March 19, 2010

Rule #1, Soldier: No Water After 7 p.m.

By the end of 2010 there will officially be more women in the workforce than men. Both the Speaker of the House and the Secretary of State are women. And, 20% of U.S. armed forces are female. Because of these aberrant shifts we feel like we’ve won the war when the reality is that those are only a few battles. We tend to take for granted the positions that most women in America find themselves in in this “post-feminist” society.

In recent weeks, both Time magazine and The New York Times have published articles on the egregious number of women being raped in the military. Time reported that…

“…a female soldier in Iraq is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.”

I was shocked to read that female soldiers stop drinking water at 7 p.m. so that they don’t have to go the bathroom in the middle of the night as this reduces their risk of being raped. Though the NY Times reported that the number of assults reported is up 11% from last year, Time statesthat the Defense Department still estimates that 80-90% of sexual assaults go unreported. Additionally, they differentiate an assault from sexual harassment which undoubtedly brings the number of women assaulted OR harassed up exponentially. They may as well just say, “If you’re female and you join the military you will be abused in some way.”

We live in a world where we fight to have universities install campus security buttons and cameras and we teach women how to protect & defend themselves against attackers and we create program upon program for victims of sexual assault. All of the security measures we take only further perpetuate the idea that WOMEN need to learn how to protect themselves. Why aren’t we teaching men how to be respectful and responsible? How do we transform the dialogue from Women’s Issues to EVERY ONE’S issues??

I don’t say any of this to discourage women from joining the military or going to college (or from leaving your house!) or to promote the fear that is already so rampant, I say this because as a woman living in a supposedly “post-feminist” world, I believe we need to inspire more people – NOT just women – to struggle, to act!

There was a great article in The Guardian, the UK based newspaper about men and feminism. In it they mentioned a program that was started by Oxfam called “Gender Equality and Men.” Here is a quote from their page:

There are potential gains from focusing on men and boys. As Kaufman has suggested [1], such efforts may:

  • create a broad social consensus among men and women on issues that previously have been marginalised as only of importance to women;
  • mobilise resources and institutions controlled by men, resulting in a net gain in resources available to meet the needs of women and girls;
  • isolate those men working to preserve men’s power and privilege and to deny rights to women and children;
  • contribute to raising the next generation of boys and girls in a framework of gender equality;
  • change the attitudes and behaviour of men and boys, and improve the lives of women and girls in the home, workplace, and community.

That about sums it up! So, instead of continuing to shake my fist and scream about men not taking responsibility for violence and ignorance – I’ve made a list of some ways in which men (and women!) can become involved in the movement…..which despite those post-feminist doubters…..is still very much moving!

1) Start simple: Read This
2) Take a Women’s Studies class!
3) Join the feminist club on campus or START one!
4) Get involved in community outreach organizations. Lead by example and show young men and boys how to be!
5) Encourage local organization to implement programs like Oxfam UK did!
6) Be creative! Find ways to encourage change through things you like to do or are good at! Activism isn’t the only way. Music and art speak volumes!

And, if you’re still confused and wondering what you can do – come to WAM! Los Angeles next week Thursday, March 25, 2010!

cartoon-feminist     feminst-cartoons

October 2, 2008

Rebecca Traister on Palin: cry me a river. Not.

Excellent commentary by Rebecca Trasiter at Salon.com today after Palin fumbles repeatedly in interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric.

Highlights include:

Where I come from, a woman — and especially a woman governor with executive experience — doesn’t have to rely on any elder or any man to protect her and pull her ass out of the fire. She can make a decision all on her own. (Palin was more than happy to tell Charlie Gibson that she made her decision to join the McCain ticket without blinking.) I agree with Coates that the McCain camp was craven, sexist and disrespectful in its choice of Palin, but I don’t agree that the Alaska governor was a passive victim of their Machiavellian plotting. A very successful woman, Palin has the wherewithal to move forward consciously. What she did was move forward thoughtlessly and overconfidently, without considering that her abilities or qualifications would ever be questioned…

So here it is, finally. And as unpleasant as it may be to watch the humiliation of a woman who waltzed into a spotlight too strong to withstand, I flat out refuse to be manipulated into another stage of gendered regress — back to the pre-Pelosi, pre-Hillary days when girls couldn’t stand the heat and so were shooed back to the kitchen.

Sarah Palin is no wilting flower. She is a politician who took the national stage and sneered at the work of community activists. She boldly tries to pass off incuriosity and lassitude as regular-people qualities, thereby doing a disservice to all those Americans who also work two jobs and do not come from families that hand out passports and backpacking trips, yet still manage to pick up a paper and read about their government and seek out experience and knowledge.

When you stage a train wreck of this magnitude — trying to pass one underqualified chick off as another highly qualified chick with the lame hope that no one will notice — well, then, I don’t feel bad for you.

When you treat women as your toys, as gullible and insensate pawns in your Big Fat Presidential Bid — or in Palin’s case, in your Big Fat Chance to Be the First Woman Vice President Thanks to All the Cracks Hillary Put in the Ceiling — I don’t feel bad for you.

When you don’t take your own career and reputation seriously enough to pause before striding onto a national stage and lying about your record of opposing a Bridge to Nowhere or using your special-needs child to garner the support of Americans in need of healthcare reform you don’t support, I don’t feel bad for you.

When you don’t have enough regard for your country or its politics to cram effectively for the test — a test that helps determine whether or not you get to run that country and participate in its politics — I don’t feel bad for you.

When your project is reliant on gaining the support of women whose reproductive rights you would limit, whose access to birth control and sex education you would curtail, whose healthcare options you would decrease, whose civil liberties you would take away and whose children and husbands and brothers (and sisters and daughters and friends) you would send to war in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and wherever else you saw fit without actually understanding international relations, I don’t feel bad for you.

I don’t want to be played by the girl-strings anymore. Shaking our heads and wringing our hands in sympathy with Sarah Palin is a disservice to every woman who has ever been unfairly dismissed based on her gender, because this is an utterly fair dismissal, based on an utter lack of ability and readiness. It’s a disservice to minority populations of every stripe whose place in the political spectrum has been unfairly spotlighted as mere tokenism; it is a disservice to women throughout this country who have gone from watching a woman who — love her or hate her — was able to show us what female leadership could look like to squirming in front of their televisions as they watch the woman sent to replace her struggle to string a complete sentence together…
Read full article here.
Traister echoes my own sentiments.  I’m tired of this woman.  I’m tired of the gender games and manipulation that has been waged by this campaign and their phony feminist ideology and concern for women’s rights.  Palin’s response to Couric’s question regarding her feminist identity was ludicrous.  How can you honestly state to the people, especially the women of this country, that you are for women’s equality and choice when your record indicates the exact opposite?  I’m tired of the transparency of this campaigns lies which is a slap in the face to the citizens of this country. I’m tired of the stage craft and political drama this campaign has utilized as distraction. I’m sick of hearing the same lame line about this team of “mavericks.”  The fact that Palin and the McCain camp can’t make up their mind about how they want to craft her image speaks to their insecurity, lack of integrity and dishonesty.
I’m ready for the debate.  Unfortunately, this debate, like all of her official speeches, has been careful crafted and she has been diligently groomed for her role.  I hope that people don’t forget who the real Sarah Palin is: the woman we saw unscripted and incapable when questioned by Gibson and Couric.