Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Story Behind 'Frida'

Frida Kahlo

Thank you to Salma Hayek for her courageous telling of the story behind one of my favorite films, Frida, directed by Julie Taymor in 2002.

"Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster, Too" she explains in an opinion piece in the NY Times.  Monster is the operative word here.  

It's a wonder that Frida was ever made or shown in theaters rather than released as a video or received two Oscars.  He did his best to kill it.  He did his best to force her into sexual acts as the price for being allowed to make the film.

I have new respect for women who direct films after hearing Salma's story.  The barriers are just incredible.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Clean words for rape and murder

"'Ethnic cleansing' and even 'genocide' are antiseptic and abstract terms," writes Nicholas Kristof in the Sunday Review of the New York Times, Dec. 17, 2017.

These words cover up the details, such as "They grabbed my baby and threw her into the fire" or "They locked a woman and her 15-year-old daughter in a hut, raped them, and set the hut on fire." 

Thank you to Kristof for interviewing seven survivors of a village, Tula Toli, in Myanmar and reporting in his column "Did Genocide Destroy This Village?" on Dec. 17.

What can we do?

1) Push the House and Senate to pass legislation imposing sanctions on Myanmar officials.  Kristof says the proposed legislation is stuck and won't be approved anytime soon.

2) Support one of the organizations helping the refugees:
BRAC International
Doctors Without Borders
Save the Children
Hope Foundation for Women and Children of Bangladesh

"The world can't just stand idly by and be witness to the atrocities," said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

"But I fear that is exactly what is happening," writes Kristof. International sanctions are needed to pressure Myanmar's generals.  

The recent visit of Pope Francis hasn't helped, so far.

Aung San Suu Kyi is ignoring and excusing the atrocities.

Would the US response be different if we had a strong and compassionate president?

Kristof lauds the resilience and courage of survivors such as Hasina Begum, age 21:

“They killed my family members, and they killed my world,” she told me. “When I tell my story, I feel terrible, and afterward I go cry to myself. But we need justice, and maybe this will help.”

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Roy Moore and the word "evangelical"

Peter Wehner is no longer proud to be a life-long Republican.

In his opinion piece, "Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican," he explains how Roy Moore's evangelicalism and dt's co-opting of Republicans has soured him on those two identifiers.

Thank God, I never claimed to be a Republican.  But I can relate to Wehner on the dirtying of a perfectly good Greek workd eu-angelion.  Good news.

I threw out the word evangelical in about 2003 when men claiming to be evangelicals were trying to convert Muslims in Baghdad.  

"Witnessing" is good--but Americans talking about Jesus right after bombing the city?  

And trying to convert people for whom changing religions could be a death sentence?

But my friend Virginia Ramey Mollenkott convinced me to take the word back.  Here reasoning: if all of us who cherish the good news of God's intervention in human affairs through Jesus the Messiah give up the word, we leave it to the misguided and blind.

Thank God, it's clear to nearly everyone that Roy Moore was a poor excuse for a Christian, much less a Bible-believing Christian.

See NAE's definition of the word: https://www.nae.net/what-is-an-evangelical/

But let's be more precise about the term. Some white evangelicals support Trump and Moore, but there's a fair number of progressive evangelicals. 

And don't forget the black evangelicals--who mostly vote Democratic.  

See this report on NPR: "Are You an Evangelical?"

Monday, December 18, 2017

Yes or No? A Gendered Decision

Saying 'yes' when I don't have the assertiveness to say 'no'--Jessica Bennett describes a situation I recognize, a 'yes' I say nearly every day. 

Thank you to the New York Times for printing her news analysis, "When 'Yes' Is Easier Than 'No.'" She has been managing coverage of the Me Too movement as gender editor of the NYT and is also the author of Feminist Fight Club.

For me, this "Yes" occurs not in sexual encounters but in thousands of other interactions.

"Would you like to go to a movie?"  "Yes" I say compliantly, even if don't want to go.  It's my husband, and we haven't had a date night recently.  Actually I want to spend the evening at my desk, checking email or working on Christmas cards.

"Would you like a doughnut/cup of wine/coupon?" No, but in certain situations I will say "Yes" to be polite.

"Would you like to meet me for coffee?"  "Yes, it would be nice to see you."  I generally comply with a friend I don't really want to see.

The phone rings, and caller ID tells me it's a person I don't want to talk to, but if I've refused the call five or six times already, I pick up the phone.  "Yes?"

A pan handler sticks a cup in my face as I enter the grocery store.  Darn it, can't I run a simple errand without facing an ethical decision?  Sometimes I walk on by with a "No," but other days I muster up a grudging "Yes" and fish out a dollar bill.

Over 45 years I've said yes to my husband sexually when I didn't want to, but now my "No" is firm.

Before marrying, I can think of only once when I said yes in a sexual encounter that I didn't want. On a date, Bob unzipped his jeans and wanted me to feel his hard-on through his underwear.  He seemed to think this was something every woman wanted to do, but I was disgusted.  I didn't tell him to bug off.  Instead, I was nice.

Jessica Bennett discusses women's conditioning to say 'Yes':

  • "that we must be 'nice' and 'quiet' and 'polite."
  • "That we must protect others' feelings before our own."
  • "That we are there for others' pleasure."
  • "that our bodies exist for male sexual pleasure,"
  • "that our 'power' is in attracting male desire."

Girls and women are trained to "see their role in sexual encounters as being 'desirable' rather than assertive," notes Peggy Orenstein in her book Girls & Sex.

After 69 years of conditioning and saying "Yes," it's hard for me to pause, check my impulse to be nice, and say 'No' if 'No' is my inner truth.

But I'm working on it.

See also Rachel Simmons, Enough As She Is.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Feminist Milestones as Women Speak Out

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Thanks to Gail Collins for her column, "Donald Trump's Gift to Women" in today's New York Times.

She assesses the history of women's rights and uprisings in the USA since 1920, when women got the right to vote, pointing out that the election of 45 has jump-started the battle for equal rights.

Women are now asserting the right not to be raped, groped, or sexually harassed in any way.

Here's a mini-timeline begun with some of the milestones she points out:

1920-- Women in the US gain the right to vote.  

1964-- Margaret Chase Smith seeks the Republican nomination for president, getting much ridicule.

1991-- Anita Hill's testimony of sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas is not believed.  The Senate confirms him as a justice on the Supreme Court.  Anger over this travesty leads to 1992...

1992--"The Year of the Woman"--four women are elected to the US Senate, joining the two already there.  Six women in the Senate was considered progress.

2006--Tarana Burke started the #metoo hashtag movement.

2016--The US elects a Predator-in-Chief, despite Access Hollywood confessions. The qualified woman nominee of the Democratic Party is not elected.

2017 Jan.--Women march to protest the inauguration of an admitted sexual predator.

2017 Oct.--#MeToo movement rises; prominent predators are fired or resign.

2017 Nov.--Survivors speak out against Alabama nutcase who molested teen girls.  POTUS endorses him publicly, believes his denials. 

2017 Dec. 8 Fri.--Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR) calls on dt to resign

2017 Dec. 9 Sat.--Sen. Cory Booker (NJ) calls on dt to resign.

2017 Dec. 11 Mon.--Senators Ron Wyden (OR) and Kirsten Gillibrand (MN) call on dt to resign.

2017 Dec. Tues.--Alabama voters reject sexual predator, electing Doug Jones, a Democrat, as senator. POTUS tweets suggestive slur against Gillibrand, igniting an even greater movement against him for his own sexual aggression.  He does not attack Merkley or Widen.  Sen. Maizie Hirono (HI) calls on dt to resign.

2017 Dec. Wed.--Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) calls on dt to resign, making a total of six senators.

2017 Dec. Thurs.--Gail Collins and Lindy West publish columns on NYT Op-Ed page against dt's tweet, Gail citing feminist timeline, Lindy using humor.

The pace quickens.  

Last May I predicted that dt would be impeached by the end of November.  

It didn't happen by then, but the wheels are in motion, both in the Mueller investigation and in this uprising against sexual predators.

dt will leave the White House in 2018, one way or another.

A Week for the Bible--and Women

The Gutenberg Bible, 1455

The Bible has had a tough week.

It was held aloft by sexual predator Roy Moore before and after he lost race for US Senator in Alabama.

It was scrutinized by US Senators and Representatives to the House on Tuesday, seeking guidance on how to lead this nation through perilous times.  Kirsten Gillibrand was at that Bible study--while our poor-excuse-for-a-president was tweeting a suggestive slur against her.

It was waved by supporters of gun control laws on the 5-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook murders of 21 kids and 5 teachers.  "Put away your sword," said Jesus to a follower just seeking to use it in defense.  WWJD with the manufacture, sale, and use of guns in the US today?

Over 2,500 years the Bible has been used to hold back women--but also to advance our equal rights. Its meaning has been in the eye of the beholder.  See All We're Meant To Be: Biblical Feminism for Today by Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty (1974). 

Thank you to Gail Collins for noting the presence of Gillibrand at the Bible study while dt was tweeting-- in her great column in today's NY Times.


See also:
Gillian Thomas - "Trump's Shameless Slur Against Kirsten Gillibrand."

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Fear among Senators and Congressmen

Maureen Dowd has fun with the fear among US Senators and Representatives in Congress in her column "Roadkill on Capitol Hill."

She quotes a worried Alan Simpson who in 1991 had sympathy for poor Clarence Thomas, whose reputation was being bombarded by a woman who had "come out of the night like a missile" revealing his past sexual conduct.

Yes, it's sad that Nancy Pelosi's instinct was to protect poor old John Conyers.  We want to be nice to old black gentlemen, right, even if they are sexual predators?

Dowd applauds Kirsten Gillibrand's calling a spade a spade with regard to Bill Clinton, in spite of his years of affairs and predator behavior.  I agree with Dowd and Gillibrand.  I ended my support of Bill as soon as the revelations came out detailing his use of Monica Lewinsky as a sex toy.

It's sad that Hillary Rodham Clinton's survival instinct led her to defend her husband and defame his prey. 

It's sad that she still stayed with him after the Lewinsky mess.

It's sad that she still wanted Harvey Weinstein's money, even though Lena Dunham and Tina Brown informed her staff that "Harvey's a rapist."

I refuse to condemn her, however, the way Maureen Dowd does with these words: "The muddled message of Hillary campaigning as a feminist while being a key cog in Weinstein's complicity machine..."

Hillary was a true feminist in each of those instances, and her choices--however wrong they may seem in our currently somewhat changed culture--were those of a woman who wanted to get ahead, who wanted to become president.

Eleanor Smeal, Nancy Pelosi, and other bona fide feminists made similar choices at the time.

Probably all of our presidents made unsavory alliances to work their way to the nation's highest office: JFK and the Mafia, LBJ and the war in Vietnam, Nixon and the Watergate break-in...

I want a woman president, and if in 2016 she took money from an asshole, I don't care.  

In 2018 candidates for office will be more cautious--unless they are like dt and Roy Moore, so far gone that they refuse to take responsibility even for their own law-breaking actions.   

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Frank, Diana, and the End Times

Diana Butler Bass

"For many evangelicals, Jerusalem is about prophecy, not politics," writes Diana Butler Bass in an opinion piece for the CNN website yesterday.


"Jerusalem was our prophetic bellwether. God's plan hung on its fate. Whenever Israel gained more political territory, whenever Israel extended its boundaries, it was God's will, the end-times unfolding on the evening news," she writes.

Thank you to Diana for this article explaining how end-times prophecy in Revelations has been distorted to support Zionist and right-wing policies today.

Thanks also to Frank Schaeffer for appearing on MSNBC's AM Joy show today to explain the same thing and to point out the big donors to whom #45 is playing with his unilateral declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, ignoring the Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.