In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

New Feed

The new feed for Feministe can be found here.


Officially Switched from MT to WordPress

Thanks so much to Shelley of Burningbird for walking me through this change, and sometimes taking over completely. Shelley is a WordPress goddess.

My allotment of sever space could no longer handle the rebuilds necessary to maintain the MT blog, so something had to happen. I have played around with WordPress before and knew it was a lighter, cleaner sort of blogging software. I still have to figure out the template structure, as I’m not that happy with the way this looks right now, but I hope to soon have something adequate for my picky self. In some ways I feel like I’m back where I started when I first used MT, fumbling around with the template and gazing longingly at others’ pages and their personal tweaks.

Nonetheless, here we go. Thrills abound.

About Lauren

Lauren left Feministe in January of 2006 after three years at this domain.

Most banners are created using old advertisements, illustrations, and pin-up art that have been found on the internet. When one’s hobby is web design, Google Images is one’s best friend.

Background tiles are most frequently taken from Squidfingers and Pixel Decor.

I am available for freelance blog and ad design, as seen at Slim Coincidence (splash page and professional portfolio), Michelle Maklin (a political parody for April Fools’ Day), Bitch Ph.D, and Pandagon.

Lauren takes briberies here.

The Trouble With Howard Stern

[This post brought to you by Rad Geek. Opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of feministe or Ms. Lauren. etc. etc. etc.]

O.K., I’ll cop to it. I was just about ready to cheer on Howard Stern’s "jihad" against the Bush administration; I was almost ready to accept the story that he was canned from Clear Channel as retribution for his anti-Bush stance (rather than, say, because of Clear Channel’s financial worries about escalating FCC enforcement and the $495,000 they recently paid out in fines), and to welcome him to the fold as a funny guy with a lot of fans and media connections that could help our cause in November. I was, in short, perilously close to forgetting what a halfwit misogynist twerp Howard Stern really is.

Then I heard that he’s bankrolling a remake of Porky’s, the 1982 backlash blockbuster that spawned a generation of astonishingly mean-spirited sex farces centered on teenage boys leering at, manipulating, and humiliating young women. And it’s all coming back to me now.

Sorry Howard, you’re on your own this time.

An Outrageous and Ordinary Story

[I’m one of many guest writers posting for Lauren while she’s away. My name is Charles Johnson; I normally write at Rad Geek People’s Daily.]

We’ve heard a lot about the vicious torture of men in Abu Ghraib and other detention centers around Iraq—almost exclusively by men, but yes, by some women too. The Right is so desperate for any explanation other than the sheer, evil brutality of war—the war that they clamored for, the war that was supposed to "liberate" the Iraqi people—that one leading theory seems to be that evil pro-choice lesbian mind rays made them do it (link via The Austro-Athenian Empire). Lost in much of the sensationalized coverage and handwringing, however, is the fact that we have merely been given photographic documentation of outrages that are part and parcel of the horrors of war. This is nothing new; and while it is outrageous it should not at all be surprising.W arfare is little more than the logic of patriarchal command and control writ large, and the brutality of that logic as acted out in Abu Ghraib is awfully similar, in motivation and in tactics, to the acts carried out every day by men who rape women and other men, and men who beat their wives or girlfriends, all across the country.

Nowhere is this more evident in the ordinary, and horrifying, story—buried all too often under the numerous stories about the attacks on Iraqi men—that the rape of Iraqi women has apparently been part of the unwritten Standard Operating Procedure at Abu Ghraib:

In December 2003, a woman prisoner inside the jail west of Baghdad managed to smuggle out a note. Its contents were so shocking that, at first, Amal Kadham Swadi and the other Iraqi women lawyers who had been trying to gain access to the US jail found them hard to believe.

The note claimed that US guards had been raping women detainees, who were, and are, in a small minority at Abu Ghraib. Several of the women were now pregnant, it added. The women had been forced to strip naked in front of men, it said. The note urged the Iraqi resistance to bomb the jail to spare the women further shame.

. . .

Astonishingly, the secret inquiry launched by the US military in January, headed by Major General Antonio Taguba, has confirmed that the letter smuggled out of Abu Ghraib by a woman known only as “Noor” was entirely and devastatingly accurate. While most of the focus since the scandal broke three weeks ago has been on the abuse of men, and on their sexual humilation in front of US women soldiers, there is now incontrovertible proof that women detainees – who form a small but unknown proportion of the 40,000 people in US custody since last year’s invasion – have also been abused. Nobody appears to know how many. But among the 1,800 digital photographs taken by US guards inside Abu Ghraib there are, according to Taguba’s report, images of a US military policeman “having sex” with an Iraqi woman.

Taguba discovered that guards have also videotaped and photographed naked female detainees. The Bush administration has refused to release other photographs of Iraqi women forced at gunpoint to bare their breasts (although it has shown them to Congress) – ostensibly to prevent attacks on US soldiers in Iraq, but in reality, one suspects, to prevent further domestic embarrassment.

. . .

In Iraq, the existence of photographs of women detainees being abused has provoked revulsion and outrage, but little surprise. Some of the women involved may since have disappeared, according to human rights activists. Professor Huda Shaker al-Nuaimi, a political scientist at Baghdad University who is researching the subject for Amnesty International, says she thinks "Noor" is now dead. "We believe she was raped and that she was pregnant by a US guard. After her release from Abu Ghraib, I went to her house. The neighbours said her family had moved away. I believe she has been killed."

Oh, and, by the way? It turns out that the Army already knew what was going on in Abu Ghraib. In November. They decided to start doing something about it in January when they learned that the photos existed, and the word might start getting out to the Western press. You, of course, didn’t hear a damn thing about it from our fearless leaders until April became May, after a good six months of Army concealment and CYA operations, once the truth finally came out in the pages of the New Yorker.

Firing Rumsfeld might have seemed like an appropriate demand a while ago. But with what we know now? That’s way too little to ask. Rumsfeld knew. Bush should have known. How could we face "Noor" and tell her that the most we thought we should do was to quit paying one of the men who is responsible for her torture and who is all too likely to have been an unwitting collaborator in her murder? Bush should be impeached and Rumsfeld should be indicted.

What excuse could we have for urging anything less?

Rape, As I Know It

Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.
– Jean-Paul Sartre

While watching the commentary on the Kobe Bryant rape spectacle, my stomach drops. I’ve written about the case often — I follow all news on traditional women’s issues fairly closely — and yet I have never expressed what I really mean to express on all this trial mess.

As I sit down to write this, I’m not sure that it is appropriate to write on. I haven’t done much serious writing about myself on this blog so far — too many privacy issues, too many risks. But I think I’m going to raise the risk level on this one and finally express some things I’ve been dying to say. Been hurting to say, really.

Read More…Read More…