Women’s March in CA 1/22/23 by Marie Cartier

WOMENS MARCH, Long Beach, California on the 50th anniversary of the passing of Roe v Wade,
January 22, 2023

Continue reading “Women’s March in CA 1/22/23 by Marie Cartier”

For Mahsa by Lori Stewart

On Friday, September 16, 2022 Mahsa Amini died in a Tehran hospital having been arrested by Iranian morality police on September 13 for wearing “inappropriate attire”. She was 22. Mahsa’s family claims she had bruises to her head and limbs from being beaten. The Iranian police dispute that claim saying Mahsa died from a pre-existing health condition.

Mahsa’s death sparked major protests against the Islamic Republic in Iran and protests of support are occurring around the world. Women are burning their hijabs, which they are mandated by Iranian law to wear, chanting, “Women, life, freedom”. They are cutting their hair which is a longstanding symbol of protest and loss in Iran’s history. This action harkens back to the epic Persian poem “Shahnameh” by Ferdowsi in which hair is a theme and the cutting of hair a symbol of mourning. Around the world, people have followed suit by cutting their hair in solidarity with the protesters in Iran. A recent chant by the protesters is “it’s the beginning of the end” as they challenge their theocratic government.

Continue reading “For Mahsa by Lori Stewart”

From Footbinding to Abortion and Beyond – This Has to Stop! by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

My husband, Marty, is a retired podiatrist.  He worked in pockets of New York City that were poor and largely immigrant. When he first started his practice, he treated women from China whose feet had been bound. Despite being officially outlawed 1912, footbinding was still being practiced well into modern times. He saw these patients in the 1970s and 80s.

For those who don’t know what it is, young girls, as young as 3-5 would have the bones in their feet broken and then the feet bound with cloth strips. Every few years, the feet would be broken again until the desired result was created. To create that affect, the toes would be flattened against the bottom of the foot and arch would be so broken and damaged that the heel would curl back to the front of the foot. At each of the breakings the girl would need to learn to walk again.  One can only imagine that pain of walking on foot bones that had been repeatedly broken. And here is an especially chilling part. The mothers would do it to their own daughters. I won’t go into further gruesome details because they can be easily looked up on the internet.  It left the girls crippled for life.

Continue reading “From Footbinding to Abortion and Beyond – This Has to Stop! by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

From Kavanaugh to Hell by Sara Wright

The glorious blue and gold summer day permeated by the scent of wild roses faded as the ominous words swirled around my head trying to get in. Roe overturned.

For a moment rebellion – disbelief, NO, something screamed in silent anguish. NO. Then mind flooded with poison… Pure hatred rose in a frightening swell that threatened to overpower my instincts.  But I heard the words: “Go parallel with your hatred –do not give in.” Words that brought me back to my body, to my senses.

My hair caught fire. How did they get away with it again? First Kavanaugh, a credibly accused rapist elected to the Supreme Court – a few years in between and now Roe overturned. Men deciding how women should behave, men insisting that women support ‘life’ at their own expense – rape doesn’t count. Women have lost their most basic human right – the right to have control over their own bodies.

Continue reading “From Kavanaugh to Hell by Sara Wright”

Inspired by Carol P. Christ: Patriarchy Rules the Supreme Court by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

Along with the words of Justices Sotomayer, Breyer and Kagan.

The Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe was expected, but there was nothing that could prepare me (nor likely anyone else) for the devastation of the actual decision. My gut is reeling. I thought it would be useful to survey the landscape through the lens of patriarchy. Thanks to Carol Christ for having always written insightful comments about the roles of patriarchy. This is inspired by her work.

The dissenting judges were quite eloquent, so I will work off their words.

  • “Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens.”
  • “After today, young women will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers had. The majority accomplishes that result without so much as considering how women have relied on the right to choose or what it means to take that right away. The majority’s refusal even to consider the life-altering consequences of reversing Roe and Casey is a stunning indictment of its decision.”

My Commentary: Through the eyes of patriarchy here is no need to consider life-altering consequences because it only recognizes two roles for women: madonna or whore. We are never seen as full humans with civil and independent rights. Patriarchy doesn’t just hate the sexual freedom of women, it has spent millennia trying to quash it, make it into something dirty, control it. It’s a love/hate relationship with sex. Rape is really OK (look how hard it is to prosecute). Pedophilia OK too (look at the church). But a woman making her own sexual, reproductive choices . . . a bridge too far. Patriarchy will always force us to pay a price for having sex, for being alluring, for being female.

Continue reading “Inspired by Carol P. Christ: Patriarchy Rules the Supreme Court by Janet Maika’i Rudolph”

photo essay, part 2: bans off our bodies rally by Marie Cartier

photos from bans off our bodies rally, long beach ca may 14, 2022

all photos by: marie cartier

BIO: Marie Cartier is a teacher, poet, writer, healer, artist, and scholar. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University; and a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.

Moderator’s note: This is the 2nd of the two part series. Part 1 was posted yesterday.

Continue reading “photo essay, part 2: bans off our bodies rally by Marie Cartier”

photo essay, part 1: bans off our bodies rally by Marie Cartier

photos from bans off our bodies rally, long beach ca may 14, 2022

all photos by: marie cartier

BIO: Marie Cartier is a teacher, poet, writer, healer, artist, and scholar. She holds a BA in Communications from the University of New Hampshire; an MA in English/Poetry from Colorado State University; an MFA in Theatre Arts (Playwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Film and TV (Screenwriting) from UCLA; an MFA in Visual Art (Painting/Sculpture) from Claremont Graduate University; and a Ph.D. in Religion with an emphasis on Women and Religion from Claremont Graduate University.

moderator’s note: There are so many powerful photos that they will be posted in two parts, today and tomorrow.

Continue reading “photo essay, part 1: bans off our bodies rally by Marie Cartier”

Carol P. Christ’s Legacy: “LOVE PATRIARCHALISM”—ITS UNDERSIDE IS HATE

Moderator’s Note: We here at FAR have been so fortunate to work along side Carol Christ for many years. She died in July this year from cancer. To honor her legacy as well as allow as many people as possible to read her thought-provoking and important blogs we are pleased to offer this new column to highlight her work. We will be picking out special blogs for reposting. This blog was originally posted September 3, 2012. It is surprisingly current.You can read it along with its original comments here

Where patriarchalism trumps love, when push comes, shove often follows. The underside of love patriarchalism is hatred of the independence of women. 

We are told that it is the duty of a loving father and husband to protect his wife and children.  In exchange, good wives support their husbands and good children obey their fathers.  The bottom line of patriarchy is control.  The fight over abortion is a fight about men’s right to control women.

I have spent much of the past few weeks wondering why so many Republican men hate women.  Why do they want to deny the right to an abortion to a 12 year-old girl raped by her father, to a 21 year-old college student gang raped at a fraternity party, to a 33 year-old woman who submitted to a violent boyfriend she did not know had poked a hole in his condom, or a to a 41 year-old woman who offered a cup of coffee to the man who came to her house to fix the electricity, but who said “no” when he assaulted her.

Continue reading “Carol P. Christ’s Legacy: “LOVE PATRIARCHALISM”—ITS UNDERSIDE IS HATE”

Carol P. Christ’s Legacy: Susan B. Anthony’s Bargain with the Devil

Moderator’s Note: We at FAR have been so fortunate to work along side Carol Christ for many years. She died in July this year from cancer. To honor her legacy as well as allow as many people as possible to read her thought-provoking and important blogs we are pleased to offer this new column to highlight her work. We will be picking out special blogs for reposting. This blog was originally posted November 25, 2019. You can find the original post here to see the original comments along with her responses.

Matilda Joslyn Gage

[T]he most grievous wrong ever inflicted on woman has been in the Christian teaching that she was not created equal to man, and the consequent denial of her rightful place in Church and State. –Matilda Joslyn Gage, Woman, Church, and State, 1893, page 1

I do not approve of their [referring to Gage and Stanton] system of fighting the religious dogmas of people I am trying to convert to my doctrine of equal rights to women. –Susan B. Anthony to Olympia Brown, following the disputed merger of the radical National Women’s Suffrage Association with the conservative American Women’s Suffrage Association in 1889

Continue reading “Carol P. Christ’s Legacy: Susan B. Anthony’s Bargain with the Devil”

Women’s Bodies and Texas

I have been so angry about the Texas law that functionally bans abortion, I have not even been able to find the words to write about it. But alas . . . being angry without taking action is too often what we women do. So, I am forcing myself to focus and write this blogpost. I think the worst part of this law (although there are so many it is truly hard to choose), is how it isolates a vulnerable, pregnant woman. Can you imagine having an unwanted pregnancy and not being able to talk to anyone about it? This law puts a whole women’s support system into legal and financial jeopardy; a mother, sister, friend, doctor, staff at the doctor’s office, therapist, random neighbor and on and on. A woman’s only “legal” option is to talk to a crisis pregnancy center which comes with a hefty dose of political agenda. This is manipulation at this most virulent, cruel, and controlling.  

Continue reading “Women’s Bodies and Texas”

May Her Memory Be A Revolution by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

On the eve of the Jewish Sabbath and the start of Rosh Hashanah, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg breathed her last breath. She was 87. She fought so hard for so long. She is an American patriot, hero, champion for women’s rights, and for many she was the stalwart bastion of justice and ‘liberal’ rulings. She was a Supreme Court Justice for 27 years. Her life has been put into books, a movie, and the most notorious memes around. She became known for elaborate collars over her Justice robes. We mourn the lost of her, we celebrate her memory, and we must pull up our boots and continue the fight.

Continue reading “May Her Memory Be A Revolution by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Susan B. Anthony’s Bargain with the Devil by Carol P. Christ

Matilda Joslyn Gage

 

[T]he most grievous wrong ever inflicted on woman has been in the Christian teaching that she was not created equal to man, and the consequent denial of her rightful place in Church and State. –Matilda Joslyn Gage, Woman, Church, and State, 1893, page 1

I do not approve of their [referring to Gage and Stanton] system of fighting the religious dogmas of people I am trying to convert to my doctrine of equal rights to women. –Susan B. Anthony to Olympia Brown, following the disputed merger of the radical National Women’s Suffrage Association with the conservative American Women’s Suffrage Association in 1889

Most readers of Feminism and Religion know that Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were leaders in the nineteenth century struggle for women’s rights. Fewer will know that Matilda Joslyn Gage was widely understood to be Stanton’s equal as a theorist and Anthony’s equal as an organizer. The fact that Gage’s contributions have been lost to history can be attributed to Susan B. Anthony’s bargain with the devil.

If Anthony’s bargain had affected only the reputation of Matilda Joslyn Gage, that would be bad enough. But Anthony’s decision to merge the NWSA with the AWSA signaled that the women’s rights movement would cease and desist from its policy of naming and indicting Christian dogma as the source and cause of women’s subordination in the law in Christian countries. This decision meant that feminists would no longer have a clear understanding of the forces they were reckoning with. Continue reading “Susan B. Anthony’s Bargain with the Devil by Carol P. Christ”

Photo Essay–Long Beach, California by Marie Cartier

Long Beach Pride 2019
50 YEARS OF PRIDE CELEBRATING
THE STONEWALL REBELLION of 1969!
**All photos by: Marie Cartier**
See the photo essay from last year’s Pride week-end here.
And the photo essay from Pride 2017 here.

Continue reading “Photo Essay–Long Beach, California by Marie Cartier”

The Modern Problematic Nature of the Sabarimala Temple, Part 2 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteThe Sabarimala Temple has received an influx of global attention since last October. In my last FAR post, I researched the origin story of the Sabarimala Temple and its dedicated deity, Ayyappan. Ayyappan’s unusual parentage and chosen attributes and patronage made him adverse to all forms of sexual activity and more importantly, not very keen in having female devotees.

Ayyappan, also known as Dharmasastha, is devoted to protecting the dharma, living a yogic life, and more importantly, a celibate life. Ayyappan demands that all his followers when undertaking his pilgrimage, take a vow of celibacy for the duration. No form of sexual impurity must enter Ayyappan’s Sabarimala temple. This is where the problematic elements really start to come to head. Due to the restriction of sexual impurities, females from the age of 10-50 are denied access, as their very biological state of being female, makes them sexually impure. Their ability to menstruate makes them vessels of this apparent sexual impurity that the god Ayyappan does not want. Continue reading “The Modern Problematic Nature of the Sabarimala Temple, Part 2 by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Part One: The God Ayyappan and The Sabarimala Temple by Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteThe Sabarimala Temple in Kerala, India has been recently thrown into the news. It has made world news due to the two centuries long tradition of denying females from the age of 10-50 entrance into the Temple. As of September 2018, the Indian Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing women entrance into the Temple. Needless to say, this ruling was met by both large numbers of supporters and protestors.  But what makes the Sabarimala Temple so controversial?

Continue reading “Part One: The God Ayyappan and The Sabarimala Temple by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Identity Politics by Gina Messina

Version 2This past week my daughter, Sarah and I had a conversation about God:

Sarah: Dad says God is a myth. He doesn’t exist.
Me: Well none of us really know who God is because we’re humans. And besides, God is definitely not a man.
Sarah: I really think that God is a monkey.

Me (trying to keep a straight face): Why do you think God is a monkey?
Sarah: Because all people came from monkeys and God created us so that makes a lot of sense. It also explains why God is doing such a bad job.
Me: Why do you think God is doing a bad job?
Sarah: Well, Donald Trump is president…

At nine years old, my daughter is quite the critical thinker and very invested in knowing what is happening in our country. She has strong feelings about Trump — especially his treatment of women and policy to separate families at the border. She asks why someone gets to be president if s/he does not care about everyone in the nation. It is a good question. I’d like to take credit here, but Sarah is simply paying attention to our world and making her own conclusions — logical ones at that. 

***

While Trump supporters chant the political slogan “Make America Great Again,” women are wondering when there was ever a time where our human rights were acknowledged, and especially those of women of color. Women have been consistently disenfranchised throughout history and have had to fight for the most basic rights granted to white men.  Continue reading “Identity Politics by Gina Messina”

It’s All About Control by Vibha Shetiya

VibhaWhen I first moved to America, I was shocked to learn of the high rate of domestic violence here. Surely, American men weren’t like that. Besides, American women were strong – they would never take BS from their husbands, fathers or brothers. How could this be even remotely possible? Of course, I was younger then, and not quite aware of the insidious workings of patriarchy. But then America is supposedly one of the most liberal and progressive countries in the world. Being of Indian heritage, it was “natural” that I had heard of and witnessed male domination and control. After all, we Indians were “backward.” But America? Really?

I have, for a while now, been utterly confused by the inherent paradoxes within both countries, but it was Justice Kennedy’s retirement and the possibility of the overturning of Roe v. Wade that helped clarify my thoughts. Continue reading “It’s All About Control by Vibha Shetiya”

Long Beach, California – 2018 Pride! by Marie Cartier

Photos by the author unless otherwise indicated

Last year I published a photo essay with pictures of Long Beach, CA’s Pride week-end. You can see last year’s photo essay here. I also published a photo essay of the Los Angeles Resist March from last year here.

It feels more important than ever to re-member/ re-attach ourselves to the normality of resistance, freedom, solidarity, courage and joy. I hope the pictures here help you FAR family to re-member your activist selves and re-invigorate them if they are in need of it. I know mine was before the past week-end. Here are photos from the Long Beach Dyke March on Friday night, and the Long Beach Gay Pride parade on Sunday morning.

Continue reading “Long Beach, California – 2018 Pride! by Marie Cartier”

Feminazi as Archetype by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

 

Feminazi.jpg

Feminazi is an image and narrative created by patriarchy to control the liberation and recognition of women as autonomous political subjects, and to serve as a warning to thwart these processes.

It is a label used for male supremacy to name the fearless woman. Fear is a control mechanism used to keep us living in terror of: expressing opinions, gaining weight, walking on the street, being raped, ridiculed, or lonely, not being married, being rejected, or dismissed, having too much cellulite, going to hell, traveling alone, being beaten, believing in ourselves, etc.

Feminazi is a modern myth designed to make us believe that there are good and bad feminists, and that it is possible to exclude and ignore all feminists through labels and stereotypes. A woman’s transition toward liberation can be seen as threatening to others when it is assumed that “someone else” outside the woman herself, has the privilege to define which feminisms are acceptable, or which processes of liberation and searching for autonomy are legitimate, or not.

Continue reading “Feminazi as Archetype by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Why Are You So Angry? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

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Please be warned, this post details violence against women.

A new March 8.
Another year protesting
Another evening taking the streets of our cities around the world
In Rome, in Lima and Santander
A new slogan, a new banner, for the same rage

A decent man, one of those who define himself as a good citizen and father stands in front of me asking: “Why are you so angry? …. Why are feminists so angry? I am asking you: Why are you so fucking angry?”

Why are you angry?
Because my friend went to the police to put a complaint that her husband beat her and they did not take the complaint. When she returned home, her husband hit her again.

Why are you angry?
Because I am 16 years old and every day after school, older men shout sexual things to me in the street, they even follow me and when I get upset and tell them not to do it they say that I am being rude … I am afraid to walk in the street. Continue reading “Why Are You So Angry? by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Reflections on Trauma, Part I: Pink Pussyhats by Stephanie N. Arel

stephanie-arelI have been thinking frequently about trauma, about what perpetuates suffering and what supports the arduous journey of transforming traumatic experiences, especially in the aftermath of traumas of human design. The violation of bodies lies at the heart of such traumas. Thus, how we practice behaviors that refuse to denigrate bodies are critical and necessary to alleviating suffering and promoting the body’s dignity.

This idea of restoring the body’s dignity after trauma is magnified by the reality that trauma remains, stored in our bodies as a residual reminder of the traumatic event (s). Bessel van der Kolk reminds us, “The body keeps the score.” Continue reading “Reflections on Trauma, Part I: Pink Pussyhats by Stephanie N. Arel”

Religion and the #StateofWomen by Gina Messina

Pledge PhotoThe White House Summit on Women was held this week on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 and it was a great privilege to be among those invited to participate in this inaugural event.  There was an incredible line up of speakers and so much was shared. It proved to be an overwhelming day – in a very good way.  Topics addressed included violence against women, economic empowerment, and education.  In addition to the main event, there were breakout sessions on a myriad of topics presented by the most preeminent authorities in their fields.  I walked away from the day with a sense of urgency to find news ways to engage gender issues and social policy.  However, I also wondered how to bring religion into the dialogue and give greater attention to its impact on women’s issues in the US. Continue reading “Religion and the #StateofWomen by Gina Messina”

Taking leave: How did you do it and how did it go? Sara Frykenberg

Image sourced from here.
Image sourced from here.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been preoccupied this summer with many questions regarding pregnancy, becoming a mother, and how to mother while doing my “work” as a feminist. But next to my constantly changing physical reality and the anticipation of a new family member, the question of what to do about my actual work, aka, my occupation, has been most pressing—perhaps, because taking leave from my job is something I feel that I can (and must) do something about in a long list of factors that I cannot control. Despite the imperative to act, however, I had a great deal of trouble figuring out where to begin.

As a professor in Los Angeles, I know that I have the same legal rights as other Californian women. I am allowed to take (unpaid) leave. My employer cannot fire me for exercising this right. I cannot be denied employment, legally speaking, because of a pregnancy. And… yup, that’s about all I knew when I started considering what to do about work… which is to say, I had no idea, practically speaking, how to exercise my rights. Continue reading “Taking leave: How did you do it and how did it go? Sara Frykenberg”

The Yazidi Genocide in Iraq by Michele Buscher

Michele BuscherRoughly seven hours prior to my composing this blog, a report was disseminated across the Internet offering what is being called a first-hand account of Mosul women’s prison currently in Iraq where possibly thousands of Yazidi, Christian and Muslim women are being held.  After these women are rounded up and sent to various prisons across Iraq and parts of Syria, they are given a choice to either abandon their religious tradition and convert to Islam or be sold to ISIS soldiers for roughly 30 dollars whereafter they will be raped, forced into marriage, and in some cases will later be tortured to death.  After the women have been sold they are forced to call their families and offer detailed descriptions of what has just occurred.  This sort of psychological warfare is why many UN aid workers are calling ISIS more diabolical than al-Qaeda.

Let me back up here. A couple of years ago, while researching religious freedom abuses in Iraq, I came across a small religious group called the Yazidi.  Having never heard of this religious sect before, I took interest in why the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, USCIRF, was highlighting specifically this group, naming religious persecution by Sunni militants in Iraq against the Yazidi as a reason for citing Iraq as a CPC, or Country of Particular Concern, making Iraq uniquely vulnerable to U.S. government sanctions.  The Yazidi have been given the unfortunate nickname, “Devil Worshippers” in Iraq because their God is known as both Malak Taus and Shayton (or Shaitan), the latter meaning Devil in Arabic.  The Yazidi are known to be highly secretive regarding their religious praxis which allegedly incorporates elements of Islam, Judaism and Christianity; hence, there is much confusion about who the Yazidi are and what they stand for.  Articles from the BBC’s World Report and the Daily Mail in the UK have both pointed out that one of the few known cornerstones of the Yazidi faith is that one cannot be converted to the faith – one must be born a Yazidi and one may not ever denounce one’s faith.  If a Yazidi woman were to claim another religion, she would be expelled from her community not only for the rest of her life, but eternally.  This should help elucidate why imprisoned Yazidi women refuse to convert, choosing instead rape, slavery and ultimately death.

Now, who and what is ISIS and why is ISIS targeting the Yazidi among other minority groups in Iraq and Syria?  ISIS or IS represents the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.  The leader of this militia goes by the name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  A religious fundamentalist, al-Baghdadi is fighting for the systematic removal of the Yazidi along with all other religious minority groups in Iraq and Syria.  ISIS controls major cities on both sides of the Iraqi border which have allowed them to mobilize and procure enough weaponry to arm their fight across the entire region.  The Huffington Post has reported several incidents of Sunni Muslim insurgents celebrating mass murders of the Yazidi and other minority religious groups by shooting massive weaponry in the air and parading through the streets.

The United Nations, along with Human Rights Watch, released a statement calling the current systematic murder of Yazidi men and the imprisonment and rape of Yazidi women, “religious extermination” and an “ongoing genocide”.  An official spokesperson for Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry has said that, “the terrorists by now consider [the women] sex slaves and they have vicious plans for them…these women are going to be used in demeaning ways by those terrorists to satisfy their animalistic urges in a way that contradicts all the [sic] human and Islamic values.”    The U.S. and France have been delivering aid to those minority groups that have fled to and are attempting to survive the harsh Mt. Sinjar climate.  U.S. drone attacks along with missile strikes have flooded the areas where the ISIS militia is fighting.  But is this enough?

The U.S. has an inarguably complicated political history with Iraq and many, including some UN representatives, wonder if the U.S. and its allies are truly doing enough to help the Yazidi women. There are multiple reports across social media, claiming family members in Iraq and in the U.S. are receiving phone calls from female relatives who have managed somehow to retain their cell phones.  The women detail similar accounts of being captured, separated from their husbands and children, forced onto trucks and taken to abandoned schools and mosques.  Some have witnessed other women being sold in the marketplace to ISIS men.  One woman describes witnessing a pregnant woman being shot on sight for refusing to get into a truck headed to the now infamous Mosul prison.  Certainly, the U.S. has many decisions to make regarding how and to what extent the U.S. government should help the plight of a religious minority in Iraq.  The Yazidi community is being targeted directly, but so are many other religious minority groups in Iraq.  The Yazidi specifically have been targeted by Islamic extremists for centuries in Iraq and many Yazidi have found refuge in Syria, until now.  Women are undoubtedly being targeted by ISIS in this genocide as women are so often the target in religious conflict across the globe.

The USCIRF has named Iraq a CPC since 2008 and has detailed the ongoing Yazidi religious persecution in almost every annual report.  What more can the U.S. government and U.S. allies do for the minority citizens of Iraq?  They must take the threat of religious persecution seriously and understand that when religious freedom is not equally protected and valued by the government then basic, universal human rights are equally disvalued.  When women’s rights are not protected, basic human rights are not protected.

Michele Buscher, PhD, received her degree from the Claremont Graduate University in 2013. Her PhD is in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Theology, Ethics and Culture.  Her dissertation titled, Commission Impossible: The International Religious Freedom Act and its Impact on U.S. Foreign Policy with Particular Reference to Iraq and Burma, 1999-2012 explores the relationship between the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and current U.S. foreign policy abroad.  She is interested in the role religion plays in the development of U.S. foreign policy particularly in the Middle East and how this contributes to human rights.  Additionally, her scholarly interests include Feminist Theologies and Modern Catholic Studies.  She received her BA from Seattle University in Creative Writing and her MA from Union Theological Seminary in Theological Studies.  Michele works at Pitzer College as the Language & Cultural Lab Coordinator, Instructor for the International Fellows Program and Program Coordinator for the Kobe Women’s University visiting Cultural Program.

Hobby Lobby, Not Invited at the Spiritual Negotiating Table by Qumyka Rasheeda Howell

Q HowellSupreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said it best when she quoted Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania vs. Casey court case expressing her dissent on the Hobby Lobby decision made on Monday, June 30, 2014.

“The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.”

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that closely held companies with religious objections can opt out of providing contraception coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court’s majority also rejected the Obama administration’s argument that for-profit companies cannot assert religious rights under Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  As the RFRA only refers to persons, closely held companies are designating themselves as persons in the case. Closely held companies such as Hobby Lobby are owned by one person or are family owned business and are not a publicly traded company. Justice Sonia Sotomayor agreed with Justice Ruth Ginsburg’s dissent that companies do not have such rights – publicly traded on not.

The Burwell v. Hobby Lobby was about asserting patriarchal power and retaining profit–not about religious freedom. The Obama administration argued that the contraception requirement was not a mandate because companies could have dropped their insurance coverage and offered their employees another insurance option. The truth to Hobby Lobby is they wanted to have the privileged advantage of tax breaks offered under the Affordable Care Act while securing more money by skirting the contraception requirement under the cloth of religious freedom. Continue reading “Hobby Lobby, Not Invited at the Spiritual Negotiating Table by Qumyka Rasheeda Howell”

What Would Malala Do? by Gina Messina-Dysert

Gina Messina-Dysert profileOctober 11th was International Day of the Girl – a movement that empowers girls around the world to see themselves as powerful change agents. This year’s theme is “Innovation for girls’ education.”  Certainly, this makes sense given that education is one of our most powerful resources – just ask Malala.  During her recent interview on The Daily Show, Malala reminded the world that it is education that can solve global problems – not war.

The youngest person in history to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Malala is clear in her message; the only way to make change is through peace, dialogue, and education.  When asked about her reaction to the threat to her life by the Taliban, Malala responded saying that she thought quite a bit about what she would say if she came face to face with a Talib.  “I would tell him how important education is and that I would even want education for your children as well. That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.”

Although the Taliban has continued to threatened her life, Malala says striking back is not the right approach.  “If you hit a Talib, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty. … You must fight others through peace and through dialogue and through education.”  Such words of wisdom from a child. Continue reading “What Would Malala Do? by Gina Messina-Dysert”

Morals, Malala, and Mapping by Kile B. Jones

Kile Jones

Once again, recent events have me thinking of the ethical paradigms people utilize to comprehend and explain violent acts against women. These violent acts galvanize our moral compasses and beg for answers to our most fundamental moral questions. Do cultural relativism, pragmatism, divine command theory, utilitarianism, quasi-realism, virtue ethics, or moral realism better map on to the sentiments that arise in us when faced with misogynistic violence? Can we honestly say that an act is morally wrong when it is tangled up in the cultural and political characteristics of a certain country or group? Or can we justify, in the manner of moral realism, that certain acts are inherently wrong no matter what the context or culture? As you can tell, my ethical plate is full.

The first event that had me thinking of issues is the shooting of Malala Yousafzai. Malala, who I think should have won “Time Person of the Year” instead of President Obama, was gunned down on her school bus by members of the Taliban for being, amongst other threats, the “symbol of the infidels.” Malala survived a shot to her head and neck, and has since received innumerable awards and honors for her efforts to promote women’s education. Recently, 5 female school teachers were shot and killed by Islamic militants in the same province where Malala was shot. These teachers are thought to have been killed for their work fighting polio, since some Muslim extremists in that area think polio vaccines are a Western way of sterilizing Muslim children. Continue reading “Morals, Malala, and Mapping by Kile B. Jones”

Don’t Worry, I Won’t Marry Your Girlfriend: Sexuality, Identity, and the Easy Laugh

No longer having to deconstruct the larger cultural and sexual narratives, heterosexuals who do not support marriage equality or feel threatened by homosexuals return to their one source of power that reinforces the ideology that they are on the right path: the Bible. “Marriage is between a man a woman,” or “A man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman,” becomes the newly reinforced heterosexual rallying cry and the progressive progress that occurred in the past becomes nothing more than a joke.

johnI must say, I will be the first to admit that the recent outbreak of videos promulgating the idea that gay men will marry a straight guy’s girlfriend or lesbians will marry a straight girl’s boyfriend all for the sake of marriage equality left me stifling my laughter as I attempted to pay attention in class.

However, after the calamity died down I took a moment to reflect upon the intrinsically embedded aspects of misdirected norms of sexuality, gender, and misogyny latent within the laugh lines and the guffaws throughout each video. Continue reading “Don’t Worry, I Won’t Marry Your Girlfriend: Sexuality, Identity, and the Easy Laugh”

“LOVE PATRIARCHALISM”—ITS UNDERSIDE IS HATE by Carol P. Christ

Where patriarchalism trumps love, when push comes, shove often follows. The underside of love patriarchalism is hatred of the independence of women. 

We are told that it is the duty of a loving father and husband to protect his wife and children.  In exchange, good wives support their husbands and good children obey their fathers.  The bottom line of patriarchy is control.  The fight over abortion is a fight about men’s right to control women.

I have spent much of the past few weeks wondering why so many Republican men hate women.  Why do they want to deny the right to an abortion to a 12 year-old girl raped by her father, to a 21 year-old college student gang raped at a fraternity party, to a 33 year-old woman who submitted to a violent boyfriend she did not know had poked a hole in his condom, or a to a 41 year-old woman who offered a cup of coffee to the man who came to her house to fix the electricity, but who said “no” when he assaulted her.

I have also wondered why Republican men would deny the right to an abortion to 28 year-old married woman who got pregnant while taking the pill, to a 15 year-old girl who got carried away with her boyfriend, or even to a 35 year-old woman who got drunk one night and had sex without protection. We are all human aren’t we?  Birth control sometimes fails and sometimes women make mistakes. Apparently women are to be punished for both! Continue reading ““LOVE PATRIARCHALISM”—ITS UNDERSIDE IS HATE by Carol P. Christ”

Grievances Against the GOP from a (former?) Republican Woman by Katie German

I was raised in a conservative, Republican, military family. I support personal freedom and personal responsibility. I support the military. I support a balanced budget. I support individual rights and the constitution. I support small government. But I find myself increasingly separated from the Republican Party, and this is why:
 
I cannot align myself with a party that repeatedly acts to restrict the rights of women, to deny women protection from abuse and violence, and to trample the rights of women to make their own medical decisions. I cannot support a party where individual rights and freedoms are only protected for people with a penis (so long as they are not gay). 
On February 16, 2012, there was a hearing by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee regarding the Affordable Care Act, which concerned the availability for contraception through insurance provided through religiously-affiliated employers. Out of the ten witnesses called, only two were women. When other representatives asked that other female witnesses be called to testify regarding contraceptives, Chairman Darrell Issa refused their request on the grounds that the scope of the committee was limited to the 1st Amendment implications and not to the matter of contraceptives themselves.
 
Republicans in Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wisconsin and Mississippi have advanced “Personhood” acts/bills declaring that a fetus has the full legal rights of a person, beginning at fertilization. Such laws would make in-vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, the morning-after-pill andall abortions (medically necessary or not) illegal. It could also be interpreted to make standard birth control options such as the Nuva ring, the pill, IUDs, and birth control patches illegal. Democrat Vivian Watts in VA attempted to amend the bill in Virginia to specify that contraception would not be banned under the Personhood bill, but Republicans voted 64-34 against adding this amendment. Any abortion or even cases of miscarriage due to negligence could be charged as manslaughter or homicide. Another attempt at amending the bill was proposed by Democrat Jennifer McClellan on Feburary 13, 2012. Continue reading “Grievances Against the GOP from a (former?) Republican Woman by Katie German”
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