The Widdershins

Archive for the ‘Womens’ Rights’ Category

Fair warning Widdershins. This post is not for the faint of heart. There will be blood (and the measuring of) and hemorrhages and rouge placentas. Among the myriad of other women’s issues ignored, we have a an inexplicable rise in maternal mortality rates. Or maybe it’s not inexplicable at all – our legislators just don’t care.

C_0ahJNVYAACaOIStudies have shown that the US has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. This NPR article mostly centers around one woman, but covers the stunning statistics. Lauren (who was a neonatal intensive care nurse) has a normal delivery and a few hours later is dead from a pretty common condition. Preeclampsia. They paid little attention to her dangerously rising blood pressure. When she complained of pain in the upper abdomen, they gave her an antacid. Her death could have been prevented with only an anti-hypertensive drug and magnesium sulfate. That’s just one woman with one condition. We’re woefully behind. (my bold)

American women are more than three times as likely as Canadian women to die in the maternal period (defined by the Centers for Disease Control as the start of pregnancy to one year after delivery or termination), six times as likely to die as Scandinavians. In every other wealthy country, and many less affluent ones, maternal mortality rates have been falling; in Great Britain, the journal Lancet recently noted, the rate has declined so dramatically that “a man is more likely to die while his partner is pregnant than she is.” But in the U.S., maternal deaths increased from 2000 to 2014. In a recent analysis by the CDC Foundation, nearly 60 percent of such deaths are preventable.

It’s a long article and a lot of it is about Lauren’s personal history and her husband’s reaction. But it covers many issues. While infant mortality has fallen, maternal deaths are soaring. This can no longer be ignored. There is hope. California (naturally) is leading the way. California decided it was tired of women bleeding to death during childbirth.

Dr David Legrew was mostly concerned with deaths from hemorrhaging, especially prevalent in women who had C-sections in previous deliveries. But it doesn’t take a genius to know birthing centers should be equipped with emergency items. A “hemorrhage toolkit”.

One key idea in the hemorrhage toolkit was to make sure hospitals were armed with all the best protocols and necessary tools that might save those moms’ lives in the event of a bleed.

At St. Joseph hospital, Lagrew showed me a simple beige, waist-high rolling cart with four drawers and red handles, known as “the hemorrhage cart.” Every hospital delivering babies should have one, the CMQCC toolkit says. The cart is filled with everything to manage a hemorrhage: medicines that slow the flow of blood, instruments that repair a tear or laceration, intrauterine balloons that can provide pressure and control bleeding from a uterus that isn’t contracting well.

“Minutes count, so you can’t afford to be thinking, ‘Hey, what med do I need to use next? Where do I find a balloon catheter to stop the bleed?’” Lagrew says.

Is that too much to ask? Better training and having what you need at hand?

I don’t think anyone will be surprised that the rates of death are much higher in Texas. I don’t think anyone will be surprised it’s 3Xs higher for black women. In fact, one study DFsMEjLVoAErtfOhad to separate Texas from their study because it skewed the results so badly. What do you expect from a state that defunds PP, closes PP and other abortion clinics, enacts restrictive abortion laws and refuses to expand Medicaid? (Like my own state)

A University of Maryland study released last year showed the mortality rate had doubled from 2010 to 2012. Plus this:

There were some changes in the provision of women’s health services in Texas from 2011 to 2015, including the closing of several women’s health clinics. Still, in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval, the doubling of a mortality ratewithin a 2-year period in a state with almost 400,000 annual births seems unlikely. A future study will examine Texas data by race–ethnicity and detailed causes of death to better understand this unusual finding.

I wouldn’t normally link to a local (Texas) TV station (in fact the video is worthless), but I did want to share this:

State Rep. Shawn Thierry sought to look into one particularly disturbing trend that the Texas task force had found: Black women make up 11 percent of births, but 28 percent of death. Thierry, a Democrat from Houston, wanted to compare the risk of black women in different income brackets.

But Thierry’s bill – which was backed by the Texas Medical Association and American Heart Association – died along with a parade of other proposals after tea party-backed lawmakers, protesting a lack of movement of their own pet issues, used a House procedural maneuver to kill every bill on a legislative calendar that wasn’t supposed to generate debate.

“We haven’t done enough,” Thierry said.

And did I mention that this year’s session has ended so lawmakers will have to wait until they reconvene in 2019 to address the issue. What?! WTH Texas? Well, I’m sure they will eventually get around to it little ladies.

So let’s take inventory. All over the country, states are defunding and closing Planned Parenthood and other clinics, passing anti-abortion laws, trying to pass legislation so no employer has to provide insurance to cover birth control, hoping to remove pre-natal, neo-natal, etc. care from insurance policies (now guaranteed by the ACA). I’m sure I’m forgetting a few things. Help me out.

I’d just like to ask them – if you’re going to force women to have more children and brush off maternal deaths, who in the hell do you think will raise the children? These people are exhausting.

I don’t want to go too long, so I’ll add some other thoughts and links in the comments.

Open thread. (otherwise known as ‘what fresh hell did we wake up to today?’)

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Good Monday, all. Today is the first day of the last few months of Donald Trump’s Presidency. After all, he’s brought in a general to be his Chief of Staff, same as Nixon, and the conservo-rats are deserting his sinking ship. As the spectacular failure of the Wealth Transfer Bill made clear, the Senate can defy the Rancid Cheeto without any real consequences…and, the Rancid Cheeto is going to be no help to their agenda whatsoever. What will happen now? I don’t know, but while we wait for the next giant flameout, I thought we could spend some time connecting the dots.

The ongoing fight between the Bernie and Hillary wings of the Party is not about re-living the primaries, despite what the Bernie Bots would say on Twitter. It’s about looking to the future and figuring out the way forward for the Democrats. It IS important to have both the message, and the messaging, correct, so people know they’re not just voting against something, but FOR a positive vision of America.

In order to make this happen, we have to make sure that all Americans understand the connection between a racist, sexist and xenophobic campaign, and a country going in the wrong direction. From the Bernie cultists, and unfortunately from some members of the DNC, we hear that we need to appeal to the white working-class male voter with a strong economic message. The problem with this is, that it’s no different from the Republican approach.

Yes, you heard me right.

Make America Great Again is a white-people-only slogan, based on bringing the Fake 50s back to the US – a decade of great prosperity and segregation. Coal jobs, union jobs, they would be coming back under him – and all those “bad hombres” who have been taking those jobs away would be sent back to Mexico. He added to his racist cred by announcing that Mexicans are rapists, outing himself as a sexual predator, and being endorsed by white supremacists and having Steve Bannon as his senior campaign adviser. White people claimed they didn’t care, because all of these “identity politics” didn’t matter. But “identity politics” were really what energized all those white people to come out and vote for him. Nothing else mattered so much as race to the Trump voter.

And what happened when Drumpf came into office? He started advocating for policies to do exactly what he promised. Mass deportations. Known racist Jeff Sessions at the helm of the Justice department. True to his misogynistic ways, pushes to defund Planned Parenthood. Trying to overturn the freedoms and rights Obama granted to LGBTQ. And all his promises about bringing coal jobs back? Yeah, not so much.

What would happen if Democrats really decided to chase the white male vote, and decried “identity politics” as unimportant?  What message are they sending to everyone who isn’t white and male, who, not so coincidentally, votes Democratic? With all of these white men jockeying to run for the Presidency, two of them in their 70s, I find it very hard to believe that they will prioritize any of the things that matter to me…just as Barack Obama, who ran on misogyny, didn’t prioritize gender equality.

What we project matters. What we say matters. And visuals, they matter. And I am personally so very, very tired and sick of hearing and seeing “f*ck you” from the Democratic Party, a Party still, shamefully, disproportionately white and male. This is why Bernie Sanders held absolutely no appeal to me. He and his followers routinely dismissed the things I cared about, and mansplained that we were all too dumb to understand #TheBernout’s greatness and vast superiority over HRC. And of course, if we protested, we were playing “identity politics.” Well, yes. We want an equal seat at the table, and we’re tired of asking nicely.

So the Resistance you’re counting on to save your sorry butts and stop the evil Republican agenda, and vote for you in 2018? We’re women. And you won’t ignore us any more.

We’re awake now, and we’re paying attention.

This is an open thread.

 


Good Monday, all. There’s a lot going on, and most of it not good, as usual, these days. The new bootlicker Drumpf has hired to represent him on teevee is typical of all his stooges: narcissistic, greedy (h/t Prolix!), and intimately tied to Russia. He’s dangling lots of fake news in front of the cable news media, and they’re all lapping it up. Drumpf still doesn’t believe Russia attacked our elections!! (Of course he does, idiots. He and his campaign helped make it happen.) He’s looking into pardoning himself!! (Of course he is. That doesn’t mean he’ll do it, for heaven’s sake. He knows he’s going to get caught, and is looking for ways to evade the consequences, just the way he always does.)

Meanwhile, some Democrats are buying into stupidity of their own. Such as, “Hillary lost ‘the Obama coalition’ to Drumpf!!! ZOMG we have to chase those 70,000 switchers in swing states with a strong economic message!” Do old white guys like Chuck Schumer never get tired of mansplaining to women?

Apparently the fact that Nate Silver, expert pollster, agrees with Hillary’s analysis of why she lost, has failed to penetrate. And, apparently the fact that the Resistance is female, and the base of the Democratic Party is female AND of color, is immaterial to Chuck and his fellow mansplainers.

Someone please tell me this: how is it a good strategy to target only a few white men by focusing on an economic message that is proven to be irrelevant, and ignore the giant mass of women that is active, energized and ready to vote, and run, as Democrats?

Like this woman.

In Prince William County, Hala Ayala is hoping to bring her values of empowerment for women and equality for all to Richmond, and at the same time, send home one of Virginia’s leading anti-choice, anti-immigrant delegates.

Ayala has long been involved in local politics. She volunteered for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. And in 2014, she helped revive the National Organization for Women (NOW) chapter in her community, becoming its president.

Now THAT is the Obama coalition, you jack*sasses!

The Democrats would be much, much better off energizing its base with a sharper version of Hillary’s message, than losing its principles by trying to gain the voters who want to go back to the fake 50’s in their heads.

Hala Ayala is doing something. And we should too. Forget the Democratic Establishment. The more we Do Something, the more they will get the message.

So let’s go to marches. Let’s form groups. Let’s donate to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Let’s call our Senators and attend Town Halls.

It’s all working. Let’s stick with it!

This is an open thread.

 

 

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We are going to be stuck with Donald Dump for the foreseeable future. Republicans will not impeach him. Nothing he can do will force them to abandon him. Even as the country tries to absorb Dump Jr’s e-mails confirming he met with a Russian lawyer with government connections to get dirt on Hillary Clinton – GOP collectively yawns. Mitch McConnell says he has no comment. Paul Ryan is MIA. John McCain is concerned and Lady Graham is disturbed. That’s as bad as the recriminations got. (Bernie Sanders, by the way, says we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. The strongest response came from Moe Scarborough who announced he’s leaving GOP to become an independent. Which is nice, but who cares?) The right-wing media has closed ranks around Dump and his abominations. Collusion with the Russians isn’t so bad, Breitbart and Fox have declared. Besides, shouldn’t Hillary Clinton be prosecuted, Sean Hannity asks?

The best response so far came from a surprising source: Trey Gowdy-Doody.

Someone needs to get everyone in a room and say, from the time you saw ‘Dr. Zhivago’ until the moment you drank vodka with a guy named Boris, you list every single contact with Russia,” Gowdy said, referring to the 1965 movie.

But Gowdy-Doody says he will investigate nothing via his House committee; he’s leaving it all to Bob Mueller.

Vice President Pence’s courageous response via his spokesperson was:

The Vice President is working every day to advance the president’s agenda, which is what the American people sent us here to do. […] The Vice President was not aware of the meeting. He is not focused on stories about the campaign, particularly stories about the time before he joined the ticket.

“Before he joined the ticket.” That’s Pence trying to have it both ways. Standing by Trump’s agenda and “Hey, don’t look at me, I just work here!” in case the story has legs. But considering each new story feels like the one that breaks the camel’s back and then it doesn’t… we shouldn’t expect this new story to be any different. Dump is here to stay. If he is to go, it can only be accomplished if Democrats take both House and Senate in 2018 (unlikely), and then the 2020 elections. Until then… we must fasten our seat-belts and get comfortable. The ride will continue to be bumpy.

Which brings me back to Mike Pence’s statement. “The Vice President is working every day to advance the president’s agenda.” What is this agenda? What is the future that Republicans want? It’s all bad. All bad. Mitch McConnell has postponed Senate’s August recess by two weeks, hoping to cobble a coalition that passes their healthcare abomination. Hopefully The Resistance continues the push-back and enough Rethugs are afraid enough of their constituents to vote Nay.

There is another story that came out last week from El Salvador that should chill all our spines because this is essentially the future Republicans want in the US too.

This week a court in El Salvador sentenced 19-year-old Evelyn Beatriz Hernandez Cruz following her conviction for aggravated homicide.

Hernandez says she became pregnant after being raped in the small community where she lived, according to her trial statements. She says she did not report the attack out of fear and did not realize she was pregnant.

In April 2016, Hernandez said, she felt strong abdominal pains and lost consciousness in the bathroom. She was taken to a hospital and treated for vaginal bleeding from an out-of-hospital delivery, but there was no newborn.

Authorities opened an investigation and later found the fetus. She was initially charged with having caused in abortion, which is illegal in all situations in El Salvador. The charge was later changed to aggravated homicide.

Hernandez said she did not know she had miscarried. She has been in prison since the incident.

GOP’s assault on women’s right to control their own bodies is decades old. They started fighting abortion rights the minute SCOTUS ruled on Roe v. Wade. They have never la-fg-c1-el-salvador-women-20150415wavered, they turned the issue into perhaps the single biggest cultural wedge issue in the country. And over decades they have chipped away at abortion rights bit by bit by bit. They have been great at branding (GOP always is), controlling the debate, redefining terms (“partial birth abortion,” for example) and seeing abortion rights erode. With Trump and Pence in the White House, and Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, abortion rights are as much at risk as anything else right now. We should look at El Salvador, where abortions under all circumstances – no exceptions – is illegal, as the future we might have in the US. In El Salvador judges rule abortions and miscarriages as homicide and sentence women to decades in prison. World Health Organization estimates that 68,000 women die each year as a result of unsafe/illegal abortions. This is an issue we must remain vigilant about because we know Pence has it in his sight.

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Just in time for Independence Day, NBC News wrote an article about the excavation of Sally Hemmings‘ living quarters at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello plantation. The byline reads: “Thomas Jefferson’s mistress Sally Hemings’ secret living quarters finally discovered.” NBC’s use of the word “mistress” is unfortunate. Hemmings was a slave. She was 14 years old when Jefferson first raped her. What editor wrote this byline without a bolt of lighting striking them down?

We are living in a diseased world. Trump himself is not the disease, he is a symptom. He used the disease of misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc., to get himself elected. He launched his campaign by declaring all Mexicans as rapists and murderers. (And some, he assumed, were ok.) We are living in the same world that also houses Brock Turner. On January 18, 2015 Turner raped an unconscious woman. He was convicted of his crime. The presiding judge, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, sentenced Brock to 6 months in jail. A year since that ruling, Judge Persky has finally decided to explain himself. ““I have a reputation for being fair to both sides,” Persky says. Let that sink in for a moment. Persky was looking at a victim of rape and the man who raped her while she was unconscious. And Persky prides himself on being fair to both sides. He is running for reelection. I’d like to say that there’s no chance Persky will get reelected, but we are living in a Trump world. He might.

I ran into this article at Mother Jones about men taking credit for women’s work. (Last week Bernie Sanders embraced Hillary Clinton’s public option healthcare plan. It was the same plan he and his Bros previously excoriated Clinton for. But now Sanders is taking credit for it, and some in the media are happily giving him credit. Sanders also previously embraced Hillary’s college tuition plan after being vehemently against it. The  media gave him credit for Hillary’s plan too.) Mother Jones digs far, back to cave paintings. Newest research suggests they were painted by women. From Mary Shelley to Ada Lovelace to the rapper M.I.A. and singer Taylor Swift – the more things change, the more men continue to take credit for women’s work. (Remember when Michael Moore claimed to be the leader of the Resistance? Yeah, no Michael Moore. You’re NOT the Resistance.)

We’ve all heard the word “mansplain.” It’s a word that has entered the lexicon fairly quickly. I didn’t even notice it, it was just sort of there. I did not realize it originated with a 2008 essay “Men Explain Things To Me” by Rebecca Solnit. Solnit related an anecdote that at a party she got into a discussion with a man who had heard Solnit was an author. She began to tell him about her latest book about Eadweard Muybridge and the man interrupted her to inform her that just last year a new and popular book about Muybridge came out. Had she heard of it? It so happens that she had. Solnit wrote it.

And finally: on June 26th we celebrated the 20th anniversary since the publishing of the first Harry Potter novel: “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” (Retitled “The Sorcerer’s Stone” in the US.) Joanne Rowling famously started jotting down the novel onJK-Rowling a napkin in an Edinburgh cafe when she was a single mother and broke, living on welfare. She finished the manuscript on an old-fashioned typewriter. It was rejected by 12 publishers. Finally a small children’s publisher Bloomsbury accepted. They asked Rowling to create a gender-neutral name because a novel about a boy wizard was likely to sell better if boys didn’t know a woman had written it. So Joanne became J.K. Rowling. Bloomsbury printed 500 copies of the original hardcover (now worth a fortune!) 300 of those copies were sent to libraries and only 200 into the wild. The rest, of course, is history. Over the course of seven novels Rowling’s story of the boy wizard and his best friends Ron and Hermione’s struggles against forces of evil have inspired generations of children and adults. Movies and a play made billions. Rowling herself became a billionaire (Forbes claims she is the first writer to make a billion dollars from writing alone), and at one point Rowing was proclaimed to be richer than the Queen of England. However, Rowling gave away so much to charity that Forbes had to remove her from their list of billionaires. She is currently said to have only about $840,000,000.

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On Monday night the Politico reporter Gabriel Debenedetti tweeted: “We’ve got Biden, Clinton & Kasich already. Any other 2x presidential candidates planning to make a return to the political scene this month?” Then a few hours later: “The answer to this question, apparently, was Mitt Romney.” I responded: “It’s funny because only Clinton has been told repeatedly to shut up.”

In fact, after months of taunting “So where is Hillary?” and “Why isn’t Hillary doing something?” as soon as Clinton did emerge to deliver a couple of  speeches – the same people descended on her yelling “Shut up!” From Bill Maher to Donald Trump to Matthew Yglesias to Shaun King to every Bernie Bro on the planet, they declared that Hillary Clinton must shut up. Clinton Derangement Syndrome transcends party loyalty, race, age and even gender.

Hillary isn’t the only Clinton to inspire the chants of “Shut up!” Chelsea Clinton has also been told repeatedly, by many of the same people, to stop tweeting and expressing opinions and writing children’s books. Alyssa Rosenberg of Washington Post wrote an entire column telling Chelsea that it’s in her own best interests “to disappear.” Thank you so much Alyssa for your concern.

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Susan Bordo of University of Kentucky, is publishing a book titled: “The destruction of Hillary Clinton: sexism, Sanders and the millennial feminists.” The Guardian published an excerpt from the book. It is powerful and painful to read:

As I watched Sanders enchant the crowds, it was something of a deja vu experience to see a charismatic male politician on stage telling women which issues are and aren’t progressive. Cultural histories of the 60s rarely acknowledge what a sexist decade it was. We imagine that breaking through the suburban 50s fantasy meant that old-fashioned gender roles and attitudes had been discarded. Far from it.

In fact, in many ways the decade was more male-centric than the 50s; it just privileged a different sort of male. Those men loved having us as uninhibited sexual partners and helpers in their political protests, but they never let us forget who was in charge of creating the platforms or who belonged in the political spotlight.

[…]

[The media and pundits] described [Sanders] as “heart” and [Clinton] as “head” – a bitter irony for those of us familiar with the long history of philosophical, religious, and medical diatribes disqualifying women from leadership positions on the basis of our less-disciplined emotions. He was seen as authentic in his progressivism while she was pushed to the left by political expediency – as though a lifetime of fighting for equality and children’s rights meant nothing. He was the champion of the working class (conveniently ignoring that black and white women were members, and that their issues were also working class issues), but her longstanding commitments to universal health care, child care, paid sick leave, racial justice, the repeal of the Hyde amendment, and narrowing the wage gap between working men and women apparently evaporated because she’d accepted well-paid invitations to speak at Goldman Sachs.

It was a week in which Joseph Biden once again declared that Clinton was a weak candidate and that he would have won if he chose to run. Bernie Sanders continued his Democrat-and-Hillary-bashing tour (now in its 2nd year), declaring that Trump voters aren’t racist and misogynistic and not deplorable. And he would have won too. Biden, of course, is two time Presidential nominee who dropped out of races early in the primaries because nobody took him seriously. He has also always been a gaffe machine, saying unseemly things which somehow became endearing when he was VP, but calling Obama “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy” nearly sank his 2008 campaign before he even started it. Biden also wrote the much maligned Crime Bill that Hillary gets excoriated for. (No, she didn’t call black people “super predators.” She was specifically talking about drug dealers only.) And Bernie Sanders voted for the crime bill. But, of course, Hillary has always been seen as the problematic candidate.

Bill Maher’s comments to Clinton on April 31st were not the only astounding moments on that episode. Guest Neera Tanden, President of Center for American Progress who was an informal advisor to Clinton’s campaign, complained about Bill O’Reilly’s racist 27-neera-tanden-clinton.w710.h473.2xcomments about Maxine Waters and Sean Spicer telling April Ryan not to shake her head. Maher and Rich Santorum angrily told Tanden that she needs to get over it, there is nothing racist or sexist in those comments, and the Democratic party lost the election because Liberals are humorless and get offended at the most insane things. Santorum declared he never gets offended by anything, which Maher agreed with. There are many things wrong with these words. But let’s just discuss the preposterous idea that conservatives don’t get worked up over bullshit. Even if we just stick with the subject of hair, something serial rapist O’Reilly thinks is funny on black women, both Maher and Santorum conveniently forgot that just a few weeks ago Samantha Bee had to apologize to some asshole with Nazi hair at C-PAC because, it turns out, he has cancer. Of course cancer has never been known to cause Nazi hair, and when his diagnosis was brought to Bee’s attention, the show apologized, edited the young Nazi out of their piece and donated money to his cancer treatment. After all this Fox News still had the young Nazi on the air to tell everyone that none of these things Bee’s show had done for him were enough.

After Tanden’s painful appearance on Real Time, where Conservative and whatever Maher considers himself, white men lectured a woman of color that racism and sexism were just in her head, Tanden tweeted:

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As can be very clearly seen, Tanden was specifically addressing a poll that 86% of current anti-Trump activists are female.

Her tweet prompted the following response:

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Harry Shearer isn’t just a twitter troll. Shearer is the creator of “The Simpsons.” He also co-wrote and co-starred in “This Is Spinal Tap” and used to write for Saturday Night Live. This is a liberal, educated, Hollywood elite man. And his response is galling. When countless people jumped in to explain that a) Tanden said nothing about race and b) majority of women voted for Clinton, Shearer proceeded to argue for many tweets that women weren’t actually as upset as Tanden thinks. Countless peopled tried to make him understand the racism and misogyny of his response, but Shearer persisted with snark. Tanden later remarked: “In the course of 24 hours, I’ve had a few famous liberal men explain women’s legit feelings to me. Interesting times.”

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Update: on Wednesday night Carl Reiner tweeted the following 2 messages:

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I leave you with this heartbreaking portrait of Hillary Clinton by Ruby Cramer of Buzzfeed from January 2016. “In the early days of her husband’s administration, Hillary Clinton tried to start a national conversation about basic human decency, only to be mocked.”

But no, heartbreak and sadness we can fight. Let’s turn it into anger and action. The message Hillary and Hillary supporters should be sending out:  to anyone who tells her – or us – to shut up comes courtesy of, who else, the woman who has been pissing off multiple Popes and Marie Le Pen for decades. It can only be  Madonna. In this live performance in 2015 she’s joined by a drag queen who was featured on Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

“You might say that I’m an unapologetic bitch.

But sometimes, you know, I gotta call it like it is.”

You know, you never really knew how much your selfish bullshit cost me.
Well fuck you!”

 

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Over the weekend I edited a short fundraising video for organizations that help victims of human trafficking. These are all religious institutions and the women interviewed were all nuns. One from NYC, one from London, and one from Mombasa, Kenya.

Human trafficking is the 2nd largest crime industry in the world, only behind drug trafficking. It generates hundreds of billions of dollars in profit – at the expense of human lives. And it is also the fastest growing “industry” in the world today. In 2012 it was estimated that as many as 20.9 million people around the world were victims of human trafficking. Imagine what those numbers are in 2017. Human trafficking includes sexual exploitation (including sexual slavery), forced labor, organ harvesting. The International Labour Organization (a United Nations agency) last compiled their statistics in 2012. Some excerpts:

90% are forced to labor for private economies or corporations

22% are in forced sexual exploitation

55% are women and girls & 45% are men and boys

26% are under the age of 18

Sister Jane Kimathi, from Mombasa, speaks of victims as young as 4 years old, forced into prostitution. Many, she says, come to their safe houses unable to speak because of the trauma. Some stay with the Sisters for as long as two years, as they try to rehabilitate them and find new homes. While their order is Catholic, they welcome all victims and their prayer room is nondenominational. She mentioned that Mombasa is a popular tourist destination. But the “tourist destination” designation is people who come there specifically searching for young children to abuse. Because of the many conflicts in Africa, the number of refugees spikes the numbers of slaves. They are people looking for ways to support their families. Nobody is looking for glamour or prestige in the sex trade, Sister Kimathi says. “It’s poverty and desperation.” Some of the children were sold by their parents into slavery. Some are orphans and some are runaways who were promised happiness by relatives, who then exploited them.

It’s a story the Sister from New York, Joan Dawber, picks up on. Sister Joan runs safe houses in Queens. She described one woman’s story: She came to New York to be a student, sponsored byp1562069350-3 an extended family. When she arrived, the family forced her to become their slave. She never attended school. She was forced to take care of the family, including raising their young children. She was forced to eat off the floor. Not just having her plate on the floor, she didn’t have a plate. Whatever food she was allowed to eat was put on the floor. If she was hungry and snuck any food out of the fridge, she was punished. She was her family’s slave in Queens, NY for five years. Her salvation came in the form of a neighbor who suspected something odd based on the young woman’s behavior in public. She tried to speak to her repeatedly, ask her how she is, only to have the young woman run away. Eventually the neighbor gave the woman a cell phone with pre-programmed numbers for the police and safe shelters. The young woman finally found courage to escape, using the cell phone to call for help. She has since finished school and lives in New York.

Sister Dawber points out that human trafficking exists in every state of the USA. It is not an issue that only happens out there somewhere. It exists all around us. It could be the waitress in a restaurant, or a manicurist at the nail salon. They could be of any age and any race. It can be almost impossible to know that this person ringing up our groceries is indentured to someone.

Sister Lynda Dearlove runs a safe house in London. Their organization primarily helps prostitutes. The interesting thing is that their mission isn’t strictly to “rescue” the women from prostitution. It is to offer them a safe home and counseling when in need. Many only come to sister-lynda-dearlovespend the night, take a shower and eat. Some then return to the streets. The Sisters there never force anyone to stay. Many women have been coming to them for years for a night or two of peace. The Sisters hope that by offering women a shelter and offering them counseling they can help them enable themselves. Sister Dearlove passionately says that the can not force anyone to do anything. The best they can do is show the women that there is hope and they need to find it for themselves. Maybe not today, but possibly tomorrow. “They are valued and they are loved, and if anything happens to them we want them to know that we will miss them.” She says that people blame women for becoming prostitutes and that it is one of the biggest challenges we as a society face: The need to understand that if any of these women choose prostitution it is only because they are fleeing abuse, or drugs, or so many other possible traumas. Many are trying to support families and stay alive. They must never be judged or condemned, she says. They must be offered hope.

Note: Sister Dearlove was appointed a member of the Order of the British Empire in 2010.

This is an open thread. What’s on your mind fellow Widdershins?


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Blog Archive

September 2017
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Our 2016 Ticket!

Our girl is gonna shine

Busted: Glass ceiling

HRC bumper sticker

She’s thinking “Less than 2 weeks I have to keep seeing that face”

Yeah I can make it

The team we’re on

Women’s March on Washington!

Right-click the pic for more info

Kellyanne Conway’s new job

So similar

Take the kids to work? NO!

3 turds control fate of healthcare for millions

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

***Hurricane Harvey support/donations***

Quick links for donations.

Charity Navigator **does** give their ratings/evaluations of the organizations.

Charity Navigator Harvey Page:

Charity Navigator – Harvey

Donations for our furry, and other critter friends:

Texas SPCA Donate Page

Houston TX SPCA Donation Page

Red Rover Group

What Cassidy/Graham bill would do: