Tuesday, January 31, 2006


This is pretty much the most disturbing thing I've ever read. I wrote in my liveblogging of the S.o.t.U. that Cindy Sheehan had been arrested. I assumed it was for some kind of civil disobedience, or at least a slightly valid legal claim.

Instead, it was because she wore an anti-war T-shirt to the S.o.t.U.

First, she was charged with "demonstrating in the Capitol."
Which leads me to question: How is that a crime??? Is free speech not protected on Capitol Hill? Isn't that one place where it should be most vigorously protected?
Eventually, the charge was changed to "unlawful conduct."

Sheehan had worn a T-shirt with an anti-war slogan to the speech and covered it up until she took her seat. Police warned her that such displays were not allowed, but she did not respond.

She was released on her own recognizance.

The BradBlog got this story first, pretty much as it happened.

According to Swanson [of AfterDowningStreet.org, who is in DC], Sheehan was "arrested for wearing the shirt she was wearing all day, which had the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq...She was lifted out of her seat [in the Capitol Chamber gallery] by the Capitol Police and taken away."

I'm still confused.
How is this not a violation of the First Amendment???


The irony of the day this happened...Alito gets confirmed, Shrub Boy gives his "State of the Union" speech....*sigh*

Coretta Scott King died this morning.

A danger with this, though, is to see her only in light of her deceased husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. Of course, he was an amazing man, but that just served as her jumping point to enter the world of civil liberties, basic human rights, social justice, and peace.
She was an irreplaceable activist in her own right.
She's spoken out on behalf of: "racial and economic justice, women's and children's rights, gay and lesbian dignity, religious freedom, the needs of the poor and homeless, full-employment, health care, educational opportunities, nuclear disarmament and ecological sanity."

Yes, gay and lesbian dignity.
Unlike her daughter Bernice, who pulls the "I'm too Christian to believe in equal rights for queers" card, Coretta Scott King actually believed that any discrimination, no matter who it was directed at, was bad.
Not such a radical idea, but still embraced by far too few.

As Pam at Pandagon described her, a "towering figure" is now gone.

**A bio of Coretta Scott King via the King Center.

**Remarks made by Coretta Scott King at the 13th annual Creating Change conference organized by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.
"I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."

More photos of this amazing woman below the flip.

Coretta Scott King at a labor picket line

via wikipedia

2005 Bill of Rights dinner, ACLU Georgia

via comcast

Jackie Smith and Coretta Scott King, at a street naming ceremony in Atlanta

via stanford.edu

with her husband behind her....

And finally.....

Pretty much the Most Adorable Picture Ever

liveblogging the State of the Union

(Even though I'm still wicked pissed that this is taking away my SVU.) :(

First, this:

They say that the use of certain words can very much manipulate those. Look at these numbers of mentions of the following words in his speech.

Freedom/Liberty: 23
Terror/Terrorist: 17
Enemy: 10
Security: 10
WMD and related (nuclear/"nukular" weapons): 5
Evil: 3
Tyranny: 2
9/11: 2
Osama bin Laden: 1
New Orleans: 1


The Speech:

9:01pm: Laura Bush is flanked by a woman with a hijab and a black man. Damn. Strategic token placement much?

9:02pm: Four SCOTUS justices are there. Clarence Thomas, whom I loathe. And Alito, who just got confirmed today. *tear* And John Roberts. Ugh. Packing the seats with blind supporters much? And Justice Bryer, who isn't so bad.

9:08: Le Shrub enters to thunderous applause. Bleh.

9:09: News during his ascension to the lecter that Cindy Sheehan, who was supposed to be the distinguished guest of a Congresswoman, was arrested on Capitol Hill....Yeah, Cindy Sheehan. :)

9:12: Applause FINALLY ends.

9:12: Starts with mourning of Coretta Scott King, who is now "reunited" with her husband. Way to not acknowledge her own achievements, asshole. Because she's only as good as her husband (MLK), of course.

9:13: Even tough debates must be in a civil way, must respect one another, blahdeblah silencing political dissent blahdeblah. "The state of our union is strong," my ass.

9:16: We will act boldly in freedom's cause, bring democracy to those poor people elsewhere.

9:17: Women vote in Afghanistan! Wow! Obviously they're completely liberated!

9:18: Al Qaeda is endangering America! The terrorists are evil! We must fight!!!
("We love our freedom, and we will fight to keep it.")
There is no peace/honour in retreat --> we can't leave! Duh!

9:20 Standing ovation number five hundred sixty two. I hate politicians.

9:21: We have a clear plan for victory in Iraq. Building gov't, reconstruction efforts, building economy, blah blah. They're our allies! Those people who kill us are just silly. Most Iraqis love us! I am confident in our will for victory.

9:22: We are winning! (yeah, ok. winning, my ass.)

9:23: Politicians in DC won't decide when our troops come home.
Holy subverting the separation of powers, Batman.

9:24: Responsible criticism and defeatism that acknowledges failure. Second-guessing is not a strategy.
Because that right there doesn't silence dissent. Not at all.
bin Laden will come to power if we leave Iraq!!!

9:26: Tokenizing a dead American soldier. Family is sitting behind good ol' Laura. *sigh* Worst commander in chief ever. This family shouldn't be at the state of the union, because their son/brother should not have fucking died.

9:29: I think he just said that he expects Hamas to "work for everlasting peace." What the fuck is he smoking?
Oh, and we've fixed so many countries in the Middle East!!! Look how many have had elections! Wooooo democracy!

9:30: First mention of Iran.

9:31: Isolationism is bad, reiteration number 7425l.

9:32: Look, I'm pretending that I care about real AIDS efforts and educating girls/women's rights.

9:33: There it is.
"Reauthorize the PATRIOT Act!" Because it'll help them fight drug trafficking and crime. (???)

9:34: Defending wiretaps/ "Terrorist surveillance program" bullshit. Other presidents did it!!! If we don't, we'll just sit back and wait to be hit again. (Like 9/11)
(9:35: cut to Hillary Clinton, looking incredulous at his audacity.)

9:37: Our economy is healthy. Really! I swear!

9:38: He actually said immigrants are vital to the economy, and valuable. A standing ovation, very slow in coming, but a standing ovation nonetheless.
I gotta admit: I'm impressed.

9:42: He tried to make a joke that both he and Clinton - his dad's two favourite people - turned 60 this year.
Cut to Hillary Clinton smiling indulgently, thinking, "What the fuck? You're not funny, douchebag."

9:44: Free trade = good! Open markets! It'll be good for American workers! (Except the ones that lose their jobs to cheaper producers overseas. And except for the workers in shitty working conditions and who get fucked over by free trade. You know, whatever.)

9:45: A new immigration system must enhance economy. Because that's all immigrants are good for. Duh.
"Keeping America competitive" reiteration number 84209.

9:46: Wider use of medical records to help control costs. Um. Invasion of privacy much?

9:47: Women in lots and lots of counties have no OBGYNs. Aw, he acts like he cares.
Women in most counties have no access to EC or abortion. Do we care about that? No.

9:48: America is addicted to oil. (Much talked-about line.) Instead, we'll use nuclear ("nukular") energy! It's clean and safe! Really!

9:50: American Competitiveness Initiative. Ooh education for our kids so that we can continue to produce smart people who make America great. Like you care.

9:52: No Child Left Behind Act is working. Really.

9:53: There are fewer abortions in America than any point in two decades.
This is a good thing.
It's not 'cause people don't have access, of course.
It's a "gain."
A matter of "conscience."
Abstinence support has made a difference in our country's morality.

9:55: Worried about the health of our most sacred institutions...activist courts that try to re-define marriage...America's not in decline though. We'll "prove the pessimists wrong" again.
What does that mean???

The Americans deserve courts that deliver equal justice under the law. Shoutout to Alito and Roberts.
Oh ew they just got standing ovations.

9:56: Judges must be servants of the law, not legislate from the bench.
Yeah right. Because that's not what Alito's going to do or anything.
Acting like he likes Sandra Day O'Connor. "The US is grateful to S.D.O'C."

9:57: Cloning is bad, stem cell research is bad, embryo research is bad.
"Human life is a gift from our creator and that life should never be...discarded or put up for sale."

10:00: Job skills that bring upward mobility.
'Cause that's all it needs.
Right. As long as you've got the opportunity, you'll achieve the American Dream. That's all it takes.

10:02: Invokes the memory of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, MLK, etc.
History is written in courage. We'll show that courage, and we'll finish well. Blahdeblah.


Other Notes:
I don't think I've ever seen this many standing ovations in my life. I would hate to be in that audience and expected to stand up every two seconds. I'd rather shoot myself in the foot. Really sucks for the Repubs. Their poor knees.


Items thrown at TV:
-stuffed moose
(Could've been much worse.)

Monday, January 30, 2006

au revoir, basic human and civil rights

The Democrats are officially spineless.

The filibuster didn't work.

The Senate voted 72-25 for cloture (to end debate on Alito and thus allow his nomination to go to a full vote). And since Republicans have the majority, and 3 Dems have declared their support for Alito, and only one pro-choice Republican is actually adhering to his pro-choice credentials (Lincoln Chafee of RI), there's absolutely no way Alito will not be confirmed.


Full list of who voted how below the flip:

(Yes = for cloture/end of debate/up-or-down vote on Alito. No = support of filibuster.)

Akaka, Daniel K. (D-HI) Yes
Alexander, Lamar (R-TN) Yes
Allard, Wayne (R-CO) Yes
Allen, George (R-VA) Yes
Baucus, Max (D-MT) Yes
Bayh, Evan (D-IN) No
Bennett, Robert F. (R-UT) Yes
Biden, Joseph R., Jr. (D-DE) No
Bingaman, Jeff (D-NM) Yes
Bond, Christopher S. (R-MO) Yes
Boxer, Barbara (D-CA) No
Brownback, Sam (R-KS) Yes
Bunning, Jim (R-KY) Yes
Burns, Conrad R. (R-MT) Yes
Burr, Richard (R-NC) Yes
Byrd, Robert C. (D-WV) Yes
Cantwell, Maria (D-WA) Yes
Carper, Thomas R. (D-DE) Yes
Chafee, Lincoln (R-RI) Yes
Chambliss, Saxby (R-GA) Yes
Clinton, Hillary Rodham (D-NY) No
Coburn, Tom (R-OK) Yes
Cochran, Thad (R-MS) Yes
Coleman, Norm (R-MN) Yes
Collins, Susan M. (R-ME) Yes
Conrad, Kent (D-ND) Yes
Cornyn, John (R-TX) Yes
Craig, Larry E. (R-ID) Yes
Crapo, Mike (R-ID) Yes
Dayton, Mark (D-MN) No
DeMint, Jim (R-SC) Yes
DeWine, Mike (R-OH) Yes
Dodd, Christopher J. (D-CT) No
Dole, Elizabeth (R-NC) Yes
Domenici, Pete V. (R-NM) Yes
Dorgan, Byron L. (D-ND) Yes
Durbin, Richard (D-IL) No
Ensign, John (R-NV) NOT VOTING (?)
Enzi, Michael B. (R-WY) Yes
Feingold, Russell D. (D-WI) No
Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA) No

Frist, William H. (R-TN) Yes
Graham, Lindsey (R-SC)Yes
Grassley, Chuck (R-IA) Yes
Gregg, Judd (R-NH) Yes
Hagel, Chuck (R-NE) NOT VOTING
Harkin, Tom (D-IA) NOT VOTING
Hatch, Orrin G. (R-UT) Yes
Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-TX) Yes
Inhofe, James M. (R-OK) Yes
Inouye, Daniel K. (D-HI) Yes
Isakson, Johnny (R-GA) Yes
Jeffords, James M. (I-VT) No
Johnson, Tim (D-SD) Yes
Kennedy, Edward M. (D-MA) No
Kerry, John F. (D-MA) No

Kohl, Herb (D-WI) Yes
Kyl, Jon (R-AZ) Yes
Landrieu, Mary L. (D-LA) Yes
Lautenberg, Frank R. (D-NJ) No
Leahy, Patrick J. (D-VT) No
Levin, Carl (D-MI) No

Lieberman, Joseph I. (D-CT) Yes
Lincoln, Blanche L. (D-AR) Yes
Lott, Trent (R-MS) Yes
Lugar, Richard G. (R-IN) Yes
Martinez, Mel (R-FL) Yes
McCain, John (R-AZ) Yes
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) Yes
Menendez, Robert (D-NJ) No
Mikulski, Barbara A. (D-MD) No

Murkowski, Lisa (R-AK) Yes
Murray, Patty (D-WA) No
Nelson, Bill (D-FL) Yes
Nelson, E. Benjamin (D-NE) Yes
Obama, Barack (D-IL) No
Pryor, Mark L. (D-AR) Yes
Reed, Jack (D-RI) No
Reid, Harry (D-NV) No**

Roberts, Pat (R-KS) Yes
Rockefeller, John D., IV (D-WV) Yes
Salazar, Ken (D-CO) Yes
Santorum, Rick (R-PA) Yes
Sarbanes, Paul S. (D-MD) No
Schumer, Charles E. (D-NY) No

Sessions, Jeff (R-AL) Yes
Shelby, Richard C. (R-AL) Yes
Smith, Gordon H. (R-OR) Yes
Snowe, Olympia J. (R-ME) Yes
Specter, Arlen (R-PA) Yes
Stabenow, Debbie (D-MI) No
Stevens, Ted (R-AK) Yes
Sununu, John E. (R-NH)Yes
Talent, Jim (R-MO) Yes
Thomas, Craig (R-WY) Yes
Thune, John (R-SD) Yes
Vitter, David (R-LA) Yes
Voinovich, George V. (R-OH) Yes
Warner, John (R-VA) Yes
Wyden, Ron (D-OR) No

**A happy: Reid, who voiced his opinion numerous times that a filibuster was futile, voted no on cloture. Maybe he's not quite as spineless as I thought...

Also, all those calls and emails we all made and sent did make a difference, slightly. It at least shook up the Senators that didn't listen to their constituents.......

*sigh* All we can do is keep fightin' for Roe, I guess.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

blogging on race

Also via Jill, I found this poem at blackademic, reproduced in full below, and with commentary after the flip.

i blog because:
of the racism that runs deep in the queer community
which has created an image of black lesbians
as militant, angry, loud, sexually undesirebale
ghetto, butch, studs, uneducated, weed smoking
bitches with baggy clothes and gold teeth
left to fuck in urban ghettoes
far away from the white castro
or east village hipster spots
cuz white lesbians and trendy gay boys
can't tell if we are male
or female sometimes
and they turn a deaf ear
to our stories of racism and sexism
because they know oppression,
as they remind us that they are queer too

i blog because:
even though i have been invited into the academy,
they do not let me speak.
my (in)visible black body sits in seminars
not afraid to talk
instead silenced
because my queerness
and blackness
intimidates even the most "conscious" future scholars
looked at only when african americans, puerto ricans,
afro-latinos, cubans,
jamaicans, haitians
sometimes, even when the japanese
are mentioned
claiming that skin color doesn't matter
only to forget that slogan
when it's time for the end of class dinners
and social gatherings
and i am not invited

i blog because:
i get angry with white feminists bloggers
owning and controlling the ideas of feminism.
focusing only on abortion and equal job opportunities--
while ignoring more salient issues
that all women face
and some of them,
focus on race--
when it seems appropriate,
like on:
blog against racism day
or king's birthday
or when hillary says the word plantation

ignoring sexual violence, the prison industrial complex, police brutality,
segregated school districts, healthcare, neocolonialism, welfare reform,
drug addiction,
not everyone is fighting to have an abortion...
they have co-opted, appropriated and commodified assata, angela,
audre, patricia, and nikki,
to make themselves feel a sense of an identity,
to try and displace their privilege,
waiting, hoping, wishing,
trying to save us all

i blog because:
i hope to combat the images of black women
that dominate the media
hip hop bitches
big asses bent towards an invasive camera
with no face
hoochies who speak in ebonics
with tongues wrapped around lollipops
representative of dicks
that is all that we seem to be useful for
gold diggers
diseased bodies
waiting to infect the next nigga
with our venom
of aids
and even condoleeza
can't escape these images

i blog because:
i have found a community of women
who appreciate what i have to say
who do not question my experiences of racism--
claiming that maybe i am just paranoid,
or it is my own fault that i did not succeed
women who understand
and have shown me respect
through the internet
in the best ways that they can
through email
and love

i blog because:
i have a voice
i have something to say
i have something to type
i do not want to be ignored, silenced, erased, avoided, negated
i do not want to become co-opted
i want to be visible
i want to be heard

I will admit -- I am guilty of not being all-inclusive in my blogging.
The first bolded section, especially, resonated with me:
i get angry with white feminists bloggers
owning and controlling the ideas of feminism.
focusing only on abortion and equal job opportunities--
while ignoring more salient issues
that all women face
and some of them,
focus on race--
when it seems appropriate

In my defense, which is not an attempt to excuse my lack of inclusiveness but merely an explanation, I don't know that one person can really focus on every single aspect of intersectionality that is at work within feminisms. I, personally, focus on the rape culture, on pro-choice activism, on the White Male Controlled Political Issues, on queer issues, because that is what resonates most with me. That is what I am most affected by.

But in doing so, in recognizing only these most salient aspects of The Patriarchy that affect me, perhaps I am ignoring the more inconspicuous aspects that nonetheless affect me and everyone around me.
Race issues, for example.
When I blog, it's because I find something that I must comment on and share via this site. As is evidenced by the content of my posts, however, most of these things that really hit me hard are things like the rape culture, homophobia, queer issues, etc. Racial issues rarely make that list. Why is that?

It's not like I don't deal with racism. I do, pretty much every day. Even though I'm Italian, and therefore technically among the "accepted," "white" race, my grandfather is from Sicily, and so my dad and I both have very dark skin. At least once a week, I'm asked if I'm Indian, or black, or Mexican, or Middle Eastern, or Hawaiian, or (most recently) Somalian (??). People who bother to ask aren't the ones who I have to worry about though. Most of them are just genuinely curious.
But my skin colour shouldn't be something to comment on. I don't want you telling me how "beautiful" my complexion is, or how you wished you could get as tan as me. I don't want my "complexion" to be reason for you to ask me how I've dealt with certain things as a "woman of colour." Though I am perceived as such, I am not a woman of colour, and I do not want to co-opt their experiences.

I have white privilege. I acknowledge this, and I accept this.
But I somehow shy away from acknowledging that because of other people's perceptions, that white privilege is sometimes taken away from me. They see me as another "angry black woman", or as a terrorist sympathizer, or whatever else they seem to believe goes along with being Mexican/Hawaiian/Somalian/Middle Eastern/Indian. But I still believe I have white privilege, so I am reluctant to believe that it can effectively be taken away from me.

Which leads me to ask a lot of questions that I do not have the answers for.
What makes a "woman of colour" a woman of colour? Other people's perceptions of her as a "woman of colour"? Or does she herself have to identify as a "woman of colour"?
And can someone who normally would have white privilege, and who acknowledges said privilege, identify as a "woman of colour" without somehow negating the experiences of "true" "women of colour"? What is a "true woman of colour," anyway?

Are these experiences of racism that I experience as a perceived woman of colour, but not a "real" woman of colour (as in, I'm not actually Latina or Chicana or Indian, etc) any less experiences of racism?

And what role does my internal and acknowledged white privilege play in these experiences of racism? Is my white privilege separable or inseparable from my identity? If others try to take that away from me, does that negate my white privilege, or reinforce it?

Like I said, I have no answers for these questions. And I am no less confused than I was when I started writing this post. But it's food for thought.

Pink makes my heart happy

The singer, that is.

I've always respected Pink, if only because she's so very unstereotypical in that she won't do that "typical" female musician crap like Jessica Simpson, et al.
Oh, and she has the most amazing abs I've ever seen. Ever.

But I now have a full-out crush on her.
Via Jill at Feministe, I found this absolutely amazing, newly released video, Stupid Girls, that basically flies in the face of Le Patriarchy, and makes fun of the Typical Female Singer (i.e. Jessica Simpson et al) and Paris Hilton types.
It's fucking fabulous.

It's a big ol' Fuck You, Patriarchy, Pink-style.

So go watch it. Now.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Alito Blogging: Hillary Rodham Clinton's statement

So, I emailed my Senators (Hillary and Schumer) to urge them to support Kerry's and Kennedy's call for a filibuster.
I already knew that both were (thankfully) planning on voting against Alito -- Schumer already did in the Judiciary Committee, and Hillary released a statement about it a couple days ago.
So my email wasn't asking them to vote against him, because that would be redundant, but begging them to support a filibuster.
A filibuster is the only thing we've got left in order to preserve Roe.
And still, most Dems are against a filibuster, and Repubs claim they've got the 60 votes to end one.

Anyway, so I get this response from Hillary, which doesn't at all address the filibuster option, and only states what I already knew about her position on Alito. Nonetheless, I reproduce the email as follows:


Dear Ms. L--------:

Because you have shared with me your concerns regarding the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to be Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, I am sending to you in its entirety my statement announcing my decision to vote against his confirmation. I hope that you will read the statement with the same care and thoughtfulness that I gave to this decision. My statement follows.

* * * * * * * * *

The nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. to the Supreme Court of the United States is a matter of great importance to all of us, our children, and future generations of Americans. This nomination comes to us at a time when many of our cherished constitutional rights and freedoms are imperiled.

The Constitution commands that the United States Senate provide the President with meaningful advice and consent on judicial nominations. I take this constitutional charge seriously. I have carefully reviewed the Committee's hearings and Judge Alito's extensive record and have concluded that I cannot give my consent to his nomination to the Supreme Court.

The key to our history has been to expand the circle of freedom and opportunity. That has been the common thread through all the periods of progress in America: greater rights and responsibilities of citizenship and equality. And each time that we have made strides, there have been voices of opposition. There have been those who have wanted to go back. And at those moments of profound importance to America, the Courts have been the guardians of our liberties and stood on the side of greater freedom and opportunity. Consider cases like:
* Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down the notion of "separate but equal."
* Baker v. Carr, which invalidated discriminatory state apportionment schemes and paved the way for the concept of "one man, one vote."
* Griswold v. Connecticut, which recognized a right to privacy in the Constitution.
* Roe v. Wade, which established that women have a right to choose.

We need a judge who will take us forward, not back - keeping with our history of progress. Despite his distinguished credentials, Judge Alito has not shown himself to be that judge. In his career, he has not shown any dedication to civil rights, women's rights and the right to privacy that we need in the next Supreme Court Justice. Time and again, when given the opportunity, he has voted to narrow the circle, to restrict the rights Americans hold dear. And now is not the time to go backwards.

Without the progress we have made in the past 230 years - without the expansion of that circle - I certainly would not be standing before you on the floor of the United States Senate. There would be no opportunity for women in public life. But mine is not the only example. Voting rights would be restricted. Equal opportunities in education and in the workplace would not exist. And none of us would have the right to privacy. Our nation would not be what it is today. Our greatest strength has always been our commitment to enlarging the circle of rights and equality. That great American commitment has made us a beacon around the world.

This nomination could well be the tipping point against constitutionally-based freedoms and protections we cherish as a nation. I fear that Judge Alito will roll back decades of progress and roll over when confronted with an Administration too willing to flaunt the rules and looking for a rubber stamp. The stakes could not be higher.

* Roe v. Wade is at risk.

* The privacy of Americans is at risk as wholesale wiretaps on Americans could be authorized.

* Environmental safeguards, laws that protect workers from abuse or negligence, laws that keep automatic weapons of the streets: all are imperiled.

When I ran for the Senate, I told my constituents that I would only vote for judges who would affirm constitutional precedents like Roe, Brown and other landmark achievements in expanding rights and the reach of equality for all Americans. This is about more than rhetoric. This is very real to me and my constituents. The American people are counting on us not to be a rubber stamp, counting on us to make sure that the President's nominee will not take us backwards.

I also view Judge Alito's nomination through the prism of the seat he will fill. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has shown throughout her career of distinguished service to the Court that one Justice can protect our constitutional rights. Justice O'Connor, while conservative, was a mainstream jurist. She appreciated the advancements we have made as a society and fought to ensure that they would continue on. While I have not always agreed with her rulings, she understood that her vote was often the deciding vote on which key civil liberties and rights rested and exercised it with care.

Judge Alito has not demonstrated a similar commitment to these values. On the contrary, Judge Alito proudly announced his personal opposition to a woman's right to choose early in his career in his now infamous 1985 job application for a position in
the Reagan Administration. Although he has tried to distance himself from the comments in that document, his time on the bench shows an unapologetic effort to undermine a woman's right to choose. I believe that abortion should be rare and understand that it is a decision of conscience, but I also believe it should be a constitutionally protected decision between a woman and her doctor. Judge Alito does not share this view, and we can be certain that free from the constraints of Supreme Court precedent, he will intensify his campaign to roll back these and other important privacy rights.

The extreme right wing of the Republican Party was up in arms when President Bush nominated Harriet Miers to the Court to replace Justice O'Connor. Their reaction has been enthusiastic, effusive, and ecstatic this time around. Why? Because they know
what they are getting.

Judge Alito's constrained view has not been limited to issues of privacy. While on the Third Circuit, Judge Alito has rarely sided with individuals seeking relief from discrimination on the basis of race, age, gender, or disability. In fact, in the vast majority of civil rights cases, Judge Alito has sided with those who would infringe on the civil rights of Americans. For example, in several dissents, Judge Alito has called for curtailing the reach of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the landmark statute prohibiting discrimination against women and minorities in the workplace.

I also fear the he will not respect the system of checks and balances our Founding Fathers so carefully set out in the Constitution.

No one who has read the Federalist papers or who read the debate that our Founding Fathers had when constructing the Constitution could underestimate the importance that they placed on having three truly independent and equal branches of government. Checks and balances have long protected us against abuses of power. Again, considering Judge Alito's record, I do not believe he understands or respects this central principle.

Judge Alito has sought to expand the power and purview of the Executive Branch while simultaneously stripping Congress of its authority, undermining our system of checks and balances and curtailing the rights enjoyed by private citizens. For example, while working for the Reagan Administration, Judge Alito made the argument that Cabinet officials who are charged with authorizing illegal wiretaps of Americans in this country should be entitled to absolute immunity.

At a time when the President and his party stand accused of political overreaching and abuse of power, we must demand from our judiciary a respect for the proper role of each of our three branches of government. Judge Alito's excessive deference to presidential authority coupled with his restrictive view of congressional authority tell me that he does not have the proper the reverence for the separation of powers.

And, even worse, while expanding the reach of Presidential power, Judge Alito also holds a harshly limited view of what the government can do to help ordinary Americans.

Judge Alito said it all in 1986, when he was a young lawyer with the Reagan Administration. He wrote that in his estimation, it is not the role of the federal government to protect the "health, safety and welfare" of the American people.

Judge Alito has long advocated a view of limited Congressional authority, which if adhered to, would undermine a whole host of civil rights protections, health and safety regulations, standards for protecting our air and water, food and drug quality regulations, laws regulating firearms, as well as vital programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Since his ascension to the Third Circuit, Judge Alito has aggressively sought to promote this theory of limited Congressional power. For example, in 1996 Judge Alito voted to invalidate parts of our federal gun laws, arguing that there was no evidence in the record to determine that Congress had the power under the Constitution's Commerce Clause to enact legislation that regulated the sale of machine guns. In another case, Judge Alito wrote an opinion striking down Congress's ability to make a state agency comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act. Just three years later, the Supreme Court, with a similar set of facts, reached precisely the opposite conclusion.

Likewise, in several criminal cases, Judge Alito has shown blatant disregard for a defendant's fundamental right to be tried by an impartial jury, chosen free of racial or gender prejudice and that has been properly instructed on matters of law. He has also narrowly construed other constitutional criminal procedure protections, arguing often in favor of granting law enforcement officials great latitude to conduct unauthorized searches and seizures.

Frequently, Judge Alito has also narrowly interpreted our asylum law, voting to reject the claims of foreign persecution by prospective immigrants.

Judge Alito's opinions on these and other topics remind us that judicial activism can come in many forms. Adopting an unnecessarily narrow view of the Constitution or our laws to reach a desired outcome is a form of judicial activism that is no less offensive than subscribing to an overboard interpretation of the law
in order to reach a specific result.

Judge Alito may hold a seat on the Supreme Court for a generation, long after President Bush has left office. Perhaps through eight to ten presidential elections, decades of progress would fall prey to his radically conservative ideology, jeopardizing not only civil rights, civil liberties, health and safety, and environmental protections, but also fundamental rights like the right to privacy. Our federal government could be transformed into one where Congress is made irrelevant and the President is permitted to make up the rules as he goes. Judge Alito's vision of America cannot be what our Founding Fathers intended for us. He would take us backward when it has never been more important to move forward.

I sincerely hope that my concerns about Judge Alito are unfounded, but I suspect they are not, and our children will pay the price. He has not demonstrated a proper respect for the rule of law, our Constitution, and the principles Americans hold most
dear. I therefore cannot give my consent to his confirmation.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Alito Blogging: on the spineless and not-so-spineless Dems

In good news, both of my Senators (Clinton & Schumer) have pledged to vote against Alito in the confirmation vote.

And my surrogate Senators, since I live in MA more than I live in NY, have called for a filibuster, which is the only option open to them (no Republicans, even the supposedly pro-choice ones, have said that they will vote no on Alito, and three Democrats have already voiced their support for the nominee).
And, therefore, the only option available to not overturn Roe, and the only option available to keep the doctrine of separation of powers in tact.

Also, a scathing op-ed piece in the NY Times today, entitled Senators in Need of a Spine that's well worth the read. My favourite part:
A filibuster is a radical tool. It's easy to see why Democrats are frightened of it. But from our perspective, there are some things far more frightening. One of them is Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court.

In not so good news, there have been a lot more stories about Democratic Senators warning against the prospect of a filibuster, including Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who said:
“Because we have such a full plate of pressing issues before Congress, a filibuster at this time would be, in my view, very counterproductive. It is imperative that we remain focused on creating the tools New Orleans, Louisiana and the Gulf Coast will need to rebuild....We simply cannot afford to bring the Senate to a halt at a time when we need its action the most.

What does she not understand about the lifetime appointment of a radical right-winger who wants to overturn Roe and subscribes to the far-fetched, uber-neo-conservative idea of the unitary executive (which basically means more powers for the executive branch than are specifically enumerated in the Constitution)???
There is no Senate action more important than this right now, because nothing else before the Senate will have such far-reaching and devastating consequences as an Alito confirmation.

I hate hate hate that these people we elected so completely lack a spine.

Arlen Specter (R-PA, supposedly "pro-choice," but is voting for Alito) says that a behind-the-scenes count says that they have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
We need 41 Dems to get behind this.
So please, please, if you have a Democratic Senator, call her/him and get her/him on the boat with this.
Numbers can be found here.

Because, damn it, I don't want to have to say goodbye to Roe in a eulogy.

Monday, January 23, 2006

BushCo, gay-friendly? Not a chance.

12 days ago, Pam found a pro-gay (gasp!) government website, maintained by the Health and Human Services Department, specifically SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

The site, which used to be here, boasted a section title of "Celebrating the Pride and Diversity Among and Within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Populations."

Pam braved the Family Research Council website to find the Other Side's reaction to this, as well as the ever frightening Free Republic site, which houses the craziest crazies out there, and found the following:

From FRC:
blah blah blah pro-homosexual activist movement blah blah blah
The website, dedicated to preventing alcohol and drug abuse, includes the admission that “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are more likely to smoke, drink, and use other drugs than…non-lgbt peers.” Rather than warning that homosexual conduct is itself a significant health risk, the website blames society for the “high-risk choices” that homosexuals make, citing “homophobia,” “heterosexism,” and “stigma, alienation, and discrimination.”

Because, obviously, there's something inherently wrong with your brain if you're a big ol' dyke or fag or he-she, and that something wrong with your brain would naturally drive you to drink and do drugs. The causal correlation is just so obvious. Or something like that.

The freepers are, as usual, hilarious:
"How do they feel about an in depth report on GAY BOWL SYNDROME, or rampant CLYMIDIA and VAGINITIS in the lesbian community? Oh wait.. we’re talking the Gooberment here eh?"

“Homosexuals should all be in rehab. I’m not usually that blunt, but I’ve had it. Homosexuality is nothing but finding comfort with the same sex and becoming addicted to it - just like a drug addict becomes addicted to what allows him/her to not face reality and fear.”

“Oh, I suppose they have labeled me as a homophobe, which by definition, I’m not. Fear? Nope. Irrational dislike? Oh, it’s pretty rational. They might not like the rationale, but that’s just tough.”

“Yes, isn’t ironic that the HEALTH and human services dept. is promoting this lifestyle that causes low, life-expectance rates in males, disease, suicide, homicide, STD’s, AIDS, etc.”

Anyway, Pam asked the question, "How long before a Bush drone puts a stop to this?"

And she got her answer today. 12 days.

The URL, which used to be http://ncadi.samhsa.gov/features/lgbt/ , will now redirect you to an Error message that states the following:
We are currently updating our Web site to better server[sic] our customers. The page you are trying to access is no longer available. We apologize for the inconvenience.

However, thanks to the wonders of Google, the Google cache is still available.

Pam worries about Dr. Nancy Kennedy, though, who "has 30 years of professional and personal experience in mental health, substance abuse and sexual orientation, and (up until now) has been able to offer open, clear, honest and inclusive information to the LGBT community at this taxpayer-funded site."
As do I.
I hope she didn't get screwed over in the fundie process...

(Hat tip, Pam at Pandagon.)

South Dakota: Criminalizing Abortion

Well, that's what they're trying to do, at least.

South Dakota has legislation on the table that would ban abortion, and make it a crime.

The bill's ironic title?
The Women's Health and Life Protection Act

It will ban abortion, but won't prosecute doctors who perform them to save a woman's life.
How thoughtful.

And the lawmaker who's introducing the bill [Rep Roger Hunt] says he thinks now is the right time to try and overturn Roe vs Wade.
Sunday, Hunt and other anti-abortion advocates held an event promoting their legislation. They say now is the time to pass it, because other states are considering similar bills and because with new Chief Justice John Roberts, and possibly Samuel Alito, the US Supreme Court is changing.

Hunt says, "Two very solid, we feel, pro-life candidates. Again you never know but based on their testimony to the senate we feel they're good candidates."

Hunt says he thinks enough other lawmakers support the bill for it to pass, but he still thinks the decision will be a close one.

Sad thing is?
He's probably right about Roberts and Alito and the future of Roe....

And this isn't the only anti-choice rhetoric he's spewing in the form of suggested legislation, either:
Hunt will also introduce two other bills this week. One is meant to ensure doctors explain the risks of an abortion to a woman is writing. The other deals with sex education and says school districts need to include principles in their curriculums dealing with abstinence and personal responsibilities.

Because, obviously, telling kids to "just say no" to sex, and not telling them how to be safe if they have it and prevent these pregnancies that they can't abort anyway is really the logical solution. Ugh.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

the hypocrisy makes my brain hurt....

Bush has thus proclaimed today, January 22, 2006, National Sanctity of Human Life Day.

How coincidental. Today also happens to be the 33rd anniversary of Roe v Wade.
Can you be any more blatantly anti-choice???

Our Nation was founded on the belief that every human being has rights, dignity, and value. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, we underscore our commitment to building a culture of life where all individuals are welcomed in life and protected in law.

America is making great strides in our efforts to protect human life. One of my first actions as President was to sign an order banning the use of taxpayer money on programs that promote abortion overseas. Over the past 5 years, I also have been proud to sign into law the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and a ban on partial-birth abortion. In addition, my Administration continues to fund abstinence and adoption programs and numerous faith-based and community initiatives that support these efforts.

Of course, he doesn't really make good on this "sanctity of human life" line. His record isn't exactly stellar here.
There's a reason he was known as the Texecutioner. (Bush presided over more executions during his tenure as Texas governor than any other governor in the history of the US.)
And the sanctity of Iraqi lives? Pshaw. The 28,000+ civilians killed don't really count.
And of course, he doesn't really care about our own soldiers either, what with not giving them adequate body armour and such. Or the 2,224 US military who have already died in Iraq.

Or -- and this might be obvious -- the lives of women who have significant health and psychological risks associated with pregnancy. Better to let those stupid girls be punished for spreading their legs than to declare their lives as sanctified.

Bob Geiger has more on this.
As does Hoffmania.

(Hat tip, Pam at Pandagon)

Happy(?) 33rd, Roe!

On Roe
Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the precedent-setting Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade.
On January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court made abortion legal in the United States, citing a slightly unstable interpretation of the Constitution, extending the right to "liberty" to include the right to privacy, and thus, a woman's right to do what she will with her own body.
Unlike just about every other country in the world where abortion is legal, the US finds the legality in the privacy clause of the Constitution, not in the basic human rights of women.
Because of this unstable decision, reproductive rights have been continually whittled away, state by state, since the 1973 decision was handed down. 34 states have legislation that requires parental notification for minors seeking abortions. Most states restrict the procedure to the first trimester. Many states require abortion "counseling," which would be fine, except the counseling does more than notify patients of the risks associated with abortion - a lot of the time, the counseling is in hopes of deterring the woman from going through with it.

On the Supreme Court
Most recently, the President has nominated a vehemently anti-choice judge to replace centrist Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. During his hearings, he failed to refute his belief that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion, which he wrote back when he was in the Reagan administration. Which makes it pretty clear to everyone, as Schumer noted, that he still believes that. He also refused to ackowledge that Roe is settled law.
And chances are, he'll still be confirmed.

On Pro-Choice Action
-Rallies were held today around the country to mark the anniversary, the most publicized being in San Francisco. There were both pro-choice and anti-choice demonstrations:

The dueling protests — marking Sunday’s anniversary of the Supreme Court decision — reflected the growing tension at a time the makeup of the high court is about to change with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement.

-And even the "morning after" pill, emergency contraception (EC), is being targeted by anti-choicers. In a lot of states, pharmacists aren't required to fill prescriptions for EC if they have an "ideological" issue with doing so. Often, it comes down to the specific pharmacies' choice. Wal Mart refuses to even carry the drug in any of its stores. Target carries the drug, but has a nasty habit of looking the other way when its pharmacists cite 'ideological problems' with dispensing the drug.
On the plus side, though, Walgreen's, as a company, can actually be considered fairly pro-choice here. Though there have been a few complaints of pharmacists not filling prescriptions, Walgreen has investigated these complaints, and has already put four of its pharmacists on unpaid suspension and fired one.

For a more complete look back on this year in US repro rights, Jessica has put together a fabulous list over at BushvChoice.

But the issue I want to tackle in depth here?
Choice "getting in the way" of "more important" Democratic party issues.

The most public blow-out stemmed from one of Jessica's posts on BushvChoice that called for pro-choicers to have a more vocal presence at the top liberal blogs, specifically DailyKos.
DailyKos, then, took issue with this, and saw pro-choicers as derailing the Democratic party.
Mostly, they had a problem with NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsing pro-choice Republicans over pro-life Democrats. Now, maybe I'm just being silly, but being pro-choice is not the same as being a Democrat. There are plenty of pro-choice, feminist Republicans, and there are plenty of pro-life, misogynistic Democrats. Why would we, as a pro-choice group, reach out to the pro-lifers, just because Dems have a slightly better track record with pro-choice issues than Repubs? That would be anathema to our mission as a pro-choice group.
Anyway, this all sparked a huge fight among the leftist, progressive blogosphere, with the "boy blogs" essentially telling us feminist pro-choicers to "pipe down" and just do "what's best for the Party."

Choice is not an issue that should be defined by party lines. That said, choice has historically been, and I would hope will continue to be, a major issue for the Democratic party to fight for. While party lines do not necessarily separate pro-choicers from anti-choicers, the fact remains that the majority of pro-choicers are Dems, and the majority of anti-choicers are Republicans. But choice isn't just a "women's" issue, or a Dem issue. It's a major issue - for a lot of people, the number one issue - that is very much under attack.
It's a right that needs to be protected, and the Democrats need to step up to the plate and protect it. If the Dems can't unite behind this one issue to protect a woman's inherent right to choose, then who will?

And, as Ann of feministing said back in August:
But the underlying problem here is not NARAL endorsing pro-choice Republicans. The problem is the Democratic party's creep toward the center on reproductive rights. If Democrats want the support of the pro-choice movement, they have to earn it.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

responding to a response to a response to my post

So, as I wrote before, Hugo found my post on feminism and eating disorders/disordered eating/body dysmorphia via the Carnival of the Feminists, and wrote a response, which was very good. I understand his response, and appreciate it, and agree with it, mostly.
My qualm with his response is not what Hugo said, but what one of his commenters said (named "sophonisba"):

Anorexic women are not oblivious to society's message that they are silly for wanting a beauty that's not sexy. Everyone is told over and over that skinniness is a female ideal, that what men really like is T&A, that having a bit of flesh in the right places is what makes you fuckable. Real women have curves, and all that. To a woman with curves (i.e. tits) who does not care to be told what kind of woman she is or what kind of attention she should be glad to have, getting rid of the curves can easily seem like a great fuck-you to it all. Jen's right that a skinny, weak body can easily be read as passive and unaggressive, but all the anorexics I've known personally have molded their bodies out of huge amounts of aggression. Passive resistance, if you will. Looking at anorexia as a simple matter of slavery to the fashion magazines will not get you far.

As well as Christy's comment:
Having said all that, I think there is a difference between an eating disorder and not liking your body. Purging and anorexia are not just about patriarchy. Outside of gymnasts, dancers and Hollywood actresses, where there is extraordinary pressure to be unnaturally thin, there is usually something else going on. There is a high correlation between sexual abuse and eating disorders in young women, which is not to say that all women (and men) who have eating disorders have been sexually abused, just that if someone has a serious eating disorder, I don't think critiquing Cosmo is going to do a lot of good. The causes are a lot more complex and personal than that.

I don't want to give the impression that I was discounting all of these other "complex," "personal" in favour of looking solely to the media's ideal of the Perfect Body.

I am not placing the full weight of the blame of my disordered eating and body dysmorphia solely on the shoulders of the Waifish-Model-As-God media. It absolutely plays a role, and a very important one, but it is not the only thing that plays a role.

While I'm aware that there are new studies proving that for some people, eating disorders are "hard-wired" in their brain, much the same as any other chemically-based mental disorders, I know that is not the source of my melancholy or disordered eating. For those people born with chemical imbalances, the case is much different, and I will not attempt to make the case that the patriarchy is entirely to blame for their illness. As much as biology, too, is influenced by the patriarchy, I don't believe that it can be entirely discredited because of this. If there is a chemical basis for someone's eating disorder, then that's not entirely The Patriarchy's fault.
However, I am a firm believer in social construction, and while it cannot explain everything, it can certainly explain a lot.

Personally, the reason my brain is so fucked up is because I have PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). I blame this PTSD almost exclusively on the patriarchy. It is our patriarchal culture that caused this kid to molest me for 7 years, and it is our patriarchal culture that informed most people's reactions to it. And, most importantly, it is the inescapable patriarchal culture that informs my reaction to it.
Therefore, on a personal level, I can and do attribute my disordered eating and general low self-image to the patriarchy, because when you trace the trickle back to its source, you end up knee-deep in patriarchy, and everything that goes with it.

For example:
I restrict my caloric intake in order to gain control. The same control I lost when I was molested when I was younger. The control that I've never been able to regain since. The control that is, in large part, denied to me because of my genitalia and gender identity, not to mention sexual orientation and skin colour. If I can't control how people will see me, how they will treat me, what they will do to me, etc, I might as well control the few things I have the ability to control. While this lack of control in itself is not inherently a characteristic of patriarchal society, the effects of this lack of control very much are. The way people interpret me and the persona I present is informed by the patriarchy, and it is specifically in the nature of this interpretation that I lose control. I'm inclined to believe that if our culture wasn't so entrenched in misogyny, the way people interpret and judge me would not be so damaging, and I would therefore not need this control as much.

Another example:
My lack of self-esteem and, essentially, my self-loathing. I could - and have - psychoanalyze(d) it to death, and picked it apart to reveal a number of different sources, but when I get to the bottom of it, it is, yet again, the patriarchy. The way I have been treated by various people, the way that I have been viewed and judged and interpreted, is informed by the patriarchy. By internalizing other people's judgments of me, I am internalizing the patriarchy. There are so, so many ways that these patriarchal, misogynistic notions are ingrained into the impressionable brains of children, and I could only barely begin to list them all. But the judgment of others is one of the most powerful tools in the Patriarchy's Arsenal(tm), and it is deployed most fervently.

So no, not everything can be traced back to the patriarchy, just as not every fact of human existence can be explained via social constructionism. But it remains that a great deal of these facts can be - and are - explained by social construction and the patriarchy, and that really cannot be denied.

A sad day in the feminist blogosphere....

Lauren of Feministe is stepping down from her post as one of my Favourite Feminist Bloggers.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

a response to a response. well, kinda.

Hugo, who found my post on feminism/eating disorders/disordered eating/body dysmorphia via the Carnival of the Feminists, wrote a lengthy response that is very worth the read.

Definitely gave me something to think about. I may respond in more depth later, I may not. It depends on if I can get my thoughts together on this.

Blogging For Choice: more on the Ayotte (in)decision

First, a Link Dump:

Some statements that have been released today on the latest SCOTUS decision:
From the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.
From NARAL Pro-Choice America.
From Nat'l Abortion Federation.

An informative site on the Ayotte case, created by ACLU and PPFA.
If you want to read the decision as released by the Supreme Court, go here. (it's a PDF, so Adobe Acrobat is required)

Amanda at Pandagon takes on anti-choicers for being anti-choice.

Good stuff.

(Don't forget to keep Blogging for Choice.)

And now, about the decision:

Well, I suppose it could have been worse. I know it could have been a lot worse. And, legally, I suppose I agree with the Supreme Court decision, even if I do wish they had been slightly more conclusive about the law's obvious unconstitutionality.
While I'm extremely glad that they didn't revisit the principles on which Roe was decided in the first place, and treated it as the settled law that it is, I admit, I still have a hard time being happy about the fact that this is only a minor loss.
Yes, they said that the law must have a health provision in order to be considered constitutional, which is great.
But they upheld the principles of the parental notification law too, which I'm not ok with. If a girl isn't going to suffer any ill effects from informing her parents that she's getting an abortion, she'll tell them. If she is, she won't. Simple as that.

I guess I don't understand what the purpose of this notification law is, other than creating legislation to further curb women's rights over their own bodies. Being a minor doesn't mean you have any less of a right over your body than being of age does. I can only assume that the intention of this law is to create another obstacle for girls getting abortions, to make them less inclined to go through the whole painful ordeal, etc, because I don't see any other possible purpose for this.
Oh, and punishing "kids" for having sex, too, of course. Because that's really what the anti-choice movement is about.

And this one part of the opinion (written by O'Connor) really bothered me:

We do not revisit our abortion precedents today....[though] under our cases it would be unconstitutional to apply the act in a manner that subjects minors to significant health risks.

Am I the only one who remembers that pregnancy "subjects minors to significant health risks" too???
I don't pretend to be very knowledgeable about the health aspect of reproduction, but I have a feeling that a minor getting pregnant and actually having the child would have just as many, if not more, health risks than aborting the fetus would.

But silly me. I forgot that when girls spread their legs, they deserve the punishment of having to carry the child to term. Obviously, pregnancy as punishment makes perfect sense, especially when one claims to be "pro-life."

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Ayotte was decided today by the Supreme Court.

It was a unanimous decision, saying that the lower courts overstepped their bounds by declaring the entire law, which required all minors to notify their parents 48hrs prior to an abortion and left no room for any exceptions in the case of the minor's health or extenuating circumstances, as unconstitutional.

Sandra Day O'Connor, who I thought would be on the correct side on this one, wrote the majority opinion.
SCOTUS, though, didn't rule on the actual facts of the case, only on whether or not the lower courts were correct in their process of throwing out the law.
The question should have been whether or not this law places an "undue burden" on women seeking abortions -- which it does, no doubt -- but that's not an issue the Court dealt with at all.

SCOTUS overturned the lower court's rruling, and returned it to the appeals court (the First US Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston).

"In the case that is before us ... the lower courts need not have invalidated the law wholesale. Only a few applications of New Hampshire's parental notification statute would present a constitutional problem. So long as they are faithful to legislative intent, then, in this case, the lower courts can issue a declaratory judgment and an injunction prohibiting the statute's unconstitutional application."


And we watch as our reproductive rights continue to be eroded.....

(The following blogs will probably have continuous up-to-date coverage and commentary on this decision: Bush v Choice and PPFA's SaveROE blog.)

carnival of feminists SEVEN

Lauren at Feministe is hosting the Seventh Carnival of the Feminists.

The theme? Feminism and pop culture, which is, of course, great fun.

Feminist bloggers never cease to amaze me. There's a lot of stuff on this one, all worth reading.
But what makes it even better? I contributed. Woo!

Next carnival will be at Gendergeek on February 8th. Submissions can be sent to emma AT gendergeek DOT org.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

law enforcement and sexual abuse: necessarily hierarchical?

(WARNING: This is a really long post, and pretty inconclusive at that. But it will make you think. Even if it is really, really long.)

It's pretty common knowledge that law enforcement of sexually based offenses is, well, lacking.
Even in the fantasy world of TV, on Law & Order SVU, this is made absolutely clear. Rapists are sometimes not convicted, or if they are, serve little time, and get out, and most of them offend again, and the process starts all over again. (Well, if it's even reported in the first place, but that's another rant...)
People often get longer jail sentences for possessing a little bit of marijuana than they do for rape. Of course, there is a hierarchy among the categories of sexual offenses; a pedophile luring children into his home and raping them carries a much more severe social stigma and punishment than a frat boy who rapes a drunk girl at a frat party. And even among incest cases, fathers raping their daughters is a more grave offense than brothers raping their sisters, or mothers raping their sons, etc etc.

I don't pretend to be an authority on criminal law as it relates to sexually based offenses, but I think that the law, ipso facto, distinguishes less among the offenses in regards to hierarchy than the judges in specific cases do. More than that, though, in the beginning of these proceedings, the police officers investigating these crimes distinguish a great deal as well, and only really pursue the cases they find "heinous," which relies a lot on the social stigmas applied to the different crimes.
And while we live in a rape culture, there are certain forms of rape and sexual assault that are considered less ok than others. If there is any potential to blame the woman for the rape, that potential will be seized upon, however little it may be. If she wore lacy underwear, if she drank more than she should have, if she didn't say "no," or didn't say it forcefully enough. If any of these criteria or similar are present, she will be blamed, and so, the rape will be "ok." It will be accepted, either as a "necessary evil" or as something she brought on herself.
But our culture does distinguish some sexual assaults as absolutely not acceptable. Pedophiles, for example. We, as a culture, glorify children and their innocence so much that these children, in (almost) every case, cannot be blamed for the assaults, and therefore the assaults are not ok.

Does this hierarchy really help anything, though? Does it accomplish anything?

Lots of evolutionary psychologists view rape as an evolutionary tool to propagate the species. Which is, of course, absolute bullshit for a lot of reasons I won't go into right now, but maybe it can be used to explain this hierarchy...
The rape of a female college student, then, is perfectly acceptable in this culture, because this rape could produce offspring, and so ensure the continuation of the human race.
The rape of a 10-year-old child, however, is absolutely not acceptable. Her body is not yet ready to bear children, and so has no value to the propagation of the species. It is pure perversion, with no "redeeming" qualities.
I don't like using this schema to explain this hierarchy, though. For one, it leaves no room for same-sex rape, because it has no propagatory value, but is still considered "ok" in a lot of scenarios. And for another, it has no real scientific value. It's been proven in numerous studies that the chance for pregnancy is much higher in consensual sex than in rape scenarios, for some reason that involves something about the cervix. Rape is not an evolutionary tool, and not an effective way to propagate the species. So really, this whole explanation is null and void.

The only other way I can think of to explain this hierarchy, then, is simple misogyny, and the absurdly high level of importance we place on our children's "innocence" and our denial of children's sexuality.

Because while women's sexuality is basically inconsequential when not immediately connected to The Penis, they still have sexuality, and perhaps it's this immutable sexual nature of "adult" (read: of child-bearing age) women that makes our culture so accepting of the abundance of rape involving them. Because, after all, no woman would really reject The Penis, since that is her main desire in life.
Maybe it's because children in this culture are defined as so absolutely asexual that the sexualization of them through sexual offenses is so loathsome. I've often wondered what would happen if our society changed nothing else but its attitude towards childhood sexuality. I've wondered if that would change our attitude toward child sexual abuse. If we seem so willing to accept that women are raped every day, why is it so much more loathsome that children are, as well?

But not even all children are presumed to be innocent. Of course, if an adult abuses them, it is automatically the adult's fault. But what if it's the child's peer? Or a slightly older child? Then, you see, it's perfectly acceptable. It's just children "being curious." It's not really a crime. I have no raw data on this, and even data collected would not necessarily be reliable, since sibling and/or non-adult sexual abuse is so severely underreported, but I would venture to guess that even if these allegations were brought to law enforcement officials, it would be significantly harder to prove (and less likely to be believed and taken up by these officials to begin with) than an adult-perpetrated case. It seems that it's only when we cross that generational gap that things are clear-cut. Child/peer attacks are in much murkier waters.

Personal example:
I was sexually abused throughout my childhood by a boy who was 3 years older than me. It started when I was 6 or 7, and ended when I was 13. When I was 15, and finally told people about what had happened, I encountered a lot of "Oh, it was just experimentation" or "All kids do that kind of thing."
My parents did not want me to file charges. For a short period of time, also when I was 15, I thought that I should, I thought that would help bring me closure, that it would help in "the healing process" or whatever. So a teacher helped get me in contact with this Child Advocate service, which had lawyers that took on cases like mine, mostly pro bono, where the clients had no parental support.
I called this place, and they connected me to a person who took down my information as a part of the intake process. I told them how old I was when it happened. I told them what happened. Finally, they asked how old he was. I told them he was three years older than me.
"Oh, well that's going to be much harder to prosecute. Are you sure you want to do this?...There's a good chance you won't win, with your ages so close."

It didn't matter that from most people's perspective, what happened to me was a fairly clear case of sexual abuse. What mattered was that our age difference wasn't great enough, and couldn't create an airtight case.

I told them I would think about it, and never called back. I didn't end up pressing charges. I didn't do anything. It would not have been worth the inevitable pain I'd go through in the process, because the law doesn't see what happened as a very reprehensible crime.

Where does this hierarchy come from? Why is it given so much credence, so much reverence?
What does it really accomplish for the patriarchy? The adult part makes sense; it's useful for the patriarchy for people to see women's bodies as not belonging to them, as purely sexual objects, with no right or place to object to this treatment. But what about this hierarchy of child sexual abuse? Why is it ok for a "peer" to rape another child, but not ok for an adult to do so? Why is childhood sexuality conditional on the age of the person said child is being sexual with?
And does the cultural perception of childhood sexuality even shape our cultural perception of what constitutes sexual abuse?

david hasselhoff + ooga chakka = most frightening thing EVER

Lauren at Feministe subjected her readers to this torture. So I pass on the favour.
Click if you dare. Seriously, this is at your own risk.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Of course I'm bitter. Aren't you?

You know that bumper sticker, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention"?

I propose that we de-stigmatize bitterness in the same way. Being bitter is not necessarily a bad thing. But really, I can't dissect this nearly as well as someone else (namely, Heo Cwaeth) already has:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that an anti-feminist jackass in possession of a public forum, must level charges of bitterness. To be fair, the charge is often correct. This does not win anti-feminists any awards for perspicacity, however. I'm afraid it doesn't take a brain surgeon, or a dental hygienist for that matter, to deduce that those who are protesting what they perceive to be the ills in society are at least momentarily disgruntled, if not thoroughly embittered. Unfortunately for anti-feminists, while declaring that one's opponent is bitter may be a valid observation, it isn't the "look at me, Ma" hands-down argument-stopper they present it as. "I've sussed you out, person with a complaint, and I've decided you're dissatisfied" really isn't that stunning a point to make. If feminists were completely happy with the status quo, we'd be off somewhere doing things other than pointing out how unhappy we are with the status quo. We're smart like that.(emphasis mine)

It's a long post, but very very worth the read.

Oh, and don't forget this invaluable gem:
And all that anger is good for her, because it tells her that she has not internalized the poor self-esteem that our society works so very hard to instill in her, and that she has a chance to bring up children (or not, as she pleases) that will also regard themselves with an eye to reality, rather than patriarchal fantasy.

Ranks right up there with Twisty's indispensible definition of the Patriarchy (and the patriarchy). And that says a lot.

Friday, January 13, 2006

what the fuck?

I admit it. I'm a bit obsessed with Law and Order: SVU. And I have a bit of a love affair with Mariska Hargitay (Detective Olivia Benson on said show).
Thankfully for me, the USA Network plays reruns pretty regularly.
But....what the shit, man.
I just saw this episode where this graduate art student, Myra, was raped by her professor, Ron something.
Olivia, of course, believes her the entire time, but Elliott (Olivia's partner) does the whole victim-blaming thing, because she went to the guy's apartment late at night, wore sexy underwear, didn't object to kissing him, drank some wine, etc. And the defense tries to mount a case against Myra because of these reasons, plus her "promiscuous" past, and the assertion that it was consensual (and consensually rough) sex. Basically saying that Myra was just upset because after her and Ron had "consensual sex," he didn't want her to spend the night. So she got pissed and accused him of rape.

The ADA (Casey Novak, in this episode) mounted a very very effective counter to this, simply:
Why would Myra put herself through this hell if she wasn't telling the truth?

And the end of the episode?
The jury foreman stating, "And we find the defendant...."

And then, the credits roll.
It's not a 2-part episode.
That's just where it ends.
What the FUCK, Dick Wolf? You can't do shit like that.

NOT cool, man. Not cool at all.

Ok, maybe it's trying to make a statement socially, about how these things are never really settled, and nobody really believes the verdicts, and blahdeblah. How they never actually end.

But, dude. It's TV. Don't do shit like that. I can barely handle it in real life. TV is supposed to be the nice place where there are happy endings.
Or, at least, where there are endings at all.


[EDITED TO ADD: Turns out that in the episode, originally aired Nov 23, 2004, the verdict was left up to the viewers in a poll.
The kicker?
Approximately 3/5 of viewers taking the poll believed it was consensual. Only 1/5 believed it was rape, and another 1/5 said they needed more evidence.
THREE-FIFTHS of people believed the victim-blaming bullshit.
What the FUCK, America? What THE fuck??]

alabama's not all bad, but.....

I hate to do this, since the last I-hate-Alabama's-homophobia post garnered a response from one of my relatives who has lived in Alabama, saying it was unfair to judge the entire state by some douchebags who can't deal with homosexuals, but...I can't ignore this.
And I'm not saying that this means that all Alabamans are bad, but...shit. The gay rights kids down there have a lot to work on. Homophobia - and violence motivated by it - is far too accepted down there.

Found this story via Pam Spaulding at Pandagon:
You know that "gay panic" bullshit defense that I assumed was hardly accepted as legitimiate anymore?
Turns out it still works its magic in some of our more heavily-inundated-with-overt-homophobes states. Like Alabama.

The story:
A Jefferson County jury convicted Raymond Carlisle of a reduced charge Thursday in the February shooting and robbery of a professor who had picked him up wanting gay sex.

Carlisle, 20, was charged with capital murder in the Feb. 17 shooting death of Sammie Speigner III, an adjunct professor of sociology at Birmingham Southern College.

Ok, the charge seems fair enough, the murder was obviously in cold blood -- where's the problem here?
Oh, right, the victim was gay.

Defense attorneys Amber Ladner and Cynthia Umstead contended the defendant, 19 at the time, reacted in the heat of passion when the 37-year-old victim tried to homosexually assault him.

First, why is "homosexually assult" different from "sexual assault"? Sexual assault is sexual assault.
If that's even what happened in this case. Which I'm not sure I believe. Which brings me to my second point:
Carlisle did not go to the police with his accusation of sexual assault. He did not simply run away, or escape. He: a) shot the victim as he was running away, b) took the victim's car, wallet, and checkbook c) used the victim's credit cards to party with friends, and d) let his buddy use the car for a couple days.
And as much as I loathe blaming the victim in sexual assault cases, these actions speak a hell of a lot more to gay-hatin' cold-blooded murder and robbery than to the reaction of a man who had just been sexually assaulted.

"He was not road kill," Roberts [the prosecuting attorney] told jurors. "Despite what he did in his private life, Sammie Speigner's life had value. He was shot, robbed and dumped into the street bleeding to death like an animal."

The jury refused to find him guilty of the capital murder charge, which would have gotten Carlisle either life in prison or a death sentence. Instead, they found him guilty of the lesser charge of felony murder, "saying after the verdict they believed the shooting was incidental to the robbery, and not intentional."
"Not intentional," my ass.

Oh, and it gets better. The homophobia's just oozing in this one:

In her closing argument, Ladner compared Speigner's actions to that of a molester using a puppy to lure a young child.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

alito hearings day 4

I haven't watched the hearings enough today to really comment on the issues raised, but a few wardrobe notes:

1) It seems as though Arlen Specter has lent Chuck Schumer his tie from yesterday. That thing is green, man.

2) Something I heard on the Daily Show: While Mrs Alito looked mighty fine today sporting her crisp white pants suit and a spicy red blouse, part of the reason she was so upset yesterday that she left the hearings in tears?
Because, due to an unfortunate laundry incident yesterday (Wednesday), she was forced to show up wearing her grandmother's couch:

woo queer bloggers

The Second Carnival of Bent Attractions is up over at Desperate Kingdoms.

We've got some identity, homophobia, gender, religion, and more.

Good stuff.

I'll probably react more to the specific articles in a bit.

Oh, and the first Carnival of Bent Attractions is here, at daily dose of queer.

And the main page for this Carnival? Right here.

how far would you go for a laugh?

Just found the Best Blond Joke Ever.


the rape culture hits home

This isn't so much a well-thought-out post as a link-pimpage and rant.

The Happy Feminist recently posted a very, very good post on "how rape victims themselves often fail to grasp that they have the right to be free of forced sex".
She takes from real-life experience as a prosecutor, and gives examples of cases where the women were obviously raped, but none of them really saw it as rape because they "went along with it" or didn't have "the right" to say no.

As frightening as it seems to hear these girls with stories that seem obvious to be rape stories deny that they were, in fact, raped, it's a pretty accurate depiction of real life.

Example to illustrate this point:
This summer, a friend of mine got wasted at a party she was throwing at the apartment she shares with a few other people. She had a boyfriend of about 2 years, but there was this kid there who would not stop hitting on her. Eventually, she was intoxicated to the point that she just went along with it, and I was wasted enough to go along with her. Next thing I knew, the three of us were in her room, and the guy had spent the last five minutes telling her she should go down on him, occasionally "jokingly" pushing her head toward his crotch, and after five minutes of coercion, she agreed. As did I. The only reason he didn't get us to have intercourse with him was because one of her boyfriend's friends walked in on us, and she freaked out.
When we woke up the next morning, we talked to some other people at the party. Turns out, he'd had a total of one beer and one shot, and the last drink he had - the beer - was a good 2 hours before he convinced us to go upstairs with him.
We felt like shit, but we saw it as us being stupid, not anything more.

She then joined the rape prevention group on campus, and learned that what happened really could be classified as rape, because he was obviously sober and we were obviously intoxicated. Her therapist told her the same thing. Her therapist even suggested we press charges.
We didn't. She was just pretty blown away by the whole idea that what happened fell under the category of rape.
I still don't see it as rape. For me, at least. For her, yes. For me, absolutely not.

The thing is, though, I know that it's exactly that line of thinking that perpetuates and contributes to the rape culture, and the lack of education around the "What's Rape?" question.
But me knowing that does not negate the indoctrination of the rape culture and the internalization of the self-blame.

Not to mention the fact that what happened to us is totally ok by most people's perspectives. We got drunk, we made a mistake. That is how the story is spun. It was our fault for getting drunk in the first place. We should've been more careful about who we were drinking with. We should've had sober, or at least less intoxicated, people watching us to make sure we didn't do anything especially stupid. We should've done a lot of things, and didn't.
But since when is it our responsibility to ensure that no douchebag takes advantage of us when we're intoxicated? Since when is it our job to control the actions of others?
Yes, there's something to be said for taking certain steps to safeguard oneself.
But for christ's sake. She was in her own house. I've known this girl since preschool. We thought we were safe.
But even if we didn't, it doesn't matter. It doesn't take the blame away from the people who commit these acts. It doesn't make it our fault.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

ok, fuck the schoolwork...

I just found this site, whose purpose is to publicise the "sickest joke."

And yes, this includes rape jokes. And domestic violence jokes. And such.
It even has in its explanation of the thread: "Extra points for any anecdotes about using this off-colour material and causing huge offence."

How is this ok???

A sample of the sick, sick shit:
Q: What's black and blue, and hates sex?
A: rape victim

The rest below the flip.

Q: What are three things a black person can't get?
A: black eye, a fat lip and a job.

Q: What do you say to a girl with two black eyes?
A:Nothing, you've told her twice already

Q: Whats the best thing about shagging twenty five year olds?
A: There's twenty of them.

--A paedophile and a kid are walking into the woods at night.
the kid turns to the paedophile and says "it's dark! I'm scared!".
the paedophile says "YOU'RE scared? I've got to walk back out on my own!"

Q: What do you do when the dishwasher stops working?
A: Smack her across the face.

Q: How does a hillbilly know his little sister's periods have started?
A: His dad's dick tastes funny!

Q: Why do black women wear high heels?
A: To keep their knuckles from dragging

-- Woman stumbles into the Police Station.
"Help, I've just been raped by two council workers!"
The policemen look bemused and ask "How do you know they were with the council?"
She shouts "I had to do all the fucking work!"

Q: how do you make a baby cry twice?
A: use its teddy to clean the blood off your cock

Q: What's the difference between a black man and a bike?
A: A bike doesn't sing "Old Man River" when you put the chain on it.


day three of the alito hearings

Ok, I've been watching this since 8pm (CSPAN re-airs the entire day of hearings each night at 8pm), and still, I've got a) far too much anger to coherently put together a sentence (Senator Coburn, for example, is making me want to shoot myself in the toe with his supposed-to-be-medical opinions on abortion. He even did the stupid breast-cancer/abortion link, which has been medically disproved.), and b) far too much reading to do on the rest of our government's asshattery for my Legal Implications of the War on Terror class.

So I'm just going to point you all to the Planned Parenthood blog, Now What?! via saveroe.com, which has very very efficiently liveblogged the hearings today, and also to Bush v Choice, via NARAL, blogged by feministing's Jessica.

Items thrown at the TV in unbridled anger thus far:
-2 pillows
-my moose stuffed animal (and again after she was retrieved from the floor)
-my build-a-bear bear, Lily
-book (ironically, Silencing Political Dissent by Nancy Chang)
-book (again with the irony, Enemy Alien by David Cole)
-1 shoe

mini-commentary on the alito hearings

Just now tuning in to the Alito hearings, which it looks like are ending soonish...

Wow. Specter's tie...shit, man. That is green.

And Colburn is making me want to claw my eyes out. Seriously.

Is it not creepy that when Specter commented on Alito's "stamina," his wife got a huge huge smile on her face.
At least she's not wearing the green puffy thing today. Not that this plaid-esque suit is much better, but it's slightly less distracting.

Biden, Feinstein, and Durbin get to have 10-minute thingers tomorrow. Yay Feinstein!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

some (late) liveblogging the alito hearings

I realize that they've been going on all day, but I just tuned in b/c I had class all day...

5:50, Schumer!

On Abortion:
Schumer: Do you still agree with your 1985 statement on abortion?
Alito: blah blah blah stare decisis blah blah blah
Schumer: That is not what we're talking about. We're talking about this, the Constitution. You said in 1985 that the Constitution does not protect a woman's right to abortion.
Do you believe that now?
Alito: I would address that issue in accordance with the process that I would be required to use. blah blah bullshit.

They go back and forth like this for a while, Schumer saying Alito can answer it because it's a question of Constitutional interpretatin, Alito running around the question like whoa.
A fun part, and why I love my Senator:

Schumer: I'm asking you about your view of the Constitution. It's important to know what your view of the Constitution contains.
(ooh burn: blahblahblah Which taught me something - I didn't know there was a word such as "inapt.")
Alito: You're asking me about a question- -
Schumer: I'm not asking you about a question! I'm asking about the Constitution!
Does the Constitution protect the right of free speech?
Alito: Yes, yes it does.
Schumer: Then why can't you answer the queston of whether the Const protects the right to an abortion as well?
Alito: Asking about the issue of abortion has to do with the interpretation of certain aspects of the Constitution.
Schumer: I take it that you're not going to answer the qustion, which I didn't really expect.
Your refusal to answer, I find troubling.

HAHAHAHA. Schumer TOTALLY just laid the smack down.
Said that he could infer from Alito's refusal to answer the question that he would not uphold Roe.

On Stare Decisis:
Schumer: Stare Decisis doesn't mean that cases can't be overruled.
What do you think of Thomas' doctrine of stare decisis (who wants to overrule frickin' everything)?
Alito: I don't want to comment on all those cases.
Basically, Alito gave nothing up on whether or not he thinks precedent is uber-important. Surprise surprise.

And Schumer's Big Finale:
First, greatly disturbing would be that you won't distance yourself from your 1985 view that the Const does not protect a right to a woman's right to choose...
Second, you told us you respect precedent & stare decisis, but we've seen that the stated respect for stare decisis hardly determines whether a Supreme Court justice will actually uphold precedent.
Finally, to top it off, we have seen that your third circuit record can hardly provide a great deal of comfort in this area either.
Taken together, these pieces are very disturbing to me.
We can only conclude that if the question came before you, it is very likely that you would vote to overrule Roe v Wade.

And Alito's condemning statement:
If I had an agenda to uphold abortion law, I would not have voted the way I did in the decisions I came across.

6:31pm Senator Cornyn of Texas is kissing his ass like crazy, and basically calling Schumer an idiot. Ugh. I'm going to claw my ears out.
And just essentially called Roe a mistake.

6:59pm Oh, Jesus. Cornyn just called Alito "SCalito." The nickname us crazy liberals gave him. Oy.

7:01 Oh, good god. They just made light of domestic abuse. I think I might vomit.

7:03 And the parting shot: Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) blowing his nose. Attractive.