Look at the freedom we’ve brought!

An Afghan journalism student has been sentenced to death for downloading a report on women’s rights. What a fabulous democracy we’ve brought the Afghan people.

The fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has led to domestic and international protests, and deepening concern about erosion of civil liberties in Afghanistan. He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed.

Mr Kambaksh, 23, distributed the tract to fellow students and teachers at Balkh University with the aim, he said, of provoking a debate on the matter. But a complaint was made against him and he was arrested, tried by religious judges without – say his friends and family – being allowed legal representation and sentenced to death.

The Independent has a petition you can sign here. It’s a petition to the UK foreign office, but anyone can sign it, and non-UK pressure can make a difference.

Women In Media & News

I first learned of the organization, Women in Media and News, this morning through The Huffington Post.  Then, within an hour, an email mentioned their blog, WIMN Voices.  Stranger still, the email was forwarding a letter in which the reference to the blog was quite possibly accidental, the product of someone’s forgetting to change all the entries in a form  letter.

So, putting aside the unphilosophical sense of receiving a HINT, I still think it’s worth drawing our readers attention to WIMN. Their mission:

WIMN works to increase women’s presence in the public debate, emphasizing those who are least often heard, including women of color, low-income women, lesbians, youth and older women.

WIMN analyzes representations of women in media; trains women’s and social justice groups to hold media outlets accountable to the public interest; advocates for policy reform and structural change; and works with journalists to broaden the quantity and diversity of women’s voices appearing in the media.

WIMN promotes equity for women as subjects, sources and producers because accurate, diverse news and entertainment media are essential to a vibrant democracy and an informed public.

They provide classes, based on a sliding scale of fees (if I’ve read them correctly), to train women to become more visible and more capable presences in the media. They also help college groups.

There’s a lot to the site worth looking at, and don’t miss the blog!

“The Sex of Your Surgeon May Matter”

The NY Times reports on a study reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute by researchers at Columbia University.  The question they address concerned why the treatment of women similarly affected by breast cancer varied.   In particular, they looked after radiation treatment after lumpectomy, which is documented to be the better course of treatment. 

The researchers analyzed data on nearly 30,000 women aged 65 and older who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1991 and 2002 and who received lumpectomy. They also analyzed data on the 4,453 surgeons who operated on the women.

About 25% of women do not get the preferred treatment.  There were two sets of facts that made a difference:

1.  As earlier studies indicated, demographic factors mattered:  Older women, black women, unmarried women and those living outside urban areas were less likely to receive radiation.

But the new report looks at doctors behind the treatment, and it found:

2.  Women who received radiation were more likely to have a female surgeon. Women who were treated by more experienced surgeons were also more likely to receive radiation treatment, as were women treated by doctors trained in the United States. (Note: the study was of women treated in the US; it is not a comparison among countries.)

The article states,

Dr. Dawn L. Hershman, co-director of the breast program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University, said … “There are many fantastic male surgeons….It shouldn’t be taken that every woman should be seen by a woman, but there are some contributing factors to this difference that we need to investigate further.’’

It seems important to know also whether the influence was evenly distributed over those with the unfortunate demographics.

And finally the article reveals a small tension between the author and the person doing the titles; while the title has the term ‘sex,’ the article uses ‘gender.’

National NOW is much better than NY-NOW

This is the right way for NOW to respond to Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama: 

Statement of NOW President Kim Gandy, January 28, 2008: The National Organization for Women has enormous respect and admiration for Sen. Edward Kennedy (D- Mass.). For decades Sen. Kennedy has been a friend of NOW, and a leader and fighter for women’s civil and reproductive rights, and his record shows that.Though the National Organization for Women Political Action Committee has proudly endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for president, we respect Sen. Kennedy’s endorsement. We continue to encourage women everywhere to express their opinions and exercise their right to vote. 

I very much hope that NOW will do something about the person writing press releases in NY. I should say that I find the NY-NOW comments especially disturbing since what I’ve read suggests that the reason Kennedy decided not to remain neutral was that he was offended by the Clinton campaign’s race-baiting tactics. I’d like to see NOW speaking out against these tactics as well. Here’s hoping NOW does both of these things. Update:  In fact, let’s do more than just hope.  I’ve written to NOW, and you can, too.  Just go here

Equal opportunity smearing vs. Post-racism.

We’ve called our readers’ attention to the media treatment of Hillary Clinton as she  has been denigrated in ways feminists at least could easily predict; we tend to be all too aware of the sexist cliches being worked through by the press.

What racist cliches are showing up in opposition to Obama’s campaign?  Or has the United States entered the period of post-racism, as Daniel Shore was considering yesterday on NPR?  Might racial lines at least be getting blurry, as he suggests?

Well maybe, but not always perhaps quite as one might like.  At least one blurring is done by the cliche of the secretative, mysterious, dangerous and dark outsider, a  trope apparently applicable both to Arabs and African Americans.  And so the picture of  the dangerous Obama as the secret Muslim plotting against America from the inside has been seized upon.

An excellent post on a Religion, Philosophy and Ethics course blog draws our attention to the viral email about Obama that is going around and to the conservative US network that appears to helping it along.  Don’t miss their  link to a full report  here.

So Very, Very Not What We Need

NOW-NY has just issued an appalling press release.

Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, and the Family and Medical Leave Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.

And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not “this” one). “They” are Howard Dean and Jim Dean (Yup! That’s Howard’s brother) who run DFA (that’s the group and list from the Dean campaign that we women helped start and grow). “They” are Alternet, Progressive Democrats of America, democrats.com, Kucinich lovers and all the other groups that take women’s money, say they’ll do feminist and women’s rights issues one of these days, and conveniently forget to mention women and children when they talk about poverty or human needs or America’s future.

This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation- to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who “know what’s best for us.

This is not how anyone should argue. And it’s especially appalling coming from a large state chapter of a major feminist organisation. I will be so very, very happy if somebody reveals this to be a hoax. Please? Anybody?

CFP: Gender, Inequality, and Social Justice.

This society provides a congenial venue for feminist scholars, we are told.

The 25th Annual International
Social Philosophy Conference
Sponsored by the
North American Society for Social Philosophy
July 17-19, 2008
at the University of Portland (Oregon) 
Special attention will be devoted to the theme
Gender, Inequality, and Social Justice
but proposals in all areas of social philosophy are welcome 
The Program Committee will be chaired by:
Professor Jordy Rocheleau
of Austin Peay State University and
Professor Richard Buck
of Mount Saint Mary’s University
A 300-500 word abstract should be sent to the program chairs.  Individuals who wish to be considered for the award for best graduate student paper should submit their entire paper and abstract. Electronic Submissions welcomed and encouraged.

Jordy Rocheleau
Department of Philosophy
Austin Peay State University
Box 4486
Clarksville, TN 37044
tel. 931-221-7925
Richard Buck
Department of Philosophy
Mount Saint Mary’s University
16300 Old Emmitsburg Rd
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
tel. 301-447-5368
The deadline for submissions is March 15, 2008
or, for those living outside the
 United States and Canada, January 15, 2008

A New Carnival

And by ‘new’, I mean it’s the first ever Carnival Against Pornography and Prostitution.  We here at Feminist Philosophers have a diverse range of views on these issues, and we know our readers do, too.  So, some of you will be fans of this carnival and others not so much.  But we thought we’d let you know about it, not least because our very own Monkey has something in it.  Congratulations, Monkey!

Global Voices

Bideshi blue makes me aware that yesterday was the Global Day of Action, and the entry for Jan 26th is full of links to important information and events.   The post also has links to dsicussions about the World Social Forum, a significant event to many women in other countries, though its covereage in the US and UK seems slight to non-existent.  (I would love to be wrong about this!)

Bideshi Blue is connected to the Nari Jibon website , an initiative of Rising Voices, which seeks to redress the representative inbalance in the online world:

“..certain regions of the world and certain demographics within those regions have benefited from the boom in citizen media more than others. Most bloggers and podcasters still tend to be middle or upper-middle class. Most have a college-level education. Most live in large cities. And of the 70 million weblogs now tracked by Technorati, 95% of them are written in just 10 languages. The truth is, what we often call the ‘global conversation,’ is a privileged discussion among global elites.”

Rising Voices in turn is an initiative of Global Voices Online, which is currently linking to the http://www.youtube.com project to provide input to the World Economic Forum from ordinary people.

These online voices are an enriching source for Western feminists. And after Jender mentioned Nari Jibon in her edition of the Carnival, we have had several vaued communications with its Executive Director, Kathy Ward. Thanks, Kathy!

Addition:  The Nari Jibon project is much bigger than its website; to quote from the  calendar Kathy so kindly sent:

Nari Jibon Project provides alternative skills and training for women workers in a safe space and then connecting them with employers. Nari Jibon has established a blog in English, titled “Bangladesh from Our View” http://narijibon.blogspot.com and Bangla “Amader Galpa (Our Stories)” http://banglablog-narijibon.blogspot.com to increase students’ & staffs’ creativity on different areas.