a template? It reinforces the idea that children are powerless and that hiding & running are the only tools children have in their toolbox to avoid becoming victims of violence.

More on fighting:

Children need to know, and parents need to know to teach their children, that:
  1. Predators are looking for a "fightless win," not a "win after a fight."
    • Fighting thus often makes them run away very soon after the first assertive shout or the first few blows.

    • Since they are not psychologically prepared for a fight, smaller and weaker humans can throw them off guard. Children can KNOCK OUT an assailant if they fight and continue to fight until the fight has been won.

  2. Knocking out an assailant is not heartless, vigilantism, or morally wrong. (Though knowingly continuing to attack him/her after he/she is unconscious might be.) Knocking out an assailant who your instincts told you wanted to do something bad to you is simply a natural and morally acceptable way to buy enough time to run or walk to a safe and protective place.

  3. By the time a child is big enough to be going off to school, a child is big enough that an assailant cannot pin down all four of his/her limbs AND manage to rape him/her. Children MUST understand that the moment an assailant uses his/her hands to unzip a fly, pin arms to the ground, grab a leg that was kicking him/her, etc. that assailant has now left one or more of the child's limbs free to attack the assailant.

  4. Children MUST understand that they do not have to be free enough to completely break away from and knock out an assailant to throw a punch, elbow, knee, or kick. The first strike as mentioned in point 3 (when the assailant moves to try to do something else to the child) will free up MORE parts of the child's body. The child needs to know that at this point, even if that blow was weak, they STILL have the advantage, because it takes any human being a few seconds to recover from a blow. They can strike a second time and gain more time / free up more limbs...and a third time, and a fourth time. They can even keep pursuing their attacker to knockout (or the attacker fleeing!), raining blows without letting the predator catch his/her bearings enough to strike back or re-pin the child.

  5. Children MUST know not to give up when they get thrown to the ground. They must know that most predators have no training in groundfighting--perhaps no training in fighting at all. Again, they were attacking with the intention of intimidating the child so much that they could have a "win without a fight," not attacking with the intention of fighting the child. Even on the ground, points #3 & #4 hold.

  6. It would be helpful for parents to know that there are two kinds of yelling: yelling for help from bystanders and yelling AS a way of fighting an attacker (in other words, as a way of intimidating the attacker). I feel like advice about shouting always focuses on the first category. Children are intelligent and learn the implication of the fact that all the advice focuses on this: it means that there is no such thing as an adult who would avoid them simply because they don't want a fight. It means that all adults who might attack them only need to be afraid of bystanders, not afraid of the child himself/herself. Yelling, "No!" or "Stay back!" or "I don't know you!" does not have to sound fearFUL. It can sound fearSOME. I'll demonstrate for you if you'd like! :-)
    Advice about yelling should communicate this, whether by implication or explicitly.

  7. (Everything I just said is best in balance with the type of advice you gave. After all, what I am hilighting is not the only effective path to self-preservation. It is simply the most under-discussed (yet highly effective) method. Heaven forbid it sound like a child is doing anything "wrong" by choosing other strategies in the moment, such as running, compliance, compliance + later tattling, etc.)
Thank you so much, Mr. [-------]! If you would like to further discuss these opinions because you are not sure about them, I would love to share my self-defense experiences and study. I would love for some of these "children must know" points to be in a 1- or 2-page PDF attachment to a bulletin. The PDF you sent out a few months ago about what to do if a car follows you (when you're a pedestrian) helped me just a month later, so I'm partial to the format. As you can see, I'm a little wordy, but I could pare these points down if no one in your office has the time.

Feel free to call me or write me back.
Have a safe and wonderful day,

Monday, December 4

Friday anti-gender-role creative efforts

Blogger Kim seems to be among the 3rd type of blogger listed in my last post. Her comments sections seem to be mostly readers from types 3 & 2, but she reads a lot of type 1 blogs, apparently hoping that their similar positions that social messages influence individual behavior will produce good activism if she keeps reading and talking to them.

Near the bottom of one of her posts, I came up with an idea that I'd like to repost here, since belledame222 gave me a thumbs-up.

Commenter Laura wrote:

"[With respect to blogger] Twisty et al['s post and comments] - right on. The object of putting that photo up was CLEARLY to provoke mocking of the ["]stupid patriarchy serving sexbot["]. Like you, I have absolutely had it with the slagging off of women who wear thongs, makeup, heels etc etc - it achieves nothing and is antiwomen, therefore antifeminist as far as I'm concerned.

I would understand more if they were patronizing - ie she doesn't recognize she's been brainwashed and manipulated by patriarchal propaganda and society, she'll get there (wherever 'there' is) in the end with our help - because this would actually be blaming the patriarchy - but the examples you cite are just plain nasty, not to mention snooty and condescending.

(I'm not condoning this view, just think it would make a vague amount of sense in the Twisty feminism context).

I replied [edited a bit for clarity]:

Option 3--doing what you all perceive is going on in the comments at Twisty's--is inexcuseable.

Option 2--doing what Laura described above--is not, ideally, the BEST action, because it's still patronizing.

However, if done in moderation (that is, no farther than the point at which an individual starts to suffer emotionally from being patronized--lots of people can take it once or twice), the it might change enough behavior that the REALITY of what "women" in society look like is significantly altered.

If that happens people will have to get used to something new that they see with their own eyes, and social conditioning will in turn change for the healthier, because it will be modeled on a healthier reality.

The other reason it's excusable to some degree is that easier to convince people to abandon a marker of belonging to a group (such as a high heel) on account of its unhealthy aspects (leg damage) than it is to convince people to adopt a traditional marker of belonging to a group that isn't theirs (such as a high heel...on a man!) on account of its healthy aspects (social benefits that come with being taller and with having more "visually appealingly shaped" body parts--that is, calves).

I personally am trying to stay away from option 2 because others are doing enough, and my contribution might be the straw that breaks someone's emotional back.

Option 1--and this is the difficult one, but the only one that I feel morally justified in doing anymore--is taking all the "pro" arguments for somewhat-beneficial-and-somewhat-harmful markers of social category (gender, here) and convincing people who AREN'T members of that social category to say, "Fuck what people think of me!" and adopt those markers with confidence.

It's already catching on to some degree. Urban men one-shoulder bags now. And guess what? It's had the desired effect of making it more socially acceptable for WOMEN to carry 'mannish' one-shoulder bags, too, because now there IS such a thing!

The "ugly" one-shoulder bag (that is, a messenger bag) rode the power that men currently have in society and went from a bad thing to a good ("stylish") thing. All because some courageous men said, "You know, there's a significant advantage sometimes to having medium-weight burdens out of the hand but more easily accessible than over both shoulders. I don't care if people call this a 'purse.' I'm carrying it."

Unfortunately, that's the ONLY success story I can think of.

But I think our efforts should be channeled into Option 1 among our friends and, perhaps, even in our blogs.

What if every Friday, one among all the "But I LIKE lipstick!" feminists in the blogosphere rounded up all the arguments she's had to come up with to defend WHY she likes lipstick? What if she channeled it into a dead-serious ad for why men would like it too, if they'd give it a try.

Other feminists would then cross-post and quote her post.

Seriously, what do you think about making this a shared blogosphere project?

Lipstick one week, humanities majors the next, shopping the next (tell Walmart-mom-raised men the really awesome learning experiences they missed out on while they were at the lake!), etc.

We probably won't sell any male readers, but if we collaboratively work at this every week for a year or two, we'll get good at it.

Then we'll have 52-104 well-developed and sensible arguments that male and female readers can take to real-life discussions in their locker rooms and homes.

The project would be a bit like Phemisaurus or some of the posts at the Sparkle*Matrix, but crafted to persuade people who don't already see things the way we do, rather than people who do.
(Admittedly, that S*M link is exactly such a post, though it's still a little "why not to do" rather than "why do.")
It would be a lot like the Lads' Mags blog in that it clearly imagines what things would be like if not constrained by gender roles--but with clearer explanation to outsiders.

Reply here with your ideas for topics, your support, or links to other blog pages with topic ideas and support.

If you want to paraphrase my idea and write it in your own words in your blog, you have my permission. I would much rather see this become a reality than get credit for it, so if your blog has a lot of traffic and you want to rewrite the idea from scratch, be my guest.
(Just let me know so I can follow the discussion.)

Oh so many types of feminist bloggers!

1. There's a network of feminist bloggers who've gone through Hell and, on looking back, decided that not only was some of their misery caused by people who treated them badly simply because they were women, but that the ways those mistreaters got their ideas of what a woman was "for" came primarily from:

They tend to write a lot of proclamations and theories about these things, and they very frequently critique news articles, blog posts, and daily experiences from this angle.

2. There's a network of feminist bloggers who disagree that these phenomena actually influence the way parents raise kids, the differences in what people get scolded for by friends and family, etc. They disagree that these phenomena give woman-mistreaters their ideas about how it's "natural" for men and women to interact.

3. Lately I've discovered that there's also a network of feminist bloggers who tend to have a few of both kinds among their outbound links. Unlike the second group, they dig the idea that our society has a lot of harmful messages that do turn people who might have been randomly mean to others into people who are mean to a particular category of other people (such as women). They're all for getting rid of those messages, but they feel like the first type of feminist I listed up above spends far too much time pointing out what negative messages float around in society and not enough time trying to give people positive alternatives that sound appealing.
  • For example, instead of trying to convince women to stop looking like the weaker sex they're told they are naturally (thin, relatively unmuscular, slow (both because of high heels and inferior muscular development), smooth-skinned, etc.) why not convince women to start looking like the pretty-insignificantly-weaker sex they really are naturally? (chunky, muscular enough to hunt, fight, etc. effectively, on average almost as fast as the other sex, wrinkled, etc.)
  • Instead of spending so much time telling women to "embrace" wrinkles & pores just because they're "not socially acceptable" and that makes you different, why not spend a lot of time telling women what useful things wrinkles and pores are a byproduct of (time outside getting things done, hard labor getting things done with muscles that can actually do hard labor, etc.)? Why not tell women that aged-looking skin like a man's isn't a price you pay for being a radical dissident--it's a price you pay for being physically strong enough to get your air conditioner up & down a narrow set of steps without anyone else's help, just like your brother can when he needs to?
    (I've noticed that really strong women, in person, tend to have skin that looks a little "older"--I assume because with their strength, they spent more time outside hauling rocks into their gardens, patching their roofs, and doing other useful tasks they found easy or manageable. I do not yet know if there's really a correlation, but it's my experience that there is, and if one really exists, we can turn "wrinkles and pores" into a good thing, not just a "not bad" thing!)
  • Likewise, I think they're into giving men suggestions about what to do in various everyday situations, and that they perceive my first type of feminist as being into giving men suggestions about what not to do in everyday situations.
    Unfortunately, they don't get around to blogging much about this--which I hope to fix.
They dedicate a lot of blog posts to trying to tell the first group of feminists this message of positive suggestions, not negative ones--probably because they feel like they're so ideologically close, yet just not quite methodologically close enough to get anything done together!

Another problem they seem to have with that first group of feminists is that they disproportionately talk about how to get more people to reject the status quo with respect to the bulleted list of social messages I listed above. These middle-of-the-road feminists want to talk more about other social messages worth rejecting (and worth coming up with alternatives to).

Thursday, November 30

Activism to help stem vigilante murders

This form letter is touching...and one I'm going to send. All the campus activists at my college seemed to think that lots of form letters was better than nothing when writing to Congresspeople, so I assume the same psychological theories apply to scholars in Iran. (I can't alter the letter because I don't know enough about Islam's rules to do so!) Maybe he'll ignore that my name is female and Western and just assume I'm some sort of convert. It's one more letter, and letters add up, so I'm gonna give it a shot.

Ali Eteraz wrote:

This is a call for action.
We are going to write a nice and impassioned response to the Ayatollah who has called for the death of an Azerbaijani writer (his crime was to have included some of the Danish cartoon pics in an article he wrote).

Some of you (Muslims) may have a problem defending someone who published the cartoons. You have to understand, however, that we are not fighting here for the cartoons. They are irrelevant. We are fighting because the writer has been declared an apostate and the Ayatollah's fatwa is encouraging people, average people, to kill him. This is vigilante justice (which is haram under Islamic Law).

Then he says, "But before you act, you must learn what is happening," and gives some background. Click the link to see all that.

Here's the form letter he suggests writing (in Ali's words, "shoot the Grand Ayatollah an email (I list his addres below). He encourages feedback.")

As Salam O Alaykum, Grand Ayatollah (May God Lengthen Your Life):

I hope this letter reaches you in the best of health and faith.

I recently heard that you have declared the Azeri writer Rafik Tagi an apostate and have called for his death.

I implore you to please consider revising your opinion on this matter.

You may recall that you recently wrote to the Pope and said to him: "We can easily prove for him that Islam is the religion of peace and mercy." Therefore, I ask you to prove that Islam is a religion of peace and mercy, by repealing your death fatwa against this writer.

You are of course aware of the famous du'a (supplication) "dua ya man azhar al jameel" which contains the lines:

"God will forgive his sins even if they are as much as the sea foam."

"God will forgive him such sins as theft, drinking wine, and other sins."

Certainly if God can exhibit such forgiveness, we should aspire to behave in an equally forgiving manner. It is what God wants from us.

Furthermore, you are aware that there is no death penalty for apostasy in the Holy Quran. In fact, there is no evidence here that this man has even left Islam. He never renounced his faith. As such, he cannot be an apostate. Imam Ali did not kill any men for an insult.

Further, your fatwa, which asks that the writer be put to death, encourages people to take the law into their own hands. You are aware that vigilante justice is a form of fasad fil ard (disorder in the land) and strictly prohibited by the Quran. In fact, the Quran recommends a very severe punishment for those that engage in fasad fil ard.

The best thing to do as a scholar, is to point out how this man went wrong, not to punish him. A scholar's role is to help people get closer to God. You, as a great scholar, as an 'alim, as an ayatollah, should not condemn, but guide. During the Ghaiba of Imam az Zama, the responsibility of the 'Alim is to guide the believer, not have them be killed.

You are a great leader and spiritual advisor with devotees the world over. I implore you not to advance the causes of injustice. This writer has already been punished by his nation. It is unnecessary and unIslamic for you to encourage people to kill him. Not only is this man not an apostate because he has never renounced his faith, but it is unjust to kill a man who has already served his sentence. I ask that you not follow the desires of your followers in Azerbaijan and revoke your death fatwa against the writer and his publisher.

I leave you with a verse from the Holy Quran:

O You who believe! Be upholders of justice, bearing witness for God alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether they are rich or poor, God is well able to look after them. Do not follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or turn away, God is aware of what you do. (Quran 4:135).

"Send emails here:

"Or you can paste them into the question box." -Ali Eteraz

Monday, November 6

Pussy Power

The Black Panthers defined "pussy power" all wrong.

Getting what I want by offering or refusing sex? That often has a lot to do with the pussy--I'll grant you that. But it ain't power. The only thing that's power when push comes to shove is the means to physically back up what one wants.*

Words aren't powerful--they're representative of power [physical capabilities]. Offers & refusals, in the way the Black Panthers were thinking of them, are words. Their definition of this "power" makes no mention of physical backup to my words--so they're defining it wrong. What they refer to ain't power.

So what would "pussy power" be if, for love of alliterations, we wanted to keep the word in use?

"Pussy" is a body part, so I imagine the phrase would be like "elbow power" or "hamstring power." Of course, we waste the phrase once again if a pussy is not actually powerful in the true sense of "power," so let's make sure the pussy actually is powerful:

Is it physically capable of making what I need happen? Is it physically capable of defending me from anything I don't want to happen?


I can hit or lift things with my pelvis without causing pain to any external genitalia. Indeed, the hidden-away pussy makes an advantageous, powerful battering ram or hydraulic lift.

So that's "pussy power," defined in a way that actually makes sense. It
     1) refers to the part of my body called a "pussy" and
     2) refers to power (in an accurate way)

But wait! Where did the sex go? Katie, you used the word "pussy" but your definition has nothing to do with sex!

So it doesn't.

My pussy is just another part of my anatomy, as good for multiple functions as my hand. When I caress a perineum, my hand is "about" sex. It's doing "sex." When I punch a jaw, my hand is "about" something not-sex. It's doing something not-sex.

So it stands for the pussy. That body part is not always about sex, any more than the hand is! (What reasonable person would claim that his or her hand always had something to do with sex? How silly.)
My pussy is something I use for sex when I'm doing sex and something I use for power when I'm "doing power."**

*Please don't take this as an "ablelist" definition of power. You'd be amazed how able the "disabled" or "physically disadvantaged" really are. (Ever seen a person attacked and chased away or mauled by a runt or wounded animal? We, too, are just animals when it comes down to it. We "less capable" social groups are a lot stronger than other people encourage us to think we are.) The class I just got back from teaches people of all statures, ages, & body conditions to fight effectively enough to leave safely from a threat or an attack by an unarmed single assailant.
** That is, backing up my needs by using my body.

Thursday, October 26

Holy gamoley, why didn't I think of that?

I just read a post by someone complaining that she couldn't find shoes like she needed because all the ones in a huge sale at a department store were the frilly, heeled, sparkled, etc. ones.

The other day, I posted about how much I hate it that men can get away with a lot comfier shoes as "professional" and "respectful of the situation" than women can.

I thought about trying to find shoes more like men's professional shoes (baby steps; I'd still go for somewhat slenderer, more "delicate" versions at this point in my life) and didn't know how to even find them.

WHY did it not occur to me to just shop for men's shoes? I mean, I'm the one who wrote, "Yeah, as if our feet were made so much differently" on a message board when I complained about the huge differences in shoe style between the sexes. Individual men vary more among themselves, and individual women vary more among themselves, than women-feet and men-feet as a group vary from each other. I was aware of this.

Yet I didn't think to look for my "crossover," "transitional" work shoes in the men's department. I only thought of looking for them in the women's department. As smart as I like to think I am, boy am I dumb, too.


Big -ism, little -ism

I wanted to forward you a letter I wrote to Toyota complimenting them on an awesome ad they aired Monday night during prime time television. (In it, a woman carried her sleeping husband from the car to the house and was not portrayed at as all unappealing for taking an action traditionally considered "for men.") I BCCed it to two of my favorite writers, and they each wrote me back with compliments on my letter within 10 minutes. I have to say, I was pleased as punch.

Then again, yesterday I learned from the television that not only are there people in Tennessee who would vote against a black man because he and a white woman hit on each other, but that there are enough of them that cold-hearted campaigners sympathetic to this politician's opponent thought it'd be a good idea to make an ad "outing" the black politician as having...*gasp*...flirted with a white woman.

*sigh* I don't know. I only have 24 hours in a day. What changes that I'd like to see in the world should I give my energy to? Should the fact that lots and lots of people noticed intolerable -ism in one ad (the "Don't vote for him because he gets it on with whites!" ad) but haven't noticed intolerable -ism in other ads (any ad that depicts "appealing" women as women who maintain a certain level of weakness) clue me in that I'm barking up a less important tree?

Or are they each equally important changes to try to see in the world? Should I just try to divide my persuasive efforts as best I can among all the things that strike me as "wrong" with the status quo? Should I just try to divide my supportive efforts as best I can among all the things that strike me as attempts from those with the power to set the status quo to make better ideas become the new mainstream?

And even if they are equally "important" changes to make happen within equal deadlines, what should I do? Put lots of work into supporting one argument in high-profile cases like the Tennessee controversy, because the dialogue's already going, and I can try to create a "majority" of voices and influence the way people act in the future when considering doing such things?

Or should I put lots of work into mainstreaming dialogues that aren't even going (in the mainstream media)? Should I say, "Eh, people are already taking care of the Tennessee ad" and write a barrage of letters to the New York Times siding with the author of their first "Halloween costume" editorial and with Bob Herbert on the idea that singling out girls for shootings is a "hate crime" that should petrify any parent who happens to find themselves responsible for the well-being of someone born into the category called "girls" (and make them want, more than anything else they want in this world, to change the probability of someone in their culture wanting to commit such a hate crime)?

Monday, October 23

Another category of committing violence: is this one a hate crime?

Belledame222 wrote about the murder of a black gay man who wandered into a dangerous neighborhood. She quoted two conflicting opinions as to whether it was a hate crime:

A teenager who knew the assailants told The New York Times that the attack wasn’t a hate crime against blacks or gays: "They were looking to rob him. They didn’t think he would fight back if he was gay."

Man, that's almost getting into the territory I decided not to cover (at least, I think I didn't go there) the other day when I thought about asking if choosing a woman for violence because she belonged to a social category that seems statistically less likely to resist made acts of violence against a particular social category "hate crimes." This kid thought not. On the other hand, there are people who think so:

But prosecutors in this hate crime case don’t have to prove that the assailants don’t like African Americans or gays, Hynes explained. Prosecutors just have to prove that Sandy was targeted because he was gay or African American. "If you select a member of a class because you think they’re particularly vulnerable—that’s the hate crime."

I don't know! I just...don't...know. Maybe it's a matter of degree--like Dr. B.H. Tatum demonstrated with powerful logic, if you're not fighting against unfair ways that members of "________" social category (not yours), and you're just neutrally taking the benefits you have as a member of your social category, you're still being "_______ist." That's just the way it works. Anything but living in a way that fights the continuation of those unfair advantages is living in an immoral way.

But then again, it might not be immoral & bad enough that it should get you in trouble with the law. I mean, most people would agree that it's okay that there's space for bad actions between saintliness and punishment-on-earth, right? And "get you in trouble with the law" is the reason we have a word like "hate crime," right? Because we expect that punishing people who targeted a social category of victims, rather than targeting victims randomly or based on the fact that they were looking the other way or something, will change violent behavior to a more random state, right? (And the assumption is that once violence is more random, it'll be easier to fight or will somewhat die out because people are reluctant to commit it against people they identify with.)

Or is that the only reason we have "hate crime?" Bob Herbert's article made me think that there's more to it. Just calling a particular method of choosing a target by social category part of "hate crimeyness" can create allies in groups who share a social category with the perpetrator. It can create activists out of people who weren't activists! And activists are the people who make violence go from category-based to random. This is especially true when the perpetrator's category was dominant and the victims' categories were subordinate. Dominant allies change minds. They write newspaper articles and actually get them published in magazines that people're told are good enough to bother reading. They get on TV. Etc.

Sooooooo........where should the line be drawn at calling things "hate crimes" because they were targeted against members of a social category? I mean, if the targeting is based on an inaccurate and damaging (when gay people internalize it & start to become it) stereotype that gay people are weak & polite to a fault, should we use the term "hate crime" to horrify people and get them to start saying, "Y'know what? I'm straight, and gay people are NOT weak & polite to a fault, and how dare you other straight people think that to the point that you'd violate them based on that assumption? Stop it!"

Or is there only so much action that we can squeeze out of people? Can we only get people to say, "Y'know what? I'm straight, and gay people are NOT inferior to us and appropriate for hitting with 2x4s, and how dare you other straight people think that to the point that you'd violate them based on that assumption? Stop it!" but not go so far as the quote I put earlier? I don't know. I just don't know. I really want people to see common links between common themes, but boy is that hard to do, and not wear people out, in less than 200 pages. (That's how many it took Dr. Tatum to develop a good, solid, persuasive book doing so.....)

Wednesday, October 18

The Amish shooting was easily a "hate crime." But is stranger-rape?

A Seattle-based blog generated some interesting comments on Bob Herbert's article. What can we get a large number of people to agree is a hate crime? The commenter "SDA in SEA" wrote:

"Hate Crime" itself is a term that many don't understand. What, exactly, is a hate crime? Why is it necessary to add that designation to a crime that is already on the books? For example, assault and murder are already against the law. What difference should it make if you also make it a hate crime?

The best rationale that I have heard is that if someone commits a random murder, there is only one victim. If, on the other hand, someone murders an African-American while wearing Klan regalia and burning a cross in their yard, there is more than one victim. There is the person killed, but in addition, the entire black community also become victims to a lesser degree. The crime is committed in part with the intent to cause fear in that community. If a person is gay-bashed, the beating isn't directed at the individual fag, it is intended to cause harm and fear to the entire gay community, to put them in their place or to drive them away. If someone paints a swastika on a Jew's door, it isn't simply property damage against one individual, it is intended to terrify a whole community. So it isn't the individual assault or murder, it is the harm directed at a whole community that raises a crime to the level of a "hate" crime.

I'm not a lawyer, and I don't know the legal definition of a hate crime, but the general premise makes imminent sense to me.

I haven't followed this case closely enough to know if it would qualify under that description of a hate crime, but on the surface, it certainly looks like a possibility.

The law aside, I agree that this seems like something you could convince a large number of people is a hate crime.

"Keshmeshi" commented that the violent act doesn't even have to intend to intimidate more than the primary victim: the victim just has to be selected based on group identity characteristics, and that this would even apply if the "group identity" were "white male:"

if a black guy walked into a school, separated out the white students and executed them, that would also be a hate crime.

I think many people could be convinced that the target just has to be picked for violence because of his/her membership in a certain social category.


Then I read Keshmeshi's reply to "DougSF's" comment that said:

"About the shootings: Um, I think, actually, we are shocked the gunman targeted, seperated, then murdered these little girls. The NYT writer is probably reeling more from the fact that he doesn't have a 'hot topic'-angle to work on this story, but the rest of us I think are pretty mortified"--

The NY Times writer was stating the fact that people don't see these kinds of crimes against women and girls as hate crimes. Excuse me, I take that back, men don't see these kinds of crimes as hate crimes.

It seems like men are as likely to admit it as the average American is to admit that U.S. foreign policy is usually not so savory. If men admitted that women are frequently raped and murdered just for being women, then they might have to confront why that is, and their complicity in our misogynistic culture that embraces violence against women. But, hey, at least we're making progress. Now it's actually illegal to rape and murder women and girls.

Woah. After nodding my head to definition #2, I suddenly thought, "Rape is a crime that most often happens because the victim belongs to the social category called 'women.'" What does that mean?! Is it a hate crime? (Yes, I know rape happens to men & kids, too, but most of the time, when you hear 'rape,' what kind of victim do you think of? A woman. Why? Because it's usually a targeted crime. Same as lynching doesn't have to be of a black person, but hey, the reason we associate "black" with "lynching" is because we've accepted that it's been violence done to a person targeted for being black.)

I mean, most people don't even have to feel like an agressor would've used the word "hate" about the victim's social category to accuse the agressor of having committed a "hate crime." We've come to consider most crimes thought of by the perpetrator as, "That's just what people do to ___________ people," or, "If you're going to do this, you wouldn't do it to anyone but a __________ person" as nonetheless "hate crimes." Even if they just think it's because "________ people" are inferior, less deserving of things they might want (say, the love of a white woman), contemptible, etc. we've still become comfortable shouting, "Hate crime! Hate crime!"

Soooooo...even if a stranger-rapist doesn't consider women an object of what he'd call hatred, he is picking women, rather than men, to target because he thinks there's something unique, inferior, contemptible, less deserving of "getting to do ________," etc. about them than there is about members of other groups, right?

Or is he? The popular line among progressives is that that's the case.
But in wider American society, it still seems to be widely thought that rape--even rape by strangers in a dark alley--is at least partly about sex.

Does a violent act have to be exclusively category-based for it to be a hate crime? I mean, if the lynchers thought that black person was a real pain in the ass, too, and so did other black people, is it no longer a "hate crime?" If the rapist considers women inferior and the kind you "can hurt" the way white people used to think of black people, but he also considers them "arousing," then is his violent act that happens to be done in a manner that resembles sex no longer a "hate crime?"

Plus, most people in our society still seem to think that it's difficult to get into a rapist's head and imagine why he thinks that women are okay to harm in a way that resembles sex. They'd argue that my parallel to other hate crimes falls apart because it's not like there were any friendly ways of putting a noose around someone's neck--ways encouraged by society as something everyone should try--but that there are friendly ways of having man-with-woman sex, and that those are rightfully encouraged by society as something everyone should try. In a heterosexual-relationship-encouraging society, women are "for having sex with" (though only in nice situations) by men. And men are "for having sex with," too--by women (though again, only in nice situations). So how can we say that a rapist chose to target someone who belongs to the social category of "woman" as "for committing violence against in a way that resembles sex" solely because he had various deranged reasons to consider "women" appropriate for violence (which would make his violence a hate crime)? How can we say that little or no part of his selection was based on the exact same opinion--"that women are for having sex with"--that nice interactions of having sex are based on, too?

I'd say, "Because in interviews & studies of rapists of women, both stranger & relationship, they said it was about contempt, inferiority, appropriateness for violent acts, etc. of that other social category called 'women.' I believe those studies. They keep coming out with the same conclusions, over and over, for decades."

But I think I'm in the minority.

Also, can even I, individually, feel like stranger-rapes are a "hate crime" according to that 2nd definition if I know that even the perpetrator himself might, at the time, before he gets caught, reflects, and ends up giving an interview, think that he's doing it partly because he wants "sex?"
I mean, he comes from that majority I'm thinking is "out there" that sees rape as being in a significant part "about sex" due to the shared "target group" between the two.
And can I really trust the studies? It's only what I read, and they say not to believe everything you read. I haven't exactly interviewed a man who decided to commit violence against a woman in a way that resembled sex myself.

Of course, the question of relationship rape is trickier, and I think it'd help to answer the questions I've asked here about stranger-in-an-alley rape as a hate crime before tackling an issue complicated by so many more potentially confused & confusing social messages of "these people are for _______ing--in a nice way." As "Think about it" said, it's trickier, but stil worth asking:

I think that most stranger rape does fall in the category of hate crimes... after all, is the motivation really just to have an orgasm?!? No, it's to subjugate a woman, as an indication of contempt or rage.

Date rape is trickier, of course, but even then I think most men who commit it have contempt for the woman... how else would you justify giving someone a roofie so you can fuck them? I wouldn't call that respectful or friendly!

It saddens and sickens me that violence against women has been normalized to the point that the men who commit it are not considered to "hate" women.

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