Oct 122010

UNIFEM’s Say No-Unite Campaign Website makes it very easy to add your name to the growing chorus calling for better  implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which calls, “for women’s full and equal participation in all elements of peacemaking, and for prevention of this kind of violence.”  They are also asking that you add your name to their petition and also that you ask your government to support these steps:

  • Prosecute those who command and/or commit sexual violence and exclude them from armies and police forces after conflict.
  • Ensure that women participate in peace negotiations and all post-conflict decision-making institutions.
  • Increase the number of women in troops, police forces and civilians within international peacekeeping efforts.

Best of all, they’ve drafted some copy-and-paste Facebook and Twitter messages so you can help spread the word.  Doesn’t get much easier than that.  Here is a Facebook status message you can use:

10 years ago, the UN Security Council called for women’s full participation in peacemaking and for prevention of sexual violence in conflict. But implementation has been too slow. Sexual violence in conflict is NOT inevitable. It can be stopped. Make Women Count for Peace – Ask your government to support 3 steps to implement resolution 1325 by signing this petition. http://ht.ly/1X3D2

And saving you the trouble of trying to say something important in 140 characters or less, here is a ready to use Tweet:

Sexual violence in conflict is NOT inevitable. It can be stopped. Sign the @SayNO_UNiTE petition http://ht.ly/1X3D2 @UNIFEM

Check out this page for more ready to go messages.  Not only is Say No-Unite a great campaign, but I really want to say kudos to the organizers for coming up with this easy way for us all to get involved.  In fact, if you are following @fempeace on Twitter or like the FPN Facebook page, you can see this in action!

 October 12, 2010  Posted by on October 12, 2010 Comments Off on Using Facebook and Twitter To Call For Better Implementation of UNSCR 1325 On Women, Peace and Security
Oct 112010

As longtime readers of this blog know, I have had some significant concerns regarding Gardisil,* the HPV vaccine marketed heavily by Merck, regarding a number of issues including safety, efficacy and cost. On Thursday, Oct. 14 at 1 pm eastern time.  Fem2.0 will be hosting a radio program, The HPV Vaccine – What Some Mothers Think You Should Know, that addresses these very important issues.  According to the press release about the program,

When the HPV vaccine came on the market, it was promoted as a way to keep girls and young women safe from cervical cancer. Negative reaction came primarily from those who were concerned that it would encourage girls to have indiscriminate sex.  However, the focus changed when a pattern emerged showing that many who had received the vaccine were suffering adverse physical effects.  Families of these girls turned to social media to understand what was happening to their daughters, and to demand accountability.  This show brings together four women to discuss what they believe parents should know before making a decision about administering the vaccine to their daughters, and potentially, their sons.

The program will be hosted by Marcia G. Yerman, “author of a five-part series on the Gardasil vaccine for the women’s health site Empowher.  Yerman covers women’s health, women’s issues, tech, culture and the arts.  Her writing is archived at mgyerman.com and Huffington Post“.

Panelists will include:

  • Leslie Carol Botha is a Women’s Health Educator, author, publisher, and broadcast journalist.  She is an internationally recognized expert on women’s hormonal health. Her site is holyhormones.com.  Her work emphasizes the significance of the hormone cycle and its profound relationship to women’s psyche. Over the past three years, Botha has been heavily involved and dedicated in using the media to share information with the public about the potential dangers of the HPV vaccines.  She is a member of TruthAboutGardasil.org and is one of six women who presented research and data to the FDA in March of 2010 on the alarming statistics of Gardasil and Cervarix deaths, injuries and harm, specifically in comparison to other vaccines.
  • Marian Greene is a social activist, and mother of a vaccine injured child.  She is the co-founder and Chairwoman of the TruthAboutGardasil.org.  Her stated goal is to provide both information and emotional support to other parents. She believes it is essential that the public be educated, so that they are able to make informed decisions for the health of their families. Her mission is to provide this information in an easy to understand manner, while educating politicians, physicians, parents, and the general public.
  • Rosemary Mathis is a Finance Manager for a leading world retailer, and the mother of a vaccine injured child. She is co-founder of TruthAboutGardasil.org and SaneVax.Org.  At Truth About Gardasil, she identified the need for a place to connect the victims of the Gardasil vaccine.  Since additional HPV vaccines have been introduced into the market, she has partnered with others to co-found Sane Vax, Inc. (non-profit) to represent all of the HPV Vaccine Victims, as well as those harmed by other vaccines.  Mathis is Vice President of Victim Support and on the Board of Directors of SaneVax, Inc. The SaneVax mission is to promote safe, affordable, necessary, and effective vaccines and vaccination practices through education and information.
  • Jodi Speakman is a certified paralegal and works full-time at a law firm.  She has been active in promoting awareness of adverse reactions to Gardasil since her daughter, Victoria, became seriously ill in February 2008. Since that time, she has posted “Victoria’s Story” on thousands of websites and has spent “countless hours” researching the adverse effects of Gardasil. Speakman has been interviewed by numerous media outlets. She authored a synopsis of her daughter’s symptoms which appears on the National Vaccine Information Center’s website. She speaks publicly about her daughter’s adverse reaction to the Gardasil vaccine in an effort to educate others.  Speakman is the administrator of the Facebook group, “Stop Gardasil – Victoria’s Story.”

The show is part of the Fem2.0‘s online radio series, which covers topics and issues relevant to women, their families, and their lives. Fem2.0 brings together women’s advocacy and online communities to further the connection between women’s voices and today’s issues.

You can listen to the show here and call (724) 444-7444, Call ID: 74229 to submit question or send via Twitter with the hashtags #Fem2 or #Gardisil during the broadcast.

*See also these posts about Gardisil, here and here.

 October 11, 2010  Posted by on October 11, 2010 Comments Off on The HPV Vaccine – What Some Mothers Think You Should Know
Oct 072010

As part of our coverage of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I had the opportunity to interview M. Cristina Alcalde about her new book, The Woman in the Violence: Gender, Poverty, and Resistance in PeruAlcalde is an Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Kentucky, “her research focuses on the interconnections among intimate, institutional, and structural violence in Peru and among Latinos in the U.S., as well as on masculinities and motherhood”.

The focus of her book is on women in Peru, and while providing us a glimpse rarely seen into the intersection  of violence, poverty, gender and resistance  in Peru, as Alcalde notes, her findings are in many ways relevant beyond borders.  I was particularly interested in her use of “testimonios” which she discusses in the interview, which was conducted by email.

1.  Can you talk a little about what led you to write the book and what your goals were in your research?

In the mid and late 1990s I was a graduate student in anthropology and I visited Lima to see family and to look into possible topics for my dissertation research.  I had just finished an MA in Latin American Studies and I knew I wanted to continue my focus on Latin America, that I wanted the topic to be relevant to women’s lives in Peru, and that I wanted to focus on something I could work on for a long time. Meeting with members of nonprofit women’s organizations in Lima convinced me that intimate partner violence against women was a particularly relevant issue that needed more attention.

Violence in Peru had received a lot of attention, but it was the 1980s-1990s violence between the state and the insurgent group Shining Path. In anthropology, violence, ethics, and advocacy had also received significant attention, but in relation to inter-group violence, human rights violations, and genocide, not specifically men’s intimate partner violence against women.  When I returned to the States, I began to write grant proposals and solicit fellowships, volunteered at a shelter, and read as much as I could about domestic violence to prepare to return to Lima to do fieldwork and work with shelters for at least a year.

Drawing on my fieldwork, in writing this book my overarching goal has been to make the largely unfamiliar setting in which women’s lives unfold in Lima familiar and the largely invisible and intersecting forms of violence women experience, as well as the strategies women create to resist violence, visible.  Drawing on women’s life stories and my analysis of these and the broader context, throughout the book I’ve also sought to challenge stereotypes about women, particularly about poor women of color, in abusive relationships; to address the gap between activist practice and academic research on domestic violence; to contribute to a theory of everyday resistance that speaks directly to the experiences of women in abusive relationships, and that moves beyond simplistic dichotomies of staying and leaving; and to show multiple dimensions of women’s lives. In connection to the last point, I examine how violence affects women’s lives in their roles as mothers, daughters, sisters, workers, wives, migrants, and community leaders without reducing women’s lives to episodes of violence. It was also important for me to move beyond the dominant focus on physical violence in domestic violence literature to bring more attention to sexual, psychological, and economic violence in women’s lives.

2.  Why Peru?  In what ways does what you learned apply to other Latin American countries and throughout the world in general?

I worked in Peru because I wanted my work to somehow connect with and contribute to women’s well-being in the place I am from. However, because men’s violence against women crosses national, cultural, social, racial, and economic borders beyond Latin America, this book is not just about women in Peru or Latin America.

One aspect that I think is applicable to other settings has to do with the connections among different forms of violence in women’s lives.  We tend to focus just on state violence, or just on institutional violence, or just on domestic violence, and in doing that we miss the opportunity to examine how all these forms of violence intersect in women’s lives.  Women’s experiences in Lima make visible the continuum of violence in women’s lives, and caution us against placing any one form of violence above the other.

Another point that could apply to other places has to do with the intersection of racism and violence within intimate relationships. Especially in the life stories of indigenous women who had moved from rural areas to the capital and who spoke Quechua (an indigenous Andean language), I found that societal prejudices about race sometimes included men’s use of ethnic slurs, followed by physical and sexual violence, against their intimate partners. Racism may also play a role in men’s intimate violence against women in other settings. Continue reading »

 October 7, 2010  Posted by on October 7, 2010 Comments Off on Gender, Poverty and Resistance in Peru–An Interview With M. Cristina Alcalde
Oct 062010

According to the Australian Broadcasting Company, the war against women is getting worse and you’ll never guess who is to blame for that.  Feminists.  Yup, it is all our fault that,

There is a totalising ideology on the march across the world, and it’s anti-women. This is not about religion, piety or virtue. Rather it’s about misogyny and a global war against women. It’s about the rights and freedoms of women. The ownership and control over women’s bodies has become the chief battleground.

World events and the rise of neo-fundamentalism in the 80s and 90s, by young men eager to revive and restore old practices, have made feminism more important than ever. And yet feminism has lost its voice.

We don’t know how to respond to the horrors of infallible patriarchal control. In our failure to act and strenuously resist this global push back against women’s liberty and free agency, feminism is at a point of moral crisis.

Has feminism failed? Numbers have improved, legal structures and new frameworks have been erected. The scaffolding is there – for some of us. But for a growing number of the world’s women, their freedoms are at serious risk. And feminism remains deathly silent.

Right now, at a time when we need a massive feminist surge to fight back rising anti-woman sentiment, we’re sitting on our hands. Is this not our business too? Why do feminist responsibilities stop at the border?

The opinion piece was, dishearteningly, written by a woman, “an edited version of a speech delivered by journalist and social commentator Virginia Haussegger last Wednesday in the IQ2 Debate “Feminism has failed”, at the Melbourne Town Hall”. Haussegger is also the author of a book, Wonder Woman: the myth of ‘having it all’.

Haussegger has quite a laundry list of issues where feminist response has fallen short: honor killings, female genital mutilation, acid attacks, forced marriages, sexual slavery, maternal mortality, and femicide. Not much missing from that smorgasbord of misogyny.

And it is all our fault that these things continue to happen.  No mention of the political systems that allow them to continue or the mostly men who commit the violence and create the policies within a patriarchal world that systemically devalues women.  Oh no, those things could not possibly be to blame.

And no recognition that misogyny is not just a feminist issue, it is an issue that harms us all and even if it didn’t, it is unacceptable to say that feminists must solve it, we need to own up to misogyny being a global responsibility and quit laying the blame on feminists, who despite Ms. Haussegger’s claims of our silence are in fact working full tilt to address these issues We would all be far better served by media outlets such as the Australian Broadcasting Company providing better news  coverage of those efforts rather than this sort of baseless feminist bashing.

 October 6, 2010  Posted by on October 6, 2010 3 Responses »
Oct 052010

It’s October and you know what that means–time to keep your eyes open for the most inappropriate pink thing being sold in an effort to raise awareness about breast cancer. Yes, it is important to be aware, but does it have to be so pepto pink to get our attention? And what about products that make more money for the company selling them than they generate for breast cancer programs? And in the seriously despicable department, what about products that have been linked to cancer that are pink-washed? Breast Cancer Action’s Think Before You Pink campaign points to pinkified alcohol products as a contender in this year’s contest. If you see something you want to share, please send a link in the comments.  BCA also has this excellent list of questions you should ask before you buy something pink:

  • What is the company doing to assure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?
  • How much money actually goes toward breast cancer programs and services? Where is the money going?
  • What types of programs are being supported?

Also, be sure to check out Breast Cancer Fund’s 2010 State of the Evidence report on breast cancer that,

summarizes and evaluates the scientific evidence linking exposures to chemicals and radiation in our everyday environments to increased breast cancer risk. It also links the science to actions we can take to reduce the risk.

 October 5, 2010  Posted by on October 5, 2010 Comments Off on Does Buying Pink Stuff Make A Difference In The Fight Against Breast Cancer?