What She Said!

The next time some guy asks you where all the female bloggers are,
tell him What She Said!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Ask the Pope to lift the ban on condom use!

Catholics for a Free Choice - Action Alerts

I got a request to share this information with you all, and I hope you'll take the time to sign the following letter at the link above:

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Apostolic Palace
Vatican City

Your Holiness:

Today, we are writing to you in solidarity with the approximately 40 million people living with HIV and AIDS and out of concern for the more than 15 million children who have been orphaned.

We know you share our concern and have supported the many Catholic health and social service agencies, who have treated those with HIV and AIDS. In so many ways, the Catholic community has been an international leader in providing compassionate, nondiscriminatory treatment to those living with HIV and AIDS, and we applaud those efforts.

We write to you today to express our support for your decision announced 23 April 2006 for senior theologians and scientists to prepare a document discussing the use of condoms as a means of preventing the transmission of HIV. But we urge you to move forward quickly to set new guidelines for the prevention of this disease that would enable all agencies that collaborate with the Catholic community to educate those at risk of the option of using condoms to prevent the transmission of HIV and AIDS and to actually provide condoms to those it serves whose conscience leads them to choose to use them.

For years, Vatican spokespersons and other church officials have made clear the church’s moral objections to condoms as a contraceptive. However, the extension of this position to HIV and AIDS prevention has resulted in dangerous practices that have contributed to the spread of HIV and AIDS. There have been public burnings of condoms, gross distortions of the statistics on the efficacy of condoms
as a preventive and disregard of the very real human toll of this pandemic by some whose ecclesiastical objections outweigh concern for the common good and the promotion of a culture of life.

Indeed, since you became pope on 19 April 2005, 5.5 million people have acquired the HIV virus. And 3.7 million people have died of AIDS-related causes.

As people of faith, both Catholic and not, we urge you to pay special attention to those bishops and health care workers who have witnessed the devastation firsthand and who have courageously spoken out in support of the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV as a stand for life:

We think their witness demonstrates that a culture of life requires support for a full array of prevention methods, including condoms.

We know that condoms are neither 100 percent effective nor a simple solution to a complex problem. They remain however the only hope for those who are sexually active, either voluntarily or in forced circumstances, such as women who do not have the right to say no to risky sex.

We believe the world community must offer compassionate quality care to those already infected with HIV/AIDS, as well as fully support integrated prevention programs that incorporate women’s empowerment, sexual education, condom counseling and distribution, monogamy and abstinence— without discrimination or stigmatization. We maintain that the most ethical approach to combating HIV and AIDS is a comprehensive and balanced approach that meets the varied needs of all people while upholding scientific and medical integrity. To that end, we believe in and support a comprehensive range of methods by which to stem the spread of this pandemic, such as:

o the ABC method that equally emphasizes abstinence, fidelity and condom use, and
o the SAVE approach that emphasizes safer practices, available medication, voluntary counseling and testing, and empowerment through education.

As concerned and compassionate people of faith, we are bound together by moral and ethical values that call on us to address the global AIDS crisis with compassion and respect for the dignity and conscience of each person. Most of the world’s religions have recognized that support for condom education and use freely chosen reflects those moral values. We call on you to bring the Catholic community into this
religious consensus and support condom use as an important part of the international strategy to save lives.

We thank you for your consideration.

At the end of the letter there's a place for you to tadd your own text as well.

The letter is not perfect, and I certainly would never address a man as "Father" let alone "his holiness" but I'm signing that letter because people are dying. People who don't have to die are dying when they could be saved by simple use of a condom.

One unnecessary death is one too many. In this case, deaths number in the millions. This pandemic is decimating an entire continent, Africa, and it reaches every corner of the Earth. It's not a "gay" disease - the largest number of infections currently occurs in women, many of whom believe that they are in a monogamous relationship. No woman should have to die for her husband's infidelity and their children shouldn't be orphaned for it. Children don't deserve to be orphaned in the millions when there is a simple, effective method of prevention available.

Please sign the letter, and send the link to all of you mailing lists. Lives depend upon it.



Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A Woman Was Lynched Today:

A Woman Was Lynched Today is a brilliant new blog that highlights the problem of hate crimes against women. 4 women are murdered every day just for being women. This Sister is asking for help, and I know we've got plenty of material to send in, so I'm asking all of you to go by when you hear of a hate crime against a woman and give her the name of the victims. We need to drill it into the mass consciousness of America that there's a form of Apartheid in this country based on gender. If any country anywhere treated a group determined by race or national origin with such hatred and violence people would march in the streets.

Call a bigot a bigot and a misogynist a misogynist - let's not let domestic terrorism against women be dismissed as a private family matter anymore. Demand that we be counted, and that our voices be heard.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Iran Stops Stoning Sentence for Ashraf Kolhari

Feminist Daily News Wire
August 16, 2006

After receiving a petition with signatures from over 100 Iranian women's rights activists and 4,000 concerned individuals, Iran Ayatollah Shahroudi has acted to stop the execution of Ashraf Kolhari, a mother of four who was sentenced to death by stoning for having sex outside of marriage. Kolhari’s sentence was protested by human rights and women’s rights organizations across the world, objecting to the cruel and unusual punishment to which she was condemned for having an affair. In response to Kolhari’s situation, over 5,300 Feminist Majority Foundation activists sent emails to Ayatollah Shahroudi and the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner to protest Kolhari’s execution and the practice of stoning.

In an open letter, Kolhari’s lawyer Shadi Sadr wrote, “It is a wonderful feeling to see people coming together to save the life of another human being. I should also say that it is a great pleasure for me, as her lawyer, to share my happiness with all of you who were with us and supported the effort to save her.”

Kolhari’s fate, however, is not completely clear yet, and the cruel practice of stoning in Iran is still legal. While the Ayatollah’s announcement is good news for women and human rights in Iran, Sadr adds that feminists and activists must remain vigilant: “I am asking you to please continue your efforts and keep your voices loud until we make sure that [Kolhari] is safe. Furthermore, we must demand a change in the law that makes stoning illegal as a ‘sentence’ for any crime.”

Nice to win one for a change.

Over 250 million children raped each year

The Swazi Observer

Let that number sink in for a minute.


Someone on one of my groups pointed out that there are 2 Billion children in the world so this would be roughly 10 per cent. Knowing the state of women and girls in most of the world, I'd say that number is really low. It also makes me sick, as does the fact that most of these children are victimized by someone in their own families, or people they know. Also:
  • corporal punishment such as caning and beating was still standard practice in schools in a number of countries, and often results in school drop-outs.
  • between 20 and 65 percent of school age children claim to have been verbally or physically bullied in a 30-day period.
  • 126 million children are involved in hazardous work, often enduring beatings, humiliation and sexual violence by employers
  • institutionalised children [whether in orphanages or detention facilities] are at a particular risk of violence from the staff responsible for their care including torture, beatings, isolation, restraints, rape and harassment.
  • violence in the family in the form of harsh punishment is common in both industrialised and developing countries.
  • Children in all regions have reported the physical and psychological hurt they suffer at the hands of their parents and care-givers.
  • over 500 000 children a year die from homicide
  • between one and two million treated for violence-related injuries

"The majority of violent acts against children are said to be perpetrated by people who are part of their lives such as parents, teachers, schoolmates, employers and care-givers. In only 16 States has all violence against children been prohibited, leaving the vast majority of the world’s child population without adequate legal protection from violence."

This United Nations report, prepared by Secretary General Kofi Annan’s independent expert, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, goes on to make recommendations that will address these problems, but it doesn't mention the real source of this barbarous behavior - patriarchy.


Matriarchal cultures don't view children or their mothers as property. That's a really important concept that we really need to get down under and comprehend its effects. We have to root it out of our psyches. Sexual abuse is not common in undisturbed indigenous cultures. James DeMeo has traced the source of sexual and physical violence against children to a region he calls Saharasia, beginning around 4000 b.c.e. It has spread through modern cultures as patriarchy moved throughout the world. Its origins lie in sexual and somatic repression coupled with violent treatment of infants and children. It's a remnant of a time when dominant cultures reacted to starvation with violence, greed, theft, slavery and genocide overrunning peaceful, agrarian matrifocal societies. Over the millenia, these abberant human behaviors have become institutionalized. We've been taught from infancy that these are natural tendencies that civilization must overcome. We've been taught to admire warriors, robber barons, slave traders - the Stanley Kowalski's and Gordon Gekko's of the world. There is nothing normal or human about this behavior.

Get that. It's not normal. Healthy humans don't wage war, rape, steal, kill one another for any reason. It isn't natural - it's sickness. Hurting each other is sickness. Taking more than you need, taking from one another that which is not freely given is sick. Humans are social, cooperative beings. We have the capacity for empathy - all mammals do. The natural instinct of the human animal is to protect babies. Even other species will protect babies from different animals - I've seen huge dogs lie quietly while kittens nap on their backs, and I've seen more than one pet dog or cat intervene when a parent attempted to "discipline" a child. The irony is that physical "discipline" does just the opposite - violence, aggression, and delinquent behavior in youngsters is a direct result of violent and oppressive treatment.

I know I'm repeating myself. I feel as if I'm shouting in the wind. What will it take to make us wake up to the fact that human beings are naturally peaceful and cooperative? What is going to bring us back to that natural instinct to protect children. To feed them if they're hungry, to soothe them if they're frightened, to allow them to grow strong and unbroken by anger or intimidation? To stop the multi-generational cycle of sexual abuse of children?

I know this - we are doing just the opposite right now. I don't know the answer, but I know it isn't to sit them in front of a flashing screen that overstimulates their synapses as they compete to see who can commit more murders. It isn't to let them watch movies where people are mutilated and tortured. We can't continue to inure them to the sight of blood and desensitize them to the suffering of others. One of the most disturbing things I've seen recently is a segment on 60 Minutes about teenaged boys who go out and beat homeless people to death for the fun of it. I can't get the picture of this young man, now incarcerated, responding to the question of why he did it. "I don't know" he said with a souless, unaffected tone "It was fun.. you know, exciting." He showed no emotion - no remorse for what he had done, no understanding that this man he and his friends had tortured and blugdeoned to death, stopping only to laugh at his cries for help, for no particular reason, was a human being that deserved respect or kindness. Killing to avenge is wrong; killing to steal abominable; killling for no reason is horrific. I bought a book recently called The Sociopath Next Door which states that 1 in 10 people has no conscience. Look around your office or classroom or even your dinner table - which one is it? One of those people could murder you for no real reason and be more upset about breaking a nail as they did it.

There's a meme going around Live Journal these days that begins with the following quote:

"Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands?" - Ernest Gaines

My question is Why is it, as a culture, we find it more necessary to spank a child than to hug it? Both questions have the same answer - patriarchal dominance and erotophobia.


More later. The frustration is making me sick. I'm in that endless loop between anger and ennui.

X-posted everywhere.