All women deserve to express themselves

Our writers have a reputation for using this platform as a venue to rant and rave about the injustices around us, and do so with great pleasure. As a blogger I have written about such subjects as sex toys, my disappointment with my elected leaders, my experience leaving the Mormon faith, and on more than one occasion my outrage at the sexism I see around me. I have often unburdened myself by taking to my computer to publicly express my frustrations.

Because of the ease with which we are able to express ourselves it is no wonder that we take this liberty for granted.

But the truth is that as Americans, we are lucky. Most Afghan women do not have the freedom to express themselves by writing, much less in public. Either because of fear of violence, illiteracy, poverty, or harassment, women living in Afghanistan have very few outlets for self-expression. [Read more...]

Yasmin Nair Presses Feminists and Queers for Critical Self Reflection

Feminist Conversations is a weekly column at Feminists For Choice. We spotlight feminist activists from across the interwebs to find out what feminism means to them. Today we’re talking to Yasmin Nair. Yasmin is a Chicago-based writer, activist, academic, and commentator whose work has appeared in publications like GLQ, The Progressive, make/shift, The Bilerico Project, Windy City Times, Bitch, Maximum Rock’n’Roll, and No More Potlucks. She is part of the editorial collective Against Equality and a member of the Chicago grassroots organization Gender JUST (Justice United for Societal Transformation). Nair’s work can be found at www.yasminnair.net.

1. When did you first call yourself a feminist, and what contributed to the decision?
That’s an interesting question because I don’t often refer to myself as a feminist, for reasons I’ll go into in a minute. The word does help to describe my sense of gender politics, and it provides a counterpoint in situations where gender is clearly an unspoken and unacknowledged factor.

I don’t know if I necessarily had an “aha” moment where I recognized myself as a feminist or identified as one. That being said, there have been moments when I have been made aware of the sexism that pervades the world. I once took a computer programming class run by an incredibly sexist man, and there were only two in the class. The men were really friendly until it became apparent that I was kicking their ass, frankly, and the instructor went into a panic and tried to change the grading scale so that I wouldn’t be at the top of the class. So, yes, moments like that have reminded me of the ways in which my gender is perceived as less than or threatening but my response has simply been to, well, kick ass, and fight back.

I see that kind of gender dynamics even in the organizing I do. I’ve organized a lot of events and forums and actions, and there is, as you know, a great deal of thankless work that needs to be done months in advance. Far too often, the majority of the organizing committee ends up being women and the men—even if they’re gay/queer—who show up have tended to try to slide away from their responsibilities and leave the work to us “girls” (whether trans or cisgender)—and then tried to take the credit. [Read more...]

Peace for Women in 2010

As we look towards a new year, one usually hopes for peace and happiness. Unfortunately, peace seems to be a far off notion for the U.S. Escalated violence in Afghanistan resulted in 317 U.S. military deaths last year. So this number doesn’t include deaths of coalition soldiers or Afghani citizens.

A month ago, President Obama announced an increase of 30,000 troops to the region. The goal of this strategy is suppose to be the following: [Read more...]

Military Familes & the New Afghanistan Surge

Half my heart
Like most political topics, the U.S. offensive in Afghanistan is a complicated issue, despite attempts on all sides to reduce its complexity so that the situation can best be spun to suit a given ideology. As much as I would like for it to be as simple as “get us the hell out of there,” I’m just not sure that’s realistic or even possible any more than “lets kick some ass over there so we don’t have to fight them here” is.

The fact of the matter is that the world is a mess. Granted, much of the trouble has been caused and is being perpetuated by flawed U.S. foreign policy. But it is a mess, nonetheless. I have to be extra clear here: I was not in favor of the original invasion of Afghanistan or that of Iraq. In fact, invading Afghanistan after 9/11 made about as much sense to me as bombing Michigan would have after Oklahoma City.

Unfortunately, my friends, that ship has sailed. And we have not, even by getting rid of W, managed to instigate any large scale strategic shifts on the part of the U.S. government, at least as far as Afghanistan is concerned (Iraq is another matter, for another day). So. Fact number 2–for good or ill, Afghanistan is our problem and that problem is getting bigger by the moment.

[Read more...]

Female Sergeant Victimized by Department of Veteran Affairs

women veteransI don’t think it comes as a big shocker to anyone reading this article that women are systematically disenfranchised in the military. Not only are they subject to tremendous levels of sexual violence at the hands of various enemy soldiers, they are also constantly harassed, belittled, and violated by their male colleagues. Women now make up for about 11% of military personal in both Iraq & Afghanistan, yet they are continuously degraded, humiliated, and alienated from a system that prides itself on false notions of heroic behavior.

Sergeant Cara Hammer returned from her deployment in Iraq in 2005 thinking that her days of fighting had come to a halt. Little did she know that there were plenty of battles ahead. Cara returned from combat suffering from what is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Like many veterans who also suffer from PTSD, Cara sought out for emotional and physical support. Unfortunately for Cara, the Department of Veteran Affairs did everything but provide her with the support she desperately needed. Cara shares her first experience at a VA hospital. [Read more...]

Thursday News Roundup

mouse2Good luck to all the Feminists in the Midwest who are descending upon Dr. Carhart’s clinic this weekend to show their support for his work. Positive vibes from this end, ya’ll!

Randall Terry Gets Kicked Out of Town Hall Meeting – Salon.com
Women & the Elections in Afghanistan – UN Radio
Will Health Care Reform Mean Easier Access to Abortion? – The American Prospect
Who Owns Operation Rescue? – Right Wing Watch
Sex for the First Time: Good Sex Takes Time – Gay Life Guide
Washington Man Threatens Dr. Warren Hern of CO – Seattle Times

Insecurity for Afghanistan’s Elections and Women

Afghan Women's Network 2004

Photo Credit: Afghan Women's Network 2004

Afghans made their way to the polls today amid news stories of corruption, fraud and insecurity.  Early reports indicate a low and unbalanced turnout. As expected, a more peaceful north had many more voters than the more troubled southern regions.

Among the most affected by the security threats are the women of  Afghanistan. In many areas women’s mobility is limited due to strict cultural impositions that demand a woman only leave her home accompanied by a male family member. Also, women  face increased danger for exerting themselves in politics. Some are even receiving threats for dishonoring their families for trying to claim any public power.

A couple of women have gone even further by running for public office. Two women are in the very packed race to become Afghanistan’s next president.  Shahla Atta and Frozan Fana faced an uphill battle in their campaign in a country were showing a woman showing an uncovered face on a poster can come with violent repercussions. In addition, to these women’s brave pursuit of the presidency women across the country are vying for provincial council seats.
[Read more...]

Tuesday News Roundup

mouse2Lots of stories this week about Dr. Tiller, since Scott Roeder, the man accused of murdering him, is about to have his first day in court.

A Doctor’s Life v. God’s Will – Salon.com
An Abortion Battle, Fought to the Death – New York Times

And here are some non-abortion-related stories for your Tuesday enjoyment.

Women in Afghanistan in Desperate Need of Health Care – Women on the Web
Anti-porn Leaders Lie to Attorney General – Carnal Nation
Sports Misogyny and the Court of Public Opinion – The American Prospect

Nicolas Sarkozy: Women’s Rights Advocate, or Total Douche Bag?

Burqa_1428680cNicolas Sarkozy has made a serious pronouncement, ya’ll: burquas are not welcome in France. Nope. They’re not. Sarkozy has already said that Muslim girls can’t wear a hajib to school, and now he’s saying that the burqua is out, too. The London Telegraph is reporting:

Mr Sarkozy used the first presidential address to a joint session of France’s two houses of parliament in 136 years to declare his support for a ban, even before hearing from a parliamentary commission set up to study the issue.

“We cannot accept to have in our country women who are prisoners behind netting, cut off from all social life, deprived of identity,” Mr Sarkozy told the special session in Versailles.

“That is not the idea that the French republic has of women’s dignity. [Read more...]