Rape Whistle 2.0

Rape whistle 2.0; uses smartphone to call for help. I wonder if it’ll turn out to be effective.


Female Voter Suppression

I probably shouldn’t have been as surprised by this as I was, especially in a state that has been one of the most active in recent months in anti-choice politics.

Starting this November, Texans must show a photo ID with their up-to-date legal name instead of IDs like a birth certificate. That’s not a problem for single or married men — but it leaves a third of Texas women scrambling in a state with just 81 DMVs in its 254 counties. 

(occupydemocrats.com via watchdog.net)

No Woman, No Drive

A friend sent me this great video about women driving in Saudi Arabia.

I wonder if we might expect other feminist memes/snowclones like this one?
No woman, no buy (financial independence, or shopaholic/profligacy stereotypes)
No woman, no eye (hijab covering eyes)
No woman, no thigh (fat shaming)
No woman, no pi (discouraging women from pursuing STEM careers)
No woman, no fly (women in Air Force or requests for sex-segregation on airline flights)
No woman, no pie (also fat shaming)
No woman, no bi (anti-bisexual, or also anti-lesbian)
No woman, no guy (virginity, virginity tests)

Most of these are a bit of a stretch, but I still think it’d be cool to see them.

Women to protest driving ban in Saudi Arabia tomorrow, October 26


Tomorrow, October 26, 2013, Saudi Arabian women are set to stage a massive protest against the ban on women driving. It is currently the only country in the world in which women are not allowed to drive.

FMI, follow Eman Al Nafjan, @Saudiwoman, and Madeha Al Ajroush, @madehaAlajrous on Twitter. Al Nafjan’s YouTube channel has lots of videos posted recently of women defying the ban. One of the videos even shows other cars giving the driver thumbs-ups as they pass by, beginning at about 40s.

Dr. Madeha Al Ajroush, who took part in the country’s first protest in 1990, posted a video of herself driving a couple of weeks ago.

A transcript of the English subtitles in the video reads:

It is now time for Saudi women to drive.
I’m ready.
My daughter is ready.
And also society is ready.
For how much longer can we live in an oppressive society that prevents us from our full rights.
I drove in 1990 to demand my right and now, twenty three years later, we still have not gotten our rights.
How much longer?

The website www.oct26driving.com has been widely reported to be a petition that gathered over 15,000 signatures before it was blocked by Saudi authorities.

NPR ran a story this morning in which Deborah Amos interviews Dr. Madeha Al Ajroush from Riyadh. Al Ajroush describes the feeling of the first protest as “exhilirating. It was great”. However, she has lost her job twice, after defying the ban in 1990 and again in 2011. The 47 women who took part in the 1990 protest were denounced by name in the newspaper, lost their jobs, and suffered a government travel ban. She was ordered to stop work as a photographer and officials confiscated and burned 15 years of photographs and documents, but the punishment wasn’t as bad as she feared, since she wasn’t jailed. In the story, Deborah Amos explains that there is no law against women driving, that it is an unofficial ban that is supported by conservative clerics. Al Ajroush describes what the ban is like for women:

It’s like a person being cut off–they’re legs are cut off and the wheelchair has been taken away from them and you are completely dependent on one gender.

Women have to be driven by male relatives or hired drivers, who are “part of an army of imported labor” in Saudi Arabia.

Every time I’m in the car with a stranger that hears all my phone conversation, that knows every single detail of my life. He knows what I like. He knows if I had a fight with my husband. He knows everything. It’s worse than the CIA in United States. [laughter] He knows everything about me.

Al Ajroush’s also describes how she will react when women finally get the right to drive:

I would be relieved and crying and the tears will be about the dedication and the years, and the losses, for such a simple thing–the right to drive.

Dr. Madeha Al Ajroush’s name sounds like “Madeeha Allagoosh” or “Madeeha Allagroosh”, and might be easily misspelled as Madiha, Medeeha, or Mediha and Allaghoush, Al Agoosh, Alla Goosh, Allagoush, etc.

The secret to a perfect marriage: just submit to your abusive husband

A star from the feminist reality TV show Real Housewives of New Jersey”, Melissa Gorga, has written a book about the secrets she’s learned to make her marriage work.

Tracie Egan Morrissey at Jezebel says it better than I ever could (especially since I haven’t read the book), but here’s my take on it. Her article’s title says that the New Book Advocates Marital Rape. I was expecting a run-of-the-mill account of rape culture through a single anecdote about how to please your man in bed. Instead we get an insiders view of an abusive relationship. As Morrissey put it:

The amount of sexism, gender essentialism, and caveman logic within its pages is so appalling that it’s difficult to believe that her book is anything but a cry for help.

It’s so bad in fact that her husband interjects his opinions throughout the book, including his rape advocacy/rationalization [emphasis mine]:

Men, I know you think your woman isn’t the type who wants to be taken. But trust me, she is. Every girl wants to get her hair pulled once in a while. If your wife says “no,” turn her around, and rip her clothes off. She wants to be dominated.

Women don’t realize how easy men are. Just give us what we want.

We are regaled with stories of how she uses sex to stave off his wrath and prevent him from cheating. How he as taught her and corrected her from the earliest days of her marriage exactly how he envisions her behaving. How he gets angry (justified as “he doesn’t feel respected”) if she’s not home and dinner’s not on the table when he arrives home from work. How they raise their boys with their own separate entrances to the house, but their daughter is going to be coddled and controlled until she’s safely married*. How he controls her dress and her weight. How she doesn’t even defecate if he’s in the house, lest he be reminded that women are human beings with bodily functions, too (one can only imagine the lengths she has to go to when she’s menstruating).

And of course there’s the sinister knife metaphor:

Joe always says, “You got to teach someone to walk straight on the knife. If you slip, you’re going to get cut.”

Top it all off with a healthy dose of domestic violence**:

If he gets one ounce of flack from me, he flips a switch and goes off.

…and you’ve got yourself the perfect marriage.

What has the world come to that books like this are sold as relationship advice?

* Married to her second boyfriend. Of course. Who else could it be? Not boyfriend number 3. You know what they say– 2’s company, 3’s a slut. And certainly not a woman, either. Can someone call social services for Antonia?

** It seems that in the book, her husband’s (physical) violence is limited to breaking things like highchairs, but that a friend has said in an interview that he has “smacked her on the face”.


Rape in Asia

IRIN describes a UN report today with the results of a survey in Asia on rape and GBV.* The study was also published in The Lancet. The survey interviewed 10,168 men in 6 countries from Jan. 2011-Dec. 2012: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea. The study found the country with the highest prevalence of men who have raped women was Papua New Guinea:

“with 62 percent of the men interviewed there indicating they had raped a woman.” (IRIN)

The study probably found higher rates of rape than previous surveys in part because it never used the word “rape” in the questionnaire, asking instead (about non-partner rape) about having “forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex” or having “had sex with a woman who was too drunk or drugged to indicate whether she wanted it”. Novel concept, that (that rapists might not think of the rapes they committed as rapes or that they’d show social desirability bias if the word “rape” were used).

It also found that:

“The most common motivation perpetrators gave for rape was a sense of sexual entitlement – the belief that men have a right to sex with women regardless of consent (73 percent of respondents). More than half said it was for entertainment (53 percent), while alcohol, often assumed to be a common trigger for violence, was the least common response.” (IRIN)

It’s interesting, though not surprising, that entitlement is the top motivation. Entitlement and entertainment. I just watched the first half of “Half the Sky” today and the focus seemed more on shaming rape victims and extending that shame to family members, who then turn on the victim. It’s just depressing how far there is to go, how difficult it is, and how easy it is to regress in encouraging cultural change that empowers women and teaches men to treat women as equals and not as objects they are entitled to use for their sexual gratification.

I wonder what the reasons could be for alcohol being the least common response. Would that be evidence in favor of or against the oft-cited adage that “alcohol doesn’t make you do anything you wouldn’t want to do when you were sober–it just gives you the ‘courage’ to actually do it (i.e. it disinhibits you)”? While I was in India this summer, I got into a bit of an argument with some friends about the statewide ban on alcohol instituted under Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. They seemed convinced that such a policy had all-but-eliminated domestic violence in the state. Needless to say, I am not convinced. I’m not even convinced that, individual liberties aside, the policy is actually a net benefit for the people of Gujarat. Alcohol deserves its bad reputation as possibly the first or second most harmful drug on earth, but I wonder if anti-alcohol-abuse campaigns that focus on DV aren’t obstacles to DV prevention in the long term.

*The IRIN site crashed and was giving 503 errors at the time of writing this article. The website for Partners For Prevention (who conducted the study) was down, too, according to NPR. Paranoid me wonders if it wasn’t sexist hackers angry about the study. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Take that, Sebelius!

A judge ruled today that Plan B can once again be purchased OTC for women of all ages (well, in 30 days it will be)! For now, they’re still behind the counter and only women 17 and over can buy them without a prescription.

My new favorite judge, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman, had a great quote in his ruling:

The invocation of the adverse effect of Plan B on 11- year-olds is an excuse to deprive the overwhelming majority of women of their right to obtain contraceptives without unjustified and burdensome restrictions.

And to think, Judge Korman was appointed by Reagan!

In response to the ruling, Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said,

“Today science has finally prevailed over politics.”

Planned Parenthood said the ruling was,

“good policy, good science and good sense”

It warms my heart to see social justice advocates invoke science in their victory speeches.

It was only a little over a year ago, Dec. 2011, that Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of Health & Human Services, made the unprecedented decision to nix the strong FDA recommendation to make Plan B available to all, because of “cognitive and behavioral” differences in girls of the youngest reproductive age.

The case: Tummino v. von Eschenbach, 05-cv-366, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn)