What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Part 1

Burren

Me in County Clare, Ireland NOT thinking about women’s rights.

I should preface this post by assuring you that I did not spend the entirety of my Ireland vacation ruminating about international women’s movements and researching Dickensian penal institutions. I had fun! There was road-tripping, and castle-viewing, and the consumption of mountainous piles of fish and chips. However, this being me, and “fun” having many possible definitions, I also set up some meetings so I could interview Irish activists about that country’s feminist movement. My curiosity was piqued last year following the death of Savita Halappanavar [Read more...]

Thank You for Your Service: “The Invisible War” Confronts Military Rape

"The Invisible War"

Still from The Invisible War.

It’s Oscar week, so I decided I’d get in on the fun by watching a nominated film that touches on my pet issues and doing a little write-up. Of course, “fun” in this case means watching a devastating documentary about rape in the military and then attempt to write about it while sniveling into my cardigan sleeve. [Read more...]

I’m Calling to Urge Your Support

When I signed on to be a full-time activist, I didn’t realize how many phone calls would be involved. I don’t have the kind of job that requires me to show up in person to protest things—I’ve probably done that twice in nearly a decade of anti-domestic violence work—mine is more a “sit and think about policy” and “write position letters” kind of a gig. But phone calls are another matter. During the course of the average week I receive huge volumes of emails of the “Take Action!” variety, and while my first response is to mutter “I took action by coming to work, what do you want from me?” I do still often feel moved to act as an individual citizen and dial those 1-888 numbers. A polite if rather stilted conversation ensues, in which whomever was lucky enough to answer the phone in Congress Member X’s office gets to hear me read (eloquently, one assumes) from the script provided by whomever asked me to call them. [Read more...]

How Not to Talk About Yourself at Parties

Old dudes have always liked me; I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the South and consequently call everyone “sir,” or perhaps it’s because one of my grandmothers was almost lethally imperious, which left me with a healthy respect for the elderly. Whatever the case, I collect old-guy buddies wherever I go, and I’ve come to value their curmudgeonly opinions. When an old guy tells me something, I listen, unlike the rest of you whippersnappers. [Read more...]

Happy Anniversary, Joe Biden (A Political Love Story)

I’ve been looking forward to the Vice Presidential debate ever since Paul Ryan’s candidacy was announced, because I fully expect that Joe Biden is going to eat that smirking plutocrat for lunch. The media narrative of Biden as America’s Daffy Uncle belies the accomplished legislator and ass-kicking partisan he really is. But so much the better; low expectations, plus Ryan’s entirely undeserved reputation as a policy wonk can only work to Old Uncle Joe’s benefit. He will smile genially, wave to the crowd, then rip Paul Ryan a new one. I cannot wait. I heart Joe.

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Missing the Point on Chris Brown (Again)

God, Chris Brown is such an asshole, it really is exhausting to watch. I’ve sworn off talking about him at least twice now, but then he goes and does something so terrible, again, that I simply CANNOT refrain from saying one thing more. Because Chris Brown isn’t just a plain old bad guy, he’s a guy who is bad in ways that are very illustrative of what’s complicated about batterers, and what’s wrong with the way we respond to them. So let’s discuss Brown’s new neck tattoo, and how a lot of people who’ve been talking about it seem to be missing the point.
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Beat Cops

Do you remember that recent case out of NYC in which a patrol officer was accused of raping an intoxicated woman while his partner stood guard outside her apartment? And then they were both acquitted despite a mountain of convincing evidence, and people were horrified and everything was gross, the end? Well, as it turns out that wasn’t the end, because another woman has emerged to say that she was mistreated by the same pair of cops several months earlier—not raped, but physically abused and personally degraded in a circumstance in which the two were charged to assist her. There are records of the complaints she filed at the time, so taken together with the alleged rape it’s all a little fishy, no? One might deduce—if one were an extremely jaded feminist blogger, for example—that Officer Kenneth Moreno has a problem with the ladies. [Read more...]

Low-Hanging Fruit: Charlie Freaking Sheen

Low-Hanging Fruit is an occasional feature in which I ridicule people who have already been so thoroughly castigated that they really don’t need me piling on to make the point. But then I go ahead and pile on anyway, because I’m just trivial enough to enjoy that sort of thing.

I had sincerely hoped never to have to mention Mr. Sheen again. As far as I was concerned, the Warlock and I had achieved a sort of detente. While his crazy misogynist shenanigans continued unabated, I had already covered the only aspect of them I thought was genuinely interesting—the fact that we know so little about what motivates serial batterers that we’re generally unable to rehabilitate them. That was the extent of anything useful I had to say on the subject, so I decided to leave the balance of the commentary to the prurient chattering class, who can’t seem to get enough of his coke-headed whore-mongering ways. Me, I’d had enough. [Read more...]

Chris Brown and the Uses of Compassion

Welcome back, Chris Brown! Honestly, I thought we’d finished with you when you completed your entirely inadequate community service sentence for 1. beating Rihanna to a pulp and 2. repeatedly demonstrating that you had no real understanding of, let alone remorse for, what you’d done. Though the story’s ending was unsatisfying, I was just glad when it was over. But then you went on GMA and got asked a couple of totally softball questions about your lady-smacking ways, and you threw a tantrum, and broke a mirror, and also ripped your shirt off because sometimes, when The Man is keeping you down, the only thing left to do is show him your pecs. So much for the anger management classes, and hey, good to know you don’t limit your violent outbursts to women you’re dating. Female morning show anchors: check yourselves.
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Low-Hanging Fruit: Dov Charney

Welcome to Low-Hanging Fruit,  an occasional feature in which I ridicule people who have already been so thoroughly castigated that they really don’t need me piling on to make the point. But then I go ahead and pile on anyway, because I’m just trivial enough to enjoy that sort of thing. This week’s overripe banana: horrible gross Dov Charney. For those of you new to this skeezy story, Charney is CEO of American Apparel,a serial sexual harasser and the alleged perpetrator of a kidnapping and assault, who finally fucked with the wrong girl and is now being sued for an ungodly sum by ex-employee Irene Morales. [Read more...]