May 282010

I’ve been saying that the only way to stop the patriarchal madness that is killing our world is to get naked.  Diane Wilson and the women of Code Pink decided to give it a whirl in Houston to protest BP’s ecocidal corporate commodifying of our planet.  Here is Medea Benjamin’s report:

So Diane put out a call for people to join her in Houston on Monday, May 24, to protest at the BP headquarters. Looking for a creative way to expose the company’s criminal behavior (and entice the media, who rarely cover protests in Texas), Diane was inspired by the example of a group of women from Nigeria who took over a Chevron oil rig and threatened to strip naked if the company didn’t hire more local workers and invest in the community. Faced with just the threat of nudity, Chevron gave in.

“If the Nigerian women could use their bodies on the Niger Delta, why can’t we do it in downtown Houston?” Diane reasoned.

Diane doesn’t take nudity lightly. She didn’t grow up in a hippie commune, but in a fundamentalist Pentecostal family in rural Texas. “I was taught that flesh is sinful, it’s the devil. I was so modest that if my sister said the word ‘bra’, I would climb under the table. I was horrified by anything intimate. So for me, using nudity to expose the truth about BP was WAY outside my comfort zone. But I realized that it’s the destruction of our ecosystem by corporate greed that’s obscene, not a woman’s body.”

To prepare for the action, Diane got 100 pounds of fish from her fishing buddies, old fishing nets to drag the dead fish and fake oil to dump on them. She and one of her daughters made beautiful signs saying “Expose BP” and “The Naked Truth about Drill, Baby, Drill” and put them on big sandwich boards. “You could say we was cheatin’ because we decided to use sandwich boards to cover our private parts, but that’s about as nude as those of us from Texas can get,” laughed Diane. “We’ll leave the full-on nudity to the women from California.”

More pics and info here.

 May 28, 2010  Posted by on May 28, 2010 1 Response »
May 272010

Imagine if instead of the press giving credence to Secretary of State Clinton’s posturing and threats regarding the Korean Penninsula, they were to cover statements like this from the South Korean group Women Making Peace, which makes clear the dangers of military deterrence:

Comment on Special Address to the Nation by the ROK President regarding the Cheonan Naval Warship
Peace on the Korean Peninsula cannot be secured by a military buildup and sanctions

A series of events regarding the sinking of the Cheonan naval warship shows that peace and security on the Korean Peninsula is facing a serious threat even about 60 years after the Korean War.

We express our deep condolences for the deaths of 46 sailors who died as a result of the sinking of a warship and we sincerely hope that this situation will not be repeated.

It has been two years and five months since the inauguration of President Myungbak Lee, and during the period we find that the inter-Korean relationship has worsened to the extent of being a “war crisis.” Only two years has passed since the leaders of the two Koreas agreed to convert the West Sea into the sea of cooperation and now it has became the “sea of animosity and confrontation.” The governments of the two Koreas should be responsible for the current situation.

The South Korean government’s statement, released today, raises much suspicion in terms of the timing before (the) June 2nd local election and the accuracy of its contents. Furthermore, the South Korean government’s beefing up the military and imposition of sanctions on the North will only heighten the military confrontation and threaten the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.

First, we show a great concern that the South Korean government changed its military strategy from a defense mode to “proactive deterrence.” This “deterrent” action, through a military build up, will likely lead to a concomitant increase of the North’s military power, and will further aggravate the arms race between the North and South Koreas. In response to the Cheonan incident, the South Korean government announced that “if our territorial waters, airspace or territory are violated, we will immediately exercise our right of self-defense.” It means that South Korean government would use military power if there is North Korean government’s violation, referring to its “self-defense”. We believe this action will increase the possibility of armed conflicts on the Korean Peninsula. In the past (i.e. 1998-2007), the inter-Korean West Sea battle did not expand to a greater scale due to the careful approach of the two Governments not to heighten the tension, as well as their efforts for reconciliation and cooperation. We call on both Governments to take such a peaceful approach this time as well.

Second, the South Korean government’s decision to cease to implement the inter-Korean Maritime Agreement and to stop trade and exchanges will eliminate a buffer in this tense period. Inter-Korean economic cooperation and private exchanges have played an important role in the prevention of increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. In the long run, North and South Korea should coexist and cooperate so that they can realize reunification. Economic cooperation should be expanded and the government should not stop, under any circumstances, providing humanitarian assistance, including private aid.

Third, defamation and a vicious circle of revenge only aggravate the crises on the Korean Peninsula and drive the whole country toward a state of war. We strongly believe that the Peace on the Korean Peninsula can be maintained based on the coexistence of both Koreas. Both governments should seek ways to convert the Armistice into a peace region and pursue active dialogue and negotiation. In the process, the West Sea can be turned into the Sea of Peace and cooperation.

On May 24th, International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament, we, women, express our hope that the Korean Peninsula will become a land of life, peace, and hope and pledge ourselves to make efforts to achieve reconciliation, cooperation, and peace.

Great thanks to Gila Svirsky and Sue Katz for  forwarding this statement.

 May 27, 2010  Posted by on May 27, 2010 Comments Off on Peace On The Korean Peninsula Can’t Be Secured By Military Buildup And Sanctions
May 262010

Last weekend I finally got around to seeing the movie Alice In Wonderland.  While I haven’t quite fallen down the same rabbit hole as Alice did, in case you’re wondering where I’ve been for the last day or so, the answer is researching the implications for reproductive health of the gulf oil disaster. One of the problems with this topic is that what isn’t known is a lot more clear than what is known, so it is a daunting task, but one that I think needs to be addressed.

Earlier this week, the Boston Globe published a picture of a woman and her children using a hose to fill wading pools on the beach along the Gulf. Clearly she thought that would be safe since they were not actually going in the water.  But in reality, it probably wasn’t and while the loss of tourism is going to be a huge financial blow to the region, steps should be taken immediately to protect human health, particularly the most vulnerable. Via NRDC, here are some basic recommendations for children and pregnant women in the gulf area:

Are there risks to pregnant women?

Some of the volatile chemicals in oil have been linked to miscarriage, preterm birth and low birth weight, so it is a good idea for pregnant women to avoid the areas where there are elevated levels of VOCs in the air.  These are areas that include noticeable smells of oil or visible oil and also any areas where the EPA monitoring system detects elevated levels. The EPA air monitoring results are being updated regularly at To be cautious, pregnant women may choose to avoid any areas directly along the waterfront and beachfront, even when oil is not visible.

What about risks to children?

Young children should not be allowed near the beach where they could come into direct contact with the oil. Other than this, recommendations for children are the same as for adults.

I will be addressing this topic in much greater detail in the next week, so if blogging is sparse in the meantime, that is the reason why.

 May 26, 2010  Posted by on May 26, 2010 Comments Off on Precautions For Pregnant Women And Children In The Aftermath Of The Gulf Oil Disaster
May 242010

I no longer work in the visual arts, but I do remember what happens when you mix pink and green–the result isn’t pretty.  And when you mix green-washing with pink-washing, it is even uglier and that is exactly what the so called family values folks are doing with their new The Pill Kills campaign when they argue that the pill is bad for the environment so therefore you shouldn’t take it. Lisa Hymas eloquently explains the problem with that line of reasoning over at Grist so that I don’t have to:

It’s true — studies do show that the Pill has adverse effects on marine life, and that’s also worrying for those of us who drink water. It’s just one of many reasons why we need new and better birth-control options, as I’ve argued before.But what the “Pill Kills” site doesn’t make immediately clear is that the American Life League opposes all contraception of any kind (other than the good ol’ rhythm method). If the group gave a rat’s ass about the environment, it would acknowledge that unplanned pregnancies and resultant unplanned births ultimately lead to umpteen times more environmental degradation than the Pill.

I was going to include some of American Life’s talking points for your edification, but the link to them didn’t work when I tried to take a look-see, so just sit back and enjoy the irony of that, you can probably figure them out on your own anyhow.

Meanwhile, the right’s newest wingnut, Rand Paul, fresh after getting his ass whipped after putting his foot in his racist mouth on The Rachel Maddow Show, stepped in it again,

“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,'” Rand said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.”

And the less than six degrees of separation between these two items is this–One of the issues that has barely been discussed as the Gulf oil catastrophe unfolds is the impact on human health, especially on reproductive health and for children whose smaller still developing systems are particularly vulnerable.  Via of all places Fox, based on what we know about the impact of the Exxon Valdez catastrophe,

Will this oil spill affect our health?The short answer is, yes. There are well-documented analyses on the effects of environmental pollution of previous oil spills — some which have occurred inland and certainly the Exxon Valdez spill in the Alaskan waters of the Prince William Sound in 1989. You have to remember that it only takes about a quart of crude oil to pollute 150,000 gallons of water. Crude oil contains substances such as benzene and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that have been proven to cause severe reactions in humans — some mild, such as nausea, vomiting and fatigue. But studies have also linked exposure to these compounds to more serious conditions like leukemia and certain types of cancers.

Another negative health effect that could come from this massive environmental catastrophe is the potential for exposure to heavy metals, such as lead — which we know can be very detrimental to the health of an unborn child — resulting in low birth weight, developmental delays, miscarriage and even stillbirth. So pregnant women are especially vulnerable to these heavy metals.

And marine biologist Dr.Riki Ott reports that,

Fishermen responders who are working BP’s giant uncontrolled slick in the Gulf are reporting bad headaches, hacking coughs, stuffy sinuses, sore throats, and other symptoms. The Material Safety Data Sheets for crude oil and the chemical products being used to disperse and break up the slick — underwater and on the surface — list these very illnesses as symptoms of overexposure to volatile organic carbons (VOCs), hydrogen sulfide, and other chemicals boiling off the slick.

When the fishermen come home, they find their families hacking, snuffling, and complaining of sore throats and headaches, too. There is a good reason for the outbreak of illnesses sweeping across this area.

Last weekend, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) posted its air quality monitoring data from the greater Venice, Louisiana, area. The data showed federal standards were being exceeded by 100- to 1,000-fold for VOCs, and hydrogen sulfide, among others–and that was on shore. These high levels could certainly explain the illnesses and were certainly a cause for alarm in the coastal communities.

Ott goes on to report that it appears that little is being done to protect residents of the area and fisherman who are helping to clean up the disaster from these dangerous chemicals.

But in Tea Party and Family Values wing-nut land, we should be worrying about the chemical impact of taking the pill and not questioning BP’s right to poison water, air and land or their right to kill off sea life or to damage human health because that is the American way and God’s word all rolled into one.

As has been pointed out on the Feminist Peace Network blog many times, adverse impacts to the environment, regardless of cause have a gendered impact.  We will continue to monitor and share information regarding that impact in regard to this latest assault on the planet by the oil companies.

 May 24, 2010  Posted by on May 24, 2010 Comments Off on The Oily Logic Of Right-Wing ‘Family Values’
May 202010

Lisa Shannon, Founder of Run for Congo Women has put together this phenomenal and heart-breaking film explaining the link between the use of conflict minerals in electronics and violence against women.  You can learn more about this excellent project here.

 May 20, 2010  Posted by on May 20, 2010 Comments Off on The Connection Between Conflict Minerals And Violence Against Women