Jill Peters: Sworn Virgins of Albania

This project by photographer Jill Peters is stunning. Traveling to remote locations, Peters captured the portraits of Balkan women who have chosen to live as men for cultural and tribal reasons, an archaic tradition now fading as the region lurches into modernity.

Portfolio: Jill Peters Photography: Sworn Virgins of Albania (website)


Mitchelene BigMan: Native American woman warrior

This interview just keeps getting better. After a thoroughly disheartening week of continuing to look for work, I am immensely inspired to keep plugging away at the job application process.

(Also, hi! Sorry for radio silence. You’d think with all this free time I’d remember to update my blog once in a blue moon.)

Article: Mitchelene BigMan: Native American woman warrior (Samara Freemark via Public Insight Netw0rk)

INTERNATIONAL: Reconciliation Council Fails to Include Women

“The first agenda item for the new council should be to re-think its composition and invite women with specific expertise in conflict resolution, peace building and women’s rights to take up 30-50 per cent of the seats at the table. These councillors need some sisters.”

PeaceWomen: INTERNATIONAL: Reconciliation Council Fails to Include Women (Lappin, via WIIS)

Women Under Siege: Hidden Epidemic

The decision to live on a reservation is a deeply personal one, largely to do with maintaining a rapidly dissipating culture. You don’t live on a res and expect safety, efficient government or tribal government services, or even adequate nutrition. The res is a place you live not because it affords significantly better work opportunities for indigenous peoples (it does not) or because the housing is just that fantastic (it might be, but the lack of municipal wells and potable water supplies is a pesky deterrance). It’s not an ideal place to live. The American government made it that way, and to blame indiginous populations for living on a chunk of barely arable land that we had no other purpose for is a little ridiculous.

Is the conflict at the intersection of tribal and Federal authority a problem attributable solely to malice, or just misunderstanding? According to Lauren Chief Elk, it’s malice. Yep. Mostly malice. Malice born out of criminal misunderstanding is still pretty malicious for victims who would prefer a day in court.

This is a great article that goes into detail about how criminal justice is pursued in tribal lands, and the effect (intended or not) Federal legislation has on indigenous populations.

From the article: “As I read evidence from WMC’s Women Under Siege of the gender-based violence in conflicts around the world, I know our conflict isn’t by accident, either. I know that justice is being systematically denied to a specific population of people, solely based on ethnicity and geographic location. And it is being denied in a uniquely unjust fashion. The U.N. has found that in ‘no other jurisdiction within the United States does a government lack the legal authority to prosecute violent criminal offenders under its laws.’ First we’re targeted by non-Native men, then we’re robbed of our right to prosecute them.”

Blog: Hidden epidemic: Why one group of Americans is raped without justice (via Women Under Siege)

On Mansplaining

“Every woman knows what I’m talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.

I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the trajectory of American politics since 2001 was shaped by, say, the inability to hear Coleen Rowley, the FBI woman who issued those early warnings about al-Qaeda, and it was certainly shaped by a Bush administration to which you couldn’t tell anything, including that Iraq had no links to al-Qaeda and no WMDs, or that the war was not going to be a “cakewalk.” (Even male experts couldn’t penetrate the fortress of their smugness.)” (From the article.)

Blog: Men Explain Things to Me: Facts Didn’t Get in Their Way (Solnit on TruthOut.org)

HuffPo: Saudi Arabia’s Female Olympic Athletes

“One of the things I love about Islam is that it tries to value the transcendental and not the material. This belief is applied culturally in many ways — for example, by covering the body with loose clothing, to avoid revealing your sexy self.

By de-emphasizing the human body — a value applied to women AND men in Saudi Arabia — this philosophy states that the body isn’t important. Physical beauty isn’t important. The matters of the spirit should reign supreme. I don’t think you can find anything that more clearly opposes the core values of the Hellenic Olympics if you tried.

What’s frustrating is Saudi Arabia often seems to impose this value on women alone. The restrictions that prevent women from driving cars, taking buses and even walking through their cities alone are based on a religious code that preaches modesty for both genders, yet none of those restrictions on physical freedom are enforced on men.”

Article: Saudi Arabia’s Female Olympic Athletes (Huffington Post)

Jim C. Hines Cancels Reddit AMA

Jim Hines, author of a whole bunch of fantasy novels I have never read, recently decided against participating in an “ask me anything” session on Reddit, an online community known as much for narwhals and bacon as misogyny, rape apologia, and men’s rights activism. Oh, and Anderson Cooper. And memes. Lots and lots of memes.

I was initially distraught at the idea that an author, even one I am personally unfamiliar with, would deprive the generally good-natured Reddit community of an opportunity to ask what sort of operating system Mr. Hines uses, but after reading his explanation, I side with Mr. Hines.

I read the Reddit thread in question last week, before various blogs (like Shakesville — a blog you should be reading) picked up the story, and couldn’t bring myself to write my thoughts on the subject simply because they were so complicated. Mr. Hines writes very clearly what I liked and did not like about the thread in question and why he cannot participate in his scheduled AMA.

From his post:

“It is important that we understand why people rape. But there are other ways to find that insight. Books, essays, research, and more. I’ve spoken with rapists and batterers, and it did give me a better understanding as to how this crime happens. But the circumstances of those conversations were very different. They were controlled, with people who had been convicted and held accountable for their actions. People who, as far as I could tell, appeared to genuinely regret what they had done. In situations where excuses were not tolerated.”

And from Shakesville: “If one in twenty guys (or more) is a real and true rapist, and you have any amount of social activity with other guys like yourself, then it is almost a statistical certainty that one time hanging out with friends and their friends, playing Halo with a bunch of guys online, in a WoW guild, in a pick-up game of basketball, at a bar, or elsewhere, you were talking to a rapist. Not your fault. You can’t tell a rapist apart any better than anyone else can. It’s not like they announce themselves.

…It’s very likely that in some of these interactions with these guys … someone told a rape joke. …[Y]ou laughed.

Or maybe you didn’t laugh. …[M]aybe you just didn’t say anything at all.

And, decent guy who would never condone rape, who would step in and stop rape if he saw it, who understands that rape is awful and wrong and bad, when you laughed? When you were silent?

That rapist who was in the group with you, …he felt validated, and he felt he was among his comrades. ”

Is the Reddit thread in question, as Hines suggests, a “how-to guide” for rapists? Possibly. Or is it a way for some rape survivors to gain closure? Definitely a possibility. Could it be, as I felt when I read the thread, a way to gain insight into the minds of criminals? Yes. It could. But the risks far outweigh the benefits.

Someone reading this thread could think rape is okay. Someone could feel he is “among his comrades.” And I applaud Hines for not only walking away, but stating clearly and effectively that he will not participate in this community and this thread is not okay.

But go read it for yourself. And maybe buy one of his books.

Blog: Why I Cancelled my Reddit Q&A

LA Times: Iran’s birth control policy sent birthrate tumbling

An excellent article about female agency within traditional (er, patriarchal) family structures from LA Times.

“As women became better educated, their influence within the family grew.

Without intending to, Iran’s clerical leadership helped to foster “‘the empowerment of Iranian women,’ said Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, an Iran expert at Virginia Tech. ‘The mullahs may be winning the battle on the streets, but women are winning the battle inside the family.'”

Article: Iran’s birth control policy sent birthrate tumbling (LA Times)

The Guardian: Why is India so bad for women?

I’m often caught in the strange nexus of having lived in developing countries and, at least for a little while, in most time zones in the continental U.S.

Misogyny experienced in Shanghai is totally different than, say, what I have experienced in Costa Rica — which is, again, completely different from what I have experienced living in Denver versus a small town in Wisconsin. All of which is completely different from living in the D.C. metro area. Sufficed to say, my ideas of what is permissible behavior in public spaces, and permissible behavior of public figures and lawmakers, are a little complicated.

The morning commute, however, kinda universally sucks:

“Every Indian woman the Guardian spoke to for this article agreed that harassment was part of their everyday lives. Mahanta revealed that she always carries chilli powder in her handbag if she ever has to take public transport and needed to throw it in the face of anyone with wandering hands.”

Article: Why is India so bad for women? (The Guardian)