A Feminist Take on Weiner-gate

‎”Personally, I’m glad that we’re entering an era where men are toying with the idea that their bodies might have some aeshetic value that women may appreciate. It opens the door to other ideas that we need to embrace as a society, the first being that because you can look at someone with lust doesn’t mean that you should stop looking at them as a full human being with full human rights.”

The full post, In defense of nekkid pictures, even of dudes, on the blog Pandagon is here.

Writing about discrimination against Iranian Women

Here is a seemingly important article on “Iran’s women footballers banned from Olympics because of Islamic strip“. (It seems The Guardian has taken down all links/urls/copies of this article. Anyone with additional info, please share it in the comments.)

This [Iran-women-Olympic-strip] article/news story involves a very important matter as regards individual Islamic women (or teams of them) who cannot do something such as play a sport because of how they choose to dress, especially if that dress is something as important to them as their understanding of their religion. Perhaps some significant percentage of the women do not choose this form of dress, as Iran requires something like it. We do not know because the article appears not to say or to address this issue of choice. (Even oppressed women who have internalized sexist norms in a great many cases nonetheless have substantial autonomy and agentic skills.)

I regret that this news story is cast in terms of a focus on Iran. Perhaps a focus on Iran is required for the story to use the Olympics as a main example. The problem with that use, however, is that Islamic women in many places suffer discrimination for using this kind of dress in all kinds of sports venues besides the Olympics – I can think of many unfortunate cases of female high school athletes in the U.S., for instance.

Of course, I wish more people would read and understand Irshad Manji on such matters. One might think that my two paragraphs above are not sufficiently feminist because of how sexist the Islamic religion is. However, all forms of western monotheism are incredibly sexist (among other bad things) and I really do not see Islam as particularly bad for western religions as regards feminist concerns.

Ideally, if I were writing newspaper stories/articles I would write about how Iran massively oppresses women. I would also write about the oppression of women with regard to discrimination against them in the field of sports.

What I would NEVER do is write a story/article about Iranian athletes that does not even seem to mention, let alone strongly emphasize, how badly the Iran state treats women. (People go to jail all the time in Iran just for signing a peaceful petition saying that they support democratic reforms! And the lawyers in Iran who represent people who go to jail in Iran for doing something like signing a peaceful petition in support of democratic reforms are themselves sent to jail or worse.) It pains me to read the article with which this post began given the concern expressed in this paragraph and in the context of this entire post.

For related comments threads to two posts that document Iran state oppression of women, see:

What Do Iran And The U.S. Have In Common?

interested readers might especially want to check out comments numbered 12 through 20 at the post above


Urgent Petition To Save Sakineh

interested readers might want especially to check out comments numbered 5, 6, 8, 18, 19, 39, 45, 46, and 49 at the post above

More on the gender pay gap

Matthew Yglesias has a great post up on gender and pay discrepancy. According to recent research, the gender pay gap begins right after college. And (one of the more striking findings) the gap persists even when you compare recent graduates within a specific major. So we can’t explain the pay discrepancy via the usual suspects: women earn less because they have voluntarily chosen to take breaks in their careers (the pay gap is there at the very beginning of their careers) and/or women earn less because they tend to self-select into lower-earning professions (the pay gap is there for recent graduates even when variables like field of study are controlled).

The particularly nice thing about Yglesias’s reporting of these findings is his taking to task of a certain kind of pay-gap skepticism:

“Now obviously some people are going to be very resistant to this conclusion. They’ll think that in a competitive labor market with many employers and many workers, employers who discriminate against women in their salary offerings will be at a disadvantage. No firm will want to disadvantage itself in this way, thus the discrimination shouldn’t exist. Consequently, this apparently effect is almost certainly due to some other variable that’s not accounted for. So it’s worth pointing out that by this logic, the gender disparity in employment that existed in 1961 wouldn’t exist either. But obviously it did.”

It couldn’t happen here, could it?

Chip, chip, chippity chip. That’s the steady sound of American legislatures, lawyers, and lobbying groups taking their chisels to what should be solid stone rights, and setting to work eroding them. We’re talking, of course, about abortion and procreative choice: the right to have an abortion; the right to have one freely, unmolested by the state, without shame or guilt; and more generally, the right to choose not only whether to bear a child, but also how to approach one’s own pregnancy and childbirth.

You can now hear an echo of that chipping sound in the UK. Quietly, quite similar tactics are being adopted, not just by protest groups (as noted by Jender here), but also by politicians. The Prime Minister has a consistent record of calling for the time limit on abortions to be reduced. This familiar ploy to curtail the availability of abortion failed in a Commons vote in 2008, but only by 71 votes. Then there’s the astonishing decision (noted by Jore on the Jender thread just mentioned) to give the pro-abstinence, anti-abortion group LIFE a place on the Sexual Health and HIV advisory panel. And finally, the thing that prompted me to write a quick post, the nasty little piece of legislation mentioned here, seven paragraphs down:

an amendment to the health and social care bill that would create a new precondition for women having an abortion to receive advice and counselling from an organisation that does not carry out terminations.

It will be no surprise to anyone familiar with the UK’s politics that Nadine Dorries is responsible for this reprehensible suggestion, along with the former Labour minister Frank Field. It’s not clear just how much chance this amendment has of making it on to the statute books; probably, thankfully, not too large a chance. There’s still a long way to go before the UK forces women to pay for and look at an ultrasound prior to having an abortion. Even so… chip, chip, chip.


Petition to free Amina

Jender reported earlier on the abduction of blogger, A Gay Girl in Damascus. You can sign a petition calling for her release here.

Got petition fatigue? Yes, it’s worth signing! The ongoing work of organisations like Amnesty International shows that it can make a difference to a person’s treatment, if the regime that has abducted them realises the world is looking. It can also make a huge difference to that person’s morale to know that people from all over the world care about their plight.