Roundup 20 Feb 2010

Some viral items contracted from the news:

1) A Utah bill that has passed congress and the senate and is waiting to be signed into law criminalizes a woman’s “intentional, knowing or reckless act” that results in the termination of her pregnancy.

While the bill does not affect legally obtained abortions, it criminalizes any actions taken by women to induce a miscarriage or abortion outside of a doctor’s care, with penalties including up to life in prison.

So while abortion is still legal, a whole mess of grey area is opened up with regards to anything else that results in miscarriage.  I wonder if this affects anyone who uses the morning-after pill?  Anyone who consults a doctor to discuss abortion?  If a miscarriage results in a fall down the stairs, does it become incumbent on her to prove that it wasn’t intentional?  Does staying with an abusive spouse who eventually causes injury that results in miscarriage qualify as an “intentional, knowing or reckless act?”

This is unprecedented.

2) In Dallas, Texas, an employee with the transit authority DART was transitioning, and went through all the legal processes to change her name and gender marker.  This done, she approached her employer to have them update their records.  The employer then filed a motion to contest the gender marker change, prompting the judge who’d approved the original order to reverse it without a hearing.  Dyssonance has an excellent assessment of the implications.

I would love to make an open call for the readers here to take this case on… And there’s the rub. As much as I’d like to do that, I don’t think it’ll happen….

I feel that way because one thing that I’ve learned, and that many other trans folk have learned, the hard way, in millions of small personal conversations, is that no one believes that who we are is who we are.

3) White supremacists are being encouraged to get involved with the Tea Party movement (as if they weren’t already), and “to not only attend the April 15th Tea Party nearest you … but then stay involved and help provide leadership to this movement.”

4) While it’s not that unusual for a Roman Catholic cleric to be accused of non-consensual sex crimes, the Canadian military is dusting off the charge of “buggery” to use in the case of Roger Bazin, once a brigadier-general in the Canadian Forces and overseer of military chaplains.  While “buggery” is now off the books and is technically unconstitutional, it was still enforced back in 1972, when the alleged sexual assault took place.

“Certainly, you wonder why they’re using that,” says Richard Hudler, one of a clutch of seasoned gay activists working with the newly-formed Queer Ontario.

Indeed. And while the motive is speculated to be to barter a heavier sentence or to leverage during plea bargaining, one has to wonder if putting this on the books again opens a door for far-right conservatives to take advantage of.

By god, they’ve actually found something that would upset gays and the Catholic church at the same time.

5) A recent survey in Britain found that “a majority of women believe some rape victims should take responsibility for what happened.”  Elizabeth Harrison of Haven service for rape victims sums it up:

“Clearly, women are in a position where they need to take responsibility for themselves – but whatever you wear and whatever you do does not give somebody else the right to rape you.”

I wonder if the theory of evolution allows for periodic societal regressions, or if our culture’s continual tendency to do so indicates that we aren’t destined to move forward as the most intelligent species?

    • Jordenne
    • February 21st, 2010

    Nothing really surprising to point five. Women in particular blame victims of rape in order to distance themselves from being the potential victim. They believe in a just world where bad things don’t happen to good people. By focusing on traits that they do not share with the victim, like attire, they marginalize the traits they share, like age or gender.

    Belief in a “just” world is a ingrained part of the human mind. It is a defense mechanism that is used to make ourselves feel better about ourselves and our prospects for the future. This same trait is why a good number of people blamed the earthquake in Haiti on “devil worship” or why people shake their head at the homeless man who they believe is homeless because of things within their control. By “blaming” the victim we isolate ourselves from thinking that we too could be victims. Ironically this trait is actually fairly adaptive and promotes survival because people have a tendency to not invest in their futures if they recognize the truth of the matter, which is they are equally likely to be a random victim. So bottom line is this isn’t a periodic societal regression, it is a product of evolution and as such not likely to ever go away.

    The good news is that education in social sciences is the antidote to this, so all we need to do is open up the coffers and increase access to post-secondary education and we can see a general improvement in this area.

      • dentedbluemercedes
      • February 21st, 2010

      I agree with a lot of your points, but this isn’t necessarily principally school-driven knowledge. There are far more avenues for it to be discussed. Which is probably fortunate, given how many regions are making post-secondary education inaccessible to all but the few ( http://www.edmontonjournal.com/life/Post+secondary+funding+shifts+from+scholarships+loans/2542306/story.html ).

      But it likely doesn’t help when we have a Pope portraying feminism as one of the three evils that will destroy mankind (the other two being homosexuality and gender variance), and social climates that compare left thinking / liberalism (with which womens’ rights is associtated) to communism and fascism (missing that the two are mutually exclusive) to the point that moderates and liberals feel they have to hide in the closet.

      Which is to say, I don’t see there being an easy solution, just many little solutions, a little at a time.

        • Jordenne
        • February 21st, 2010

        Your right post-secondary is not the only way, it is just one way that is proven to lighten people to social issues. Education in general is the solution. Every little bit helps. Every person that comes to believe in equality generally keeps that belief.

        While I may disagree with you on a few issues here and there, your efforts to educate and enlighten people make a huge difference in this generation. In the generations to come efforts such as these will form the values of the nation. Thank You!!

    • dentedbluemercedes
    • February 21st, 2010

    More on the situation in Utah and elsewhere, including the racist billboards now appearing in Georgia: http://mysociologicalreality.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/a-womans-right-to-choose-continues-to-lose-ground-in-the-us/

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