Today while being a domestic goddess (unwillingly, mind you), I turned on a YouTube channel to have something on in the background as I worked. I turned on an Oprah episode (I know, how cliche!), and all of a sudden, I stopped working to watch.
It’s an interview with the journalist Nicholas Kristof and his partner, Sheryl WuDunn, about their book: Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
I was most struck by this statistic, taken from their book’s foreword:
It appears that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the battles of the twentieth century. More girls are killed in this routine ‘gendercide’ in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the twentieth century.
Hearing information like this takes my breath away.
Earlier this week, Jerry and I (along with some friends) attended the Governor General’s lecture that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Bill of Rights. Michaëlle Jean may be a governmental figurehead as GG, but she’s also an amazing advocate for women and First Nations peoples. Her talk was inspirational, and I really wished Emma was old enough that I could have taken her along with me to hear such a woman speak.
During the question and answer portion of the talk, the first person to stand and speak was a man who was clearly upset with Jean and the panel of university faculty/students who were advocating for womens’ rights as human rights. He incoherently rambled a rant that essentially boiled down to a concern that women were attempting to domineer their way in society as a vindictive attempt of establish a place of feminine power over men.
Of course, no one took him seriously. [Jean's later response to his question was priceless: "domination is destruction -- not only that, it's boring."]
I’ve had some issues with the whole mens’ rights movement, and while part of me wants to take it seriously (especially when it concerns fathers’ rights), there’s another part of me that thinks all of it is pretty silly, especially when compared to the plight of most women in the world.
I think I need to read this book, and maybe forward it to some of the mens’ rights advocates I know. *That* could lead to some really interesting conversations over a beer!
“These ideas offended, but they changed the world. Without the free exchange of ideas, progress is impossible.”
CFI’s Campaign for Free Expression.
In case you didn’t grow up in the church, that’s code for: I’m going to offend you, but I get a free pass to say whatever I want to with this disclaimer.
Tonight Jerry turned on Larry King Live, and we watched an interview with Christian singer Jennifer Knapp, who this week officially “outed” herself to the world as a lesbian. Thankfully, more and more these days this kind of announcement is becoming less “news” — but in Knapp’s evangelical context, announcing you are a content lesbian in a committed relationship is pretty high up there on the list of SIN (usually mentioned in the context of bestiality and pedophilia).
I can remember listening to Knapp, back in my believer days. In fact, I still have her CD and find myself still digging her song “Undo Me“. I thought of her as part Alanis, part Melissa Etheridge (little did I know how right-on I was in my generalizing!).
Anyway, this week Knapp did an interview for Christianity Today, Reuters, and The Advocate — talk about three very different audiences! I enjoyed listening to her chat with King, and he did a good job of asking some pretty interesting questions (I’m usually not a fan of his interviews).
The show took an interesting turn when King invited “Pastor Bob” Botsford on the show, to talk about his post, Straight to the Truth: A Response to Jennifer Knapp’s Coming Out.
If you’re ever curious about one of the (many) reasons why I left the church and haven’t looked back, watch this clip:
Needless to say, Knapp had way more composure than I would have had if we were to have traded spaces. I find the patronizing, pious righteousness of people like Pastor Bob incredibly nauseating. It was difficult to watch him sit there and say that he “loves” Jennifer, and then spew such religiously-motivated discrimination — let’s just say I was glad that he was so confident to be speaking the words of Jesus. Anyone with a mind (or heart) can see how wrong and bad he looked in his judgement.
Anyway, of course I had to look up good ol’ Pastor Bob, and let him know how much I appreciated his representation of his side of the issue — after all, the more people like him speak out publicly, the more others will see how bankrupt this “moral” position really is. Here’s the comment I left on Pastor Bob’s blog — one that finally showed up, after several attempts to have it get past the moderator:
(if this comment doesn’t get published, I’ll realize it’s because the moderator is only allowing supportive comments to be shown — which states a lot about the character of this “Pastor Bob.”)
Pastor Bob, your pious faux-compassion shown on Larry King Live tonight reminded me of why I left the church, and haven’t yet looked back. It’s “compassionate Christians” like you that give your faith system a bad name. (and this is coming from an evangelical pastor’s kid who grew up in the church)
I’m just glad your righteous homophobia will now be recorded on tape, for all posterity. It’s going to be hard to explain these discriminatory statements to your flock and grandkids, when as the world continues to change and leave this religiously-driven bigotry behind.
And all the people said? Amen.
Ever since I heard about Constance McMillen’s story a few months ago, I’ve been a little heartbroken for what she’s had to go through. In case you don’t recognize her name, she’s the 18 year-old in Mississippi whose school principal told her she couldn’t attend her senior prom with her girlfriend as a date.
The good news? A court ruled that her school district couldn’t cancel prom and deny access to Constance and her date. The bad news?
To avoid Constance McMillen bringing a female date to her prom, the teen was sent to a “fake prom” while the rest of her class partied at a secret location at an event organized by parents.
McMillen tells The Advocate that a parent-organized prom happened behind her back — she and her date were sent to a Friday night event at a country club in Fulton, Miss., that attracted only five other students. Her school principal and teachers served as chaperones, but clearly there wasn’t much to keep an eye on.
I hope these Mississippi homophobic hicks enjoyed their night out on the town.
Anyone who hears Constance’s story (and is not a dogmatic bigot) will now better understand why Mississippi has a reputation of being one of the most religious and uneducated states in the Union.
I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating — the fight for equal rights for gays and lesbians is the civil rights movement of my generation. I’m just glad to be on the right side of this issue.
Constance, you’re a hero.
The anti-choice approach on late abortions is consistent with one viewpoint: the misogynist one. Let’s assume for a moment that the motivation behind anti-choice activism is not a love of life or a belief that a fertilized egg is the same thing as a baby. Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, they’re motivated by a belief that the main role of women in this world is to be baby machines, and that women should mindlessly reproduce even if it kills them. Is this viewpoint consistent with the focus on late abortion?
Absolutely! If this is how you feel, you’d be extremely interested in portraying women as callous, stupid, and mercurial, then you’d be all about portraying late abortion as something that happens because stupid, heartless, fickle women change their minds 6 months into a pregnancy. You wouldn’t be interested in the truth about the medical indications that lead to late abortions, because in your mind, if they can’t have babies, they should die trying. You’d relish the opportunity to use graphic imagery and language to shut down people’s rational thinking, and get them to react to an “ick factor.” And you’d be indifferent to the suffering you caused real women, like Tiffany Campbell, who had to abort much-wanted pregnancies because of fetal abnormalities—their feelings don’t matter to you as much as the production model of their uteruses.
Misogyny: The Real Root of Opposition to Late Abortion
Read the whole article, it’s worth it.