Hello all! This month’s Carnival has turned out to be rather long again, but that’s okay. Just goes to show how much important work we’re all doing. There’s lots of great stuff here, so I hope you will all get busy reading. All the best to everyone.
I am going to open this month’s carnival with an extract from a book soon to be released in Australia called Trafficked by Kathleen Maltzahn, founding director of Project Respect. This is the first book length account of the trafficking of women and girls for prostitution in Australia, and an incredibly important resource in documenting and understanding the realities of trafficked women, and how they have often been unfairly and callously treated by the Australian legal system. The extract is called Trafficking: The First Breakthrough and is posted at Australian Policy Online: Reports. Particularly disturbing is the Australian government’s determination to treat trafficked women as “illegal immigrants”, placing them in detention centres and then deporting them, refusing to recognise them as the victims of crime:
At that time, despite the many crimes committed against the women, if they were found by the Department of Immigration to be in breach of their visa conditions they were put in detention and deported. No charges were laid: even leaving aside the federal sexual slavery legislation, crimes under state law – rape, battery and imprisonment – were going undetected by the authorities.
It doesn’t matter if women have mobile phones, it doesn’t matter if they are taken on outings, it doesn’t matter if they have food and drink. If a person’s agency is taken away, if their identity is stolen, if they cannot remove themselves from violence, and if they can be bought and sold at whim, they are slaves. This is the reality of many women on “contract” in Australia.
Whether or not we can see this present day form of slavery, and not just look for its past manifestation, is a test of our capacity to recognise a crime against humanity.
Posted at Heart’s Women’s Space, Suki Falconberg writes of the prostitution of Iraqi women and girls in Ms Iraq Comments on the Prostitution of Iraqi Women and Girls:
In my view, the story of the 10-year-old Iraqi girl, forced to have sex for money, this is war. All the rhetoric of politicians and journalists cannot excuse what has happened to her. All the fancy phrases about a war being “A Right War” or “A Just War” have no meaning for her. Is the woman who must walk the streets of Baghdad and sell her body to feed her children in any way aware of the politicians, sitting in their neat offices, making the decisions that have destroyed her life?
Lara, at her recently begun blog Rychousmama reproduces a disturbing article about the callous behaviour of Italian beach-goers who ignored the bodies of two drowned Roma girls in Italians Don’t Give a Crap About the Roma:
Italian newspapers, an archbishop and civil liberties campaigners expressed shock and revulsion on Monday after photographs were published of sunbathers apparently enjoying a day at the beach just meters from where the bodies of two drowned Roma girls were laid out on the sand.
GrrlScientist of Living the Scientific Life brings us The Handmaid’s Tale: Fact or Fiction? about a deeply concerning Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) draft document that seeks to drastically reduce women’s access to birth control in America:
This document proposes to redefine nearly all forms of birth control, especially birth control pills, as a form of abortion and allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman’s access to contraception.
Sparkle*Matrix brings attention to the plight of Prossy Kakooza, a Ugandan lesbian woman currently seeking asylum in the UK after being imprisoned, raped and nearly murdered in her own country, in her post Prossy Kakooza Must Not be Returned to Uganda, which reproduces an article telling Prossy’s story:
Prossy had been forced into an engagement when her family discovered her relationship with the girlfriend she met at university, Leah. Both women were marched two miles naked to the police station, where they were locked up.
Prossy’s inmates subjected her to gross acts of humiliation. She was violently raped by police officers who taunted her with derogatory comments like “we’ll show you what you’re missing” and “you’re only this way because you haven’t met a real man.” She was also scalded on her thighs with hot meat skewers.
Women who have expressed concern about Gardasil’s new cervical cancer vaccine have been roundly ridiculed and silenced by the malestream media, however, as increasing numbers of stories emerge about severe side-effects and even deaths resulting from the vaccine, it is pretty obvious there is something to be concerned about, whatever the men might like us to believe. One such story can be found at Gardasil: Women Hurt by Medicine, where Susan Edelman tells how her 17 year old daughter died after receiving the vaccine in My Girl Died as a ‘Guinea Pig’ For Gardasil:
She loved SpaghettiO’s, pepperoni, lilies, listening to her iPod and making her pals laugh.
In her senior yearbook, she wrote, “The best things in life aren’t things, they’re friends.”
Now that’s the quote chiseled into her gravestone.
This next post took me back for a (disturbing) minute to my own school days. When I was 11 (in grade 6) we too had a “special class” on make-up, which was of course only attended by the girls, and was given by some woman who turned up from goodness knows where to tell us all about how to make ourselves look “beautiful.” That was in 1993. And since then, it appears, things have only gotten worse, as Hell On Hairy Legs describes make-up courses currently being run for girls in Australian schools by Hillsong, an extreme right-wing Christian group, in her post Hillsong and the Shine Program:
Hillsong has been going to schools, teaching Australia’s daughters. In fact they’ve been to my school and taught my friends. I always got a bad vibe from the Shine program, which was pushed relentlessly at assemblies and year meetings until enough people joined up. It’s not nice to know that I was right.
They’ve taken a leaf from fun feminism, preaching about gaining self-esteem through the application of makeup. There must be something besides carcinogens in that crap, because I would have to get high to sit through two hours of etiquette and deportment lessons.
Maggie Hays has written an excellent post about the proliferation of pornography and its harms in I Blame The Porno-iarchy posted at her blog Against Pornography. This is a long post, though is has to be because she covers a lot of ground, and it is therefore difficult to pick out a single representative quote. However, I really like what she says about the way in which women’s oppression has been pushed into the private sphere and then co-opted as being sexy:
Women’s oppression is now been kept away from public eye and pushed into the private sphere, where women are most at risk of male violence. No wonder why few rapes end up in convictions. Sexual coercion has become “sexy” in this culture, and women & girls are being trained to submit to men, in just the same way I had been trained to submit to men. During all those years, I’d been consciously ignorant of pornography’s harms while however subconsciously I knew about those harms because I’d experienced them.
Demonista has also written an essay about the harms of pornography called “I’d Slice Her:” Feminism, Pornography, and Sex posted at Demonista. Neatly tying in with what Maggie says, Demonista writes about her personal experiences of pornography, and the damage it did:
The average age of first viewing pornography is eleven […] I was eight. I don’t remember the first image I saw, or my very first reaction, but I soon incorporated it into my sexuality […] One sticks in my memory in particular: a blonde, pornified, large breasted woman is on her hands and knees, head back, mouth open to admit a disjointed descending penis. When I was nine, I began self-harming, in junior high I struggled with disordered eating. Even when the conscious mind forgets, the subconscious and the body can’t.
I was raped in my flat. I was raped behind pubs. I was raped in clubs. I was raped on the street.
Only, it cannot be rape. It was just an exchange of goods.
It hard to write this.
I want that all men who think it is ok to buy women and girls to be judged.
I don’t care about their background. I don’t care if they are rich or poor. I don’t care if are locals or tourists.
Each man that pays money is paying into the sex trade that makes it ok to rape, tortures and even murder their product.
In the follow up to the above post, Rebecca writes of the emotional toll it takes to remember all the things that were done to her as a prostituted woman, and asks all of us to feel the sickness and anger we should at the abuse that so many prostituted women and girls are forced to endure in After Last Post:
Be sick as prostituted women and girls are being raped now.
Raped and told it is they [who] choose to be there.
Raped and not allow to feel grief.
Be sick as prostituted women and girls are tortured as you read this.
Tortured so often that they can no longer feel the pain.
Tortured so their mind refuses to know what is happening, so go into blank mode.
I feel that being sickened at the conditions that the majority of prostituted women and girls are living in is one way to grieve.
But use the sickness to build up an anger.
In On Hiding, Rebecca writes movingly about the difficulty of recognising her own reality as an abused and prostituted woman; a difficulty compounded by those in the world who do not want to recognise the harm that prostitution does:
I was tough-can’t-remember-won’t-remember. I refused to know what was done to me. I refused to remember how I got injuries. I refused to say how I got pregnant. I refused to be what I was.
Now I say it loud.
I was prostituted. I was beaten up. I was raped. I was forced to play porn games. I was brought close to death.
That reality is mine.
A lot of defenders of pornography like to pretend that the industry is harmless, or even beneficial, for women. However, when even women who have supposedly “succeeded” in the industry represent it as being harmful and full of predatory men and women, this idea is seriously challenged. Using Jenna Jameson’s own words from her autobiography, Antipornography Activist makes a powerful case against pornography in Jenna Jameson’s 25 Good Reasons Why No One Would Ever Want to Be a Porn Star posted at the Anti-Pornography Activist Blog:
“It’s not something that any parent would choose for their child.” – Jenna Jameson, speaking of the porn industry.
Thinking and Theorising
Tami of What Tami Said has written an important piece discussing the differences between recognising white privilege and arrogantly assuming an understanding of the experiences of people of colour in May I Be Offended On Your Behalf:
All of us who suffer inequalities related to race hope that one day the mainstream will “get it.” We want them to get institutional bias. We want them to get the nuances between funny and offensive. We want them to get their own privilege. We want them to get our cultural differences, while also getting that we are individuals apart from cultural markers. We want them to understand these things, but there is a fine line between developing an awareness of bias and arrogantly believing that you are so enlightened that you “get” all there is to know about being a person of color.
Marcella Chester of abyss2hope: A rape survivor’s zigzag journey into the open brings us two posts examining the unethical ways in which the statements of rape victims are received, with the assumption that many women who say they are raped are suffering from faulty perceptions of events, Defining False Rape Reports by Whether Rape is Legal and He Just Thinks He’s Been Wrongfully Accused Of Rape. In her second post, she turns the table on patriarchal logic and points out,
In my post Defining False Rape Reports by Whether Rape is Legal I responded to the premise that many of those who report rape only think they were raped and are filing false reports.
The corollary which must be attached to that premise, if it has any validity, is that many of those who are accused of rape are making false statements when they say, “I’m no rapist,” and only think they are falsely accused of rape.
Jo22 has a Mary Daly-esque rumination on the origin of patriarchy in her post Genesis: Does the Bible Depict the Origin of Patriarchy? published on her blog I Can’t Fly:
In the garden of Eden was ‘The Tree of Knowledge’ and Eve goes against God’s wishes and eats from it. The snake tells her to. Eve then shares the apple with Adam. This could allude to the discovery of how babies are made. Women probably did know before men and shared that knowledge with them.
Men, I believe, were a bit put out by it all, what with their previous reverence for women’s amazing gift. They were producing life too and wanted some sort of credit for it. This could be what is meant by the ‘Fall of Man’, and the Original Sin was rape. Wars and all sorts would follow, with men trying to prove their fertility to other men and stealing their women.
Part of an ongoing series of posts exploring transgenderism, Miss Andrea has written The Hunt for Essentials: Unpacking Transgenderism posted at miss Andrea’s. She draws attention to the often loose and vague definitions of transgender that are used by different organisations and says:
Here we have some number of men who do not feel comfortable with traditional gender expectations. No problem there, many women also do not feel comfortable with traditonal gender expectations – except we do not call these women transgendered, we call them feminists or possibly humanists. And for some obscure reason, these men who are not transexual would rather huddle under the umbrella term which seems to mean “guy in a dress” rather then some other term which means “people who refuse to conform to patriarchy.”
These men who are not transexual seem to equate dismantling patriarchy with wearing a dress or a vagina, which is why I used the phrase “guy in a dress.” But a man doesn’t need to do either of those things; a man can tell patriarchy to sod off just by dumping that whole domination thing they seem to like so much. Therefore, dismantling patriarchy is not a valid reason for wearing either a dress or a vagina, though it may or may not be a byproduct.
Peeps who are really, really wedded, for their own reasons to the concept of gender, but realise that the gender binary is a bit – um – patriarchal like to try to get round the problem. And the way they try to do it is to say, ok gender is real, but there aren’t just two genders. There are LOTS of genders. So I get to keep gender (because I really, really like it, it lets me justify wearing a dress to myself) but pretend at the same time to be anti patriarchal gender systems.
The anti-gender ideology which underlies radical feminist politics is very simple once you grasp it: In order to create a just world where rape, battery, child sexual abuse and any form of discriminations would not exist, not only pornography, prostitution and patriarchal religions & institutions must be abolished, but gender itself, i.e. the patriarchal polar role definitions of ‘men’ and ‘women’, what it means to be “masculine” or “feminine”, must be destroyed.
Fantasia wonders about the narrow attitudes that young Egyptian men and women expressed on a TV show she saw, and argues that far from being kept in the home, it would be beneficial to Egypt if women were allowed to work in The Egyptian Working Woman posted at her blog Fantasia’s World:
I cannot even begin to express my utter dismay at this picture, or my disappointment at the young women and men of Egypt…At a time when our country is falling deeper and deeper in debt, our educational system is corrupt, various groups are fighting over control of our government [...] These women are only thinking about sitting at home…and the men are thinking about how to keep them at home!!
The way I look at things is that our country needs every ounce of work and energy available to help us rise out of this economic and social depression. The concept of a woman working should be a no brainer…
In the final post for this section, Holly Ord examines the hypocrisy of the “pro-life” movement in Pro-Life Extremists Contradicting the Term ‘Pro-Life’–Again posted at Menstrual Poetry:
The pro-life agenda is made up of scare tactics, bullying and yes, killing people who they believe are doing work that is wrong and that they don’t approve of. In most cases, conservatives make up the majority of the pro-life population and oddly, as we all know, conservatives are also the big backers of the Iraq war–Where millions of innocent people are dying. Given these facts, as well as also simply being delirious and believing that they are doing “god’s work” by spreading their movement, one quality rings loud and clear–Hypocrisy.
The World of Malestream Media
Fantasia at Fantasia’s World in her post Retards Make It to The Atlantic has powerfully deconstructed the misogynist message of an Egyptian advertisement which implies that women who refuse to wear a hijab are automatically ‘asking’ for male violence to be inflicted upon them:
Seeing this ad from a boy’s eyes, the message is totally reversed from a presumably “religious”, “pious”, or “moral” cause, to an implication that sexual harassment is the norm, and that whoever dislikes it should make this clear by dropping down a veil over her head…so as to say, become marked. You guys are thus being encouraged to direct your sexual advancements towards those who do not hold this mark…the X.
On the surface, it would seem that McCain is implying that Obama is as vapid and meritless as the rest of his “fellow celebrities.” But by lumping Obama in with other celebrities, and especially by featuring such controversial celebrity figures as Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, McCain & Co. are essentially calling him a pussy. He’s the stuff of women and gay dudes, not fit for the leadership of Real ‘Merican Men!
Lara of Rychousmama, in her second post of the carnival, angrily calls out the racist cartoon of Michelle and Barack Obama that appeared on the cover of the New Yorker, which was, in the minds of some twisted white men, ‘satire’, in Never Trust Liberal White Men:
Something else important: anyone notice too the light brown highlights in Michelle Obama’s afro?Allusion to Angela Davis, much? For those of you not as familiar with African American/women’s herstory, Davis has been an outspoken activist and writer against sexism, racism, classism, and the prison establishment for years now … Looks like white Americans are scared of what might happen to the White House should Black and/or mixed race folk run it. If Blackness or Browness is the downfall of American government and society, one must wonder what many (white) Americans think America stands for….
Does it really need to be said that dressing blacks in tribal clothing at a pseudo coronation is wrong? All that is missing is the hyper masculinized white male to save her from the invading hordes, but she is ready and willing isn’t she…lips parted, suggestively posed, waiting for the conqueror to arrive. I guess we can all be reassured that this former colonial ruler still has a place for its former subjects.
allecto of Gorgon Poisons, in another of her denouncements of Joss Whedon, brings us Joss Whedon and Jean-Paul Sartre: The Wanker Phallosophers, discussing the narcissistic shallowness of male, patriarchal thought:
Joss Whedon really loves Wank. That is basically the moral of this episode Objects in Space. I will be referring to Joss Whedon as a Phallosopher throughout this entry. I envisage Phallosophers to encompass all the Great Male Phallosophers throughout the ages. From Aristotle to Camus to Sartre to Whedon. Phallosophy is characterised by self-obsession, misogyny, and a disturbing, yet relentless tendency to produce Wank.
Mojgan Khadem, an Iranian born Australian filmmaker, discusses film passionately in An Interview with Mojgan Khadem:
We should be asking ourselves how to tell stories that take our audience’s breath away intellectually, rather than just entertain them on a superficial level. Filmmakers that have done that in the past in a very unassuming and humble way inspire me the most. These basic ingredients seem to have been forgotten by many, many filmmakers and producers and funding bodies. This is a great tragedy.
The interview is about her first film Serenades (2001), which tells the story of Jila, a girl born in the 1890s in Australia to an Aboriginal mother and Afghan father, and her struggle to find her own place in a racist and sexist world.
Henry Handel Richardson (1870-1946) was an Australian woman writer who grew up in Melbourne but spent most of her adult life in Europe and England. Her short story Two Hanged Women is about two women, possibly lovers, unwillingly contemplating the possibility that they will have to get married to men in order to gain social acceptance and independence:
“I will, too! I’ll marry him, and have a proper wedding like other girls, with a veil and bridesmaids and bushels of flowers. And I’ll live in a house of my own, where I can do as I like, and be left in peace, and there’ll be no one to badger and bully me—Fred wouldn’t…ever! Besides, he’ll be away all day. And when he came back at night, he’d…I’d…I mean I’d——” But here the flying words gave out; there came a stormy breath and a cry of: “Oh, Betty, Betty!…I couldn’t, no, I couldn’t! It’s when I think of THAT…Yes, it’s quite true! I like him all right, I do indeed, but only as long as he doesn’t come too near.”
Two Hanged Women comes from Richardson’s collection Growing Pains (1934), which includes many stories of women and girls attempting to negotiate difficult and unfair circumstances that have been established by men and then forced onto women.
Filed under: Carnival of Radical Feminists