Vacation? More like Vac-ire-tion!

Things have been pretty quiet here lately because things in meatspace have been thoroughly busy. I’ve been collecting articles that have invoked my ire over the past couple weeks, and I’d been planning to use them as the foundation for an angry rant, but something tells me that I won’t run out of material any time soon. So without further ado, here’s a list of things that are highly likely to piss off anyone who experiences feelings. Perhaps you’ll notice a common theme?

Pakistan: Wife in disputed marriage gunned down in court by her brother

Mother Faces Death By Stoning In Sudan

Pak policeman kills sister for wearing jeans

The Freedom of the Hijab

Group wants to strip away all public expressions of faith

Man accused of killing sister while on bail

Pregnant Dominican girl dies as abortion ban delays leukemia treatment

I figure I’ll be back to more frequent updates in about a week.

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Holy Blatant Sexism, Batman!

So yeah, this actually got written.

Women’s judo: it’s disturbing to watch these girls beat each other up

Watching Gemma Gibbons gaining Britain’s first judo medal in 12 years, I found myself wondering: is women fighting each other violently a perfectly wholesome spectator sport?

With those judo contestants – and I realise this will probably sound appallingly sexist – I couldn’t help wondering about their soft limbs battered black and blue with bruises.

Holy crap.

The good news? As of right now, there are almost 700 comments on the thread, and they seem to be almost universally attacking the (male, of course) author for his condescending patriarchal vapidity. Does one need any more evidence to conclude that feminism is still relevant?

Situational Values (a.k.a. Religion)

At the risk of further abusing a decayed and desiccated equestrian cadaver, I’ve had it up to here (crap—you can’t see my gestures through text. Bah, just imagine it) with the “contraceptive coverage violates my religious liberties” argument. Here’s the latest one, courtesy of Speaker of the House John Boehner’s twitter feed:

The Obamacare HHS mandate takes effect today that requires Americans to violate their religious beliefs to implement the president’s health care law. The mandate compels religious employers to pay for and refer women for abortion-causing drugs, birth control, contraception and sterilizations.”

Let’s ignore, for a moment, the absurdity of the notion of an “abortion-causing drug” and—oh nevermind, let’s not. This one’s so stupid, it needs its own paragraph. What is an abortion?

a·bor·tion   /əˈbɔrʃən/
noun
1. Also called voluntary abortion. the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy.
2. any of various surgical methods for terminating a pregnancy, especially during the first six months.

And contraception?

con·tra·cep·tion   /ˌkɒntrəˈsɛpʃən/
noun
the deliberate prevention of conception or impregnation by any of various drugs, techniques, or devices; birth control.

Abortion is an intervention, either surgical or medical (85% and 15%, respectively, per the CDC), to terminate a pregnancy. Contraception, by definition, cannot be abortion because abortion can only occur after impregnation. An abortion can be done, realistically, at any point in a woman’s pregnancy, all the way up to the final (ninth-ish) month of pregnancy, although third trimester abortions are exceedingly rare (91% occur in the first trimester, and most of that remaining 9% in the second). Contrast this with the notion of “abortion-causing drugs,” by which the author is presumably referring to ella, a “Plan C” pill that a woman can take up to five days after sex to prevent pregnancy (it also triggered a good deal of outrage in the wingnut lobby). It should be obvious—but apparently it isn’t—that swallowing a pill is radically different from undergoing an invasive surgical procedure. One cannot merely swallow a pill six months into her pregnancy and consider the whole ordeal over. The implication that these drugs are fundamentally equivalent to a surgical procedure is at best a gross misrepresentation of the facts (and is more likely a deliberate distortion intended to compel people with more emotion than sense to yell vociferously). Comparing abortion to contraception serves only to demonstrate an unwillingness to engage in rational discussion. It is a red herring, meant only for deception.

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Respect my Freedom to Boss You Around!

I’m really sick of believers insisting that their right to religious freedom allows them to force their doctrines on everyone else. Believers: Stop it! What, you don’t think this happens? How about this crap as an example?

Some schools have decided not to allow girls to be offered the vaccine, which protects against a virus spread through intimate contact which causes cervical cancer. They have cited ‘strict Christian principles’ and that the girls ‘do not practise sex outside marriage’ and so do not need the vaccine.”

This is the sort of child abuse that Richard Dawkins rails against—the presumption that the children of religious parents will just magically share their religious beliefs. “Mommy and daddy are idiot literalists, so I’m an idiot literalist too! Yay!” No. This paradigm isn’t even remotely acceptable. For one, parents don’t always send their kids to religious schools because they’re explicitly religious; sometimes, parents do so because the schools have a better reputation than public schools, and neither the parents nor the children actually practice the school’s preferred religion. All of that aside, do you know how successful “Don’t have sex!” sex education is for kids? It completely isn’t.

Most people will have sex before they die. Most people will either sleep with more than one person or sleep with someone who has slept with more than one person. (Feel free to disagree if you’re in some weird situation where most of the people you know deviate from this statistic.) What does this mean? It means that denying a vaccine because “true” Christians don’t have sex with anyone at all ever except for their spouse is completely, hopelessly wrong.

In sum, this boils down to the school announcing, “We’re adopting a hostile stance to our students to actively punish any girl who has sex for violating the brand of Christianity that we’re trying to impose on her.”

The UK isn’t alone in this, of course. I wrote previously about Catholic resistance to birth control coverage even for non-Catholics. This hasn’t gone away. These Christians still want to impose their absurd stance of contraception as an immorality on everyone else. When government agencies have illegally endorsed Christianity by giving preferential treatment to Christian services or hosting Christian iconography and secular organizations have lobbied to have these violations of everyone else’s religious freedom, the Christian persecution complex has kicked into high gear. They should be free, those who object to secular governance say, to have their religion displayed in public spaces, without even the slightest consideration of what effect this will have. The message implicit in these sorts of government-sponsored religious displays is that the US government endorses that religion above others (hint: it doesn’t and may not). More globally, however, the message is loud and clear: “My religion is superior, and you should obey it.

“Religious freedom” does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that you are permitted to force me to abide your dogmas. In case you were wondering why I get angry about the pervasive infection of politics by religion, all of this (and more!) is why. You should probably be angry too.

Blame the Victim

Here’s an analogy for what’s so terribly wrong about accepting a state wherein would-be victims are expected to defend themselves from external threats instead of would-be perpetrators being expected to stop being fucking assholes.

To ward off school bullies who began taunting her in the first grade for her ears, Nadia begged her mother at the age of 10 for an otoplasty — an operation to pin her ears back.

A young girl had been bullied consistently for half of her life, and the response was to give her free reconstructive surgery. If that doesn’t get you a bit emotional, there’s probably something terribly wrong with you. Go on and get that checked out.

I guess it’s not all bad. She seems to have some understanding of why this is a tragedy, although this is a rather thin silver lining:

While Nadia says she knows she should have been accepted as she was before the surgery, she also knew the bullying wouldn’t end and has no regrets following the procedure. “I look beautiful, this is exactly what I wanted, I love it,” she said.

She should have been accepted. She knows that the bullies’ behavior was unjustified. And that’s perhaps the biggest tragedy of all. She was completely “in the right,” and her bullies were completely “in the wrong,” but ultimately she had to change her appearance to satiate them—and it is almost certain that she will continue to endure bullying in spite of her acquiescence. Shame on everyone involved who failed to act in support of this girl! Shame on the school, shame on her classmates, and shame on all their parents! Not only does this do nothing to ameliorate the larger problem of bullying, her bullies will actually see this as vindication—to them, that she changed herself according to their demands will be taken as proof that they were right to demand she change herself! This is completely unacceptable.

“Maybe she’ll be happier now,” you might say. Fuck that. The only reason she was unhappy with her ears before was that other people were dicks to her. They created and nurtured a climate where harassing her was acceptable, and that had a severe psychological effect. I hope she is happier now, and I hope she recovers and even thrives as she becomes an adult, but if this is the case, it will be in spite of this series of events, not because of it.

It’s just a shame that she’s trying to attribute her beauty to this cosmetic surgery.