Oct 312008
 

From the Guatemalan solidarity network NISGUA:

On 19 October at around 12pm a relative of Norma Cruz (whose name is withheld for safety reasons) was stopped by an unknown man driving a pick-up truck while walking home in Guatemala city. Norma Cruz’s relative offered the man a cellular phone thinking it was a robbery but was told by the man that it was not and to “get in son of a bitch, get in or you’re going to die” (subite hijo/a de la gran puta, subite sino te vas a morir). The relative did as told and got in the back where there were two masked men, one of them holding a gun at the relative. They drove the relative around repeating “you’re going to die”. The relative was released after 20 minutes one block away from Norma Cruz’s home. Norma Cruz is an active women’s human rights defender.

During the morning of 23 October the same relative received three phone calls. In the first one, a male voice said “are you comfortable, you piece of shit, you’re going to die” (vas comodo, verdad cerote? Te vas a morir) after which the call was cut off. The following two calls were cut off when the relative answered. Later that day a green pick-up truck with tinted windows was parked in front of the offices of Norma Cruz’s organization, the Sobrevivientes Foundation. Members of staff deemed this suspicious and approached the vehicle in order to talk to the driver, who immediately drove off.

The safety of Norma Cruz, and that of her colleagues and relatives, is at risk.
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 October 31, 2008  Posted by on October 31, 2008 Comments Off
Oct 312008
 

Yet more evidence that the military is still not adequately addressing the problem of sexual assault in the ranks:

“About one out of seven female veterans of Afghanistan or Iraq who visit a Veterans Affairs center for medical care report being a victim of sexual assault or harassment during military duty, a study reports today.

More than half of these women have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A similar proportion of male veterans with sexual traumas have PTSD, but fewer than one out of 100 men who had recent deployments say they were harassed or sexually assaulted in the military, the report says.

The study is the first of its size to screen veterans for sexual assaults and harassment, covering more than 125,000 who received VA care from October 2001 to October 2007.”

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 October 31, 2008  Posted by on October 31, 2008 Comments Off
Oct 302008
 

A recent think piece in the Washington Post declared that this has been “a transformative year for women in politics.” This pronouncement was based primarily on Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s attempt to brand herself as a feminist who happens to hold opinions contrary to traditional feminist values and important changes like women not having to dress like a man to be taken seriously in politics,

“One option women have today is that they don’t have to dress like a man to make it in politics — although the frenzy about Palin’s $150,000 designer shopping spree shows there are limits to what the public will accept.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) makes no bones about favoring Armani suits and Chanel shoes — and has been criticized for it; Clinton has developed a consistent fashionable look with regular hairstyling and St. John suits. Palin, with her long hair, slim skirts and red high heels, is surely the first national female candidate to be called “hot,” as Alec Baldwin did last weekend on “Saturday Night Live.””

Missing in action in this reductive look at women and the election is any analysis of how this campaign has been business as usual in terms of women’s concerns being reduced to little more than the abortion issue, a point made oh so clear by John McCain’s air-quoting of women’s health as “an extreme pro-abortion” position.

The Post piece also completely ignored the groundbreaking two woman Green Party ticket of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente. No surprise there because their campaign has been routinely invisibilized not only by mainstream media but as Amee Chew points out, the liberal media have (with few exceptions, notably Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman) also ignored their campaign.

The failure to support and acknowledge McKinney-Clemente is unfortunate for several reasons. First, the two party stranglehold on the American electoral process has become disastrously dysfunctional. It is already clear that many voters will be denied their right to vote because of voter roll purges, long lines and other tactics and that many of our electronic voting machines are not accurately reporting votes, either purposely or accidentally. These are the reasons why the 2000 and 2004 elections were ‘won’ by George Bush, not because of third party candidates such as Ralph Nader as some have charged.

Secondly, in our current system, all but the best funded candidates are almost immediately shut out of the political dialog, thus limiting that dialog to a callously shallow repertoire of non-productive and usually non-realistic talking points and accusations. Third party candidates like McKinney and Clemente who offer an alternative vision end up in something of a hamster wheel situation where they are not considered serious candidates because you don’t hear much about them and you don’t hear much about them because the media won’t consider them to be serious candidates.

What the Washington Post has labeled transformative is the accomplishment of women in a patriarchal, deeply misogynistic system. When women like McKinney and Clemente dare to speak the truth on so many issues and to confront that system, there is nothing accidental about the systemic near blackout of coverage of their campaign across the media spectrum.

There are obvious structural changes that need to be made to our electoral process –abolish the Electoral College, a shorter campaign season, mandatory verifiable voting and an end to the two party domination of our elections because only then will we have the benefit of the voices of wise women like Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente who offer a vision of true transformative change not only for women but for everyone. I urge you to take the time to read their platform and listen to their words.*

As Rosa Clemente said in a recent speech, “We are not the alternative; we are the imperative.” And that is why I am supporting the candidacy of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente.

*As I write this, the McKinney-Clemente website is down and there are unsubstantiated reports that it has been hacked, therefore it is impossible to learn more about their platform at this time, although hopefully that will be rectified soon. Another site does however offer substantive information and of course a Google search will find plenty of material.
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Author’s note: I have no doubt that many who read this have their fingers poised above their keyboards ready to ask how dare I risk the chance of a McCain presidency by suggesting a vote for anyone other than Obama. I urge them to read more closely. In point of fact, although I live in a state that is so completely expected to go for McCain that the candidates have barely spent any time here, I will vote for Obama for the simple reason that McKinney is not on the ballot here. However if she were, I would have voted for her. In states where the outcome is less clear, I would probably vote for Obama. But if, like me, you are concerned that the current system is very badly broken, please give serious thought about giving third party candidates the support they need to help reclaim our democracy.

–Lucinda Marshall

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 October 30, 2008  Posted by on October 30, 2008 3 Responses »
Oct 302008
 

Every Halloween, I put in a lot of thought as to the scariest possible costume. Wearing a great big heart appeals to me–what after all is scarier than love. And this year, a McCain, Rove or Cheney costume would certainly be appropriate, but as long time readers of this blog know, I’ve longed believed that in a patriarchal society, the scariest possible thing is female nudity, particularly when displayed by older and shall we say wiser women. With that in mind, do not be offended by the title of this post and video forwarded from an 80 something year old friend.

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 October 30, 2008  Posted by on October 30, 2008 1 Response »