Saturday, July 15, 2006

Women of the Storm

from a press release:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- An alliance of South Louisiana women calling themselves "Women of the Storm" today traveled to Washington to invite federal officials to visit Louisiana and see first-hand the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. More than four months after the deadly storms struck Louisiana's coast, only 13 percent of Congress and 30 percent of the Senate have visited the site of the worst natural disaster in U.S. history.

"Historians will look back on this period of time following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita as a defining moment for both our state and nation," said Anne Milling, Founder of Women of the Storm. "To neglect the needs of this vital region sets an unimaginable precedent for America's response to future catastrophes in our nation. Our elected leaders need to see for themselves -- block by block, mile by mile -- the immense devastation and the pressing challenges still faced by so many people in this region."

link to more of their story ~

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Why feminisim and being anti-war intersect so fiercely...

Women all over the world-- as a group-- have the most skin in the game when it comes to wars, even if they aren't formally fighting on the front-lines... Children they have already born and raised are expected to become cannon fodder-- willingly; children they are still raising may become cannon fodder merely by accident; and yet, women are are expected to be innocent enough to be eternal optimists, expected, as such, to reproduce even more cannon fodder, in order to keep the machines of war (and its attendant industries, for that matter) humming along. *

In addition to losing their children, or their own fathers or brothers, they may also lose their children's fathers, leaving them to explain it in some way, that will allow them to preserve whatever might be left of their children's own innocence.

In some wars, women's and girls' own bodies have been used as repositories for acts of ethnic cleansing, making rape, finally, an act of war or terror, and punishable as a war crime. In other wars, women and girls are raped and tortured-- if not to gain some sort of "actionable intelligence"-- then merely for sport or as an outlet for soldiers' rage.

Knowing these things, perhaps you, too, feel as utterly outraged as I do that rightwing ranters, who still feel entitled to support this misbegotten war in Iraq, feel equally entitled to mock the women of CodePink and their supporters during their Fast opposing the war, just because it does not fit all of their (the right-wingers') parameters of what constitutes a proper Fast! They mock them because they can. Because they are mocking women (mostly), who are unprotected by humvees, flack jackets, and automatic rifles, and "armed" only with their uteruses (and their minds and hearts?) to distinguish them from the war mongerers. (Yes, I know there are some right-wing women who support the war-- and I ascribe that enigma to a dominant Athena archetype in their personalities.)

What I really want to know is whether the under-documented, but well-anecdoted, cases of innocent civilians, especially those including women and girls being raped, tortured and murdered will allow this same war to fall within their own parameters of a well-thought-out and -executed war? Just wondering...

However, given the lack of coverage of the real Iraq in the MSM, perhaps one should give the War's supporters the benefit of the doubt, in case such ranters are not aware of the "situation on the ground" as it is now for most Iraqi women. If so, and if you know any, you might invite them to read some of the following...

In spite of rape being vastly under-reported in Iraq, reports of horrific abuse are beginning to accumulate, and are listed and summarized in this report on "Sexual Terrorism and Iraqi Women," by Ruth Rosen (author of The World Split Open) on TomDispatch.com.

Mostly likely the war-supporting ranters were/are aware of the story of the young Iraqi girl/woman who was raped, murdered, her body burned, and her family slain, but still consider such an outrage to be a rare occurrence. Perhaps it was, since her family was slain, too. However Rosen's writings, as well as other sources cited just prior to her article indicate that the problem is much more wide-spread, but vastly underreported. Underreported, because these rapes occur in a culture where the shame of rape attaches itself, not to the perpetrator, but to the woman, often resulting in honor killings, not just of the perpetrator, but often of the woman (or girl!) herself.

Tom Englehardt also links to the most recent post by Riverbend, a young Iraqi woman blogging from Baghdad. Who can even begin to comprehend what that must be like? Riverbend's eloquent prose explains it to us, including these two paragraphs:
Imagine your 14-year-old sister or your 14-year-old daughter. Imagine her being gang-raped by a group of psychopaths and then the girl was killed and her body burned to cover up the rape. Finally, her parents and her five-year-old sister were also killed. Hail the American heroes... Raise your heads high supporters of the 'liberation' - your troops have made you proud today. I don't believe the troops should be tried in American courts. I believe they should be handed over to the people in the area and only then will justice be properly served. And our ass of a PM, Nouri Al-Maliki, is requesting an 'independent investigation', ensconced safely in his American guarded compound because it wasn't his daughter or sister who was raped, probably tortured and killed. His family is abroad safe from the hands of furious Iraqis and psychotic American troops.

It fills me with rage to hear about it and read about it. The pity I once had for foreign troops in Iraq is gone. It's been eradicated by the atrocities in Abu Ghraib, the deaths in Haditha and the latest news of rapes and killings. I look at them in their armored vehicles and to be honest- I can't bring myself to care whether they are 19 or 39. I can't bring myself to care if they make it back home alive. I can't bring myself to care anymore about the wife or parents or children they left behind. I can't bring myself to care because it's difficult to see beyond the horrors. I look at them and wonder just how many innocents they killed and how many more they'll kill before they go home. How many more young Iraqi girls will they rape?
I know what my own rage feels like when I read of these atrocities... to think that this is being done in our names! (We need to invent new punctuation just for this outrage about war) How much more rage is it possible for a human to feel? Perhaps it's now ironic that I am opposed to the death penalty, for I would, under similar circumstances, undoubtedly feel as she does: hand them over to the locals.

The problem is that those who really should be handed over to the locals are safely ensconced in Washington, where they have plenty of air conditioning to buffer them from the heat, and even the necessary equipment to rescue themselves and their surroundings when there is something as unusual as a flood, and plenty of electricity-- day and night-- as well as potable water, fuel for their cars, and relative security to go about their business each day, rather than hunkering down in their homes, unable to leave for fear of being kidnapped, raped, murdered. Yet, they are the ones who have brought down this fate upon tens of thousands (or more?) of Iraqi people, especially women. So much for the much-lauded "liberation" of Iraqi women, who were already leading more secular lives than the rest of their Islam-dominated sisters.

It is a small comfort, but it is something, that at least one member of Congress feels similarly. Rep. Jim McDermott, writing at the Huffington Post, makes an excellent case for Bush's keeping Rumsfeld instead of accepting his resignation... but transferring him to Baghdad. For the duration.

Great idea, but I think there a number of others who should be required to go with Rumsfield, which brings up a technical point: Does Congress have the power to send Bush to Iraq, as well, as a condition of approving any additional funding? Again, just wondering... After all, he is the Commander-in-Chief, or as he prefers to call himself: the Decider. Shouldn't the Decider also be present?

* Pretty ironic, isn't it, when you consider the numbers of self-righteous, right-wing men who would deny a woman the right to choose whether she wants to continue a pregnancy? To put it in their own terms: How can they know whether her "means & ends" equations are any less valid than their own?

Monday, July 10, 2006

So... who's covering the Fast for Peace?

Not surprisingly, the rightwing blogs are having a heydey, focusing primarily on Cindy Sheehan's participation as they further burnish her media image, and on the fact that not all of the Fasters will be fasting continuously. (Yes-- some people who wish to protest the war do have other responsibilities that mean lesser commitments. So?) And... a lot of the conservative blogs don't even get all of the facts right-- but what else is new? Nor did I come across any that mentioned that the women of CodePink are planning-- not necessarily to cease their Fast in September, but-- to up the ante, by encouraging acts of civil disobedience.

Nor is it a surprise that the majority of the MSM outlets have not given this story much coverage-- if any. However, there are a lot of stories in smaller papers (e.g., Charleston Daily Mail, Half Moon Bay, Killeen Daily Herald, Portsmouth Herald,) and other online news sources. For example, this one on Axcess News and elsewhere, by A. N. Hernandez, has a bit more detail about Diane Wilson, and her previous fasts, as well as some of the other higher-profile fasters.

The most interesting thing about the coverage is that many of the smaller and regional papers' stories about the Fast are actually about local residents joining in the CodePink hunger strike in Washington. Remember the protesting multitudes before and during the run-up to the War, standing on street corners and main streets all across the country? And the candlelight vigils? And-- the lack of coverage in the MSM, or the degree to which the opposition to the War was downplayed whenever there was a story? I think this story could be something similar. Except... local papers, who are less beholden to the ways of Washington, may actually lead the way in covering this anti-war effort, just as the MSM should have done. Before the War.