Friday, February 24, 2012

In the News

Apologies for missing the last "In the News" segment a couple of weeks ago, dear readers! In the middle of having conniptions about my home state's latest idiocy, Liz Trotta's amazing display of Paglia-ism on Fox, Susan G. Komen's error, and the continued determination from the U.S. government not to get it, I managed to forget to share my outrage with you. Poor things! So here's a nice hefty dose of some of the things that are coming up in the news and attracting my attention.

First up is an interesting editorial that looks at Rick Santorum's chances with (cis) women in the upcoming Presidential election. Santorum has been a thorn in my side ever since he got himself turned into Internet slang, to be sure, but he's been coming up with some gems in recent months that appear to have eclipsed his previous embarrassments. Attempting to reopen national debates about women working outside the home, for example, is a beautiful illustration (at best) of your exact location on the lunatic fringe. Unfortunately, however, with some of the other debates that have been carried out over and bloody over in the past few years (again, see that link about New Hampshire), Santorum might not be entirely alone in his little land of the weird. I'd love to be able to dismiss him as a silly pundit with a need for attention, but I'm not sure we can.

Another male making unsavoury waves in the news is Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the IMF and current scourge of unconsenting women. While he managed to weasel out of the legal fracas his attack on a hotel housekeeper in New York caused, he's popping up again in connection with the Carlton affair- and since this business involves misspent funding and potential pimping, it's less likely to go so smoothly for him. Of course, he's from a country where opinions about sexual assault have been relatively prehistoric, in spite of the best efforts of French feminist activists, but I'd argue that DSK is a symptom that could use treatment anyway.

Also in the scheme of international sex problems comes an article from the Boston Globe that features a discussion of for-sex human trafficking, though it really only focuses on the relationship between Uganda, where women are targeted, and Malaysia, where women are sold. This is a huge issue, and not just in a couple of countries overseas. We live in a world where travel- legal or otherwise- is increasingly easy and people make temporary or permanent trips for all sorts of reasons and especially to find work. One of the first cases I worked in New Hampshire involved a human trafficking ring. The state I currently work in has one of the worst rates of trafficking in the United States. Trafficking isn't always about masked stereotypes running around and grabbing people off the street; it's much more insidious and has deep roots not only in sexism, but in racism and economic oppression as well. If you want to learn more, I recommend taking a look at Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof. Some of his arguments irritate me- like comparing contemporary trafficking to the trafficking of African slaves in the U.S.- but I think his message is worthwhile.

PHEW. For a breather from the rage-inducement, let's turn to the world of fashion, where a show at London Fashion Week featured models wearing nothing but hats. That's not the interesting part, although nudity is always attention-getting. What makes this story stand out is that the designer had a friend of hers appear in the show, also in the nude, while eight months pregnant (warning: pictures are as naked as the models. Click with caution). The designer, Robyn Coles, states that while her ultimate goal was the press that nudity attracts, she was also invested in demonstrating that hats are an accessory that are independent of shape or size. Also, how often do we see naked people who are so pregnant? I thought I'd share this gem because 1) pregnancy is amazing and 2) we have such a thing about "covering up" the bump once it reaches epic proportions (see, for example, all the snarky comments about Jessica Simpson's and Hillary Duff's continued refusals to don "flowing" maternity wear). Let it hang out!

And finally, a conglomerate of major religions has issued a statement saying that politicians need to stop playing theologians and actually start running the U.S. Okay, okay, I paraphrased that, but that's the gist of what they're saying and I think it's about bloody time someone with authority put on their responsibility pants and did just that. I know that a vocal population of Christians in America have taken it as their religious imperative to convert the globe to Christianity- goodness knows, I'm Catholic, and we hear that all the time- but politics isn't an appropriate venue. By the book, even if not in practice, America is a secular nation. It's not Christian. It's a country that was founded to protect, among other things, freedom of religious expression. We've gotten that wrong repeatedly, I know, and I also know that the Founding Fathers probably didn't think that "freedom of religious expression" included anyone outside the realm of Christianity. But that's not how it's panned out. EVERYONE in this country should feel safe and represented, not only by people but by laws, and when laws are designed around one religious system only then we've failed. It's time to pull our heads out of our asses.

And on that self-righteous note, have a good week everyone!

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