Chris Alexander, refugee killer

capitalism-problem

Chris Alexander killed little Alan Kurdi.

Alan is the three-year-old Syrian boy whose drowned body, washed up on a Turkish beach, has been plastered all over the media, Facebook, Twitter, you name it. His mother, Reham, and older brother Galib, 5, also died trying to reach Greece in an overloaded rowboat. Only the boys’ father, Abdullah, survived the journey.

It was a journey they might never have had to make had they not been denied asylum here in Canada. Their relatives, already living here, were ready to vouch for them. But the Minister of Immigration, Chris Alexander, denied their claim. So they were forced to take the most dangerous and desperate route: the waters of the Mediterranean, in a tiny and fragile boat not capable of withstanding the rough conditions of that sea, overcrowded with other desperate refugees. On that boat, they were 13 in all.

And three members of the family paid for that passage with their lives.

Alan’s small, pathetic body, still fully clothed and shod, made headlines as a Turkish policeman scooped him up and carried him out of the surf. And the damning pictures from that tragic moment have forced refugee-shy European countries to rethink their harsh immigration policies. It’s all too little and too late for the thousands of families like the Kurdis, who have been streaming across the Mediterranean from the east and south in a desperate effort to escape various war zones and the dire poverty that stalks countries rich in resources, but made poor by colonialism and capitalism. The same global north, also known as “The West”, that has forced unwanted regime changes upon their lands and invaded them politically and economically in order for its corporations to scoop up all the resources they can, is unwilling to accept the consequences of its actions. Those consequences are human, they are hungry, and they are desperate enough to die trying to get away from what has been foisted upon them. And those who did the foisting are trying futilely to beat them back, any way they can.

In Hungary, trainloads of refugees have been held up for days, for no apparent reason. Hungary is in the grip of a far-right government with a fetish for control, but no clear notions of what to do about the influx of people who just want to get through Hungary and into some more hospitable final destination. It’s an awful irony when you consider that just a few short decades ago, Hungary was itself a civil war zone, and refugees were fleeing from there to other European lands, and across the ocean to Canada. (One of them, Stephen Vizinczey, even worked his refugee experiences into his acclaimed novel, In Praise of Older Women.)

But in a way, Hungary’s irony is emblematic of the shitheadedness that prevails more or less throughout Europe right now. Right-wing governments everywhere, and not one of them can work up a drop of empathy for refugees. German chancellor Angela Merkel was caught flatfooted when a Palestinian girl burst into tears before her upon learning that she was probably going to be deported. The incident was much mocked in the media, and caused a hasty backpedal on the part of the German government. Germany is now a much-sought destination for Syrian and other Middle Eastern and North African refugees. And the German people are clear on where they stand, even as their government waffles ineffectually away; whole cities and towns are stepping up to help the newcomers, and the German internet is buzzing with families opening their homes to refugees, giving them a place to stay until they can make a more permanent home somewhere.

I am a Canadian of German immigrant parentage. My mother, born to ethnic German parents in pre-World War II Yugoslavia, came “home” to Germany after some 200 years in the Balkans when war and the invasion of the Russian army drove them out in 1944. Her family were refugees. That makes me, in turn, the daughter of a refugee. And the descendant of other refugees, too: What was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire once took in Germans fleeing religious persecution back home. My mother’s ancestors, Lutheran protestants, fled a Catholic-ruled land. It was either convert to the local princeling’s religion, or else, back then. They chose “or else”. And that meant moving to the Balkans, where the Austrian queen, Maria Theresia, hoped to stave off the invasion of the Turks by populating the land with German-speaking Christians. It didn’t matter to her whether they were Catholic or Protestant, as long as they kept the Turks out. And then they were forced to flee, and my mother’s family became refugees once more…

And now, in an ironic twist of fate, the Turks are in Germany anyway, and the only parts where it’s truly gone to hell in a handbasket are the ones where local neo-Nazis have terrorized and murdered them. And after the Turks, the Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and other refugees have come. Germany hasn’t “gone Muslim” as PEGIDA and other right-wing fearmongers have claimed it would. Rather, the Christian spirit of charity and loving-thy-neighbor is making itself felt. German families are helping refugee families to acclimatize, to make a home, to learn whatever they need to learn, and to find their place in the world.

It wasn’t nearly so hospitable when my mom and her family arrived during the war, though; the refugees, though every bit as German as the locals, were looked down upon endlessly because they came from the Balkans. Whatever refugee-abuse wasn’t the result of Nazism, was down to plain old snobbery. And this went on for years after the war ended, too; the refugees were never fully accepted. My mother ended up going to work in New York for the local Daimler-Benz importer and his family as an au pair, and on a vacation to Canada, in northern Ontario, she met my dad, by then a landed immigrant himself. They married three months later.

I am proud of my ancestral people for having learned history’s lessons so well. And I am ashamed of my home and native land for having turned its back on Syrians, just as it did to Jews during World War II. Clearly, Chris Alexander hasn’t learned a thing from history.

And that is why I call him a murderer. He is just as responsible for the deaths of Alan, Galib and Reham Kurdi as if he had held their heads underwater himself. Because by cold-bloodedly denying the family’s refugee claim, that’s exactly what he did.

Cursed are those who refuse to learn from the past, because they will be doomed to repeat it.

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All you need to know about Amnesty’s new prostitution resolution

dean-esmay-amnesty-tweet

I was going to parse the meaning (or lack thereof) of this mealy-mouthed resolution that was recently approved in Dublin, but it bored me so much to tears that I couldn’t be bothered. And really, all you need to know about it is contained in the above tweet. When a dyed-in-the-wool misogynist and all-around hatemonger like Dean Fucking Esmay approves of your pro-prostitution stance on specifically masculist grounds, that’s proof that you’ve forgotten that half the human race is female. And that your vision of human rights could use a lot more work.

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Posted in Crapaganda Whores (and PIMPS), Human Rights FAIL, If You REALLY Care, Isn't It Ironic?, Men Who Just Don't Get It, Sick Frickin' Bastards, The Hardcore Stupid. Comments Off on All you need to know about Amnesty’s new prostitution resolution »

German women take on brothel ads

brothel-ad

Karina Alteweier, a physician assistant in Leverkusen, Germany, points out an example of the kind of advertising she’s fighting in her city. Right next to it, a children’s musical is advertised. The brothel’s name, address, and other details are blocked out, but you can see that a day pass to enter the premises costs 55 euros. That’s dirt cheap, considering what it costs the women and girls who are typically imported from Eastern Europe to service those places (because there are not many German women who would freely contemplate such a job). EMMA interviewed Karina about what she does when she sees such ads…which, by the way, are illegal according to the local vice code.

EMMA: Frau Alteweier, you’ve been fighting for years against brothel advertising in your city. You’ve even gone to the complaint department of the mayor’s office.

KA: Exactly. I informed them there that according to Paragraphs 119 and 120 of the vice code, advertising for brothels is not allowed.

EMMA: How did you get involved against brothel advertising?

KA: One morning in 2011, on my way to work, I saw a huge billboard for the megabrothel “Pascha”, in Köln. My head exploded. I can’t accept that prostitution gets advertised as if it were ice cream — as if it were the most normal thing in the world. For me, as a woman, that’s discriminatory. And what image of women does that give our young people? I’m the mother of a 21-year-old son, and it’s horrific for me to imagine him going to a bordello. When I asked him about it, he got mad and said, “Mama, how can you think such a thing?”

And moreover, what effect must such an ad have on the victims of sexual abuse? For a woman who was abused as a child or a teenager, it must be like a slap in the face to see the sexual availability of women being advertised so casually.

EMMA: What did you do?

KA: I complained everywhere. I even called the police. There, they were very cranky and downright rude. And at the company that rents the ad space, an employee waved me off: “What’s the matter with you, that’s a chic photo!” So I went to the city offices, where there’s always an open ear for me. I also turned to the press. They reported it in a big, critical way. Some of the ads also hung along a school route, and mothers protested against that as well. Then the ads disappeared.

EMMA: The Pascha ads haven’t appeared again since then. But now there’s a megabrothel in Erkrath advertising for some time with the headline “100 Girls”.

KA: It all started with small flyers pasted up on bridges. I also complained about that to the city. So then the city put up signs in various places: “No advertising!” Meanwhile, this brothel has been putting up huge billboards. I counted them. Here in Leverkusen alone, there are at least ten. So then I called the city offices and had those ads taken down too, but it took three weeks. So my complaints have almost always had results.

EMMA: But that’s not enough for you.

KA: No. I don’t want to have to complain again and again every time there’s an ad. I want the city to make clear that it won’t tolerate any brothel advertising, and that ad space must not be rented to brothels in the first place. For that reason, on May 11, I wrote another letter of complaint to the city and asked to make use of my right to speak to the complaint department.

EMMA: How did the department react?

KA: Before the session, they sent me back a letter saying that there is a “changed understanding on the part of the public regarding prostitution”, and that one would have to deal with the advertising on a “case by case” basis. For instance, one would have to see if there were hints of “forced” prostitution, or “prostitution of minors”. As if they would write that on their billboards! Also, there are other cities, like for example Bremen, that don’t allow any brothel advertising at all.

EMMA: How did the complaint department respond to that?

KA: I told them again that advertising for prostitution is illegal, and then read them the corresponding paragraphs. I also told them that I know many people in my area who are not at all tolerant of prostitution, and don’t find this brothel advertising acceptable at all. But some of the department members didn’t listen to me at all, and just talked amongst themselves. They didn’t want to discuss it, either. After my presentation, they decided to keep things as they were. Luckily, a lady from the press was sitting next to me. She was disgusted at their ignorance and offered to write an article about this consultation.

EMMA: Meanwhile, you have the support of equality commissioner Sabine Rusch-Witthorn.

KA: She accompanied me to the sitting at my request, and plans to keep going with the topic.

EMMA: You too?

KA: Naturally! I have so much support. My chief physician and my colleagues all share my opinion completely. Whenever they read an article on the matter in the paper, they say: “You’re completely right, we see it that way too!” And there are always lots of supportive letters from the readers. That affirms and encourages me, naturally. I’m sticking with it; I can’t do otherwise. Every time I see such an ad, my motor starts running again.

Translation mine.

Karina’s battle is uphill, and little wonder: Germany’s bordellos bring in billions of euros a year in gross revenue. There are nearly half a million women in prostitution there, most of them foreigners. It’s a vicious circle: Legalization creates normalization; normalization creates demand; demand spurs traffickers to increase the supply of prostituted persons from out of country; more supply, more normalization; more normalization, more money!

And as long as the brothel operators pay their taxes and the police don’t get too many calls about violence on the premises (even though it happens, and far more often than is mentioned in the media), the city authorities don’t much care what goes on in there. It takes nothing less than the most flagrant human rights abuses, disease outbreaks, and accusations of human trafficking that stick before a bordello gets shuttered. The money apparently matters more than the well-being of the girls, who are typically under 20 and speak little German (or English) beyond what it takes to reel off a price list and negotiate a transaction. It’s a situation where abuse isn’t a glitch, it’s a feature.

And if you think it’s any safer in brothels than it is on the street, read Rebecca Mott’s interview here and find out why pro-prostitution campaigners are so eager to push the “indoors = harm reduction” meme. You’ll see it has a lot less to do with prostituted people’s safety than it does with lack of accountability, and the abusers’ and exploiters’ ability to get away with everything (up to and including murder). Off the street is out of sight, and out of sight is out of mind…or so the pimp lobby reckons.

Of course, as brazen as they are, they reckoned without the likes of Karina and her colleagues, who aren’t fooled by all this defensive, dismissive talk of a “changed morality” in Germany. It’s a bald-faced lie that all German women support prostitution, seeing it as an “escape valve” for “dangerous impulses” that would otherwise lead to rape. Rape is still happening, and in fact is more rampant than ever; unprostituted women are now afraid to walk through red-light districts because drunken brothel patrons often accost them on the street! (Normalization creates demand, remember?)

It’s also a lie that the country is better and happier since prostitution was legalized in 2001. It might be richer in some small parts, thanks to horny foreigners on sex tours, but that’s not an improvement! The wealth is not trickling down. Most prostitutes are desperately poor when they enter, and no better off when they exit. Women are still being assaulted, abused and murdered, and many of them are in prostitution when it happens. The closed doors of the brothel conceal a multitude of crimes against humanity. And the spillover from that reaches onto the streets, too…where prostitution hasn’t exactly abated, either.

These activists, however, know their local laws and are disgusted with the blatant abuses going on under their noses. And they will not stop opposing the pimps’ efforts to turn a profit at everyone else’s expense. Even those with no children to worry about can figure out for themselves what it must feel like to someone who was sexually abused at an early age to see acts similar to those committed against her being “legally” advertised for sale…on a billboard, a wall, or a city bus. To such individuals, the city authorities’ reluctance to step in and stop it must feel like a whole fresh round of abuse.

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A few random thoughts about race and gender (and religion, guns and terrorism)

whoever-fights-monsters

Ahem. For the past week or so, my mind’s been getting messed with by people who are idiots when it comes to race and gender. Not all of them the usual suspects of FUX Snooze, either. So I’ll beg your pardon pre-emptively if I ramble or explode along the way.

Where to begin?

Well, I’ve unfriended some Facebook friends, and been unfriended too — and all of these ex-friends and un-friends had one thing in common: They staunchly refuse to get a grasp on what gender actually means. They claim it’s a binary (actually, it’s a spectrum), and are trying to erase it and replace it with an actual binary called, merely, SEX. Only two options available: Male and Female, assigned at birth, immutable. Intersex people, if acknowledged at all, are only grudgingly done so (mostly as “rare exceptions” — awful white of you, sisters.) They thus stubbornly refuse to accept trans women as women. They even believe, absurdly, that trans women are part of some Men’s Rights plot to infiltrate and eliminate all women’s spaces with the wave of a willy. Uh, no. Actual MRAs, like themselves, are all “ewwww, trannies ICKY!” Ironic, no? They claim to stand up for the most oppressed, but actually, they are the meanest kids on the feminist playground when it comes to women who get killed for being trans as well as women, and they are perversely proud of that.

Several of my friends have been viciously purged, too. All for the same reason. And yet, these women call themselves radical feminists. The most sisterly of the whole feminist sisterhood! Whoopee!

What could be so radical, or so feminist, about excluding an entire category of women from consideration AS WOMEN, simply by falling back on the (false) binary sex assigned to those women at birth, I do not know. I do know that they are incredibly hostile to even the slightest challenge to their simplistic received wisdoms (which all seem to come from some very outdated and elaborately stupid books of theory) and that their skins are so thin that the merest poke of intruding reality makes them explode.

They’re also downright snarky about trans women’s allegedly “fake” gender (which is actually their real one, coming out from behind a lifelong wall of the very toxic masculinity that self-styled radfems ironically claim to be trying to dismantle). And snotty as hell about “women’s lived experiences” (completely ignoring the actual lived experiences of a woman who has been forced by society to occupy the body and mannerisms of a man). Apparently, you’re not a real woman to them unless you were born with the full standard set of female parts — because, in their rigid, sex-essentialistic binary view of things, only those girls born with proper girly bits have the requisite “female energy”.

Oddly, these same “radicals” glorify good ol’ apple-pie motherhood as one of those “lived experiences”, chock-full of “female energy” that all “real” women allegedly share. Which is ironic coming from them, after all the decades feminists have spent campaigning for birth control, body autonomy, abortion rights, and the right to forego motherhood altogether if one so chooses. (Guess I’m a fake woman for going on the Pill, and later having my tubes tied, and choosing to be the mother of nothing except maybe creativity and cats. Thanks so much for all that validation of my lived experiences, sisters.)

Most ironic of all, they’re vying so hard to be lefter-than-left and feminister-than-feminist that they’ve somehow come out on the far right. They’re so transphobic — oh sorry, “gender-critical” — that they actually get their “scientific information” about trans women from Lifesite, one of the most unscientific, anti-woman sites there is. Some are so scared of people taking hormones for therapeutic purposes (ahem, irregular periods here) that they’re even now campaigning against the Pill, and again relying on odious anti-choice sites from the Religious Reich (which are full of outdated and false information) to make their “scientific” case for them. Incidentally, a lot of tinfoil-hatted MRAs share their pharmacophobia (because drugs are “emasculating”, natch!) with this particular brand of “feminist”. Ironies, like bigotries, tend to cluster!

I’ve lost count of the number of far-right articles and websites I’ve seen them toss at others in their desperation to beat back real, radical social change. In addition to the Religious Reich misogyny of Lifesite, there was Alex Jones’s Infowars, which hurls shit at feminists every chance its flying-monkey crew get. I’ve even seen VDare — a notorious white-supremacist siteused to back up their transphobia. (I guess I shouldn’t be so shocked, in retrospect; this same bunch of so-called radical feminists also bristled against the phrase “white feminism”, which was coined to make clear that we’ve still got a long way to go on matters of racial equality, justice, and liberation from all manner of racism. Now why would they not welcome a reminder of THAT?)

In short, these former friends won’t be missed, at least from where I sit. On the contrary, my Facebook feed smells fresher without their ideological dungheaps on it.

What really clinched the decision to unfriend, for me, was a spate of ideological diarrhea which takes a remarkably similar line about race, trying (and failing) to tie it in to the gender mess somehow. And all of it was prompted by the outing of Rachel Dolezal, the white professor and former Spokane NAACP leader who claimed to be black. This was followed by a lot of smug “gotcha” spitballing about how, if racial identity could not be faked, then why wasn’t that also true of gender? Why wasn’t anyone screaming about Caitlyn — oh sorry, “Bruce” Jenner having the temerity to pass “himself” off as a woman? (Coming from people who pooh-pooh all talk of intersectionality, this issue-mixing is downright rich.)

Of course, as usual, they own-goaled themselves. While they were all so busy chasing their tails around their own little misguided interpretations of gender (and, no doubt, batting away all well-earned charges of their own unexamined racism), they completely ignored what any genuine radical feminist, white or otherwise, should be aware of in the Dolezal case: the fact that Rachel Dolezal’s white biological parents were also religious home-schoolers of a strict (and horribly abusive) kind. That her own biological brother was a molester and a racist, and no doubt protected, much like the notoriously transphobic Josh Duggar, by those same abusive parents. The same who later piped up just to out Rachel as fake-black when some hate mail she allegedly received was being investigated by the authorities. Not to excuse any of the wrong (and possibly illegal) things she has done, but let me just say this: If those were my parents, I’d be tripping all over myself to get them the hell out of my life, too. So yeah, I’m not a bit surprised that Rachel Dolezal tried to disown them in the most radical way she could think of (and indeed, in a radical way most of us would NEVER think of): by trying to pass as a person of another color.

And neither am I surprised that the awfully white “radfems” of my acquaintance again missed the point, and sided with what really are all of feminism’s sworn enemies. By sniping at trans people’s cross-gender “passing” and taking cheap shots at “transracialism” (which is not a thing, much less one related to transgenderism), they pretty much convinced me that they are nobody’s friends. When your “gender-critical” viewpoint on trans people and abused women starts to smell just like the overt bigotries of ‘winger idiots like Keith Fucking Ablow and Michelle Fucking Duggar, or tinfoil hatters like Alex Fucking Jones, I don’t even want to be in the same room with you. You’re not a radical; you’re not a feminist; you’re not anywhere on the left anymore. Take off your false “radical feminist” identity, and fuck off. You may as well cop to being a far-right woman-hating racist, because that is the group you have joined forces with.

And if that is your ideology, then maybe you should heartily approve of what Dylann Storm Roof has done in Charleston. He invaded a historic black church. He shot blacks. He killed blacks. Most of them were women. And he did it because, to paraphrase what he himself said, black men rape white women. How killing black women is supposed to stop interracial rape, I don’t know. His imagination is a drug-addled pornographic fever swamp of antebellum southern racism. No doubt he was hoping for some kind of “racial holy war” to break out in the wake of his terrorist deed, and for more gun-toting whites to go on more anti-black purges. He has three Confederate flags on his South Carolina licence plate, and two flags from colonial, white-rule Southern Africa on his jacket. (I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if his browser history, like that of my so-called radfem acquaintances, shows a lot of visits to Christian right and white supremacist sites. Politics, strange bedfellows, etc.!)

And if you don’t want to endorse his actions, you might do well to sit down, wake up, knock off the defensive jibber-jabber, stop looking to far-right extremism for your justifications, and finally face all the oppressive -isms and -phobias you’ve internalized so very well. Have you forgotten that these systems were put there to keep women and non-white people in “their” place, which is squarely under the bootheels of white men? Have you forgotten that just like trans women are doing now, lesbians and black women have had to fight for inclusion as women and feminists, and that the movement is better for having them in it? Need I remind you, sisters, that it won’t lift ANY women up when you throw other women under that ol’ bus?

If the best you can do to back up your so-called radical feminism is to flail your arms and spout viewpoints identical to those of the most reactionary, racist, and antifeminist of all conservatives, you’re not just doing intersectionality wrong; you’re doing radicalism and feminism both wrong. And if you want to do it right, you need to fight that sexist, racist, transphobic bigot in yourself. Otherwise, you’ll end up losing a lot more than just a slew of friends who have, collectively, gotten sick of your shit.

Happy Juneteenth, BTW.

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A few random thoughts on the Duggar scandal

duggars-persecution

Would you trust these people to teach YOU morality? If the answer is yes, you just might be a Pharisee.

So, this happened. Finally, after years of parading their nauseating Quiverfull sanctimony on the Internets and TV to the tune of big, BIG bucks, the Duggars are off the air. How come?

Well, it seems that their eldest son, Josh, was a very naughty boy. And a very hypocritical man, too, for years after the fact. And they themselves aided and abetted him by sweeping his abuse — much of it downright incestuous — under the rug. And by throwing his victims — their own daughters — under the bus.

So it’s kind of sweet to see them finally reaping a little bit of what they sowed. And no small relief to know that they’ve been denied at least one major media mouthpiece for their despicable views. I’m guessing that ol’ Jim Bob and Michelle might want to put off trying for Sprog #20 indefinitely now, seeing as their gravy train — or clown car, rather — has screeched to a sudden halt.

But hold your hosannas, folks, because there’s not much to cheer about here.

For starters: Josh Duggar never did any time for his crimes. The abuses in question all took place over a decade ago. For a dozen years or more, several girls have been carrying this heavy secret around, effectively covering for their abuser. They don’t dare speak out themselves, because that would call the entire Quiverfull movement (a cult, really) into question. Because its teachings are heavily to blame for both their molestation and its cover-up.

And then there’s the big question of how they were treated following the assaults. Did they get proper counselling and treatment for the traumas they endured? I don’t know, but somehow I doubt it. Did they get slut-shamed by the all-male cult “headship” for “tempting” him with their budding young bodies? I don’t know either, but I certainly wouldn’t doubt it. For a fertility cult, the Quiverfulls sure do rely a lot on female chastity. And they make sure it’s enforced through a strict, home-schooled “purity culture”, heavy on patriarchal dogma and light on useful knowledge. Their overall education is far from comprehensive (or accurate), so I’m guessing that their sexual education is at best sketchy. Knowledge is power, and the fact that the junior Duggars have been brought up on an unholy broth of ignorance and lies doesn’t bode well for their future autonomy. Unless, of course, they do what a growing number of the Phelps clan have done, and exit the family cult. (Run, Jinger, RUN!)

And then there’s the fact that Josh Duggar has actually done quite well for himself and his own Quiverfull brood in the interim, working for an infamous right-wing stink tank, the Family Research Council. He had to resign when this scandal finally grew beyond all hope of damage control, but the real damage he did while in their employ is still being felt by women and queerfolk. After all, those wingnuts he worked for helped keep Arkansas in the transphobic Dark Ages. And they did it by enlisting Josh’s mom, Michelle Duggar, to record a disgusting robocall about evil, wicked trans people out to rape everyone’s sweet, virginal daughters. It worked, too: Arkansas’s proposed anti-discrimination law didn’t pass.

Never mind that the biggest threat to women and girls is not the imaginary man-in-drag claiming to be a woman so he can break into bathrooms to sexually assault little girls, that “queer” variation on the hoary old theme of Stranger Danger. Never mind that actual cases of women or girls being assaulted by such individuals simply don’t exist. No, let’s all go on ignoring the real threat, that smirking dough-ball in a suit, who pushed crapaganda about phantom menaces while keeping his own very real sex crimes hidden in the old family closet.

Even some otherwise intelligent radical feminists have fallen for that lie, which is a testimony to the insidious power of the Duggars and their ilk. It’s also a testimony to the power of dogma and antiquated ideology. Here’s a pro tip, my rad-fem comrades: If you find your views on gender dovetailing inextricably with those of the Religious Reich, you’re not pushing for women’s liberation anymore. You’re pushing against it, and you don’t even know it.

And here’s another, just for good measure: Trans women are not “really men”, they are really WOMEN. And they’re being abused by the same people who are selling you those dirty lies about their gender. When a trans woman is forced to use the men’s room because she doesn’t “pass”, and she gets assaulted for it, that’s abuse. That’s on all of those who pushed to keep trans people’s rights unprotected. And if you joined in that push, congratulations: You’ve made common cause with the enemies of all women.

You want to liberate women from patriarchy? Great! Then recognize your trans sisters as women. Stop fretting over what’s between their legs. Learn their concerns; you’ll find that they mesh nicely with yours. Bigotries tend to cluster, so a unified front — that’s the real meaning of intersectionality — is needed to combat them. Don’t do the bigots’ work for them! Fight the patriarchy and its dogmas, not the trans women who are their victims.

And if you meet a trans woman in the public toilets, don’t panic. Remember, she’s there for the same reasons you are. You didn’t come to perpetrate a sexual assault? Good, because neither did she. Isn’t it a relief to know that she’s only there to relieve herself, same as you?

And if any man is lurking in the vicinity, waiting for victims, I doubt very much that he’d bother to dress in drag first. Unless, of course, his costume is that of the fine, upstanding family man who can do no wrong. That one fools the whole world, every single time.

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Economics for Dummies: The African refugee situation, summed up

african-refugees

It’s not just boats that are sinking. It’s PEOPLE. The fact that so many Africans are fleeing from their homes and drowning off the coast of Italy makes me think that, just like the Haitians who are still being punished for their slave revolt 200 years later, so Africans are being punished for their efforts to throw off various colonial yokes that keep being foisted upon them. Once it was European countries doing the colonizing; now it’s multinational foreign corporations taking up where nation-states have left off. Resources that should belong to the people of the land are being plundered, and private armies of mercenaries are ensuring that no pesky locals get in the way of that. Result: people paying extortionate sums of money, and even going into debt, to traffickers who abandon ship as they near the Italian coast, leaving the refugees to sink or swim…and since most can’t swim, they drown.

If you want to know what will REALLY end the seemingly endless influx of boat-people from Africa, the first thing you will need to do is kill off capitalism. Then, kill imperialism. And while you’re at it, also kill racism. Then, and only then, will you have begun to create a climate where it’s safe for them to go back home again.

If they still have a home left to go to, that is.

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Posted in Deepest Darkest Africa, Economics for Dummies, EuroPeons, Fascism Without Swastikas, Filthy Stinking Rich, If You REALLY Care, Isn't That Racist?. Comments Off on Economics for Dummies: The African refugee situation, summed up »

“In Tatjana’s Shoes”: German art students taken on prostitution, human trafficking

tatjana-shoes

“In Tatjana’s Shoes”, a street art exhibit by a group of students from Osnabrück, Germany. Photo: EMMA.

Human trafficking and prostitution are big topics in Germany right now. A law reform is on the table, but the real debate is happening on the streets. And a group of university students from northern Germany decided that the best way to show the impact of the two interconnected issues was to find the kind of shoes a woman or girl in the sex trade might have worn, and set them on the street with a “price tag” beside them. EMMA reports on the impact of this stark, simple exhibit:

An unusual scene recently appeared on the main shopping street in Osnabrück, Germany: An orderly rectangle filled with women’s and girls’ shoes. Each pair of shoes had a price sign next to it. By the pink pumps: “Tatjana, 16, blowjob, 15 euros”; by the purple high-heeled sandals: “Olessia, 17, anal, 65 euros”. And next to a pair of children’s shoes: “Newborn girl, 1000 euros.” The people behind the exhibit: a group of art students from Osnabrück University. They wanted their project to raise awareness of human rights abuses in prostitution. We asked them: How did you get this idea? How did people react? And what’s next? Here is their answer:

“We are a group of art students from Osnabrück University (four women, one man). We are between 21 and 25 years old. Last winter semester, we took a course on artistic interventions in public and semi-public spaces. The need to take on a political subject was important to us. At some point the topics of human trafficking and prostitution came up, since they moved us the most, shocked us, and we felt the need to share our bewilderment about them.

“We decided on the symbol of dirty, worn-out, but milieu-appropriate shoes. We also wanted to shock people with the hand-written cardboard signs. If you take the children’s shoes with the label ‘Newborn girl, 1000 euros” as an example of the reactions of passersby, then you could see, especially in women, shock, rage at the circumstances, bewilderment and disgust. ‘Really terrible to see children’s shoes in this context.’ Or, ‘The shoe sizes are crass!’ One could also see the passersby explaining the topic to one another. Some debated whether there was still forced prostitution…

“Lots of them turned the signs back over, if the wind had blown them down, in order to read them. Passersby bent down to get a better look at the shoes, read every sign systematically, circled around the rectangle, and shook their heads. A bunch of boys knocked a pair of shoes over and read the signs to each other in broken German. Others set the shoes back up. Some stepped into the middle of the rectangle to get a good look even at the shoes there, and be able to touch them.

“Sometimes people talked to us about the project, and asked how we’d come up with it. Whether it was real stories that we were showing, and what moves us personally the most about it. Many of them also told us that they needed more explanation. Others were of the opinion that it all spoke for itself.

“This was our first exhibit in the area. We’re still feeling our way around, and hadn’t expected that our début would make such big waves. We are all anchored in different areas of art. Until now, we have preferred analog photography and painting. That’s why such projects and interventions are a bit of new territory for us. We plan to show the exhibit again, in other cities.”

Translation mine.

More photos at the link.

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Posted in Artsy-Fartsy Culture Stuff, Confessions of a Bad German, If You REALLY Care, Law-Law Land, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on “In Tatjana’s Shoes”: German art students taken on prostitution, human trafficking »

Compare and Contrast: A “tragedy” vs. a statistic

misandry-vs-misogyny

Note the quotes around “tragedy”; they’re there for a reason. Partly because this mug is a joke. Partly also because a few arrogant dudes’ hurt feelings on the internet don’t add up to nearly as much as 90 million girls’ corpses.

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Posted in Compare and Contrast, If You REALLY Care, Isn't It Ironic?, Men Who Just Don't Get It, The "Well, DUH!" Files, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on Compare and Contrast: A “tragedy” vs. a statistic »

Swiss psychiatrist makes the case for more female pilots

pilotinnen

Female pilots of Lufthansa, photographed for the airline by Rolf Bewersdorf. Why aren’t there more of them? According to an article in Schweiz am Sonntag (via EMMA), there should be more women pilots, because they are actually the more trustworthy sex. And more to the point, according to a leading Swiss expert on suicide, it’s because they are more in control of themselves emotionally speaking, and less likely to commit suicide on the job:

As a pilot, train engineer or bus driver, the responsibility is huge, because passengers trust them with their lives. Above all, men hold these positions. Of Swissair’s 1,341 pilots, only 59 are women. A similar gender relationship shows itself in SBB (Swiss rail) and the Postbus: of 3,500 train engineers, 80 are women, and of 3,079 Postbus drivers, 245 are women.

Gabriela Stoppe regards this share as much too low. She is a psychiatrist and vice-president of Ipsilon, the umbrella organization for suicide prevention in Switzerland.

“It would make sense not only for diversity, but for safety, to have more women in human transport,” says Stoppe. She bases her statement on the fact that women have lower rates of suicide. “It was only a matter of time that a pilot would commit suicide with an airplane in Europe, too.”

As unbelievable as the case of the Germanwings crash may be, in the past decades there have been several crashes in which pilots killed themselves with their planes. Six are documented.

In Switzerland, suicide is the number one cause of death for men between the ages of 14 and 44. In 2012, 240 of them took their lives. Although the number of self-inflicted deaths has gone down a bit in the last ten years, three times as many men as women take their own lives still. “This should be taken into account in choosing a pilot, driver or engineer,” says Stoppe.

On Tuesday at 10:30 a.m., co-pilot Andreas L., 27, begins the descent over the French Alps. The Germanwings Airbus A320 rapidly loses altitude. The captain is locked out of the cockpit, he can’t do anything anymore. After eight minutes the plane crashes. All 150 persons die.

“Many signs point to a take-along suicide,” says Stoppe. A rare form of suicide. “Often it’s fathers or mothers, who don’t only kill themselves, but also their children and their partners. That someone would take several passengers along is unusual.”

The psychiatrist imagines it went like this: When Andreas L. got the opportunity to put his thoughts into realization, he shut down mentally and emotionally. In the moment of a suicidal crisis, people only have tunnel vision. And as with rampage-runners, there is no way back.

The Düsseldorf police don’t find a suicide note during their search of Andreas L.’s apartment. But they do find torn-up doctors’ notes, current, and even dated the day of the crash, as well as several medications for the treatment of psychiatric illnesses. The co-pilot also suffered from vision problems. The investigators conclude “that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and co-workers.”

This doesn’t surprise Gabriela Stoppe. “Precisely those people who fear that they will lose their job due to a mental illness don’t dare speak of it.” Often, such people will also refuse to take medication, so as not to be detected during drug testing. “Depression and other mental illnesses are, as ever, a taboo in certain professions and careers.” That leads to only about 60% of those affected reporting such illnesses. “Meanwhile, 80 to 90% of such cases would be successfully treatable.”

Nowadays, the airline doctor checks the mental health of pilots during their aptitude tests. Yearly medical checkups follow. A similar procedure takes place with railroad and bus drivers. Bus-driver candidates are tested mainly for resiliency, observational capacities, and also for aggressive tendencies, while locomotive engineers are tested for how well they handle solitude and repetitive tasks.

That alone won’t do, Gabriela Stoppe is convinced. Psychological testing is still necessary in later career phases. And particularly from doctors trained in psychiatry. “Highly intelligent people are particularly likely to conceal such serious problems as paranoid hallucinatory psychoses,” says a Munich psychiatrist, Helmut Kolitzus, in Der Spiegel.

Swissair is currently debating whether to psychologically test their pilots once a year.

Translation mine.

No word on what Lufthansa’s current psychological testing policies are, or how they’ll change, but the fact that Swissair sees a need to change theirs is telling. As is the fact that Andreas L. had several torn-up doctor’s notes in his wastebasket. Clearly not a company doctor, because he was expected to take those notes to his supervisor himself, and he didn’t. Maybe Lufthansa/Germanwings needs to employ a company shrink, one who reports directly to supervisors of the pilots if there is any problem? Because in this case, the patient was trusted to do the appropriate thing…and because he was clearly fearful of losing his dream job, the only one he ever wanted, he chose instead to conceal his condition until it was too late. 150 people paid with the senseless loss of their lives for the unwillingness of one to step back for his mental health’s sake.

But why would more female pilots be an answer to problems like that? Simple: Because while women are more likely to be depressive, and also more likely to attempt suicide than men, they are also less likely to actually die that way. They tend to choose less violent methods, ones which are more readily reversed: an overdose of pills, say, instead of a gun or a vehicle crash. A female suicide attempt is not a melodramatic “bid for attention”, as it’s often dismissed as being; rather, it’s a last, desperate cry for help. And for that reason, a woman who tries to take her own life is more likely to get help, in the end — simply because her suicide method is less likely to “succeed”.

Men, on the other hand, ironically succeed at killing themselves because they are socialized from infancy up to be more aggressive — and by that token, “successful”. They are taught to pursue what they want at any cost, even if it’s unreasonable — eg., a career as a commercial pilot when they are too emotionally labile to handle the stresses — or if it’s death. Extreme behavior is less frowned upon in a boy than a girl, and less so in a man than in a woman, as well. Risk-taking is more praised in males than in females. If a man is violent, “boys will be boys” is the excuse most likely to be waved around.

Should a woman do the same, however, suddenly it’s “bitches be crazy”.

This is all in line with popular stereotypes. A boy with “leadership attributes” is lionized; a girl with the same attributes is hand-waved off as “bossy”. Little wonder, then, that the transport industry is dominated by male drivers, engineers and pilots. It’s not that women can’t work a set of controls (one doesn’t have to be bigger or stronger or endowed with a penis to grasp a steering wheel, after all); it’s that women are more likely to be discouraged from an early age of even thinking of entering those jobs. Because they’re not “mentally fit” for them. Because “hormones”. Never mind that the worst case of PMS doesn’t turn a woman into a deranged psychopath; at most, it puts her bullshit-tolerance on a par with that of the average man, whose hormone levels of course are never blamed for anything. No, bitchez be the crazy ones. Cray-cray-ba-nay-nay.

It is time to stop gaslighting girls out of careers in the transport industry. Because one of our best attributes, ironically, is the very one that’s been used to deny us piloting jobs in the past: yup, our ever-fluctuating, blameworthy hormones. We’re so good at riding out those little physical ups and downs, it actually makes us more mentally stable, not less. We become more careful and more conscientious as a result. And we are more likely to seek help if we need it, too. Female pilots, to date, have caused 0 (count ’em, ZERO) suicide crashes. Surely that’s a significant statistic right there. Why doesn’t the industry seize on that, and recruit more female pilots?

To “fight like a girl” to keep a job one loves means to take a break if one needs it, and return to work later…instead of doing the type-A macho thing and hiding one’s problems until suddenly the plane is in a death dive, and there is no turning back.

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Posted in Confessions of a Bad German, Economics for Dummies, EuroPeons, If You REALLY Care, Isn't It Ironic?, She Blinded Me With Science, Uppity Wimmin. Comments Off on Swiss psychiatrist makes the case for more female pilots »

Bill C-51: Are you on Harpo’s enemies list yet?

If not, shame on you. Watch this and learn why it behooves you to become an enemy of PetroState Canada and Fortress North America:

Democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and political association, the indigenous peoples, the right to a clean and healthy environment…all these and more are now under fire. And if you believe in them, and take your belief in them to the streets, congratulations: You are An Enemy of the State. USA PATRIOT Act North, otherwise known as Bill C-51, is aiming to make YOU illegal.

And if you couldn’t make it to the streets, don’t worry. You can still put a fire under your Member of Parliament. Use this letter-writing tool and in a few minutes’ time, you too can be a proud member of the Enemies list.

Now go, and be the best fuckin’ subversive you can.

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