All entries by this author

The deck always stacked

May 24th, 2016 10:39 am | By

Clementine Ford explains the double bind that women are caught in. We’re taught a long list of don’ts that are all about rape-avoidance. If we get raped or otherwise assaulted or abused anyway, we get scolded for recklessly disobeying the Don’ts List. (Have you ever noticed how the Don’ts List is a kind of abstraction of purdah and hijab – or how purdah and hijab are still with us in the form of all these don’ts? Of course you have; it’s obvious.)

The great irony is that women, chided as we are for behaving as if we might have the right to move through the world like autonomous adults, are also punished whenever we take overt and declarative steps

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Maybe possibly

May 23rd, 2016 5:38 pm | By

Portland schools won’t be teaching “skepticism” about climate change from now on.

In a move spearheaded by environmentalists, the Portland Public Schools board unanimously approved a resolution aimed at eliminating doubt of climate change and its causes in schools.

“It is unacceptable that we have textbooks in our schools that spread doubt about the human causes and urgency of the crisis,” said Lincoln High School student Gaby Lemieux in board testimony. “Climate education is not a niche or a specialization, it is the minimum requirement for my generation to be successful in our changing world.”

The resolution passed Tuesday evening calls for the school district to get rid of textbooks or other materials that cast doubt on whether climate change

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Don’t do us favors

May 23rd, 2016 12:14 pm | By

Last week Muirfield golf club voted not to admit women. Sounds like a good idea, but it means they don’t get to host a big championship.

GOLF CHIEFS have stripped course Muirfield of the Open Championship after its members threw out a proposal for women to join the East Lothian club in a move branded “simply indefensible” by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The decision by members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, which owns and runs the club, also drew the ire of Prime Minister David Cameron who said the move was “outdated.”

Yeah, women have had time to learn to play by now.

Henry Fairweather, the club captain, and his committee had recommended that women should be

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Welcome to Wahhabiland

May 23rd, 2016 10:56 am | By

Fascist theocratic Saudi Arabia is having good success in making over Kosovo in its own hideous image. They’ve funded the building of scores of Wahhabi mosques since Kosovo was rescued from Serbian oppression in the 90s.

Since then — much of that time under the watch of American officials — Saudi money and influence have transformed this once-tolerant Muslim society at the hem of Europe into a font of Islamic extremism and a pipeline for jihadists.

Kosovo now finds itself, like the rest of Europe, fending off the threat of radical Islam. Over the last two years, the police have identified 314 Kosovars — including two suicide bombers, 44 women and 28 children — who have gone abroad to

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Vulgar pictures

May 22nd, 2016 6:21 pm | By

Heather Saul in the Independent reports on a thing some women are doing in Iran:

Women in Iran are cutting their hair short and dressing as men in a bid to bypass state ‘morality’ police who rigorously enforce penalties for not wearing a hijab.

A number of women have shared photos of themselves in public with their hair uncovered on Instagram and other social media.

The women have cut their hair short in some images and in others are dressed in clothes more typically associated with men.

That’s not being trans, or gender nonconforming, or gender fluid – it’s surviving. It’s trying to avoid being stopped, and harassed, and arrested, and fined, perhaps beaten, perhaps put in jail for … Read the rest


May 22nd, 2016 5:56 pm | By

It’s the done thing in my neighborhood for shops to put messages on sandwich boards outside. The cupcake one suggests cupcakes to go with the weather or the holiday or the news or whatever else strikes them.

A couple of blocks north, where there’s slightly less foot traffic, a little clothing boutique I hadn’t noticed before had one this afternoon that said

Give a girl the perfect shoes, and she can change the world.

I was sorely tempted to go inside and ask if I could punch whatever genius came up with that.… Read the rest

Jamais ici

May 22nd, 2016 1:04 pm | By

The Independent has also noticed the dismissive attitude to sexual harassment in France.

There was a time when France sniggered at the sex scandals that periodically enlivened British or American politics. “Jamais ici”, they would say. “We are relaxed about sex, unlike the prudish and hypocritical Anglo-Saxons.”

Except that the issue never was “sex” as such, it was sexual harassment. News flash, sophisticates: unilateral “sex” isn’t sex, it’s abuse or assault. If French women were ever “relaxed” about being assaulted or harassed, they were making a mistake.

But the male-dominated world of French politics, for so long immune to scandal, is abruptly having to deal with serial accusations of its own forms of hypocrisy and prudishness. Last week Denis

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An overriding view that women should laugh it off

May 22nd, 2016 12:36 pm | By

French women MPs are protesting sexism from colleagues.

Isabelle Attard, a French MP from Normandy, stood outside the French parliament flanked by dozens of protesting female politicians and feminist campaigners. Armed with placards and loudspeakers, they demanded an end to a dangerous French taboo: the everyday groping, harassment, sexist comments and sexual assault that women are still subjected to in parliament by male politicians.

Attard, 46, an independent MP in Calvados, is one of eight women who came forward this week with allegations against the Green MP and deputy speaker of parliament, Denis Baupin, ranging from harassment to sexual assault.

Between 2012 and 2013, Baupin allegedly sent Attard and other MPs barrages of lewd daily text messages in

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Do women even go out?

May 22nd, 2016 10:56 am | By

From PRI’s The World in November 2014:

More than half of women [in Bombay aka Mumbai] don’t have indoor toilets. In a typical Mumbai slum, there are something like six bathrooms for 8,000 women. Sometimes those bathrooms have collapsed, have dogs or rats living in them, or simply have no water.

Sarita, who works as a cook, gets to a bathroom maybe three times a day — if she’s lucky. She wakes up at 5:30 every morning to line up to use the facilities.

“I leave home at seven and I have to wait until I get back home — sometimes it’s nine hours, sometimes 12,” she says. “My stomach hurts when I hold it, but what can I

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May 21st, 2016 6:09 pm | By

Calvin Klein gets rich and richer by advertising his stuff in ways that degrade women, because the degradation attracts attention and thus multiplies the effect of all of Calvin Klein’s advertising. That’s what the Huffington Post quotes a scholar saying, at least (and I don’t doubt it).

What ad is it this time? An upskirt one. Geddit? That’s great because it’s something guys do stealthily without the consent of the women and girls whose skirts they peer and photograph up.

Commenters voiced their disapproval on a number of aspects of the ad, including how Kristin’s youthful appearance prompted many to confuse her for a minor (she is 23,  for the record). They also took issue with the pose

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A sex tourism destination

May 21st, 2016 5:06 pm | By

Here’s something I didn’t know – Montreal is numero uno in North America in prostitution. Meghan Murphy writes:

A film by Ève Lamont called The Sex Trade (Le commerce du sexe) reveals that the situation in Quebec is much worse than many had imagined (myself included) — more women are sold in prostitution in Montreal than anywhere else in North America.

Lamont interviews pimps, johns, strip club owners, law enforcement, porn producers, and, of course, the women who work in the clubs, the massage parlours, on the street, and out of apartments and hotels in la belle province. A police officer explains that Montreal has 30 strip clubs and 200 massage parlours, never mind the escorts and street

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No one helps

May 21st, 2016 4:41 pm | By

Tarek Fatah tweeted this yesterday. It’s painful to watch.

I especially hate the way she hugs the yellow bag to her for comfort for a few seconds, as if it were a teddy bear – she’s so alone and so comfortless.

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Four stolen years

May 21st, 2016 12:04 pm | By

It’s hard to call it good news when a wrong that never should have been committed is terminated after four years, but…all the same: Maria Teresa Rivera is out of prison.

A woman has been released from jail in El Salvador after spending four years behind bars accused of having an abortion, according to Amnesty International.

Maria Teresa Rivera, 33, was jailed in 2011 and sentenced to 40 years in prison for aggravated homicide after having a miscarriage.

But today, Amnesty International said a judge ruled there was not enough evidence to prove the charges against her, ending what had been the longest ever sentence imposed on a woman in the Central American nation for an abortion crime.


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The market for flesh will grow

May 21st, 2016 11:26 am | By

Sanctuary for Families, an anti-violence-against-women group, posts some responses to Emily Bazelon’s article on prostitution in the NY Times magazine last weekend.

Last weekend, the New York Times Magazine’s cover feature asked the question: “Should Prostitution Be a Crime?” 

The article courted controversy and failed to include the viewpoints of survivors, activists and service providers who know firsthand the deep harm and gender inequality perpetuated by the commercial sex industry. 

Today, the Times published letters in response to the article. Here are a few letters that didn’t make the LTE page, among them critically important perspectives from survivors that were left out:

To the Editor:
Re: Should Prostitution be a Crime?

If the small group of privileged “sex workers” highlighted

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Return of the “chastening instrument”

May 21st, 2016 10:09 am | By

A public Facebook post:

They’re back…..

Run out of business by “external pressure”, the Christian marketers of nylon child whipping devices are back in the business of selling child-abuse implements for profit. When a parent in New York was arrested for abusing his child with a nylon “whipping stick”, I interviewed a young man who described his experiences growing up with one of these in the house — and watching his parents use it to train his toddler sister to automatic obedience “like a dog”.

They stopped selling their “chastening instruments” in 2006 because of – cough – “external pressures” (like attention from law enforcement maybe? or just critical outsiders?). Now they’re selling them again, but strictly on a … Read the rest

Shakespeare at Roswell

May 20th, 2016 4:12 pm | By

CFI-LA is having an event next Wednesday featuring skepticism about Shakespeare. Oy. Skepticism about Shakespeare is like skepticism about vaccinations, or the collapse of the twin towers, or the moon landings. It’s skepticism turned inside out, skepticism in the service of silly conspiracy theories.

Doubts about the authorship of Shakespeare’s works have been raised over the years, most recently by the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC). To support those doubts, John Shahan, chairman and CEO of SAC, will speak at Café Inquiry on Wed., May 25, at 7:30 p.m.

In 2007, SAC launched its Declaration of Reasonable Doubt About the Identity of William Shakespeare, first in the U.S. in same-day signing ceremonies at UCLA’s Geffen Playhouse and at Concordia University

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Pogge is still at Yale, directing the Global Justice Program

May 20th, 2016 3:07 pm | By

Another one of these: prominent male academic has a long string of allegations of sexual harassment, proceeds on his way regardless.

Thomas Pogge, a protégé, is a Name in global ethics and one of the few who actually has an influence on policy debates.

A self-identified “thought leader”…

Ok there’s one hint right there. If he calls himself a “thought leader” his ego is too big, and guys with hypertrophy of the ego tend to feel entitled to get women by whatever means necessary.

A self-identified “thought leader,” Pogge directs international health and anti-poverty initiatives, publishes papers in leading journals, and gives TED Talks. His provocative argument that wealthy countries, and their citizens, are morally responsible for correcting the

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Bad company

May 20th, 2016 12:30 pm | By

More petty narrow-minded nastiness disguised as “morality” because god-based – the OIC keeps 11 LGBT groups out of a UN meeting on ending AIDS.

Egypt wrote to the president of the 193-member General Assembly on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to object to the participation of the 11 groups. It did not give a reason in the letter, which Reuters saw.

The OIC is a horrible organization, and should have no clout at the UN.

Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations, wrote to General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft and said the groups appeared to have been blocked for involvement in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy.

“Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely

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The school’s understanding of a biblical lifestyle

May 20th, 2016 11:25 am | By

Things that students at Trinity Academy, a private Christian high school in Wichita, Kansas, are not allowed to do:

  • have sex before marriage
  • drink alcohol
  • have a gay relative

Blah blah blah Bible blah Jesus blah body is the temple of god blah no likker smokes or drugs or any other illegal or inappropriate activity…

That’s elegant, isn’t it – first no alcohol, no tobacco, no illegal drugs, no abuse of prescription drugs – and then everything else. Don’t do drugs, and don’t do ANYTHING WRONG. Nailed it.

Blah blah blah church blah marriage blah and then, for a rousing finish, a long tangled fret about all these confusing newfangled things like not being HeterOSexual.

What always strikes me … Read the rest

A highly visible critic of religious extremism

May 20th, 2016 10:58 am | By

A press release from CFI yesterday:

A secular writer and activist targeted for death by militant Islamists in Bangladesh has been granted asylum in Germany. After receiving several threats due to her advocacy, Shammi Haque sought help from the U.S.-based Center for Inquiry, which supplied her with emergency assistance to help ensure her safe relocation.

22-year-old Shammi Haque has built a reputation in Bangladesh as a respected, outspoken, and fearless activist on behalf of secularism and free expression. On her blog, she wrote in support of democracy and human rights, and spoke against radical Islam. In public protests and demonstrations, she became a highly visible critic of religious extremism, a recognized symbol of secular resistance. This made her a

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