Sunday, April 30, 2006

Abstinence Education = dangerous for Teens

In my perfect world, our government and schools would advocate "abstinence based education" There is nothing wrong with advocating abstinence – especially for teenagers. Showing respect and restraint is something to be admired. While I love the show Sex and the City, I would never advocate Samantha’s lifestyle for any of my friends. Young people -- are receiving far too many irresponsible messages about sexuality. Sex is cheapened in our culture today yet at the other end of things, the abstinence-only movement is making a fear campaign of our human sexuality.

Abstinence-only education is simply a moral movement thinly disguised as a public-health campaign. They like to quote alarming statistics about high STD rates, teen pregnancies and talk about scary emotional scarring. Take for instance the picture of the duck. Several abstinence-only groups use the example of duct tape in their teaching.

I have read of this example in Ariel Levy’s book “Female Chauvinist Pigs” and also in an online debate that is well worth reading. Here is an exerpt:

When speaking, the Abstinence Clearinghouse sometimes gives students a mental picture about premarital sex using duct tape. We stick duct tape to someone's arm as though they were my sexual partner to represent the bonding associated with sex. The first time it sticks very well. Then, we break up.

As we break up, the tape is ripped off his arm along with several arm hairs. When I find my next boyfriend and sexual partner, I can stick the duct tape to his arm, but it won't stick as tightly as the first time. The tape sticks less and less with each sexual escapade and eventually will not stick at all.

The bonding can't be as special or powerful, and with each relationship you carry the garbage from the past right along with it. Would you call that a healthy, loving relationship? I most definitely would not.

The deep bonding and "emotional expression" that only sexual intimacy creates must be limited to marriage. One cannot be deeply bonded with many people. That would contradict the very definition of intimacy. Do you think that prostitutes have many deeply bonded friendships just because they have had sex with so many people? It is this faulty bonding and "emotional expression" that leads to increased divorce and abandoned families.

How charming. Their motto, “Sexual attraction is like duct tape. It sticks really well the first time, but if you peel it off it doesn't stick so well the next time. After five or six go 'rounds, it hardly sticks at all...”

Promoters of abstinence also use analogies of fire.

Story 1: You are coming home from school on a cold afternoon and you walk in your house to the warmth of a fire in the fireplace. You feel warm and cozy and can‘t wait to get closer to warm your hands. As you sit by the fire you unwind you begin to relax from a hard day at school. You talk with your parents about your day, drink hot chocolate and listen to the crackle of the fire in the comfort of your own home. You continue to feel safe as you nestle by the fire.

Story 2: You are coming home from school on a cold afternoon and you notice a fire is burning on the hill beside your house. You drop your backpack and start screaming for help. Your heart is pounding and the look of terror is on your face. The fire is blazing down the hill just yards from your home.

Ok. Two stories about fire. Two completely different feelings going on in your mind. You see fire is really nice and warm; pretty to look at and great for relaxing on a cold day, WHEN IT IS IN THE FIREPLACE.

However when a fire is not in the fireplace and is about to destroy your house, the fire isn’t so pretty and enjoyable.

Abstinence education is insulting. Many people are not virgins on their wedding day and most do not regret this decision. To insist that sex is immoral and profane when outside the bounds of marriage is narrow-minded. Plenty of people can have a sexual relationship before marriage that is healthy, spiritually moving, and can heighten the emotional and physical intimacy of the relationship.

Refusing to have an adult conversation that recognizes the complexity of sexual exploration is patronizing at best and frankly, endangers the rights of adolescents.

I recently learned that someone very dear to me was molested as a child. So tell me what happens when someone like her enters an abstinence-only sex education program? We tell her, “it’s too late, you’re a used up piece of duct tape because you’ve already experienced sex outside of marriage. People who are virgins on their wedding day are really happy and loved in the eyes of society and God because they are pure clean pieces of duct tape.”

And I’m sure it’s pure coincidence that these religiously based moral groups say “sex is only for marriage” and homosexuals can’t get married. Pure coincidence.

Abstinence education is a cruel thing to impart on teens who deserve real discussion on how to respect their partners and how to be as safe as possible to protect themselves from pregnancy, disease, and any sort of sexual manipulation (pressure, molestation, and assault). Abstinence should always be encouraged since it is safe and promotes respect for sex. But it shouldn’t be trumpeted as the only way to educate on sexuality.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

How BIG is the problem?

Go to this great site for more info

One of my biggest fears is that America is being swayed by a extremely small but very vocal minority who wants women to lose access to contraception. "The culture of life" has deemed any form of contraception as an abortifacient. This is very confusing to me since combination pills work "by preventing a woman's ovaries from releasing eggs (ovulation). They also thicken the cervical mucus, which keeps sperm from joining with an egg."

The hormones in combination and progestin-only pills also thin the lining of the uterus. In theory, this could prevent pregnancy by interfering with implantation of a fertilized egg. But there is no scientific evidence that this occurs.

However, it's becoming more and more clear that we need to fear, not just the grassroots campaign but the office of our presidency. President Bush has REFUSED to answer press questions regarding birth control.

Excerpt from May 26, 2005 White House Press Briefing:

Q There are news reports this morning that parents and children who were guests of the President, when they visited Congress, wore stickers with the wording, "I was an embryo." And my question is, since all of us were once embryos, and all of us were once part sperm and egg, is the President also opposed to contraception, which stops this union and kills both sperm and egg?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think the President has made his views known on these issues, and his views known -

Q You know, but what I asked, is he opposed -- he's not opposed to contraception, is he?

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, and you've made your views known, as well. The President --

Q No, no, but is he opposed to contraception, Scott? Could you just tell us yes or no?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think that this question is -

Q Well, is he? Does he oppose contraception?

MR. McCLELLAN: Les, I think the President's views are very clear when it comes to building a culture of life --

Q If they were clear, I wouldn't have asked.

MR. McCLELLAN: -- and if you want to ask those questions, that's fine. I'm just not going to dignify them with a response.

The White House and Bush have also refused to answers several letters from members of congress--

“Mr. President, does this mean that abstinence is the heart of your birth control policy? Mr McClellan mentioned teens but what about married women, college women, working women, women in the military, divorced women, mothers who don’t want more children? Do you think promoting absitence should be their birth control method as well? If so, then this position is a radical departure from previous administrations, and undermines women’s Constituional right to birth control that has been respected in this country since the landmark 1965 Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut.

For 95% of Americans- including the 43 million women who are sexually active, many of them married, and do not want to become pregnant- it would be a shocking revelation to learn that you believe that their preferred method of birth control is abstinence.”

The fact is that the majority of Americans use and support the right to use birth control. So why is our President refusing to come clean on this issue?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Catholic church -- stepping up?

My father is Catholic. I was baptized Catholic. I am dating a Catholic. All that being said. Those who are close to me, know that I am generally, pretty pissed at Catholicism in general. Don't get me wrong, the religion I converted to (Lutheran) not that much better. But at least there I get the feeling that there is some effort to be progressive. Women as pastors etc, nobody is refused communion depending on who THEY vote for.

I have had long talks about this with my boyfriend, father and my friend Phil, who's in seminary on his way to becoming a priest. I get angry often at what I perceive to be "moral authority" from Catholic leaders. They condemn any woman who needs an abortion but yet their church history is full of shuffling around pedophiles. Talk about protecting the innocent children.

Women are given bogus reasons for not being allowed to enter the priesthood (well Jesus and his disciples were all men-- first of all not every biblical scholar agrees with that, second of all, Jesus and his disciples were all Jews. Does that mean only Jews can lead mass?) Also the harping on no contraception obviously grates against my beliefs. If you're a Catholic and want to use natural family planning-- more power to you. That's your right and belief but stop telling countries to vote the same way you do. The days when Vatican governed the world are over. Stick to the people who show up for service at your church and leave the rest of us alone.

All that being said. Keep a watchful eye on what is going on right now. The church may be heading in the right direction as they begin to discuss whether or not condoms should be allowed.

By their logic, contraception is bad because it acts like an abortifacient (well I completely disagree but it's beside the point) because they believe sperm + egg meeting = baby. Okay, but condoms don't work like that, if a condom breaks and sperm and egg meet there is nothing but natural causes which could stop a fetus from forming. Their beef against condoms is that it could encourage pre-martial sex. Well, everything in this world encourages pre-marital sex. And when there are sex-workers, or child brides involved, their choices are limited. As one Vatican official brought up, It cannot be fair if a wife is married to a man who is HIV positive to deny her a condom to protect herself. Yeah, I would agree.

Hopefully correct decisions can be made to stem the global epidemic of AIDS. Since so many are loyal followers of the Catholic faith, this could be a major victory.

Male violence-- subtle and overt

This amazing post was SADLY not written by me. It is brilliant, however. Written by Christopher Kilmartin as an editorial for the American Psych. Assn's Division on men's involvement in the movement and the language we use to talk about gender issues of violence.

I want to repost it here because it speaks to so much of what we've been discussing lately and it's well written! Pay special attention to the examples he uses-- especially # 3. Enjoy!
<--- Christopher Kilmartin
Men's Violence Against Women
Christopher Kilmartin

Too often we see domestic violence and rape defined as "women's issues." Since men do the vast majority of the damage, I think it's a men's issue. I'll begin with a story, not a very happy one, to set the tone.

A little while back, The Washington Post ran a story about a Northern VA country club that held an event called the "Vodka challenge." It was a men-only event, a standard country club golf tournament. What made it newsworthy was the mode of celebration in the men's locker room. The day before the tournament, one of the club managers purchased an ice sculpture of a nude woman, sitting down with her legs spread. The vodka was served in the locker room from a fountain stream that came out from between her legs.

When some of the women members found out about this ice sculpture, they were outraged. Most of the men seemed puzzled by this reaction. After all, this was a sculpture, not a real woman, and it was in the men's locker room, where none of the women would even see it. Quite predictably, there were a lot of statements about angry feminists who have no sense of humor, and the overly rigid atmosphere of political correctness. After all, any one with an open mind would see this as harmless. I think it's good to have an open mind, but it's not good to have a mind so open that your brain falls out.

What does this vodka challenge story have to do with violence against women? There was nothing in the story to suggest that any of these men had ever beaten their wives. But, although I'm sure they didn't realize it, every one of them made it just a little more possible for any one of them to commit an act of violence against a woman.

In order for violence to occur, several things have to be present. First, there has to be a lack of identification with the victim. Second, there has to be a perception of the situation as one that calls for violence. Third, there has to be a decision to act violently, and fourth, there has to be a means of doing harm to the other person.

All-male social groups that are disrespectful towards women provide the first part of this formula: a willingness to view women as being different from and less valued than men. Symbolically, the ice sculpture provided an atmosphere that says women are here for men's pleasure, and we will bond around our shared masculinity in this place where we don't have to deal with women as human beings. Seeing them as lower status others allows us to justify mistreating them in many ways, including violence. There is an attitudinal undercurrent of women as enemies, in spite of the fact that most of these men were married to and raising children with the enemy.

Unfortunately, this vodka challenge was most likely not some isolated incident of insensitivity. In fact, country clubs have a history of the exclusion and disrespect of women, from men-only eating areas and tee times to the outright banning of women members. Many clubs also have a history of excluding Jews and people of color. The controversy over the exclusion of women from Augusta National is a case in point * Martha Burk has been called every bad name in the book just because she has pointed out the bigotry of this incredibly wealthy group of men and suggested that we all do something to ensure that they don't become wealthier from the Master's tournament.

I am only using country clubs as an example of all-male enclaves that implicitly and subtly condone violence against women. Other institutions, like many fraternities and corporations, also have these histories. And, of course, all-male social groups do not have to be organized and institutional to provide this violence-condoning atmosphere. We can find informal men's groups in workplaces, college dorms, athletic teams, and corner bars, telling demeaning jokes about women, calling them by animal names or the names of their genitals, and these men rarely confront each other for fear of being attacked or ostracized. There is an unconscious, implicit conspiracy in many men's groups to keep women in their place. What better way to do it than by causing them to feel perpetually fearful of being physically attacked?

Men's violence is the single most serious health problem for women in the United States. It causes more harm than accidents, muggings, and cancer combined. For women aged 15-44, an estimated 50% of emergency room visits are the result of violence at the hands of their husbands, boyfriends, ex-husbands, or ex-boyfriends. Every year male partners or ex-partners murder more than 1000 women * that's about 3 per day. It happens so often that people don't even pay attention to it. When a stranger murders someone, the story is on the front page of the metro section. If it's an intimate, it's at the bottom of page 4. A stranger rape always makes the papers; an acquaintance rape never does unless the rapist is somebody famous. The two most frequent crimes against women are largely invisible to the media. We expect it so much that we don't even notice it.

I want to point out that I chose my words very carefully there I very intentionally did not say "when a person is murdered by a stranger." Maybe it's just because I'm a college professor, but I am an absolute believer in the power of language, and there is some everyday language that smuggles in prejudices against women and contributes to the cultural atmosphere that enables gender-based violence. I have 5 examples.

The first is the one I just pointed out * passive voice * 1000 women are murdered. The victim, not the perpetrator, is the subject of the sentence. When you see this language often enough, the perpetrator becomes a kind of afterthought. Imagine if sportscasters talked like this: "The score was tied when a three-point basket was scored." "Many dollars were earned." Wouldn't everyone ask, "Who did it? Who is responsible?"

Example #2: the use of the term "opposite sex" and the phrase "battle of the sexes". I challenge you to tell me one way in which the sexes are opposite. Calling men and women opposites is like calling an IBM computer the opposite of an Apple. And "battle of the sexes" implies that men and women are at war. We will never solve this problem until we work together and emphasize our commonalities rather than our differences.

I see research studies reported in the popular press * "a recent study proves what we have suspected all along * that men's and women's brains are different." And what they do is find some infinitesimally small portion of the brain that has some minor difference that accounts for 5% of the variance in a population with wide variability, completely ignoring the fact that men's and women's brains both have frontal cortex, amygdalas, thalmuses, hypothalamuses, and on and on. And at the end of the story, the anchorman on the news says, "Well, that explains why I can't understand my wife at all." (If you can't understand your wife, I recommend the much-overlooked method of listening to her).

Example #3, when I tell people I'm a psychologist specializing in gender-based violence, people always ask, when a man is beating his wife, why does she stay with him? That's question #2; they never ask question #1: Why would a man hit his wife? Men's violence is considered to be a given, and women's responses to that violence are seen as choices. This subtly makes women responsible for the violence.

Example #4: self-defense classes for women that are advertised as "rape prevention." Is it women's job to prevent rape? Don't get me wrong * I'm all for women learning self-defense if they want to, but let's call it what it really is * risk reduction. It is men's responsibility to prevent rape.

Example #5 comes from the recent scandal over sexual assaults at the Air Force Academy. It turns out that there numerous male cadets who have sexually assaulted female cadets, and the men who run the Academy intimidated survivors into keeping silent about it. The newspaper stories said something like, 54 rapes occurred between male and female cadets. I'm sorry * rapes do not occur between people. Does a bank robbery occur between a robber and a teller? Does vandalism occur between a kid with a can of spray paint and somebody's property? And here's another flash of brilliance * in reaction to the scandal, the head of the academy said that the problem was that men and women live in the same residence hall and that men would see women walking down the hall in their bathrobes, and that he was going to now have the men and women living in separate residence halls. So, let's get this straight: the problem is that men are raping women and so the solution is to get rid of the women?! It's a new height in victim-blaming. I know I get out of control when I see a woman in a bathrobe. How does that work, physiologically? Prostate exerts pressure on the spinal cord, cutting off oxygen to the brain? And, newspapers reported the Air Force problem as a "sex scandal." I would submit that the victims were not having sex, and we could also argue that the perpetrators were not either.

When we see gender-based violence, women-hating is just around the corner. Therefore, if we can turn this attitude around, we can go a long way toward solving this problem. And, the people who are in the best position to do so are men -- we have the social status, power, and privilege. We can speak out and affect the attitudes of our fellow men. Just as white people have a special role to play in ending racism, rich people have a special role to play in ending economic inequality, and heterosexuals have a special role to play in ending homophobia, it is vitally important that we, as men of conscience, take seriously our role in ending sexual violence.

In the locker room at the vodka challenge that day, I'm betting that there was at least one man who was uncomfortable with this ice sculpture, just as there is when someone hires a stripper for a bachelor party or makes a woman the butt of a joke. It's not unlikely that more than one man felt this way. But nobody spoke up because each man feels that he may be the only one, and taking on the collective opinion of the rest of the group can leave him out in the cold. There is tremendous pressure to laugh along with the boys or at least not say anything. It would have taken tremendous courage for a man to stand up and say, even matter-of-factly, "That ice sculpture is really offensive; what could you have been thinking? Why don't we just get rid of it before we're all embarassed? We can have just as much fun without it." And it's ironic to me that courage is supposed to be a hallmark of masculinity, but there are so many men who find it impossible to display this kind of courage. They would sooner run into a burning building or have a fist fight. Men are also supposed to be independent, but there is tremendous conformity in most all-male peer groups, whether they are adults or younger men.

Social psychologists have known for a long time that one of the biggest barriers to being able to disagree with a group is unanimity. When the group opinion is unanimous and you don't have an ally, the pressure to conform is tremendous. But if even one person voices a disagreement with the rest of the group, others are much more likely to follow suit. There were probably several uncomfortable men in that locker room that day. If one of them had spoken out, he might have found that there was more support in the room than he had imagined. But somebody has got to go first. Somebody has got to take a risk. Someone has to be the leader. It's masculine to take a risk, to be a leader; why are so few of us doing it? The research indicates that 75% of college men are uncomfortable when their male peers display these kinds of attitudes. Most men don't like it; we need to let other men know that we don't.

Along with changing our attitudes toward women, we've also got to change our attitudes toward ourselves. For several years, I have been involved in efforts to fight the alarming prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses. When this problem was first identified in the 1970s, colleges began to provide self-defense training, teach women how to avoid dangerous situations, and provide better lighting and emergency phones across the campus. Obviously, these are very important measures. But, these kinds of strategies constituted the basic extent of campus programming for about twenty years, and all of these measures have one thing in common: they only address potential victims. It is only been the last few years that people have begun to try to do something about the potential perpetrators? Why did it take us so long to come to this obviously important strategy? I think it is the pervasive perception boys will be boys and the only thing we can do is to wait until they commit a crime, and then put them in jail. Some still consider rape an act of male sexuality gone awry, rather than an act of violence. But we know different, just as we know that if a person hits another person over the head with a frying pan, we don't call that cooking.

If men's violent behavior is perceived as an unchangeable constant, then violence toward women is a women's issue, never a men's issue. "Boys will be boys" not only provides a measure of excuse for violence against women, it is a very disrespectable attitude toward men, as if we are animals, with absolutely no control over ourselves. And again, there's an irony here. Self-control is another hallmark of traditional masculinity, but aggression and sexuality are considered to be completely out of control -- a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. I want men to have more dignity than that. I saw this book title recently, "All men are jerks until proven otherwise." It made me sad * and I also realized, how am I ever going to prove what I'm not? Maybe I was a nice guy today, but who knows what's going to happen tomorrow. It's a sad state of affairs when so many men have behaved so irresponsibly that the rest of us have to carry the burden of understandable suspicion from wo men.

So, besides becoming more respectful toward women, we have to regain our self-respect. We are human beings who are capable of caring for others. We are not animals who lash out instinctively, poisoned by testosterone.

Violence against women is a men's issue, and men have to take a leadership role in building a more positive male community. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Thanks to those of you who have been doing this work.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Domestic Violence-- our responsibility

This post was inspired by a debate in the “comment section” of a previous blog entry.

I have been disagreeing for some time with a man formerly “Anonymous,” now known as "zZz." The funny thing is, I don't think we're really disagreeing. We're just not communicating. He said, “I see you think that a woman can not be counted on to make the correct decisions about her life.” I have never said this. The debate zZz and I have revolves around who is responsible for ending domestic violence.

He keeps asking me for a solution. First of all, I think I have made this clear. But for the sake of clarification, I will say it again:

I believe the solution lies with education—of everyone, men, women and children. How can we expect the cycle to stop when we have young boys and girls growing up watching mental, verbal or physical violence as an example of a marriage or relationship? We need to talk about D.V. in school, what causes it, who’s at risk, how to get help, how to support the victims/survivors.

The solution also lies with putting the responsibility where it lies- on the abuser. Why do people say, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” I have a radical thought for ya’ll… “Why should SHE leave?” Why should she leave her home, all her belongings, her neighbors, community, job? Why doesn’t the violent, law-breaking, abusive partner leave?

zZz imparted this wisdom on my blog, “It seems to be the needy ones. The ones that get off on a super attentive husband that keeps track of her every movement and buy her flowers all the time.” This is how he understands victim mentality. It must be her fault she “gets off on it” or “she’s needy.” Not HE has a problem, HE should stop, someone should have taught HIM better.

I had the opportunity to interview Tanya Brown, sister of the late Nicole Brown Simpson. She told me how angry she was after Nicole’s murder. She had no idea that Nicole was being abused because Nicole was hiding it from everyone. Nicole Brown Simpson was in an abusive relationship and this was not her fault. It was not because she was needy or got off on it. It was because she fell in love with a man who exploited her. He manipulated her, told her she was “fat and ugly” during her pregnancies, made her constantly paranoid about her body, monitored her every move and yelled at her if she looked at other men or even cut her hair a way he didn’t like—this was all before anything physical began! And by then, she was thoroughly manipulated, tired and depressed, just trying to survive. Plus she had two children with O.J.

Nicole tried to leave at different times, but O.J. showed up at her door, crying and talking about how he was abused as a child, how Nicole was the best thing in his life and how he would do anything to be good to her and keep her with him. She would remember the love she had, and look at the father of her children and take him back. Eventually when Nicole had enough and left for good, she ended up losing her life. Obviously O.J. really couldn’t let her go.

We all want to believe that it’s not “that hard” to get out. We don’t want to fear this happening to our sisters, friends, or daughters. When in reality, nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives (according to a 1998 Commonwealth Fund survey)! This is the same mentality I used to have about acquaintance rape. I thought I would be safe because I was smarter than all these women who let themselves get too intoxicated or put themselves in dangerous situations. I told myself I was immune so I would feel safe. I didn’t want to believe I could be a victim. If I acted “right” and was “strong” – I was at no risk, right? Well, needless to say, in my college experience, I have realized that these attacks cannot be prevented and it’s not my fault. It’s the attacker who takes advantage.

I saw a button once that said “Domestic Violence. Don’t make excuses. Make it stop.”

I’m sure zZz would point to women who need to quit making excuses. He said in one comment, “The real solution to the problems you write about come from within. When women accept abuse, when they bail out their abuser, when they turn a blind eye to child abuse on her children, there really is not much to be done.”

In fact, when I suggested that the responsibility did not lie with the abused but with the abuser, zZz twisted this further saying, “It would equate an adult female with children and the mentally retarded, people who cannot think or act for themselves and need constant care and supervision. A single adult female would need a guardian under that theory.”

Of course, we want abused women to feel that they have responsibility to empower themselves. No one can jump in and save these women. If a woman isn’t ready to leave no one can make her do it. But this doesn’t mean a women who can’t leave is mentally impaired or child-like. We have to do PREVENTION not just intervention. We need to step up and help when women come forward saying, “I want to leave, please help me do it safely.”

We have to work to prevent D.V. by encouraging the community to take responsibility. Domestic violence is not a family issue or a marriage issue, it’s a community issue. We need to tolerate the perpetrators less and stop saying things like “she should just leave” because it’s NOT easy to leave, nor is it safe (see Nicole Brown Simpson’s story for proof)

Finally zZz said, “Only women can solve the problem, and it is not you guys yelling at men, it is women smarting up and not putting up with it in the first place.”

I’m not yelling at men. I’m inviting them to join a movement to stop violence, to be an example to other men who perpetrate this violence. When you hear a buddy talk about how he gave his girlfriend a smack for “smarting off” speak up and say, “Absolutely not cool. You should never lay a hand on a person you care about.”

Men already play a crucial role. My own father volunteers at the community violence intervention center helping women escape these situations. I am so proud of him. So I am definitely not pointing the finger at men and screaming “YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.” I have plenty of men in my life who are part of the solution, and it makes me proud.

Hopefully my humble blog can be a part of the solution as well. EVERYONE has a role in ending the epidemic of D.V. but it’s absolutely NOT the sole responsibility of abused women to simply “leave.” That logic takes us no where. It leaves the woman without a home and vulnerable to retaliation and it doesn’t challenge the behavior of the person hurting her.

Speaking out is not pointless. If enough people did it, abusers may be more ashamed of what they do.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Violence Against Women- a rebuttal

Back in early April, I posted something about violence against women “Revealing Truths”. I talked primarily about a girl in my area who had recently been attacked by a stranger while walking home. She was dragged into the bushes and sexually assaulted. See, my mom and dad always taught me to be aware of my surroundings. They told me to have my keys ready, lock the doors when I get in the car etc. But even doing all things correctly can’t protect you.

I am reminded of former student, Dru Sjodin who was abducted in broad daylight in my hometown—in a parking lot of a shopping mall ! Dru knew many of the important things to be aware of—she had worked on raising our University’s awareness on women’s issue by participating in the clothesline project. Yet even she became a victim of abduction, assault and murder. It’s so sad.

In the post I also addressed the widespread problems of stalking, domestic violence and problems that plague the worldwide community of women-- genital mutilation, dowry death, bride burning, and sex trafficking.

However, I have had one poster who has been asking me rather relentlessly to address the fact that men, more than women, are victims of violent crime in the United States. I have been searching tirelessly for sites that are accountable, “dot-gov's” if you will, and have asked this man to be patient. He has been a little too giddy at “proving me wrong” so I think I better clarify my position.

First of all, in my post, I never said that men were exempt from violent crime.

Stats from 2003 show that 16,503 people were murdered in the United States, 78% were men, 22% were women. However, in my extended research I found that “Males were most often slain by males (88 percent in single victim/single offender situations). This same data shows, however, that 9 out of 10 female victims were murdered by males.”

More 2003 stats: 21% of murder victims were killed by their spouse or intimate partner. 79% of those victims were women.

Now, it doesn’t mean that the rate of male homicide is not serious or a sad reflection of our violent society. But the information I found pointed to gang violence, drug violence, or robbery not to abuse because of gender or intimate partner relations—this is the violence women suffer.

This does not mean I hate men. I have heard on many different occasions that men who rape often accumulate several victims. So the men who are doing this victimization are not necessarily a representation of the male population. Of course, not all men beat their wives. I would never claim that.

Pointing out crime against women and its seriousness does not mean I ignore that men are also victims. Men also seek treatment for sexual assault, molestation, and domestic violence. (In 2001, 9 percent of victims of rape/sexual assault were male!) These men need just as much advocay as women.

The commenter who originally challenged me said, "men are the real second class citizens." I would disagree. Women are victimized by the very people who are supposed to care for them-- boyfriends, husbands, AND they also must fear the men next to them in parking lots. Men do not live in this fear, whereas women are constantly aware of their vulnerability. If a woman attends a college party and drinks too much, blacks out and then is assaulted... She is accused of being “irresponsible” or “asking for it.” Yet, men who are robbed and assaulted aren’t accused of “asking for it” when walking alone with money.

The commenter also ignored how much racial and religious minorities, not to mention gays and lesbians are disproportionately targets of crime.

Of reported hate crimes, 50 percent were motivated by race, 18 percent by religion, 17 percent by sexual orientation, 14 percent by ethnicity, and 0.4 percent by disability. In 2003, almost half of all murder victims (48%) were African-American.

Funny, you didn’t point that out. But you did attempt to discredit my concern for violence against women.For more info:

Again I will point to the problems facing women world wide. See my post about the danger women in El Salvador face

And also pay attention to what is happening in women’s health worldwide! Women in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan suffer death in childbirth at a rate of one woman in six! (See my post on motherhood)

Or what’s going on in Iran according to this site:

Iran's police force is gearing up to crack down on women who show too much of their bodies in public, reported the Herald Sun, an Australian newspaper, on April 20.

"In our campaign, we will confront women showing their bare legs in short pants," said Tehran's police chief, Morteza Talai. "We are also going to combat women wearing skimpy head-scarves, short and form-fitting coats, and the ones walking pets in parks and streets," he added. Women who do not wear the veil can face prison sentences of up to two months. Since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, conservatives in Tehran's city council have pressured the police to get tough. Every woman in Iran, regardless of nationality or religion, must obey the dress code and cover her shape and hair outside the home. Fifty patrol cars will cruise Tehran enforcing the rules this summer.”

These crimes against women need to be addressed, and a feminist blog about ending violence is the perfect place for it. I never claimed that only women were victims. I stand for raising awareness about the serious problems that plague women. In trying so desperately to "prove me wrong" you completely missed the point.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A word on motherhood

I get the feeling from comments I get on this blog, that people assume that women have no need for abortion. This ignorance is important to acknowledge because so many people associate the need for abortions with irresponsibility or immorality in women. This ignores the serious risk of pregnancy. I've never been through it myself but I recognize my extreme good fortune to be a middle class, American woman. If I ever become pregant, I should have very good healthcare.

Pregnancy is actually still a very dangerous thing even in this day in age. We must understand the serious need for contraception, adequate health care and SAFE, avaliable abortions. I found some amazing statistics about motherhood, violence against women and abortions.

Women's situation is dire...
· In developed countries, one woman in 2,800 dies from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. In developing countries, one woman in 67 dies.
· In Sweden, the country with the lowest risk, one woman in 29,800 dies from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. At the other end of the scale are Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, where death comes in pregnancy or childbirth for one woman in six.
· Teenage girls over 15 years of age are twice as likely to die from childbirth as are women in their 20s, while girls under 15 face five times greater risk.
· At least 35 percent of women in developing countries receive no prenatal care. Almost half give birth without a skilled attendant (doctor, nurse or trained midwife), and 70 percent receive no care in the six weeks after delivery.
· Obstructed labor, common worldwide, is treated in developed countries by Caesarean section. Where emergency care is not available, the mother and child usually die. If the woman survives, she may incur an obstetric fistula, an opening between the vagina and rectum or bladder. The result is unrelenting incontinence, which leads to odor, infections and social ostracism.
· More than one-third of all pregnancies worldwide are unwanted. Each year, some 20 million unsafe abortions are performed, killing nearly 78,000 women and disabling hundreds of thousands more.
· A quarter of all unsafe abortions—some 5 million—are performed on adolescent girls aged 15-19.
· Current funding is sufficient to provide only one-eighth of the world’s currently needed reproductive health supplies, including maternal and neonatal healthcare commodities. Up to a third of maternal mortality and morbidity could be avoided if women had access to information and a full range of modern, safe and effective family planning methods.
· One in every three women worldwide has been beaten, raped, coerced into sex or physically abused in some way – often by someone she knows. In the United States, homicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant women.
· Women have an enormous impact on their families’ welfare. One million children die each year because their mother has died. The risk of death for children under 5 doubles if their mothers die in childbirth. Women also contribute a larger percentage of their earnings to their family than men do.
· Low-income women are far less likely to have skilled care during childbirth. In Bolivia, 97.9 percent of births to women of the richest fifth of the population have a skilled attendant; while just 22.7 percent of the poorest women receive such care during childbirth.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pro-life = Anti-woman/Anti-sex

Today I renewed my drivers license and while I was standing in line I was reading some interesting information. Did you know...

-- Every 13 minutes someone's name is added to the list of people who need an organ donation

-- 80,000 men, women and children are waiting for organs

-- Donating your organs can save the lives of 8 people and enhance the lives of 40 others.

So here's my question. In our "culture of life" why isn't organ donation mandatory? I mean, 18 people die every day waiting for transplants. (

The pro-life movement practically foams at the mouth when talking about saving innocent lives. They are willing to take over a woman's body and strip her of her rights as a moral authority to make her own decisions. Pro-life advocates want to force women to carry a pregnancy to term under the guise that they care so much about life. How about the innocent men and women and children who die because people refuse to donate their organs? It's hard to understand why people are going into graves with perfectly healthy organs meanwhile someone somewhere is dying of kidney failure. That "life" is going to waste.

Organ donation happens after you die! You won't feel pain of surgery or suffer complications; absolutely nothing physically is going to happen to affect your health. Yet, women who are ALIVE are supposed to carry unwanted or unsafe pregnancies to term. And pregnancy affects a woman for 9 months-- 9 months that carry immense health risks and challenges, physically and mentally. For some it is a painful reminder of a violent attack. Others are reminded of a mistake that her community and family will always judge her for. Some women see a pregnancy as a serious, constant anxiety. They think, "How will I pay for another child?"

It isn't as if women can carry a pregnancy to term and be done. Then she has a child!!! Yet pro-lifers conveniently overlook this. Correction- they conveniently overlook the woman. This is all about a fetus. An unborn with a POTENTIAL for life that is being valued over the life of a female ALREADY BORN. Yet, when it comes to organ donation we tell people, "It's your choice, it's your body. You should be able to decide what happens to it." And this a decision that won't affect you physically. After all, you're dead, you don't need a kidney.

If pro-life zealots were really about "saving life," organ donation would also be a huge concern. So would ending war, and ending poverty that leads to malnourished children... Come on. This isn't about life; it's about punishing women and not giving them rights to their procreative power.

My ode to Buffy

Taking a break from the more serious posts, I thought I'd reflect on one of the series that I enjoy.

Some TV shows fight back and I think Buffy is one of them. The show is campy and certainly relies on most of the female leads being sexually attractive. But underneath blonde hair and short skirts, Buffy advances Feminism.

If you are discouraged by Hollywood images that seem to reinforce the 'female equals victim' mantra, 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' is a great anecdote At first glance, it's the usual fare…petite, perfect bone structure, blonde, young and very skimpy clothes. And it is all that, but so much more.

Buffy began airing on the WB in 1997 and continued its run to 2003. In those 7 years, it took a classic horror movie cliché (beautiful blonde girl foolishly goes into dark alley and is killed by scary monster) and turned it on its head… Beautiful blonde girl marches bravely into dark alley and kicks monster's ass.

I became a devoted fan of the series because of the humor, drama and also the message about the strength of women. The show teaches empowering lessons but is saved from being preachy. Buffy is a hero, but she's also three-dimensional. Creator Joss Whedon, does not set her up on a pedestal. She has weakness. For example, a disastrous taste in men (two out of three major relationships have been with vampires). And at times her powers make her arrogant and distant. All characters on the show are three-dimensional. They force us to face stereotypes society tries to force on both women and men. In the Buffy universe, not even demons are black and white.

Violence aside, the show taught me great lessons regarding not only feminism, but also friends, great loves, and conflict. The "demons" in Buffy aren't just scary looking, they represent our deepest fears. In season seven, Buffy fights "The First," the oldest evil of the world. It isn't a demon, but a ghostly apparition. It uses demons to attack Buffy and her friends, and appears under various guises to characters in the show, exposing their deepest fears and taunting them. For Buffy's younger sister, Dawn, it appears in the form of her dead mother, saying, "When it gets bad, Buffy will abandon you."

The First represents a society that wields power in the form of fear. It's the voice in Buffy's head, telling her she will fail and die because one girl isn't powerful enough to take on the world. When Buffy discovers that the First has no real weapons, just fear, she begins to regain control.

Buffy defeats the First in a powerful episode called "Chosen." Through a spell, she can finally share her mythical power as a slayer with the rest of the world. Every woman with the potential to fight is granted power. After seven seasons, the viewer sees Buffy transformed into a woman because she learned to believe and trust herself. And because of this transformation, she could teach others to do the same. By sharing power she became stronger and, finally, no longer alone.

Sometimes facing outer demons is easier than facing our own fears. This can be a great message for sexual assault survivors, domestic abuse survivors and women in general. Buffy never accepted that she was "just a girl," and neither should we. Even though we lack mythical super powers, it isn't really the physical strength that wins the battle in the end. It's strength of self, the will to go on and survive in the face of fear and overwhelming evil. The real heroes are those who are unwilling to back down to anyone who tells them they will fail.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Something else to watch

Here's a great story to check out about the trend of anti-war songs. You can hear part of Pink's song "Dear Mr. President" that I wrote about earlier.

Pro-Life Nation

An aboslute must read From the April 9th New York Times. (click and sign up for free registration and you can see the article)

This article is 14 pages long but will blow your mind. Here's a synopsis for those who don't have time to read it...

Author Jack Hitt takes an in-depth look at the abortion laws in El Salvador. Previously this country had laws similar to our own in America, where abortion could be used in severe circumstances or if early enough. Now abortion is a serious felony in El Salvador. Prison sentences can be as long as 30 years... not just for the doctor... FOR THE WOMAN.

The restrictions on abortion in El Salvador are simple. No abortion. PERIOD. Not in the case of rape, incest, fetal malformation, or life of the mother. This means when an ectopic pregnancy is discovered NOTHING CAN BE DONE!!--- (where a microscopic fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube - which is no bigger around than a pencil- and gets stuck there or stuck in the abdomen). Take a moment and stop and think of what this means...

A microscopic fertilized egg that is caught in a fallopian tube can mean serious medical complications for a women, often it means death. As the egg grows and runs out of room, the tube ruptures, internal bleeding occurs. Operation is necessary to save a mother's life but in El Salvador the doctor must wait to operate until the egg shows signs of rupturing. So when a woman comes into the office with an ectopic pregnancy she is kept in the hospital where she will receive daily ultrasounds to check for rupturing. Once it starts rupturing-- THEN the operation can take place. But rupturing causes severe pain and can result in death.... SOMEONE EXPLAIN THE LOGIC?? Oh wait, there is none.

In El Salvador, they are serious about their ridiculous laws. They have whole teams of people to enforce them. Police, investigators, medical spies, forensic vagina inspectors and a special division of the prosecutor’s office charged with capturing, trying and incarcerating women and the doctors or back-alley people who operate.

When El Salvador's law changed it was backed by strong grass-roots campaigning from conservatives and the church. Even Pope John Paul II visited Mexico City in 1999 urging "The church must proclaim the Gospel of life and speak out with prophetic force against the culture of death." I'm sorry but I consider keeping women in a hospital waiting for the fallopian tubes to rupture a WAY BIGGER culture of death.

This is serious business. I mean ARTICLE #1 of the constitution in El Salvador declares that the prime directive of government is to protect life from the "very moment of conception."

"The penal code detailing the Crimes Against the Life of Human Beings in the First Stages of Development provides stiff penalties: the abortion provider, whether a medical doctor or a back-alley practitioner, faces 6 to 12 years in prison. The woman herself can get 2 to 8 years. Anyone who helps her can get 2 to 5 years. Additionally, judges have ruled that if the fetus was viable, a charge of aggravated homicide can be brought, and the penalty for the woman can be 30 to 50 years in prison."

In case you are wondering, the judicial system in El Salvador determines that viability is when a fetus weighs more than a pound. A pound of fetus = way more important than a woman who may have been raped, or abused in incest, or afraid of a deformed or sick child....

Women in El Salvador have turned to clothes hangers, iron bars, high doses of contraceptives, fertilizers, gastritis remedies, soapy water and battery acid or ulcer pills to induce abortions. If these result in severe complications, women often die rather than visit a hospital.

But can you blame them?

If a woman goes to a hospital and it's suspected she's had an abortion, the investigation begins immediately. Women are handcuffed to hospital beds while their vagina is "searched as the scene of a crime" for evidence. If a botched abortion results in a hysterectomy, the uterus is saved as "evidence" for a criminal trial. A women's own uterus is used against her.

Police also interrogate relatives and neighbors of the woman. They visit the woman's place of business (if she has any, studies show many of these women are homemakers or very young) and ask co-workers and supervisors if they knew whether the woman was pregnant and whether she'd had an abortion. The law mandates that if a doctor finds signs of an abortion, they are required to turn the woman in -- confidentiality be damned.

There's so much more I could go on about. Obviously, this law affects primarily the poor women. Rich women in El Salvador still fly to Miami to get their abortions, or pay off trustworthy doctors for safe operations.

The scary thing is-- there are some in this country who wouldn't mind seeing this happen in the USA! Thomas J. Euteneuer, the head of Human Life International, based in Virginia said, "El Salvador is an inspiration, an important victory in the counterrevolution of conscience."

We can also fear this attitude in our own politicians. During an October 2004 show of "Meet the Press," host Tim Russert asked Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican representative to explain his position in favor of a total ban on all abortion procedures. DeMint said he thought Congress should outlaw all abortions first and worry about the fallout later. "We've got to make laws first that protect life," he said. "How those laws are shaped are going to be a long debate."

The fallout?? Like my life and the life and health of women everywhere? Where we have to die in a wave of blood at home because going to a hospital means being chained to the bed and examined and having our own uterus as evidence against us??

Don't be fooled! The religious right are not about protecting women or saving life. They are about trampling women's rights. Be very, very afraid.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I remember...

I wanted to make a short entry today to remember a fellow University student Dru Sjodin

April 17 is the day Dru came home after being found in a Minnesota ravine.

We must never forget Dru and the violence women suffer. I remind everyone that the National Coalition of Victims in Action (NCVIA) is urgently calling upon the United States Senate to pass S.1086, also known as the “Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act,” into law. This Act will allow states to maintain searchable, up-to-date sex offender website registries. It will also make the failure of released sex offenders to cooperate with registration and tracking of their whereabouts a felony.

Dru was a part of my school community. I grieve at the senseless loss of such a beautiful life when it could have been prevented.

Lost but not gone. We remember Dru.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A great CD

Just bought Pink's new CD I'm Not Dead

So far it's awesome. The song "Stupid Girls" has got a fair amount of airplay is a great feminist anthem.

But my new fave is Track 5 "Dear Mr. President" (click for GREAT lyrics)

Another funny/female rock anthem Track 9 "U + Ur Hand"
Great anthem for those guys at bars who think they're God's gift only to discover that -- tough luck, just cause they buy us a beer doesn't mean we have to take 'em home. Such a great song.
More coming soon.

Personally love Track 8 "Leave me Alone (I'm Lonely)"
I get it so much... how many times have I told my boyfriend to just go away all ready and then the minute he does, "Wait come back!"

All in all, Pink is a rockin' female vocalist and she has real guts behind some of these lyrics!

More coming soon...I have comments to publish etc but just got back from vacation.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Further proof

Why it's hard to prosecute rape

click for video

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Revealing Truths

A couple of days ago I posted some “News of my area” that detailed how a 15 year old girl was attacked, dragged into the bushes and raped on her way home. I posted the article to show that violence against women is happening everyday but also to measure the reaction. A commenter called “antsy” felt the need to tell me what was the real deal.

Such gems from this commenter include insinuating:

--That I assume all victims of crime are women when I should know better. It's dangerous to be a human, not just a woman.
--To claim that it’s hard to convict a man of rape and get him any significant jail time is “sensationalized crap”
--Oh.. and Antsy knows this because he lives with a man who was “victimized” by a false accusation.

Antsy suggests his roommate was framed by a woman who changed her mind about wanting sex. He says of the trial, “Let's be serious, even if he was found innocent (he wasn't, there was barely even a trial. All she needed to do was cry before the jury), it wouldn't matter, because the general public snubs people who are even accused of rape, let alone convicted.”

First and foremost, when people are accused of rape they are snubbed, as are victims.

I don’t know your roommate. It is possible that he was wrongly convicted of sexual assault but I sincerely doubt it. It takes a lot more than a girl crying in front of the jury to send a man to jail. It takes evidence of some kind. Innocent until proven guilty, remember? And I might have trusted what you said a little more had you not spoken against women with such bitterness. You say “don't think it hasn't happened that a woman has a less than benevolent agenda and will try to spin the story to her advantage.”

Women aren’t perfect but false reporting is less likely than you might think. Statistics vary greatly I believe it would take a rather angry woman to bring false accusations.

When a rape victim comes forward there isn’t always a rape shield law in place or the defense lawyers can get around it. Coming forward as a victim of rape (directly after an attack) means
--a rape examination at the hospital. Clothes are taken as evidence, the woman's body is photographed, and she endures an invasive internal exam--- this assuming she goes directly to authorities. The next step, or first step if a woman is reporting a rape after time has passed is
--the police station…Hours spent giving reports and reliving the horror over and over again.
--Next are criminal trials that can drag on for months all the while hearing the whispers in the community.
--Finally she faces her attacker on the stand while cross examination tries to poke holes in the story… suggest that she’s lying, vindictive, insane. It’s called the nuts or sluts approach. You’re either nuts and you imagined it or you’re a slut and you deserved it.

My heart is honestly with the innocent accused victims who sit in jail. In this past year I can think of several stories where men have been released from prison because DNA evidence has proved their innocence. But please don’t act like women bring accusations of rape for fun or because it’s “in their advantage to do so.”

If you think that way, here are some facts you should probably be aware of:

--Women are 10 times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate.
--Every day four women die in this country as a result of domestic violence
--Every year approximately 132,000 women report that they have been victims of rape or attempted rape, and more than half of them knew their attackers.
--It's estimated that two to six times that many women are raped, but do not report it.
--Every year 1.2 million women are forcibly raped by their current or former male partners, some more than once
(Violence Against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report", U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., January 1994.)

Women and girls in the world suffer from genital mutilation, dowry death, bride burning, being sold into sex trafficking not to mention rape, spousal abuse and stalking.

Antsy if you want more information:

National District Attorneys Association

Or go TO THIS SITE where you can read about a man who raped a sex worker at knifepoint to “teach her a lesson” received 6 years in jail with possibility of parole after just two years served.

Violence Against Women is more prevalent than violence against “humans in general” 80% of trafficked humans are women and victims of rape are 99% more likely to be female than male. And another sad story that illustrates the hatred and violence against women… (goes with the picture above)

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, Sunday Dec. 4, 2005 at the Vancouver

December 6, 1989 – A lone man walked into an engineering class at the University of Montreal. He separated the women and told the men to leave. After the male students complied, the man began to shoot the women with the semi-automatic rifle he had brought with him. In the end, after 14 women were dead, Marc Lepine the man who screamed “I hate feminists” before he opened fire, took his own life.

So next time you roll your eyes at women who "cry rape" think about the facts. This doesn't mean your roommate can't be a victim, but don't come on this site and try to sell me bull that it was easy to convict him just by putting a crying woman on the stand.

Another side to the abortion story...

Click below for the ....

Hero of the Day!!!!

Check out this amazing article. Note that one woman was willing to drive more then FOUR hours for a procedure that would only take 5-10 minutes.

Also note that:
Six women said they chose abortion because they "could not afford the child."
Seven others checked the box saying "the mother did not desire to have the child."

Monday, April 03, 2006

News in my part of the world

Bismarck girl raped outside of elementary school
Associated Press
BISMARCK, N.D. - A 15-year-old girl was raped outside Rita Murphy Elementary School.

The girl was on her way home from playing basketball at the school on Saturday evening, when a man came up behind her and forced her into the bushes beside the school, according to the Bismarck Police Department.

She was sexually assaulted, and the man ran when a car approached, Lt. Dan Donlin said.

The girl described the man as a blond, white man about 30 years old with a goatee. She said he has a medium build and is about 6 foot 2 inches tall. At the time of the attack, he was wearing a black, hooded jacket.

The assault occurred between 7 and 8 p.m. on the east side of the building. The suspect fled south from the school at 611 N. 31st St.

The girl returned home and was taken to Medcenter One by her mother. Police went to the hospital at 9:40.

The school district will cooperate with police, Bismarck Superintendent Paul Johnson said Monday. The elementary schools do not have video cameras outside, like middle or high schools do.

The police do not have a suspect.

Happy news!

Check out this SITE for a cool example of how women fight back against rape.

Cartoon for the day

Click to enlarge

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Pro-life protests = Good for Choice!

There is only the illusion of choice in this country. We are told, as women that we have rights to control our reproductive destiny but...

--Doctors can refuse to prescribe birth control, tell our rape victims about Emergency Contraception.
--Pharmacists can claim "right to refuse" and not fill our birth control or E.C. (which is NOT the same as the abortion pill).
--Insurance companies can refuse to cover women's contraception (even though they cover Viagra). They tell us that "fertility is normal" or "they don't want to be in an ethical firestorm."

Some women are lucky enough to have a Planned Parenthood clinic nearby. However, even these women can't access the medical information they need without being harassed.

There is a man who is harassing women in my own home state. He sits in wait outside the Fargo, North Dakota women's clinic. He snaps pictures of women and men who enter the clinic. He also takes pictures of their cars and license plate info. He posts this information on a website. He claims these people are there for the purpose of abortion --which may or may not be true.

When possible he will snap photos of nurses' ID badges so he can also post a name. This sickening site goes on, even though hundreds, including myself have emailed the blogging host asking it to be removed for the safety and privacy of the men and women using the clinic. I was told, like all the others, that there was nothing to warrant the removal of this site. So it goes on....

If you'd like to tell this man exactly what you think of his work. E-mail him here...

It seems to me we can't guarantee women anything. Not information, access to pills, coverage for pills or even privacy when it comes to meeting with their doctors. SO WHAT IS THE GOOD NEWS?

Planned Parenthood has come up with a fabulous idea. Last year on Good Friday the St. Paul clinic was swamped with over 1,000 anti-choice protesters who harassed nurses, doctors, patients and blocked doorways. This year we say -- THE MORE THE MERRIER!

Check out this IDEA

I will be donating 10 cents per protester and am hoping for a turnout of a least 1000. So, to the anti-choicers: I do not deny your rights. Please, bring your pictures of bloody children and scream "Repent," block our doorways because for every one of you, some more of my tax deductible donations filter to the cause you so despise.

Finally Everybody wins!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Can you trust the other side?

It's hard to listen when you vehemently disagree with someone's opinion. I force myself to be quiet when I really want to shake people and say, "Are you kidding? You buy this?" And barring people who are downright offensive, I can usually listen and take in their point of view. Even if we both walk away disagreeing, it can be counted as a small victory that we were at least respectful and courteous.

I allow comments on my blog and I've only rejected a handful that were deliberate attacks on someone else who had commented. The rules of my blog are simply that people don't call out others by name and slander them. Fortunately that doesn't happen too often. But I've printed comments from people who called me a "cunty bitch" (I actually appreciate them taking the time to make "cunt" into an adjective).

What I really crave is an actual discussion. It's much easier call me "cunty bitch" than sit down and make a valid point. REAL DISCUSSION is hard to stomach.

I have a friend who is entering the priesthood. We talk on the phone and we disagree on pretty much everything. He recently sent me a book that I'm forcing myself to read, although most of it goes against everything I believe in. Why? Because it would mean a lot to him and I want to honor him by trying to see his point of view. Besides, the more you know-- the better. At least that's the motto, I live by. This woman, not so much... I stumbled upon her website:

"The Revolution" (

In it, Mary Worthington details her call to arms, "On Divine Mercy Sunday in 2001, I answered God's call to dedicate my life to building a Culture of Life. These posts are careful reflections of the pro-life movement and the moral state of the world at large."

I spent some time on her site, reflecting on many of her posts, and even looking through her archives. I took the time to comment on one of her latest posts titled:

"Do women want contraception?"

In it she talks about a study conducted in Brazil where the Family and Food and Nutritional Security Unit of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) determined that women in Brazil would be greatly aided by gaining access to contraception.

Mary Worthington calls this conclusion a "planned parenthood related agenda." I wonder if she's heard the stories about women in Uganda who fight over who gets the used condom they find in the alley? Women there are reduced to washing used condoms so they can protect themselves from AIDS. But Mary Worthington says that giving women means to protect themselves is "societal suicide."She says this can even lead to abuse,

"But, can't birth control be considered abuse? Men get to expect unlimited sex from women without regard for her health or the natural consequences of sex, children."

Mary says one thing I agree with. She states that women need potable water, vaccinations and protection from spousal and child abuse. Of course they do, but I would argue that being able to plan families is also crucial and no one is arguing that we give these women education on sexuality and then disappear, ignoring their obvious need for food and water.

I wrote Mary a comment for her blog. One that was free from a lot of the anger I was feeling. It was also vulgarity-free and attempted to engage her in real discussion. She has REFUSED posts from me. It is her blog, her right of course, but I noticed in reading other posts that she will post comments from people that are opposed to her views... as long as they are cruel and rude and make no real argument. People who say things like, "You are so obsessed with other people's sex lives because you don't have one of your own." Yet she refuses to publish me. Why is that you suppose?

I want to publish my reply... this is my answer to Mary Worthington's claim. Tell me if you find it inappropriate to publish?

"One must pray for women who live in those conditions with so many problems on their hands like getting clean water etc.

But I would argue that they probably would very much want access to contraception. Since they live in poverty, it would be helpful to plan their families in number and spacing. That way they could provide for the children that they have and perhaps the mother can stop being pregnant long enough to maybe even get a job and help support the family she loves so much.

Birth control is a gift from God to women AND MEN everywhere. Before birth control, what do you suppose happened to married couples when a doctor told a woman, "Don't have any more children, it could kill you." Does that mean a married couple should turn away from each other in bed and deny their physical love? Sex is not just for procreation but having sex doesn’t always mean you want a child.

Both men and women benefit from being able to enjoy sex for its emotional and physical benefits. If a child resulted from every time a married couple had sex, how could they support all these children? Not just in food, clothing, water, education but also in the woman’s medical costs?

I completely support your right to refuse contraception. If you do not want it, don’t take it, or perhaps choose natural family planning but as for myself, my friends and my daughters, we can choose family planning and we have a right to make a decision with our doctor on how we are going to do so.

In case you aren’t aware—pregnancy is extremely hard on a woman’s body especially when adequate health care is not available (in a third world country). Most women do not want 5 children under the age of 7 when there is no money to care for them.

You have a right to do with YOUR body as you choose. So do not deny other women that choice. Contraception is not being forced on anyone, not you and not me and not the women of Brazil.

Furthermore. Birth control cannot be considered abuse in any way, shape or form. If a husband is using birth control as a means of forcing sex on his wife, then that is marital rape and she is not being abused due to birth control but due to an abusive relationship."