Making the Political Personal

crunktastic asks a great question:

Can I feel safe in the softness of your touch if you don’t feel led to question a culture where other men routinely touch other women violently?

Its a great question, and one worth considering beyond gender politics as well.

ps – Note to crunktastic, throwing in a historically inaccurate cheap shot doesn’t bolster your arguments:

In addition to accompanying their men to the polls to monitor their votes, Black women banded together and encouraged each other to withhold sex from any man who voted against the community’s interests. These sisters knew how personal the political was long before white women said it.

Using sex to influence politics has been around as a tool for ages across world cultures.

UPDATE: I totally goofed the ps note due to utterly missing the historical reference!  Oops.  So please disregard the post script above.


Call to Investigate Army Murder Cover Up

On July 19, 2005, a US soldier was murdered.  The murder was literally covered up as a suicide, and glaring inconsistencies in the official autopsy with actual wounds ignored.  (Feministing):

Retired Army Col. Ann Wright explains what we all want investigated:

From the day their daughter’s body was returned to them, the parents had grave suspicions about the Army’s investigation into Lavena’s death and the characterization of her death as suicide. In charge of a communications facility, Lavena was able to call home daily. In those calls she gave no indication of emotional problems or being upset. In a letter to her parents, Lavena’s commanding officer Captain David Woods wrote: “Lavena was clearly happy and seemed in very good health both physically and emotionally.”In viewing his daughter’s body at the funeral home, Dr. Johnson was concerned about the bruising on her face. He was puzzled by the discrepancy in the autopsy report on the location of the gunshot wound. As a US Army veteran and a 25-year US Army civilian employee who had counseled veterans, he was mystified how the exit wound of an M-16 shot could be so small. The hole in Lavena’s head appeared to be more the size of a pistol shot rather than an M-16 round. He questioned why the exit hole was on the left side of her head, when she was right handed. But the gluing of military uniform white gloves onto Lavena’s hands hiding burns on one of her hands is what deepened Dr. Johnson’s concerns that the Army’s investigation into the death of his daughter was flawed.

They glued the white gloves onto her hands to hide burns. A literal cover-up. It’s so clear that this and other details of LaVena’s case don’t add up to suicide.

Her family and friends are pushing for justice. It is a stinging slap in the face of rule of law and the integrity of the armed forces that her murder is not being investigated.  It is a crime that the safety and well being of female officers in the US military is clearly off the radar of the top brass.  This is a case that has implications for all women serving:

And it’s sadly not exactly far-fetched that she was sexually assaulted: A full one-third of women veterans report rape or attempted rape during their time in the military. So it’s important to keep the pressure on Congress and the military to open an investigation into her death. For LaVena, yes. Absolutely. But also for other military women whose rapes and murders have been covered up. Wright writes,

The military has characterized each of the deaths of women who were first sexually assaulted as deaths from “non-combat related injuries,” and then added “suicide.” Yet, the families of the women whom the military has declared to have committed suicide, strongly dispute the findings and are calling for further investigations into the deaths of their daughters. Specific US Army units and certain US military bases in Iraq have an inordinate number of women soldiers who have died of “non-combat related injuries,” with several identified as “suicides.”

Please sign that petition today.

The petition is here.  The cover up (and other similar coverups) are a mark of the deepest shame on the military.  There is no honor there without justice.

McCain: Women 77% as Intelligent as Men

In a move sure to endear himself to voters, John McCain has spoken up in opposition to equal pay, saying simply “women don’t have enough experience”. DNC’s Karen Finney just about sums it up:

Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney said: “At a time when American families are struggling to keep their homes and jobs while paying more for everything from gasoline to groceries, how on Earth would anyone who thinks they can lead our country also think it’s acceptable to oppose equal pay for America‘s mothers, wives and daughters?”

Don’t forget sisters. Opposing equal pay is a remarkably stupid move. Oh that ironic ne’er-do-well!

Female Readers!  Send McCain your Resume! (via Moms Rising)

How Purity Invites Murder

The word theocracy is a powerful one.  It brings to mind the prospect of a religious authority ruling people.  And religious control of politics is always that: rule.  It is a single authority exercising its will on the people.

A subtler form may also take root.  This unfortunate news via Pandagon:

I suppose this was inevitable, but the growing movement of doctors and pharmacists who decide that you’re not worthy of medical treatment if you’re female and engaging in sexual behavior they disapprove of has reached the point where some doctors are refusing to perform Pap smears on unmarried women. I guess you probably don’t really need one if you’re a virgin, because they’re looking for cervical cancer, which is linked to HPV, which is sexually transmitted. For the people who think unwanted pregnancy and STDs are just the proper punishment for unmarried, sexually active women, it follows that death from cervical cancer should go on the “punishments for sluts” list.

Make no mistake about this.  Doctors are refusing to perform a vital medical test on women they personally do not believe should be having sex.  From the article:

To look for answers, I turned to Patricia LaRue, Executive Director at Canadians for Choice, to see what she could tell me if doctors have the right to refuse ANY procedure that they see as going against their religion.  She reminded me that doctors have a “conscience clause,” allowing them to refuse prescriptions for birth control, abortion, and now pap smears.  The conscious clause is put in place by the Canadian Medical Association so that physicians are not forced to act in any way that goes against their personal beliefs.

If a women is denied a vital medical service, and then dies, the doctor is directly responsible for her death.  This is no different than a doctor refusing to help a gunshot victim or test the swollen lymph nodes of a patient because of the color of his skin.

For me, this goes beyond the question of whether or not a person may cite religious objections when going directly against the Hippocratic Oath. I wonder, what kind of religion comes from such a place of cold arrogant judgment that its adherents believe they have the right to commit murder?

The obsession over purity is really an obsession over a lack of control.  A control that should be forever beyond the reach of governments and churches.

How long until doctors claim the right to refuse to treat homosexuals?  Until people of other faiths are off-limits?  Will everything from the Ten Commandments to the most obscure line in scripture become justification for refusing to stand by the Hippocratic Oath?

Sexual Violence: Candidates and the Media

Dear Presidential Candidates:

Why aren’t you talking about rape? (Bob Herbert in the NYTimes via Feministing):

The sexual mistreatment of women in the military is widespread. The Defense Department financed a study in 2003 of female veterans seeking health assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nearly a third of those surveyed said they had been the victim of a rape or attempted rape during their service.

That was in 2003.  You all support the troops, right?  Are you including Rape survivors when you say that?  How will you help?

Of note, only two candidates have a specific issues section dedicated to women.  Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.  Of the two, only Edwards’ mentions violence against women:

Ending Violence Against Women

Achieving full equal rights for women includes the right to be free of violence everywhere. Edwards supports efforts to fully fund the Violence Against Women Act, which provides resources for crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and continuing education to law enforcement and the courts. Edwards will also aggressively support political and economic rights for women where they do not exist and supports efforts to reduce violence against women and children around the world.

To our conglomerated media companies:

Why do you treat cases of Rape, Abuse and Murder as crime thrillers?  (Feministing):

What (shockingly) seems to be missing from the coverage of both of these cases is a discussion of violence against women. In Henry’s case, it’s been difficult to find a lot news coverage at all about her disappearance–wonder why that is. In the coverage of Lauterbach’s murder, we’ve heard nary a word on violence against pregnant women, sexual assault in the military or the silencing of rape survivors.

We have an important opportunity to make problem of gender based violence a top issue now, and one we commit to fight.  To do this we need awareness and we need fighters.  We need the media to step up to their social responsibility and take a clear eyed and hard look at their own reporting, and politicians who are willing to both talk about the issues, and take immediate action.  And both need to keep the other honest.  We need politicians who will take the media to task for their coverage, and news organizations that will bring this up at news conferences and debates.

And candidates, if you’re listening, you don’t need to be elected to start.  Start now.  In the debates, in your campaign stops: make this your fight.

Women for Hillary: Myth vs Fact


Women, in particular, responded: Several said they chose to vote for Mrs. Clinton at the last moment because she had shown a human side of herself that they had never seen.

“At first, I thought it was bad that she cried, but then I thought she is a woman, give her a chance,” said Diane Fischel, a tailor and a grandmother, who cited the emotional display for deciding to vote for Mrs. Clinton in the Democratic primary instead of for Senator John McCain on the Republican side.

The coverage is pretty simple.  Women voted for Hillary because she is a woman.  Because she showed her emotions, and by golly gee don’t women run on emotions rather than reason?  Bullshit.

Elizabeth Dole would not have won NH.  Ann Coulter would not have won.  The only reason the emotional side had any impact whatsoever, was because the media has worked so hard to present Mrs. Clinton as a cold calculating bitch.  She isn’t, and the heavy breathing wingnuts who insist she is are revealing more about themselves than Hillary.

Hillary Clinton won because her message resonated with voters:  “I am committed, I am someone you can trust, and I will fix this country”.  Clinton’s approach is, far more than any other candidate, about finding the middle ground.  She is the mushy centrist to end all mushy centrists.  And that can be damn appealing, especially in a state like New Hampshire.  Whether or not that will carry over to future primaries remains to be seen.

Her display of emotion did have a pretty remarkable effect though.  It showed how patently false the painfully constructed media narrative was.

More Women in Government: She Should Run

From SheShouldRun at myDD:

Two percent.

That’s the proportion of Congress in U.S. history that’s been made up of women.

She Should Run is a project to get more pro choice women into office.  I got an email from Alicia Durfee:

The greatest part of this project is that it’s not a superficial exercise, but real action to elect pro-choice women.  As the nominations have come in, the WCF has been following up to make sure these women receive the support and resources they need to run.  They’re even planning their first training session with women who have been encouraged to run as a direct result of this project.

This is pretty straight forward.  Our government is growing increasingly hostile to women’s rights.  This is a great way to begin turning back the tide and moving our policies from the 1950’s into the current decade.

You all probably know someone who could run for office.  An inspiring teacher whose always talking about politics.  A doctor who is passionate about health care reform.  The office manager who advocates for change in the workplace.

Another good place to look would be your handy local politicians.  I can think of a particularly courageous, deft and principled State Rep from Massachusetts who should really consider running for a higher office.  I’m sure you can too.