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Archive for the ‘violence against women’ Category

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I’ve been traveling and I like to take some junk food reading along when I fly. I found out about this (site is in French) in Marie Claire magazine.

Here’s the intro to the photo spread in the magazine:

French photographer JR has spent the past year taking portraits of victimized women in Africa, Asia and South America, then making massive, poster-size prints which he plasters illegally in places you’d least expect – on buildings, bridges, buses, and beyond. The idea, says JR, who doesn’t give his full name in case he’s prosecuted, is to celebrate the strength and courage of women who live in places where they are often targets in wartime – and discriminated against in times of peace.

As mentioned above, the text on the artist’s website is in French, but there is a video explaining the project which is in English. The photos are stunning. I would love to know what the reaction is of people in the towns where the photos are displayed, and what happens to the women. (As Ms. Cripchick points out in the comments, there is an English version of the site.)

The photo below is from Liberia.

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Oh God

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The internet, she is not my friend this week. It is mostly because of this.

And truly I have been uber busy these days without much time to check out the latest for which I am grateful. It’s been trigger city, folks. Forgive any muddleheadedness that follows. I don’t know what kind of a post this will be or if I will bring these meanderings to a logical conclusion. There is grading to do (always the grading), there is writing and there is research, there is work.

Remember the artist Kiki? She did the art for a t shirt I once had and wore to absolute pieces. It was captioned “Many Strong and Beautiful Women.” It was lovely and I kept it for a long time.

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This week my head is full of women… strong and beautiful and maybe not so strong but still beautiful even if they – we – do not know it. I am thinking about women and their/our stories. For the most part it is a happy convergence; I’m teaching women and stories this semester … yesterday in one of my classes we viewed the powerful “The Language You Cry In” – evidence of how blog reading is not procrastinating (at least not all the time) because I found out that film here and it fit in perfectly with what we are thinking/talking/writing about.

On Monday, Cara posted this so I was already thinking about the minimizing and trivializing that happens to those of us who have survived sexual assault in families – we even do it to ourselves.

I hadn’t yet heard the news about the whole Rihanna/Chris Brown thing yet… just some chatter on the radio about why they didn’t show up at the grammy’s or whatever. Then the noise about it increased during the day and I knew that I’d just need to try to stay away from it – I googled a bit at first just to see what people were saying about the situation and … always a mistake to read comments. How do we interrupt the kind of noise that blames a person for being violated because she “probably set him off” by saying something, or because she (and face it, it’s usually she) has the nerve to look a certain way or dress a certain way or what EVER… but usually all it takes is she possesses the identity of female. Be female and it is game on. Be black or brown and female, or transgress prescribed gender boundaries and the right to not be violated is at once absent. I don’t know how much more I want to say about that without doing more thinking than I want to do right now. I know that silence is not the answer. The problem then, is how not to keep being silenced because speaking out costs so much – when there are so many other voices – so much other noise – drowning out the stories that need to be told but are so hard to tell. That internalized, unvoiced pain comes out somehow, somewhere, I believe. Perhaps it is physical body pain, like the pain that is carried in my body on a daily basis, diagnosed as fibromyalgia. Perhaps it is realized in the pain that is in turn inflicted on others. Perhaps it is simply being numb to feeling and actually living life. But as has been said (y)our silence will not protect you/us.

Starting tonight and thru Saturday, I’m participating in a local Monologues production – inspired by Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues but anonymously submitted stories of women in this region – women who wrote down the sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, often utterly gut wrenching truths about their lives as women. It has been an incredible experience to carry these stories, to embody them and to speak these words into the air, and to talk with each other about our own stories. These kinds of gatherings are monumental acts of love. It is not only the gathering of stories and placing them in order, assigning the parts and becoming familiar with them and then putting on a show. It is also listening to the words underneath the words and feeling them. It is knowing “I’m not the only one this happened to.” It recognizing a place, a time, a moment, a person that are connected to geographies, histories, communities and honoring that. It is learning to speak. And very very practically – it’s about knitting scarves and making jewelry and collecting silent auction items and selling tickets and making as much money as you possibly can to help women and their children in this community whose backs are up against the wall.

It is this thing called survival.

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I read this story in my local newspaper today.

It is a frightening and sad story. After witnessing the last few months of the presidential campaign and the boldness of blatant racism people were willing to express in public – at campaign rallies, on college campuses… everywhere.

What is equally frightening is the way in which some voices continue to insist we are living in a post-racial society… that there is no racism any longer now that a man of color has ascended to the highest office in the land. One of the ways this messages gets perpetuated is to brush off incidents like the murder of this woman as an act that was committed by a bunch of ignorant kooks – no reason to worry. Check out this quote from the article, attributed to the parish sheriff, Jack Strain:

“The IQ level of this group is not impressive, to be kind,” Strain said, adding, “I can’t imagine anyone feeling endangered or at risk by any one of these kooks.”

He can’t imagine anyone feeling “endangered or at risk.” But – ok, a woman was murdered because she was trying to get away from them. We don’t know the whole story because she is not here to tell us. Her identity has not been released, but she was a living, breathing human being whose life was taken away. She probably would not have been my friend. She went from her home in Oklahoma, presumably to take part in the initiation ritual. But at some point she changed her mind and asked to be taken back to town. Instead, she was killed. That seems pretty endangering and at risk to me. I really don’t care about the level of their IQ’s.

And I do care about how this society continues to talk out of both sides of its mouth where racism is concerned. I recognize that for my daily walking around life, the fact of institutional racism is a more present danger to me. Yet, to ignore or dismiss blatant violent racist acts as the work of a few ignorant goons who are not really dangerous continues to teach the false lesson that racism doesn’t really exist.

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I participated in this last year and plan to do so again this year.

In October 2007 people all over the United States gathered physically and in spirit to speak out against violence against women of color. Some of us wore red all day and explained that we were reclaiming and reframing our bodies as a challenge to the widespread acceptance of violence against women of color. Some of us wrote powerful essays about why we were wearing red and posted them on the internet. Some of us gathered with bold and like-minded folks and took pictures, shared poetry and expressed solidarity.

This year, on the first anniversary of the Be Bold Be Red Campaign, we invite you to make your bold stance against the violence enacted on women and girls of color in our society visible. In D.C., Chicago, Durham, Atlanta and Detroit women of color will be gathering to renew our commitment to creating a world free from racialized and gendered violence, and this time, we’ll be using a new technology called CyberQuilting to connect all of these gatherings in real time. To learn more about CyberQuilting, which is a women of color led project to stitch movements together using new web technologies and old traditions of love and nurturing, visit www.cyberquilt.wordpress.com.

Join in – read more here.

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bfp has posted a talking points response to John LaBruzzo’s racist, misogynist suggestion to end poverty by sterilizing poor women.  The response is from the Women’s Health & Justice Initiative and the New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic.  

I’ll post a couple of paragraphs but you should really go read the entire document.

The sterilization policy currently being advocated by Representative LaBruzzo is a blatant form of reproductive violence and population control policies of blame and disenfranchisement, rooted in this country’s long and continual history of eugenics. The legislation and criminalization of black and poor women’s bodies, sexuality, fertility, and motherhood are being used as regulatory tools for economic and ideological justification for eugenics. If Mr. LaBruzzo is really concerned about ending poverty and reducing social burdens on the state, he would not be advocating punitive social polices that restrict women’s reproductive autonomy, but instead would be focusing his attention on ending corporate welfare and holding the corporate giants of Wall Street accountable for the disastrous state of the country’s economy.

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According to LaBruzzo, the solution to ending poverty in our society is to control and regulate the fertility and sexuality of black women – not the creation of comprehensive programs to improve health care access, our education system, housing affordability, and employment opportunities in the state. His plan pathologizes the reproductive capabilities of Black and poor women by proposing legislation to exploit the economic vulnerability of those who are socially stereotyped as burdens on the state.

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The low-income women of color LaBruzzo feels so comfortable scapegoating for Louisiana’s economic conditions are those who support Louisiana’s economy by doing its low-wage work. When LaBruzzo goes to his office, these women clean it; when he goes to a restaurant, they wash the dishes; and when he stays at a hotel, they turn down his sheets. Rather than this mean-spirited attack, he should call for an increase in the minimum wage that would make it feasible for poor women to survive economically.

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Via Sociological Images comes news of Ecko and their latest ad campaignHot Girls Make Great Clothes. The website is filled with images (photo and video) of barely dressed women “manufacturing” Ecko brand clothing. Yes, this campaign objectifies women and uses sex to sell clothes. What else is new?

More sickening than that is the ‘wink wink nudge nudge’ reference to places where really hot women and children work – sweatshops. Real women and real girls labor for meager, unsustainable wages in terrible conditions so that we can purchase and wear the latest…. hot styles.

A few facts about sweatshops:

Women make up to 90 percent of sweatshop labor. The poor working conditions they experience include being subject to sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape.

Sweatshops violate the most basic labor laws including child labor, minimum wage, overtime and fire safety laws.

Working conditions also include no benefits, non-payment of wages, forced overtime, sexual harassment, verbal abuse, corporal punishment, and illegal firings.

Sweatshops flourish where there are pools of exploitable workers in desperate
conditions. The poorer the country, the more exploitable the people are.

However, sweatshops are not only found in “other” countries; they are right here in the U.S. – often the workers are recent and/or undocumented workers – again, people who are very vulnerable.

Workers who don’t know their rights or who have no good choices are at the mercy of the managers of these shops and the corporations who own them. For instance, pregnant women are fired instead of being given any type of leave. Women who are of childbearing age may be forced to take birth control or abort their pregnancies.

The free market allows corporations to seek out areas where they can pay miserably poor wages, wages too poor to allow workers to support their families comfortably, and poor enough to ensure profits for the companies at the expense of these families.

Corporations also seek out countries with unstable governments in order to lessen the possibility of being monitored and charged with human rights violations.

Workers can be fired or blacklisted if they try to defend their rights.

Some defend sweatshops and their practices by pointing out that the payment workers may receive is higher than the average national wage for workers in a particular country. Yes, people do have a right to make a living and if the opportunity presents itself to make a higher wage, certainly they should be free to seek the opportunity. However, human rights violations do not need to be part and parcel of such an opportunity. People should not be exploited and brutalized because they happen to live in a poor country (or live in a rich country where the poor are marginalized and/or treated as if they are not human).

Nor should such dire situations be mocked.

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