Some articles of interest

// 1 December 2008

Today is World Aids Day – there is a film screening over at SnagFilms showing several films for free including We Will Not Die Like Dogs and India’s Hidden Plague. Of course the UK government is responsible for deporting people with HIV to countries where they cannot get treatment – which is basically a death sentence.

Two years ago, Sitiwe, who prefers not to give her full name, lived in the UK and was on regular medication for HIV. She was able to go about her normal life without worrying that her health might suddenly deteriorate. Last year she was deported to her native Zimbabwe. Now she goes to the only clinic that will supply her with the three-drug combination she needs and sometimes leaves empty-handed. She shares tablets with friends who are in the same predicament. If people with HIV do not take the tablets at the same time every day, there is a high risk the virus will become resistant to the medication and the drugs will no longer work.

Sokari over at Black Looks also has important info about rape survivors in Zimbabwe, where rape has been used as an act of political control for over twenty years. This is part of the sixteen days against sexual violence.

The BBC has done an in-depth (well for the BBC anyway) piece on the Forced Marriage Unit’s work. It’s as a forerunner to the documentary being shown tonight on BBC 2.

Every day, Albert David [from the British High Commission] sees the price the women he rescues have to pay. “This is a very big step for a young person. They know by doing this they are cutting themselves off from the family and they are going into a very uncertain future,” he says.

burqa wine coverIn the meantime the US’s fascination with “orientalising” all this Muslim has led to, wait for it, burqa-shaped novelty wine covers. You can apparently also buy “Taliban dolls” and aprons with Afghanistan on them. The products are commissioned from Afhani women’s projects by an American entreprenueur – I guess it’s a reminder that not all “collective” projects mean collective in the sense of not patronising the women they’re working with. As Muslimah Media Watch says:

Am I alone in finding it weird that mini-burqas are now becoming some kind of collector’s item? That now that Western women have supposedly had a hand in “liberating” Afghan women, they can now have tiny symbols of their oppression as decorations? As with the Charming Burka project, the fear, fascination, and desire that so many Westerners seem to attach to the idea of the “veil” is playing out in a really bizarre and disconcerting way.

Nope, not alone in finding that wierd. The Charming Burka project is this one which sends a picture of the person purportedly under the Burka to nearby bluetooth enabled phones.

The Burka was chosen, because it is often perceived in the west as a symbol of repression. A digital layer was added so that women can decide for themselves where they want to position themselves virtually. The Burka sends an image, chosen by the wearer, via Bluetooth technology. Every person next to her can receive her picture via mobile phone and see the women’s self-determined identity.

More from Muslimah Media Watch where the comments are really good! Channel 4 are also reporting that a Taliban leader was shot whilst trying to escape by wearing a Burqa – seems to me that men on all sides of conflicts (remember John Simpson’s burqa escapades anyone?) wants to use the burqa – I just don’t see why they don’t adopt it for men and let women make their own choices! Also remember that the burqa isn’t just a contentious issue abroad, local newspaper journalist Sarah Feeny wore the burqa for a few hours around Bristol and was responded to with verbal abuse and threats of physical violence.

Meanwhile, whilst we’re on wierd and bizarre ideas about women, Pirelli has released their 2009 calendar in which women’s pain is eroticised.

there’s the gang rape simulation. In addition to that, it features an image with a woman getting her hand amputated with a chainsaw; the appropriation of the “primitive” and the exploitation of a (presmably not fake, but could be fake) indigenous population; the posing of models with dead animals; simulated animal attacks; the by-now-yawn-inducing creepy-crawly-on-your-face pose; naked women covered in filth; and more that I cannot even begin to describe.

I’m not putting the pictures up here but go to Sociological Images to see them, not they are NSFW and may be triggering. They are also discussed (with the pictures reposted) at Hoyden About Town.

Also on bizarre ideas – anyone else think this assertion that gangs “haven’t shot a mother yet” was incredibly lame and put a woman and her family in danger? After all being pregnant or being a mother has never really been protection against crime. Sounds to me like the Police in that case thought that being a woman with children meant they didn’t need to do their jobs!

boob job money boxAlso at Sociological Images are these two disturbing pieces – a money box marked “Boob Job” (because obviously that’s all women save for) and a Thanks Giving quiz for women which list all the important things like jeans, lipgloss and “hot” men.

Meanwhile Jennifer Drew highlights four articles on trafficking of women for male sexual purposes over at the Global Sisterhood Network.

Of course poverty is a factor but if poverty alone were the main factor why then are not men and boys being put up for sale in cattle markets? The answer is of course, male demand and global male belief an innumerable, cheap supply of women and girls should be constantly made available for men to rape and then discard as supposedly worthless dehumanised beings.

Iran is again using physical violence to punish women’s rights campaigners. This time their “crime” was to demand the following:

  • Abolition of polygamy
  • The right of divorce by women
  • Joint custody of children for mothers and fathers
  • Equal rights in family law
  • Increasing the minimum legal age for girls to 18 (currently it is 15)
  • Equal rights for women as witnesses in courts of law

There is more at Womensspace

And in “stuff we’ve previous covered” there is this post from Suzi at FemAcad which makes a thoughful contribution to the Gordon Ramsey/Carol Sarler article stuff. And new to my radar on insulting women is Alexis Petridis column in the Guardian in which he claims that fashion mags represent women film-goers thus:

women’s magazines seem to write about film solely in terms of must-have item. Spend too long reading them and you develop the impression that ladies regard cinema as a kind of huge moving look book, regardless of what’s on screen. Theirs is a world where men stagger out of Downfall shattered by the senseless horror of it all, while women leave thinking, “Hmm, jackboots are quite slimming. They really lengthen the leg.” I suspect that’s not an entirely accurate portrait.

Damn right it’s not Petridis but why, when essentially you’re writing about films and clothing as escapism, do you feel the need to drag in tired, worn-out stereotypes of this being a “woman thing” when you are really talking about men and fashion? And these answers from his fellow Fashion correspondent Hadley Freeman had me spitting feathers. So apparently someone who is proud to talk about rejecting the feminine expectations of make-up etc is suffering from “bullish overly self-defensive pride” and complaining about coverage of female politicians clothing decisions is apparently “because of, with all due respect, paranoia and over-sensitivity”. Couldn’t be because we see through the miasma of patriarchal control – nope it’s because we’re all whingy and aggressive. And whilst we’re on poor Guardian reporting – when did the radical right overtake Guardian reporters? In this article on “sexual sociability”, a rather vague concept based on how many sexual partners people think they will have in the next five years, reporter Denis Campbell links the UKs 11th place in the league table of liberality to

the decline of religious scruples, the growth of equal rights for women and a highly sexualised popular culture.”

Thank goodness he managed to quote the researcher, Professor David Schmott of Bradley University Illinois who points out that:

‘Historically we have repressed women’s short-term mating and there were all sorts of double standards out there where men’s short-term mating was sort of acceptable but women’s wasn’t,’

Mind given Campbell’s take on this I think it’s fairly obvious that women’s “short-term mating” still isn’t acceptable to some! At least Comment is Free manages something less woman-hating with Noreena Hertz pointing out that the negative coverage of a nurse earning more than £100,000 per year is deeply linked to the gender pay gap. Shame that some of the comments (like NapoleonKaramazov and Pica) are truly bizarre – the first claims nurses don’t deserve it as last time he was in A&E the nurses were chatting about their holidays in sunny destinations and the second that the nurse earning £100,000 must be on an overtime fiddle. A third resorts to the usual woman hating rhetoric which amounts to “You’re a woman, therefore you can’t know anything”.

Comments From You

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 1 December 2008 at 2:47 pm

Reference Pirelli calendar – of course it is all just ‘humour or simply irony.’ After all the images of black men sexually attacking a black woman are not racist or misogynstic are they? Same with the images of women having insects on their bodies are just ‘humour’ or else they are sooo sexxy!!! But remember for whom are these images directed at? Is it women? Or is it men? Why white men of course, because not only are the images ones of male sexual violence committed against the women, but they also reinforce white male racist beliefs in respect of black women and men. Only black men commit group rape against other black women (common sense is it not?) and of course not only are white men sexually aroused by such images but they also distance themselves from the male sexual violence because ‘white men do not commit such acts’ only black men.

Pirelli is a horrible example of just how widespread misogyny and racism have now become. It is also an assimulation of pornographic myths because in porn black men are depicted as more barbaric than white men, black women are depicted as sexually insatiable and white women are depicted as sexual masochists who need and enjoy male sexual violence committed against them. All in all a truly horrible depiction of the normalisation and acceptance of male sexual violence against all women – only the degree of such savagery and dehumanisation is dependent on whether or not the female victims are white or not.

Misogyny is widespread and rampant as evidenced by contempt held for female nurses; the utter dehumanisation of Iranian women and of course the endless negativity directed at women by male journalists. It is an endless and unremitting onslaught against women simply because they happen to be women not men. Modern civilisation – no that is still a dream because until such time as women of all groups and ethnicities are given the respect and dignity which is their right then we cannot say we live in a modern and civilised world.

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 1 December 2008 at 2:52 pm

Re: SuziatfemAcad. Spot-on totally agree with your analysis of the Ramsay cause celebre. Men who cheat on their wives are the ones responsible for their behaviour – not women. But then – the whole concept is one of male sexual double standards because it is all about women blaming again and about keeping women firmly in their place beneath men’s feet.

Saranga // Posted 1 December 2008 at 4:19 pm

Re the Pirelli calendar: Women! Know your place!

Cos it sure as hell ain’t as one of their clients.

Suzi FemAcadem // Posted 3 December 2008 at 2:21 pm

Thanks for the comment Jennifer. It’s something that has always struck me – women are expected to be the moral guardians of society and men get to behave however they wish and shift the blame onto women.

Suzi FemAcadem

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