Read This Now: “To be active is the difference between freedom and submission.”

by matttbastard

Renee brings the awesome with this passionate, inspiring must-read post on patriarchy, culture, and ‘the cycle of victimology':

While I am certainly not in the position to judge another on the coping mechanisms which they employ to survive our racist, patriarchal culture, I do know that we need to be conscious of why we take on certain labels and how the interpretations of others impacts our decisions.  Allowing another to discern and control what the issues that effect our lives  entail is nothing more than a form of submission in the guise of owning victimology.

We are more than what someone does to us.  Each day when we wake, we make small decisions that have the potential to lead to great change.  It is because we have been understood as powerless that these actions continually fail to merit the respect that they deserve.  We can actively choose not to participate in conversations in which we have been declared unwelcome, or we can kick the door down and demand our voices be heard.  This is not the action of a militant, but the actions of a person that refuses to be the eternal victim so that others may patronize our struggle.  To be active is the difference between freedom and submission.

DJ rewind:

We are more than what someone does to us.

Yes, that.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

Go on, read it.

Now.

Go.

h/t Sarah

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New Challenges, New Opportunities

by matttbastard

The most recent edition of openDemocracy’s 50/50 quarterly features an interview with Dr. Yakin Erturk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, on how the global economic crisis is affecting women.  Dr. Erturk also notes the import of ‘political economy’ in the pursuit of women’s rights, especially during a time of financial upheaval.

A sample:

We refer to human rights as if they were confined to civil and political rights; this is also reflected in the twin covenants which have divided rights into civil and political on the one hand, and economic and social on the other. The latter is generally seen as inspirational and the first one as the real thing. But we know from women’s lives that unless we have a holistic approach to women’s rights, whereby women can achieve economic independence or are at least empowered socially and politically, the rights they may read about in books do not reach them. So my final report to the council this year is taking up this challenge: I have argued that underneath the surface of many of the things that we talk about as being cultural, there is a solid, material basis which feeds certain concrete interests and relationships; and that unless we dig down into that base we are talking at a very abstract level. Culture can take on a life of its own, so that we assume that that is the reality, when half the time nobody really understands its true impact.

We are all cultural beings: it is very hard to attack cultures. What I wanted to do in my culture report was to connect this to a more profound analysis of concrete interests, real power – hence political economy. Particularly in the neo-liberal era, it is political economy which is creating new challenges for women’s rights, while at the same time, of course, creating some new opportunities.

As they say, read the whole damn thing.

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Quote of the Effing Century (Or, On the Original Stimulus Package)

by matttbastard

I rather adore the willy. In fact, when these long, drawn-out discussions about sex happen on radical feminist sites, I sometimes find the urge to hop in, scream “I LIKE DICK!” and run away, giggling like a third-grader. The fact that I haven’t done so is a testament to my general self-restraint and, uh, amazing level of maturity. Or something.

- Natalia Antonova, who, btw, is made of pure, undiluted WIN (and infinite maturity.  Or something.)

h/t Sarah J via email

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Read This Now

by matttbastard

Over at Global Comment, Sarah Jaffe, in a devastatingly on-target critique, utterly eviscerates yesterday’s head-pattingly patronizing L.A. Times article/future-bird-cage-liner (where the credentials of Dr. Jill Biden were examined [and dismissed] in a manner that was maddeningly glib, highly gendered–and entirely sexist).

Jaffe’s point about the underlying (and intersecting) double standards at play is especially sharp:

I have to wonder, if we were discussing a male academic who taught at a prestigious Ivy League university, the reporter would feel the need to spend the entire piece debating whether he deserved the prefix “Dr.”

The article’s dismissive tone is symptomatic of the way the media treats women, particularly accomplished women in the public eye. Jill Biden has several advanced degrees, and yet chooses to teach in a community college, helping students who often cannot afford to attend school full-time. This is worthy of respect, not a quibble over whether she deserves the title as much as someone who stitches up wounds, treats skin conditions, or performs nose jobs.

Highly recommended reading–the whole damn thing, goddammit.

Go.

Update 02/04: The Women’s Media Center has reposted Jaffe’s article in its entirety.  Check it out, and show some love.

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If Tennessee is the Buckle of the Bible Belt Then Utah is the Backside

by matttbastard

Well, isn’t this lovely:

The Utah House of Representatives will hear a controversial proposal that could hold physicians responsible for homicide if they perform abortions deemed illegal by the state.

Under current state law, abortion is allowed only in cases of rape or incest, if the fetus cannot survive outside the womb or is unlikely to survive, or to save the mother’s life or preserve her health.

Abortions that don’t meet any of those standards can result in third-degree felony charges.

Under House Bill 90, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, physicians who perform illegal abortions could be charged with second-degree felony criminal homicide.

“In my opinion, illegal abortion is the same as murder,” Ray said. “This is the right step for Utah to take to protect the lives of unborn children, because they don’t have a voice.”

Note how it’s  the doctors who performed the “illegal” abortions potentially facing charges under this proposed new law, not the women who ‘contracted’ the “killing”. In a (perverse) sense, it’s almost gratifying to see the fetus fetishists explicitly affirm their belief that women are merely empty vessels that bear teh innocent baybees over to this mortal coil–boxes on a biological assembly line, if you will.

Which perhaps answers the question posed via IM by Sylvia/M (h/t):

“Will women be accomplices, then? Or scenes of the crime?”

Take action:

If you live in Utah or you want to send some strongly-worded letters to the Democrats in their House of Representatives about this bill, here’s the UT House websiteTell these representatives that doctors protecting women’s health is not an air quotation myth.

Update: Jill Miller Zimon  has compiled a plethora of info on this proposed anti-woman legislation. Go.

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Federal Budget 2009: No Room For Women at the Table

by matttbastard

Following several days of strategically-timed leaks to the press, the Stephen Harper Party has finally tabled its stimulus budget, which, according to the Canadian Press, “submerges Canada in a sea of red ink after more than a decade of clear fiscal sailing.”  Indeed, it seems that Jim Flaherty has finally embraced his inner Keynesian, after years of hiding it beneath Milton Friedman’s long shadow:

The Tories are doling out nearly $20-billion – or half the stimulus package – to spur immediate spending on infrastructure projects and home construction.

Nearly $12-billion federal dollars will be made available for “shovel-ready” public works projects across Canada that can be commenced quickly, but there’s a catch. Provinces and municipalities will have to contribute nearly $9-billion more in order to get the roads, bridges and sewer upgrade work started.

Cost-shared projects the Tories are eying include: revitalizing Union Station in Toronto, the Evergreen transit line in Vancouver, road upgrades in Quebec City and the Summerside wind energy project on Prince Edward Island.

[...]

Infrastructure spending alone won’t keep all the building trades in Canada busy though and Ottawa has allocated $7.8-billion for other construction activity – to renovate and upgrade housing.

This includes $3-billion it expects to spend giving out tax breaks for the temporary home renovation credit as well as $1-billion in outlays to fund renovations and retrofits of social housing. Ottawa will also spend $400-million on new home construction for low-income seniors, $400-million on first nations reserve housing and $200-million for building northern residences.

Of course, all that spending (and tax cuts) comes at a cost (er…you know what I mean):

Ottawa is forecast to add $85-billion to the debt between now and 2012-13, eroding much of the debt-reduction achievements of the past decade. Current and former governments have shaved $105-billion from the national debt since the late 1990s by using surpluses to retire obligations owing.

Yet out of all the ‘pragmatic’ concessions made by the Harper conservatives that fly in the face of their purported ideological ‘principles’ (a practice the Harpercons have been perfecting recently) there’s still one policy area where old habits die harder than Bruce Willis, as the NDP (which, along with the Bloc, has already vowed to vote down the budget) points out in a press release (h/t The Regina Mom):

The budget…contains no mention of childcare spaces and maintains the attack on women’s ability to pursue pay equity complaints.

Via Antonia Zerbisias, YWCA Canada has also issued a press release with its response to the latest bird-flip to 51% of the population:

“The government has set up some very inclusive spending with this budget for First Nations, seniors and people with disabilities, but we don’t see an awareness that Canadian women are very vulnerable in hard times,” says YWCA Canada CEO Paulette Senior. “Two-thirds of Canadians working for minimum wage are women, many taking any work they can find to hold family and community together.  Government stimulus spending must take this into account.”

[...]

The hole in this budget is child care services. For Canadian women and their families, child care is missing, and it is vital,” says Senior. “Everything we know about building strong families says child care services are essential. And that goes double for women needing to leave violent situations. They need affordable, quality care for their children so they can go out and work. Childcare not only creates jobs but it supports women and their families. Now is the time.”   The budget announced $200 million for social housing in the north, a much needed investment.

Unlike the November economic update there was no mention of pay equity in the budget.  “We are very sorry to hear a resounding silence from the government on this issue,” says Paulette Senior. “Especially as job stimulus spending is concentrated in employment sectors heavily dominated by men. The government needs to rethink its position on this equality issue and take the advice of its own task force.”

Keep in mind that, according to CUPE National President Paul Moist, “[m]any of these measures have a shelf-life of only two years.”  Anyone who believes that we have witnessed the birth of a new era of post-partisan Conservative governance needs to stop downing so many goddamn Hope and Change cocktails and reset their GPS (hint: we’re still flying north of the US border, kids–even under NAFTA obligations, Obama’s transformative reach unfortunately stops at the customs desk).  Still, it’s all-too-telling that, even in the short term, demonstrative apathy (or, depending how you look at it, antipathy) towards the women of Canada is one principle that the Tories are entirely unwilling to sacrifice at the alter of (temporary) expediency.

And, if anyone really thinks that we’re going to see this budget get killed, as Mark Taylor recommends, or even substantively modified before passage,  Brodie Fenlon of the Globe and Mail puts things into perspective with the following lede:

The fate of the Harper Conservative’s massive stimulus plan and its minority government now rests in the hands of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, as does the future of the fledgling Liberal-NDP coalition.”

In other words, progressives and coalition supporters shouldn’t even bother inhaling, much less holding it in.  Still, if the spirit of futile optimism moves you to act despite the long odds (as, um, it always does to yours truly), contact info for Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is as follows:

Ottawa Parliamentary Office

Room 435-S, Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Tel: (613) 995 – 9364
Fax: (613) 992 – 5880
Email: Ignatieff.M@parl.gc.ca

Alternatively,  folks who are more new media saavy can send their thoughts via Iggy’s 1337 Web 2.0 hub.

Related: Various reponses from First Nation leader Phil Fontaine, James Laxer, and Marc Lee of the Progressive Economics Forum, who dismisses the “leakiest budget in Canadian history” as “more of a communications strategy than a serious budget for tough times.”

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Lilly Ledbetter Act (Finally) Passes US Senate

by matttbastard

Well it’s about damn time:

The Senate approved landmark worker rights legislation on Thursday that will make it easier for those who think they’ve endured pay discrimination to seek legal help. The vote was 61-36.

The House of Representatives approved a similar measure on January 9, three days after the 111th Congress convened. Because the Senate made modest changes in the House version, the House must pass it again. Once it does, as is assured, this will be one of the first bills that President Barack Obama signs into law.

Steve Benen patiently explains why this is a good thing (just in case it wasn’t immediately obvious):

To hear opponents of the bill tell it, making it easier to challenge pay discrimination will lead to more lawsuits. That’s almost certainly true. But therein lies the point — if American workers are facing unjust wage discrimination, there should be more lawsuits. Those are worthwhile lawsuits, challenging an injustice. Ideally, employers would stop discriminating, as most already do, and in turn, there’d be fewer lawsuits.

Liss says that “Lilly Ledbetter has reportedly already been invited by President Obama to appear at the White House for the signing ceremony.” If so, that would be yet another politically astute symbolic gesture on the part of the new executive.  Let’s hope it works out.  Ledbetter has more than  earned a place at the President’s side.

Oh, and to the 36 Republicans who voted against this bill and in favour of discrimination against 51% of the US population, a message of post-partisan comity and respect for ideological difference, on behalf of the women of America:

natodutch

Now that gives me hope for the future.

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