Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

I was thinking to myself as I watched the video of Tina Fey’s latest Palin SNL skit that no one has yet (to my knowledge) discussed or characterized what I personally find most annoying and distasteful about Palin’s style: that silly, near ubiquitous and ever-perky beauty pageant persona. I attribute all those nonsense answers of hers directly to that, and all those “I’ll answer on the subject of my choice instead, thank you very little” to that plus her Republicon (lying, prevericating, obfuscating) coaches.

It seemed to me as I watched that Fey had certainly seen what I had because she was certainly playing it, and pretty well.

Just before the end of the skit Fey validated my observation big time.  You’ll have to watch it yourself, if you didn’t see it Saturday night.

That said, this third take off wasn’t nearly as well done (well written) as the previous two, but I did enjoy Queen Latifah. (I’m a fan.)


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Blog note: Okay, so now and then I’m going to blog on something aside from feminism and sexism. This is one of those occasions.

I was just reading this post over at DU decrying the police state antics of law enforcement at the RNC: (more…)

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Did you watch her speech? If not, you must, though I warn you in advance it’s a little rough. If you’re like me you too find it incredibly draining at a psychic level to be lied to repeatedly, and to have your own perfectly good, perfectly American values mocked and derided by implicaton.

While she delivered a speech written by speech writer(s) for McCain and therefore can’t really be held totally accountable for the content, she sure seemed to wear it well, filled with enmity and mocking contempt as it was, didn’t she? Tsk, tsk. So much snark, so little moral authority. “Tonya Harding with speechwriters,” said Barry Crimmins. (more…)

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I thought I’d said all I intended to on the John Edwards issue, but noooooo. Some fool woman had to come along and make a perfectly ridiculous statement that begs for challenge. Get a load of this: (more…)

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“The knife … was for the guys on my side.”

Good Goddess, can it be much worse than that — that your most urgent and daily fears are about what your “buddies” might do to you, you know, the ones who are supposed to help protect you, watch your back? Shudder.

I’ve spent most of today so far immersing myself in more about the military’s treatment of women, including revisiting some old links I had.

In addition to the LaVena Johnson case, there’s also Suzanne Swift. She’s very much alive, thankfully, but she’s been through her own kind of hell. VoxExMachina talks about her case at I Need to Calm Down.

Would that these two cases were all that we needed to be concerned about. Unfortunately, LavVena Johnson’s father has himself been introduced to the tip of the iceberg:

“[LaVena’s father] John Johnson has discovered far more stories that have matched his daughter’s than he ever wanted to know. Ten other families of ‘suicide’ female soldiers have contacted him. The common thread among them — rape.”

As I hope anyone reading this recognizes, yes of course we want justice for these two women, but we also want all our other military women protected from the predators who are their countrymen. CountryMEN, I’d like to restate for emphasis. It’s time to rise above individual stories to address the whole problem.

How bad is it? Very bad:

A 2003 survey of female veterans from Vietnam through the first Gulf War found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military.

A 2004 study of veterans from Vietnam and all the wars since, who were seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder, found that 71 percent of the women said they were sexually assaulted or raped while in the military.

And in a third study, conducted in 1992-93 with female veterans of the Gulf War and earlier wars, 90 percent said they had been sexually harassed in the military, which means anything from being pressured for sex to being relentlessly teased and stared at.

I understand that that last figure citing sexual harrassment could be seen as far less serious than rape or sexual assault, but I think that would be an erroneous assumption or conclusion. First, I can assure you that sexual harrassment is itself a horrific, disempowering “assault” on any woman, especially someone young and isolated, as our women in the military and especially in the war zone are.

Second, an incidence of 90% is sky high — a terrible marker indicating far more serious, systemic problems. It seems inevitable to me that any organization with that high an incidence of victims of sexual harrassment would also have a proportionally high incidence of rape and other sexual assault. No surprises there.

Now, why does it matter? Can’t these women just buck up and get on with their lives? In a word, No. Our women and men are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan scarred for life because of the PTSD from being in combat (and yes, women ARE in combat). And in addition — a second burden the men for the most part don’t have to shoulder — our women are coming home with PTSD from the sexual assaults they endure, a malady that will likely dog them for most if not all the rest of their live unless they get superb psychological care:

“Some women do fairly well while they’re in the military and don’t fall apart until after they’ve been discharged,” said Callie Wight, a psychotherapist who has been treating trauma survivors, including veterans, for 16 years. “Some women can’t hold it together while they’re in the military because of the PTSD they’ve begun to experience, and so begin to fall apart while they’re in the military … PTSD symptoms are a normal reaction to an abnormal experience.”

PTSD is often associated with mental symptoms: inability to sleep, extreme nervousness, anxiety, and the ability to be easily startled. Wight has found from her work over the past 10 years with female survivors of sexual trauma, that many women also suffer physical symptoms, especially when they don’t seek medical help for their PTSD.

“She’s desperately trying to forget about what happened to her, get over it and get back to what was her normal style of functioning,” said Wight. “But what happens with psychological trauma experiences is unless that trauma is really dealt with consciously, in a therapeutic way, all of those attempts to put it behind her only serve to suppress the information, not eliminate it.”

Physical symptoms can include chronic pelvic pain and irritable bowel syndrome. Some women also become bulimic, compulsive eaters, and abusers of drugs and alcohol — their attempts to “self-medicate” rather than seek professional help.

Even just sexual harrassment can be extremely wearing — not to mention dangerous in a war zone:

In the current Iraq war, which Pickett spent refueling and driving trucks over the bomb-ridden roads, she was one of 19 women in a 160-troop unit. She said the men imported cases of porn, and talked such filth at the women all the time that she became worn down by it. “We shouldn’t have to think every day, ‘How am I going to go out there and deal with being harassed?'” she said. “We should just have to think about going out and doing our job.”

which includes trying to stay alive, and keeping their “buddies” alive too. If their mind are filled with fear and loathing, that kind of focus is going to be much harder to keep. Sexual harrassment and sexual assault of our women can put ALL our troops’ lives at increased unnecessary danger.

I wonder if any of us can even imagine the type of “filth” that she’s talking about? Here’s one woman’s description of what she endured in the Army (please do yourself a favor and read her brilliant essay in its entirety), and it takes my breath away each time I read it:

I just wanna take that piece of ass body, put tape over her mouth, and do things to her. . And then like, I reach in, I yank out her vocal cords and then she just orally satisfies me by the pool. Oh, she’s totally a mute Kim. And she’s totally nude. . And then I break her legs and position them in the back of her head so that she’s sitting, and they’re permanently fixed like that.

I don’t think I could endure hearing that kind of thing more than once. I don’t know what I would do, or what would happen to me, but I do know it’s almost more than I can bear just to read it.

To be continued, hopefully this evening. Much more to come.

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Almost always scantily clad. (Hmm, wonder why that is?)

I’m so terribly tired of women’s bodies being used to sell stuff. Aren’t you? This image was taken from DU a short while ago. It’s an ad (obviously), using a scantily clad disembodied portion of the female form.

I should think that this sort of “ad” wouldn’t be allowed on a “progressive website,” but I’d be wrong, wouldn’t I? (And don’t imagine I’m “against” the female form — quite the opposite is true. I’m just against its commercialized/commoditized overused MISuse.)

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Their stash of porn, that is.

Here, for example, is the utterly ridiculous notion that feminists who object to pornography — any pornography, apparently — are bigots. Yes, anti-porn feminists are bigots because they claim (to quote the guy): porn = violence against women. And that, he claims, is bigotry.

Oh my. Here’s the opening paragraph of the discussion thread he’s upset about:

Why is it, when the subject is pornography that degrades women, we are assured that viewing pornography has no influence on people’s actions, but so many today are convinced that Jim D. Adkisson did what he did because he listens to Right Wing commentators?

Adkisson wa the guy who shot up the Unitarian church, and listed a whole host of rightwing hatemongers among his reading list. I certainly think it’s a legitimate question she posed whether or not one is for or against pornography. But to Taverner’s fevered brow, it is bigotry. Apparently now porn consumers are (or should be) a protected group — ?? a minority?? (Oh, would that were the case! )

That’s not the only crazy/creepy idea he has. Here are a few more: (more…)

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