Many Sleepless Nights Indeed

From Chris Zammarelli @ Bookslut

When Earl Adams discovered his two teenaged sons had seen Felice Newman’s book The Whole Lesbian Sex Book at the Bentonville (AK) Public Library, he e-mailed Library Director Cindy Suter and requested the book be removed from the stacks. Suter had the book moved to what Richard Dean Prudenti described in an article for The Morning News as “a less accessible location” in the library.

Adams responded by faxing Mayor Bob McCaslin with the demand that the book be removed from the library for good because it is “patently offensive and lacks any artistic, literary or scientific value.” He also requested that Suter be fired and asked the city to pay him and his family $20,000 in damages because the library violated Arkansas obscenity law.

In an e-mail to McCaslin, Adams wrote, “My sons were greatly disturbed by viewing this material and this matter has caused many sleepless nights in our house.”

Adams said that his younger son Kyle found the book while browsing the library’s stacks for books about military academies. It’s worth pointing out that The Whole Lesbian Sex Book, which is no longer in the public library’s catalog, would probably be shelved in under the 613.9 section of the Dewey Decimal System. Books on military academies, (say, David Lipsky’s Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point, which is in the Bentonville Public Library collection), are classified under 355.

When asked in an interview for the San Francisco Chronicle about Adams’s contention that his sons were looking for military books, Newman told Violet Blue:

“Perhaps the book ended up in the military section because the boys hid it there. Or perhaps, having found the book in its proper section, the boys were reading it in the military section, where they had told their father they would be researching military academies. Someone catches them smack in the middle of the fistfucking chapter and they make up the story as an alibi.”

The library’s advisory board voted to remove the book from the stacks while, as Prudenti’s article notes, “a suitable book on the same topic” is found to replace it. Said board member George Spence, “A more sensitive, more clinical approach to same material might be more appropriate for the library.” Adams was invited to attend the board meeting on the book, but did not go.

“I’m not sure what Spence means by clinical. Some people say my book is pretty clinical, in that it gives basic health info, etc.,” Newman said in the Chronicle interview. “But if by ‘clinical’ Spence means boringly technical, I can’t see who is going to write it, let alone read it.”

Suter said that if a more appropriate book is not found, The Whole Lesbian Sex Book will be returned to the stacks. Adams responded, “Any effort to reinstate the book will be met with legal action and protests from the Christian community.”

The city’s attorney, Camille Thompson, told Prudenti, “There is not a valid legal concern here” because the book is not pornographic. She added that Adam’s demand for $20,000 “made me question his motivation.”

Suter, as it turns out, resigned from the Library Director position, effective May 31. Both she and McCaslin said that her resignation had nothing to do with the flap over The Whole Lesbian Sex Book. Suter said that she wanted to spend more time at her art gallery.

Newman sees a silver lining to the controversy over her book: “If there was one teenaged lesbian or bisexual girl in America who didn’t know there was a book about the sexual experiences she so desires, she knows now.”

Lapdances, Constitutionally Protected Free Speech!

Judge’s ruling protects lap dancing as free speech

Dancer was cited in April 2005 after ‘prohibited touching’ of undercover officer

June 30, 2007

Lap dances are legal in Salem, protected by the Oregon Constitution’s free speech provisions, a Marion County judge ruled this week.

A city ordinance outlawing “prohibited touching” — sexually exciting physical contact for pay — has been ruled unconstitutional by Circuit Judge Albin Norblad.

The case involves Laurel Guillen, 24, a dancer at a northeast Salem club called Cheetah’s who gave a lap dance to an undercover officer in April 2005.

Salem residents hoping to limit strip club activity in the city called the ruling a setback.

“You see what they’ve done, they’ve taken free speech and they’ve stretched it to cover everything,” said South Salem resident Julia Allison, a member of Oregonians Protecting Neighborhoods. The group hopes to put a ballot measure before voters amending the state constitution to strengthen government regulation of strip clubs.

Two Salem strip clubs shrugged the ruling off Friday, saying it wouldn’t affect their business because they don’t allow lap dancing.

“We have table dances, where our entertainers stay 6 to 12 inches away at all times,” said Claude DeCorsi, manager of Star’s Cabaret. “Any victory for the adult industry, way to go, but it doesn’t really apply to us.”

Frank Boussad, owner of Presley’s Playhouse Cabaret, said his club also limits activity to table dances. “We don’t allow lap dancing,” he said. “We just try to run a real clean establishment.”

Cheetah’s is a “juice bar” club located on Silverton Road NE, which does not serve alcohol and is open to people 18 and older.

Court records say the officer paid Guillen for touching “her pelvis to his pelvis area and thigh for the purpose of arousing sexual excitement.”

Guillen was found guilty of prohibited touching in Salem Municipal Court in November 2006, fined $250 and sentenced to a year’s probation. She appealed her conviction to the circuit court.

In his ruling, which lawyers received in the mail this week, Norblad cited an Oregon Supreme Court case in which the high court found it legal under the state’s free speech protections for a stripper to rub her breasts against a man’s chest and perform a live sex show with another woman.

Norblad threw out the charge and found Guillen not guilty.

Guillen’s attorney, Kevin Lafky, said the city’s ordinance was written too broadly.

“Laws can applied arbitrarily,” Lafky said. “A whole host of very normal conduct, such as theater performance, movie making, photography — things of that nature — would be illegal under this ordinance as well.”

The ruling also applies, Lafky said, to a second dancer Salem police cited for prohibited touching during the same sting operation at Cheetah’s, Portland resident Stephenie Lawrow, 22.

Guillen, who lives in Gresham, did not respond to phone messages left Friday. No one at Cheetah’s was available for comment.

Salem City Attorney Randall Tosh said he was not prepared to comment Friday.

“We’re going to be doing a review of the ordinance in light of the case, and make some sort of determination to see if we can appeal it,” he said. “We’re considering our options.”

Allison said she hopes some action will be taken.

“I’m a moralist, I guess,”she said. “It’s disgusting. It’s another form of prostitution to me. You can’t tell me that they sit on their laps and that’s it.”

India names first female president

Religious Bigots Attack Hindu Priest in U.S. Senate

Dr. Frank Morales, Ph.D.
President – International Sanatana Dharma Society
Press Release
July 12, 2007

Religious Bigots Attack Hindu Priest in U.S. Senate

History was made on Thursday, July 12th when a Hindu priest delivered
the opening prayer at the U.S. Senate for the first time ever. Mr.
Rajan Zed, a journalist and Hindu priest, delivered a minute and a
half prayer in which he offered God thanks and prayed for peace.

However, before Mr. Zed could offer his short prayer to God, three
Christian activists disrupted the ceremony with angry shouts and
denunciations of Hinduism to the shock of on-lookers. “This is an
abomination!” the Washington Post reports one of the disruptors as
screaming. “We are Christians and patriots!” yelled another before
being led away by police.

Shockingly, far from being an isolated and spontaneous incident of
hatred, it is reported that a large number of well-organized
fundamentalist Christian groups throughout the nation had been
clamoring against allowing a Hindu priest to lead a prayer in our
nation’s capital. The American Family Association has been on the
forefront of urging Christians to take direct action against
religious tolerance and asked their followers to contact the Senate
to ban a Hindu from leading prayer.

For further information on this dark and disturbing incident, please
review the following sites:

USA Today:
http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2007/07/christian-prote.html

YouTube:

America has been celebrated throughout the world as a society that
cherishes religious tolerance, freedom of faith, and respect for
different cultures. Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) is the most ancient
continuously practiced spiritual tradition on earth. Hinduism is a
dignified and highly respected religion that has always fostered
peace, respect of cultural diversity, and freedom of thought.

Federal Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs Not Proven Effective in Delaying Sexual Activity Among Young People

Final Report on Federally Funded Programs Released Today

[SIECUS.org] NEW YORK, NY— After years of delay in its release, a federally supported evaluation of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs funded under the 1996 federal welfare reform law has proven the programs ineffective in changing teens’ sexual behavior.  The report, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, found no evidence that abstinence-only programs increased rates of sexual abstinence. Also, students in the abstinence-only programs had a similar number of sexual partners as their peers not in the programs, as well as a similar age of first sex.

“This report should serve as the final verdict on the failure of the abstinence-only industry in this country,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS).  “It shows, once again, that these programs fail miserably in actually helping young people behave more responsibly when it comes to their sexuality,” Smith continued.

In 1996, the federal government attached a provision to the welfare reform law establishing a federal program for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.  This program, Section 510(b) of Title V of the Social Security Act, dedicated $50 million per year to be distributed among states that choose to participate.  States accepting the funds are required to match every four federal dollars with three state-raised dollars (for a total of $87.5 million annually, and $787.5 million for the eight years from fiscal year 1998 through 2006).  Programs that receive the Title V funding are prohibited from discussing methods of contraception, including condoms, except in the context of failure rates.

On a call yesterday organized by the Abstinence Clearinghouse, abstinence-only proponents were clearly rocked by the potentially ruinous news in the report.  High profile abstinence-only advocate, Robert Rector, led the preemptive damage-control planning.  He outlined several strategies the abstinence-only movement could use to rationalize the findings in the report saying, “The other spin I think is very important is not [program] effectiveness, but rather the values that are being taught,” Rector said.  Whether or not these programs work is a “bogus issue,” Rector continued.  

Whether or not these programs are effective is the single most important issue.  Existing research has already shown that comprehensive programs that include messages about both condoms and abstinence have been proven effective, and yet, federal and state governments continue to dump millions of dollars into abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that are not effective, and, in fact, have been shown to cause harm,” continued Smith

Eight states have already made the decision to refuse Title V money.  The overwhelming feeling in these states has been that the money came with too many strings attached, was ineffective in achieving its goals, and promoted extremist policies. Even with increasing numbers of states recognizing the waste and futility of the Title V spending, a federal legislative solution is still needed to ensure that proven, comprehensive sexuality education gets the funding it needs.  

“This Congress has a momentous opportunity to end the charade and use these federal funds to support programs that actually work,” said Smith.  “We fully expect this Congress to look at the government’s own commissioned evidence set forth in this report and end funding for these failed and ideologically driven programs,” Smith continued. 

The program under scrutiny in the report is set to expire on June 30, 2007 unless Congress takes some action to extend it.

The Freedom to Read Statement

“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” — Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. in Texas v. Johnson 

 

* all graphics from alastore.ala.org

In honour of this past week, National Library Week, let me share with you something from the American Library Association:

  The Freedom to Read Statement

The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be “protected” against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.

These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.

Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.

Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.

The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

We therefore affirm these propositions:

  1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.
  2. Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.
  3. It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.
  4. There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.
  5. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.
  6. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.
  7. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one.The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader’s purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.

We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.


This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers.Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.

‘Abstinence Only’ Sex Ed Ineffective

Congressionally Funded Study Shows Programs Do Not Keep Teens From Having Sex

From ABCnews.com 

April 17, 2007— – Just saying no may not be an effective strategy in keeping kids from having sex, a newly released study reports.

The research could have major implications for the $176 million in government funds that abstinence-only sex-education programs receive annually — funding that is set to expire on June 30 unless Congress takes some action to extend it.

The evaluation, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, examined the impact of the abstinence-only-until-marriage programs funded under the 1996 federal welfare reform law.

Through the study, more than 2,000 children were randomly assigned to groups that received abstinence-only counseling and those who received no counseling. Over the next four to six years, numerous surveys were done to determine the impact of these programs on the behavior of the kids.

Researchers found no evidence that these abstinence-only programs increased rates of sexual abstinence.

The study also showed that the students participating in these abstinence-only programs had a similar number of sexual partners as their peers not in the programs, and that the age of first sex was similar for both groups too.

“The basic takeaway message is that there are no differences between the two groups on any behavioral outcomes,” says lead study author Christopher Trenholm, a senior researcher at Mathematica Policy Research.

Debate Continues Over Effectiveness

Rather than calming the disagreements over how the federal government should approach teen sex as a public health issue, the report has, if anything, added fuel to the debate

Some sexuality experts say the study only confirms what most sexuality researchers have already known — that abstinence-only programs simply do not work.

“The data coming forth now is simple proof — solid, unassailable evidence to back up what many of us have known from the get-go,” says Joy Davidson, a certified sex therapist in New York City who is on the board of directors of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapist.

“There have been studies that have been done over the last few years at least that have made it quite clear that abstinence-only education is not only a waste of money, but it is a danger to young adults as well.”

“This is a social agenda masquerading as teen pregnancy prevention,” says Martha Kempner, vice president for information and communications at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. “This administration has allowed ideology to trump science at every possible opportunity.

“I hope that Congress will look at this and see that there is a lot of money that is not working, and say ‘hey, we need that money elsewhere.'”

On the other side of the argument, proponents of abstinence-only programs say the results of the study only show that more effort must be poured into the programs to reap true dividends.

“The Mathematica report does not support a conclusion that abstinence-only education programs should no longer be funded,” said Dr. Gary Rose, president and CEO of the Medical Institute, in a statement released Friday. “To the contrary, the report specifically indicates that programs should continue with changes where necessary to make them more effective, particularly promoting support for abstinence among peer networks as an important feature.”

“Many of the programs were in a stage of early development when the evaluation occurred,” wrote Robert Rector, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, in a critique of the report. He added that the fact that participants in the programs were quite young, and follow-up education was lacking could have contributed to the failure.

“The main lesson that should be taken from this study is that interventions at a very early age require significant follow-up, or they’ll be less likely to alter teen risk behaviors,” he wrote.

Some critics have also maintained that the lack of high school programs in the study shows that the study is not representative of the overall impact of this funding. Indeed, two of the programs focused on upper elementary school students and the other two, on middle school students. None of the four included a high school component.

Trenholm says these criticisms overlook the fact that most of the money earmarked for these programs does not go to high school programs anyway.

“We went where the funding went,” Trenholm says. “Virtually every program taking funding was at the middle school and elementary levels, and not at the high school level.”

Is ‘Comprehensive’ Any Better?

Proponents of abstinence-only sex education programs maintain that “comprehensive” sex-education programs — those that introduce ideas of safe sex in addition to abstinence — are untested and may not yield any better results.

“I don’t think that this is quite true,” Kempner says, adding that programs that go beyond abstinence have yet to receive the same federal funding and support enjoyed by their abstinence-only counterparts.

“We don’t have any money,” she says. “We need some money and some time like the abstinence-only people got.”

Kempner adds that promising research backs up comprehensive programs.

“We have some good research suggesting that comprehensive programs are effective,” she says. “I think that we will have much more support on comprehensive sex education, and I think this study will be a part of it.”

Davidson argues that such programs could put more responsibility in the hands of the teens themselves, allowing them “make much better decisions” when it comes to sex.

“Abstinence-only education treats smart, thoughtful teens as if they are incapable of absorbing information or understanding themselves,” she says.

“If government officials finally understand how important it is that young people receive complete and accurate sex information, whatever the cost of this study, it will have been worth it. It’s time that people wake up.”

Peer Relationships May Be Most Important

The report also included a hint of good news about teen sex in the United States.

“On the other side, we also did not see any increase in unprotected sex,” Trenholm says, adding that many researchers had expected to see a spike in unsafe sex due to the fact that existing programs do not cover the proper use of birth control.

This, as well as other evidence uncovered in the study, suggests that peer relationships are particularly important when it comes to predicting abstinence — an area for future study, Trenholm says.

“The idea is that future programs may want to seek out, build and maintain peer relations through clubs and other groups,” Trenholm says. “In this way, I think it’s suggestive of a good direction for the field to go in.”

the politics of bicycles 2

from  londonrihla

“On the basis of a fatwa issued by the supreme religious guide [Ayatollah Khamenei], women cycling in public is prohibited. Disobeying such a fatwa within the Islamic Republic of Iran could lead to penalties such as imprisonment and flogging.”

Principal roasts Starbucks over steamy retro logo

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Insider: Principal roasts Starbucks over steamy retro logo

 

Starbucks’ trip down memory lane to bring back its original mermaid logo on its cups has brewed up some controversy.

  Logos then and now
  In honor of its 35th anniversary, Starbucks’ replaced its current mermaid logo with the original, top.

A Kent elementary school principal, according to a local TV station, asked teachers last week that if they were bringing their daily joe to school that they make sure they get a sleeve to cover the image of a topless mermaid on Starbucks cups.

The Seattle-based coffee giant, as part of its 35th anniversary, this month put its original logo with the bare-breasted mermaid on its cups in stores in Washington and Oregon.

Valerie O’Neil, a Starbucks spokeswoman, said that other than the flare-up in Kent, it’s been pretty quiet regarding the mermaid.

“Customers like to see the old logo,” she said. “It’s all about perspective.”

Even though Starbucks is a twin-tailed mermaid, or siren as she’s known in Greek mythology, the company actually got its moniker from the first mate’s name in the classic novel “Moby Dick.”

Offensive Boobs

From The bOOb Lady’s Blog

Heard the one about the woman thrown off a plane for refusing to cover her baby’s head when breastfeeding? It’s no joke. Seated by the window at the back of the plane next to her hubby, she could hardly be considered in-flight entertainment. But the flight attendant—genderless, by all accounts—found the sight of a mother nursing a child to be “offensive.”

While it sounds bizarre, this story is similar to one reported back in July. In that case, readers objected to the mere image of a breastfeeding baby on the cover of BabyTalk, a free publication targeted to (big surprise here) new moms. Letter writers used words like “gross,” or said they were “shocked to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine.” One woman considered it a form of flashing, stating “I don’t want my son or husband to accidentally see a breast they didn’t want to see.” Accidentally? In some cultures, women’s breasts are purposely left uncovered at all times, making it easy for them to do the centuries-old job nature intended: feeding babies. What’s unnatural are boobs deliberately hiked up by some tits-on-a-platter bra, á la Victoria’s Secret.In today’s civilized society, women must stage “nurse-ins” and lobby for laws to protect their right to breastfeed in public. But there’s no legislation shielding our eyes from the endless images of provocatively-posed models in their skivvies–ready for work or play in a pair of indispensable stiletto heels. These airbrushed, photo-shopped, cartoon bosoms could poke out an eye, or two! One wonders whether the above-mentioned reader has any concern for the continuous over-exposure to suggestive lingerie ads. It could leave the impression that breasts can only be appreciated for their erotic value. Guess it’s all in how you look at boobs.

BabyTalk CoverVictoria's Secret ad

An Exerpt from a letter from the President of Iran to the American People

Noble Americans,

While Divine providence has placed Iran and the United States geographically far apart, we should be cognizant that human values and our common human spirit, which proclaim the dignity and exalted worth of all human beings, have brought our two great nations of Iran and the United States closer together.

Both our nations are God-fearing, truth-loving and justice-seeking, and both seek dignity, respect and perfection.

Both greatly value and readily embrace the promotion of human ideals such as compassion, empathy, respect for the rights of human beings, securing justice and equity, and defending the innocent and the weak against oppressors and bullies.

We are all inclined towards the good, and towards extending a helping hand to one another, particularly to those in need.

We all deplore injustice, the trampling of peoples’ rights and the intimidation and humiliation of human beings.

We all detest darkness, deceit, lies and distortion, and seek and admire salvation, enlightenment, sincerity and honesty.

The pure human essence of the two great nations of Iran and the United States testify to the veracity of these statements.

Noble Americans,

Our nation has always extended its hand of friendship to all other nations of the world. 

Hundreds of thousands of my Iranian compatriots are living amongst you in friendship and peace, and are contributing positively to your society.  Our people have been in contact with you over the past many years and have maintained these contacts despite the unnecessary restrictions of US authorities.

As mentioned, we have common concerns, face similar challenges, and are pained by the sufferings and afflictions in the world.

It is possible to govern based on an approach that is distinctly different from one of coercion, force and injustice.

It is possible to sincerely serve and promote common human values, and honesty and compassion.

It is possible to provide welfare and prosperity without tension, threats, imposition or war.

I pray to the Almighty to bless the Iranian and American nations and indeed all nations of the world with dignity and success. 

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

29 November 2006  

Double Standards as a Method of Control

A quote from Nerve.com’s interview with Marcos Siega about his movie, Pretty Persuasion, “a dark satire-cum-morality play about a sex scandal at an elite Beverly Hills private school”

N: How has teen sexual awareness changed?
MS: Guys sort of want slutty girls, the ones who wear nothing and dance around and look really sexy. But once they get them, then they want the tame, non-sexual girls. That’s probably been around forever, but today you get so many mixed signals. You read People, or In Style, or those other magazines — they’re all selling midriffs, cleavage, and breast implants. But if a girl does that, she’s labeled slutty. <1>

Indeed she does often retain this lable given to her by both her male and female peers.  The double standard as we know it, is: a man who is is having sex is (what the kids call) “a player” while the female who embraces her sexuality is termed a slut, a whore, etc.  Why the double standard?  Control. 

Most Men feel the need to dominate to conquer, while females (according to men’s machissimo manifesto) are to be the conquered.  Which is why in some traditional societies such as Latino, Mid/near eastern, Indian, etc, the men of a woman’s family are seen as the guardians of her chastity.  Brothers and fathers act under the guise of protecting her virtue, while in all actuality they are controlling her body, and hindering her social and sexual devolpment. 

In the west they may just control her mentally and physically by not letting her go anywhere or controlling her wardrobe; there are also more serious things that happen such as the barbaric genital mutilation (which is often carried about by older women), and “honour” killings.  All of which are uncalled for and speak of the unequal and subserviant (some say sub-human) level by which they view “their” women.

But back to the article, it speaks about what men want and what happens after.  These men are attracted by the sexuality of the girl, “the ones who wear nothing and dance around and look really sexy” but once they conquer that fericious beast they seek to tame her, to de-sexualize, to keep her sexuality, her body, her mind, her emotions and have them exclusivly at his command.  Why want then change?  Control.  Men really are idiots, animals, with no self-control.

Why must men feel the need to control women? Are we not equal? Who gave men the right? Why do we let (ergo encourage) this behaviour?  We are all responsible for allowing this.  We need to all be responsible to stop it. 

Really guys, be a (real) man and love yourself enough to love others. And ladies, do not  let anyone control you, the way you live / speak/think/feel/dress/act etc.  Be your own woman and dont be afraid to be yourself.  Who you want to be, not what someone else wants you to be.

It is your individuality that makes you special.

<1> http://www.nerve.com/screeningroom/film/prettypersuasion/

Freedom

Freedom entails control over one’s body. The idea that the State ought to control female reproduction is therefore an odious violation of the autonomy that feminism seeks to uphold.

So how free exactly are we?

And by whose definition? Are ppl in the USA ‘more free’ then the ppl in Iran or Cuba. And by what divine right do Americans/The West get to decide who is free and who is “in-need” of “liberation”?

Most of the times, Western “liberators” tend to…(to be continued.)

Larry Flynt, 1st Amendment Freedom Fighter

Just a few quotes:

“I think the real obscenity comes from raising out youth to believe that sex is bad and ugly and dirty. And yet, it is heroic to go spill guts and blood in the most ghastly manner in the name of humanity. With all the taboos attached to sex, it’s no wonder we have the problems we have. It’s no wonder were angry and violent and genocidal. But, ask yourself the question, what is more obscene: sex or war?” [italics mine]

“Why do I have to go to jail to protect your freedom?”

And just in case you forgot:
CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF; OR ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, OR OF THE PRESS; OR THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE PEACEABLY TO ASSEMBLE, AND TO PETITION THE GOVERNMENT FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES.

And from the Supreme Court Case of Hustler Magazine, Inc. et al. v. Jerry Falwell

“At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern. ‘The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty–and thus a good unto itself–but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole.’ We [must] therefore been particularly vigilant to ensure that individual expressions of ideas remain free from governmentally imposed sanctions.”
– CHIEF JUSTICE WILLIAM REHNQUIST (italics mine)

Note: I am not a reader of any of Mr Flynts publications, but I have read his ’96 autobiograpy, Unseemly Man, and seen the movie The People vs. Larry Flynt; because I do believe that he has and will continue to stand up for your rights and mine. We should not let anyone (the State especially) take away or limit our 1st Amendment Freedoms.

A few notes and quotes from "Dreams of Trespass"

Mostly regarding islamic feminism and women’s rights in general.

From Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood By Fatima Mernissi

– Regarding those “women who [ally] themselves with men [and their msgynist philosophies] as being responsible for women’s suffering…these women are more dangerous then men…because physically they look just like [other women]…but they are really wolves posing as sheep”

– “[Fate] and happiness…how to escape the first and pursue the second…[women’s] solidarity, many [agree is] key to both”

-“[The] problem with [(most) arabic/islamic] women today [in the middle east and N.Africa] is that they are powerless…[and] powerlessness stems from ignorance, and a lack of education”.

– The main thing for the powerless is to have a dream…[true], a dream alone, without the bargaining power to go with it, does not transform the world or make the walls vanish, but it does help you keep ahold of dignity.”

Dignity is to have a dream, a strong one, which gives you a vision, a world
where you have a place, where whatever it is you have to contribute makes a
difference.

You are in a harem[restricted/controlled] when the world does not [think it needs] you.

You are in a harem when what you can contribute does not [seem to] make a difference.

You are in a harem when what you do [men think] is useless.

You are in a harem when the planet swirls around, with you buried up to your neck in scorn and neglect.

Only one person can change that situation and make the planet go around the other way, and that is you[emphasis mine].

If you stand up against scorn, and dream of a different world, the planet’s direction will be altered.

But what you need to avoid at all costs, is to let the scorn around you get inside.

When a woman starts thinking she is nothing, the little sparrows cry.

Who can defend [those sparrows] on the terrace, if no one has the vision of a world without slingshots?

Mothers should tell [their] little girls…about the importance of dreams [and hope]…[they] give a sense of direction…you need to have a vision. [Can] you distinguish amoung all the wishes, the cravings which beseiged you, and find the one on which you ought to focus, the important dream which [gives] you vision? [The] key dream [will] emerge and bloom within, and then, from the intense pleasure it [gives to] you, you [will] know that it [is a] genuine little treasure which [will] give you direction and light…[you’ll] be able to transform people [from these dreams of freedom].

– “[Gender seperation] creates an enormous gap in understanding. ‘Men do not understand women…and women do not understand men…[the] cosmic frontier indicates the line of power, because wherever threre is a frontier, there are two kinds of creatures walking on [this] earth, the powerful on one side and the powerless on the other” Where do you stand? “If you cant get out [are restrained, held back due to your sex] you are on the powerless side” Is that where you want to be? Do the “impossible”, stand up for yourself and for those who cannot stand up for themselves. It is your right. Make it happen!

Standing alone, no longer…

From Asra Nomani’s Standing Alone in Mecca:

An Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Bedroom
1. Women have an Islamic right to respectful and pleasurable sexual experience.
2. Women have an Islamic right to make independent decisions about their bodies, including the right to say no to sex.
3. Women have an Islamic right to make independent decisions about their partner, including the right to say no to a husband marrying a second wife.
4. Women have an Islamic right to make independent decisions about their choice of a partner.
5. Women have an Islamic right to make independent decisions about contraception and reproduction.
6. Women have an Islamic right to protection from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
7. Women have an Islamic right to sexual privacy.
8. Women have an Islamic right to exemption from criminalization or punishment for consensual adult sex.
9. Women have an Islamic right to exemption from gossip and slander.
10. Women have an Islamic right to sexual health care and sex education.

An Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Mosques
1. Women have an Islamic right to enter a mosque.
2. Women have an Islamic right to enter through the main door.
3. Women have an Islamic right to visual and auditory access to the musalla (main sanctuary).
4. Women have an Islamic right to pray in the musalla without being separated by a barrier, including in the front and in mixed-gender congregational lines.
5. Women have an Islamic right to address any and all members of the congregation.
6. Women have an Islamic right to hold leadership positions, including positions as prayer leaders, or imams, and as members of the board of directors and management committees.
7. Women have an Islamic right to be full participants in all congregational activities.
8. Women have an Islamic right to lead and participate in meetings, study sessions, and other community activities without being separated by a barrier.
9. Women have an Islamic right to be greeted and addressed cordially.
10. Women have an Islamic right to respectful treatment and exemption from gossip and slander.