Friday, March 22, 2013

Part of the solution

After not posting much for a long time, it seems that I've been posting a lot this week. It's Spring Break. I should be catching up on my school work, but darn it, sometimes a person needs to write a blog post.

So far this week, I've posted about the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, the fight to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the need to teach boys not to rape. Underneath all of this -- as always -- I have the conviction that there is the need for some type of deep structural change to US society to bring about a different world.

Below is a link to a page to register for a very cool conference that will take place in Oklahoma City on Friday and Saturday, April 4. Noted feminist author and filmmaker Jane Caputi will be speaking twice, and we'll have some excellent workshops. Attendance at the workshop is free, but if you want a t-shirt or lunch, we unfortunately need to charge for those.

And without further ado, here is the link to the Earth's Body, Women's Bodies conference home page.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Parents of boy children need to see this

Hat tip to CommonDreams for cross-posting this beautiful essay by Kim Simon in response to the Steubenville, Ohio rape case that has sparked such bizarre media attention. Simon doesn't attack mainstream news outlets for their insensitivity and their not-so-subtle support for rape culture. Instead, she goes to the heart of the problem, the things that parents should (and so often don't) teach their sons about empathy and sexuality.

For instance:
As uncomfortable as it is, the conversation needs to evolve as your boy gets older. Sex feels good. Sex is overwhelming. Sex is confusing. Sex tricks you into thinking that you are receiving what you need (physical satisfaction, comfort, companionship, love, respect). Sex education is more than just giving your child condoms and reminding them about STDs. As parents, we need to worry about our sons being respectful of their sexual partners, not just about them getting someone pregnant. Our boys need to know that they will find themselves at a crossroads one night, or on multiple nights. Their body will be telling them one thing, and their partner may be telling them another. It is a young man’s responsibility to listen to his partner. Explain to your son what consent looks like (and doesn’t look like). They need to know what sex looks like. Not the Playboy magazine/online-porn version, but the logistics of how it actually works. Teach them to ask their partners. Teach them to check in as they take the next step with someone. Teach them to stop if they don’t think they’re getting a clear answer.
I post this with a small amount of ambivalence, because I think Simon's post could be misread to lay the responsibility for men's behavior with women once again -- with their mothers, instead of with their sexual partners. In US society, at least, women are still stereotyped as being primarily mothers and primary care-givers for children. So, if boy children grow up to be arrogant, sexist men it must be the fault of their mothers.

But I don't think that's what Kim Simon is saying. Her message is clearly directed at parents, which means men, too. And her words clearly show that the reason that men rape has nothing to do with biology, and everything to do with social structure.

We can change that social structure, and we must.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tar Sands Week of Action

Women's ENews correspondent Melinda Tuhus posted an excellent feature story about women working to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. A short excerpt:
WASHINGTON (WOMENSENEWS)--Melina Laboucan Massimo is a Lubicon Cree from northern Alberta, Canada, who wants people to understand the magnitude of tar sands mining devastation to her community.

One single site of tar sands extraction near where she lives is the size of Washington, D.C., she said. "So think of your city being completely scraped out, and that's what's happening to our homeland."

She and other women gathered at a restaurant here on the evening of the largest environmental demonstration in U.S. history, on Feb. 17, to tell their stories of opposing TransCanada Corporation's Keystone XL pipeline project, which would bring hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of tar sands from northern Alberta across the entire U.S. mid-section to the Texas Gulf Coast for refining and export.

Massimo discussed ancient forests that have been chopped down to create a moonscape.

"The boreal forest is an ancient forest," Massimo told the gathering. "It's pristine; it's beautiful. A lot of our medicines are there; a lot of wildlife. It's such a beautiful area they call it the Lungs of the Earth. There are already 2,600 oil and gas wells taking up 70 percent of our territory."
This week is Stop Tar Sands Week of Action. More than 50 organizations and 30 planned actions are involved -- including one yesterday in Oklahoma City.

Unhappy anniversary

Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, According to the New York Times, both Democrats and Republicans did their best to ignore this:
Never mind that Iraq remains in perilous shape, free of Saddam Hussein and growing economically, but still afflicted by spasms of violence and struggling to move beyond autocratic government. With American troops now gone, the war has receded from the capital conversation and the national consciousness, replaced by worries about spending, taxes, debt and jobs. Whether the United States won or lost, or achieved something messy in between, seems at this point a stale debate.
This may be evidence that both Democrats and Republicans are morally bankrupt.

But some folks remember. For instance Jan at Can It Happen Here? posted this reminder on Monday. Democracy Now! posted an interactive timeline of all of their Iraq War coverage, which is continuing.

Looking at the consequences of the Iraq War is painful and disturbing. But is worth attending to the consequences of past and present US military interventions in the hope that we might prevent such evil and folly in the future.