Monday, December 15, 2008

The Women of Latin America and the Struggle for Equality
Women in Latin America have endured centuries of violence and war, but have found strength within them in order to survive and hope for a bright future. Poor economic distribution has had a hampering effect on women working to improve their lives; with little income and minimal political voice, women fight to care for their children and family. Women do have the right to vote and have been elected to office, however, in many countries women’s rights are not reflected in political policies. Abortion is rarely permitted, which leaves many women dead after health problems and back ally abortions gone awry. Domestic violence is still a factor and soap operas have even gone as far as to romanticize and normalize the issue; this can be especially confusing to women and girls who live in extremely patriarchal households. Additionally, prostitution and sex trafficking have taken the lives of many women and will continue to do so until the problem is rectified. With the rise in feminism and political power they have taken great strides towards equality, but there is still quite a journey ahead.

The history of Latin America has been scarred with war, injustice and inequality; the effect of these facts have been particularly detrimental to issues that involve women and their rights. Although feminist have left their footprints there are still many women that are struggling for basic survival. Currently Chile, El Salvador and Nicaragua have a total ban on all abortions eliminating the long-standing exceptions for rape, malformation of the fetus and risk to the life or health of the mother. A woman’s body is no longer her own, but has become an incubator of Catholic law. Women from countries such as Mexico are illegally brought into the United States and forced into a life of prostitution; these women have been turned into objects that can be used and disposed of at will without regard to the emotional trauma they will suffer. While it is important to recognize the atrocities it is also important to understand the role of women within the Latin American cultures. Women play a pivotal role in family life and are major contributors to the well-being of the community. Women are a growing power and are increasingly being
elected to office; with more women having in input in the government we can hope that the flame of sexism will flicker out.
Many countries in Latin America currently have high levels of poverty. The economic crisis in Mexico has led to many Mexican families reduce their expenses to adjust to what is available in order to survive daily; these adjustments are oriented to alternatives inside the home and can include eating once a day or eating food that is cheap. This situation of hunger and multiple shortages results in important consequences inside the domestic group; the relationships of power and inequality between the genders and generations are made worse. Not only are subsistence activities affected, but also the ability to attend school is limited for many. Another strategy used by households facing poverty is that the woman starts working and later the sons follow. Mostly the women, through adjustments they make in the households’ resources and their participation in the labor market, are the ones who face the current crisis in a decisive manner. This situation has produced extreme conditions in the lives of many households and many women: they face work overload, fatigue and stress due to the lack of food for their children, the need to look for income outside the home, the concern about children when they go to work, and tensions with the partner when the woman earns income (Menjivar 2003: 87-111).
The National Survey of Households (PNAD) collected data throughout Brazil and Colombia concerning ageing and gender inequalities in urban areas. With the adult and elderly proportions growing and the increase in life expectancy, gender inequality has been stressed in advanced age groups. The populations of Brazil and Colombia are aging rapidly and in the next two decades will have, with Mexico, the largest elderly populations in Latin America and the world; the social security systems will experience problems in their economic stability due to the elderly population having higher proportions of beneficiaries, while adult generations will contain a smaller proportion of taxpayers. Households will have to reorganize the family unit and redistribute resources in order to support elderly individuals. Gender and generational inequalities show important country and institutional differences, with implications for the household structure, according to the ability of elderly men and women to give and receive financial support and their ability to choose their desired living arrangements. This may affect the relationship between the women and their families and may encourage women to redistribute responsibilities of elderly care within the household (Menjivar 2003: 152-1660).
The offenses committed against women and men under military regimes were a major part of Latin American history, but at the same time they led to response and empowerment; women became a major voice in the human rights response that took place. Women suffered extensively from state-sponsored terrorism in the period from 1964-1990; some women were killed, but many others were tortured and raped. Many men were killed as well and many more went missing, this meant that the remaining female relatives lived on in greater poverty and often in shame because of the supposed crime committed by husband or male relative. Women came from traditional roles to become the majority of members in the human rights groups. The recognition of the damage invoked upon men and women in Latin America continued into the twenty-first century; one of the innovations of the late twentieth century was women telling their story in a public way. The women accomplished this in best sellers, but more commonly they did so in smaller public ways. In Santiago, Chile they came together on church premises where they were guided by therapist to discuss the critical events of their lives. Women in Peru produced colorful wall hangings to tell their stories, while traveling theatrical companies in Guatemala moved from village to village to mount dramatic narrations in village squares (Cleary 2007: 15-18).
When the military left presidential palaces, successor governments typically formed governmental agencies to educate civil society in the rights demanded by newly developing democracies. All countries, with the exception of Uruguay, have created public record of state terrorism. The records of human rights violations created and the accountability for the crimes acknowledged in various countries were imperfect but considered to be sufficient for nations to move forward. Women have been in the forefront of demanding that some public historical record be written and some authorities brought to trial. Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil have been convulsed by new demands to examine the past. For example, Chile’s Rettig Commission conducted a thorough investigation of death and disappearance committed mostly by military and police forces in the country. The report was widely publicized and reparations paid (Cleary 2007:18-22).
The transition from military to civilian rule brought a great expansion of human rights, previously defined in terms of death, disappearance, and torture, to concern for other rights. Woman demanded freedom from sexual harassment, equality in the workplace, and other rights. Almost half of Latin American women reported psychological abuse, while one to two women in five experience physical violence. Violence against women remains widespread, especially in less developed countries such as Honduras. The Penal Code of the country classifies domestic violence and sexual harassment as crimes, with penalties of two to four years and one to three years imprisonment. Despite these penalties, the Pan-American Health Organization reported that 60 percent of Honduran women have been victims of domestic violence, while the United Nations Population Fund estimated that eight of every ten women suffered from domestic violence. During 2003 only 3,430 cases of domestic violence and 275 cases of rape were reported to police and fewer cases tried. Honduran law against domestic violence lacked some effective deterrents since the laws imposed no fines and only twenty-four-hour preventative detention could be imposed. Eventually Honduras created a Special Prosecutor for Women in the Public Ministry; this has allowed the government to make greater progress towards resolving more cases through funding special courts to hear only cases of domestic violence. In many countries, improved government services have been provided for women, men, and children affected by violence. The role of the media in reducing domestic violence has been underutilized and in some instances might have actually fostered violence in the household. A study by Columbia’s National Television Commission found that popular telenovelas averaged 315 violent scenes a day. Many states treat domestic violence as a public affair as opposed to being a privatized issue; these states are accepting some responsibility in preventing violence in the home and the prosecution of offenders (Cleary 2007: 20-25).
Despite laws against slavery in practically every country, an estimated twenty-seven million people live as slaves. These include indentured servants, persons held in hereditary bondage, child slaves who pick plantation crops, child soldiers, and adults and children trafficked and sold into sex slavery. According to Sex Trafficking of women in the United States: International and Domestic Trends, some 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the United States each year, mainly from Asia and Latin America. The majority of the homeless girls assisted by Casa Alianza programs in Mexico are victims of prostitution. Military personnel are prostituting Mexican women in Chiapas. Soldiers pay 100 pesos for virgins, 50 pesos for other girls, the prettiest are sold to high-ranking officers. Girls, 11-13 year olds, are sold by their fathers into prostitution. The girls are dishonored, while their fathers are not. Mexico is one of the favored destinations of pedophile sex tourists from Europe and the United States. An estimated 5,000 children are currently involved in prostitution, pornography and sex-tourism in Mexico. Nearly 100 children and teenagers a month fall into the hands of the child prostitution networks which are mafias or organized crime syndicates. 300 participants of the National Meeting of Sex Workers in Mexico called for an end to police abuse and discrimination that has denied them everything from health care to basic dignity. One person said that they receive death threats from police. Prostitution is legal in Mexico, but brothels are not. Many of the 80,000 Mexican children who cross from Mexico into the U.S. alone, as undocumented immigrants, are fleeing abuse at home, or are escaping from child prostitution rings. As such, they would possibly qualify for permission to stay in the United States. In Mexico there exists terrible child trafficking in the area of Acapulco, Guerrero; many now call this region "the new Bangkok" of child sex tourism (Shaw 2007: 578-589).
Among legislative goals for the advancement of women, equality with men in education has been a major target. The World Bank released statistic that girls and young women have overtaken boys and young men in educational attainment. Latin American data shows more girls than boys in both grade and high school enrollment in nearly all the countries in the region. Greater progress has been made in terms of achieving equality between men and women in education than other areas of social development in Latin America. Advances have been made towards helping out the most poor and most ignored. The second poorest country in the region, Bolivia, ranked first in the world in 2005 for progress it made towards equality for girls in the field of education. Previously, parents prevented their girls from attending schools due to discrimination against women and the lack of separate bathroom facilities. In 1990, only 10 percent of girls were less likely to attend primary school. By 2005, girls were as numerous as boys in grade school (Cleary 2007:23-28).
Women have not only gained experience as the majority of participants in human rights activism, they also formed the largest number of persons who participated in the wider universe of new social movements in Latin America. The social movement experience transformed gender consciousness. Women in survival movements began to reject violence against themselves and to insist on their right to leave the household to participate in neighborhood or citywide groups. Women’s engagement in politics affected daily life, so they modified it. They created organizations that were independent from male influence. Winning the right to vote served as an important function for women; women became more focuses on the political process. For Chilean women, enfranchisement came in 1949 with their first opportunity to exercise their new right in a special senatorial election the next year, when a woman ran for the first time for national political office. María de la Cruz won many votes but was unable to capture the office until the next election. Peru did not enfranchise women until 1955, and therefore was one of the last three American republics to do so, being followed by Colombia and Paraguay (Chaney 1979: 82-84).
Before the suspension of elections by the military junta in Peru, registration and voting were required by law of all literate citizens. Women formed a lower proportion of the electorate in Peru, not only because women in Chile have voted in more national elections but also because of the higher level of literacy among Chilean women. This situation was further complicated in Peru because the voting registration card served as an essential identification card required in order to obtain any employment covered by minimum wage and hour laws and social security, This card was also required to marry, open a bank account, receive registered mail, receive a degree, and obtain a passport. Those who do not know how to read and write receive a document that serves as an identity card but does not permit them to vote. These methods were used to complicate the registration process and prevent many women from voting, especially in rural areas. Peru also issued a substantial fine equal to several days pay after a failure to vote in an election, this caused a reduced interest in politics (Chaney 1979: 84-90).
Today there is no political party in Latin America that excludes women, but as women go through their studies they must often prepare for feminine careers and thus exclude themselves from future party leadership, not only because their degree preparation often does not qualify them for political posts but also because “feminine” faculties are isolated from student politics. One exception was the highly-politicized Instituto Pedagogía at the University of Chile in Santiago, which in 1969 had nearly equal percentages of men and women students. Women in Latin America generally receive the right to hold office at the same time they received the franchise. In Chile, so that no one would have any doubts on the matter, Ley 9292 expressly states that Chilean women can “elect and be elected even President of the Republic”. This decree is equally explicit in Peru (Chaney 1979:90-106). Women presidents in Latin America have numbered fewer than the fingers on one hand. Mexico put forth Rosario Green, as foreign minister, traditionally one of the posts desired by men. Colombia has placed a woman as Minister of Defense, perhaps the most macho of all positions. Chile has had women as foreign minister and minister of defense in the same cabinet. Both Chileans put themselves forward as presidential candidates in 2006. Michelle Bachelet won the presidency and names ten women and ten men as ministers. Twelve Latin American nations exceed the United States in electing women to national legislatures and eight fall behind the United States. Argentina, Cuba, and Costa Rica rank in the top ten countries in the world, with 36 to 34 percent of female national legislators. These achievements and others like them were accomplished in the early stages of democratization. Since then, feminist scholars have noted with regret the slow progress of women’s issues in Latin American politics and society. Many of those scholars believe that the time of opportunity to redefine gender roles and machismo practices has largely passed (Cleary 2007: 27-32).
The past few decades have marked an increase in participation by women in social movements in Latin America. Latin American women are participating in organizations led by and for women, struggling for their rights as workers in trade unions, as housewives in squatter settlements, and as mothers defending human rights against state repression. The private sphere of the family has always been considered the domain of women, but it is increasingly threatened by economic and political forces. Industrialization and urbanization have reduced the role of the family and strengthened the role of the state. Authoritarian military regimes have torn families apart by taking the lives of children and other loved ones and subjected them to terror and a state of repression. However, women in Latin America are not just defending the private domain of the family against increasing state intervention; they are also demanding incorporation into the state, so that their rights as citizens can be fully recognized. Latin American women are insisting upon distinct forms of incorporation that reaffirm their identity as women, in particular as wives and mothers. These roles legitimize their outrage as military governments take away their children and the rising cost of living prevents them from feeding their families. Women are not the only subordinated group to challenge the state, and social movements have arisen as well among the youth, peasants, the urban poor, and broader-based human rights groups (Safa 1990: 354-357).
The suffrage movement in Latin America engaged for the most part middle- and upper-middle-class women and, as in the United States, conferred limited benefits because women did not plan any concerted activity beyond enfranchisement. The first activists in women’s rights were markedly different types in Chile and Peru. In Chile the women’s movement from its beginnings to the 1870’s was tied to the entrance if women into higher education and the professions, while in Peru the precursors were, with few exceptions, novelists or poets. These differences may account in part for the significantly greater progress Chilean women have made in public life. In Peru, ideas about women’s emancipation first were articulated in the 1870’s by a remarkable group of women writers. Literary and journalistic endeavors were the first professions open to women because they could be carried out in the house. These women also talked about the flight of the Indian and the peasants, the corruption of political leaders, the indifference of the landowning class and of the church. Maria Jesus Alvarado Rivera was an extraordinary women’s movement leader in Peru. Maria laid the basis for her advanced ideas on such problems as health, euthanasia, control of venereal disease and the necessity for a prenuptial medical examination, the use of film in education, as well as for her social agitation on behalf of women, children, the Indians and the working class. Maria Alvarado had to labor for four years before she succeeded in founding Peru’s first women’s organization, Evolcion Femenina. Maria was later jailed and sent to exile in Argentina. Women never succeeded in building a unified movement in Peru, and the 200-odd organizations which today constitute the National Council of women have no record of effective action in the field of women’s rights, although some groups did engage sporadically in work for women’s enfranchisement (Chaney 1973:331-336).
Feminism arrived late in Latin America, with Costa Rico being the exception. In part, this was due to the overriding priorities created by war and revolution. The Montemilar encuentro marked the first time that Central American feminists had ever tried to work together on a region-wide event. Feminism was clearly a driving force behind the questions that framed the discussion groups and workshops. Implicit in the discussion at the encuentro was the assumption that all women—not just poor and working-class women—share to some extent the experience of sexism and subordination, and that cross-class coalitions and alliances can be formed to work on common projects. The emergence of feminist and women-related NGO’s—such as cultural projects, service centers, and independent research groups—gives Latin American feminism a stability and wealth of resources that never existed before. If there is one trend which characterizes women’s organizing throughout the hemisphere, it is the growing diversity of organizational forms, strategies, and creative efforts. This diversity is both a reflection of the great vitality and strength of the women’s movement in a profoundly conservative era and an enormous strategic challenge (Chinchilla 1993:17-23).
Birth rates have dropped impressively in much of Latin America. This has been quite a development in to abortion that has received greater attention. Many Latin American countries have argued that more than individual sexual rights are involved in abortion and argue for the protection of life. Nearly all the countries in the region permit abortion under limited conditions-for preserving the life or health of the mother or under conditions of rape or incest. Chile stands alone in not allowing abortion for any reason. Tim Fresca, an author resident in Chile, believes the country is an anomaly and that abortion is still too taboo as a public issue to allow serious debate. Colombia, since 2001 has been moving towards removal of legal penalties for abortion. Its constitutional court ruled in 2006 in such a way that allows abortion in cases of rape, fetal abnormalities, and danger to the life of women. Much attention was given to Chile over the debate of divorce and it wasn’t until March of 2004 that divorce was finally legalized (Cleary29-33).
Nearly 65,000 induced abortions are performed annually in Guatemala, and about 21,600 women are hospitalized for treatment of complications. Over a quarter of births are unplanned; combining unplanned births with abortions yields estimates that 32% of pregnancies in Guatemala are unintended, with an unintended pregnancy rate of 66 per 1,000 women. Unsafe abortion is the leading cause of reproductive morbidity and mortality in countries where abortion is illegal or severely restricted, as in the case in Guatemala. In Guatemala abortion is against the law except to save a woman’s life. The Postabortion Care Program of the Epidemiological Research Center in Sexual and Reproductive Health (CIESAR) reported that 13,928 incomplete abortions were treated in 22 public hospitals between July 2003 and December 2004. In Guatemala, as in other countries, women may resort to abortion when they have unintended pregnancy. Some are unable to care for a child, some already have all the children that they want; others do not want the pregnancy because it is a result of forced sex or incest; and some women’s lives or health are at risk if they continue with the pregnancy. Guatemala lages far behind other Central American countries in contraceptive prevalence, and levels of use differ markedly between Mayans and Ladinos, the two main ethnic groups. Between 1978 and 1998, the proportion of women using any contraceptives rose from 28% to 50% among Ladinos, but only from 4% to 13% among Mayans. Female sterilization, the pill and rhythm have been the most widely used methods, although as of 1998, the injectable replaces the pill as the third most popular method among Mayans. Dramatic changes in socioeconomic conditions among the Ladinos and Mayans over these twenty years have been key determinants of contraceptive use. Mayans are a hard-to-reach population, but they are becoming more open to adopting family planning when services are accessible and provided in a culturally accepted manner. New estimates of the incidence of unintended pregnancy in Guatemala should help to raise awareness among policymakers and program managers of the difficulty that women and couples are having in planning pregnancies and births (Singh 2006: 136-145).
Abortion is legal in Brazil if it is the only means to save the woman’s life or if the pregnancy is the result of rape. At the end of 2001, all but a few state capitals in Brazil had at least one public hospital which had openly carried out a legal abortion, and plans for service provisions were in progress in the rest. There is no doubt that the strength and organization of the women’s rights movement in Brazil has been a fundamental factor. Their campaigns have resulted in enough political leverage to influence the Parliament and the Executive on several occasions, most often in blocking the passage of regressive laws, which have been tabled regularly though less often than in previous years. The Penal Code, which dates from 1940, establishes in Article 128, two conditions under which abortion is not a criminal act: when pregnancy is the result of rape and when there is no other mean to save the woman’s life. The problem was that the law had almost never been applied. Women, health providers, and society were not largely aware of the conditions under which abortion is not criminalized in the Penal Code. Those who knew what the code says did not know how the law could be put into practice. Although some women had judicial approval many hospitals refused to perform abortions, especially those in the Rio area. Although the number of legal abortions carried out in the country has increased, it is only a small number compared to the number of unintended pregnancies occurring every year after forced sexual relations. The media has made women fearful that in attaining an abortion they will be exposed to public knowledge; it also sends them the message that women need a judicial order to obtain a legal abortion, which is false. The anti-abortion movement is very active in Brazil and there are highly qualified professors of obstetrics and gynecology who strongly oppose the practice of abortion. These factors are making it increasingly difficult for women to attain abortions even though they are legal. It is important that the alliance between women’s health and rights advocates and obstetricians-gynecologists is crucial to making the public aware of their legal rights and to helping women to attain legal abortions (Faundes 2002: 120-127).
Nicaragua’s Penal Code permits “therapeutic abortion” without defining the circumstances that warrant it. In the absence of a legally clear definition, therapeutic abortion is variously considered legal only to save the woman’s life or also to protect the health of the woman, and in cases of fetal malformation and rape. Access to therapeutic abortion often depends on the judgment of individual doctors. When the law is ambiguous, health professionals may feel reluctant to provide legal abortion services. In February 2003 a nine-year-old Nicaraguan girl, living in Costa Rica, was discovered to be pregnant as a result of rape. Costa Rican doctors denied that the pregnancy would endanger her physical or mental health and refused to consider an abortion. Nicaraguan doctors believed that carrying out the pregnancy posed equal risk to ending the pregnancy and left the decision up to the parents. The girl had an abortion without any complications. This situation illustrates how vague law can expose women and girls who seek abortion to ideologically-driven information and clinical care. Abortion law reform advocates are afraid to call for the development of regulations for therapeutic abortion because it might result in counter initiatives to eliminate therapeutic abortion from the Penal Code altogether. Research indicates that a dramatic drop occurred in therapeutic abortion requests after 1989. Only two requests have been recorded after 1999; this decline coincided with the election of Violeta Chamorro and a conservative government. Doctors denied requests from women with confirmed diagnoses of pre-eclampsia, hepatitis, diabetes, colon cancer, alcohol addiction, mitral valve prolapsed, measles, and mental retardation. Three records cited the lack of “judicial confirmation’ as a reason for refusing requests when pregnancy was due to rape. Between 2000 and 2002 a total of 33 women died who had pre-existing health conditions that may have been exacerbated by pregnancy. These women suffered from tuberculosis, leukemia, renal and cardiac problems. Many doctors expresses discomfort with the role that the “wantedness’ of a pregnancy might play in a woman’s motivation to seek therapeutic abortion. Nicaragua’s abortion law serves neither of the ethical principles it aims to uphold: beneficence or justice. Nor are all Nicaraguan women free to exercise a right to which the law entitles them (McNaughton 2004: 18-26).
Women are able to vote, hold public office, and freely work outside their homes if it is their desire, but not all aspects of Latin America are female friendly. Domestic violence, forced prostitution and sexual trafficking all pose serious threats to the lives of women. More progressive approaches toward reproductive rights would cut down on unwanted pregnancies, illegal abortions and the death rate of mothers and children; laws that are ambiguous need to reformed so that their meaning is straight-forward. The unequal distribution of economic wealth is affecting both men and women whether it be the ability to feed ones family to access to higher education to being able to safely walk the streets at night or to being able to have a sustainable living once one reaches retirement age. Continually bringing these issues to the surface can only improve the situation and set Latin America on the right path.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I <3 the Daily Show

My celeb crush (also known as Jon Stewart) calls Mike Huckabee out on hypocrisy of gay marriage bans.

Isn't he dreamy?!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sign This Petition

I meant to post this quite some time ago, but obviously I haven't.
This petition is asking that President Barack Obama issue an executive order to close down the School of the Americas.
Fort Benning Georgia is the location of the military school previously known as the "School of the Americas". At the end of the year 2000 the Pentagon changed the name of the school to the "Western Hemisphere Institute For Security Protection" in a shallow attempt to cover up the institution's murky past. But the bottom line remains the same - it's where 60,000 Latin American students were trained to torture, terrorize and kill for dictatorships supported by the United States government and your tax dollars.

In the name of its citizens and using American taxpayer dollars, the United States, the most-democratic of countries, has for decades been training some of the most anti-democratic leaders in the world. Administrations that have decried terrorism abroad, have encouraged terrorists right here at home -- at the SOA.

Countries / Graduates (since 1946)
Argentina / 931
Bolivia / 4,049
Brazil / 355
Chile / 2,405
Colombia / 8,679
Costa Rica / 2,376
Dominican Republic / 2,330
Ecuador / 2,356
El Salvador / 6,776
Guatemala / 1,676
Honduras / 3,691
Nicaragua / 4,693
Panama / 4,235
Paraguay / 1,084
Peru / 3,997
Uruguay / 931
Venezuela / 3,250

On November 13, 2008, the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) filed a criminal case in Spain against Alfredo Cristiani Burkard, former Salvadoran President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and 14 other soldiers from the Salvadoran Army for their role in the notorious Jesuits massacre that took place in November 16, 1989. The defendants include many graduates of the SOA/ WHINSEC. The case was jointly filed by the CJA and their colleagues with the Spanish Association for Human Rights (APDHE). The case includes a complaint alleging crimes against humanity, the cover up of crimes against humanity and state terrorism.
In December 1981, the inhabitants of a small Salvadoran
hamlet were systematically exterminated by the Atlacatl
Battalion, a U.S.-trained counterinsurgency force. The
Reagan administration, determined to preserve U.S.
support for El Salvador's war against leftist guerrillas,
downplayed reports of this massacre. The White House
ignored and deflected reports that hundreds of unarmed
women, children and men were shot, hung or beheaded.

Today, the truth is known beyond any doubt. Fifteen
years after one of the worst massacres in Latin
American history.

For more information you can visit the SOA Watchgroup website (don't forget to sign the petition):

SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement that works to stand in solidarity with the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, to close the SOA/WHINSEC and to change oppressive U.S. foreign policy that the SOA represents. We are grateful to our sisters and brothers throughout Latin America and the Caribbean for their inspiration and the invitation to join them in their struggle for economic and social justice.

If you're interested in Latin American culture and history I recommend Anth380; Ricardo has done a fantastic job instructing this course.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Books I Recommend

The Beauty Myth- Naomi Wolf
From Publishers Weekly
This valuable study, full of infuriating statistics and examples, documents societal pressure on women to conform to a standard form of beauty. Freelance journalist Wolf cites predominant images that negatively influence women--the wrinkle-free, unnaturally skinny fashion model in advertisements and the curvaceous female in pornography--and questions why women risk their health and endure pain through extreme dieting or plastic surgery to mirror these ideals. She points out that the quest for beauty is not unlike religious or cult behavior: every nuance in appearance is scrutinized by the godlike, watchful eyes of peers, temptation takes the form of food and salvation can be found in diet and beauty aids. Women are "trained to see themselves as cheap imitations of fashion photographs" and must learn to recognize and combat these internalized images. Wolf's thoroughly researched and convincing theories encourage rejection of unrealistic goals in favor of a positive self-image.

Third Term: Why George W. Bush <3 John McCain- Paul Begala
"With deadly accuracy, wit and fearlessness, Paul Begala demolishes the Myth of McCain. Once a political reformer, McCain has hung a For Sale sign on his most cherished principles and morphed into the second coming of George W. Bush. If you are an admirer of all that George Bush has done to America, you are going to love John McCain. If not, you need to read this book. Give it to anyone you know who is even thinking of voting for John McCain." -- Arianna Huffington

"If you're one of the 20 percent of Americans who love George W. Bush, you'll love John McCain. If you're one of the 80 percent of Americans who don't love President Bush, you'll love this book. It's a must-read for anyone who wants change." -- James Carville

The Republican War Against Women-Tanya Melich

From Library Journal
Melich, who has spent most of her political life as a Republican feminist, recounts 23 years of party politics that, she postulates, has fought against the women's movement and issues important to equal opportunity. She takes us through her struggles as a delegate to the Republican National Conventions of 1968 and 1992, describing in painstaking detail every platform, rule, and committee meeting that resulted in documents rejecting the Equal Rights Amendment and calling for a constitutional ban on abortions. Clearly, from what Melich outlines, the Republican party was completely out of sync with her views, leaving one to ask why it took so long for her to leave the party (as she finally did in 1992). Her reasoning after each defeat was that she thought it would get better and that it was better that the GOP feminists work with, rather than against, the party to see if some ground could be gained. Although the book's alarmist title may turn some potential readers off, the text is not hyperbole but a step-by-step account of how the religious right and conservatives have taken control of the Republican party.

How To Win A Fight With A Conservative- Daniel Kurtzman
This is political satire! It's meant to be humerus. Great add to any coffee table.

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture- Ariel Levy
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. What does sexy mean today? Levy, smartly expanding on reporting for an article in New York magazine, argues that the term is defined by a pervasive raunch culture wherein women make sex objects of other women and of ourselves. The voracious search for what's sexy, she writes, has reincarnated a day when Playboy Bunnies (and airbrushed and surgically altered nudity) epitomized female beauty. It has elevated porn above sexual pleasure. Most insidiously, it has usurped the keywords of the women's movement (liberation, empowerment) to serve as buzzwords for a female sexuality that denies passion (in all its forms) and embraces consumerism. To understand how this happened, Levy examines the women's movement, identifying the residue of divisive, unresolved issues about women's relationship to men and sex. The resulting raunch feminism, she writes, is a garbled attempt at continuing the work of the women's movement and asks, how is resurrecting every stereotype of female sexuality that feminism endeavored to banish good for women? Why is laboring to look like Pamela Anderson empowering? Levy's insightful reporting and analysis chill the hype of what's hot. It will create many aha! moments for readers who have been wondering how porn got to be pop and why feminism is such a dirty word.

Howl and other Poems- Allen Ginsberg
Everyone needs a little "beat" in their life.

She- Saul Williams
My favorite excert from this book:

I presented
my feminine side
with flowers

she cut the stems
and placed the gently
down my throat

and these tu lips
might soon eclipse
your brightest hopes

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Let's Bring SaltLines to BSU!!

In celebration of Women's Month!
If you'd like to inquire about having the SALTLINES show at your College or University, please contact:

Christen Greene
fauxpasproductions (at) gmail (dot) com


Coming March 2009: Salt Lines In honor of women’s history month, the four powerhouses Andrea Gibson (Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion), Denise Jolly (Seattle Poetry Slam), Sonya Renee (Individual National Poetry Slam Champion), and Tara Hardy (Bent Writing Institute) will hit the road to perform spoken word across the United States and Canada. These women represent some of the strongest and most respected talent coming out of the international Poetry Slam circuit. They and their work have been featured on HBO, CNN, MTV, BET, Oxygen, and UK Travel Networks, alongside the likes of Hillary Clinton, Ani Difranco, Gloria Steinem, Lady Miss Kier of Dee Lite, Cut Chemist, Amy Goodman, Dorothy Allison, Kate Bornstein, Michelle Tea, Sini Anderson, Ivan Coyote, and Sister Spit. Sonya, Tara, Andrea and Denise are performers, educators, facilitators, developers, and believers in the human ability to create change by honoring and expressing personal, cultural, and social history. This verbal quartet will storm, sing, slam, and sling salt into the eye of all that has ever silenced voices meant to be heard. Their celebration is one of being basic to the earth as salt. Necessary, life allowing, wound stinging, and let’s face it, tasty. A salt line is a ring left on a hat or heart or sleeve inspired by exertion or labor. So, don’t be surprised if they inspire you to work up your own sweat, because these four elemental poets will work stages into assembly lines of release, revolt, and redemption. These women do not provide a clean slate they do however provide a dirty one worn proudly. When booking Salt Lines make sure and inquire about writing, performance and gender theory workshops facilitated by the performers in your schools classroom!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

I <3 Her!

Is it obvious that I'm addicted to slam poetry?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Let's Cook That Lame Duck

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced legislation today that would block the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from passing the midnight regulation that would prevent family planning clinics from "discriminating" against employees who are opposed to abortion on "religious or moral grounds" and allow health care providers to refuse to perform abortions, or refer women to others who might.

The American Civil Liberties Union had this to say:
We continue to be very concerned about the scope and impact of this proposed rule. It leaves open the possibility that institutions and individuals can deny access to birth control and permits individuals to refuse to provide even counseling about basic heath care services. At a time when more and more Americans are either uninsured or struggling with the soaring costs of health care, the federal government should be expanding, not hampering access to important health services."

Senator Clinton had this to say about their proposed bill, the Protecting Patients and Health Care Act:
In the final days of his administration, the President is again putting ideology first and attempting to roll back health care protections for women and families. The fact that the EEOC was never consulted in the drafting of this rule further illustrates that this is purely a political ploy. This HHS rule will threaten patients' rights, stand in the way of health care professionals, and restrict access to critical health care services for those who need them most. Senator Murray and I are standing up once again to the administration against this rule and will continue to fight for women's reproductive rights. President Bush is making a last-minute attempt to undermine women's health care, but our legislation will stop this rule and ensure that women can continue to get needed health care.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This Is Not An Invitation To Rape Me

Scotland tackles rape with this great site:

Words from the campaign:
Several reviews (including one by the Crown Office in Scotland) and other pieces of research conducted over the last few years have highlighted consistently and alarmingly a range of prejudicial attitudes held by the public which blame women for their victimisation and compound an already traumatic experience by attributing the assault in whole or in part to some aspect of their demeanour or behaviour.

This is particularly true where women have been drinking before being raped, if they dress in a manner deemed to be ‘provocative’, or if they have engaged in some level of intimacy with their attacker before an assault. Women who suffer rape in the context of a marriage or other intimate partnership are also seriously disadvantaged by public attitudes, which often support the view that by entering into this marriage or relationship, they have somehow given up their right to refuse consent to sex.

The myth persists that only rape by a stranger counts as ‘real rape’, in spite of the fact that the vast majority of attacks are carried out by someone known to the victim, (often her husband or partner) and are every bit as damaging.

With This Is Not An Invitation To Rape Me, Rape Crisis Scotland intends to confront these attitudes in a very direct way, and invites members of the public in Scotland to join us in putting an end to blaming women for rape. The campaign comprises a range of images (and supporting materials) which invite you to examine your own attitude to the situations presented, and enter the debate that we hope our campaign will generate.

Women NEVER invite rape, whatever relationship they are in, whatever decisions they have made around drink or dress and whatever level of intimacy they have already engaged in with their attackers. We need to replace the blame and condemnation we currently offer to women who have been raped with support and justice. And we need to assign responsibility where it really belongs – with rapists.

Poetry + Feminist= FANTASTICALNESS :]

I need to do something like this.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Great Message On Gay Marriage

I LOVE Andrea!!

Proposition K

I was currently unaware of this until after the election. Nonetheless, I think it's an important women's issue so I'm going to blog about it.
Prop K was put on your November 2008 San Francisco ballot by groups that claim to be in favor of protecting sex workers; in reality this legislation would harm women, children, and the San Francisco community.
The measure directs San Francisco Police Department and the District Attorney’s office to refuse to enforce the State of California’s prostitution laws. These sections include the laws used to investigate and prosecute traffickers and those involved in exploiting children. Non-enforcement of these laws would put many people at risk.
This legislation shifts attention away from those who profit from sexually exploiting women, children, men and transgenders in the sex industry. If it were enacted it would empower pimps and johns and offer no new protection for prostitutes.
Research shows that folks that are marginalized because of their poverty or ethnicity are most vulnerable to prostitution and trafficking. The average age of entry into prostitution is 12 to 14 years.
This initiative prohibits the City and County of San Francisco from applying for and receiving State and Federal grants to fight Human Trafficking. In fact many victims of trafficking to San Francisco are from Asia and Latin America. In order to reach out to these victims, services must be offered in their languages. Ending enforcement of California’s prostitution laws is to tell people who are exploited in the sex industry and prostitution that their safety is not our priority.
Sexual abuse, assault, and rape of people who work in the sex industry is normalized in prostitution. Researchers, service agencies, homeless shelters, and battered women’s shelters all tell us that more than 90% of those in prostitution want to escape it.
Legalization in places like Amsterdam has been shown to increase, not decrease, this form of human trafficking. While girls may have made higher pay and get screened for STD’s if Prop K were passed, the number of girls coerced into prostitution and trafficked to San Francisco would have increased many times over. In Amsterdam's 250 officially listen brothels, 80 percent of the prostitutes have been trafficked in from other countries and 70 percent possess no legal papers. Instead of being protected by the regulations governing brothels, prostituted women are frequently beaten up and raped by pimps.

The Proposition failed by a vote of 121,815 to 89,833.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

We've Come So Far

Let us not forget the path that led us to this historical moment.
Many of us, who were once silenced, now have a voice.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Change Has Come To America

we've done it! I can't believe it.
President Barack Obama.
Vice President Joe Biden.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Please Vote!

Vote for equality!
Vote for hope!
Vote for our future!
We are the people we've been waiting for.
Embrace differences and accept others.
Don't empower the status quo by marginalizing others.
Take The Power Back!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Women for Obama/Biden

I wanted to take a minute out of my day and express my gratitude towards Sen. Joe Biden.

Senator Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the 1990s that set the national agenda on criminalizing violence against women and holding batterers truly accountable. With the help of outspoken advocates across the country, including the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) and other members of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was finally signed into law in August of 1994 as a part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

The authorization for the original VAWA provisions expired in 2000, the Congress took up the reauthorization of this landmark legislation in 1999 and completed its efforts in the fall of 2000 with the passage of the Violence Against Women Act of 2000.

As of the early 1990's many communities lacked domestic violence shelters and those that did have them couldn't fund them adequately. Law enforcement as well as the judicial system were unprepared to deal with the nature of such crimes. If a woman who’d been battered or raped went to the police, she was frequently lucky if she got sympathy--let alone experts trained in how to handle such cases, go after perpetrators, and counsel the victims.

“At that time there were no victim rights and [somebody] had to witness an act of violence in order to prosecute it,” says Judy Ellis, now executive director of First Step, a domestic violence program based in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan.

The Violence Against Women Act of 2005 was signed into law in January 2006. The bill authorizes $3.9 billion to support the program, including major enhancements, for the next five years. However, this bill does not actually provide the funding: it is just the first step, setting an upper spending limit. For each of the 5 years of the bill, Congress will need to pass legislation appropriating the specific amount of funds that the government will provide for each of the VAWA programs. There is no guarantee that Congress will appropriate the $3.9 billion that was authorized, or even the minimum amount that is needed. The war in Iraq, budget cuts, and other major expenses have resulted in less money for human services programs such as VAWA.(National Research Center for Women & Families)

Biden is also the co-author of a bill currently in committee called the International Violence Against Women Act, which is backed by major non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International , Women Thrive Worldwide, and the Family Violence Prevention Fund.... along with many more. I-VAWA aims to directs US aid in ways that specifically help end gender-based violence. This can range from educational programs to health aid to special training for peacekeeping forces.

If you have the time, browse the Amnesty International website.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Outrageous Acts of Hate

I saw this clip on CNN yesterday morning and found these people to be completely despicable.

Yet another video featuring the ignorant masses.

... I'm honestly at a loss for words.

HRC visits Wasilla

You're gay. Ok. Now let's fix you and make you straight. *eye roll*

This video is great! Virtual high-five to all participants.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Genocide in the Americas

On Monday, our nation will commemorate Christopher Columbus for his discovery of the “new world” in 1492.

How disgusting is it that a majority of American people still believe that Columbus was a man to be honored, a hero to be glorified for “unearthing” a world that was already populated by an estimated 57.3 MILLION indigenous peoples? Keep in mind this number is not exact; it is impossible to ever know how many natives inhabited the Americas and the Caribbean. This number is put forth by William M. Denevan in The Native Population of the Americas in 1492.
After 1492, it has been argued there was a population decline on the order of about 95% before the trend was reversed and the population began to recover. The true history of Columbus is not being taught in our nation’s schools, where there is no mention of the explorer’s inhumane treatment of the Indian people or his business of slave trade.

In essence, this holiday does no more than admire a man who opened the door to European colonization, the exploitation of native peoples and the slave trade.

As some of us know: the Spanish monarch invested in his excursion but, on the condition that Columbus would repay this investment with profits by bringing back gold, spices, and other items from Asia. The stress to repay this debt back led Columbus to bounce back and forth between Caribbean islands stealing anything of value… as is documented in his diaries. Unable to contact the necessary figures in China and India, he decided to pay back his debt with human lives. This wasn’t a new avenue to him as he had previously transported slaves to Portugal. 1,200 Taino Indians were torn from their homes in Hispaniola and crammed into ships which were destined for Spain. Upon their arrival they were treated as mere animals and sold into slavery. Hundreds died while making the ocean voyage and their bodies were tossed into the Atlantic as if they were nothing but rubbish.

Those Indians that were not sent to Spain were forced to work on plantations and in dangerous mines. Columbus and his “cronies” often hunted Indians for sport; they beat, raped, tortured, killed and often fed the Indian bodies to their hunting dogs. Four years after the arrival of Columbus to Hispaniola, one-third of the population had either been enslaved or murdered. Many researchers believe that within 50 years the entire Taino population had been wiped out. The plantation owners then turned their sites on the American mainland and to African slaves.
Spain and Portugal began their colonization efforts in 1492 as well.

The Spanish conquistadors established two new systems of rule over the indigenous population of the Americas known as the repartimiento and encomienda systems. The encomiendo system entrusted large tracts of land to certain Spaniards, they could demand tribute and services from the resident natives, using military force if necessary. Eventually the Spanish themselves realized that the encomienda system, a form of slavery, gave too much power to too few, so it was replaced with the repartimiento system, which divided the land into smaller plots known as haciendas. These haciendas now owned by the elite, required the resident natives to work for the land owners.

The English approached the New World very differently. They wanted the land for themselves, rather than to exploit Indian labor and native resources. As the colonies grew, they considered the Indians to be an obstacle, to be pushed out or killed to make way for more colonists. This pattern of genocide continued after the American Revolution.

I urge you to join the growing alliance of people that feel Columbus Day celebrates colonialism, oppression and genocide and unite to transform it. Re-examine the past and rectify the historical records.
For more information visit:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Let ME decide for you!

Feminism: the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the all people.
I’m highly aggravated with the right-wing media touting Palin as a feminist; simply having a vagina does not automatically make one a feminist. To call one a feminist is implying that one is an advocate of ending oppression and supporting people’s rights to make choices that govern their lives. This is an ideology that Palin does not support. She doesn’t support women to make decisions concerning their body. No, she wants to make that decision for us. She wants to overturn Roe v Wade and make it illegal for a pregnant woman to have an abortion, even in the case of rape. First of all, not every woman wants to be a mother; just because we are the “givers of life” does not mean that our bodies should be treated as mere incubators. Second, a woman goes through the emotional and physical trauma of being raped and happens to get pregnant. Is it really logical, let a lone ethical, to force that women to postpone her healing process for nine months due to the “sanctity of life?” Maybe a better way to reduce the amounts of abortions would be to provide better health care to more people…hmmm… now that’s a hell of an idea! Instead of abstinence-only health education, why not provide our children with a proper sex education. Teach them the risks and how they can be better prepared. Kids these days are having sex younger than ever and a lot of them having babies and acquiring STD’s because no one is educating them. Providing kids with condoms doesn’t give them a golden ticket to get laid, it’s a tool to keep them safe.

Choice…back to choice.

Palin doesn’t support gay and lesbian folks in their decision to get married, because apparently marriage is only between a man and a woman. Those gays and lesbians are second-class citizens, let’s deny them rights! She’s ok with denying benefits for same-sex couples further claiming, “I believe that honoring the family structure is that important.” So families can only exist if everyone is straight?

There are a multitude of reasons why I can’t stand Sarah Palin, but I wanted to stress the reasons that I believe she is NOT a feminist, despite the garbage she has been spewing throughout her campaign. Another issues that been a bur in my side is the fact that the right wing has persistently attacked the media as being sexist for their aggressive questioning of her record and readiness to be in a position of power; these same people previously ignored the claims of sexism from the Clinton campaign. That tells me that the conservatives believe that it’s ok to be sexist to a woman… as long as that woman is a liberal. Besides, just because Palin is a woman doesn’t mean that she should have sanctuary from the media. There is a reason the media has been quizzical about her record, because Americans deserve a VP that will be ready to lead if the situation arises.

Finally, we have a woman in the race for the White House and its Sarah Palin. What a complete and utter disappointment. Palin has proved through her interview with Couric and her debate against Biden that she possesses very little knowledge of what’s going on in the real world. Winking repeatedly and constantly using the word “maverick” isn’t going to fool voters that actually have functioning brains in their skulls. Palin likes to plug that’s she’s that everyday middle-class American--a Joe Six-Pack--and that’s what the people need. There is no way in hell that I would go two houses down to my average American neighbor and ask them to run my country, that reasoning is completely asinine. The Pew Research Center surveyed a representative national sample of 1,502 adults in February of 2007 to get a feel for the American public’s news habits; this survey found that only 69% of the respondents could name the current vice president, 66% knew their state’s governor, and a mere 37% knew that the Chief Justice is conservative. Sounds to me like quite a few Joe Six-Packs could use some good ol’ news in their lives.

I’d like to end my rant with something I found deliciously ironic… especially considering I’m a fan of that terrible 80’s movie Top Gun. If McCain is Maverick then that must make Sarah Palin….you guessed it! Goose! We all know what happened to the poor and unfortunate Goose; he crashed and burned (well actually he ejects into the cockpit canopy and is killed on impact, but you get the point). Looks like Palin is keepin’ to the script.

For the record: Goose was my favorite.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fool On The Hill this is where I put my thoughts...
TBC... on a weekend.... I'm tired.