A little more than a year ago, Melinda Gates made a bold and controversial pledge to help women in the developing world get better access to contraception.
It was an unexpected declaration from the practicing Catholic and co-chair with husband Bill of a private philanthropy better known for promoting vaccines and working to improve education. She was sharply criticized by Catholic groups that argue that global health and development funds should go to other causes.
In her travels across sub-Saharan and South Asia over more than a decade, Ms. Gates says she had seen the same scene play out over and over. Women she met with to talk about vaccines would ask her how they could get birth control. “They would say to me, ‘But what about that shot I used to get?’ ” she said in an interview at the headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The women were referring to Depo-Provera, she explained, an injectable contraceptive that they told her they like and walk miles to get—only to find often out of stock.
Now, one year later, Ms. Gates appears well on her way toward her goal. At a summit last summer hosted by the Gates Foundation and the U.K. Department for International Development, donors pledged $2.6 billion—$300 million more than the hosts had hoped to raise—to bring voluntary family planning services to 120 million more women in the world’s poorest countries by 2020.
Even conservative Forbes magazine recognizes that what state GOP leaders are doing is wrong:
Abortion is one of those issues where each side tends to think that they totally possess the moral high ground. This can lead to a loss of perspective. There will be a tendency when you muster at least a local majority to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at your opponents, regardless of collateral damage to other policy goals. Like sensible tax policies.
Kansas exempts prescription drugs from sales tax. Most, if not all states, have a similar exemption. Educational materials purchased for distribution to the public for free by a non-profit foster the improvement of public health are also exempt. Tangible personal property purchased by a 501(c)(3) organization that provides health services to the medically underserved is also exempt.
The new legislation repeals the exemption for drugs that are prescribed for abortion. It also repeals the not-for-profit sales tax exemptions for organizations where abortions are performed. That’s not enough. There are also income tax provisions. I have to confess that I am having trouble figuring one of them out. Kansas adjusted gross income is increased by:
For taxable years commencing after December 31, 2013, that portion of the amount of any expenditure deduction claimed in determining federal adjusted gross income for expenses paid for medical care of the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse or dependents when such expenses were paid or incurred for an abortion, or for a health benefit plan, as defined in section 1, and amendments thereto, for the purchase of an optional rider for coverage of abortion in accordance with K.S.A. 2012 Supp. 40-2,190, and amendments thereto, to the extent that such taxes and assessments are claimed as an itemized deduction for federal income tax purposes.
Kansas follows federal adjusted gross income pretty closely and allows federal itemized deductions relatively unscathed. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the above provision, since medical expenditures are generally not allowed against federal adjusted gross income.
FEMEN, the “sextremist” feminist group known for staging topless protests, declared yesterday “International Topless Jihad Day” in solidarity with Amina Tyler, a 19 year old Tunisian activist who had received death threats after posting topless pictures of herself to Femen’s Tunisian Facebook page. She had written “Fuck your morals” and “My body belongs to me is not the source of anyone’s honor” in Arabic on her chest, causing religious officials to call for her to be punished by 80 to 100 lashes or even, horrifyingly, by being stoned to death. Following reports that Amina had been admitted to a mental hospital, FEMEN called upon its supporters to protest the “lethal hatred of Islamists – inhuman beasts for whom killing a woman is more natural than recognising her right to do as she pleases with her own body” at Tunisian embassies around the world. Protests occurred in Sweden, Italy, Ukraine, France, and Belgium.
While it is unquestionably necessary, brave, and noble to stand with Amina (who is reportedly not free to move or speak safely), the protests were distressingly and distractingly Islamophobic. A photo from one of shows a white woman with crescent moons covering her nipples, wearing a fake beard, a unibrow penciled in with eyeliner, and a bath towel on her head. Another photo, highlighted on FEMEN’s Facebook page is of a topless woman protesting at a mosque in San Francisco (because, when you’re fighting the good fight of “TITS AGAINST ISLAMISM,” standing topless in front of any mosque anywhere will do) with the following caption:
TODAY IS AMINA TOPLESS JIHAD DAY. I was at the Islamic Mosque in San Francisco. Some Arab guy tried to grab my sign and pushed me in a violent way. My friend stopped him. MY BODY IS MY TEMPLE.
Further down is a cartoon of a woman crawling out from under her burqa to light on fire the beard of a caricature of a Muslim man (or should I say “some Arab guy”?). In the comments, a woman posted a link to an Al Jazeera article about Muslim women counter-protesting the protest, as they rightfully feel that it was condescending and imperialistic in both tone and intent. FEMEN fans responded to her link in the following ways:
“Stupid muslim women. Made brainless by Quran.”
You know that there’s something wrong with your protest when its ardent supporters find it appropriate to repeatedly call the women they are “saving” stupid and to affirm that they have no capacity for making decisions of their own.
FEMEN strikes again: Topless protesters staged demonstrations near mosques and Tunisian embassies across Europe on Thursday to express support for embattled FEMEN activist Amina Tyler.
“We’re free, we’re naked, it’s our right, it’s our body, it’s our rules, and nobody can use religion, and some other holy things, to abuse women, to oppress them,” FEMEN member Alexandra Shevchenko said in Berlin, according to AFP.
“And we’ll fight against them. And our boobs will be stronger than their stones,” she added.
Tunisian student Amina Tyler sparked a massive controversy in mid-March by posting topless photos of herself on Facebook, with the slogans “Fuck Your Morals” and “My Body Belongs To Me, And Is Not The Source Of Anyone’s Honor,” painted on her body.
Islamist hackers responded with an attack on FEMEN’s Tunisian Facebook Fan Page, replacing topless photos with quotes from the Quran. An Islamic preacher even stated that Tyler could be stoned for her act of defiance.
In support of Tyler’s plight, FEMEN labeled April 4 “International Topless Jihad Day” and organized protests across Europe.
“This day will mark the beginning of a new, genuine Arab Spring, after which true freedom, freedom without mullahs and caliphs, will come to Tunisia! Long live the topless jihad against infidels! Our tits are deadlier than your stones!” the group wrote in a statement on its Facebook page.
SK: This North Dakota law comes right after another really restrictive law in Arkansas. Are these becoming a trend? Are you expecting more restrictions like these?
CR: What we’re seeing is a couple of states where the most extreme right fringe has taken over these state legislatures. You have a state like North Dakota where the governor has now chosen to side with the extreme right wing over [the state’s] women.
These two states are outliers, but it is chilling to think that for women in America, your rights now depend on your Zip code. I’m hearing lots of outrage over the airwaves from women and men across the country, that this could happen in 2013.
Myla Haider took a roundabout route to becoming an agent in the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, or CID. Wars kept interrupting her training.
Before she ever went to war, during CID training, Haider was raped. With some experience already with the military’s attitude toward rape, she decided not to report the attack.
“I’ve never met one victim who was able to report the crime and still retain their military career,” she says. “Not one.”
Just another horrific aspect of the greater evil of militarism as noted by MLK.
It is 10 years after the invasion of Iraq, and images of Iraqi women from various political parties are filling the streets of Baghdad ahead of April’s local elections — a sign to casual observers that women’s equality is on track in this war-ravaged country.
But although the women of Iraq have obtained some benefits on paper, the reality is that they have lost far more than they have gained since the war began in 2003.
On the political front, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has not appointed a single woman to a senior cabinet position, despite the fact women are guaranteed 25% of the seats in parliament by the constitution. The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, a poorly-funded and mostly ceremonial department, is the lone ministry headed up by a woman.
Constitutionally, women were able to secure the ability to pass their citizenship on to their children by non-Iraqi husbands, making Iraq one of a handful Arab countries with such a provision for their female citizens.
But on the other hand, women are no longer guaranteed equal treatment under one law in terms of marriage, divorce, inheritance and custody. That law, the Family Statutes Law, has been replaced one giving religious and tribal leaders the power to regulate family affairs in the areas they rule in accordance with their interpretation of religious laws.
This not only is making women more vulnerable, it is giving women from various sects (Sunni or Shia) or religion (Muslim or Christian) different legal treatments on the same issues.
Economically, women have gone from being visibly active in the Iraqi work force in the 1980s — particularly in the farming, marketing and professional services sectors — to being nearly non-existent in 2013.
The women who could afford it withdrew from the public space due the violence dominating the streets. 10 years ago Iraq produced much of its own food and had a productive industrial sector — but now Iraq imports practically all of its food, and farmers and factory workers simply found themselves out of a job as industry ground to a halt. And while both women and men suffered as a result, the impact on women was greater due to their limited mobility in the face of poor security.
Violence against women — and the lack of legal protection for women — is also on the rise. Women’s rights groups blame the increase in violence on the social and economic pressure that families face, the lack of public and political will to stop it, and the increase religious conservatism that often justifies the violence. […]
It has been just over 20 years since I left Iraq. Today, female college students ask me if it is true that the streets of Baghdad were once full of women driving, that women could walk around in public at all times of the day without worry, that university campuses were once filled with women who did not wearing headscarves.
More at the link. h/t ggt.
In theocrat run Kansas you can see the portents of what would transpire if religious zealots were given even a half a reign to run our country.
The Republican-controlled Kansas House of Representatives voted to advance legislation adding new restrictions to abortions in the state Tuesday.
The legislation would end the use of tax exemptions for payments for abortions, while at the same time requiring doctors to inform women that abortions may cause breast cancer, a claim that has been disputed by the medical community. The bill also defines life as beginning at fertilization and would prohibit all state employees from performing abortions during the work day. The bill now advances to the GOP-controlled state Senate, where it is expected to pass, then be signed by Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who has said he will sign any anti-abortion bill that reaches his desk.
“I am disappointed but not surprised by the House’s vote,” Kansas NOW lobbyist Elise Higgins told The Huffington Post. “I am extremely disappointed and saddened by their decision not to extend an exemption for rape and incest.”
In this video I take to task Feminist Frequencys latest video on ‘Tropes vs women: the damsel in distress’
I’ve been thinking about this for several months and this will be my best attempt to convey a problem I see within feminism in it’s current incarnation.
There are women who are using the same tactics as the NRA in order to win support and make money from the feminist “movement”. It’s simple fear mongering and it doesn’t play to every woman or every feminist just as the NRA doesn’t play to every gun owner. However, this voice seems to be getting stronger and it seems to be a distraction from real issues.
Scream Oppression + Pop Culture Target of the Moment = $$$
For those who truly care about women please do your best to keep your eye on the ball. Violence Against Women act, access to health care choices and contraception, commanders in the military overturning sexual assault convictions, child care assistance, etc.
We all have a limited amount of time and energy in our lives. Spend yours wisely in support of your issues and beliefs. Find common ground and accept help from those who want to support you.
It’s not as if I feel the LGF community is not already aware of this sort of position. I’m not trying to educate so much as to firm up my own feelings on the matter. Do your thing.