Congolese anger on the streets of London

Thousands of Congolese women, children and men have been protesting on the streets of London for the past week. But there has been little/no media coverage. I wonder why that might be?

The protests are about the recent election results. The protesters argue that Étienne Tshisekedi was cheated from power by Jospeh Kabila, during elections marked by violence and chaos. They fear that Kabila is a Western puppet, who will continue to allow rich Western nations access to the DRC’s natural resources. These include, amongst other things, the minerals used to produce our beloved consumer gadgets: mobile phones and laptops. The problem is that control of the resources has brought one of the most violent conflicts to the region, which has led to endless rapes, beatings, and murders.

Many of the London protesters were angry that the media rarely reports on the atrocities happening in the Congo. They carried pictures of dismembered bodies, bearing witness to the many victims of the ongoing chaos.

You can read more about the recent protests here. WARNING: there are graphic photographs of atrocities included in this report.

You can read a bit more about the elections and the contemporary history of the region here.

Women Protest in Cairo

Several thousand women demanding the end of military rule marched through downtown Cairo on Tuesday evening in an extraordinary expression of anger over images of soldiers beating, stripping and kicking female demonstrators in Tahrir Square…
Historians called the event the biggest women’s demonstration in modern Egyptian history, the most significant since a 1919 march against British colonialism inaugurated women’s activism here, and a rarity in the Arab world. It also added a new and unexpected wave of protesters opposing the ruling military council’s efforts to retain power and its tactics for suppressing public discontent.

The protest’s scale stunned even feminists here. In Egypt’s stiffly patriarchal culture, previous attempts to organize women’s events in Tahrir Square during this year’s protests almost always fizzled or, in one case in March, ended in the physical harassment of a small group of women by a larger crowd of men.

For more, go here. (Thanks, M!)

Of course we know it’s Christmas

CAPE TOWN. After 28 years of silently tolerating it, a group of unemployed local musicians have joined forces to release a Christmas single, entitled ‘Yes we do,’ in response to the Bob Geldof inspired Band Aid song, ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’…

Speaking at the launch of the single, whose proceeds will go towards teaching discipline, literacy and contraception at British schools, composer and singer Boomtown Gundane said that for years he had been irked by Geldof’s assumption that hungry Africans were also stupid….”Of course we knew it was Christmas.”…

Gundane said he hoped that his involvement with the song would turn him into an expert on British politics and economics in the same way ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ had turned Geldof and Bono into the world’s leading experts on Africa.

“If I’m not sharing a platform with the Queen and David Cameron by this time next year; or headlining at Glastonbury, then I will have done something very wrong,” said Gundane.

For more, go here. (Thanks, N!)

Louise Antony on Atheism

In the NYT’s The Stone.

I was heartened to learn recently that atheists are no longer the most reviled group in the United States: according to the political scientists Robert Putnam and David Campbell, we’ve been overtaken by the Tea Party. But even as I was high-fiving my fellow apostates (“We’re number two! We’re number two!”), I was wondering anew: why do so many people dislike atheists?

It’s not “group sex” when it’s “gang rape”

Worst headline ever from Jezebel: “Group Sex Is The Latest Disturbing Teen Trend”

Second sentence of the article reads: “Researchers found significant number of teen girls are having group sex, and it’s often non-consensual.”

There’s more: “The majority of the girls, “reported being pressured, threatened, coerced, or forced to participate in MPS at least once.” One third of the girls said they’d used alcohol or drugs during their last group sex experience, and half of those girls said they were forced to use the substances by their partner.”

The average age was 15.6.

At the very end of the article, the author says that “multi-person sex” isn’t really the right term since most of it was non-consensual. Neither is “group sex” then.

Please, let’s call rape, rape and not something else.

Looking forward to this!

Feministing launches new column on feminism and academia, The Scholarly Feminist.

“The Scholarly Feminist series will aim to bridge the academic/online divide, allow academics to showcase their important work, connect online conversations that are also taking place in the classroom (and other academic venues), and relate feminist and queer theory to feminist blogosphere discussions. Bring it, brainy feminists!”

Accessibility and the Eastern APA

Some questions to consider, from Sophia Wong on the wphtf mailing list:

As many of you will be at the Eastern APA, here is a list of questions off the top of my head, that you might ask yourselves as you attend. Please, everyone, read through, ask for clarifications, and add or revise these questions as you see fit.

1. How did you access the APA program? If it was online, was the format used accessible to visually impaired readers? Could a person using a screen reader have accessed the information in the program?

2. When you approach the APA hotel, do you see wheel-chair accessible entrances?

3. Are there people at the registration table who are clearly marked as people to whom Accessibility questions may be addressed?

4. Are accessible bathrooms clearly marked on any maps provided?

5. Roughly how many people with visible disabilities do you notice attending the APA?

6. Does everyone wear their name tag in a clearly visible location on their body? This is an accessibility issue for people who have trouble recognizing faces and/or remembering names.

7. Are there spaces set aside in every meeting room, where wheelchair users can park without having to ask others to move chairs aside for them?

8. Are there chairs clearly marked where people with disabilities who need to sit close to the speaker (to make eye contact and to hear well) can sit?

9. If the speakers use Powerpoint, slides, or videos, is everything clearly captioned so that deaf philosophers can follow along easily?

10. Are there any ASL interpreters at the APA?

11. If the speakers distribute printed materials (handouts), are these handouts available in large font (18 point or larger) upon request?

12. Does every room have adequate microphones – one for each speaker to use, and at least one microphone where audience members queue up to ask question? (Alternatively, there may be one or two wireless mics passed around so people don’t have to stand to ask questions.)

13. Is there a clearly designated Quiet Room where people who cannot tolerate bright lights and noisy crowds can retreat to sit quietly without being bothered by cell phone conversations or Internet use?

14. When you attend each session, please note where the nearest restroom is located. How far away from the session room is it? How long does it take you to get there and back? Is there an accessible stall in that restroom? If not, where is the restroom with an accessible stall? How long does it take you to get there and back?

15. How long are the breaks between sessions? If you were a person with a disability trying to get from one session to the next, would you have enough time to use the restroom in between, or make a phone call?

Sophia means this to be a starting point, so feel free to add to the list!

Androcentric error example

One kind of androcentric error is one that results from taking male as the norm. Here’s a nice one:

Many M.D.s have bought this fallacious line that the optimal weight for women in terms of their health is what M.D.s call normal weight, a BMI between 18.5 and 25. And they have thought this to be true because women with higher BMIs exhibit a series of physiological measures that are indeed risk factors for disease in men. But they are not systematically risk factors for disease in women. If you actually look at the data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and data from studies done in other countries, the optimal weight for women who have had a kid is what doctors currently call “overweight.”

“Watching Porn– that’s sort of where you get your grasp of what’s normal”

A quote from a teenager in a recent study. And many more say similar things. So the idea that porn has a kind of authority due to its education role isn’t just a wacky thought from Catharine MacKinnon. Interestingly, though, the study’s authors argue that this shows “pupils should be taught how to evaluate porn in sex education lessons.” They continue,

To be unable to critique imagery is equivalent to being illiterate in the modern world…We need to help young people to resist peer-group pressure to consume porn or to respond to partners’ requests for sex they’ve seen in porn.

(Thanks, S!)