While at the most recent state coalition membership meeting held on March 26, 2013, two of North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s staff and North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer were on the agenda. They were brought in to listen to the Directors of programs throughout North Dakota. We were instructed to voice our concerns, needs, and other issues that are affecting our programs. We had a lot to discuss. The recent passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), including Tribal provisions giving limited jurisdiction over non-Native perpetrators, was a long, hard-fought battle that many are grateful for. The sequester was looming over all of the Directors’ heads. Senator Heitkamp’s staff were great. They listened, took notes, and asked questions. We all expressed our thanks for Senator Heitkamp’s support. Immediately following Heitkamp’s staff was North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer. A couple of Program Directors spoke, then I followed. Knowing that Cramer spoke out openly against the constitutionality of the Tribal Provisions in VAWA, I thanked him for his support and proceeded with my concerns including how the Tribal Sexual Assault Services Program (TSASP) was taken out of the CTAS grant solicitation that went out to Tribes. I said that our state, because of the oil boom, has been impacted negatively. I mentioned that the program in Fort Berthold, for example, has seen drastic changes.
The young woman who recently died of her injuries from a gang-rape in Delhi was named Jyoti Singh Pandey. Her father, Badri Singh Pandey, wants the world to know who his daughter was. Avicenna shares with us the news that Jyoti’s friend Awindra, who was attacked along with her, has regained consciousness and explained how the police were completely incompetent and unprofessional.
I’m very sorry for your loss, Mr. Pandey. I’m sorry that you and your wife have lost your daughter, whom you clearly adored and who was going to do good things with her life. I’m sorry that your sons, Gaurav and Saurav, have lost their big sister. I’m sorry that Awindra, who seems like a very decent young man, lost his friend. I’m also sorry that Awindra was put through such a horrible experience. I’m glad, however, that Jyoti had a father like you while she lived.
Also, before I go: I don’t agree with the death penalty. I don’t think it’s an appropriate use of state power to kill prisoners, especially when we know that suspects are occasionally wrongly convicted. In the case of the six men who attacked Jyoti and Awindra, however, if someone spotted them outside a courthouse and shot them all dead, I wouldn’t shed any tears.
There’s new content on Pottermore as of tonight, and I start my NaNo-Do-Mo’ tomorrow, so I don’t have time for more than a quick note before bed, but the under-control-of-fertility crowd just keeps it comin’. The latest one to jump in the clown car is John Koster, running for Congress in Washington state:
“Incest is so rare, I mean it’s so rare,” Koster explained. “But the rape thing, you know, I know a woman who was raped and kept the child, gave it up for adoption and doesn’t regret it. In fact, she’s a big pro-life proponent. But, on the rape thing it’s like, how does putting more violence onto a woman’s body and taking the life of an innocent child that’s a consequence of this crime, how does that make it better?”
Koster added that “crime has consequences” and that “killing a child” wouldn’t make up for it.
Dude, you do realize that the one who decides to “take the life of an innocent child” (is it really so difficult to call a fetus a fetus?) is the same person who is receiving “more violence” onto her body, right? Rape is something that happened to her, establishment of pregnancy happened to her, and if you had your way, full-term pregnancy and childbirth would happen to her. Abortion is a decision she made. One might get the impression that you only sympathize with a woman when she’s a helpless vessel for someone else’s desires. It’s not brave, compassionate or nuanced when you talk about how the world would be a better place if women could be forced to produce more children to the extent that their legs can be forced open. It makes you really effing creepy.
In a random fit of “What brought that on?”, the New York Times has run an op-ed from Greg Hampikian about how the entire male sex is becoming increasingly irrelevant to human life. Being a professor of both Biology and Criminal Justice, Dr. Hampikian gives us both the physiological:
Then, at some point, your father spent a few minutes close by, but then left. A little while later, you encountered some very odd tiny cells that he had shed. They did not merge with you, or give you any cell membranes or nutrients — just an infinitesimally small packet of DNA, less than one-millionth of your mass.
Over the next nine months, you stole minerals from your mother’s bones and oxygen from her blood, and you received all your nutrition, energy and immune protection from her. By the time you were born your mother had contributed six to eight pounds of your weight. Then as a parting gift, she swathed you in billions of bacteria from her birth canal and groin that continue to protect your skin, digestive system and general health. In contrast, your father’s 3.3 picograms of DNA comes out to less than one pound of male contribution since the beginning of Homo sapiens 107 billion babies ago.
The hand-wringing about infinitesimal mass is a red herring; no matter how tiny in terms of body weight contributed, children nevertheless walk around with approximately 50% of their fathers’ DNA. The irony to that figure is that, since the X chromosome is bigger than the Y, boys actually get fewer genes from their fathers than do girls, but I digress. We might as well be talking about how much my Lion OS weighs down my MacBook.
That said, his point is taken, and his perspective is appreciated, that once the sperm has been procured, all the biological work of making a human being falls on the mother. And since we now have frozen sperm and other ARTs, women don’t really need to deal with men if our goal is to make more of ourselves. This is not exactly a new idea, and yet somehow, most women are still actively heterosexual.
Police and women’s groups in Kashmir were alarmed after notices were pinned to mosques in Shopian district, claiming to be posted on behalf of two previously unknown militant groups.
“We appeal to the public that they ensure that their women observe purdah [cover their heads and faces] in public places. If we spot any woman without purdah we will sprinkle acid on her face. If we spot any girl using mobile phone, she will be shot dead,” said the note, which was signed by al-Qaeda Mujahideen and referred to another group, Lashkar e al-Qaeda.
There’s something that bugs me about this reporting, aside from the horribleness of acid attacks.
Dean Nelson at the Telegraph parenthetically describes purdah as the requirement that women cover their heads and faces.
According to Bina Shah guest-posting with Taslima Nasreen, purdah is considerably worse than that:
As a child in Pakistan, I grew up observing the lives of the women in my father’s family. Members of a type of religious nobility who claim lineage from the Prophet Muhammed, they followed the traditions of the Prophet’s wives and segregated themselves from all men outside their own blood relatives – a system known in Pakistan as pardah or “curtain”. They wore burqas or chadors when travelling outside their houses, in cars with curtained or tinted windows. On the rare occasions they walked in the streets of the village the men were expected to turn their faces to the walls as they passed. They did not go to school and many of them were functionally illiterate. There was no question of school or jobs for them. Their sole function was to marry and produce children for their husbands, chosen for them from the many cousins in the family.
The “curtain” in purdah doesn’t only mean that women keep their faces covered when they go outside. It means they rarely go outside. If the men in the village are expected to turn their faces to the walls as the women passed, then the community naturally expects that women will not inconvenience men by showing themselves in public very often. Purdah means that women are kept behind closed doors as much as possible; they have no lives outside of their home.
So, when the Mujahideen threaten to apply acid to any woman not observing purdah, I don’t think they mean women can do whatever the heck they want as long as they’re sufficiently covered up. It means they’re telling women to quit their jobs, drop out of school, and basically have no social life outside of the family unit. Unless the al-Qaeda forces in Kashmir have a much more liberal definition of purdah, this goes well beyond enforcing the burqa.
With this in mind, it’s merely a logic extension of their thinking to decide that girls using mobile phones can be shot on sight. If girls can use mobile phones, they might start thinking they can associate with just anyone and go places they like.
In Fait Accompli, there’s a subset of women in the Broken Generation who don’t enjoy the same freedoms as women like Claudia Bowen and Tasha Morgan. They’re the girls whose families (who, incidentally, include a wide range of religious backgrounds) keep them inside pretty much all the time until they’re married, and those marriages are invariably arranged without the slightest consultation with the girls. Tasha calls these women “the Invisibles.” This is how Nadia grew up. She’s a rarity in that she got out.
In Charlinder’s Walk, Gentiola briefly refers to cultures that make women into “family servants, or invalids, or controlled substances.” This is the kind of cultural environment she means by “controlled substances.” Lashkar e al-Qaeda is clearly not asking women to keep themselves hidden out of concern for their safety; otherwise, they would not be threatening to disfigure them with acid. No, they view women as a corrosive, dangerous presence that needs to be kept under lock and key. They can’t be wiped out entirely, for obvious reasons, but they can theoretically be controlled so thoroughly that their presence doesn’t affect the integrity of men.