Notes and Comment Blog

Our short and pithy observations on the passing scene as it relates to the mission of Butterflies and Wheels. Woolly-headed or razor-sharp comments in the media, anti-rationalist rhetoric in books or magazines or overheard on the bus, it’s all grist to our mill. And sometimes we will hold forth on the basis of no inspiration at all beyond what happens to occur to us.

Women who

Dec 11th, 2012 12:42 pm | By

Now that the first steam has dissipated a little, a closer look at one part of Lisa Wade’s “Balanced Look” at cutting off parts of the genitalia of very young girls.

The third item in her list of useful things for people to know so that they can take a more “balanced” approach to Female Genital Mutilation.

Research has shown that women with cutting are sexually responsive.

Women who have undergone genital surgeries report “rich sexual lives, including desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction…”  This is true among women who have experienced clitoral reductions and undergone infibulation, as well as women who’ve undergone lesser forms of cutting.

Look at the way she puts that. There are no qualifications – no “many” or “some” or “there are a few who” – just an unadorned “women.” Fortunately, most people who read that far will already be furious enough to spot the manipulative wording, but that doesn’t make her wording any less infuriating. It’s all the more so because she says “genital surgeries” – as if FGM were medical. It’s not medical. There is no medical reason to cut away parts of the healthy genitalia.

What she implies in that disgusting passage is a brazen falsehood. Many women who have undergone FGM report shitty sexual lives, and even shittier childbearing.

How horrible to try to obfuscate that.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Come back a different person

Dec 11th, 2012 12:19 pm | By

So clearly the guilty verdict on Nechemya Weberman, unlicensed “therapist” to rebellious young girls, presents a problem for people who need to control rebellious young girls. What to do, what to do. Export them!

Embarrassed by the sex abuse trial of a Hasidic counselor, leaders of Williamsburg’s pious Satmar sect are considering a different way to deal with rebellious teens: shipping them out of the country for treatment.

For “treatment”? Rebellion isn’t an illness.

Without addressing the allegations against Weberman, a Satmar official told the Daily News that leaders are considering ways to avoid similar accusations by victims.

“This was a wakeup call; nobody denies that,” said Gary Schlesinger, who heads a nonprofit tied to Satmar leader Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum.

“Maybe we will send them to an Israeli program or a European program, and the kid will come back a different person.”

A different, non-rebellious, submissive, compliant, obedient, conformist person. Not an autonomous, thinking, choosing, deciding person who gets to shape her own life according to her own hopes and plans. That’s what “kids” are for: to be robotic clones of their elders.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A “balanced” look at Female Genital “”"Mutilation”"”

Dec 11th, 2012 11:02 am | By

Sunil D’Monte alerted me to this blood-curdlingly horrible article on FGM by a sociologist, Lisa Wade, who wants more “balance” in the discussion of the grand old tradition of carving up the genitalia of very young girls.

While I’m most well-known for my work on hook up culture, I’ve written extensively on a different topic altogether: how Americans talk about female genital cutting practices (FGCs), better known as female genital “mutilation.”  While FGCs are passionately opposed by essentially all Americans who learn about them, our understanding of the practices is, in fact, skewed by misinformation, ethnocentrism, and a history of portraying Africa as naively “backwards” or cruelly “barbaric.”

Good start. Put ”mutilation” in scare quotes because hey, it’s not really mutilation, it’s just “cutting,” which is another thing altogether. Then present a stupid parody version of opposition to FGM because hey, nobody could oppose FGM for reasons that aren’t ethnocentric or racist.

Using the word “mutilation” is counterproductive.

People who support genital cutting typically believe that a cut body is a more aesthetically pleasing one.  The term “mutilation” may appeal to certain Westerners, but people in communities where cutting occurs largely find the term confusing or offensive.

Well of course they do, and that’s the problem! People in China used to think a deliberately deformed foot was a more aesthetically pleasing one, too, and that’s why little girls had their feet systematically broken and crushed, and had to be put at a distance from the rest of the household at night so that their screams of pain wouldn’t keep everyone else awake.

But I’ll let Urooj Zia reply.

Hello from Pakistan. This article has offended me and made me furious enough to leave a rant in response. Here goes:

//but people in communities where cutting occurs largely find the term confusing or offensive//

What the WHAT?! So in one clean sweep, feminist voices from these communities get discounted, while barbarism gets amplified by a feminist? How does that make sense? And this ‘them non-Western women don’t deserve any better’ is racist!

Moreover, how does women controlling these procedures not make them patriarchal and oppressive?! I don’t even know how to respond to this hypocrisy!

//It turns out that people don’t appreciate being told that they are barbaric, ignorant of their own bodies, or cruel to their children//

No shit, Sherlock. Child abusers in ‘western’ societies don’t like being told that either, nor do rapists. Does that stop feminists in those societies from denouncing this crap? I don’t get it, why did you write this article? Why would anyone do this, why?! What makes you think that you sitting in your ivory tower deserve better than us? What are we, lesser beings? What makes you think we deserve to have our bodies mutilated? What is WRONG with you?! Feminists here have a hard enough time anyway; stop making our lives more difficult. If you can’t support our voices, don’t cut us down and don’t you dare tell us that we don’t deserve better. We bloody well do.

I’ve been following Urooj on Twitter for a long time. Urooj rocks.

Lisa Wade continues -

“Only” 10% of FGM includes infibulation. Mostly it’s not so bad really.

Women still have fabulous sex lives after FGM.

Health problems from FGM are the exception, not the rule.

It’s not cruel patriarchs.

It’s not African.

Women in the US get cosmetic surgeries on their genitals.

The obvious is obvious.

It turns out that people don’t appreciate being told that they are barbaric, ignorant of their own bodies, or cruel to their children.

It also turns out that girls of 5 don’t like being held down while someone slices off bits of their genitals with a razor. Next platitude?

I would be more livid, if it weren’t for the fact that almost all of the comments are disgusted. I’ll just repeat Urooj’s observation -

And this ‘them non-Western women don’t deserve any better’ is racist!

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Nechemya Weberman found guilty of sexually abusing girl

Dec 10th, 2012 4:06 pm | By


The verdict, against Nechemya Weberman, was a significant victory for Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn district attorney, whose office has been criticized for not acting aggressively enough against sexual abusers in the borough’s large and politically connected Hasidic community. And the case offered a rare window into how the Satmar community enforces its sexual values, particularly for young girls, with so-called modesty committees chastising girls for wearing revealing clothing or using cellphones, and parents pressured to pay high fees to religious counselors to treat those girls.

He was convicted on 59 counts.

There’s been a considerable culture of impunity until now, with the police looking the other way for years.

Prosecution of sexual abuse allegations in the ultra-Orthodox community has been hampered in the past by the intimidation of witnesses. In this case, Mr. Hynes’s office brought charges against several men for allegedly trying to interfere with the case, through bribery and threats. Then, during the trial, three other men were charged for taking cellphone pictures of the victim, in violation of court rules. And, although supporters of accused abusers have dominated the gallery at previous trials involving prominent ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, on many days at this trial, supporters of the accuser and advocates for abuse victims were in the majority.

H/t No Light.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Men against assholes & misogyny

Dec 10th, 2012 3:53 pm | By

Manboobz offers a good thing by way of a break from bad things. We all get sick of bad things. The good thing is

comedian Jen Kirkman’s new tumblr blog: “MA’AM” – MEN AGAINST ASSHOLES & MISOGYNY, which she describes as “a place for men – not afraid to call themselves feminists – to write from their heart to help educate men who may still hold some sexist attitudes towards women.”

Kirkman started it a bit over a week ago after going on a sort of Twitter strike, frustrated by all the misogynistic assholes that kept popping up on her timeline.

Here’s how she explains it:

Sometimes I would get sad when I was batting away dozens of hate-filled things while in my timeline my male comedian friends were just joking along having fun – as we all should be.  And I felt like I was alone on the playground and I wanted them to speak up for me.  Not “beat up” the specific people attacking me … but I wanted my male comedian friends to write, in public, about things they have expressed to me in private about how much they feel for the women in their life who are still spoken to this way.

Yeh. I remember when I used to be able to post non-misogyny-related things and just chat away about them. It seems like another world.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Almost all the missing students are female

Dec 10th, 2012 12:15 pm | By

A Turkish lawyer and women’s rights activist, Canan Arin, was arrested for mentioning the fact that girls get married off very young in Turkey.

I was the co-founder of the Istanbul Bar Association, Women’s Rights Enforcement Centre and worked as a trainer there.  The Antalya Bar Association was opening a Women’s Rights Enforcement Centre and the lawyers needed training. I gave a talk on violence against women in the form of early and forced marriages in the context of training.

I used two examples to illustrate my point. One was the Prophet who married a girl of seven. The second was the head of the Turkish Republic who was engaged to his wife, the first lady, when she was 14 and married her when she was 15. These are facts.  As I spoke, a group of young men got up and started shouting at me. They said I was insulting and going off the subject. I denied this and said they were free to leave the conference room, which they did.

The next day another group of young men, (I am not sure whether they were lawyers), held a press conference and reported me to the court on charges that I was insulting the Prophet and President of the Republic of Turkey. This group of around 10 men who filed a complaint against me were not present at my talk.

So the cops arrested her.

The interviewer, Bingul Durbas, asks searching questions.

BD: The new education reform known as “4+4+4” seems very problematic. Under the new education law, it is not compulsory to continue education after the first four years. The Child Bride project of the Flying Broom, a women’s organisation in Turkey, has recently found that, almost all of the students who are absent from school due to early marriage and engagement are female. According to the TurkStat the prevalence of lifetime physical or sexual violence against females decreases with the increase in their education. This indicates that the new education reform is likely to increase the vulnerability of girls to early marriages and violence.

CA: Exactly. And, no one reports these crimes despite the fact that child marriages constitute sexual abuse of children and sexual intercourse with those who have not achieved adulthood is a crime, according to the articles 103 and 104 of the Turkish Penal Code. However the law is not implemented.

It’s a multi-pronged approach – minimal schooling, marriage at 15 or 12 or 9, no right to leave, “honor” killing if you do leave, a terrible life if you stay.

BD: In another recent case, Nevin Yildirim, who killed her rapist to save her honour, was not allowed to have an abortion and she had to give birth to her rapist’s child. There is also a link between the abortion issue and ‘honour killings’. My research shows that in cases where the victims got pregnant out of wedlock, the defendants (the girls’ families) take the victims from one hospital to another, in a desperate bid for an abortion to avoid any social stigma. They try to avoid murdering the victims in every way they can. If they fail to resolve the situation then they kill the victims to cleanse their’ honour’.

CA: Very true. The Prime Minister is involving himself in women’s private lives more and more – from how many children she should have to whether she can have an abortion or a caesarean. So that is why it is especially difficult for young women in Turkey.  A woman has no value unless she is married and it is the family that must be protected – not the women, whatever the cost.

Every door is closed and locked.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Eschaton omnium gatherum

Dec 10th, 2012 11:15 am | By

Via Veronica (via AtheismTV) – a montage from Eschaton 2012.

Blog posts on Eschaton are collected at Eschaton.

And a video of the protest outside the Uganda High Commission last Monday.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

That face is familiar

Dec 9th, 2012 5:16 pm | By

Don’t miss Katha Pollitt on Ross Douthat.

Ross Douthat, TheNew York Times’s Catholic-conservative columnist, is so obsessed with women’s fertility it’s really too bad he can’t get pregnant himself and see firsthand what it’s all about.

Yes but that would take all the fun out of it. The whole point of being a Catholic-conservative columnist dude is so that you can try to browbeat women into getting pregnant moar.

I’m not so sure why we want more people on our crowded, overheated planet, where world population is projected to increase by 2 billion before finally beginning to fall. But if Douthat really thought through what it means to have and raise a child these days, I’m sure he could come up with a lot of great ways to help women and families. The trouble is, he couldn’t be a Republican anymore. He’d be a socialist.

But it’s not about helping, it’s about telling.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

“One individual has already been identified”

Dec 9th, 2012 3:50 pm | By

David Futrelle points out A Voice for Men campaigning to terrorize a young woman they dislike. These guys are scary. Seriously scary:

AVfM is conducting outreach and investigation into the identities of the persons involved in the violent protest against the rights of men and boys orchestrated and conducted by the University of Toronto Student Union and other antisocial elements within that institution.

To that end, one individual has already been identified, and you will be seeing a story on her here in the near future. Our search for the woman highlighted in the video of the protest continues, with some leads. …

Gender ideologues absolutely hate the light of day. They hate it shining on their ideas and on their lies. Many of them also don’t want it shining on their identities. They seek anonymity for the same reason Klansmen wear hoods.

Futrelle points out a discrepancy:

Even beyond the vicious nature of AVFM’s language and tactics, the hypocrisy here is off the charts: most of AVFM’s writers – gender ideologues all – hide their identities behind pseudonyms, including of course JohnTheOther, who launched AVFM’s campaign against the still-unknown protester.

It’s all so very familiar.

Futrelle includes some of the threats left at YouTube:




Futrelle’s post was yesterday. Today they’ve posted a different woman’s name, along with a picture.

They’re scary.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

How will billionaires be able to afford to buy politicians?

Dec 9th, 2012 12:05 pm | By

Andy Borowitz asks.

a consortium of billionaires today warned that if their taxes are raised they will no longer have enough money to buy politicians.

The group, led by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, commissioned a new study showing that the cost of an average politician has soared exponentially over the past decade.

While the American family has seen increases in the cost of food, health care and education, Mr. Adelson says, “those costs don’t compare with the cost of  buying a politician, which has gone through the roof.”

That is very worrying. Food, health care, education and housing are all luxuries, of course, but the ability for billionaires to afford to buy politicians is non-optional.

Plus think of all the jobs!

The Vegas magnate complains that the media has ignored billionaires’ essential role in giving jobs to politicians who would otherwise have difficulty finding “honest work of any kind.”

“Billionaires are providing employment for a group of seriously incompetent and marginal people,” Mr. Adelson says. “You raise taxes on us, and who’s going to create those jobs? I really don’t think people have thought this through.”

He’s forgetting the Catholic church…

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The gross crime against humanity of being born a woman

Dec 9th, 2012 10:57 am | By

Via Mona Eltahawy on Twitter - Pakistan has its “Twitterati” – “the artists, the journalists, the designers, the political analysts, the bloggers, the activists.” I follow quite a few of them myself.

But guess what – there’s a penalty. Of course there is.

But with fame comes the inevitable trolling. And unfortunately, if you’re in Pakistan, and you committed the gross crime against humanity of being born a woman, you’re a prime target. Any female professional in Pakistan who is active on Twitter will find herself vilified and harassed online simply because she is a woman who works, and (as is the case with many professionals) supports women’s rights and is a feminist. What’s alarming is that this trolling is not at all harmless tomfoolery. It is dangerous, violent, and misogynist to boot.

I first saw this form of violence against women when popular blogger, Mehreen Kasana, was the victim of a disgusting practical joke. Her head was photoshopped on an image of a woman dressed  in a “sexy” French maid outfit. Imagine the horror of waking up to find such an image all over the internet, hoping your siblings, cousins, relatives, etc. don’t come across that picture. I don’t know who was behind all of this, but it’s a disgusting thing, picking on women who happen to have a loud voice and state their opinions clearly and firmly.

I don’t have to imagine; I’ve had that: my head photoshopped onto a sexy body in a bikini, as punishment for constantly lying about how gorgeous and sexy I am.

Similar antics involved the activist Sana Saleem, where fake accounts with obscene names masqueraded as her, tweeting vile things about her, and even worst, these accounts would keep cropping  up as soon as one was shut down. It is a testament to Sana’s courage and resilience, because there is only so many times you can tell yourself that this is meaningless.

We’ve all had that – all of us who are objects of the misogynist campaign.

What is disappointing is that no one will view this as violence against women. No one will say that this is cyber harassment. No, if these women even dare to call this cyber harassment, they will be called attention-seekers, whiners, immature. Every time a woman is attacked, and she fights back, she is the one who is vilified.

Check, check, check. Not, to be sure, the “no one” part; no, in our case it’s far from no one. But it is a lot fewer people than we would have thought.

Well – solidarity forever, and all that.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

An environment that is just too toxic and hostile to endure

Dec 8th, 2012 5:07 pm | By

So there’s Anita Sarkeesian’s TEDxWomen talk on online harassment and cybermobs.

Gee I don’t know why I would be interested in that…

Now, I’m a pop culture critic, I’m a feminist and I’m a woman. And I’m all of these things, openly, on the internet so I’m no stranger to some level of sexist backlash. I’ve sadly gotten used to sexist slurs, and sexist insults, usually involving kitchens and sandwiches…

But what happened this time was a little bit different. I found myself the target of a massive online hate campaign.

Gee I wonder what that’s like…

What’s even more disturbing, if that’s even possible, than this overt display of misogyny on a grand scale, is that the perpetrators openly referred to this harassment campaign and their abuse as a “Game”. They referred to their abuse as a game.

So, in their minds they concocted this grand fiction in which they’re the heroic players of a massively multiplayer online game working together to take down an enemy. And apparently, they cast me in the role of the villain. And what was my big diabolical master plan? To make a series of videos on YouTube about women’s representations in games. Yeah.

That’s interesting. The perps I’m familiar with don’t call it a “Game” as far as I’ve seen, but they do treat it as a game, as well as thinking of themselves as heroic players.

Where is this game played? Well, the perpetrators turn the entire internet into a battlefield. So, in my case they came after everything and anything that I possibly ever had online. They also have a home base where they coordinate their raids and work together and communicate and this usually takes place on largely unmoderated, largely anonymous message boards and forums. And these are places with no real mechanisms for accountability.

Check, and check.

So what is the goal? Well, the immediate explicit goal is to stop the villain and save video games from…me and my crazy feminist schemes. And they tried to do this by silencing and discrediting me and my project.

But the larger implicit goal here is that they’re actually trying to maintain the status quo of video games as a male dominated space and all of the privileges and entitlements that come with an unquestioned boys club.

The chief of which is being surrounded by mostly males, which is a privilege and entitlement because females are…you know, such a drag, talking so much and everything.

Now we don’t usually think of online harassment as a social activity but we know from the strategies and tactics that they used, that they were not working alone, that they were actually loosely coordinating with one another.

This social component is a powerful motivating factor that works to provide incentives for players to participate, or perpetrators rather, to participate and to actually escalate the attacks by earning the praise and approval of their peers. We can kind of think of this as an informal reward system where players earn “internet points” for increasingly brazen and abusive attacks. Then they would document these attacks and they would bring them back to the message boards as evidence, to show off to each other – kind of like trophies or achievements.

So, we have a general structure of a social game. We have players, we have the villain. We have a battlefield. We have this informal rewards system.

But the thing is…Its not a game. It’s an overt display of angry misogyny on massive scale.

Its not “just boys being boys”. Its not “just how the internet works”. And it’s not just going to go away if we ignore it.

Emphasis added.

…the usual terms that we use to describe online harassment such as “cyber bullying”, “cyber stalking”, even trolling, don’t adequately describe a hate campaign of this scale.

What happened to me, and sadly other women as well, can best be described as a cyber mob.

And whether it’s a cyber mob or just a handful of hateful comments, the end result is maintaining and reinforcing and normalizing a culture of sexism — where men who harass are supported by their peers and rewarded for their sexist attitudes and behaviors and where women are silenced, marginalized and excluded from full participation.

A ‘boys club’ means no girls allowed. And how do they keep women and girls out? Just like this. By creating an environment that is just too toxic and hostile to endure.

Emphasis added, again.

On the other hand – she’s still here.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Get consent

Dec 8th, 2012 3:08 pm | By

Martin Robbins has some blunt things to say about genital mutilation.

Infant circumcision involves performing surgery without consent to permanently alter an individual’s genitals. In many cases this is done without good medical justification, for example to force the infant to conform to the expectations of a particular religion. Just as we call sex without consent ‘rape’, circumcision without consent or reasonable justification should be called ‘mutilation’.

Yes but religion. Respect. Tradition.

Physical merits and demerits aside, infant circumcision has had a profound psychological impact on many men.  “I can’t get it out of my mind how I have been mutilated against my will,” reads one testimony on the website of the charity Norm UK

I spoke to several circumcised men in the course of writing this article, who were kind enough to allow me to share their experiences with you. I’ll be posting more of their testimony (and that of others) in a follow up to this post, but for now a couple of quotes are worth highlighting.

Philip, from London, told me how he felt when he first became aware of his status as a small child:

“I wanted it covered up.  I felt mutilated.  I also felt that my parents had abandoned me; why had they let someone do that to me? I had such a feeling of helplessness and abuse due to my circumcision.”

His advice to parents considering it now?

“DON’T.  Even if you think it may be necessary later, wait until later to see if it really does become necessary.”

Which, surely, is only fair. Just wait. Let your kid decide.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

With one stroke of the sword

Dec 8th, 2012 11:55 am | By

A news item from India.

In the first honour killing in Kolkata in decades, a 29-year-old youth dragged his sister out on the street and cut off her head with one stroke of the sword in Ayubnagar locality of Nadial, barely 13km from the city centre, on Friday.

Scores of residents looked on in horror as Mehtab Alam walked to a police station with the head in his left hand and the sword in his right, dripping blood all along the way.

We know the rest without looking. She had sex with someone, or her brother thought she had sex with someone, or the brother thought the neighbors might think she had sex with someone, or the brother thought the neighbors might think the brother might think the neighbors might think she had sex with someone. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Somebody somewhere might suspect that Mehtab Alam’s sister had The Wrong Penis up her, so her head had to be cut off – in the street where everyone could see.

Even as deputy commissioner-port division Mehboob Rehman rushed to the scene of crime, where Nilofar’s headless body lay in a pool of blood, Mehtab told the numbed police officers that he had killed his sister for “running off with a lover and dishonouring the family”, say sources. Nilofar was married for eight years and had two children. It was “immoral” for her to live with her former paramour, Firoz Hossain, Mehtab apparently told police.

And if it’s immoral, then her brother has every right to cut her head off. The wages of sluttery is decapitation.

 Nilofar married Akbar of Pachura, Rabindranagar, when she was 14. They have a son aged six and a daughter, four. On November 28, she ran away from her in-laws’ home, alleging that she was being harassed and tortured by Akbar’s brother. On November 30, she disappeared from herpaternal home, too.

Nilofar’s father lodged a missing person’s diary at Nadial police station. In a few days, Mehtab came to know that she was with Firoz, with whom she had an affair before marriage, say police.

That “married” is interesting – as if she’d done it of her own volition. How likely is that at age 14? And if it is likely, is it legal? No; the legal age in India is 18 for girls.

Whatever. She won’t be marrying or shacking up with anyone now.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Pimping its girls

Dec 7th, 2012 5:00 pm | By

It’s not just Ireland, it’s not just Saudi Arabia, it’s not just Pakistan. It’s New York City, too. The New York Times sets the scene.

The abuse began when the girl was 12 years old, prosecutors in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn said on Monday. She was sent to a prominent man in her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community for counseling, and prosecutors said the man sexually molested her over the next three years.

But lawyers defending the man, Nechemya Weberman, 54, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, told a far different story during the opening arguments of his trial. The girl, a defense lawyer told the jury, had hatched the sordid tale of abuse as an act of revenge against Mr. Weberman and against a religious community she found stifling and rulebound.

Community community community. “Her ultra-Orthodox Jewish community” – meaning, the one she was born into and could not escape. It’s more a prison than a “community.”

Both the prosecution and the defense informed the jury that the Satmar Hasidic community, to which Mr. Weberman and the girl belonged, was so rigid that questions from a young girl about something as simple as the proper length of a skirt could lead to mandatory counseling, and even expulsion from school. The accuser in this case, both sides said, was just that kind of girl: a free spirit whose questioning and challenges to authority landed her in trouble.

“She was going off the path,” said Kevin O’Donnell, an assistant district attorney. “She was being a little bit different.” In response, Mr. O’Donnell said, she was branded a “heretic” by her Satmar girls’ school, the United Talmudical Academy in Williamsburg, and her parents were required to send her to therapy.

There it is again – the community to which they both “belonged” – that sounds cozy, but it’s more like being drafted. And how can her parents be “required” to send her to “therapy”? Required by whom? On whose authority? And what do you mean “therapy”? Weberman is not a therapist.

The Times a couple of days ago:

Dressed in the traditional long black coat and white shirt of the Satmar Hasidim, Mr. Weberman testified that he had first begun counseling his accuser in 2008, not in 2007, as she had claimed. He testified that he billed $150 an hour to see her, and also charged her family $1,500 for a trip upstate that he took alone with her. He denied that anything untoward had happened.

The parents were ”required” to send her to him, and he charged them $150 an hour, but he’s not a therapist. Not a bad racket, from his point of view, even without the sex.

Beyond the details of the accuser’s case, the testimony also shed light into the way the Satmar Hasidic community enforces its strict religious rules. Ms. Gluck testified that masked men from the religious modesty committee, based in Monroe, N.Y., had come into her bedroom at night when she was 15 or 16 years old to take away a cellphone that she was not permitted to have. The same committee, Mr. Weberman testified, regularly referred young boys and girls to him for counseling.

Mr. Weberman testified that as an unlicensed counselor, he was not obligated to report allegations of child abuse to secular authorities, nor was he legally bound to respect the privacy of the young people he was counseling. As a result, he shared information given to him by the teenagers with their parents and schools, he said.

The New York Jewish Week goes deeper.

…many people with ties to the chasidic community believe there is something even more important about the Weberman case — namely, what it exposes about the larger communal role played by chasidic “modesty committees” in communities like Williamsburg, Borough Park and Kiryas Joel. These groups — to which, sources say, Weberman was connected — originated years ago to guard the “purity” of the community by enforcing strict dress and behavior codes that characterize the insular chasidic lifestyle. But, insiders say, the tactics of these self-appointed, freelance modesty patrols have evolved from public shaming to extortion and threats.

The narrative to emerge from the trial testimony so far is that a chasidic girl, perceived as “acting out” by the standards of her chasidic school and family — defying the community’s dress code, communicating with boys, asking questions about the existence of God — was sent to Weberman for therapy. She was 12 at the time, and the move apparently came at her school’s insistence and under threat of expulsion.

So that’s what “required” means. It’s not quite as savage as the Magdalen laundries, but it’s not a million miles away, either.

According to Yerachmiel Lopin, who blogs at FrumFollies and has been reporting on the case for two years, “UTA was in effect, extorting money for Weberman. I strongly suspect they kept some of it. Given widespread rumors about his sexual misconduct, Satmar was in effect pimping its girls to Weberman, adding insult to injury by making the victim pay to be victimized.”

And pimping its girls to Weberman as punishment for growing up and developing their own ideas. That’s the “community.”

H/t No Light.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

So you’re not allowed to do that?

Dec 7th, 2012 1:02 pm | By

Is cyberstalking a thing? Yes, cyberstalking is a thing. Even in Polk County, Florida, it’s a thing.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd does not take internet bullying of its residents lightly, even if it involves EllenBeth Wachs, the former Vice-President and Legal Affairs Coordinator for Atheists of Florida and current President of Humanists of Florida Association, who recently asked the sheriff to investigate a relentless case of cyberstalking aimed against her.

Judd assigned a Special Investigations detective to investigate a North Carolina man who has, for almost two years, employed an arsenal of social media such as Facebook, Youtube, Google+ and Twitter, to conduct a relentless campaign to harass and abuse Wachs.

But you’re allowed to do that, aren’t you? It’s free speech, isn’t it?

No, and no.

According to Florida statutes the term “cyberstalk” means “to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.”

Such activity is a first degree misdemeanor or, if a credible threat is conveyed, a third degree felony. Earlier this month, sheriff detectives arrested two Polk County men under the Florida cyberstalking statute for harassing a 15-year-old high school student via Twitter.

But but but harassing people is a glorious part of our glorious tradition of free speech!

North Carolina laws make it a Class 2 misdemeanor “for a person to electronically mail or electronically communicate to another repeatedly for the purpose of abusing, annoying, threatening, terrifying, harassing, or embarrassing any person.”   According to a University of North Carolina School of Government website, over 1200 people were charged with cyberstalking in 2010 under North Carolina law.

Martyrs of free speech!

No, actually. Just thugs.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Martin Wagner and Tim Minchin sum it up

Dec 7th, 2012 11:18 am | By

Martin comments on Chris Clarke’s post:

These last two threads have put me in mind of Tim Minchin’s lovely “Pope Song,” which includes the lyrics…

If you cover for another motherfucker who’s a kiddie fucker Fuck you you’re no better then the mother fucking rapist

…and then I wonder how many of these dudes showing up here to complain that it’s so unfair to draw moral equivalency between everyday, blogging, comment-trolling, rape-threat-making-on-Reddit misogynists and mass-murdering-IRL misogynists are huge fans of that song.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Oh that’s adorable

Dec 7th, 2012 10:09 am | By

Via @EverydaySexism via @Cheesyhel – a cheery little birthday card for a girl turning 13 -

Embedded image permalink

 Update – the good news is that it’s apparently old stock. The bad news is that Cheesyhel just saw it in a local newsagents in her town.

Update 2 -

The image is a card, with “You’re 13 today!” at the top and a cartoon picture of a girl beaming with surprise and pleasure at a box with a ring in it. In smaller writing that winds down the page it says

If you had a rich  boyfriend

he’d give you diamonds and rubies

Well maybe next year you will  -

when you’ve bigger boobies!

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Because misogyny makes nothing happen

Dec 6th, 2012 4:58 pm | By

And speaking of “dissent” and “disagreement” and “people who do not share your opinion” – speaking of calling sustained frothing hatemongering “dissent” and “disagreement” and “people who do not share your opinion” – that’s all over a thread of PZ’s on the Montreal Massacre.

PZ made the point that the Montreal Massacre was a very overt example of misogyny. He made the related point that misogyny has consequences. Misogynists came along at a dead run to protest the outrage of saying that misogyny has consequences. There was a lot of bullshit about “dissent” and “disagreement” and “people who do not share your opinion” as cozy ways of describing sustained frothing misogyny. From Al Stefanelli for instance…

Al Stefanelli

Are you fucking kidding me? Really, this is the best you can come up with, comparing a horrendous act of violence with people who do not share your opinion on various social justice issues?

Wow, Godwin would be impressed…

No, see, that’s not it. Not sharing one’s opinion on various social justice issues is not it. That’s not the right thing to call it. That’s very much the wrong thing to call it. It’s inaccurate, and self-flattering.

The train wreck inspired Chris Clarke to a metaobservation on misogyny.

1) PZ posts a remembrance of the 14 women killed and 10 injured by the misogynistic murderer responsible for the École Polytechnique massacre that took place 23 years ago today, and points out that the hatred that motivated the murderer is still all too common.

2) 12 comments in, the thread becomes about whether the particular rhetorical trope PZ used to point out the continued existence of misogyny was fair to misogynists, and is no longer about remembering the massacre victims.

Naturally. It’s a violation of the Universal Declaration of Misogynist Rights! PZ unfair to misogynists!

Yeah, you’re right: hate speech against individual women based on their gender isn’t the same as being a mass murderer. But it feeds those who commit the murders. And when you post online, or shoot the misogynistic shit in a bar, or complain “all in fun” among friends, they are listening to you, and deciding that you’ve got their backs.

And when you essentially march into a memorial service to complain about that fact, you’re saying the victims aren’t as important as your right to deny the consequences of your actions.

Chris Clarke unfair to misogynists!



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

An inspirational moment

Dec 6th, 2012 4:20 pm | By

The Family Research Council thinks Uganda’s commitment to hatred of gays is just the best thing ever.

Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has taken up the challenge of national repentance by promising passage of the “Kill the Gays” legislation as a “Christmas gift”to the people of Uganda.

Naturally, Christian conservative leaders in the U.S. are thrilled with what FRC has called an “inspirational moment for the [Ugandan] nation.” As Alvin McEwen pointed out, FRC President Tony Perkins tweeted a big, warm hug to President Museveni for “leading his nation in repentance” and thus helping to create a “nation prospered by God.” But Perkins’ tweet was an hors d’oeuvre for the main course, a November 26 email alert sent out to FRC subscribers entitled, “During Revival, Media Still Atone Deaf.” As the title suggests, one target of the longer commendation of Museveni is the mainstream media in the U.S. which, having drawn attention to violations of LGBT peoples’ human rights in Uganda, is accused of being “so threatened by religion that it refuses to leave another country alone to pursue its own views on sexuality and faith.”

Ah yes “views.” Views. That’s all it is – just views. Just opinions. Just dissent, disagreement, seeing things differently. Who could possibly object? Why do those horrible liberal people in the liberal media object to Uganda having “its own views on sexuality and faith”? Because they’re horrible-liberal.

Other Christian Right leaders and pastors have seen fertile ground for their own religious agendas and enterprises in African nations — notable among them the organization known as “the Fellowship” or “the Family,” which operates the famed “C Street house” in Washington, D.C., a residence for right-wing senators and congressmen — and they’ve often lauded the human rights violators who carry out those designs.

For its part, the Family Research Council, which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its “demonizing lies about the LGBT community,” continues to heap praise on President Museveni’s theocratic aspirations. In its email alert, FRC quotes liberally from Museveni’s speech and notes that Uganda “has stood — often alone — for traditional values, abstinence, and families despite tremendous pressure from the West.”

They’re doing intertheocratic work.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)