Jan 232009

Wow, you’ve got to hand it to the Catholic  Church, they are truly on a roll.  Not only does marrying a Muslim man cause a “pile of trouble” and using birth control cause male infertility, but now it seems that women provoke rape and sexual assault by the way they dress and behave:

With plunging necklines and mini-skirts, “they’re provoking men,” said the archbishop of Santo Domingo, Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodrigez during the Sixth World Meeting of the Families.

Women expose themselves to rape, to being used, to being treated like an old dishrag, because they devalue themselves and their dignity, said the auxiliary bishop of Tegucigalpa, Darwin Rudy Andino.

Likewise, laypersons who attended the meeting said that women are the ones responsible for physical as well as verbal attacks. They should dress modestly and not arouse kinkiness in other people.

Renato Ascencio, the bishop of Ciudad Juarez, women should not only change the way they dress, but also their behavior. Modesty has been lost in the Mexican family, he said.

With that level of institutionalized misogyny, it is hardly surprising that the never-ending epidemic of femicide in Juarez continues:

On the same day Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first African-American president in U.S. history, an old story was repeating itself in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, across the river from El Paso, Texas. Staging a caravan through the violence-ridden city, a new group of mothers of disappeared young women brought public attention to the cases of daughters who went missing after January 2008. Holding a rally at the downtown Cathedral, the mothers demanded their daughters be returned home alive.

Demonstrators also demanded action in the cases of Hilda Gabriela Rivas, Brenda Ponce, Lidia Ramos, and Brenda Berenice Castillo. Representatives
of Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa, the Mexico Solidarity Network, Centro de Mujeres Tonantzin, and other non-governmental organizations joined in
the protest.

At least 29 new cases of women who have disappeared in Ciudad Juarez since January 2008 are pending.

(M)urders of women officially reached all-time heights in Ciudad Juarez last year, when at least 86 women were slain; many homicides were connected to the narco war that claimed more than 1,600 lives overall.

In response to earlier publicity about the Ciudad Juarez femicides, some Chihuahua state and federal officials frequently pointed to the central state of Mexico as the most violent place for women in the country.

According to official sources cited in the Mexican press, 173 women were murdered and another 1,000 were raped in Mexico state in 2008. Less than
half the murder cases were reported solved.

Gee no, sorry, just because it is even worse elsewhere does not make this less of a problem.  What is also so clear here is the complicity of the Catholic Church in its effectual sanction of the culture of impunity that allows the violence against women to continue in Mexico.  The Catholic Church’s  tacit approval of the patriarchal terrorizing of women is directly responsible for the deaths of too many women and the denial of human rights to too many more and it is time for the Church to be held responsible for its actions.

 January 23, 2009  Posted by on January 23, 2009 1 Response »
Jan 222009

It is beginning to seem as if the the Catholic Church has a very serious case of foot in mouth disease.  A few weeks ago we were informed that birth control pills are the cause of male infertility according to evidence that the church did not wish to share with us mere mortals.  Now this:

Portugal’s Cardinal Jose Policarpo has warned young women in the predominantly Catholic nation against marrying Muslims.

“The advice that I give to young Portuguese girls is — be careful with relationships, think twice about marrying Muslims,” the patriarch of Lisbon said.

“It is getting into a pile of troubles, that not even Allah knows where would end.”

A pile of troubles?  Seriously?  A pile of troubles is when you’re a Catholic woman or girl who wants to get an abortion or use birth control and the Church makes it difficult for you to do so.  A pile of troubles is when a woman can’t get a divorce from an abusive spouse.  And then there is this helpful explanation of why marrying a Muslim is a bad idea:

“I know that if a young European of Christian background marries a Muslim, as soon as they go to his country, they’ll be subject to the regime of Muslim women,” Policarpo said. “Just imagine it.”

Imagine it?  I’m trying to but I can’t even figure out what that means and why no similar pronouncement regarding Christian men marrying Muslim women? “His country”  What country exactly are we talking about, when did Muslim become a nationality? Oh never mind.

“Policarpo also said dialogue with Muslims was not easy in Portugal.

“It is only possible to dialogue with those who want to have dialogue, for example with our Muslim brothers dialogue is very difficult,” he said.”

Or perhaps it is difficult to have a dialog because Cardinal Policarpo is a misogynist, xenophobic mouthpiece of a very damaging patriarchy?  Just a thought.

 January 22, 2009  Posted by on January 22, 2009 2 Responses »
Jan 212009

This morning while going through the blog web stats I noticed several websites that are now linking to this blog and it occurred to me that I don’t say thank you nearly enough to all the wonderful folks who mention this site on their sites.  So today particular thanks to A Midwife In Dialogue With Medicine, the University of Regina Women and Gender Studies program and especially Mr. Herm at the Beloit Memorial High School for including us on his Women’s History Final Project page, how fabulous to make this material accessible to high school students–THANK YOU!!

 January 21, 2009  Posted by on January 21, 2009 Comments Off on Thank You!
Jan 212009

As I pointed out yesterday, I am just mystified as to why President Obama thought inviting the homophobic pastor Rick Warren to give the inaugural invocation was appropriate.  I managed to listen to about 30 seconds of his blather before hitting the mute button on the television.  Heart over at Women’s Space is a stronger woman than I and managed to take in the whole thing and offer this completely spot on analysis:

There are no women in this prayer, except the women and girls who, according to Warren’s belief system, belong to President Obama. Warren’s prayer is thoroughly and completely male in its references, in its sentiments and in the way it portrays the divine– as a Father who made everything there is all by himself in order to glorify himself. And it is male in the way Warren subsumes the lives of Michelle, Sasha and Malia Obama into Barack Obama’s life. This is the only place for women in Warren’s world.

Unlike Gene Robinson’s prayer, shot through with references to women and girls, other than Obama’s immediate family members, here there are references only to men. For Warren and men who think like him, believe like him, all women and girls, whether leaders, co-creatrixes, the mother of Jesus, family members, are erased, made to be invisible, subsumed within the language of the patriarchal dream.

Hardly a comforting opening vision for the Obama years.  On a far more positive note however, the White House website now has a web page on women’s issues that does indeed inspire optimism by addressing issues such as:

    • Empowering Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS
    • Supporting Research into Women’s Health
    • Supports a Woman’s Right to Choose
    • Preventing Unintended Pregnancy
    • Reducing Domestic Violence
    • Strengthening Domestic Violence Laws
    • Fighting Gender Violence Abroad
    • Fighting for Pay Equity
    • Investing in Women-Owned Small Businesses
    • Caring for Women Veterans

This is a remarkable and historically women-positive starting point which we hope is far more reflective of Obama’s commitment to women than Warren’s patriarchal spew and we look forward to seeing this agenda come to fruition.

 January 21, 2009  Posted by on January 21, 2009 2 Responses »
Jan 192009

As I watched the millions of people on the National Mall in Washington DC kick their feet up and shout along with Garth Brooks at the pre-Inaugural concert on Sunday, I wanted to feel a sense of relief at this phenomenal show of patriotism. Without question, the departure of the puppet of darkness from the White House is a huge step in the right direction and worthy of some major partying, as is the fact that this country has finally reached the point where a person of color can be elected President and in the process bring so many people to the table who understand the need for and are deeply committed to change.

But I am deeply troubled by the opening moves of the Obama Administration. We need to not lose sight of Obama’s intention to step up operations in Afghanistan.  And we should be very worried that his energy policy sees an ongoing place for nuclear and coal technologies, neither of which are safe, clean or cheap in any form and it astounds me that Obama has not taken the time to visit and address the enormous coal ash spill in Tennessee. This cavalier dismissal of this ecologic plundering of our planet does not bode well for badly needed leadership in environmental policy. The appointment of Tom Vilsack, a long time supporter of corporate farming, sends a dangerous signal for food policies in a time of escalating costs and hunger.  And Eric Holder’s role in the Marc Rich pardon certainly leaves one to question his ability to uphold justice.

One wonders also where is a clear vision for a health system that provides medical care without bankrupting those it serves to benefit  big pharma and the insurance industry.  And  I for one have little faith that a man who forgets to pay tens of thousands of dollars in taxes can lead us out of this economic crisis. As David Korten points out, “our economic crisis is, at its core, a moral crisis”.

Nor do I understand Obama’s silence on the atrocities committed in Gaza, saying that there is only one president at a time is not an excuse for silence in the face of war crimes and gross violations against human rights.  It is also just mystifying why the deeply homophobic Rick Warren was asked to be a part of the Inaugural festivities.

The one area that I do feel somewhat hopeful for in terms of real change is women’s human rights and reproductive health.  Joe Biden has been a staunch supporter of the Violence Against Women Act and the International Violence Against Women Act and the Convention on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. There is also every indication that the Obama Administration will not continue to support the hugely ineffective abstinence programs  and that the Global Gag rule will be rescinded in short order freeing up badly needed family planning funds both here and abroad.

Finally, as Elizabeth Holtzman points out, it is paramount that Obama address the Bush Administration’s violations of the Constitution because not to do so would signal yet another grievous disregard for the laws of this country.  And Keith Olbermann points out on Countdown that it is not sufficient to simply say we won’t torture again, it is absolutely necessary to prosecute the crimes of the past or they will happen again.

As Robert Jensen rather eloquently phrased it, “Like many others on Tuesday I will breathe a sigh of relief when Obama is sworn in, but I won’t breathe easy,” because it remains to be seen whether Obama can bring real substantive change or whether his election merely signals a return to business as usual in the pre-Bush years.  If the latter is the case, we are in deep trouble, so deep that we cannot afford more than a one day honeymoon.  When the sun comes up on Wednesday morning, it is time to get back to work and let the Obama administration know the mandate for change that swept him into office was not a hope but a demand.

–Lucinda Marshall

 January 19, 2009  Posted by on January 19, 2009 2 Responses »