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Archive for the ‘Women’s Issues’ Category

Shaniya Davis is dead. Her poor little body was likely used for her murderer’s sexual gratification and then tossed aside, like an old unloved rag doll or used kleenex. She meant so little as a human being to her killer that she could be thrown away after he was “done with her.” Just so much waste or junk.  She’s not alone, of course. Girls and women are killed every single day, the whole world over for the express reason that they are female.  There’s no escaping it.

And people wonder why I have so much anger … (more…)

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I’m going to post here, little by little, a whole smattering of different things about this Palin woman. There’s SO much going on.

BEST ANALYSIS
First and foremost, my newest favorite comment about the pick, from the brilliant Stephen Colbert:

For the first time, a woman has reached the highest levels of being used as a cheap political ploy

HER RECORD
Second, for anyone not familiar with her, um, resume and background, here’s a fairly thorough rundown on what’s known so far (and it was apparently far more than the McCain camp knew about her when he picked her): a compilation at DU: The Ultimate Vetting Guide on Palin: 50 great articles exposing Palin.

SALLY, GET REAL
Moving on to a thump on the head to Sally Quinn who surely ought to know better. In writing her column, Palin’s Pregnancy Problem she had a lot right, but got a key point very wrong: (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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By now everyone knows about John Edwards’ humiliation of both himself and Elizabeth (and their children!) at his own hands. Hopefully people have also had an opportunity to read and digest her statement, which I found pretty extraordinary (as I find her extraordinary — and what DOES it say when again and again the women these politician men are married to are more than their men are?).

I don’t know quite what to say about the whole thing. Of course it was disappointing – AGAIN?!?!? (meaning yet another philanderer?) Why can’t men control themselves? What was he thinking? How on earth did he think he’d ever, ever be able to keep that under wraps? And so forth. In the final analysis, though, I really feel there are so many more important things going on and this just isn’t my business. Or shouldn’t be. Yes, sure it’s a character issue, and it’s a women’s issue as well. Here’s a wonderful take on that point:

These affair go to show how much farther women’s rights need to go, that we are so willing to discount the broken promises these men made to the person who was supposed to be the most important person in their life. Granted what they stand for is much more important to the world at large but this says a lot about how they view womens value.

And so it does, so it does. The reminds me of something I’ll pass along (again and again and again if I have to): I’m always way leery of the men who proclaim just how much they LOVE women. Too often they love to “love them” (euphemism for have sex with them) and then they love to leave them, often without all that much ceremony. These men can be exploiters, as John Edwards has shown himself to be.
The single thing I’ll say to his credit is that he probably correctly pointed out part of the problem: his own narcissism (and do his $400 hair cuts really help that?)

Meanwhile, of course he’ll have defenders. Here’s one from symbolman:

Re: Edwards. Thomas Jefferson slept with his Slave, yet we still have a Free Country…

And leave it to that particular privileged white male to not even notice that some of us STILL aren’t as free as others of us, and that includes the women among us and the minorities among us. The lad got quite testy when it was pointed out to him, too, that someone who is a slave pretty much by definition doesn’t have the ability to consent freely and so the technical term for intimate relations of that sort is RAPE. Have a look at the little temper tantrum that fact provoked:

23. Dont twist my words please…

Oh! I forgot… Men BAD! Women GOOD!

Guess I’m just another BEAST, like any male who dares disagree with you.

Your shrill, unabating rants take the use of the word “Rape” to new levels, used so much that it nearly ceases to have any Meaning.. Like saying the word “Bird” 10,000 times until it becomes Abstract.

Please Stop villifying people you Dont even KNOW by shanking them with your twisted definitions of exactly what they Were NOT even implying.. You are making a mockery of these issues, damn near a parody of what the rest of us plain old decent people already KNOW as fact..

I always wonder just WHO killed all of your puppies and waved them in your face?

You know, a person CAN be a sexual bigot, it’s not only applied to RACE..

The funny thing is, this response is so way over the top, so disproportionate, such a shriek and so shrill in tone himself, that he loses tremendous credibility in the process. One thinks to oneself: did he just have those arguments laying around ready to use and he didn’t see any reason not to, because they certainly don’t apply to THIS discussion. Silly boy, that’s foolish and makes him look foolish.

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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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which is not the same as superficiality or superfluity (and which is all the more appropriate ’cause I got more heavy stuff coming, shortly).

I ADORE Suze Orman. She’s in her 60s and is one of those Boomer women (like Cher and Tina Turner — well,  Tina’s actually slightly older than Boomer women — and Oprah and Maria Shriver and many others who look simply fabulous for their ages (or for what we used imagine as appropriate-looking for that age).

Orman is also a survivor and a self-made woman (in spades). I’m pretty sure she’s an out lesbian. She’s a trail blazer in her field, wealthy yet money isn’t the most important thing in the world to her. The way I think she puts that is: “People first, money second and things last.” Don’t quote me; I’ll listen more carefully to her next time and report back. Of course I do realize that when you have a lot of money, it’s much easier for that not to be the most important thing in your life — and yet, a lot of people never make it to that point.

Best of all, IMO, she works damn hard to empower others, especially other women, and opens doors for them, which makes her not just a feminist but a real sister and an angel to boot.

I’m not the only one who likes her: Sara Hepola of Salon’s Broadsheet likes her too and for many of the same reasons.

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And so must the military’s outrageous and corrupt cover-ups. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, and now I have to write about it again because it won’t leave me alone.

I have been deeply troubled by not just the story of LaVena Johnson, but also of all the other military women, especially those who are asked to serve in Iraq and any other places in that field in support of this tragically misguided war (or anyplace in the whole entire military, actually, but it seems especially frequent in the war zone). Here’s a repost of a shocking article about the subject.

If you haven’t, please watch (more…)

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