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Member since: Mon Aug 23, 2004, 10:18 PM
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Journal Archives

Wearing the hijab: 'It's a choice'

Probably should add the caveat that it is not a choice everywhere

"Are you hiding bombs in your skirts?" a stranger yelled from a car window as 12-year-old Radiya Ali walked down a Hamilton street in the mid-2000s. She had arrived to New Zealand as a refugee from Yemen, four years after 9/11 - an innocent among hicks and alarmists who saw young girls wearing the hijab and thought it stood for terrorist.

"Did you steal those curtains you wear?" people hollered at her as they passed. "Why are you wearing sheets on your head?"

Salma Salat came from Kenya 17 years ago, when she was 4.

"I don't remember it, but my mum found it tough adjusting and raising kids in a time when people were shouting things out from the streets."

In the days post 9/11, a man approached Salma as she was walking with her sister. She remembers him yelling at them, "terrorists". She was 7 and didn't know what it meant.

Radiya and Salma are 21 now, and they are friends. They tell these stories with wide eyes, in the can you believe it way adults recall their traumas from childhood. You won't find gentler, or stronger, young women. They are innocent in many ways, but they have seen.

They report things are different now on Hamilton streets.

"There's more discussion," says Salma. She gets approached by people asking why she wears the hijab, but it's a conversation she doesn't mind having.

Waikato Interfaith Council figures from last year state 1395 Muslim women live in the Waikato. In 2001, there were 687. Salma is studying nursing and observes "at the hospital, every fourth/fifth female is wearing a scarf". It's no longer remarkable to see a Muslim woman, in fact, the colours of the hijab illuminate our streets.


I found this interesting as I work with a large muslim population, I never ask if they "choose" the hijab, it would be disrespectful for a casual acquaintance. My good Muslim friend-- the one I can ask anything--is a male, and has an excellent working knowledge of Islam as well as Islamic politics and the Quran. I think we've taked about the Burka, but not the hijab. It should be an interesting discussion

Bring back the abortion underground railroad

On Oct. 14, the Supreme Court allowed 13 Texas abortion clinics to reopen, blocking parts of a state law that impose onerous requirements on abortion providers. Without this ruling, all but eight of the state’s abortion clinics would have been forced to close, and many women would have had to travel up to 600 miles for an abortion.

Though a welcome decision, the ruling provides only temporary relief for Texas women, since the entire law is currently under review. Most of the clinics that have reopened aren’t bringing abortion services closer to those who need them so much as expanding the capacity of large cities such as Houston and Dallas, where abortion was already more accessible than elsewhere in the state.
Abortion restrictions in Texas reflect a nationwide trend. Last year the Virginia Board of Health voted to require abortion clinics to meet medically unnecessary hospital-style building codes designed to put many of them out of business. Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana and Wisconsin have passed similar laws designed to shutter clinics by requiring doctors who perform abortions to obtain hospital admitting privileges. The fate of Mississippi's sole remaining abortion clinic is hanging by a thread, thanks to a court order blocking a similar restriction.

These ongoing crackdowns belie the popular notion that abortions are readily obtainable in the United States. The truth is that while the procedure is legal, its accessibility depends on having time, money and a flexible schedule. The injustice created is so gross that the only recourse for many women may be civil disobedience.

The Trollslayers: 3 Women Who Took on the Internet’s Misogynistic Underbelly

At the height of the age of chat rooms and online message boards—around the dawn of the new millennium—trolls looked a bit different than they do now. Rather than being people who use anonymous Twitter accounts to send death threats, trolls were people who would pose deliberately outrageous or derailing arguments just to make people mad.

Like when someone would come to liberal forums discussing the best way to implement marriage equality, trolls would show up to say that gay people should be rounded up and put on an island somewhere off the coast of Japan, so that no one else would “catch the gay.”

A successful troll could put on a convincing show of really believing this was reasonable and, with one or two posts, completely derail an entire conversation because everyone involved now had to stop and tell the bigot how much of a bigot he was. Then he would slink away to pop up again under a different name and different type of bigotry.

There was also another breed of trolls called "flamers"—people who would verbally abuse and harass others. They would single out one user at a time and throw slurs and various insults until their fingers got tired—without actually posing any kind of counter-argument, the way a standard troll would.

In those days, ignoring the trolls often worked. If no one “fed” them by getting angry at their posts, they would get bored and leave—except for the flamers. Flamers couldn’t be starved out because the venting of anger and hatred was its own reward, even if the flamers were universally reviled.


Guantanamo Detainee Uses Hobby Lobby Ruling to Refuse Female Guards

Requiring Bin Attash "to have physical contact with female guards violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)," a 1993 federal law that protects a person's free exercise of religion, the 9/11 suspect's attorneys said in a statement Monday. "Prior to 2014, questions existed regarding RFRA's applicability to Guantanamo Bay detainees. Those questions were answered by the Supreme Court's recent decision, conclusively establishes that the term 'person,' as used in RFRA, includes nonresident aliens" such as Bin Attash.
Guantanamo Prison recently introduced a new policy that requires guards (male or female) to have physical contact with "high-value detainees" whenever they're escorting them, a rule that's presented a problem in escorting detainees like Bin Attash, a devout Muslim who refuses to touch any woman who is not a relative.

Bin Attash, who faces the death penalty, has possibly damaged his prosecutors' case against him by choosing to stay in his cell rather than be physically led by a woman. Defense can now argue that their client was not given proper time for counsel.

"This will threaten the government's ability to seek death in this case," says Bin Attash's military-appointed attorney, Air Force Captain Michael Schwartz.. "A smart prosecutor would be on the phone with and saying, 'What the hell you are doing?'"


Why #Gamergaters PissMe The F*** off

Why #Gamergaters Piss Me The F*** Off
Chris Kluwe played in the NFL for eight years, but he’s been a gamer for 26 — and he’s sick and tired of the misogynistic culture in today’s gaming community.

(This is a rant to end all rants-- long-- but worth reading)

Dear #Gamergaters,

Do you know why you piss me the fuck off?

Because you’re lazy. You’re ignorant. You are a blithering collection of wannabe Wikipedia philosophers, drunk on your own buzzwords, incapable of forming an original thought. You display a lack of knowledge stunning in its scope, a fundamental disregard of history and human nature so pronounced that makes me wonder if lead paint is a key component of your diet. You think you’re making piercing arguments when, in actuality, you’re throwing a temper tantrum that would embarrass a three-year-old.

(#Gamergate, for those unaware, is what happened a bit over a month ago, where an angry neckbeard posted demonstrably false allegations about his ex-girlfriend, claiming she slept with video game site reviewers for better scores for her games (again, demonstrably false), and then a whole bunch of other angry neckbeards on the Internet went full Denis Dyack and spitfrothed themselves into national attention by making an array of threats on numerous female game developers, including ones about their death, tried to hide behind a shield of “it’s about journalistic ethics because they said gamers are dead,” and generally proved why the Internet needs to be burned to the ground and the ashes salted. If you’re curious about the details, here’s a good background link.)

It’s like all you can do is look at this collection of words, scratch yourself uneasily, and then run off to look for grubs. Your reaction (and I am not making this up, because it’s been widely documented literally everywhere) to various articles proclaiming the death of the basement-dwelling, cheetos-huffing, poopsock-sniffing douchepistol, because games are so good now that they are common entertainment and thus everyone plays them, was to COMPLETELY MISS THE POINT by either:

a) Making misogynistic threats against a wide variety of female game developers and critics because somehow they’re going to keep games you enjoy from ever being made again


b) Being stupid enough to get sucked in by people busy making misogynistic threats against a wide variety of female game developers and critics, and supporting their idiotic crusade for the dumbing down of everyone everywhere ever.


F-Bombs for Feminsm

Offensive language by kids, powerful social social message. If this offend you DO NOT PLAY.

Objectifying female fighters

From the recent articles on the Kurdish female fighters resisting against ISIS, it is easy to see that mainstream media is adamant in continuing the long tradition that obsessively portrays women involved in armed combat through the lens of objectification, sexual deviation, and as an abnormality. Looking past the outer appearance of army fatigues and gun-slinging women, some with short-cropped hair, others with long braided flower adorned hair, the concept of the motivations and behaviors that drove women to pick up arms— that is, their agency—remains missing.

The role of female participation in nationalist struggles has been frowned upon by western feminists as a continuation of the patriarchal agenda of the men. Anna McClintock views the nation-state as a repository of male hopes, aspirations and privilege unless nationalism has been thoroughly exposed to an analysis of gender power. That is to say that nationalism as a male-dominated and executive arena offers very little space to women in order to better their own status and gain basic equality rights with men.

Thus, women are relegated to the pre-subscribed role of motherhood or “bearers of the collective,” whether that is to reproduce more members of the nation (in the biological sense) or to reproduce the nation’s customs and traditions (in the social sense). Men, however, are characterized as the civil or military reproducers of national policy and decision-making. When women are offered a role, it essentially boils down to conforming to the established gendered division of labor and conventional roles.

Additionally, women are seen as protectors of life and antithetical to violence. Therefore, whenever they engage in violence through armed resistance and combatant roles, they are automatically seen as an anomaly, and as being hostile to peace. The dichotomy: women are predisposed to peace and life and men are naturally inclined to violence, is an essentialist one and too often falls into the trap of rendering women as passive within national struggles. Not enough attention is given to the behavior, motivations, and experiences of the roles women play in armed conflict.


14 Years Ago, He Wrote 'Because I Got High.' He Just Rewrote It In The Best Way Possible.

The right’s Lena Dunham delusion: Anger, misogyny and the dangers of business as usual

In a chapter of her book called “Girls & Jerks,” Dunham recounts, in her trademark style of dark absurdism delivered with a smile, “an ill-fated evening of lovemaking” with a “mustachioed campus Republican” named Barry. It involves a condom flung into a tree, a clueless partner and, to wrap it all up, a righteous moment of feminist power when Dunham throws the man’s shoes and clothes out the door and tells him to hit the road. Because of the title’s chapter, we are meant to understand this guy as a jerk Dunham has known and fucked. We read, cringe a little, move on.

But in another chapter, this one called “Barry,” Dunham returns to the encounter with the mustachioed condom-flinger, writing, ““n another essay in this book I describe a sexual encounter with a mustachioed campus Republican as the upsetting but educational choice of a girl who was new to sex when, in fact, it didn’t feel like a choice at all.” She then recounts the story again, sharing other details. How intoxicated she was, how aggressive Barry was, the medical attention she required after it all ended, the shame and confusion she felt as she remembered and contended with the experience. “I never gave permission to be rough, to stick himself inside me without a barrier between us,” she writes. “I never gave him permission. In my deepest self I know this, and the knowledge of it has kept me from sinking.

It’s a painful chapter to read, to watch Dunham navigate her own competing narratives — of righteous anger, of laughing self-preservation, of self-blame — about an experience that felt dangerous and scary but also, somehow, like it was her fault. I know very few women who don’t have a story like this, women who, like Dunham, feel that what happened to them was violating and wrong while also believing that “there are fifty ways it’s my fault.” Dunham is also, like so many other women, not always exactly sure what to call what happened. She also, like so many other women, wants the reader to understand why that’s OK.

After expressing some outrage about Dunham’s wealth and privilege (who would have guessed that Williamson was such a socialist?), he targets her for writing about Barry, questions whether she is telling the truth, seems to suggest that Dunham should share her medical records as evidence of the incident and then calls the chapter a public lynching. It’s gross, and it’s predictable in its grossness. There is no empathy for Dunham to be found because, to Williamson, the story is all about Barry.


Against Carceral Feminism

A very thought provoking, well written article-- let me know what you think

herie Williams, a thirty-five-year-old African-American woman in the Bronx, just wanted to protect herself from her abusive boyfriend. So she called the cops. But although New York requires police to make an arrest when responding to domestic violence calls, the officers did not leave their car. When Williams demanded their badge numbers, the police handcuffed her, drove her to a deserted parking lot, and beat her, breaking her nose, spleen, and jaw. They then left her on the ground.

“They told me if they saw me on the street, that they would kill me,” Williams later testified.

The year was 1999. It was a half-decade after the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which deployed more police and introduced more punitive sentencing in an attempt to reduce domestic violence. Many of the feminists who had lobbied for the passage of VAWA remained silent about Williams and countless other women whose 911 calls resulted in more violence. Often white, well-heeled feminists, their legislative accomplishment did little to stem violence against less affluent, more marginalized women like Williams.

This carceral variant of feminism continues to be the predominant form. While its adherents would likely reject the descriptor, carceral feminism describes an approach that sees increased policing, prosecution, and imprisonment as the primary solution to violence against women.

This stance does not acknowledge that police are often purveyors of violence and that prisons are always sites of violence. Carceral feminism ignores the ways in which race, class, gender identity, and immigration status leave certain women more vulnerable to violence and that greater criminalization often places these same women at risk of state violence.

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