A MESSAGE TO GIRLS ABOUT RELIGIOUS MEN WHO FEAR YOU by Soraya Chemaly

I found this blog online–I don’t think it can be shared enough:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/message-to-girls-about-re_b_1518849.html?ref=tw#s327348&title=Dr_Ingrid_Mattson

A Message to Girls About Religious Men Who Fear You

Posted: 05/21/2012 12:31 pm
 
Dear Girls,

You are powerful beyond words, because you threaten to unravel the control of corrupt men who abuse their authority.

In the United States last week there were people who wouldn’t let boys play a baseball championship final because a girl was on the opposing team. She’d already had to sit out two games because of their demands. Why? Did she, a competitive athlete and a member of her team, chose to? Was she being good and respectful when she acceded to their demands? Why were they not asked to forfeit their games? What messages were sent to her and her teammates? This is not complicated. It sent the wrong messages. Confusing messages. Incoherent messages. You need to know that she should have been allowed to play and not have had to sit out two games. These people, and others like them, all over the world, led exclusively by religious men, are scared of you and will not let you be. You worry them constantly.

If you were not powerful, they would not take you so seriously and they take you very, very seriously. You should, too. You can set the world on fire.

It doesn’t feel this way, I know. If that were true, you think, I would not have to sit out baseball games out of respect for religious beliefs that require my subservience and call it a gift. I would not be turned away from serving God with my brothers. I would not be taught that I’m an evil temptress or the virtue keeper of boys. I would not have virginity wielded as a weapon against me and my worth determined by my womb. I would not be spat on and called a whore by men when I am eight because my arms are bare. I would not be poisoned for going to school. I would not be forced, at the age of 9, to carry twins borne of child torture. I would not have to kill myself to avoid marrying my rapist. If this were true, they would pursue my rapists instead of stoning me for their crimes. I, and thousands others, would not be killed for “honor.”

Girls, these things happen because there are men with power who fear you and want to control you. I know that I have equated relatively benign baseball games with deadly, honor killings but, whereas one is a type of daily, seemingly harmless micro-aggression and the other is a lethal macro-aggression they share the same roots. The basis of both, and escalating actions in between, is the same: To teach you, and all girls subject to these men and their authority, a lesson: “Know your place.” I also know that there are places where girls are marginalized and hurt that are not religious. But all over the world these hypocritical, pious men, in their shamefully obvious wrongness, represent the sharp-edged tip of an iceberg, the visible surface of a deep and vast harm. They employ the full range of their earthly and divine influence to make sure, as early as possible, that you and the boys around you understand what they want your relative roles to be. Where there are patriarchal religions girls, in dramatically varying and extreme degrees, disproportionately suffer. Understand these men for what they are: bullies. Do not internalize what they would have you believe.

Your very existence makes them anxious. And their anxiety is particularly high because you have something no generation of girls has had before — globally connected communities of men and women who support your equality and freedom. Like guns, germs and steel, this transformative technology, which enables me to write to you here, alters geography, changes societies and dismantles systems of control — it makes the world a smaller place and it creates, even if slowly in some places, positive change for girls like you. You see, until now, these men could count on, indeed they could ensure, that you and the women around you were house-bound and isolated. Many of you still are. But now, there are millions and millions and millions people who are thinking about you and challenging these men every single day. You have the speed of light on your side and unless someone permanently turns the lights out, those days are gone. So, although you might feel like you are alone, you are not.

How do you threaten them? A girl, alone? By being able, strong, confident and yes, shameless. You may not “naturally” be interested in domesticity, piety, purity and submission, and they rely on your commitment to those things to order their worlds. Their actions, from one end of the spectrum to the other, are designed to fill you with self-doubt and, ultimately, fear — either bodily or spiritual — because otherwise you, and the young boys around you, will be fully aware of your strength and potential.

Because of this, they single-mindedly focus their attention on you, your body, your clothes, your hair, your abilities, your physical freedom. When their “manners” and “morals” are not universally applicable, but different for boys and girls, you can be sure that this is why. They seek to teach you, subtly, through small slights and gendered expectations, that you are “different,” weak, unworthy, incapable. The sadness is that, in their perception, if you are none of these things, then they are not strong, worthy and capable. This is not an excuse, but an explanation. It’s why they find infinite “benevolent” ways to undermine and disparage you, all in the name of “God’s word.” When that fails, they resort to violence. All over the world, their anxiety is manifest in a spectrum of actions ranging from mild paternalism, respectful of “proper boundaries,” to deadly enforcement of their rules.

Fear is why these men “officially” investigate Girl Scouts while perversely shielding child rapists. It’s why they obsess over your “purity.” It’s why they segregate you in public and private spaces. It’s why they instruct girls and boys that girls’ bodies are either shameful and dirty or sacred and belonging to men. Fear motivates them to teach that you pollute others by your very nature. It makes them intent on making sure you stay home and not be fully engaged in the world. It leads them to sanction marriages of 8-year-olds to old men. It convinces them that rape and its consequences are a “gift from God.” It’s why they empower others to stone you to death and disfigure you with acid.

Even “beating the gay” out of children, especially boys who are “more like” you, is aimed at you. Because if boys are “more like girls,” something these men believe is fundamentally inferior, then you can be “more like boys.” That causes ambiguity and destroys their carefully defined hierarchies and that is intolerable to them.

Fear is why they insist there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Don’t believe them. Fear is why they want you to cover your body. There is nothing wrong with your body, and your body is not to blame. Whether you chose to expose your body or to cover it up, consider the degree to which either choice is defined by a reduction of your character to narrow sexuality by a culture that refuses to hold men accountable for their actions and requires you to either radically display ourself for men’s pleasure or withdraw from the world and be held in reserve. Either way, ask who is defining your worth and by what measure. Fear is why they tell you you are so different from boys. You, and the boys you know, understand that your bodies are different, but that you are far more alike than dissimilar. Threatened, insecure, adult men say otherwise. Don’t give in. Even if you’re quiet. The differences these religious authorities exaggerate are simply pillars of oppression used to teach boys and girls that women’s subjugation is “natural” and “divine.” Reject them and their ideas.

This is hard to do. It requires that you, individually, be brave, strong, determined, fearless and confident. It requires that you demand that the adults around you pay attention and change their behavior. This is even harder.

First, and perhaps the most difficult to understand as a girl, is that women who love you and care for you often enable these men. This is what people say, “It’s not JUST men!” And they are right, women support them, individually and in groups, in ways that have private, public, political and societal consequences. But, make no mistake — although women are the enforcers of rules, they have no real, systemic authority in conservative religious hierarchies, and they know this. Yes, without their support these men could not continue, but until these women are truly free — bodily, economically, physically, politically — and their practical and spiritual salvation is no longer mediated by these very men, they will continue to support them. Enforcing the rules is a rational choice that enables them to survive, the world over, in unjust environments. You scare them too, because you call in to question their own complicity and cause conflict within.

Second, it is confusing that these men say they do what they do for your own good. They talk about respecting you and your dignity. You want to believe them; they have power and authority over you, your parents, your community and your access to God. They are often kind and benevolent and they love you. So, they must be right. But they are not. They demonstrate their own hypocrisy over and over and over again. They say they know what is best. They do not. You do. Don’t believe them when they teach you in hundreds of ways, through sacred text, careful words, cherished traditions, hidden threats and frightening examples, that you are inherently more sinful, base and corrupt, less worthy and in need of constant male guidance. Reject them.

The adults around you may not appear to support you when you take your humanity to its logical religious conclusions. Do not let them off the hook. Do not let them use “tradition” as an excuse or say it “really doesn’t matter.” Do not allow them to get away with asking you to “sit out games,” “be a good girl,” “don’t make a fuss,” and “put something on.” These are micro-aggressions that result in macro-aggressions. Adults often don’t think these things through. Sometimes it’s scary to them, too.

You can say: “There is nothing wrong with me. There is something wrong with you and your world.

Otherwise, when you get older, these same men, the ones who fear and hate you, will continue to undermine you. They will seek to control your body, keep you out of the public sphere, subjugate you in the name of a narrowly defined “family,” create impediments to your equality, shame you at every turn and justify your continued oppression in convoluted ways that defy reason and morality. They will investigate you for being strong, violate you, stone you to death, charge you with witchcraft, punish you in every conceivable way to set an example for … your children.

So, know that you are strong and powerful. Use your reason. Trust your instincts. Seek out those that would support you and, yes, know your place: on the field, in the street, on the bus (in the front), in school, at work and in public office.

You are not alone and you are brighter than the sun.

Advertisements

Pregnant Two Weeks Before Conception??????

Isn’t this just wonderful?   Let’s see.  If they can pass some kind of law that says a woman may be pregnant at any given time during her childbearing years, what restrictions will women suddenly have to face?  Or would it become a criminal offense for a woman to do anything that might jeopardize the fetus she may or may not be carrying?

Let’s see…   (since we know they don’t have a crystal ball they can’t know two weeks before when a woman conceives because we never know exactly when we’ll conceive, and so…at all times there would be possible things women in their childbearing years might suddenly not be allowed to do just in case they might be pregnant:

Drink alcohol

Drink coffee or caffeinated beverages like tea or pop

Swim in lakes

Swim in the ocean

Swim in rivers

Swim in public pools

Go into any really cold water or really hot water (no hot tubs)

Have sex

Go on amusement rides

Ride horses

Ride bicycles, scooters or motorcycles

Ride in a car (if the car crashes it could hurt her fetus)

Ride on an airplane or on a train or in a boat (same reason as above)

Eat anything that isn’t soft (to reduce chances of choking)

Work (stress can hurt a fetus)

Receive blood transfusions

Go into any non-sterile environment

Eat junk food

Take any drugs that may possibly be harmful to the possible fetus she may or may not have…

Clean cat litter boxes

Use tampons (possible contamination risk of fetus)

Be given anesthesia or anesthetic that might cause adverse physical reaction

Raise or be around birds

Play sports

Run or jog

Engage in any strenuous or risky behavior that may potentially threaten a fetus that may or may not exist.

 

(Wow…now isn’t that special?  I just can’t wait for the Religious Right fanatics to take over!)

http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/04/01/arizona-legislators-trying-to-declare-pregnancy-two-weeks-prior-to-conception

The past few months, we’ve seen the nation wake up to many anti-choice assaults on women’s basic right to control their fertility, especially with regards to imposing forced ultrasounds and numerous attacks on access to basic contraception. But one of the other favorite anti-choice approaches to maximizing the pain and suffering of women as punishment for sex has largely gone unnoticed by many outside of the pro-choice activist community: bans on abortions after 20 weeks. It’s understandable that it’s hard to whip people up about this particular situation. After all, abortions after 20 weeks are relatively rare. Only 1.5% of abortions occur after the 20th week, and the vast majority of those that do occur are done for medical reasons, or because legal and financial obstacles–like those put in place by lawmakers–caused a delay. While, if they knew their personal stories, most people would certainly sympathize with women in need of post-20 week abortions, a certain amount of reproductive rights fatigue is setting in. There’s only so many hours in the day, and anti-choicers know if they just keep throwing restrictions on access at us, some will slip through the cracks. But, as exhausting as it is, we need to pay attention to and resist post-20 week bans on abortion. That’s because it’s cruel on its surface, but also because legislators are using 20 week bans in order to smuggle in other items of more importance to them than simply making it harder for a slim minority of women seeking abortions to get them. The most obvious thing they’re trying to do is set anti-science precedent. Since these bans are based on the false, unscientific claim that fetuses at 20 weeks can feel pain, if they’re allowed to stand, it opens the door for more laws based on straight-up lies to be passed. These laws are also being used to challenge the requirement set out in Roe v Wade that a woman’s health and life should trump that of the misogynist desire to keep her pregnant at all costs. Legislators have had so much success smuggling in ulterior motives with 20-week bans that they’re now looking for ways to expand the amount of hard right anti-choice nonsense they can attach to those bills. The most recent—and extreme—example is Arizona. There, lawmakers are writing a 20-week abortion ban that starts counting off at the first day of a woman’s period. Yes, they’re arguing that you’re “pregnant” while you’re actually getting your period. In fact, as Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones explains, they’re really trying to steal as many weeks as possible away from women seeking abortion: Most women ovulate about 14 or 15 days after their period starts, and women can usually get pregnant from sexual intercourse that occured anywhere between five days before ovulation and a day after it. Arizona’s law would start the clock at a woman’s last period—which means, in practice, that the law prohibits abortion later than 18 weeks after a woman actually becomes pregnant. That’s bad in and of itself, but taking a step back and looking at the big picture makes this law look even more sinister. Medically speaking, pregnancy starts when a fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining. Anti-choicers have attempted to define it earlier with their failed attempts to pass “personhood” law that would define not just pregnancy, but “personhood” as beginning at conception. Now in Arizona, they’re trying to argue that you’re pregnant a couple of weeks before you even had the sex that resulted in your pregnancy. Think about the implications down the road. If a woman is “pregnant” two weeks before she becomes pregnant, than any fertile woman—including those currently menstruating!—should really be considered pregnant. After all, we don’t know the future. We don’t know that any non-pregnant woman couldn’t be pregnant two weeks from now, making her retroactively pregnant now. Considering that it’s anti-choice nuts we’re talking about, it’s safe to assume that they’d simply prefer a situation where all women of reproductive age are considered to be pregnant, on the grounds that they could be two weeks from now. Better safe than sorry, especially if that mentality means you get to exert maximum control over the bodies of women of reproductive age. Between personhood bills and the assault on access to contraception, it’s becoming increasingly clear that anti-choicers aren’t satisfied with simply trying to control the already-pregnant. Finding ways to define the not-pregnant as pregnant is a means of laying the groundwork for exerting this control. Imagine if Roe is overturned and states go into a true frenzy of stripping every imaginable right away from pregnant women. It wouldn’t be limited to stripping the right to abortion, but also to any kind of behavior deemed “abortive,” including holding certain kinds of jobs, eating certain foods, or taking certain medications. With this bill, then, you could not only restrict the rights of those who are actually pregnant, but extend the restrictions to all women of reproductive age on the grounds that they “could be pregnant in two weeks, i.e. in perpetuity” and would therefore be considered the same thing as being pregnant. Already in some states, they’re looking for ways to prosecute women who have stillbirths if they did something the prosecutor believes may have had an impact on the pregnancy, such as drug use. With the hoped-for overturn of Roe, we can expect these efforts to intensify, with prosecutions of miscarriages. Now with this Arizona bill, if a woman is deemed pregnant two weeks before she actually is, prosecutors could even have a chance to look at your choices when you weren’t even pregnant—before you even had the sex that made you pregnant—and blame those choices for bad outcomes. They’re creating, brick by brick, the legal basis on which to prosecute a woman who drinks some alcohol, becomes pregnant two weeks later, and miscarries, even though she didn’t drink while pregnant. And you best believe that when feminists protest this, they’ll just paint it as if we’re more interested in protecting drunken sluts than “babies.” If you can be “pregnant” without being pregnant, that also creates legal complications around simple menstruation. After all, menstruation is usually seen as the opposite of being pregnant; women use menstruation to mark that they aren’t pregnant. But under this bill, you could both be menstruating and “pregnant” by law. Should Roe be overturned and the state start looking to prosecute women for miscarriages they deem inappropriately prevented, what about women who are just getting their period? They’re “pregnant” under the pregnant-prior-to-conception framework, aren’t they? Are they miscarrying in the eyes of the law or are they just continuing their theoretical pregnancy? These kinds of ambiguities are exactly the sort of thing zealous misogynist law enforcement will be looking to exploit.

What Do We Stand For?

A poem this time.  I’m feeling creative today…

What Do We Stand For?

From corruption we fled
to create instead,
A home of the free
to live, grow and be.
Our lives we shed,
grew sick and bled dear,
To shatter our bonds
Of superstitious fear,
Sailing free from white cliffs, ,
from persecution’s salvation,
Our masts cleaved the sky,
to find a new nation.
Upon the young land we battled,
our Independence hard-won,
No cannons, nor rifles undone,
No death steal it away,
In the meadows, on the hill tops,
The glory of that day.
Bright stars flying–powder burned–
stripes tattered before dawn’s sun.
Not a crucifix this,
Crest nor emblem of a king,
Only this our pride, our nation–
From shore to shore,
let freedom ring.
Giving to our future generations,
this hard-won chance,
To continue the dream,
kindled torch we clasp,
and remember ever more,
never taking for granted,
The lessons from our past,
the reasons we died,
the reasons we bled,
May we never be,
in our home of the free,
Willing to strong-arm
or force another–
becoming ourselves,
the shackles we fled.

D. Fadden

Hey Fundamentalists!

Hey fundamentalist, high and mighty Religious Right.

Who stand on a pedestal of your own making,

like you alone have special sight,

To declare what the mind of God thinks,

to declare what He doesn’t like.

Based on the book you hold,

A book written by men—do you even know who?

Do you not care about the authenticity of what you ground your ideas upon?

Ideas based on this book, or on the locality you grew up in,

the traditions you hold dear…

*

Tell me truly,

Had you been born to Muslim parents, or atheist parents—

To Jewish parents, or Buddhists—

Born in another land where these other beliefs are majority held,

If you had grown up believing on these instead,

Interpreting everything about your life around them instead,

their holy books,

Would you be a Christian right now?

Enforcing your moral code, your beliefs and assertions on

atheists and Jews,

Buddhists and Muslims?

As if no other beliefs or faiths are valid, no other traditions just as beloved?

Your bible speaks out against the folly of arrogance.

A quality your God is not fond of.

And yet you dare call a secular nation Christian?

A land founded by Deists forefathers?

Because of your influence–

preying on our propagandized fear of communism,

we now have your God printed on our money,

“Under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance as if we all agree.

And now you seek to convince us it’s always been this way?

Well, what would our Diests founders think?

Jefferson or Adams?

Washington or Abe Lincoln?

The twisting of their vision–

Home of the free, of the first amendment

Place where all may practice to believe, or not to believe.

Freedom of religion.

Freedom from religion.

That was their dream.

The original dream.

What our great men of history fought for.

Separation of church and state—

Equality for all.

For all persons are created equal.

Not one color, one language, one gender, one age, one religion.

But all.

*

So kindly not lord over me with your doctrine–

penned by the agendas of men.

Do not presume to be the mind and mouth of your God.

Let me live and follow my own moral code,

Which just like yours, cares for my fellow men and

urges me not to rob or kill.

Let me live my life unfettered by your scare tactics,

your lectures of hellfire,

Just because I don’t believe as you do.

Just let me alone, please, to decide for myself and on my own–

to have a baby or not.

To dream or aspire to whatever goals I want. 

Let me alone to decide what to do with my body–my life.

You are no more right than I am—than we are.

And my life is not yours to command or control,

not yours to make my decisions for.

This is my freedom, won for me by my forefathers–

it is not for you to take that away!

D. Fadden

What Are We Really Believing About Ourselves?

A nontract by: Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Organized religion always has been and remains the greatest enemy of women’s rights. In the Christian-dominated Western world, two bible verses in particular sum up the position of women:

“I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

–Genesis 3:16

By this third chapter of Genesis, woman lost her rights, her standing–even her identity, and motherhood became a God-inflicted curse degrading her status in the world.

In the New Testament, the bible decrees:

“Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”

–1 Tim. 2:11-14

One bible verse alone, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18) is responsible for the death of tens of thousands, if not millions, of women. Do women and those who care about them need further evidence of the great harm of Christianity, predicated as it has been on these and similar teachings about women?

Church writer Tertullian said “each of you women is an Eve . . . You are the gate of Hell, you are the temptress of the forbidden tree; you are the first deserter of the divine law.”

Martin Luther decreed: “If a woman grows weary and at last dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing, she is there to do it.”

Such teachings prompted 19th-century feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton to write: “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of woman’s emancipation.”

The various Christian churches fought tooth and nail against the advancement of women, opposing everything from women’s right to speak in public, to the use of anesthesia in childbirth (since the bible says women must suffer in childbirth) and woman’s suffrage. Today the most organized and formidable opponent of women’s social, economic and sexual rights remains organized religion. Religionists defeated the Equal Rights Amendment. Religious fanatics and bullies are currently engaged in an outright war of terrorism and harassment against women who have abortions and the medical staff which serves them. Those seeking to challenge inequities and advance the status of women today are fighting a massive coalition of fundamentalist Protestant and Catholic churches and religious groups mobilized to fight women’s rights, gay rights, and secular government.

Why do women remain second-class citizens? Why is there a religion-fostered war against women’s rights? Because the bible is a handbook for the subjugation of women. The bible establishes woman’s inferior status, her “uncleanliness,” her transgressions, and God-ordained master/servant relationship to man. Biblical women are possessions: fathers own them, sell them into bondage, even sacrifice them. The bible sanctions rape during wartime and in other contexts. Wives are subject to Mosaic-law sanctioned “bedchecks” as brides, and male jealousy fits and no-notice divorce as wives. The most typical biblical labels of women are “harlot” and “whore.” They are described as having evil, even satanic powers of allurement. Contempt for women’s bodies and reproductive capacity is a bedrock of the bible. The few role models offered are stereotyped, conventional and inadequate, with bible heroines admired for obedience and battle spirit. Jesus scorns his own mother, refusing to bless her, and issues dire warnings about the fate of pregnant and nursing women.

There are more than 200 bible verses that specifically belittle and demean women. Here are just a few:

(See Woe To The Women: The Bible Tells Me So for a more comprehensive list)

Genesis 2:22 Woman created from Adam’s rib
  3:16 Woman cursed: maternity a sin, marriage a bondage
  19:1-8 Rape virgins instead of male angels

 

Exodus 20:17 Insulting Tenth Commandment, considering a wife to be property
  21:7-11 Unfair rules for female servants, may be sex slaves
  22:18 “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”
  38:8 Women may not enter tabernacle they must support

 

Leviticus 12:1-14 Women who have sons are unclean 7 days
  12:4-7 Women who have daughters are unclean 14 days
  15:19-23 Menstrual periods are unclean
  19:20-22 If master has sex with engaged woman, she shall be scourged

 

Numbers 1:2 Poll of people only includes men
  5:13-31 Barbaric adulteress test
  31:16-35 “Virgins” listed as war booty

 

Deuteronomy 21:11-14 Rape manual
  22:5 Abomination for women to wear men’s garments, vice-versa
  22:13-21 Barbaric virgin test
  22:23-24 Woman raped in city, she & her rapist both stoned to death
  22:28-29 Woman must marry her rapist
  24:1 Men can divorce woman for “uncleanness,” not vice-versa
  25:11-12 If woman touches foe’s penis, her hand shall be cut off

 

Judges 11:30-40 Jephthah’s nameless daughter sacrificed
  19:22-29 Concubine sacrificed to rapist crowd to save man

 

I Kings 11:1-4 King Solomon had 700 wives & 300 concubines

 

Job 14:1-4 “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one . . .”

 

Proverbs 7:9-27 Evil women seduce men, send them to hell
  11:22 One of numerous Proverbial putdowns

 

Isaiah 3:16-17 God scourges, rapes haughty women

 

Ezekiel 16:45 One of numerous obscene denunciations

 

Matthew 24:19 “[woe] to them that are with child”

 

Luke 2:22 Mary is unclean after birth of Jesus

 

I Corinthians 11:3-15 Man is head of woman; only man in God’s image
  14:34-35 Women keep in silence, learn only from husbands

 

Ephesians 5:22-33 “Wives, submit . . .”

 

Colossians 3:18 More “wives submit”

 

I Timothy 2:9 Women adorn selves in shamefacedness
  2:11-14 Women learn in silence in all subjection; Eve was sinful, Adam blameless

Why should women–and the men who honor women–respect and support religions which preach women’s submission, which make women’s subjugation a cornerstone of their theology?

When attempts are made to base laws on the bible, women must beware. The constitutional principle of separation between church and state is the only sure barrier standing between women and the bible.