Update on Texas Forced Sonogram Law

Last month I wrote about the new Texas sonogram law and the Center for Reproductive Rights’ lawsuit challenging it. Since then, there have been updates, which brings me to today’s post!

This past Wednesday, the CRR’s lawsuit saw its first hearing at a U.S. District Court in Austin. According to the Houston Chronicle, the State of Texas urged the judge (who was appointed to the bench by George H.W. Bush, by the way) not to throw out the entire law, even if he finds parts of it unconstitutional:

“The severability clause cannot be ignored and must be applied,” Assistant Texas Attorney General Erika Kane told the judge.

The legislation states that if any provision in the law is found by a court to be invalid, the remainder may not be affected.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, of Austin, offered little indication how he will rule in a request for an injunction to stop Texas from implementing the new law requiring doctors to provide images of a fetus and sounds of a heartbeat before providing an abortion.

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Rape Culture: How We Discuss Rape, Julian Assange, and the Feminist Community

Outrage has steamed from the feminist community since the beginning of the Julian Assange rape accusations, denouncing the flippant treatment of rape charges and addressing the broader issues of rape and the narrow and biased legal definitions of rape that most states and countries subscribe to. However, I think we (the feminist community) do ourselves a disservice if we make our passion-filled points without debunking the logic of our opposition.  Our goal (I think) is to persuade the majority of people to come around to our way of thinking in order to change laws and culture codes.

One article that caught my attention is Jill’s article on Feministe “Are We Seriously Still Asking the Question”.  The article is spot-on in terms of defining rape and terms of consent. However, her incredulous tone “Really, though? This is confusing for people?” does not help the long term goal of getting the majority to agree that rape laws need to be modified, and rape cases need to be investigated and prosecuted.  By taking the “you’re wrong, I’m right” stance, we set up a binary debate and make the opposition defensive of their position. [Read more...]

Is Body Fat a Feminist Issue?

There’s a recent post over on Womanist Musings that slams the TV show “The Biggest Loser.” The main argument in the post is that shows like “The Biggest Loser” promote unhealthy views about weight loss and self image. While I agree with the general crux of this argument, I also have to add my two cents about obesity, weight loss, and the connection to feminist politics.

I have a very complicated relationship with dieting and body image. I was an anorexic throughout high school, but I am now currently overweight. I would love to be able say that feminism has helped me learn to love my body, but that isn’t the case. There is no outside to patriarchy, and as much as we would like to believe that embracing feminism means that we will learn to love ourselves exactly as we are, that has not happened for me. I am learning to love my body every day, but this will be an ongoing struggle for me until the day I die.

I joined Weight Watchers several months ago, because I want to lose weight and feel better about my body. I am not doing this because I think that I have to fit into some patriarchal standard of beauty. I am doing this because I want to make healthier choices about my food and create a positive self-image. So far, I am doing well. I go to my meetings every week, and meet other people who are facing the same challenges that I am, and I have lost an average of two pounds a week since I joined. This post is not meant to be an endorsement of Weight Watchers. But it is meant to give an explanation of why I feel like weight loss is a feminist issue. [Read more...]

A Feminist Look at the Thailand Brothels

Each year approximately 80,000 women are forced into Thailand brothels due to a combination of debt bondage and a broader mentality of misogyny and sexism. Since the Vietnam War, particularly, Thailand has gained international popularity among travelers from all countries as a sex tourism destination. Young girls ranging from as low as six years of age are sold into the sex trade industry because of family debt or even to satisfy the greed of a family seeking a higher status in the class system. When this habitual treatment is combined with the unyielding profit making of the new economy, the result for women is horrific. Thailand is nothing short of a stage for patriarchy and racism, where men from around the world come to perform their role of male supremacy over Thai women.

Factbook on global sexual exploitation

Capitalist-patriarchy constructs the brothel as an economically justifiable place of exploitation. A complex relationship exists today between a young prostitute, forced into slavery because of debt bondage, and the slaveholder who justifies his action by reducing a brothel to “customary” profit in a modern economy. This makes clear a very dependent relationship between capitalism and patriarchy in our culture, where the former is constantly a vehicle for pushing the latter forward, and vise versa. Despite the false assertions that brothel owners throughout the world continue to portray, it is clear that there is a systematic enslavement existing in places like Thailand, where women are reduced to sexual objects for the pleasure of the traveling business guest. Women in Thailand are things, markers in a male game of status and prestige. It is thus no surprise that some women are treated as livestock – kidnapped, abused, held like animals, bought and sold, and dumped when their usefulness is gone.
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Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: Scripting Hegemonic Masculinity

It has been sixteen years since the conception of the Don’t Ask Don’t tell policy, initially implemented by Clinton in 1993. Now, more then ever, this policy is under extreme scrutiny as people are contesting the policy as outdated, discriminatory and in dire need of change.

As a quick background for those who may not be familiar with the policy, it basically states that the military will not investigate homosexual behavior of individual servicemen and servicewomen unless there is credible suspicion. Gay and lesbian members of the military are reduced to a life of secrecy as they are faced with two options: stay in the closet, or be discharged from the military.

There have been numerous discharges from the military due to the DADT policy, including scores of translators of various Middle Eastern languages who were proficient at their jobs and in high demand considering our current military operations throughout the Middle East. The justifications for such a policy from the words of the pentagon, “The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”
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Nationalist Agendas Plague Tiller’s Death

As the initial reactions to George Tiller’s death taper off, I find it time to re-focus our feminist lenses and to remain well aware of what could be slipping by.

While rightist (pro-life) publications continue to denounce the actions of Scott Roeder (Tiller’s charged murderer) leftist (pro-choice) publications continue to develop and frame an argument more akin to a nationalist, heteropatriarchal agenda that appears supportive of violence, heterosexism, racism, and a general tightening on reproductive freedom.

In his article, “Slam Bill O’ Reilly for His Jihad Against Dr. George Tiller,” Isaac Fitzgerald proffers an argument that frames O’ Reilly (and by proxy Fox News and conservatives pro-lifers) as a terrorist. Fitzgerald’s strategic use of ‘jihad’ in his article’s title suggests his specific framing of O’ Reilly as a Muslim extremist/radical terrorist—who else has the power to demand jihad?! Fitzgerald further refers to Tiller’s murder as an “act of domestic terrorism,” which is merely a flag for 911 all over again. The tactics used by Fitzgerald (and by similar commentators) are bland at most and pathetic at the least.

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