Help End Harassment in Flatbush

There have been reports of women and queer people being harassed on the street in Flatbush, Brooklyn, particularly along Cortelyou Avenue.

If you are from that area and would like to join a discussion on neighborhood safety, you are welcome to attend.

September 29, 7pm at Vox Pop Cafe, at Cortelyou and Stratford.

Abortion Action Alert

From the National Women’s Law Center:

Take Action Now: Oppose Anti-Choice Efforts to Take Away Abortion Coverage from Millions of Women in Health Care Reform

As we speak, insurance coverage for abortion care is being negotiated out of health care reform. This is unacceptable and your action is urgently needed.

And as you are reading this, there’s language on the brink of being included in health care reform that will take away coverage of abortion that millions of women currently have. We must not let this happen because comprehensive reproductive health care is basic health care for women.

Call and email your Senators and the White House TODAY. Tell them to protect women’s coverage of abortion care in health care reform!

To call your Senators, dial 202-224-3121. When you call, you’ll reach the Capitol switchboard. Ask to be connected to your Senators. Note that you’ll need to call two times to reach both of your Senators.

Click here to email.

The Exciting Times

Welcome to The Exciting Times, a collection of news items that caught my interest!

*There has been another anti-Latino hate crime in Patchogue, New York, a small town with a history of anti-Latino violence, including the murder of Marcelo Lucero. This time a Latino mad was beaten and robbed by a gang of white men. White dudes: get your shit together over there!

*One of the first things I ever blogged about was that Oklahoma had passed a law mandating ultrasounds for women seeking abortion. Ultrasounds are commonly given before abortions, but it is unusual for the government to mandate normally elective medical procedures. My problem with this that it is almost assuredly just another ploy to make abortion less accessible, and it amounts to mandating medical rape.

Well, HUZZAH, because the law has been repealed! Though kind of on a technicality, and might be back again next year. Apparently the law also included a set of rules mandating that doctors go over the ultrasound with the patient and describe to her how much like a baby it looks. Can’t wait to see this one come back next year.

Suaad Hagi Mohamud*Canadian citizen disowned and left in jail in Kenya. The woman, Suaad Hagi Mohamud, had immigrated from Somalia to Canada and is a naturalized citizen. For some reason her passport was “challenged” when she was trying to travel from Kenya to Canada this May. She was detained in Kenya, and when she appealed for help from the Canadian consulate, diplomat Liliane Khadour denied Mohamud was Canadian, claiming falsely that she had “carried out conclusive investigations” and determined that “the person brought to the Canadian High Commission on suspicion of being an imposter is not the rightful holder of the aforementioned passport.”

All’s well that ends well, right? Am I right? Well, Khadour has been “recalled” and Mohamud, after three months, the help of friends, and DNA testing, proved her identity and returned to her country.

*Don’t miss The Women’s Crusade in the NYT Magazine this week. Though I don’t agree with every statement in the article, there are plenty of intriguing points made. For example:

It appears that more girls and women are now missing from the planet, precisely because they are female, than men were killed on the battlefield in all the wars of the 20th century. The number of victims of this routine “gendercide” far exceeds the number of people who were slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century.

and

[I]t is emerging that male domination of society is also a risk factor [for turbulence and violence]; the reasons aren’t fully understood, but it may be that when women are marginalized the nation takes on the testosterone-laden culture of a military camp… Indeed, some scholars say they believe the reason Muslim countries have been disproportionately afflicted by terrorism is not Islamic teachings about infidels or violence but rather the low levels of female education and participation in the labor force.

ANNNNnnnd finally:
*Need some fuel to win health care arguments with your backwards-thinking relatives and coworkers? Here are some numbers for you to take a gander at, comparing health data collected from the US, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. One of these countries doesn’t have nationalized health care. One of these countries also shows significantly worse health and health care than the others. CAN YOU GUESS WHICH??

Not Cool Guys, Not Cool

Afghan Husbands Win Right to Starve Wives

…when they don’t supply enough sexxx.

And other horrors. Interestingly, the law was designed in secret.

It’s neat to know that women’s basic human rights, such as, you know, the right to life, are just one bargaining chip amongst many in the game of politics.

When do you think we’ll hear of a country enforcing a woman’s right to starve her husband?

Never? And why exactly would that be?

You Know What the Health Care Debate Really Needed? The Insertion of Abortion Politics!

Am I right or am I right?

Like, OMFGWTFHolyShit what if more people being covered by health insurance means more people will have access to abortion! We’re talking about lives here people! Precious preborn patriots may DIE just so more postborn people can live! Where are your priorities?

Oh yes. Because that is exactly where certain people are at right now in the health care debate:

Kansans for Life sent out a “call to action” today, urging Kansans to contact their legislators and ask them to vote against any anti-life efforts, including easier access to taxpayer-funded abortions.

“This is the abortion-industry’s dream bill,” [Executive Director Mary Kay] Culp told Kansas Liberty.

Kansans for Life
I think some people out there in Kansas are particularly sore right now, now that beloved, and pro-choice, Governor Kathleen Sebelius is Secretary of Health and Human Services, a department that will be quite involved in any health care policy reform.

It’s good to know that “controversial” things like women’s bodily autonomy are still being leveraged to great effect for ever new purposes by the backwards-looking among us. For some people, even hindsight isn’t 20/20.

Femicide in North America

Again.

George Sodini seethed with anger and frustration toward women. He couldn’t understand why they ignored him, despite his best efforts to look nice.

…He went to the sprawling L.A. Fitness Club in this Pittsburgh suburb, turned out the lights on a dance-aerobics class filled with women, and opened fire with three guns, letting loose with a fusillade of at least 36 bullets.

And again and again.

Mass murderers. Serial killers. Drug cartel members. Domestic abusers. Rapists.

They so often choose their victims based on gender. Yet we don’t seem to ever have a conversation, as a society, that gets toward explaining this. We never ask ourselves, “Why is it so often that men kill women, and so infrequently the reverse?”

Men often kill men as well. As a matter of fact, man-on-man murders make up almost two thirds of all murder in the USA. Man-on-woman murders make up a quarter of all murder. Women commit 12% of murders, though they make up slightly more than half of the US population.

But how often do we find, after a man or many men are killed by a male murderer, diaries and web posts and suicide notes filled with hatred towards men? How often do they blame men for all their troubles, and speak of men with burning misandrist hatred? How often do they desire to “put men in their place”?

That’s not why men get murdered. But it is why women get murdered. So what are we going to do about it?

If we ask the MSM or an average person, we are not only not going to do anything, we aren’t going to even TALK about it. We can’t manage to even discuss this murderous misogyny in our midst. And women keep getting killed for being born women.

And what about the women whose femaleness intersects with other oppressed identities?

They die in larger numbers. And their killers are rarely found.

Indigenous WomenThe over 400 poor women in Cuidad Juárez.

The hundreds of indigenous women in Canada and America.

So when can we talk about this? In America, in North America, globally? We hear the phrase “gender-based violence” applied once and awhile to “other” countries. Can we learn from activists in Papua New Guinea and the Congo and name our problem? Can we admit that this problem, which we like to assign to those “other” countries in order to assert our superior enlightenedness, exists in our own front yard?

If we can’t name the problem, how can we solve it? The claim that it is “obvious” that men commit more crime because they are naturally more violent, and therefore there is no point in discussing the obvious… well that claim I find more than dubious. I consider it an acceptance of the status quo. And the status quo is lost lives, and women killed because they were born female.

Male violence, as indicated by the numbers mentioned above, arguably affects more male victims even than female victims, if you go by sheer numbers. It sounds like women AND men could benefit from a big discussion of male violence. Everyone benefits. Or so it seems, because if EVERYONE benefited there would be no obstacle to discussion. Who benefits?

Powerful men. Men with political power, men with money, men with capital. They benefit from male power-over, and any male power-over cannot exist without violence against those who are under this power. Because those without power will always struggle for equality, and that struggle must always be put down.

Powerful men benefit. The vast majority of people suffer. Where do you stand? Are you ready to talk?

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?

Sarkozy: “Eliminate the Burqa”

***UPDATE 4/3/09: I’ve noticed this post floating around the web in a bunch of different places. That’s fine, I’m glad ya’ll like my thoughts. Please, just be sure to credit The Czech and put in a link when you do so. Thanks.***

What Dori said.

The New York Times and Le Monde both reported today on certain remarks from French President Nicolas Sarkozy calling for the elimination of the burqa.

To wit:

“The issue of the burqa is not a religious issue. It is a question of freedom and of women’s dignity,” Mr. Sarkozy said. “The burqa is not a religious sign. It is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission, of women.”

To enthusiastic applause, he said: “I want to say solemnly that it will not be welcome on our territory.”

STOP IT!

There are a thousand things wrong with this. Let me count them.

1. Mandating how women should dress is mandating how women should dress, whether it is a mandate to wear a burqa, or a mandate not to wear one. When a man tells a woman how to dress, it’s paternalism and subjugation one way or the other.

2. Plus, as Dori points out, a man telling a woman that too much of her body is covered, and that she needs to expose more of it to his view, is pretty weird. How much modesty is too much? How much exposed flesh is enough to satisfy Sarkozy?

3. A Christian man imposing rules of dress upon Muslim women does little to actually foster the kind of gender equality he claims to be advancing.

4. Sarkozy talks as though there is no “subjugation of women” among the non-Muslim denizens of France. As though France is a wonderland of gender equality. According to WikiGender: “Compared to other countries, France has always been rather late in adopting gender equality as a goal and designing policies to achieve it.” So why suddenly all this concern for a certain subset of French women, who just randomly happen to come from a community hated and feared by many in France?

5. What other items of clothing does Mr. Sarkozy disapprove of? Do they also happen to correspond to certain disfavored, marginalized communities?

6. Any attempt to “eliminate” burqas in France will only serve to further marginalize the women who wear them. Burqas, for some women, represent a compromise. Some individuals believe women are not supposed to be seen in public, or be looked at by men outside of the family. In this extreme view, women would be entirely confined to the house and removed from outside society unless they can put on a burqa and go out. Eliminating the burqa for these women would mean eliminating their access to the world. Better conditions for such women require a little more work than outlawing a piece of clothing.

7. Eliminating burqas in France would not mean that women’s oppression in Muslim communities would end. It would simply be a cosmetic change that would do nothing to actually work with communities and empower French Muslim women to achieve equality. It is a measure that ignores all nuance and avoids all honest work to actually tackle the heart of the problem.

8. All this “eliminate the burqa” talk fits just a little too snugly with the popular “Islam oppresses women” meme that Christian Westerners like to toss around, particularly when they are trying to frame a “War of Civilizations”.

9. Also, doesn’t this just come off as a cheap attempt at burnishing his Women’s Issues credentials while effectively only harassing a marginalized, already-persecuted minority? And doing little to nothing to further true societal equality for all women in France?

10. What real issues do French women, and French Muslim women in particular, actually face that Sarkozy is completely avoiding by diverting attention with this stunt? Why randomly target French Muslims now?

Ok, so that was only 10 things. Huh.

Sick.

1 in 4 South African men admit to rape.

From the article:

Gender advocates say that the 2006 rape trial of prominent politician Jacob Zuma was incredibly damaging to their cause. Zuma, who was elected President this year, was tried and acquitted of raping an HIV-positive family friend. He told the court that the woman had dressed provocatively, in a traditional wrap-around kanga, and that it was against Zulu culture for a man to leave a sexually aroused woman unsatisfied.

Setting aside for a moment the question of What is a “gender advocate”?, this is all quite seriously fucked up. The South African president is essentially a self-admitted and unashamed rapist. Wow, what to say.

For anyone reading in South Africa, here is a list of women’s organizations, some of which may provide support to rape victims and work against violence against women. There is also Rape Crisis, Cape Town and Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre.

As Long as You Save the Baby, It’s Cool if Mom Dies

Arg. Most of you probably heard about the Pope’s little African snafu, when he declared that condom use cannot help prevent the spread of AIDS. Of course, like many of the beliefs he propagates, this is demonstrably false.

But many over-looked another, equally incendiary and thoughtlessly dogmatic statement he made while in Angola.

The Washington Times reports:

[Benedict] criticized the “irony of those who promote abortion as a form of ‘maternal’ health care.” The pope was referring to an African Union agreement signed by Angola and 44 other countries that abortion should be legal in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is endangered.

“How disconcerting the claim that the termination of life is a matter of reproductive health,” Benedict said.

Oh yes, how terrible it is that several African countries have taken steps to reduce maternal mortality and death from back alley abortion. It’s such a tragedy that these countries allow rape and incest victims choices regarding how to handle the crime done to them. Indeed, how disconcerting the claim that reproduction has anything to do with a woman’s body, health and life.

The pope has his finger to the pulse. Finger To The Pulse.

The pope left Africa on a final note of the importance of aid to the poor.

On Monday, the pope urged Angola’s leaders to make “the fundamental aspirations of the most needy people” their main concern.

“Our hearts cannot be at peace as long as there are brothers that suffer the lack of food, work, a house, and other fundamental goods,” the pontiff said in his airport departure speech.

However, the Catholic Church in Angola has been seizing land owned by poor families in order to build new Catholic churches. Over 2,000 families have been displaced, some violently. When Amnesty International pled with the pope to address this issue…

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi referred the question to Angolan Bishop Monsignor Jose Manuel Imbamba. The prelate denied anyone had been evicted or houses destroyed.

Nice one! Publicly declare compassion for the poor. Then violently remove families from their land to make way for new churches. Just what Jesus would do.

What Happens When We Stand Up For Ourselves

Henrietta HughesWhat happens when we stand up for our own human rights to the government? Lately we’ve had some interesting examples of how powerful people respond to we commoners when we stand up to advocate for ourselves.

Case study 1: Henrietta Hughes, an elderly black woman living out of her car, spoke up at an Obama rally in Florida about her unmet housing needs. Donors and government officials, including the wife of Republican State Rep Nick Thompson, stepped in and she now has a roof over her head.

Ty'sheoma BetheaCase study 2: Ty’Sheoma Bethea wrote a letter to lawmakers about the wretched and shameful condition of her school. It eventually made it to the Oval Office, and Obama invited Ty-Sheoma to his “state of the nation” address to Congress in February.

More details from CNN:

…Mark Sanford, announced he wouldn’t use his share of the stimulus money on projects like rebuilding her school. “It’s easy to fall into the trap of we need to fix this one school,” said Sanford, a Republican.

…Taking a stand against government spending, Sanford said he would be willing to use the $700 million in the stimulus bill only if he believes he has discretion to control paying down the state’s debt.

That means Ty’Sheoma’s community is left with its school, whose condition is astonishing.

“The auditorium is condemned,” she said on the tour through the crumbling structure. “They use the stage for storage.”

She looked around and said the walls are peeling off and debris has fallen from the ceiling. The gymnasium is in such bad shape, the basketball coach has to cancel games when it rains.

…Many classes are taught in trailers on the school grounds. But the walls are so thin, teachers have to pause when trains roll by, which happens about five times a day.

The school lies in what’s been called the Corridor of Shame, a stretch of highway with enormously poor neighborhoods that are mostly African-American. Some critics say the state doesn’t want to spend money on black kids.

Ty’sheoma’s got something important to advocate for here. Her basic right to quality education is clearly going unmet. Yet Sanford doesn’t care, because he finds it more politically expedient to stick to his amoral conservative ideology. What does government exist for if not to guarantee the rights of the public? For people like Sanford to get and keep power?

What do you notice about these photos? These two individuals advocating for themselves and others like them, Americans who lack access to reasonable housing and education, are both black women. They are ridiculed and rebuffed by plenty on the right, but yet they risk that to raise their voices against injustice. It isn’t surprising that black women would be the ones to step out and take the lead here. Black women have a long history of advocating for human rights, and feel very acutely the lack thereof. Here are two more such women coming forward and speaking out to power.

I’m glad Obama is listening.

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.

Female Afghani MPs Fight Religious Oppression

“These people use Sharia and Islam as an instrument to weaken women’s rights,” says lawmaker [Shinkai] Karokhel.

“In no country in the world can you find spiritual leaders holding such power over a parliament,” says [MP Fatima] Narzari.

Using religion to consolidate your power and oppressing women to control society? These warlord MPs are so original.

Whenever lawmaker Fatima Nazari rose to speak, she says the parliament’s chair snubbed her. Whenever one of her female colleagues made a suggestion, it was brushed aside.

…So Nazari, who represents Kabul province, and almost all other female Afghan MPs banded together and proposed a resolution, asking parliament’s leadership to stop the discrimination. It was ignored.

Female lawmakers say that they are still largely excluded from the political process in Afghanistan, where widespread religious fundamentalism and deep-seated cultural conservatism still pose big challenges to women’s advancement.

…Due to strong international pressure, Afghanistan has one of the highest percentages of female lawmakers in the world. The Afghan constitution mandates that two seats in every province be set aside for women, meaning that 64 of the 249 lawmakers, or more than a quarter, are female.

I am impressed with these women, who surely are at some personal risk for daring to speak out against warlords and religious extremists. I hope that over time, by supporting one another and banding together against the misogynist MPs, they are able to gain a louder voice and get some of the tasks done that they deem important. Read the rest at Anand Gopal Global Dispatches

Australia Ends Its Global Gag Rule

The Australian reports:

13-Year ban on Australian foreign aid for abortion has been overturned by the Rudd Government, despite [Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd being opposed to the policy shift.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has followed the lead of US President Barack Obama, who has scrapped the policy preventing non-government organisations using official funds overseas to advise about abortions or provide services.

“This was a difficult decision. This is a deeply sensitive area. It’s one where strong views are held deeply and very personally. …” Mr Smith said yesterday.

“I was left with the very distinct impression that the substantial, if not the overwhelming majority of the parliamentary members of the Labor Party believed that this was also the correct outcome.”

…Mr Smith said the change would mean women in developing countries had the same options as those in Australia, if local laws allowed terminations.

But he said that Australian aidfunding would still focus on avoiding abortions through family planning.

Yay!

Working Class Women Founded International Women’s Day

In honor of International Women’s Day (today), here is a link to a great article at the Vancouver weekly, the Georgia Straight.

Remembering the working class roots of International Women’s Day
by Hetty Alcuitas

An excerpt:

Today, for working-class women and children, the chaos and crisis caused by imperialism is a daily fact of life. At the same time, the organization and resistance of the people is growing—often with women in the lead as we stand up for ourselves and our sisters, our families, and our communities.

She also discusses how this day is inspired by the Jewish and Italian immigrant garment workers protesting in New York City, and how this spirit was later carried further by protesting Russian peasant women.

Study Claims Palin’s Appearance Hurt Her Electability

Does this study strike anyone else as weird? Did Palin’s looks hurt?.

How many studies have there been of the effects of male politician’s looks on their success? And didn’t this study basically simply determine that being female hurt her electability? Why wasn’t McCain’s appearance tested in the same way?

And what’s with the Angelina Jolie part of the experiment?

Also, one obvious flaw is that the researchers are drawing universal conclusions based on what a group of college students, presumably all at the same college, think about Palin. What college students think and what everyone else thinks may not always correlate. Anyway, what are your thoughts on this study?

White House to Reverse Theocratic Bush-Era Regulation

h/t to commentor, ahem, Bubbabutt.

CNN reports:

The Obama administration plans to reverse a regulation from late in the Bush administration allowing health-care workers to refuse to provide services based on moral objections, an official said Friday.

…Under the [Bush] rule, workers in health-care settings — from doctors to janitors — can refuse to provide services, information or advice to patients on subjects such as contraception, family planning, blood transfusions and even vaccine counseling if they are morally against it.

An unnamed Health Dept official said, “[W]e do not want to impose new limitations on services that would allow providers to refuse to provide to women and their families services like family planning and contraception that would actually help prevent the need for an abortion in the first place.”

I contemplated all the reasons that the Bush Administration’s rule would be terrible for women and gays and quoted ACOG and AMA objections to it.

I am so happy to hear that the Obama Administration is going to do away with this unnecessary and theocratic regulation. As the American College of Gynocologists states, “Although respect for conscience is important, conscientious refusals should be limited if they constitute an imposition of religious or moral beliefs on patients [or] negatively affect a patient’s health.”

Jana Mackey Day & International Women’s Day

Jana MackeyJana Mackey was a friend of mine in college. Read about her story here and check out the press release below.

For Immediate Release February 27, 2009

March 8th – “Jana Mackey Day in Kansas”

Hays, KS – In the coming days Kansas lawmakers will be joining Governor Kathleen Sebelius in recognizing International Women’s Day on March 8th by honoring a recent victim and fatality of domestic violence.

Jana Mackey, a 25 year old KU law student was murdered by her ex-boyfriend last July in Lawrence. Jana was well known throughout Kansas for her work on many women’s issues.

Governor Sebelius has signed a proclamation recognizing March 8th as a “Jana Mackey Day in Kansas.”

On March 5th Senator Janis Lee (D-Kensington) and Senator Marci Francisco (D-Lawrence) will be sponsoring a resolution honoring Mackey. On the House side, Representative Eber Phelps (D-Hays), Representative Barbara Ballard (D-Lawrence), and Representative Paul Davis (D-Lawrence) will be presenting Mackey’s family with a formal certificate on March 9th.

Mackey, who grew up in Hays, had spent endless hours volunteering to aid victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. She had also served three years as one of the youngest lobbyists at the Kansas Capitol with the National Organization for Women.

After her death, Mackey’s family and friends established a national campaign to help her service live on through others. Symbolic of the number of people who attended her funeral, the Eleven Hundred Torches campaign urges hundreds of ordinary citizens to serve others.

Governor Sebelius has joined the campaign and is calling on all Kansans to set aside time on March 8th to volunteer in their communities.

Special volunteer events are being planned in Hays and in Lawrence on that day.

International Women’s Day began in 1908 with a 15,000 women’s march through New York City calling for equal voting and work rights for women. In 1913 the event was officially scheduled as March 8th. Today International Women’s Day is celebrated world-wide and is an official holiday in 15 nations.

For more information about Eleven Hundred Torches, see their website at www.1100torches.org.

Promiscuous Women Should Be Punished with HIV+ Babies

SchultheisRepublican Colorado State Senators are really working hard to outstrip Utah State Senator Chris Buttars on the mind-boggling ignorant bigotry.

Colorado State Senator Dave Schultheis had some choice words about a bill that would require HIV testing for pregnant women. Obviously, he is against this bill.

The Colorado Independent reports:

Schultheis said he planned to vote against a bill to require HIV tests for pregnant women because the disease “stems from sexual promiscuity” and he didn’t think the Legislature should “remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior.”

Listen to some of his words here.

He went on to say: “What I’m hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that. The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity and it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior.”

This is a state senator who believes that expectant mothers should not be tested for an incurable disease that could effect their child for life, because it is his opinion that HIV is contracted through “promiscuity” and therefore an HIV+ baby is the proper punishment for such a woman.

Let’s leave aside Schultheis’ obviously problematic belief that HIV is the result of promiscuity. Let’s think about the baby here. Schultheis is a Republican with warped beliefs about sex, so I’d say it’s a good bet that he is familiar with the “Culture of Life” bullshit and the anti-abortion movement. Purportedly, people who are fans of these movements care about the baybeez. Per usual, when it comes down to protecting children or shaming sluts, it appears that Schultheis would rather see babies born with HIV than allow a slut to get away with her slutty ways without being punished with a terminally ill child. An inspiring ideology, really.

But Wait! That’s not all that’s going down in Colorado! Oh no, it gets better (or worse, depending on your perspective.) Continue reading