Apr 302009

Can we try this in this country?  Soon. Please. From the BBC:

Women’s activist groups in Kenya have slapped their partners with a week-long sex ban in protest over the infighting plaguing the national unity government.

The Women’s Development Organisation coalition said they would also pay prostitutes to join their strike.

The campaigners are asking the wives of the Kenyan president and the prime minister to join in the embargo.

Patricia Nyaundi, executive director of the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida), one of the organisations in the campaign, said they hoped the seven-day sex ban would force the squabbling rivals to make up.

She said the campaign would start from her bedroom and that emissaries had been sent to the two leaders’ wives, Ida Odinga and Lucy Kibaki, urging them to join in and lead from the front.

“Even commercial sex workers should join in the campaign which is so vital to the country,” Mrs Nyaundi told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.

“Great decisions are made during pillow talk, so we are asking the two ladies at that intimate moment to ask their husbands: ‘Darling can you do something for Kenya?'”

But the BBC’s Anne Waithera in Nairobi says the campaign is likely to meet stiff resistance from some men.

Yes, I would imagine so, but I’m betting on the women.

 April 30, 2009  Posted by on April 30, 2009 Comments Off on Lysistrata: It’s No Longer Just A Play–Women In Kenya Call For One Week Sex Strike
Apr 292009

Remember Pvt. Lynndie England, leash holder, rogue bad apple who went to jail and was dishonorably discharged because she took it upon herlittle ol’ self to torture prisoners, something we would never, never do in this country? In 2005 in an essay titled, “Who Gave Lynndie the Leash”  I  wrote about the fallacy of the premise that England should take the fall:

It’s almost as if Lynndie England was reprising the role of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter. Dog leash in hand, she epitomized the evil of Abu Ghraib. The accused knew what she was doing,” said Capt. Chris Graveline, the lead prosecutor. “She was laughing and joking. … She is enjoying, she is participating, all for her own sick humor.” Virtually guaranteed a conviction by a jury of five male officers, the U.S. Military saw in her prosecution a ritual cleansing of the stain of torture and abuse that oozed out of Abu Ghraib.

That Pvt. England had a history of mental incapacity and learning disabilities and was ordered to pose by her lover and superior officer were simply not relevant, she had a dog leash (although ironically, she was acquitted of a conspiracy charge pertaining to the leash).

Reports by members of the 82nd Airborne Division to Human Rights Watch and Congress that abuse and torture were not limited to Abu Ghraib were also considered irrelevant…

…Making it crystal clear that the whole point of the England trial was to close the book on the torture and abuse allegations, the judge ruled against the testimony on the grounds that abuse elsewhere was not necessarily connected and would not lessen England’s guilt.

Funny thing, turns out that the other incidents of abuse were connected/were U.S. military policy and she actually was just following orders as the recently released torture memos make very, very clear.

A detailed history of harsh interrogation techniques during the Bush administration directly links the CIA’s interrogation program to the military’s use of aggressive tactics, dismissing the notion that the brutal treatment of terror detainees and prisoners was the work of a few low-ranking soldiers.

As Linda Dupuy writes in this excellent  essay calling for a full pardon for England,

She was sacrificed – her livelihood, her future in the line of duty – for the sake of a war effort. Her country and more specifically her government abandoned her for doing exactly as she (it appears now) was told.

Lynndie England is a symbol of embarrassment. Not because she posed in pictures following orders – but because our government let her take the fall.

Dupuy is absolutely correct, we owe England a huge apology, a full pardon and everything we can possibly do to make her life right again.  And more than that, we owe her the full prosecution of those who created this policy and  knowingly and willfully let her take the fall for their actions.

 April 29, 2009  Posted by on April 29, 2009 Comments Off on Pardon Lynndie England
Apr 282009

“What do sick pigs have to do with widespread, taxpayer-funded abortion?”  This is the question being asked by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, who is convinced that the potential for a pandemic is being used to force the confirmation of “pro-abortion extremist Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-Kans.) as Secretary of Health and Human Services.”

Really, it’s all the fault of that awful pro-choice liberal conspiracy, who knew?  H/T to Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon for bringing that little diatribe to our attention.

Meanwhile back in reality land…Moms Rising points out that the CDC advice to stay home if you are sick is very difficult for many people to do because,

In the U.S. today, nearly half of workers aren’t allowed to earn paid sick days (i.e. they don’t have a single paid sick day to take when illness strikes in order to keep our communities healthy and not spread illness). And more than half of the workforce does not have or cannot use paid sick days to care for sick children. The numbers are even worse in industries where people need paid sick days the most: 92% of waiters and waitresses, and 79% of child care workers aren’t allowed to earn any paid sick days.

Read more and sign the petition for the right to paid sick days here.

 April 28, 2009  Posted by on April 28, 2009 Comments Off on When Pigs Fly–The Connection Between Swine Flu And Abortion? Who Knew.
Apr 282009

April 28 is Equal Pay Day, made necessary by the fact that women are paid an amount far less than the amount that they have earned and that they would be paid if they happened to have a Y chromosome.  According to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC):

Women working full-time, year-round are paid only about 78 cents for every dollar earned by men. For women of color, the numbers are even worse — African-American women earn 69 cents and Latinas earn 59 cents for every dollar paid to men. This wage gap cannot be dismissed as the result of “women’s choices” in career and family matters. In fact, authoritative studies show that even when all relevant career and family attributes are taken into account, there is still a significant, unexplained gap in men’s and women’s earnings. Thus, even when women make the same career choices as men and work the same hours, they still earn less.

In other words,  if the  white guy at the desk next to you earns $100,000 (his desk is on Wall Street, just trying to keep the math simple), that means you earn $78,000.  If you are a white woman.  If you are a Latina, you are only getting $59,000.

The National Organization for Women has a whole lot more data on pay inequity including:

  • Women’s median pay was less than men’s in each and every one of the 20 industries and 25 occupation groups surveyed by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2007.Even men working in female-dominated occupations tend to earn more than women working in those same occupations.
  • According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), if equal pay for women were instituted immediately, across the board, it would result in an annual $319 billion gain nationally for women and their families (in 2008 dollars). Over her working life, a typical woman could expect to gain a total of $210,000 in additional income if equal pay were the norm (these numbers include part-time workers).
  • When The WAGE Project looked exclusively at full-time workers, they estimated that women with a high school diploma lose as much as $700,000 over a lifetime of work, women with a college degree lose $1.2 million and professional school graduates may lose up to $2 million. Not only are these inequities enormously detrimental to women and their families, wage inequities follow women into their retirement years, reducing their Social Security benefits, pensions, savings and other financial resources.

Forget unfair, this is wrong.  Totally wrong.  And it is time to end this gross economic discrimination now.  Right now.  So what can you do?  The NWLC has the following suggestions:

Sign the Fair Pay Campaign Pledge!

1. I support fair pay for women.

2. I will urge my Senators to support the Paycheck Fairness Act.

3. I will forward the Fair Pay Campaign Pledge to five friends.

Sign the Pledge

Contact Your Senators

In January 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. This victory is a major step forward in giving women the ability to challenge unequal pay.

Our next step is to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to improve the law, close the loopholes, and encourage employers to review their policies. The House passed the Act in January, and it is now moving forward in the Senate.

Please urge your Senators to support the Paycheck Fairness Act.

NOW has more action ideas including this gem:

Host an “Un-happy hour” on April 28 to signal your dissatisfaction with the wage gap. See if a local bar, club, or restaurant (try the women-owned ones first!) will give you drink specials for the night: ideas include Dollar Drinks for 78 Cents or women pay 78% of their tabs and men pay 100%.

 April 28, 2009  Posted by on April 28, 2009 1 Response »
Apr 272009

Over the weekend, I saw an amazing film by Abigail Disney called Pray The Devil Back To Hell,

(T)he extraordinary story of a small band of Liberian women who came together in the midst of a bloody civil war, took on the violent warlords and corrupt Charles Taylor regime, and won a long-awaited peace for their shattered country in 2003.

As the rebel noose tightened upon Monrovia, and peace talks faced collapse, the women of Liberia – Christian and Muslims united – formed a thin but unshakable white line between the opposing forces, and successfully demanded an end to the fighting–armed only with white T-shirts and the courage of their convictions.

In one remarkable scene, the women barricaded the site of stalled peace talks in Ghana, and announced they would not move until a deal was done. Faced with eviction, they invoked the most powerful weapon in their arsenal – threatening to remove their clothes. It worked.

The women of Liberia are living proof that moral courage and non-violent resistance can succeed, even where the best efforts of traditional diplomacy have failed.

Their demonstrations culminated in the exile of Charles Taylor and the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state, and marked the vanguard of a new wave of women taking control of their political destiny around the world.

This remarkable chapter of world history was on its way to being lost forever. The Liberian war and peace movement were largely ignored as the international press focused on Iraq. Moreover, the women’s own modesty helped obscure this great accomplishment.

In the movie, there is a reference to the Greek play Lysistrata and what is truly remarkable is that this real life embodiment of the point that the play was making took place the same year that the play was re-enacted by women around the world. In the play,

The title character, Lysistrata, organizes women from warring Greek city-states to band together and deny sex to their husbands until they stop the Peloponnesian War. Unable to bear their intense—and highly visible—longings, the men finally agree to lay down their swords and call a permanent truce.

In real life, the women of Liberia, with virtually no notice or support from the outside world threatened to withhold sex, get naked and finally they barricaded the doors. AND IT WORKED. So maybe, just maybe, the time has come to quit acting out Lysistrata and just do it.

 April 27, 2009  Posted by on April 27, 2009 Comments Off on Pray The Devil Back To Hell–Lysistrata For Real