Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Another Man Released From Jail After He Is Proven To Have Been Falsely Accused

This article is profoundly troubling to me on a number of levels. It is far from the first time I’ve seen it reported that a convicted rapist is released after service a substantial chunk of his sentence when it comes out that the accusation was false. I use the pronoun “his” deliberately, as a woman going to jail for rape if the crime hasn’t been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt is Loch-Ness-Monster-rare. It may happen, but I certain don’t remember hearing anything about it.

This man was thrown in prison and kept there for over six years of a ten-year sentence after being convicted of attacking two adolescent sisters. Ok, that sounds fair so far. Real rape is a horrible crime. But

“David Carrington-Jones was locked up for attacking a girl who went on to accuse her brother, step father, fiancee, a boyfriend and even a customer at work. None of these cases were prosecuted and the girl was eventually cautioned by officers for wasting police time.”

She established herself as a liar, he has always denied committing any offense against either her or her sister, and yet he was denied parole twice because he wouldn’t admit that he did it. What happened to the girl who went on to accuse “her brother, a customer at work, a boyfriend, her fiance and her step father” of rape? After she admitted she accused her stepfather because she didn’t like him, the police issued her a “caution for wasting police time”.

It’s lucky for Mr. Carrington-Jones that the police finally had enough of her false accusations. It led him to ask for his case to be reviewed, and he was finally released. The judges found the case “profoundly troubling”. I’m glad to hear that, I really am. The only problem I have with it, though, is that it appears that the judges were more concerned about the fact that her credibility has been damaged beyond repair than the fact that a man lost six years and eight months of his life.

I can’t imagine that prison was a pleasant experience for him. It’s never a fun place, but rapists are above only child-molesters in terms of prison hierarchy. From what I understand, they are generally kept in isolation for their own safety, or they are beaten and raped themselves by their fellow inmates. The article mentions none of this, and I really wish it had. It would show much more clearly the shocking disparity between how he was punished, and how his accuser was punished.

The other major problem I have with this whole situation is that even now, we are told the man’s name. It’s routine to issue the name and photo of accused criminals before there is even a trial. And now we are reminded again of his identity. Good luck getting a job, Mr. Carrington-Jones.

So, who is the woman who received a warning for wasting police time? Maybe it was even a severe warning. Poor thing.

“Sir Igor however stopped short of naming and shaming the girl, in order that the identity of her sister - against whom no evidence of falsehood was produced - should be protected.”

I’m too disgusted to go on. Read the article.

Monday, November 5, 2007

On Ron Paul (from Jim Peterson and MND)

I didn't write this one, but would like people to read it anyway. I'm not ALL about me, you know ;)

Ron Paul Report: Who Supports Him and Why is November 5th Important?

The British version of Halloween is Guy Fawkes Night, November 5th. Guy is a well known anarchist who tried to blow up the British parliament, with everybody in it, on November 5th, 1605. As much as the English love democracy, Brits and Scots and Irishmen often say with dry humor "Guy Fawkes was the only man who ever entered Parliament with honorable intentions." British, Canadian, Australian and South African children sang the following song for centuries right up to at least the last generation before TV:

Remember, remember the fifth of November,

The gunpowder, treason and plot,

I know of no reason

Why gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot.

Anyway, the Republican presidential candidate, Ron Paul, wants to dismantle (figuratively blow up) a number of large government agencies (without people in them of course). His supporters, now numbering at least 3% of registered Republicans and probably numbering at least 3% of the US population, are not anarchists, despite their choice of Monday, November 5th as the day when they try to get 100,000 people to donate $100 each in a "Money Bomb" that would put Ron Paul in the major leagues in terms of being able to compete financially in the 2008 election cycle. Ron Paul has already raised enough money to be considered a first tier candidate (financially), but he wants to break records with the November 5th effort.

Who are these people?

I went under cover in the past week to investigate the "Ron Paul Revolution". On the Internet there is a lot to be found on the phenomenon and a lot of evidence that this man is the most popular candidate among users of the Internet. Whereas a well-made amateur video can expect to get no more than 2000 views on YouTube, there are dozens of Ron Paul videos with an excess of 600,000 views. My favorite videos are the Ron Paul Girl series which features a bright young American college coed who explains politics with a deadpan humor such as "Howard Dean was doing well until he left his Ritalin prescription at home in Vermont". A good news site to keep track of would be Ron Paul has more Meetup groups and more Meetup members than all the other presidential candidates in both parties combined.

Ron Paul supporters are an eclectic group, mostly under 45, pushing the 72 year old Texas congressman at least in an effort to make sure other Republicans and the media mention the Constitution and individual rights at all during the coming election year 2008.

Before I describe who I see them to be, I will explain who they are not: Paulites are not Moonbat Lefties. A Moonbat is defined as someone who swallows the entire Marxist smorgasbord of which being reflexively anti-war really means wanting the white patriarchy to be defeated. If a Paulite agrees with Ron Paul about not wanting to fight wars all the time, it comes from recognizing that a nation's worst enemy is most often itself, and fighting corruption and defending freedom at home is a full-time job. That being said, Ron Paul has been getting more donation support from pro-war vets and active duty service-people than any other candidate.

Socialists are absent in the crowd of Paul supporters. Gender feminists are absent in the crowd. Men who no longer have a pair are absent as well. One would think this might be a good milieu for the Men's Rights Movement.

My observation of the make-up of Ron Paul supporters so far:

1) True intellectuals who may have actually read the Constitution and want to at least send a message about that
2) Successful businesspeople, between 25-45, who would rather save for retirement than pay for more government
3) Expats, Americans living in other countries whom Congress apparently believes can still be regulated and ruled over
4) Military, especially those who may have been wounded or almost killed defending the Constitution. They often disagree with Ron Paul on the war, but still support him.
5) Males who still have a pair and who at least want to send a message about men's rights
6) Women who respect males who still have a pair
7) Women who really think for themselves and not for the sisterhood

That would be about 3% total of the US population.

In order to get more votes than that, the above people will have to get their parents and relatives on board and convinced, especially those with landlines who are, apparently, the only ones the media pollsters contact.

I forgot to mention that most foreigners, who know about Ron Paul, are for him as well. A poll in Switzerland has him winning the US Presidency if the Swiss were the ones who decided. In Germany, a poll has shown that Ron Paul loses to Dennis Kucinich by a few votes.

Don't laugh: Europe was solidly behind Gore and Kerry in the last elections and the European preference influenced American voters big-time. If European journalists play up Ron Paul over the next year, which would be in accordance with the preference of many of their citizens, it could boost Ron Paul's stature considerably. If Nicolas Sarkozy or Vladimir Putin were to mix with American politics by just discussing Ron Paul's ideas, the ensuing controversy would not hurt the candidate either.

Oscar Wilde once said "The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about".

We will see this coming week whether Ron Paul's November 5th "Money Bomb" event rivals Guy Fawkes in terms of getting people to talk about him.

Jim Peterson

Veterans Abroad

Helsinki, Finland

Sunday, November 4, 2007

From Googling "What Is Feminism"

I said before that I would post what I’ve found on the internet about the definitions of feminism. Following is a partial list. I tried to include only those definitions from feminist for feminist-friendly sites, to try to be as fair as possible. I did not include those I found – and there were many – that rambled on and on and never came to a point.

For the record, I have to say that what I found relied quite a bit on ideological ideas that are presented as fact, with nothing to back them up. The two major ideas from this category are “oppression of women” and the “media presentation of feminism as a negative thing”.

Note: The quotation marks I used above do not indicate that I have taken these expressions verbatim from something I found, but rather are names I have assigned to broad ideas I saw over and over again.

Feminism is not a monolith, nor is it a dogma. The only thing you have to believe in order to call yourself a feminist is that ensuring women's freedom and equality of opportunity in all spheres of life is a crucial priority. That's it.

Feminists all work from that basic axiom, but aside from that we are an incredibly diverse group. We are diverse in five ways:

1) We come from every conceivable background and life experience. There are feminists from every country, every socio-economic class, every religion, every sexual orientation, every profession, every race and ethnicity.

2) We are diverse in terms of style and personality and lifestyle.

3) We are diverse in terms of emphasis. Some of us focus on fostering equality in the realm of sex. Some of us are concerned with the equality of opportunity for professional women. Some of us care most about cultural attitudes regarding the proper roles and characteristics of men and women. Some of us criticize organized religion, while others work for reform from inside faiths such as Catholicism or Mormonism or Islam. Some of us stress the issue of violence upon women. Some of us are primarily concerned with reproductive rights. Some of us point to gender apartheid in places like Saudi Arabia, while others criticize inequities in comparably more "liberated" societies in the West.

4) We are diverse in terms of the conclusions we draw from our feminism. Feminists often disagree with each other on all sorts of things. For example (and this is a gross simplification, by the way) some feminists believe that pornography is inherently degrading to women whereas others may believe that participation in pornography is potentially empowering. The point is that both camps are looking at the issue in terms of how pornography affects women's freedom and equality. Both camps are feminist even though they reach diametrically opposed conclusions. As another example, I believe strongly in the equality of opportunity for women in business, but I would be very much opposed to the United States imposing a quota like Norway's where companies are legally required to have a 40% female board of directors.

5) We also have other things we care about that aren't about feminism. My husband is one of those maddening people who will say, "I don't think I'm a feminist. I'm a humanist because I am not ONLY concerned about women's equality." But I haven't met too many feminists who are concerned about women's equality and nothing else. For me, I care very deeply about ending the death penalty, ending the corporal punishment of children, protecting our civil liberties across the board, and ensuring equal treatment for men, gays, people with disabilities, people of different races, etc. etc. etc. among many other issues that are not specifically feminist.

I suppose people may be inclined to say that my definition of feminism is so broad as to render feminism irrelevant. People often ask, well, doesn't everyone think that women should be free and equal? Sadly, the answer is no. There are whole nations devoted to a system of crushing gender apartheid. And in our own culture -- remarkable though our progress has been over the last three or four decades -- limiting assumptions about women's proper role run rampant and highly influential organizations like Focus on the Family are doing what they can to turn the clock back for women.

The Happy Feminist

In many ways, I suspect my feminism is fairly bourgeois. I don't want a revolution that doesn't allow me to dance, flirt, and buy shoes. On the other hand, my feminism is fairly absolute in that I will not allow myself (or others) to demonize "radical feminists" or to ignore poor women or women of color, and I object very strongly when I see women fighting with each other over crumbs. I'm sure I do it too, sometimes, but I try very hard not to. My feminism is material in the sense that I believe that the body is irreducible (more and more so, as I age, and more since becoming a mother). I do not believe that there are no differences between men and women; but I believe that what differences there are have been vastly exaggerated by social conditioning, and I reject essentialism. My feminism likes men, and is sympathetic to the ways that they, too, suffer from narrow definitions of gender. My feminism insists on being heard, and will not give up a fight, and will not back down. On the other hand, my feminism deplores unfairness, meanness, and insensitivity. I believe in principles, including the principle that people matter. I believe in forgiveness and second chances, and in teaching, and in learning; and I also believe in having high expectations and firm boundaries. My feminism is polemical but embraces ambiguities. My feminism is aggressive and protective.

Bitch Ph.D.

feminism: (a) a range of contemporary theoretical perspectives (political, sociological, legal, psychoanalytic, literary, philosophical) in which women's experiences are examined in relation to actual and perceived differences between the power and status of men and women; (b) a social justice movement in which issues of particular importance for women (e.g. domestic violence, pay equity, globalization) are analysed, understood, and addressed from feminist perspectives. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the term was often used in compounds such as "lesbian feminism" and "eco-feminism."

Family Pride Canada

The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.

From an Art History course out of Auckland, NZ

Feminism is both an intellectual commitment and a political movement that seeks justice for women and the end of sexism in all forms.

From The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

"Feminism - I myself have never known what feminism is. I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat." -Rebecca West, 1913

"Feminism--the belief that women are full human beings capable of participation and leadership in the full range of human activities--intellectual political, social, sexual, spiritual, and economic." -Pearl Cleage, Deals with the devil, p.28. (New York: Ballantine Books, 1993.)

"Feminism is the political theory and practice that struggles to free _all_ women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, disabled women, lesbians, old women--as well as white, economically privileged, heterosexual women. Anything less than this vision of total freedom is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement." -Barbara Smith (reprinted in Gloria Anzaldua's Making Face, Making Soul, 25.)

"Feminism is an assertion that women as a group have been historically disadvantaged relative to men of their race, class, ethnicity, or sexual identity; and a commitment to changing the structures that systemically privilege men over women." Journal of Women's History

"I define a feminist as a self-empowering woman who wishes the same for her sisters. I do not think the term implies a certain sexual orientation, a certain style of dress, or membership in a certain political party. A feminist is merely a woman who refuses to accept the notion that women's power must come through men." -- Erica Jong, Fear of Fifty, p.286

"I define feminist consciousness as the awareness of women that they belong to a subordinate group; that they have suffered wrongs as a group; that their condition of subordination is not natural, but is societally determined; they they must join with other women to remedy these wrongs; and finally, that they must and can provide an alternate vision of societal organization in which women as well as men will enjoy autonomy and self-determination." -- Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Feminist Consciousness, p. 14

All from the Linda Chapman – Feminist Therapy website

1. The belief that women and men are, and have been, treated
differently by our society, and that women have frequently
and systematically been unable to participate fully in all
social arenas and institutions.
2. A desire to change that situation.
3. That this gives a "new" point-of-view on society, when
eliminating old assumptions about why things are the way
they are, and looking at it from the perspective that women
are not inferior and men are not "the norm."

from the soc.feminism FAQ file (

What is feminism?

British suffragist and journalist Rebecca West famously said, "Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." In other words, feminism is a commitment to achieving the equality of the sexes. This radical notion is not exclusive to women: men, while benefiting from being the dominant sex, also have a stake in overcoming the restrictive roles that deprive them of full humanity.

From Red Letter Press

There have been three major “waves” of feminism thus far, the first rising as recently as the 19th century. Feminism is an awareness that dawned openly as a response to the Abolition Movement in the mid-nineteenth century and it has matured over the last century. Currently, there are many different expressions of feminism, but the core value of feminism remains. To be feminist is to actively recognize the need for, and work to create equality for women. By definition, there is no dependence upon female superiority, man-hating, or other negative approaches toward equality. Feminism is simply a movement intending to enlighten people with a goal of improving the quality of life for women and their society. However, many people possess images of feminism that fit into the previously mentioned destructive patterns. The confusion about feminism is a result of many factors.

Women have been oppressed for as long as history. This oppression is a very similar tragedy to the oppression that occurs daily towards all kinds of minority groups, but women are not a minority group. There are actually more women on Earth than there are men. Women are not defined by skin color, by spoken language, or by class. Since women are not a minority group, their unequal treatment has gone unnoticed by many. Once talk of feminism is uttered people easily may interpret it as just another reason to complain, due to their blindness to the inequality. It is difficult to publicize an issue and expect change when that issue does not appear to exist.

Another factor that interferes with the appropriate publicity for a controversial cause is the press. In the mid-twentieth century, when mass communication boomed with the invention of the television, the media designed the public’s image of feminism. The way that people learned about this movement was through the filter of journalism. Unfortunately the media’s motives are not solely based on clear, unbiased reports of news. The influences of ratings, public interest, and the government’s economical goals caused the portrayal of feminism on television to focus on scenes that were not the feminist norm. Images of mean, angry and violent women flashed before television viewers and they attracted attention. The general public witnessed feminism as a negative force while watching the evening news.

A concluding point, which is very powerful, is that women are not always actively oppressed, and for the most part women are part of a lot of the actual oppression. The unequal treatment of women in society originates not in men, but from underneath the obvious surface, where social structure dwells. It is difficult to determine exactly where female oppression began; so many people interpret feminism as a movement that blames men. This interpretation of feminism is incorrect, yet popular.
It is important to know that feminism is about equality, not anger. To involve oneself in the feminist movement is to search for a higher quality of life for all people. The misconceptions that commonly arise out of the lack of understanding of feminism can be and must be easily cleared away in order for the truth about feminism to surface.

From >>

Declaring a person is a feminist is like declaring a person is religious. It’s a vague title.

Consider this for a moment: How would you react if someone said, “I am religious?”
You wouldn’t really know what they practiced. All you would really know is that they have a spiritual belief system.

This is the same with feminism. All you can really know is that they believe in equality between sexes.

Consider that for a moment: Equality between sexes.

Does that seem so radical? Just like religious people, there are radical feminist, which people seem to be more familiar with.

From Southern Methodist University’s women’s studies definition page

Throughout history, women have always struggled to gain equality, respect, and the same rights as men. This has been difficult because of patriarchy, an ideology in which men are superior to women and have the right to rule women. This ideology has permeated the social structures of societies throughout the world and as a result, even in the new millennium, women are still struggling for rights that most men take for granted. The struggle was even more difficult for women of color because not only were they dealing with issues of sexism, but also racism. In order to fight patriarchy, feminism and feminist theory was born.

From “What is Feminism?” by Kathy Henry

I think that's a pretty broad assortment of sites. Does any of it ring true to those of you who call yourselves feminists?

What Is The Purpose Of Today's Feminism?

I'm seeing a lot about how you feel about feminism, and not much about what feminism is. The problem MRA's have with feminism is the political influence it has. Anything else is just personal philosophy, and as such really only affects the person who holds the philosophy and the people she or he interacts with. So let me phrase the question in a different way:

What relevance does feminism have in today's political climate? In other words, what else do you think needs to be accomplished from a feminist point of view?

To take it one step further, what part of the feminist agenda has already been accomplished in terms of legislation and how it's applied, and what if anything would you do to change it?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Let's Start With The Basics

I've had the chance to converse with a wide variety of people who call themselves "feminists" during the course of my life. Since I started paying attention, I have noticed that I hear variations of the same phrase over and over, usually in response to some injustice I've pointed out as being done in the name of feminism: "But that's not real feminism, and he or she is not a real feminist." It begs the question. What is real feminism, and what is a real feminist?

I've done some googling to try and find out, and I will post what I found after I've compiled it. It seems, though, that it's a word that has a somewhat malleable definition. Fair enough. It's different for everyone. But surely there are some very basic ideas at the bottom of nearly everyone's definition of feminist and feminism.

That's where I'd like to begin this conversation. I would like to see how the people who call themselves feminists define their ideology, and where all of these individual feminisms merge.

As this is a very volatile subject, here are some ground rules:

1. This is not going to be a discussion about the origins of feminism, or how women were historically viewed and treated, or whether we ever needed a women's movement. None of us has a time machine. We have to live in the now, and that's what we need to talk about. The now. It's pointless to go over the history when we can't change it.

2. I am not going to moderate comments at this time, nor will I censor them. However, I would like to see this discussion remain civil. Personal attacks are a no-no. If you have a problem with someone's position, address the position, not the person. This goes for everyone.

3. There is a difference between opinion and fact. If you present an opinion as a fact, be prepared to prove it. This goes for everyone.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. I reserve the right to add, delete, and/or change the rules. It's my blog ;)

So, feminists, why do you call yourselves that?