Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Is it really for the victims' families?

Recently I learned of a site that posts names, pictures, life histories, and surviving relatives of those tragically killed in the turmoil in Isreal, and even allows you to send a condolence note to the families. In addition to asking for donations, you can even buy a bracelet with one of the victims' names on it or a "poster of victims". This money (and organization) claims to "provides financial, legal, and emotional assistance to the survivors of terrorism" (and I have no reason to doubt that this is what they actually do).

But the problem is, this isn't necessarily what the families of the victims want. I was directed to this site by one such woman. Her mother was tragically killed by a suicide bomber last June. Neither she nor anyone else in her family has given this organization permission to use her mother's picture, name, life history (and even their own names). They have, in fact, asked that her mother's picture and name be removed . . . to no avail.

If an organization is supposed to be for the benefit of survivors, and a memorial to the victims, shouldn't they take the victims' families' feelings into consideration? Shouldn't they have the right to mourn the tragic loss of their mother in any way that they see fit -- not what someone else sees fit?

When will the exploitation of victims and their families end?

As one family member said:

I don't think the profile is what really bothers me, I already accepted this level of "publicness". What I can't stand is the commercialism. These people are selling shares in grief, and it's not even theirs to sell.

[Note: all links are to general pages, and no identifying information for the particular victim is mentioned in this post, for the sake of her family. And, once again, I would like to send out my deepest sympathies for the tragic loss of your mother to Yahewe and Vevedation (screen names only).]

Some inspiring words

Someone I "know" (from on-line) just saw Ani (DiFranco, for those not in the know :p ) tonight, and brought back with her a bit of a new song -- one that depicts precisely why Ani is one of my idols:

i am shocked to tears by each new vision
of all that my ancestors have done
like, say the women who gave their lives so that i could have one
people we are standing at ground zero of the feminist revolution

behold if you please
a patriarchy on its knees
yes it was an inside job
stoic and sly
one we're supposed to forget, and downplay and deny
but i think the time is nothin' if not nigh
to let the truth out
the coolest "f" word ever deserves a fuckin' shout

i mean look around
we have *this*

Thursday, October 09, 2003

So happy I could cry!

Landmark Appeals Court Ruling for Battered Women!

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

In a landmark decision that could affect thousands of immigrant women and children, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday defined domestic abuse as "extreme cruelty" and a cycle of violence that knows no borders.

For the first time since Congress enacted the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, a three-judge panel interpreted key phrasing used in the immigration provisions of the law passed to prevent victims of domestic violence from being held captive in abusive relationships by threats of deportation.

The court defined domestic abuse not only as physical assault, but also as part of a well-documented cycle that includes psychological abuse over time and intermittent periods of remorse and reconciliation.

In doing so, the court stopped the deportation to Mexico of Seattle resident Laura Hernandez ordered by Seattle Immigration Judge Anna Ho and the Board of Immigration of Appeals.

"The 9th Circuit just smacked the INS hard," said Lisa Stone, executive director of the Northwest Women's Law Center in Seattle, a non-profit legal organization for women that represented Hernandez in her appeal.

From the Ninth Circuit decision in Hernandez v. Ashcroft:

Abuse within intimate relationships often follows a pattern known as the cycle of violence, "which consists of a tension building phase, followed by acute battering of the victim, and finally by a contrite phase where the batterer's use of promises and gifts increases the battered woman's hope that violence has occurred for thelast time."...

The literature also emphasizes that, although a relationship may appear to be predominantly tranquil and punctuated only infrequently by episodes of violence, "abusive behavior does not occur as a series of discrete events," but rather pervades the entire relationship...The effects of psychological abuse, coercive behavior, and the ensuing dynamics of power and control mean that "the pattern of violence and abuse can be viewed as a single and continuing entity"...Thus, the battered woman's fear, vigilance or perception that she has few options may persist...even when the abusive partner appears to be peaceful and calm."...The psychological role of kindness is also significant...since in combination with the batterer's physical dominance, such kindness often creates an intense emotional dependence by the battered woman on the batterer...

"Congress clearly intended extreme cruelty to indicate nonphysical aspects of domestic violence. Defining extreme cruelty in the context of domestic violence to include acts that "may not initially appear violent but that are part of an overall pattern of violence" is a reasonable construction of the statutory text at hand. This interpretation is congruent with Congress's goal of protecting battered immigrant women and recognition of past governmental insensitivity regarding domestic violence...

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Canadian Union threatening boycott for sexist ad campaign

We've all probably heard about boycotts against companies that produce sexist ad campaigns. Some of them are even quite successful (think back to the early 90s when Sprite was using waif models, such as Kate Moss -- and thanks to the boycott, they switched their ad campaign to the later, funnier one making fun of celebraties endorsing products). But, when you think of these boycotts, who do you think of as promoting, even starting, them? Well, feminists, of course.

So, when a labor union of maintenance and trade workers in health care, as well as construction workers and heavy equipment operators threatens a boycott of a company due to a sexist ad campaign, well, ya gotta figure it's pretty sexist. And sure enough, it is.

Anger over a national billboard campaign has prompted the Manitoba Federation of Labour to call for a boycott of Terra Footwear, which sells protective boots.

The company's billboard ads depict women in lingerie in suggestive positions while wearing workboots.

The Web site of Terra Footwear also features a streaming video commercial for the boots featuring topless dancers.

Michael Alberg with the Operating Engineers of Manitoba, which represents maintenance and trade workers in health care, as well as construction workers and heavy equipment operators, says the ad campaign is offensive and sexually discriminatory.

His union has lodged a complaint with Terra Footwear.

"In the e-mail, it says we expect them to pull the ads immediately," he said.

"If they refuse to do that, we would be looking at a boycott not only locally, but nationally and perhaps North American-wide through the different labour congresses," said Alberg.

Alberg's union has the backing of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, which has more than 95,000 members.

The head of the federation, Robert Hilliard, says it may ask the Canadian Labour Congress to join in the boycott.

"I kind of thought that most companies would be a little more sensitive for exploiting women in that way to market construction boots, of all things," said Hilliard.

To see one of the billboard ads, go to the article. To see the video commercial, go here.

I always knew I liked unions. :D

Edited to add: It looks like the web commercial has been taken down, possibly by the server. If, however, it's a bandwidth issue or something and comes back up, it should be noted that this commercial contains extreme amounts of gratuitous nudity. I should have made that disclaimer from the beginning -- sorry about that.