Good news and bad news for women at the 2012 Olympics

I don’t generally pay much attention to the Olympic Games. For me, it seems like a lot of money spent on an event that could bring the world together, but instead creates yet even more nationalistic behavior. This time around, however is a different story. The feminist in me is thrilled to see history (her-story) being made. This year marks the first time that all the attending countries have women athletes competing. This is a particularly encouraging step for women in Arab countries.

Saudi Arabia has two women in the games. Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani in judo and 800-meter runner Sarah Attar.

Sarah Attar

Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani

Qatar has one competing woman, a swimmer by the name of Nada Mohammed Wafa.

Nada Mohammed Wafa

Even Brunei has entered a female athlete with runner/hurdler Maziah Mahusin.

Maziah Mahusin

There are women from every imaginable background in London this year. One of the most inspirational and controversial has got to be Malaysian shooter, Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi who is eight months pregnant. Sadly, she recently ended her bid for the gold when she finished 34th in the qualifying rounds.

Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi

Yes, it seems women are making great strides in sports, a field once dominated by men and this is a wonderful thing. But just so women worldwide don’t forget that we are, first and foremost, objects to be lusted after, Yahoo Sports posted an article praising the Dutch women’s field hockey team for being the best looking female athletes at the Olympics… complete with photo gallery. Now I expect men to notice a pretty woman, but to make this a news story is just plain insulting. Yes, it’s another case of one step forward, two hundred years back. If you want to read what the yahoos at Yahoo have to say on the subject, click here

I wish every woman at this year’s Olympic Games the very best of luck in their respective competitions and say to them, thank you for inspiring the next generation.

Putting the cart before the horse.

Bill and Melinda Gates

Yesterday, it was announced that the Gates Foundation is about to pledge an obscene amount of money for a campaign to improve access to contraception for women in the developing world. I applaud their excellent intentions and agree that giving women in these countries better education about and access to contraception is a step in the right direction in dealing with the issue of over population, but I don’t think it should be the first step we take. Yes, there are many couples who are having a lot children in developing countries, but most of them will not use contraception because of their religious belief that a child is a gift from God… besides, these couples are not really even the biggest worry in the over population problem.

I can’t help but wonder what, if anything, is being done about one of the main causes of over population in the developing world… rape.

The above statistics are only for cases of rape that were reported and are worldwide. There are countless more that go unreported every day.

The ‘developing world’ is defined as the nations of the world which are less economically and technologically advanced. It’s the politically correct way of describing what used to be called a Third World Country. The map below illustrates the countries that are currently considered to be part of the developing world in yellow.

As you can clearly see, the developing world consists of over half the land on the planet. In many of these countries marital rape is still legal. In many of these countries rape as a weapon of war is a common occurrence. In some of these countries women who are raped are stoned to death for committing adultery. There are many children borne from rape in the developing world. How many of these rapes do you think would not have happened if each of the rapists were forced to pay child support for the children they sired? Do you think there would be  fewer rapes occurring in these countries if each of these men were faced with consequences to their actions, like ostracism, jail time or even chemical castration? I do understand that religion often plays a large role in the way women in developing countries are treated, but for once, I am going to cut religious beliefs a bit of a break. (It should be noted that Gates is receiving criticism from the Catholic church for this campaign because they see contraception and abortion as part of the same issue).

I think it is naive to make women entirely responsible for birth control in countries where rape is so prevalent. If they have no control over, or even consent to, the sexual act, then how is birth control really going to help the situation? A rapist isn’t going to wait until you insert your diaphragm, or sit still while you put a condom on  his willy. In some cases, a woman who is known to be using contraceptives may be even more of a target for rape and even murder  (honour killings).

None of these methods will stop a rapist in his tracks.

If I were lucky enough put in charge of doling out obscene amounts of money to causes that would help women in developing countries, I would first offer a huge sum to any of these countries that would protect women by making rape a prosecutable and felonious offense with real consequences. (I can’t imagine any organized religion, even the Catholic Church, publicly speaking out as pro rape.) Only then, would I move to step two and offer education about and access to contraception. Why are we putting the cart before the horse? Or, in this case, filling the cart with contraceptives and ignoring the horse entirely.

Driven to distraction by distractions

Ashley Judd’s “Puffy Face”

One of the most effective ways women have been kept under ‘control’ in western culture has been to make sure that no matter our age, or stature that we remain as insecure about our looks as we were when we were teenagers. One of the ways this is achieved is by insulting the most beautiful or famous of women in the media. This kind of bashing beautiful/famous women comes in many forms. From saying Christina Aguilera is too fat,

to saying that Angelina Jolie is too skinny,

from criticizing Jessica Simpson for gaining too much weight during her pregnancy,

to claiming that Nicole Kidman didn’t gain enough weight during her pregnancy.

Poor Kate Middleton is deemed to skinny to even get pregnant.

Recently, the media slammed Ashley Judd for having what was described as a puffy face. Speculators were saying it was due to everything from plastic surgery to alcoholism. It seems the media finally picked on the wrong woman. Ms. Judd wrote a 1500 word rebuttal to her critics that you can read in it’s entirety here

She is absolutely right to stand up for herself and for women everywhere and I largely agree with her editorial. After all , if women are focused on how we look, then we won’t notice when our rights are being eroded right in front of our noses. In the United States the law makers are very busy trying to lessen women’s rights. Just a few examples include:

 A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to “accuser.” But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain “victims.”

 In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that couldmake it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care.

 In Congress, Republicans have a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.

In Wisconsin, the Governor just repealed the equal pay law.

It’s time for women to stop wondering about whether or not Beyonce’s pregnancy was real,

or what Rihanna’s new hair colour will be.

We need to focus on the things that matter before we let our vanity marginalize us out of our basic human rights.We fought long and hard to obtain these rights and I say it’s worth fighting just as hard to keep them. After all, it won’t matter what we look like if we are all forced to wear burqas.

Is it just me?

As an outsider watching the Republican race for the nomination, I can’t help but think that the Republicans don’t want to win the presidency this term. After all, the country is still in an economic quagmire  (not the funny Family Guy kind of Quagmire) and why would they want to inherit that mess? It’s too soon to be able to blame it all on Obama. People still remember that it was George W. Bush that handed Obama the economic train wreck in the first place, after being given the biggest economic surplus in the history of the country by Clinton. Historically it seems that the Republicans like to run the country into the ground, then the Democrats patch it up as best they can for a term or two, then pass it back to the Republicans to break again. This chart shows that the Democrats outperform the Republicans when it comes to the economy.

 The Republicans in this race seem to be doing an ‘I don’t want the nomination’ dance. From the very beginning when there were ten people vying for the title. It seemed to me that every time a new candidate became the front runner they would say or do something so outlandish that they would fall by the wayside within a week. Now it’s down to four, possibly five, if you believe that Sarah Palin has a secret plot afoot

Arguably, none of the remaining four men have much of a chance at winning the presidency back from Obama if they keep inserting their feet firmly into their mouths as they have been. The Republicans, as a whole, are alienating their female supporters right out of the party with all of this backward talk of contraception and abortion. Issues that had been settled 39 years ago when Roe vs. Wade was decided. However, according to this video, at least, there are many Americans who are voting faith over issues that directly concern them like the economy. It’s shocking that in the poorest state of the union, people would rather starve than elect Obama again.
Rick Santorum recently stated that Obama was a snob for wanting people to attend college and he’s winning in the southern states.
Santorum came out against higher education and women and is still winning the support of entire states. The scary thing here is that he could actually beat Obama if the people who vote faith vote in higher numbers that the people who vote issues. Not to mention the flames of racism that still run rampant through the country that are being fanned by conservative pundits like Rush Limbaugh and the fine folks at FOX news. Illustrated by this bumper sticker.
The Republicans like to divide and conquer. This attitude has served them well, historically but it will be severely tested if Romney wins the nomination. Who will the Christian right vote for without a horse in the race, the Mormon or the ‘Muslim’? Romney has been so transparent in his pandering that he has very little chance of a presidential win, but stranger things have happened.
It’s hard to think that a win is the real goal this election with the crazy dog and pony show the Republicans have been putting on, but, they may just be crazy like the proverbial fox and incite their base into voting en mass. So I guess my real point is…
Dear America,
If you want to be taken seriously, vote issues, not faith and please vote for the one person that will least embarrass you on the world stage.
From a concerned Canadian.