17-Month-Old Killed for Acting Like a Girl

Pedro Jones, child-murdererRecently, on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in New York:

According to court documents, [Pedro] Jones, who was not related to the boy, punched him over and over with closed fists and grabbed him by the neck.

Documents say he confessed to the crime, telling troopers, “I was trying to make him act like a boy instead of a little girl. I never struck that kid that hard before.

The baby, Roy Jones, died.

Jones said, I suppose without irony, though irony-factor was not reported upon: “I’m sorry. That’s my baby. I loved him to death.”

How can a baby “act” like a boy or a girl? Why would anyone think that physical violence could force a baby to act more “male”? What kind of “male” would anti-girliness corrective violence produce? Why does a baby deserve death for not demonstrating adult cultural gender norms?

Just some questions I have in my outrage.

Via TransGriot.


Saudi Women Fighting Back Against Religious Police

Don’t trivialize it by calling it a “trend”, but it looks like some women are getting a little sick of the paternal faux-piety of the morality police, aka the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

In the first incident, according to the Saudi Gazette, a young couple “appeared to be acting in an inappropriate manner” in an amusement park. A commission member who spotted them suspected they were not married or related and were therefore breaking the law. As the commission member approached them, the young man collapsed – presumably out of shock or fright – but the woman showered him with punches. He was taken to a medical centre to be treated for bruises. In the second incident, which the LA Times calls an unprecedented outburst, a woman caught in “illegal seclusion” with a man shot at the religious police when questioned.

Some other interesting signs of change:

Princess Basma bint Saud, “a social activist and a prominent supporter of women’s issues in Saudi Arabia”, published a strong critique of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

King Abdallah appeared in a photograph with forty women with naked faces! “Most observers took it as a pointed message from the royals on the subject of men mixing with women…”

Earlier this month Education Minister Prince Faisal bin Abdullah declared that women could teach boys’ primary school classes.

Mecca cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Ghamdi publicly “declared that nothing in Islam bans men and women from mixing in public places like schools and offices.”

Last December Saudi journalist Nadine Al Bedair published the article Me and My Four Husbands, a tongue in cheek critique of sexism and unequal polygamy laws.

In 2009 Nora Al Fayez became the first female deputy minister in the Saudi government.

Gender Ambiguities in Electro Music

This is something I wrote back in 2003, and recently unearthed on an ancient website. It’s very college-essay-y but I wanted to rebroadcast it anyway. SO WHAT.

“By disrupting stereotypical codes of gender and sexuality through a parody of artifice and masquerade that challenges patriarchy, these artists remind us that music can function as a key vehicle in deconstructing fixed notions of gendered identity in everyday life.” –Stan Hawkins

“It’s avant-garde, it’s honest, it’s taking chances and most of all it’s original.” –Tiga

A post-modern stage on which every possible Western conception of gender confusion and ambiguity is flaunted: this is Electro. The music genre of electro (originally extant ~1978-89), a term I will use that also includes its younger sibling electroclash (~1998-present), is home to gender-meaningful displays, interpretations, and interactions in nearly its every aspect. There is enough material to analyze from a gender perspective to write at great length, and so I have narrowed my peripherals to concentrate on a unique aspect of electro: its proclivity towards and acceptance of androgyny. Gender ambiguities of all varieties have been accepted since its birth, and continue in the resurgence of electro-styled music at the turn of the twenty-first century. My examination of electro music will point out signs of androgyny and gender confusion and search for possible explanations. However, examples of androgyny in lyric and dress are as prolific as the possible causes that originated them.
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“Me & My Four Husbands”

This is the title of Saudi journalist Nadine Al Bedair’s Dec. 11th article in the Egyptian independent daily newspaper Al Masry Al Youm. Interestingly, their English language site does not include a translation of the article, but Muslimah Media Watch provides the first couple paragraphs in English, and after which the story was apparently picked up by the LA Times, nearly a month after the original article was published.

Al Bedair’s words have caused quite a stir, as you can see at Muslimah Media Watch.

Here’s the translation of the beginning of the article that MMW posted to their site:
Nadine Al Bedair

Allow me to choose four, five or even nine men, just as my wildest imagination shall chose.

I’ll pick them with different shapes and sizes, one of them will be dark and the other will be blonde. Tall or maybe short, they are to be Chosen from different denominations, religions, races and nations. And I promise you there will be harmony.

Create a brand new positive law for me, or may be a divine one. Make me a new law under the umbrella of the fatwa and fantasies, those which you unanimously agree on suddenly and without any advance notice.

Other media coverage of this story (note that America was a tad late on this boat):

The Guardian: Polygamy for all (Written by a male, starts out with a sexist cliche, and continues on to miss the entire point of Al Bedair’s article. But shockingly he isn’t against her. Whatever.)

Bikya Masr: Egypt: women should have right to polygamy article causes stir

Elan: Polygamy for Chicks: Saving Spinster Men Everywhere (I see they borrowed their idea for their news graphic from shitty gay marriage news stories.)

Al Arabiya: Egypt paper promotes polygamy for women (One article subheading is “Destroying Society”.)

Do Women as a Group Suffer Systematic Abuse?

Women seeking asylum in the US due to horrible and socially condoned gender-based violence in their country of origin are usually denied. The US Homeland Security Department defines a person eligible for asylum as “a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her country of nationality because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”

I have always wondered why sex/gender isn’t a category here. Doesn’t gender-based violence occur around the world? Doesn’t it occur at times in certain locations, such as systematic rape in the Sudan, or systematic female genital mutilation in Guinea, or systematic kidnapping of little girls for the sex trade in northern India, or systematic selling of women as though they were possessions? Are these human rights abuses not predicated on the person’s membership to the female sex? Why is it acceptable grounds for asylum to have been enslaved because you were an ethnic minority, but not because you were female? Why is it acceptable grounds for asylum when your genitals were mutilated because you were a political dissident, but not if yours where mutilated because you were born female?

Well I’ll tell you right now, it certainly mustn’t be because American society deprioritizes and silences violence against women, and has a general history of ignoring or exacerbating women’s problems on the global stage. Definitely Not Misogyny. Oh No. The Horror.

So it must be for some legitimate reason, right? Like when the US denied asylum to Guinean women who had been genitally mutilated in their country of origin, and who had daughters whom they wished to save from that special form of gender-based torture. Those women were definitely terrorists.

Well, President Obama is slightly rethinking this approach.

The Obama administration has opened the way for foreign women who are victims of severe domestic beatings and sexual abuse to receive asylum in the United States. The action reverses a Bush administration stance in a protracted and passionate legal battle over the possibilities for battered women to become refugees.

This was sparked by the case of one Mexican woman, identified only as L.R., whose case is rather extreme: “According to court documents filed in San Francisco, the man repeatedly raped her at gunpoint, held her captive, stole from her and at one point tried to burn her alive when he learned she was pregnant.”

And the Mexican authorities demonstrated their complete lack of interest in protecting her human rights:

Local police dismissed her reports of violence as “a private matter,” the court documents said, and a judge she turned to for help tried to seduce her.

“In Mexico, men believe they have a right to abuse their women because they are like a possession,” she said. With three children born from her involuntary sex with the man, who never married her, she fled to California in 2004.

So yay, that’s good we’re reconsidering our harsh stance right? But women who suffer for their gender outside of domestic relationships, or who have or are threatened with FGM are still not protected. If I understand all this correctly. And I may not, what with me doing my thinking with my irrational Woman-Brain ™. And besides, it’s not even certain that we will accept L.R.’s petition.

I still can’t figure out why admitting that women suffer persecution based on their identity as women (a suspect gender), just as Bantu in Somalia suffer for their identity as Bantu (a suspect ethnic minority) – to name a random example among thousands – is so hard for the US government. What’s the controversy here? Is it because they are afraid of a deluge of abused women applying for asylum? Is it because our government is somehow dimly aware we haven’t cleaned our own house yet?

I’m glad the Obama Admin is opening the door a crack. But I could use some more time ruminating on the deeper implications of American refusal to acknowledge gender as a suspect class, i.e. “any classification of groups meeting a series of criteria suggesting they are likely the subject of discrimination.” More on that here.

Your thoughts?

Greeting Cards Insult My Intelligence

Baby DaughterBleh. I went to a greeting card store today to buy a “Congratulations on Your New Baby!” card. I knew I would get worked up, and I did.

The baby in question is an interracial girl born to a progressive couple.

I’m sure you can guess the troubles I had at the store.

First, as one would expect, all the cards are separated by gender. Predictably, the girl cards were all bright pink, many with sparkles and flowers, and making references to princesses, cuteness, and prettiness.

The boy cards were all blue and decorated with animals or trucks or sports.

So what if I didn’t want to start this baby off with an arbitrarily over-gendered card? No options except for general blank cards.

However, blank cards that depicted images of children depicted only white babies. Again, I didn’t feel that was quite appropriate for a baby that will probably be read as a POC later in life.

I was stymied. Greeting cards make life dumber.

101 101

Curious people have a lot of questions, and below you will find lots of answers! I decided to compile some of the awesomest basic resources (101s) out there on the internet about -isms and social justice so that you can find most of what you need in one easy post. So here are some resources about important topics like feminism 101, anti-racism 101, ableism 101, and so much much more! It’s my own 101 101.


What is Womanism? Posted by Trula Breckenridge

Definition of the word “Womanism” from A Feminist Theory Dictionary

Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog

Shakesville’s Feminism 101 page


Talking About Race

Resist Racism’s Racism 101

Alas, a blog, on How Not to Be Insane When Accused of Racism




Ableism, Accessibility and Inclusion by Heather De Mian

Some info about Ableism by Greg Wolbring


Size Acceptance 101 on Case Gordita

But Don’t You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy? on Shapely Prose

Size Acceptance 101 on Shamless


A resource from Questioning Transphobia: How to Check Your Cis Privilege

Trans 101 on T-Vox

Trans and Genderqueer 101 at Gendercrash.com

The Bilerico Project’s Homosexuality 101

Heteronormitivity 101


Intersectionality 101 on Illvox

How to Fuck Up by Teh Portly Dyke

Please add all those I missed (there must surely be many) in the comments!

Teaching Gender Differentiation to Children

Women and men are born with biological differences. All fetuses are first formed as female. Starting at four weeks, fetuses with a Y chromosome are exposed to washes of chemicals called androgyns. Androgyn changes some aspects of the affected fetuses so that they will develop physically into boys, with varying degrees of psychological and physical differentiation from girls. This is sexual differentiation.

Each society has developed its own methods to handle the differences between girls and boys. Across the world, societies have designated a rainbow of different kinds of roles for women, men and people who don’t fit easily into gender roles. What may be part of a woman’s gender in one community could be part of a man’s gender in another, as babies aren’t born knowing how to chop firewood or sell goods in the marketplace. In one community, little girls are taught that selling goods is a “part” of being a woman. In another, little boys are taught that selling goods is a “part” of being a man. Societies often come to think of these more or less arbitrary designations as “natural”.

We in America have also developed different roles for men and women as a way to address sexual differentiation. Over time, we have come to regard certain tasks and behaviors as naturally female or male. We train our children to become habituated to these roles – to internalize them.

It is important to recognize that the way we gender children is arbitrary, and in American society, sometimes harmful.

The argument for why our gender rules harm women is well-known. In our past we saw such human rights abuses as enslavement to husbands, socially-sanctioned physical and sexual abuse, restricted civil rights and severely curtailed access to public life, including the ability to attend higher education or choose a career. These human rights abuses of the past were justified by a male chauvinist society that gave “naturalized” reasons for why this was “part” of being a woman.

Because of racism in society, women of different skin colors had different gender roles – even within one society, America’s, gender was not applied evenly across-board. Whereas white women were naturally delicate and weak, and therefore must be confined to light house work, black women were naturally strong and hearty, and therefore could work outside the home (in service to whites).

Today we can look at empirical data and still see sex-differentiated life outcomes among America’s population. The wage gap in men’s favor is well-documented. There is also over- and under-representation of men in certain career fields. Men are more likely to be CEOs or POTUS, but also to abuse women and children, and to go to jail. Women get the majority of college degrees, but are more likely to live in poverty and to be on welfare.

Americans must examine their reasons for teaching children certain behaviors based on their sex. In many ways, it is clear differentiated treatment is harmful. Boys are taught to use aggression to solve problems and to stifle emotion. Girls are taught not to excel and to put other’s needs before their own. Why? Is someone benefiting from behaviors such as these? Do we have evidence that our gender rules lead to greater happiness?

Certain aspects of both America’s genders are clearly harmful, yet other aspects are positive: women are taught to value relationships, communication and collaboration. Men are taught to value personal strength, independence and achievement. Why can’t we discard teaching children the negative gender-related characteristics? Why can’t every child learn clearly positive traits such as good communication and independence? If a woman can rely on herself instead of a man, if a man can communicate his emotions instead of resorting to violence, where is the harm? Yet society seems to recoil when a person of one sex assumes too many traits of the gender associated with the other sex. Why is that?

(c) idyllicmollusk 8/08