Friday, June 30, 2006

Kuwait: (Some) Women Get the Vote

It was a big day for Kuwaiti women yesterday. For the first time ever, women in Kuwait were allowed to exercise the duty American women take for granted. American women shouldn't though because we've only had the vote for 86 years. That's right, less than 100 years.

Kuwaiti women voted yesterday. Didn't hear about it? Didn't seem to make a big splash in the US and what few stories that were released about it didn't emphasize the fact that only women who follow Islamic law were allowed to vote. Not even NPR used that fact in their story.

In the first 10 results in a Google News search, only 1 US news source is listed. Why? According to Adam Hanft at Huffington Post, it's all about Iraq.
It's hard to explain away the fact that it took 15 years after we went to war to liberate Kuwait, to finally give women the opportunity to vote. And not all women, mind you, only women who follow Islamic law. If it's taken this long to change a tiny slice of the culture in Kuwait, what message does that send about the timeframe in Iraq?
What indeed?

This only illustrates how woeful women's rights are around the world and how American politicians just don't care ... or get it ... or something. This is why it's so important for us to keep speaking up, keep going to the polls, letting those in power know that we are fed up and it's a time for change.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Tell Me This Isn't What We Really Want

A Bush & Co. promo featuring a pre-pregnant mother popping vitamins and scheduling just-in-case "pre-conception care services"—neither of which she can afford because she's paid far below a living wage—while sending her kids off to sex-segregated public schools.

Let's not forget that in Bush World her children return home from their sex-segregated schools with "knowledge" about abstinence and creationism, and some sporty brochures they got from an army recruiter in the cafeteria.

Complete the picture with a local pharmacist who denies our struggling mother emergency contraception, and a senator who thinks she shouldn't get birth control either, and an administration whose idea of small government is taking up residence in her vagina.
NOW's president, Kim Gandy, writes about the latest right-wing runway fashion show and identifies the latest couture from the "Bush & Co collection."

So maybe this is what Lyssa Strada is really all about?

I came across the excerpt below in my usual way... there's a German word for when a book reaches out from the shelf to claim you... it was something like that. The inimitable Digby had posted something on the "kerfluffle" about blogger-turned-political consultant Jerome Armstrong's being an actual astrologer and how outraged so many progressive bloggers are about it. There followed, as one can imagine, a heated-- yet generally civil, by blogging standards-- debate on the almost universally agreed upon lack of merit of astrology and myriad other so-called pseudo-sciences, which are to be distinguished from real science, in my opinion, not just on the basis of their objectivity, but also by their degree of male dominance. But that's just my opinion. Or so I thought. Apparently, there are some men who are aware of both the price and the cost of the lack of visibility of the feminine in western culture. (What about eastern culture? They don't really discuss that.)

The following paragraphs are from The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas that Have Shaped Our World View, by Richard Tarnas, which I had read about, but have not yet read. I found the link, courtesy of Dewey in Digby's comment thread, to this conclusion of the epilogue of Tarnas's book:
This is the great challenge, yet I believe it is one the Western mind has been slowly preparing itself to meet for its entire existence. I believe that the West's restless inner development and incessantly innovative masculine ordering of reality has been gradually leading, in an immensely long dialectical movement, toward a reconciliation with the lost feminine unity, toward a profound and many-leveled marriage of the masculine and feminine, a triumphant and healing reunion. And I consider that much of the conflict and confusion of our own era reflects the fact that this evolutionary drama may now be reaching its climactic stages. For our time is struggling to bring forth something fundamentally new in human history: We seem to be witnessing, suffering, the birth labor of a new reality, a new form of human existence, a "child" that would be the fruit of this great archetypal marriage, and that would bear within itself all its antecedents in a new form. I therefore would affirm those indispensable deals expressed by the supporters of feminist, ecological, archaic, and other ountercultural and multicultural perspectives. But I would also wish to affirm those who have valued and sustained the central Western tradition, for I believe that this tradition-- the entire trajectory from the Greek epic poets and Hebrew prophets on, the long intellectual and spiritual struggle from Socrates and Plato and Paul and Augustine to Galileo and Descartes and Kant and Freud-- that this stupendous Western project should be seen as a necessary and noble part of a great dialectic, and not simply rejected as an imperialist-chauvinist plot. Not only has this tradition achieved that fundamental differentiation and autonomy of the human which alone could allow the possibility of such a larger synthesis, it has also painstakingly prepared the way for its own self-transcendence. Moreover, this tradition possesses resources, left behind and cut off by its own Promethean advance, that we have scarcely begun to integrate--and that, paradoxically, only the opening to the feminine will enable us to integrate. Each perspective, masculine and feminine, is here both affirmed and transcended, recognized as part of a larger whole; for each polarity requires the other for its fulfillment. And their synthesis leads to something beyond itself: It brings an unexpected opening to a larger reality that cannot be grasped before it arrives, because this new reality is itself a creative act.

But why has the pervasive masculinity of the Western intellectual and spiritual tradition suddenly become so apparent to us today, while it remained so invisible to almost every previous generation? I believe this is occurring only now because, as Hegel suggested, a civilization cannot become conscious of itself, cannot recognize its own significance, until it is so mature that it is approaching its own death.

Today we are experiencing something that looks very much like the death of modern man, indeed that looks very much like the death of Western man. Perhaps the end of "man" himself is at hand. But man is not a goal. Man is something that must be overcome--and fulfilled, in the embrace of the feminine.

[Image: source]

Monday, June 26, 2006

Books: Bluebeard's Egg

I have just finished writing up my notes and thoughts about Margaret Atwood's Bluebeard's Egg over at Logs of the Written Word.

Atwood is definitely a feminist who once said in an interview when asked "So, you're a feminist. Does that mean you hate men?" Her reply was a quick-witted, "Do you mean all of them or just some of them?" (If memory serves, which it sometimes does not. She could just have easily said, "Why don't you ask them?")

The themes of feminist vs. feminity, invisibility with or without a splash of body image insecurity struck me most fiercely in this collection of short stories, which are excellent in nearly every way.

The minimum wage scandal is a working woman's Issue... as well as her children's

Update: Economic Record: Federal minimum wage is set to break two records:

"adjusted for inflation [minimum wage] is at its lowest level since 1955,"

"[when] 2006 comes to an end - it will mark 10 years - the longest time the minimum has gone without an increase."

but...

Economic Report: Dems Say Minimum Wage Workers Get a Raise or Congress Doesn't

By Doug Cunningham

Senate Democrats are threatening to block the latest $3,300 pay raise for Congress unless Republicans give minimum wage workers a raise. The federal minimum wage has stayed at $5.15 an hour since 1997. Congress has had raises of more than $31,000 in that time. The minimum wage of $10,400 a year is $6,000 below the federal poverty line for a family of three. Campaigns are underway in several states to get minimum wage increases on the November ballot.

Following is an excerpt from the Econonomic Policy Institute ~ dated almost seven years ago. What are the disparities now? [Read this paper from the Children's Defense Fund for an idea. ]

September 16, 1999 Issue Brief #133

The Minimum Wage Increase
A Working Woman's Issue

by Jared Bernstein, Heidi Hartmann, and John Schmitt

As Congress considers raising the federal minimum wage from its current level of $5.15 per hour to $6.15, it is important to understand who will benefit from this increase. An analysis of low-wage workers shows that the main beneficiaries of this one-dollar increase would be working women, almost one million of whom are single mothers. In fact, of the 11.8 million workers who would receive a pay increase as the result of this higher minimum wage, 58% would be women, simply because, as a group, they earn lower wages than men. As a result, a minimum wage increase would help to reduce the overall pay gap between women and men.

Since the minimum wage is not indexed to inflation, when Congress fails to raise the minimum wage, these workers' purchasing power declines, as was the case over the 1980s. Even with the two increases thus far in the 1990s, the minimum wage remains 19% below its inflation-adjusted 1979 level. This decline in the minimum wage helps to explain the growth of wage inequality and the diminished earnings of low-wage female workers over the last two decades.

In 1979, a woman working at the minimum wage earned 70% of the hourly wage of the median female worker (the woman right in the middle of the female wage scale). By 1998, that ratio had fallen to 52%. Similarly, in 1979 a single mother working full time at the minimum wage earned enough to lift a family of three (herself and two children) above the poverty line. By 1998, however, the same family would be 18% below the poverty line. [1]
And, still, our GOP-controlled congress is unable to see how they might be perceived as penurious by others who would judge them for their own questionable salary increases, which are, in fact, tied to the cost of living (their living, not ours), juxtaposed against their willingness to ride on the coattails of welfare reform that forced many young, and under-educated mothers of young children into the workforce, and into jobs where the low pay, and lack of health care benefits, continue to push them even further below the poverty line. Ah me...

Yet, there is hope in the final paragraph of this story from last week's Christian Science Monitor:

After Wednesday's vote, Kennedy found a bright spot, even in the defeat of his measure: eight Republican votes in support of his position. "We have doubled the number of Republicans who supported the minimum wage this time. We may have to wait until November, when Democrats take control.... One of the first acts of legislation will be a freestanding minimum-wage bill."

Finally, this related story, also from the Christian Science Monitor, erases any doubt about the benefits to working mothers and their children that would result from an increase in the minimum wage.

My only question is why $7-something an hour? Wouldn't $10 an hour be more realistic?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

"Loose Change"

...is an absolutely must-see documentary.

Books: Born of a Woman

(Hey, thanks Thursday for the invite!)

I'm currently reading Born of a Woman. You can follow my thoughts as I read it, here at Logs of the Written Word. It's a fascinating look at how the male-dominated church has treated women through the centuries by changing how Jesus' birth has been interpreted.

So far what I love most about Bishop Spong's writing is his unwavering faith all the while re-analyzing one of the most revered tailes in Christendom. The conclusions he reaches are the same that I have come to, rather independently. It will prove to be a good ride.