Category: Gender Issues

Amnesty International approves policy supporting decriminalization of sex trade

AP, August 12

London – Amnesty International approved a controversial policy Tuesday to endorse the de-criminalization of the sex trade, rejecting complaints from some women’s rights groups who say it is tantamount to advocating the legalization of pimping and brothel owning.

At its decision-making forum in Dublin, the human rights watchdog approved the resolution to recommend “full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work.” It argues its research suggests decriminalization is the best way to defend sex workers’ human rights.

“We recognize that this critical human rights issue is hugely complex and that is why we have addressed this issue from the perspective of international human rights standards,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International. “We also consulted with our global movement to take on board different views from around the world.”

You don’t have to give thanks.

I believe in being grateful for the universe. It is one of the few entities with a shelf life beyond that of what can be bought, sold, or stolen. Moreover, our obscene privilege as Westerners is lethally obvious. But to hell with the manufactured gratitude of Thanksgiving™, wherein kindly advertising voice-overs urge us to count our table of blessings (and hopefully shop for some more). This excerpt from a missive by Guardian columnist Jessica Valenti rightly gives that sales pitch the finger:

Face it: Thanksgiving is depressing this year, and you don’t have to give thanks

We shouldn’t ask grieving people to plaster on a smile to make the rest of us feel better. Even if it’s the holidays.

This Thanksgiving, it’s difficult not to think about loss.

For a lot of people, this time of year brings more sadness than cheer – thinking about the kinds of relationships you wish you could have with family or friend, thinking about loved ones that aren’t there. And as injustice prevails in Ferguson, as another young man of color is killed with seeming impunity, as sexual predators are given standing ovations and sexual violence across the US continues to be unearthed, it’s hard to remember how to be thankful. It’s easier to ask what we are supposed to be thankful for at all.

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Fracking Chemicals, Brought to You by Susan G. Komen

Mother Jones, By Julia Lurie, October 9

Here’s some news that frankly, I initially thought was a spoof: for the second year in a row, breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure—which caused massive outrage when it defunded Planned Parenthood in 2012—has partnered with Baker Hughes, a leader in the fracking industry. The Houston-based oilfield services company will donate $100,000 to Komen over the year and sell 1,000 pink-painted drill bits used for fracking.

According to Baker Hughes’ “Doing Our Bit for the Cure” campaign website, “The pink bits serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting research, treatment, screening, and education to help find the cures for this disease, which claims a life every 60 seconds.”

The irony here is that one of the primary criticisms of fracking is that the fracking process injects possible and known carcinogens, including benzene, formaldehyde, and sulfuric acid, into the ground and surrounding environment. A 2011 senate investigation of 14 leading fracking companies found that, between 2005 and 2009—far from the height of the fracking era—the companies had “injected 10.2 million gallons of fracturing products containing at least one carcinogen.”

Also, Hullabaloo: Little pink bits

Carolyn Kizer, Pulitzer-Winning Poet, Dies at 89

NYT – Carolyn Kizer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose verse, overtly political and bitingly satirical, came, as she fondly put it, with “a sting in the tail,” died on Thursday in Sonoma, Calif. She was 89. The cause was complications of dementia.Ms. Kizer’s first collection, “The Ungrateful Garden,” published in 1961, left little doubt that to her, the poetical was the political. In a poem from the volume, “The Death of a Public Servant,” about McCarthyism, she wrote:

This is a day when good men die from windows,
Leap from a sill of one of the world’s eyes
Into the blind and deaf-and-dumb of time …
Dead friends, who were the servants of this world!
Once there was a place for gentle heroes.
Now they are madmen who, scuttling down corridors,
Eluding guards, climb lavatory walls
And squeeze through air-vents to their liberation.

more at the link

The sexual threats against Emma Watson are an attack on every woman

Vox, By Amanda Taub, September 23

In her famous 1996 commencement address, writer Nora Ephron warned the new graduates of Wellesley college that they were entering a world that was hostile to women’s achievements and begged them to “take it personally.”

“Understand,” she said, “every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you.” We must all take such attacks personally, she argued: “Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: Get back, get back to where you once belonged.”
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By Your Leave

I meant to blog about this when the baseball season opened in April but it slipped my mind. Thankfully I have a second chance to:

CHICAGO — New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy and his family will be guests at the White House on Monday for a discussion about the state of working dads.

Murphy received talk-radio backlash after choosing to take paternity leave and miss the team’s first two games of the season to be present for the birth of his first child on March 31. Murphy’s wife Tori gave birth to 8-pound, 2-ounce son Noah about an hour before the first pitch of the Mets’ season.

The White House Summit on Working Families will be held in the South Court Auditorium of the White House. It aims to advance talk about how fathers play a role at home, discuss the challenges of balancing a career and family, and advocate for rights such as parental leave from work.

Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Jason Furman will participate in the discussion along with Murphy.

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Your Basic Quagmire

The more I think about the Chelsea (fka Bradley) Manning situation, the shape it takes gets more and more bizarre:

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — The Pentagon is considering transferring Ptv.[sic] Chelsea Manning to a civilian prison where the soldier serving time for leaking classified documents could receive medical treatment for gender dysphoria, Defense officials said Wednesday.

That option is among several Army leaders are weighing as they wrestle with a dilemma that is likely to set precedent on a fraught issue for the Pentagon, which has come under increasing pressure to reexamine its prohibition on allowing transgender people to serve in uniform.

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Should women fight violence with violence?

Evangeline-title1920x1080Canadian film director, writer, and producer Karen Lam whose chosen genre is horror with a feminist twist, posed this provocative question.

Lam’s choice and musings were influenced by her father’s penchant for twisted storytelling and the real-life violence committed against women. What particularly stood out for Lam were the cruel murders of 49 women by BC pig farmer Robert Pickton who fed their bodies to his pigs and friends and the Highway of Tears murders that, according to aboriginal leaders, has claimed the lives of 43 women – these murders remain, as of yet, unsolved.

Incidentally, last Wednesday, the Guardian disclosed that a recent report revealed ‘extensive violence against women in EU’ with Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, three countries that strongly support women’s rights, exhibiting the highest numbers. Shocking, isn’t it? Continue reading

‘Children of older fathers at risk of low IQ, autism and suicide’

Independent, By Sarah Knapton

Men should not leave fatherhood too late because children of older fathers are more likely to suffer a raft of psychological and educational problems, scientists have warned.

The biggest study of its kind has found that the children of fathers aged over 45 were at greater risk of autism, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia as well has having lower IQs and poorer academic performance.

Women have traditionally been warned that they should not delay motherhood but because there is no male menopause, men have tended to believe that it is safe to father children in older age.

However when researchers at Indiana University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden looked at the outcomes of more than two million children born between 1973 and 2001, they discovered worrying trends.

Children born to a 45-year-old man were 13 times more likely to have ADHD than those born to a 24-year-old man and were 3.5 times more likely to have autism and 25 times more likely to have bipolar disorder.

They were also nearly twice a likely to have dropped out of school early and have lower IQs.

“We were shocked by the findings,” said Brian D’Onofrio, lead author and associate professor at Indiana University.

“The specific associations with paternal age were much, much larger than in previous studies. In fact, we found that advancing paternal age was associated with greater risk for several problems such as ADHD, suicide attempts and substance use problems.

“Traditional research suggested advancing paternal age may have diminished the rate at which these problems occur.”

Over the past 40 years the average age of childbearing has been increasing steadily for both men and women.

According to the Office for National Statistics the average woman gives birth just a week short of her 30th birthday while first-time mothers are also older, at just over 28. The average age of fathers is now 32 years and six months.

However many men are still having children into their 50s and 60s. Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister, had his second son James aged 55, while Sir Paul McCartney fathered his daughter Beatrice aged 61.

Women are born with all their eggs, but male sperm is constantly replicating. Each time sperm replicates there is a chance for a mutation in the DNA to occur. As men age, they are also exposed to numerous environmental toxins which have been shown to cause DNA mutations in sperm.

Molecular genetic studies have shown that the sperm of older men have far more mutations than those of younger men.

Dr Allan Pacey, fertility expert at the University of Sheffield, said men should have children as young as possible.

“This is the biggest and most comprehensive study of its kind and it really highlights that there is a time limit for dads on when they should have their children.

“Men don’t have the menopause, they don’t stop their ability to have children as they age, but what we do see is their partners struggle to get pregnant and have more miscarriages and they increase the risk of their children having a range of problems.

“I think the changes start to take place when a man gets to 40, you start to notice detectable differences in his offspring.

“My advice would be that if you are in a position to have your family early then do it, even if you want to wait a bit longer. Nature wants you to have children early.”

Dr D’Onofrio said the study could have important social and public policy implications and employers and the government should make it easier for men and women to have families earlier rather than having to set aside family life in their 20s and 30s for career goals.

More at the link

Study paints grim picture of worldwide risk of sexual assault for women

Globe & Mail, By Gayle MacDonald

A comprehensive new study has found that an estimated one in 14 women around is sexually assaulted by someone other than her partner – with real numbers likely higher, given that many victims fail to report the crimes out of shame or fear.

The research, published in the medical journal The Lancet, found that 7.2 per cent of women 15 years of age and older report being sexually assaulted by someone other than an intimate partner at least once in their lives. In Canada and the United States, that number jumps to 13 per cent. And nearly all countries – including Canada – aren’t doing enough to compile data on sexual violence by different predators.

More at the link

Nice try Republicans, but marriage isn’t the solution to poverty

If conservatives want to help the poor they should improve education, cut inequality, and ensure access to contraception.

The Guardian (Comment is free), By Jill Filipovic, January 30

It’s time for marriage promotion programs to die.

The first problem is that they don’t actually convince people to get married; nor do they get fathers to spend more time with their children, make children more emotionally secure, encourage parents to stay together or make families more financially stable. The second is that, contrary to right-wing narratives, marriage doesn’t fix poverty – yet those same conservatives demand that the federal government continue to funnel money into failed marriage promotion programs, and even encourage politicians to curb reproductive rights to force couples into marrying. It’s bad policy stacked on bad policy, with women and their children being made the primary victims.
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Wendy Davis: A strong, capable woman…who therefore must be destroyed

In an article that was published on Real Clear Politics Thursday morning, Ann Coulter claimed that Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is nothing more than “a gold-digger who found a sugar daddy” who took advantage of her ex-husband Jeff Davis to get her way in life. Essentially, in her article, Coulter frames Davis as someone who never had a tough time in her life and who has always taken advantage of others to get what she wanted.

G-MommyWhiteRacistBS-thumb-220x150It was only a matter of time before the White Conservative power structure in Texas figured out that Wendy Davis represents a legitimate threat to its hegemony. That time has clearly arrived, and the (not so very) understated but clearly coordinated attempts to smear Davis have begun. It’s easy to recognize, because the attacks are personal and rarely have anything to do with her policy positions. Whether it’s a truly cheap shot (Ann Coulter calling Davis a “gold digger”) or twisting her path from poverty to prosperity into something dark and evil, it appears the Right-wing intends to attack early, often, and below the belt.

Feeling as if you’ve seen this movie before?? It’s what the Right does when they fear they can’t win based on their ideas- if you can’t beat e’em, destroy ‘em.
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