Archive for the ‘women’ Category

On Pornography

From pornography one learns that forcible violation of women is the essence of sex. Whatever is that and does that is sex. Everything else is secondary. –Catherine MacKinnon, Sexuality, Pornography and Method: “Pleasure under Patriarchy

Some statistics on internet porn (wonderfully ironic) from GOOD Magazine:

Some things to think about. A particularly difficult topic for me, as one with bits of both libertarian and feminist tenancies.

On this issue I side with both the religious right and feministis. I see pornography as a destructive and degrading force in society. At the same time, I still consider myself something of a conservative (in Oakeshottian terms) and a libertarian.

To explain, while I consider porn to be terribly violent, degrading, and disgusting, I worry that in banning it (as MacKinnon suggests) we would only be treating a symptom of the problem (that is, the pervasive degradation of women in our society), and what’s worse, perhaps unleashing greater inconceivable evil by driving pornography underground. The libertarian strains in me say that the government should not ban anything on moral grounds that does not hurt other individuals.

Given all of this, I think the “solution” to the problem of pornography is more people standing up objecting to it. The issue of the pornography provides an excellent opportunity for religious conservatives and (leftist) feminists to unite on a common issue–come to think of it (after I put it down in writing), the possibility of fundies and radical feminists coming together to create a public policy solution to a problem is quite terrifying (too much idealistic illusion). Perhaps I am a conservative afterall.

bonus points: Andrew Sullivan comments on Gaytanamo (warning: link is graphic), the “most controversial porn movie of 2007… [where a] German tourist is kidnapped off the street and accused of being a terrorist, then subjected to abuse and torture. The whole porn world is already talking about it!”


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It seems now that since the nexus of Christianity is shifting from the global north to the south, we’re getting more church leaders saying outrageously extreme things. I’ve written before about the down right hateful comments made by Bishop Issaac Orama (which are under dispute).

Now there’s Archbishop Francisco Chimoio of Mozambique, who is now resorting to scare tactics in order to push the Catholic church’s position on abstinence only for AIDS prevention. He said:

I know of two countries in Europe who are making condoms with (the) virus on purpose, they want to finish with African people as part of their program to colonize the continent… People must choose what they want between death and I propose to them that (abstinence) is the best way to fight HIV/AIDS.

Apart from his paranoid delusion of a grand condom conspiracy, Bishop Chimoio’s words have potentially deadly consequences. Married women are one of the most at risk groups for contracting HIV in Africa because they already face pressure from their husbands not to use condoms, and now they have a ‘Man of God’ working against them as well.

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Verizon Policy Reversal

As an update to my earlier post, Verizon officials have decided to allow text messages from Naral after all, according to NYT.

Very quick turnaround, seeing as the initial policy was just reported last night.  I’d be willing to be bloggers had a good deal to do with this reversal.

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Or just the FCC? I get confused sometimes, anyway….

Interesting bit from NYT today over Verizon’s refusal to allow customers to receive text updates from NARAL. Verizon has cited their right to block “controversial or unsavory” text messages.  From the article:

The dispute over the Naral messages is a skirmish in the larger battle over the question of “net neutrality” — whether carriers or Internet service providers should have a voice in the content they provide to customers.

“This is right at the heart of the problem,” said Susan Crawford, a visiting professor at the University of Michigan law school, referring to the treatment of text messages. “The fact that wireless companies can choose to discriminate is very troubling.”

In turning down the program, Verizon, one of the nation’s two largest wireless carriers, told Naral that it does not accept programs from any group “that seeks to promote an agenda or distribute content that, in its discretion, may be seen as controversial or unsavory to any of our users.”

Very interesting how Verizon’s status as a private corporation are what allow it to overstep the bounds set for our government with regard to the First Amendment.

Also interesting how I happen to be a Verizon customer who was denied access to both Obama and Mormon ringtones. I guess if one really wanted to be involved in text activism, they could just switch plans.

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Leslie Morgan Steiner wrote a blog post that appeared in Washingtonpost.com today about how in academic and professional settings when men and women are together, women tend to keep to themselves more, while men tend to speak up. Steiner notes:

What I found is that 1) in a free-speak forum, women speak publicly about 25 percent of the time, vs. 75 percent for men and 2) when the forum is caller-led, women are called upon about one-third as often as men are (even when the caller is a woman). I’ve found that when there is even one man present, we women defer to him and expect him to speak first. (As everyone knows, I’m no scientist and I have no reputable data to back up these percentages; these are just my observations.)

The one exception to this were my years at Seventeen Magazine in the late 1980s. Of the 50 people in the editorial department, 50 were female. Problem solved — at least within those pink walls. Which is why so many women advocate for the value of single sex education. And why those against all girls schools argue, great — but what about the bias you inevitably confront in the “real world?”

Men don’t seem to consciously dominate public discussions; they don’t blatantly cut women off or ridicule their views. And it’s not that women don’t have opinions. We certainly do. Talk to women before and after the male-dominated meetings, and it is easy to solicit opinions. We just don’t share them in public. Why? The problem is stubborn and pernicious. Women hesitate to speak up. Men don’t hesitate. So, by default more men speak, and more women stay silent.

I too have noticed this trend. I think the best anecdote I can offer comes from my experiences as a member of my high school’s academic quiz team. I attended an all girls school and as such our quiz team was the only all girls team in the regional circuit. The typical team from others schools were dominated by boys and usually consisted of one girl.

It became something of a weekly anthropological observation for myself and my team, as we would watch how that one girl from the other teams was treated. The majority of the time she sat out for most of the match, only substituting in for about one of the four rounds. She did not buzz in to answer questions as frequently as the boys, but when she did she was nearly always correct. The boys, who dominated in buzzing in, had a much lower percentage in the accuracy of their answers.

During the round where the whole team was allowed to consult with one another before the captain (a boy) submitted the team answer, the girl frequently would mutter the correct answer, but would be drowned out by the frantic brainstorming by the boys on the team.

My experience on the all girls team was markedly different. There was no hesitation, no deferring to a more forceful boy.

These days the only exposure I have to trivia competition comes from the weekly trivia night hosted by one of the local bars in Charlottesville, VA where I attend college. Trivia night in college is vaguely reminiscent of my high school quiz team days—only now I find that I have become the more reserved girl that my all girls quiz team always observed with regret.

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