International Women’s Day

I wasn’t going to write anything about this but I overheard someone today complaining about men not getting a day. Really? Are you kidding me? We have an International Women’s Day because it is supposed to raise awareness about inequalities women face just because they have a vagina.

I actually wish for a time when we don’t have an International Women’s Day. You want to know why men don’t get a day? Here’s why:

This is in North America. I haven’t even linked to all the countries who don’t allow women to drive, have conversation with men they are not related or married to, etc. I never used to be a feminist. All these things still happening to women have made me one. I hope that in my lifetime, there is no need for feminism or an International Women’s Day.

Is Kony 2012 Worth Your Time?

 

I heard about the Kony 2012 video campaign launched by Invisible Children yesterday through Twitter. A significant number of the people I follow were tweeting links to this video and urging people to take notice. I didn’t get a chance to watch the 30-minute video until today and in a sense, I’m glad I waited.

As a skeptic, I always try to approach everything with a certain amount of caution. As an emotional person, sometimes that caution goes out the window without my noticing it. It’s difficult to remain rational when faced with atrocities committed against children. It tugs at the heart-strings and sometimes skepticism takes a back seat. It’s in moments like these that it’s important to remain skeptical and rational nonetheless.

I watched Invisible Children’s video today after seeing some of the criticism of it. It’s a testament to the filmmaker’s talent that I was moved by it, even knowing the problems with it. The video has resonated with people because it makes the problem and solution seem simple. Joseph Kony is a bad man and he’s hurting people and we should stop him. Simple right? Unfortunately, it hardly ever is that simple. It’s naive to think that you could explain a complicated situation as well as a solution for it in a 30-minute video. You can’t. If this could be solved in 30 minutes, it would have been solved by now. It’s hardly ever as simple as just removing one man, because that man doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Other social, economic, and political issues all have an effect on the situation in Uganda and it’s not simple. Just ask the Egyptians. It wasn’t as simple as just removing Mubarak.

At this point, I think it’s important to mention that I do think that Joseph Kony is despicable pond scum. That might actually be an insult to pond scum. I agree he should be stopped. I just think that Invisible Children might be conveniently ignoring realities that don’t fit their narrative. There are many problems with the way the information is presented in the video and also all the information they ignore. There also seems to be a problem with Invisible Children themselves.

I will put links to some great posts about these issues below. For the tl;dr crowd, here are the highlights:

  • Invisible Children spends only about 32% of their money on direct services.
  • They fail to mention the political climate, and people, that have allowed Kony to go on for about 25 years.
  • The fail to talk about the Ugandans that are working and making progress on the ground.
  • The seem to think military intervention is the only way to go.

I’m hardly an expert on Africa. I had never heard of Joseph Kony until yesterday. Hopefully, these posts will help shed some light if you feel inclined to learn more about this.

Musa Okwonga brings an important Uganda perspective on the issue as well as sheds light on why the Ugandan leadership is also a problem.

Mark Kersten has an insightful post on all this as does Daniel Solomon at Securing Rights.

There’s also a Tumblr about some of the issues surrounding Invisible Children.

You should read them all. They were an education about the importance of critical thinking in situations where we might be tempted to lead blindly with our hearts. The reality is complicated. We need to treat it as such.

On Rush Limbaugh

I won’t spend too much time and energy on Rush Limbaugh because I am pretty sure he doesn’t deserve my time or energy. If you don’t live under a huge rock, you will have heard about Rush Limbaugh calling a woman a slut for making the case for health insurance to cover contraceptives for women (I’m not linking to anything because I’m too lazy to find the link… just Google it, I’m sure it shouldn’t be too hard to find). What I find interesting is how much trouble this is attracting in Rush’s direction. The man has always been a closed-minded, backwards-thinking misogynist so I’m a little perplexed by the outrage. This is right up his alley. Why are people surprised he would say something like this? Why are they outraged? Is this really any worse than some of the insulting things he’s said in the past? I claim ignorance on this subject since I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh and the only time I’m exposed to something he says is when Jon Stewart or Rachel Maddow bring it up on their shows. But from the limited exposure I’ve had to the things he says, this hardly seems like it’s out of character for him. So why is this instance the one that’s getting him into trouble? I’m actually really curious about this. Is this just the drop that’s made the glass overflow? Is it because the insult was directed at a private citizen as opposed to a politician or other public figure? Is it because Obama got involved by calling the student in question and that’s what made this somehow more media-worthy?

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great he’s getting in shit for saying what he did. It was a terrible thing to say and from what I understand, he’s not really apologizing and still throwing insults. I’m all for him losing his advertisers and if it costs him his job, I won’t be sad. I’m just wondering what it is about this particular instance that made it the one that brought on such backlash. All hypotheses are welcome.

Democrats Shouldn’t Wish For Santorum For President

File this one under “Be careful what you wish for”. If you’re a liberal, you look at all the batshit crazy things Santorum is saying and you silently wish for him to win the Republican nomination, because no one in their right mind would actually vote for this guy over Obama right? I mean, sure, the extreme right-wingers will vote for him but he has no chance in a general election against Obama, right? Don’t be so sure. I was the one that thought Stephen Harper wouldn’t get elected a second time. He did. Then I thought he wouldn’t get elected a third time. He did, with a majority this time. And Canadians are socialists compared to Americans. Yet we’ve had a conservative government here for much longer than I find acceptable.
I get the thinking behind it, I do. You think someone like Santorum is too far to the right to have a chance. That’s what every Democrat will think and they’ll stay home on voting day. And Santorum will win because if there’s anything batshit crazy people do, it’s vote. Then you can’t wake up from the nightmare that is President Santorum. Be careful what you wish for.

People Against Abortion Rights Can’t Say They’re Pro-Life

Dr. Jen Gunter posted an enlightening story about an abortion gone wrong a couple of weeks ago that I only got around to today. It is horrifying and heart-wrenching at the same time. It’s short so you should go over and read it. It’s the perfect example of the consequences of this crusade against abortion rights.  All these people claim to want to protect life but they are always more concerned about a collection of cells not yet resembling a person than about the woman. Why is it that her life is not worth protecting? Why is her life expendable? How can you have the nerve to say you are “pro-life” when you know your actions are causing a desperate woman to risk her own life?

I’m appalled, disgusted and really just incredibly sad that this is what we’ve come to. What is wrong with society that we don’t value this woman’s life? We should do better.

Government Legislated Rape

I have heard about this for the last few days and I’ve waited this long to blog about it because I wanted to calm down first. I didn’t want to just shake my fist and rant. I’m not sure my plan will succeed since it seems to me that my anger has only gotten worse in the past few days.

Virginia has passed a bill that says a woman wanting an abortion needs to get an ultrasound beforehand. Once again, this is conservatives trying to put up roadblocks to any woman getting an abortion. Except it gets worse. Much worse. It turns out that most abortions take place before an external ultrasound would show anything (within the first twelve weeks of a pregnancy) so that means that these women would need to get a transvaginal ultrasound. Yes, it is as bad as it sounds. It means that a doctor has to insert a probe into a woman’s vagina in order to get an image. As bad as that sounds, even that is not the worst part. It turns out that they will do this without the woman’s consent. Yes, you are reading that right. The government is saying that an object must be inserted inside a woman’s vagina for no valid medical reason without her consent. Last I checked, that was rape. So there you go. Virginia is saying it’s ok for it to rape you. What. The. Fuck.

So they are using the usual excuses for this. One is that women should make a fully informed decision. Apparently, women are too stupid to make a fully informed decision without getting violated. I never got how this was a viable argument. Even if it’s just a regular ultrasound (the goo on the stomach kind), how does it provide any more information? The woman knows she’s pregnant. The ultrasound will show she’s pregnant. No more information than she had before.

There are several problems I see with the passage of this law. I will take these in no particular order.

First, there has not been nearly enough outrage expressed about this. Not even close. Everyone and their dog should be shouting how wrong this is. I am seriously dismayed that people in general are not taking this more seriously. Is it apathy? Is it that no one thinks that this will be enforced? Whatever it is, it’s not a good enough reason. Everyone in Virginia should be calling their representatives and telling them they are going to vote their asses out of office for this.

Also, has no one thought about women who are already victims of rape? Just imagine a woman who has been raped and finds out that she’s pregnant from that horrible experience. It’s understandable she would not want to carry her rapist’s baby to term so she wants to get a legal abortion, something she thinks is the right thing for her to be able to get on with her life. The government seems to think the right thing to do here is to rape her all over again. Because apparently, she hasn’t been through enough already. Again. What. The. Fuck.

The other thing is this implication that only a certain kind of person gets an abortion. Conservatives sell this image of the woman who gets an abortion: a sexually loose, irresponsible, inconsiderate slut who has no respect for human life. Why not make her go through something unpleasant and demeaning? That way, maybe she’ll think twice about doing it again. For the record, even if it were true that only irresponsible women got abortions,  it should not be an issue. An abortion is a legal procedure that every woman should have access to if she wants one. Her sexual habits are no one’s business but her own and her sexual partner’s. Also for the record, the fact is that every kind of woman gets an abortion. Every woman has a reason to get an abortion at the time she gets it. She could be anyone. A teacher, student, lawyer, doctor, secretary, plumber, mechanic, mother, soldier. She could be catholic, protestant, mormon, atheist, muslim, buddhist. Don’t kid yourselves. Just because someone is religious doesn’t mean they can’t have something happen in their lives that makes it so they can’t handle having a kid at that particular point in time. No one but her can make that decision. No one but her should make that decision.

This is just another instance in this recent trend of attacking women’s rights. All these decisions seem to be made by a majority of men too. It’s interesting that these men don’t think that there is anything wrong with forcibly introducing an object into a woman’s vagina as a condition for her to have a medical procedure. I’ve seen and heard a few people make the argument that this would be equivalent to saying men can’t get access to erectile dysfunction drugs unless they get sodomized. While it seems to make a good argument in the moment, I actually don’t think that comes close. What happens to a man who doesn’t get ED drugs? He doesn’t get to have a normal sex life. That sucks and I really am not trying to diminish this but let’s compare that to a woman who doesn’t get an abortion. She gets a baby she doesn’t want. That’s a lifetime commitment. And that’s only if everything goes right. There are a variety of complications that can occur during a pregnancy, including death of the woman. Also, I’m not sure that I want to sink to their level to make my point. My point is that requiring women to be raped before they can get an abortion is wrong. So I don’t think we should suggest doing it to someone else, whether it be to get even or make the point. It’s wrong. No one should be violated for any reason.

Rape in the Military

Liz Trotta did an interview/commentary on Fox News about rapes in the military. It’s a vomit-inducing rant about how the army should have expected rapes to go up when they allowed women in the military because, apparently, putting women and men in close contact automatically leads to rape. I’m not sure who should be more insulted: the women or the men.

On the one hand, she’s basically saying that men are incapable of self-control when put in proximity to women. That’s pretty bad. It’s almost like accusing men of being unthinking savages completely controlled by their sexual desires. If that’s really the case though, why aren’t all men rapping women on the street. They are in close contact with each other. Why isn’t 5th avenue one big rape-fest?

On the other hand, she’s basically saying that the women are asking for it just by being in the military. That’s a terrible thing to say about people who want to serve their country. It’s a terrible thing to say about anyone. No one ever asks for rape. Making comments like that only perpetuates the backwards thinking that continues to minimize rape in our society. The answer is never to avoid the situations, by preventing women from serving in the military for example. What we need to do is educate people. We need to teach people to work with each other in high pressure situations and not take out their stress on each other. We need to make it ok to report rape when it happens. We need to support raped soldiers, not treat them as if they have done something wrong. We need to make them understand that it does not make them weak, or any less of a soldier, if they are raped.

That’s another problem. Not only do we have a habit of blaming the victim, but we blame them for being victims. There seems to be this thought that somehow being a victim of rape makes someone less of a person. The stigma is even worse for soldiers. They are supposed to be tough, fearless, able to fend off any attack. It’s even harder for them to come forward because they will feel like even more of a failure. We have to work on that. We need to support soldiers because they risk their lives to defend our way of life.