November 16, 2005

More State Legislators To See "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories"

A domestic violence group in a state that will go unnamed is going to host a program for state legislators. Part of that program includes an airing of "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories". This documentary is about abused children who speak out about abuse they have experienced from their fathers. Parental Alienation Syndrome, which is junk science, is introduced in some of these cases to remove abused children from their protective mothers. Legislators who view the documentary are going to be urged to support bills that protect abused children in family court.

I'm not going to name the state or give any contact information about the program because I don't want fathers' rights activists who are definitely reading this to descend en-masse to bash the documentary and the presentation. Suffice to say that more legislators are going to see this important documentary. Let fathers' rights activists drive themselves nuts trying to figure out where this program is going to be held.

Posted on November 16, 2005 at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 15, 2005

Working On Some Erotic Fiction

Update: I finished the story, and sent it out. When I get the story idea worked out in my head, it takes me no time at all to write it. I'm very happy with the final product. It's a very good story. If that story and the other one are accepted, I'll post about it.


I have been having a heck of a time with a short story I've been working on for about half a week, and I finally figured out why. The story idea was lame. I didn't like it, and I kept trying to change it. Turns out it was the story itself that was the problem. So, I shelved that one, and started a new one. This one is much better. It's light and funny, just the way I like it. It's also very sexy, something else I wanted. I hope to have it finished today or tomorrow, and I will send it out before the weekend. I've already sent another erotic story to the same magazine, and I like to send them in pairs. Hopefully I can get this one finished in time to send it before the weekend. The good thing is that this magazine pays well. It is great to get paid to do something I love.

I've finished baking chocolates and making soap for the time being. It's time to start writing again.

I'm excited that I've been invited to speak at a conference for abused mothers and children who have to deal with the legal system. That's in January. I haven't decided what I'm going to speak about yet. One of my friends lives near the conference site, and I've written to her to see about dropping by for a visit. This is going to be fun. I haven't seen her in about ten years. We write often, though. We just don't live near each other anymore. She has been my best friend since I was four years old. It would be great to see her and her family again. It looks like that will happen in January.

Posted on November 15, 2005 at 11:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 13, 2005

New Documents On My "Breaking The Silence" Web Site

I've just added three new pages to my "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories" web site. Fathers' rights activists, in particular Glenn Sacks and Wendy McElroy, have circulated outdated and inaccurate documentation by Scott Loeliger, Fatima Loeliger's father. Fatima Loeliger and her mother Sadiya Alilire spoke out in "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories". Scott Loeliger circulated his outdated documentation in retaliation for his ex-wife and daughter participating in the documentary. Fatima now lives with her mother. For more documentation about this case, go to my "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories" web site.

This documentary is about the children who have spoken out about abuse they have experienced in their abusive fathers' households. It also addresses how a favored weapon of fathers' rights activists - Parental Alienation Syndrome - is junk science that does not belong in a court room. Fathers' rights activists are very threatened by this documentary, and they have pulled out all the stops in their relentless efforts to attack it. My web site corrects the misrepresentations circulated by Glenn Sacks and other fathers' rights activists about the documentary and Sadiya Alilire and Fatima Loeliger.

These are the new pages:

Testimony Of Fatima Loeliger, Part I. She states having been in and out of court since she was very young. She's been in court for nearly fifteen years. She describes verbal and emotional abuse from her father and step-mother, and states she wants to live with her mother.

Testimony Of Fatima Loeliger, Part II. Shows that she was living in foster care per her fathers' wishes. She describes verbal and emotional abuse from her father and step-mother, and states she wants to live with her mother.

Fatima Loeliger's Second Response - To Documentation Circulated By Her Father, Which Appears On Glenn Sacks's Web Site. She addresses claims made about her and her mother on Glenn Sacks's web site. She says that she has never been abused by her mother, contrary to documentation posted on Sacks's site. Her mother is not a drug addict. She describes her father repeating calling Child Protective Services, claiming that her mother was abusing her. She also states that her father placed her in foster care when she stated she wanted to live with her mother. She ran away from her fathers' home. She described physical and emotional abuse in her fathers' household. She describes how her father tried to get people form the cult-like Rachel Foundation to talk to her when she stated she wanted to live with her mother. She states having been in and out of court since she was very young. She's been in court for nearly fifteen years. She describes verbal and emotional abuse from her father and step-mother, and states she wants to live with her mother. She lives with her mother now. She says she wants the custody battle to stop so she can live out her remaining couple of years like a normal teenager before she graduates from high school.

Posted on November 13, 2005 at 08:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 12, 2005

Deadline For The T-Shirt Slogans Contest

My hits are finally dying down some. I had an amazing amount of hits from MSGOP, Wonkette, and (of all things) Protein Wisdom. I'm grateful some top bloggers and the MSM decided to link to me. That was fun.

The deadline for my t-shirt slogans contest is Wednesday. I'll pick a winner on Thursday. Please keep an eye on my blog on Thursday to find out who the winner will be. Some people who wrote slogans didn't give an e-mail address, so if the winner is one of those persons you'll have to e-mail me.

The winner will get two of my X-rated chocolates, made with good chocolate. The winner will get a dick-on-a-stick (dick-sicle) and a torso of a busty women (tit-sicle). My chocolates are also available for sale for anyone who is interested. I don't have a web site yet. I'm working on that. If you are interested in buying my X-rated chocolates, just e-mail me. I'm also getting some new molds in the next couple of weeks, so there will be more to choose from. Some of the molds are people in ... er... various sexual positions. Heh. They're really cute and funny.

Keep an eye on my blog on Thursday. The winner will be announced. In the meantime, post lots of t-shirt slogans in my comments. The more, the better.

Posted on November 12, 2005 at 10:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 11, 2005

Scientific And Professional Rejections Of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)


Compiled by Professor Joan S. Meier, Esq., November 9, 2005

"Although there are no data to support the phenomenon called parental alienation syndrome, in which mothers are blamed for interfering with their children's attachment to their fathers, the term is still used by some evaluators and courts to discount children's fears in hostile and psychologically abusive situations."
- APA Task Force Rpt, 40

"Family courts often do not consider the history of violence between the parents in making custody and visitation decisions. . . . Psychological evaluators not trained in domestic violence may contribute to this process by ignoring or minimizing the violence and by giving inappropriate pathological labels to women's responses to chronic victimization. Terms such as "parental alienation" may be used to blame the women for the children's reasonable fear of or anger toward their violent father"
- APA Task Force Report, p. 100

"PAS as a scientific theory has been excoriated by legitimate researchers across the nation. Judged solely on his merits, Dr. Gardner should be a rather pathetic footnote or an example of poor scientific standards."
- Dr. Paul J. Fink, past President of the American Psychiatric Association

Gardner's Sexual Abuse Legitimacy Scale ("SALS"), which PAS draws heavily upon, is "[p]robably the most unscientific piece of garbage I've seen in the field in all my time. To base social policy on something as flimsy as this is exceedingly dangerous"
- Professor Jon Conte, a leading expert on child sexual abuse

The American Psychiatric Association has refused to include PAS in the DSM – the diagnostic directory for psychiatric disorders - despite concerted campaigns by Gardner and his followers to have it included, presumably because it is not an actual proven syndrome.
- National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse

"Richard Gardner's theory positing the existence of ‘parental alienation syndrome' or "PAS" has been discredited by the scientific community."
- NCJFCJ Custody Evaluation Guidelines, p. 19

"Although PAS may be hailed as a "syndrome" . . . in fact it is the product of anecdotal evidence gathered from Dr. Gardner's own practice. . . PAS is based primarily upon two notions, neither of which has a foundation in empirical research.
- National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse/American Prosecutors
Research Institute/National District Attorneys Association

"PAS is not recognized by any professional associations, including the American Psychiatric Association."
- Id.

"PAS is an unproven theory that can threaten the integrity of the criminal justice system and the safety of abused children."
- Id.

Posted on November 11, 2005 at 12:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack

The Truth About Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)


Statement by Professor Joan S. Meier, Esq. (November 9, 2005)

Father's rights commentator Glenn Sacks and others are touting the American Psychological Association's (APA's) recent statement that they have not taken any "official position" on parental alienation syndrome (PAS), and are claiming that the APA has stated that Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories, and Professor Joan Meier, a Professor of Clinical Law at George Washington University Law School, are "incorrect" in stating that the APA has "discredited" and "thoroughly debunked" (respectively) PAS.

In fact, the only official APA statement that has been released on this subject is the following:

The American Psychological Association (APA) believes that all mental health practitioners as well as law enforcement officials and the courts must take any reports of domestic violence in divorce and child custody cases seriously. An APA 1996 Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family noted the lack of data to support so-called "parental alienation syndrome," and raised concern about the term's use. However, we have no official position on the purported syndrome.

APA Office of Public Affairs, October 28, 2005, available at

Far from supporting Sacks' claims, the APA's statement is consistent with the film's criticism of the mis-use of PAS in custody litigation.

Moreover, the following should also be noted:

APA does not adopt "official positions" on matters such as this. Leading members of the APA have noted that the APA Board and Council never take an "official position" on a diagnosis. PAS is considered a diagnosis and therefore would never be the subject of an official vote of that sort. The APA's statement that it takes no "official position" on PAS means nothing more than that it takes no official position on any diagnosis.

APA's authoritative Report on Violence in the Family pointedly criticizes the misuse of PAS in domestic violence cases and unequivocally finds that there is no scientific evidence of such a "syndrome." In 1996 a leading task force of the APA published a widely disseminated and relied-upon report: Titled "Violence and the Family," written by the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, and published by the American Psychological Association, it is based on a comprehensive review of the literature and research on violence in the family.

The Report states, among other things:

"When children reject their abusive fathers, it is common for the batterer and others to blame the mother for alienating the children. They often do not understand the legitimate fears of the child. Although there are no data to support the phenomenon called parental alienation syndrome, in which mothers are blamed for interfering with their children's attachment to their fathers, the term is still used by some evaluators and courts to discount children's fears in hostile and psychologically abusive situations."
(page 40)

The Report further states:

"Family courts often do not consider the history of violence between the parents in making custody and visitation decisions. In this context, the nonviolent parent may be at a disadvantage . . . Psychological evaluators not trained in domestic violence may contribute to this process by ignoring or minimizing the violence and by giving inappropriate pathological labels to women's responses to chronic victimization. Terms such as "parental alienation" may be used to blame the women for the children's reasonable fear of or anger toward their violent father." (page 100)

The Task Force Report, like other APA Reports, is correctly viewed as a statement of "the APA."The copyright statement for the Report states "[t]his material may be reproduced in whole or in part without fees or permission, provided that acknowledgment is made to the American Psychological Association."

The Task Force Report was produced by the leading experts in the APA under the auspices of the APA. This authoritative Report is routinely cited for these propositions (and many others) throughout the fields of law, social sciences, and others, as a statement of the American Psychological Association. The Task Force Report will undoubtedly continue to be cited and relied upon by thousands of researchers for the many informative and objective analyses of family violence it contains. This Report is the sole authoritative statement on this subject issued by the APA.

The APA has also discussed the mis-use of PAS in domestic violence cases in a more recent "APA Online" document. "Issues and Dilemmas in Family Violence,", in Issue 5, contains a substantial discussion that is relevant in its entirety to this issue, but is too long to reproduce here. Suffice it to say that it includes the following:

"Family courts frequently minimize the harmful impact of children's witnessing violence between their parents and sometimes are reluctant to believe mothers. If the court ignores the history of violence as the context for the mother's behavior in a custody evaluation, she may appear hostile, uncooperative, or mentally unstable. . . Psychological evaluators who minimize the importance of violence against the mother, or pathologize her responses to it, may accuse her of alienating the children from the father and may recommend giving the father custody in spite of his history of violence."

This document too speaks for the APA. The Introduction to this document makes clear that it too, reflects a position of the APA: "Psychology provides a unique perspective for understanding and stopping family abuse and violence, and the APA joins a host of other professional groups expressing grave concerns about the magnitude and the effects of family violence."

The use of the word "syndrome" and the reliance on expert witnesses to present this evidence in court makes clear that PAS is propounded and applied as a scientific concept. Both the scientific basis and the validity of its use in cases concerning abuse have been "thoroughly debunked" by both the APA and numerous other expert sources. See attached Authorities Providing Scientific Critiques of PAS.

The statement in the film, that the majority of litigated custody cases involve a history of domestic violence, is based on numerous empirical studies. Of course statistics do not tell us what is true in any particular case. See attached Authorities Addressing history of violence in contested custody litigation.

Posted on November 11, 2005 at 12:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Update On "Breaking The Silence" - Attacks On Sadiya Alilire And Fatima Loeliger

Fathers' rights activists have increased their attacks on the documentary "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories". They, in particular Glenn Sacks, have lately taken to attacking a woman and child who spoke in the documentary, Sadiya Alilire and her teenaged daughter, Fatima Loeliger. Fatima currently lives with her mother, and she wants to stay there. Sacks has been circulating old documentation provided to him by Fatima's father, Scott Loeliger. Below are newer and better documents that give the full story. Contrary to fathers' rights claims, Sadiya Alilire is not a child abuser. Fatima also wishes to live with her mother.

Sadiya Alilire's statement in light of fathers' rights and her ex-husband's attacks against her is here.

Fatima Loeliger's statement is here.

This documentation is also available on my web site, on my "Breaking The Silence" pages.

Documentation Showing Sadiya Alilire Is Not A Child Abuser
And That Fatima Has Had Serious Problems While Under Her Fathers' Care

Statement From Fatima's Soccer Coach, Dated July 7, 2004 The coach describes aggressive and intimidating behavior by Scott Loeliger.

Report By Rick Gore, DA Investigator, Child Abduction Unit. Dated 2004. Indicates that Fatima has run away from her father, and that Fatima had been living with Sadiya since 2003. Fatima was doing well, getting straight A's. Scott Loeliger wanted Fatima removed from her mother's care and placed in foster care. Gore did not see a reason to do that, since Fatima was thriving. Scott Loeliger insisted despite this that Fatima be put in foster care, claiming that Sadiya was not a good parent, despite no evidence to prove any such thing. Gore wrote that "I told him he allowed his daughter to get established, make friends, and develop relationships and to abruptly remove her from this does not appear reasonable. I kept wanting to know of a specific allegation on why now, did he want the [custody] order enforced. Again, he never explained his reasoning." Gore noted that Scott Loeliger "appeared more interested in winning rather than what was best for his child." Included are Fatima's own statements regarding how she wants to live with her mother. Gore saw no reason to remove Fatima from her mother's care.

Second Report By Rick Gore, Dated 2004. Gore describes "condescending, accusatory", "unreasonable", "badgering", and demanding behavior by Scott Loeliger. When Scott Loeliger did not see his demands met, he demanded to meet with Gore's supervisor.

Testimony Of Steven Prinz, one of Fatima's teachers. Prinz indicates that Fatima is a very good student - above average academically. He also stated she had lots of friends and was in leadership positions at school. He described Fatima saying she wanted to run away from her fathers' home. She described what Prinz referred to as "verbal and emotional abuse" - that her father and stepmother were "calling her names and demoralizing her".

Court-Ordered Psychological Evaluation By Dr. Karen J. Quinn, Dated 1994. Dr. Quinn describes Scott Loeliger's desire to relocate to Hawaii (which Dr. Quinn recommended be denied), Scott Loeliger's bigamy (he was married to another woman when he married Sadiya.), Sadiya's difficulty adjusting to America and the acrimonous court battles, the endless court records filed by mostly by Scott Loeliger, normal maladaptive behavior on Sadiya's part that anyone subjected to long and intense custody battles would exhibit, Sadiya's bond with Fatima being stronger than Scotts, Scott Loeliger's obsessive fixation with Sadiya's whereabouts (he harassed babysitters to find out where Sadiya was and he followed her through the hospital where she worked. Security guards had to escort her to her car.), Scott Loeliger takes no responsibility for problems between he and Sadiya, Scott Loeliger's "passive-aggressive and paranoid tendencies", and other controlling and manipulative behavior designed to push Sadiya's buttons. Dr. Quinn notes the importance of Fatima identifying with her African cultural descent, and that she is stressed by the post-divorce conflict. Dr. Quinn also recommended that Fatima have more time with her mother, and that the current custody order should be reversed.

Testimony By Randi Gottlieb Robinson, Dated Sometime After 1998. Robinson was a personal friend of Scott Loeliger whom he had enlisted to act as Fatima's therapist. Robinson never spoke to Sadiya Alilire. She got all her information from Scott Loeliger, who paid for the evaluation. She has been on vacation and various social outings with Scott Loeliger, including (according to Sadiya) including sharing family backyard barbecues and sharing cabins together while on vacation. Goes to bias. Most importantly, Robinson noted that Fatima Loeliger had recanted the abuse allegations Robinson had attributed to her.

Sadiya's Complaint Against Randi Gottleib Robinson, Dated November, 2004. Includes statements that Robinson is biased because she had a close personal relationship with Scott Loeliger, including family barbeques, vacationing together, and sharing cabings together. Sadiya also notes that she was told that Scott Loeliger and Randi Gottlieb Robinson were carrying on an extramarital affair.

CPS Letter Of Complaint From Sadiya Alilire. Sadiya Alilire wants to see her visitation resumed, since Fatima had expressed her wish to see her mother. Sadiya Aliilre claimed that CPS supervisor Michael Coffron "confronted Fatima in his office, calling her "manipulative" and other such detrogatory terms, bringing her to tears."

Posted on November 11, 2005 at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

New Web Site On "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories"

Due to the relentless attacks by fathers' rights activists against the documentary "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories", I have created some new pages on my web site. I have also created the new pages in light of recent attacks by fathers' rights activists, in particular Glenn Sacks, against mother and daughter Sadiya Alilire and Fatima Loeliger. Alilire has been called a "child abuser". Loeliger's own statements describing abuse by her father and stepmother, saying she wants to live with her mother, and that she wants the custody case to stop is referred to on Sack's site as "The Opposition". A teenaged girl's own statements about abuse from her father and her wish to live with her mother is "The Opposition"? As I said in an earlier post, that's one hell of a Freudian sliip.

Here are the pertinent links:

"Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories"
Abused Mothers And Children Speak - Fathers' Rights Activists Attack

Statement Of Sadiya Aliilire

Statement of Fatima Loeliger

I will post links to Acrobat files detailing Ms. Alilire's claims shortly.

Posted on November 11, 2005 at 09:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack

November 09, 2005

Statements of Sadiya Alilire and Fatima Loeliger

Sadiya Alilire and Fatima Loeliger are mother and daughter. Both have told their stories in the documentary "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories". Sadiya in particular has been under a relentless attack by fathers' rights activists who have called her a child abuser. In particular, Glenn Sacks and Wendy McElroy have engaged in these attacks. They are relying solely on old documentation provided by Fatima's father, Scott Loeliger. What fathers' rights activists are doing is continuing the abuse Sadiya and Fatima have experienced coming from Scott. Scott has found some enablers who are helping him do his dirty work.

Due to ugly attacks by fathers' rights activists against Sadiya and Fatima, Sadiya has taken it upon herself to provide details behind the abuse she and Fatima had experienced at Scott's hands. Below is her statement. I have reposted Fatima's statement below her mothers' so that my readers may have it handy.

Fathers' rights relentless attacks against "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories" mirror the relentless attacks abused women and children go through all the time. It's very eye-opening to see how low fathers' rights activists will stoop to smear abused mothers and children.

Statement of Sadiya Alilire



My name is Sadiya Alilire. I was formerly known as Sadia Ali-Loeliger. I am a very grateful woman, because I currently have my three children living with me and my husband in our home. My children are all great, happy, helpful and well-behaved kids. They are all healthy, and the two who are in school are both straight-A students. I am especially grateful that my oldest daughter Fatima, who is 16-years old, is safely living in my home. Throughout each of her 16 years, Fatima has been the primary victim of a vicious and unrelenting custody fight carried on against me by her father, Scott Loeliger. Despite that, Fatima is an exceptional child with a bright future (click here to read Practicing Medicine recent newspaper article about Fatima)

During the 16 years of custody fighting, Scott has accused me of unimaginable things. Every move he makes is calculated and planned, and always designed to better position him in his court arguments and emotionally, financially, and psychologically batter me and my loved ones or anyone who attempts to aid me. No aspect of mine or Fatima’s life is left untouched and unchallenged by Mr. Loeliger’s vicious custody fight. If Fatima gives him a birthday or holiday card or present, he saves it as a court exhibit to “prove” how much she loves him. If she doesn’t give him a card or present, it becomes “proof” of how I have destroyed their relationship and how she doesn’t “LOVE” him. I currently have sole legal and physical custody of Fatima, and Mr. Loeliger is allowed to see her only in a supervised visitation setting. Those restrictions were placed upon Mr. Loeliger because of the hostility, harassment, and constant arguing that he has instigated in his relationship with Fatima, and because of his repeated attempts to harass, lobby and involve anyone in Fatima’s life into the custody fight (teachers, school officials, soccer coaches, neighbors, and friends).

Throughout the 16 years of custody fighting, it became a regular pattern of Scott’s to falsely accuse me of “abuse”. He has repeatedly taken Fatima to Child Protective Services agencies in every county where she has lived, repeating the same allegations over and over again. Curiously, in the midst of all of his abuse allegations, on two separate occasions Scott has voluntarily given me custody of Fatima when it has been convenient for him[1]. When it is no longer convenient for him, he then turns around and drags me back into court, again reiterating his abuse allegations and insisting that he be given sole custody and that I be removed completely from Fatima’s life.

Scott is a highly skilled and unbelievably determined litigator. His latest salvo, undertaken through the website of Glenn Sacks, is merely a repeat of the countless and unrelenting allegations he has raised against me during each of Fatima’s 16 years. I have never abused Fatima or any of my children, or any other child. Scott knows this in his heart, but he never stops trying to label me as an “abuser”. He uses the term “abuse” because he knows it is an alarming term that will get attention. He has admitted that he uses this because he knows it is inflammatory and alarming. He does this in an attempt to deflect attention from his own actions, where he has effectively destroyed the relationship between he and Fatima due to his obsession with fighting over custody and his attempts to punish me for divorcing him. There have never been any criminal allegations or findings of abuse against me. Scott routinely exaggerates the custody case history and series of events and circumstances. He continues to take me to court on a monthly and sometimes weekly basis. Detailed below are my specific refutations of the claims that Scott and Glenn Sacks are now making against me, as retaliation for Fatima’s and my participation in the PBS documentary Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories.

Fatima and I are counting the days till her 18th birthday, which appears to be the only event that will cause her father to relinquish his unrelenting campaign against me. In the meantime, I continue to enjoy my children and my family and friends, and pray that they maintain good health and fortune. I also pray that the Yolo County Family Courts continue to focus on Fatima’s best interest, and I am confident they will. I wish my ex-husband, Scott Loeliger, well, despite all that has happened. I also hope that someday he is able to find peace in his heart and that he is able to once again enjoy a healthy relationship with our wonderful daughter Fatima.


I am writing this statement in response to the most recent publicity campaign instigated against me and my daughter by my ex-husband Scott Loeliger. For 16 years, Mr. Loeliger has engaged in an incredibly hostile and vicious campaign against me, usually carried forth through the California family court system. His unrelenting campaign has always been designed to punish me for divorcing him. During this time, he has accused me of unimaginable things, including being abusive to our daughter. He has never gotten over the divorce, and he has told me “I have made you, and I will unmake you.” Scott has always been a very manipulative and passive aggressive person, and he is very effective at pushing buttons to make people angry, and then turning around and immediately presenting himself as being “reasonable and misunderstood” (click here to read Quinn Report, Psychological Evaluation Report of Dr. Quinn). During our marriage, he often bragged about how well those skills served him in getting him what he wants.

Our 16-year old daughter has been the primary victim of her father’s campaign, as she has never been allowed to have a normal life. She has recently begun to speak out about this, as she is angered that her father continues to harass us and that he never stops dragging me and her to court (this is a child he didn’t even want when I first became pregnant). Fatima and I have a beautiful and loving relationship, and her father cannot accept that. He appears incapable of understanding that Fatima can love both parents at the same time. He becomes easily threatened if she shows affection or a desire to be with me, and then becomes hostile toward her and immediately challenges her about their relationship.

Fatima is a strong, intelligent, beautiful young woman, who needs to be left alone to live her remaining adolescent and adult life. She is an honors student with a 4.2 grade point average, and is excited about finishing high school and preparing for college life. Her sole wish right now is to have the custody fighting stop. In fact, that has been one of her primary wishes for a long time now.

My relationship with Scott was doomed from the beginning, because it rested on a foundation of lies he told to me. We met in my home country Somalia, dated, and formed a relationship. I was 18 years old at the time, and Scott was 28. After forsaking my parent’s wishes and marrying Scott, a man outside of my religion, race and culture. This marriage divided my family, as my mother strongly disapproved. My father gave his permission only after Scott promised him he would take care of me, and after he converted to Islam. I took a tremendous risk in marrying Scott, which except for having Fatima was a huge mistake. Shortly after relocating to the U.S., I found out that Scott was already married to a woman in this country. He had never told me about this; instead I found out when I learned that he had brought me to the U.S. on a student VISA, rather than as his wife (he filled out the paperwork at INS). Scott never apologized for being a liar and a polygamist, but I was foolish enough to stay with him when he promised to divorce his previous wife and to remarry me in this country. At the time, Scott told me that his then ex-wife was “crazy”, “abusive”, “dangerous”, “volatile” and “violent”, and that I should stay away from her. Little did I know at the time that he would soon be using the exact same language against me. His then ex-wife was also from Africa, as Scott loves to prey on people who place naïve trust in him. We had a tumultuous marriage after that, in which Scott continually argued and started fights, and he was very verbally and emotionally abusive. Our marriage ended shortly after our daughter was born.

The Custody Fight

In the 16 years since our marriage ended, Scott has never stopped taking me to court over custody matters. By my estimate, he has taken me to court over 150 times, forcing me to incur legal fees in excess of $300,000. This has never stopped, as there is a yet another court hearing scheduled. The animosity he exhibits and allegations he raises are just as nasty and fabricated today as they were 16 years ago. Scott has taken Fatima to Child Protective Services (CPS) in each of the four counties where she has lived prior to coming to live with me permanently three years ago. He has raised all sorts of abuse allegations against me, all of which are completely false, and refuted by Fatima’s own testimony. His allegations were also refuted by numerous family friends, school officials, investigators and others who had insight into our family life. Nevertheless, Scott has constantly badgered Fatima to try and get her to go along with his allegations. He did this to her even when she was a very young child, when he would “question” her about me and tape record her answers (sometimes when she was naked in the bathtub). Every professional involved in this case, and there have been many, has told Scott that the unrelenting custody fight is the single worst thing for our daughter (click here to read Clark Letter letter from Helen Clark, Fatima’s long-time therapist). Fatima herself has begged him to stop fighting and to let her have a normal childhood where she could be involved with both parents. He has never taken that advice and continues to instigate nonstop litigation. Just in the last year, he has taken me to court over 12 times. While I have always insisted that Fatima maintain a relationship with her father, and believe it important for her to be involved with both parents, Scott has at every turn attempted to have me excluded from Fatima’s life. She has developed a deep resentment of him because of this, and because of other things he has done to her.

The “Abuse” Allegations

Scott’s many and obsessive abuse allegations were always dismissed as groundless by the CPS agencies in numerous counties. I completely deny ever physically abusing Fatima or my two other children, or any other child. There have been no criminal allegations or findings against me. Scott and I both had findings of emotional abuse entered against us, due to the acrimony of the custody fight and the effect it was having on Fatima. Contrary to Mr. Sacks’s assertion, there have never been any findings whatsoever that I abused my other children. Those statements are complete fabrications.

In 1997 and 1998, I was a single mom working over 50 hours a week as a Rehabilitation Director for Locomotion Therapy. I was a highly respected member of the Porterville Community, and was nominated by the mayor to join the Porterville Leadership Program and was a member of the Porterville Soroptimists. I was making more money than Scott at the time. While this was going on, Scott was dragging me into court every week. Each time he would pick up Fatima for a visit, he would then call 911 and make false reports to the police claiming that my other children were “in danger” and “being abused”. The police and CPS were constantly showing up at my house due to Scott’s manipulative and malicious behavior, and it got the point where it became a joke between me and the Porterville police. Of course, it distressed my children greatly, but Scott refused to stop his behavior. In fact, it became a regular routine to have the police present every time Fatima was exchanged, because Scott insisted that they be present each time as a way to harass and embarrass me.

In 1997 and 1998, my niece was living with us and attending high school. My niece was a difficult teenager, and she regularly skipped school without my knowledge. When the school would call or write about her absence, she would answer the phone and pretend to be me, or take the letters written by the school and discard them before I saw them in the mail. I eventually found out about my niece’s behavior, and was planning to send her back to live with her father in Africa. When she found out my plans, my niece then started to make false allegations about me claiming that I had pulled a necklace on her. She pretended to write a letter to her father complaining about me. That letter is posted on Mr. Sack’s website. My niece never intended to send that letter to her father, and in fact she left it in the house where I would see it as she was trying to coerce me into not sending her back to Africa. It was one of many attention-seeking behaviors engaged in by my niece. While my niece later admitted what she had done and retracted her allegations against me, Mr. Loeliger came to possess a copy of the letter she had written. He was given this letter by an ex-babysitter of mine who I had fired because she was stealing expensive family heirloom jewelry from my home. I initiated and won a small claims action against her for that theft (click here to read Judgment). It is this babysitter, Doris Nava Arellano, who then later wrote a letter and declaration full of lies, claiming that I was abusive toward Fatima and my niece. It was later discovered that Scott had driven my fired, ex-babysitter 8 hours each way to his home in Red Bluff, where she had spent the weekend with him writing the letter making those false claims, and the declaration posted on Mr. Sack’s website. The letter and declaration were purposely and clearly patterned to repeat and significantly embellish the earlier false claims that my niece had made, which she had since admitted were lies. I also learned that Scott had paid my fired, ex-babysitter for helping him. Before any court proceedings occurred where I could challenge her claims, the babysitter disappeared and I was never able to find her (she had also lied to me about her immigration status, and I was told she returned to Mexico). She never appeared in court and never formally testified, yet Mr. Sacks and Mr. Loeliger falsely represent that she did. I was never given an opportunity to challenge or cross examine Ms. Arellano.

After he obtained these false claims from my fired ex-babysitter, Scott then violated existing court orders and took Fatima to a personal therapist friend of his in Tehama County, Randi Gottlieb-Robinson. The two of them are close friends. Ms. Gottlieb-Robinson subsequently became the Director of CPS in Tehama County. It is her “report” that is listed on the Glenn Sacks website, claiming that Fatima substantiated her father’s allegations against me. She wrote that report without ever contacting or talking with me, even though I was the custodial parent. At the time, Mr. Loeliger worked with Ms. Gottlieb-Robinson’s husband (now ex-husband). Scott and Ms. Gottlieb Robinson have both admitted in sworn testimony that they have attended numerous social and friendship functions together, including sharing family backyard barbecues and sharing cabins together while on vacation (click here to read Gottlieb Testimony testimony of Gottlieb-Robinson, and here to read Gottlieb Complaint complaint filed against her). I have also received unsubstantiated reports that the two of them had an extramarital affair. She is the unnamed “Shasta County” therapist cited on Mr. Sacks’s website. She continues to be the head of CPS in Tehama County, and in fact in that role awarded Scott another child through adoption. That child was taken from a young, single black mother by Ms. Gottlieb-Robinson’s agency under her direction, and then awarded to Scott and his current 60-year old wife (Christina Loeliger who is 10 years older than Scott) through adoption by Judge King in Tehama County (the same judge later sitting on my family court case in that county).

Armed with his “new evidence”, Scott again returned to CPS, and to court, this time in Tehama County, reiterating his claims against me, even though all of the incidents he cited were false and had already been dismissed by Tulare County CPS and the Tulare County Court. Investigations were opened again and the case went back and forth in both Tehama and Tulare Counties for many months. During that time, my niece was fighting for me, accurately denying that there had been any abuse of any sort in our home, either to her or to Fatima. Our daughter Fatima also denied all of the allegations. Still, the investigation continued due to Scott’s insistence and harassment. I regained custody of Fatima twice during this period. Nevertheless, after a huge trial, where 30 people from my community tried to testify on my behalf and were denied, Fatima was ultimately taken away from me and given to Scott. I was crushed. I was denied any communication with Fatima for over 3 years, based on the court’s findings. What were the court’s “abuse” findings? The court found that I “threw a shoe at Fatima” and that I “spanked her with a plastic coat hanger”. There were no findings about my other child, contrary to the misrepresentation posted on Mr. Sacks’s website. In fact, my other daughter who was 2 years old at the time, remained in my home throughout the “investigation” and throughout the time Fatima was taken away from me. The court made its findings despite the fact that both Fatima and I denied, and continue to deny that it actually happened. It did not happen, but Fatima and I have nevertheless moved on. Scott has not, and it is clear that he never will.

The Last Four Years

Beginning in 2001, I was reunified with Fatima and we immediately reconnected with the strong mother/daughter bond we have always had. After a short time, Fatima began to express her desire to live with me instead of her father. Scott could not handle that, and began to attack both me and Fatima. Predictably, we ended up in court again when Scott refused to allow me to even have visitation with Fatima. In court proceedings, Fatima told Judge King that she did not want to live with her father, that he is emotionally and verbally abusive toward her (telling her she is “worthless”, “evil”, “vile”, and numerous other unimaginable names). She also told the judge that Scott had physically struck his current wife, and that her adopted brother was repeatedly physically and verbally abused by both Scott and his wife Christina Loeliger. This testimony was further substantiated by one of Fatima’s teachers (click here to read Teacher testimony testimony of Fatima’s teacher), who testified that Fatima had confided in him what was happening in her father’s home, and he was so disturbed by it that he filed a report with the Tehama County CPS.

As court events unfolded, Fatima ran away from school and told the police that she could no longer live with her father. She pleaded to be allowed to live with me. As a result, Scott placed her “voluntarily” into foster care, under the control of Tehama County CPS, where Ms. Gottlieb-Robinson was and continues to be the Director. Fatima spent the next 6 months in foster care, and was forced to attend 3 different schools during her 8th grade year. During the same month that he placed Fatima in foster care, Scott accepted a new job in Martinez, CA, and made plans to relocate to a new community 200 miles away. Despite her clear testimony and preference to live with me, Tehama County CPS and Judge King did nothing for Fatima. In fact, she was scolded and harassed by Tehama County CPS workers Michael Coffron and Jennifer Mitchell, and told directly to lie to me about visits she was having with her father. (click here to read CPS Complaint letter of complaint written to Tehama County CPS). Even Judge King scolded Fatima rather than helping her, stating that he “would not allow a child to extort an order out of his court.” In the end, Scott was allowed to retain custody of Fatima and I was granted regular visitation.

Scott proceeded to move to Martinez. Fatima refused to live with Scott, and stated she would rather stay in foster care than live with her father. She stayed in foster care for another 4 months after Judge King’s order. At that time, Scott finally gave in when Fatima told him she would only agree to leave foster care and live with him, if she could then be allowed to live with me beginning the following August when school began. Scott agreed, and Fatima went to live with him in Martinez from April to June, 2002. She then split the summer spending half of the time with each of us, and moved to my home permanently in August, 2002. At that time, she began attending Junior High School in Davis. Fatima has been living with me ever since. Scott effectively granted me primary physical custody of Fatima at that point.[2] For the first several months after Fatima first moved here, everything worked fine and she visited Scott every other weekend. However, Scott then started to harass her during each weekend visit, constantly challenging her about their relationship, and why she was not “closer” to him. He also began to harass officials at Fatima’s school, and others such as her soccer coaches, family friends, etc (click here to read Soccer Coach Letter letter from Fatima’s soccer coach). He began talking to anyone who would listen about “the custody case”. Fatima was very upset by this, as she had been hoping for a fresh start in Davis after having spent 6 months in foster care the previous school year.

In subsequent months, Fatima reported that visits with her father became increasingly uncomfortable, because he was constantly coming into her room demanding that they “talk”, and claiming that she was not being respectful enough to him and his wife, and again challenging her about why she has a better relationship with me than with him. Fatima is a strong-minded young woman, so she and her father often ended up in confrontation and argument. Fatima’s weekend visits with her father proceeded this way, until the President’s Day weekend in February, 2003.

On February 13, Fatima went for her regular weekend visit with Scott. When we dropped her at the train station, we noticed that someone appeared to be taking photographs of us, but didn’t get too alarmed. When Fatima got to her dad’s house, he was there alone and his wife and adopted son were gone for the weekend.

The next morning (Saturday, Feb 14th), Fatima got up and there were two people she didn’t know in the house who introduced themselves as being from the Rachel Foundation. They indicated they wanted to talk to her. Scott apparently told her a little bit about why they were there. Fatima declined to speak with them and retreated to her bedroom for most of the day. They kept coming by knocking on her door and trying to draw her out but she declined. They left around 6 pm and then came back early the next morning.

The same scenario repeated the next day (Sunday, Feb. 15, 2004). Again Fatima politely declined to talk to the Rachel Foundation people. In the late afternoon, Fatima began to pack her bags in normal preparation of returning to Davis on the train. At that point, Scott came into her room and told her that she was “never going back” to her mother’s home, because she treated him “shitty” and the whole thing was “shitty” and that the “experiment” of living with her mom was over. He refused to let her leave and pushed her with the door when she told him to get out of her room. Fatima became very upset, and apparently broke a plate in her room, kicked the bedroom door and refused to come out of the room. At that point Scott called the Martinez police and reported Fatima as endangering herself. When the police came, Scott encouraged them to take her to the psyche ward. The police asked Fatima if she was going to hurt herself, and she said “yes”. They then handcuffed her and took her to the psyche ward at the Contra Costa Regional Medical Center (the same hospital where Scott works). Scott and the Rachel Foundation people were already there when Fatima arrived with the police. Scott pleaded with the medical personnel to admit Fatima to the psyche ward and at one point called her “psychotic.” The staff person on duty called me to let me know what was going on. He told me there was nothing wrong with Fatima and said there was no way she belonged there. He refused to admit Fatima but said his hands were tied to do anything else because Scott still had legal custody.

When Scott couldn’t get Fatima committed to the psyche ward, he then tried Contra Costa County CPS, who declined. He then took Fatima to the Northern California Family Center, which is basically a placement center for runaway and homeless children in Martinez. While there, Scott tried to persuade Fatima to again go into foster care. He indicated he already had a court hearing scheduled for Wednesday (Feb 18th) where “everything would be resolved”. As it turns out, Scott’s intended resolution was to have Fatima removed from her school, and shipped off to the State of Maryland to the Rachel Foundation headquarters for “psychological deprogramming” and “emergency therapy.” Fatima refused to go along with Scott’s demand that she again go into foster care. Instead, later that day she stated she wanted to return to his home. Scott refused and pleaded with her to go into foster care instead. Fatima left the Family Center and walked several miles in the nighttime rain to her father’s house, while he followed her in his car. When she got to his house, Scott refused to let Fatima inside, stating that she was a “danger” to him and his wife and adopted son (Fatima has never in any way threatened to harm anyone). The police were called again and ultimately forced Scott to let our daughter in out of the rain and into his house for the night.

The next day Fatima ran away from her father’s house, took the train to Davis, and hid with friends. I had no idea where she was or if she was safe. I got the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office Child Abduction Unit involved, to help me find Fatima and to make sure she was safe. Investigator Rick Gore got involved and began an investigation. He interviewed both me and Scott, concluding that Scott “appeared more interested in winning (the custody fight with me) rather than what was best for his child.” The next day Fatima came to my home, and Mr. Gore came and interviewed her. He and the Yolo County DA’s office elected to let Fatima remain in my home until ongoing court proceedings were resolved. (click here Gore Initial Report and here Gore Supplemental Report to read Gore reports on his investigation).

In the court hearing held in Tehama County, I prevailed and Fatima was allowed to remain living with me and to not be removed from her school. Scott was given every other weekend visitation with her. Jurisdiction was also transferred to Yolo County, where Fatima and I live. In the weeks that followed, Fatima reluctantly went to visit her father several times. She agreed to this despite the fact that she was incredibly angry with him over his attempt to have her committed to a psyche ward and to again have her placed in foster care. Predictably, the weekend visits did not go well, as Scott continued to challenge Fatima when she went to visit him. Each time she went to visit, Scott ended up calling the Martinez police seeking to have them intervene in arguments and discussions between the two of them. The last time Fatima was in her father’s home, in March, 2004, he called the police because she had taken a house key so she could let herself back in after she went for a walk. He insisted that the police force Fatima to hand over the key, but they refused to intervene. Scott has no qualms about involving the police, CPS, the courts, or anyone else in his relationship with his own daughter. This curious parental behavior is a primary source of most of the problems that continue to exist in his relationship with Fatima.

Under existing court orders issued in Yolo County during 2004, I have been awarded sole physical and legal custody of Fatima. Scott has been given a right only to see school and medical records, but no additional custodial rights. Given the acrimony in his relationship with Fatima, Scott is allowed to see her only in a supervised visitation setting where a court-ordered therapist is present. Scott continues to take me to court once or twice each month, but luckily the Yolo County Court is focused squarely on Fatima’s best interest, and she has been allowed to stay with me where she is thriving in both her academic and social life.

[1] The first time occurred in 1995, when Scott elected to relocate to Hawaii. He made that decision following some professional turmoil in his life, where a young woman and child he was attempting to deliver as a general practitioner, both tragically died. The second time occurred in 2003 when he agreed to let Fatima come live with me. In each case, he has accused me of abuse before, after and in between the times that he voluntarily gave up custody. Does that mean he is a negligent father? Someone willing to place Fatima with me when it is convenient for him? Or does it mean his “abuse” allegations are simply fabrications designed to quench his litigation thirst?

[2] This was the second time that Scott voluntarily gave me custody of Fatima. He also gave me custody of Fatima in 1995, when he decided to relocate to Hawaii. He made that decision following some professional turmoil in his life, where a young woman and child he was attempting to deliver as a general practitioner, both tragically died. It has always struck me as ironic that Scott has voluntarily given me custody two times, given his never-ending claims that I am an “abuser”. Does that mean he is a negligent father? Someone willing to place Fatima with me when it is convenient for him?

Now, for Fatima's story. Please note that she wrote this last year. Her statement is considerably newer than the one-sided documentation her father is circulating against her.

Fatima's Story
April 4, 2004

    My name is Fatima Busaat Loeliger. I am fourteen years old and for as long as I can remember, I have been in the California court system. From about the age of four to the age of eight I was living with my mom. Previous to that, I had been living off and on with either parent. I was a happy, well cared for child. I did well in school and all my teachers liked me. I was a Spelling Bee Champion and I always had a lot of friends and toys. My mom was a single mom who supported two children on her own. She always made sure we had babysitters and whatever it takes to make us happy. The court decision then was that I would live and go to school with my mom and visit my dad two weekends a month.

In 1998 I went for a scheduled visit with my dad. He took me to CPS in Red Bluff, California and accused my mom of child abuse. The CPS worker asked me if my mom ever spanked me. Once in a while my mom gave me a swat on the butt as discipline so I answered "yes." Suddenly, my mom was accused of being a child abuser, which she wasn't. The next time I would receive contact from my mom would be in three years when I was entering the seventh grade. In the three years I was living with my dad, the only information I was given by him and his wife was that my mom abandoned me, she was a drug abuser, she didn't want me, she has a new family and forgot about me, and she was going to hurt me. I was sad and confused. I couldn't understand what I had done wrong to make her not love me anymore. My father and the people who helped him keep me from my mom brainwashed me so that I began to resent my mom.

At my school, I was the only child of color and the only one without a mother. At home I was ignored, with my dad barely taking anytime to talk to me or see how I was. His wife was mean to me and would lie about me to my dad who would ground me without even asking what happened. To this day she still calls my mother a whore, my siblings bastard children, and my step dad and ass-kisser. She would repeatedly say that I was not part of their family and that it was her house and she could do anything she wanted. She still says these things. I felt alone and like an outsider. Everyday of my life I missed my mom, my little sister, my life, everything. After I was taken away from my mom the only thing I got was an occasional picture of what I was missing in my past life.

Finally in seventh grade I got to visit my mom. At the beginning of eighth grade I decided I wanted to live with my mom. I was tired of being verbally, mentally, and emotionally abused by my father and his wife. My family went to court once again and this time it was much more painful. The reigning judge, Judge King the third, I had met a year earlier when he signed the adoption papers for my dad and his wife to adopt a son. After appealing to the judge to let me live with my mom and to be present at future court trials and being denied, I ran away from school and turned myself into the police. Jennifer Mitchell became my CPS worker when I was placed into foster care by my father. I pleaded to be able to see my mom. They enforced strict supervised visitations with my mom but let my dad come to the foster home as often as he liked even though I expressed my extreme discomfort about my dad visiting to Jennifer Mitchell, the foster mother Deborah Sheehan, and Judge King. I felt very vulnerable and overwhelmed. I felt ganged-up on. Every time I made a court appearance and I explained to the judge and Jennifer Mitchell that my dad and his wife verbally abused me and physically abused their adopted son I was told that I was lying and manipulative and that I had been in the system too long for my words to hold integrity. This is exactly what my father has said about me to the court. He told the court my mother was alienating me from him.

One of my father’s witnesses was a psychologist named Randy Robinson. This woman was a very close friend of my father. Her husband was a colleague of my father and on several occasions we had gone to her house. Most recently, we had gone on vacation with them white-water rafting and had shared a cabin for a week. My father’s attorney, Matthew McGlynn told the court that if I was allowed to be in the care of my mother I would become a juvenile delinquent and end up pregnant. These and other comments hurt me deeply. They made me experience feelings of worthlessness and made me sound like a prostitute walking the streets. I had always prized myself on being very modest and clean. The comments degraded me and my father seconded the opinion.

Jennifer Mitchell, my CPS worker, didn't help me either. She would always try to intimidate me and keep me from seeing my mom. On several occasions she promised me a visit with my mom in her office. I would drive down and wait for over three hours and when I would confront her about why she was making me sit here without seeing my mom she would send in her supervisor who would yell at me calling me manipulative, a liar, a good for nothing trying to control his office, and a "foster care throw back." He would continue to yell until I would cry and then he would leave without letting me explain my problem. Ms. Mitchell also instructed me to lie to my mom about visits I had with my father, because he was allowed to see me more than my mom was. It was later found at trial that Mrs. Mitchell had discarded a CPS report my concerned teacher had filed a few months previously, after I had complained to him about the treatment I received in my father’s house.

Finally last year I was able to live with my mom in Davis, and visit my dad on weekends. However, nothing has changed at my father's house. I am still being emotionally abused there, and because I complain about it, my dad is once against trying to get me taken away from my mom, even though I am happy here and doing great in school. My point is that my childhood was lost. I can never get back what I have lost but that is not why I am here. I am here because this abuse and disregard of the laws that should protect and nurture every child are not being upheld. It doesn't matter if this has happened to one or one million children. One is too many. I have little respect, trust, or regard for the California family court system and I will be emotionally scarred for life because my father was able to use the courts as he willed to retaliate against my mother and I. Children may be young, but we know what feels right and what doesn't. It is our lives, not yours, that you are playing with. Please help us help ourselves
--- Fatima- Busaat Loeliger,
written at age 14

Posted on November 9, 2005 at 06:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack

November 07, 2005

Fathers' Rights Activists Continue Attacking "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories"

Fathers' rights activists are heavily into their second phase of attacking Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories. This is a documentary about children who claim that their fathers have been abusing them. The courts, who did not believe the children or their protective mothers, had awarded custody of these children to the fathers these children say have been abusing them. Mothers who try to protect their children from abuse are accused of "alienating" the children and "brainwashing" them against their fathers. Mothers and children are accused of having Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS), junk science that is not recognized as a valid mental disorder by the American Psychological Association (APA). The mothers are not believed. The children are not believed. This is a travesty of justice that is finally getting some much-deserved media attention.

Fathers' rights activists recently have been circulating the following web document that purports that the the documentary has distorted the APA's position on PAS.

American Psychological Association Says Breaking the Silence Misrepresents Its Position on PAS

October 24, 2005

A spokeswoman for the American Psychological Association says that PBS's new documentary Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories distorts the APA's position on Parental Alienation Syndrome. The film criticizes PAS, which arises when one parent tries to turn his or her children against the other parent during a divorce or separation.

In the documentary Joan Meier, a professor of clinical law at George Washington University and one of the film's chief spokespersons, states that PAS "has been thoroughly debunked by the American Psychological Association." Connecticut Public Television, one of the film's producers, put out a press release promoting the film which stated that PAS had been "discredited by the American Psychological Association."

However, according to Rhea K. Farberman, Executive Director of Public and Member Communications of the American Psychological Association, these claims are "incorrect" and "inaccurate." Farberman says that the APA "does not have an official position on parental alienation syndrome--pro or con." She adds:

"The Connecticut Public Television press release is incorrect. I have notified both Connecticut Public Television and their PR firm of the inaccuracy in their press release."

Breaking the Silence aired on some PBS affiliates on October 20 and will air on others in the coming weeks. The film's central contention is that PAS is "junk science" which abusive fathers are using to wrest custody of children away from fit mothers. The film has been the subject of large protests by fatherhood advocates, who claim that the film is one-sided and inaccurate. Many fathers believe that they have been the target of parental alienation campaigns by their children's mothers. Meier made her statement about PAS and the APA six minutes into the show.

PAS is not in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders (DSM-IV), the "bible" of psychiatry that describes diagnoses of mental illnesses. Without a diagnosis, there can be no treatment. Mothers are overwhelming accused of having PAS, and PAS is "diagnosed" strictly in a court setting - during a contested custody case. Dr. Richard Gardner, who coined PAS, found that 90% of his PAS caseload was mothers. "Treatment" of PAS consists of removing the child from the allegedly alienating mother, and awarding that child to the father the child and mother claim is abusive. The mother often sees her contact with her own child either severely curtailed or eliminated entirely.

The APA has already taken a position regarding the lack of data to support PAS. Below is an excerpt from the APA Presidential Task Force On Violence And The Family. Bold is my emphasis.

Family courts frequently minimize the harmful impact of children's witnessing violence between their parents and sometimes are reluctant to believe mothers. If the court ignores the history of violence as the context for the mother's behavior in a custody evaluation, she may appear hostile, uncooperative, or mentally unstable. For example, she may refuse to disclose her address, or may resist unsupervised visitation, especially if she thinks her child is in danger. Psychological evaluators who minimize the importance of violence against the mother, or pathologize her responses to it, may accuse her of alienating the children from the father and may recommend giving the father custody in spite of his history of violence.

Some professionals assume that accusations of physical or sexual abuse of children that arise during divorce or custody disputes are likely to be false, but the empirical research to date shows no such increase in false reporting at that time. In many instances, children are frightened about being alone with a father they have seen use violence towards their mother or a father who has abused them. Sometimes children make it clear to the court that they wish to remain with the mother because they are afraid of the father, but their wishes are ignored.

There is also this statement, from the APA Office of Public Affairs:

Statement on Parental Alienation Syndrome
October 28, 2005

The American Psychological Association (APA) believes that all mental health practitioners as well as law enforcement officials and the courts must take any reports of domestic violence in divorce and child custody cases seriously. An APA 1996 Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family noted the lack of data to support so-called "parental alienation syndrome", and raised concern about the term's use. However, we have no official position on the purported syndrome.

A second thing fathers' rights activists have done is to circulate documentation provided by the one of the fathers accused of abuse in the documentary. Fathers' rights activist Glenn Sacks in particular has been circulating materials by Scott Loeliger, the allegedly abusive father of one of the children covered in the documentary. Loeliger has been circulating his literature to anyone willing to listen since the documentary began filming. Sacks has an entire web page devoted to Loeliger's documentation.

What is not getting circulated is a statement the daughter has made. That statement is reproduced below. She claims her father and stepmother had abused her, and she wants to live with her mother. The documentation provided by the father is considerably older than the daughter's statement.

Please remember that this documentary is about children who speak out about abuse they experience at their father's hands who find that they are not believed. It is assumed that they are being coached by their mothers. It is telling that Glenn Sacks did post the daughter's side of the story, but he buried her statement within his web site. It is not on the main page that gives prominence to the statements of her allegedly abusive father and those who support him.

Most tellingly, the daughter's statement is on Sacks's web site entitled "The Opposition's Side Of The Story." This teenaged girl who spoke about her own experience of being abused by her father and stepmother is considered "the opposition". That's one hell of a Freudian slip. He also refers to her statement as "Story Written by or for Fatima Loeliger: Fatima's Story". The assumption is that she was coached in making her statements, which would in fathers' rights minds be evidence of PAS. What it really means is that fathers' rights activists such as Sacks do not believe a child who has written about abuse she experienced from her father and stepmother. Fathers' rights activists have silenced her voice in favor of supporting the position of her allegedly abusive father.

Keep in mind that one of the points of this documentary is that children who speak out about abuse they experience at the hands of their fathers are not being believed. Authorities and legal personnel assume that these children are being coached by their mothers, and they then recommend that custody be awarded to the abuser. In promoting Loeliger's side of the story while at the same time ignoring his daughter's own statements about her abuse, fathers' rights activists are doing exactly what the documentary is talking about - ignoring the statements of a child who says she has been abused by her father. Ms. Loeliger's experience of seeing her cries for help being ignored is being repeated on the Internet, thanks to fathers' rights activists. These people claim they are concerned with the welfare of children, yet they are lobbying against a child who has claimed that she has been abused by her father.

Here is the statement of that daugther, Fatima Busaat Loeliger.

Fatima's Story
April 4, 2004

    My name is Fatima Busaat Loeliger. I am fourteen years old and for as long as I can remember, I have been in the California court system. From about the age of four to the age of eight I was living with my mom. Previous to that, I had been living off and on with either parent. I was a happy, well cared for child. I did well in school and all my teachers liked me. I was a Spelling Bee Champion and I always had a lot of friends and toys. My mom was a single mom who supported two children on her own. She always made sure we had babysitters and whatever it takes to make us happy. The court decision then was that I would live and go to school with my mom and visit my dad two weekends a month.

In 1998 I went for a scheduled visit with my dad. He took me to CPS in Red Bluff, California and accused my mom of child abuse. The CPS worker asked me if my mom ever spanked me. Once in a while my mom gave me a swat on the butt as discipline so I answered "yes." Suddenly, my mom was accused of being a child abuser, which she wasn't. The next time I would receive contact from my mom would be in three years when I was entering the seventh grade. In the three years I was living with my dad, the only information I was given by him and his wife was that my mom abandoned me, she was a drug abuser, she didn't want me, she has a new family and forgot about me, and she was going to hurt me. I was sad and confused. I couldn't understand what I had done wrong to make her not love me anymore. My father and the people who helped him keep me from my mom brainwashed me so that I began to resent my mom.

At my school, I was the only child of color and the only one without a mother. At home I was ignored, with my dad barely taking anytime to talk to me or see how I was. His wife was mean to me and would lie about me to my dad who would ground me without even asking what happened. To this day she still calls my mother a whore, my siblings bastard children, and my step dad and ass-kisser. She would repeatedly say that I was not part of their family and that it was her house and she could do anything she wanted. She still says these things. I felt alone and like an outsider. Everyday of my life I missed my mom, my little sister, my life, everything. After I was taken away from my mom the only thing I got was an occasional picture of what I was missing in my past life.

Finally in seventh grade I got to visit my mom. At the beginning of eighth grade I decided I wanted to live with my mom. I was tired of being verbally, mentally, and emotionally abused by my father and his wife. My family went to court once again and this time it was much more painful. The reigning judge, Judge King the third, I had met a year earlier when he signed the adoption papers for my dad and his wife to adopt a son. After appealing to the judge to let me live with my mom and to be present at future court trials and being denied, I ran away from school and turned myself into the police. Jennifer Mitchell became my CPS worker when I was placed into foster care by my father. I pleaded to be able to see my mom. They enforced strict supervised visitations with my mom but let my dad come to the foster home as often as he liked even though I expressed my extreme discomfort about my dad visiting to Jennifer Mitchell, the foster mother Deborah Sheehan, and Judge King. I felt very vulnerable and overwhelmed. I felt ganged-up on. Every time I made a court appearance and I explained to the judge and Jennifer Mitchell that my dad and his wife verbally abused me and physically abused their adopted son I was told that I was lying and manipulative and that I had been in the system too long for my words to hold integrity. This is exactly what my father has said about me to the court. He told the court my mother was alienating me from him.

One of my father’s witnesses was a psychologist named Randy Robinson. This woman was a very close friend of my father. Her husband was a colleague of my father and on several occasions we had gone to her house. Most recently, we had gone on vacation with them white-water rafting and had shared a cabin for a week. My father’s attorney, Matthew McGlynn told the court that if I was allowed to be in the care of my mother I would become a juvenile delinquent and end up pregnant. These and other comments hurt me deeply. They made me experience feelings of worthlessness and made me sound like a prostitute walking the streets. I had always prized myself on being very modest and clean. The comments degraded me and my father seconded the opinion.

Jennifer Mitchell, my CPS worker, didn't help me either. She would always try to intimidate me and keep me from seeing my mom. On several occasions she promised me a visit with my mom in her office. I would drive down and wait for over three hours and when I would confront her about why she was making me sit here without seeing my mom she would send in her supervisor who would yell at me calling me manipulative, a liar, a good for nothing trying to control his office, and a "foster care throw back." He would continue to yell until I would cry and then he would leave without letting me explain my problem. Ms. Mitchell also instructed me to lie to my mom about visits I had with my father, because he was allowed to see me more than my mom was. It was later found at trial that Mrs. Mitchell had discarded a CPS report my concerned teacher had filed a few months previously, after I had complained to him about the treatment I received in my father’s house.

Finally last year I was able to live with my mom in Davis, and visit my dad on weekends. However, nothing has changed at my father's house. I am still being emotionally abused there, and because I complain about it, my dad is once against trying to get me taken away from my mom, even though I am happy here and doing great in school. My point is that my childhood was lost. I can never get back what I have lost but that is not why I am here. I am here because this abuse and disregard of the laws that should protect and nurture every child are not being upheld. It doesn't matter if this has happened to one or one million children. One is too many. I have little respect, trust, or regard for the California family court system and I will be emotionally scarred for life because my father was able to use the courts as he willed to retaliate against my mother and I. Children may be young, but we know what feels right and what doesn't. It is our lives, not yours, that you are playing with. Please help us help ourselves
--- Fatima- Busaat Loeliger,
written at age 14

The Los Angeles Journal and the San Francisco Daily Journal published an article by The Family Court Reform Coalition which is a response to misleading reports published by fathers' rights activists who are protesting the documentary. In particular, the article focuses on statements written by fathers' rights activist Glenn Sacks.

Los Angeles Daily Journal
(Also published in the San Francisco Daily Journal)

(CA Legal Newspapers)


"Critics of Child Abuse Film Miss the Point in Rush to Defend Fathers"

By: Paul J. Fink, Judge Sol Gothard,
and Tasha Amador

The Family Court Reform Coalition (FCRC), a national organization composed of many of the nation's leading experts in the fields of child custody, child abuse, psychology, and domestic violence, would like to respond to the controversy surrounding the outstanding new PBS documentary Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories.

This groundbreaking film explores the failure of many family courts to protect child abuse victims in custody cases involving domestic violence.

The national talk radio host, Glenn Sacks, has launched a nationwide protest campaign against the PBS film and has made numerous public statements strongly criticizing the documentary.

Sacks has stated that "PBS has declared war on fathers" and the film is 'an assault on fatherhood'." What is of concern is Sacks‚ near-total focus on the portrayal of fathers in the film, and what he views as the questionable behavior of mothers in custody disputes.

What Sacks fails to recognize is that this issue is not about fathers or mothers.

This issue is about children, and about ensuring that abused children are protected in the family courts. That important and salient point somehow was lost in Sacks; public statements, which reflect a multitude of accusations and concentrated diatribe against mothers and his concerns regarding the negative effects of "draconian" domestic violence policies on fathers in the documentary.

The Family Court Reform Coalition supports this compelling and powerful PBS film, as it brings to light a national scandal hidden in many family courts for the last 20 years. Many family courts are failing to protect children from their abusers, in custody cases involving domestic violence.

Over the last two decades, it has been reported that hundreds of children across the country have been placed in the custody of the parent they disclosed sexually and/or physically abused them. These abusive parents overwhelmingly have a history of domestic violence. Research indicates that at least 50% of contested custody cases involve domestic violence.

As accurately noted in the film, many domestic batterers are deliberately sexually and/or physically abusing their children as a means to traumatize the former abused partner, as they recognize hurting the children is the single most painful way to hurt the ex-partner.

These batterers then use the family court system as a continuing tool of abuse by filing for sole custody of the children in order to continue harming their families after the abused partner escapes the violent relationship.

Parents who leave abusive partners are often met with retaliatory lawsuits for child custody by batterers in family court, who seek to punish the partner for leaving by taking the children away.

Recent studies show that batterers are 4 to 6 times more likely to sexually abuse their children than non-violent parents. Multiple studies have established the high overlap between battering and incest perpetration.

In attacking the PBS documentary and its support for the abuse disclosures of children in family court custody cases, it is important to note that Family Court Reform Coalition disputes Sacks‚ public statements of fact and his representations of research findings.

Sacks has made public statements claiming that "the vast majority of accusations of child sexual abuse made during custody battles are false."

This is inaccurate. Multiple studies show that at least 50 percent of sexual abuse allegations raised during custody disputes are in fact "substantiated" or "founded". McDonald; Thoennes & Tjaden; Jones & McGraw.

While false abuse allegations do occur in contested custody cases, the research indicates that they are uncommon. The largest study to date on the topic, by Thoennes & Tjaden of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, comprising 9,000 families with custody disputes, indicated that less than 2 percent of the cases even had allegations of sexual abuse - hardly an epidemic.

While some judges and family court officials believe that most abuse allegations made during divorce are false, the research on the topic shows that the actual rates of such "false allegations" are very low.

A cross section of studies showed that the rate of false allegations in a custody context was found to be quite low, between 1 percent to 7.6 percent. McDonald; Thoennes & Tjaden; Jones & McGraw.

In attempting to discredit the PBS film, Sacks grossly misrepresents the findings of a 1996 study published in Social Science and Modern Society by Douglas Besharov and Lisa Laumann.

Sacks inaccurately claims the study shows that "the vast majority of accusations of child sexual abuse made during custody battles are false, unfounded or unsubstantiated."

Sacks‚ statement implies that the study states that these are deliberate false allegations.

The study did not say such abuse allegations were "false"; what the study actually stated was that "Upon investigation, as many as 65 percent of the reports now being made are determined to be 'unsubstantiated'."

It must be understood, however, that "unsubstantiated" or "unfounded" is not necessarily the same as false.

The 1996 study cited by Sacks directly confirms this and states that "Moreover, an unfounded report does not necessarily mean that the child was not actually abused or neglected."

In fact, the study states that "Few unfounded reports are made maliciously. Studies of sexual abuse reports, for example, suggest that, at most, from 4 to 10 percent of these reports are knowingly false. Likewise, few inappropriate or unfounded reports are deliberately false statements. Most involve an honest desire to protect children coupled with confusion about what conditions are reportable."

The 1996 study cited by Sacks also provides reasons that true cases of abuse might be labeled "unfounded" or "unsubstantiated". "Evidence of child maltreatment is hard to obtain and might not be uncovered when agencies lack the time and resources to complete a thorough investigation or when inaccurate information is given to the investigator."

In addition, there are other legitimate reasons why true cases of child sexual abuse might be labeled "unsubstantiated", including a lack of physical evidence, which often leads some judges to think the abuse allegation was "false" and the accused parent must be "innocent."

However, studies show that even in cases with proven penetration, up to 95 percent of true cases of sexual abuse will have no physical evidence. Kellogg et al; Heger et al; Adams et al. This is because children heal very quickly, and if they are not examined within 48 hours of the abuse, any genital injuries will often have already healed and there will be no detectable physical evidence to be found upon examination.

Also, most molestation/incest involves abuse that does not leave a physical trace, such as fondling or oral sex, thus, there will be no detectable physical evidence to be found in such cases. As a result, true sexual abuse cases are often labeled "unsubstantiated". which again, is not the same as false.

Sacks has also provided distorted and inaccurate information regarding the controversial theory called "parental alienation syndrome".

Parental Alienation Syndrome theory claims that exclusively in the context of a child custody dispute, parents will spontaneously develop a "mental illness" in which they seek to vilify the other parent, "brainwashing" the child into making false allegations of sexual abuse against the other parent.

The theory proposes that the proper "treatment" for this "mental disorder" is to increase the child's time with the allegedly molesting parent to counteract the "alienating" behaviors of the accusing parent.

While the idea of "badmouthing" and negative feelings in divorce sounds familiar and plausible to most people, there is no research to show that such behavior can be equated with a "mental illness."

Parental Alienation Syndrome has been used nationwide by batterers as a courtroom tactic to silence abused children by attempting to discredit their disclosures of abuse.

This theory is not recognized as valid by the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, or the American Medical Association.

Parental Alienation Syndrome is not accepted as a psychiatric diagnosis, and has been rejected by the mainstream psychological community.

Parental Alienation Syndrome is junk science; there is no valid research or empirical data to support this unproven theory. While in 1980, Wallerstein and Kelly described children temporarily aligning with one parent after divorce, they state that such normal behavior dissipates over time.

No valid studies have ever been conducted to test or confirm the validity of PAS theory. A 2004 article in the American Journal of Family Therapy states that "The review of the literature does not show evidence of any previous inter-rater reliability studies for the purpose of testing PAS as a reliable syndrome and as suggested by Gardner" Rueda.

Sacks claims that PAS is a "well-documented phenomenon" that has been validated by a study of 700 divorce cases published by the American Bar Association.

In fact, the study cited by Sacks, published in 2003 (actually a reprint of a 1991 study) by Clawar and Rivlin, was a flawed study.

A 2004 article in the Journal of Child Custody, states that Clawar and Rivlin "fail to describe their methods and measures" for their study, showing a lack of sound scientific methodology. Garber.

The tactical use of Parental Alienation Syndrome theory by batterers in family court cases is greatly endangering children, by causing their disclosures of abuse to be discounted.

In the final analysis, we must consider the reality of the immeasurable damage done to children who are forced to live by court order with a molesting or abusive parent.

Anyone who cares about children should watch this important PBS documentary.

Countless children are undergoing unspeakable suffering in the custody of an abusive parent. Some family court systems which were designed to protect children have instead put them in danger, and something must be done about it ˆ now.

Please contact the FCRC for more information or to learn when the PBS film will be aired in your state at:

Dr. Paul J. Fink and Judge Sol Gothard are members of the Family Court Reform Coalition, and Tasha Amador is an executive board member of the group.

Fink is past president of the American Psychiatric Association and current president of the Leadership Council on Child Abuse and Interpersonal Violence.

Gothard is a retired 5th Circuit Court of Appeals judge, a former chief judge for the Louisiana Jefferson Parish Juvenile Court and a former faculty member for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

The fact that this documentary continues to be under attack from fathers' rights activists shows how effective it is. Fathers' rights activists feel threatened that their support of junk science such as PAS is getting media attention. This documentary is being shown to legislators and legal personnel in order to educate them about what protective mothers and abused children go through in court. Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories is about the children whose claims of abuse at the hands of their fathers are being ignored. Junk science such as PAS is being used in court to remove these children from their protective mother's custody, and then they are handed over to their abusive fathers. This practice must stop. Hopefully, this documentary will educate the public to prevent such tragedies from happening.

Posted on November 7, 2005 at 07:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (82) | TrackBack

November 06, 2005

Sexist T-Shirts And A Contest!

Another Update: My hits are finally dying down some. I had an amazing amount of hits from MSGOP, Wonkette, and (of all things) Protein Wisdom. I'm grateful some top bloggers and the MSM decided to link to me. That was fun.

The deadline for my t-shirt slogans contest is Wednesday. I'll pick a winner on Thursday. Please keep an eye on my blog on Thursday to find out who the winner will be. Some people who wrote slogans didn't give an e-mail address, so if the winner is one of those persons you'll have to e-mail me.

My chocolates are also available for sale for anyone who is interested. I don't have a web site yet. I'm working on that. If you are interested in buying my X-rated chocolates, just e-mail me. I'm also getting some new molds in the next couple of weeks, so there will be more to choose from. Some of the molds are people in ... er... various sexual positions. Heh. They're really cute and funny.

Keep an eye on my blog on Thursday. The winner will be announced. In the meantime, post lots of t-shirt slogans in my comments. The more, the better.


Update: Just so you know, the winner of this contest will get a box of my homemade X-rated chocolates. The winner will get a dick-on-a-stick (dick-sicle) and a torso of a busty woman on a stick (tit-sicle). I use good chocolate, either Ghirardelli or Lindt for my chocolates. The winner will not only get X-rated chocolates, but very tasty chocolates. I don't skimp on my treats. I'm a food blogger, and I use only the best ingredients.


A lot of feminist bloggers are writing plenty about the Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts. You've probably already read about them. They say things like "No Car. No Money. No Chance." Some see the t-shirts as sexist garbage. Some see the t-shirts as a chance to be ironic. For example, having a female math geek wear an "I'm Too Pretty To Do Math." t-shirt.

Ginmar asked people to come up with t-shirts they'd like to see. Here are some suggestions, including a few of my own.

"Do I Make You Look Stupid?" (From Ginmar)

Freshman 15, with a list of A+ classes next to them. (From Ginmar)

"I had a nightmare. I dreamed I was a frat boy." (From Ginmar)

"No brains, no opinions, no chance." (From Ginmar)

"No Brains. No Manners. No Chance." (From Ivyfree)

From Sunfell:

"I'm sorry- did I make you think?"
"Hair color does not equal IQ"
"Smart is sexy."
"Use your head, not your 'nads"

And from me:

For natural blondes: "The Collar And Cuffs Match."

For pregnant doctoral students: "I'm With Stupid." with an arrow pointing up.

"No Job. Living In Your Parent's Basement. Over 30. No Chance."

"My Eyes Are Up There.", with an arrow pointing up.

"Brains And Boobs. Best Of Both Worlds."

"If You Don't Eat 3.14159265, I'll Pass You By."

"I Had A Nightmare. I Dreamed I Was A Comb-Over."

Freshman 15: Emily Dickinson, Grace Hopper, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt, Elizabeth Blackwell, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Emmaline Pankhurst, Alice Paul, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Mary Wollstonecraft, Lucy Stone, Abigail Adams, Jane Addams


Feel free to add your own ideas. I might make this a contest if I get lots and lots of comments. The winner will get a gift of X-rated chocolates from me. Post your brainstorms in my comments. I want lots of comments!

Posted on November 6, 2005 at 05:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (91) | TrackBack

November 01, 2005

Alito Is Not An Extremist, Activist Judge!

Of course Alito is not an extremist, activist judge, but only if you ignore...

His position against the Family Leave Act.

His position that anti-gay hate speech is okay in schools.

His position against the upholding of the legality of a ban on the sale or ownership of machine guns manufactured after 1986.

His position favoring that married women be required to inform their husbands if they wish to get an abortion. As Roxanne asked, would he favor married husbands be required to inform their wives if they intend to get vasectomies? Probably not. Violations of the Constitution are okay only if they affect women and not men. You may read Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA v. Casey here.

His position favoring race discrimination, in particular his dissenting opinion in a decision in favor of a Marriott Hotel manager who said she had been discriminated agianst based on her race.

His position that it's okay to fire AIDS victims because of "fear of contagion whether reasonable or not."

His position on the following matters, as reported by People For The American Way. [Acrobat file.]

* Alito believes that laws restricting intact dilation and extraction procedures (so-called "partial birth" abortion) are not Constitutionally vague, even when they do not provide exemptions for the life and health of the mother.

* Alito wants to see fetuses treated by the law as "Constitutional persons".

* Alito, in a dissenting opinion, favored violating privacy in Doe v. Groody, in which police strip-searched a woman and her ten-year old daughter. In his dissenting opinion (the court found in favor of the Does), he argued that "the warrant could be read to authorize a search on anyone on the premises and that 'even if the warrant did not contain such authorization, a reasonable police officer could certainly have read the warrant as doing so, and therefore the appellants are entitled to qualified immunity.'"

There are many more cases cited at the People For The American Way site, including cases of age, disability, racial, and religious discrimination. Go there to read the rest.

Posted on November 1, 2005 at 11:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 26, 2005

The Latest Fathers Rights Attack Against "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories"

Fathers' rights activists are quite underhanded in their attacks against "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories". Now they are circulating one of their own statements, while pretending it comes directly from the American Psychological Association. This is what is being circulated by fathers' rights activists in their latest attempt to attack the documentary. I first heard about it yesterday, and I've seen it in several locations.

This is the fathers' rights circular:

The APA has come out and said that the association's stance on Parental Alienation Syndrome was mis-reprented in the movie.

In the documentary Joan Meier, a professor of clinical law at George Washington University and one of the film's chief spokespersons, states that PAS "has been thoroughly debunked by the American Psychological Association." Connecticut Public Television, one of the film's producers, put out a press release promoting the film which stated that PAS had been "discredited by the American Psychological Association."

However, according to Rhea K. Farberman, Executive Director of Public and Member Communications of the American Psychological Association, these claims are "incorrect" and "inaccurate." Farberman says that the APA "does not have an official position on parental alienation syndrome--pro or con." She adds:

"The Connecticut Public Television press release is incorrect. I have notified both Connecticut Public Television and their PR firm of the inaccuracy in their press release."

The APA has made a statement already denouncing PAS and alienation in general. Here is an excerpt from the statement. Note that the end of that first paragraph comes right out against garbage like PAS. Bold emphasis is mine.

Family courts frequently minimize the harmful impact of children's witnessing violence between their parents and sometimes are reluctant to believe mothers. If the court ignores the history of violence as the context for the mother's behavior in a custody evaluation, she may appear hostile, uncooperative, or mentally unstable. For example, she may refuse to disclose her address, or may resist unsupervised visitation, especially if she thinks her child is in danger. Psychological evaluators who minimize the importance of violence against the mother, or pathologize her responses to it, may accuse her of alienating the children from the father and may recommend giving the father custody in spite of his history of violence.

Some professionals assume that accusations of physical or sexual abuse of children that arise during divorce or custody disputes are likely to be false, but the empirical research to date shows no such increase in false reporting at that time. In many instances, children are frightened about being alone with a father they have seen use violence towards their mother or a father who has abused them. Sometimes children make it clear to the court that they wish to remain with the mother because they are afraid of the father, but their wishes are ignored.

Fathers' rights activists are pulling out every ugly weapon they have in their arsenal to attack women and children who have been victims of abuse by abusive fathers and husbands. I have a feeling they are not finished attacking the documentary. Their ugly attacks show me that they are really not interesting in helping child victims of abuse, nor are they interested in helping good dads parent their children. This documentary provides a much-needed voice for women and especially children who have suffered abuse at the hands of abusive fathers and husbands. Fathers' rights activists seek to silence that voice, and they are not succeeding.

Posted on October 26, 2005 at 08:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (138) | TrackBack

October 20, 2005

Supportive Article About "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories"

Custody Fight: Documentary sheds light on system that lets children suffer at the hands of abusive fathers

First published: Sunday, October 16, 2005

This week, every judge, lawyer, psychiatrist, psychol social worker
with any connection to family law in New York ought to be taken into
custody, escorted to their local courthouse and forced to
watch "Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories," a PBS documentary
set to air in the Capital Region at 10 p.m. Thursday on WMHT Ch. 17.
Before coming to Albany, I worked for years at the New York Daily
News. I had occasion to cover stories from Family Court and custody
battles, largely in New York City. I've heard the tales of more than
a hundred people in recent years caught up in the "Twilight Zone" of
a custody dispute, as many of them identically refer to the legal

This exquisite documentary, "Children's Stories," like no other
production I have seen, makes comprehensible the subtlety of a
scandal that recurs in custody proceedings in New York and other
states. It is an almost impossible story to tell, one from which
journalists flee, and it boils down to this: A judge, often misled by
self-interested lawyers and court-appointed professionals, ignores a
protective mother, ignores the wishes of children and awards custody
to a man who is an abuser, emotionally or physically, of his wife or
their children.

In a bitter irony, the judge orders this injustice wrapped in the
banner that is New York's legal standard for deciding custody: "best
interests of the child."

What our legal system has failed to grasp is that lust for vengeance
drives the worst of fathers to use litigation itself as a way to
abuse ex-wives. Their economic incentive has also grown. Winning
custody can be cheaper than child support.

"Children's Stories," filmed partly in Loudonville, will not try your
patience with he-said, she-said debate between couples or among
experts. Save that for later. Instead, the filmmakers select wise
experts to explain and ask that you do two things our courts easily
fail to do: Trust mothers to behave like mothers and listen to what
children say.

There is little Sarah, ordered to live with a father she feared. "You
feel like," she says, biting her lip, "you want to die."

There is the terror-stricken voice of Manya recorded on the phone,
pleading with her mother to rescue her from her father, who molested
her for years. "I don't care if you have to break the law," she
sobs, "get me out right now."

There are the observations of Jeff, who turned 18 and escaped, but
who remains haunted at having lain awake across the hall from his
little sister as she was raped and sodomized by his dad, who won
custody. "It's the most helpless feeling," Jeff laments.

These are the raw extremes of custody law gone awry. The typical
abusive parent is less severe or far less obvious, and abuse is
always difficult to discern. Two adult men speak in "Children's
Stories" with memories of their own abusive fathers to shed light.

One of them, Joe Torre, manager of the New York Yankees, who suffered
in the care of a violent father, recalls why he never called
police. "My father was the police," Torre says.

"It is never an event," says the other, Walter Anderson, CEO of
Parade magazine. "It is a pattern of behavior." Abuse, he explains,
is "the systematic diminishment of the child." This common sense can
elude family courts.

Some facts are in order here. We're talking about a big but very
narrow problem. Custody is not disputed in court in the overwhelming
majority of divorces as many as nine in 10 cases settle amicably,
according to studies. In uncontested custody, mothers win out over
fathers, taking custody about 2-1, although this is partly because
some fathers see trying to win custody as futile.

Contested custody, about 10 percent of break-ups, clogs courts. In
these disputes, some studies show, a mildly abusive, or brutally
battering or seriously molesting parent lurks in three fourths of
cases. It can be a mother, but mostly it tends to be a father, and
recent studies show fathers winning these battles 2-1.

Do the math. It's a problem.

Custody case law in New York, as in many states, enshrines one of the
most ridiculous legal principles ever to evolve, called "parental

Conceived by the late Columbia University psychiatrist Richard
Gardner, "parental alienation syndrome" was a proposed name for a
mental illness in which a mother, to punish her ex-mate, alienates
kids against dad by coaching them to allege abuse.

The antidote for this alleged insanity, Gardner theorized, is to give
the kids to dad, thereby counteracting mom's alienation by removing
the kids from her control. It's the ultimate mind game in custody
battles. We can almost never prove what's really true in an abuse
allegation, and a bald abuse allegation, even if false or exaggerated
itself, can be symptomatic of a deeper, less severe pattern that is
true. The victim of abuse thus becomes the perpetrator and a villain
can win. Gardner's ideas became a playbook for fathers using
litigation to punish ex-lovers.

Gardner's colleagues rejected the addition of his theory to the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the peer-reviewed handbook of
mental illnesses. His work has been debunked by the American
Psychological Association and others. Parental alienation syndrome is
junk science.

Yet in a monument to ignorance, New York courts continue to
recognize "parental alienation" as if it were some psycho-law of
medicine and continue to give kids to oppressive, if not abusive
fathers simply when mothers make accusations. It's as if judges are
years behind in reading social science literature.

Father's rights groups have legitimate concerns about false abuse
allegations, but given the nature of contested custody, these
utterances should not trigger instant death for mothers. Yet,
Gardner's remedy for alienation is etched in precedent in our state
appellate law books. Judges continue to fall for it as medical dogma
when it comes from court-appointed forensic psychiatrists. These
experts, unregulated in the court system, are often ordered by a
judge to evaluate parents, but they answer to no one. They must be
right, judges are pressed to believe. After all, judges appointed

In "Children's Stories," a judge, who happens to be a social worker,
as perhaps we should require of all our Family Court judges, tries to
set the record straight. Maybe our Court of Appeals will get the

Also aired in this documentary are the problems with some law
guardians, lawyers appointed for children. The documentary shows us
how they can do more harm than good. They can be patronage-seeking
pals of judges who authorize legal fees billed to parents for
whatever the market will bear.

Law guardians may not listen to their clients, the children, and they
inevitably end up taking sides, then avoid communication with the
losing side. They can freely engage in what lawyers call ex-parte
communication they talk to one side without the other present. Judges
do it, too. It's unethical and it deprives one party of a fair
hearing. Yet, in our family courts, ex-parte exchanges, even
hearings, can be standard operating procedure.

Dominique Lasseur, the producer of "Children's Stories," told me he
expects to be sued, but I say he deserves a Nobel Prize for honesty
for his work here. The Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation, which
financed this effort, deserves our gratitude. And this documentary
should prove again the incalculable value of public broadcasting.

An annual event at Siena College became the setting for some
of "Children's Stories." Mo Therese Hannah, a psychology professor at
Siena, is already organizing the third Battered Mothers' Custody
Conference there, set for next January.

The judiciary in New York is aware of the problems you'll see on TV.
A 32-member Matrimonial Commission, appointed by our chief judge, has
heard from hundreds of citizens. Appellate Judge Sondra Miller of
Westchester County, chairwoman, says her commission is preparing its
report for release in December and it will recommend major changes.

"We hope that we can change the tenor of these proceedings," Miller
said. She intimated her commission is considering some new court
model for resolving custody, one based on principles of mediation and
arbitration more than advocacy.

We'll all be watching.

Bob Port is senior editor/investigations at the Times Union. He can
be reached at 454-5064 or by e-mail at

Posted on October 20, 2005 at 10:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (58) | TrackBack

Japanese Women Tired Of Playing Servant To Their Retired Husbands

I'm not surprised to see this happening. Please see my previous posts about Japanese women and marriage - [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6].


Stress Disorder Diagnosed in Many Women After Spouses Retire

By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, October 17, 2005; Page A01

TOKYO -- Sakura Terakawa, 63, describes her four decades of married
life in a small urban apartment as a gradual transition from wife to
mother to servant. Communication with her husband started with love
letters and wooing words under pink cherry blossoms. It devolved over
time, she said, into mostly demands for his evening meals and
nitpicking over the quality of her housework.

So when he came home one afternoon three years ago, beaming, and
announced he was ready to retire, Terakawa despaired.

" 'This is it,' I remember thinking. 'I am going to have to divorce
him now,' " Terakawa recalled. "It was bad enough that I had to wait
on him when he came home from work. But having him around the house
all the time was more than I could possibly bear."

Concerned about her financial future if she divorced, Terakawa stuck
with their marriage -- only to become one of an extraordinary number
of elderly Japanese women stricken with a disorder that experts here
have recently begun diagnosing as retired husband syndrome, or RHS.

Feeling chained to the tradition of older women remaining utterly
dedicated to their husbands' well-being, Terakawa said, she devoted
herself to her spouse. Retirement cut him off from his longtime office
social network, leaving him virtually friendless and her with the
strain of filling his empty time. Within a few weeks, she said, he was
hardly leaving the house, watching television and reading the
newspaper -- and barking orders at her. He often forbade her to go out
with her friends. When he did let her go, Terakawa said, she had to
prepare all his meals before leaving.

After several months, she developed stomach ulcers, her speech began
to slur and rashes broke out around her eyes. When doctors discovered
polyps in her throat but could find no medical reason for her sudden
burst of ailments, she was referred to a psychiatrist who diagnosed
stress-related RHS.

Terakawa began receiving therapy from Nobuo Kurokawa, a physician who
is one of Japan's leading RHS experts. Kurokawa coined the term
retired husband syndrome in a presentation to the Japanese Society of
Psychosomatic Medicine in 1991, leading to its use in books, journals
and mainstream media here. Confirming Terakawa's account in an
interview, Kurokawa said he offered her the same advice he has given
numerous other older women in the same position.
"Come to therapy," he said. "Then spend as much time as possible away
from your husband."

In Japan, retirement has become a risky business for many wives, who
are finding the stress of their husband's presence at home
unendurable. Though after-retirement stress is a common problem in
most developed countries as husbands and wives try to balance
relationships in their twilight years, analysts say Japan has become
extraordinary for myriad reasons -- including the fact that one-fifth
of Japanese are now over 65, the highest percentage in the world.

Even as gender roles have changed for younger people here, with women
entering the workforce in record numbers, older Japanese have remained
far more rigid. As with most Japanese men of his generation,
Terakawa's husband demanded strict obedience from her, she said, even
while he spent his life almost entirely apart from her and their three
children. He left home for the office just after dawn and stayed out
late socializing after work. He even took most of his vacations with
colleagues and clients. Those long absences, she said, made his
presence around the house after retirement even more jolting.

"I had developed my own life, my own way of doing things, in the years
when he was never home," Terakawa said. She said she cannot even stand
to look at her husband across the dinner table now and sits at an
angle so she can stare out a window instead.

Part of the problem is that the nature of Japanese family life has
changed dramatically over the past two decades. The tradition of
retired parents living with their married adult children is rapidly
disappearing, with new generations remaining single well into their
forties and modern young couples choosing greater privacy. As older
couples are forced to spend more time alone together, the divorce rate
among those married more than 20 years -- a group that includes most
of Japan's married senior citizens -- is now the fastest-growing in
the country, more than doubling to 41,958 divorces in 2000 compared
with 20,435 cases in 1985, according to government statistics.

Kurokawa estimates that as many as 60 percent of the wives of retired
men may suffer from some degree of RHS.

With a record number of Japanese men set to retire -- almost 7 million
from 2007 to 2009 -- experts warn that the disorder has the potential
to explode. The Japanese boast the longest lifespan on Earth, yet
older Japanese men still cling to the outmoded idea of wives as
servile attendants -- leaving many elderly women to view their
longevity as more of a curse than a blessing. One survey from the
Tokyo-based advertising firm Hakuhodo showed that while 85 percent of
soon-to-retire husbands are delighted by the idea of retirement, 40
percent of their wives described themselves as "depressed" by the

Fear of husbands coming home to roost has become a hot topic in Japan.
Bookstores are loaded with self-help titles for elderly women
attempting to cope with spouses who have turned into sodaigomi -- or
bulky trash.

"This is a severe problem for us," said Sayoko Nishida, 63, an author
of two books on the topic who has organized Zen retreats to help older
couples deal with RHS. "One of the main issues is that we are not a
culture where people directly express their feelings, and many older
women have nowhere to turn to share their anxiety."

Tomohisa Kotake, a 66-year-old retired banker, knows the story well.
"At first, I was a typical retired Japanese husband -- I didn't do
anything for myself and asked my wife to serve me," he said. It
immediately strained his marriage. Part of the problem, he said, was
that his wife still had many female friends, but most of his friends
had been work acquaintances. Pushed by his wife, he finally joined one
of the more than 3,000 support groups that have recently sprouted up
nationwide, aimed at "re-training" retired Japanese men to be more
independent and communicative with their wives.

Kotake's group -- Men in the Kitchen -- taught him how to shop, cook
and clean for himself. He now does the dishes and cooks for his wife
at least once a week. "I will never forget the look of happiness in
her eyes the first time I cleaned the house while she was taking a
bath," he said.

Kotake's wife, Nobuko Kotake, 62, now speaks glowingly of her husband.
She said she had given up many outings with female friends to spend
more time with him.

"By Japanese standards, we are still relatively young even though we
are retired," Tomohisa Kotake said. "We have a long life ahead of us.
It is better that we spend that time enjoying each other. Doing more
around the house is a small price for me to pay."

Posted on October 20, 2005 at 10:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The National Organization For Women On "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories"

Here is what N.O.W. has to say about "Breaking The Silence: Children's Issues":

Must See TV:

Must See TV on PBS Tonight

On Thursday October 20 at 10pm EST, PBS will be airing a documentary titled "Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories," depicting a national family court scandal that is putting children into the hands of a physically or sexually abusive parent. Nationwide, supporters of battered mothers in custody challenges have been demonstrating at family courthouses and other locations in support of the documentary and in protest of the court scandal.

The film is generally set to air on Thursday, October 20, but different show times are possible, including Friday or the weekend. To get more information about the documentary and to see when it is airing in your area, go to: and type the title of the documentary in the search field. If the PBS station in your area is not airing it, please call your local station and insist that they do. Your local station phone numbers can be found at the web site listed above.

It is important that we make sure that all local public television stations air the show and that we tune in for this program to show our support for PBS and their commitment to showing this documentary. Please send your own message to Pat Mitchell, CEO of PBS to show your appreciation to PBS for airing this important film.

Your emails are especially important, as we know that PBS is being flooded with emails from bogus "fathers' rights" activists opposing the airing of the film. You may use our suggested comments or enter your own.

Fathers' rights activists, both male and female, are LIVID over this documentary. Stand Your Ground, a men's rights forum that has bashed me in the past, includes a post where one person referred to N.O.W. as "The National Organizaton for Misandrist Bitches" and the documentary as "a smearfest". This poster is really angry that this documentary is going to air, even after lots of ugly email and phone calls to PBS from fathers' rights activists. This poster said "I used to dislike feminists, but now I absolutely hate them. I used to think conservatives who labeled feminists "anti-family" were exagerating and overreacting. Now I realize they are completely right. God, this pisses me off. These feminazis going destroy America (and the rest of the Western world)."

Yup, abused women who are trying to protect their abused children are going to "destroy America and the rest of the Western world". Heaven forbid.

At least one fathers' rights supporter at Stand Your Ground got all twisted and pissy over N.O.W. referring to fathers' rights groups as "bogus". That was great to see.

I'm glad that PBS didn't back down under the pressure from these angry people. All those ugly e-mails and phone calls had little effect at all. They are angry again that they didn't get their way. This documentary needs to air, and it will.

Posted on October 20, 2005 at 09:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (40) | TrackBack

Angry Fathers' Rights Activists Vs. PBS

Fathers' rights activists are livid that their e-mail bombing and phone calling of PBS has not resulted in "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories" being pulled off the air. They claim that this documentary is biased and bashes fathers. It does nothing of the kind. Fathers' rights activists also claim that only one side of the issue is being aired, and they are demanding what they think is their "fair" airing time for their views. Nonsense. Their views are all over the place. They permeate the Internet, and they get more than their fair share of one-sided articles printed in newspapers. They don't like that the side of the abused mothers and children is getting massive public airing.

I'm glad that PBS is not backing down to the massive pressure from fathers' rights groups. As anyone with a blog who has gone up against fathers' rights activists knows, they can be unbearably nasty.

This apparently is the letter these angry men are getting when they protest the airing of the documentary:

Thank you for taking the time to write to PBS about your concerns regarding BREAKING THE SILENCE: CHILDREN’S STORIES. Comments from our viewers - both positive and negative – are the best guides we have to make future programming decisions.

We have forwarded your observations to the filmmakers - producer Dominique Lasseur and
director Catherine Tatge - who have asked us to share their thoughts about the documentary with you.

“When we began this project over a year ago, our goal was to produce a documentary about domestic violence and children. We had no preconceived notions about the issue … no specific agenda to prove or disprove. The finished documentary is simply a result of where countless hours of extensive research and interviews took us. These are the real stories of real women who lost custody of their children when Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) was used as scientific proof in their family court cases. These were the stories we found over and over again.

There have been a number of concerns raised regarding Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and how it is addressed in the piece. We do not make the assertion that the phenomenon of alienation does not exist, simply that PAS is wrongly used as scientific proof to justify taking children away from a protective parent. We as filmmakers are in no position to determine the scientific validity of PAS. However, the fact remains that the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have not recognized PAS as legitimate science.

Some individuals have expressed concern that the documentary only features the stories of women as the victims of domestic violence. Research shows that “while women are less likely than men to be victims of violent crimes overall, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.” (U.S. Department of Justice, Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends, March 1998). If we had featured the stories of one man and five women who had been victims of domestic abuse, statistically we would have grossly overstated the problems of men in this area. Nevertheless, we recognize that men are also victims and men are also sometimes victimized by family courts, but it is overwhelmingly women who are victims. In all cases, the children are the victims.

These are difficult and controversial issues that stir human emotions. Nothing can galvanize one’s passion like the welfare of a child. We understand certain individuals will never be completely satisfied with the information presented in the documentary. All we can do is offer, in the most open and transparent manner, the reasoning and research that went into this program.”

We appreciate your interest in PBS programming and hope that you will continue to enjoy and support your local PBS member station.

PBS Viewer Services

Posted on October 20, 2005 at 08:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack

Still More On "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories"

Here is an excellent article on the documentary, "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories". Angry fathers' rights activists have been dive-bombing PBS and the media to prevent this documentary from airing. I have been writing to PBS, and it isn't going to cave under the pressure. PBS is airing the documentary. Fathers' rights groups and activists outnumber the protective moms who need for this documentary to air. These men have the time to write angry protest letters and make angry phone calls that the moms don't have to time or energy to handle. These moms are too busy trying to raise their families and fend off the control tactics of these abusive dads who fight for custody.

"Breaking The Silence" outs fathers' rights custody tactics for the abusive behavior that it is, in particular the use of bogus syndromes like Parental Alienation Syndrome. PAS is used to by abusers and the courts to take abused children from the mothers who are protecting them, and giving them to their abusive fathers. Professionals who make their living from these kinds of cases don't want this documentary to air, because airing the truth about these ugly contested custody cases will put a big hole in their pockets.


Caught in the middle: Documentary shows how kids can be pawns in abuse, custody cases
Oct 17, 2005

By Camilla A. Herrera
Staff Writer

Published October 17 2005

In "Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories," a new PBS documentary premiering Thursday, Karen describes how she lost custody of her son and two daughters to a father who had sexually molested the girls.

"I naively thought that if somebody molested their kid ... they'd just go to jail," she says.

Karen describes how a court-appointed evaluator failed to interview the children and ignored medical evidence and police reports that substantiated the abuse. The evaluator instead testified that Karen had purposely alienated her children from their father by raising false allegations of sexual abuse.

The opinion was legally based on Parental Alienation Syndrome, a theory that has been debunked by the American Psychological Association but is commonly used by abusive fathers to justify the removal of children from their mothers' care.

In Karen's case, the defense worked.

"Breaking the Silence," co-produced by Tatge/Lasseur Productions and Connecticut Public Television, with funding from the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation, highlights the stories of mothers like Karen and children who have endured abuse at home to later suffer more trauma in family court.

"Custody and visitation litigation is frequently used as a weapon against a victim," says Kathleen Healy, associate director of the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Stamford and Norwalk, a member agency of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence that provides a toll-free, 24-hour hotline; emergency shelter; counseling; and education.

Experts in the documentary join Healy in saying PAS effectively distracts the court from assessing whether an abusive father is a continued risk to the mother and their children.

"There is a common misconception that when a victim leaves, the abuse stops," says Healy. "When there are children involved, (the abuse) goes on forever."

Documentary producer Dominique Lasseur, whose recent credits include "Breaking the Silence: Journeys of Hope," "The Question of God: C.S. Lewis & Sigmund Freud" and "Justice and Jihad" and "Islam vs. Islam" for "NOW with Bill Moyers," says the use of custody as a weapon against a victim is more common than believed.

"People have said it is a he-said/she-said thing, but in the cases we reported on, there is evidence a judge has chosen to disregard, and/or there is use of a supposedly scientific syndrome which has been discredited but is still being used on why the kids should be taken away from the mother.

"The stories were chilling, from doctors, lawyers, pilots, a Ph.D. in physics, extremely well educated women in all cases who were accused of alienating their children against their father. The courts removed their children, and in many cases prevented the kids from seeing their mother."

It is what happened to Karen's children.

"I was snatched up from my normal life and all that anyone would tell me was that my mom was crazy and she was going to a mental hospital," says Jeff, Karen's son.

Now 18, he no longer lives with his father and is a member of the Courageous Kids Network, a Davis, Calif., support group for young people who were forced to live with an abusive father and many times denied access to their mother.

Jeff's sisters still live with their father.

According to Joan Meier, an attorney and professor of clinical law at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., who was interviewed for the documentary, fathers who are accused or adjudicated of battery are awarded joint or full custody in two-thirds of family court cases.

"There are so many stories of dysfunctional courts that they are running the risk of undoing the progress that has been made to address domestic violence," says Lasseur. "If women do come out and report domestic violence, they run the risk of losing their kids. I've heard anecdotal stories of attorneys and police officers telling clients not to bring charges because the risk of losing children is significant."

A factor complicating custody disputes is the psychological testing that court-appointed evaluators administer to the children they represent. Meier says these are generally, "not validated for use in a domestic violence context."

The standard "best interests of the child," typically applied in custodial matters where domestic violence is not a factor, correctly assumes that a child's interests are best served when they have full contact with both parents. Such a standard, however, can be difficult to apply if a child's safety depends largely on restricting a parent's contact, says Lundy Bancroft, an expert interviewed for the documentary.

Read the rest of the article below.

He also is a counselor; a former co-director of Emerge, the country's first program for abusive men; and author of "Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men" (G.P. Putnam's Sons, $26.95) and "When Dad Hurts Mom: Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse" (G.P. Putnam's Sons, $25.95).

"In a case where those children have been abused or the mom has been abused, what's really best for children is for their safety to be made the top priority," he says.

Healy says: "Part of the problem is our court systems are so chopped up from state to state. Abusers are handled in criminal court. Restraining orders are handled in civil court and custody matters in family court. Since these are handled separately by different legal and court personnel, the relevant information can get lost or misrepresented."

Another obstacle, she adds, is control over family finances, which in many cases is in the hands of the abuser. When custodial disputes are prolonged, many victims have little means with which to continue appealing.

What can follow, particularly after an abusive father gains custody, is emotional abuse of the child.

"When a father is bad-mouthing the mom, he shows he has consistently disrespected their mother throughout the relationship. It's not going to stop because the parents are apart. It not only has implications for the relationship between the mother and the child but also for their view of their mother and their view of women in general.

"(Emotional abuse) affects their own self-image and their own self-esteem, their own relationships and there is the fact they could grow up to be victims or abusers themselves, more vulnerable to abuse, more vulnerable to substance abuse, suicide and depression, even if dad doesn't abuse them directly."

Lasseur carefully acknowledges that "Breaking the Silence" focuses only on men as abusers.

"I know we'll be criticized for not including men. We are aware of men who lose children to unfit mothers. From what we've seen, the overwhelming majority of cases are mothers losing their kids. In our documentary, a story of a man would disproportionately represent what it is really like."

What can be done depends largely on shining a spotlight on what is happening in family court, he says.

"My job is to report what I found. It would be presumptuous of me to offer solutions. If what I show is brought to light, people have an open discussion about what is functioning and what is not, people start paying attention, then people will come up with solutions."

Posted on October 20, 2005 at 08:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

More On "Breaking The Silence"

I received this press release in e-mail.


I presume that most of you are aware that on Oct 20, PBS will be airing a
groundbreaking documentary Breaking the Silence: Children’s Stories, that exposes
Parental Alienation Syndrome by telling the tragic stories of children who
have been assigned custody to their abusers.

You may or may not be aware that the Father’s Rights folks have mounted a
campaign to PBS urging them to pull the film. I have spoken to people at PBS and
they have assured me of their commitment to airing the film, but they’ve also
indicated that it would be helpful to have letters of support from the
professional community.

Please visit to sign on indicating your
professional or organizational support for PBS’s airing of this important
film. Since I realize no one sign-on letter says it all, and since some of you
may have seen the film, I’ve set up the webform so that you can include comments
if you’d like.

In addition, I encourage you to send your own letters to Pat Mitchell, CEO of
Please cc me on any messages you send.

You may also wish to visit, where your
support and comments will be displayed to our site visitors. On this page
you can also view the rest of Stop Family Violence’s campaign to PBS. We are
collecting stories from women and children who have been adversely affected by
PAS decisions and will be submitting those to PBS as well.

Posted on October 20, 2005 at 11:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

... and fathers' and men's rights activists aren't too happy about it.

The PBS documentary "Breaking The Silence: Children's Stories" is about child victims of abuse, especially those who have been given to their abusive fathers by the courts. Fathers' and men's rights activists have predictably protested the airing of this documentary, and have demanded that it either not be aired, or that they get so-called equal time to air their side of the issue. Their side is full of unsupported garbage about women being as abusive as men, and women lying frequently to get restraining orders to use as leverage in court in abuse, divorce, and custody cases. "Breaking The Silence" is due to air in my area on October 21. I plan to watch it. I know that local fathers' rights groups have written and called PBS in protest of the airing of this documentary. I have written to PBS to urge them to air it.

In related news, via the Family Law Professors Blog:

Screening for Domestic Violence

"In conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence is proud to announce the release of our latest publication, “Tool for Attorneys to Screen for Domestic Violence.”  This wonderful resource is for use by ALL attorneys who provide individual representation to enable them to identify if their client is a victim of domestic violence.  The Tool contains suggested questions to integrate into interview questions, as well as guidance on how an attorney can provide support and resources to their clients who are victims of domestic violence." By the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence Link to Download Tool (last visited 10-19-05 NVS)

Posted on October 20, 2005 at 10:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

October 09, 2005

American Apparel And Sexual Harassment

Sheelzebub at Pinko Feminist Hellcat continues to cover Dov Charney and the American Apparel sexual harassment lawsuit. As Sheelz said, "This isn't about Charney's right to speak his mind on issues, it's about inappropriate behavior, and how workers are silenced and dismissed for standing up for themselves." Whistleblowers risk being seen as troublemakers, and it can make it difficult for them to find work in other companies if they choose to leave the unsavory environment that American Apparel has been accused of being.

If the work environment is as toxic as the lawsuit states, then the work environment should change. People who have to suffer it shouldn't be told that they should just get out and find new jobs. Finding a new job in this rotten economy is not going to be easy. Plus, what if a new job requires a relocation or a very long commute? The people complaining are not executives. They are lower-tier workers. They don't have thousands of dollars stashed away to tide them over until they find a more suitable job. Besides, the work environment is not their fault. "[U]sing crude language and gestures, conducting job interviews in his underwear, ordering the hiring of women in whom he had a sexual interest and giving one of the plaintiffs a vibrator" are not the way to run a business. [Link via Majikthise.]

Posted on October 9, 2005 at 01:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (66) | TrackBack

Harriet Miers

Lauren at Feministe has the same mixed feelings about SCOTUS nominee Harriet Miers that I have. Miers is too anti-choice for my taste, and she doesn't seem to have much experience interpreting Constitutional law. However, Miers did open doors for women. According to Lauren, "she first female president of Texas State Bar and first female president of Dallas Bar Association." I was especially pleased to learn that "she used her posts to start conversations between warring interest groups, and developed a record for being “unafraid to take on controversial issues, sometimes even to her own political detriment.”" I hope this means she won't be a right wingnut ideologue operating from the bench if she is confirmed.

Bloggers have already pointed out that she organized a women's studies lecture series while she was on the advisory board for Southern Methodist University's law school. Gloria Steinem was one of the speakers.

I've looked at conservative blogs to see their reaction to Miers, and they are not happy., Little Green Goofballs, and Free Republic resident wingnuts are going bonkers. They went into apoplexy when they learned about Miers' role in that women's studies lecture series, especially when they learned that Gloria Steinem was the first speaker. The Republican base is spintering over Miers. Colleen Parro, executive director of the National Republican Coalition for Life, said that "I think it certainly could be a sign of bigger problems. There has been an underlying feeling, deeper than concern, among many Republicans for a long time now regarding the outrageous spending going on, the lack of border security, and the threat of terrorism, a whole range of issues. The Miers nomination just caused it to boil over." I think that the wingnut fundamentalist base was expecting someone like Janet Rogers Brown - an ideologue who would deliver their demands from the bench - like overturning Roe v. Wade - but that's not what they got. They are pissed. Republicans are finally admitting what Democrats have been talking about for aeons.

On top of all that, there are the conspiracy and money-laundering indictments against Tom Delay and the investigations into Karl Rove's role in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Richard Viguerie, "a Republican activist and advertising executive credited with pioneering the use of mail to voters' homes as a way of making pinpoint political appeals, said that "[w]hen you add all of these things on top of each other, the party is drunk with power, the ethics problems are so thick you can cut them with a knife. I think Republicans are heading for some tough times in the 2006 and 2008 elections."

So Republicans are finally seeing what the Dems have seen since Bush was crowned King George by the Supreme Court.

The problem with Harriet Miers is that no one really knows yet what she stands for. There has been allegations of cronyism, and considering her relationship with Bush, that's not surprising. I think that with Bush's approval ratings going into a swandive, especially after Katrina, he couldn't risk putting an out-and-out wingnut on the Supreme Court. I need to learn more about Miers before I decide how I feel about her, but some of what I'm learning about her is actually quite good. If she can keep her personal feelings about abortion from influencing her decisions about the law, she might be quite good.

Posted on October 9, 2005 at 05:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 17, 2005

And This Is News, Why?

CBS-2's web site in New York informs us of a Federal study (whatever that means) that shows same sex relations between women is on the rise.

Holy Jesus Jumped Up... so who really gives a crap! And, why are they worried about it? Well, I assume they're going to be worried about it... why not, after all the ruling party who claims to want less Government regulation just can't stop increasing Government regulation of your bedroom.

Posted on September 17, 2005 at 06:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 16, 2005

More On Dems Abandoning Their Base

Several bloggers (see these posts for links) have written about how the Democratic party has alienated its base. Stephanie Schulte is the latest to chime in:

[Markos] asks:

And yet HRC is fundraising for Chafee because he pays lip service to gay equality? Why do groups like NARAL and HRC have a hard time grasping the big picture?

Geez, what part of "we don't trust you" with our "pet issues" doesn't he get? It's not like the Democrats have a stellar record on gay rights anyway. And isn't the goal ultimately to get both Democrats and Republicans to support gay rights? What incentive do the Republicans have to reach out to gay voters at all? How is HRC supposed to have any leverage in the Republican party if they refuse to work with them just because they are not Democrats?

I guess we're not allowed to reach across the aisle though. Apparently, being in the progressive movement now requires you to get explicit authority from dear leader before you open your mouth and say something he might not like.

Have fun with that guys. Just remember that you're not going to get far without those feminsts, gays and hippies you pissed off.

Here's more:

Rhetorically Speaking

Booman Tribune

Posted on September 16, 2005 at 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 15, 2005

On Roberts, Reproductive Freedom, and Progressive Men and Women

I've been thinking quite a bit about the way women's issues have been treated by liberal white male bloggers. This latest dust-up at dKos is nothing new. Reproductive rights is a very important issue to me and to plenty of other women, and there are a lot of feminists out there who are not happy seeing this very issue set aside by the liberal white men who are supposed to be on our side. Keeping democratic unity must be upheld, even if that means placing an important issue such as women's reproductive freedom on the back burner. Now that Armando and Markos decided that reproductive rights and the Roberts hearings are important enough, feminist bloggers are supposed to jump right in and talk about it, now that we have a permission slip from the the white guys who think their opinions and blogs are so important. We are supposed to be grateful. Not only that, the Important White Dudes don't think us feminist bloggers are talking about Roberts as much as they think we should, although the feminist bloggers have been talking about it. The guys don't understand why feminist bloggers are angry over this kind of treatment.

What are women supposed to do? Wait until the guys think reproductive rights are important, and then they'll get around to standing up for women on that issue? Wait until all of the important things (read: what interests white men) are dealt with - then we'll get to the icky female stuff. Now that some progressive white male bloggers have decided that the Roberts hearings and reproductive rights are worthy of bandwidth, all the feminists are supposed to fall in lock-step behind them and be properly grateful?

Gimme a break.

Amanda had plenty to say about this issue:

Armando, I think I have the answer to your question here.

Finally, I noticed more than a few bloggers who enjoyed raking Markos over the coals for his saying he was not going to sweat the "pie ad" and would concentrate on the important stuff had no blogging on Roberts today. Love that commitment to women's issues from those bloggers.

Well, guess what. This IS the important stuff. And guess again -- Markos gave me carte blanche to blog Roberts throughout the day.

I hope folks remember that when they are again tempted to attack daily kos as lacking commitment to women and their rights.

Because that is bullshit.

A little birdie told me that after a conference call the other night, it was made very clear to the feminist bloggers that we don't have to worry our pretty little heads about John Roberts because the big boys were on it.

For what it's worth, it's hard for me to write about Roberts for the same reason it's hard for Kevin Drum—it's such a farce. He's clearly going to get the position and it's just a matter of noting what idiotic Democrats go along with it. That and I've been worn down by the people who thought this wasn't worth fighting about and that things like Roe v. Wade weren't really being threatened. I do it anyway, but my heart isn't in it, which is maybe why Armando thinks female bloggers aren't all up on Roberts. That or maybe I really am a man, as I sometimes get to thinking when reading my advice columns and/or essentialist literature. Abortion really is going to have to be criminalized before a good number of people wake up, I think.

Sheelzebub didn't mince words, either:

Oh, my flippin' head

Jaysus, for once I agree with Kevin Drum, much to the chagrin of some Democratic Party shills.  We're not supposed to say out loud that the Dems are rolling over on this one--yet again.

Apparently, dismissing women's concerns as unimportant isn't misogynist and dismissing choice as a side issue isn't misogynist.  However, it's the height of feminist action to blog endlessly about John Roberts, while decrying feminist bloggers for not blogging about Roberts when they've done nothing but blog about him

If a woman blogs about Roberts, but a not-so-closeted sexist doesn't acknowledge it, does she even exist?  If she blogs about Roberts, but not in the Officially Approved Way (TM), does it count?

This is rich, considering we are supposed to support the very Democrats who have no problems selling our rights down the river.

This kind of treatment of women by lefty/progressive men is nothing new. All you have to do is look back to the first wave of feminism to see it. The setting was abolitionism, and feminists at that time saw their issues - especially women's right of citizenship and the right to vote - placed on the back burner by men who supposedly were their colleagues.

by Ellen DuBois

There have been two major feminist waves in this country, one running from about 1835 to 1920 (it took that long to win its major demand -the vote); the other beginning some time in the middle of the sixties and ending who knows when.

In both cases, a feminist upsurge was initiated by women who had attempted to function politically in the major reform movements of their days, and had found that because they were women, they would be unable to do very much at all. They found that they would be isolated from positions of decision-making, and instead they would do the shitwork (the typing, petition-gathering, meeting-organizing, etc.) while men made the decisions and got the recognition.


The first wave of feminism grew out of the major reform movement of the mid-nineteenth century --abolitionism. Like contemporary feminists, women working in abolition found that their full and equal participation in political activity was not especially wanted --that as long as they worked within "woman's sphere," everything would be fine. But as soon as they stopped beyond it, they were severely reprimanded by their abolitionist brothers. Like the women of the New Left, these 19th century sisters discovered that the political world in which they moved -- and which they thought was dedicated to equal justice for all -- was perfectly content to abide by the rules for "proper feminine behavior" that the outside, less politically sophisticated world provided.

What this meant for these 19th century feminists --as it meant for us --was that the women did the shitwork and the men made the decisions. Thousands of women participated in the abolition movement --collecting signatures on petitions to Congress; their labor and those petitions provided the organizational backbone of the abolitionist movement. The decision-making and public acknowledgement were reserved for the men.

In 1837, however, this peaceful division of labor was shattered when two female abolitionists and ex-slaveholdors -Sarah and Angelina Grimke --started to speak out publicly to mixed audiences against slavery. New England --and especially its clergy -- was shocked at women lecturing to what it called "promiscuous audiences." Some male abolitionists, notably William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, defended the Grimkes, But what is striking is how many male abolitionists did not. The Grimkes succeeded in preserving their right to lecture, and even began to write and speak about the "woman question." The controversy they had begun -- whether or not women were going to be allowed to participate equally with men in all aspects of the abolitionist movement -- continued to be hotly debated. In the end, it can be credited with generating l9th century feminism.

The next major event in which the "woman question" figured was three years after the Grimkes, in 1840. In that year, British abolitionists announced that they would sponsor a World Anti-Slavery Convention. Off to London went most of the major American abolitionists, among them Lucretia Mott (who was primarily responsible for organizing anti-slavery work in Philadelphia) and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a young bride on her honeymoon with her abolitionist husband.

Once in London the American abolitionists had a surprise waiting for them. British abolitionists were offended by the thought of women functioning politically as the equals of men. and therefore the sponsors of the convention decreed that women -- even women like Lucretia Mott -- would not be seated as delegates to the Convention. Once again, a few male abolitionists stood up for the women, but the majority did not bother to even protest this discrimination. The women were placed behind a curtain in the convention hall -- so they might hear the proceedings without offending any male sensibilities. Stanton and Mott left the hall in disgust, to wander around London and discuss the "woman question." They found that they agreed on many things, but especially that the oppression of women deserved attention. Eight years later, in 1848, these same two women organized the first woman's rights convention in the United States, the Seneca Falls Convention.

By the time the Civil War had started, therefore, women were beginning to understand how they were oppressed and slightly wary of working with men, but they were not yet totally convinced that it was impossible for women to work as political equals with men in reform political activity.

When the War began, the women dropped all their activities as feminists, and threw themselves into patriotic work. They were very conscious that their participation in the national wartime mobilization would be a test of their political seriousness. They also expected to be amply rewarded for their selfless activity once the war was over. They were not. And that was where the final blow was struck and the leading feminists realized that they could not put political trust in men; that it was nearly impossible for even the most liberal of men to understand how much woman feels her oppression and how much she wants her freedom.

The first hint of this final betrayal by liberal men was in the 14th Amendment. This amendment -- the second of the three amendments that followed the Civil War -- defined the rights of citizenship, and. prohibited the denial of those rights to persons on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. This was all fine and good except for one thing -- the federal government was extending its protection only to all citizens of the male sex. Not only were women ignored by the Amendment, but they discovered that, after its passage, they were considerably worse off than before, For the first time, the word "male" appeared in the Federal Constitution.

Previously, political discrimination against women had been a matter of local statute and public sentiment. Now, with the 14th Amendment, this discrimination was being endorsed on the national level. Women were furious. They appealed to male abolitionists and radical republicans for support; is this how they were to be repaid for their loyal services during the war? Wendell Phillips, leader of the abolitionist forces, assured them that their time would come, that when he started laboring for the enfranchisement of the black man, he would labor for women also. Two years later the Fifteenth Amendment was passed by Congress. It prohibited disfranchisement on the grounds of race, color, or previous condition of servitude -- but not one word about sex.

Once again women discovered that they could not put their faith in male reformers because the oppression of women was not top priority for anyone but women themselves. They had been literally abandoned by the most radical political movement of the day. As it turned out, the decision of the abolitionists to ignore women's claim to the ballot was a particularly momentous one. It took another fifty years to get the ballot for women. This was the final blow -- feminists had learned that if women were to ever win their rights, they would have to win them without the help of men. Looking back on the 1860s, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote:

'We would warn the young women of the coming generation against man's advice as to their best interests their highest development. We would point for them the moral of our experiences: that woman must lead the way to her own enfranchisement, and work out her own salvation with a hopeful courage and determination that knows no fear nor trembling. She must not put her trust in man in this transition period, since, while regarded as his subject, his inferior his slave, their interests must be antagonistic."

The process has been the same for the feminists of the second wave. First, we began to understand that women were oppressed, throughout our society, and that the oppression of women had crept into even the most radical political movements of the day. They were started to raise questions about the oppression of women and the "proper spheres" (19th century) or "stereotyped roles" (20th century) of men and women. But we have found that at worst iron were uninterested (or amused) by such issues -- and at best that men were incapable of fully understanding the oppression of women.

So, like the feminists of the 19th century, we have gone the separatist route and formed a movement of our own. We work in women's liberation because we are not permitted to function fully in other movements for social change and because, if we don't demand out own liberation, no one else will.

Perhaps two waves of feminism will be enough to free us.

So ladies, take this to heart: progressive men have been treating their progressive sisters like so much baggage for over one hundred years. We're expected to do the grunt work, yet our issues get set aside for more "important" issues. Issues of importance to women must be set aside in favor of "party unity". We're right to continue to demand that issues important to us such as reproductive freedom must be dealt with now, not later with promises by progressive men that "we'll get to it." It seems that that issues important to feminists, reproductive rights in particular, are only going to be addressed in a timely manner by the feminists who think they are important.

Posted on September 15, 2005 at 04:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack

September 14, 2005

I'm Not Going To Be A Dem Much Longer

I've come to the conclusion that women's issues are important to the Dems only when there is an election on the horizon. The Roberts hearings have been going on, and the Dems aren't doing a damned thing to keep him from being confirmed. Women's reproductive health has taken a back seat to more "important" issues.

Just wait until it's election time, and the Dems suddenly shift sail and try to woo women. I'm registered as a Dem at the moment after years of being registered as an Independent. I'm switching to Independent again, since the Dems seem to have no problem with confirming a guy who wants to put a shackle on my uterus. I think Dem women who are sick of the way the Dems have rolled over and played dead when it comes to their welfare should do the same.

Apparently, women's reproductive health is an important issue only if some self-important bloggers say it is. As Roxanne said, maybe we need permission slips to blog about the issue.

More at Roxanne's, Lauren's, Pandagon (Amanda), Sheelzebub's, and Jessica at Bush v. Choice.

Posted on September 14, 2005 at 07:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (50) | TrackBack

September 07, 2005

Help Domestic Violence Shelters In Louisiana

I saw this posted at Cool Beans, and I thought it was worth repeating.

Press Release


AUGUST 31, 2005

Louisiana Domestic Violence Victim's Hurricane Relief Fund

The Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (LCADV), a private 501c3, not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1982, is establishing a Louisiana Domestic Violence Victim's Hurricane Relief Fund to assist victims of domestic violence and child victimization who are displaced and affected by Hurricane Katrina.

LCADV is a network of 20 domestic violence programs/shelters throughout the state. Four of our shelters and two nonresidential programs are completely closed at the time and two or three may be completely destroyed. Sad to say, domestic violence and child victimization are social problems that do not stop during this natural disaster we are experiencing and with cessation of all direct services in the gulf coast region, the increased need for relocation and basic monetary assistance is essential for these women and children.

LCADV is accepting donations that are specifically earmarked to assist battered survivors and their children who have been directly affected/displaced by the hurricane. The donations will be used to assist battered victims from the following parishes in Louisiana: Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines.

The donations will be used for the following purposes:

1. Relocation of domestic violence victims.
2. Purchasing of basic needs, i.e. baby formula, diapers, food, clothing, etc. that could not be met elsewhere.
3. Deposits on houses, electric bills,
4. Car repair, gas, public transportation
5. Medical/prescription needs,
6. Other basic, life sustaining needs

All donations go directly to victims of domestic violence affected by this hurricane and will not be used for any administrative or other purposes.

The Louisiana Domestic Violence Hurricane Relief Fund Account is setup with AmSouth Bank which is located in the following states: Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. If you live in one of these states you could make a donation at the local AmSouth Bank Branch to the LCADV Domestic Violence Hurricane Relief Fund Account number: 0020085338. Donations from other states can be made through wire transfer to this account.

If you would like to make a donation using MasterCard or Visa, you may contact the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence office at 225-752-1296 with your credit card information. Donations may also be electronically deposited into our account by faxing a voided check with the amount of the donation to (225)751-8927. LCADV will setup an electronic deposit and you will receive confirmation of your donation with the tax-deductible receipt.

Posted on September 7, 2005 at 09:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 04, 2005

RIP Rehnquist

Chief Justice William Rehnquist has died. Since he was already anti-Roe, his conservative replacement on the Supreme Court won't be much of a change. I wonder who will now be Chief Justice? Any ideas?

Posted on September 4, 2005 at 02:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 01, 2005

Gee, I Can't Imagine Why

Susan Wood, Director of the Office of Women's Health and Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health, has resigned. It's obvious why. She sent around the following email to her friends and colleagues:

I regret to tell you that I am leaving the FDA, and will no longer be serving as the Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health and Director of the FDA Office of Women's Health. The recent decision announced by the Commissioner about emergency contraception, which continues to limit women's access to a product that would reduce unintended pregnancies and reduce abortions is contrary to my core commitment to improving and advancing women's health. I have spent the last 15 years working to ensure that science informs good health policy decisions. I can no longer serve as staff when scientific and clinical evidence, fully evaluated and recommended for approval by the professional staff here, has been overuled. I therefore have submitted my resignation effective today.

I will greatly miss working with such an outstanding group of scientists, clinicians and support staff. FDA's staff is of the highest caliber and it has been a priviledge to work with you all. I hope to have future opportunities to work with you in a different capacity.



I'm sorry to see her go, but I wish she would have stayed to fight this out. Women's reproductive rights are too important to lose important people like her.

Posted on September 1, 2005 at 11:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 29, 2005

Sexist Corporations To Be Denied Contracts

If you are an employer in the U. K. who thinks it's okay to make sexist, disparaging remarks to female employees, you better rethink your comments. Sexist employers "will be denied lucrative public sector contracts under proposals being drawn up by the Prime Minister's advisers to stamp out prejudice against women at work."

Corporate clients are "alarmed by the number of women bankers suing for sexual harassment" and they have "threatened to withhold business from leading banks because of the negative publicity."

Oh, I like how they've threatened to withhold business not because it's wrong to make sexist remarks to women, but because they are receiving negative publicity. Apparently, sexist remarks have been commonplace, but no one was upset about it until there were reports of "negative publicity".

Two cases garnered special attention in the article:

Elizabeth Weston, who won £1 million from bankers Merrill Lynch over lewd comments made at a Christmas party

Schroder Securities analyst Julie Bower - dismissed in an email written by a colleague as 'had cancer, been a pain, got pregnant'

PM Tony Blair has set up the Women and Work Commission to "investigate why women still get a raw deal at work, is drawing up plans to tackle it by novel means. It believes the granting of state contracts worth millions of pounds, for anything from canteen catering to legal or financial advice, could be used to penalise firms reluctant to put their house in order. Under their proposals, public bodies would have to consider issues such as a firm's track record on equal pay or sexual harassment before giving them work."

I wish this commission would have been set up earlier because sexist remarks have no place in the workplace. It's telling that it took "bad publicity" to inspire the PM to form it.

Posted on August 29, 2005 at 09:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 27, 2005

Another Set Of Awards For Sexism - The Ernies

Most bloggers have probably already read Ellen Goodman's yearly roundup of neanderthal sexist comments and actions, but has anyone heard of the Ernies? The Ernie Awards are named in honour of former Labor Council president Ernie Ecob, who was known for his sexist remarks. The Ernies are in their thirteenth year. They are given to people whose public statements are viewed as most sexist. This year, they were held in the New South Wales, Australia, Parliament House.

The top Ernie - the Gold Ernie - was awarded to Sydney-born Sheikh Feiz Mohammad, of the Global Islamic Youth Centre in Liverpool. He was also awarded the Silver Ernie.

The sheikh told the audience after delivering a speech at the Bankstown Town Hall in March that a rape victim has "no one to blame but herself". He claimed that women teased men and appealed to their "carnal nature" by the way they dressed in "nothing but satanic skirts."

There is also an award for sexist women - the Elaine - which is for the woman whose remarks were regarded as "the least helpful to the sisterhood".

This year the Elaine went to Australian author Colleen McCullough who, when commenting on the Pitcairn Island rape trials, said: "They are as much Polynesian as anything. It's Polynesian to break your girls in at 12."

Here are other Ernies:

Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson took out the political Ernie for his sarcastic response to fears that university services might disappear under voluntary student unionism.

"If they can afford to pay their academics nine months' maternity leave and if child care needs subsidising on campus, I would be most surprised if they weren't prepared to subsidise that in some way," Dr Nelson said.

The justice Ernie went to the president of the NSW Bar Association, Ian Harrison, SC.

When cross examining a teenage girl who had allegedly been pack-raped, he suggested that "to sit on a bar stool with a skirt as short as that takes a lot of confidence".

Posted on August 27, 2005 at 07:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 26, 2005

Eugenicist Claims Men Are More Intelligent Than Women

There is yet another "study" by two guys who claim that men are more intelligent than women. [via Atrios.] .

One of the researchers, Richard Lynn, was a source cited for the racist book "The Bell Curve".

Here's what Fairness In Accuracy And Reporting had to say about Lynn:

Among Lynn's writings cited in The Bell Curve are "The Intelligence of the Mongoloids" and "Positive Correlations Between Head Size and IQ."

Murray and Herrnstein describe Lynn as "a leading scholar of racial and ethnic differences." Here's a sample of Lynn's thinking on such differences: "What is called for here is not genocide, the killing off of the population of incompetent cultures. But we do need to think realistically in terms of the 'phasing out' of such peoples.... Evolutionary progress means the extinction of the less competent. To think otherwise is mere sentimentality." (cited in Newsday, 11/9/94)

Elsewhere Lynn makes clear which "incompetent cultures" need "phasing out": "Who can doubt that the Caucasoids and the Mongoloids are the only two races that have made any significant contributions to civilization?" (cited in New Republic, 10/31/94)

Yeah, I'd believe a racist when it comes to determining the intelligence of men versus women. Did he measure men's head sizes versus women's? I thought phrenology went out with the planchette.

This kind of study is not new

Here's more on two earlier gender/intelligence studies by two researchers. This article was posted on a fathers' rights web site in 2002. The researchers were Paul Irwing, who co-researched the current study with Lynn, and Phillip Ackerman. Irwin said in this earlier study that "[a]ny piece of research on sex difference has to be placed in an overall context." Irwing is a psychology professor at the University of Ulster.

"In the real world, women are increasingly outperforming men. They definitely outperform men at university ... What one has to say then, is that if women are doing better in the real world, why then aren't they doing better on these tests?"

The article continues: "In the history of these kinds of tests, women have never fared well, but that has usually been attributed to a male bias in questions or format. Men typically did better than women in the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale of the 1950s, the granddaddy of these tests, but that test was a short one and so raised the possibility that the small selection of questions chosen just happened to favour male interests."

Posted on August 26, 2005 at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (24) | TrackBack

August 24, 2005

An Interesting Blogger Question

The Heretik asks an interesting question: "What women of the past would have been a killer blogger in her day?"

There have been all kinds of interesting answers. Dorothy Parker. Hedy Lamarr. Virginia Woolf. Bette Davis. Mae West. Here are my suggestions:

Queen Cleopatra
Queen Hatshepsut
Jayne Mansfield - She would have put both Wonkette and The Washingtonienne to shame.
Sappho - Ditto.
Marie Curie
Rosalind Russell
Lauren Bacall
Anne Boleyn - I bet she'd have plenty to say about King Henry VIII.
Marie Antoinette
Frida Kahlo
Victoria Woodhull
Marie Laveau - the voodoo queen of New Orleans

What women of yesteryear would you like to read if she had a blog?

Posted on August 24, 2005 at 10:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

August 23, 2005

Female Professors More Stressed Than Male Professors

A new study has found that female professors feel more stress than male professors. [Via Feministing.]

Women in the professoriate are more stressed out than men. That’s probably not shocking to female professors (or many of their male colleagues). But a new study — based on both surveys and in-depth interviews and focus groups — attempts to provide new insights into that stress. And the study says that women are justified in their stress — answering strongly in the negative the question the study poses: “Are women faculty just worrywarts?”

The education professors who conducted the study — Jennifer L. Hart of the University of Missouri at Columbia and Christine M. Cress of Portland State University — write that answering that question is important because many in academe may believe otherwise.

The study — which has been accepted for publication in the journal Stress, Trauma, and Crisis — is based at a university whose identity was kept confidential. The researchers started by looking at faculty stress levels by going to the university’s data, as reported to a University of California at Los Angeles study on faculty attitudes.

Such data could, of course, be read as a comment on how women experience stress, not whether they are justified in feeling more of it. But the authors of the study then went to examine university records on teaching loads, and they found that women there, on average, are doing more teaching than are men.

The data found that female full professors taught more courses and independent study units than did their male counterparts. At the associate professor level, men taught more regular courses, but far fewer independent units. And at the assistant level, men and women were equal in teaching regular courses, but women taught more independent units.

In interviews, the researchers found that women cited a variety of reasons for their increased workloads and stress associated with students, and many women attributed much of the problem to sexist patterns or attitudes — from their colleagues or students.

Here are suggestions from the article about how to deal with this problem:

Create "critical mass" programs to hire more women in departments that have relatively few. The research suggested that stress levels went down when critical mass was achieved, and that after that, "the stupid, snide comments from male colleagues" diminished, in the words of one of those interviewed.

Educate review and search committees about new areas of research. One problem many women face is that their research areas, especially if they relate to issues of gender and race, are devalued, the report said.

Establish an annual review process to compare, by gender, teaching and service responsibilities, including independent academic work that appears to fall more heavily on female faculty members.

Provide extra release time and support for those with “extraordinary teaching and service responsibilities.”

Create a fund to provide extra research dollars to those who take on extra teaching duties.

Posted on August 23, 2005 at 03:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Coq Roq" Sexism... And That's Not The Ad's Only Problem

Jessica at Feministing had the same reaction to Burger King's "Coq Roq" ad that I had. When I first saw it, I thought it was stupid. Well, apparently, the ad is also sexist. Check out the picture at Feministing.

That's not the only problem with "Coq Roq". The heavy metal band Slipknot is suing Burger King because the band in the ad too closely resembles them. Slipknot members also use masks when performing, in particular one with dreadlocks. As usual, The Smoking Gun is on top of things.

Posted on August 23, 2005 at 01:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Oh, What Fun. IWF Is Holding A Writing Contest

I have learned from Ampersand that those plucky anti-feminists at the Independent Women's Forum are holding an essay contest. Applicants must be female, and attending any college or university in 2005-2006. The essay is only to be 750 words. The topic is simple:

Please discuss your experience on college campus as an independent woman.  How has your college or university helped or hindered your intellectual and personal growth?  Please describe what you think it means to be an independent woman in the year 2005.

I agree with Amp that certain themes are likely to win the money. Here are some themes that I think would win:

1. Write about how you staged a "Take Back The Penis" rally in honor of all the white men who were denied entry into college because of that nasty affirmative action that allowed you, the conservative white woman, to attend. As everyone at IWF knows, white men are the most discriminated-against class in this country.

2. You attended a feminist club meeting, and managed to spout off a few words about how feminism is harming both men and women before being tossed out of the room on your ass. Your protest was attended by a half-dozen female anti-feminist protesters all dressed in black and carrying lit candles on the steps of the building hosting the feminist club meeting. There would have been more anti-feminiist women at the protest, but most of them instead went to a kegger party looking for their future husbands. Each candle stood for one long-suffering male who had suffered at the hands of feminism. You don't have to mention that the wind kept blowing the candles out.

I agree with Amp that it would be a hoot if feminists inundated IWF with essays showing how feminism has helped them. It wouldn't be hard to do. The word-count is low. There is no entry fee, and there is no limit to the number of essays you may submit. Since fact-checking probably won't be and has never been an issue for IWF, you can just make shit up. Being swamped with hundreds of essays touting feminism would really muss the hair and makeup of those anti-feminists. Plus, if a feminist won, she could donate the money to a feminist cause, in the name of IWF. Oh, joy!

I attended a couple of luncheons hosted by IWF in the 1980s, mainly out of curiosity. What was interesting was that the women at the table deferred to any men who voiced their opinions. The few men present monopolized the entire discussion, and they frequently interrupted any women who were speaking. These few men determined the course of the topic being discussed, and the women in the room deferred to them. It was interesting to see these "independent" conservative women sit meekly and quietly in their seats while the conservative men fluffed their feathers and took up lots of psychic space. Very eye-opening, to say the least.

Posted on August 23, 2005 at 12:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 16, 2005

Law Failing Rape Victims In The U. K.

Rape victims in the U. K. are seeing their sexual histories brought up in court, despite a new change in the law that is designed to boost conviction rates . Women are being judged on their past behavior. If she is sexually active, or had a previous sexual relationship with her rapist, she is not believed. It's assumed that she consented. This attitude has been especially hard to deal with on "date rape" cases.

"Just 5.3 per cent of rape allegations ended in a guilty verdict, according to the latest Home Office figures. And more than a third of cases sent to the Crown Court collapsed before the defendant reached the dock, often because victims were unable to face the ordeal of testifying.

The law was changed in 2000 to prevent women's sexual pasts being used to argue that they must have consented to have sex, after research showed that such details were often used to discredit victims. But Vera Baird QC, a Labour MP and leading criminal barrister, said a 'depressingly large' number of judges still considered sexual history relevant."

Are the only women who are to be believed in a rape case virgins or women who are not sexually active? It isn't right to judge sexually active women, and assume that they welcome every sexual encounter.

Posted on August 16, 2005 at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 15, 2005

NARAL Pounces On FactCheck

So many other bloggers have covered the Roberts nomination so well that I saw no point in covering it myself. I'm sure he's going to end up on the Supreme Court. The Democrats are doing little if anything to prevent a virulently anti-choice judge from getting appointed, and some so-called liberal male bloggers are brushing aside abortion as an important issue - one that should be set aside for "more important things". Do these men really think that women are going to sit quietly and allow an issue of utmost importance to them be put on the back burner, and then when election time rolls around, vote for them while they pander to women on cue?

I saw this message from NARAL on Bitch Ph.D., and I thought it was worth repeating. While I'm glad to see NARAL squash everything claimed by FactCheck, I am concerned that so much attention has been shifted from the Roberts nomination and a woman's right to do what she feels is best for her own body. The talk has shifted from those important issues to the ad itself. We need to shift attention back to where it belongs.

On Monday, NARAL Pro-Choice America released our ad "Speaking Out" concerning John Roberts' record of siding with radical anti-choice groups in a critical Supreme Court case. By now you've likely seen an analysis of that ad from We wanted to share with you the attached document showing conclusively that their analysis was completely wrong. The basic fact about this case is incontrovertible: In his role as a top legal strategist for the first Bush Administration, Roberts put the U.S. Government on the side of individuals and organizations that had used violent tactics against women's health clinics -- in a case that was critical to efforts to curtail that violence.

FACTCHECK.ORG COULD USE A GOOD FACTCHECKER’s analysis of the television advertisement released by NARAL Pro-Choice America on August 8, 2005 is deeply flawed, and its conclusion that the "ad is false" is unsubstantiated and should be retracted. The analysis, written by Matthew Barge, identified as a recent college graduate(1), is riddled with legal and factual errors and in many instances virtually mirrors the White House’s talking points. One might disagree with the opinions stated in the ad or even have a different view of how John Roberts’ role in a particular case should be characterized; however, every factual statement made in NARAL Pro-Choice America's ad is completely accurate and supported by objective documents. The ad is not "false." John Roberts did indeed file briefs supporting violent fringe groups, with the effect of excusing their actions by helping to remove a crucial legal remedy that had been the most effective tool against them.

Some of the more glaring errors in’s analysis are detailed below. Makes Factual Misstatement About "Clinic Bomber" Statement in Ad: asserts that ad is false in part because Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic "didn’t deal with bombing at all." However, NARAL Pro-Choice America's ad never claimed that it did. What the ad did claim – and what is in fact true – is that John Roberts "sided with violent fringe groups, including a convicted clinic bomber." Long before Roberts involved himself in the case, Michael Bray, one of the named defendants in the Bray case, was convicted for his role in the bombings of several reproductive health facilities(2). John Roberts did, therefore, side with a convicted clinic bomber. He also sided with a violent fringe group - the violent history of Operation Rescue is well known. Falsely Suggests that Roberts Did Not Support Bray Defendants: In a puzzling statement, states that "the ad misleads when it says Roberts supported a clinic bomber. It is true that Roberts sided with the bomber..." Mr. Barge further states that Roberts merely "made the same arguments as" the defendants. However, there is no question that Roberts sided with convicted bomber Michael Bray and the other defendants, and, in doing so, Roberts supported those defendants. The brief itself is titled "brief for the United States as amicus curiae supporting petitioners(3);" with the petitioners in this case of course being the defendants, including Michael Bray. The filing of an amicus brief is a discretionary act, and the office of the Solicitor General enjoys wide latitude in deciding whether to intervene as an amicus in any particular case. If the Solicitor General's office did not intend to support the Bray defendants, the office could have chosen to intervene on the side of the reproductive health clinics or not to intervene in the case at all. Makes Factual Misstatement About Timeline Used in Ad: states that the "ad fails to mention that the 'court briefs' it mentions are actually from nearly seven years before the abortion clinic bombing talked about in the ad." As the sidebar to the article demonstrates, the date of the filing of the brief – April 11, 1991 – appears on screen as part of the overall image of the brief's cover. The year of the brief's filing is visible on-screen, as is evidenced by the date's inclusion in’s summary of the ad in its sidebar. Furthermore, the ad opens with the announcer stating that Ms. Lyons was injured in a bombing "seven years ago" and includes an image of the New Woman All Women Health Clinic and the date – January 29, 1998. There was no attempt by NARAL Pro-Choice America to misstate the timeline of events or to infer that Ms. Lyons’ injuries occurred as the result of the actions at issue in the Bray case. Makes Factual Misstatement About Roberts' Legal Argument: It is worth noting that even's legal description of the brief Roberts filed in the Bray case is not accurate. Mr. Barge states that Roberts argued that the act at issue in the case "applied only to conspiracies to deprive people of civil rights due to racial discrimination, not gender discrimination." In fact, that was not Roberts' position. Roberts actually argued that, regardless of whether gender discrimination was covered by the act at issue in the case, the clinic blockades were not gender discrimination at all. The brief states that the question of whether gender discrimination was actionable under the law was one that there was "no need to answer" in this case(4). The brief further adds that, even if the act at issue was "broad enough to reach gender-based animus, the actions taken by the petitioners are not a form of gender-based discrimination(5)." Minimizes John Roberts' Role in Filing of the Bray Brief: The ad states that "John Roberts filed court briefs supporting violent fringe groups and a convicted clinic bomber." Mr. Barge states, without explanation but apparently in an attempt to minimize Roberts' role, that Roberts was "one of six Justice Department officials who submitted the brief." In fact, the ad is accurate when it says Roberts filed the brief – his name appears on the brief itself. Furthermore, Roberts was the second in command at the Solicitor General's office, a senior political appointee largely responsible for shaping legal strategy. Roberts appeared to have been the office's point person on its strategy around the clinic violence issue – appearing twice before the Supreme Court to argue the Bray case and making media appearances to defend his office's position(6). Minimizes Operation Rescue's Lawlessness: paints a grossly misleading picture of the nature of Operation Rescue "protestors." At the time of Bray, reproductive health clinics were under siege by anti-choice extremists. In many cases, state law enforcement was outnumbered, overpowered, and overwhelmed, despite their best efforts. For example, in their amicus brief in Bray, the State Attorneys General of Virginia and New York pleaded to the Supreme Court to make federal civil rights laws and remedies available to reproductive health clinics and other victims of Operation Rescue's lawlessness. They insisted that "[n]o state, or group of states, is equipped alone to deal with and redress the deprivations of federal rights caused by the nationwide activity of Operation Rescue(7)."

The City of Falls Church, home to one of the plaintiff clinics in Bray that experienced clinic blockades on almost a weekly basis for five years(8), declared in its amicus brief that it could not effectively contend with Operation Rescue's "military-style tactics." During blockades that local law enforcement were unable to effectively handle, Falls Church reported that "[s]ome [patients] suffered physical injury, locked captive in cars that could not move through the parking lot, or bunkered inside the clinic from which medical personnel seeking to treat them had been denied access… It was only when the federal court in this case entered its injunction under §1985(3) against the blockades and those that would act in furtherance of them that these disturbances ceased(9)." Is Profoundly Misguided To State That Operation Rescue's Behavior Is Akin to the Civil Rights Movement: Mr. Barge states that Operation Rescue's actions "in some ways mirrored the non-violent tactics used earlier by civil-rights activists." This restatement of anti-choice extremists' talking points is clearly untrue. As Justice Stevens wrote in Bray, "the demonstrations in the 1960's were motivated by a desire to extend the equal protection of the laws to all classes – not to impose burdens on any disadvantaged class... The suggestion that there is an analogy between their struggle to achieve equality and these petitioners' concerted efforts to deny women equal access to a constitutionally protected privilege may have rhetorical appeal, but it is insupportable on the record before us...(10)" Justice Stevens also noted that Bray "presents a striking contemporary example of the kind of zealous, politically motivated, lawless conduct that led to the enactment of the Ku Klux Act in 1871 and gave it its name(11)." Similarly, Justice O'Connor likened Operation Rescue's behavior to the Ku Klux Klan, noting that "[l]ike the Klan conspiracies Congress tried to reach in enacting §1985(3), '[p]etitioners intended to hinder a particular group in the exercise of their legal rights because of their membership in a specific class(12).'"

(1) Annenberg Political Fact Check, About Us, (last visited Aug. 10, 2005); Chris Wooley, McCain Talks to WBTB, THE HOYA (last visited Aug. 10, 2005).

(2) Bray was convicted of two counts of conspiracy and one count of possessing unregistered explosive devices. The court sentenced him to 10 years in prison and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $43,782. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overturned his conviction on a technicality relating to jury selection. Before he was retried, Bray entered a plea that resulted in him serving 46 months in prison. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Extremist Biography: Michael Bray (Feb. 2, 2005) (last visited Aug. 10, 2005); National Abortion Federation, Anti-Abortion Extremists/The Army of God and Justifiable Homicide (last visited Aug. 10, 2005); National Abortion Federation, History of Violence/Arsons and Bombings (last visited Aug. 10, 2005); Sandy Banisky, Bowie Family Condones Anti-Abortion Violence, BALTIMORE SUN, Oct. 9, 1994, at 1A.

(3) Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Petitioners, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, No. 90-985 (Apr. 11, 1991) (emphasis added).

(4) Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Petitioners, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, No. 90-985 (Apr. 11, 1991).

(5) Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae Supporting Petitioners, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, No. 90-985 (Apr. 11, 1991).

(6) See e.g., Gwen Ifill, 1871 Law at Issue in Abortion Debate, N.Y. TIMES, Aug. 11, 1991, at 16; MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour Transcript #4133, Aug. 7, 1991.

(7) Brief of the Attorneys General of the State of New York and the Commonwealth of Virginia as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, No. 90-985 (May 13, 1991).

(8) National Organization for Women v. Operation Rescue, 726 F. Supp. 1483, 1489 (1989).

(9) Brief for Falls Church, Virginia as Amicus Curiae Supporting Respondents, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, No. 90-985 (May 13, 1991).

(10) Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, 506 U.S. 263, 344-45 (1993) (Stevens, J., dissenting).

(11) Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, 506 U.S. 263, 313 (1993) (Stevens, J., dissenting).

(12) Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, 506 U.S. 263, 349 (1993) (O’Connor, J., dissenting).

Posted on August 15, 2005 at 10:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 11, 2005

Padlock A Guy's Balls, Panic. Padlock A Woman's Uterus, Make It Law

I lost a great opportunity in my post about the guy whose balls were padlocked to make a great point about women's reproduction. MediaGirl was way ahead of me.

You have to laugh, right?

So wait. Let's flip it around. Let's say instead of taking it off, the authorities are putting the lock on to the man's testicles.

Then let's say instead of a man's testicles, the lock is going on the woman's womb.

Oh wait, that is okay, right? Why?

She's right. In some states, women can't get their prescriptions for birth control filled at the pharmacy because the pharmacist has "ethical objections" related to abortion, even though birth control is legal in this country. Pharmacists are vetoing decisions made by a woman, with the help of her doctor. We have a possible new Supreme Court justice who may vote to repeal Roe v. Wade. The Bush administration has worked hard to prevent information about birth control and abortion from being given out freely in this country and oversees. We have an administration that values a vaguely defined "life" of a blastocyte over the livelihood of adult women. MediaGirl's analogy is very apt.

Posted on August 11, 2005 at 08:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

July 31, 2005

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't

Amanda at Pandagon links to a post by Lauren at Feministe about the ageless double-bind working moms and stay-at-home moms are in. I've been both a stay-at-home and working mom while married and divorced, in varying degrees. Having a supportive partner goes a long way to making either working or staying at home with the kids a pleasant proposition. I did not have the support of my ex-husband no matter what I did. I have the support of my current husband, and it makes all the difference in the world. I've noticed that the political and media pundits act as if stay-at-home and working moms live in some kind of vacuum - that she alone is responsible for whether or not her kids turn out fine. Those pundits forget that raising children is supposed to be a group effort. While it can be done alone, it's great to have help. I am very grateful to my husband for doing his part in raising his stepson. My son knows who his dad is, and he knows that my husband is not replacing dad in any way. That's one criticism mothers in my situation often hear from fathers' rights activists - we supposedly want our new husbands to replace dad. That is most definitely not true. Any fathers' rights activist saying that either has some doubts about his own ability to properly raise his kids, or he's hiding some ugly secrets he conveniently leaves out when discussing what a great guy he is to his fellow fathers' rights activists on the Internet.

I'm tired of reading about how I am selfish if I work outside the home, and that I'm a leech if I stay at home to raise my son. I'm tired of reading about mothers who supposedly "let" day care raise their children, yet if they forego paid employment to raise their children, they are treated as if they have nothing of interest to add to a conversation. They're damned no matter what they do.

Those who criticize working mothers act as if all of these mothers are pursuing highly-paid careers, and would rather have meetings, business travel to exotic locations, huge McMansions, enough money to buy a new SUV, cell phones, cable TV, and other luxuries. The fact is that most people, male or female, don't have dream jobs. Most people don't have highly paid exciting careers you see in the movies. That's a fantasy. Most jobs are much more down-to-earth and mundane than that. I remember reading somewhere that feminism will achieve its goal when women have the same right as men to be paid the same amount of money to work at a dull job.

I've noticed that these articles point fingers at mothers who work to obtain "luxuries", all the while dumping the kids in day care. The moms, defensive, say they don't buy "luxuries" but "necessities". I don't think moms need to be defensive about this. I'm certainly not. I say, what business is it of some pundit or nosy neighbor to judge me for eating out, buying a new car, investing in collectibles, or buying a new DVD player? It's none of your fucking business. If you don't approve of buying "luxuries", than don't buy them. Just keep your snotty opinions to yourself.

On the other hand, mothers are urged to stay home to raise the kids - as long as they are not poor. Poor mothers who stay at home are called welfare queens. That term might not be said aloud in "polite company" today, but the attitude is still there. One reason welfare reform is successful because it plays on the ugly stereotype of the welfare queen. Taxpayers complain that welfare mothers should work because they - the taxpayer - doesn't want to pay for their children. Guess what - you already are. You're paying for children whose mothers are not on welfare, too. You're paying for their educations, science equipment, school books, teachers, adminstrators, transportation, and sometimes their meals. When those children begin working, they will begin paying towards Social Security that you will use. Maybe when it's time for you to go to Happy Acres Nursing Home, those children you refused to "pay for" should have the option of not putting any of their hard-earned cash towards Social Security. Then you'll see how it feels.

I admit that I prefer working motherhood to being a stay-at-home mom. When I was a SAHM, I was so bored I climbed the walls. I became involved in local theatre groups both before and after my pregnancy, and learned about lighting, scenic art, and makeup. It was due to this volunteer work while I was a young mother that I eventually earned money working on movies, concerts, television, and business conferences. I joined two unions. I commend SAHMs, but it just was not for me.

I have had mixed experiences related to working motherhood when I was a recent childless, unmarried college graduate. Back in the 1980s, I had worked for a company that wanted me to interview prospective employees for a clerical position, but my boss wanted me to find out if they had children. He didn't want to hire a woman with young children. This man's wife just gave birth to a baby girl, and he couldn't see the irony. I reminded him that what he wanted me to do was illegal, but he was adamant. I felt stuck. I was recently hired by the company myself, and I was very unsure of myself. I had interviewed one woman that I liked very much, but she had a young child. My boss didn't want to hire her. He chose a woman I really couldn't get along with, but she was childless. I was very young, naive, and too scared to do anything about this. I left the company soon after this incident. The company folded a few years after I left. I wasn't surprised. It turned out that the company played fast and loose with its accounting. This was years before Enron.

At my first job out of college, I worked with a woman who became pregnant, and she took full advantage over our boss's fear of a lawsuit to run roughshod over her co-workers, most notably me because when she wouldn't show up at work, I was stuck with all her work on top of mine. I had talked to my boss about this - we got along very well - but he was scared he'd face a discrimination lawsuit if he fired her. She did eventually clean up her act after a couple of chats, but I was still angry that she found a way to dump her work on me. She became pregnant again almost immediately after giving birth to her first child, and she quit her job a few months into that pregnancy. My work load immediately dropped to a more comfortable level, since my boss hired another secretary.

I've had my own experiences with motherhood while I was single and childless that left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Since having my son, my attitude has changed. I think with age, experience, confidence, and wisdom I would have handled those two situations much differently.

It seems that quite a bit of the motherhood discussion is due to boneheaded comments by Rick Santorum. He said that birth control is harmful to women and society and it's "not a healthy thing for our country." He recently wrote "It Takes A Family" and is presumably on a book tour. Sure, take away a woman's ability to decide when and if to bear a child, and once she bears the child, don't give her any social support. Don't give her adequate child care or maternity leave. The United States is one of the only countries (the other is Australia) that does not provide adequate maternity leave for mothers. According to media reports (see previous link for one), "The United States and Australia are the only industrialized countries that don't provide paid leave for new mothers nationally, although there are exceptions in some U.S. states. Australian mothers have it better, however, with one year of job-protected leave. The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, provides for 12 weeks of job-protected leave, but it covers only those who work for larger companies. To put it another way, out of 168 nations in a Harvard University study last year, 163 had some form of paid maternity leave, leaving the United States in the company of Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland."

Posted on July 31, 2005 at 08:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 26, 2005

Vaginal vs. Oral Contraception

A preliminary study published in the July issue of Fertility and Sterility, as quoted by Reuters, indicates that "vaginal administration of emergency contraception might be an effective alternative to oral administration." [Via Jessica at Feministing.] This sounds like a good idea to me. Some women reported feeling nausea when taking oral contraceptives. I've never had that problem. Having an option regarding how to take the contraceptives is okay in my book.

Posted on July 26, 2005 at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 19, 2005

Would A Repeal Of Roe Help Dems?

I'm not so sure that turning on women's right to choose whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term is such a great thing for the Dems to do. I'm tired of being catered to by Dems during election time (because I'm female and I vote) only to be ignored the rest of the time.

Michael Stickings of The Reaction posted comments by a guest blogger, Morbo, who sees a repeal of Roe should Bush nominate an extreme conservative to the Supreme Court as a boost for the Dems. Here's what Morbo wrote:

Morbo: "[A] Bushified Supreme Court that starts trashing precedent in the area of reproductive choice might possibly provide the shock our political system needs to make people realize how scary the Republican Party's agenda really is... For too long, some moderates have felt they could vote for the GOP for fiscal reasons, even if they disagreed with that party's rigid stance on social issues... Perhaps when the Supreme Court can no longer be counted on to take a moderate course, [these moderates] will wake up, start living in the real world and confront the question they have so far evaded: What matters more to me -- my fundamental rights as a human being or a tax cut?" (Read the whole post. It's an interesting argument.)

In other words: In loss, Democrats will triumph. Well, maybe. I'm moderately pro-choice myself, and Morbo makes a good case that too much success will ultimately spell the Republicans' demise, but a) I still think Bush will nominate Gonzales; b) I don't think that Roe will ever be fully overturned -- there's no guarantee that a conservative like Luttig or McConnell would actually vote to overturn Roe (even if he or she would likely allow for further restrictions on abortion); and c) I've made the case -- to friends, if not yet at The Reaction -- that Republican over-reach on abortion, including a possible overturning of Roe by a more conservative Court, could blow the Republican "majority" to smithereens, but I'm awfully reluctant to take that risk for the sake of possible triumph down the road (after all, Morbo and I could be wrong).

Either way, it could be that Democrats/liberals will win... on abortion (if winning means maintaining Roe). And abortion is, to many, the key issue here -- for social conservatives and for many on the left. The problem is that an excessively conservative replacement for the moderate-pragmatic O'Connor would shift the Court's balance further to the right on many other issues. Abortion isn't the be all and end all of American jurisprudence, after all, and a more conservative Court -- a Court that embraces right-wing radicalism -- could end up wreaking havoc on American liberalism well beyond the single issue of reproductive choice.

And that's a bad thing.

I ask why can't the Dems see how bad the reactionary Republicans are now? Why would it take a repeal of Roe to get the Dems off their asses? I really don't like my reproductive organs to be used in this manner by politicians for political gain. Why wait until Roe is a thing of the past to take action? Abortion is legal, and I believe it should stay legal. I'm tired of seeing women's rights used to play political football this way.

Posted on July 19, 2005 at 07:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 18, 2005

Anti-Choice Adoption Agency Rejects Catholics

Update: Oops, my bad. Jill wrote that post at Feministe, not Lauren.


Although I no longer practice the faith, I was raised Catholic. As far as I know, Catholics and evangelical Christians honor the same God. So why would an anti-choice adoption group turn away Catholics who want to adopt? I have heard of this kind of discrimination before, but I never understood it. Maybe it's the focus on the Virgin Mary, the saints, and odd practices such as confirmation, the May procession, and the Blessing of the Throats that places Catholics in a different realm than Christians (Protestants?). I have no idea. If someone reading has an answer, please post in comments.

I agree with Lauren. She went to the agencies web site, and found that it's mission statement included these words: "Members of the national board, local boards, staff and adoptive applicants indicate their personal agreement with Bethany's Statement of Faith". Lauren said that "this statement not only requires that potential adoptive parents be Christian, but that they be anti-choice as well. So the agency isn't just discriminating against Catholics, as the news article implied — they're discriminating against Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, pro-choice people, and anyone else who doesn't share their exact vision of the world, as dictated by their Bible. But I guess that's not news."

And evangelicals wonder why so many people are turned off by them. I can't stand that superior attitude. It's not like evangelicals honor a God different from Catholics. Last time I checked, they worshiped the same God. So why discriminate against Catholics?

Posted on July 18, 2005 at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (39) | TrackBack

June 08, 2005

Women Are Catching Up

Not only are women outpacing men in the fields of law, medicine, and clergy, they are better investors than men. According to BBC, "women investors are consistently better at investing in shares than men, a survey has said. The study, by financial website Digital Look, said women were more successful because they tended to back a balanced portfolio instead of more risky stocks. The average woman's share portfolio grew by 17% in the year to 27 May, the survey found, while the average man's rose by just 11%. Over the same period, the FTSE Allshare index climbed by 13%."

The survey found that women "built up balanced share collections, favouring leisure, food and drink, and utility firms." Men were more attracted to risky investment in fads, such as mining, oil, and gas. Those areas are very volatile, and recently they have lost ground. Women tend to not favor fads such as these.

[via Feministing.]

Posted on June 8, 2005 at 11:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

May 24, 2005

Genia Shockome To Be Released From Jail Tonight

I've just been notified via e-mail that Genia Shockome is going to be released from jail at about midnight tonight. She's being released now based on the 2/3 rule - 1/3 time off for good behavior. There will be protesters rallying in her support at the jail when she is released tonight.

If anyone reading has no clue who Genia Shockome is, just plug her name into my "search" engine in my sidebar to read more about her case.

Posted on May 24, 2005 at 10:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

You Have Got To Be Kidding Me

Update: Oh, darn it. It turns out that this is a hoax. I was hoping some low-life would waste a hundred bucks or more on granny panties, and find out that his wife wasn't cheating on him after all.


A commenter had alerted me to this. Apparently, a Japanese company has created a set of panties, "Forget Me Not" panties that have a tracking device for their wives and girlfriends that have a tracking device in them. The tracking devise is in the little flower embedded in the panties. That way, they can monitor their wives or girlfriend's activities, since these guys who buy them may think the women are cheating on them. What an invasion of privacy! Of course, control freak abusive guys often think their women are cheating on them when they don't know where they are every second of the day. These panties are insane.

They're not cheap. The "basic" pair costs $99.99. The "advanced" pair with heat and heart rate sensors (!!!) costs $179.99. Seven basics cost $650.00. Seven advanced pairs costs $1,190. Now rich men can violate their wive's and girlfriend's privacy by spending a wad of cash on these panties.

I don't know how well they sell.

Here's the blurb from the web site.

protect her privates
Ever worry about your wife cheating?
Want to know where your daughter is late at night?
Need to know when your girlfriend's temperature is rising?

This amazing device will answer all of your questions! These panties can give you her location, and even her temperature and heart rate, and she will never even know it's there! Unlike the cumbersome and uncomfortable chastity belts of the past, these panties are 100% cotton, and use cutting-edge technology to help you protect what matters most.

make sure you will never be forgotten

forget-me-not panties™ have built-in GPS and unique sensor technology giving you the forget-me-not advantage.

I'm just speechless. This is way over the top. If any women get a pair of white panties with a little flower embedded on them as a "gift," beware.

Posted on May 24, 2005 at 09:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

May 21, 2005

PZ Myers Just Slays Me

Update: PandaAmanda gutted the cretin with an ice cream scoop. Ha ha! That was loads of fun to read.


I just finished reading PZ Myers' hosting at Pharyngula of The Eighth Skeptic's Circle. The post itself was very interesting and informative, as I knew it would be.

What really amused me was the cretin who trolled his comments. I've had my own personal run-ins with this particular cretin, who engages in ad hominem attacks, baseless claims without any valid resource material to back them up, and loads of logic fallacies. I was a favorite target of his for a couple of years, before he started his blog. He came after me on my blog before, and I just laughed. He trolls to disrupt blogs, mailing lists, and bulletin boards. He also trolls to attract people to his blog. PZ figured him out real fast. He asked commenters to ignore him, but not until after he filleted him with a butter knife. I won't name him or link to him. Why give him the attention he craves? Just go to the Skeptic's Circle link. You'll figure out who it is right away.

One thing this guy claimed is that women and men earn about equal pay without stating the rest of the facts. That's a common lie told by anti-feminists, in particular the Independent Women's Forum. In fact, this guy cited IWF as his "source." That was laughable. I had to say something, since I was enjoying watching him getting keel-hauled so thoroughly. This is what I wrote:

I see you're enjoying yourself poking holes in RB's drivel, PZ (and everyone else here). I've known him for years, from his men's and fathers' rights nonsense. He's a gnat.

Check this out:

RB, citing the Independent Women's Forum (an anti-feminist group):

"A study of the gender wage gap conducted by economist June O' Neill, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, found that women earn 98 percent of what men do when controlled for experience, education, and number of years on the job."

RB conveniently left out the fact that the 98% figure refers to recent college grads in low-paying, entry level jobs. These are people who have never married, with no children, and little job experience. In those kinds of jobs, women earn 98% of what men earn. As they progress in their careers, marry, and have children, women's wages drop to 76 cents to the man's dollar. This drop is due to both discrimination against women and women taking on the bulk of the responsibilities inherent in childrearing that men overall do not take on.

Here's my cite: "The Pay Gap - Causes, Consequences and Actions New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women" (Canada). This is a PDF file.


Both sexes begin their careers with similar, low, earnings. It is after their mid-twenties that the gap progressively widens. Canadian women aged 15 to 24 who worked full-time full-year in 1994 earned $19,269, 90% of what men earn, while women aged 55 and over earned $26,000, 65% of what men earn. As women age, their earnings remain almost static.

Marital status is another, related, factor. Never-married (single but not necessary childless) women who work full-time earn 92% of what never-married men earn: both earn a relatively low wage. Never-married men, never-married women and married women all earn approximately the same (in Canada, $28-30,000; in N.B., $22-23,000 in full-time annual earnings), significantly less than married men (in Canada, $43,300; in N.B., about $37,000). Married men have higher average earnings than all other groups of men and women. No group of women, whether never-married, married, separated, young or old, earn as much as married men.

The relatively small population of never-married women aged 35 to 44 who work full-time full-year earn $32,200, which is 85% of what never-married men their age earn and 72% of what all men their age earn; never-married women aged 45 to 54 earn $36,000, which is 93% of what never-married men their age earn and 78% of what all men their age earn. Higher levels of education correlate with higher earnings for both men and women. Women with post-secondary qualifications have higher average earnings than other women, but they have lower earnings than similarly qualified men. Canadian women with university degrees who worked full-time full-year in 1994 earned $40,252 or 72% of what men earned.

(Never-married, therefore mostly young, women with university degrees who worked full-time full-year earned $38,871 or 95% of what their never-married male counterparts earned in 1994. Married university-educated females, an older group, earned 68% of what their male counterparts earned.) A study of one class of university graduates revealed that the women's earnings were slightly higher on average than the men's, but even for these highly educated workers, the gap widened progressively over time.

As usual, RB plays fast and loose with the facts.

Just for kicks, everyone check out this page - The Pig Page. Scroll down to get a photo and some choice flotsam from dear old RB.

Fathers' Rights - In Their Own Words

PZ said "huh?" to an entry by Dean from Dean's World. Specifically, the entry was by Trudy Schuett, of the anti-feminist DesertLight Journal. Here is what PZ had to say about that entry:

However, this article from Dean's World on Men's Issues and Stats has but one virtue: irony. Look at these opening lines in disbelief.

It seems the ignorance of feminists is not only alive and well, but growing at an astonishing rate. Or maybe it’s deliberate, this dissemination of obvious untruth. I vote for the deliberate, as I’ve never met a feminist or women’s shelter advocate yet who could hold an entire conversation without resorting to at least one fabrication.

If you must read further, watch the phony strawman go up in the second paragraph, too. Ouch.

Schuett had cited a bibliography by Martin Fiebert as "proof" that men and women are equally abusive. That bibliography has been making the rounds of men's rights web sites for aeons. What its supporters don't say is that most of the "research" cited in that bibliography utilized the Conflict Tactic Scales (CTS) in order to come to their conclusions. The CTS is rife with problems, the least of which is that they isolate individual physical "hits" between men and women in a relationship without taking the hits within the context of the abusive incident or abusive relationship. They also don't consider other, existing problems of domestic violence, such as emotional, mental, legal, and economic abuse. They don't consider sexual assault or rape in their tabulations. They don't consider the severity of a physical "hit," counting a slap as the same as a hard punch that leaves bruising or worse. Strauss, Gelles, and Steinmetz are the researchers who created the CTS. Gelles himself has said the following regarding the CTS and men's rights types who take them out of context in their drive to "prove" that men and women are equally abusive:

by Richard J. Gelles
University of Rhode Island Family Violence Research Program


"This factoid cites research by Murray Straus, Suzanne Steinmetz, and Richard Gelles, as well as a host of other self-report surveys. Those using this factoid tend to conveniently leave out the fact that Straus and his colleague's surveys as well as data collected from the National Crime Victimization Survey (Bureau of Justice Statistics) consistently find that no matter what the rate of violence or who initiates the violence, women are 7 to 10 times more likely to be injured in acts of intimate violence than are men."


By Richard J. Gelles

"[S]elf-described battered husbands, men’s rights group members and some scholars maintain that there are significant numbers of battered men, that battered men are indeed a social problem worthy of attention and that there are as many male victims of violence as female. The last claim is a significant distortion of well-grounded research data."


"[W]hen we look at injuries resulting from violence involving male and female partners, it is categorically false to imply that there are the same number of "battered" men as there are battered women. Research shows that nearly 90 percent of battering victims are women and only about ten percent are men."

Despite the fact that nowhere with any validity is it believed that men and women are equally abusive, men's rights types still like to trot out that nonsense. I wasn't surprised to see the "men and women are equally abusive" crap (and Fiebert's bibliography) mentioned at DesertLight Journal. That's where I expect to see it. All I did was roll my eyes when I saw the name "Fiebert." I knew right away what it was.

I haven't entered the Skeptic's Circle yet with a post, but I may enter one this week, as soon as I learn what the topics are. I've been lax in entering posts for Tangled Bank. It's time for me to enter that one again.

Posted on May 21, 2005 at 11:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

May 18, 2005

Feminism and Married Surnames

Eugene Volokh is asking married feminist women who had chosen their husband's last names to explain why, and if this contracts feminist thought. [Via Lauren at Feministe.] I don't think it contradicts feminism. Most of the women who had commented stated that they chose their husband's last names to allay any confusion regarding their children. A family with the same last name reinforces the family unit. Some women had maiden names they did not like, and chose their husband's names, which were easier to pronounce or not embarrassing, as their own last name.

I took on my ex-husband's last name as my last name, and I used my maiden name as my middle name. I liked the sound of it. If my husband's name was something dreadful like "Glotfelty" I probably would not have used it. I knew a guy in college named Dave Glotfelty. Once, when we were out buying ingredients for a pizza, he asked me what I wanted on it. I told him he'd probably gag, but I wanted anchovies. He froze, and stared at me. I thought he was going to go into a tirade about people who like to eat food that watches them while they eat it. I've heard that one before when I begged for anchovies on a pizza. Instead, he asked me if I played chess. I was thinking, "what the hell?" Yes, I played chess, although not very well. He then got down on his knees - in the middle of the refrigerated section in the grocery store - and asked me to marry him. I said "no," and told him to get up because he was embarrassing me. He then told me that he met women who liked anchovies, and he met women who could play chess. However, he had never met a woman who both liked anchovies and could play chess. He said that the moment he met such a woman, he was going to ask her to marry him, no matter where he was at the time. I gently turned him down (knew he was joking though), and we got our anchovies, ran back to my dorm room, and gorged on anchovy pizza. He begged me to play a game of chess with him, but I wasn't in the mood.

I would never have taken his last name as my own, even if I had married him, because it sounded dorky. Trish Glotfelty. Yuck.

I haven't taken my current husband's last name because I'm too well known in my professional circle by my first name and maiden name. Changing my name to include his last name would just make things confusing for me. However, I might take his last name for legal and purely vanity purposes, since he is descended from a Hungarian count. By marriage, I am a countess, even though the family lost its fortune years ago. The title is yet another one of those Eastern European worthless titles you've read about. It's a really cool name, too. With a cool accent over one letter. I'd pronounce it in Hungarian, not English.

Heh. I am a countess. Bow down and kiss my ring. evil_smiley.gif

Posted on May 18, 2005 at 02:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (25) | TrackBack

May 03, 2005

Attacking Women's Reproductive Freedom From All Sides

It's not news that abortion and contraception are under assault in this country. Everyone has already read the story of L.G., the 13 year old Florida girl who is being denied an abortion. The judge recently ruled in the girl's favor to have her abortion, but the State of Florida immediately appealed the decision. The idea is to stall a legal medical procedure to the point that she will be far enough in her pregnancy so that she will not be able to get her abortion.

Randall Terry recently emerged from obscurity to write to President Bush about L. G. Terry and other anti-choice zealots were sued by NOW in the Schiedler case. NOW v. Schiedler ruled that "three national leaders in the anti-abortion movement committed acts of extortion against abortion clinics and damaged their ability to do business." I wrote about NOW v. Schieder for Feminista:

"Named were Operation Rescue and the Pro-Life Action League (PLAN), as well as three top members of PLAN - Joseph Scheidler (founder), Timothy Murphy and Andrew Scholberg. Randall Terry (founder of Operation Rescue and former used- car salesman), was originally named in the lawsuit, but he settled with NOW in January because he was already facing $169,000 in court awards from two other abortion-related lawsuits. Part of the settlement included his agreement to not participate in any criminal activity against abortion clinics, their staffs or patients or belong to any group that does. If he would have violated that agreement, which he did not, the cost would have been an additional $15,000 on top of amounts he already owed as well as allowing NOW to reinstate him as a defendant. Now the the case has closed, the question remains whether Terry will go back to his abortion-related criminal activity. If he's wise, he won't."

I also wrote this about Terry:

Randall Terry in and of himself is an interesting figure to watch. Raised in the suburbs of Rochester, New York, he grew up around strong women. In the words of one of his aunts, Terry was "raised at the knee of feminists." Three feminists, to be exact: his aunts, Diane, Dawn, and Dale. They fought for civil rights, peace, and women's equality during the 1970s. They launched the first women's studies program at Buffalo State University.

More than any other issue, they focused on reproductive freedom for women. With a delightful sense of irony, it should be noted that Terry's aunt, Dawn Marvin, was a former communications director of the Rochester, NY chapter of Planned Parenthood.

In contrast to the gains being made by women in the 1970s, which were personified in Terry's mind due to the success of his aunts, Terry himself sold used cars (or "jalopies," to use Faludi's preferred word). He also scooped ice cream, sold tires, and flipped burgers. He had attempted to launch a career as a singer, but that dream fell through. This is a man who saw women (and other men) striving for and in some cases achieving their goals and dreams, whereas he could not pay his bills. His wife also worked, which probably further angered him that he could not make it without the assistance of a mere woman.

In the midst of his search for meaning in his life, he found God. He also found a way of denouncing feminism as responsible for the problems he was having, insisting that working women brought on the destruction of the family, even though his own wife worked. She had to work -- Terry was not making enough money to make ends meet. It wasn't until he founded Operation Rescue that the money -- in the form of donations -- began to pour in. At last, he found his calling in life, and it came with a regular, fat paycheck.

Faludi reports instances of Terry and a group of church-goers making daily visits to clinics in 1985, and spraying the locks with Krazy Glue. They would follow clinic employees to and from the building. "One day," Faludi wrote, "they stormed the clinic, smashed the furniture, ripped out the phones, and locked themselves in the counseling room. The police had to break the door down. During still another protest, one of the Operation Rescue activists, a young man, leaped in a window and punched a five-months pregnant woman in the stomach. She was taken to the hospital in an ambulance -- and miscarried three weeks later."

The RICO section of this ruling was later overturned, but it did push Terry far into the background where he belongs. Now, thanks to publicity from the Terri Shiavo case (Sorry, I'm violating my own "Terry Schiavo Free Zone" rule because it's relevant. Excuse the lapse.), Terry is back in the news. Now, he's going after a 13 year old girl whom a judge had ruled has a right to get an abortion. Terry's comments are indented. Mine are in blue.

Governor Bush, under no circumstances should LG's baby be killed by abortion. I am begging you to not allow a repeat of the Terry Schindler fiasco, which results in the death of another innocent person.
Please Mr. Governor, use every means at your disposal to ensure that this innocent unborn child is brought to full-term, and delivered alive. Pro-abortion zealots at the ACLU and pro-abortion judges must not be allowed to snuff out the life of this unique human being.

Terry's trying to regain his fifteen minutes of fame. A fetus is a "unique human being," but L.G. is nothing more than an incubator. That's what this line of thinking leads to.

Moreover, it is clear that LG is a deeply troubled young woman. God knows that she is probably the victim of multiple sexual crimes against her. If she is not already there, she is certainly on track for a long list of self-abusive and self-destructive behaviors which could (God forbid) bring her life to a tragic and premature end.

So Randall Terry knows L. G.? If he really cares about her, why hasn't he offered to adopt her child? Of course he hasn't. That's not his goal. His goal is to prevent women (and girls like L. G.) from making their own decisions about their reproduction. That's what anti-choice zealots like him do - they are "pro-birth," and once the birth is done, they wash their hands of the woman and the "baby" they were so eager to "save."
Conservatives love to blame unwed teen mothers for every social ill out there. You've seen "fatherlessness" statistics. They blame single mother homes for juvenile crime, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, school dropout rates, and alcohol and drug addiciton. You've seen the fake stats before. They go something like this:

Children born in fatherless homes are...

1. Eight times more likely to go to prison.
2. Five times more likely to commit suicide.
3. Twenty times more likely to have behavioral problems.
4. Twenty times more likely to become rapists.
5. 32 times more likely to run away.
6. Ten times more likely to abuse chemical substances.
7. Nine times more likely to drop out of high school.
8. 33 times more likely to be seriously abused.
9. 73 times more likely to be fatally abused.
10. One-tenth as likely to get A's in school.
11. On average have a 44% higher mortality rate.
12. On average have a 72% lower standard of living.

So, L. G. would get shit for getting an abortion, and she would get shit for having the baby. She's being condemned no matter what she does.

If she is permitted or pressured into having this abortion, it will be one more mountain of guilt that she will have to carry on her young back. This will be a horrifying, defining moment for her, which will bring no long term relief or solutions to her turbulent life, and will only compound her grief and the emotional crises she will face in the future.

I'm so thrilled that Randall Terry knows so much about a girl he's never met to make these kinds of patronizing judgments about her. He doesn't really give a shit. She is just a platform for him to stand on to spread his anti-woman views. He obviously doesn't know her at all. She made quite an impression on the judge, who, unlike Terry, had actually spoken to her:

L.G.: Why can’t I make my own decision?
Judge Alvarez: I don’t know.
L.G.: You don’t know? Aren’t you the judge?

* * *

Department of Children and Family Services: The Department of Children and Families has the custodial responsibility to do what is in the best interest of the child.
L.G.: I think if I want to make the decision, it’s my business and I can do that. It would make no sense to have the baby. I don’t think I should have the baby because I’m 13, I’m in a shelter and I can’t get a job. DCF would take the baby anyway [but] if I do have it, I’m not going to let them take it.

* * *

L.G.: Since you guys are supposedly here for the best interest of me, then wouldn’t you all look at that fact that it’d be more dangerous for me to have the baby than to have an abortion?
Judge Alvarez: A good point.
OBGYN: At her age and at her stage of gestation … her risk of death from an abortion procedure is about 1 in 34,000. The risk of death in pregnancy is about 1 in 10,000.

* * *

Judge Alvarez (paraphrase): Who is the father?
L.G.: That’s not really necessary.

She sounds like she is perfectly capable of making decisions about her body without the interference of snotty publicity-seekers like Randall Terry.

For whatever reasons that Providence has permitted, the eyes of the nation continue to focus on life and death issues in Florida, and hence on you as our Governor. I pray that you will be a stalwart champion for life and justice, unflinching in the face of criticism, a man equal to the battles the lie before you.
Please fight for this baby's life, and do not surrender this unborn child to the hands of his would-be slayers under any circumstances.

The judge in this case has just ruled in favor of L. G., permitting her to have her abortion. Of course, the State jumped in immediatey and appealed the ruling. Humping Jeb Bush's leg with flattery like calling him a "stalward champion for life and justice" is just Terry's smarmy attempt to force himself into the issue. What concerns me most is that this girl is going to see her case stalled indefinitely until she is unable to get her abortion. That's what anti-choice zealots do now - they know that abortion is a legal medical procedure, so they'll prevent women and girls from controlling their own reproduction by stalling their cases through the courts as long as they can, and by denying women and girls much-needed valid information about birth control and reproduction in favor of abstinence-only "education" (garbage) and by saluting pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions. Abortion is legal for the moment, but that hasn't stopped anti-choice zealots from doing everything they can to stall or disallow a legal medical procedure as well as preventing women from getting the health information and birth control that they need.

Abstinence-only education. Pharmacists and their "conscience clauses" that apply only to birth control pills but not condoms. Preventing a girl from getting an abortion she is perfectly capable of deciding about on her own.

Posted on May 3, 2005 at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack

April 30, 2005

It's "The Handmaid's Tale" Again

There is no doubt that women are being turned into incubators these days. This is what rape victims at Catholic hospitals in Colorado are going through: [Via Feministe.]

Imagine two rape victims taken to the same hospital emergency room. Imagine them put in adjoining examination rooms.

Let’s say they have identical injuries.

Presume everything about them is the same except for where they are in their menstrual cycles.

Do they deserve access to the same medical treatment?

At most Catholic hospitals in Colorado, they can’t get it.

The protocol of six Catholic hospitals run by Centura calls for rape victims to undergo an ovulation test.

If they have not ovulated, said Centura corporate spokeswoman Dana Berry, doctors tell the victims about emergency contraception and write prescriptions for it if the patient asks.

If, however, the urine test suggests that a rape victim has ovulated, Berry continued, doctors at Centura’s Catholic hospitals are not to mention emergency contraception. That means the victim can end up pregnant by her rapist.

Posted on April 30, 2005 at 12:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

April 29, 2005

Not Mature Enough For An Abortion, But Mature Enough To Have A Baby?

A social services agency in Florida was granted a court order to prevent a 13 year old girl from getting an abortion. The ACLU has filed an emergency appeal. [Via Bitch, Ph.D.]

Get a load of this: "The state agency argued the 13 1/2-week pregnant girl — described as L.G. in court documents — is too young and immature to make an informed medical decision, according to the ACLU appeal."

So she's too "young and immature" to get an abortion, but she's mature enough to have a baby? Give me a break. She's a girl, not a breed mare. This is just another attack on a woman's right to have a legal medical procedure, namely, an abortion.

In case you were wondering, in 2003, the Florida Supreme Court "struck down a law requiring parents to be notified if their minor daughters seek an abortion."

Posted on April 29, 2005 at 01:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 28, 2005

Men's Rights Group Loses Final Attack Against Women's Shelters

I have written about Free Men's attacks against California women's shelters in the past. Mens' rights groups aren't interested in helping abused men. They attack women's shelters by getting an "abused" man to file a complaint that he was refused services, and then the men's groups attack the women's shelter, claiming it is biased against men. Men's groups also claim that women's shelters violate the Constitution. Courts have rejected their arguments each time.

Here are the previous posts on the subject:

Men's Rights Attack Against Domestic Violence Shelters Dismissed

Another Attack By Men's Rights Activists On Domestic Violence Shelters Unsuccessful


(Los Angeles, CA) Today the California Supreme Court denied review to a men's rights group seeking to challenge the women only policy at several Los Angeles shelters for battered women and their children.

The lawsuit claimed that the shelters engaged in illegal sex discrimination. The shelters, however, receive gender specific funding from the state for very good reasons.

The Battered Women's Protection Act specifically funds shelters for women and children. The act is gender specific because women in crisis have particular privacy and safety needs. The shelters sometimes have communal bathrooms and bedrooms, many children with abusive fathers fear men, and batterers could easily find their victim if they were allowed access to the shelters.

The California Women's Law Center and O'Melveny and Myers LLP, representing the shelters pro bono, argued successfully to the California State Court of Appeal that the case had no merit.

"The Legislature has recognized that women and children need private shelters during this time of crisis in their lives and provides funding accordingly. In the event that the National Coalition of Free Men wish to open their own shelter, they are free to do so," said Katie Buckland, Executive Director of the California Women's Law Center.

State Senator Sheila Kuehl said, "I am pleased with today's court decision. Battered women shelters have been designed for women and their children for very good reasons- the preservation of safety, privacy, and peace, as well as the numerically greater need for places for women and children."

Posted on April 28, 2005 at 08:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Canadian Govt. Approves Plan B For OTC Sale

Canada does the right thing, while American women have to suffer through pharmacists and their "conscience clauses." Pharmacists continue to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, thereby discriminating against mothers and disobeying a doctor's orders. Birth control and abortion are legal in the United States, but both are getting to be harder to come by.

Canadian Government Approves OTC Status for Emergency Contraception

Canada's federal government announced on Tuesday that it will now allow emergency contraception (EC) to be available over-the-counter (OTC) to women for the prevention of unwanted pregnancy. EC, sold under the name Plan B and distributed by Paladin Labs Inc. in Canada, will be kept behind the counter and dispensed without a prescription from a pharmacist.

"Given the significant psychological, social and economic impact of improving access to emergency contraction for women across Canada, this is a significant step forward in women's rights and health," Dr. Andre Lalonde, executive vice president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada said, reports the Canadian Press. According to the society, one in two pregnancies in Canada is unintended.

EC has previously been available over-the-counter in three Canadian provinces British Columbia, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. The Canadian Pressreports that the number of women who used EC in British Columbia per year more than doubled after it was made available without a prescription in 2000, preventing hundreds of abortions.

In the United States, US Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have vowed to block the confirmation of Lester Crawford, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner nominee, until a decision is made on granting over-the-counter status to emergency contraception (EC).

Crawford, who is currently serving as acting commissioner of the FDA, would not commit to when the FDA will resolve the issue of over-the-counter (OTC) status for Plan B.

The Feminist Majority Foundation leads a national drive on college campuses to increase the availability of EC for young women. The accessibility of EC has become all the more dire due to nationwide controversy as pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions on so-called religious grounds. EC is exceedingly safe and effective if taken within 5 days but it is most effective (95 percent) if taken within 24 hours after any unprotected sexual intercourse, when a condom breaks, or after a sexual assault. EC has the potential to cut in half the 3 million unintended pregnancies in the United States each year and prevent thousands of abortions a year.

Posted on April 28, 2005 at 08:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 25, 2005

Australia: Domestic Violence "Greatest Challenge"

Domestic violence 'greatest challenge'

23 Apr 5

AUSTRALIA is facing a great challenge from rising levels of domestic violence amid increasing fears over the breakdown of the family, says Justice Minister Chris Ellison.

Senator Ellison told a United Nations congress on crime prevention and criminal justice in Bangkok that the Federal Government was also to apply greater resources to indigenous communities facing family violence and child

"Domestic violence is perhaps one of the great challenges facing us in Australia and surveys have indicated that one in four women will be subject to domestic violence," Senator Ellison said.

In an address which largely outlined Australia's strategy on battling drug trafficking through both law enforcement and at the community level, Senator Ellison said the Government was looking to support local communities as well as capacity building.

"Australia attaches a high priority to combating domestic violence and sexual assault," he told congress delegates.

He said the Government's response was to increase community education and awareness programs, providing better training for community support groups and to improve the judicial system.

"Targeting family violence and child protection in indigenous communities is also a key priority," he said.

The "focus within safer communities" included family and domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, law and order, substance misuse and community governance and leadership.

In the work with indigenous communities include looking to create "safer communities and promoting coordination across levels of government and flexibility in the delivery of services that exist".

Senator Ellison said Australia was also continuing to attach high importance to addressing the problems of international illicit drug control.

His comments came a day after the release of the Australian Crime Commission's Illicit Drug Data Report on drug trends and seizures that pointed to increasing abuse of methamphetamines despite a fall in use of heroin in recent years.

The rise of methamphetamine abuse was also contributing to violent crime and domestic violence.

Posted on April 25, 2005 at 10:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Equal Murder Rates Between Intimates? I Don't Think So

Barry at Alas A Blog has an excellent post up about men's rights claims that women murder men as much as men murder women. Apparently, men's rights activists who make this claim cite very old research from 1988 as their "proof," without noting that since the introduction of protections for abused women, such as domestic violence shelters and centers, that the rates of women murdering men has dropped significantly over the past seventeen years.

How did I know? Because I've read a lot of men's rights articles about "intimate partner homicide" (that's murdering a spouse, a girlfriend or a boyfriend), and nearly all of them use pre-1990 data. For instance, a quick search of two MRA (men's rights activist) websites - Men's and MenWeb - found seven articles arguing that women are about as likely as men to commit intimate murder. All of them used data from before 1990 to make their case. In fact, almost all of them used the same data set - a Bureau of Justice Statistics study of intimate homicide in 33 of the 75 largest-population (i.e., urban) counties, which was published in 1994 but used data gathered in 1988. The BJS has published more recent work - so why do the MRAs return to this one source over and over? (Or, if not this source, sources that also used urban data from before 1990?)

Because they want to prove - despite clear data, like these recent FBI figures, showing men are far more likely to murder wives and girlfriends than vice-versa - that men are "equal victims." (This relates, I believe, to a larger project of trying to show that patriarchy doesn't exist, women have nothing to complain about, etc.)

Go to Alas A Blog and read the rest of the post. Barry includes charts and lots of information about how the use of this old data is misleading. Women do not murder men in nearly equal number as men murdering women today.

Posted on April 25, 2005 at 08:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (123) | TrackBack

April 21, 2005

Women's Lives Aren't As Important As Gamecocks

Update: I Like *Nice* Men has also commented on this sordid business.


I had read about this in e-mail this morning, but Sheelzebub also wrote to me to tell me about her post on this infuriating subject. In South Carolina, at this moment, cockfighting and beating women are both misdemeanors. However, a bill just passed that now makes cockfighting a felony. A bill that would have made beating women a felony was tabled. So, you will get five years in jail for cockfighting, but beating a woman remains a misdemeanor that will get you only thirty days in jail.

Over the past few years, "South Carolina has either led the nation or ranked in the top six in the rate of women killed by men." The domestic violence bill was introduced by Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Dist. 66-Orangeburg). It would have "increased the penalties for domestic violence offenders and required judges to complete annual training in domestic violence issues. Advocates said they had offered amendments to remove sections that committee members had objected to, such as one that expanded the definition of "physical cruelty," a grounds for divorce. But the amendments never got introduced. Instead, advocates said, committee members joked about the title of the bill and then tabled it with little discussion."

There has been plenty of outrage over Rep. John Graham Altman's (R-Dist. 119-Charleston) comments about the domestic violence bill.

Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Dist. 66-Orangeburg) says of the two bills, "What we have said by the actions of the Judiciary Committee is we aren't going to create a felony if you beat your wife, partner. But now, if you've got some cockfighting going on, whoa! Wait a minute."

Rep. Altman responds to the comparison, "People who compare the two are not very smart and if you don't understand the difference, Ms. Gormley, between trying to ban the savage practice of watching chickens trying to kill each other and protecting people rights in CDV statutes, I'll never be able to explain it to you in a 100 years ma'am."

The problem is that now if a man participates in cockfighting, he can get five years in jail. If the same man beats his wife, he'll get only thirty days. Where are you priorities, Mr. Altman?

News 10 reporter Kara Gormley asked Altman, "That's fine if you feel you will never be able to explain it to me, but my question to you is: does that show that we are valuing a gamecock's life over a woman's life?"

Altman again, "You're really not very bright and I realize you are not accustomed to this, but I'm accustomed to reporters having a better sense of depth of things and you're asking this question to me would indicate you can't understand the answer. To ask the question is to demonstrate an enormous amount of ignorance. I'm not trying to be rude or hostile, I'm telling you."

Answer the question, Mr. Altman. Telling a reporter she's "not very bright" is avoiding the question. Yes, with the tabling of the domestic violence bill, it's clear that women's lives are not important to some legislators in South Carolina, especially when they crack prejudicial jokes about it. Especially taking into consideration your dreadful comments about abused women you make later in this article.

Gormley, "It's rude when you tell someone they are not very bright."

Altman, "You're not very bright and you'll just have to live with that."

Yeah, she's just another bitchy women whining about wife-beating.

In the follow-up interview, Rep. Altman commented, "I wanted to offend that snippy reporter who come in here on a mission. She already had the story and she came in with some dumb questions and I don't mind telling people when they ask dumb questions."

Rep. Cobb-Hunter says, "The reality is the law says domestic violence regardless, first, second or third offense is a misdemeanor, and what they passed yesterday says cockfighting is a felony."

And the question remains unanswered - why does South Carolina value a gamecock's life over that of an abused woman? Mr. Altman, there have been lots of angry communications from people who are offended and outraged over your comments, the jokes, and the fact that the domestic violence bill has been tabled.

Rep. Altman spoke about domestic violence, "There ought not to be a second offense. The woman ought to not be around the man. I mean you women want it one way and not another. Women want to punish the men, and I do not understand why women continue to go back around men who abuse them. And I've asked women that and they all tell me the same answer, John Graham you don't understand. And I say you're right, I don't understand."

Now we get down to it - he's another guy who blames abused women for returning to their abusers. He's not very bright. Doesn't he know that most women leave their abusers, but it takes them a few tries to get out of the relationship? It took me three tries. I had a child to worry about, I had nowhere to go, and I had no social or financial support to leave the first two times. By the third time, I had support groups and my friends behind me. I also finally had financial resources to get out of that hellish situation. Women often love the men, and believe them when they say they'll never do it again. That's called the Honeymoon Period, and anyone who has worked with abused women should know that. The abuse doesn't automatically stop once the woman leaves, either. It usually escalates because the abuser realizes he's losing his power grip over his victim. He ups the ante. It escalated in the months after I left, plus he used the court system to continue to abuse me. This clown would blame me for not leaving for good the first time. He isn't very bright when it comes to the realities of the hell abused women go through.

Gormley, "So it's their fault for going back?"

Altman, "Now there you go, trying to twist that too. And I don't mind you trying. It's not the woman's fault, it's not blaming the victim, but tell me what self respecting person is going back around someone who beats them?"

That's right. Blame the stupid bitch for going back. You don't have one word to say about why these men are allowed to continue to abuse their wives and girlfriends.

Bourus says there a number of reasons, "She may have children with that person, and she may fear that it will harm them to live without their dad, or she is majorly financially dependent on his check to feed her children."

Bourus adds another reason women sometimes stay, "After an incident a violent incident, quite often the batterer will say I'm so sorry, it will never happen again."

Rep. Altman has worked with abused women, and in a second interview with a lowcountry station he said he tells them not to go back, and when he does, "They listen to me, they don't don't go back."

When asked whether he was sure, he said, "At least not while I'm representing her."

Here we have another man thinking he can tell women how they should conduct their lives. How does he know they never went back? He doesn't. Chances are they did a couple of times, and on the last try to get out they stayed out for good.

During the same interview, he responded to the reporter's question, "You seem to be drawn to this fixation that women have to go back. I don't think that speaks highly of women. I think women can think and be responsible for their own actions. Woman are not some toys out there, drawn back to the magnet of the man a lot of these men are bums and creatons and they have to be punished but I think women are independent enough to not go back to the men who beat them. And we have a lot of men who are abused by women, but they are too ashamed to admit it."

He's the one who doesn't have a very high opinion of women. He's so full of himself that he thinks every woman he had ever "helped" never went back. Women are responsible for their own actions. They go back because the available alternatives at that time were not much better. He acts as if women can't think for themselves. Despite his claim that he has "worked" with abused women, he doesn't understand them. He goes as far as to ridicule them. And notice he had to tack on the "abused men" business there, too. The bill's name is "Protect Our Women in Every Relationship (POWER)". Mr. Altman had wondered why only women were mentioned, and not men. This isn't about abused men. It about abused women because the vast majority of domestic violence victims are female.

One of the jokes committee members made had to do with the title of the bill. Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Harrison wanted to change it from "Protect Our Women in Every Relationship (POWER)" to "Protecting Our People in Every Relationship" Act, or "POPER." A voice on the tape can be heard pronouncing it “Pop her.” Another voice then says, “Pop her again,” followed by laughter." Harrison said the advocates for abused women were "overreacting" and the comments weren’t intended to diminish the gravity of domestic violence. "If you take it that way, you're overly sensitive," he said.

Geez, you dumb bitches, can't you take a joke? No wonder South Carolina has one of the highest rates of abused and murdered women in the nation.

Rep. Cobb-Hunter explained her bill, "The question that needs to be asked is this. Should a woman because she decides to go back for whatever the reason to return to an abusive relationship, does that mean it's Ok to beat her, to kill her, for her to lose her life, for her children to witness the violence they witness?"

Rep. Altman, "I know you are after a story. And it's kind of a nice story, that we've tabled a CDV bill. Because then you can talk about the insensitive man, the insensitive legislator, but it's not the case. But I don't know why a woman, there would ever be a second offense."

So, if an abused woman returns to her abuser and is beaten again or killed, and if her children witness more violence, it's her fault for returning? Doesn't Mr. Altman know that the most dangerous time for an abused woman is immediately after she leaves her abuser? Leaving alone doesn't guarantee that she and her children will be safe.

Cobb-Hunter admits there was a lot of information in the bill, which she co-sponsored, but she is already working on breaking it down, "One of the things I've learned, having been here as long as I have, is that if at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Rep. Altman spoke out against a number of items in the bill, including dealing with restraining orders and training judges, "Clearly this bill is drawn by people who don't know what is going on out there."

I couldn't find any news reports that explained what his problems were with restraining orders, but I suspect it has to do with that myth that women frequently make false allegations of abuse. As I have repeatedly proven here, that is not true.

Rep. Altman doesn't agree with the training, "What are you going to tell a family court judge that a family court judge doesn't already know about domestic violence?"

Vicki Bourus helped draft the bill, and what she calls a key item in it, the training of family court judges and magistrates, "There is very little if any training in domestic violence for them on a mandatory basis."

Bourus says, "You may know that many magistrates are not trained as attorneys so they wouldn't even have that piece of it that attorneys might get."

Judges and magistrates are often uninformed about the dynamics of domestic violence, and they need to be educated. It's clear that Mr. Altman is in dire need of education.

Speaker David Wilkins issued the following statement Wednesday regarding this story, "Criminal Domestic Violence (CDV) and animal cruelty are both critical issues that this body takes very seriously. The House is working diligently to improve the language on the CDV bill and pass meaningful legislation. That is our goal. In its present form, the bill has a number of legal and technical problems that would have made it very difficult to pass. We intend to fix those problems and get a bill to the floor of the House."

While Bourus doesn't agree with what Graham Altman has to say, she is happy that people are starting to talk about the issue of domestic violence, "Is Graham Altman alone in his way of thinking? Oh, no, no, no. I think he's a very vocal rep, resistent to really seeing domestic violence as the serious crime that it is, but we know that sentiment is runs throughout the House and Senate as well. But we also know there are some very valiant allies."

Wednesday, Rep. Altman told the lowcountry television station that he didn't mean to offend victims of domestic violence, but had no apology for the interview.

Cobb-Hunter plans to reintroduce the bill in January. If you want to voice your opinion on these bills, you can call the House Judiciary Committee at (803) 734-3120. Rep. Altman's office phone number is (803) 734-2947 and you can contact Rep. Cobb-Hunter's office at (803) 734-2809 or you can email Cobb-Hunter at

Posted on April 21, 2005 at 12:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Appearance-Based Discrimination Suits Are On The Rise

Appearance-Based Discrimination Suits Are on the Rise
Tresa Baldas
The National Law Journal

Companies that regulate a worker's appearance -- from banning tattoos to mandating makeup -- are facing a growing risk of lawsuits, employment lawyers assert.

Appearance-based discrimination lawsuits are being filed more frequently, involving everything from eyebrow rings to sexy clothing, employment attorneys say.

"It's not the IBM loose white shirt world anymore," said attorney Henry Perlowski, who chairs the employment law practice group at Atlanta's Arnall Golden Gregory. "I think that as more and more people look different and are entering the work force, the tensions between culture and policy are going to escalate."

A cultural shift is taking place in which managers are struggling to control a younger generation of workers who are more culturally and racially diverse than before -- and more resistant to rules regulating their personal appearance.

Attorneys note that in recent years there's been a rash of image-based lawsuits, including:

In Nevada, a female bartender is challenging a recent court ruling that upheld a casino's right to fire her for refusing to wear makeup.

In Massachusetts, a former Costco employee is challenging the retailer's prohibition on facial jewelry.

Most recently, a jury on April 4 ruled against a Harvard University librarian, Desiree Goodwin, who alleged that she was denied promotions because she was too attractive and did not fit the image of a librarian. Goodwin v. Harvard College, No. 03-11797JLT (D. Mass.).

"Our claim was that she was told that she was considered to be just a pretty girl who wore sexy outfits, and that's why she wasn't getting promoted," said the attorney for the librarian, Jonathan Margolis of Rodgers, Powers & Schwartz in Boston. "This was a case where she didn't fit the stereotype of the librarian." Margolis said he has not yet decided whether to appeal.

Harvard's lawyer, Judith Malone of Boston's Palmer & Dodge, could not be reached for comment.

Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund in Los Angeles, is representing Darlene Jespersen in an ongoing sex-discrimination case against Harrah's Entertainment Inc. over a "personal best" policy that required women to wear makeup. Jespersen v. Harrah's, 392 F.3d 1076 (9th Cir. 2004).

Jespersen, a 20-year employee and bartender at Harrah's, was fired in August 2000 for refusing to comply.

On Dec. 28, 2004, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Harrah's "personal best" policy, finding that the plaintiff failed to prove that the policy imposed unequal burdens on male and female employees. The policy required male bartenders to keep their hair short and their nails trimmed and to appear neatly groomed.

Jespersen has requested a rehearing by the entire court. "Our argument here is that the policy is more burdensome on women," Pizer said.

Harrah's spokesman David Strow noted that Harrah's personal-best standards no longer exist, and have been replaced by modified standards that require makeup to be tasteful and not excessive but not mandatory. Strow stressed that Harrah's did not change its policy because of Jespersen's lawsuit.
The courts have long upheld grooming policies as long as they're rationally related to business objectives, noted employment law specialist Lynn Kappelman, who is defending Costco in a suit involving an employee's fight to wear an eyebrow ring to work. Cloutier v. Costco, 390 F.3d 126 (1st Cir. 2004).

On Dec. 1, 2004, the 1st Circuit upheld Costco's firing of a woman who refused to remove or cover an eyebrow ring on religious grounds. The court held that Costco had a legitimate interest in mandating a professional appearance by workers and held that it would have created an undue burden for Costco to have accommodated the employee.

The plaintiff, Kimberly Cloutier, claimed that one of the tenets of her church, the Church of Body Modification, was to wear piercing. Her lawyer, Mike O. Shea of the Law Office of Michael O. Shea in Wilbraham, Mass., declined comment, saying only that he has filed for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. Kappelman, of Boston's Seyfarth Shaw, would not comment on the suit.

Posted on April 21, 2005 at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 19, 2005

Supremes Uphold Women's Right Not To Be Harassed

Via Feministing, I have learned that the Supreme Court has declined to consider "the constitutionality of state laws that regulate speech and activities within a buffer zone around abortion clinics."

The case allowed a Massachusetts law about buffer zones to stand. This law came to be after John Salvi shot and killed two Massachusetts women's health clinic workers in 1994. He wounded five others. He was later arrested in Norfolk after a shooting at the Hillcrest Clinic. According to the New York Times, "[t]he law, which creates a six-foot buffer zone around patients within an 18-foot radius of a clinic entrance, prohibits anyone from approaching without their consent for the purpose of passing leaflets or ''engaging in oral protest, education or counseling.''

Of course, anti-choice advocates aren't happy about this ruling. "Massachusetts Citizens for Life, an anti-abortion group, had argued the law denies protection to women and their unborn children. Women considering whether to have abortions benefit by having information distributed to them outside clinics, the group said."

Yeah, right.

In other words, anti-choice activists do not have the right to harass women seeking services from women's health clinics. I'm glad to hear it.

Posted on April 19, 2005 at 08:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

More On Pharmacists Discriminating Against Women

Jaye Ramsey Sutter at BlondeSense is pissed about the entire issue of pharmacists being permitted to discriminate against women by refusing to fill their birth control prescriptions and refusing to dispense drugs related to abortion. This is a sampling of the anger.

At current rates, about one in three American women will have had an abortion by the time she reaches age 45. Where the hell are these women and why aren't they in the streets over this issue? You got yours, do you care if anyone else can have one?

Do pharmacists mourn for the fertilized egg that my uterus may shed without my being aware that I was pregnant?

These pharmacies that won't carry the morning after pill and or fill prescriptions for birth control pills--do they have ads for Viagra? Do they care those "male enhancement" drugs? Do they allow men with criminal records for rape and sexual assault purchase those insurance covered drugs? If women must be pregnant, men who rape their wives, girlfriends, and strangers must not be allowed to purchase drugs that enable them to use their penis to rape. Why aren't pharmacist working to stop rape? Why aren't they as angry about rape as I am?

How much longer are we going to allow our right to control our bodies slip from our grasp? What have you done today to fight this violence you and other women? Boycott those stores that won't stock or won't fill prescriptions. It is the store that is hiding behind the pharmacist's so-called conscious. What if the pharmacist refused to fill black people's prescriptions? They would violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The pharmacist could not refuse to serve black people so they would be fired. So why not sue the pharmacies and the pharmacist for violating women's civil rights by refusing service to her?

If these pharmacies won't carry birth control for women, demand that they stop carrying condoms, too. Demand that they stop carrying Viagra. That way cheating men will impregnate their mistresses and we can all go down to the court house and argue about the child support for these unwanted children.

Do you really want Hell-Mart to ensure unwanted pregnancies? Do you really want them to make your choice for you?

NARAL includes a protest letter on its web site. It is aimed at the following pharmacies whose policies permit pharmacists to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions:

CVS Pharmacies
Eckerd Pharmacies
RiteAid Pharmacies
Wal-Mart Pharmacies
Walgreens Pharmacies

Go there and make your displeasure known now. Discrimination against women must stop.

Posted on April 19, 2005 at 07:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (15) | TrackBack

Regarding Emergency Contraception...

As I mentioned in my previous post about Wal-Mart pharmacists refusing to dispense birth control, Attack of the Tiny Purple Elephant quoted the form letter from Wal-Mart on the subject, which included this statement: "Wal-Mart does not carry emergency contraceptives."

Actually, Wal-Mart probably does, but it doesn't know it. I know "emergency contraception" is referring to things like RU-486, but you can use regular birth control pills as emergency contraception. Of course, the problem with Wal-Mart is that its pharmacists probably won't fill the prescriptions.

I have posted about emergency contraception before, and I thought this was a good time to repeat that post.


It's about time women learned how to use emergency contraception.

In light of the huge backlash against a woman's right to decide when and if she will bear children, I decided it was a good time to dig this information out of my archive and post it here. Please feel free to spread this information far and wide.

According to the Emergency Contraception Website, "both the contraceptives approved by the FDA for emergency contraception and those used for ordinary birth control can legally be used for emergency contraception. Any clinician authorized to provide prescriptions may prescribe an approved drug for an unlabeled purpose; the most common example is prescribing oral contraceptives to regulate menstrual periods, or to reduce menstrual cramps. The FDA has explicitly declared ECPs to be safe and effective. If widely used, emergency contraceptives could substantially reduce unintended pregnancy and the need for induced abortion."

Using birth control pills in this manner eliminates the middle man. A woman may take these pills in the privacy of her own home, thereby placing her out of the range of the picketers and the men with hard-ons for a woman's private medical records. She of course should keep in touch with her physician. Despite the ability for pills to be used in this manner, most women and most clinicians don't know about it. It wasn't until recently that pharmaceutical companies even marketed or advertised about emergency contraception. I suspect that emergency contraception and the privacy it gives women may be one big reason that those who are against abortion are also against the use of birth control pills. Some of them know that the pills may be used as abortifacients, and they don't like it.

That's why I'm posting the information here for women to read and use when necessary.

Here is the link to Princeton's Emergency Contraception Page. It includes a directory of providers and a FAQ.

Here are instructions for using progestin-only emergency contraception pills.

Reproduced here in full are instructions for using combined emergency contraception pills.

[Note: One of the birth control pills mentioned below, Preven, is now off the market. Thanks to Ema from The Well-Timed Period for the update, in my comments.]

Instructions for Using Combined Emergency Contraceptive Pills

There are several choices for combined ECPs listed below. You need to take only one type of pill, not all of them. For example, if you use Ovral, you do not need Nordette. If you are getting your ECPs from a regular pack of birth control pills containing 28 pills (one for every day), remember that the last seven pills do not contain any hormones. In a 28-pill pack of Ovral, Ogestrel, Alesse, Levlite, Lo/Ovral, Low-Ogestrel, Nordette, Levlen, or Levora, any of the first 21 pills can be used as ECPs. If you are using Triphasil or Tri-Levlen, the first 21 pills have three different colors, but only the yellow pills can be used as ECPs. If you are using Trivora, the first 21 pills have three different colors, but only the pink pills can be used as ECPs.


Brand of Pill
Click on brand names to see illustration of pills.

* Preven (blue pills)
* Swallow 2 pills as soon as possible
* Swallow 2 more pills 12 hours later

* Ovral (white pills only), Ogestrel (white pills only)
* Swallow 2 pills as soon as possible
* Swallow 2 more pills 12 hours later

* Lo/Ovral (white pills only), Low-Ogestrel (white pills only), Nordette (light-orange pills only), Levlen (light-orange pills only), Levora (white pills only), Triphasil (yellow pills only), Tri-Levlen (yellow pills only), or Trivora (pink pills only)

* Swallow 4 pills as soon as possible

* Swallow 4 more pills 12 hours later

* Alesse (pink pills only), Aviane (orange pills only), Levlite (pink pills only)
* Swallow 5 pills as soon as possible
* Swallow 5 more pills 12 hours later


1. Swallow the first dose as soon as possible. ECPs are more effective the sooner after unprotected sex they are started.

2. Take the second dose 12 hours later. It is not even known what is the optimal timing between doses, much less whether the second dose is even necessary. All research on the efficacy of emergency contraceptive pills has used the 12 hour time frame, but it may not need to be so rigid. Taking the second dose a little early or late (+/- two hours, for example) will probably not make a difference in how effective the pills are, but we really do not know for sure.

Do not swallow any extra ECPs. More pills will probably not decrease the risk of pregnancy any further. More pills will increase the risk of nausea and vomiting.

If you have nausea, it is usually mild and should stop in a day or so. If you vomit within one hour after taking a dose, call your clinician. You may need to repeat a dose. You may need some anti-nausea medicine.

Watch for pill danger signals for the next couple of weeks. See your clinician at once if you have:

* severe pain in your leg (calf or thigh)
* severe abdominal pain
* chest pain or cough or shortness of breath
* severe headaches, dizziness, weakness, or numbness
* blurred vision, loss of vision, or trouble speaking
* jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the whites of the eyes, skin, and mucus membranes)

7. Your next period may start a few days earlier or later than usual. If your period doesn't start within three weeks, see your clinician for an exam and pregnancy test. If you think that you may be pregnant, see your clinician at once, whether or not you plan to continue the pregnancy. ECPs may not prevent an ectopic pregnancy (in the tubes or abdomen). Ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency.

8. Get started as soon as you possibly can with a method of birth control you will be able to use every time you have sex. ECPs are meant for one-time, emergency protection. ECPs are not as effective as other forms of birth control. If you want to resume use of birth control pills after taking ECPs, consult your clinician. Protect yourself from AIDS and other sexual infections as well as pregnancy. Use condoms every time you have sex if you think you may be at risk.

Preven has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use for emergency contraception. Ovral, Lo/Ovral, Ogestrel, Low-Ogestrel, Nordette, Aviane, Levlen, Levlite, Triphasil, Tri-Levlen, Levora, Trivora and Alesse have been approved by the FDA as regular birth control pills. These products have not been submitted to the FDA for use as ECPs, but clinical research studies have shown that ECPs are safe and effective. The FDA has explicitly declared all brands of birth control pills listed above to be safe and effective for use as emergency contraceptives.

The accompanying table has more details about the brands of oral contraceptives that can be used as emergency contraception in the United States.

Doses of the brands of oral contraceptives that can be used for emergency contraception.


If you have questions about emergency contraception, please visit our page on frequently asked questions.

Posted on April 19, 2005 at 07:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Dear Fornicating Harlot

I saw this first at Bitch, Ph.D.. Attack of the Tiny Purple Elephant directly quoted the form letter Wal-Mart is sending to people who have written in protest of Wal-Mart's position of allowing its pharmacists to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions. Of course, Wal-Mart doesn't even have the cojones to admit this outright, even though the scads of letters it has received has been about pharmacists refusing to dispense birth control. Gee, I expect nothing less from a company that already has a terrible reputation regarding the way it treats its female employees. I'm not surprised it extends this abyssmal treatment to all women. The letter says that Wal-Mart's pharmacists may decline to fill prescriptions "based on personal convictions."

Within the form letter is this statement: "Wal-Mart does not carry emergency contraceptives." I have something to say about that, but it's too long to go into in this post, so I'll save it for the next one.

Tiny Purple Elephant took care to translate Wal-Mart's impersonal form letter from Customer Servicese into plain English. It's delightful. Here is an excerpt:

Dear Fornicating Harlot,

Shut up about the birth control already. Your comments and concerns are so very important to us, that we responded to your questions about our policies with an uninformative form letter.

Walmart believes that the “Emergency” in emergency contraceptives is ridiculous hyperbole. How could the possible pregnancies of adulterers, fornicators, monogamous heterosexual married couples, and rape
victims be anything but a joyous occasion and source of future cheap Walmart labor? If you want to go against God’s will, you can always go to one of the many nearby pharmacies that we haven’t yet driven out of business.

Go to Attack of the Tiny Purple Elephant to read the rest. (God, I love these blog names...)

Posted on April 19, 2005 at 06:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 13, 2005

Putting "Conscience" Into Perspective

From Body & Soul, Kylene, and Jesurgislac in Body & Soul's comments.

Posted on April 13, 2005 at 11:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

More On Andrea Dworkin

I found this at Google News. It's not an obituary, but it provides some more information about Dworkin and her death.

Andrea Dworkin Dies at 58

"In every century, there are a handful of writers who help the human race to evolve," fellow feminist Gloria Steinem said in a statement. "Andrea is one of them."

Feminist writer and antipornography campaigner Andrea Dworkin died Saturday at her home in Washington, said her husband, John Stoltenberg. She and Stoltenberg, who were openly gay, began living together in 1974 and married in 1998. Dworkin was 58 and had been ill for several years from ailments including osteoarthritis. Dworkin wrote openly about the experiences as a prostitute, rape victim and battered wife that led her to become a crusader against pornography and violence against women.

Originally from Camden, N.J., Dworkin graduated from Bennington College in Vermont in 1968 with a degree in literature.

She was called the "eloquent feminist" by the syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman.

Her many books included "Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation," which in 2001 won an American Book Award, given to honor cultural diversity in American writing. She was writing a book with the working title "Writing America: How Novelists Invented and Gendered a Nation," when she died, Stoltenberg said.

Though some critics dismissed her work as unreasoned diatribe, Ms. Dworkin remained an outspoken champion of the causes in which she believed.

"I am not afraid of confrontation or risk," she wrote in "Letters From a War Zone," "also not of arrogance or error."

A public memorial will be held in New York, said Stoltenberg. Arrangements were incomplete.

Posted on April 13, 2005 at 09:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 10, 2005

R. I. P Andrea Dworkin

I just received word in e-mail that Andrea Dworkin has died in her sleep. I was never a fan of Dworkin's, but I know from reading a couple of her books that her comments about rape and marriage have been taken out of context. I really don't have much more to say about this than to let my readers know she has died. I figured that was newsworthy enough.

Posted on April 10, 2005 at 05:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (120) | TrackBack

April 08, 2005

A Wall Street Sex Bias Case

$29M in Damages Awarded to Former Wall Street Executive in Sex Bias Case
The Associated Press

A federal jury awarded $29 million in damages Wednesday to a former Wall Street executive who sued UBS AG, alleging the bank discriminated against her because she was a woman and then retaliated when she complained about her treatment. Laura Zubulake, a former director for the bank's Asian equities sales desk in Manhattan and Stamford, Conn., said she was gratified and relieved by the verdict in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Posted on April 8, 2005 at 08:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 05, 2005

If A Mother Would Have Done This, The Barking Heads Would Be Mouthing Off On TV

Where's the outrage? Where's the news coverage?

Why is it that Susan Smith and Andrea Yates garner lots of public outrage and media attention, but nary a peep is made when Marcus Wesson and Adair Garcia murdered their children?


That's what I thought you said.

I've already posted about Marcus Wesson, including a link to the blog of the trial. Wesson murdered his nine children.

Is Adair Garcia's name drawing a blank? I'm not surprised. Here's what I wrote in a previous blog post about him: "He murdered five of his six children with the toxic fumes of a barbeque while they slept. He had attempted to kill all of them and himself. He and the children were found by their mother, his estranged wife. He murdered them only eight months after the Yates case monopolized headlines and Internet message boards nationwide."

I have learned today that Garcia has been found guilty of murdering his children. He is eligible for the death penalty. According to the article I linked to, "prosecutors alleged that Garcia wanted to kill himself and his children as a way of punishing his wife for ending their marriage days earlier."

This case and the Wesson case are not getting the attention mothers get when they kill their children. As I said earlier, where's the outrage? Where are the media pundits wringing their hands over the heinous acts committed by these fathers? I bet if they were mothers we'd never hear the end of it.

Posted on April 5, 2005 at 08:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

April 02, 2005

Coming Soon To A Town Near You: Female-Friendly Porn

I was very happy to see this post at Feministing about female-friendly porn. An article in Washington Square News described an event held by the National Organization of Women for Women at NYU, which included news about female-friendly porn. Here's what Jessica had to say:

Held at NYU last night, the speakers were Candida Royalle, the president of Femme Productions Inc., and Jayme Waxman, a Playgirl columnist and freelance pornographer who are trying to bring their feminist ideology into recent porn projects. “I wanted to give the genre a woman’s voice,” said Royalle. “It didn’t have to be something you would look at and feel dirty about.”

The event included screenings of some of Royalle's flicks, which featured more realistic-looking women and more sophisticated plotlines that appealed to female sexuality. Some of the films like “One Size Fits All” and “Studhunters” include a comedic tone that parodies the over-the-top cheesiness that typical porn flicks tend to have.

Although the event was a celebration of sorts, with a naked torso cake for the audience (yum!), Royalle and Waxman stress that female-friendly porn still has a ways to go. One problem with this type of porn is that it’s often difficult to get funding, as most mainstream movies typically appeal to heterosexual men. Rayelle and Waxman also feel there's a need for more women’s voices in the industry.

“If women don’t seize control of the reigns of production, men will continue to do it for us,” Royalle says.

One person in the audience asked about how Royalle would respond to the argument that all porn is wrong, she said, “It’s not going to go away, so let’s take it back and do it the way it should be done.”

Good job, ladies!

Even if I knew about this event I wouldn't have been able to attend it. I write female-friendly erotic short stories, as my regular readers know. I've had three stories accepted so far. Three more are in the queue at two publications, and I'm waiting to hear if they've been accepted. The money is good - much better than the pay you get for writing horror/dark fiction/fantasy/science fiction and feminist articles. I hope to continue to write female-friendly erotica. I'm working on a novel now that is supernatural romance erotica. Cheers to Candida Royalle!

Posted on April 2, 2005 at 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Smith Barney Sued For Sex Discrimination

Lawsuit Claims Smith Barney Discriminates Against Women
The Associated Press

Four female financial consultants sued Citigroup Inc.'s Smith Barney division on Thursday, accusing the brokerage firm of systematically denying equal opportunities to women employees. The suit seeks class
action status for possibly as many as 5,000 women and asks for an end to gender discrimination at the firm, back pay and related damages. The lawsuit puts the spotlight back on a firm that has tried to rebuild its image after settling a damaging gender-discrimination case several years ago.

Posted on April 2, 2005 at 09:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 31, 2005

What Runs Through A Woman's Mind When She's Worried About Being Pregnant

Anti-abortion activists act as if women who get abortions treat their abortions like taking out the trash. No, it's not a light decision. She has her health, her life, her income, and her job to worry about. Read Cameron Hurley's post about a recent pregnancy scare she had to see what really goes through a woman's mind when she is contemplating an abortion. Luckily, Cameron did get her period, so she's relieved that she wasn't pregnant.

Posted on March 31, 2005 at 09:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

The Moral Police Are At It Again

From Amanda at Panagon: get married or lose your job.

WILMINGTON, N.C. -- A former sheriff's dispatcher who quit her job after her boss found out she lived with her boyfriend is challenging North Carolina's law against cohabitation.

Debora Hobbs said she was told to get married, move out, or find another job after her boss found out about her living situation. The legal arm of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina filed the lawsuit Monday on her behalf.

Posted on March 31, 2005 at 07:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 30, 2005

Fill Out My Prescription, Dammit!

Bitch Ph.D is one of many bloggers writing about pharmacists who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions. She quotes a Washington Post article:

"He's a devout Roman Catholic and believes participating in any action that inhibits or prohibits human life is a sin," said Aden of the Christian Legal Society. "The rights of pharmacists like him should be respected."

What about my right to have my prescription filled? Your "moral issues" end where my health care begins. If you have a problem in your job filling out prescriptions because you find the person who wants to have the prescription filled "morally objectionable," get another job.

I haven't heard any cases of pharmacists objecting to fill prescriptions of Viagra. Why not? How do you know these men aren't cheating on their wives? There have been reports that men taking Viagra have cheated on their wives. What about men who buy condoms? Will the pharmacist demand to see a marriage license to be sure these men aren't having affairs or sex out of wedlock? Is the pharmacist going to grill these men to find out if they are being unfaithful, and then refuse to fill the prescription or hand over the condoms on moral grounds?

I don't think so.

The bigger issue of pharmacists refusing to fill birth control prescriptions is really about men taking control of women's reproduction. The "moral police" are doing that by rolling back the availability of abortion as well. Welcome to "The Handmaid's Tale."

Posted on March 30, 2005 at 08:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

March 29, 2005

Irony Alert

Office of Attorney Ethics Sued for Sex and Race Bias in Employment
New Jersey Law Journal

Three female lawyers who investigate ethics complaints for New Jersey's Office of Attorney Ethics have accused the lawyer-disciplinary agency of gender and racial bias. The complaint, filed in federal court last week, alleges a "caste system" where women are routinely hired in a lower job classification and assigned to a "holding pen," while less-qualified men are routed into a higher pay grade, with bigger salaries, easier promotions and better equipment.


This article could explain some of the salary discrepencies in my post about the differences between salaries between women, female minorities, and all men.

Posted on March 29, 2005 at 09:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 28, 2005

Pitting Women Against Each Other Again

Sheelzebub at Pinko Feminist Hellcat cuts to the chase on an article discussing differences in pay between white women, black women, Asian women, and Hispanic women. The article begins with these two paragraphs:

Black and Asian women with bachelor's degrees earn slightly more than similarly educated white women, and white men with four-year degrees make more than anyone else.

A white woman with a bachelor's typically earned nearly $37,800 in 2003, compared with nearly $43,700 for a college-educated Asian woman and $41,100 for a college-educated black woman, according to data being released today by the Census Bureau. Hispanic women took home slightly less at $37,600 a year.

Buried in the article is this tidbit:

A white male with a college diploma earns far more than any other similarly educated man or woman -- in excess of $66,000 a year, according to the Census Bureau. Among men with bachelor's, Asians earned more than $52,000 a year, Hispanics earned $49,000, and blacks earned more than $45,000.

That's the real story, not pitting women against each other based on their respective salaries. Sheelz doesn't mince words:

The stories feature a shoddy theory: being a minority and a woman is a "great commodity" to employers, and may therefore be worth, oh, four thousand dollars more than a White woman.

But you're not worth $25K more. Which is how much more a candidate would get if she were a White guy. But that's not featured in the story. The news is more interested in a battle over crumbs.

So let's be realistic about who is considered to be a real commodity here, and cut out the media distortion and patronizing drivel.

Posted on March 28, 2005 at 01:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Judge Rebuked Over Conduct Toward Women

Judge Rebuked Over Conduct Toward Women
The Recorder

A retired Los Angeles judge accused of making inappropriate comments to and about women has received a public admonishment from California's Commission on Judicial Performance. The commission cited instances where Judge John Harris met privately with sexual assault victims, even inviting one of the victims to dinner. Prejudicial misconduct was also found in an instance where Harris "thanked counsel at sidebar for not exercising a challenge against a female juror because she was nice to look at."

Posted on March 28, 2005 at 12:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Subvert The Dominant Link Paradigm

It's time for my weekly "Subvert The Dominant Link Paradigm" post. If you can't decide what to read, I highly recommend these blogs written by women:

A Wicked Muse

Big Brass Blog

Bitch, Ph.D.


Blog Sisters

Brutal Women

Elayne Riggs


Mad Kane

One Good Thing

Pinko Feminist Hellcat


Respectful of Otters

Sappho's Breathing

Shakespeare's Sister

The Well-Timed Period


What She Said


Posted on March 28, 2005 at 10:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 26, 2005


Katha Pollitt likes me. She posted this over at Washington Monthly when asked which blogs she reads. I'm glad I finally got my blog fixed so Safari readers can read it.

Scott, some blogs I like are, echidne of the snakes, mediagirl, mousewords, Bitch Ph.d, trish wilson. I also dip into Alas, A Blog, which is (I think) a group blog captained by a man. I'm new to blogs so these are just the ones I know. I ended up not mentioning particular ones because I feared I would leave out lots of great ones. but I do like these ones. and you did ask...

I like blogs that have a lot of news and information I don't see in the regular press, with discussion of those items. For example, today I learned on feministing that a judge has ruled that Ohio's antigaymarriage law means cohabiting heterosexual couples are no longer covered by domestic violence laws. To me, that's news!

Posted on March 26, 2005 at 08:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 20, 2005

If A Man Asks You If You Want Children On The First Date, Run Away Fast!

Amanda and Echidne don't think this article is accurate. I disagree.

It's about "wife shoppers," men who grill women on their first dates to see if they are marriage material. I know this is not a new phenomenon. I met a "wife shopper" when I was in college. He professed his undying love for me and showered me with way too much attention shortly after our first date. He was always writing sappy love poems and giving me so many bouquets of flowers that I ran out of vases. The more he pushed me, the farther away I ran, but I liked him so I kept going out with him. It became clear to me by the third party both of us attended (we had mutual friends who held frequent parties.), that he was itching to give me a wedding ring. I finally broke it off. Within a year he was married - to a Jewish woman. He was Protestant. I don't know if he asked her to convert, or if he converted. One thing brought up in the article I linked to is that these men ask women on their first dates if they are willing to convert to their religion. Reading it gave me the willies.

I created a character just like him for a short story that I wrote. I'm waiting to hear back from the publication to see if it was accepted. The only good thing about meeting a guy like that was that he provided fodder for my writing.

I also know another man in his 50s who has never been married, and he has "desperate" written all over him. He actually told a woman on his first date with her - he hooked up with her via a dating service - that he was in therapy and then proceeded to tell her in great, bloody, gory detail about surgery he had - over dinner. While I have a cast-iron stomach about gore, it was very inappropriate to discuss something like that with someone you don't know while you are trying to force down grilled veal. He is looking for a permanent relationship, preferably ending in marriage, and he has always become too quickly involved with women because of it. He can't understand why they stop seeing him after three dates. Talk about laying it on thick. And he is thick - he thinks the problems are with the women not with him. That's why when I read this, goosebumps broke out on my arms:

Reports of these kinds of encounters -- with men who investigate your family's disease history over a get-to-know-you beer or decide after two dinners to invite you on vacation with their college roommates and their wives -- have become increasingly common among my female friends, urban women often assumed to be husband-hunting themselves. In some cases, the men we're meeting are more interested in settling down than we are -- almost as though they have their own internal biological clocks.

Thank God I'm already settled down with a good man. We met at a science fiction convention, and he never cornered me in this fashion. If any women reading this are seeing flashing red "warning" lights when they read that article, they should know to get away from the guy as quickly as possible.

Posted on March 20, 2005 at 03:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (20) | TrackBack

March 18, 2005

Political Discourse and Women

Kevin Drum wrote two thoughtful posts about the women blogger question. I think he sincerely wants to get to the bottom of the issue. However, other male bloggers may not be all that interested. Roxanne had the same thoughts I had until she read Shakespeare's Sister, who had heard off-blog some anonymous off-putting comments by male bloggers.

We’re not going to get anywhere as long as the male bloggers who post about this issue continue to do so with such appalling intellectual dishonesty. In private emails, male bloggers who publicly wring their hands about how to solve the problem of the dearth of women bloggers in the upper echelon, will admit that the reality is the difficulty of finding women worth linking to.

Women don’t give me much linkable material.

Women write on subjects that don’t interest me.*

Women don’t know how to compromise on abortion rights.

Why don’t women post about Social Security? It affects them, too.

Women don’t write commentary, don’t come up with new ideas.

Gender politics is all secondary issues.

Comments such as these are intellectual dishonesty at its worst. Pretend to be concerned with the women blogger question on-blog, but off-blog, admit that you don't really think women have much to offer. I don't think that Kevin wrote any of those comments, but it does make me wonder which male bloggers have been talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Three comments into this post by Kevin, we get this beaut by a male commenter:

Fact is women will always mostly be uncomfortable in a world created by men, and men frankly are mostly not interested in (or are unaware of the existence of) an alternative world created by women. Seems pretty obvious. Can we stop with all the circuitous analysis now?

If women would step up to the plate and create an alternative to the violence dominated, competitive, social darwinistic world we have today we'd all be better off. But unfortunately, so far, its nowhere to be seen. I see far more moronic women buying into the republioservativereligofundamentalist model of women as servant to men, then women offering up a coherent alternative that we could all rally around. As mothers to humanity, women have the best opportunity of anyone to instill in humanity a far less violent competitive outlook than we've had through history, but they just aren't getting the job done. Way, way too many little hitlers, husseins, and bushliar's running around.

That's exactly the sort of dismissal Shakespeare's Sister is talking about. No wonder women get angry.

Roxanne also made a good point that these same bloggers who in reality don't care what women have to say were falling all over themselves a few months back trying to attract young women's attention because they wanted votes for Kerry and support for Democrats.

Now travel with me, if you will, back to last summer when we heard stories in the media and commentary on liberal blogs about how young women were disconnected from the political process and had no plans to vote in November. You know, those dastardly Sex in the City non-voters. "They don't care about politics!" "They don't read my big-ass influential blog!" "How could they not support John Kerry?"

Boy, something sure was wrong with those dumbasses! Or was it?

Maybe those young women are smarter than me and sensed the bullshit. Why should they listen to you, care about things like social security, the bankruptcy bill, medicare, etc. when you don't give two shits about them? I know. I know. The election was over months ago. We sure could have used some of those votes, though. Especially in close local and statewide races. Might have made a difference. Oh, well. Whatever.

Why would women want to pay attention to top-tier male bloggers when the male bloggers in question really don't have any interest in what they have to say? And they wonder why young women show little interest in them. What goes around, comes around, guys.

I had already written about Deborah Tannen's article about whether or not women like argumentative political debate. I personally don't like it on the air, but not because I don't like to argue. As I had written in my previous post on this subject, I can dish it out with the best of them in writing. I don't like radio and TV debates because I think they are a set-up. There is no "fair and balanced" reporting. You will not see two sides be given a fair and accurate chance to air their views. A feminist would not be brought on such a show in order to have a valid debate. A feminist is brought on to be attacked and ridiculed; a straw woman to be kicked and knocked down. That is not debate. It is a set-up meant to debase feminism, and I won't play a part in that. Some of my colleagues have been burned by print media when their comments have been taken out of context and misrepresented. That's not valid political discourse. It's political subterfuge. Those who are quoted have no control over how their statements are presented. Why agree to appear on a radio or TV talk show when the show is designed from the get-go against you? That is also not valid political discourse. It's a three-ring circus designed to debase an opposing point of view. I won't have anything to do with that kind of "debate." I think the nature of the "debate" needs to change.

Here is what I wrote in Kevin's comments. In this particular post he linked to me.

I did write on my blog that "I don't like the combative nature of talk radio and TV talk shows. I don't think it's very productive, I don't like being attacked." However, that doesn't mean that I don't like a good, spirited debate. Anyone who reads my blog knows that. Anyone who has been around me on mailing lists, bulletin boards, and Usenet definitely knows that. There are plenty of women who like a good, spirited debate. Rather than go down the road that "women don't like the food-fight nature of discourse," which I think isn't really all that accurate, question the food-fight and why it is accepted as the "natural" method of discourse. I don't think the food-fight nature that is accepted as the "right" way to debate is the most effective way to debate. There needs to be more intelligent discourse and less head-banging and name-calling. I don't want to go on radio and TV talk shows because frankly I consider them a waste of time. They are often set-up beforehand to attack especially left-wing points of view. They are definitely out to attack feminist points of view. Why would I want to waste my time in that kind of atmosphere? Change the tenor of the debates to bring in more varied and intelligent debators. Don't blame women who don't want to waste their time with the debates as they are currently set up.

I told Kevin in comments that women do not have to get over their dislike of this kind of political squabbling - the "food fight," as I've heard it described. It's the food fight that needs to change. There are many more reasonable and effective means of discussing political issues that don't involve telling guests to "shut up" or turning off their mike while they are in mid-comment. That is grade school playground bantering, not valid political discourse. Change the medium, and the message will get through.

Another "new" question that isn't new is "what are women's issues?" Kevin was sincere when he asked that question, but I think it means falling down a slippery slope to answer it. By labeling something a "women's issue," it implies that anything outside the answer is a "real" issue - a "men's" issue. As one of the top-tier bloggers had told Shakespeare's Sister, "gender politics is all secondary issues." I for one don't want to go there. Here's what I wrote in his comments:

[What are women's issues has] already been asked and answered. I'm afraid that defining an issue as a "woman's issue" will marginalize those issues where the primarily white, middle class men in charge will deem them less important. The problem with labeling an issue a "woman's issue" is that it will be seen as "not a men's issue," and therefore not "important" enough to discuss. There are many, many political issues outside the narrowly accepted Bush administration discussions. Health care, family, social security, health in general, marriage, divorce, custody, childrearing (yeah, men do it too. Whodathunkit?), economic issues as they affect people personally (not only the graphs and charts), feminism, pay equity, employment, balancing career and family, gender equity, education, the environment. There are many, many issues that are not being discussed. Broaden the view from that narrowly accepted definition of "political discourse" to include all of these issues, and you will have a healthier and more well-rounded debate.

While I have my disagreements over the women and debate issue, I'm glad that it is still getting attention. Kevin Drum, at least, seems to be seriously considering it.

Posted on March 18, 2005 at 08:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (25) | TrackBack

March 16, 2005

Thoughts On Menstruation

Alphabitch sent this post to me after my birthday, so I wasn't able to put it on my birthday post. It's bound to perk up the ears of those A-list pasty white dude bloggers that say women only blog about tampons. evil_smiley.gif

She has some of the same reactions to menstuating that I have. I sometimes experience mood changes right before I get my period, and I don't always remember that my cycle is behind the bad mood. Then I realize what's behind it, and I hear a *ding* go off in my head. When she brings the issue up with her mother, her mom reminds her that menopause is just around the corner.

I'm 45, and I haven't had any symptoms of menopause yet. Great. Something else to look forward to.

Posted on March 16, 2005 at 01:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

The Feminine Technique

I'm not so sure how much I agree with this, but it was interesting. Deborah Tannen has written an article about the combative vs. cooperative styles between men and women. She wrote this article in light of Maureen Dowd's recent column about wanting to be "liked" that has made the blogosphere. She also referenced Lawrence Summer's comments about women not being at the highest levels of science as well as opinion writing in general. The Los Angeles Times was criticized for not having more women opinion writers.

Here is some of what Tanner had written:

No one bothers to question the underlying notion that there is only one way to do science, to write columns "the way it's always been done," the men's way.

There is plenty of evidence that men more than women, boys more than girls, use opposition, or fighting, as a format for accomplishing goals that are not literally about combat a practice that cultural linguist Walter Ong called "agonism," from the Greek word for war, agon.

Watch kids of any age at play. Little boys set up wars and play-fights. Little girls fight, but not for fun. Starting a fight is a common way for boys to make friends: One boy shoves another, who shoves back, and pretty soon they're engaged in play. But when a boy tries to get into play with a girl by shoving her, she's more likely to try to get away from him. A recent New Yorker cartoon captured this: It showed a little girl and a little boy eyeing each other. She's thinking, "I wonder if I should talk to him." He's thinking, "I wonder if I should kick her."

Older boys have their own version of agonism, using fighting as a format for doing things that have nothing to do with actual combat: They show affection by mock-punching, getting a friend's head in an armlock or playfully trading insults.

My readers may have seen me mention that I have been invited to speak on talk shows, but I turn down the requests. I was once asked to speak on Hannity and Colmes, but I turned it down. The reason is what Tannen described - I don't like the combative nature of talk radio and TV talk shows. I don't think it's very productive, I don't like being attacked, and I don't see the point of being part of a gaggle of barking heads so busy yelling over each other that no one can hear what anyone says. On the other hand, I do like to argue in writing very much, but not in person. I think I would do fine with an opinion column. I have enjoyed written sparring in Usenet, the familylaw-l mailing list, and on AOL message boards, and I am proud to admit that I frequently won. Those debates and dealing with stupid trolls really got my adrenaline going. I enjoy the disagreements and discussions I'm having with the folks at The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler Yes, I hang out there. Talk about mixing apples and oranges. It's fun to have spirited discussions with people who are my polar opposite politically. All of this put me in mind of the following, written by Tanner:

Arguing ideas as a way to explore them is an adult version of these agonistic rituals. Because they're used to this agonistic way of exploring ideas "playing devil's advocate" many men find that their adrenaline gets going when someone challenges them, and it sharpens their minds: They think more clearly and get better ideas. But those who are not used to this mode of exploring ideas, including many women, react differently: They back off, feeling attacked, and they don't do their best thinking under those circumstances.

At the same time, I learned the value of playful punching when I was a kid. Most of my close friends in grade school were boys. I remember the "I'm going to shove you" form of introductions, and I played right along. My favorite cousin was a boy, and we used to build cities with housing blocks and his army trucks when we were kids. When it was time to stop, we had a great time destroying each other's projects by pretending an earthquake or typhoon came in and wiped out the entire city. We threw blocks at each other and threw the people toys up in the air as the bad-weather-of-the-day destroyed them. We made booming sounds as the houses crumbled, and shrieks for the poor people washed away in the tidal waves. If it were about ten years later, we probably would have had alien abductions, but that wasn't in vogue yet. I remember when during Thanksgiving, while we were watching The Wizard of Oz that came on every year, we'd reinact the scenes during the commercials, and there was lots of playful punching. We always fought over who got to play The Wicked Witch of the West. Both of us wanted to, so we switched off. I admit he was a much better and funnier Wicked Witch than I was. I thought of all this when I read this portion of Tannen's article:

Here's an example that one of my students observed: Two boys and a girl are building structures with blocks. When they're done, the boys start throwing blocks at each other's structures to destroy them.

The girl protects hers with her body. The boys say they don't really want their own creations destroyed, but the risk is worth it because it's fun to destroy the other's structures. The girl sees nothing entertaining about destroying others' work.

I found Tanner's article to be very interesting, mainly because of the memories I have of sparring with boys and sparring with men and some women on the Internet. There are women who like to do this but many of them don't. I've noticed that the women who sparred were actually acting more like cheerleaders, leading the guys on. They weren't taking a real opposing view. They wanted to be "liked," and they received strokes from the guys. A lot of women have written to me saying that they didn't want to post in Usenet, on the AOL message boards, and even my blog because they were afraid of being attacked. That coincides with what Tanner had written.

While I'm sure some may make valid disagreements about what Tanner had written, I nonetheless found it interesting based on my personal experience.

Posted on March 16, 2005 at 08:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack

March 14, 2005

The "Subvert The Dominant Link Paradigm, Trish's Birthday" Edition

Today is my birthday! I am 45 years young. In celebration of my birthday, when I tend to celebrate all month, I am hosting a "Subvert The Dominant Link Paradigm" women bloggers edition. I share a birthday with actor Michael Caine, which ain't too shabby. Eli Whitney received a patent for the cotton gin in 1781, on my birthday. Lucy Hobbs Taylor, who was the first woman dentist in America to graduate, was born on my birthday in 1833. Danish archeologist Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae was born on my birthday in 1821. He was the founder of prehistoric archeology. I've long been interested in archeology. George Eastman, founder of Kodak, died in 1932, on my birthday, In 1964, Jack Ruby was found guilty of killing Lee Harvey Oswald on my birthday, and he was sentenced to death.

Even though this post is up now, if anyone wants to have their posts added to it, please e-mail. I'll update this post with new posts.

Below are links to posts that people have submitted in honor of my birthday.

Hats off to PZ Myers at Pharyngula for giving me this idea.

I'm not sure what inspired Lauren from Feministe to post a disclaimer describing what she wants from commenters and readers of her blog, but her suggestions are must-reads for all bloggers. Especially the stuff about how name-calling slides off her like Teflon. I had recently linked to this post in another post of mine, so I chose to add Lauren's thoughts on teaching Prufrock as well as teaching in general. Prufrock is an interesting one to teach, considering the affluence of the students in question.

Kathy from What Do I Know described her own birth experience. Her daughter is now twenty years old, and recently celebrated her own birthday. Sure are a lot of Pisceans out there.

Jam has an unusual way of linking to items that interest her - she posts thumbnail snapshots. There are all sorts of great things to choose from. Here are a couple: a profile of blues singer Nina Simone, Elizabeth Sulston can taste the musical notes she plays on her recorder, and an article about the smallest star ever detected.

AldeaMB posted about how the NIH Sexual Health Web Site is selling out on posting accurate information about health. It includes a link to the National Cancer Institute that includes this statement: "abortion, miscarriage and breast cancer risk." That's contrary to a previous report by the National Cancer Institute that found that abortion does not increase the risk for breast cancer. She also is a bit perturbed that her daughter and her friends are budding fashionistas who pay a little too much attention to labels like Prada, Kate Spade, and Chanel. That stuff doesn't come cheap.

Mad Kane has submitted her hilarious "The Wonderbra Song." It's sung to the tune of "Miracle of Miracles," from "Fiddler On The Roof." She has also submitted Nothin's More Revoltin' Than Dub's Nominee John Bolton, sung to the tune of "Carolina In The Morning."

Fortuna asks if women sometimes have a Cinderella complex, where they want to help people. She likes to help her friends. She wrote, "I often have thoughts of saving people I know, or helping to make them more secure, especially my female friends."

Sheelzebub at Pinko Feminist Hellcat submitted three posts; the first on sex work and double standards, the second on on the same topic, but more from the economic side of things, and the third on a bit of snark on her new welfare reform plan. Here's a hint: it's about unemployed men and working things like the pole for money.

Shaula Evans wants everyone to meet her favorite new blogger, Janet Oleszek, who is, to her knowledge, the first candidate blog in the history of Virginia state-level politics. Oleszek is "a school board member, and has been a local education activist for over 20 years, and her blog is full of informed opinions and current information about education issues in her community."

Helen at Blogger On The Cast Iron Balcony described her experience with a drive-by mom. Her daughter wanted to play on the monkey bar - the one that looks like a ladder suspended just over adult head height - and after about a half hour of pestering, Helen gave in. As she hoisted her three-year old to the ladder, an annoying drive-by mom said, "I do hate these pushy mums who force their toddlers to do things they're not ready for!" The talk on the blogosphere about drive-by moms came from reading a post at Chez Miscarriage, in which Getupgrrl reacts to a writings about motherhood by Judith Warner. Helen thinks Chez Miscarriage is wrong to interpret Warner's article as a criticism of mothers rather than an analysis of social pressures. her post to get a clearer idea of what I'm talking about. [Trish's update: I edited this post to make it more clear.]

Cruella wrote about "funny women, sad men," in which a study found that "for a woman, a GSOH means someone who makes her laugh. For a man, it means someone who laughs at his jokes."

Pepper gives her opinion of the new SAT, especially class issues inherent in the test.

tz at HeartOfCanada refers to herself as "an androgynist." She launched off of Lauren's post about trolls (See above in this list. I link to it for my birthday.) to discuss the consitions under which women are called feminists, even if they don't see themselves as feminist.

Posted on March 14, 2005 at 09:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

March 10, 2005

Subvert The Dominant Link Hierarchy!

Taking my cue from PZ Myers from Pharyngula, who asked for science-related posts in honor of his birthday, I'd like to propose a special something for my birthday, which is on March 14. I'll be 45. In honor of my birthday, I'd like to do a special something related to women bloggers and women's issues. E-mail me your posts, with links, and on my birthday I will link to all of them in one post. Either post about a women's issue, or if you are a woman blogger yourself, write something that is meaningful for you. Or both. My e-mail address is on the top of my left sidebar.

This could be fun, and it's a great way to get more exposure for women's issues and women's blogs.

Posted on March 10, 2005 at 10:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

March 09, 2005

Oregon Bill Seeks To Protect Victims Of Domestic Violence

Bean has posted good news about a bill from Oregon that seeks to expand unemployment benefits for victims of domestic violence.

SALEM — Rep. Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) introduced a bill Thursday that would help victims of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault. The bill, HB 2662, would expand current laws to allow such victims to collect unemployment benefits if they leave work to protect their safety or the safety of their families.
Presently, the law provides that unemployment benefits are available only to people who must quit for “good cause.” Holvey’s bill would provide a legal framework to ensure that only victims can decide what steps to take to protect themselves from physical harm.

“Though threats of violence are not always specific to the workplace, they may be so insidious that a victim’s only safe alternative is to quit work and physically relocate,” Holvey said. “These victims are already under terrible emotional stress. We should not force them to choose between employment and safety.”

Without the legal protections offered by HB 2662, victims are less likely to leave work to seek safety, Holvey added. The availability of benefits enables victims to take the steps they need to protect themselves and their families without risking homelessness or bankruptcy, he said.

Violence between intimate partners is pervasive in Oregon, Holvey said. The Eugene Democrat referred to the findings of a current study conducted by in cooperation with the Oregon Department of Human Services. The study concluded that one in 10 women between the ages of 20 and 55 in Oregon had been physically or sexually assaulted by their current or most recent partner in the five years preceding the study.

Posted on March 9, 2005 at 10:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 06, 2005

Teen Charged With Murder For Inducing Miscarriage

Lindsay from Magikthise, who is hosting at Pandagon this week, wrote about the Texas case where an 18 year old man has been charged with murder for helping his 16 year old girlfriend miscarry.

An 18-year-old boy from Lufkin, Texas has been charged with capital murder for helping his 16-year-old girlfriend induce a miscarriage. The girl faces no charges.

The case is considered a test for a new Texas law that criminalizes injuries to fetuses. [AP]

While this case is being used as a test case for the state's new law protecting "the unborn," it needs to be pointed out that fetal deaths may be considered murder. One of the commenters at Pandagon had written "I was thinking about the practicing medicine angle, too. But doesn't the law consider all fetal deaths to be murder if they happen as a result of some other crime? "

Yes, fetal deaths are considered murder but the fetus isn't given personhood.

A fetus is not a "person" under the law. It does not have rights as an individual or as a person.

A fetus is generally considered by the law to be a "human being," i.e. a being that is human. That does not imply rights as an individual, or that a fetus is a "person" as opposed to "chattel," property.

"Homicide" only means the killing of a human being by another human being. The word does not even imply a criminal killing. "Homicide" does not require a killing of a "person," but of a "human being."

It's clear that this new law seeks to give fetuses personhood. That said, a fetus is a "human being." That does not mean it is a person. Current law declares it the property of the woman.

Still, this new law seeks to elevate fetal personhood above that of the pregnant woman's personhood. That's bad news.

Posted on March 6, 2005 at 10:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Random Ten - The Subvert The Dominant Paradigm Edition

Random Thoughts has started a new Friday Random Ten. She posts ten links to posts written by women. So, here's my random ten:

1. Amanda takes on another bone-headed advice column in which the guy recommends idiotic things like ignoring women and talking about how much they masturbate as if that will inspire women to be happy about dating them. I think not.

2. Sheelz at Pinko Feminist Hellcat links to a post by Riverbend which shows how things don't bode well for women in Iraq.

3. Media Girl is just as annoyed as I am with men who say they don't support women's rights, but they support "human rights." Every time I hear that, I hear some guy whining "me too! me too!" out of an overblown sense of entitlement.

4. Feministing is disgusted with the "gross, misogynistic behavior" of "Pimp My Ride."

5. Natasha at Pacific Views writes about how social security has benefited her family. In particular, she discusses how "Social Security functions as a life insurance plan for people who leave families behind."

6. Pseudo-Adrienne praises how "the U. S. delegation at the UN removed a section of its proposed amendment that would have not recognized and practically deny women's reproductive rights abroad and here at home." Have a feeling Bush is not going to support this, and he doesn't - Adrienne said that "the U. S. delegation still refuses to acknowledge women's reproductive rights and joint the UN in protecting, and ensuring women's right to control their bodies."

7. Sappho at Sappho's Breathing turned 35 on March 1. Go wish her a belated happy birthday. My birthday is on the 14th, and I'll turn 45. I plan to celebrate hard.

8. A Wicked Muse is experiencing blogger burnout. I know how that feels. Head on over, wish her well, and tell her to not give up blogging.

9. Mac Diva, writing at Silver Rights, has an update on the Marcus Wesson case. I wrote about that one on my blog awhile ago. Wesson killed nine of his own children. It didn't get the publicity of mothers who kill their children, like Susan Smith, whom men's rights types always bring up to show that mothers are dangers to their children.

10. Avedon Carol at The Sideshow critiques bias in the media, especially the charge that the media is left-biased. She writes, "I have never understood why this should be a criticism of the media, anymore than it makes sense that this is a negative trait of academe; if the people who are best educated and most aware of what is going on are more liberal, maybe that's because you have to be ignorant to swallow conservatism. What is really suggested by this "criticism" is that the alleged "bias" isn't bias at all, it's just a recognition of what is, and that bias is required to lean to the right of this "liberal" position. Indeed, the behavior we're seeing from the administration is fairly explicit in that we are told that simple facts are "biased". The news media are not supposed to tell the public the truth about anything because that would bias us against the administration. The real question is not, then, about a bias toward liberalism or conservatism, but rather a belief that "news" should make some attempt to serve the public rather than just the corporate hierarchy."

Posted on March 6, 2005 at 08:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 05, 2005

Why Doesn't She Just Leave?

Bean has two great posts up about violence against women. In the second one, she talks at length about why it takes women several tries to finally leave an abusive relationship. She quotes Sarahlynn, from Yeah, But Houdini Didn't Have These Hips, who had discussed how abusers are often charismatic and charming men - men many would not believe would hurt their wives. Abusers are "very smart, very talented, and very convincing." She's right. Bean is also right that the abusive behavior doesn't start right away. It grows over time to the point that the woman finds it difficult to leave. She also points out that abusers aren't abusive all the time. At certain periods, they can be quite loving and attentive, especially after an abusive incident. This period is known as "the honeymoon period," and an abused woman often feel guilty about leaving at this point because (1) she believes his heart-felt pleas that he'll never abuse her again and (2) she loves him.

I don't like to talk about my personal life very much, but I'll put that aside and talk a little about my own abusive marriage. My ex-husband was not abusive all the time, and he was never physically abusive until the final incident which caused me to leave the marriage for good. It took me three tries to finally leave. The first was when I was with my family and my ex's family at the beach. I had asked my mother if I could move in with my son because I couldn't take it anymore. She turned me down, because my grandmother was living with her at the time and there was no room. Plus, she had her hands full. I was quite angry about it because I knew there was room for me in the house and I was in a lot of trouble. Nonetheless, I retreated and stayed with my ex.

I can't remember exactly what incident had caused me to leave the second time, but I took my son and went to a domestic violence shelter. I stayed for four days. Leaving at that time would have meant going on welfare, and I couldn't handle it. I wasn't ready to leave. So, I returned to him.

The third time I left due to a marital rape. It was the only time my ex had been physically forceful with me. This time, I stayed away for good. I filed for divorce. I was lucky that the court saw what was going on and made orders that protected me and my son. If I were to divorce today, I'm afraid that the influence of the conciliation courts and fathers' rights thinking that has permeated far too many U. S. courts would have made a divorce very difficult for me. I won a move-away from Maryland to Massachusetts five years ago. I know that in today's political climate I would not have been permitted to move with my son if I asked the court for permission to leave today.

So, I do understand how difficult it is to leave an abusive marriage. Staying away is harder than making that first move to be on your own away from an abuser. I think that people need to give abused women more credit for having the courage to leave their abusers. It's much more difficult than a lot of people think.

Posted on March 5, 2005 at 02:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Call For Papers - Panel: Women Writing On/In Academe

I saw this at Bitch, PhD..

Hi: I'm currently looking for submissions for an MLA panel on women writing on/in academe. Originally I was looking for analytical papers on memoir and memoir-writing, but I think the most interesting writing
on/by women in academe is being done on blogs. Would you be interested either in submitting something to be considered for this panel, or perhaps mentioning something about it on your blog so other interested parties might send something? Feel free to use my name and e-mail address.

Thanks for your time.

Janine M. Utell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English
Widener University
Humanities Division
One University Place
Chester, PA 19013

Posted on March 5, 2005 at 01:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 04, 2005

Women Said Worse Off Now Than 10 Years Ago

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Many women are worse off today than they were 10 years ago, women around the world say in a new report that accuses governments of failing to keep their pledge to achieve gender equality.

Governments worldwide have adopted a "piecemeal and incremental" approach to women's rights that cannot achieve the goals in the landmark platform of action adopted at a 1995 U.N. conference in Beijing, it says.

The report is the work of women's rights activists in 150 countries. Compiled by the Women's Environment and Development Organization, an international advocacy group based in New York, it was released Thursday to coincide with a high-level U.N. meeting on implementing the platform.

The message was clear, starting with the title: "Beijing Betrayed."

"The women of the world don't need any more words from their governments -- they want action, they want resources and they want governments to protect and advance women's human rights," the report said.

The women's report sounded very different from the speeches this week at the U.N. conference, where governments have been touting their records on women's rights.

"The realities women document often contrast sharply with the officials' reports," June Zeitlin, the executive director of Women's Environment and Development, said.

"What we see are powerful trends -- growing poverty, inequality, growing militarization, and fundamentalist opposition to women's rights," she said. "These trends are harming millions of women worldwide."

"Governments need to respond very strongly to counterbalance these trends and push the Beijing platform to further women's rights,'' Zeitlin said.

Nonetheless, she said, "there is still some cause for celebration."

Advocates of women's rights have stepped up their activities around the globe and have pressed governments to change some discriminatory laws. The number of countries that ratified the 1979 Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women rose from 146 a decade ago to 179, though the United States has still not done so.

The goal of giving every girl and boy an elementary school education by 2005 is likely to be met everywhere but sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, the report said.

But despite these and other gains in the Beijing platform, "and despite a decade-worth of efforts ... many women in all regions are actually worse off than they were 10 years ago," the report said.

Violence against women remains an "acute problem" affecting some two-thirds of women in relationships worldwide, the report said.

For example, in Kazakhstan, over 60 percent of women have suffered from physical or sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. In the United States, 31 percent of women report being sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend. And in 2000, 44 percent of married women in Colombia suffered
from violence inflicted by a male partner, the report said.

While trafficking of women and children into bonded labor, forced marriage, forced prostitution, and domestic servitude has become a global phenomenon, governments don't appear to be making significant efforts to combat these crimes.

According to the report, up to 175,000 women from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union are being lured into the sex industry in Western Europe every year, and there has been "a dramatic increase" in the number of Soviet bloc women trafficked to North America.

One goal of the 10-year-old platform was to make reproductive health services available to women everywhere. But access and affordability are still obstacles, "compounded by cultural and religious fundamentalism," the report said. Women and girls also face the highest risk of getting
HIV/AID, "primarily because of continued patterns of sexual subordination."

Governments had also pledged to put women in decision-making positions and set a target of having 30 percent of government and public administration jobs filled by women. But the report said 10 years later "not much" has happened, noting that only five countries had reached 30 percent in 1995,
10 in 2000, and 15 in 2004.

The report listed what it called "the dirty dozen" countries that have no women in parliament: Bahrain, Kuwait, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates and Guinea-Bissau.

"Across all regions, women are often still considered unequal to men -- in the workplace, at home, in government -- and assigned roles accordingly," it said.

The majority of the world's poor are women, and since Beijing "women's livelihoods for the most part have worsened, with increasing insecure employment and less access to social protection and public services," the report said.


On the Net:

Women's Environment & Development Organization:

Posted on March 4, 2005 at 03:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 01, 2005

What Will He Suggest Next? Take Away Women's Right To Vote?

NTodd from Doyihi Mir alerted me to this bone-headed article by David Brooks, who thinks that married couples with separate banking accounts are teetering on the edge of disaster. Mustang Bobby from Bark, Bark, Woof, Woof also wrote about the same article.

Brooks wrote:

It also illustrates how the family is a countervailing force in society. Public life is individualistic. It's oriented around goals like self-development, self-advancement and personal happiness. (This is, of course, even more true in America today than in the Russia of the 19th century.) The goal of family life, on the other hand, does not revolve around individual choices but around the unconditional union of souls. When we get married, and then when we have kids, we learn, sometimes traumatically, to say farewell to the world of me, me, me.

He's not talking about "family life" or "couples." He's talking about the "danger" of married women having bank accounts separate from their husbands. He wrote, "I'm not saying that people with separate accounts have marriages that are less healthy than anybody else's. I'm saying we should pause before this becomes the social norm. Private property is the basis for our market democracy. But private property in the home is an altogether trickier proposition."

It's the old slur - women are selfish! They're too concerned about their own selfish indulgences "individual choices" and that kind of concern leads to his unspoken conclusion - divorce. It's a well-known fact that women file for the most divorces, and that makes Bobo unhappy. So, to keep women from leaving bad marriages, he proposes that she lose control of her finances - keep them in the hands of husbands who can keep these wayward women in line, just like the good ole days when women "knew their place."

Of course, he doesn't quite phrase it that way. His true feelings would be too harsh to put in print. Instead, he channels Leo Tolstoy. He quotes Tolstoy's novella "Family Happiness," in particular a mushy part where a married woman expresses chagrin at the dying down of the courtship period. She waxes eloquently, saying, "That day ended the romance of our marriage; the old feeling became a precious irrecoverable remembrance; but a new feeling of love for my children and the father of my children laid the foundation of a new life and a quite different happiness; and that life and happiness have lasted to the present time."

Bobo chastizes independent women, saying that "the difference between romantic happiness, which is filled with exhilaration and self-fulfillment, and family happiness, built on self-abnegation and sacrifice."

The thing is, it's the woman, not the man, whom he expects to build her marriage based on self-abnegation and sacrifice. That means doing away with her financial independence by closing those separate bank accounts.

He wants to set women back to The Time That Never Was.

Gimme a break. I'm sorry that financially independent women scare him. I wonder if he's married, and if he is, does his wife have a separate bank account? Especially one of which he is not aware? That'll show those uppity women - take away their control of money so they can't leave his controlling ass if they've had enough of him.

Posted on March 1, 2005 at 12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack

Why Are Mothers So Cruel To Each Other?

Thanks to Lauren at Feminist, Alas A Blog, and Stone Court, I have discovered a great new blog - Chezmiscarriage. Chezmiscarriage has a great series of posts about drive-by mothering, which every mother has experienced and possibly even done herself. Drive-by mothering is those rude, nasty comments mothers throw at each other, such as a perfect stranger, friend, acquaintence, or even family member yelling at you to "Get rid of that bottle! If you don't breastfeed you are guilty of child abuse!" and "Why isn't that child wearing a hat and mittens?"

I luckily have not had much experience dealing with drive-by mothering because I tend to be a loner. That said, I have experienced it a few times and it's nerve-grating. About a month ago, when I was coming back from a day speaking at the World Science Fiction Convention, I ran across one of these drive-by mothers on the train. She was an elderly woman who was tut-tutting a family at the front of my car whose kids were a bit rambunctious. They were noisy and climbing on the seats; i. e., they were acting like kids. Granted, they shouldn't have been climbing on the seats, and the conductor had to tell them to sit down so that they don't end up getting hurt. However, this woman moped her way back to my seat and sat next to me. She complained about certain "parents who can't keep their kids in line," obviously begging for me to agree with her. I was annoyed. I didn't want to talk to anyone, let alone this old bat. I told her I didn't know what she was talking about. She nodded in the direction of the family, and said that parents don't know how to raise their children these days. Those kids are making too much noise. I said I don't see what the problem is and that they weren't bothering me. She just wouldn't let up. She kept criticizing their parenting skills even though she didn't even know them. I turned away and looked out the window, but she wouldn't take the hint. Eventually - thank God - she moved to the next train car ahead.

She complained about the kids after whining about a young couple who kissed in public. She complained about the young woman "having her hands all over" the young man she was with. As before, I said I didn't see what the problem was. She just wanted to tut-tut and complain in that whiny, holier-than-thou way drive-by mothers complain.

I was glad she moved to the car in front of me. To my horror, she came back in about ten minutes later and sat in the seat in front of me. This time, she complained the other car was too cold.

I should have braved insane Boston traffic that day and drove to the convention. You know it's bad if I'm willing to risk my sanity and drive in Boston just to avoid an annoying drive-by mother.

To my readers, have any of you ever experienced drive-by mothering? Have you, to your shame, ever engaged in the practice yourself?

Posted on March 1, 2005 at 10:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Warren "Positive Incest" Farrell Speaks About Women For The New York Times

Warren Farrell is no friend of women. From Feministing I have learned that Farrell is blaming women yet again for any problems they experience in an article he wrote for the New York Times. It appears he's on yet another book tour, so it's time to speak the truth about that man.

Laryn at Feministing criticized Farrell's woman-blaming opinions, quoting the Times article:

"Women, he believes, methodically engineer their own paltry pay. They choose psychically fulfilling jobs, like librarian or art historian, that attract enough applicants for the law of supply and demand to kick in and depress pay. They avoid well-paid but presumably risky work - hence, the paucity of women flying planes. And they tend to put in fewer hours than men - no small point, he says, because people who work 44 hours a week make almost twice as much as those who work 34 and are more likely to be promoted."

Ummmm, yeah. But where is the analysis on how women are pushed out of partnerships and senior level positions when they become pregnant. Or how women are *still* left tending to the majority of childcare and house work. And how no matter how many hours we put in, we will still *never* be eligible for the boys club. I don't care how you spin it, it is just plain *wrong* to blame women for their lower pay. (sigh).

Warren Farrell has no business speaking about women and children. Despite the way he waves around his allegedly feminist credentials, such as his stint on the board of the New York State chapter of NOW, in reality he has long been associated with anti-woman fathers' rights groups the National Congress for Fathers and Children and the Children's Rights Council (which is a fathers' rights group, not a child-welfare group). He was on the Advisory Board for Fathers' Rights and Equality Exchange (F.R.E.E.). He is also highly supportive of the American Fathers' Coalition (AFC often cites Farrell as an "expert"). These groups are of no service to women, and they don't do men and fathers much good either. They serve children the least.

What Farrell has been trying to keep quiet for twenty years were statements he made supportive of incest for a 1977 issue of Penthouse. He has threatened to sue anyone who brings up this article. I have been threatened but never sued. I am not afraid to bring this issue up when necessary. If he wanted to sue anyone he should have sued Penthouse and writer Philip Nobile for any problems with the article, but he has never done that. He made excuses for his pro-incest statements. For example, saying that he meant "gently caressing" rather than "genitally caressing." He then later changed that statement to meaning "generally caressing." He can't dance his way out of what he said.

I own my own copy of this particular issue of Penthouse. My statements aren't rumors found on the Internet. I found it at a collectible comic book store. Vintage issues of Penthouse and Playboy are considered collectibles, so sometimes they may be found at collectible book stores or comic book shops.

Farrell's book on positive incest, "The Last Taboo: the Three Faces of Incest," was never published. He had placed ads in the "Village Voice," the "New York Review of Books," "Psychology Today," and the "New Republic" seeking, for research purposes, people who had committed incest. 200 responded.

The article is reproduced at Elizabeth Kate's web site - she owns her own copy of the issue, too. It is Incest: The Last Taboo. Previously Suppressed Material From The Original Kinsey Interviews Tells Us That Incest Is Prevalent And Often Positive. The statements below are quoted verbatim from the article, and they are available on one of my web pages about Warren Farrell. To read all of my web site pages about Warren Farrell, go to this link. It's a one-stop portal.

Everything below quoted is verbatim from the original Penthouse article. Bold is my emphasis.

"When I get my most glowing positive cases, 6 out of 200," says Farrell, "the incest is part of the family's open, sensual style of life, wherein sex is an outgrowth of warmth and affection. It is more likely that the father has good sex with his wife, and his wife is likely to know and approve -- and in one or two cases to join in."

"... [M]illions of people who are now refraining from touching, holding, and genitally caressing their children, when that is really part of a caring, loving expression, are repressing the sexuality of a lot of children and themselves. ... [T]housands of people in therapy for incest are being told, in essence, that their lives have been ruined by incest. In fact, their lives have not generally been affected as much by the incest as by the overall atmosphere. ..."

"[Dr. Paul Gebhard, then director of the Institute for Sex Research in Bloomington, Indiana] is releasing Kinsey's startling incest material for incorporation in Warren Farrell's work-in-progress, The Last Taboo: the Three Faces of Incest. According to the cultural gatekeepers in New York publishing, America still wasn't ready to hear about positive incest in the mid seventies. Farrell's impressive credentials - a Ph.D. in political science from N.Y.U., former board member of the National Organization for Women, and author of a book entitled Beyond Masculinity -- counted as nothing. His forty-one-page outline (including two sizzling case histories -- one with a New York Writer who has intercourse regularly with his seventeen-year old daughter, occasionally supplemented by threesomes with the daughter's girlfriend, and another with a Notre Dame graduate who made love to his mother for ten years) was returned by twenty-two houses last fall..."

"NBC's "Weekend visit to the Santa Clara County Child Sexual Abuse Treatment Center in San Jose will not help Farrell and [Dr. James Ramey, a sociologist who has also written positive incest material] convince anyone that incest is less than a scourge."

"Although Farrell has personally familiarized [Hank Giaretto, director of the Santa Clara Abuse Treatment Center] with his findings on positive incest before the "Weekend" taping, Giaretto failed to temper his apocalyptism on camera."

"Warren Farrell admires Giaretto's rehabilitative mission among legitimate victims, for his own investigation of positive incest allows for considerable negativity, particularly in the father-daughter category. But he faults "Weekend" for its skewed perspective. "It was like interviewing Cuban refugees about Cuba. "Weekend" recorded sexually abused children speaking about their sexual abuse, which is valuable, but the inference is that all incest is abuse. And that's not true."

"The idea for the book struck him after reading a Times article about incest early last year. According to the piece, only a tiny fraction of the cases ever reaches the courts. In 1976 New York City police received merely one incest complaint and no arrests. Farrell wondered if perhaps some incidents weren't reported because the relationships went smoothly. Since nothing had been written about nonpatient-nonoffender participants, he decided the gap was too large to ignore."

"...[H]is preliminary data suggest that the taboo needs severe overhauling. Breaking down the effects into positive (beneficial), negative (traumatic), and mixed (nontraumatic but not regarded as beneficial) categories -- the three faces of incest in his subtitle -- he says that the overwhelming majority of cases fall into the positive column. Cousin-cousin (including uncle-niece and aunt-nephew) and brother-sister (including sibling homosexuality) relations, accounting for about half of the total incidence, are perceived as beneficial in 95 percent of the cases. ... Farrell points out that boys don't seem to suffer, not even from the negative experiences. "Girls are much more influenced by the dictates of society and are more willing to take on sexual guilt."

"Farrell also hopes to change public attitudes so that participants in incest will no longer be automatically perceived as victims. 'The average incest participant can't evaluate his or her experience for what it was. As soon as society gets into the picture, they have to tell themselves it was bad. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.' "

"Warren Farrell prophesies that incest will be a major social issue in the eighties. If so, the debate will be bloody and presumably unproductive. Those who accept the original sin of incest, the great Judeo-Christian majority, will not be dissuaded by anyone's case studies. The last taboo could become the last straw as the Save Our Children movement heads closer to home."

Here are more of my links about Warren Farrell, if you don't want to go to the one-stop page linked above. Read them in this order. I highly recommend them so you get the entire gist of this issue and so that you can see how bad Warren Farrell really is.

Trish Wilson Responds To Warren Farrell: That Danged Penthouse Article Just Won't Go Away

Who Is Libeling Whom: More On Warren Farrell and the Penthouse Business

Warren Farrell, "Empowerment Feminism," and More Penthouse Backpedaling

Trish Wilson Reviews Warren Farrell's "Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say: Destroying Myths, Creating Love." Also available at XY Online

I also recommend you read this page by Elizabeth Kates, WARREN FARRELL'S TOP TEN HOLIDAY SUGGESTIONS for a parent who wants to learn or teach stalking behavior?

Posted on March 1, 2005 at 09:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 27, 2005

Juan Cole Makes A Good Point About Women In Iraq And In The U. S.

From Juan Cole:

Amnesty International reports that the women of Iraq have suffered substantial setbacks in their rights since the US invasion, and live in a condition of dire insecurity.

The suggestion by some that the guarantee of 1/3 of seats in the Iraqi parliament to women might make up for the situation described by Amnesty is of course absurd. Iraq is not the first country to have such a quota. It was put into effect in Pakistan by Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The move was meant to weaken Muslim fundamentalists, on the theory that women members of parliament would object to extreme patriarchy on the Khomeini or Taliban model. In fact, the Jama'at-i Islami, the main fundamentalist party in Pakistan, was perfectly capable of finding women to represent it in parliament. (US readers should remember Phyllis Schlafly!) Moreover, the 1/3 of MPs who are women can fairly easily be outvoted by the men.

If the Republican Party in the US is so proud of putting in such a quota for Iraq, they should think seriously about applying it in the United States Congress.

' . . . there are larger disparities between the Congress and the general citizenry in term of sex and race. In the House, there are currently 372 men and 63 women. In the Senate, there are 14 women and 86 men. '

Might not the US be a better country if there were 33 women senators and more like 120 congresswomen? If your answer is that it wouldn't matter, then you cannot very well insist that it does matter in Iraq. If you think it would be important, then if you support it in Iraq you should support it in the United States.

Posted on February 27, 2005 at 01:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

More Estrogen Blogging

Leslie at Plum Crazy has an excellent list of links to issues women are blogging about this week. She included my post about Wade Horn drumming up grants for abstinence-only education. Go read them all.

Posted on February 27, 2005 at 11:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Martha Stewart Getting Out Of Jail

Missouri Mule at BlondeSense has some insightful things to say about Martha Stewart, who is about to be released from jail.

The trial was a witch hunt. Prosecutors brought out testimony of Martha "yelling" at people on the phone, trying to make it seem that Martha wasn't a "nice" woman. What the hell does that have to do with the charges? Do you think for a Missouri moment they would have done this if she had a penis? Stewart is a powerful woman; she probably does yell from time to time.She's the boss Queen too. Donald Trump yells at somebody every damn week on national television and fires them too. Chit, we love it.

They sacred Martha to death. During that season entire companies come out of hibernation just to teach the public how to lie to the government. But do we prosecute them? Hell no. See, I think they went after Martha because they were pissed off about all the things she can make out of everyday items that they can't. I know Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh wouldn't have a clue what to do with a skein of maple weaver's yarn/ But should Martha have be reviled and punished because she can make a damn quilt, a hammock, and truss turkey out of the same skein? I think not. Maybe I'm just starting to identify with rich women more these days. I used to identify only with poor women. Thank Gawd money cured me of that sickness.

While everyone was dissing Martha Stewart, I wondered when the big whigs from Enron were going to fall. That sure hasn't made the news or the tabloid pages, not to the extent that pillorying Martha did.

Posted on February 27, 2005 at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Most Japanese Women Prefer To Remain Single

A new poll found that "most single Japanese women prefer not to marry and believe they can live happily alone for the rest of their life." This gells with two earlier posts I made about Japanese women balking at marriage. Here's the second post on the subject, in which I wrote about a Foreign Policy article that "described the growing dissatisfaction Japanese women have about their second-class status and dreadful treatment when it comes to marriage -- dissatisfaction so pronounced that many of them have chosen to forgo marriage and childbearing. Japanese wives are expected to shoulder the household chores, wait on their husbands (including peeling his apples for him), and raise the kids. Japanese men poo-pooed their complaints, calling them "the twittering of birds."

I wrote that back in December, 2003, and it seems that things aren't much better several months later.

Posted on February 27, 2005 at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 26, 2005

Oh, Never Mind

"Virus" with Jamie Lee Curtis is on now, and that movie sucks, so I'm going to blog for awhile. I can't believe I just sat through "Xtro II: The Second Encounter." I saw "Xtro I" years ago. In that one, the alien impregnated an au-pair. A true low moment in movie watching.

I'm mad at The Sci-Fi Channel anyway because I think it cancelled "Ghost Hunters." That show was a cheap thrill. I'm not surprised if it was cancelled, though, because those guys couldn't get their act together. One of them was fired from his real life job on the first episode because he missed too much time from work doing his ghost hunting. The two main guys work for Roto Rooter, plus they leave their wives at home taking care of young children while they galavant all over the place hunting ghosts. One guy's wife is very mad at him for this. The guy who lost his job lost equipment, too, so the head guys have to dip into their pockets to replace the stuff. Granted, they debunk most of the cases they go on. I was hoping they'd go to a place I recognize, since they're in New England. They did go to a restaurant/bar/inn in western Massachusetts, the John Stone Inn, but they didn't find anything. One time they turned down a woman who thought her cat saw ghosts. That was amusing. On one of their cases, one of the guys was freaked out when he kept hearing a strange noise in a bedroom. Turned out it was the lazy cat snoring. I loved watching that show because it was so ridiculous. I'm going to miss it. I never get enough of that stuff.

While cruising the blogosphere I found a bunch of links from women worth reading. After all, this is Estrogen Week, and I'm participating.

Adrienne talks about the African American blogger thing. Her battle cry was worth repeating:

When we discuss the importance of recognizing women bloggers we must put a diverse face on the phrase. Women Bloggers are White, Black, Jewish, Hispanic, Asian, Arab, Native American, Biracial (such as moi, I'm half-Black, half-White), Multiracial, Lesbian, Bisexual, Islamic, Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu, and so on. Women bloggers may share a common interest of speaking their minds and views, independent of others' influences and intimidation,--such as certain backward thinking men who have a problem with women with opinions, voices, and minds of their own and have no need of some guy telling them what to think or say. Women bloggers make up the diverse realm of the blogsphere and we all come from different walks of life. We must remember that not all women are same pasty-face image of a stereotypical woman-blogger that unfortunately automatically pops into one's head. We look, feel, and speak very differently from one another. But we all have many but certainly one thing in common--we speak our minds no matter what some idiot has to say or thinks about us. So hear us shrill and bitch, blogsphere!

Random Thoughts has some not-so-random thoughts about the Social Security "crisis."

Roxanne won the More Sizzle Than Steak Perranowski award. Go congratulate her.

I'm a sucker for the latest "Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese" story, and Avedon Carol has fed my fix. I haven't read Fortean Times in ages, but I regularly check Paranormal News and, as a chaser to cancel out that nonsense, A Skeptical Blog and CSICOP. Pharyngula also serves as an effective antidote. Avedon talks about some dreadful nightmares she used to have. I wonder if her nightmares are really hypnopompic or hynogogic sleep? Here are some letters addressing a Skeptical Inquirer Magazine article called "The Aliens Among Us: Hypnotic Regression Revisited," by Dr. Robert A. Baker. I couldn't find the article online, but I didn't really take much time to look for it. If Avedon has access to SI she might want to read it.

I learned a few unpleasant things about PETA this week. I wanted to point out Volsunga's post because she laid out the criticisms of the group in one paragraph: "PETA are consistently sexist, have been known to be anti-semitic, push body-image fears on young women, promote alcohol "chugging" on campuses rather than milk, and target the soft option of rich white women rather than pouring paint over that scary biker guy with the leather jacket, not to mention supporting the mainstream porn industry by advertising in Playboy." I've never been particularly impressed with the way PETA operates, but all of this was new to me. My local vet donated some money to an organization that studies cancer in cats when one of my favorite cats died from cancer about three years ago. I think supporting local feral cat groups and local shelters would be more effective than sending money to PETA.

Mary Beth at Wampum criticizes Autism Speaks for speaking for families with autistic members, especially the most vulnerable - children with autism. She thinks the families should be the ones to decide who "speaks" for autism, not this particular organization. She says that other organizations are more appropriate because they have more time and experience under their belts. She is especially concerned with Autism Speaks intention of creating a national registry of autistic patients, due to existing fears of how such a registry would be abused. She links quite a bit to autism posts by Moi at Bloggg. All of these posts are well-worth the read. Moi is a friend of mine. I'm the one who talked her into starting her own blog. Heh heh, Beeyatch!!! evil_smiley.gif

Morgaine from What She Said! has quite a bit to say about the "women bloggers" firestorm. Start with this post, and then go to her main page and read the rest. She started "What She Said" as a way to answer the guys when this stupid meme pops up every two or three months.

Echidne is trying not to snicker when she tells us that dear old Jeff Gannon has a blog. It's called - get this - A Voice of the New Media. Snort. She also has a post about how Robin Givhan of The Washington Post has described Condoleeza Rice's choice of clothing as if she is one of the characters in The Matrix. All that black. Maybe bloggers should sit at their computers in black leather and black trenchcoats. That would be quite an image for the "real media" to take on.

Posted on February 26, 2005 at 12:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 25, 2005

Black Women Bloggers

Sheelzebub links to a must-read post from Black Looks about black women bloggers. She wrote: "Now all this talk of women bloggers, minority bloggers, bloggers of colour etc is great stuff BUT no one is talking about AFRICAN  women bloggers, especially those blogging from Africa rather than the diaspora.  If anyone's voice is lost it is that of Africa women.  When it comes to the mainstream media and and even the "alternative" so called "progressive" media and that includes the Blogger world, technologically we don't exist -  but actually we do."

She has another excellent post about being black, female, and passed over. It's a must-read.

Posted on February 25, 2005 at 12:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Term "Wife Beater" Gains Acceptance

I have never liked calling white t-shirts "wife beaters" for obvious reasons. I've heard too many teenaged boys use the term, and think that it's cool. Unfortunately, Ms. Musings reports that the word has been accepted into the Oxford English Dictionary. Here is what Alison Ward of the Star Telegraph has to say about it:

For at least three decades, the controversial term has been used to describe the ribbed tank top made famous by violent movie stereotypes and the Fox show Cops. Men who beat their wives, the thinking goes, like to spend their spare time drinking beer in thin white undershirts.

The shirt has traveled far beyond its blue-collar roots; celebs have made it sexy. Paris Hilton wears hers with itty-bitty skirts. It's hard to spot Eminem or Kevin Federline (Britney Spears' husband) without one. "Most nights I end up wearing a wife-beater T-shirt and boxers," Jessica Alba told the leering men's mag Maxim.

Newspapers have been claiming since 2003 that "wife-beater's" inclusion in the OED is imminent. But in its February issue, GQ -- a magazine that oughta know its men's fashion terms -- swears the word will be added next month in the OED's quarterly online update.

Jesse Sheidlower, the OED's North American editor at large, confirms this. Well, sort of.

"It's very likely that this is going to appear," he says.

Sheidlower says the dictionary accepts about 250 new words per quarter. The third printed edition of the mammoth OED won't be published for several more years, but the online version -- available by subscription -- serves as an official, ever-expanding substitute in the meantime.

So what makes "wife-beater" a contender? "If something is really common and relatively widespread, it's likely to go in," Sheidlower says.

Posted on February 25, 2005 at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Kansas Attorney General Demands Abortion Records

This violation of women's privacy has been discussed on several blogs. 90 women are affected by this search for medical records. Here is what Professor B. has to say about it:

He is seeking complete, unedited medical records for women who sought late abortions and girls under 16. Now. Can you imagine that? You're a 15-yo girl, you get pregnant in Kansas. You manage to find one of the few clinics in the state, to get past the picket line, to have an abortion--and now the Kansas AG wants to read your medical records, including details about your "name, medical history, details of your sex life, birth control practices and psychological profile." Yeah, Mr. AG, I can really tell that you have these girls' best interests at heart. You disgusting human being.

Clinics offered to provide the info sans names. They are legally not allowed to tell patients that their records are being sought.

I understood that the reasoning behind the request for medical records was to search for paedophiles. If that's the case, why not search prison and police records rather than put these 90 women through such grief? This kind of invasion of privacy is uncalled for.

Posted on February 25, 2005 at 12:21 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Conference On Women And The Media

Clancy from Culture Cat posted about a Conference For Women In The Media, which will be held at New Words Bookstore in Boston next month. I don't know yet if I'm going to this. I might. Go to the link to her blog to read it because she includes links in her post.

Conference on Women and the Media

Tired of what you hear on the nightly news -- and the absence of women sources, speakers, pundits, and subjects? Ready to see progressive women's ideas and lives treated as if we matter?

A reader at the Center for New Words told me about what I'm sure will be an exciting conference:

Women and the Media: Taking Our Place in the Public Conversation, sponsored by the Center for New Words and MIT's Women's Studies department. As I perused the sessions and speakers, I became increasingly dismayed that I don't have the money to travel very often (if I did, I'd spend a lot more time in Atlanta). Some of the speakers are people I've been wanting to meet for a long time, like Christine Cupaiuolo and Lisa Jervis. If you're close by, I urge you to attend the conference, and blog it! If you're planning on going and blogging it, please let me know so I'll know to read your posts.

Posted on February 25, 2005 at 12:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

U. K. - Rape Convictions Hit A Record Low

Rape convictions hit record low

More women are coming forward to report rapes

The percentage of reported rapes to lead to convictions in England and Wales has fallen to an all-time low, according to a Home Office study.

The number of rapes reported is rising - but only 5.6% of 11,766 reports in 2002 led to a rapist being convicted.

Researchers tracking 3,500 court cases found "sceptical" prosecutors and police often did not believe victims.

There was also "some evidence of poor investigation and understanding of the law", they added.

Of the 11,766 allegations of rape made in 2002 there were just 655 convictions, 258 of which had come from a guilty plea. Only 14% of cases pursued made it to trial.

The report, carried out at London Metropolitan University, said crime data suggested up to 47,000 rapes were actually committed every year.

'Culture of respect'

The proportion of convictions had dropped to 5.6% from 6% the previous year.

The government had promised to address the "justice gap", said the report, but there first needed to be a shift in the criminal justice system from a focus on the ability to discredit complainants to improved evidence-gathering.

"Data on reported rape cases... show a continuing and unbroken increase in reporting to the police over the past two decades but a relatively static number of convictions, thus the increasing justice gap."

Rape was a unique crime because in no other cases were victims subjected to such scrutiny in court, the study - called A Gap or a Chasm? - said.

Losing confidence

Defendants were also far more likely in rape case to claim the victim consented to the alleged attack, it added.

Researchers said if the government was to improve results there should be a "culture of belief, support and respect" among those involved in dealing with rape allegations.

An overestimation of the scale of false allegations among some officials led to victims losing confidence in the system , said the authors at the university's child and woman abuse studies unit.

There should also be more female staff available to deal with victims, and more information for victims and "courtroom advocacy that does justice to the complainant's account".

Posted on February 25, 2005 at 09:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 23, 2005

Roe v. Wade Goes Unchallenged

Court rejects challenge to abortion ruling

Hope Yen
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a challenge to its landmark 1973 ruling legalizing abortion by the woman once known as "Jane Roe," who was at the center of the historic case.

Without comment, justices declined to hear the appeal from Norma McCorvey and thus dodged a highly charged political debate for now. McCorvey's protest of Texas' abortion ban led to the Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a constitutional right to abortion.

McCorvey, who says she now regrets her role in the decision, argued in court filings that the case should be heard again in light of evidence that abortion harms women.

The high court's move Tuesday wasn't surprising. A decision to reopen a case based on so-called
"changed circumstances" is rare, and two lower courts had already refused to reconsider the ruling.

It also comes amid intense speculation over whether ailing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist will retire this term. Liberal groups have vowed to fight any nominee replacing him that opposes the landmark ruling.

At least three justices, Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, have said Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be overturned.

In its September ruling throwing out McCorvey's lawsuit, a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had said that her claims were "moot," or no longer relevant, because Texas' abortion ban had long been repealed.

The last major abortion decision by the Supreme Court came in 2000, when the court ruled 5-4 to strike down Nebraska's ban on so-called "partial-birth" abortion because it failed to provide an exception to protect the mother's health.

The case is McCorvey v. Hill, 04-967.

Posted on February 23, 2005 at 01:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 18, 2005

More On Domestic Violence Shelters And Abused Men

Bean has an excellent post up about domestic violence shelters for women and whether or not they should admit men. In addition to chastising men's rights activists who would rather whine, complain, and attack women's shelters rather than do the proper research necessary and seek funding to help abused men, she wrote this:

And here's the important part -- one of the reasons that men's shelters have not been successful (in addition to the fact that so many men's rights activists would rather bitch and moan than actually do anything, and would rather take away from women than actually do anything for themselves) is that men simply don't seek out the help. Part of this is because fewer men actually need this sort of help. Even if one was to accept the 30% rate of abused men (that I have seen argued by men's rights activists; although, I've yet to see the proof for this number), not all of those men need shelter; therefore it is not correct that 30% of the shelters should be for men. The vast majority of abused men are abused by men (that is, they are gay men who are being abused by their male partners). The majority of these men do not have children. That, in itself, lessens the barriers to leaving (although does not eliminate them), and therefore lessens the need for shelter. Also, these men tend to have more financial security, and are therefore in less need of shelter.

The other part is that abused men are simply not as likely to seek shelter -- perhaps out of shame. I'm not saying, in any way, that this is OK. Certainly, something should be done about it. But the fact remains, it's harder to get funding for something that is simply not used as often.

Men's rights groups -- if they were really interested in helping abused men -- would do better to actually get off their complaining asses and start doing something. Do some outreach to abused men. Start more programs addressing abuse of men (without taking the hard-earned resources from women). Start their own shelters (want some hints on doing so? -- look at the damned hard work of the feminists who started women's shelters in the 70s and 80s, feminists who didn't have public support or public funding, but did it anyway). And most important of all -- work with men who are doing the abusing. Because regardless of the gender of the abused, the vast, vast majority of abusers are men.

Related posts:

Another Attack On Domestic Violence Shelters Unsuccessful

Domestic Violence Shelter In Maine Under Attack By Men's Rights Activists

Men's Rights Attack Against Domestic Violence Shelters Dismissed (California)

Posted on February 18, 2005 at 10:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (58) | TrackBack

Sexism and "Civility"

Update: Fred Vincy also wrote his opinions on this topic. He wrote the following:

At the core of the angry exchanges was the claim by half a dozen or so women (and the active participants in this exchange broke down along sex lines) that civility was, essentially, a tool of oppression. At one level, this seemed to me like a suprising claim -- at least in the context of a feminist blog's message board -- because in this context I have seen far more incivility used as a weapon against feminism than civility. Just off the top of my head, anti-feminist posters (virtually all male) have stalked and threatened This Girl, implictly threatened a commenter on Trish Wilson's blog (and probably Wilson as well), hijacked Feministing threads with pointless and vulgar abuse, and mocked Hugo Schwyzer and implied that he is a child abuser for, essentially, playing with his niece and nephew. Even this blog has been linked to by a private message board associateed with a vile and sexist "Ameriskanks Suck" (one can only imagine what the message board says).

Yes, I and some of my commenters have been attacked on my blog numerous times. That has been easy for me to see. It wasn't until I saw Bean's post that I realize my comments on occasion have been taken off track by posters, mostly male but sometimes female.


Bean has her own blog now. I was especially interested in her post about "Civility, Feminism, and Communication (Oh My!)". It's no accident that I won a silly blog award for "Most Psycho-Loon Commenters." I have some real doozies who post here. I have asked in the past for people to please not attack each other and to not attack me. Commenters don't always abide by my wishes. One of my commenters who posts with a pseudonym has had her real name posted here with neither her permission nor mine. I've removed those comments. I've tried to ban the offending commenter, but he posts with a different IP address every time so all I can do is remove his posts when they pop up. It's annoying, but I won't have my commenters attacked here. Nor will I allow myself to be attacked.

I had not thought of civility as a sexist attempt for men to take over a conversation until Bean and her commenters had pointed it out on her blog. In the real world, as Bean pointed out, "men tend to interrupt women more often than other men, and far more often than women interrupt either men or other women." It's a way of taking control of a conversation. Theoretically, that isn't likely to happen in the blogosphere. However, one way that some men (and men do seem to do this more than women) is to derail a conversation by changing the subject in comments. Bean described the practice in this manner:

In practice, however, it seems that men have simply found a new way to interrupt -- the all too common "thread drift" (or "derailment"). Now, I'm not saying that thread drift, to one extent or another, isn't natural (in many cases it is). Nor am I saying that women never engage in it (directly or indirectly). But, in my experience, the most egregious offenses have been done by men. In fact, I pretty much gave up posting any threads about a month back (and then went on to create this new blog) because I was so sick of the flagrant disregard for what I was saying, and the constant need to dramatically drift the thread onto an entirely different subject within the first couple of posts. Admittedly, this was due to a particular man at the time, but it made me take a closer look at other instances where it had happened, and sure enough, it was primarily men. Some of the men were self-proclaimed anti-feminists, others were self-proclaimed [pro] feminists.

I had a troll in my comments about a domestic violence shelter in Maine being under attack by men's rights activists who tried to derail the conversation down the thread-worn and tired path of the myth of men and women being equally abusive. "Adam" wrote the following:

As numerous studies have shown, women abuse men as often as the reverse. Feminists claim to have "discredited" these surveys, but that is a lie. They "discredited" one such survey, the strauss-gelles survey. But pretty much every other unbiased survey has come to the same conclusion, and these surveys have used widely varying methodologies. Personally, I've frequently seen women hit men, but I've never seen a man hit a woman.

I briefly posted a link to my web site that debunks that myth. I wanted to nip that nonsense in the bud before it had a chance to take off.

I knew he was trying to change the subject. The subject was whether nor not a shelter for abused women should admit men. I don't believe it should. If men rights activists want to help abused men, they should research the problem, come to conclusions about how to help that particular population, and seek funding to help alleviate the problem in the best and most appropriate manner. Men's rights activists don't do that. They target women's shelters by having men pose as victims of abuse with the knowledge that they are unlikely to get housing in a shelter designed to be used by women. When they are refused admittance, they file a lawsuit claiming discrimination, and they seek to attack funding the women's shelter receives. Men's rights activists have done this in California, and they have failed. The women's shelters have prevailed. As I have repeatedly stated, if men's rights activists want to help abused men, they need to do the proper research and search for funding to help the men. They have no business attacking domestic violence centers that serve women.

Commenter Silverside kept the topic on track. She didn't allow herself to be taken off track by Adam. Here is what she wrote:

It isn't a question of only accepting evidence that supports my views, or "feminist" views, whatever that it. It's standard procedure for trying to document the existence of particular homeless subpopulations. When I used to do HUD Consolidated Plans, HUD used to ask for data like this all the time. The Census only reports visible people on the street, so it's pretty useless. You have no choice but to go with surveys that are done by homeless service and shelter providers, the VA, soup kitchens,point in time counts, etc. If, as you say, these battered men don't call shelters or the police, and they don't report dv as a reason for their homeless, than how can I or you or anybody else document their existence?

Frankly, I think a lot of this boils down to a "me too-ism" that does not serve homeless men. Many years ago, I attended a meeting having to do with gay and lesbian health issues, and one lesbian presenter was discussing the importance of raising AIDS awareness in the lesbian community. Had grant money to do so. The fact that very few lesbians then (or now for that matter) acquire AIDS unless they were bisexual or IV drug users didn't phase her. The fact that there was apparently no money or interest in major factors affecting women or lesbian health and mortality rates (such as heart disease, lung cancer/smoking, breast cancer) in favor of something that was more or less a phantom seemed ridiculous to me. (The situation regarding AIDS and women, especially black women has changed tremendously since then).

In the same way, I have worked on issues related to homelessness for years, and it's important to really examine why men and women in your area are homeless. It is silly to go after funding for a subpopulation that barely exists when there are other homeless populations that do need services. If most of the homeless in your area are families, why would you build single room occupancy (SRO) for individuals that will go unused? Why would you build facilities for homeless persons with substance abuse problems when most of your local homeless population is being generated by skyrocketing rents and gentrification?

In other words, if you are truly concerned about homeless people, men included, it behooves you to pay attention to the real reasons they are homeless rather than attach yourself to a MR fad. Let's help the homeless men (and women) with the problems that they do have and say they have, rather than the problems we find it politically expedient to say they have with no documentary evidence.

Or chasing some agenda related to trashing women's homeless/dv shelters while actually ignoring homeless men and their needs.

If "Adam" tries to go back to the "men and women are equally abusive" nonsense, he's not going to get far because he won't be allowed to go off topic. Granted, "Adam" was more antagonistic than other men I've seen try to derail a converation by changing the topic. That said, he was still trying to change the topic as well as make other commenters feel defensive. It didn't work.

I'm still reading through the comments at Alas, A Blog about "Feminism and Feminist-Friendly Only Thread: Civility, Alas, and Feminism." Ironically, Barry had to shut down the comments of that thread about derailing conversations because the conversation became derailed early on by Rad Geek and FoolishOwl.

Cry T mentioned something that I've noticed in "civil" commenters who derail threads - they take on a condescending tone as they continue to attempt to change the subject. Funnie was much more outspoken in taking on that tactic:

Either the thread drift is distracting or it isn't. How very goddamned male to go ahead and DO WHAT YOU WERE JUST ASKED NOT TO DO in order to get a word in and then SUGGEST THAT YOUR OPPONENT BE THE FIRST TO PLAY BY THE RULES.

So civil! So polite! No personal attacks in Owl’s posts, nosirree! Just the classic war of attrition against women, in which space is taken up by "reasonable" men who say things like I don't think it makes sense to argue that civility or debate are inherently patriarchal, or otherwise inherently oppressive and then politely continue doing whatever the fuck they feel like doing, wherever and however they feel like doing it.

I've seen numerous blog threads in feminist forums continue to remain derailed even after the offending posters were told to stop hijacking the thread. They remain "civil" while doing so. One of my commenters, Steve, tried to take my post about mediation off topic by bringing up abortion. It was already off topic when the conversation turned to parental sanctions for visitation interference. He wrote, "Morally, anyone who doesn't parent their kids is scum; however I do not agree with jailing them (for a start imagine the tax cost). Also, since women assert the right to abort when they don't want a child it is a bit inconsistent to say a father must parent or serve time in choky."

That had nothing to do with the issue at hand - mediation and (in comments) sanctioning fathers who don't abide by visitation agreements as much as mothers who won't abide by visitation agreements. I had told him that abortion was off topic. I knew if I allowed it to continue that the comment thread would be seriously derailed. The last thing I wanted to do was to get into yet another heated abortion argument. He ignored my clear request in responding with "I also didn't think my comment about abortion was "off-topic". Basically women can decide whether they become parents or not. Men cannot (well, unless gay or celibate or "qualified to run for the geldings plate")so its a bit much to say the state should allow women a choice on parenthood but but make parenting compulsory for men, upon pain of incarceration."

I did not want the thread to go so far off topic by discussing abortion. Thankfully, he did not bring it up again. He had also attempted to bring up adoption in a similar manner, but the thread seems to have died down.

Now, thanks to Bean, I see how men (it seems to be mostly men who do this) derail discussions in comments by bringing up something off topic, yet all the time remaining polite and "civil." Sometimes they are condescending. If a discussion is derailed, it is next to impossible to bring it back on track. Feminists seek space where they may discuss their issues without being derailed by male commenters who repeatedly bring up unrelated topics. I will try to be more aware of this tactic as I see it in my comments and on other blogs. Men, especially men who claim to be feminist, need to learn to listen to what women say rather than take over an entire discussion thread to a topic that suits them. Granted, most of the problems I have in my comments have to do with ad hominem attacks coming from trolls, but I have seen "thread drift" in my comments as well as comments on other blogs.

Posted on February 18, 2005 at 09:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack

February 16, 2005

I've Been Introduced To Another Blog

Lawrence Krubner sent me an e-mail alerting me to Alex Marshall's blog. Apparently a few bloggers received the same e-mail. Marshall writes a lot about transportation issues, something I know little about except for personal experience. It's an interesting blog and I recommend it.

When I go to Boston, I take the train and the subway. There's no way in Hell I'd drive in Boston unless I have absolutely no choice. I'm not suicidal. Boston's street grid is so messed up. You can't take a u-turn when you're lost the way you easily can in other cities. Driving around The Big Dig gives me hives. Whenever I have to drive my husband to Logan Airport I white-knuckle the steering wheel hoping to God I don't take a wrong turn. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have the T (train) and the subway to get around out there.

This post of Marshall's is especially good. It's about rail vs. road, suburban sprawl, libertarian pundits who support roads and sprawl, and who funds who. Interesting reading.

Posted on February 16, 2005 at 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Another Attack By Men's Rights Activists On Domestic Violence Shelters Unsuccessful

Blumhorst vs. Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles et al. has been decided in favor of the domestic violence shelters. This was an appeal from the earlier case that the men's rights activists had lost.

Eldon Ray Blumhorst is a member of the National Coalition of Free Men, a men's rights group which has spearheaded numerous attacks against domestic violence shelters. Free Men's Mark Angelucci is behind the attacks. Blumhorst, who claims to be a battered men, posed as a tester at the behest of Free Men, and called domestic violence shelters in California, seeking to be admitted. According to the ruling, "a tester in the context of this case is one who falsely poses as a victim of domestic violence in need of shelter in order to gather evidence of discrimination." He was not allowed in the shelters because they focus on women who have been abused. He was also not in any immediate danger. Blumhorst and Free Men filed lawsuits, claiming discrimination.

They lost. Again. Costs on appeal have been awarded to the shelters.

As was the case the first time around, the court ruled that the domestic violence shelters are not guilty of discrimination because they follow California law. The shelters lawfully provide services for women. They are not required to admit men.

Section 11135 provides, in pertinent part: "(a) No person in the State of California shall, on the basis of race, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, color, or disability, be unlawfully denied full and equal access to the benefits of, or be unlawfully subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity that is conducted, operated, or administered by the state or by any state agency, is funded directly by the state, or receives any financial assistance from the state."

Section 11139 provides, in pertinent part: "This article shall not be interpreted in a manner that would adversely affect lawful programs which benefit the disabled, the aged, minorities, and women."

The shelter in Maine that is under attack from men's rights activists should take this case to heart. As I've said before, if men's rights activists are really interested in helping battered men, they should set up their own shelters and get the necessary funding, not attack women's shelters.

For more on men's rights activists attacking domestic violence shelters, go to these links:

Domestic Violence Shelter In Maine Under Attack By Men's Rights Activists

Men's Rights Attack Against Domestic Violence Shelters Dismissed (California)

Posted on February 16, 2005 at 08:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 14, 2005

England - Women's Aid Publishes Domestic Violence Census

Wednesday 9th February
Women's Aid publishes domestic violence census

Women's Aid, the national domestic violence charity, today (9th February 2005) published new research showing how many women and children access domestic violence support services across England. The research found that more women and children had stayed in domestic violence refuges in 2003/4; numbers had risen by nearly 8 per cent from the previous year (2002/3). Women's Aid also published the findings of a Domestic Violence Census Day, which counted the numbers of women and children staying in refuges or accessing other domestic violence support and advocacy services on 2 November 2004, the charity's 30th Birthday. The Census found that 2,914 women and 3,555 children were living in refuge accommodation and 8,007 women and 8,921 children were also supported by all domestic violence services, such as refuge housing, outreach projects and floating support.

The Women's Aid research report, 2004 Survey of Domestic Violence Services (England), funded by the Home Office and Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, highlighted a rise in the numbers of women fleeing domestic violence who have no resource to public funds due to their insecure immigration status. Over the year 2003/4, refuges had provided a safe home for 368 women, an increase of over 18 per cent on the previous year.

Key Findings - Annual survey of domestic violence services in England 2003/4:

* 18,569 women and 23,084 children stayed in domestic violence refuges during 2003/04; an increase of nearly 8% from the 2002/3 survey.

* 368 of these women had no recourse to public funds, an increase of just over 18.% since 2002/03.

* 142, 526 women and 106, 118 children were helped and supported by a range of domestic violence services, including outreach projects, drop in centres, floating support and local refuges.

On 2nd November 2004, Women's Aid Census Day:

* 2,914 women and 3,555 children were living in domestic violence refuges across England.

* Of the children staying in refuge accommodation, 45% were under the age of five years; 39% were five to 10 years and 16% were aged 11 to 16 years.

* 8,007 women and 8,921 children were supported by all domestic violence services, including refuges, advice and outreach services.

* 156 disabled women and 61 disabled children experiencing domestic violence were supported by all domestic violence services.

* 105 women with no recourse to public funds, due to insecure immigration status, stayed in refuge accommodation.

Nicola Harwin CBE, Women's Aid Director said: "Over the last 30 years Women's Aid has supported and protected millions of women and children since it was established in 1974, and has been the driving force in domestic violence awareness raising and campaigning for improved domestic violence policy."

"It is shocking that domestic violence services are still desperately needed by so many women and children fleeing from violent men. The statistics speak for themselves, 1 in 4 women are still experiencing domestic violence during their lives and women are most at risk of violent abuse when they leave their partners. There is a growing need to provide and develop a range of services to respond to the needs of women and children, and we urgently need resources for children's services, advocacy projects and specialist services for disabled women and children - but these are still severely under funded."

A full copy of the Women's Aid report, 2004 Survey of Domestic Violence Services (England), can be downloaded by clicking on the following links:

2004 Survey of Domestic Violence Services (England) - Findings (html version)

2004 Survey of Domestic Violence Services (England) - Findings (PDF version)

Posted on February 14, 2005 at 08:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 10, 2005

Google Bomb For Choice

I'm a little late in doing this, but better late than never.


Roe v. Wade

Let the games begin. :)

Posted on February 10, 2005 at 02:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A Feminist Analysis of Valentine's Day

Media Girl has asked bloggers for a feminist interpretation of Valentine's Day, and she's giving out an award. Amanda has already given her point-of-view. I figured, why not? I'll give mine.

I like Valentine's Day, although not nearly as much as I like Halloween. Halloween isn't as product-driven as holidays like Valentine's Day and Christmas and even Mother's Day. Mother's Day has been repackaged far from its original intent as an anti-war message to being about giving huge boxes of unedible chocolates, expensive dozens of red roses that won't last a day before withering, and funding the diamond wars in Africa. "Love" for mother is expressed in how much you blow your credit card.

I was curious to learn the history of Valentine's Day, so I Googled it. This excerpt is from The History Channel web site. Granted, The History Channel has been known to present shows supporting the idea that we on earth are inhabited by aliens and that Atlantis lies in the waters off Bimini, so who knows how accurate this is?

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

So in one story about Valentine's Day, like Mothers' Day, it started out as a war protest? It wouldn't do any good now for young men to marry so that they aren't sent off to that endless and futile war in Iraq, because many married men, women, and parents have been sent over there, far too many of them to die. At least my son at this point in time is too young to be sent off to a war, but with Bush in office I'm afraid he might be sent over in couple of years, and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I wish I could pull a St. Valentine and marry him off so that he wouldn't have to serve, but I know that won't work.

Call me cynical.

Even though it looks like Valentine's Day, like Mother's Day, started off as a war protest, it has devolved into crass commercialism. Kids feel snubbed if they don't get enough Valentine Cards from their friends in school. Television commercials tell men that they need to buy $300.00 diamond stud earrings for their wives and girlfriends, hinting that to do otherwise would be cheap. Then there are the ubiquitous advertisments for Godiva chocolates this time of year. If you weren't in debt in time for Christmas, let Valentine's Day put you in hock!

Still, I like Valentine's Day, but for me it's not any different than any other day. We'll just buy more local home-made beach chocolates and red wine than we usually do, and top it off with an appropriate Valentine's Day movie like "My Bloody Valentine" or "Dead-Alive." Both have romance in them. ;) For my husband and I, Valentine's Day is year round. I don't think people who love each other should express that love on one cold February day every year. Come to think of it, Halloween is year round for me, too. That holiday is loads of fun, with parties and candy and dressing up. I'm always game for a good time.

The funny thing about holidays is that I celebrate holidays that don't exist. I'm a Myst and Riven fan, and that game has holidays. They're on my Myst Calendar. My husband and I toast (with a glass of wine) "The Marriage Of Catherine and Atrus" and the "1st Feast of the Maker" when those dates roll around.

I'll buy my husband yet another box of candy pebbles and some dark chocolate bark for Valentine's Day. As usual, I'll end up eating most of it. ;)

Posted on February 10, 2005 at 02:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Nice Guys" and "Jerks"

There are interesting discussions up at Hugo's, Amanda's, and Kameron's about "nice guys" and "jerks." Hugo has up a second post on the subject here. Read the comments. They are enlightening.

What caught my attention was all the talk about "nice guys." Despite some men and women in Hugo's comments saying that "nice guys" are just nice and that they only want to be treated fairly about women, the impression I have always had about "nice guys" was that they were just as ego-centric and self-righteous as "jerks." They just go about it in a different way. The first time I heard of the concept of the "nice guy," he was called the "New Age Male." They've co-opted feminist language in saying that they are "sensitive" and "empathetic," yet they complain that women are not interested in them. Some of these guys have co-opted feminist language in the hope that it would be easier for them to get women in bed. These guys are the center of their own universes, and they think all the problems they have with women are the women's fault, not theirs. These guys think that since women don't want to date them, then the women must prefer to date "jerks." It's an either-or thing with them. The women are not the problem. When did these guys get the idea that if they are "nice" to a woman that she owes them attention, a date, or even sex?

I briefly dated a "nice guy" when I was in college. At first, the attention was nice (pun intended). He didn't bully me. He took me out to nice dinners and gave me flowers. However, he moved too fast. I didn't appreciate having flowers sent to me several times a week. I didn't like it when he pouted when I didn't want to spend an evening with him. I didn't like it when in the case both of us were invited separately to a party (we had mutual friends), that he tried to monopolize my entire time at the party when I just wanted to mingle and have a good time. He became very smothering, singing loudly in public and declaring his undying affection for me in public in front of strangers. I ended it quickly.

The "nice guy" doesn't understand that a woman is not obligated to devote all her undying time to him, date him, or have sex with him simply because he pays attention to her and because he's "nice" and doesn't treat her like a "jerk."

It seems these guys view men and women in dichotomous ways. There are "nice guys" and "jerks," nothing in between. No gray area. Likewise, for women, they are either put up on a pedestal or they are bitches - presumably the bitches are not interested in dating the "nice guys" who have gone out of their way to shower them with lots of unwanted attention. A commenter expressed in Hugo's comments the ridiculous notion that "[t]he nice guy is socially punished because he does not 'strike back' when aroused with violence by the modern female. No women want to date him. The nice guy's social circles are eliminated because he is not a 'beater' of women." Men and women beating each other has already been discussed in the comments on the other blogs, so I don't want to address it here and get off-topic. One of Hugo's commenters (Jeff) hit the nail on the head when he wrote that "[t]he nice guy is "socially punished" (note how the "nice guy" phrases this in terms of punishment/reward - it's all about how they behave toward him, and he's entitled to favorable treatment simply by virtue of his "niceness") because he shows no interest in the female as a human being rather than an object of validation."

I have found "nice guys" to be just as shallow and self-centered as "jerks." They are operating from their own sense of male entitlement, not from a position of real communication, courtesy, and respect between men and women. Their means of expressing their shallowness and self-centeredness is merely different from that of the "jerk." I agree with zuzu in Hugo's comments that nice guys are suffocating. The "nice guy" wants to be rewarded for his behavior, and he expects his female target to do the awarding because he's been so "nice." This kind of relationship isn't a relationship between equals. It's one of entitlement.


Note: This post is also up at XX.

Posted on February 10, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

February 09, 2005

Men Think Faster Than Women? I Don't Think So

A controversial study from Canada has found that "men can think 4% faster than women." According to the news report, "Scorn has been poured on their method of calculating nerve conduction velocity (NCV) by measuring the heads of their subjects. Electrodes recorded how long it took for an image to be translated into an impulse and sent to the visual cortex." Critics have likened this study to phrenology, "the Victorian pseudo-science by which the shape of a person's head was supposed to determine their talents and intelligence."

I'm just waiting for the knuckle-draggers to dredge this one out to "prove" that men are better than women.

Posted on February 9, 2005 at 07:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

January 26, 2005

Abortion Does Not Increase Risk For Breast Cancer

Anti-abortion folks take note: the National Cancer Institute has concluded in its Summary Report: Early Reproductive Events and Breast Cancer Workshop two things pro-choice folks have known for a long time: "induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk" and "recognized spontaneous abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk."

Posted on January 26, 2005 at 04:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Why Do Anti-Feminists Harp On Mary Koss's Rape Stats So Much?

Please read this excellent post by Barry at Alas, A Blog about how anti-feminists have skewed Mary Koss's rape statistics. He is much more knowledgable on the subject than I am.

Here's a sample.

What’s happened since? Well, a lot of studies - including three major nationwide studies - have replicated three of Koss’ major findings (that something in the range of 10% to 15% of American women are raped at some point in their lifetime; that the typical rapist is not a stranger to the victim; and that the vast majority of rapes are never reported to the police). All three of the studies were influenced by Koss’ earlier work, in my opinion. The BJS admitted that the survey instrument they used to measure rape back in 1991 was badly designed, and have revised their methods somewhat, although some problems remain. Koss’ work continues to be frequently cited in the peer-reviewed literature.

In short, Koss’ findings are widely accepted within the mainstream research community. Yet you’d never guess that from reading right-wing and anti-feminist literature; most anti-feminists who follow the issue believe that Koss has been entirely discredited. Why haven’t they given up already?

Yeah, why haven't they given up already? Because the goal of anti-feminists isn't to obtain accurate rape statistics. It's to minimize discussions about rape and to decrease help for rape victims. That's why they keep trotting out their misrepresentations about Koss as opposed to looking at more recent, peer-reviewed sources that not only replicate Koss's findings but show how much of a problem rape really is in this country.

Posted on January 26, 2005 at 10:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 17, 2005

Recommended Reading: Feminists Raising Boys

I found a wonderful article about feminists raising boys. It squelches all of those stereotypes about feminists supposedly being respondible for the "war on boys" that ostensibly exists in this country.

Contrary to what some critics are saying, boys raised by feminists are growing up just fine.
Written by Patsi Bale Cox / Arrington, Tennessee
Published Monday, October 4, 2004
[via comments by the article's author, Patsi, at Feministing]

Here's an excerpt:

In the past several years we’ve seen a glut of magazine articles, talk shows and books like The War on Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Boys and The Decline of Males demonizing a simple term: feminism. How silly. Feminists are people who believe women deserve the same opportunities and compensation as men.

The anti-feminist deluge seemed to fall even harder in the wake of the Littleton High School tragedy, where on April 20, 1999, two teenagers committed the largest mass school killing in U.S. history. Everyone agreed that something was going wrong with today’s society, and many pundits placed blame squarely at feminists’ doors. Time after time I watched, listened or read that we activists were to blame for a breakdown in family values in general, and for the dehumanization of American boys in particular. Nevermind that none of the young men involved in school shootings, so-called “wildings” or other violent acts so widely publicized seemed to have been raised by feminists.

I contend it is just the opposite, that feminists gave their children strong values. My parents not only encouraged but also expected their daughters to see themselves as equal with men, to work to their potential and to facilitate others to do the same. And I believe the great majority of women’s rights activists of my generation, the meat and potatoes feminists, single or married, have done a spectacular job of raising their sons, sons who view the world far differently than those raised in strictly patriarchal households.

There are lessons I believe we imparted both in word and action that will affect great change in society as our sons take their places in today’s workforce. We taught our daughters the same values, but we always knew that any significant change required males also working against prejudice and intolerance.

I believe feminists by their very nature imparted questioning minds to their sons, encouraging them to question stereotypes including those existing within our school system: jocks, nerds, freaks and snobs. They learned from us that name-calling is a critical part of alienation. We taught them to appreciate differences, not disdain them, to neither be nor seek victims.

We taught them to be discerning, to carefully evaluate influences, ranging from peer pressure to media input.

For feminists active in the business and political community, sons learned to interact with a myriad of individuals, from the powerful to the disenfranchised. They carried those experiences with them, and, I believe, profited as adults. I also think we imparted a sense of purpose in our sons, the knowledge that every life is part of something bigger and does make a difference.

Children of feminists know that every stand they take may not be popular. They may be subjected to ridicule or contempt as a result of their beliefs. But through the examples of their mothers, they know a worthy stand is worth the price.

I can’t even imagine what my feminist grandmother would have thought had she lived to see a picture of a urinal shaped like a woman’s open mouth. But she wouldn’t have been surprised that it was feminists who got the project flushed.

Posted on January 17, 2005 at 02:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Tables Turned On Would-Be Rapist/Killer

BlondeSense has given her Sweet Potato Queen's highest award: THE MOST PREPARED WOMAN THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN. It's a doozy of a story about Curtisene Lloy, a woman who felled her would-be rapist/killer by grabbing his you-know-what, twisting the hell out of it, and escorting him out of her home, all the while keeping an iron grip on him. The jury in the case sent him to jail. Even though, given courtroom behavior procedure, no one gave her a standing ovation, "every single person in the courtroom that day went up to her afterward and said, "Miss Lloyd, I just what to shake your hand."

It's great reading. Go for it.

Posted on January 17, 2005 at 02:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 08, 2005

Andrea Yates Conviction Thrown Out

I second Lauren's comments about Andrea Yates' conviction being thrown out. I run hot and cold when it comes to the National Organization for Women, but I have to give NOW credit for trying to bring more public attention when the case first made the news to post-partum psychosis, a serious mental condition. Yates suffered from it. Anti-feminists presented this public service drive as if NOW supported a mother who had killed her children. That was not the case at all.

This was the position of NOW as related to the Yates case: "NOW has attempted to raise public awareness about postpartum depression and psychosis in the hope that future tragedies might be prevented. "We must not walk away from the lessons learned from this extremely sad case. Postpartum psychosis is a serious condition that requires increased medical research, responsive health care, expanded insurance coverage and strong support systems for the women and their families," stressed [NOW President Kim] Gandy. "Appropriate treatment and community education may ultimately save lives."

In no way does that position excuse Yates for killing her children. As Lauren had written, NOW does not support "the right of women to kill their children." Lauren described the situation:

Yates, if a victim of anything, is a victim of bad medical care and of an illness that was not well-known or oft discussed until after her murder case broke the news. Post-partum depression and post-partum psychosis are now well-recognized as forms of serious illness that must be watched for, treated, and maintained after the birth of a child. Yates was considered by all experts in the trial, but for the expert whose testimony was rescinded, to be emotionally unwell and did not know right from wrong at the time of the killing. Add that she had been removed from her medication and was isolated from outside help by virtue of her family’s lifestyle, despite everyone knowing and later publicly acknowledging that she was unfit to watch the children, and this case becomes the ultimate tragic example of how poor medical treatment for mental health plays out in the most horrific ways.

The National Women's Health Information Center, a government organization, describes post-partum psychosis as "a very serious mental illness that can affect new mothers. This illness can happen quickly, often within the first 3 months after childbirth. Women can lose touch with reality, often having auditory hallucinations (hearing things that aren’t actually happening, like a person talking) and delusions (seeing things differently from what they are). Visual hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there) are less common. Other symptoms include insomnia (not being able to sleep), feeling agitated (unsettled) and angry, and strange feelings and behaviors. Women who have postpartum psychosis need treatment right away and almost always need medication. Sometimes women are put into the hospital because they are at risk for hurting themselves or someone else."

Andrea Yates needed medical help, and she did not get it. I believe she lived in a conservative religious family, and was isolated, alone, with little social support in caring for herself and those children. Those facts do not excuse her killing her children. A new trial may see her moved to a medical facility for the most of the rest of her life, which is what should have happened in the first place. This case brings to light the public attention that must be given to serious conditions such as post-partum depression and post-partum psychosis.

Posted on January 8, 2005 at 02:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 31, 2004

Beaten While Pregnant

I saw this post on Steve Gilliard's blog, and I knew I needed to say something about it. The post originated at the message boards for The Wedding Channel. The original post from the woman is below:

I never thought I'd be posting under an anonymous name. I never thought a day like yesterday would happen. Not to me. I'm normal.

It was a normal day, and I drove my normal car home from my normal work to my normal house and my normal husband. We had a normal dinner. We watched some normal tv. Then we started talking. Soon it was an argument. That's normal too. For us, anyway, every now and then.

But what happened next wasn't normal at all. My husband exploded. My funny, sweet, kind husband. Angrily shouting. Blue veins popping out on his forehead. He was leaning forward, a few inches from my face. We were sitting side by side on the couch. I put one hand on each of his shoulders, and held him out at arm's length. Maybe I pushed him backward. If so it was wrong. I honestly don't remember.

He is much bigger than me. 80 pounds heavier. And I am pregnant. How it happened, I don't know. But all of a sudden he was beating me. Standing with one foot on the floor and the other knee pinning me down, he beat me. I was punched in the arm, the back, the chest, the top of my head. Before he walked away he punched me in the stomach. My pregnant stomach.

He walked away and I cried on the couch. In pain, in disbelief, in fear for the baby we both had wanted. He came back, told me to stop my crying. I could not. He yelled more. Then he got quiet, put his hand on my leg and told me he was sorry.

If I could afford a hotel, I would have left last night. Instead I locked myself in our bedroom with the phone after tossing his pillow and some blankets out into the hallway. He slept on the couch. The couch he beat me on. I left for work before he was awake. My face is perfect. The rest of me aches. Nothing hurts more than my broken heart. There is one ray of sunshine left, the baby is still kicking today. Heartbeat in the 140's. We were so happy to be pregnant, we bought a home machine to listen.

But today I am lost. Totally and completely. I have known this man 6 years. We lived together nearly two years before we were married. I never thought he would be capable of this. His temper before consisted of yelling things he regretted later. I have done the same. He has never punched walls, hurt the pets, or had problems with work or with family or friends. He has never been jealous or controlling. He does not drink, and does not do drugs.

I wish I had the courage to use my real user name. I do not. I know it sounds stupid to say this and post anonymously. But I am posting this because it declares to the world that I have become something I never thought I'd be: a beaten wife. With an abusive husband. I went to work today, it was only a half day. Those few hours were excruciating. To the rest of the world I am still normal. I chatted at the water cooler. I griped about the shopping left to do, the presents left to wrap, the cookies left to bake, and upcoming visits with the in-laws. Now I am someone totally different than who they knew. At least I feel completely different. The old me died last night.

For some reason I just wanted to say that. Even if I can't say it as myself.

She received a great deal of good advice, mainly people telling her that she needed to get out of that marriage as quickly as possible. She responded to posters in a later post:

Thank you all for your thoughts, kind words, advice and encouragement.

I am at home now, as I was when I wrote the post above. At that time TH ("the husband" since I do not want to use DH) was not home from work but he is now. He is wrapping Christmas presents in the living room. Carols are playing on the stereo. It is very surreal.

I used to think I would never put up with such behavior, one strike and you're out, literally. It was an easy enough thing to think when it was hypothetical. I could not understand how someone could stay with a man who'd hit her. I still can't. In threads past I have replied, or at least thought it, if I didn't write it, that of course the only next step was to leave. Permanently. But here I am. Maybe I'm just not tough enough. But I don't want to leave. I don't want to be beaten either, I just want my life back. Yesterday I was on top of the world, whether I knew it or not. We were happy. We were not perfect, but we were in love. We were decorating our baby's nursery. We were looking forward to Christmas. We each took off next week to spend time together. Now I am in a black hole. We had a life we had built together. I did not plan to be alone. I certainly did not plan to be alone and a mother.

He has apologized. He has cried. He has also tried to downplay what happened. I looked him in the eye and told him he could not make excuses, that he was a wifebeater and would go to his grave a wifebeater. It was only a question of whether he would have made that mistake once, or twice. I would never be nearby enough for there to be a third time. That was when he started crying. Such brave words, words I never thought I'd hear myself say because I thought I would never leave the door open for a second time. But here I sit. I wonder if I'm crazy? I know I didn't deserve this. I know it's his fault. But I had a husband, a family, a home, a life. I don't want to start over. I just want everything to be the way it was.

This came totally from the blue for me. Today I googled "domestic violence warning signs" and nothing rang a bell. Not one damn thing. I mentioned his only expression of anger in the past had been yelling stupid things he regretted later. These seemed so tame at the time. I thought this was normal. I have done it too. Is it really so odd? If we argued (say over visiting family) he might say "I never liked your sister anyway!" and apologize later. I've said stupid things too. I've slammed a few doors in my life. I thought that was normal. Has my judgment been so wrong all along? I know most of his old girlfriends. He has never been a violent person.

I have some questions. I don't know if anyone can answer them. Police reports have been mentioned. If we stay together, will his legal past come up with his credit history? What about a background search if he wants to switch jobs, or loses his job and has to apply elsewhere? It would hurt me and the baby too to endanger his job or credit rating. He makes more than three times what I do. What happens when our baby is born? Will there be a problem with DCFS? Will my baby be taken away if I report him, but stay with him?

I have no idea if this will happen again. That's the plain truth. 24 hours ago I'd have said it would never happen once. TH was my best friend. It is so nauseatingly bizarrely unbelievable that I could be asking questions tonight about the consequences of reporting my husband to the police.

[From Steve Gilliard: After more advice she posted the following:]

I haven't been able to log on the past few days. We visited the in-laws and their computer with internet access is in the living room. I am overwhelmed to return to this outpouring of support. My simple 'thank you' seems so small in comparison. Some of you who have posted are nearby. I am grateful to know I am not as completely alone as I feel.

Physically, I am well. The baby is active with a good heartbeat. Emotionally, I am still a wreck. There are moments now of normalcy when it seems nothing ever happened. And there are moments when it is so real I cry as if it were five minutes ago. Days of smiling fakely for the IL's have left me feeling numb more than anything else. I want to reach back into that "once upon a time" and rescue the family we were supposed to be.

I have a bag packed at the door, I told TH it was a hospital bag in case I go into labor early. I have not opened an individual savings or checking account because I am afraid a statement would be mailed here and TH would find out about it. I have transferred "our" balances to "his" credit cards. We never added each other as a user but kept our own cards separate. Now my credit cards are empty should I ever need them. And I made copies of his car keys and have them in the "hospital" bag.

Whether our marriage will continue I can't say. I could only forgive if he were truly sorry and I don't know if he is. I can't see into his heart anymore. Now and then he still seems like my best friend. Mostly he is a stranger to me. This is not the man I knew, not the man I loved and married, not the man I wanted a baby with. I want to believe that man is not gone forever.

I agree that she needs to get out of that marriage. For some women, the first time they experience physical violence is when they are pregnant, and from there it escalates. She is probably scared, hurting, and confused. It sounds as if she has resources at her disposal such as (I believe) a job, support from the message board, credit, possibly a car (she'll need to be able to get around), and support from her family. She is preparing to leave. She has packed her bags. While there have been mixed reactions in Steve's comments section to her transferring her credit debt to her husband's credit cards, she is at least trying to provide for herself as much freedom as possible to get out of that marriage, and for many women financial freedom (lack of debt and access to money) is a big issue. What I fear is that her abusive husband may use the court system to further abuse her once the baby is born. He may fight for custody and try to avoid paying child support. It is well-documented that abusers use the court system in an effort to further frighten and control their victims. Domestic violence shelters are well aware of that problem and have taken steps to protect victims from further legal abuse from their abusers.

Please see my earlier post about the The Second National Battered Mother's Custody Conference, which will be held in Albany, New York in the second week in January. That conference deals with abused mothers who are further abused by their abusive ex's and the court system.

Another thing that concerned me about Steve Gilliard's post was some of the misogynistic, men's rights type commentary from people in his comments section. This was one of the nastier examples:

Q:You know what it means when a woman has a black eye?
A: It means she doesn't know when to shut up.

Jokes aside, we only have one side of the story. Yes, punching a pregnant woman in the stomach is despicable, even if she is your wife, but once someone crosses the line into twathood they stay there
until they can live alone.

You may say I'm blaming the victim, but we don't know the whole story.
She may have been depressed and subconsciously trying to fulfill a death wish. Or maybe he was jealous of the baby, who knows? I didn't see anything about whether of not it was a planned pregnancy..

Anyway, let's assume she has the kid and stays in the relationship where arguing is normal (?!?!? yeah, men _live_ for that). Who's the victim now and who's to blame for any beatings the kid catches?

Crimes of passion don't happen in a vacuum.

Amanda at Mouse Words gave the same guy a well-deserved fisking on her blog. Go read it. It's worth the time.

What concerns me about this horrid men's rights attitude about battered women (blaming the victim) is that that same attitude is often present at legislative hearings for domestic violence bills. Men's and fathers' rights advocates think that women and their lawyers frequently fabricate abuse allegations to use as leverage in divorce cases.

The truth is that bona-fide false allegations of abuse are rare. That link provides numerous examples of research that has shown that bona-fide false allegations of abuse are no more likely to occur in the context of divorce and custody cases than they are in the population at large. The same research also shows that only 2 - 8% of allegations of abuse are proven to be false. A study from Canada found that fathers much more so than mothers make false allegations of abuse.

Men's and fathers' rights activists tell legislators that women and lawyers use restraining orders to falsely accuse men of abuse in divorce and custody cases. Another lie. Pauline Quirion, Esq., wrote in her article "Why Attorneys Should Routinely Screen Clients For Domestic Violence" that "[t]he high frequency with which RO's [sic] are issued might lead some skeptics to assume that these orders are granted too easily for minor offenses and almost any man is at risk of being a defendant. The data from the new RO database in Massachusetts reflect otherwise. Men against whom RO's have been used are clearly not a random draw from the population. They are likely to have a criminal history, often reflective of violent behavior toward others."

Men's and fathers' rights activists also tell legislators during hearings about domestic violence bills that women are as abusive as men, and that "battered men" is a national problem that is ignored by feminists. More lies. 95% of all victims of domestic violence are women. Men's and father's rights advocates use the discredited Conflict Tactic Scales in a bean-counting way to tally up individual physical "hits" in a situation to supposedly show that women beat up men as much as men beat up women. This misuse of the CTS does not take into account the cycle of abuse, the power and control issues inherent in abuse, the characteristics of the individual situation, and the history of the abusive relationship. They isolate "hits" to come up with a false positive.

The types of misogynistic comments in Steve Gilliard's comments section are much more common than you'd think. Men's and fathers' rights advocates dive-bomb legislative hearings about pending domestic violence bills in order to destroy protections for abused women, and they spread those same misogynistic points of view. Thankfully, no one listens to them, but that doesn't stop them from spreading their propaganda.

Posted on December 31, 2004 at 12:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (111) | TrackBack

December 29, 2004

The Second National Battered Mother's Custody Conference

Lilianne Miller posted this announcement in my comments. I thought it was worthy of its own post. I was invited to speak at this conference this year but the timing was not good for me.

The Second National Battered Mother's Custody Conference

"Battered Women, Abused Children, and Child Custody: A National Crisis"
A Continued Examination of A Compelling Problem, A Crucial Search For Answers

To Be Held The Weekend of January 7th , 8th & 9th, 2005 Sarazen Student Center, Siena College, 515 Loudon Road, Loudonville, NY 12211 (Albany). Visit or see brochure (attached or on Website) for registration, schedule, topics, fees, scholarships, hotel discount, and other details.

Following in the footsteps of its groundbreaking predecessor (the First National Battered Mother's Custody Conference, held Jan. 9-10, 2004), BMCC II draws together a further unprecedented collaboration of leading national experts with state-of-the-art knowledge of the legal, social, and psychological issues facing battered women as they struggle to protect their children in and out of America's family and criminal courts.

The purpose of the First National Battered Mother's Custody Conference was to examine these issues in order to bring them to the light of day, for they have long been hidden behind the closed doors of family courts, judicial chambers, and social services offices. Now, building upon that continued effort, BMCC II seeks to develop immediate and long-term solutions that all attendees - advocates, victims, attorneys, judges, law enforcement, and social workers - will be able to share and implement and in their home jurisdictions.

BMCC II Presenters Include:

Lundy Bancroft (Friday night pre-conference workshop), worked to expose the human rights abuses committed against battered mothers and their children by family courts and to bring about court reform; expert on compassionate batterer interventions; author of the seminal The Batterer As Parent (with J. Silverman) and Why does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men;

Renee Beeker, Child Custody Family Law Task Force, MI NOW, author of Court Watch Tool

The Honorable Karen Burstein, former New York City Family Court judge; as a legislator, Burstein co-authored New York State's original domestic violence legislation in the 1970’s and co-chaired the Governor’s Task Force and Commission on Domestic Violence until an Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence was created in 1979.

Karla Digiralomo, Unity House Domestic Violence Services, Albany, NY;

Richard Ducote, Esq., who has represented battered women and their children in 44 states and abroad; author of landmark legislation to protect battered mothers and their children in custody disputes, Post Separation Violence Relief Act, La. R.S. 9:361-369, and of Guardians Ad Litem In Private Custody Litigation: The Case For Abolition;

Nancy S. Erickson, attorney and specialist in forensic custody evaluations, especially those involving battered women;

Sherry Frohman, Exec. Dir., New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence;

Kim Gandy, National President, National Organization for Women;

Barry Goldstein, Esq., author of "Scared To Leave, Afraid To Stay", Goldstein is a New York state attorney who represents battered women in custody matters. (Correction: Goldstein is representing Jill Schottenstein, not Sarah Schottenstein).

Karen Hartley-Nagle, formerly battered mother running in the 17th Senatorial District (DE) on a Protective Parent platform;

Charles, Diane, and Kristin Hofheimer, Nationally known legal team whose Virginia practice is devoted to representing women in divorce, custody, & visitation cases;

Rita Henley Jensen, Editor In Chief of Women’s eNews, an on-line daily news service reaching 20,000 members of the press;

Eileen King, Regional Dir., Justice for Children, Washington, D.C. Chapter, prominent national advocate for abused children's rights;

Donna Mathews, Esq., Assistant Director, American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence;

Jeremiah McKenna, former chief counsel to the New York State Senate Committee on Crime and Correction and former state prosecutor;

Amy Neustein, Ph.D., co-author (w/ Michael Lesher, Esq.) of From Madness to Mutiny: Why Mothers Are Running From the Family Courts and What Can Be Done About It, recipient of the 1996 Humanitarian Award from the Mothers Against Sexual Abuse;

Marcia Pappas, Co-President, Albany Chapter, National Organization for Women;

The Honorable Jacqueline W. Silbermann, Administrative Judge, Matrimonial Division, NYS Supreme Court;

Timothy M. Tippins, Esq., Former Chair, New York State Bar Association Family Law Section;

Wendy Titleman, protective mother, founder of Kourts for Kids;

Trudell Van Burkleo, Ph.D., has counseled over 1000 battered mothers and their children transitioning out of domestic violence while locked into protracted litigation with the batterer;

Garland Waller, assistant professor in the TV and Film Department at Boston University and the recipient of numerous awards, including 6 New England Emmys, her first independent documentary,
Small Justice: Little Justice in America's Family Courts, won “Best Social Documentary” at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival and another award at the Indie Film Festival. Waller is currently fundraising for her second documentary on family court injustice in Massachusetts;

Karen Winner, investigative journalist, former policy analyst for the NYC Dept. of Consumer Affairs under former Commissioner Mark Green, and author of the groundbreaking book, Divorced from Justice: The Abuse of Women and Children by Divorce Lawyers and Judges;

Gwen Wright, New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence;

Robin Yeamans, Esq., whose work with parent groups lead to the virtual eradication of custody decisions harmful to children and battered women in Santa Clara County, CA, is now a Certified Appellate Specialist who travels the US teaching grassroots organization for family court reform;

Joan Zorza, Esq., co-author of parts of the Violence Against Women Act, editor of Domestic Violence Report, Sexual Assault Report, and the two volume books, Violence Against Women, Zorza has long been recognized as the leader of the movement to protect battered women and their children for the past 30 years; although she no longer takes cases, she has represented over 2,000 battered women, only two of whom lost custody of their children.

The Second National Battered Mother's Custody Conference is sponsored by Siena College,
Loudonville, New York , and the following Siena organizations:
Dept. of Social Work
Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy
Women’s and Multicultural Studies Comm.
Campus Action, Siena Greens, Peace Studies,
New York State NOW and Albany NOW
The National Organization for Women
The National Association of Social Workers, NE Division

Mo Therese Hannah, Conference Chair; 518-210-2487
Liliane Heller Miller, Conference Vice Chair; 704-393-8227

Posted on December 29, 2004 at 01:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 07, 2004

Depo Provera Leads To Loss Of Bone Density

Depo Provera has been shown to lead to bone loss in a New Zealand study:

Exactly 14 years ago in November 1990, women’s health activist Sandra Coney raised concerns about the potential loss of bone density in young women using Depo-Provera in a Listener article. A red flag was raised for her after the results of a small New Zealand study demonstrated that women using Depo-Provera for longer than five years had lost substantial amounts of bone density in the spine and hip, possibly increasing their risk of developing osteoporosis or thinning of the bones by about 50%. The study showed then that mean bone density in the spine and hip was lower in Depo Provera users than in other women.

Last week the USA Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a “Black Box” warning about long-term use of the long-acting, injectable contraceptive drug, Depo-Provera – stating that recent research suggests prolonged use of the drug may result in significant loss of bone density. The loss of bone mass density is a problem for all women using Depo Provera but the FDA warning states: ‘This loss of BMD is of particular concern during adolescence and early adulthood, a critical period of bone accretion.’

The first time I ever heard about Depo Provera was in a TV news show (can't recall which one) in which it was being used against jailed sex offenders to squelch their sex drives. I can't imagine this drug being used on women as a form of birth control.

Posted on December 7, 2004 at 09:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 03, 2004

Attorney Accused Of Bias Against Women

My thanks to Mac Diva to alerting me to this story: a New Hampshire attorney who is the Governor's pick for Concord District Court has been accused of being biased against women. Gerard Boyle's critics have cited "several high-profile court cases, a judicial ethics violation and comments he made as chairman of the Commission on the Status of Men, where he described New Hampshire's domestic violence law as a "silver bullet" women use to get their way in court."

Men's rights advocates often claim that women use false allegations of abuse as a leverage tool in divorce and custody cases. Research has shown that not only are false allegations in those circumstances no higher than false allegations in the general population, the figure for false allegations of abuse is only 2 to 8 % bona fide falsehoods. Most cases are difficult to prove, but being unable to prove abuse does not mean the woman was lying out of malice.

Posted on December 3, 2004 at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Use Of Anti-Depressant Drugs By U. S. Women Soars

"One in 10 American women takes an antidepressant drug such as Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft, and the use of such drugs by all adults has nearly tripled in the last decade, according to the latest figures on American health released yesterday by the federal government.

Those numbers are among a broad array of changes in health and health care use in the United States identified in the report. It confirmed that prescription drug costs are soaring faster than any other area of medical care as ever-increasing numbers of Americans take drugs for psychiatric conditions, to lower their cholesterol, to control asthma and for a wide range of other reasons."

Posted on December 3, 2004 at 02:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 19, 2004

Teen Convicted Of Attempted Murder For Shooting His Pregnant Girlfriend At A Women's Health Clinic

I have written here before about 17 year-old Jeffrey Cameron Fitzhenry, the teenager who shot his pregnant girlfriend while she waited at a women's health clinic. The 16 year old girl is paralyzed from the shooting. He shot her because she was trying to get an abortion. He had told a witness who regularly petitioned against abortion at that clinic that "I agree with you, I'm against abortion too. But my girlfriend is going to try to have an abortion against my will, and I'm going to try to stop her.’"

I have just learned that Fitzhenry was convicted of attempted murder.

I read this comment from someone who posts on a mailing list I'm on regarding the girl:

"Quadriplegics do not live a normal life span, and usually die of infections from ulcers, so it is entirely possible that this man deprived his age 16 years ex-girlfriend of 60 or more years of life."

Posted on November 19, 2004 at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Comments (35) | TrackBack

Pennsylvania: Survey of Domestic Violence Victim Service Agencies

Survey of Domestic Violence Victim Service Agencies

Domestic violence and sexual assault know no boundaries. According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, in 2003, more than 39,300 rural residents sought assistance, or 11.6 clients for every 1,000 rural residents. In urban areas, nearly 94,400 persons sought assistance, or 10.6 clients for every 1,000 urban residents.

Statewide, this assistance was provided by 81 local domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault (SA) agencies. These agencies assist clients with counseling, medical and legal accompaniment/advocacy, referrals to other agencies, and additional services. To provide these services, local agencies receive both federal and state funding, along with donations from county government, community groups, businesses and individuals.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania was interested in learning more about the unique challenges and opportunities facing rural DV and SA agencies and in comparing rural agencies to urban agencies.

In February 2004, the Center surveyed the directors of the state's 81 domestic violence and sexual assault service agencies. The survey response rate was 43 percent, and respondents included both rural and urban providers. While the sample size was relatively small, the survey revealed that rural agencies face financial and community awareness challenges. It also found that rural and urban directors differ in their opinions on how SA and DV cases are handled by the police, medical professionals, and courts.

For a copy of the survey results, Survey of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault Victim Service Agencies, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or email

Posted on November 19, 2004 at 12:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 17, 2004

More on Pharmacists Refusing To Fill Birth Control Prescriptions

Julie Lacey stopped at her local pharmacy to get a refill for birth control pills that she had been getting for years, and the pharmacist refused to fill out her prescription. He didn't believe in birth control.

Of special interest:

Mississippi enacted a sweeping statute that went into effect in July that allows health care providers, including pharmacists, to not participate in procedures that go against their conscience. South Dakota and Arkansas already had laws that protect a pharmacist's right to dispense medicines. Ten other states considered similar bills this year.

The American Pharmacists Association, with 50,000 members, has a policy that says druggists can refuse to fill prescriptions if they object on moral grounds, but they must make arrangements so a patient can still get the pills. Yet some pharmacists have refused to hand the prescription to another druggist to fill.

Posted on November 17, 2004 at 01:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 10, 2004

Pro-Choice News

This came to me from a feminist e-mail list and I thought it was worth posting.

Many states saw firsthand the power of pro-choice activism, with incredible - and in some cases, historical - wins on Tuesday.

. North Carolina: Retained its pro-choice majority in the Senate and gained a pro-choice majority in the House of Representatives.

. Massachusetts: Elected a pro-choice House of Representatives for the first time in their state's history.

. Minnesota: Picked up eight pro-choice seats in the Minnesota Legislature.

. New Mexico: Gained three pro-choice seats in their legislature.

. Oregon: Took back the State Senate with a pro-choice majority, re-elected all of their pro-choice statewide officers, and added pro-choice seats in the State House.

. Washington: Took back a pro-choice democratic majority in the State Senate and increased their pro-choice democratic majority in the State House.

. California: Voters passed a ballot initiative to spend $3 billion on stem cell research.

. New Hampshire: Voters ousted incumbent anti-choice Governor Benson, who had vetoed a bill that would increase women's access to emergency contraception.

Posted on November 10, 2004 at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 22, 2004

Women More Likely To Be Slain By Partner Than By Stranger

It's not news that women are more likely to be slain by a husband or lover than by a stranger. But this new study by New York City's Health Department which came to the same conclusion was worth mentioning. The study found that "a woman in New York City is more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than by a stranger, especially if she is young and foreign-born." The study also found that "lovers and husbands were responsible for almost 60 percent of the deaths of women between 20 and 50, the study found, and such victims were 87 percent more likely than those killed by strangers to be foreign-born."

Posted on October 22, 2004 at 10:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 12, 2004

Oprah - Iraqi Women and Children and Valium

I had posted about Iraqi women and children taking Valium in an earlier post. Commenters at XX has mentioned that Oprah had recently covered the issue. At the Oprah Winfrey Show's web site there is the story of one Iraqi woman who had taken Valium. She mentioned that a bottle, sold without prescription, costs only 20 cents. She also said that "the constant state of fear is driving more and more women to the highly addictive drug."

Edward at Obsidian Wings discussed the Oprah show, copying information about it gleaned from Kos.

Zainab Salbi testified before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus about the living conditions in Iraq. Salbi mentioned that "Evanne, who was married to Sabah, her late husband, for only a year and a half, has only anger in her voice. She tells me she takes four Valium pills a day, “so I can get numb,” she says. The fact that her late father hated Saddam Hussain and was waiting excitedly for the end of his regime does not matter much to her now."

Posted on October 12, 2004 at 01:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Calendar Girls Turned Down

Have you ever seen the movie "Calendar Girls," starring Helen Mirren and Julie Walters? It was about a group of older British women who posed nude for a calendar to raise funds for leukemia research. A group of California women have done the same thing but their efforts were turned down.

Posted on October 12, 2004 at 08:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saudi Women Denied The Vote Again

"RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Women may neither vote nor run in Saudi Arabia's first nationwide elections, the government announced Monday, dashing hopes of progressive Saudis and easing fears among conservatives that the kingdom is moving too fast on reforms."

Posted on October 12, 2004 at 07:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 07, 2004

Report: Family Homicide in Australia

Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice
No. 255: Family Homicide in Australia
Jenny Mouzos and Catherine Rushforth
ISBN 0 642 53805 0 ; ISSN 0817-8542
June 2003

The abstract and some excerpts are below.


Based on data held as part of the National Homicide Monitoring Program at the Australian Institute of Criminology, this paper examines the different circumstances and characteristics of family homicide in Australia over the period July 1989 to June 2002. The paper includes details about the murder of intimate partners, children, parents, siblings and other family members, and discusses the gender distribution of victims and offenders, weapons used, and motives for the murders. The paper finds that in Australia, almost two in five homicides occur between family members, with an average of 129 family homicides each year. The majority of family homicides occur between intimate partners (60 per cent), and three-quarters of intimate partner homicides involve males killing their female partners. On average, 25 children are killed each year by a parent, with children under the age of one at the highest risk of victimisation. The less common types of family homicide include children killing their parents (12 incidents per year), homicide between siblings (six incidents per year), and homicides between other family members (11 incidents per year). The paper also draws out the policy implications of the differences between the various types of family homicide, and highlights the need for specific prevention strategies to target these homicides.

Intimate Partner Homicide

Over the 13-year period covered by this analysis there were 77 intimate partner homicides, on average, each year. The majority involved males killing female intimate partners (75 per cent). Females comprised only 20 per cent of offenders of intimate partner homicide, confirming prior research that males are more likely than females to kill their intimate partner (Johnson & Hotton 2003; Silverman & Kennedy 1993; Silverman & Mukherjee 1987; Websdale 1999).

Intimate partner homicide has been conceptualised according to the state of the relationship (intact or estranged) and relationship status (legal marriage, cohabiting, dating) (Dawson & Gartner 1998). Previous research finds that in terms of relationship state, women who have separated are at higher risk of homicide victimization by intimate partners than women in current relationships (Hotton 2001; Wilson & Daly 1993; Johnson & Hotton 2003; Wallace 1986; Barnard et al. 1982). The present study indicates that a quarter of the intimate partner homicides occurred between separated, former, or divorced couples. Of these estranged couples, 84 per cent involved women as victims.


When the motive for intimate partner homicides is examined, more than half (53 per cent) stemmed from a domestic altercation between the victim and offender. Slightly less than three in 10 (29 per cent) were believed to stem from jealousy or desertion/termination of the relationship (actual or pending). This is consistent with the findings of Johnson and Hotton's (2003) Canadian study, where it was shown that an argument was the most common motive (45 per cent) for intimate partner homicides, with jealousy being involved in more than one in five cases (23 per cent).


Between 2 July 1989 and 30 June 2002 there were, on average, 25 children killed by their parents each year. Three-quarters of these homicides were committed in a residential location. Just over half of the filicides occurred during the day (54 per cent).

In terms of the gender of the victims, both males and females experienced a relatively similar level of risk of homicide by a parent. Younger children were at a higher risk of filicide than older children, with 68 percent of all victims aged five years or younger. Children younger than one year experienced the highest level of victimisation, accounting for 26 percent of all filicide victims.

Gender differences were observed among offenders (Figure 2). While fathers were responsible for the majority of filicides in Australia (63 per cent compared to 37 per cent), in terms of absolute numbers, more four- and five-year-olds were killed by their mother (n=21) than by their father (n=16).


The underlyling motive behind incidents of filicide are difficult to explain (Mouzos 2000). This is evident in the analysis of filicides in Australia, where the motive was undetermined in three out of five cases (61 per cent). The most prevalent motives, where known, were domestic altercations (21 per cent) and jealousy/termination of a relationship - where the child is killed by one parent as a consequence of the actual or pending separation from the other parent (nine per cent). Recent research on child deaths in New South Wales reported that family breakdown was a precipitating factor in almost one in five filicides, and parental mental illness in three out of 10 filicides (adapted from Lawrence & Fattore 2002). Based on information available at the time of data collection, the present study found that 15 per cent of filicide offenders were suffering from a mental disorder immediately before or at the time of the homicide incident. One-third of the female filicide offenders were found to be mentally ill. In the present study, a quarter of the filicides involved the parent also committing suicide following the event. This compares to about six per cent of murder-suicides in the general homicide offender population (Mouzos 2002).


The term parricide refers to the killing of one's father (patricide) or mother (matricide). [...] Previous research also suggests that the most common type of parricidal offender is the severely abused child. Mones (1991) reports that more than 90 per cent of youths who commit parricide have been previously abused by their parents. This abuse can take the form of physical, psychological, sexual and verbal abuse.


In Australia there are about 12 parricides committed annually. The overwhelming majority occur in a residential location (94 per cent) and during the evening. As with research examining parricide in reported legal cases in Canada (Murray 1999), the majority of offenders and victims are male - just over half of all parricides involve a male victim and offender. Daughters are more likely to kill their mothers than their fathers (Figure 3).

As with filicides, the motive behind parricides can be difficult to explain. In the present study, a domestic argument was the most prevalent motive (49 per cent) for parriciees, although a motive was not determined in 20 per cent of cases. Revenge killings, such as the killing of a parent for previous abuse suffered by the offender, was the motive in less than one-tenth (nine per cent) of all parricides. The use of alcohol by either the victim, offender, or both parties was present in one-third (33 per cent) of parricides.

Posted on October 7, 2004 at 08:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I received this from a mailing list out of Australia.

A Favour to Ask
It only takes a minute....

Please tell ten friends to tell ten today!

The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman.

You can choose to ignore this, but if you are ever put in the
position where it could effect you or a member of your family you will be sorry you did not act on such a simple task.

It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "donating a mammogram" for free (pink window in the middle).

This doesn't cost you a thing.

Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising.

Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know.


Posted on October 7, 2004 at 07:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2004

Right Wing Anti-Feminist Women's Group To "Train" Women In Iraq

The Feminist Majority has done more than most groups to help women in the Middle East. So guess who just got a State Department grant to go to Iraq?

No, not The Feminist Majority. The anti-feminist women's auxiliary to the right wing, the Independent Women's Forum got the grant.

IWF has recieved $10 million to "train Iraqi women in the skills of democratic public life."

FYI: Lynn Cheney, wife of V. P. Dick Cheney, is on IWF's board. IWF also gets massive right-wing Scaife Foundation funding.

The Feminist Majority has also reported that several leading women's groups have released a scorecard grading the Bush Administration's policies affecting women in Afghanistan and Iraq - and the Bush Administration has failed.

Regarding women’s political participation, June Zeitlin, president of the Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) stated that there have been “minimal actions to include women as decision makers in both Iraq and Afghanistan.” According to the Scorecard, “by not fully integrating women in the peace building and political processes of both countries and failing to give high priority to women’s rights, [Bush Administration] ha[s] further entrenched women’s marginal status and lost an opportunity to fully demonstrate the potential of democracy.”

Jodi Jacobson, the executive director of the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), stated that current US policies in Iraq have “made a bad situation worse” for women’s health. Jacobson noted that “50 women die each day of pregnancy and childbirth” in Afghanistan and that “since the invasion of Afghanistan, there has been little investment in health care and basic medical supplies.” Jacobson went on to assert that the current US threats to defund international bodies, such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), only hurts women and girls in Afghanistan and Iraq because those organizations are “best posed to address” the health concerns for women and children in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Involving the Independent Women's Forum will not make matters for Iraqi women any better.

Echidne has much more about this mess. The last thing the women of Iraq need is "help" from an anti-women's rights group.

Posted on October 6, 2004 at 08:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Sweden Proposes Domestic Violence Tax Against Men

Members of Swedish parliament have proposed to investigate the cost to society of male violence against women. That's nothing new. The U. S., Canada, and Finland have undertaken such investigations. What is making the news is that Sweden has also proposed to tax men for the costs to society of domestic violence against women.

Special note: Some of the coverage of this story has used language such as "hitting" and "slapping" men with a domestic violence tax.

Posted on October 6, 2004 at 08:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 30, 2004

Hurricanes Weren't The Only Storms In Florida

Domestic violence spikes after storms.

Posted on September 30, 2004 at 01:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 27, 2004

It's About Time Someone Figured This Out

Men, Women More Different Than Thought

"It turns out that major illnesses like heart disease and lung cancer are influenced by gender and that perhaps treatments for women ought to be slightly different from the approach used for men.

These discoveries are part of a quiet but revolutionary change infiltrating U.S. medicine as a growing number of scientists realize there's more to women's health than just the anatomy that makes them female, and that the same diseases often affect men and women in different ways."

Considering that medical and drug testing done on men have been carried over to women without bothering to see how women's bodies react to the drugs and treatments, this is a step forward. It's about time the medical establishment figured out that women aren't merely men with different reproductive organs.

Posted on September 27, 2004 at 09:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 21, 2004

Update On Abortion Bills and Assaults on Motherhood

Yes, "bills." Plural. There are several of them. The first is the conscience clause that would give doctors and pharmacists the ability to refuse women of their right to abortion and birth control. It's given the title the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, but the people who are being discriminated against are women, especially poor women, not pharmacists and doctors. Feministing also brought up a Wisconsin refusal-to-treat bill that has passed that gives pharmacists the ability to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions if the pharmacist doesn't believe in birth control. Women are also required to give reasons they need their prescription filled and that reason must match the pharmacist's religious beliefs. The pharmacists who refuse to fill the prescriptions also do not have to refer the women to other pharmacists who would fill them.

The sister bill to the ANDA is the Federal Refusal Clause.

This Clause includes the following: "(d)(1) None of the funds made available in this Act may be made available to a Federal agency or program, or to a State or local government, if such agency, program, or government subjects any institutional or individual health care entity to discrimination on the basis that the health care entity does not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortion. In this subsection, the term "health care entity" includes any individual physician or other health care professional, a hospital, a provider-sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization, or plan." Both the ANDA and the Federal Refusal Clause are describe in detail at The Well-Timed Period.

I've already written about the bill that passed in the House that would permit physicians to refuse to treat pregnant women with abortions because they find abortion "morally objectionable." Ophelia at XX has additional details on this bill, sponsored by bigot (her word, and an appropriate one) Rick Santorum. A description of the bill is plain English was offered by Ema from The Well-Timed Period, [via Maya]:

Current law says that physicians (and only physicians) can refuse to participate in training or licensing for abortion procedures if they are morally opposed to the abortion. The law would change it so that "other health care providers" (e.g., nurses, pharmacists, etc.) and "a hospital, a provider sponsored organization, a health maintenance organization, a health insurance plan, or any other kind of health care facility, organization or plan" can also refuse to do things based on moral objection. Additionally, the things that doctors or other entities can refuse to do is expanded from just training and licensing to include "perform, provide coverage of, or pay for induced abortions".
So this means that insurance companies can refuse to pay for abortions, companies can choose health insurance that won't cover abortions, hospitals can refuse to provide facilities for abortions, etc., etc., etc...

In related news, pharmacists are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control. This article includes news about the bill passing through Congress with nary a peep.

Women are seeing their perfectly legal medical procedures and health care be refused by people with an ideological axe to grind, thanks to support from the Bush administration.

The assaults only begin with reproductive rights. Women who give birth to their children are also under assault.

Another study telling us something we already know - that women shoulder the bulk of household and child-care work - was greeted throughout the blogosphere with a bit of a chuckle because such a study only tells us what we already know. However, it cannot be stressed enough that the mothers who are doing this work are seeing their parental authority and primary caregiving role assaulted by family court reforms that are occurring world-wide. Mothers do the bulk of the work when married only to see their rights and lives as well as the rights and lives of their children infringed upon should they divorce. I have written that fathers' rights groups world-wide are not seeing their demands met - they aren't getting presumptive joint physical (50/50) custody nor are they able to get courts to imprison their ex's when they don't get the kids when they demand. The reforms are mainly about the emergence of cottage industries that use "shared parenting" as a vehicle to introduce expensive "extras" to divorce and custody cases. Don't think for a second that even though fathers' rights activists aren't seeing their demands met that these reforms are not harmful to mothers and children. They are definitely harmful. Mothers and children are being returned to the status of chattel that they were in not-so-earlier times. It is becoming more difficult for mothers to relocate with their children, yet fathers are able to move away from their children without penalty. Mothers are seeing their parental authority ignored and demeaned when they are forced to adapt to reforms that hold "shared parenting" as a keystone. Mothers continue to be under assault from bogus alienation theory and "friendly parent" provisions. Men who dress in superhero costumes yet have documented histories of harassment are admired in the press. Few in the press question that fathers' rights activists have been seriously disruptive and endangered the public when they throw condoms filled with purple powder at Tony Blair during an anthrax scare. No, these guys are held up as poor, beleaguered dads, but some reporters figured out what bad news they really are. Please see all of my previous posts about the Batman stunt for more information about all of this. They are in the "fathers' rights" category archive, at the bottom of my sidebar.

The latest reforms that are proving to be very harmful to women and children are occurring in Spain. I will blog about them in more detail in a later post, once I gather my thoughts.

Things are going to get much worse before they get better. Women are seeing their legal ability to get reproductive medical treatment and prescriptions eroded. Less attention is paid to the assaults mothers are undergoing in the family court realm. While the major U. S. feminist groups are on top of the reproductive rights assault, they are not on top of the motherhood assault. Why is that? Why are mothers fit to be ignored when they need help the most, especially when it comes to staving off assaults by the fathers' rights movement and the family court reforms that are bringing about cottage industries that make money from divorce and custody? We can't fight off these assaults alone.

I think it's time for me to read "A Handmaid's Tale" again.

Posted on September 21, 2004 at 05:50 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Urgent - Women's Reproductive Freedom Under Assault Again

I found this on What She Said. Shaula Evans posted it on The Blogging of the President: 2004. Go to the post itself to get all of the information and additions that Shaula has added.

Motherhood is under attack from all sides. The reproductive rights movement is not only about the right a woman has to personal autonomy when it comes to her reproductive choices. It is also about the right she has following pregnancy to raise her children as she sees fit, especially since mothers are most often the primary caregivers of their children. Primary caregiving mothers are going to see their parenting authority that they have worked for eroded due to world-wide reforms that favor male ownership of children and money-making divorce and custody-related cottage industries. The welfare of children is not a paramount issue here. Only fathers' rights and income potential from divorce and custody cases.

Pregnant women are being forced into motherhood due to assaults on reproductive freedom such as this below. It's all about patriarchal ownership of women's bodies and lives.

I'm glad that the major U. S. feminist groups are all over the latter issue. They should be. What I want to know is why they pay little to no attention to the former.

The Guardian reports that another assault on reproductive freedom has quietly passed the house:

A little-noticed provision cleared the House of Representatives last week that would prohibit local, state or federal authorities from requiring any institution or health care professional to provide abortions, pay for them, or make abortion-related referrals, even in cases of rape or medical emergency.

Translation: if a woman requires emergency medical care, a hospital can legally turn her away, and state and local governments can't do anything about it.

Go to the post at BOP and read all of it. There are also instructions showing how you can protest. Act now. This is important.

Posted on September 21, 2004 at 10:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

September 16, 2004

Stop Her Before She Gives Herself A Stroke!

Somebody go over to Worshipping at the Altar of Mediocrity... and stop Ms. Jared from reading stuff by man "expert" Arlene Dahl!!!

Dahl was a second-rate movie actress, product promoter, and advice columnist back when my mom was wearing poodle skirts. Her big claim to fame was her role in "Journey to the Center of the Earth," where she was upstaged by the duck. Yup, that's the movie in which Pat Boone ran around topless and sang, scaring generations of movie-goers.

Here's an example of what has Ms. Jared poking her eyeballs out with toothpicks:

Dear Reader,
I like men. And I like me to like me so I dress for them.

This I used to consider the normal attitude and approach, one I shared with all women.

Then not long ago a survey showed me that the average woman doesn't dress to please men at all! She dresses to please herself or other women...

That fact shocked me into writing this book, "Always Ask a Man".

Most women long to be beautiful. (At least the ones who write me for advice do.) Millions of dollars, the statisticians tell us, are spent yearly at beauty salons, cosmetic counters, gymnasiums, and dress shops in woman's quest for beauty. But beauty for whom? The girls in the office? The women at the club? How can the world progress if women don't consider men...the man...first?


But before you start to whittle down you waistline, whip up a new hairdo, or wield a lipstick brush, you must come to a basic understanding with yourself as to why you want to be beautiful.

This book is not intended for women who want to be beautiful for beauty's sake. Such beauty serves no purpose...other than self-satisfaction, if that can be considered a purpose. But if you are a woman who longs to be beautiful for and be loved by a man, I believe this book can help you.

Whether you are a student, housewife, mother, working girl, or business woman, to me the only role that really counts is that of being an exciting, feminine woman.

Yours in beauty,

Arlene Dahl

Just so you know, man "expert" Arlene Dahl was married five times. I guess she knew her stuff. ;)

Posted on September 16, 2004 at 12:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 26, 2004

White Guys and Privilege

Over at Alas, A Blog, one of the commenters named "Funnie" has discussed male privilege and how that affects men who call themselves "feminist." A big "gotcha" for a feminist man is for him to be aware of when he benefits from societal views of gender roles that inhibit or harm women and others not privileged by gender, race, and class. It's an awareness that pro-feminist men must tackle every day. It's a criticism I've heard before, and it's one that I happen to agree with.

XY Online is an excellent resource for articles and commentary written by pro-feminist men. This article by Chris Crass, Tools for White Guys who are Working for Social Change and Other People Socialized in a Society Based On Domination, places a spotlight on what white, middle-class men can do to become aware of how they benefit from dominant societal views of gender, race, and class - and what they can do to help mend society. As they say, awareness is the first step.

Crass outlined, for men, "practical strategies for minimising everyday domination."

I'm aware that one criticism of this article is that it doesn't go nearly far enough. It doesn't have enough pointers regarding being aware of how white, middle-class men benefit from societal attitudes, such as their opinions would be accorded more value, they get to define the debate, and all sorts of other little things they may take for granted that women overall cannot. A woman has to work twice as hard as a man.
The article mainly about men being aware of other men and wanting to dominate in meetings rather than listen or ask what is needed. There may also be criticism that it focuses too much on awareness and not enough on actually taking action that would relieve men of the benefits of their status. Letting go of the benefits of privilege is not something a lot of people would willingly give up.

1. Practice noticing who's in the room at meetings - how many gender privileged men (biological men), how many women, how many transgendered people, how many white people, how many people of color, is it majority heterosexual, are there out queers, what are people's class backgrounds. Don't assume to know people, but also work at being more aware - listening to what people say and talking with people one on one who you work with.

2a. Count how many times you speak and keep track of how long you speak.

2b. Count how many times other people speak and keep track of how long they speak.

3. Be conscious of how often you are actively listening to what other people are saying as opposed to just waiting your turn thinking about what you'll say next. Keep a notebook so that you can write down your thoughts and then focus on what other people are saying. As a white guy who talks a lot, I've found it helpful to writing down my thoughts and wait to hear what others have to say (frequently others will be thinking something similar and then you can support their initiative).

4. Practice going to meetings or hanging out with people focused on listening and learning - not to get caught in the paralysis of whether or not you have anything useful to say, but acting from a place of valuing other people's knowledge and experiences.

5a. Pay attention to how many times you put ideas out to the group you work with.

5b. Notice how often you support other people's ideas for the group.

6. Practice supporting people by asking them to expand on ideas and get more in-depth.

7a. Think about whose work and what contributions to the group get recognized.

7b. Practice recognizing more people for the work they do and try to do it more often. This also includes men offering support to other men who aren't recognized and actively challenging competitive dynamics that men are socialized to act out with each other.

8. Practice asking more people what they think about events, ideas, actions, strategy and vision. White guys tend to talk amongst themselves and develop strong bonds that manifest in organizing. These informal support structures often help reinforce informal leadership structures as well. Asking people what they think and really listening is a core ingredient to healthy group dynamics, think about who you ask and who you really listen to. Developing respect and solidarity across race, class, gender and sexuality is complex and difficult, but absolutely critical - and liberating. Those most negatively impacted by systems of oppression have and will play leading roles in the struggle for collective liberation.

9. Be aware of how often you ask people to do something as opposed to asking other people "what needs to be done": logistics, child care, making phone calls, cooking, providing emotional support and following up with people are often undervalued responsibilities performed by people who are gender oppressed (biological women and trans folks).

10. Struggle with the saying, "you will be needed in the movement when you realize that you are not needed in the movement."

11. Struggle with and work with the model of group leadership that says that the responsibility of leaders is to help develop more leaders, and think about what this means to you: how do you support others and what support do you need from others.

This includes men providing emotional and political support to other men. How can men work to be allies to each other in the struggle to develop radical models of anti-racist, class conscious, pro-queer, feminist manhood that challenges strict binary gender roles and categories. This is also about struggling to recognize leadership roles while also redefining leadership as actively working to build power with others rather than power over others.

12. Remember that social change is a process, and that our individual transformation and individual liberation is intimately interconnected with social transformation and social liberation. Life is profoundly complex and there are many contradictions. Remember that the path we travel is guided by love, dignity and respect - even when it brings us to tears and is difficult to navigate. As we struggle let us also love ourselves.

13. This list is not limited to white guys, nor is it intended to reduce all white guys into one category. This list is intended to disrupt patterns of domination which hurt our movement and hurt each other. White guys have a lot of work to do, but if we white guys support and challenge each other, while also building trust and compassion we can heal ourselves in the process.

14. Day-to-day patterns of domination are the glue that maintain systems of domination. The struggle against capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, heterosexism and the state, is also the struggle towards collective liberation.

15. No one is free until we are all free.

Posted on August 26, 2004 at 11:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 16, 2004

Implementing the Women's Procurement Program

Legislation signed by President Clinton in 2000 brought us The Women's Procurement Program. [via Lauryn at Feministing.] This legislation "required federal government agencies to earmark 5% of its contracts for women-owned businesses (WOB) in industries where they are substantially underrepresented."

It's four years later and the program hasn't been put into action due to hemming and hawing from the old boy's network, namely the Office of Management and Budget and the National Academy of Sciences. Some women are angry enough to take action to get the ball rolling.

For more information about signing a petition that would implement this program and more information about it, go to the Feministing link above.

Posted on August 16, 2004 at 11:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 08, 2004

Feminists Are Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don't - Part II

I had originally written this post on my old blog.

This is a continuation of my thoughts about the Nicholas Kristof's New York Times editorial that incorrectly claimed that feminists have not been concerned with third-world women's health issues, in particular obstetric fistula. Please see my previous post and my comments in the Alas, A Blog comments section.

It seems to me that it remains okay in today's American society to malign women. Someone who reads Kristof's editorial may not even think twice about what he said about feminism. His misrepresentation would be taken at face value. Everyone "knows" American feminists don't care about women outside the U. S. I don't think readers would be so quick to accept such a slur if the organization in question was the NAACP, B'ni Brith, or even a men's rights group. Regarding women's issues, why target feminism? Why not ask what groups like the Independent Women's Forum or the Women's Freedom Network have done to bring public attention to obstetric fistula? What about so-called right-to-life groups? Why not ask the anti-abortion crowd what is has done to help third-world women avoid this disorder in order to save their "unborn children?" Of course those groups are not given the same scrutiny. When it comes to blaming women's groups for not "doing the right thing," attack a feminist group.

In delving further into the common misconception that feminists have shown little interest in women living in third-world countries, I was aghast by the vitriolic attacks by some of those who have made those claims. I believe they have not so much misunderstood feminist action but have purposefully misrepresented it. It's bad enough that American feminists have not been given credit for the hard work they have done in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's bad enough that the Feminist Majority has not been given credit for the work it has done over the past few years to bring assistance to women suffering from obstetric fistula. It's worse that their work has been maligned when not ignored -- all in the name of bashing feminism.

Overall, as I had written in my previous blog entry, Nicholas Kristof's editorial was excellent. While I am grateful that publishing such a piece in the New York Times will undoubtedly bring obstetric fistula to the attention of a mass audience, I simply did not like the way he had misrepresented feminist work on that issue. Even so, his comments were mild compared to some of the other's I've seen.

In her editorial "Multiculturalism vs. Feminism" for Reason Magazine (Oct. 18, 2001), anti-feminist Cathy Young uses an oft-repeated slur when she pretends that American women have already achieved equality. She wrote: "...all too often, left-wing feminists evade the issue - for instance, downplaying the contrast between the status of women in the West and in much of the world by focusing on the inequalities Western women still face, as if there were any real equivalency here."

In bashing Barbara Ehrenreich, she ridicules the hard work feminism must continue to do today for American women by making an ill-conceived comparison between the glass ceiling and honor killings.

Young wrote: "During the 1995 United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing, Time magazine columnist Barbara Ehrenreich wrote that the United States shouldn't get too smug about its women's rights record, considering that American women are still far from achieving parity with men in business or politics. Of course, women who risk being murdered by their ''dishonored'' relatives for the crime of being raped could only wish they had something like the glass ceiling to worry about."

In both statements, she falsely claims that feminists have done little to help women living in third-world countries.

In "Arm the Afghan Women," [The Libertarian Enterprise, November 26, 2001], anti-feminist Wendy McElroy condemned feminism for allegedly reducing Afghan women to victim status. She claimed: "This is why feminists who champion Afghan women by dwelling exclusively upon their victimization and helplessness are doing them a disservice. It is the same feminist logic that cries out against rape while promoting gun control laws that would leave women defenseless. The opposite of victimization is empowerment."

What does she recommend to empower Afghan women? Allow them to buy guns.

"Give an Afghan woman the right to own a gun and you protect her long after the current tragedy has become old news," she wrote. "A gun in the hand of a mother who is protecting her child may be the most humanitarian relief of all."

Yeah, that would prove helpful.

The point is that feminist groups, in particular the Feminist Majority, have done a great deal to help women living in third world countries, especially those in Afghanistan. Robert Sheer noted that "... it's the Feminist Majority, more than any other organization in the U.S., that sounded the alarm that the Taliban's suppression of freedom, led by its harsh treatment of women, posed "a threat to humanity" that extended beyond the borders of Afghanistan and that 'the Taliban and [Osama] bin Laden are interdependent and inextricable.'"

The Feminist Majority's support of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has been ridiculed by pundits and anti-feminists alike.

With that in mind, take note of Article 12 of the CEDAW document [bold my emphasis]:

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.

2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph 1 of this article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

Think of those provisions the next time an editorial claims that feminists are not concerned with women's "traditional child-bearing role" inside or outside the U. S. Also keep in mind that anti-feminists have frequently criticized feminist participation in CEDAW, deeming it unnecessary political posturing.

154 countries have ratified CEDAW. The U. S. is not one of them.

Cathy Young conceded in her Reason editorial "Multiculturalism vs. Feminism" that "...women's groups in North America and Europe have done some admirable work documenting and publicizing the horrific oppression of women under the Taliban," but her comment is lost amid her attacks against University of British Columbia women's studies professor, Sunera Thobani, whom she called a "kook." Thobani spoke about Western imperialism at a feminist conference; a speech for which she had received a standing ovation.

Terry O'Neil, in his editorial for "The Report" (Canada's Independent), referred to Thobani as a " first-class hater" whose "high-decibel speech at the beginning of one of those all-too-frequent feminist conferences about the alleged evils of the patriarchy; in this case, the patriarchal justice system." He described her speech as "vitriol."

Ross McLennan displayed palpable hostility in his piece for the Winnipeg Sun. He called Thobani the "former fuhrer" of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. He describing her as "[h]ysterical, spittle-spewing Sunera Thobani, the feminist equivalent to the Taliban, is busy making an asp of herself again." He described the feminist conference and standing ovation in this manner: "...lashed herself and an appreciative crowd of fellow Amazons into an orgasmic paroxysm of anti-American passion..."

He lashed out even more in ridiculing her claim that the conference was about "breaking the silence." With a great deal of venom, he wrote, "It turned out to be more like breaking wind, considering the thunderous explosion of noxious claptrap that burst from Thobani as Fry returned to sitting on her thumbs while Wonder Woman raked her claws across America's already bloodied visage."

What did Thobani say that inspired such maliciousness from Young, O'Neill, and McLennan?

Professor Sunera Thobani gave her speech at the Conference, "Women's Resistance: From Victimization to Criminalization," held in Ottawa, on October 1, 2001. Keep in mind that this was shortly after the American terrorist attack. Also keep in mind that this was two years before coalition forces invaded Iraq.

Thobani's speech resonates today, in light of the aftermath of the war in Iraq, the influence of the Project for the New American Century on American foreign policy, the imperialist activities of the Bush administration, and the questionable corporate conflicts-of interests in Iraq's "rebuilding." I hope those anti-feminists have eaten their words.

Here are excerpts from Thobani's speech:

There will be no emancipation for women anywhere on this planet until the Western domination of this planet is ended.

Love thy neighbour. Love thy neighbour, we need to heed those words. Especially as all of us are being herded into the possibility of a massive war at the behest of the United States. We need to hear those words even more clearly today. Today in the world the United States in the most dangerous and the most powerful global forces unleashing prolific levels of violence all over the world."

From Chile to El Salvador, to Nicaragua to Iraq, the path of U.S. foreign policy is soaked in blood. We have seen and all of us have seen, felt, the dramatic pain of watching those attacks and trying to grasp the facts of the numbers of peoples who died. We feel the pain of that every day we have been watching it on television.

But do we feel any pain for the victims of U.S. aggression? Two-hundred thousand people killed only in the initial war on Iraq. That bombing of Iraq has continued for 10 years now. Do we feel the pain of all the children in Iraq who are dying from the sanctions that were imposed by the United States? Do we feel that pain on an everyday level? Share it with our families and our communities and talk about it on every platform that is available to us? Do we feel the pain of Palestinians who now for 50 years have been living in refugee camps?

US foreign policy is soaked in blood. And other countries of the West including shamefully Canada, cannot line up fast enough behind it. All want to sign up now as Americans and I think it is the responsibility of the women's movement in this country to stop that, to fight against it.

These policies are hell-bent on the West maintaining its control over the world's resources. At whatever cost to the people.... Pursuing American corporate interest should not be Canada's national interest.

This new fight, this new war against terrorism, that is being launched, it's very old. And it is a very old fight of the West against the rest. Consider the language which is being used....

Calling the perpetrators evil doers, irrational, calling them the forces of darkness, uncivilized, intent on destroying civilization, intent on destroying democracy..... That hate freedom we are told. Every person of colour, and I would want to say also every Aboriginal person, will recognize that language. The language of us letting civilization representing the forces of darkness, this language is rooted in the colonial legacy. It was used to justify our colonization by Europe......

We were colonized in the name of the West bringing civilization, democracy, bringing freedom to us. All of us recognize who is being talked about when that language is being used. The terms crusade, infinite justice, cowboy imagery of dead or alive posters, we all know what they mean. The West, people in the West also recognize who this fight is against. Cries heard all over the Western world, we are all Americans now. People who are saying that recognize who this fight is against.

People who are attacking Muslims, any persons of colour who looks like they could be from the Middle East, without distinguishing, recognizing who this fight is against. These are not slips of the tongue that Bush quickly tries to reject. They reveal a thinking, a mindset. And it is horrific to think that the fate of the world hangs on the plans of people like that. On the plans of people like that. This will be a big mistake for us if we just accept that these are slips of mind, just slips of the tongue. They're not. They reveal the thinking, and the thinking is based on dominating the rest of the world in the name of bringing freedom and civilization to it.

Read the entire speech and let her comments sink in, especially in our current post-Iraq War world.

Posted on August 8, 2004 at 04:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Feminists Are Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don't

I posted this on my old blog. I'm bringing it up again because of the Womensenews article about obstetric fistula.

Nicholas Kristof had this to say in a May 16, 2004 editorial about obstetric fistula. Aside of this comment, his editorial was excellent.

I don't understand why most feminist organizations in the West have never shown interest in these women either. ... perhaps the issue doesn't galvanize women's groups because fistulas relate to a traditional child-bearing role.

To Kristof, I say... whaaaa????

The Feminist Majority has brought attention to both obstetric fistulas and Bush's funding cuts to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) -- a cut meant to please right-wing anti-abortion zealots. Here are some links:

UNFPA Seeks to Fight Fistula in Africa

Bush Makes UNFPA Funding Cut Official

That portion in Kristof's editorial (which otherwise was excellent) reminds me of the misrepresentations made by the media and the right-wing in claiming that feminists had shown no interest in the plight of women in Afghanistan, when the truth was that the Feminist Majority had done more than any other organization to bring attention to that issue. In the same vein, feminist groups such as Feminist Majority have been criticized for supposedly paying too much attention to female genital mutilation, all the while supposedly ignoring what women need in the U.S.

Geez, we feminists can't please anybody. :)

Posted on August 8, 2004 at 04:26 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Advocates Battle Obstetric Fistula in Eritrea

I still don't feel like posting, but I have to put something on my blog or it'll shrivel up and die. I'm also going to be very busy over the next couple of weeks, with WorldCon coming and some new work that dropped in my lap today. As was the case with what I had recently worked on, the new work is not something about which I will post on my blog. It's not appropriate and can cause set-backs. I believe that not only is it important to know what is appropriate to discuss publicly, it is equally if not more important to know what to not discuss publicly.

Here is an excellent womensenews article about women's advocates who are battling Obstetric Fistula in Eritrea. Obstetric Fistula is "a condition caused by difficult, protracted labor in which the fetus' head presses against the mother's pelvis so hard that it cuts off the blood supply to the area and kills the surrounding tissue."

Here is more about the condition, from womensenews:

The result is a small, abnormal pipe-like opening, or "fistula," usually between the bladder and the vagina, that causes the woman to leak urine and stool uncontrollably. The smell and the rashes and infections are further reminders of a devastating labor that more often than not results in stillbirth.

In the United States, fistulas have gone the way of tuberculosis and polio; if they occur at all, they are quickly treated by a doctor opening up the fistula channel to promote healing from the inside out. Surgery to repair a fistula usually only takes about 15 minutes, Snider said.

Nicholas Kristof had written editorials for the New York Times that criticized American feminists for not showing interest in women in third world countries. He brought up obstetric fistula without bothering to note that the Feminist Majority and other women's groups had already been working on it. More on that in my next post.

Posted on August 8, 2004 at 04:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 29, 2004

Was Jeri Ryan Abused?

Walker Wells from Irritant #4 and Brad from UChicago Law School are having an interesting discussion regarding whether or not Jeri Ryan was abused in the legal sense. Walker asked for my opinion.

Ms. Ryan had described two incidences involving sex clubs after-the-fact in a divorce setting, which you may read at The Smoking Gun. My opinion would hold for many victims of abuse. Those kinds of incidents don't happen in a vacuum. No one treats his wife like a wonderful human being and suddenly switches to that kind of behavior out of the blue. None of us are privy to what other incidents and day-to-day behaviors he had subjected her to, but whatever it was it was enough for her to seek divorce. That's the problem - we don't have all the facts. Even some of the documentation at The Smoking Gun has been blacked out. However, we do have enough to have a well-formed debate. My main issue isn't so much whether or not she was abused - I believe she was and I believe she may have had legal standing. My main issue is whether or not she would have been taken seriously if she had chosen to press charges. Most victims of abuse wrestle with that possibility every day.

I don't know if she would have been taken seriously by the authorities, since to my knowledge she was not physically abused. Courts and police are notorious for not taking emotional, psychological, mental, and sexual abuse seriously, although they can be much more damaging than physical abuse. Abusive relationships can go on for years without one incident of physical abuse, but all physically abusive relationships have some other form of abuse going on, such as psychological abuse. Even women who are victims of physical abuse may not be taken seriously because the police and courts did not believe the women were beaten up enough.

Abusive actions such as humiliating your wife by taking her to sex clubs after she had expressly told her how horrible that made her feel could be viewed as harassment in Illinois, which I believe had jurisdiction in their case. California was the other possibility.

In Illinois, "harassment" is defined as "knowing conduct which is not necessary to accomplish a purpose that is reasonable under the circumstances; would cause a reasonable person emotional distress; and does cause emotional distress to the petitioner." It is not isolated to the several examples cited below the main definition. Here is the text of the law, verbatim, from the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence Legal Information web site

(7) "Harassment" means knowing conduct which is not necessary to accomplish a purpose that is reasonable under the circumstances; would cause a reasonable person emotional distress; and does cause emotional distress to the petitioner. Unless the presumption is rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence, the following types of conduct shall be presumed to cause emotional distress:

(i) creating a disturbance at petitioner's place of employment or school;

(ii) repeatedly telephoning petitioner's place of employment, home or residence;

(iii) repeatedly following petitioner about in a public place or places;

(iv) repeatedly keeping petitioner under surveillance by remaining present outside his or her home, school, place of employment, vehicle or other place occupied by petitioner or by peering in petitioner's windows;

(v) improperly concealing a minor child from petitioner, repeatedly threatening to improperly remove a? minor child of petitioner's from the jurisdiction or from the physical care of petitioner, repeatedly threatening to conceal a minor child from petitioner, or making a single such threat following an actual or attempted improper removal or concealment, unless respondent was fleeing an incident or pattern of domestic violence; or

(vi) threatening physical force, confinement or restraint on one or more occasions.

Number 9 - "Interference with personal liberty" (same link as above) also applies. To interference with her personal liberty means "committing or threatening physical abuse, harassment, intimidation or willful deprivation so as to compel another to engage in conduct from which she or he has a right to abstain or to refrain from conduct in which she or he has a right to engage." He was unsuccessful at compelling her via harassment to engage in acts at the sex clubs, but he had committed harassment in order to, in his mind, convince her to abide by his demands despite her making it clear to him on previous occasions that she did not want to be placed in such a position as to have to refuse his advances at sex clubs. What he did could easily be viewed as harassment. He humiliated and embarrassed her repeatedly, in public, against her previously expressed wishes.

It is helpful to remember that abusers don't consider their behavior abusive. A man who beats his wife or screams at her for six hours when she doesn't have dinner cooked when he arrives home doesn't think he's being abusive. He's doing it "for her own good." He says if she'd just do what he says when he says to do it he'd have no reason to smack her around or yell at her. It is NEVER about him. The blame is always on her - she won't listen, so he has to pop her one or give her a good dressing-down to put her in her place. Remember that Ms. Ryan wrote that her husband said it was not a "turn on" for her to cry. He inflicted emotional distress upon her after she made it clear what he had done previously had upset her greatly. He had done this on more than one occasion. After she told him to knock it off. This is more than a guy just being an insensitive jerk. He not only wanted her to join him at sex clubs, he wanted to parade her around in public and have her join in group sex. Remember that this is Jeri Ryan, who wore cat suits on "Star Trek: Voyager" and played a provocative character on "Boston Public." That's another problem she would have had to deal with - her image. She was and is a public figure who capitalized on her attractiveness and provocativeness. She was a high-ranking male Internet wet dream for a very long time. Her husband knew that and was likely getting off on it. Lots of guys dream of "doing" Jeri Ryan. He goes home with her every night, and he would like to share her - with you, hence the public begging for group sex at clubs. That attitude is demeaning to her. She knew it. She felt "physically ill" when he took her to one of those places. She was mortified and embarrassed. His behavior was abusive.

One question I have is would filing a restraining order have been the best way for her to handle her situation? There are plenty of abused women who never once file a restraining order against their husbands or lovers. They have many reasons. I don't believe that Walker's cited reason - that Jack Ryan's "behavior was not repetitive enough to warrant that sort of action on Jeri's behalf" - was the likely reason she didn't file. As I have written, we know only of those two incidences. We don't know what else was going on. As I have also written, she might have been afraid no one would take her seriously. She also might not have believed she was abused enough because as far as I can tell there was no physical abuse. In fact, she might not have believed she had been abused at all. Too many people equate domestic violence with physical abuse, including victims of every form of abuse except for physical abuse. There is also the real possibility that a judge would not have granted the restraining order, especially if the abuse is not physical in nature. That happens, even when it would have been warrented to issue one. Rather than risk a judge rejecting a restraining order and having to go back home to face her abuser's wrath, lots of women won't seek them. I also think that in the end she took the most appropriate steps to deal with her situation - she filed for divorce. She got away, and is able to get her life back on track now. Good for her.

There is something that neither Walker nor Brad have considered, regarding California at least. Domestic violence workers are telling abused women in California to not mention abuse when they go through mediation. I believe mediation is now required in California. There was a recent study released about mediation in California that had shown that women received worse mediation if they revealed that they were being or had been abused. Even when restraining orders were brought out, they fared worse than if they had not mentioned the abuse at all. This is a very troubling finding. Women get better treatment if they don't mention abuse. Plus, abusers are gaining unsupervised visitation and sometimes partial custody even when abuse is revealed. The only thing that seems to put a damper on this practice is evidence of documented police presence at any time in the abusive relationship.

California's mediation system is supposedly superior to mediation in other states. This study shows that it isn't superior in any sense of the word.

Posted on July 29, 2004 at 05:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Most Women Do Not Feel Distress After Their Abortions

Forget the nonsense about "post abortion syndrome," which is yet another form of junk science meant to portray women as damaged goods. The fact is that most women do not feel regret or distress after undergoing an abortion.

The majority of women who choose to have legal abortions do not experience regret or long-term negative emotional effects from their decision to undergo the procedure, according to a study published in the June issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine, Health Weekly Digest reports. Dr. A. Kero and colleagues in the Department of Clinical Sciences, Obstetrics and Gynecology at University Hospital in Umea, Sweden, interviewed 58 women at periods of four months and 12 months after the women's abortions. The women also answered a questionnaire prior to their abortions that asked about their living conditions, decision-making processes and general attitudes toward the pregnancy and the abortion. According to the study, most women "did not experience any emotional distress post-abortion"; however, 12 of the women said they experienced severe distress immediately after the procedure. Almost all of the women said they felt little distress at the one-year follow-up interview. The women who said they experienced no post-abortion distress had indicated prior to the procedure that they opted not to give birth because they "prioritized work, studies, and/or existing children," according to the study. According to the researchers, "almost all" of the women said the abortion was a "relief or a form of taking responsibility," and more than half of the women said they experienced positive emotional experiences after the abortion such as "mental growth and maturity of the abortion process" ( Health Weekly Digest, 7/12).

Yes, women have abortions because they "prioritize work, studies, and/or existing children." I don't believe that those life decisions can be condemned as being selfish or insensitive, nor do I believe that a "good" abortion is one where other people approve of the reasons or the woman's way of discussing the issue, if she chooses to discuss it at all. I certainly don't like the idea of pathologizing women and forcing guilt on them the way those who approve of junk science such as "post abortion syndrome" tend to do.

Posted on July 29, 2004 at 01:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (62) | TrackBack

July 20, 2004

When Is An Abortion Okay, and Who Gets To Decide?

I generally don't let to get involved in abortion debates because they tend to devolve into pissing matches between people who throw terms like "baby-killer" and "save-the-fetus Nazi" at each other. However, Amy Richards' story caught my attention. Richards is a feminist writer and the co-author (with Jennifer Baumgartner) of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and The Future. Last year, she discovered that she was pregnant with triplets, and chose to have a selective abortion. She aborted the twins and kept the stand-alone. Amy's story sparked outrage in two posts at Hugo Schwyzer's blog. The posts about Richards' abortion came immediately after a post about a family struggling to deal with their child's leukemia, so many commenters (and Hugo himself) came across to me as more judgemental of Richards' dilemma and subsequent choices than they otherwise might have been.

Richards wasn't so overcome with guilt over aborting two of her eight-week old fetuses that she sought counseling from a group like Project Rachel. (Project Rachel is a pro-life organization that provides counseling for women who feel guilt and shame over their abortions. It supports the medically unrecognized Post-Abortion Syndrome. I consider such "therapy" and the use of such specious "syndromes" harmful for women.) Nor was she torn between wanting to give birth to babies and the possibility that her health would be negatively impacted. Instead, she learned with shock that she was pregnant with triplets and quickly came to what I believe was a valid and responsible decision. While she requested her boyfriend's input he did not have the final say. The final say was hers, as it should have been, because in the end any responsibility for the care and upkeep of any of those fetuses should she choose to give birth would rest primarily on her shoulders.

I think her matter-of-fact and seemingly emotionless description of the position she found herself in as well as her lack of guilt and lack of personal problems following the abortion is what some of Hugo's commenters (and Hugo himself) found so off-putting about Richards' story. If any of the commenters had already known of her feminist background, they may have let their possible dislike of her ideology affect their opinions. Under what circumstances would those who are against abortion permit one to happen? If the woman would suffer medical complications? Richards would have had minimal complications. What about people who are pro-choice who were off-put by Richard's story? There were a couple in Hugo's comments. If you are pro-choice but you believe the woman describes her abortion in clinical, distant, and seemingly cold language, do you consider her less sympathetic? For those who are pro-life, if she was wracked with guilt over her decision and talks about how she continues to suffer ten, twenty years after the abortion, is she more sympathetic in your eyes? I saw those kinds of women testify at a "partial birth" abortion bill hearing in Massachusetts. They blamed their problems on abortions they had many years ago without considering that many horrendous extenuating circumstances, such as abuse they had described, were more likely behind their troubles than their abortions. Are other reasons a woman may choose abortion selfish because someone else says they are? Here is Richards' description of her reasoning:

    My immediate response was, I cannot have triplets. I was not married; I lived in a five-story walk-up in the East Village; I worked freelance; and I would have to go on bed rest in March. I lecture at colleges, and my biggest months are March and April. I would have to give up my main income for the rest of the year. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to?

    I looked at Peter and asked the doctor: ''Is it possible to get rid of one of them? Or two of them?'' The obstetrician wasn't an expert in selective reduction, but she knew that with a shot of potassium chloride you could eliminate one or more.

    Having felt physically fine up to this point, I got on the subway afterward, and all of a sudden, I felt ill. I didn't want to eat anything. What I was going through seemed like a very unnatural experience. On the subway, Peter asked, ''Shouldn't we consider having triplets?'' And I had this adverse reaction: ''This is why they say it's the woman's choice, because you think I could just carry triplets. That's easy for you to say, but I'd have to give up my life.'' Not only would I have to be on bed rest at 20 weeks, I wouldn't be able to fly after 15. I was already at eight weeks. When I found out about the triplets, I felt like: It's not the back of a pickup at 16, but now I'm going to have to move to Staten Island. I'll never leave my house because I'll have to care for these children. I'll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise. Even in my moments of thinking about having three, I don't think that deep down I was ever considering it.

Hugo was quite upset over what she said, especially "'This is why they say it's the woman's choice, because you think I could just carry triplets. That's easy for you to say, but I'd have to give up my life.'' He was angry that she chose to abort the twins to preserve her "precious autonomy." Others were less kind, calling her "pure evil" and "Amy the Killer."

Maybe I just read her article differently from the angry commenters. Her Costco/mayonnaise comment struck me as flippant not because she was insensitive but because at the time she was probably scared. I thought that she took a clear and realistic look at what was in store for her if she chose to give birth to all three. She weighed the pros and cons, with input from her boyfriend, but in the end the decision rested with her. I didn't take her reasoning, quoted above, as selfishness or coldness. I took it as realistic and thoughtful. This was clearly a decision she did not take lightly. She is right that she would have been confined to bed and that her life could very well have become much more difficult, and yes, her life is one well worth considering when deciding whether or not to have children. To reduce weighing the pros and cons to negative self-centeredness and casually deciding to "kill her children" does not take into consideration the position she found herself in and the difficult decisions she had to make. That's what choice is all about.

I had an abortion when I was twenty-four. I was not long out of college, on my first job, and dating my future ex-husband. I was still living with my parents. I made only $11,000 per year. I knew that there was no way I could raise a child. I knew I was pregnant the moment the morning sickness started. It was constant, 24 hours per day. I had my abortion at eight weeks. It hurt like hell and I was scared out of my wits. I was fortunate to have a good doctor and good medical insurance. I'm sure some people would say that I did it for selfish reasons. That's fine. What they think does not personally affect me, nor is my life beholden to what strangers think I should do with it. I don't think I have to have dire medical complications while pregnant in order for it to be "okay" for me to have an abortion. It was a valid choice that I made, one that I made with a clear head and input from my future ex, one that I did not undertake casually as if I were discarding the week's trash, and one that I do not regret to this day. I am not a "victim" of specious medical syndromes related to abortion, nor do I see children who would have been the age my child would have been if I had given birth and wonder "what if?" I gave birth to my son a couple of years later. No, I do not consider him my second child. I get a little angry at people who would look at me and likely condemn me for wanting to preserve my autonomy and my life because my abortion did not meet their standards.

In his second post, Hugo brought up two things that I believe are irrelevant to Richards' abortion - the man's choice and Richards' description of growing up without a father. He suspects, without any real proof, that Richards' mother likely told her to never rely on a man because he says that's what the young women of single mothers that he has met have told him. Again, I didn't take Richards' description of her home life the way he did. I didn't take her "I never missed not having him" as an emphatic "never" the way he did. I saw it as a simple statement of fact, not a hidden code that she regretted being "fatherlessness." I know that family values ideologues would have jumped all over her statements as "proof" that she is damaged goods because she "grew up fatherless" when there is absolutely no proof of any such thing. It came across to me as if Hugo was trying to find something lacking in her family background that would explain, to his satisfaction, why she would choose to have such an abortion and to discuss it the way she did. Those comments from him seemed to be more about him and less about Richards. I took her opening paragraph to say that she already recognized the hardships that went with raising children alone, since she saw families from all walks of life, including her friends who were raising their nieces and nephews because their sisters became pregnant out of wedlock. Richards saw the difficulties of single parenting and she did not have any romantic notions about it.

Lastly, I don't consider Hugo's anger at "a legacy of male betrayal, irresponsibility, and abandonment" relevant to Richards' story. Her boyfriend did not abandon her. He certainly was not irresponsible, and he did not betray her. He didn't bolt when she said she was pregnant. As far as calling for men's rights in abortion, a quick reality check to that line of thought lies in looking at the misogynistic men's rights group Choice4Men and the backlash men's rights in abortion movement. This movement calls for men's rights to overshadow a woman's right to decide what to do with her own body. These men wish to control women's reproductive freedom, for their own benefit. The movement is about avoiding responsibility when men should take it and complaining about being "forced into daddyhood."

Posted on July 20, 2004 at 03:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (83) | TrackBack

July 16, 2004

Australian Story - From This Day Forth

Australian Story, 12/07/2004 - From This Day Forth

Ann O'Neill is 34. She's attractive, dynamic and intelligent and many people wonder why she's single. Ten years ago her life was very different.

Then one violent night she lost everything and almost her life. In the early hours of the morning as Ann slept with her two children beside her, her estranged husband broke into her home and turned a gun on all of them.

She was the only one to survive. Hours later her leg was amputated. She had to negotiate a whole new life as a disabled person stripped of her motherhood. Determined not to allow her children to have died in vain, Ann threw herself into an advocacy role as a support for others grappling with the aftermath of homicide.

Posted on July 16, 2004 at 06:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 15, 2004

Offensive Motherhood Stereotypes

If you've ever wondered where those negative portrayals of mothers in ads come from, I have just discovered a likely source.

I've spent the past couple of days (when I wasn't playing Uru) investigating several motherhood organizations. One of the organizations is Mothers & More. While reading the web site, I ran across Mothers and More's "Apple Pie in the Face" award, which is bestowed upon, in this case, a company that created, based upon a "study," five categories of offensive and negative stereotypes of mothers that corporations could use as a blueprint when designing their advertising. As an added slap in the face, these "findings" were released around Mother's Day. The company that was given the award this year was marketing firm Euro RSCG Worldwide.

The five offensive categories are Domestic Divas, Boomerang Moms, Yummy Mummies, Mini-Me Moms, and the Rage Brigade.

The following is a description of each category taken verbatim from Euro RSCG Worldwide's press release:

    Domestic Divas: The diva pays lip service to being the 2004 version of the "perfect mom," but in reality she simply wants the appearance of it-and the accolades that follow. The Domestic Diva wants flawless kids (courtesy of the nanny), a spotless home (courtesy of the cleaning service), and a reputation for being a fabulously put-together homemaker ('She makes it look so easy!')," says Salzman. "What she doesn't want is the actual work that typically comes with these things. Instead of diaper-changing and laundry, her days are filled with scrapbooking classes, working out at the gym, school volunteer work (she's typically a class mother), and meeting with her book club, quilting circle, or mahjong group."
    Defining characteristics of the Domestic Diva: Smugly disdainful of working moms; worried that the jig may be up if her husband's resentment at being the sole breadwinner grows too strong.
    Boomerang Moms: These are the moms who return to work shortly after the birth of each child, doggedly climb the corporate ladder while attempting to maintain some semblance of life/work balance (usually unsuccessfully), and then, as their children near adolescence, realize that home is where they want and need to be. In many cases, they have reached a level of financial security that allows them to quit their jobs without undue strain-something they didn't feel was possible when their children were younger.
    Defining characteristics of the Boomerang Mom: Wracked with guilt over the years spent away from the children; proud of professional accomplishments, but even more proud of decision to move away from a high-powered career.
    Yummy Mummies: Like the Domestic Divas, these are ladies who lunch. Unlike the DDs, they have absolutely no interest in being perceived as homemaking icons. Though they may be devoted to their little darlings, they consider them a part-time hobby more than a full-time job. Equal energy goes toward maintaining their cute figures, staying a step ahead of the latest styles, and enjoying the nightlife-in and outside the bedroom-with their handsome, successful husbands.
    Defining characteristics of the Yummy Mummy: Satisfaction with life choices; pride in high-achieving husband and children; determination not to be discarded in favor of a new model.
    Mini-Me Moms: To the Mini-Me Mom, children are fashion accessories, dolls to be dressed up and showcased for all the world to see. These moms are control freaks who have a set vision for what their children-typically their daughters-will be, and they are hell-bent on achieving their goals.
    Defining characteristics of the Mini-Me Mom: Desire to "build" a child that has all the characteristics that matter most to the Mini-Me Mom; a certain cluelessness about how bad it all looks.
    Rage Brigade: At a time when work hours and pressure seem to know no limits, work-related spousal rage is on the rise. Women who earn significantly more than their husbands and who feel trapped in their careers resent the burden of responsibility, especially when they feel it takes away from their time with the kids.
    Defining characteristics of the Rage Brigade: Frustration with the lack of life/work balance; guilt at limited "downtime" with the children; anger at her spouse's unwillingness to assume more responsibility at work and at home.

These categories were defined as the "new moms" who are splintering from "working moms" and "stay-at-home moms" who are departing "from tradition to forge life paths that work for them." Say what??? We already have enough problems with the media and advertising pitting working moms and stay-at-home moms against each other. We don't need a marketing firm adding to it.

What was really infuriating about this marketing campaign was that it was being promoted by a woman, Marian Salzman, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer of Euro RSCG Worldwide. What is it with women and offensive, sexist stereotypes? A woman designed those dreadful Kisses urinals.

What I consider especially problematic about the "new moms" campaign is that this "study" is being sent to Euro RSCG Worldwide's client roster, which includes Airbus, Air France, Aventis, Cap Gemini, BNP Paribas, Danone Group, Intel Corporation, LVMH Louis Vuitton, MCI, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Polaroid, Reckitt Benckiser, and Volvo. This "study" will directly affect how these and many more companies will attempt to sell airline tickets, film, cars, computers, and numerous other products to mothers. I for one am turned off by ads that depict mothers as greedy, selfish, stupid, and shallow. This marketing campaign may influence companies to okay more offensive advertising aimed at mothers.

If you would like to let Euro RSCG Worldwide know exactly what you think of its "study" and its ugly stereotypes of mothers, here's the contact info:

Euro RSCG Worldwide - New York
350 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014

Euro RSCG Worldwide's press contact for the press release is Hilary Heard, Communications Manager. Here is her e-mail:

Mothers and More suggested other forms of protest, including sending letters to Euro clients Volvo, Polaroid, Nestle, and MCI. Please go to their "Apple Pie in the Face" award page and scroll down for more information.

Posted on July 15, 2004 at 04:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"He Was A Good Person," "He Probably Just Loved Her Too Much"

Antigone Monique Allen's sister Lavenda described Monique's boyfriend Genario Garcia as a "good person" who "probably just loved her too much." Lavenda said that he "didn't want to see his kids being taken care of by another man."

What did this "good person" who "loved her to much" do?

A man doused his girlfriend and three small children with gasoline inside a car and set them on fire early Wednesday as he drove, authorities said. All five died after the car crashed in flames.

Residents reported hearing the crash and seeing two adults engulfed in flames, stumbling across a road near Bonny Lake, a small town east of Tacoma. Firefighters found the bodies of a 6-month-old boy, 1 1/2-year-old boy and 2 1/2-year-old girl in the back of the burned car.

Antigone Monique Allen, 18, who had recently filed an assault complaint against the 24-year-old man, survived for nearly eight hours at a Seattle hospital, sheriff's Detective Ed Troyer said. She managed to tell investigators and family what happened before she died.

Antigone and her three children will be buried on Saturday, which would have been Antigone's 19th birthday.

Please note that she was 15 1/2 and he was 21 1/2 when she gave birth to his first child. He kept her pregnant since she was 15.

Posted on July 15, 2004 at 04:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 01, 2004

The Health Costs of Intimate Violence

Fact Sheet from VicHealth (Australia) -

Health Costs of Violence: Measuring the Burden of Disease Caused by Intimate Partner Violence
A Summary of Findings

The health costs of violence report assessed the health impact of intimate partner violence for Victorian women in relation to its prevalence, the health problems it causes and its contribution to the total disease burden in women. Key findings include:


  • Intimate partner violence has wide ranging and persistent effects on women’s physical and mental health and contributes 8.8 per cent to the total disease burden in Victorian women aged 15 to 44 and three per cent in all Victorian women;

  • It is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15-44, being responsible for more of the disease burden than many well-known risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking and obesity.

  • Direct health consequences for women exposed to violence include depression, anxiety and phobias, suicide attempts, chronic pain syndromes, psychosomatic disorders, physical injury, gastrointestinal disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and a variety of reproductive consequences;

  • The influence of the abuse can persist long after the abuse has stopped and the more severe it is, the greater its impact on a woman’s physical and mental health;

  • The economic consequences of violence against women are also increasingly recognized with Australian businesses losing at least $500 million per year because of the effects of family violence on their employees;


  • One in five Australian women report being subjected to violence at some stage in their adult lives, increasing their risk of mental health problems, behavioural and learning difficulties;

  • The World Health Organisation estimate prevalence rates of between 10 and 69 per cent in countries around the world;

  • While only a small percentage of women report violence to authorities, in 200/2001 the Victoria Police attended 21,616 incidents involving violence between intimate partners. There were 19,933 children present during these incidents;

  • As estimated one in four Victorian children has witnessed intimate partner violence, increasing their risk of mental health problems, behavioural and learning difficulties;

  • Between 1989 and 1998, 57 per cent of deaths resulting from homicide or violence were perpetrated by an intimate partner, with women being five times more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men;

  • Compared with male victims, women are three times more likely to be injured as a result of violence, five times more likely to require medical attention or hospitalisation and five times more likely to report fearing for their lives;


  • The causes of violence are complex however evidence suggests that cultural, social and economic factors play a part and a significant underlying factor is the unequal distribution of Prevalent
  • One in five Australian women report being subjected to violence at some stage in their adult lives, increasing their risk of mental health problems, behavioural and learning difficulties;

  • The World Health Organisation estimate prevalence rates of between 10 and 69 per cent in countries around the world;

  • While only a small percentage of women report violence to authorities, in 200/2001 the Victoria Police attended 21,616 incidents involving violence between intimate partners. There were 19,933 children present during these incidents;

  • As estimated one in four Victorian children has witnessed intimate partner violence, increasing their risk of mental health problems, behavioural and learning difficulties;

  • Between 1989 and 1998, 57 per cent of deaths resulting from homicide or violence were perpetrated by an intimate partner, with women being five times more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men;

  • Compared with male victims, women are three times more likely to be injured as a result of violence, five times more likely to require medical attention or hospitalisation and five times more likely to report fearing for their lives;


  • The causes of violence are complex however evidence suggests that cultural, social and economic factors play a part and a significant underlying factor is the unequal distribution of power and resources between men and women;

  • There is broad consensus internationally that intimate partner violence is best addressed in the context of human rights, legal and health frameworks and through the development of multi-level strategies across sectors (World Health Organisation 2002).


    Burden of disease –
    Burden of disease methodology is an internationally accepted approach to estimating impacts of health problems across a population, taking into account illness, disability and premature death. Burden of disease measures are used extensively by governments, researchers and health planners and advocates world wide and can be used to: make a health problem visible; compare health problems for the purposes of setting priorities and compare the health impact of various problems between groups of populations.

    Intimate partner violence –
    Some times referred to as domestic violence, family violence or relationship violence, intimate partner violence refers to violence occurring between people who are, or were formerly, in an intimate relationship. Intimate partner violence can occur on a continuum of economic, psychological and emotional abuse, through to physical and sexual violence. Although men are among the victims of intimate partner violence, evidence suggests that the vast majority of victims are women and that women are more vulnerable to its health impacts.

    Posted on July 1, 2004 at 06:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    Intimate Partner Violence Causes The Most Damage To Women's Health

    Media Release from VicHealth (Australia) -


    Disturbing research released today indicates that intimate partner violence constitutes almost nine per cent of the total disease burden in women up to the age of 45 years.

    "This is a ground breaking study and the results are shocking," Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), Dr Rob Moodie said.

    The study, The Health Costs of Violence: Measuring the Burden of Disease Caused by Intimate Partner Violence, found that this form of violence is responsible for more ill-health and premature death among Victorian women under the age of 45 than any other well known risk factors including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking.

    Dr Moodie said intimate partner violence is very common, has severe and persistent effects on women’s physical and mental health and carries with it an enormous cost in terms of premature death and disability.

    "Direct health consequences for women exposed to violence include depression, anxiety and phobias, suicide attempts, chronic pain syndromes, psychosomatic disorders, physical injury, gastrointestinal disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and a variety of reproductive consequences," Dr Moodie said.

    Associate Professor Theo Vos, who undertook the research said the data also suggests that intimate partner violence is associated with drug use and risky levels of smoking and alcohol use.

    "Sixty per cent of the health problems associated with intimate partner violence are mental disorders and another 15% is due to greater abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs," Associate Professor Vos said.

    The study is the first in the world to estimate the health consequences of intimate partner violence using the ‘burden of disease’ methodology developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO itself released a World Report on Violence and Health in 2002, which aimed ‘to challenge the secrecy, taboos and feelings of inevitability that surround violent behaviour, and to encourage debate that will increase our understanding of this hugely complex phenomenon’.

    The report found that intimate partner violence contributes more than twice the disease burden of illicit drugs which is the next highest risk factor affecting the health of women aged between 15 and 44.

    This report not only gives us an insight into the effects of violence on women’s lives – it prompts the hard questions about how we inform, educate and change the behaviour that leads to partner violence," Dr Moodie said.

    Acting Premier John Thwaites, who attended the launch of the report said the Victorian Government has been actively involved in combating violence against women and this is articulated in the Women’s Safety Strategy.

    The Minister for Health Bronwyn Pike said the burden of disease associated with this violence must be understood as a significant public health issue. "The results of this study show the whole community needs to be involved in the effort to prevent domestic violence", Ms Pike said.

    Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon said police see the enormous impact of domestic violence on women, children, men, families and communities and they were committed to helping develop better support systems.

    "Victoria Police is working with government and other agencies to offer better access to services, help and support to people before tragedy strikes. Police members have also undergone education and training on how to deal with incidents of family violence and we have appointed Family Violence Officers."

    Dr Moodie said support for those affected is crucial, but the scale of the problem demands that there needs to be more focus on addressing the root causes.

    "We need community education campaigns, improved economic opportunities for women and strategies to foster greater respect between men and women," he said.

    Posted on July 1, 2004 at 05:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    June 30, 2004

    South Africa - Femicide Rate Highest In The World

    South Africa: Dying At the Hands of Their Lovers

      By this time next week there will have been 28 funerals of women killed by their partners, husbands or boyfriends. One woman is killed every six hours - a figure researchers believe to be conservative but which is the highest recorded figure in the world. And a legal gun is used in every fifth murder

      South Africa's femicide rate is the highest in the world.

      A recent study found that one South African woman is killed every six hours by a man she had chosen to spend her life with. In 50% of all solved murders of women in the country, it was found that the perpetrator was an intimate partner.

    Posted on June 30, 2004 at 08:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    June 15, 2004

    Judicial Ignorance of Domestic Violence Puts Children In Harm's Way

    [This arrived in my e-mail this morning, and I thought it was worth posting. Nothing in it surprises me in the least.]

    Judicial Ignorance of Domestic Violence Puts Children in Harm’s Way

    Copyright 2004 AScribe Inc.

    AScribe Newswire

    May 27, 2004 Thursday

    HEADLINE: Researchers Say Massachusetts Family Courts Fail to Protect Battered Women and Their Children; Study Applies Human Rights Analysis to Child Custody Cases Involving Domestic Violence

    BODY: BOSTON, May 27 [AScribe Newswire] -- Taking a novel approach to the analysis of child custody awards in cases where domestic violence is involved, researchers at Harvard School of Public Health [HSPH] have documented what they argue is a recurring pattern of potential human rights violations by the state and a failure to protect battered women and their children.

    Examining litigation in Massachusetts family courts involving a sample of battered women, the researchers found that the courts consistently dismissed or minimized the relevance of the male partners' abuse in awarding custody of children to such men.

    The researchers cited numerous human rights treaties and conventions meant to protect women and children from violence including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. They argue that a human rights framework is an important tool for pressing the need for legal, social and political reform to address domestic violence and to protect women and children, the most common victims of such violence.

    The analysis was performed by Jay Silverman, PhD, assistant professor of Society, Human Development and Health at HSPH, and colleagues and appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health []. Silverman is co-author of the book, "The Batterer as Parent" [Sage Publications, 2002].

    Intimate partner violence and child abuse are increasingly recognized as major public health concerns in both the United States and around the world. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one fourth of women in the United States are reported to be affected by intimate partner violence. In U.S. studies, male partners have been found responsible for one third of all homicides of women and half of all homicides of children.

    Although there is increasing recognition of the great threat to children posed by men who perpetrate domestic violence, many family courts view such concerns as either irrelevant or a tactic to be ignored in cases of divorce, said Silverman. This failure directly leads to courts placing children in harm's way.

    The researchers interviewed 39 women representing 10 of the 12 Massachusetts family court districts.The women were participants in the Battered Mothers' Testimony Project which drew women through social service agencies and legal providers serving battered women. The women all had experienced violence from an intimate male partner with whom they'd had children and had engaged in child custody litigation with the abusive ex-partner. As this study was an attempt to document human rights violations based on historic concerns regarding these processes from battered women and family violence experts throughout the country, women were also selected based on expressed dissatisfaction with the family court process. All possessed some kind of documentation of domestic violence [eg. police reports, witness affidavits, restraining orders, child protective service reports]. None of the cases involved women's abuse of male partners nor were there cases involving substantiated child abuse by the mothers.

    Several themes emerged that corresponded to a consistent pattern of potential human rights violations by the Massachusetts family courts. According to the researchers, these included:

      1] granting physical custody of children to men who had used violence against the mothers or both the mothers and their children

      2] granting unsupervised visitation of children to men who had used such violence

      3] failing to accept or consider documentation of domestic violence as relevant evidence in child custody determinations

      4] failure to investigate allegations or consider documentation of child abuse

    In light of international human rights declarations and treaties, wrote the researchers, the state family courts likely failed to sufficiently consider the "right to due diligence" as described in the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women; the "best interests of the child" as described in the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the right to "bodily integrity," a fundamental human right enshrined in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the "right to equal protection" under the law described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    "Battered mothers face a perilous irony," said Silverman. "Authorities push these women to leave abusive men in order to protect their children. But women who can make this break then face
    family courts, another authority, that often ignores this history of abuse as a threat to children's safety and, perversely, concludes that women's attempts to protect their children from these men actually demonstrate their own lack of fitness as mothers."

    "Although our laws increasingly urge courts to make domestic violence a primary consideration in deciding child custody, implementation of these laws is inconsistent at best, and will likely remain so, without strong oversight," said Silverman. "Placing a human rights framework on child custody decisions involving domestic violence clarifies the critical need to reform the system in order to protect the rights and lives of battered women and their children."

    "This is an issue everywhere in the country," he added, "and this same project is being conducted in several other states. This report is but one of many continuing attempts by organizations nationwide to
    make the voices of these women and their children heard."

    Major support for this study was provided by The Ford Foundation.

    Posted on June 15, 2004 at 03:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

    June 10, 2004

    The "Have It All" Dream Has Turned Into A "Do It All" Nightmare

    Tell us something we don't know. A new survey from the U. K. shows that women continue to hold most of the household and childcare responsibilities. 56% of the women surveyed said that the emotion they felt the most each day was frustration.

    Keep in mind that the feeling as miserable as described below is the primary reason that women today file for most divorces. They are fed up with the bulk of the responsibilities of home and hearth being placed on their shoulders. Also keep in mind that due to taking on all the responsibilities for home and hearth as described below, women are most often awarded primary custody of children upon divorce. There is no presumption that mothers are automatically awarded custody, as fathers' rights advocates claim. The fact is that a man can dump all of these responsibilities on his wife while they are married, yet if he makes an issue of custody upon divorce he will get some form of it, even though he had not worked for it the way she had. If there is a bias in court, it favors dads. It doesn't discriminate against them.

      "SIXTY per cent of British women reckon their sex life is a flop, a survey showed yesterday.

      And just as many think day-to-day existence is a lot cushier for men.

      Nine out of ten who work full-time still do most household chores ? and 77 per cent do most of the childcare.

      They are fed up with juggling gruelling lives on a treadmill of home and work.

      This and coping with debts and the the pressures of looking good are causing many of them to have a lifestyle crisis.

      Six out of ten blamed a poor sex life for making them miserable and the same number pointed to an unexciting social life.

      Eight out of ten women want to change their lives and 67 per cent are worn out, according to the poll by Top Santé magazine.

      It questioned 2,000 women with an average age of 38.

      More than half admitted drinking alcohol and 74 per cent confessed to comfort eating to relax and unwind from everyday life.

    Posted on June 10, 2004 at 07:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (39)

    June 06, 2004

    Courting Mother's Votes: Oh, The Power We Have

    These two articles are interesting to compare together. The first one is about politicos who are now showing interest in what the reporter has termed "Burger King Moms", or poor and working-class mothers who are most often ignored for having no political power - except now both the Democrats and the Republicans are sucking up because they are pursuing the ever-elusive female vote. Compare that article to this one about middle and upper-middle class mothers opting out of the work force. You can see from the first article that the opt-out option is only an option primarily if a woman is married to a man who possesses sufficient wealth and earns sufficient income to support the entire family. Viewed alone, it would be tempting to see this second article as a "trend" of mothers of all walks of life leaving the work force in droves. That is definitely not the case.

    It also poses some interesting dilemmas that the mainstream feminist movement needs to take a good, hard look at. Individual feminist activists, organizations (especially those that focus on poverty), and loosely-organized, small grassroots efforts have always worked to further the interests, rights, and welfare of mothers and their children. That said, I agree with criticism directed at the mainstream feminist movement that it has overlooked the needs of and problems experienced by mothers in favor of other issues. I know and fully understand the quandry '70s feminists found themselves in when they worked towards women's rights in the workplace, reproductive rights, sexual orientation, education, sports, etc., while at the same time having to reconcile their own discomforts with their feelings about their own mothers and the meanings of motherhood and family. Feminism has not yet been able to reconcile that feeling of cognitive dissonance about motherhood with working to achieve true equality outside the traditional home sphere. Part of the reason could be that mothers themselves have not been as active in the feminist movement as younger and childless women, and for good reasons - they lead very busy and time-limited lives. They had children and families to tend to. They had jobs of their own. They did not have as much control of their time as other women due to these responsibilities. They also had less leisure time.

    Nonetheless, mothers are in the workforce. They price-check your food, represent you in court, manage your money, clean your homes, tend to your health care needs, create games, music, art, novels, and films for you to enjoy, and watch your children while you are at work. The work force model remains a male-based model and has always been unfriendly towards mothers. It is not the mothers who need to adapt to the work force or leave it if their husbands have adequate income and assets for them to do so. No, the work force needs to take the needs of mothers and families into consideration and adapt to them. Feminism has always had the opportunity to bring motherhood issues in law, employment, and other realms into the forefront. There need not be a disjointed feeling of cognitive dissonance between motherhood and other feminist issues. There also need not be insulting pet-names such as "Burger King Moms" for a demographic that has been subjected to draconian welfare reform, fatherhood projects, and marriage initiatives when their voices were not deemed important. Now that we are in an election year and the Presidential candidates need women's votes, all of a sudden we're hearing about the "Burger King Mom" vote. The attention will stop once a President is elected. As a mom who nearly ended up on welfare twice, it's insulting.

    Feminism is in a prime position to take advantage of the attention of the "Soccer Mom" vote, the "Burger King Mom" vote, and all other mother's votes. I hope the mainstream movement is able to put aside its cognitive dissonance someday soon and do this.

    Posted on June 6, 2004 at 07:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

    May 29, 2004

    More On Emergency Contraception: Plan B

    The Well-Timed Period has a couple of excellent posts about Plan B, the emergency contraception that would have been sold over the counter if the FDA had approved it. The FDA did not approve it because it believes (1) women would not be able to wrap their pretty little heads around how to properly use it, and (2) there is risk that others may slip pregnant women the pills without their knowledge. Like a woman won't notice she is bleeding and having severe cramps. Besides, why punish a woman for something like that. Punish the people who give her medication without her knowledge or consent. If someone desperately wants a pregnant woman to not give birth, he or she will find ways to prevent that birth from happening.

    Also see my previous post about how to use most varieties of birth control pills as emergency contraception and how a woman's right to decide how to handle her own reproduction is in danger today. Reproduction includes giving birth, not giving birth, and deciding under what circumstances to raise her children once they are born (especially if she is single or divorced).

    Posted on May 29, 2004 at 08:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

    May 27, 2004

    Thank A Feminist

    I'd like to thank Irene Stuber for forwarding this message to me.

    Thank A Feminist

    If you're female and... can vote, thank a feminist. get paid as much as men doing the same job, thank a feminist. went to college instead of being expected to quit after high school
    so your brothers could go because "You'll just get married anyway", thank
    a feminist. can apply for any job, not just "women's work", thank a feminist. can get or give birth control information without going to jail,
    thank a feminist.

    ...your doctor, lawyer, pastor judge or legislator is a woman, thank a
    feminist. play an organized sport, thank a feminist. can wear slacks without being excommunicated from your church or
    run out of town, thank a feminist.

    ...your boss isn't allowed to pressure you to sleep with him, thank a
    feminist. get raped and the trial isn't about your hemline or your previous
    boyfriends, thank a feminist. start a small business and can get a loan using only your name and
    credit history, thank a feminist are on trial and are allowed to testify in your own defense, thank
    a feminist. own property that is solely yours, thank a feminist. have the right to your own salary even if you are married or have a
    male relative, thank a feminist. get custody of your children following divorce or separation, thank
    a feminist. get a voice in the raising and care of your children instead of
    them being completely controlled by the husband/father, thank a feminist.

    ...your husband beats you and it is illegal and the police stop him
    instead of lecturing you on better wifely behavior, thank a feminist. are granted a degree after attending college instead of a
    certificate of completion, thank a feminist. can breastfeed your baby discreetly in a public place and not be
    arrested, thank a feminist. marry and your civil human rights do not disappear into your
    husband's rights, thank a feminist. have the right to refuse sex with a diseased husband [or just
    "husband"], thank a feminist. have the right to keep your medical records confidential from the
    men in your family, thank a feminist. have the right to read the books you want, thank a feminist. can testify in court about crimes or wrongs your husband has
    committed, thank a feminist. can choose to be a mother or not a mother in you own time not at
    the dictates of a husband or rapist, thank a feminist. can look forward to a lifespan of 80 years instead of dying in your
    20s from unlimited childbirth, thank a feminist. can see yourself as a full, adult human being instead of a minor
    who needs to be controlled by a man, thank a feminist.

    -- Author unknown.


    This article makes periodic trips around the Internet.
    Whoever first wrote it, THANK YOU!

    Irene Stuber . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    Posted on May 27, 2004 at 03:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    May 17, 2004

    Working Mums Children Unharmed

    Working mums' children unharmed

    Young children whose mothers go out to work do not suffer as a result, a decade-long study has found.

    The survey shows that in terms of psychological well-being and behaviour, young children of working mothers do just as well as those with mothers who stay at home.

    via Mousewords. [Blogger is acting up. If the link doesn't work, go to her main page. It's the first entry.]

    Posted on May 17, 2004 at 04:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

    Primary Caregiving Moms vs. Military Service

    Moi at Bloggg has a post up about another military/child custody case. The woman is seeking both media publicity and general attention about her case.

    The mom, Jennifer Stanford, had posted in Moi's comments section for a post Moi had written about autism. Stanford's comment had nothing to do with Moi's post. It also looked like a form letter - spam. That concerned me, because her post was an unsolicited ad. God only knows where else she had posted it. You don't write that kind of thing in a comments section. You e-mail privately. You also don't just write something like that out of the blue to someone you don't know who may or may not be in a position to help you. You talk to a lawyer.

    Here is what Stanford had posted. I edited it so that it is easier to read. The original had no paragraph breaks.

    I am writing your paper in hopes that my story affects you and others, in hopes of aide in generating a public awareness of women, and issues that they may endure during moments of national crisis. I am not sure that this is the best way to contact you, yet my story needs to be heard.

    I am in hope that this email will facilitate its way into the right hands. I writing to inform you of the events of my experience as a mom who was deployed to Iraq. I have been stationed there for the past year. My story involves what may happen to mothers who have to make a quick choice when it comes to their children, when the duty of serving as a US solider is called upon in times of crisis. I left the states to fight a war. Little did I know that in my leaving I would have to make one of the hardest decisions of my life, where to place my daughter. In the matter of one week I had to make a quick decision. One now which I regret. The result was me giving power of attorney over to my parents. This has by far been the hardest thing that I have had to do. Harder than the 365 days that I spent scraping my feet over the dirt of Bagdad. I did not know if I would return.

    Over the year that I was in Iraq, my parents became very close to my daughter. So close that now they want custody. Six months into Iraq, I received a notice of legal action in regards to custodial ship of my daughter. My parents had cultivated the idea that I was an unfit parent. Their reasons being that my situation made me unstable, and would have long term affects on my daughter. Of course, anyone who has been to war is affected, but to have a battle back home, one which I could not even deal with because of my distance, made it very trying. Yet I knew somehow, things would come out, and somehow I would have her near, soon Jen soon, I kept telling my self, over and over for 365 days.

    I have only been back in the states for three weeks, not enough time to meet with my attorney, right now I am driving back to Virginia to do just that. I will be filing for a contingency while I get legal council, and take the time to prepare for a hearing. Meanwhile my daughter is turning three years old. I cannot even visit her while I am home. My parents have gotten her own attorney, who had no idea that I was even in the military, much less in Iraq.

    This coming week, I will be interviewed for a story by local news in Virginia. I am hoping that possibly you will be interested in my story. Many things can occur, when women are called upon in a time of national need. I want people to know what female soldiers might endure when being sent off to fight for their country. I have a voice, and my strength and my willingness to bring my daughter back to me pushes me to bring my story public. I would like to help out other American women who may be dealing with the loss of their children while fighting for their country. I am sure that this situation has happened to me for a reason. As heart wrenching and heart breaking as it is, I feel that I must do as much as I can I to make these sorts of travesties public. If you can help me in anyway, I would be most thankful.

    Jennifer Stanford
    CPO 978 Military Police Company
    US Army
    Stationed, Iraq.

    Many people - in particular those who don't like my point of view - believe that I am concerned only with women's rights over and above the rights and welfare of everyone else. Nothing could be farther from the truth. My concern for a woman's rights always takes into consideration how her children will be affected. The issue here comes down to the responsibilities primary caregiving parents have towards their children vs. a career in the military. This child was about to turn three. Mom was in Iraq for one year. Judging from her message, she had a choice in the matter. Military service was not hoisted upon her involuntarily. One year was one third of her child's life. That a huge block of time to be absent during a child's vital formative years. We have seen the problems experienced by Simone and Vaughn Holcomb's children and step-children while the Holcomb's were were stationed in Iraq. Even if bio-mom Debbi Piland was not in the picture trying to regain custody of her two children (Vaughn Holcomb was her ex-husband), the story is still problematic because of the conflicting responsibilities between military vs. parenting and poor preparation for child care while the parents are out of the country. Contrary to the media publicity encouraged by the Holcombs and Vaughn's mother, the judge in their case did not order Simone Holcomb to defy the Army's deployment orders or risk losing custody. Her presence was voluntary, yet all the kids knew was that their parents were not around for lengthy periods of time, and that hurt them. The custody battle only made the situation more stressful for those particular children. The same media reports that the Holcombs has eagerly sought pointed out that the children were doing poorly. One of them threw temper tantrums at school. The older son was getting poor grades in school. They wrote letters saying "Please don't die". They were having nightmares and they were wetting the bed. The 11 year old told a teacher that "my family is falling apart." Children do not care about patriotic duty. They know and feel the separation. Some can adjust. Some can't.

    On the other hand, military service is temporary. Everyone knows that the parent intends to return home, and most people caring for children in their stead respond in an appropriate fashion. They normally do not undermine the parents in their absence. The age of the child must be taken into consideration. An older child may be better equipped to handle such a separation. Letters, phone calls, e-mail, and video-cams are possible ways to remain in contact until the awaited permanent return home. Some families live on military bases. Some travel and relocate frequently. Everyone has heard of the military brat. There is the problem that Moi described of married people already being in the military, having children, and later divorcing. They aren't in a position to just quit. Parents are also required to have a parenting plan already in place before being shipped out. The Holcombs apparently did not have an adequate plan in place. I am under the impression that other military parents have handled these plans much better, and their children turn out fine. If my readers have more extensive knowledge about this subject, I'm interested in reading your comments.

    Please recall that early father absence research involved fathers who were temporarily absent due to military service during World War II. Michael Lamb's research in the 1970s had shown that "several studies attest to the importance of the family unit in fostering the social development of the child." Since most children of absent fathers had mothers caring for them, the focus was on how the mother handled the separation. Lamb found "evidence that the child's attitudes toward an absent father are related to his mother's feelings about him." The nature of the mother-father relationship had a direct impact on the child. Decades later, the Timberlawn Study reinforced Lamb's findings. This seven-year study found the one factor that was the most important in helping children become healthy, happy adults, was the quality of relationship between the parents.

    There are many ways to look at this issue. Each case should also be looked at on an individual basis.

    I have not taken a side on Jennifer Stanford's story. I must admit that I am suspicious when I run across cases where the parent in question is relentlessly seeking media attention. There was quite a bit of that in the Holcomb case, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. The public attention and media coverage seemed more important to the Holcombs and to Vaughn's mother than taking proper care of the children. Vaughn's mother made the local papers before her son and step-daughter even left the country. Media whoring rubs me the wrong way.

    Below are two differing opinions about Jennifer Stanford's dilemma. Liz is an attorney who hosts the LaMusga Information Page, about the recent move-away decision in California. She also runs Liznotes, at The Liz Library. Moi is a blogger and member of The Liberal Coalition. Both make good points about the presence of primary caregiving parents (moms, mostly) in military service and how such service affects children.

    From Liz:

    From a policy standpoint, we may need to reconsider some of our current positions on women in the military. While some women's rights advocates might not like it, the reality is that no primary caregiver of minor children should be serving in places of active combat or anywhere in which that requires that children be left without their caretaker parent for extended periods of time. This policy should extend to primary caregiver fathers of small children as well.

    My sympathy for this woman extends only so far. While I am perceived to be a mother's rights advocate, that only holds so far as mothers' interests happen to be aligned with their children's interests. This mother apparently chose military service over her child's emotional well-being. She was willing to risk her child's complete loss of her as a parent. Apparently, there is no father in the picture. There was only one parent and she removed "all" of them -- from a toddler.

    Now she seeks media publicity from you to help with a situation in which you have no way of knowing at this moment what the facts and circumstances are, let alone what is in the child's interests. Do not permit yourselves to be used like this without investigating. Don't jump on it without that.

    This is not a situation in which a soldier parent left the children with the other residential parent. A year in the lifetime of a toddler is that child's entire remembered life. One just does not do this if one is concerned about one's child. The reasons for the lengthy absence of what appears to be the child's only parent are irrelevant as far as what its impact will be on the child. To that child, at this point, the grandparents ARE the child's parents. After some period of time caring for this child, the emotional impact on the child would have been brought home to this woman's parents in a way that was no longer theoretical, and no longer able to be ignored. It is unlikely to be merely "bonding" and merely selfishness on the part of the grandparents that has prompted their seeking custody of their OWN DAUGHTER'S child.

    Had this woman made a plea to be enabled to NOT be deployed as the only parent of her child, she would have had my conditional support (conditional, because I do not at this point want to get into military policy issues and the problems of having too many soldiers who may be needed to actually defend this country who are not deployable because they are pregnant or the sole primary caregivers of children -- the two roles are incompatible.)

    However, as it stands now, this strikes me as not much different a situation from that relatively common situation in which mothers contact me asking for help after an absence of some lengthy period of time in which they had to find themselves, or set up shop, or moved away, post-separation with their spouse, leaving the child(ren) ostensibly "temporarily" with the father. Then they come back, once the children and everyone else's lives have stabilized, once their emotional pain has dulled, once their scars are starting to heal (the scars themselves being irreparable) and think everyone else should suffer another practical upheaval and more emotional wounding in order to reinstate the parent who left them as the primary caregiver.

    That this woman was in the military, ostensibly "fighting for our country" rather than "finishing up her B.S. degree" or "finding herself" changes the situation not at all from the perspective of the child's welfare.

    I'm not moved by patriotic rhetoric and blather. Without that, there really is nothing more here than a woman who made her choices and placed her own career interests in a higher priority than her child's welfare.

    In her letter, the mother remembers to mention her media contacts, but fails to mention her child's part in this or her child's interests and perspective at all, or anything else about the situation that actually bears on her child's wellbeing, one way or another.

    The "serving the country" rhetoric also has shades of the brouhaha that ensued over the ______ case which turned out to be specious (thanks to investigation by Trish Wilson who uncovered the real story that the "mainstream media" couldn't be bothered to look into.

    At this point, we do not know whether it would be in the child's interests to be in the granparents' or mother's custody. I suspect that there already is irreparable damage done to those interests.

    So, caution, before you allow yourselves to get too swept away and commit to publishing comments.

    From Moi:

    Hi Liz -

    Thanks for your response - I had already sent the email to Trish before, but thanks for sending her your response. :) Of course, I figure if anyone can find out the dirt, it will be her ;)

    While I definitely understand what you are saying about the impact on a child, I also know there is more to the military than we ordinary citizens might see. They would never let Us know that, of course. But I did think that the military could help her with this - and I did ask her some pointed questions about the POA that she had. Hopefully she will respond to the email I sent. Maybe she did ask not to be sent. Of course we don't have all the information, so I am going to reserve judgment until I do. I don't know that she wasn't divorced once she was In the military, we don't know what the situation with the ex was, etc. And I have seen a lot of grandparents go after custody just because they don't like the guy the girl had the kid with, for one example.

    I am a musician, and for another example, many, many musicians are in the service bands. They sign up for the reserve bands, which play once a month and two weeks in the summer, and then live their regular civilian lives for the rest of the month. All of the people that I know signed up to play music; it is one of the few places musicians can go and have a steady job playing for a living.

    And of course, the problem with that situation is that a divorced woman cannot then Be in the military if she has children, not even the one-weekend-a-month thing, because of something like this happening. However, when people who are already married are in the service, and THEN get divorced, the primary parent cannot just up and quit the service. So there we go talking policy.

    Many of them talk about how they have no choice but to go if they are called. And now with the shortage of troops, the armed forces are going to use everyone they have before they go to the draft, you can bet on that. Some of these people are SO unequipped to go into battle - these are musicians, not Fighting Machines. Maybe they can stab someone with an oboe.

    But getting back on the subject - I am not giving her publicity on my blog until I hear from her. I figured I would write to you all first, to see if anyone else had this kind of post, and to get input. If the woman is legit, she is going to need a lot of help.

    Posted on May 17, 2004 at 12:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

    May 16, 2004

    DEBUNKING "FATHERLESSNESS" - Single Mothers' Children Do Just As Well In School

    FOR RELEASE May 6, 2004

    Contact: Susan S. Lang
    Office: 607-255-3613

    ITHACA, N.Y. -- Mothers can be a positive influence in their children's lives, whether or not they are single parents. A new multiethnic study at Cornell University has found that being a single parent does not appear to have a negative effect on the behavior or educational performance of a mother's 12- and 13-year-old children.

    What mattered most in this study, Cornell researcher Henry Ricciuti says, is a mother's education and ability level and, to a lesser extent, family income and quality of the home environment. He found consistent links between these maternal attributes and a child's school performance and behavior, whether the family was white, black or Hispanic.

    "Over all, we find little or no evidence of systematic negative effects of single parenthood on children, regardless of how long they have lived with a single parent during the previous six years," says Ricciuti, who is professor emeritus of human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell.

    "The findings suggest that in the presence of favorable maternal characteristics, such as education and positive child expectations, along with social resources supportive of parenting, single parenthood in and of itself need not to be a risk factor for a child's performance in mathematics, reading or vocabulary or for behavior problems," Ricciuti says.

    The study is a follow-up of children who were assessed when they were 6 and 7 years old. The first study, published in 1999, found that single parenthood did not affect young children's school readiness or social or
    behavioral problems.

    "In this follow-up study, we wanted to assess whether adverse effects of single parenthood emerged as children reached 12 and 13 years of age, and they did not," says Ricciuti, whose latest study is published in the April issue of the Journal of Educational Research (Vol. 97, No. 4).

    Ricciuti's sample included almost 1,500 12 and 13-year-old children from white, black and Hispanic families in the National Longitudinal Survey of Labor Market Experience of Youth. Single motherhood was defined as the mother having no partner or spouse living at home at the time of the survey. The average mother's age at birth of her child was 20 to 21.

    Ricciuti cautions that many single mothers lack the social, economic or parenting resources that are known to promote good parenting. He stresses the need for making such parenting resources more readily available to single mothers, thus helping them to provide more supportive home and family environments for their children. "Potential risks to single-parent children could be greatly reduced or eliminated with increased parental access to adequate economic, social, educational and parenting supports," Ricciuti concludes.

    Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability.

    For more information on Henry Ricciuti, see

    For information on the Journal of Educational Research, see

    For more resources that debunk claims that growing up in a "fatherless home" (i.e., growing up raised by a single or divorced mother) causes all sorts of social ills for children, please see:

    MYTHS AND FACTS About Fatherlessness

    Excerpts from Michael Lamb's "The Role of the Father in Child Development"

    The Costs of Propaganda: The Myth of "Fatherlessness"

    The Misogyny Behind "Fatherlessness" Statistics

    Posted on May 16, 2004 at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

    May 14, 2004

    Abortion Clinic Shooting Victim Paralyzed

    One of my commenters was kind enough to provide an update about the 16-year-old young woman who was shot by her ex-boyfriend while she waited in a women's health clinic to get an abortion.

    The news is not good.

    She will live, but she is paralyzed. Her spinal cord is severed. She needs a respirater for now because she has difficulty breathing. Her ex-boyfriend, Jeffrey Cameron Fitzhenry, 17, who shot her in the head because he didn't want her to get the abortion, is being held on $1 million bail. He has been charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

    Her family is suing Fitzhenry and others for the shooting.

    Posted on May 14, 2004 at 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

    Anti-Abortion Extremist Sentenced to 18 Years for Child Molestation

    How sickly ironic. "Save" a child, molest her later.

    Anti-Abortion Extremist Sentenced to 18 Years for Child Molestation

    Anti-abortion extremist John Burt was sentenced today to over 18 years in prison for molesting a 15-year-old girl. A jury in Pensacola, Florida found him guilty of four counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and one count of lewd or lascivious contact in early April. The young girl was living at Our Father?s House, Burt?s so-called home for ?unwed? mothers, at the time. Her family may sue Burt for the girl?s emotional damage.

    In the early 1980s, John Burt, who was the Regional Director of Rescue America at the time, was at the center of disruptions at the Pensacola, Florida clinics. In 1986, Burt led an invasion into the Ladies Center Clinic in Pensacola, which led to his arrest and conviction along with Joan Andrews Bell, an associate of James Kopp, who was convicted of assassinating Dr. Barnett Slepian. Joseph Scheidler was touring at the time on his book, ?99 Ways to Close an Abortion Clinic.? Scheidler was on the lawn in front of the clinic at the time of the invasion. This incident was the impetus for the NOW v. Scheidler case that went to the Supreme Court twice and is still in litigation.

    Posted on May 14, 2004 at 09:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    May 13, 2004

    The Kate And Allie Way Of Life

    Update: I changed the link so that it makes more sense, and I added the link to Co-Abode.


    Remember that television show, "Kate and Allie?" Divorced moms living together? That wonderful idea has come to life. A divorcing mom had difficulty finding a place to live, so she took out an ad in a local paper, requesting a single mom housemate with a son her son's age. She learned that lots of single and divorced moms needed such a service, so she started, an Internet web site for single and divorced moms who need to find a good place to live and a roommate who will help ease the costs of rent or mortgage. Sounds good to me.

    Posted on May 13, 2004 at 09:18 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    Female Iraqi POWs Finally Getting Attention

    I agree that it is not a gender issue that both men and women have committed atrocities against POWs in Iraq. Women are just as capable of such heinous acts as men. However, I believe that the coverage of these acts by the press has been biased against women. Witness right-wing barking heads like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh getting all googly-eyed over the female MPs and the woman in charge of the MPs. Limbaugh sounded almost orgasmic, which I found to be nauseating. Coulter, as usual, was foaming at the mouth. Pox News is having a field day with the titilation in these stories. There are commentators out there using Abu Ghraib as evidence that women do not belong in the military.

    How many Americans can name a female MP who had abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib but cannot name one male MP? The one man who had been named has received more attention for impregnating one of the women, rather than for beating and threatening to kill his ex-wife.

    Much more coverage has been given to these women than to the men who have also committed atrocities. Likewise, the abuse, rape, and torture of female Iraqi prisoners has received little attention - until now.

    BAGHDAD -- One woman told her attorney she was forced to disrobe in front of male prison guards. After much coaxing, another woman described how she was raped by U.S. soldiers. Then she fainted.

    A U.S. Army report on abuses at Abu Ghraib prison documented one case of an American guard sexually abusing a female detainee, and a Pentagon spokesman said Monday that 1,200 unreleased images of abuse at Abu Ghraib included "inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature."

    Whether it was one or numerous cases of rape, many Iraqis believe that sexual abuse of women in U.S.-run jails was rampant. As a result, female prisoners face grave prospects after they are released: denial, ostracism or even death.

    Iraqi women who have been raped may be murdered because they are viewed in Islamic culture has having shamed their families. They will not be welcomed back into their homes. They will not receive proper care. They risk death.

    I hope that the media will continue to cover the abuse of female Iraqi prisoners of war in a compassionate and informative fashion, rather than resort to the inflammatory blaming and voyeurism that has been evident in the over-exposure of the female MPs. I hope the female prisoners get more attention that the sensationalism that has permeated the news lately.

    While I am as shocked and numb as everyone else over the death of American tourist Nick Berg, I have noticed that his death has received much more coverage and blogger attention than the abuse of female prisoners.

    The reason I am so incensed about the lack of attention is that about a month ago, a colleague had asked me and others who work on women's issues why female prisoners were not being covered in the news. She knew they existed. We all did. We knew that Iraqi women had been abused, beaten, and killed by their families, all in the name of "honor." We knew that female prisoners had been abused, raped, and sexually molested at U. S. run prisons in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib. We knew that the American media either didn't think it was worth covering. When American newspapers such as the New York Times did cover abused women, it blamed feminist groups for supposedly not showing interest in women in third world countries. Specifically, Nicholas Kristof pointed fingers at the Feminist Majority for ignoring Afghan women, when the Feminist Majority had done more than any other American group to bring attention to the abuses suffered by Afghan and Iraqi women by their own people.

    My colleague wondered when and if 60 Minutes II would do a story about the abused, raped, and tortured female prisoners at Abu Ghraib. After all, it paid a great deal of attention to the male prisoners.

    I saw a brief mention of female prisoners on Body and Soul on April 30 in the comments of one of Jeanne's posts on the subject. What bothered me was that Juan Cole's description of abuses at Abu Ghraib included a sentence that he had later deleted from his original post, without any explanation. The sentence was: "and appear to involve forcing female prisoners to perform sex acts on male ones." I was told that there was no "credible evidence" that female prisoners were being abused.

    Things have changed so much in two weeks.

    I hope that this news isn't fleeting, only to be relegated to the "yesterday's news" pile, while photos and coverage of the rape of male prisoners and the murder of Nick Berg continue to get the most attention in the blogosphere and in the news.

    Posted on May 13, 2004 at 06:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

    May 09, 2004

    Happy Mother's Day, Part II

    In light of the real meaning of Mother's Day (as related to war) and the way "fatherlessness" statistics have been used to malign single and divorced mothers, I thought it would be interesting for my readers to know that the original, early father absence studies that have been so influential on today's politics were not about divorce or single motherhood.

    Michael Lamb's book "The Role of the Father in Child Development," which came out in the 1970s, pointed out that "[m]ost of the early studies dealing with the effects of father absence were done with children whose fathers were or had been absent because of military service during World War II."

    Due to the differences in conditions and context regarding how father absence studies have been conducted regarding war, single motherhood, divorce, and even widowhood, it is not advisable to make inferences that children supposedly fare poorly due to a vaguely-defined "fatherlessness." Such inferences are incorrect and they malign mothers and children.

    For more information about fatherlessness, please see these links:

    Excerpts from Michael Lamb's "The Role of the Father in Child Development"

    Myths and Facts about Fatherlessness

    Father Absence Propaganda from Fathers' Manifesto

    More About "Fatherlessness" Propaganda

    Posted on May 9, 2004 at 10:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

    Happy Mother's Day

    The original purpose of Mother's Day, as founded by Julia Ward Howe, is especially important to consider today because we are at war with Iraq. Our troops are stationed in several other countries as well. Please take this time to put aside the breakfasts, carnations, and chocolates to remember the real meaning of Mother's Day - a call to put an end to seeing the people we love; our husbands and wives; our lovers; our parents; our brothers and sisters; and our children, become hurt or killed in unnecessary and meaningless war. In the same respect, in light of the tortures committed at Abu Ghraib, we call for an end to the harm we have caused to others in the name of freedom, due to war.

    By Geov Parrish,
    May 6, 2004

    Last year in this space, I took the occasion of an upcoming Mother's Day
    weekend to reprint the 1870 call by American poet and women's leader Julia
    Ward Howe for the establishment of the holiday. The response was
    astonishing; the awareness was nearly nil - even by peace activists - that
    what is now widely viewed as a sentimental tribute to family was
    originally a call for women to wage a general strike to end war.

    This year - as more and more mothers, in America as well as Iraq, mourn
    their fallen sons and daughters, lost to the insanity of organized
    violence - Julia Ward Howe's call for women to not allow their men to
    constantly play at war is suddenly back in fashion. Around the country,
    her original Mother's Day Proclamation will be the basis this year for
    parades, remembrances, and other events that try to reclaim the holiday's
    original spirit in a year when the United States' (male-dominated)
    government talks seriously not of avoiding war, but staying the course on
    the multiple ones we're already fighting.

    The radical origins of Mother's Day - as a powerful feminist call against
    war, penned in the wake of the U.S. Civil War in 1870 - are fully
    compatible with the universal notion of honoring mothers. Women, even more
    so now, are the primary sufferers of warfare. In the 20th Century,
    civilian populations bore 90 percent of war's casualties around the world;
    mass and indiscriminate attacks, popularized in WWII by the Holocaust,
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Allied firebombings in Japan and Germany, and
    the rape of Nanjing, are only the most spectacular examples of a
    phenomenon in which women become the rape and famine victims, the
    refugees, the forgotten statistics in what are invariably the wars of men.

    I admit it; I'll send my elderly mother flowers this year. She appreciates
    them. But a greater gift for the world's mothers still awaits: a day in
    which the voices of women - now, as then, less inclined to rush to war or
    bask in its false glory - are an equal part in the foreign policy of
    countries like the United States. As with so many other aspects of
    American history - May Day is another - a legacy that is now celebrated
    around the world is farthest from its original intent in the land of its
    birth. The generals have written our historical memory, in the Civil War,
    in most popular narratives of the bloody trail of modernizing "Western

    It's worth remembering that the Civil War, a political division that
    lasted longer and was considered more intractable than today's
    Palestine/Israel conflict or indefinite "War on Terror," and that killed
    well over a hundred times more people on American soil than the attacks of
    September 11, was not unanimously lauded at the time. And that women
    thought they could do something to prevent such bloodshed in the future.

    Here is the original, pre-Hallmark, Mother's Day Proclamation, penned in
    Boston by Julia Ward Howe in 1870:

    Arise, then, women of this day!
    Arise all women who have hearts,
    Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
    Say firmly:
    "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
    Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage,
    For caresses and applause.
    Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
    All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
    We women of one country
    Will be too tender of those of another country
    To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
    >From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with
    Our own. It says, "Disarm, Disarm!"
    The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!
    Blood does not wipe out dishonor
    Nor violence indicate possession.
    As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war.
    Let women now leave all that may be left of home
    For a great and earnest day of counsel.
    Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
    Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
    Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
    Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
    But of God.
    In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
    That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
    May be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient
    And at the earliest period consistent with its objects
    To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
    The amicable settlement of international questions.
    The great and general interests of peace.

    Maybe next year.

    Geov Parrish writes for

    Posted on May 9, 2004 at 10:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

    May 07, 2004

    Female Reconstructive Surgery

    While some bloggers have expressed outrage over the practice of virginization (surgical reattachment of the hymen), not many people may heard of Dr Pierre Foldes, who has helped thousands of victims of female genital mutilation. He is "the only surgeon and urologist to have developed a surgical technique which restores the clitoris."

    Posted on May 7, 2004 at 02:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

    May 03, 2004

    Man Who Shot Girlfriend At Clinic Had A "Mean Streak"

    This is putting it lightly, considering what he had done, but The Desert Sun reported that the Jeffrey Cameron Fitzhenry had a "mean streak."

    What strikes me is his age - how can anyone so young learn so much hate and hold in so much rage in so short a time? He has a troubled past. At the school he had previously attended, he "was known as a bit of a loner with a temper, distant and intimidating."

    Here is more detail about the confrontation he had with her before going to his truck to get his pistol, returning to the clinic, and shooting her.

    Hours earlier, across the parking lot, authorities say 17-year-old FitzHenry walked into a Painters Path medical office and saw his girlfriend.

    There were angry words. He told her to leave, deputies and witnesses said.

    When she didn't, authorities say the teen who friends call Cameron went back to his truck, pulled out a 9 mm pistol, came back into the clinic's lobby and opened fire.

    A bullet struck her neck, said the clinic's doctor, Joseph Durante. She struggled for breath as Durante and others tended to her.

    "There was quite a lot of blood all over the place," Durante said. "We've never had an incident like this."

    Efrain Gutierrez, who protests outside the clinic three to four times a day, said he saw the teen with the gun walk out of the clinic. The teen didn't say a word. But there was something else.

    "The expression on his face," Gutierrez said. "He was angry."

    Duane heard the news from a friend soon after the shooting as she was getting ready for work at a nearby restaurant.

    "The woman who was our babysitter called and said "Cameron shot his girlfriend because she was trying to get an abortion."

    Several points are evident from the article.

    He knew she was going to the clinic.

    He keeps a 9 mm pistol in his truck. He is 17. Isn't there an age limit on gun ownership? I don't know much about that sort of thing. Still, what is a kid his age doing with a pistol?

    I want to know, how long has he owned it? Did he buy it recently? Uncomfortable questions.

    She wouldn't jump when he said jump, so he walked to his truck, got his gun, walked back to the clinic, and shot her.

    This guy is only 17. What the hell happened to him to get him to be so screwed up as to shoot his 16 year old girlfriend? I don't want to think about what he could be like when he's in his 20's and 30's if something doesn't turn him around really fast.

    P. S. to my readers - If any SNERTS spew in the comments of this post, just ignore them.

    Posted on May 3, 2004 at 06:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)

    May 01, 2004

    LaMusga v. LaMusga Move-away Decision

    You may read this article and find other related information on my LaMusga Move-away Page on my web site.

    From the beginning, the LaMusga case has always been politically motivated. Don't make the mistake of thinking this case was only about Gary LaMusga, Suzie Navarro (formerly LaMusga), and their sons.

    The father was represented by a team of fathers' rights supporters that had long ago admitted that one of their goals was to overturn the bellwether Burgess decision, the California ruling that made it easier for custodial parents (mostly mothers) to relocate with their children. The specious, poorly-conducted move-away"study" flung together bySanford Braver and two colleagues was timed specifically to affect the LaMusga decision. It was politics masquerading as science. Even fatherhood ideologue David Blankenhorn thought that "study" was shoddy.

    You may recognize the name of one of the California Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of this decision - Janice Rogers Brown, who is one of Bush's judicial nominees who has been the subject of protest from Democrats, liberals, and progressives.

    The Supreme Court ordered the case be returned to the trial court and to the custody evaluator - a move that in effect gave a raise and promotion to "divorce industry" professionals fathers' rights activists and advocates for women's and children's rights have rightly complained about. The rise of money-making from divorce has been a problem in California for many years. An example of the "divorce industry" run amok is Soft Split, which used to operate in New York. The rise of HMOs and new insurance rules have taken a hefty chunk from the purses of psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists. Some of them see in divorce they the potential to make good money, especially when courts order mandatory psychological and custody evaluations, mediation, GALs, and useless parenting classes. Those mandated add-ons are the reason contested divorces can cost between $50,000 and $100,000, sometimes more. The ones who make out in the end are the legal and medical "experts" who make money from those deals. Moms, dads, and children are left bankrupt and holding the bill. If fathers' rights activists are tempted to crow about this decision, they'd better keep that "divorce industry" financial windfall in mind before they do.

    The cash cow has come home to graze in the lobby of every California courthouse.

    That the court was to decide whether or not Suzie Navarro had the right to move with her boys to Ohio was a moot point. The court had held up the hearings for so long that Mrs. Navarro's husband had turned down the job after accepting it and living apart from his wife, stepsons, and infant for a year. He returned to California to a lower-paying job. A year before the Supreme Court made its decision, the trial court had given permission for Suzie Navarro to move to ARIZONA with her sons, pending the Supreme Court's decision.

    So... The Supreme Court of California was deciding whether or not Suzie Navarro had permission to move to Ohio, a state where she was not going to live. The court figured that she might someday move to Ohio so it had to decide if - sometime down the road God only knows when, God only knows how - should Mrs. Navarro ever find reason to move to Ohio, if she had the "right" to move there.

    That would be like the court deciding to prevent me from moving with my son to the U. S. Space Station if I ever find a way or a reason to go there after having expressed interest in wanting to go, but in the end deciding to live somewhere else more suitable to mine and my son's needs. The court could decide I would not be allowed to move to the U. S. Space Station - despite there being no chance I'd go there, and I have since moved elsewhere with court permission - so I should hand my son over to his father.

    That's like asking for directions in Escher's stairway print.

    A primary focus of the final ruling which favored the father didn't notice its own irony. While the court ruled that the boys should be handed over to their father so that he may have more time to improve his tenuous relationship with them, this same court had no difficulty with harming the relationship between Mr. Navarro and his own infant as well as his step-sons. He was forced to separate himself from his family - which included his own baby - while the court took its time making a decision, yet at the same time this same court ruled that a man who brought on many of his problems with his boys himself should have his relationship with his own children encouraged. Why is one father more worthy than another father?

    The Los Angeles Times reported Tony J. Tanke, the mother's appellate attorney, as saying "California's custodial parents most of whom are mothers have lost the presumptive right to make decisions to better their lives and the lives of their children. This is the worst day for children in the history of California." He said "the Supreme Court decision requires a full custody evaluation and trial every time a parent seeks to move." Since mothers overall earn less money than fathers, this ruling will have a detrimental effect on mothers who need to move yet do not have the thousands of dollars now required to take the issue to court.

    The lone dissenting judge, Justice Joyce L. Kennard, wrote that "the trial court said that moving the children to another state could damage the children's relationship with their father, but the court never mentioned the potential harm to the children from losing their mother as their primary caretaker." The court also did not mention the potential harm to the children from completely destroying their established routines and adjustments they have made with new friends, a new school, and new community, especially following a court order in this instance that gave Mrs. Navarro permission to relocate with her sons.

    As aptly described by Florida attorney Elizabeth Kates on the LaMusga Information Page, "this opinion has some of the most squirming, mealy-mouthed prevaricating bits of judicial equivocation that I've read in a while ... Bush v. Gore-ish... or... orWELLian! "

    More from Liz:

    A few of the bits: (1) "Essential" is not the same as "expedient" but what's "expedient" is just as good; (2) "if" does not preface a condition; and (3) Burgess is upheld. But... I'm reading and re-reading the opinion and keep missing where the Supreme Court found the custodial parent's "presumptive right to move" to have been applied by the LaMusga trial court -- let me know if you see it...

    Cutting through the drivel, the pages and pages of selective review of what must be so because Phil Stahl said it, the political dancing, the twisting about the facts of a moot underlying case in which a custodial mother who moved to Arizona was prohibited from moving to Ohio, apologia re a trial court's "misspeaking," and the Supreme Court's divining of the same court's unspoken mental machinations...

    We have this clear directive from the twilight zone:

    "We reaffirm our statement in Burgess that 'the paramount need for continuity and stability in custodial arrangements -- and the harm that may result from disruption of established patterns of care and emotional bonds with the primary caretaker -- weigh heavily in favor of maintaining ongoing custody arrangements.' "


    the trial court was correct to threaten to remove custody from the primary caretaker and give it to a man who has a tenuous relationship with children who do not want to live with him IF she moves to Ohio -- however, that is not a "conditional change of custody."

    What a stupid decision. -- liz]"

    Yes, a politically-motivated decision that flies in the face of the law, places politicial ideology over reason, ignores valid research, and twists the facts is a stupid decision.

    Posted on May 1, 2004 at 09:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (94)

    Woman Shot In Abortion Clinic Is Recovering

    Update - May 15, 2004: A commenter left the bad news that the young woman who was shot is paralyzed. For more information, go to this post.

    Update: Thanks to Lee in my comments for catching this. I put up a wrong link. The first link should go to this article, which said that "the victim was taken to Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs in critical condition. No word today on how she is doing." Her ex-boyfriend who shot her was also hospitalized after he shot her because he had taken pills before the shooting. He is also being charged with attempted murder.


    The young woman who was shot at the Women's Health Clinic on Painter's Path in California is recovering. She is 16 years old. Her 17 year old ex-boyfriend who has been accused of shooting her has been arrested. While police say that she went into the clinic to get an abortion, it is a mistake to think that women visit health clinics only to get abortions. They provide a wide range of services, including general ob/gyn exams, HIV testing, and pregnancy services.

    The health clinic I had gone to in the early '80s after I had an abortion served low-income clientele. It was recommended to me by a local chapter of Planned Parenthood. I chose it because it was near my home. The other two were too far away. I liked the doctor. Following my abortion I went to him for regular gynecological check-ups. I never ran into protesters, so I guess I was lucky. For some women, and ob-gyn is their only doctor. I've heard from other women who went to women's clinics for their regular medical check-ups because they were more affordable than a private doctor. Some of these women did not have health insurance. Some had insurance that left quite a bit to be desired. They were often stopped at the door by men holding Bibles and women holding babies who told them, "Ma'am, please don't kill your baby." These women were always amused that the protesters assumed every woman who walked through that door was getting an abortion. They enjoyed telling the protesters that they were going in for a regular medical check-up - OR, in a couple of cases, the doctor was the one they chose to assist them through their pregnancies - and that it was insulting for the Bible-thumpers and baby-prop-wielders to assume they were going inside to "kill their babies." Heads held high, they walked inside.

    I eventually found a private ob-gyn because, as is the case with many health clinics, I couldn't afford to spend so much time in the waiting room when I had an appointment. One time I waited over two hours because, ironically from the anti-choice outlook, my doctor was out of the office assisting a woman who was delivering a baby. By that time I had better health insurance that covered a doctor's office closer to home.

    There is a blowhard in my comments for my previous post about this shooting who is acting as if it's not all that serious because the young woman was allegedly "only" shot by her ex-boyfriend. As if that's not bad enough. However, this shooting is about denying a woman her right to reproductive freedom as well as being about a young man who thinks he has chattel rights to his ex-girlfriend so he thinks he can shoot her if she does something he doesn't like. A witness who regularly pickets protesting abortion outside that clinic, "says he was one of the last people to see accused shooter, Jeffery Cameron Fitzhenry, before he went into the clinic. "He came outside and walked directly to me and said ‘I agree with you, I'm against abortion too. But my girlfriend is going to try to have an abortion against my will, and I'm going to try to stop her.’"

    Someone needs to tell Mr. Fitzhenry that he doesn't own his ex-girlfriend.

    Posted on May 1, 2004 at 08:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (137)

    April 29, 2004

    Woman Shot In Head While Waiting In Abortion Clinic

    Breaking News: A woman sitting in a California abortion clinic's waiting room was shot in the head. The 17 year old man suspected as having shot her remains at large.

    Posted on April 29, 2004 at 08:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (45)

    Making Women's Issues Go Away

    Some of this post is a rehash of a post I made on my old blog on March 13, 2003. Reflect on the damage the Bush administration has inflicted upon women over the past 365 days while you read.

    The Bush Administration had "quietly removed 25 reports from its Women's Bureau Web site, deleting or distorting crucial information on issues from pay equity to reproductive healthcare." Jeanne at Body and Soul remembered when "a Bush appointee began removing references to sexual orientation from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel's website, complaint forms, brochures, etc., and then later announced that anti-discrimination laws don't cover federal employees who are fired because they're gay."

    The removal of these documents from the Women's Bureau is the latest of a long string of assaults the Bush administration has made against American women. One of the first actions undertaken by Bush when he came to office what to shut down the White House Women's Office of Initiatives and Outreach. He did this quietly and with no media attention. The White House Women's Office of Initiatives and Outreach was created in 1995 by President Clinton. Betsy Myers, its first director, had described the valuable role it held: "The White House Office for Women's Initiatives and Outreach gave women a seat at the president's table, allowing them to make important contributions on issues that have an impact in people's daily lives. But that wasn't all. The office served as a focal point in coordinating programs of federal agencies that addressed the interests of women and recognized the importance of women's involvement."

    Bush's closing of this office held great symbolic significance. Women no longer had front-row access to discussions about policy that affected their lives. Women's concerns are no longer heard. In the year and a half since that office has closed, women's rights and welfare in this country have been under constant attack. This lack of access to important policy discussions has led to horrendous abuses against women that have been inflicted by this administration, including John Ashcroft's attempts to diminish the importance and influence of the Violence Against Women Office (VWO). Ashcroft had set up federal violence against women programs, offices, and committees for failure by stacking them with people who denigrate victims of violence and who are hostile towards VAWA. In moving the Violence Against Women Office to the equivalent of a sub-basement room with no windows, Ashcroft and Bush have given credence to those who look upon abused women with disdain, including anti-feminist women and their organizations who support backlash policies harmful to women's welfare that are promoted by right wing and the Bush administration.

    The VWO oversees the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), an Act that has stuck in the craw of anti-feminists and some conservatives since its inception. One anti-feminist group that has been very vocal in its condemnation of VAWA is the Independent Women's Forum (IWF). IWF has written several amicus briefs designed to destroy VAWA, most notably Brzonkala v. Virginia Tech, which lead to the Supreme Court declaring VAWA's federal "gender crimes" provisions unconstitutional. Ashcroft had appointed IWF president and CEO Nancy Pfotenhauer to the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women. IWF board member Margot Hill was also invited to join the committee, which advises the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services on implementation and enforcement of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

    Betsy Hart dismissed VAWA, claiming that it would do "nothing to protect women from crime. It will, though, perpetuate false information, waste money and urge vulnerable women to mistrust all men." Sally Satel had dismissed violence against women in her Summer, 1997 Women's Quarterly article "It's Always His Fault: Feminist Ideology Dominates Perpetrator Programs" by stating that VAWA " money is being used to further an ideological war against men--one that puts many women at even greater risk." It's the old "feminists think all men are abusers" put-down. She claims that the "feminist theory of domestic abuse... holds that all men have the same innate propensity to violence against women." That propensity is not held by feminism, but it has been expressed by David Blankenhorn in his book "Fatherless America." On page 34, he cited research claiming that male violence is "rooted primarily in 'male sexual jealousy and proprietariness." In his eyes, "married fatherhood emerges as the primary inhibitor of male domestic violence." This derogatory view of men currently influences welfare reform fatherhood initiatives. IWF commissioned Blankenhorn to co-direct (with Maggie Gallagher) a study of the attitudes of college-age women towards sex and courtship. [The completed study is here] IWF must not see the irony of attacking feminism for expressing a negative view of men that it does not hold, yet that same view has actually been vocalized and supported by an ideologue it has commissioned for a study.

    The Bush administration had set the stage over a year ago to destroy hard won gains that protect women and that educate the public about domestic violence. One of the reports that had been hidden is "Don't Work In The Dark - Know Your Rights." I found it this morning at the Women's Bureau web site. Maybe the Salon article scared the Department of Labor into putting the missing reports back online.

    "Don't Work In The Dark" is a popular public education campaign that covers job discrimination in the areas of disability, pregnancy, sexual harassment, family and medical leave, and age.

    Posted on April 29, 2004 at 09:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

    Violence Against Women and Child Custody

    A colleague sent me this information. I thought it was important enough to post. I already have most of it, but it's nice to have all of it in one convenient location.

    From the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) page that addresses frequency of custody and visitation disputes that include a history of domestic violence:

    "According to a 1996 report by the American Psychological Association (APA), custody and visitation disputes are more frequent when there is a history of domestic violence. Further, fathers who batter mothers are twice as likely to seek sole custody of their children and they may misuse the legal system as a forum for continuing abuse through harassing and retaliatory legal actions."

    The Leadership Council has a page with stats regarding custody issues and Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and also provides information on Gender Bias Reports from six states.

    Here are some pertinent stats regarding custody:

    Fathers are often awarded sole custody even when their sexual and physical abuse of the children is alleged and substantiated. "Threats to Harm or Take Away Children: One of the most common reasons given for resuming an abusive relationship is the fear that the abuser will act on the threats of taking the children from the victim. Studies show that batterers have been able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases." [American Judges' Foundation. Domestic Violence and the Court House: Understanding the Problem. Knowing the Victim. Williamsburg, VA: (see, Forms of Emotional Battering Section, Threats to Harm or Take Away Children Subsection)

    Phyllis Chesler interviewed 60 mothers involved in a custody dispute and found that fathers who contest custody are more likely than their wives to win (p. 65). In 82% of the disputed custody cases fathers achieved sole custody despite the fact that only 13% had been involved in child care activities prior to divorce (p. 79 tbl. 5). Moreover, 59% of fathers who won custody litigation had abused their wives, and 50% of fathers who obtained custody through private negotiations had abused their wives (p. 80 tbl. 6) [ Chesler, P. (1991, 1986). Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers]

    The Committee for Justice for Women studied custody awards in Orange County, North Carolina over a five year period between 1983 and 1987. They reported that " all contested custody cases, 84 percent of the fathers in the study were granted sole or mandated joint custody. In all cases where sole custody was awarded, fathers were awarded custody in 79 percent of the cases. In 26 percent of the cases fathers were either proven or alleged to have physically and sexually abused their children." [The Committee for Justice for Women and the Orange County, North Carolina, Women's Coalition. (1991). Contested Custody Cases In Orange County, North Carolina, Trial Courts, 1983-1987: Gender Bias, The Family And The Law.]

    The stat that refers to DV being a factor in 50% of all divorce cases may have its origins in a report out of Canada, The Domestic Violence, Employment and Divorce . In the first sentence of the introduction, the authors cite a stat from the Canadian Violence Against Women Survey:

    "Domestic abuse is a social issue of concern to individuals and policy makers alike. The magnitude of the problem may be surprising: estimates from the Canadian Violence Against Women Survey (VAWS) indicate that 29% of ever-married Canadian women (Statistics Canada, 1993a, p.4) and 50% of divorced women have been victims of abuse."

    the report also states that . . .

    ". . . the majority of violent marriages end in divorce, and Table 2 supports this claim, as divorce rates for women abused in first marriages are dramatically different than those for non-abused women: while the divorce rate for non-abused women is 15%, women who experienced high severity abuse in a first marriage have a divorce rate of 75%."

    Statistics that exist regarding the overlap of domestic violence and child maltreatment vary widely -- and there's also the debate about whether or not exposure to batterer behavior is in itself child maltreatment.

    ". . . a number of reviews currently exist on the co-occurrence of documented child maltreatment in families where adult domestic violence is also occurring. Over 30 studies of the link between these two forms of
    violence show a 40% median co-occurrence of child maltreatment and adult domestic violence in families studied (Appel & Holden, 1998) and a range of co-occurrence from as low as 6.5% and others as high 97%, depending on the samples studied (Edleson, 1999b). " ["Should Childhood Exposure to Adult Domestic Violence be Defined as Child Maltreatment Under the Law?," Jeffrey L. Edleson, Ph.D., The Minnesota Center Against Violence & Abuse (MINCAVA), School of Social Work, University of Minnesota. Published as a chapter in Jaffe, P.G., Baker, L.L. & Cunningham, A. (2004). (Eds.). Protecting Children From Domestic Violence: Strategies for Community Intervention. New York, NY: Guilford Press.]

    Also see Problems Association With Children Witnessing of Domestic Violence," Jeffrey L. Edelson, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, School of Social Work, Publication Date: April 1997, Revision Date: April 1999.]

    Posted on April 29, 2004 at 07:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

    April 28, 2004

    Nellie From "Little House..." On Being Sexually Abused As A Child

    Remember Nellie Oleson, that nasty little rich blonde brat on "Little House On The Prairie?" She was played by Alison Arngrim, who recently displayed a great deal of courage on CNN's Larry King Live when she described the sexual abuse she had experienced as a six-year-old child. I'm glad she chose to talk about. The first portion of the interview seemed a bit iffy to me because of the way Larry King questioned her. He pressed her for morbid details of specific sexual abuses, despite her repeatedly stating she did not want to describe the abuse in detail. He had also wondered if she had felt guilty that she - to use his words - "came on to" her abuser. What the hell kind of a question is that? She was six-to-nine years old, for God's sake!! No six-year-old entices a pervert to have sex with her! I have neither seen nor heard the show so I don't know what kind of inflection he gave the statement. I hope he was much more sympathetic than the way he appears in the written transcript. I was glad to see that the discussion improved as the interview progressed.

    Ms. Arngrim serves on the board of advisors for PROTECT, The National Association to Protect Children.

    KING: What happened?

    ARNGRIM: Well I was sexually molested as a child myself.

    KING: What age?

    ARNGRIM: It started around when I was six years old.

    KING: By a family member.

    ARNGRIM: Yes.

    KING: Not your parents.

    ARNGRIM: Not my parents. And, like most parents in these situations, they really didn't see it coming. When I later told them in my 20s, they were actually quite stunned and I found in talking to other people who had the same exact thing happen that parents really just don't want to believe -- and in fact, they put two and two and two together, the whole thing could have been brought to a grinding halt. But people don't, and they don't see it coming, and a cousin or a brother or an uncle is molesting their child and they ignore the situation.

    Read the whole thing. It's worth the time.

    Posted on April 28, 2004 at 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

    April 27, 2004

    Pro-Choice March Largest In History


    To paraphrase Peter Finch as Howard Beale in "Network:"

    We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore!!

    More than one million pro-choice activists converged in the nation's capital Sunday to protest the government's persistent effort to chip away at women's reproductive and health rights. [Pro-Choice March Largest in History, by Allison Stevens, Women's eNews, April 25, 2004]

    Posted on April 27, 2004 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

    The March Was About More Than Abortion

    From Bush Beware on Abortion Issue, by Matthew Rothschild for The Progressive:

    The huge outpouring at the pro-choice rally on Sunday should send a signal to George W. Bush that he's in more trouble than he thinks.

    It's not just that 800,000 or so protesters took to the nation's capital to defend the right to choose.

    They were also there to denounce the policies of George W. Bush, which have been extremely hostile to women who need abortions. From depriving family planning groups overseas of much-needed money to banning the so-called partial-birth abortion procedure, Bush has marched in lockstep with the far right on this issue.

    Posted on April 27, 2004 at 10:45 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    Songs Sung At Yesterday's Pro-Choice March

    [These came to me in e-mail. Remember when protesters shouted "George, Keep Your Laws Out Of My Bush" when George the First was Prez?]

    Lyrics sung at yesterday's Washington DC pro-choice march:

    row, row, roe v. wade
    (to the tune of row, row, row your boat)

    roe, roe, roe v. wade,
    our bodies are our own,
    women's choice's - a human right,
    so leave the cunts alone.

    keep, keep, keep your laws,
    out of women's thighs,
    let me make my own choices,
    we're not the system's wives.

    fight, fight, fight the right,
    stop the war on choice,
    we bring our love from all the states,
    and join in one big voice.

    shake, shake, shake your ass,
    because its yours to shake,
    don't believe the lies they say,
    our freedom is at stake.

    stop, stop, stop the man,
    from taking all your rights,
    reclaim our lives with dignity,
    revolution's in our sights.

    to lib, lib, lib-erate
    our sisters is our cause,
    don't suppress our right to choose,
    and fuck your stupid laws.

    *to the tune of the seven dwarves song from snow white

    hi ho, hi ho,
    its to the streets we go
    prepare to fight, to keep our rights
    hi ho, hi ho, hi ho, hi ho

    hi ho, hi ho
    its to the court we go
    protect the law for one and all
    hi ho, hi ho, hi ho, hi ho

    hi ho, hi ho,
    Bush-Cheney gots to go
    or we will lose our right to choose
    hi ho, hi ho, hi ho, hi ho

    hi ho, hi ho,
    to the alley we wont go
    we refuse to be abused
    hi ho, hi ho, hi ho, hi ho

    *to the tune of she'll be comin round the mountain

    she'll be comin with a yee-ha when she comes,- oh-yeah,
    she'll be comin with a yee-ha when she comes,- oh-yeah,
    she'll be carrying some rubbers for some fun beneath the covers
    she'll be comin with a yee-ha when she comes,

    the condom up and busted yes it did- oh-no,
    the condom up and busted yes it did- oh-no,
    yes the condom up and busted, lost the protection she had trusted
    yes the condom up and busted, yes it did - oh no!

    she'll be comin to the clinic for a test,
    to decide for herself what is best,
    to decide for her health, to decide for herself
    she'll be comin to the clinic for a test

    take her right to choose, no they won't
    take her right to choose, no they won't
    if they take our right to choose, we will hit them with our shoes
    take her right to choose, no they won't

    *to the tune America

    America, America what's happening to you
    If church and state don't separate
    Democracy is through
    My body's mine
    And that is all
    I really have to say
    I have the right
    To run my life
    I don't need your ok


    Cheney is an Oil Whore!

    Cheney is an Oil Whore! uh-uh-uh-uh!
    He sells us lies to feed his war! uh-uh-uh-uh!
    He tries to even Bush's score! uh-uh-uh-uh!
    2004 we say no more! uh-uh-uh-uh!

    Break it down!!

    His lies! (clap, clap!)!
    His greed! (clap, clap!)!
    This isn't what we need! (clap, clap!)!

    The earth! (clap, clap!)!
    Our job! (clap, clap!)!
    What hasn't Cheney robbed? (clap, clap!)!

    Get out!!
    And shout!!
    We all can boot him out!!

    Because we're the cheerers!!
    Aren't we great?!!
    And we won't let Dick decide our fate,!
    we won't let Dick decide our fate,!
    we won't let Dick decide our fate,!
    we won't let Dick decide our fate!!

    Posted on April 27, 2004 at 10:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

    One Million Plus Marched For Women's Lives

    Jessica at the new blog Feministing has a great post about the March for Women's Lives that was held in Washington, D. C. over the weekend. I didn't attend because I don't live down there anymore. I had attended pro-choice marches in the '80s, and they're very inspiring events. I have all of my old pins and I think I still may have my old posters.

    As usual, the press down-played the number of men and women who had participated. There were more than a million people from all over the country at the March, not "hundreds of thousands." The good news was that the major newspapers like the NY Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today did not ignore the March. Jessica has links to these articles and photos on Feministing.

    Posted on April 27, 2004 at 10:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

    April 22, 2004

    Italian Women Saying "No" To Babies

    Note to neo-conservative family ideologues: bribing women with tax incentives to bear more children doesn't work. Two years ago, the Pope got on his knees and begged Italian women to have more children. When that failed, the Italian government tried bribery. What makes you "family values" types think you'll be any more successful?

    Here's a clue as to why Italian women are giving the stork a kick in the butt:

    "Letizia Mencarini, a professor of statistics at the University of Florence, questioned more than 3,000 mothers from five different cities across Italy in an effort to find out what would persuade them to have more children.

    Her results were striking. She found that the more the father was involved in the chores of looking after the child and household, the more likely his wife was to want to have a second baby. Since most Italian men do little around the house - fewer than 6 per cent of mothers responded that their husbands "always" or "often" did household chores - the effect is to ensure that most women go on strike after one baby. They cannot face the dual burden of going out to work and looking after an extra child. They have to give up one of those two options: they usually decide to sacrifice the extra child.

    "There has been a great increase in levels of female education," Prof Mencarini explains, "and an increasing proportion of educated women no longer want to be just mothers and wives. But the growing equality outside the family is not matched by the same tendency inside it." Italian men, she suggests, want their wives to look after them as their mothers did. And that "has a significant effect on lowering the likelihood that a woman will have a second child".

    Despite a Big Dose Of The Obvious, "Italian economists and statisticians are puzzling over what incentives would be sufficient to make Italian women have additional children." Why is the lower birth rate deemed a woman's problem? Italian men need to do their share of work around the house and to take on more of the actual childrearing - without expecting undue fanfare for "helping mom," and without the government creating the equivalent of U. S. "fatherhood" programs to entice them into doing so.

    Posted on April 22, 2004 at 08:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

    Why Aren't Female Stand-Ups Given The Kudos They Deserve?

    As an avid viewer of "The Daily Show," I saw the commercials advertising Comedy Central's 100 Greatest Standups Of All Time. I enjoyed it. I agree that Richard Pryor deserved the number one spot because he was such a ground-breaker. If he didn't make number one, he definitely deserved to be in the top ten. Hey, I was happy that Jerry Seinfeld didn't win the top spot. He didn't even make the top ten. Am I the only person in the country who can't stand him? I saw a little of "Seinfeld" when it was on the air, but it could not hold my interest enough for me to squirm through an entire episode. Oh, one more gripe -- Woody Allen, number 4? What were they smoking?

    Despite my laughter at all the great routines, something was noticeably absent, and it bothered me.

    Where were the women stand-ups?

    A peek at the list of 100 revealed only nine women, cited as follows with their ranking on the list.

    10. Roseanne Barr
    16. Ellen DeGeneres
    35. Phyllis Diller
    44. Joan Rivers
    70. Wanda Sykes
    87. Brett Butler
    88. Paula Poundstone
    97. Sandra Bernhard
    99. Janeane Garofolo

    Why was Lily Tomlin missing from Comedy Central's list? Omitting her was a gross oversight on their part. I was surprised at Elaine Boosler's absence. She deserved to be honored. More than half of the women ranked in the bottom third? Four of them placed in the bottom thirteen? How insulting. While Sandra Bernhard has always been a hit or miss for me, I thought she deserved to rank higher on the list than quite a few of the male stand-ups. The same applies to Janeane Garofolo and Paula Poundstone, and I think both of them are very funny.

    I read that the list was chosen entirely by comedians, but I don't know how accurate that really is. There is nothing on the Comedy Central web site indicating who hand-picked the stand-ups. If the panelists had chosen the stand-ups, the final pickings could have been the result of the same sort of thing that leaves women bloggers and women working in newsrooms far behind - a bunch of guys were picking other guys that they liked. Of the four panelists, Judy Gold was the only woman. Phyllis Diller was the only woman out of five special guest panelists, and she was given the bottom 81-100 category.

    The following are only some of women whom I believe were more than good enough to punt some of the guys from that list. I'm sure further searches would have revealed many more.

    Lily Tomlin
    Rita Rudner
    Margaret Cho
    Elaine Boosler
    Judy Tenuta
    Valery Pappas
    Etta May
    Pam Stone
    Whoopi Goldberg
    Rosie O'Donnell

    Before anyone (notably male, since I've noticed men complain about these two comediennes much more so than women) grumbles about Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O'Donnell, please note that Andrew "Dice" Clay and Adam Sandler made Comedy Central's list.

    Speaking of Andrew "Dice" Clay, plenty of stand-ups and hecklers say that sexism is alive and well in the comedy circuit. British comedienne Jo Brand said in the article "Heard the one about the female stand-up?" by William Cook, that one big reason is that "most women simply can't be bothered to stand-up and be abused by a bunch of pissed-up misfits." During one gig at a college, a bouncer called her a "filthy whore" and none of the students seemed to mind. At another gig at London Polytechnic, "one particularly charming punter told her "I'm going to ram a table leg up your cunt." Jo threw her beer at him, but afterwards, she was in tears."

    The lack of women on Comedy Central's list might lead one to assume that there simply are not many funny women, or that funny men far outnumber funny women. I don't believe either is the case at all. Women stand-ups have to put up with much more abuse on the circuit than do the men, so it's possible that some of them decide that the heaps of abuse are not worth the trouble. Cook wrote that "[v]irtually every comedian I've ever spoken to, both male and female, agree that female comics have to put up with far more - and far more personal - insults. And even in the right-on 80s it was ever thus. "If you were a bloke, it was fuck off - you're not funny," says Jenny Lecoat, one of the top female comics of that decade, but who has since swapped stand-up for scriptwriting. "With a woman, it would be 'fuck off you ugly cow - I wouldn't shag you'".

    "Get your cunt out," a (male) punter once shouted at Donna McPhail. "I don't bring my cunt to work", she replied. "I usually find there's at least one cunt in the audience already".

    Female stand-ups need combat pay.

    Posted on April 22, 2004 at 07:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

    April 20, 2004

    Mother's Rights

    Elizabeth Bauchner discusses why there is a need for a mothers' movement.

    Posted on April 20, 2004 at 07:32 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

    Double-Standard When Mom Kills The Kids and Ex-Spouse

    While there has been much coverage and public teeth-gnashing over Melissa Rowland and Deanna Laney, little to nothing is written when men murder their ex-wives and their own children.

    Why is so little said about Marcus Wesson murdering his nine children or ANCPR's Lowell Jaks kidnapping his son?

    It's because there is a double-standard against mothers in these kinds of cases.

    Want more proof? I need not remind you who Andrea Yates is or what she had done.

    Have you ever heard of Adair Garcia? No? Why am I not surprised?

    He murdered five of his six children with the toxic fumes of a barbeque while they slept. He had attempted to kill all of them and himself. He and the children were found by their mother, his estranged wife. He murdered them only eight months after the Yates case monopolized headlines and Internet message boards nationwide.

    Not familiar? Why not? These crimes are as heinous as any the more-famous women have committed. So why does the media not cover them as extensively? Why is there not the same level of public outrage when fathers murder, kidnap, and otherwise harm their chidlren as when women do it?

    It could be because "people are obsessed with mothers who kill their children, while little interest is shown in fathers who do the same."

    Posted on April 20, 2004 at 04:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

    March 17, 2004

    Expository Magazine - New Issue Is Out

    There's a new issue of EM Expository Magazine out, and it's full of great articles and poetry. Get yourself a hot cup of tea, turn on some Enigma, take a deep breath and relax, start to move slowly, very slowly. Let the rhythm be your guiding light...

    Posted on March 17, 2004 at 09:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

    Melissa Rowland Redux - A Woman's Right To Bodily Integrity

    Update: Jeanne at Body and Soul linked to two related articles, "Depraved Indifference: Caesareans, Patriarchy, and Women's Health" from ZNet and "Crying Murder When A Woman Refuses A C-Section" from FindLaw.


    Melissa Rowland is not the first woman to find her right to bodily integrity superceded by the "potential life of a fetus."

    Tom Paine's article Coercive Medicine describes several cases like Rowland's. I provide more detail about those cases (and more) below. He also described the "strategy of distraction" being used by the media in reporting about Rowland to support elevating fetal welfare over the rights and life of the woman. He wrote the following:

    "Responding to a chorus of opposition to the arrest, the press and the prosecution are now depicting Melissa Rowland as irrational because they claim she suffered from mental illness, and immoral because she used drugs. In addition to the serious questions these comments raise about violations of patient's rights to medical privacy, it is clear that all adults, even those with mental disabilities, have a right to informed consent. If mental illness had truly been an issue, resorting to civil competency procedures not the criminal law was the proper thing to do. As for the allegations of drug use, Utah has as a matter of statutory law chosen to deal with issue of pregnancy and drug use through the public health and child welfare systems, not the criminal law. This decision comports with 48 other states and the unanimous recommendations of leading medical and child advocacy groups."

    Rachel Roth, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science and of women's studies in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, addressed the drive to create fetal rights that would override women's rights in her book, "Making Women Pay: The Hidden Costs of Fetal Rights," One of many cases she discussed included that of Ayesha Madyun, a nineteen-year-old college student, who "was pregnant with her first child. She was admitted to the District of Columbia General Hospital in the middle of the night, two days after her water broke. Predicting a 50 to 75 percent chance that the fetus would develop a potentially fatal infection if Madyun did not soon deliver, Dr. John Cummings recommended a cesarean. When Madyun refused to have the operation, the doctor sought and gained a court order to perform the operation over her objections. After the baby was delivered without signs of infection, the doctor did not seem troubled: 'You don't know that until it's done.'"

    Ayesha Madyun survived, and her baby was delivered without the feared infection. Angela Carder was not so fortunate.

    Angela Carder had suffered from cancer since the age of thirteen. During a period of remission when she was also 25 weeks pregnant, she learned that she was critically ill with lung cancer. She, her family (including her husband), and her doctors chose to prolong her life as long as possible. However, the hospital obtained a court-order to perform a c-section, which Carder did not want. Her doctors said the c-section could kill her. The court decided that the fetus had a right to live, and Carder was cut open. The fetus died in two and a half hours. Carder died two days later, with the c-section listed as a contributing factor to her death.

    The en banc opinion (made after Carder's death) noted the heavy investment political groups had in this case. Americans United for Life and the United States Catholic Conference wrote amici curiae supporting the hospital and the fetus (the fetus was given a legal guardian). NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, Concern for Dying, and the Society for the Right to Die provided amici curiae supporting Carder's decision.

    The argument in support of the c-section included an assumption that Carder was incompetent in part due to heavy sedation; "apparently incapable of making an informed decision regarding medical care for herself and her fetus." The court decided that "[w]e hold that in virtually all cases the question of what is to be done is to be decided by the patient -- the pregnant woman -- on behalf of herself and the fetus. If the patient is incompetent  [**4]  or otherwise unable to give an informed consent to a proposed course of medical treatment, then her decision must be ascertained through the procedure known as substituted judgment. Because the trial court did not follow that procedure, we vacate its order and remand the case for further proceedings." When doctors told her on June 15 that her condition was terminal, Carder had agreed to treatment designed to extend her life and maintain her own comfort until at least her 28th week of pregnancy, when it would be more likely that her fetus would survive if intervention was necessary. She knew that the treatment presented a risk to her fetus. That night, her condition grew still worse and she consented to intubation to help her breathe. There was no evidence that she had consented to or even contemplated a c-section before her 28th week of pregnancy.

    The next morning, the trial court ruled that at 26 1/2 weeks the fetus was viable. Counsel was appointed for both Carder and her fetus. The testimony resulted in the following (please note reliance on the decision to force Ayesha Madyun to undergo an unwanted c-section):

    "After hearing this testimony n4 and the arguments of counsel, the trial court made oral findings of fact. It found, first, that A.C. would probably die, according to uncontroverted medical testimony, "within the next twenty-four to forty-eight hours"; second, that A.C. was "pregnant with a twenty-six and a half week viable fetus who, based upon uncontroverted medical testimony, has approximately a fifty to sixty percent chance to survive if a caesarean section is performed as soon as possible"; third, that because the fetus was viable, "the state has [an] important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality  [**13]  of human life"; and fourth, that there had been some testimony that the operation "may very well hasten the death of [A.C.]," but that there had also been testimony that delay would greatly increase the risk to the fetus and that "the prognosis is not great for the fetus to be delivered post-mortem. . . ." Most significantly, the court found:

    The court is of the view that it does not clearly know what [A.C.'s] present views are with respect to the issue of whether or not the child should live or die. She's presently unconscious. As late as Friday of last week, she wanted the baby to live. As late as yesterday, she did not know for sure.
    Having made these findings of fact and conclusions of law, and expressly relying on In re Madyun, 114 Daily Wash. L. Rptr. 2233 (D.C. Super. Ct. July 26, 1986), n5 the court ordered that a caesarean section be performed to deliver A.C.'s child.

    Even after doctors had spoken to her after her sedation had worn off enough for her to regain consciousness, it was still unclear whether or not she had consented to the early c-section. Rather than abide by her previous wishes of waiting until her 28th week, if she reached it, the court again ordered that the c-section be performed.

    Her fetus died within two and one half hours. Carder died two days later, with the c-section listed as a contributing factor to her death.

    Here are several cases cited in Who Gets To Choose? Responses To The Foetal/Maternal Conflict, including the Carder case.

    "Jefferson v. Griffin Spalding Country Hospital Authority 1981:[13] In this case, Jessie Jefferson had placenta previa and was 39 weeks pregnant.  She refused to undergo surgery or blood transfusion, due to her religion.  The Supreme Court of Georgia ordered, based on its belief that there was a 99% chance that Ms. Jefferson's baby would not survive vaginal birth, that Ms. Jefferson submit to a caesarean section and blood transfusions, if necessary.  In the final analysis, Ms. Jefferson completely flouted the court order, did not return to hospital and gave birth vaginally to a totally healthy baby."

    Taft v. Taft, 1983:[14] In this matter, Mrs. Taft refused, on religious grounds, to undergo a surgical procedure which would enable her to continue her pregnancy rather that suffer a miscarriage.  The trial judge ordered that Mrs. Taft undergo surgery.  This was reversed on appeal - however, the judge in the appellate court stated that the court was able to override a woman's refusal of such an operation, but that such a decision was not required due to the specific facts of this case.

    In re AC, Appellant 1987:[15] This is a tragic case in which Angela C. was dying of cancer and was 26 weeks pregnant.  Despite being heavily sedated and only having moments of real lucidity, Angela had mouthed the words "I don't want it done" when asked whether she would agree to a caesarean section being performed in an attempt to save the baby.  Despite her wishes, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals permitted a caesarean section to be performed.  Her baby died immediately and Angela died two days after the operation.  In that matter, it was generally conceded that the operation had probably hastened Angela's death.

    From the same article:

    Discussing the development of these cases, John Robertson, a Professor of Law at the University of Texas, has suggested that the State has the right to pass laws prohibiting a pregnant woman's ability to drink alcohol, smoke, or take drugs.  Further, he believes that the State should have the ability to legally punish women who act in a way which may cause harm to the foetus, such as not taking necessary medication or refusing to undergo a therapeutic procedure to the foetus in utero.  Further, at the time of actual childbirth, he believes that if the mother's wish for vaginal delivery conflicts with the need to safeguard the foetus' health, the foetus' interests should prevail and the mother should be subjected to civil liability and criminal prosecution if the child is injured as a result of the mother's will prevailing.[16] Robertson apparently sees foetal rights as evolving after the woman makes her decision to forgo abortion.  Thus, he believes that, up to viability, a woman has the right to exercise her autonomy in the decision not to procreate, but having "crossed over" the viability threshold, she then sacrifices her liberty and autonomy to act in a manner which might affect the foetus in a negative way.  This is because, once viable, the foetus acquires the right, not only to be born but to have its mothers actions proscribed by the State in such a way as to ensure it (the foetus) is born as healthy as possible.  Robertson apparently believes that the State then has the right to step in to protect the foetus, presumably because the State has an interest in the foetus being born healthy.

    Tom Paine is one who believes that Robertson's line of thinking is detrimental to a woman's right to bodily integrity. He wrote, "Today both the law and medicine agree that coerced medical interventions on pregnant women are an abuse of medical and state authority and that while pregnant women do not always make the right decision, in America, it is the person on whom the surgery is to be performed who gets to decide. In spite of this, Utah prosecutors apparently think that a pregnant woman who exercises her constitutional and common-law right to refuse medical advice can be arrested for murder. This is not only a clear misuse of the law, it is dangerous to children and fundamentally dehumanizing to pregnant women and their families."

    Posted on March 17, 2004 at 12:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

    March 14, 2004

    More News About Melissa Rowland

    Melissa Rowland, who has been charged with killing one of her twins by refusing a caesarean section, has a prior conviction for child endangerment.

    According to The Guardian (U. K.), "The 2000 conviction of Melissa Rowland stemmed from a supermarket incident in which she punched her daughter several times in the face after the toddler picked up a candy bar and began eating it, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Witnesses said Rowland screamed, "You ate the candy bar and now I can't buy my cigarettes."

    "An Allegheny County, Pa., court sentenced Rowland to five years probation for simple assault, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child," sayd The Guardian. "Her daughter was turned over to a child-welfare agency."

    Prosecutors say that the twin who survived tested positive for cocaine and alcohol.

    While this case is garnering tons of coverage and inspiring outrage, the father who had murdered his nine children is not getting nearly the same amount of attention. Two of those children were children he had by two of his own daughters. Where is the outrage that matches the outrage over Melissa Rowland and Andrea Yates?

    Be prepared for the Rowland case to be used as heavy artillary to turn back a woman's ability to control her own reproductive health.

    Posted on March 14, 2004 at 12:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

    Combined Emergency Contraceptive Pills

    Update: More about women's right vs. "rights" of the fetus at the following posts. Info includes updates and commentary about Melissa Rowland as well as cases similar to Rowlands. Rowland is the latest in a drive to establish rights for fetuses that will override a woman's right to decide what kind of medical procedures she will permit to be done to her body.

    Melissa Rowland Redux - A Woman's Right To Bodily Integrity

    More News About Melissa Rowland


    Today is my birthday. I don't plan to do much blogging today, but I wanted to give a birthday present to all of the women out there.

    Numerous bloggers, including Jeanne at Body & Soul, The Fulcrum, Lean Left, Nathan Newman, feministe, Dru Blood, Echidne, Talk Left, and Ampersand at Alas, A Blog have written about Melissa Rowland, the pregnant woman who had refused a caesarean section, and now is charged with murdering one of her twins. The press has chosen to portray her as a selfish, shallow, and vain woman who doesn't want a scar marring her body, even though this woman has already had two c-sections. Ms. Rowland's lawyer has said that she suffers from mental illness. Ms. Rowland herself said that the doctors were going to cut her "from breast bone to pubic bone."

    This doesn't sound like vanity to me. It sounds like the woman is frightened. If the doctors used that language to describe how they were going to cut her, it's no wonder she might have been terrified.

    This case is one of many being used to weaken a woman's right to choose. I do not think that it is an accident that late-term fetal deaths and abortions are the centerpieces in these cases. "Partial birth" abortion cases get the limelight primarily due to the anti-choice penchant for depicting these cases as being about callous, selfish, and vain women murdering their nearly-born babies out of convenience. The last thing those cases were about was the woman's convenience. I sat in late last year on hearings about bills in Massachusetts, one of which was a "partial birth" abortion bill. I provided written testimony. "Partial birth" is anti-choice rhetoric. The medical term for the procedure is intact dilation and extraction (D&X), but no one will remember such a dry term. "Partial birth" abortion has much more alarmist appeal, and it sticks in your mind like tar.

    Publicity hound Norma McCorvey has basked in anti-choice celebrity she had never felt while being the anonymous number one symbol for choice. She has succeeded in making sure Roe is heard again, and she hopes to overturn it. The House has passed the "unborn victims of violence" act, which seeks to give legal personhood status to fetuses that would override the personhood of the mother. This act turns women into incubators.

    University of Michigan has been ordered to turn over some of its abortion records, which is a gross violation of women's privacy. Not surprisingly, those records related to late term abortions. John Ashcroft has also demanded abortion records related to late-term abortions. Demanding these records gives more fodder to those who want to use the "partial birth" abortion scare and disgust tactics to turn public and legal opinion away from all abortions.

    The recently-released records of late Supreme Court justice Harry Blackmun revealed that the Supremes nearly overturned Roe in 1992. The Feminist Majority reported that "Blackmun's papers revealed, however, that unknown to the court's three anti-Roe justices, three Republican-appointed centrist justices, including Blackmun, Sandra Day O'Connor and David Souter, worked together in secret to preserve Roe, successfully persuading "an anguished Justice Anthony M. Kennedy to abandon the Rehnquist majority in Planned Parenthood v. Casey."

    I fear that abortion will again become illegal in my lifetime.

    It's about time women learned how to use emergency contraception.

    In light of the huge backlash against a woman's right to decide when and if she will bear children, I decided it was a good time to dig this information out of my archive and post it here. Please feel free to spread this information far and wide.

    According to the Emergency Contraception Website, "both the contraceptives approved by the FDA for emergency contraception and those used for ordinary birth control can legally be used for emergency contraception. Any clinician authorized to provide prescriptions may prescribe an approved drug for an unlabeled purpose; the most common example is prescribing oral contraceptives to regulate menstrual periods, or to reduce menstrual cramps. The FDA has explicitly declared ECPs to be safe and effective. If widely used, emergency contraceptives could substantially reduce unintended pregnancy and the need for induced abortion."

    Using birth control pills in this manner eliminates the middle man. A woman may take these pills in the privacy of her own home, thereby placing her out of the range of the picketers and the men with hard-ons for a woman's private medical records. She of course should keep in touch with her physician. Despite the ability for pills to be used in this manner, most women and most clinicians don't know about it. It wasn't until recently that pharmaceutical companies even marketed or advertised about emergency contraception. I suspect that emergency contraception and the privacy it gives women may be one big reason that those who are against abortion are also against the use of birth control pills. Some of them know that the pills may be used as abortifacients, and they don't like it.

    That's why I'm posting the information here for women to read and use when necessary.

    Here is the link to Princeton's Emergency Contraception Page. It includes a directory of providers and a FAQ.

    Here are instructions for using progestin-only emergency contraception pills.

    Reproduced here in full are instructions for using combined emergency contraception pills

    Instructions for Using Combined Emergency Contraceptive Pills

    There are several choices for combined ECPs listed below. You need to take only one type of pill, not all of them. For example, if you use Ovral, you do not need Nordette. If you are getting your ECPs from a regular pack of birth control pills containing 28 pills (one for every day), remember that the last seven pills do not contain any hormones. In a 28-pill pack of Ovral, Ogestrel, Alesse, Levlite, Lo/Ovral, Low-Ogestrel, Nordette, Levlen, or Levora, any of the first 21 pills can be used as ECPs. If you are using Triphasil or Tri-Levlen, the first 21 pills have three different colors, but only the yellow pills can be used as ECPs. If you are using Trivora, the first 21 pills have three different colors, but only the pink pills can be used as ECPs.


    Brand of Pill
    Click on brand names to see illustration of pills.

    * Preven (blue pills)
    * Swallow 2 pills as soon as possible
    * Swallow 2 more pills 12 hours later

    * Ovral (white pills only), Ogestrel (white pills only)
    * Swallow 2 pills as soon as possible
    * Swallow 2 more pills 12 hours later

    * Lo/Ovral (white pills only), Low-Ogestrel (white pills only), Nordette (light-orange pills only), Levlen (light-orange pills only), Levora (white pills only), Triphasil (yellow pills only), Tri-Levlen (yellow pills only), or Trivora (pink pills only)

    * Swallow 4 pills as soon as possible

    * Swallow 4 more pills 12 hours later

    * Alesse (pink pills only), Aviane (orange pills only), Levlite (pink pills only)
    * Swallow 5 pills as soon as possible
    * Swallow 5 more pills 12 hours later


    1. Swallow the first dose as soon as possible. ECPs are more effective the sooner after unprotected sex they are started.

    2. Take the second dose 12 hours later. It is not even known what is the optimal timing between doses, much less whether the second dose is even necessary. All research on the efficacy of emergency contraceptive pills has used the 12 hour time frame, but it may not need to be so rigid. Taking the second dose a little early or late (+/- two hours, for example) will probably not make a difference in how effective the pills are, but we really do not know for sure.

    Do not swallow any extra ECPs. More pills will probably not decrease the risk of pregnancy any further. More pills will increase the risk of nausea and vomiting.

    If you have nausea, it is usually mild and should stop in a day or so. If you vomit within one hour after taking a dose, call your clinician. You may need to repeat a dose. You may need some anti-nausea medicine.

    Watch for pill danger signals for the next couple of weeks. See your clinician at once if you have:

    * severe pain in your leg (calf or thigh)
    * severe abdominal pain
    * chest pain or cough or shortness of breath
    * severe headaches, dizziness, weakness, or numbness
    * blurred vision, loss of vision, or trouble speaking
    * jaundice (yellowish discoloration of the whites of the eyes, skin, and mucus membranes)

    7. Your next period may start a few days earlier or later than usual. If your period doesn't start within three weeks, see your clinician for an exam and pregnancy test. If you think that you may be pregnant, see your clinician at once, whether or not you plan to continue the pregnancy. ECPs may not prevent an ectopic pregnancy (in the tubes or abdomen). Ectopic pregnancy is a medical emergency.

    8. Get started as soon as you possibly can with a method of birth control you will be able to use every time you have sex. ECPs are meant for one-time, emergency protection. ECPs are not as effective as other forms of birth control. If you want to resume use of birth control pills after taking ECPs, consult your clinician. Protect yourself from AIDS and other sexual infections as well as pregnancy. Use condoms every time you have sex if you think you may be at risk.

    Preven has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use for emergency contraception. Ovral, Lo/Ovral, Ogestrel, Low-Ogestrel, Nordette, Aviane, Levlen, Levlite, Triphasil, Tri-Levlen, Levora, Trivora and Alesse have been approved by the FDA as regular birth control pills. These products have not been submitted to the FDA for use as ECPs, but clinical research studies have shown that ECPs are safe and effective. The FDA has explicitly declared all brands of birth control pills listed above to be safe and effective for use as emergency contraceptives.

    The accompanying table has more details about the brands of oral contraceptives that can be used as emergency contraception in the United States.

    Doses of the brands of oral contraceptives that can be used for emergency contraception.


    If you have questions about emergency contraception, please visit our page on frequently asked questions.

    Posted on March 14, 2004 at 07:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

    March 05, 2004

    About Those American Feminists Who Don't Care About Women's Rights in the Middle East...

    It's a lie. Someone should remind Nicholas Kristof.

    "The U.S. government hasn't done enough to promote women's rights in Iraq and Afghanistan, three women's organizations said Thursday.

    The criticism came as the Feminist Majority, the Women's Environment and Development Organization, and the Center for Health and Gender Equality released their Global Women's Issues Scorecard."

    Posted on March 5, 2004 at 10:41 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    February 25, 2004

    Cruising Around The Blogosphere

    Lauren at feministe, Echidne, and Elayne Riggs gave some nuanced thought into the type of vitriol poured upon a woman if she admits that she is a feminist. Feminists get blamed for everything under the sun, from juvenile crime to rising rates of male depression. I wouldn't be surprised if the "secret report" stating that "major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020" somehow found a way to blame feminism for global warming. [Kevin's post has absolutely nothing to do with feminism, but it was so bizarre I decided to find any excuse to link to it.] Feminists are even blamed for not doing things that they in fact have been doing all along, such as working to help women in Iraq and Afghanistan and bringing more attention to obstetric fistulas.

    BlogAmy and Norbizness provided two well-known quotes that get to the heart of the difficulties some feminists have had with owning the title. Amy cited Rebecca West's famous quote,"I have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiates me from a doormat." Sometime last week Norbizness provided an equally famous quote from Simone de Beauvoir: "Man is defined as a human being and woman as a female - whenever she behaves as a human being she is said to imitate the male."

    Posted on February 25, 2004 at 03:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

    February 20, 2004

    More Attacks On Women's Right To Choose

    Attacks against a woman's right to choose how she will handle her own reproduction are at a high. The South Dakota House of Representatives voted on February 17, 2004 to ban almost all abortions in the state. The house bill would make it a felony for anybody to perform an abortion unless it is to save the life of the mother. The House overwhelmingly rejected a series of amendments, including the following:

  • A provision to require hospitals to counsel rape victims about and provide them with emergency contraception, sponsored by Rep. Casey Murschel, R-Sioux Falls.

  • A provision to allow abortion in the event of "serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of major bodily function" of the mother, sponsored by Rep. Stan Adelstein, R-Rapid City.

  • A provision to allow abortion in the case of a severely deformed baby unlikely to survive after birth, sponsored by Adelstein.

  • A rewritten bill based on existing court decisions that would have allowed abortion through the 19th week of pregnancy, sponsored by Rep. Mel Olson, D-Mitchell.

  • A bill to add a $1 million appropriation, the amount legislative staffers estimate it will cost if the state loses a court challenge, sponsored by Rep. Ben Nesselhuf, D-Vermillion.

  • A New Orleans court will soon hear a case that will reopen Roe v. Wade. The case revolves around media whore Norma McCorvey, the "Roe" in Roe v. Wade, who has for the past decade become a darling of the anti-choice forces, who have given her more publicity and media attention than the pro-choice movement has given her. McCorvey has based her lawsuit on junk science claiming that abortions are psychologically harmful to women. The court will hear her arguments on March 2.

    Posted on February 20, 2004 at 08:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

    I've Been Published Again

    The third and final part of my article about the Braver move-away study has been published by Domestic Violence Report. It's in Vol. 9, No. 3, the February/March 2004 issue.

    I am also happy to announce that my "off our backs" article has finally come out. It's in the January/February 2004 issue. My article is entitled "Discredited Junk Science Justifies Custody of Fathers." This is the first time I have ever been published in "off our backs." It's an honor, considering oob is the oldest feminist magazine in the U. S. It's about 30 years old.

    Today I hand in my article about fathers' rights angry reactions to the publication of the report related to Australia's Family Court. This report rejected the presumptive joint custody the father's rights activists had been banking on, which resulted in the letting loose of a lot of invective and other negative behavior on their part. I understand that the proposed tribunal, which would replace the existing Family Court, may be rejected. That is still up in the air. My article, if accepted (most likely it will be), should come out around summertime.

    Posted on February 20, 2004 at 04:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

    February 19, 2004

    An Interesting Update About AWOL Mom

    Remember Simone Holcomb, the AWOL mom who chose to stay behind to raise her children rather than return to duty in Iraq? She would have lost custody of two of her children if she had returned to Iraq?

    The problem was that she was really the step-mother of two of those seven children. She helped her husband win custody in a three year contested custody case. I wrote at length about this in an earlier post.

    Well.... I recently was contacted by bio-mom, Debbi Piland. Here is the first e-mail I had received from her. She sent me several.

    I just ran across your article while trying to pull up all the articlessimone badmouthed me in the media. My name is Debbi Piland (Just got married in november) and I am the biological mother of dustin and taylor holcomb. Your article was pretty accurate. Simone filed paperwork in her handwriting to take my kids away right after they got married. Simone has 2 felonies in the state of Idaho for forgery..Vaughn has a record for mild abuse for beating my daughter last year...The parenting coordinator said that I lost custody because I was too poor to afford a lawyer.Now the newest twist is that vaughn and simone want to move to tennessee to take my kids away from me. But if the state of colorado will acutally let them remains to be seen. I never filed paperwork to get custody while simone and vaughn was gone. she had to make up some lie to justify her going AWOL. and no one looked into it. She is just a coward and she said in court that she wasnt going back no matter what. The judge NEVER ordered her to stay..Vaughn got 4,200 from the army the whole time he was gone and didnt pay me one cent of child support. Vaughns mother had VISITATION 2 x a week, not custody... The whole thing was a fabrication to make a very disturbed woman look like a hero. I'm glad that you could see through her....
    Debbi Piland

    Piland directed me to an interesting article that did not get much attention from the media. Piland and her ex-husband had joint custody. They agreed "in August 2002 he would get custody of the children except for three weekends a month and four weeks in the summer, when Piland would have custody."

    This is yet another case that shows that joint custody doesn't work.

    An important point brought out in this article is that Judge David Miller - a retired air force lawyer - " did not order Simone Holcomb to defy the Army's deployment orders or risk losing custody, as some media accounts have suggested."

    So Simone Holcomb had been lying to the press that she risked losing custody if she returned to Iraq. Miller gave Simone Holcomb (and her husband, the children's father) custody to "stabilize the children."

    Per my previous post, the children have certainly not been stablized. One of them threw temper tantrums at school. The older son was getting poor grades in school. They wrote letters saying "Please don't die". They are having nightmares and they are wetting the bed. Did you know that the 11 year old told a teacher that "my family is falling apart?" Simone Holcomb said they were "acting out."

    Of course they were. They were caught in the middle of an ugly custody battle started by Simone and Vaughn Holcomb. The Holcombs had been married for only three years. The custody battle lasted three years. That battle took up most of their married life.

    There are other details about this case that I will post about as soon as I obtain the relevant paperwork. Apparently, Piland and Vaughn Holcomb still have joint custody. I also don't think it's out of the court room yet.

    Posted on February 19, 2004 at 06:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

    January 17, 2004

    More Publishing News

    I have just received word that "off our backs" will be publishing my article about the use of specious medical syndromes against women in custody cases in the Jan/Feb '04 issue. One "syndrome" I discuss at length is Parental Alienation Syndrome. I also discuss the new crop of therapeutic "experts" who have financially benefited from the cottage industries that have grown from court-ordered representation, mediation, and evaluations. There is money to be made, and it doesn't help mothers, children, or fathers very much.

    When the article is definitely out, I'll post here. I've also asked OOB if it is interested in an article about Bush's proposed marriage initiatives. I haven't written about them on my blog since Bush made his big announcement. It's not like I've never mentioned them before. They've been in the works since 1996, back when they "only" affected poor single and divorced custodial moms. You know -- those people no one really cares about. But now, that the marriage initiatives may affect gay marriage .... don't get me started.

    Posted on January 17, 2004 at 05:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (8)

    January 12, 2004

    Women Don't "Choose" To Avoid Science and Tech Fields

    A new report showing how women are vastly underrepresented in academia disproves a persistent claim that women choose to not work or study in technically complicated fields. The report found that "only between 3 percent and 15 percent of full professors at top engineering and science departments are women, although the percentage of women attaining doctorates during the last 20 years is substantially higher."

    This is not because women have chosen to avoid these fields, therefore leaving a dearth of qualified female applicants for top positions.

    At the top 50 universities for electrical engineering, [Dr. Donna Nelson, the author of the study and a chemistry professor at the Norman campus of the University of Oklahoma] counted the number of women and minority members among the roster of professors, associate professors and assistant professors from the year 2002. She found only 6.5 percent of electrical-engineering faculties was female. During the same time period, she found only 6.6 percent of faculty at the top 50 physics departments was female. Women's representation in mechanical-engineering departments during the same time period was barely better at 6.7 percent.

    Top-ranked departments in disciplines such as political science, biology and psychology scored much higher in 2002. But even in sociology--the best-of-the-best in terms of female representation--on average, only 35.8 percent of the faculty was female.

    Nelson and her co-author, Diana C. Rogers, also from the University of Oklahoma, say their results debunk a persistent theory about women's absence from top scientific research posts. The lack of female faculty members at top universities is often chalked up to too few women having doctorates to allow the university faculty to become between 15 percent to 30 percent female. (Similar arguments are made about the lack of minority men.) After surveying the top 50 universities for each of 13 specific disciplines, however, Nelson found an adequate supply of women with doctorates for most disciplines in the past 20 years.

    Women have also complained of "lower pay then men and a lack of promotion and recognition. In addition to the inadequate doctorate pipeline, arguments justifying the lack of diversity in science faculty have also included high attrition rates among women, poor work atmosphere for women and women's personal lifestyle choices."

    It isn't true that few women study science and technology. The women are there. They are more than adequate. They are not being hired and promoted. They are being passed over in favor of men.

    Posted on January 12, 2004 at 06:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

    January 09, 2004

    Ironic Comments by Martha Burk

    Ampersand linked to some comments by Amy Phillips and Sara at Diotima about a Washington Post interview with feminist Martha Burk.

    Burk said this: "I think it's a little bit sad that some women are not aware of what the women's movement in general does for them, and some of the ways they're experiencing discrimination. They've become so used to it that they don't even notice it anymore. It's my job to make them notice."

    Amy had written to Burk, stating "How are women supposed to trust their instincts and assert themselves when women like you are telling them that the world is a scary place where people are out to get them, and that if they don't feel persecuted, they should believe you and not their own experiences of the world? "

    She mentioned that in writing her letter, she hoped to express her opinion that Burk "doesn't speak for me, and that I'd feel much less oppressed if she'd shut up and let me speak for myself."

    I agree with her, albeit from a slightly different point of view. I see us here as occupying two different facets of the same diamond.

    I think it's a little bit ironic that Burk would make such a statement because she is ignorant of the discrimination mothers face in contested custody cases. In the Nov./Dec. 2000 issue of Ms. Magazine, Burk expressed support for presumptive joint custody. Even though I believe she had some some great work for women over the years, she is completely off base when it comes to joint custody, motherhood, custody cases, child-rearing, and the fathers' rights movement.

    She wrote in that issue that joint custody should be mandatory because she believes (wrongly) that if more fathers were forced to share the responsibility of raising children with the mothers that it would be easier for mothers to achieve better economic stability after divorce.

    While Amy feels that Burk is telling women who don't feel oppressed that they shouldn't trust their own feelings, I feel that Burk is belittling the feelings and experiences of the many mothers and colleagues I have met, telling them what they "should" feel and "should" do - such as they "should" encourage presumptive joint physical custody because Burk is of the mistaken opinion that it will "force" fathers to parent. It won't.

    Sara, while agreeing with some of Amy's points, disagreed with her about the personal experience point. Sara described how the feminist practice of "telling the personal experience as political fact" has been a monkey wrench in some feminist activism. She is absolutely right that "if one allowed the truth about women to be defined merely by adding up women's subjective experiences, you could never make any judgments about when things are bad for women." I have run into this problem numerous times in my own line of work. I've seen scorching cases of cognitive dissonance when talking to women divorced from disinterested or abusive fathers. These women bend over backwards and turn their lives upside-down in order to "force" him to "do right by his children." I've seen a few who had even considered a joint physical custody arrangement because they had hoped it would inspire him to parent properly. The results are disastrous for them and the kids. Burk's recommendation fails miserably.

    The ultimate dilemma is watching a second wife support her noncustodial dad husband to the ends of the earth and back against his "ex-bitch." She fills out his paperwork for him. Finds online fathers' rights groups for him. Finds him a lawyer. Sometimes she actually helps him win custody. Then... the rug is pulled out from under her if she ends up getting divorced. These women, who fought so hard for their men, lose custody of the children they had with him because his new girlfriend or wife fills out his paperwork, finds online fathers' rights groups for him, finds him a lawyer....

    It's alarming to see all the warnings in the world fall on deaf ears.

    The Ms. article is not available online, but Burk expressed sentiments similar to her Ms. article in a Feminist Majority News Wire article in September, 2000.

    She wondered why feminists were so silent about Elian Gonzalez. She asked "Why weren't we more vocal in our support of the father? To use one of our own techniques, turn the situation around. If Elián's mother were left in Cuba fighting for her son after the father had taken him out of the country, we'd be screaming from the rooftops."

    Burk, like so many others who publicized Elian's ordeal, was incorrect in claiming that this was a child custody case. It was an immigration case, not child custody. The boy belonged with his father. Fathers' rights activists had ridden the coat-tails of that case because of the publicity they would get for their own agenda. A few were able to successfully gain extra publicity, but most were not.

    More importantly, Burk is very wrong in claiming that feminists would have "screamed from the rooftops" about similar cases in which mothers have fought for their children after the fathers had spirited them out of the country. There were no feminist protests supporting Margaret Keane and Maureen Dabbagh. Feminists did not believe that these international custody cases involving mothers were as important as ... say ... whether nor not women are permitted to play at male-only golf clubs.

    Motherhood has long been on the feminist back burner. I am one feminist who has made lots out angry noise about that fact for nearly a decade. The two big-name feminist groups that have the power, connections, and ability to tackle the damage the fathers' rights movement does to women and children does not give the issue much more than lip service. There have been no feminist rallies for mothers on the scale of pro-choice or gay marriage protests and rallies. In fact, there have been no feminist rallies for moms at all. The Million Mom March protesting in favor of gun control was not a feminist event.

    The feminist movement has long been criticized for ignoring the needs of mothers, and this is one criticism with which I am in agreement. The last thing I want to see is a "name" feminist touting misperceptions about child custody, divorce, and motherhood on the Feminist Majority web site, but that is exactly what Burk had done in these statements:

    "In fact, it's all the more reason for feminists to try to erase the sexism against men found in family courts. Too often judges hand out visitation agreements that don't work for fathers, and we look the other way when the father is denied time with the kids or the mother moves them far away, effectively ending contact. But we're first off the block when that same father misses a child-support payment. Is it any wonder that some men join militant fathers' rights groups whose purpose is to bash feminists and duck child support?"

    The NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund is trying to shape ill-conceived fatherhood initiatives into something positive for women, as well as men. Promoting marriage as a cure-all—as these initiatives do—is just as wrongheaded as a belief in mother ownership, which is not only antifeminist but harmful to the cause of women's equality. Until feminist groups and fathers' rights groups reach an understanding, women, men, and children all will be the losers."

    Where on earth did she come up with this? The few feminists that work on motherhood issues do not believe in "mother ownership." Recognizing which parent had undertaken the primary hands-on responsibility for raising the child is not promoting "mother ownership." Feminists aren't "the first ones off the block" when fathers miss a child support payment -- the states are, thanks to the decidedly non-feminist welfare reform. The custody dilemma for fathers is not the reverse of discrimination against women in employment situations. There are little third parties whose lives are at stake -- something with which Burk, being childless, has had no experience.

    What are Burk's sources for her statements about visitation? Everyone needs to adapt to visitation schedules, not only fathers. Plus, since 90% divorces are settled out of court, most judges do not hand out visitation agreements. Most parents decide on their own how visitation will be scheduled. Burk has obviously never heard of the "friendly parent" and "alienation" concepts, which tend to favor fathers when courts believe the mother is not "cooperating" in facilitating the father-child relationship. She may be accused of "alienating" him from his children, and risks losing custody of them regardless of the validity of her concerns. When a father is denied his kids, why does that happen? While sometimes it is trut that the mother is a vindictive bitch who is trying to get one over on her hated ex, that is not always the case. Sometimes she is trying to protect her children from abuse. Sometimes the children are sick and should not be transported from house to house. Sometimes the children have other activities scheduled for those particular evenings, especially if they are teenagers. Finally, Burk should read all the available articles about the LaMusga moveaway case and the specious Braver moveaway study before she claims that mothers who move with the children, "effectively end contact" with their father. She has made many baseless assumptions about mothers and childrearing.

    While there are many issues that feminists may work on even though the individual woman has not personally experienced the issue, in my opinion, the motherhood issue is not one of them. Unless you have adopted, given birth, and raised a child of your own, I do not believe a woman has a clue what is entailed in the motherhood role and all of the sacrifices, responsibilities, and (yes) discrimination that goes along with it. Unless you've "been there," I believe it is difficult to wrap your head around it.

    Some of my colleagues have written to her to try to explain why she is so mistaken in her belief that presumptive joint physical custody would force fathers to care for the children, thereby freeing up mothers to achieve more economic stability. She rejected the truth, preferring to continue to voice her misguided beliefs about "mother ownership" and allegedly rampant bias against fathers in court.

    Posted on January 9, 2004 at 04:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

    January 04, 2004

    Chutzpah Alert! More Self-Serving "Research"

    Oh my God, I thought the "research" about parental relocations with the children following divorce was politically motivated and self-serving! I can't believe the cheek of the "researchers" who came up with this crap.

    Remember that recent trend, that Japanese women are rejecting marriage and child-bearing? Japanese women were protesting their second-class status and dreadful treatment when it comes to marriage. As I had written in the second of two previous blog posts, Japanese wives are expected to shoulder the household chores, wait on their husbands (including peeling his apples for him), and raise the kids. Japanese men poo-pooed their complaints, calling them "the twittering of birds."

    Well, get a load of this:

    Researchers at the Tsukuba-based National Food Research Institute said the complicated actions of controlling a dangerous knife while moving the apple stimulates the prefrontal cortex.

    "It's impossible to immediately conclude that if you peel apples, it will improve your brain's functions. However, you should peel fruits and vegetables rather than buying already peeled ones, and cook food rather than buying cooked food so as to better use your brains," Ippeita Dan, one of the researchers, said. [via Joe at Intl-News]


    Posted on January 4, 2004 at 09:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

    December 15, 2003

    New Issue of Expository Magazine

    It's a good one, as usual. Get yourself something nice and warm to drink, and head on over.

    Posted on December 15, 2003 at 04:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    December 14, 2003

    Heroin Chic, Part II

    Part 1 of this subject is here.

    While reading the comments at Feministe, I remembered another actress defined by Hollywood as fat who isn't fat -- Kate Winslet. While filming "Titanic," director James Cameron referred to her with the slur "Kate Weighs-a-Lot."

    Within seconds of running a Google search, I found "before and after" shots of Winslet. Each photo includes a link to the original web site. I think she looks better on the left, despite the dress that looks like a shower curtain.

    Any woman, regardless of her age, who doesn't have the body of a prepubescent boy is considered fat by American standards. The Hollywood/fashion magazine/modeling industry "ideal" woman is too thin.

    Update: Celine Dion as Skeletor. [via One-Gal.]

    Posted on December 14, 2003 at 09:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

    December 13, 2003

    So Much Better Than Heroin Chic

    Ms. Lauren at Feministe linked to Stereogum's two photos of Renee Zellweger, asking which one looks better? [Also at iBlog.] On the left, Zellweger is a size 14. On the right, she's a size 6. Like everyone else who responded so far, I think she looks far better (and healthier and happier) in the photo on the left. Ms. Lauren is amazed that all the extra weight some women gain goes to their breasts. Here are the pictures. Decide for yourself.

    Elle Macpherson was in one of my favorite movies, "Sirens." The picture on the left is from "Sirens." The one on the right is a modeling shot. I think she's about a size 6 on the right. Maybe a 14 on the left. It's a little hard to get the full impact because I had to clip the photo on the left to avoid nudity on my blog. It's better to click on the link in the photo to see the entire picture. There are several pix of the nude scenes from "Sirens" on that site. I tried to find good shots of her clothed, but I couldn't, and I don't want to take too much time looking. Heck, just go rent the movie and see for yourself.

    There are links on both pictures to their original web pages.

    elle.jpg elle3.jpg

    I knew Elle Macpherson was a model but I had never seen her before watching "Sirens." She and every other woman in this movie looked like they had stepped into a Dante Gabriel Rosetti painting. Macpherson had gained more than twenty pounds to play Sheela in this movie. Out of curiousity, after seeing the movie I tracked down some of her modeling pictures. I was disappointed. I thought she looked so much better in "Sirens." She looked great in her modeling shots, but I thought she was too thin.

    Kim du Toit, of the recent "pussification" crap, has a great ongoing series on his blog of women of yesteryear (or who have the aura of yesteryear) he gives the groan-inducing name "Sunday Skin". Nothing else on his blog interests me, but that series is great. He uploaded pix of some of my favorite actresses, including Catherine Deneuve, Veronica Lake, Ida Lupino (He didn't mention that she was a director as well as an actress), Rita Hayworth, Sophia Loren, Helena Bonham Carter, Gretta Scacchi. Helen Mirren, and Katherine Hepburn. While I probably agree with nearly nothing he says and I'm sure he'd feel the same about me, I agree with him that today's preferred stick-women do not hold a candle to women with some meat on their bones.

    Posted on December 13, 2003 at 03:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

    December 09, 2003

    Japanese Women Balk at Marriage and Childrearing - Part II

    I found that Foreign Policy article about Japanese women on the Family Scholar's blog over a week ago while I was slogging through the worst of this cold/flu/creeping crud that I still have not completely shaken off. David Blankenhorn posted it.

    The article described the growing dissatisfaction Japanese women have about their second-class status and dreadful treatment when it comes to marriage -- dissatisfaction so pronounced that many of them have chosen to forgo marriage and childbearing. Japanese wives are expected to shoulder the household chores, wait on their husbands (including peeling his apples for him), and raise the kids. Japanese men poo-pooed their complaints, calling them "the twittering of birds."

    There are many American women who hear of these complaints and think "Hmmm mmm. I can relate." American women have postponed marriage and childbearing for years for similar reasons of dissatisfaction. They have also postponed jumping onto the "traditional" family bandwagon because they wish to first graduate from college, establish a career, and have a decent salary under their belts before going the family way. With more societal rights and economic independence, more married American women have the ability to leave unsatisfactory, dead, and abusive marriages. Women file the majority of divorces these days, and one reason they do so is because they can. These trends concern the pro-marriage crowd (including David Blankenhorn and fellow Family Scholar's blog participants Elizabeth Marquardt and Tom Sylvester) and our White House, so we are stuck with social experiments in marriage promotion on the people who have the least ability to protest -- poor mothers, children, and fathers. The drive to "preserve marriage" and to "stop divorce" by the pro-marriage and fathers' rights crowds is really about finding ways to enforce a particular family form (namely, the heterosexual, male-headed, "traditional" two-parent family of man, woman, and their biological or adopted offspring) onto people who do not fit the so-called "norm," such as gay people, single moms, and divorced moms. Another purpose of this drive is to prevent women from divorcing their husbands. All the talk of marriage promotion, divorce prevention, single and divorced mom bashing, disallowing gay marriage, and the horror stories about the effects of so-called "fatherlessness" on children is about preserving the "traditional" heterosexual, two-parent household - with the man in charge as head of that household. That important point - the straight man's leading role as head of the family - is often overlooked in blogosphere and other discussions I've seen about gay marriage.

    The changing trends in American marriage and divorce make for an entirely new blog post. There is far too much to delve into now, and it would take me off on a tangent I don't want to follow at the moment. While I enjoyed the entire Foreign Policy article, this portion caught my attention:

    [Author Yoko] Haruka, a witty, 30-something essayist and television personality from Osaka, describes with clarity and biting humor the exasperation of Japanese womanhood in two recent books—collections of eminently readable essays called Kekkon Shimasen! (I Won’t Get Married!) and Hybrid Woman .

    Haruka begins I Won’t Get Married! by describing her treatment at her own father’s funeral: She was told to sit and to walk behind her five brothers—younger as well as older—and made to understand that she wasn’t wanted on the receiving line to greet relatives and family friends.

    Haruka warmly admires her sister-in-law, who must put up with endless verbal abuse from her eldest brother, and her mother, who lives with them. The sister-in-law manages to smile self-effacingly even as she scurries to provide for their material needs, right down to putting a cold beer in her husband’s hand as he steps out of his nightly bath. Haruka is exasperated by a favorite aunt who talks about her search for an "ordinary woman: to be her daughter-in-law. What the aunt means is a woman who will gladly make do with the 200,000 yen (less than $1,800) a month her son brings home, and who has no aspirations of her own.

    Shortly before finding this article, I read a plea from an Indian wife who was at her wit's end dealing with her husband's family. She had been married for six years. Two years ago, her brother-in-law moved in . Her in-laws "visited" for six months last year. Compare what she wrote to Haruka's comments.

    My mother in law was a disaster. She would constantly degrade me, try to separate me from my son, and make all sort of bizarre allegations. For her, only she was the best at everything. She would tell me that her family would eat no less that 5 dishes at any one time. Her food was being provided courtesy of my husband paycheck, no less. She was an aloof, manipulative, and user of people's money. She brainwashed my husband, and make sure he was on her side.

    My husband and I are amicable 2 days out of the month now, the other 28/29 days we fight. Mostly about his brother, who is lazy, doesn't pay any bills, doesn't like working as a shoe stock person, doesn't EVER cook or clean up the house, his room smells like crap...etc. etc. After the blackout this past summer, I came home exhausted, my sisters were with me and we all started cooking, my brother-in-law sat in the living room reading the paper. Is that annoying or what? He does that often, just stays in his room, until food is ready. I don't want to be the "bitch" so I don't say anything. I wait for my husband to do it (which RARELY happens). My b-i-l also goes to school part-time, so that is his contribution to society. Plagiarism rarely crosses his mind. He is also very defensive if I ever tell him he did something wrong. He doesn't get it that people in this country respect their privacy. People in this country work hard. I held a full-time job and went to school full-time, and would come home and help my mom cook and clean. All my brother-in-law knows his how to sleep, eat, and smoke. He is a male chauvinist. It is disgusting and very unfair.

    In Indian culture, the eldest son (this woman's husband) is traditionally responsible for supporting his family. As always in these cases, the brunt of the work falls on the women. I have learned that this sort of abyssmal treatment of wives is not unusual in Indian and Asian cultures. The Domestic Violence Hotline will refer South and South East Asian women in these situations to services that will help them. The Hotline also provides free translators for up to 150 languages. I had e-mailed David Blankenhorn about all of this when I first read the article, and he was kind enough to post an excerpt of my mail on the Family Scholar's blog.

    Posted on December 9, 2003 at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)

    Japanese Women Balk at Marriage and Childrearing

    An article in Foreign Policy magazine discussed the effect of the population crisis on Japan. Laura on her blog Apt. 11D wrote that "Japan's reproduction rate is 1.32. The consequence for the economy -- falling production, plunging land values, and soaring taxes." (Blogger's fucked again. Scroll down to "A World Without Children.")

    Why is Japan's population dropping? Because Japanese women are choosing to not marry and to not have kids. In Laura's accurate assessment, "being a wife in Japan sucks. Men expect their wives to be mindless servatns who fetch him a beer after his bath, peel him an apple, or keep the house spotless. They have little stature within the family." She believes the impact of the lower population rates will be that Japan will have to overhaul its entire tax and pension system. Currently, "they are trying to limit their tax burden to 50% of total income. With the low supply of workers, taxes threaten to go up to 60% to fund pension and health programs for the elderly."

    She ends with this quip: "Of course, some jerks in government are suggesting that women who haven't had kids should not be eligible for gov't benefits, since they've been off having freedom and fun rather than making babies."

    Funny, that's similar to comments made by American jerks about stay-at-home moms, mothers who need public assistance, and moms who work part-time or who have much lower incomes due to the responsibility they've undertaken in raising children. These jerks say these moms shouldn't be eligible for gov't benefits because they haven't contributed to society. They deserve little or no help from the government, especially when it comes to social security, because they haven't earned income outside the home that would enable them to get a higher social security check when they retire. After all, they were "having freedom and fun" making babies rather than doing "real" work.

    Women get bashed for having kids. Women get bashed for not having kids. We can't win for losing.

    Posted on December 9, 2003 at 10:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

    November 12, 2003

    That AWOL "Mom" In The News Is The STEP-Mom

    Update: I have been contacted by Debbi Piland, Vaughn Holcomb's ex-wife and the mother of the two children in question here. Her side of the story is quite interesting and it hasn't been covered in the press except for one article. I wrote about her in this new post. I've received a great deal of information from her. My post includes only some of it. As I obtain more and verify the information I have been given I will post more.


    Have you read that story about the AWOL military mom who remained behind to care for her seven children, despite being ordered by the Army to return to Iraq? A judge told her that either she or her husband would lose custody of two of the kids if one of them did not remain behind. The Army told her if she doesn't return she could be imprisoned.

    You know which story I'm talking about, don't you?

    She was recently given a "compassionate reassignment" so that she would not lose her kids.

    You recognize that story, right? It's been all over the news. Lots of sympathy has poured out for this woman torn between duty and family.

    The problem is that the news has glossed over a few details. Before you shed crocodile tears for this woman and her husband, please take note of the following important facts.

    Did you notice in any reports that this woman is the two children's step-mother, not their biological mother?

    Did you know that these seven children are all between the ages of 4 and 12? (So what were the Holcombs doing in Iraq?)

    Did you know that when Simone Holcomb met her now-husband that he did not have custody of his children? The two of them spent three years battling his children's natural mother for custody -- and they won.

    During the time they battled the natural mother in court, they married. Simone and Vaughn Holcomb have been married for only three years. At least 10 months of those 36 months, they were not even living in the home with those children, let alone residing in the U. S.

    Did you know that the children's biological mother had filed for sole custody and child support, and that the judge had given her and the paternal grandmother temporary joint custody?

    Did you know that Vaughn Holcomb's mother had moved all the way out from Ohio to Colorado to care for all of the children while Vaughn and Simone were deployed, but their natural mother was not given her own two children?

    Did you know that Simone Holcomb did not have custody of one of her own children when the paternal grandmother came out from Ohio? That child was living with bio-dad at the time.

    Did you know that the children are doing poorly? You shouldn't be surprised. Two of them (three if you count Simone's child who lives with the father) have lost their mothers. They have lost their father/step-father to deployment. They have lost their mother/stepmother to deployment. They were being cared for by the paternal grandmother who in September up and left. Simone said that her mother and her mother-in-law "can’t take care of our children for any serious length of time. And you can’t just ask a day-care provider to take your children for nine months." Yet mother-in-law somehow gets joint custody with the biological mother of two of the children. Of course the children are (to use Simone's words) "acting out." One of them threw temper tantrums at school. The older son was getting poor grades in school. They wrote letters saying "Please don't die". They are having nightmares and they are wetting the bed. Did you know that the 11 year old told a teacher that "my family is falling apart?" Considering the custody battle Simone and Vaughn put his two children from the previous marriage through, I'm sure these problems started long before deployment.

    At this point and in the midst of this collossal mess, the natural mother tries to get her children back. That's understandable.

    Not one of the articles has given the natural mother's name, nor has she been interviewed. However, all the articles tout the "mom of seven children" who had been forced to made such a big sacrifice, and quote the dad's mother's concerns about the sacrifices her son and daughter-in-law have made to "serve their country."

    Media spin like this makes me sick to my stomach.

    Posted on November 12, 2003 at 12:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

    November 09, 2003

    Next Thing, They'll Prevent Women From Divorcing and Voting

    This offensive photo has already circulated the blogs, but it only serves to drive home the point I'm about to make.

    TBogg pointed out this whopper in the text of the ban signed and witnessed (amid much laughter) by the Pasty Old White Boys Network that is currently double-parked in your uterus.

    `(c)(1) The father, if married to the mother at the time she receives a partial-birth abortion procedure, and if the mother has not attained the age of 18 years at the time of the abortion, the maternal grandparents of the fetus, may in a civil action obtain appropriate relief, unless the pregnancy resulted from the plaintiff's criminal conduct or the plaintiff consented to the abortion.

    `(2) Such relief shall include--

    `(A) money damages for all injuries, psychological and physical, occasioned by the violation of this section; and

    `(B) statutory damages equal to three times the cost of the partial-birth abortion.

    That's right -- her husband and even the woman's parents may seek monetary relief for damages, including psychological damages -- although the language in the bill forbids a woman from having the procedure for psychological reasons.

    It's time to reread "A Handmaid's Tale."

    Posted on November 9, 2003 at 05:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    November 05, 2003

    The Feminist Press Resurrects Vintage Women's Pulp Fiction

    Jean Casella of The Feminist Press has resurrected vintage women's pulp fiction. Pulp fiction is best known for potboilers written by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, but the genre also "included successful women writers, including Faith Baldwin and Valerie Taylor." According to an NPR interview, "Casella says these books are not just page-turners, but uncensored looks at what everyday life was like for women entering the working world."

    NPR's "All Things Considered" interview with Casella is available for downloading as an audio file.

    Posted on November 5, 2003 at 09:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    November 04, 2003

    Angelina Jolie's Humanitarian Work

    I know it's old news, but it is in the same spirit as Missy Elliott's contribution to end domestic violence. In August, 2002, Angelina Jolie won the world's first Church World Service Immigration and Refugee Program Humanitarian Award. She won the award for "her work and dedication as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Since becoming UNHCR's spokesperson in August 2001, Jolie has mounted an impressive record of personal commitment, travel, financial contributions, and resources on behalf of the millions of persons being torn from their homes worldwide, in the face of war, conflict and oppression. In less than a year, she has visited refugee camps and met with refugees, officials, and aid workers in countries including Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Namibia, Cambodia, Pakistan, and Thailand."

    Her recent work shows that she's moving farther in that direction. I want to see "Beyond Borders," but I haven't done so yet. The movie sounds like the humanitarian work she's been doing. Mixed in with the usual "Jolie Is A Mental Case Who Wears Vials of Blood" nonsense the press likes to hype were paragraphs like this one: "Jolie [...] , made arrangements to travel to Sierra Leone and met there with the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).She travelled with relief workers to Cambodia and Pakistan in the next year and in 2001 was asked by UNHCR to become its goodwill ambassador. Since then, the actress has visited refugee camps in Namibia, Thailand, Ecuador, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Kosovo, Ingushetia and Congo."

    Two weeks before Sept. 11 she was at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. She said that "[a]fter the planes hit, "the fact that I'd two weeks before been on the Pakistan border with 3 million Afghan people that had been there for over 20 years - it was a kind of reality check for me that when there are masses of people displaced for a lot of years, there's something happening in that area. It's not a coincidence that things explode."

    Speaking of things exploding, there is still a possibility of a third Tomb Raider movie. I know that some bloggers, including feminist bloggers, have been criticizing the "women who act like men" types of female heros like Lara Croft. Broads with big guns. I've always liked the game Tomb Raider. The movies have been misses so far, but maybe the third time will be the charm.

    I've always liked Angelina Jolie. Her humanitarian work is another reason for me to like her.

    Posted on November 4, 2003 at 11:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (107) | TrackBack

    Missy Elliott Leads Campaign Against Domestic Violence

    Creative Artists Agency, Violator Management, and Elektra Records join Missy Elliott to help raise funds for Break the Cycle, a non-profit organization that "works proactively with youth to end domestic violence." Break the Cycle announced that "Elliott has signed on to become the organization's national spokesperson and has made a personal commitment to take a stand against domestic violence by leading a $5 million national campaign to raise funds and awareness for Break the Cycle."

    Posted on November 4, 2003 at 10:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

    November 02, 2003

    Do Girls Cause Divorce?

    Word of a study claiming that girls lead to divorce has been circulating in the media for a few months now. We Have Brains recently discussed both the New York Times and Alternet articles about the study. Rather than rely on media reports, I looked at the study itself.

    It's entitled "The Demand for Sons: Evidence from Divorce, Fertility, and Shotgun Marriages," by Dahl and Moretti. "Shotgun" refers to knowing the sex of the child before birth.

    The researchers cited three factors they claim influences parents' decision to divorce, to have more children, to remarry, to marry (if child born out of wedlock), and to divorce after remarriage:

    1. gender bias on part of the parents; i.e., they prefer having sons to having daughters.

    2. role model hypothesis - believing that having a father in the household is more important for boys than for girls.

    3. differential costs hypothesis - believing that the monetary, time, or psycholgical cost of raising girls is higher than the cost of raising boys.

    I've chosen to focus on the conclusions about America.

    The study raised some interesting questions, but I found some methodological problems due to assumptions about gender made by the researchers.

    There are too many unknowns in the study. While we know the birth order of the children by sex, we don't know their ages nor do we know how many years exist between them. Of the remarried mothers, we don't know if the mothers' relationship with the father was good or hostile, or if there were continuous court battles. Those factors would affect the remarried family. We don't know income and wealth levels. We don't know if the remarried couple had children of their own. While the study noted that mothers of sons may be more likely to marry or remarry than mothers of daughters, it did not note that for several years marriage rates in general have been dropping. Men and women have been opting out of marriage altogether or delaying marriage until attending college and obtaining a good job.

    Dahl/Moretti cite research that supposedly states that having a father in the household when children are growing up is more important for boys than for girls without noting that the claim is correlational, and also without noting that Michael Lamb (cited in the study) had pointed out in "The Role of Fathers in Child Development" that father absence literature has been criticized for focusing more on the effect on boys than on girls. The father absence literature itself is gender biased against girls -- it's sexist.

    Father absence or presence does not ensure well-child outcomes. Quality matters. The presence of inadequate or abusive fathers negatively impact childhood development. High levels of conflict between married or divorced parents are harmful for children. Early father absence literature focused on father absence due to war. It was also greatly concerned over boys becoming "properly" masculine and girls becoming "properly" feminine, yet Lamb noted that no adequate assessment of masculinity or femininity had ever been made by researchers studying father absence. A fear expressed by researchers and parents (esp. fathers) in the early studies was that boys raised without the presence of their fathers would not be sufficiently masculine; i.e., they'd be "sissies." Lamb's "The Role of Fathers In Child Development" discussed a father who had returned from serving in the military. The man had actually called his son a "sissy." It's not true - the presence and influence of alternative masculine role models such as male teachers, brothers, and stepfathers also affect childhood development of boys. This bias exists to this day, yet it has no basis in fact.

    There are too many nuances inherent in studies of family structure and gender to pinpoint girls leading to divorce in the way the researchers have done with their study.

    The study doesn't take into account that researchers, including Lamb, have found that how the father treats the mother has an effect on the children. Studies cited by Lamb in "The Role of Fathers in Child Development" indicated the following:

    "The father-mother interaction can have much impact on the child's personality development. Family stability and cohesiveness help to provide a positive atmosphere for the developing child. An inadequate father is often also an inadequate husband. The father may influence his daughter's personality development indirectly in terms of his relationship with his wife. If the father meets his wife's needs, she may, in turn, be able to interact more adequately with her children. Bartemeier (1953) emphasized that the wife's capacity for appropriately nurturing her children, and her general psychological adjustment, are much influenced by her relationship with her husband. A number of investigations have suggested that a warm and nurturant mother-daughter relationship is more important in positive feminine development (e.g., Hetherington, 1965; Hetherington & Rankie, 1967; Mussen & Parker, 1965; Mussen & Rutherford, 1963)."

    What matters isn't dad's presence alone. What matters is the quality of his presence and how he treats the children's mother. The study doesn't note that American women file for the vast majority of divorces today. It's possible that mothers of daughters receive poorer treatment from fathers than mothers of sons. Such poor treatment builds up over time, and the end result may be the mother filing for divorce. But still -- it's correlative. Too many unknown factors lie behind the divorce to cite daughters as a cause.

    The study errs in stating that American divorces with a girl are more expensive for fathers. Alimony and child support payments are not based on the gender of the children. Most women today are not awarded alimony, so that one is a moot point. Child support is based on income and the number of children, not whether those children are boys or girls. Children overall become more expensive to raise as they age. Whether or not girls are more expensive than boys seems to reflect the adults personal biases and ideosynracies, not a factual cost difference.

    The link in this study between girl children and divorce is correlative, not causal. Not only that, the conclusions are hampered by the researchers own gender-biased assumptions and misrepresentations of research and family law.

    That said, worldwide there is clearly a bias favoring boys over girls. Dahl/Moretti mention researchers who cite "missing" girls in Asian countries who have probably been murdered, neglected, or aborted. In her book "Mother Nature," Sarah Hrdy described cases in which girl children in third-world countries who had been bottle-fed formula mixed with contaminated local water, while their brothers had been breast-fed. The girls die from dysentery. The boys thrive. Mothers-in-law insist that mothers formula feed girls, resulting in their deaths.

    There clearly is a gender bias favoring boys in father absence studies that has affected how the general public views the effects of divorce on boys versus girls. However, the research and literature do not bear out those assumptions. It is not true that boys "need" fathers to grow up to be sufficiently masculine: Tanfer and Mott wrote that " it appears from the research findings that children do not appear to imitate people of their own gender any more than the opposite gender, nor do they typically end up resembling the same-sex parent more than the other. It seems, therefore, that men are unlikely to construct their fatherhood identity on the basis of male role models, only." Father absence does not cause social pathology. The National Center for Fathers and Families noted the following:

    "While public sentiment has been in favor of nonresident father's involvement in family life, there is limited research evidence of whether their involvement yields positive benefits for children (King, 1994) and for the functioning of the biological family unit. According to King, there are at least five potential ways in which father involvement impacts child development, either in-house or as nonresidents: fathers provide material resources; they instruct and train their children; their general behavior, attitudes and expectations influence their children; and they provide emotional and moral support; and indirectly, they influence their children by influencing their children's mothers. However, most studies, particularly those based on large national databases, have not been able to detect a significant connection between the nonresident father's contact with his child and the child's well-being (Furstenberg et al., 1987; King, 1994). In a study which did find an association between absent-father involvement and child well-being, it was found also that father contact was beneficial only to the degree that both parents got along fairly well (Hetherington et al., 1978). In any case, current knowledge regarding the impact of nonresident fathers on child development and family functioning is limited."

    Some parents may prefer sons to daughters. Believing that having a father is more important for boys than for girls doesn't make that belief true (it isn't true). Believing that girls cost more than boys also doesn't make the belief true (it isn't true). It is too much of a leap to assume as this study does that daughters "cause" divorce. The results of this study are correlative. There are just too many assumptions and biases present for my taste. Too many other factors figure into the reasons people divorce to pinpoint daughters as a cause.

    Posted on November 2, 2003 at 11:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

    October 29, 2003

    Record Number of Women Childless

    Here's a headline sure to make the Family Values crowd cringe: Census: Record Number of Women Childless. According to Census Bureau data from a June 2002 survey, "26.7 million women ages 15 to 44 who are childless." The survey also found that "the number of women foregoing or putting off motherhood -- nearly 44 percent -- has grown nearly 10 percent since 1990, when roughly 24.3 million were in that class." More women today are postponing motherhood until they go to college and begin paid employment. More are also choosing adoption. This story runs counter to conservative claims that teen pregnancy rates are rising. In fact, teen pregnancy rates have been falling steadily for over a decade, while pregnancy rates for single women in their twenties and thirties have been rising. These figures include the women who have postponed childbirth while pursuing higher education and employment. They have chosen to wait until they have had some life experience and income before having children. More women today are choosing both to have children without the presence of a husband and to remain childless.

    Posted on October 29, 2003 at 08:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

    October 24, 2003

    Dehumanizing Fat People

    I knew right off when I saw this link in Amp's comments section that the purpose of such a page is to repulse people. Tish said the same thing. One thing she didn't say was that such a page as well as the Jerry Springers and "diet gurus" of the world who take advantage of the people pictured on that page is that such treatment dehumanizes them. They have been rendered objects. That's a classic fear reaction. Reduce the people you fear, whether they are black, Jewish, Catholic, female, or fat, to less than human so you can take your fear out on them. That is one way that oppression is perpetrated.

    Posted on October 24, 2003 at 08:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

    October 19, 2003

    The Politics of Beauty

    The well-known bias favoring the taller and more attractive amongst us has been once again reinforced by two studies. A University of Florida study found that "tall people beat short people on job evaluations and even fare better on seemingly objective measures, like sales performance." Tall people earn higher salaries as well. A University of Texas study found that "attractive professors consistently outscore their less comely colleagues by a significant margin on student evaluations of teaching. The findings, they say, raise serious questions about the use of student evaluations as a valid measure of teaching quality." Professor of astronomy and astrophysics Rocky Kolb said that professors and students certainly are not exempt from biases favoring attractive people. He said that "teaching, like acting, is much like performance art." A friend of mine who also read the article wondered if the cultural background and facial attractiveness does not also affect manner and speaking ability; i.e. qualities common in better teachers. Like it or not, looks definitely play a part.

    I feel that the road runs both ways. I am certain that professors give attractive students higher grades than they give less attractive students. At the very least, they are friendlier and more open to more attractive students. I've spent more than my share of time in a classroom, and I know that this is the case. I've not only seen this bias in action myself, I have benefited from it. I am what the article referred to as a "Betty," a slang term for an attractive women that comes from the movie "Clueless." I've noticed that my good looks have opened quite a few doors for me over the years, and I have taken advantage of that awareness. It has also given me more than my share of grief, such as incidents of sexual harassment and false assumptions that I have slept my way around. I've learned to squash both as soon as they start up.

    The article about attractive professors mentioned Dr. Judith Waters, a psychology professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University who studies the relationship of physical beauty to aging, income, and work. She is quoted in a 1992 article in Harper's Bazaar about the politics of make-up. This passage caught my eye. It highlights the assumptions about attractiveness that plague us all, and often affect events in our lives.

    But wearing makeup is not just about attracting a mate; it's the political implications of the ritual that need serious consideration. So integrated is the wearing of makeup within our social system that it invites value judgments based solely on the way a woman is (or isn't) made up. In the workplace, failing to wear what is considered the "right" makeup can have serious ramifications. Take the case of Teresa Fischette, a Continental Airlines flight attendant who was recently fired for refusing to wear makeup on the job. Although the case never went to court, the Massachusetts branch of the American Civil Liberties Union came out in her support. But this case is only the tip of the iceberg. One law school graduate describes how his top law firm interviewed for support staff and paralegals by determining whether they passed the so-called ha-ha test. "That quite literally means that if their appearance made you laugh when they came through the door, then they wouldn't get the job," says the graduate. And did makeup figure into this? "Yes, definitely."

    "You have to look right for the job. If you look frivolous at a bank, then customers will think you'll be frivolous with their money; but if you're in advertising, then you have to look fashionable," says Judith Waters, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Wearing makeup and looking put-together can also indicate respect for your future employer or for the person with whom you are meeting. "When I interview someone and she looks nicely made up, I'm flattered and influenced by the fact that she took the time," says Evelyn Lauder, senior corporate vice president of Estee Lauder Companies.

    In related news, British actress Dame Helen Mirren has admitted that she has been a victim of date rape on several occasions. Understandably, she said that "it was all very terribly upsetting and disturbing." The rapes had occured when she was between 16 and 25 years of age. Her statements were quite powerful. She said that " I just felt men didn't like me for me. I was being pursued by them for sex and absolutely nothing else. I felt most men despised me as a person. ... It was like I was a piece of meat. In the end I actually realized that guys really were capable of this." Before anyone accuse Mirren of being a man-hater, she has been involved with the same man for the past 19 years. She married him in 1997. She has shared her life with his two sons. She's very close to and has learned a great deal from her nephew, Simon, her daughter's adult son.

    Some of what Mirren said rang true for me. She noted the difference in attitudes towards women between older men and younger men like her stepsons who grew up with feminism. She also said this: "I've never liked that whole male world of dirty jokes, football banter or even going to pubs; I find it really scary and very hard to deal with. I feel I can hold my own with men -- professionally -- my whole career has been spent on the set with mostly males, but socially I'd much prefer to be with single women friends." I don't talk about my personal life much on my blog. That said, I understand her wariness of pubs. My ex, most of his family, and my father are alcoholics. Some of my mothers' and fathers' relatives are also alcoholics. I went to pubs with my ex before and during the time we were married because I wanted to be with him and fit in, but I see now what an unhealthy choice that was. I don't want to spend my time hanging out in pubs with a bunch of drunks. I'm glad I no longer live that life. I, like Mirren, have worked as a technician in stage, television, concerts, and film. Most of my work colleagues were men, and I got along with them exceptionally well. While I have had both male and female friends over the years with whom I spend my time, I prefer the company of my family in my home.

    I found reporter Angela Hagan's attitude throughout the article irritating. Hagan described Mirren, who has received critical acclaim for movies such as "Gosford Park" and the television series "Prime Suspect," as "bitter." She was described as having a "steely resentment" in her voice. Hagan judged Mirren for having appeared nude on screen. It sounded to me like the same judgment of rape victims who are sexually active -- the attitude is that she has nothing to complain about because she clearly has sex. Mirren has posed nude. At 58, she still makes it on the list of Britian's top 30 sexiest women. What does any of that have to do with the date rapes she had gone through? Hagan wrote that "it's hard to imagine this hugely acclaimed stage and screen Dame could ever be the victim of such a brutal crime." Why the fuck not? Why assume that rape victims are cowering, fragile people who do not have sex, are not sexy, have never accomplished great things in their lives, or that a rape victim who has experienced what Mirren has gone through must hate men or has "learned to live with her bitterness"? Give me a fucking break. I'm tired of this attitude that women, especially attractive women, who have been raped or have experienced other forms of sexual assault and harassment must have in some way encouraged the attacker. This amounts to yet again blaming the woman for her own assault.

    Mirren said that rape is "a non-talked-about subject. ... I mean, it's really not talked about enough. Maybe more women should." I agree with her. However, with the blaming attitude of reporters like Hagan, it's no wonder women don't talk more about it.

    Posted on October 19, 2003 at 05:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

    October 14, 2003

    Fat Is Such A Hot-Button Issue

    There's an interesting discussion about obesity at Alas, A Blog. It hasn't degenerated much into the "fat people are lazy slobs who sweat profusely" flamefest I've seen in the past, but there is a touch of that there. Tish used the post as a jumping point to express her own thoughts on fat at Fatshadow. I have personally never had a weight problem. When I was younger I was one of those annoying people who could eat everything in sight and not gain an ounce, although when I reached my late thirties I could no longer inhale Death By Chocolate brownies without facing the consequences. I've become a bit soft because I am now (*groan*) middle aged, but overall I'm still slim. Obesity runs in my ex's family, particularly regarding the women.

    I had posted on Alas that a company that produced beef products enhanced with bovine growth hormones was contributing to world-wide increases in obesity but I couldn't remember what company that was.

    It is Monsanto. Growth hormones have also been added to our children's milk.

    Monsanto's Moo Juice

    In 1990 the Monsanto Company commissioned scientists to inject a bunch of laboratory rats with an early variant of recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (rBST), also known as Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). The 90-day study demonstrated that rBGH was linked to development of prostate and thyroid cancer in the rats.

    Monsanto – the manufacturer of Agent Orange that also spent about four decades covering up the effects of PCBs – was about to seek approval for Posilac, the company's commercialized form of rBGH. The study linking rBGH to cancer was submitted to the FDA, but somehow Posilac was still approved in 1994. With fingers pointing in both directions, those with opinions argue about who had a bigger part in the cover-up – Monsanto or the FDA.

    These growth hormones may be one reason why girls begin menstruating earlier, but that is also a factor of improved general health and prosperous living conditions. Monsanto also produces Aspartame/Nutrasweet, which has been criticized for its possible link to cancer.

    This page provides numerous resources about Monsanto, genetically-engineered food, hormones in milk, bovine growth hormones, and other health-related links. I should stress that I am no expert in this area, so please read these links at your own discretion. They certainly provide much to think about.

    Update: Fat activists frequently claim that Marilyn Monroe was a size 16. That urban legend has been around for years. She wasn't a modern size 16. First off, manufacturers have changed clothing sizes over the years so that what was considered "large" then is "medium" today. Even so, Monroe was a British size 16, which is the equivalent of an American size 12. Plus, like most women, Monroe's weight fluctuated over the years. She probably wore a range of clothing sizes. Interestingly, models today are supposed to be no larger than size 6 (for a height range of 5'8 to 5'11"). Monroe would have been considered grossly overweight by today's modeling standards.

    Posted on October 14, 2003 at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

    September 30, 2003

    The New York Times Bashes Feminists Again

    Does the New York Times have a feminist-bashing quotient it must meet every month? Not content with ridiculing feminism by calling the National Organization for Women "silly" for supporting Carol Moseley Braun, the New York Times now blames feminism for "belittling stereotypes" of men on television. Writer Alessandra Stanley complained that men are either "cads or dads," and that "women increasingly select, write and produce the shows that go on television."

    The problem is that all of the shows she complained about were created, written, produced, and directed primarily by men.

    She didn't notice the irony of blaming feminism for how men are depicted on television, and then follow her statements by citing David E. Kelley's "The Brotherhood of Poland, N. H." as "the most glaring example of the new male disempowerment." Kelley and Michael E. Pressman also executive produce the show. They must be surprised to learn that they are really women wielding a feminist agenda.

    "Threat Matrix" was created by Daniel Voll. Its executive producers are Daniel Voll, Michael Edelstein, Jim Parriott, Emile Levisetti and Keith Addis. Charles Haid is director.

    "The Boys of 2nd Street Park" was created and produced by Dan Klores and Ron Berger. It is edited by Michael Levine. Its score was composed by Sherman Foote. At least Stanley didn't blame women for music she might have felt was mawkish.

    "Two and a Half Men" is a Chuck Lorre Production. Its executive producers are Chuck Lorre, Lee Aronsohn, Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, Mark Burg, Oren Koules.

    "Miss Match" was created by Darren Star and Jeff Rake. Its executive producers are Darren Star, Jeff Rake, Brian Grazer, David Nevins. It is written by Jeff Rake, Darren Star, Jed Seidel, David Schulner, Marc Silverstein & Abby Kohn, Sherri Cooper, Robin Schiff, Colleen McGuinness.

    "Las Vegas" is executive produced by Gary Scott Thompson, Gardner Stern, Scott Steindorff, Justin Falvey, and Darryl Frank. Thompson created the show. Three of the ten writers are women.

    "It's All Relative" was created by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

    "Joan of Arcadia's" executive producers are Barbara Hall and James Hayman.

    "Skin," created by Jim Leonard, is executive produced by Leonard, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Jonathan Littman -- men who are hardly known for being overly feminized.

    While the movie "Twelve Mile Road" is directed by Richard Friedenberg, it also has four female producers. The movie is based on the novel by Robert Boswell.

    The American remake of the British comedy "Coupling" is executive produced by Ben Silverman. NBC program chief Jeff Zucker thinks it'll be a hit. Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue wrote the British version. They are married.

    A baker's dozen of women swimming in a veritable sea of testosterone hardly constitutes a "feminization of the television industry."

    It seems that men and one married couple are really behind the "belittling stereotypes" of men on television. The over-representation of men should make one wonder why there are so few women present in key positions on television. Maybe if there were more women, and not less as Stanley would prefer, men's roles on television would not devolve to the "cads and dads" she detests. The New York Times should stop trying to blame feminism for everything.

    I sent a much shorter version of this post to the New York Times as a letter to the editor. If it gets printed, I'll let everyone know.

    Posted on September 30, 2003 at 07:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

    September 27, 2003

    More On The Income Gap

    Yeah, I'm contradicting my previous post. I didn't want to let this slide. Nathan Newman posted a chart and a link to a study by the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities that "shows that the economic "boom" existed only for the very wealthy-- for everyone else it was a tiny firecracker with an only marginal increase in income." This chart nicely offsets my previous post about middle class mothers and fathers going broke. I'm sure everyone has already read that poverty rates have risen for the second year in a row and household incomes have dropped for the third year in a row.

    Posted on September 27, 2003 at 05:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

    September 26, 2003

    White Privilege

    Two articles about white people who feel threatened by affirmative action and diversity caught my attention today, but what I found especially troubling were the comments sections following both articles. The first, about a "girl who wants to start a caucasion club at her school," devolved into some heated personal attacks on the Agonist message boards. The second was an unbelievably offensive action taken by the Young Conservatives of Texas at Southern Methodist University in an attempt to protest the use of race and gender as a factor in college admissions. The organization held a bake sale in which "white males had to pay $1 for a cookie. The price was 75 cents for white women, 50 cents for Hispanics and 25 cents for blacks." College Republican chapters have held similar bake sales at universities since February. Not surprisingly, the YCT are white and mainly male. I wondered how the white women members of YCT felt about being told that they were worth only three-quarters of what the white male member of YCT declared themselves to be worth? They accepted the designation rather than try to understand what affirmative action is really about?

    This article touched off a firestorm at Fark. There are so many comments following this entry that Drew put up the infinity sign rather than a number. Quite a few of them, like these, are very offensive:

    A sign said white males had to pay $1 for a cookie. The price was 75 cents for white women, 50 cents for Hispanics and 25 cents for blacks.
    And if you are Chinese, you have to fold laundry for a cookie. If you are Jewish, you go to the cookie wholesale outlet. Russians stood in line for hours and still got no cookies, and the Irish just drank cookie flavored whiskey from a flask that they brought with them to the bake sale. The French refused to buy the cookies because they were not called "petit gteau". And the one you've all been waiting for -- Muslims were not permitted to eat any cookies because they consider it to be an evil snack of the great Satan, and chose to eat dirt instead.


    If native americans can call us white boys can we start calling them "chief", "red" and "slopey head"?

    Dru Blood posted about the racist and sexist cookie story yesterday. Ms. Lauren from Feministe had written a request last week for a short essay from interested bloggers about "what it means to be white." I know I have benefited from being white, and the reason I know how I've benefited is because I'm already sensitive to what it has been like for have experienced bias due to being female. The benefits of being white are so subtle and seemingly commonplace to me that it's easy for me to not notice how much I take for granted. It isn't so much what I have experienced as opposed to what I have not experienced.

    I look at the television, magazines, and newspapers and see lots of white faces, faces like mine. On the rare occasions that I go to a store at the mall (I'm not a shopper), when I am followed around by store clerks it's because they're trying to sell me something. They don't give me the hairy eyeball, expecting me to steal something.

    I've run into people who assume I was hired for a job fresh out of college because I was a pretty female. One prospective Cro Magnon boss years ago commented that he might hire me because he thought I had great legs. However, I have never been accused of being hired for a job because I was white, nor have I ever been accused of bumping a more qualified person from a particular job or assignment because I am white. My being white didn't even make a blip on the radar screen.

    I have not been turned down for housing because I am white. I had lived in the Baltimore-Washington metro area until about four years ago. I had not noticed how racially diverse my former home town was until I moved to Massachusetts. The first thing all of us noticed is that it's very white where we live. All of our neighbors are white. That wasn't the case in Maryland.

    I've seen racist assumptions behind some discussions of welfare reform. The myth of the lazy welfare queen with a pack of brats fathered by many different men may not be vocalized as stridently as it was years ago, but it's still there.

    I have pointed out to those who are against affirmative action if they protest white affirmative action with the same zeal. I speak of legacies, like how George Bush with his substandard grades got into Yale and Harvard. He would have attended neither if it wasn't for Daddy. The closest I've come to observing a legacy in action was when I was in the movie unions and when I had attended college. Children of current A-Listers shot to the top of the hiring list. They were offered work before anyone else, including relatively new B-Listers like myself and other B-Listers who had been working in the union for years. Of course, the children of college alumni were accorded special privileges. Most were white. White people have historically had more access to that kind of privilege than minorities.

    Bloggers who have either responded to Ms. Lauren's request or discussed the issue in general include Aldahlia, Cobb, Hellblazer, Prometheus 6, Liminal Liberal, and Peggy McIntosh.

    Posted on September 26, 2003 at 04:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

    September 23, 2003

    Why Middle Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke

    While I read Ampersand's post about the wage gap between men and women and the subsequent intelligent comments that followed, some thoughts kept poking at the back of my mind. They just wouldn't go away. There are bigger issues buried somewhere in there. What about Bush's push to eliminate hour overtime? I thought about how McDonald's found a way to avoid paying its workers overtime by "promoting" them to manager. Managers are paid a salary, not hourly wages, so those employees ended up earning less money as managers than they would have earned if they had continued working those longer hours with an hourly wage. What about today's high unemployment rate? Bankruptcy filings are through the roof. I recall that the rules have been changed to make it more difficult for average folk to file for bankruptcy, but I don't have any sources handy. The more stringent rules haven't stopped people from filing for bankrupcty. Many American workers (especially families) are barely making it, yet corporate executives are reaping untold benefits.

    I thought about strenuous disagreements at Calpundit over exactly what kind of household income indicated that a family was poor, working poor, middle class, upper middle class, and well-off. The comments that stood out for me were from people who fit into Kevin's middle and upper middle class categories income-wise but did not feel particularly well off. I had the same reaction when I read his list of categories. According to the list, we are upper middle class but we certainly don't feel that way. Not at all. Having a measure of wealth on top of a high income made a big difference. Kerim Friedman elaborated on the wealth issue. Without the measure of wealth, it only takes one major hospital bill, a job loss, a missed mortgage or rent payment, or even a significant car repair to sink a family. The wealth provides a buffer against the snowball effect of such monetary catastrophes.

    While considering all of the above, I ran across this article about the new book "The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke", which is about "how the ferocious bidding war for housing and education has quietly engulfed America's suburbs." One story told is that of Ruth Ann and James Wilson, a typical middle-class family with two young children. Both parents work. They own a home. What set the snowball rolling for them was James's job loss. From there, the problems escalated.

    As Ruth Ann and James learned, the dance of financial ruin starts slowly but picks up speed quickly, exhausting the dancers before it ends. Few families have substantial savings, so they usually run out of cash within a month or so. Soon the charges start mounting up for the basics of life — food, gasoline, and whatever else can go on “the card.” When there still isn’t enough to go around, the game of impossible choices begins. Pay the mortgage or keep the heat on? Cancel the car insurance or the health insurance? Meanwhile, interest and late fees have piled on, making everything more expensive. Ruth Ann and James got a small reprieve from family. James’s parents kicked in $4,000 and Ruth Ann’s brother lent them $1,500. But these temporary infusions of money were just that — they covered the minimum payments for a few months, but they didn’t begin to provide a way out of the hole. Before it was over, Ruth Ann had taken to parking the station wagon behind the elementary school and walking the six blocks home, figuring the bankers wouldn’t repossess her car if they couldn’t find it.

    Ruth Ann and James thought they were the only ones with these problems. They "didn't know anyone at church or at work who couldn't pay their utility bills or make their car payments." In fact, they probably did know families who were experience the same problems but those people didn't say anything about it. This study found that "the people who consistently rank in the worst financial trouble" were parents with children at home: "having a child is now the single best predictor that a woman will end up in financial collapse." This study had shown that married couples with children were more than twice as likely to file for bankruptcy than those without children. A divorced woman raising children "is nearly three times more likely to file for bankruptcy than her single friend who never had children."

    These figures coincide with existing research I've read and anecdotes I've heard, including stories from divorced moms I receive in e-mail.

    Middle class families like Ruth Ann and James and their children are the ones in the most financial trouble today. These are ordinary people who want to live comfortably and provide well for their children. I now understand much better the "I don't feel middle or upper-middle class" and "wealth makes a big difference in determining class status" statements in Kevin's comments section. The article also made me think of a comment I made at Amp's blog: that one reason the wage gap has narrowed in some instances is that men's wages are dropping in some areas to be more on par with women's.

    Posted on September 23, 2003 at 10:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

    The Wage Gap

    I've written about the wage gap before on my old blog. Ampersand brought up the issue again yesterday. As usual, the comments section is interesting. His examples begin with the narrowest wage gap and end with the widest.

    There are a literally unlimited number of ways one could go about measuring the pay gap between men and women. Here's six ways, for example.

    1. Compare hourly wages among new college graduates just entering the job market.

    2. Compare wages among relatively young workers.

    3. Compare weekly wages among all full-time workers.

    4. Compare annual wages among all full-time, year round (FTYR) workers.

    5. Compare total annual income (wages plus benefits, pension, perks and bonuses) among FTYR workers.

    6. Compare total income over the course of an entire work life.

    Conservative anti-feminist groups such as the Independent Women's Forum misuse that first example to criticize feminists who work on rectifying the wage gap. They say there's no need to rectify it because women's wages today are 95% of men's. Regarding the first example, these aren't merely new college graduates. They are new, young, recent college graduates with little or no work experience who are unmarried and primarily childless. The comparable wages are within low-paying, entry level jobs. The wage gap increases bet