International

Hillary Clinton Covering Her Hair in Pakistan

That is a photo of Hillary Clinton at the Moghul-era Badshahi mosque in Lahore during her recent trip to Pakistan.  I am always bothered by pictures like that that show female Western officials covering their hair.  Sure, the reason is to observe the customs of Islam.  And, in fact, Clinton was praised for doing so.  For instance, the Qatar Gulf Times said “Analysts . . . praised her on-message diplomacy and respect for Islamic custom by covering her hair, visiting a mosque and handing out alms.” But notice the men in the picture.  With one exception, every man is wearing a suit.  And here is a photo of Richard Holbrooke at the same mosque.  Is there no “custom” of dress for men? Apparently, during this trip, Clinton only covered her hair during visits to mosques.  And she has consistently covered her hair during similar types of visits in the past.  In addition, other female Western officials have covered their hair during visits to mosques. And sometimes the officials cover their hair at more secular sites.  In this case, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey was harshly criticized in the French press. I obtained the photos above from this web site of the Zola Levitt Ministries.   The site also has photos of “Muslim political women,” some of whom, the site says, ” not only avoid any Islamic apparel but fit a Western standard of beauty and glamor, making a sharp contrast to those Europeans and Americans in their tatty hijabs.”  Those women appear to be in more secular settings ...
Continue Reading »

Quick Hit: New Global Gender Gap Report

The World Economic Forum today published the new Global Gender Gap Report.  It purports to assess countries on how well they are dividing their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities.  It bases the rankings on economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival, and political entitlement.  Here is the report.  A figure of 1.0 would indicate complete equality.  Iceland has the top score of 0.8276 and Yemen is ranked last in position 134 with a score of 0.4609.  Some of the interesting rankings are: South Africa (6), Philippines (9), Lesotho (10), United Kingdom (15), United States (31), China (60), Japan (75), Brazil (82), India (114)....
Continue Reading »
Pop Culture

Obituary: The Actress Who Played the Rape Accuser in “To Kill a Mockingbird”

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of the great movies.  I’ve watched it many times and, each time, it still manages to move me.  As a former civil rights attorney, I consider Atticus Finch as a great role model for attorneys.  (But I realize that he was not perfect.  In particular, I was always bothered by his failure to have ever done anything about race injustices prior to this one case.  There are many articles that point out his deficiencies.) On October14, Collin Wilcox Paxton, the actress who played the false rape accuser in the movie died at the age of 74.  She played the part of Mayella Ewell, the young white woman who falsely accused Tom Robinson of raping her.  On the witness stand, she angrily broke down when Atticus Finch accused her of lying to protect her racist father.  Tom Robinson was convicted anyway and later killed. I was pleased to read in the obituary that she was involved in the civil rights movement and the NAACP with Brock Peters, who played Tom Robinson.  In a 2007 interview, she said: On the set, there was a main feeling that we were making a film that had meaning, had something to say.  But no one ever expected or anticipated the kind of impact the film actually created. The movie had as much meaning as any ever made.  She had much to be proud of....
Continue Reading »

Finally, Obama Includes a Woman in His Golf Game

After taking a lot of flak for never including a woman in his weekly basketball games, and after having never included a woman in any of his 23 golf outings since taking office, President Obama played golf with a woman on Sunday.  It was Melanie Melody Barnes, Obama’s chief domestic policy adviser. This was after he was asked last week if his all-male basketball game was “the old boys club again” and he replied “Yeah, I’ve got to say I think this is bunk.”  Think the Sunday golf game was a coincidence?...
Continue Reading »

No Women in Obama’s Weekly Basketball Games

It’s great that President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize!  But what about including women in his weekly basketball games.  The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, under the title of “So Much for Shattering the Glass Backboard,” reports that: President Obama hosts a basketball game at the White House on Thursday evening for Cabinet secretaries and members of Congress. Of the 15 participants whose names are put out by the White House, not one is a woman — even though Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was a college basketball player and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who was in town for the afternoon, played high school ball. At a daily briefing,Obama’s press secretary was asked if Obama had ever invited any women to play and replied “The point’s well taken.  The president’s certainly played basketball and other sports with women in the past, and I anticipate he’ll do so in the future.” The article also reports this about Seblius: On Jay Leno’s show Wednesday night, HHS’s Sebelius, who played college ball for Trinity Washington University, was asked: “Who would win in a game of HORSE, you or President Obama?” Sebelius talked trash. “I actually made my college basketball team, so –” “Whoa!” Leno exclaimed at this taunting of the president. “Bring it on!” Sebelius dared....
Continue Reading »
Feminism

Dalai Lama: “I Call Myself A Feminist”

Sure, Lady GaGa, Elle MacPherson, and even Margaret Atwood all shy away from the label “Feminist,” but the Dalai Lama sure doesn’t! At the International Freedom Award ceremony, he ended his remarks with: “I call myself a feminist…Isn’t that what you call someone who fights for women’s rights?” He did go on to say that women are innately more compassionate because they birth children. Which, as the Huffington Post points out, is a stance that has caused a lot of discrimination towards women in the workplace, and therefore isn’t something I can really get behind. Still, I love that he not only embraced the term, but explained that it’s as simple as recognizing the importance for women’s rights. There were no caveats or excuses, or mentions of “feminazis” or man-hating or negative connotations of the term. If the Dalai Lama can call himself a feminist, why can’t more American women?...
Continue Reading »
Politics

CA Domestic Violence Shelters Forced to Close After Funding is Cut

Yesterday I had my first day of graduate school. During my Financial Management class, my professor showed an example of a not-for-profit organization’s budget. “In an economy like this, we can tell how important the government believes something is, based on how quickly its funding gets slashed, ” he said. He circled a line item showing endowment for the arts. “The arts are always the first to go.” My professor was pretty much right, though he did omit one thing: Aid for women’s services is also among the first to go. Gov. Schwarzenegger recent;y eliminated all state funding for domestic violence shelters. Already, six shelters have closed, and the AP reports that many more are on the verge of closing. AP notes that: The California Department of Public Health’s Domestic Violence Program provided funding to 94 agencies statewide, some of which operate multiple shelters. Most also assist victims with restraining orders, legal aid, child services, money management and other life skills. Nearly all the agencies say they are cutting back on such assistance programs in the wake of the budget cuts. California’s economic situation is indeed dire. No one expected Governor Schwarzenegger to approve the full alloted budget of $20.8 million to the agency. A cut may have been undesirable but unavoidable; but a complete elimination will prove devastating to so many women, children, and also men. Domestic violence shelters are consistently underfunded and understaffed, and therefore fewer people have access to safe havens when they need them. It’s a problem across the country that not all people who seek safety ...
Continue Reading »

Quick Hit: ‘Female Gaze’ Art Show in NYC

This morning my friend sent me a link to an art exhibit at NYC’s Cheim & Read in Chelsea. The show titled “Female Gaze: Women Look At Women” is set to run through September 19th, and features 41 paintings, sculptures and photographs of women and created by women. The point is to reclaim the female image from the male gaze, as all of these interpretations of women are created through a female lens. The Douglas Kelley Show writes that: This exhibition attempts to debunk the notion of the male gaze by providing a group of works in which the artist and subject do not relate as “voyeur” and “object,” but as woman and woman....
Continue Reading »

Lashings and Canings – Verdict Reached in Trial of Lubna al-Hussein – Prisons Department Cleared to Cane Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno

Yesterday, a verdict was rendered in the trial of Lubna al-Hussein, who was on trial for wearing clothing deemed indecent (too-tight pants, too-sheer blouse, but also wearing a head scarf) by Sudanese authorities.  The court fined her the equivalent of $209 rather than ordering the 40 lashes she could have received.  Her lawyer said that al-Hussein does not intend to pay the fine and therefore could be jailed for a month.  She will appeal to the constitutional court. During the trial, al-Hussein was not allowed to call any witnesses in her defense.  Outside of the courthouse, at least one woman was beaten by police and around 40 were arrested.  Police lobbed tear gas at demonstrators and closed roads leading to the courthouse. Meanwhile, in Malaysia, a government official has reviewed the caning procedures and has “cleared” the Prisons Department to cane Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno.  Kartika had been fined and ordered to be whipped six times for drinking beer in a hotel last year.  She has demanded that the whipping be done in public.  Her sentence has been deferred until after Ramadan.  See the following news report....
Continue Reading »
Abortion

Health Care Town Meeting and Randall Terry

I spent tonight attending a health care town meeting in Northern Virginia sponsored by Rep. Jim Moran and he had Howard Dean with him.  It was a shout out by both sides, but, overall, I thought Moran kept it under decent control.  Probably 70-80% were for the health care bill.  I’ll write more about it tomorrow after I’ve had a chance to see what the MSN say, but, for now, I want to mention that Randall Terry was there. As has been reported before, Terry is disrupting town hall meetings.  Tonight, he again staged his “skit” outside before the meeting.   Then, inside the meeting, as soon as Dean came up to speak, Terry stood up on his chair and started trying to shout out Dean.  Moran took the mic and identified to the crowd that it was Terry and that Terry had said yesterday that he was going to attend the meeting with the specific goal of disrupting it.  Terry kept shouting while most of the crowd shouted and booed at him.  Moran said that he was going to have Terry escorted out, but he gave Terry the option of having the the first question in the question and answer session if Terry would settle down.  Terry kept shouting and was escorted out.  (Salon has this blog.)    I can’t tell you how upset I was about this.  Terry is a deep scar upon this country....
Continue Reading »